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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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Essay master of buddhism

Master of Buddhism.
First of all, thank you to ULC for offering such an interesting course and to Tricia Stirling for writing it. I have taken many courses over the years, but few have had any life-changing effect. This course has not only drawn me to Western Pure Land Buddhism but has also been responsible for me taking  the vows and precepts. I have been living in Japan for the past twenty-five years, married to a Japanese woman and have two grown up daughters. Living in such an environment, I have naturally gone to many temples and shrines for such rites as funerals, celebrations, child blessings and so on. Although I can perform the actions, I have done so without giving much thought to what I have been doing. This may also be said of a lot of young people, as many do not know the difference between Shinto, the traditional religion, and Buddhism. All they know is to equate festivals and happy times with Shinto, and death and sadness with Buddhism. In Japan, Shinto and Buddhism co-exist to the point where they have almost meshed, at times sharing the same ground and complex. Although separate religions, it is not uncommon for the two to actually blend. Many people say that you are born into Shinto and die into Buddhism. Unfortunately Japan has a reputation for funeral Buddhism, but fortunately Shin Buddhism, or True Pure Land Buddhism has recently been trying to change this image through education and community events. Shin Buddhism has the most followers of any Buddhist sects in Japan, including Zen.
Why has it taken me almost twenty-five years to realize the importance of Buddhism in my life? I grew up in Australia, and although my family were  not practising Christians, there was always a Christian presence in schools, neighbourhoods, and so on. Unfortunately young impressions are lasting. We were exposed to zealots who kept telling my brother and I that we were condemned to hell. We thought this rather severe for just skipping school to ride our bicycles to the river. So, we just gave up on being good as we were constantly being condemned to hell. Basically, we just gave religion a wide berth and went on with our lives. The past twenty-five years in Japan has not really deeply exposed me to religion here. It was not until last year that within the space of six months, I had a stroke, my brother died suddenly, and then followed my mother. I don`t know why, but around this time I was drawn to the ULC web site, and saw the Buddhism course. I wondered if I may find something to make sense of the last six months.
Well, it certainly motivated me to delve deeper into Buddhism. Although there were no ready fixes, I did realize a lot of things about myself, and how to better relate to my universe. I ended up reading around thirty books concerning Buddhism, particularly Pure Land Buddhism. From being pointed in the right direction, by this Course,  I believe I have found solace and answers to many of my questions. I firmly believe in Pure Land and can now get on with the business of living, enjoying what is left of this life, and comforted in the knowledge of birth into the Pure Land. Through my reading I became indebted to Master Honen, the founder of Japanese Pure Land Buddhism, and to his disciple, Master Shinran. Pure Land is the most popular sect in Japan due to several reasons. The first is that it is a religion of the common people. Anyone who recites homage to Amida Buddha can attain birth into heaven unconditionally. All sins are absolved, along with Karma. There are no further reincarnations or re-births, and one does not need to live through Samsara repeatedly. There is only this life, now, and after death one remains in heaven for eternity, choosing between Buddha-hood or Bosatsu.
There are no forms of meditation or any other rituals to follow, just sincerely call the name of Amida Buddha at least ten times to be unconditionally accepted into heaven. Of course there are additional ways of obtaining credit, but as Honen says, ` these are auxillary and not necessary for birth into heaven. Only the nembutsu, the calling of the name of Amida Buddha, is necessary`.  How satisfying to learn this, to know that you are already accepted into heaven, instead of waiting for a Judgement Day to find out if you are going upstairs or downstairs. Having already been consigned to a place downstairs since I was young, it was a huge relief to know I now have a reserved ticket upstairs in a beautiful heaven. Honen realized that most people are too busy to perform daily rituals of meditation, and too poor to donate money. By relying on the 18th. vow of Amida, everyone who recites the Nembutsu is heaven-bound. The description of heaven certainly is a place of bliss.. As described in the Sutra on Amida Buddha, it is a paradise of wildlife, weather, food, music and all the nice things in life, even to the promise of a casual stroll around a beautiful lake after breakfast. One can also visit anyone in any universe.
This is exactly what I have been hoping for, a beautiful place to retire and a chance to meet old friends and family. Pure Land Buddhism is often referred to as the easy way, due to its limited requirements to acheive salvation and stop rebirth into this world. It has no practice of meditation nor chanting rituals. Shouldn`t religion be easy and accesible? Shouldn`t all have hope? I leave this to the individual to judge the merits. Maybe all religions can espouse this. I became  a firm believer and follower, and am so thankful to be a Pure Land Buddhist. It may be the easy, or lazy way, but all I needed was to find comfort and relief in the knowledge that my future is accepted and determined. No more need to worry or speculate, or to accrue further credit; just get on with enjoying this life and continuing into an even better life. There is no death in Pure Land Buddhism, only birth.
Master Honen was one of the most outstanding monks of the Tendai Sect during the Kamakura Period. His main concern was how to make region more accessible for the common man. It wasn`t until he studied the commentaries on Pure Land Buddhism by the Chinese Master Zendo, or Shan Tao, that he discovered the perfect religion for the Japanese common man. Honen left the Tendai Sect and later founded the Japanese Pure Land Sect. Although other sects were opposed to this new sect, it quickly became ensconsed in the heart of the commoner, who was previously denied grass-roots access to the monastery and unconditional  salvation. Honen even explained that people working in the meat industry, prostitues, in fact anyone can be saved by reciting the Nembutsu. This curried great favour with almost everyone. Previously, abbatoir workers were told they could not gain salvation because they were taking life. Pure Land granted them salvation if they  would recite the Nembutsu. From that time, the stigma of meat-eating was diminished, a break-away concept for a Buddhist sect. That is why meat-eating is so regular in Japan, with not a second thought given.  After the death of Honen many disciples carried on the teachings, but not until Master Shinran did the teachings reach maximum poularity.
Shinran was the first monk to marry and have children. All other sects, including the Master Honen, practised celibacy. Shinran wanted to prove that all humans are the same, that all have desires and do foolish things. He believed a monk to be no different, and should find a middle way between sainthood and that of a completely depraved person. His interpretation of the 18th. Vow was that we are already saved, that we now just need to offer sincere thanks to Amida Buddha for our salvation by reciting His name. All of our past sins and those of the future are forgiven. We only need to live this life and show compassion to others. Because we are foolish beings, we will commit sins, but Amida will absolve us and cancel our Karma, or take it over, upon our birth into the Pure Land. This is why there is no re-birth or reincarnation, only heaven for those who believe.
The appealing aspect for me is that I need not follow rituals, meditate, nor do anything more from now on to assure my passage to heaven. It is already decided, leaving me with the pleasure of concentrating on the here and now. Although open to debate, another appealing aspect is that Buddhism has never caused bloodshed in any wars invoked in its name. It must be remembered that Japan used the Emperor, and the religion of Shinto, to promulgate their war effort. Buddhism was not involved. The ministry at that time conveniently separated Shinto and Buddhism to create a rallying effect around the personage of the Emperor, the traditional symbol of the native religion, Shinto. Fortunately, Shinto has been able to recover its image of a religion of peace and nature. It is sad when people can use the good nature of a religion to justify their less than honest deeds and intents. Shinto and Buddhism now reside peacefully entwined.
I know I have changed for the better after studying this course. I enjoyed the suggested readings, particularly the book on Siddartha, which I purchased. I was glad to learn the overview of Buddhism, which gave me the chance to delve into my specific area of interest. I believe this course has allowed me to reflect on my shortcomings, and to find ways to be a better person; to make more use of my time; to be more thankful and patient. I sincerely thank Rev. Amy and ULC for such a wonderful, life-changing course. I thoroughly recommend this course, and will be doing more through ULC.
Wayne Cuthbert,


Friday, August 24, 2012

Druidism Essay from Universal Life Church Seminary Student Rev. Dr, Patrick M. Benner. Sr. D.D.,Ma,PhD

From: Rev. Dr, Patrick M. Benner. Sr. D.D.,Ma,PhD.

The following is my dissertation concluding my five month study under the Universal Life Church course title; Master of Druidism. Along with this thesis I have included a disc containing 188 documents used in support of this course of study. I found this course of study to be most interesting. While that phrase is superficial I would like it to be understood  that my course work not only increased my knowledge and understanding of the Druid religion but also caused me to leave my fifty one years of belief in Catholicism and to convert completely and wholly my entire life to the path of the Druids. I have always felt the call to this path I knew that their beliefs and teachings were that of my own soul. And as I began this course I knew immediately that this would fill the void that existed in my heart since my youth. During my studies I acquired membership in five separate Druidic fellowship organizations. And have pledged myself to one specific Druidic organization for continuing education and possible future clergy training. So as you can see my life was transformed and enhanced.
From the start; we learned the very beginning of the Druid/Celtic history. History indicates that the beginning of these people could go back as far as 4000 years BCE. And also indicates its start in Gaul, (an area of Western Europe now occupied by France, Luxemburg, Belgium and Switzerland). It must be understood that it is difficult to nail down Druid history partly due to the fact that all of its history was by word of mouth, family tradition and priestly and scholarly theatrical acts. Where battle between tribes and wars between families and country verses country and king verses king were all influenced by segments of religion, magic theory, alchemy, and politics. They were a people of wide and varied beliefs that when pulled apart to a single act would strike one as ridicules. But when looked upon as a whole it pans out to a mathematical and cultural simplicity. One begins to understand why they did, what they did and how they felt about their life and culture. The other reason making it hard to nail down the Druid history besides the fact that they didn't write down anything, their history was passed down through the families, through the tribes, through the lands and the very countries they inhabited through song. Then we have the issue of the wars between those of the Druid culture and the Christians under the leadership of Julius Caesar attempting to wipe clean what they considered to be the stain of Druidism and the misbeliefs of the Celtic people in general. So some of their history survived and some survived the scouring of the other religions that sought to eradicate them.

If I were to take the history of the Druids and their society as a whole and overlay it on our current day society, I am in awe at how little our current society in comparison has grown and how far the Druid society had grown over 6000 years ago. Here are some examples:
Women in today's society were until the 1950's, were considered to be second class citizens, extensions of their husbands. And in some cases did not even hold jobs. And, in our country didn't even gain the right to vote until the beginning of the 20th century. And in other countries around the world they can be second or third class citizens who cannot even show their face. Where, the Druid women of the past had the right to vote at the age of majority, they were taught to fight alongside their husbands and family members. They were taught battle tactics; they were masters of weaponry, and in some cases leaders of tribes and leaders of countries. We can learn a lot from their history. Another comparison would be that even in today's modern Catholicism a woman cannot be a priest. Or hold the title of clergy in any respect. Whereby; in Druid history if a woman was willing to devote herself to the training she could become a priestess of the Druid clergy with all of the equality of her male counterparts.

Now whether male or female I would be remiss if I did not comment on the importance of the Druid clergy. A Druid priest in their day was so powerful was said to have so much wisdom and to have mystic powers, to have been so well trained from everything from scholastics to battle tactics, that a king would not think of making a court decision without consulting his priest. And the thought of doing battle without your priest at your side was unheard of. It is said that a king who followed his priest's advice would always win though the tactical advantage. And they were more than priests, within their tribes they were the lawyers, judges, councilors, policeman, poets, singers and leaders. They did everything and they did it well. It is said that a priest of the Druid religion would need a minimum of 20 years training before he could take the title. We give doctors the power of life and death after 8 years of medical school. Lawyers can become judges after a 4 year law degree. And we give them the power of life and death. But a Druid priest would have to study for 20.

There are stories passed down that one would have to visualize to believe.  Imagine if you will, two tribes, 10,000 strong on each side. Each member of the tribe, a well trained blood thirsty warrior, whose only task that day under the command of his chieftain would be to slaughter every man possible during the battle with the other tribe. And moments before the battle starts with 10,000 warriors on each side of a divide, when out walks a Druid priest to stand in the middle, raise his arms and declare, "Go home this is an unjust war, and you will not wage it today" only to have 20,000 warriors turn and go home. That was the power of a Druid priest. They were said to have the power to see into the future and to alter the present and there by direct the path of mankind in a positive direction. I do not condone it, but I understand why a man such as Julius Caesar "a Christian" would seek to destroy Druid history and keep it from advancing.

In their society they prized education, truthfulness, honesty and responsibility for one's own actions as primary beliefs. Their code of ethics was without comparison even in today's society. In their day a man's name, the family name and the county they came from was of the utmost importance to them. A person would be afraid to do any wrong for fear of slandering the family name or even the land of your birth through your actions. The system of law was equal to and in some cases surpasses our own today. They believed that a man of little wealth would be held responsible for his crime (as he should be) but a man of great wealth would be punished to a greater extent because he had so much to begin with that his crime would be a greater transgression. There is a simplicity to the fact that a man of great wealth should be more grateful and thereby less willing to commit a crime than would be a man of little or no wealth who might only steal to feed his family.

When we go through our daily routines here in America and in even most of the world we use watches, calendars, calculators and other devices of time keeping. We take our system of linguistics in common stride. But one must remember that the calendar we look at every day, known as the Julian calendar is approximately 3000 years old. Our American language passed down through the British colonies is no more than 4000 years old. So now you must understand that the original methods for time keeping; calendar days, hours in a day, days in a year, astrological projections and so on can be traced back to over 6000 years ago to the original Irish, Celtic and Gailic tribes along the Irish countryside. That puts them about 2000 years ahead of this country. If they were allowed to flourish instead of having to fight to survive, this country and others could possibly be 2000 years further advanced. When you consider the advances this county has made from 1912 to 2012 a mere 100 years, and think of those advances and project forward  2000 years to where we would be today had we followed their examples  The possibilities are staggering.

Their beliefs in their Gods and Goddess were of such a strong nature that it kept them focused on the important things: family, friends, fellowship, education, ethics, morality and culture. Fame and fortune was of little interest to them. And farm and family was everything to them. This kept their minds, morals and culture on an even keel.

As I said this course of study was life changing for me. I could write for hours and hundreds of pages on the topic of what I liked about this course of study. But I think all of the above summarizes all of the highlights.

Let us switch topics to what I will term and only for lack of better words what I disliked about them. This will be short because there wasn't much I didn't like and respect about them. Catholicism is what is known as a monotheistic religion. That is belief in one god. The Druid religion is what is known as a polytheistic religion. That is a belief in many gods. They had as many as 300 different gods and goddesses. It must be understood, that there is the theory known as "aspects". That is to say it was widely accepted that a god or goddess depending on whom he or she appeared to or when he or she appeared or why he or she appeared could appear as three different gods or goddesses and under three different names. That reduces the 300 gods or goddesses to 100 gods or goddesses. Assuming we start with 100 gods some because they were regional, some because they were seasonal, and some because they were only worshiped by a handful of tribes. One could extrapolate that it was probably more like 50 gods which in my opinion is still a bit much but as I said it did tend to keep them focused and morally and ethically bound to do the right thing. Even today in 2011 we say "do unto others as you wish others to do unto you". Now you must understand that the phrase with little or no change goes all the way back to the very beginnings of Druidic history almost 6000 years ago.  It is known as the "the Rede". It was commonly quoted as simply "An it harm ye none, do what thou wilt".  They strongly believe that you were free to do absolutely anything you wanted to do as long as it did not harm your neighbor in doing so.  When you factor in millions of people praying 100 different ways to 100 different gods their religion was open to a wide interpretation but the ethics, morals, standards, rights and regulations remained constant. So it boils down to, as a Druid I can believe what I want, where I want, and to whom I want to pray to as long as my morals and ethics stay intact and I don't harm anyone else in doing so.

Though various parts of this thesis I have used the words "Druid religion". I did this for the benefit of the layman. Who would look upon any belief system that was not his or her own as another man's religion? This is in essence a misnomer. True Druid's and even fledging Druids (like myself) understand that it is not a religion. Druidic belief is exactly that, it is a "belief system". And, is more commonly called, "the Druid way of life" or "The Druid path of life". We believe that this is not something remembered each day or visited each Sunday. We believe that it is something that becomes part of your very soul, something that comes from the heart and from the deepest sense of the mind. You must live it walk it eat it and breath it every second of every day. With only that one thought in mind, do only that which harms no one else and maintain a standard of high morals and ethics. It means to me that you show the same respect for the smallest of earth's creatures that you do for that of earth's largest mammals.  That you show the same respect for the budding house plant as you do for a 1000 year old oak. These are very, very, very simple boundaries to live within. And I find that my life within these boundaries is better, purer and more simplistic than ever before. And I am quite comfortable with my mind, heart, and soul at the conclusion of these studies and at the writing of this thesis.

In conclusion I thank you for proving the knowledge and the opportunity to transform myself into a better person than I was before.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Four Gospels Course by Rev. Michael

Four Gospels by Rev. Michael

Final Essay on the Four Gospels                                                                                                                                                      
Rev. Michael
As I meditated and reflected on the four gospels it brings me good news to my soul.  It gave me an understanding of the Father, one in sovereignty; the son, the second person, in incarnation and salvation, delivering from every enemy; the Holy Spirit, the third person, realizing in us and to us Divine things that are seen as God's creative works.
In life itself we all need a teacher.  Jesus is a great teacher who teaches true happiness that result in spiritual growth and blessings.  He teaches about the Law of the Old Testament and how we need to teach others to obey those Laws.  He teaches about anger, adultery, divorce, vows, revenge, love for your enemies, (so that you will stay closer to him), charity, and prayer.  I try very hard to apply these things as the nucleus of my own life.  This is why we all must stay alert and spiritual because no one knows when the day or hour will come; it might be in the evening or at midnight or before dawn or at sunrise.

As Jesus spoke in parables he was giving an earthly message with a heavenly or spiritual meaning.  The parable about the sower reveals the reaping.  If we sow love we get love, if we sow kindness we get kindness, if we sow joy we get joy, if we sow faith we get faith, if we sow hope we get hope.  The parables are spiritual, that is why Jesus said "they may look but not see, and listen but not understand".
The gospels are a blueprint or manual in the way we should live our life.  Jesus blesses the children by placing his hands on them and praying for them.  We know how important the children are for our future.  So we must pray for them and with them, teach them, until we reach them, encourage them, motivate them, and uplift them so that they can build confidence in themselves so they can become righteous and productive adults.

When the final judgment comes we will be divided into two groups, the righteous on the right of the Son of Man and the others on the left,  just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats,  the least of these are on the left, so we must help the least of these by feeding the hungry, give those who are thirsty a drink of water, clothed those who are naked, take care of the sick and visit those in nursing homes  and in prisons and welcome the homeless in for shelter.  We are here to serve and help the least important ones.  If you refuse to help the least of these, then you are being disobedient to the precepts of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus is the eternal Word of God, who became a human being and lived among us.  Before the world was created, the Word already existed.  Jesus was the Word.  He was compassionate, forgiving, loving, caring, comforting, just and righteous.  These are characteristics that I need and that we all need to strengthen our spiritual being.  Also, Jesus never forgot the women that followed him in his teaching and spiritual journey.  There was Mary Magdalene, Martha and her sister Mary and lets not forget the women mention in his ancestors, Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba.

As Jesus hung on the cross, he asked God his Father to forgive them for they know not what they are doing.  After going through all the suffering, pain, and misery he still was able to forgive.  Forgiveness is a powerful and spiritual characteristic.  Jesus has earned his PhD. (Promise of Heavenly Deliverance).  The gospels really challenge me to be the best person I can be with the help of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Metaphysical Healing Essay by Rev. Hirnyk

Barbara Hirnyk
Master of Metaphysical Healing
I can Honestly say that this course was the best so far I have been doing healing for 10 years and you still have manage to teach me a thing or too.  I loved the information given on the body it's always good to know where everything is. Energy fields I was always a little weak on this but you help me to understand even better Loved going into the state of consciousness, well what can I say "Hot Hands" my sensors are up and running, loved the unruffling the field and sealing I have used it ever since reading about it.  It was amazing doing the visualization shower how easy could that be couldn't understand why I didn't think of it before.  I think history taking is very important do it before every client so I have a heads up before I start on their health issues. 
I believe that good Hygiene is essential when working with clients And the information given on Traditional & Spiritual Healers was helpful  other healing methods was interesting something worth knowing and I do agree that if you have a lot of negative in your life that you will become ill so changing your life for the better will have a lot of healthy people on earth Soul mapping would of loved  to have more on this and doing soul retrievals, need more on the inductions I was in Haaaaa when I read it wish there was more and the authoritarian and permissive technique was amazing always knew that the way you talk & tone has a lot to do with the healing always loved anything that had to do with past life & soul retrievals would love to do more on this one .now for the creating realities boy did you make me want to bite my tongue the things I say all the time and you say NO don't say this WOW I guess I have to rethink. Now creating realities would love more of this one, really love the shadow OMG never thought of that would like to go into that further.
Now for absent healing I do it all the time and I love it you put a little twist on it which I feel I could use when working on my clients. Now for the aura Readings I LOVED IT.  I have never been able to see aura but I do feel them and know how the person it feeling you made it so that I could finally see it and thank you for that. I have learned so much from this course it only added to my healing already Thank you so much. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Four Gospels Seminary Course

The Four Gospels

In the book of Matthew (Matter-of-fact/common sense),

(2 commandments, love God, love yourself as you love those close to you) one might be impressed with the authority and assertiveness of Jesus, over circumstances, diseases and even death. Common sense not foolish ignorance (if people are hungry then they should eat). Straightforward and direct is the text's thrust.
TWO COMMANDMENTS (cover it all)
1.   "Love the Lord with all your heart"
2.   "Love those close to you as you love yourself"
The gospel of Mark, the Metaphysician/one man-one woman, one may strongly sense, the feeling of the honest ministry of Christ supported as he presents Himself as the servant of God. Mark emphasizes a SPIRITUAL FOCUS. Mark makes use of metaphor to illustrate intent ie; fig tree. THIS book is my favored one for its Metaphysical references, tendencies, and weight. Mark's account might be borrowed, in part both large and small, by all of the other books in the New Testament.

A Metaphysical reference to the spirit/soul is present here as the Spirit lives forever, and the physical body is left behind.
Another metaphysical reference: "those who came before Him are part of Him and part of God." The spirit has no beginning and no end.

Mark and committee also reference Jesus' compassion for serving his creation, HUMANITY, by healing on the Sabbath. "Which is allowed on the Sabbath, doing good or doing evil? Saving lives or killing?

MARK and Marriage: Jesus said, "A man shall leave his mother and father and stick to his wife. And the two shall become one living thing." MAN and WOMAN …no question about this one, in my opinion!

The book of Luke, the Diplomat is written by a man/committee that, quite possibly, didn't  KNOW anyone that even lived during the time of Jesus!!!  Aside from the aforementioned, there is, however, the compassion and empathy of the Son of Man present in the text. A caring for those in need is again noticed, yet expected!

On the other hand, Luke, the Diplomat is presented as trying to ease the pressures of the Roman government on Christians.

As I wrap the fab four up and in the book of John…

In the first section he is the miracle worker.
In the second section, one experiences the teacher.
And in the last section of John, one might experience the Victor.
Could there, therefore, be a case for a Gospel by committee? Such a diverse set of guidelines for each section of John, I'm not convinced.

One last note of clarification:

The author of The Gospel According to St. John, 1 John, 2 John, and 3 John in the New Testament is John the Beloved, one of the original Twelve Apostles under the authority of Jesus Christ, or is it?  We, of course, know that the books were a compilation of stories given names for easier labeling. (1)

John the disciple of Christ was the brother of James and the son of Zebedee. He was one of the "Sons of Thunder", and he was also the disciple who went on to be imprisoned on the island of Patmos, where he received the Revelation that makes up, I think, the final book of the Bible. 

John the Baptist was beheaded before Christ was crucified, and before the writing of the Greek Scriptures started. Another faith based test.

In Summation

Matthew the "Matter of Fact" Assertive and direct …

2 Commandments (Love God, Love those close to you as you love yourself) (an adaptation of Mark)
Mark the "Metaphysician" …always was , is now, ever shall be … "ONE man and ONE woman" says it all.

Luke the "Diplomat" A report from a man, or a name given to this book, that probably didn't know anyone who lived during the life of Jesus. A TRUE political/diplomat that could weave a believable story from historical hearsay. (another adaptation of Mark)

John "By Committee" here is an example of parts of stories put together to formulate a book, as is the case with all of the books in the New Testament. How could one person have written this entire text, I just can't wrap my mind around the fabric of the line. It is true that it is written in a strong, familial, and poetic manner. It is true that the book of John is easier to read, it flows. BUT, one man did not write this entire book, a fact of realism. I realize that the above may have some redundancies; however, they are necessary in order to make my point.
Is the Bible the greatest book ever written? In my opinion, yes, there is no doubt. Has reading the Bible, in layman's terms, given me a greater insight into the possible multiple applicable messages?  Yes.

Now, if God, the infinite energy source, hadn't given us the ability to think for ourselves, there would be no need for the speculation of life after the physical, Metaphysically speaking!

The wisdom of the second century still translates today. Though the names chosen for the gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Phillip, Thomas, etc. may not be the ones who actually penned the books the lessons are, to this day, applicable.

Did Jesus walk the earth? In my opinion, yes He did. For one man to have an earth-shattering effect on ALL of humanity proves that we, as a race, are looking, Metaphysically, toward the next life in the hopes of eternal salvation.
This course has given me many a moment to pause and reflect on my former education in the church. If the general public could only hear the Gospels in this light and be able to flex their individual minds respectively, we … as a society … would be better off, in my opinion.

"We" only learned what "They" wanted to teach us. I can't say that I haven't used what "They" taught me constructively, but I'm now better equipped to converse with my Jesuit friends, contemporaries, and mentors. I'm better equipped to dissect and assimilate the New Testament into my own thought processes.

Thank you for the opportunity to grow spiritually and independently, amen.
.Fn … this explains very much …again, thank you for the clarification…academic as it may be…(in Thomas' faqs …)
No one knows. The four canonical gospels and Thomas and other gospels such as the Gospel of Philip (found at Nag Hammadi) were given their names some time in the second century. Scholars of the New Testament generally agree that none of the gospels were written by people who had ever met Jesus of Nazareth during his lifetime. But at a later date names were assigned to them that were associated with famous individuals in the earliest church-

Written by:
Dr. Robert G. Manginelli