Posts Tagged ‘Bible’

The Gospels

April 4, 2011
gospel of mark

gospel of mark

Mathew, Mark, Luke and John. Four gospels. When were they written, by who were they written, what do they tell us?

John is radically different from the first three and was written much later. The first three seem at first glance to be similar, but if we look carefully there are differences. What do these differences tell us?

Consider the Parable of the Sower. Before reading further, reflect on what you can recall of this parable, then read on.

Mathew 13: 3-9

And he told them many things in parables, saying: “Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen!”

Mark 4: 3-9

“Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and it sprang up quickly, since it had no depth of soil. And when the sun rose, it was scorched; and since it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. Other seed fell into good soil and brought forth grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.” And he said, “Let anyone with ears to hear listen!”

Luke 8:4-8

When a great crowd gathered and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable: “A sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell on the path and was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. Some fell on the rock; and as it grew up, it withered for lack of moisture. Some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew with it and choked it. Some fell into good soil, and when it grew, it produced a hundredfold.” As he said this, he called out, “Let anyone with ears to hear listen!”

All appears to be the same, but look very carefully. Look at the second to last sentence. Note Mathew refers to seeds. But in particular note Luke tells us not only that some seed fell on the path but that they were trampled on.

If we interpret the seed as the word of God that fell on deaf ears, but in some places took root and bore fruit, then what Luke has added implies that some who heard the word of God were persecuted. A different time, a different place.

Mark was the first Gospel. It is shorter than the other gospels. It starts with Jesus as a young man, we learn nothing of his early history.

Mathew incorporates much of Mark, showing that the author of Mathew was aware of Mark and accepted it as an authoritative text. He starts though by giving us the lineage of Jesus. He is establishing his authority. He is also placing it in a Jewish context.

Luke too also incorporates much of Mark, showing that the author of Luke was aware of Mark and accepted it as an authoritative text. Luke is the great story teller. Luke flushes the story out a little, he tells us a great crowd gathered, people from town after town came. Luke was also the author of Acts. Luke is writing within a Greco-Roman context.

Not only do Mathew and Luke incorporate Mark into their gospels in what is little more than a cut and paste operation, they also to a large extent keep the same order.

There are though a couple of lines in Mark that do not make it into either Mathew or Luke. These refer to the author of Mark. Do we assume that as Mathew and Luke are writing their gospels, they do not wish a reference to another gospel writer?

Mathew and Luke also have common text, but not drawn from Mark. Principally the sayings of Jesus. What were they drawing on? In the absence of another gospel, scholars postulated a gospel which they called Q.

In 1945, the Nag Hammadi find was discovered. A cache of books in an earthenware jar. Within that find was the Gospel of Thomas. It was the sayings of Jesus with no narrative.

The Gospel of Thomas is different from the other four gospels. It is a mystical gospel, the sayings are enigmatic, he who understands will achieve immortality, seek and ye shall find, the Kingdom of Heaven is all around us, in the here and now.

The Gospel of Thomas differs in other ways too. The Virgin Birth is not there, nor the Crucifixion, nor the Judgement at the End of Days.

Thomas 9

Jesus said: Look, there was a man who came out to sow seed. He filled his hand with seed and threw it about. Some fell onto the road, and birds ate it. Some fell onto rocks and could not root and produced no grain. Some fell into patches of thorny weeds that kept it from growing, and grubs ate it. Some seed fell upon good soil and grew and produced good grain. It was 60 units per measure and 120 units per measure.

The gospels were written after the death of Jesus. For the authors Jesus was still present, they were inspired by His presence. This begs the question where do we draw the line?

Philip Yancey, when writing of the life of Jesus, draws on Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy, who were inspired by God. Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho is inspired by God.

We find the same if we go back in time. Hildegard von Bingen saw herself as a feather on the breath of God. She communicated with God through visions. The music of J S Bach, the writings of Thomas Aquinas. The visionary William Blake had many visions and encounters with angels. Handel’s Messiah was an inspiration from angels and an attempt to capture their voices. On completing the ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ Handel is reported to have exclaimed ‘I think I did see all Heaven open before me and the great God Himself.’

Why four gospels? Why not three, why not five? Why was the Gospel of Thomas omitted? Around 180 AD, Irenaeus, Bishop of Lugdunum in Gaul (now Lyons in France), argued that there should be only four gospels.

The Gospel of Thomas could have been omitted as it did not support the prevailing doctrine, thus had to be destroyed as a heretical book. It could be it was not known to the church in Europe even though it was known in the Middle East.

There are many books and letters missing from the Bible. Although we no longer refer to them as heretical, they tend to be dismissed as lacking authority. This is a mistake. They were once seen as sacred texts, as important as those we are familiar with.

Many thanks to the Rev Robert Cotton, Rector of Holy Trinity in Guildford, on whose excellent talk I have drawn. Any mistakes, omissions, additions, are mine and mine alone. And special thanks to the helpers who prepared and served an excellent dinner.

Synchronicity: I picked up my copy of The Gospel of Thomas by Stevan Davies. It fell open at the Parable of the Sower!

The Gospel of Thomas
The Gospel of Thomas Collection
– Jesus Wars
– Lost Scriptures
The mystery of Melchizedek
Where does religion come from?
Christian Theology and Gaia
The Role of Science and Faith in the Development of Civilisations
Suffering

What a Rabbi Learns from Muhammad

March 31, 2011
Muslim and Jew

Muslim and Jew

I first studied Islam when I was a student at UCLA almost 50 years ago, Then again while I was in Rabbinical school. Over the years I continued to read the Qur’an and other Islamic books. I read these books as the Prophet taught his followers in a Hadith “not as a believer, and not as a disbeliever”. What does that mean? The Qur’an, of course, is sacred scripture for Muslims. A disciple of Muhammad named Abu Huraira relates, “The people of the Book used to read the Torah in Hebrew and then explain it in Arabic to the Muslims. Allah’s Apostle said (to the Muslims). “Do not believe the people of the Book, nor disbelieve them, but say, ‘We believe in Allah, and whatever is revealed to us, and whatever is revealed to you.’ ” Following Muhammad’s teaching I too neither believe nor disbelieve in the Qur’an. If I believed in the Qur’an I would be a member of the Muslim Ummah (community). But I cannot disbelieve in the Qur’an because I believe that Muhammad is a prophet and I respect the Qur’an as a kindred revelation, to a kindred people, in a kindred language. In fact, the people, the language and the theology are closer to my own people, language and theology than that of any other on earth.

I would like to begin by sharing my understanding of several Ahadith that have taught me about my own religion. My understanding is reflected in my application (gloss) of each insight from my perspective as a Liberal/Reform Rabbi. They are all from Bukhari: Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet said, “Religion is very easy and whoever overburdens himself in his religion will not be able to continue in that way. So you should not be extremists, but try to be near to perfection and receive the good tidings that you will be rewarded. (Volume 1, Book 2, Number 38)

Gloss: The statement against becoming extremists needs to be taught in every house of prayer in the world. This applies of course, to political extremists as well as religious extremists who always prefer the stricter path to the more lenient way. For example, both Islam and Judaism teach the importance of sacred slaughter of meat, and the avoidance of certain animals for food. In Islam the rules are simpler and fewer than in Orthodox Judaism. Most Liberal/Reform Rabbis regard the increasingly restrictive developments in kashrut (Jewish dietary laws), especially for Passover, as a counterproductive, overburdening of the people. The expansion of restrictions on Shabbat activities over many centuries is also seen by most Liberal/Reform Rabbis as a counterproductive, overburdening of the joy of Shabbat. Muhammad wisely differentiates between extremism and striving to be near perfect (no one is perfect) which involves a rejection of extremism. Just trying hard to do well will be rewarded.

Narrated ‘Aisha and Ibn’ Abbas: On his deathbed Allah’s Apostle put a sheet over his-face and when he felt hot, he would remove it from his face. When in that state (of putting and removing the sheet) he said, “May Allah’s Curse be on Jews and Christians for they build places of worship at the graves of their prophets.” He intended to warn (Muslims) from what they (i.e. Jews and Christians) had done. (Volume 4, Book 56, Number 660)

Gloss: Allah’s apostle strongly opposed any diversion of reverence or worship to anyone other than God. Christians, and even Jews, had started worshiping at the graves of holy men, saints and prophets. Although they claimed to be only worshiping God, their feeling that prayer was better or more effective at such sites was cursed by Muhammad. In later centuries, Muslims also began worshiping at the tombs of holy men and building places of worship near their graves. Liberal/Reform Rabbis would agree that such activity at grave sites should be condemned and could be seen as a curse. Allah’s apostle must also have realized that even the Muslim community would also produce people whose piety would lead to such errors for a Hadith on the same page says,

Narrated Abu Said: The Prophet said: “You will follow the wrong ways of your predecessors so completely and literally that if they should go into the hole of an animal, you too will go there.” We said, “O Allah’s Apostle! Do you mean the Jews and the Christians?” He replied, “Who else?” (Volume 4, Book 56, # 662)

Gloss: Muhammad criticized the failings of many in the Jewish and Christian communities (as did the prophets of Israel) but he realized that people are human, and most do not seem to learn from the failings of others. He hoped that Muslims would retain their original purity, but he foresaw that with time and power; corruption, decay and falsification were inevitable. Allah’s apostle would certainly attack the false tradition of female genital mutilation in Africa today as sharply as he attacked female infanticide in Arabia in his day. It is a shame that many Muslim leaders in Africa today do not aggressively condemn it. But then, most Jewish leaders in the west do not aggressively condemn the Orthodox for not allowing Jewish woman to divorce their husbands. We all have to do a better job.

Abu Huraira related: Two men, a Muslim and a Jew, abused each other. The Muslim said , “By Him Who gave superiority to Muhammad over all the people.” At that, the Jew said, “By Him Who gave superiority to Moses over all the people.” The Muslim became furious at that and slapped the Jew in the face. The Jew went to Allah’s Apostle and informed him of what had happened between him and the Muslim. Allah’s Apostle said, “Don’t give me superiority over Moses, for people will fall unconscious on the Day of Resurrection and I will be the first to gain consciousness, and behold! Moses will be there holding the side of Allah’s Throne. I will not know whether Moses was among those people who became unconscious and then has regained consciousness before me, or was among those exempted by Allah from falling unconscious.” (Volume 8, Book 76, #524)

Gloss: Allah’s messenger is so well known for his sense of justice that a Jew can appeal to him even in a conflict with a Muslim who has attacked a Jew. It is only natural for Jews to think that Moses is the best, and for Muslims to think that Muhammad is the best. Muhammad rebukes the Muslim, telling him not to claim that Muhammad is superior to Moses because even on the day of Resurrection, Muhammad himself will not know their relative merit, for although Muhammad will be the first to be revived, Moses will already be standing there holding the side of God’s throne. Muhammad teaches us that comparisons of religious superiority are wrong, for no one in this world, and perhaps even in the world to come, will know who is the best.

Most Americans that I have spoken are amazed to hear such liberal and flexible statements coming from a religion that they think is ridged and fanatical. But the politicized Islam that has captured so much attention in the Muslim world today is the outgrowth of two recent factors. One is an anti-western reaction and scapegoating due to the great upheavals occurring in all modernizing societies in the 20th and 21th centuries. This reaction is inflamed as the result of several previous centuries of socio-economic decline that took place in the Middle East. Also Judaism and Christianity have already had reforming movements that took generations to bare fruit.. Islam is just starting the process of revival and reform. The Prophet had predicted that over the centuries Muslims would also become more rigid and orthodox, just as the Jews and Christian had. Abu Sa’id al-Khudri reported Allah’s Messenger as saying: You will tread the same path as was trodden by those before you, inch by inch and step by step, so much so that if they had entered into the hole of a lizard, you would follow them in this also. We said: Do you mean Jews and Christians? He said: Who else?” Muhammad was wise enough to realize that even his own ummah was subject to the circumstances of history.

Nevertheless as a Reform Rabbi, I realize that in many ways Muhammad showed seventh century Jews in Arabia how to reform Orthodox Judaism to bring it back to the simpler rules of the Torah..

Unlike Orthodox Rabbis, Liberal/Reform Rabbis accept the doctrine of nullification – which teaches that one verse in scripture can nullify another, and that rulings can be changed due to changed circumstances. Muhammad provides an excellent example of this principle in the following account. The Prophet originally told women not to visit graveyards, but toward the end of his life, he said to them: “I had told you not to visit graves; now I am telling you to visit them.” The reason was that Arabian women used to wail at graves. The Prophet wanted this practice to be stopped. Therefore, he banned women from visiting graves to start with. After sometime, when Muslim women were better aware of how Islam wants them to behave in different situations, he allowed them such visits. In fact, the Prophet encourages visiting graveyards because such a visit reminds the visitor of his or her own death and the fact that they would have to stand in front of God when their actions are reckoned to determine their reward or punishment. Scholars like Ibn Qudamah, of the Hanbali school of law, make it clear that since this is the purpose of visiting graveyards, both men and women need such visits.

Another important teaching of the Qur’an is that God chose not to create human beings as one nation or with only one religion so that each religion could compete with the others in order to see which religion produces the highest percentage of moral and loving people. As it is written in the Koran [5.48] “For every one of you did We appoint a law and a way. If Allah had pleased He would have made you one people, but (He didn’t) that He might test you in what He gave you. Therefore compete with one another to hasten to virtuous deeds; for all return to Allah, so He will let you know (after Judgement Day) that in which you differed.” This is a wonderful further development of the teaching of the Biblical prophet Micah (4:5) that in the end of days-the Messianic Age “All people will walk, each in the name of their own God, and we shall walk in the name of the Lord our God forever.”

There is no conflict, nor can there be any conflict, between Judaism and Islam. The conflict between Israelis and Palestinians is a territorial dispute. There are people who would like to make this territorial dispute into a religious one in order to rally support for their side. We must resist this. I believe that the Koran itself predicts the return of the Jewish people to the Land God gave to the descendants of Abraham and his two sons. I believe the reference in the Koran to the land of Israel in Sura V, where God says to Moses and to the Jewish people: “O my people, enter the Holy Land which God has decreed for you”, Koran [5:21]. More important for us today is the statement “WE SAID TO THE ISRAELITES AFTER HIM “DWELL SECURELY IN THE LAND OF PROMISE (THE PROMISED LAND) BUT WHEN THE SECOND OF THE WARNINGS COME TO PASS WE GATHER YOU TOGETHER IN A MINGLED CROWD BANI ISRAIL, Koran [17:104]. This refers to the return of Jews to the Land of Israel that is part of the great upheavals that proceed the age of the final judgment. The age we live in. The mingled crowd refers to both the Palestinians and the Israelis who will share the Promised Land together.

Neither side can claim it has the only right to the land or that its view is the only true one for as we have learned from the Hadith narrated Abu Huraira:The Prophet himself taught that even in the world to come it will not be clear if Moses or Muhammad is the supreme Prophet. Each is supreme for his own faithful community. A Muslim is one who submits to the will of Allah and believes that Allah has sent many different prophets to the many peoples of the world. As a Liberal/ Reform Rabbi I believe that Muhammad was the Prophet sent to the Arab people. I believe that the Qur’an is as true for Muslims as the Torah is true for Jews. Indeed, I love the Hadith Narrated by Abu Huraira that says, “The people of the Book used to read the Torah in Hebrew and then explain it in Arabic to the Muslims. Allah’s Apostle said (to the Muslims). “Do not believe the people of the Book, nor disbelieve them, but say, ‘We believe in Allah, and whatever is revealed to us, and whatever is revealed to you.’ ” Following Muhammad’s teaching I repeat that I too neither believe nor disbelieve in the Koran. I do respect the Koran very much as a kindred revelation to a kindred people in a kindred language. In fact, the people, language and theology are closer to my own people, language and theology than that of any other on earth. The strong support that the Qur’an gives to religious pluralism is a lesson that is sorely needed by the religious fundamentalists of all religions in the world today. As a well known Hadith says, “Prophets are brothers, sons of one father by co-wives. Their mothers are different but their religion is one.” (Bukhari and Muslim).

— Rabbi Allen Maller

Originally posted on The Islam Awareness Blog.

Rabbi Allen Maller is now retired after serving for 39 years as Rabbi of Temple Akiba in Culver City, California. The introduction to his website shows he is no ordinary rabbi.

We welcome both Jews and non-Jews to our website. People are interested in becoming Jewish for many reasons. Being saved by believing in Judaism as the only true religion is not one of them.

Please explore the various articles on our website and feel free to ask questions. Indeed, if you do not have a questioning spirit Judaism is not for you. Many people find blessings through becoming a part of God’s covenant with the Jewish people. Others find they are coming home. You may be attracted by your contact with a Jew or your study of Judaism. However you come to us we welcome you.

At his press conference to mark St Joseph Day, Paulo Coelho stated religions are not in conflict.

As Rabbi Allen Maller notes, the Koran recognises and preaches tolerance of other religions. Those who believed in the one God and did good had a special place, theirs was the path to salvation.

Surely those who believe, and those who are Jews, and the Christians, and the Sabians, whoever believes in the last Day and does good, they shall have their reward from the Lord, and there is no fear for them, nor shall they grieve.

It is only bigots and extremists who preach intolerance, who think theirs is the one true path.

The Quran places an obligation on learning. Women were granted rights.

The Golden Age of Islam saw a flourishing of the sciences, of the arts, of poetry. Those who made advances in these fields were also devout Muslims, they saw no conflict.

The Prophet was far-sighted and wise enough to see his reforms would become fossilized in dogma and warned against this happening.

Saudi Arabia denounces pro-democracy protests as ‘un-Islamic’
Women and Islam
Reconciliation
The Role of Science and Faith in the Development of Civilisations

A lack of grace

March 2, 2011

These people honour me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. — Jesus

What is it with Christian Evangelists, or maybe I should say some, for whom a more apt description would be Christian fundamentalists? They get up ones nose. I would not say I hate them, but they certainly disgust me.

Yesterday I was outside Nuestra Señora de la Peña de Francia en la Plaza de Iglesia en Puerto de la Cruz en Tenerife and overheard three people saying the church was closed. I politely interrupted them and said no it was not closed, it was open. What was apparently the mother and father walked off saying they would be back later leaving their son to look in the church.

He asked was I a Christian. I said it was not necessary to be a Christian to look in a church.

He must have thought this was a sign I needed ´saving´ as he reached in his bag to hand me some leaflets he thought or maybe insisted I should read and asked if I knew of Our Lord, that He had died on the cross to save sinners like me.

I beat him to it. I said I possibly knew more than he and showed him the first stanza of ´The Hound of Heaven´, and suggested that he read Why I Am a Christian by John Stott.

I told him God prodded and goaded.

This was a sign for him to offer to read to me from the Old Testament. He asked whether I knew a particular psalm, which I did, but I said I did not know the Old Testament well and preferred the New.

He told me both were the same God, to which I replied as was the Koran and cited the path to salvation was to believe in the one God and to do good.

This immediately put me beyond the pale. No it was nothing to do with doing good and Muslims were different and did not recognise Jesus.

I patiently explained this was not the case and was the ignorance of Christians who did not know the Koran. I explained the importance of Jesus in the Koran, and at the End of Days (in Mathew) Jesus would sit in Judgement, the sheep from the goats, ask why you did not give me a drink when I thirst, food when hungry, shelter when needed. But I did not see you my Lord. Was I not the beggar?

At this point I was not considered worthy of talking to and he walked off in a huff into the church.

In the meantime his parents had walked back and said they would see him at St Telmo.

I looked in the church a few minutes later, but he had gone.

I then found him looking out to sea looking very lost. I told him his parents had gone to St Telmo and I would take him there. I was probably the last person whose help he sought, but he had no choice. I could have just pointed it out, but I thought no, I would make the point of escorting him there.

I showed him a copy of The Big Question, but all I got was a gruff not interested.

We walked along in silence. It must have got to him as he asked me did I know Puerto de la Cruz and how long was I there? I told him yes, that I was there for three weeks, was then in England for a few days before going to Istanbul for a St Joseph´s Day party.

Istanbul?

He was now totally confused and perplexed.

I asked him did he know when this was?

No, he did not, so I told him 19 March. I then explained why I was there, as a guest of devout Catholic writer Paulo Coelho. Who of course he had never heard of.

I explained who Paulo Coelho was, that The Alchemist had sold over 40 million copies worldwide, but that Paulo Coelho was little known in England.

He then said I must be someone very important!

We by then had reached St Telmo.

I was tempted to hand him over to his parents with the comment, here is your ungracious son, but I resisted the temptation.

I did not tell him that in Istanbul we hope to attend Friday prayers!

Why do people behave like this? Do they not realise the damage they do? They are ego-tripping, believing they are doing good.

Archbishop William Temple spoke of the sin of self, self-centredness, that salvation was the freedom from self.

The favourite definition of a sinner of Martin Luther was homo in se incurvatus, ie man curved in on himself.

Jesus did not force people to adopt His faith. Indeed, He resisted the Temptation offered by the Devil.

Paulo Coelho in The Valkeryies and Philip Yancey in The Jesus I Never Knew, both tell the same story of a Grand Inquisitor telling Jesus they were having to undo the harm He had caused by giving people free will, they had to be forced to believe for their own salvation. [see The Grand Inquisitor]

Jesus did not demand, He did not pump out propaganda, He issued a humble invitation (Matthew 11:28):

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Why do people lack the grace of Coelho and Yancey?

But some good of this encounter. I had told this rather ungracious young man that I had never found St Telmo open. To my surprise I found it open.

Top story in El Religion Diario (Friday 4 March 2011).

Mary Margaret tells the story of Jonah

November 26, 2010

Normally I would find someting like this yuk, but she is brilliant. I could not stop laughing.

Also see

Christingle at St Mark’s

Though the fig tree does not bud

November 14, 2010

On my last night in Iraq, I went for a walk with an Iraqi Christian. It was a wonderful warm evening, the stars were shining and there was a bright full moon. I asked my friend “How can you keep going when everything seems so dreadful?” Without hesitation, he replied with some words from the prophet Habakkuk (3:17-18) — Canon Andrew White

Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
I will be joyful in God my Saviour.

— Habakkuk 3:17-18

Canon Andrew White (aka Vicar of Baghdad) was in Iraq as Director of the IRC at Coventry Cathedral, established following the German Bombing of Coventry which destroyed the mediaeval cathedral 70 years ago today.

He was in Iraq during the period of sanctions, The Twin Towers had been demolished and war with Iraq was inevitable.

It was his last night in Baghdad on the eve of the war. He went for an evening walk with an Iraqi Chistian. It was a lovely warm evening the stars were shining.

Although the future seemed bleak, the Iraqis looked forward to better times ahead.

Canon Andrew White flew back to England the next day fearing the future, but hoping that a horrible ending would be better than unending horror. He hoped in vain.

As we walked back to my hotel, the gigantic crossed swords of Saddam’s Victory Arch seemed to reach the sky. Here, heaven and hell met. As I flew back to Britain the next day, I felt intense fear for the people of Iraq. I just hoped that a horrible ending would be better than unending horror. I hoped in vain.

Iraqis are very proud of their Christian heritage. Their country has descended into hell on earth. They are petrified and many Christians have fled Iraq, but those who remain still go regularly to church, such is the strength of their faith.

Also see

Habakkuk 3:17

Iraq

The children of Iraq have names

Dinner with Canon Andrew White

The Fifth Mountain

Ruach Cards

September 9, 2010
Katrina Moss explaining Ruach Cards

Katrina Moss explaining Ruach Cards

A month ago at an evening meeting of Eden People in Guildford I met Katrina Moss, designer and developer of Ruach Cards. I was intrigued. We agreed to meet again first Tuesday of September and she would explain more.

Man used to be in touch with his spiritual side. Religion was not something practiced on a special day in a special building, it was something that encompassed every aspect of our lives. Indeed the idea of religion being something separate, apart from our everyday lives, would be seen as an alien concept. We see this today in what is known as Little Tibet in India.

Katrina tried to draw on these earliest influences. She drew upon the Bible, used dreams, used the natural world, listened to the Soul of the World, asked God for his help. Twenty years later and the result was the system of Ruach Cards.

Ruach Cards is not one set of cards. It is several sets and a subset of these cards is used in any one reading.

I was given a choice of three different readings

– Healing Water
– Four Winds of Change
– Past, Present and Future

The theme of the meeting of Eden People was water. Tempting, but I said no. Past, Present and Future I did not like, so I picked on Four Winds of Change.

At this point I would emphasis that although Ruach Cards sound and look superficially similar to Tarot cards, they are not. Tarot cards predict, Ruach Cards do not. Ruach Cards describe the state as is, maybe drawing forth what you are not aware of, but they do not predict. They are also superficially similar to Jesus Cards. The Jesus Cards describe where you are now, but unlike the Jesus Cards which use passages from the Bible, and were originally developed as a kind of flash cards for the Bible, Ruach Cards draw upon much wider sources, for example the natural world and numbers (but it is not numerology).

And before you ask where can you get them from you cannot. The only people who have them is Katrina and those she has trained in their use.

Four Winds of Change represent perception, self-perception and how others may perceive us, including God.

Having chosen Four Winds of Change, I was allowed to draw a card from each of the four sets of cards. Each set Katrina showed me first (with the exception of the Mystery Cards which I was not allowed to see). The cards were shuffled, and I then drew a card. The Mystery Cards I was not allowed to see, else, explained Katrina, how would they be a mystery?

Birds

Birds are messengers of truth. Noah released birds, carrier pigeons take messages, canaries are used in mines to warn of dangerous gases.

Trees

Trees represent a journey, either a physical or a spiritual journey. For those walking El Camino de Santiago it is both a spiritual and physical journey. Trees exist in two mediums, the earth and the air. Their roots dig deep into the earth, their branches spreading in the air.

We have the Tree of Life, the Tree of Knowledge, the living tree.

Numbers

Numbers can be predictive.

Numbers are multidimensional in terms of source. For example four: the four seasons, the four compass points, the four elements (earth, wind, fire and water).

Mysteries

Unknown, otherwise not a mystery!

Drawing the cards

Each card drawn was placed face down until all four cards were drawn. The cards were laid out, still face down, in the shape of a cross. The cards were then turned over in the order in which they had originally be chosen with Katrina explaining the significance of each card as it was exposed.

Nightingale

The last to sing at night, will often sing into the night. Often the first to sing in the morning. A symbol of joy. Note the distinction between joy and happiness. Associated with hope and joy, having a positive attitude to life. Will often see and identify the negative, but only in order that improvement may be made.

Willow

The willow represents empathy. Will not walk on by when others are in trouble. Will go out of the way to help others. Willow grows by water. Drawing on the source of life. Need to tap into the source that sustains. This can be interpreted as drawing on the Soul of the World or God.

Sixteen

Sixteen is shown as wrapped. Sixteen is a gift. It represents love and friendship. Love and friendship from another. A gift that needs to be opened. You do not know what the gift is until it is opened. You need to open your heart to love and friendship.

Mystery

A quote from Isiah. Freedom. A blessing from God. Isiah 61:1 (AMP):

He has sent me to bind up and heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom to the physical and spiritual captives.

Once all four cards had been shown, Katrina asked what I thought and was also interested in how they compared with the Jesus Cards drawn by Eden People a couple of months ago at the Celebrating Surrey Festival.

She then, with my consent, spent several minutes praying on the significance of the cards drawn and thanking God for His guidance.

After the reading I was given the Isiah quotation. On the back Katrina wrote the key points from the reading.

Before Katrina arrived I had an interesting discussion about festivals and food. After the reading a brief discussion of Paulo Coelho.

I also sampled a very interesting and tasty West India savoury tidbit. To whoever made it and brought it along, thank you it was delicious and could I please have the recipe (ingredients and preparation). We can then share it with others.

I had not been feeling well and had intended going home early. I ended leaving very late, too late to catch a late train and caught a train after midnight. I arrived home in the early hours of the morning.

Also see

The Pilgrimage

The Witch of Portobello

Brida

The Alchemist

By the River Piedra I sat Down and Wept

Manual of the Warrior of Light

A Warrior’s Life

Prayer and Meditation Cards

Eden People demonstrating use of Jesus Cards