Every time I reflect back on the absurdities I used to believe as a minister of The Summit Lighthouse and Church Universal & Triumphant (CUT), I am reminded that the Christian religion is by no means any more coherent.Just more popular and a lot less complicated. With popularity has come a watering down of its tenets. And most Christians don’t know their own scripture as well as most atheists. They carry their bibles like talismans, but seldom read them. Few believers acknowledge either the contradictions or the anachronisms of the Bible, preferring to focus on the comforting aspects while ignoring the sinister, or the parts that are implausible.
As Bill Maher pointed out in Religulous, the Christian narrative stretches all credibility:
What if there was a religion, in which an all-powerful god from outer space decided to send his unborn son on a suicide mission to planet Earth? So this space-god impregnates a human female in some mystical, not-quite-physical fashion, and she gives birth to a baby who is both a human being and a divine incarnation, simultaneously the space god’s spawn and the space god himself. (Oh, space god also has a third manifestation, one that’s totally invisible.) So space-god junior is born on Earth destined to be killed, even though he’s a space god and therefore immortal.
Before Maher, countless others have recognized the bankruptcy of the myth behind the dominant western Abrahamic religion. But Marquis de Sade has always stood out for his eloquence. Few have mocked religious literalism as effectively, even today. As Joseph Campbell has documented, there was (or should have been) a transition after the Bronze-age where myths were transformed from the literal to the metaphorical. The problems with myths arise when people forget they’re stories about archetypes, not real events.
Here’s a potent reminder in the voice of Madame Delbéne, from Sade’s Juliette:
And what a host of further absurdities we have here! It’s no longer a mountain climbing madman’s tablets that rattle out the rules to me; this time the God in question proclaims himself through a much nobler envoy: Mary’s meeching bastard is entitled to a very different kind of respect than that claimed by the abandoned son of Jochebed. So let’s peer closely at this sinister little cheat; what’s he up to, what does he contrive to demonstrate his God’s truth to me, what are his credentials, his methods? Capers and droll antics, suppers with sluts, fraudulent cures, puns, jests and duperies. “I am the son of God,” bleats this stammering little boor, incapable as he is of uttering one coherent phrase about his father, of penning a line to describe him; yes, “I am the son of God,” and better still: “I’m God,” that’s what I’m to believe simply because the drivel emanates from him. The rascal’s hanged up there on a cross, does it matter? His followers desert him, it makes no difference at all: there he is, and no one else: God of the universe, nailed.
Where did he take form? Why, in a Jewess’ womb. His birthplace? In a stable. How does he gain my belief in him? By abjectness, poverty, and imposture, he has no other means to win me over. And if I waver, if I fail of belief? Woe unto me! Eternal tortures are my destiny. There’s a God, I’ve omitted nothing from the portrait and in it there’s not one feature that stirs the soul or appeals to the heart. Oh, matchless contradiction! ’tis upon the ancient law the new one is grounded, and nevertheless the new supersedes, sets at nought the old: What then is the basis of the new? This Christ, is he the lawgiver we’re to hearken to? All by himself, he alone is going to give me an understanding of the God who’s dispatched him here; but if it was to Moses’ interest to preach to me about the God whence his power derives, think of how eager must be the Nazarene to tell me about the God from whom he descends! Surely, the more modern lawgiver must be better informed than the earlier one: Moses was at best able to chat familiarly with his master, but Christ is God’s blood offspring. Moses, content to ascribe natural causes to miracles, convinces his people that lightning blazes forth for the chosen only; the cleverer Jesus accomplishes the miracle himself; and if both do indeed merit their contemporaries’ profound scorn, it has nevertheless to be admitted that the latter of the two was, through his superior insolence, the more justified in claiming the esteem of men; and the posterity that judges them by assigning a ghetto to the Jews shall definitely be obliged to grant the other a priority on the gallows.
So, Juliette, it is apparent, is it not, the vicious circle into which men fall as soon as they begin to rave about this rubbish: religion proves its prophet, the prophet his religion.Marquis de Sade, Juliette
Observant readers may point out that Sade is also taking the Christian myth literally. Of course he must, because that is where the damage has been done. For instance, the “virgin birth.” If the “virgin birth” were to be taken metaphorically, it never would have had any implications about human sexuality. It would touch on initiation, renewal and the creative powers of the mother archetype. Instead of making it about Mary’s intact hymen, we might view the story as a metaphor for life evolving from inanimate matter, among other interpretations.
Sade and others have rightly realized that in both Eden and the manger, human sexuality and its corollary knowledge–have been needlessly turned into something shameful. Perhaps sexuality should be looked at as being sacred–but in the sense that it is transformative and numinous–not divine. The fundamentally human (animal) sexual act has been forced by all three Abrahamic religions into the shadows–subject to endless control and condemnation. It has been made profane by its association with “original sin.” This patriarchal dogma has labeled women and their bodies as sources of “temptation” for which they are made to feel shame and scorn. This diabolical attitude is one of the worst consequences of scriptural literalism that humanists ardently strive to reverse.
Had The Summit Lighthouse or CUT been the dominant religion for the past two thousand years, Sade and others might have been talking about the absurdity and self-referential nature of messages from ‘Godfre Ray King,’ ‘El Morya,’ ‘Saint Germain,’ or ‘Sanat Kumara.’ He might have barbecued the hubristic nonsense of their countless claimed incarnations throughout ancient, modern and ‘galactic’ history. CUT’s melding of eastern reincarnation beliefs with Christian piety and puritanism just adds another level of complexity to one of the grand myths of our civilization. Discussion of specific “past lives” of living persons was used as a powerful tool of manipulation by the ‘messsengers.’ It also became a broad brush to paint a convenient history for their invented teachings.
The bit-player cartoon personalities introduced by Blavatsky would have been nobodies–sheer impostors–if not for the efforts of her successors such as Annie Besant, Henry Steele Olcott and others to attach them to famous characters from actual human history. The tic-tac-toe theology of Christianity “Jesus died for our sins, we’re going to heaven” was elevated to full three-dimensional chess: “Hundreds of masters, each with hundreds of interlocking embodiments. We are all a part of a shared ‘cosmic’ history, and we can make our ascension, too!“
It’s the ultimate soap opera. Subsuming artistic and political personalities–indeed the greatest and worst people of all time–and epic historical conflicts into the legend makes it stupefyingly complex. It’s impenetrable to any attempts at moral clarity. It’s impossible to verify the stories since some parts came from history and other parts from folklore or “revelation.” Because it’s an admixture, it ceases to be history and can only be classified as theology. It’s therefore completely immune to rational challenge. It’s easier for believers to say to outsiders “Don’t mess with my faith,” and retreat behind the opaqueness and faux-grandeur of it all.
Ascended master believers haven’t faced the implications of their literalism either. Sadly for them it’s no more about true understanding than it has been for Christians. It’s about clinging to a unifying and satisfying mythology to provide significance. ‘Saint Germain’ looms so much larger than life as a “sponsor of America,” with ‘Godfre Ray King’ as its first president George Washington, and ‘El Morya’ takes on the martyr’s mystique as the stoic defender of Catholic authority Thomas More. The problem with even supposedly ‘great’ historical figures: they often have serious flaws. For example, few devotees of ‘El Morya’ have the courage to face the reality that More was a strict authoritarian who had people imprisoned, tortured and burned at the stake for questioning the church during the Reformation. Cherry picking doesn’t just happen with scripture, it also happens feverishly when belief systems glom on to historical personalities.
Let’s see what happens when we stop the cherry picking and look at the whole story: Since Thomas More in his position of Lord Chancellor employed the rack and ordered people burned alive, he was ironically more of a sadist than Sade. Though ‘he’ could be loving at times, ‘Morya’s’ usually dour and severe demeanor in his so-called dictations made him CUT’s disciplinarian. If anything inspired fear in CUT believers, it was the fierce and unforgiving eyes of spiritual church “founder” and chief sadist ‘El Morya.’ It turns out this was for a very good historical reason: Thomas “More-ya” was an actual torturer, and he tortured actual heretics. Sade’s worst crimes were his sacrilegious writings–for which he was imprisoned without trial–and his reported abuse of prostitutes. And though he wrote extensively about torture and murder, he never killed or practiced actual torture to any significant degree. It’s funny how More can actively torture his way to religious heroism, while the incendiary but non-violent author Sade is reviled. We need not live with such upside-down distorted judgments any longer.
Clear thought and enlightenment have never been more out of reach than they are from those whose minds have been poisoned with the tall-tales of the incorporeal “Great White Brotherhood” and its counterpart of both embodied and disembodied “fallen ones.” This self-serving morass of revisionist conjecture and pure fantasy doesn’t just do violence to history: By mixing stolen human personas with imaginary beings who are still “alive” in the spirit world, it also casts the present in a distorted light. Through deliberate satisfaction of the believers’ appetite with this diet of ephemeral falsehoods, the natural human drives to question authority, demand empirical accuracy, and pursue self-awareness are quashed–replaced with a blissfully ignorant certainty. Like Christianity, the “masters” movements also seek to justify hypocrisy, unearned authority, and support conservative political ideologies which have attempted and still strive–even in their temporary defeat–to prevent long-overdue personal liberation and planetary healing.