Seminary Program

This is where we post the essays from many of our Universal Life Church Seminary students. When students finish a ULC course, they write a comprehensive essay about their experiences with the course, what they learned, didn't learn, were inspired by, etc. Here are their essays.

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Monday, February 11, 2008

Comparative Religion

Universal Life Church Seminary

Essay by Rev. Marc D. Graham
Castle Rock, CO

Since the dawning of consciousness, when the first person realized that she was a distinct entity within the greater natural world, religion has been a part of the human endeavor. During the long, gradual awakening—before mankind was fully conscious—the ancient ones were very much a part of nature, a part of the One, albeit unconsciously. Following this awakening—represented by the genesis legends throughout the world—humanity’s greatest quest has been to return to that unity, to re‐ligare (reconnect) and find at‐one‐ment with the Divine from which we differentiated so long ago.

Throughout history, Religion and religions have tracked the developing consciousness and social structures of the parent cultures. Sometimes leading, sometimes lagging, a direct correlation can be made between the level of a civilization’s attainment, its chief values and the style of its dominant religion. From Animism to Zoroastrianism and every ‐ism in between, countless religions exist—and have existed—sufficient to stretch the holy ligatures from the Divine to the practitioner, however near or far the individual’s understanding to the Ultimate Truth.

As part of the Divine Plan for the development of humanity, mankind’s evolution and the corollary evolution of its religions can be tracked by the astrological ages. From time immemorial, the zodiacal sign in which the sun rises at the spring equinox has determined the Age of humanity. A Platonic Year (also called Great or Equinoctial Year) is the time required for the equinoctial sunrise to cycle through each sign of the zodiac, currently estimated at 25,800 years (2,160 years for each sign). With respect to religion, the import of each age can be traced back to the time of Gemini, approximately
9000 years ago. The conditions prior to that time may be speculated upon, but are beyond the scope of this essay.

(It should be noted, that the Ages represent the condition of the mass of humanity. There have always been those who are “ahead of the curve”, with a relationship to and understanding of the Divine that outpaces the general condition of mankind’s evolution. These individuals may become the founders of the religions of a new age, or may be dismissed as madmen or heretics. It must also be stated that the dates of each Age are open to interpretation, with as much as 600 years’ difference between varying schools of thought.)

During the time of Gemini (the Twin), the duality of man—body and spirit—was celebrated, with the spirit considered a twin to the physical. The time of Taurus (the Bull) corresponds with the growth of kingly rulers and priestly religions, with the common people relegated to the status of cattle in the care of their royal/sacral herders. The struggle in the transition between Gemini and Taurus is echoed in the ancient Twin Myths from around the world, where twins (or, generically, siblings) struggle together or against each other, with one becoming dominant. Examples include Cain and Abel (Semitic), Seth and Osiris (Egyptian), and Hunapuh and Xbalanque (Maya).

The rise of Aries ( the Ram) around 2000BCE—coupled with its opposite sign, Libra (the Scale)—represents the transition to religions of propitiatory sacrifice balanced on the scale of Law. This change is most prominently remembered in Abraham’s sacrificial substitution of a ram for Isaac (Torah) or Ishmael (Koran), and in the giving of the Law to Moses. The difficulty in adapting to this new mode of religion is remembered in the story of the Israelites and the golden calf.

Following Aries, the Age of Pisces (the Fishes) was initiated during the ministry of Jesus the Nazarean. Along with its corollary sign of Virgo (the Virgin or Young Woman), the polity of this Age has been mostly defined within and by Christianity. In this Age, sacrifice is no longer required, but mankind must still have an intercessor to facilitate communion with God. Such intercession may take the form of Baptism (pure, or virgin, rebirth), Communion (originally styled with loaves and fishes) or simply by the ministry or priesthood (the Pontificate, from the Latin for bridge‐builders). Whatever the outward symbols, during the Age of Pisces, humanity requires intercession between the individual and the Divine. The intercession may take the form of gods, priests, saints, angels, Sons or Mothers of God, holy writings or even narcotics; but to partake of the stream of wisdom and knowledge of the Divine, one must rely upon the fish that swims in that stream.

The Age of Aquarius (the Water Bearer) has been presented to the popular imagination in various ways since at least the 1960s. Frequently styled a touchstone of the Hippie Counterculture or New Age movements, astronomically speaking, the Aquarian Age has yet to begin. The author equates the beginning of Aquarius with 2012CE, while other philosophies place the start as late as 2638CE. Regardless, Aquarius, along with its countersign Leo ( the Lion), has already begun to influence humanity. During this Age, the individual will gain access to the Divine directly, without the need of instruction, sacrifice or intercession. In this continued evolution, each person will become his own water‐bearer, king (lion) of his own destiny as he drinks directly from the Stream.

The true religions of all ages and all cultures have at their core the aim of reconnecting mankind with the Divine. Since the Fall—the “descent” of humanity from the unconscious spiritual state to the state of spiritualized physical consciousness—we have struggled to find our way back to that original state, consciously and willfully to reunite with God. Every religion shares this aim, however different the parent societies may seem.

Sadly, our current condition makes it nearly impossible for religion to remain untainted by the cultural and political systems it is intended to illuminate. The religious differences and strife that have ever existed between peoples are simply the manifestation of mean political striving. Strip away the trappings, and all religions are—at their core—merely different faces of the same Truth. It may be hoped that, in the Age to come, unifying Truth may overcome divisive Error. 


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