Christmas is coming....

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Christmas is coming....

Post by mac on Mon Dec 05, 2011 10:12 am

Christmas is coming and with it comes all the gooey, sentimental tripe, synthetic love, gaudy imported decorations, retail madness and absurd over-idulgence that our western society demands to 'celebrate' Christmas.

Throw into this mix a fantasy story about someone born two millennia ago. Teach children the nonsense that Jesus came to save the world and was the 'Son of God'. Boost the collective mania by singing carols with a theme which is totally opposite to that of Spiritualism's simple message.

It's hard, of course, not to travel that same road we've been walking since the time we were tiny, a road we were conditioned to walk by parents, grandparents, schooling and the dictates of society.

Oh it doesn't matter, it's just a bit of fun for the kids, it doesn't do 'em any harm to believe in Santa - it's Christmas! You've all heard this stuff - you might even say the same yourself. And it is right that believing in Santa is a bit of fun for small kids. Left at that its fine. Trouble is all the Christmassy stuff gets mixed and muddled in a child's mind and years later those kids have become adults who are then totally muddled about Jesus and God and Christmas and Easter and....well you get my point.

Spiritualism? Oh yes. That's what I was getting to. Spiritualism? Isn't that all about getting message at the spooks church?

What does Spiritualism really have to say about Jesus and about Christmas?

mac


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Re: Christmas is coming....

Post by obiwan on Mon Dec 05, 2011 12:01 pm

Bah! Humbug! Smile

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Re: Christmas is coming....

Post by mac on Mon Dec 05, 2011 12:25 pm

obiwan wrote:Bah! Humbug! Smile

Very Happy Laughing

mac


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Re: Christmas is coming....

Post by hiorta on Mon Dec 05, 2011 2:47 pm

Absolutely nothing or at least, very little.

We are our own 'saviours' by the life led, the service to others and the respect given to other Life forms, who are also a cherished part of the Great Spirit.

Spirituality is recognised by its actions, not by tinselly trappings or public posturing, by example and not in trying to insert unproven myth into impressionable young minds.

There has been no evidence produced to support the existence of this major pillar of Christianity, Jesus. He has been credited with magical performances that do not stand scrutiny. He is said to be endowed with wisdom and knowledge beyond human possibility - yet his devoted followers are among the planets most reviled terrorists. Strange.

The stated pattern of his life could also be a cut & paste job from Mithra and even earlier times

The organisation claimed to have been founded by this figure has never offered credible, sustainable information / evidence in support of their claims, despite requests to do so, for over 1500 years.

The material shopfest in repeated annual 'celebration' of the purported birth of this 'simple' man does more for repairing fiscal economies than it does for Spiritual renewal.
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Re: Christmas is coming....

Post by mac on Mon Dec 05, 2011 4:18 pm

Rather more eloquent than I could manage but essentially, I'm in agreement. Smile

mac


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Re: Christmas is coming....

Post by obiwan on Mon Dec 05, 2011 5:17 pm

I like the idea of a mid-winter festival - especially in the Norther Hemi Smile - this is probably what Christmas was anyway I guess.

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Re: Christmas is coming....

Post by mac on Mon Dec 05, 2011 5:41 pm

obiwan wrote:I like the idea of a mid-winter festival - especially in the Norther Hemi Smile - this is probably what Christmas was anyway I guess.

Yes that would work for me too. I'd enjoy the idea of celebrating the disappearance of the old year.... A totally secular event with a short break in the long darkness of our northern hemisphere's winter. Very Happy

Not sure about the wisdom of welcoming in the new one though - they have too much of a habit of turning sour. Crying or Very sad


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Re: Christmas is coming....

Post by Left Behind on Mon Dec 05, 2011 7:36 pm

I still love Christmas! But not what it's become.

Jim

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Re: Christmas is coming....

Post by mac on Mon Dec 05, 2011 8:26 pm

Left Behind wrote:I still love Christmas! But not what it's become.

Jim

Perhaps you love the memory of what it once used to be for you?

Christmas is what it is. Not what it was...

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Re: Christmas is coming....

Post by Admin on Tue Dec 06, 2011 12:57 am

Hi Mac,

Looking at this thread I thought I would share with you the talk I gave at the mission at our close last Christmas. Topical enough because I am working upon this year’s effort for next Sunday.

In the talk I reminded those attending that the images of Christmas that we most see in modern times are mainly of Christmas Presents and Father Christmas. Progressively we see less and less of the underlying Spiritual story of Jesus.

Maybe this is not surprising, the Romans chose to celebrate his birth, not on the actual date it occurred, but on a traditional day of celebration which was already very important to their culture.

This choice was made when they decided to adopt Christianity as the Official religion of the Roman Empire. Given the immense cultural diversity of this community it was necessary for them to find a way to incorporate traditional festivals celebrated for other deities into the festive days of the Christian religion. Thus under the surface of the Christian Celebrations in December are the foundations of earlier beliefs.

In many ways, of the dates chosen Christmas represented the largest convergence of those earlier celebrations. The Romans were the first to adopt an official birthday , for entirely pragmatic purposes, a policy which continues today with the Queen’s birthday formally celebrated on a date other than that of her birth.

Christmas day was the birth day of the Roman God Mithra, a belief brought back from Persia by the legions. Born out of a rock and with the symbol of a lamb but even that was another “formal” birth date to allow this religion to absorb one of the earliest religious days into its belief. The lamb was a representative of this God but even this was transmuted into the symbol of Jesus the Son of God.

The use of December 25th tied all of these celebrations to the same period of time in which the winter solstice occurred, a date with festivities from the earliest days when the sun was worshipped. The winter solstice was one of the most important because it was a time for the rebirth of all things, especially of that most essential ingredient of life, the Sun.

So we celebrate Jesus’s birth on a day which already had a long history of celebration and feasting. Clearly removing this day to a new slot in the calendar would have made the acceptance of the new religious order much harder. So, like the canny politicians they were they changed the date of the birth of Jesus to fit their needs.

However, that celebration also led to the incorporation of other ideas, some already inherent in history. Slowly but surely we have seen the rise of Father Christmas to the preeminent position at Christmas, usurping that of Jesus Christ.

Even Carols by candlelight turns into a light hearted entertainment, where the happy tubby fellow in a red suit puts in his appearance at the end, to promise all the children presents.

Yet the ghost of this presence was already there before the new Christmas day was chosen by the Church of Rome. The predecessors to Father Christmas can be found in place elsewhere in the world.

From the early echoes of the 4th Century Saint Nicholas of Myra (a Byzantium province) a very pious Christian Bishop famous for his generosity to the poor, we find ourselves also drawn back in time to a celebration of the pagan god Odin.

The Germanic people already had the Yule holiday when Odin, in legend, led great hunting parties through the sky. Children left carrots, straw and sugar for Odin’s 8 legged “horse” to eat (leading to the reindeer myth) and be rewarded them with presents.

With the advent of Christianity the Odin myth and the Saint Nicolas myth became blended. These then spread into Holland through Sinter Klaas, from where it first entered the USA. In the USA the legend met the British Father Christmas, then, as depicted in the early illustrations in Dicken’s Christmas Carol (1843), a well nourished bearded man dressed in a long green fur trimmed robe.

Then the USA firmed up the current image of Father Christmas, Coca Cola are credited with the final version, through a long advertising campaign designed by artist Haddon Sundblom, running from 1931 to 1964. Admittedly, the model chosen was one that had been drawn for Harpers Bizarre, in 1863, by Thomas Nast, a civil war cartoonist. Sundblom’s inspiration, in terms of character, was a poem called “A visit from St. Nicholas” written by Clement Clark Moore in 1822.

In reality is it so bad that this benign figure has taken over Christmas. In the sense that it has become rampantly commercial undoubtedly it is. However, it allows the many non church goers to participate in the Christmas frivolities. Additionally it can be a more effective figure to use in persuading people to donate to the less fortunate.

Sadly though, this becomes the focus of people’s expectations, with billions of dollars spent upon advertising to sell us the presents that we all “need” for Xmas. It removes the focus from the spiritual story that is the reason for our festivities. Maybe that was always the destiny of the festive season, given the choice of dates to match it to a pre-existing celebration, predominantly of bacchanalia.

As a Spiritualist I am not a Christian. To me the work of Jesus Christ was not to save us but to teach us to save ourselves. I see Jesus like many other great teachers from the past, a teacher, healer and medium. A man so strongly in touch with the spark of the divine within himself that he could work what appeared to be miracles. This is the spark of Spirit that we all have within us, remember that, if it is a correct record, Jesus taught that we could all aspire to do what he did.

His words ring with that humanity and reflect the teaching of all the great sages from early times. His teaching, to love one another regardless of differences, reflects the same Golden Rule propounded by Confucius and implicit in so many religions. Yet as a member of the tribe of Abraham he was still subject to their laws. Sadly that meant he could not openly reject the Old Testament and Ten Commandments. As a result it is far too often that the punitive words of these teachings have meant our churches follow those commandments more tightly than the words of love from Jesus.

It is because of his teachings that we should all be able to relate to Christmas, whatever religion we are. We should be able to set aside our differences and celebrate our similarities. If we add this as to the Festive Season maybe we can balance all of its elements.

Think about the reported purpose of the life of Jesus and celebrate this as an example to all of us, let this infuse the fun and joy of the season. Then put the commercial elements of Xmas into their proper place, not letting them drive you to over spend or have expectations that are too high to be met which only result in disappointment.

Take pleasure in passing the time of the season with anybody, but especially treasuring those moments when the family can be together. Use the time to exercise your right to let go of past hurts in the spirit of the love that should be with us at this time.

For those of us who are Spiritualists always take time out to acknowledge our helpers and those loved one’s in Spirit, knowing that they are always with us.
Take space for yourselves over Xmas and allow yourself to enjoy the rare time you get either to spend with others, without the invasion of the day to day life we face, or as an opportunity for your own reflections.

I wish you all a Wonderful Solstice, Happy Mithra’s day, Joyeuse Noel, Merry Christmas and a Happy and healthy New Year
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Re: Christmas is coming....

Post by mac on Tue Dec 06, 2011 9:34 am

thanks, Jim - I copied that before (with your blessing) for future reference as it's such a valuable look at the history of the Christmas celebration.

I posted my piece on a number of website forums, either somewhere directly concerned with Spiritualism or in a general forum where that wasn't possible. I wrote about Spiritualism in a setting of Spiritualism. I correctly anticipated the outcome.... Wink

It was a set up for some individuals. Not deliberately unkind, though, and for a specific reason. One was that I'm weary of struggling to stop topics about Spiritualism being hijacked by individuals who won't accept it's not spirituality. This time I was able to keep referring to the question in the final sentence - the rest was preamble. It again showed what I've seen so often - forum members not reading what's written. They react to what they thought was said.

Reactions were interesting if not predictable. Some were blazingly indignant and hostile, believing I was attacking Christmas. For most it didn't register that I was questioning Spiritualism - they just gave forth on how they felt personally about Christmas.

Another important reason was that I wanted to hear what Spiritualists feel - the question in the last sentence. I hope you won't mind my asking you to offer your own thoughts on what Spiritualism has to say about Jesus and about Christmas?

mac


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Re: Christmas is coming....

Post by hiorta on Tue Dec 06, 2011 11:00 am

In addition to the earlier reply, the world revolves steadily, the Natural Laws do not change, Life comes to and leaves Mother Earth continuously. There is no malice or ill-intent in this - these things just are.

Should groups of people choose to hold unsupported beliefs that this or that bit of magic occurred and 'hooray, we can now dispense with having to think and learn of eternal things and just get the party going 'cos we're all saved', then is this an appropriate, intelligent response to the winter solstice?

Or should we try to bear in mind the bigger picture that we have been privy to?

Or both?
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Re: Christmas is coming....

Post by Left Behind on Tue Dec 06, 2011 3:20 pm

Excellent post, Jim!

How many believe that it's not possible to be a Christian and a Spiritualist?

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Re: Christmas is coming....

Post by mac on Tue Dec 06, 2011 5:21 pm

Left Behind wrote:Excellent post, Jim!

How many believe that it's not possible to be a Christian and a Spiritualist?
me for one

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Re: Christmas is coming....

Post by hiorta on Tue Dec 06, 2011 5:59 pm

The two philosophies are mutually exclusive - with one assuming personal control in life - the other placing responsibility elsewhere.
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Re: Christmas is coming....

Post by obiwan on Tue Dec 06, 2011 6:29 pm

It depends on one's definition of 'Christian' and 'spirititualist' perhaps.

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Re: Christmas is coming....

Post by Left Behind on Tue Dec 06, 2011 10:30 pm

Christianity is based on revelation (spirit), and the Bible indicates that spirit contact was common among the early Christians.

As far as atonement vs. personal responsibility. . . is there necessarily a conflict between the two?

There is, if you accept the evangelical notion that one is going straight to hell forever if he doesn't ask Jesus to save him, and that all his sins are forgiven and he's going to enjoy heavenly bliss forever, if he does.

I confess that I really don't understand what Christ's atonement really means.

But I don't believe that the evangelicals have it right. I believe that Christ did something wonderful for us all: what and how and why, I really don't know. But I still believe that we remain individually responsible for our own spiritual progress.

Jim

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Re: Christmas is coming....

Post by Admin on Tue Dec 06, 2011 11:26 pm

I agree totally with both of those views. Indeed Christianity does not represent correctly the views of the person who was said to be Christ. Those views were very simply put as his commandments, they never included the Old Testament 10 Commandmenst the Church decided to. He never claimed that he was here to save us and he never said he was the son of God.

Those claims have been made for him by the Church.

No original sin, no vicarious atonement and no need for the church to be our intermediary with Spirit. As a Spiritualist my contact is direct to Spirit, if I never attended a Spiritualist Church or Centre I would still be a Spiritualist because through meditations I have my direct contact with the Spirit World.

Additionally if I try to live my life in the best possible way, accepting the things that physical life will throw at us will mean that I fail at times, to reflect my Principles and try to be of service then I have done that which is required as a Spiritualist.

It is not mandatory that Spiritualists attend Church to praise the Lord it is a natural part of our life. The only reason to go would be to associate with like minds or to become involved to try to ensure that our Centres reflect our philosophy and the Mediumship is about Proof of Survival.

Oh Proof of Survival is another reason it is difficult to be a Christian, only a few sects believe that we could survive and even then that could only be the Christuians in heaven. No heaven and no hell that is Spiritualism too. Oh one other thought, please define a Christian. Is it Catholic, Pentecostal, Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Anglican, Lutheran, Happy Clappy, Mormon, Seventh Day Adventist, Christaldelphian, Christian Scientist, Quaker, Amish, Jehovah's Witness. I am just scratching the surface here and each defines Christianity a different way with different beliefs and a different future life for its own believers.

Mac I am glad you posted that elsewhere, I thought it was on here somewhere lol.

I can imagine the reactions you have received, a regular problem in running a centre are those who come in to groups, love the place and what it offers people. However, they are on their spiritual journey so they want the Centre to accept all of the New Age Ideas and other beliefs like the Wiccan worship of the Solstices. They turn round and say well its all spiritual so a Spiritualist centre should accept it.

Quite often it can come to tears with the person stomping away from the centre because it is stuck in its ways and to fuddy duddy to accept the changes that are needed. Sometimes the tears are from the Spiritualists because these people gain control and the centre becomes a new age metaphysical throw it all in place.

The failure of organisational Spiritualism has been to ensure that people know what Spiritualism is really about that it is a valid Religion, Philosophy and Truth. Maybe if we re-engaged with Science and the SPR it would help to place us back on the map. Changes need to come but they are likely to be evolutionary, as we discern ideas that fit the Philosophy, not revolutionary where we just toss everything in.

My take on Christmas and Jesus. Well as Christmas is not his actual birthday then celebrating it as such is a little irrelevant. There are also the major issues of whether the real Christ either existed or alternatively is an amalgam created from the lives of two people.

just for interest here are a couple of interesting takes from people within the Christian World which may open some eyes
http://ensignmessage.com/archives/christbirthday1.html
http://ensignmessage.com/archives/moreaboutmagi.html
I place these in the post because it shows the variable thoughts about the actual date and it also lets you know that the 3 wise men never visited Bethlehem.

It also brings in the magi and I am aware that one of the ideas about the composite Jesus was two figures, one of whom was the very real Simon Magus, hardly surprisingly a Samaritan. When you study the many varying reports of this individual you begin to find out all the issues of timing and accuracy of the early records

Now if we take away the point of Christmas then what use is it. My take upon Christmas is that it has always been a time of celebration. Yes in the early days there may well have been both animal and human sacrifice to try to ensure the bounty of the reborn year. However, these are well behind us now and historically we have a brief period of the year where many beliefs and religions coincide to celebrate and spread goodwill to all.

Now as a Spiritualist that is something I can get right behind. Enjoy yourself but let us send out positively to all of mankind. I think the Spiritualist movement should abandon the strict idea of celebrating Christmas and project instead a celebration of all of Spirit in peace.

This is probably the one time in each year that where the majority of people in the world maybe thinking about good will and peace. I believe one of the days, possibly boxing day, should be re dedicated as a World Peace Day, to utilise the powerful vibrations that this communal thought could bring. Who knows the Spiritist and Spiritualist Organisations, working together, could be large enough to get this going.

As to Jesus himself a great healer and teacher. Maybe a medium in the old way of prophecy providing wisdom from God or his messengers given directly to him. Ignoring the Old Testament his words have the same value to us as all of the other great teachers


Last edited by Admin on Wed Dec 07, 2011 5:26 am; edited 2 times in total
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Re: Christmas is coming....

Post by Admin on Tue Dec 06, 2011 11:33 pm

Jim

In Christianity Atonement = Vicarious Atonement = being saved in the sight of the Lord through the intercession of Jesus Christ ...provided you wer a believer.

That is not at all like our Principle which applies to every Spirit leaving a physical life whatever ther Religion.. a Universal Natural Law your prior belief and lifestyle not withstanding. Good, bad, wise, foolish, weak, strong, rich , poor, religious or atheist.

Not Principle 5 Personal Responsibility but 6 Compensation and Retribution hereafter for all the Good and Evil deeds done on earth.

Jim
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Re: Christmas is coming....

Post by hiorta on Wed Dec 07, 2011 8:38 am

"" Christian Atonement/ Vicarious Atonement / being saved in the sight of the Lord through the intercession of Jesus Christ ...provided you were a believer/praising the Lord....etc."

These are all theological concepts and all designed to have you turn up on cue - and bring your money.

We are all Spirit in essence and in fact. We are basically consciousness operating in unfriendly territory, hence we need a body as a space suit.

We are all uniquely different in a myriad of subtle ways so how could crude theology ever understand us, far less 'lead' us, down their well trodden road to nowhere?

We are both Captain and crew of our own wee ship, exploring and gaining Life experience on our voyage. All we need is within and only we have the correct key.
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Re: Christmas is coming....

Post by mac on Wed Dec 07, 2011 9:46 am

[quote="Admin"]


"No original sin, no vicarious atonement and no need for the church to be our intermediary with Spirit. As a Spiritualist my contact is direct to Spirit, if I never attended a Spiritualist Church or Centre I would still be a Spiritualist because through meditations I have my direct contact with the Spirit World." Wonder where that leaves me? I feel I'm a Spiritualist (Jeez I'm involved enough to think that) yet where is my contact direct to spirit? I rarely visit a church and don't meditate so I guess - on the basis above - I don't have any contact with the 'spirit world' Am I then not a Spiritualist at all?

Additionally if I try to live my life in the best possible way, accepting the things that physical life will throw at us will mean that I fail at times, to reflect my Principles and try to be of service then I have done that which is required as a Spiritualist. Is that required - by whom? Or is it what you expect of yourself - as I expect it of myself?

It is not mandatory that Spiritualists attend Church. full stopto praise the Lord what? it is a natural part of our life. your life perhaps but not mine....The only reason to go One reason to go.... would be to associate with like minds or to become involved to try to ensure that our Centres reflect our philosophy and the Mediumship is about Proof of Survival. yes

Oh Proof of Survival is another reason it is difficult to be a Christian, very difficult because it's strongly discouraged... only a few sects believe that we could survive and even then that could only be the Christuians in heaven. No heaven and no hell that is Spiritualism too. Oh one other thought, p........a different way with different beliefs and a different future life for its own believers.

Mac I am glad you posted that elsewhere, I thought it was on here somewhere lol. It's gone in a number of forums, largely eliciting similar reactions from the few who are prepared, or interested/knowledgeable enough, to respond....

I can imagine the reactions you have received, a regular problem in running a centre are those who come in to groups, love the place and what it offers people. However, they are on their spiritual journey so they want the Centre to accept all of the New Age Ideas and other beliefs like the Wiccan worship of the Solstices. They turn round and say well its all spiritual so a Spiritualist centre should accept it. Spiritualism = spirituality. It frequently drives me to distraction. I'd be tearing out my hair if I had any! Razz

Quite often it can come to tears with the person stomping away from the centre because it is stuck in its ways and to fuddy duddy to accept the changes that are needed. I get the online equivalent reaction.... Sometimes the tears are from the Spiritualists because these people gain control and the centre becomes a new age metaphysical throw it all in place. It's usually me who's in tears for equivalent reasons....

The failure of organisational Spiritualism has been to ensure that people know what Spiritualism is really about that it is a valid Religion, Philosophy and Truth. ABSOLUTELY Maybe if we re-engaged with Science and the SPR it would help to place us back on the map. maybe....Changes need to come but they are likely to be evolutionary, as we discern ideas that fit the Philosophy, not revolutionary where we just toss everything in. Changes are needed but it may already be too late for Spiritualism....

My take on Christmas and Jesus. .........s himself a great healer and teacher. Maybe a medium in the old way of prophecy providing wisdom from God or his messengers vitally important to understand - as vital as trying to show what God is, or much more importantly, is not.....given directly to him. Ignoring the Old Testament his words have the same value to us as all of the other great teachers.

mac


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Re: Christmas is coming....

Post by hiorta on Wed Dec 07, 2011 10:23 am

Many valid points there.

When learning anything, a structure and some hierarchy of exposure is helpful - higher maths would appear after basic arithmetic, for example.

Gaining a hold on such abstract concepts as discussed here, may obscure rather than enlighten and when different theories come in timeous conflict, well it could get to be a real mess. Various recommended books and practices add to the fun, although it is far from funny for anyone trying to plough a satisfactory furrow through the gloom.

There is a saying of some validity that 'when the pupil is ready, the Teacher will appear' - the Teacher not necessarily being a person.

We all have a vibrant contact with Spirit, whether realised or not. Our Minds are capable of being influenced and of course the Law of Attraction always applies. Our thoughts convey the earned influences to Mind and so we move in accordance. After a while we may realise and even recognise, input from a trusted guiding influence, but attempts will be made to enlighten any individual sincerely seeking Truth.
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Re: Christmas is coming....

Post by mac on Wed Dec 07, 2011 11:55 am

hiorta wrote:Many valid points there.

When learning anything, a structure and some hierarchy of exposure is helpful - higher maths would appear after basic arithmetic, for example....................nces to Mind and so we move in accordance. After a while we may realise and even recognise, input from a trusted guiding influence, but attempts will be made to enlighten any individual sincerely seeking Truth.

"Many valid points there." ditto Wink

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Re: Christmas is coming....

Post by Admin on Wed Dec 07, 2011 11:18 pm

We all have a vibrant contact with Spirit, whether realised or not.

Hi Mac I think Hiorta has defined my first point, before I was a Spiritualist I was an agnostic and felt quite comfortable that I did have a relationship with God, albeit I did not worship at a Church. I had no idea what it was just a sense.
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