Jubilee - Like Movements Often A Death GaspI often have questions about Jubilee 98, Jubilee 99 or Jubilee 2000 (Y2K). As a farm boy we can remember that the placid chicken's body suddenly broke into an exciting, musical dance when its head was snapped off. How, then, can we tell the difference between the exciting dance and the death spasm?
If we are to repeat history, that nervous "end of the cycle" feeling will be acted out in a feeding-frenzy to establish "new programs" and to decide who will be the next "god-king" to lead us safely into the next millennium. This may look like signs of spiritual health but many observers note that it may be the "death rattles" of a Word-starved dying civilizations. Amos and Isaiah spoke of that music/starvation theme. Using the "wine" symbol, one observer noted that --
"Jingling, banging, and rattling accompanied heathen cults, and the frenzying shawms of a dozen ecstatic cries intoxicated the masses. Amid this euphoric farewell feast of a dying civilization, the voices of nonconformists were emerging from places of Jewish and early Christian worship ..." (Encyclopedia Judaica, 1971 ed., s.v. "Music")
In worship, this death-spasm may result because its "spirit" is "excitement" or "wine" rather than "Word" which gives life. By not anchoring faith in Christ's power to accomplish His task during His first advent the world might drug the church and its dying gasp might look exciting. This breakdown usually happens because --
"Based on the concept of an organic pattern in the life course of civilization, a morphology of history: the idea that every culture has its period of youth, its period of culmination, its years then of beginning to totter with age and of striving to hold itself together by means of rational planning, projects, and organization, only finally to terminate in decrepitude, petrification... and no more life. Moreover, in this view of Spengler's, we were at present on the point of passing from what he called the period of Culture to Civilization, which is to say, from our periods of youthful, spontaneous, and wonderful creativity to those of
uncertainty and anxiety, contrived programs, and the beginning of the end." (Campbell, Joseph, Myths to Live By, p. 84)
The Aztecs are a dead affect image for Rubel Shelly and Randy Harris. The Babylonians may be directly connected or both may be the universal imitation of the end-time Babylon form of religion which dominates the church. However, as the dying chicken looked like a model of a new resurrection, in the attempt to rescue the gods until the next "Jubilee" the Aztecs literally relit the fires in the heart of a victim who had just had his heart cut open. While he was dying there was great excitement when the priest assured them that the world was safe for another 52 years and 52 weeks.
However, in the end the revivalist programs could not prevent all of the fires from going out for the last time because the leaders were blind and deaf. Shelly-Harris turn those being invaded into the attackers. The invaded thought, for a moment, that the invaders were gods. However, the gods consumed the people and hearths and hearts of the people and destroyed them--for gold. In the end, their church was dying.
Therefore, just as they tried to "relight the fires" in king David but couldn't prevent his death, on page 88 Campbell (like Amos) notes that the period of "dying" is always marked by a "wine-like" urge which "resurrects" the Aztec pattern. While these urges are often the product of the immature Campbell notes that--
"Yet there is a great religious fervor and ferment evident among not only young people but old and middle-aged as well. The fervor, however, is in a mystical direction, and the teachers who seem to be saying most to many are those who have come to us
from a world that was formerly regarded as having left altogether behind in the great press forward of modern civilization,
representing only archaic, out-lived manners of thinking. We have gurus galore..."
He makes it clear that many of the gurus are philosophers who have reincarnated the Word into sermons which is like "playing unplayable music" or teaching the unteachable. These subjective and "direct operation" programs work because "its disciplines are inward-pointing, mystical, and psychological." The unknowing masses go meet the Aztecs with "praise the lord" and do not know, perhaps cannot know, that they are being defeated in their own little (perhaps only) Armageddon. They didn't even know there was a war until the musical worship team sound their triumph songs over their dying churches and dead bodies.
Even though Campbell rejects the historical misapplication of Scripture he nevertheless believed that the original images had the power to give meaning to our lives to prevent that nervous feeling; to prevent our "cracking away."
The American Indians lost the symbols of their ancient religion and didn't want to live in the new stockade. However, they were forced to play the "game." The resulting religion was not Christian but was often imported from the land of the Aztecs--
"Within the span of a decade the religion had become archaic; and it was then that the peyote cult, the mescal cult, came pouring in from Mexico (Aztec land), onto and across the plains, as a psychological rescue... they would gather in special lodges to pray, to chant, and to eat peyote buttons, each then experiencing visions, finding within themselves what had been lost from their society." (Joseph Campbell, p. 89)
In its modern incarnation men hold exhausting prayer meetings crying "Lord, Lord" or chanting in the belief that God will give a Cane Ridge revival because "we don't have time to argue about organs any more." However, not everyone can be "put on the reservation" and movements not firmly based on the Bible and an established kingdom may produce "joy in the evening but sorrow in the morning."
Nevertheless, the urge for a "wine" gospel and the resulting exciting worship service is the "archaic" symbol which needs resurrecting. However, "wine" is a drug more dangerous than any of the drugs of the Aztecs. While we might reject these "natural" drugs as "instruments" of worship, there are more respectable methods which appeal to the senses of sight, sound and smell and have the ability to create similar drugs in the brain without getting into legal trouble. Isn't this the "gas" which demands a new "wineskin?" When the gas doesn't work the new wineskin may have to go into bankruptcy while the "natives" just "crack away" and abandon all religion.
Drugs and Wine as Evidence of Mind Control
People under stress often return to ancient religious forms and beliefs because the "gods don't work any more." The universal belief of these systems was that true religion is best illustrated by drugs (wine or ecstasy as at Cane Ridge) which forces the "worship services" into an exciting period which "meets my needs" and brings me face to face with the "god" who hides except at periodic festivals. The ritual literally forced the gods to do what they didn't want to do. In the symbolism of the gospel of wine, the ritual feeds the exhausted wine with new yeast so that it releases its energies and "turns us on."
Unfortunately, the "turn on" demands a bigger and bigger "fix." Campbell notes the same urge in most native religions. We note again:
"Now the first and most important effect of a living mythological symbol is to waken and give guidance to the energies of life. It is an energy-releasing and directing sign, which not only 'turns you on,' as they say today,but turns you on in a certain direction,
making you function a certain way--which
will be one conducive to your participation in the life and purposes of a functioning social group." (Campbell, p. 89).
In the incarnational or charismatic religions it is absolutely necessary that you experience the "fermentation" or "turn on" to prove that you are one of the chosen few. The turn on is God "punching your ticket" or "communion token" so that you are permitted to be a part of the "functioning social group."
However, Campbell notes the common theme: the exciting and "meaningful" ritual does not work any longer than the psychological "high" of the moment. The "musical worship team" or religious symbolism produces endorphins believed to be "spirit" but the high is identical to morphine. Because of the "hero" worship of all ancient religions, the latest "change agent" may actually be a human "peyote button" creating this drug in the worshiper's body. When the "agent" loses his "kick" (we know all his jokes) we go looking for a new incarnation of the god to make us "feel, or hear or smell." In Paul's words to Corinth, our "assemblies may do more harm than good" and we feel awful on Monday morning.
Campbell notes two areas of concern: First, the symbols of the group loose their punch and no longer work. The "food supply" is found to just be "empty calories." The second problem is more severe. When the group opens itself up to direct spirit influences the spirit will most often be from outside the group. We need to see this again:
"when the symbols provided by the social group no longer work, and the symbols that do work are no longer of the group, the individual cracks away, becomes disassociated and disoriented, and we are confronted with what can only be named a pathology of the symbol." (Campbell, p. 89).
Spiritualists are Legalists
Is this new wine or just an old drug? To keep the "mind from kicking in" the psychologists pretend that to question any of these religious movements is to commit the sin of "judgmentalism" or "legalism"--trying to "quench the Spirit" or "stop the wine from fermenting." However, when the mind kicks in, students of spirit-enhancing movements note what is clear in the history of ancient religions--"That the spiritualistic and the legalistic are not polar opposites but in fact correlatives has been one of the discoveries of this study... If the Spirit does not come to us freely in Christ thenwe must go to him through some kind of spiritual achievement andthis means, ultimately, via law."One of the most striking aspects of the Scrolls is the coincidence in them of a 'legalistic' and a 'charismatic' piety." (Bruner, A Theology of the Holy Spirit, p. 229)
Rubel Shelly and Woodmont Hills has advertised for a music-drama worship facilitator:
Facilitation means 2. Psychologically increased ease of performance of any action resulting from the lessening of nerve resistance by the continued successive application of the necessary stimulation." (Webster).
The "pastor person" must--
"Work with the worship planning committee, the preaching minister and worship presentation groups (music, drama and technical) to facilitate group worship experiences which will help bring worshipers into the presence of God. (Like, Wow!)
Because Jesus said "my words are spirit and life" those who depend totally upon the "unfermented" Word of God are spiritual (not perfect) people. However, any attempt to arouse or awaken god or the members through some exciting ritual is true legalism. The "kicked in mind" finally reaches this conclusion.
A sign of all times is the urge to try to unite all religious groups under one umbrella or wineskin. This is: "Though we cannot see eye to eye we can walk hand in hand." Or is it "unity in diversity"? This unity at great religious revivals or "awakenings" was like the music practiced by Israel and condemned by Amos. In the words of the Septuagint version they were those --who excel in the sound of musical instruments;
they have regarded them as abiding,
not as fleeting pleasures; Amos 6:5 LXX
Those who "excelled" to be applauded were the Levitical worship teams used to pacify or motivate the slaves who were being destroyed by Solomon's temple building effort.
Justin's Dialog with Trypho the Jew translates this passage --Who applaud at the sound of the musical instruments;
they reckon them as stable, and not as fleeting.
In the end, according to the message of Amos, trying to fit Canaanite yeast and Hebrew juice into the same wineskin resulted in a bursting skin. In the words of Deut 32:32, when they rejected the grape as the "fruit of the vine" "Their vine comes from the vine of Sodom and from the fields of Gomorrah."
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