A Species In Denial—The Demystification of Religion
Why prophets were ‘without honour’ in their ‘own home’ and ‘own country’
It is timely to explain why it is that ‘Only in his home town, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honour’ (Mark 6:1-6).
The fundamental situation is that denial-free thinking, which is the essence of a prophet, has been an anathema—‘without honour’—to the resigned world. The more corrupted humanity became the more confronting uncorrupted individuals were, and the more they were denied honour or recognition or acknowledgment. What alienation was separating itself from was the truthful, sound world of the soul. In a world almost devoid of soul, an emissary from the soul’s world, which is what a prophet is, was actively denied and outcast by persecution, and even eliminated by murder. The basic activity of resigned humans was not to honour the sound, truthful, soulful existence that prophets represented.
However, while this is the fundamental situation, it has also been explained that while resigned humans needed to deny and repress the soul’s truthful world, when they became overly corrupted they needed to find their way back to some truth in order to repair and heal their overly corrupted state. While the presence of truthful prophets was something humans tried to ignore and even destroy, over time they also came to need and appreciate—even to the point of revering—that presence.
While there emerged a need to recognise or honour prophets, it was still difficult to acknowledge their immediate presence because Page 440 of
Print Edition the resigned humans’ ego came into play. As briefly mentioned earlier, it was difficult for resigned, egocentric humans to acknowledge the gifts of any individual when that individual was in their presence, nearby, or even still alive. The greater space and time between the presence of the especially gifted person and the average person, the easier it became for the average person to acknowledge their gifts without being made to feel inferior or worthless in comparison. Such was the level of insecurity in humans under the duress of the human condition. A great sportsperson often only received due credit for their achievements after they died, while many gifted individuals died in extreme poverty and anonymity, only to be resurrected and glorified by subsequent generations. Van Gogh managed to sell only one painting in his lifetime, yet his paintings now sell for millions of dollars.
While all talented and gifted people encountered this problem, there was no talent or gift as threatening to the ego of resigned humans as the gift of soundness. Egocentricity in resigned humans was all about trying to establish worthiness at the exclusion of the truth of their corrupted state. The presence of a sound prophet made that all-important exclusion almost impossible to maintain, and it therefore made the business of artificially deriving reinforcement from the world impossible.
A prophet’s uncompromising truthfulness was both utterly confronting and utterly ego-deflating. It follows that the closer in both time and space resigned humans were to an unresigned prophet the more difficult it was for those humans to acknowledge the prophet’s essential difference.
Christ suffered from this problem. To quote from the Bible, ‘Now Jesus himself had pointed out that a prophet has no honour in his own country’ (John 4:44). Christ also said ‘no prophet is accepted in his home town’ (Luke 4:16-30), and ‘Only in his home town and in his own house is a prophet without honour’ (Matt. 13:54-57), and ‘Jesus left there and went to his home town…When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. “Where did this man get these things?” they asked…Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James…Jesus said to them, “Only in his home town, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honour.”…he was amazed at their lack of faith’ (Mark 6:1-6).
It makes sense that the first place a prophet would go for support for his truthful way of thinking would be his own family, but ‘a prophet Page 441 of
Print Edition is not recognised in his own home’. Tragically, his family is in fact the very last place he can expect to find support. Having grown up with the prophet, his family are the closest people to him in both time and space and so suffer most from the problems of being confronted by his truthfulness and having the artificiality of their world of reinforcement made transparent.
A prophet’s mother is the closest of all people to him, but the reason for her inability to recognise the importance of his work is different to the other members of the family, who are resigned individuals. As has been explained, an unresigned prophet’s mother is also necessarily unresigned. Being unresigned and thus having not taken up an egocentric attitude to life, the prophet’s mother was not confronted by his honesty, or faced with having an artificial world of reinforcement made transparent. Being unresigned herself, the problem the mother of a prophet has is that she cannot see anything unusual about her unresigned son’s way of thinking and behaving. To her he is just an extremely enthusiastic, energetic, soulful person, and as he grows up and begins to fight the world of denial, she, being a woman and relatively unaware of the nature of the battle, can be persuaded by her other children that what he is doing has no meaning, is unnecessarily uncompromising, destructive and even mad.
The potential trap for the prophet, of hopelessly trying to have his family appreciate and benefit from his work, has a dangerous capacity to exhaust and destroy him. A sound, unresigned person will naturally try extremely hard to have his family appreciate him and his work, however he simply has to be strong enough to at some stage realise the futility of trying to ‘reach’ his own family and be prepared to get on with his work without their support. In taking this step he can draw some comfort from the knowledge that all people constitute family and that his love for humanity simply has to take precedence over that for his own family. An unresigned prophet intuitively knows how precious his honest way of thinking is in a world that finds itself totally unable to think truthfully. He knows therefore that he must not fail to contribute his enlightening honesty to that world of terrible darkness and suffering, and so no matter how much he loves his family—and being free of corruption his love for them is without blemish and thus total—he must not cave in to their coercion to abandon his work. In terms of the value of the contribution the unresigned prophet Christ was able to make, the Australian educator, Page 442 of
Print Edition Sir James Darling, wrote that Christ’s life ‘was incalculably the most important event in human history, as we understand it, up to the present’ (The Education of a Civilized Man, 1962, p.206 of 223).
When Christ began his ministry and his family heard about it, they accused him of having gone mad, and acting on that belief, tried to take charge of him as if he did not know what he was doing. To quote the Bible, ‘When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind”’ (Mark 3:21); ‘For even his own brothers did not believe in him’ (John 7:5); ‘but his own did not receive him’ (John 1:11); and ‘Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.” “Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked. Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother”’ (Mark 3:31-35).
The persecution that unresigned prophets have had to endure for revealing the truth and the inevitable estrangement from their family is also described in the Bible in Psalm 69 of David: ‘Those who hate me without reason outnumber the hairs of my head; many are my enemies without cause, those who seek to destroy me…O God of Israel. For I endure scorn for your sake, and shame covers my face. I am a stranger to my brothers, an alien to my own mother’s sons; for zeal for your house consumes me [I stand resolutely against the world of denial], and the insults of those who insult you fall on me’ (4,6,7,8,9).
Moses taught his people to stand by the truth against all odds, and, when they did, he said to them, ‘You have been set apart to the Lord today, for you were against your own sons and brothers, and he has blessed you this day [because you did not give in to the world of denial]’ (Exod. 32:29).
The divisiveness of their work greatly impacted upon the personal lives of prophets. To stand against the world of denial was an extremely lonely occupation and it left many isolated from society and without honour in their own family. Christ, possibly more than any other prophet, knew this, stating, ‘Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn “a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.” Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me’ (Matt. 10:34-37), and, ‘You will be betrayed by parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and they will put some of Page 443 of
Print Edition you to death’ (Luke 21:16). It should be emphasised that Christ was introducing a religion to the world, he was establishing a place of soundness that people could defer to and live through when they became overly corrupted. When sound explanation arrives in the world, as it now has, while it will also be confronting of the world of denial, and thus divisive it shouldn’t be as divisive as the situation faced by Christ because explanation can be understood. Religions were about supporting the embodiment of the ideals in the form of the prophet they were founded around. What happens with the arrival of understanding of the human condition is people live in support of those understandings. There is no faith involved: ‘This is the end of faith and belief and the beginning of knowing’ (Beyond, p.166 of 203). With tolerance and patience, and a preparedness to accept logic, the explanations being presented can be evaluated as true or not. Faith can’t be argued but logic can. If people are prepared to consider and accept reasoned argument there doesn’t have to be conflict and division. The whole purpose of the human journey was to find understanding specifically because it ends the need for misunderstanding, both in ourselves and in others.
It should be explained here why some expressions of Christianity place so much emphasis on the Virgin Mother. The more corrupted humans became, the more important was nurturing, because nurturing is what was needed to bring about a less corrupted generation. Thus, the more a society became corrupted the more emphasis it placed on the Virgin Mother, the symbol of nurturing. Also, for an overly corrupted human it was much easier to defer to the Virgin Mary and the world of gentle nurturing, than to relate to the strong, confronting truthfulness of Christ.
Christ’s acknowledgment that his mother and family sided against him and his ministry, and even questioned his sanity, puts those expressions of Christianity that emphasise the Virgin Mother in an extremely difficult and compromised position. The reader can imagine how difficult a truth this would be to accept for those that worship the Virgin Mary, and it follows that the Biblical passage that mentions Christ’s family questioning his sanity, varies with different versions. The passage is Mark 3:21 and only the New International Version (NIV) gives what I believe is the real account. I am confident that the other versions have translated this passage in a way that does not imply that Christ’s mother failed in her support of him. The underlinings have been added for emphasis.
Page 444 of
Print Edition The New International Version says ‘When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him for they said “He is out of his mind.”’
The King James Version says ‘And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself.’
The New King James Version says ‘But when his own people heard about this, they went out to lay hold of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”’
The New American Standard Bible says ‘And when His own people heard of this, they went out to take custody of Him; for they were saying, “He has lost His senses.”’
The New Revised Standard Version says ‘When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, “He has gone out of his mind.”’
The Good News Bible says ‘When his family heard about it, they set out to take charge of him, because people were saying, “He’s gone mad!”’
I trust the New International Version because of the effort made in it to be accurate and because of the relative soundness or innocence of those involved in the translation. The preface to the NIV translation says that the project began in 1965 (a very idealistic and sound period) with more than 100 scholars working ‘directly from the best available Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek texts’. These scholars came from the United States, Great Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand (all relatively young, uncorrupted, innocent, sound cultures) and from Anglican, Presbyterian, Methodist and other denominations, none of which are regarded as particularly fundamentalist. I think it is significant that the Catholic Church, which is so orientated to worshipping the Virgin Mother, was not included in this process.
I might mention here, that within the various NIV editions of the Bible, I prefer the first edition over later ones. The 1960s, when work on the first edition commenced, was such an idealistic, innocent time. Subsequent decades were less idealistic and I think the revisions of the NIV Bible they made in those subsequent periods reflects this. In the first 1978 NIV edition, Matthew 24-27 reads, ‘For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.’ In the second, 1983 NIV edition, this text has been changed to, ‘For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.’ Christ was clearly using the most powerful metaphor available to express how exposing Page 445 of
Print Edition and thus confronting the truth about human nature would be when it arrives—that it will be like the onset of a great clashing and flashing thunderstorm. The revised version has corrupted this all-important point and changed it to using the brightness of lightning to illustrate the visibility of the second coming. It is the confrontational nature of the truth, not its visibility, that warrants the use of the metaphor of a thunderstorm.
For reasons explained, any unresigned, denial-free thinking prophet will necessarily experience great difficulty in having his family appreciate his work—as Christ said ‘no prophet is accepted in his home town’. The reason I have sought to clearly understand why unresigned prophets are not recognised in their own home is because I encountered this problem. As will be explained shortly, to be able to wander around in the realm of the human condition as easily as I have I must necessarily be an unresigned, denial-free thinker or prophet, albeit a contemporary one. In my family I am the second of four sons. My older brother saw my extreme idealism as ‘dangerous’, and the third brother described me as ‘mad’. This attitude led to a serious rift in 1991. My mother, to whom I attribute all my strength to be able to defy the world of denial, and whom I love more than anybody in the world, sided with these two brothers, even repeating to me that one of them thought I was mad. Incidentally, my father had died in a farming accident on our sheep property when I was 26 years of age, which was many years before this rift occurred. I had done all I possibly could over the years, short of self-destroying, to try and have my family understand the importance of my work, and once the rift occurred I had to decide whether or not to condone their effective dismissiveness of my work. Obviously I could not condone it and had to persevere with my work without them. Thankfully, my youngest brother, Simon, stood by me throughout this terrible experience and has continued to support me in this undertaking to bring understanding to the human condition. My other two brothers are relatively close to me in age while Simon is eight years younger than me, and it is the gap in both time and space that this age difference produced that has undoubtedly contributed to Simon being able to appreciate the real nature of my work.
Of the Founding Members of the World Transformation Movement, whose support of this project has been more precious than I am able to describe—this book is dedicated to them—the three who have been my closest supporters in this struggle to bring this denial-free Page 446 of
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Whenever an extremely difficult impasse for the resigned mind loomed in this undertaking, my brother Simon has always been there to tackle it. In particular Simon and two other WTM Founding Members, Richard Biggs and Anthony Landahl, developed the techniques for dismantling the denial that resigned humans adopted at resignation, paving the way for others in the WTM, and ultimately all resigned humans, to renegotiate resignation. The support Simon has given me personally, and given my life’s work of bringing understanding to the human condition, all through the years we grew up together, through the trauma of our family rift, through the years of persecution I have been subjected to for daring to grapple with the human condition, and throughout the development of the WTM, has truly been saint-like. On a large card that all of us at the WTM gave Simon on his 50th birthday recently, I wrote: ‘To the best brother a brother could ever have. You have given every last ounce of energy in your body to help me and I love you like there is no tomorrow, no yesterday, no anything else in the universe. Dear God thank you for Simon.’
Annie has worked by my side for 23 years now, helping with research, doing all the typing and computer work and looking after me practically. We began with one of the first word processors and the writing and research has been going on almost daily ever since. The contribution Annie has made to my work is incalculable and she is a model to all in the WTM of the selfless potential that these understandings make possible. I love her like the summer sun that envelopes everyone with its generous warmth.
My close friend, Tim Macartney-Snape, is a twice honoured Order of Australia recipient. He is a world renowned mountaineer, being the first Australian to climb Mt Everest. He is also a biologist and former student of Geelong Grammar School, the school that Simon and I and others in the WTM also attended. With his high public profile, Tim has had to endure terrible damage to his reputation and career as a result of his unwavering support of the WTM following the 1995 media attack on the WTM.
For the final essay in this book, Tim Macartney-Snape, in his role as Vice-President (in 2003) of the World Transformation Movement, has written a summary of the work of the WTM and its Membership.