A review of “The City of God: Transgressions”

cityofgod_bookcover“The City of God: Transgressions” by R.S. Ingermanson

Summary: Can history be changed? Three people are about to find out.

It’s A.D. 57 when Rivka Meyers walks out of the wormhole into a world she’s only studied in books. Ancient Jerusalem is awesome! Rivka can’t believe her friend Ari Kazan’s theory actually worked. But when she runs into Ari’s whacko colleague, Damien West, in the Temple, Rivka starts to smell a rat.

When Ari discovers that Damien and Rivka have gone through a wormhole that’s on the edge of collapse, he has to make a horrible choice: Follow them and risk never coming back — or lose the woman of his dreams forever

Recommendation: Yes

Review:

I love stories about history and time travel and this book covered both points quite well. While the science portion of the book wasn’t integrated as smoothly as I would have liked, it was expressed well enough to convince me that the premise of the story was possible.

I also wasn’t enamored with Ari, who was rather narrow in his outlook and beliefs. However, I realized that if I was wondering why Ari couldn’t be a bit more liberal, then the author had done a good job of creating this character. After all, we don’t get aggravated with characters that don’t seem real to us, do we?

Overall, I was quite pleased with this story. It had a strong female lead, which I found rather refreshing. She was, in many ways, very self-sufficient, yet her surroundings were so different from what she was used to that it led her to have to rely on others. However, her reliance wasn’t as a damsel in distress, but more of someone seeking directions in a strange, new land. And it was strange and new, even though it was also part of her past.

The small moment in history that the author chose to explore was one I had never given much thought to, and I was intrigued by his examination of it. I found his projection of the possibilities that could be spawned based on how this moment played out, compelling and interesting. It was a juxtaposition of Judaism and Christianity; the point at which Christianity could become unrealized or it could become what it has…one of the leading religions in the world. Given the backgrounds and biases of his main characters, it was the perfect backdrop. Would they help or hurt the outcome of history? Would their interference (unintentional or deliberate) skew our world into one totally different from what we know, or would they only be fulfilling what history had already said had happened?

Find out for yourself. Read the book…it’s really a great way to spend a weekend.

 

 

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Because I was told to…

Would you do it? Would you push the button to give someone a shock just because a [supposed] doctor told you it would do no harm even though you felt it was wrong?

The TV show, Curiosity asked that same question, and then went on to illustrate their results. The originator of the question, though, was Stanley Milgram of the Stanley Milgram experiment back in the 1960’s. The Milgram experiment asks the question, “How willing are you to obey an authority figure who has instructed you to perform acts that conflict with your personal conscience?”

The answer may surprise you. I know it did me when I saw the outcome on Curiosity.

Here’s the set up: You and the “student” (usually someone in on the experiment) are instructed by the “doctor” (who is also in on things) as to how the process works. The “student” is placed in a sealed room with electrodes attached to them, while you (the teacher) are to give them word pairs to memorize via voice communications only. If, when you ask them to recite the pairings back to you, they get any of the pairings wrong, you give the “student” shocks of increasing voltage. Also, you’ve been informed (usually by the “student” when you met them) that the student has a slight heart condition, but the “doctor” assures everyone that this shouldn’t matter.

Here’s the reality: everyone except those acting as “teachers” is in on the “experiment”. No one is actually connected to any electrodes, so no one is being zapped; no one has a heart condition; and no one is actually learning any word pairings.

So, would you be willing to zap someone, increasing the voltage each time, if they didn’t get what you were “teaching” them? Most people when asked say they wouldn’t do it, and they give all kinds of reasons—it’s inhumane, it’s wrong, pain doesn’t help you learn. Even I shook my head once the host of the TV show explained what was going on, and said, “No way would I participate in something like that!” Yet, of the 10 people pegged as teachers (the only people who really had no clue that it was a set up and that no one was actually being zapped or having to learn word pairings), only 1 person refused to participate and walked out after hearing what it was they were expected to do. Of the remaining 9, they all balked once the voltage got to about the mid-point. However, once the “doctor” assured them that the “student” was fine (despite the yelps and screams of pain they heard coming from the “student”, pleas to quit, and reminders of the heart issues), all 9 continued through to the end of the experiment.

The producers of Curiosity even changed up the experiment a bit and added 2 “teachers”, one who was in on the experiment and one who wasn’t. With the added consensus of the second “teacher” backing them, almost all of the “teachers” (7 out of 10) refused to continue the experiment beyond the mid-point despite the “doctor’s” insistence that the “student” would be fine, that no harm would occur, and that the experiment needed to be completed for the results to be of value.

So, what does that mean? It means that when confronted with authority, most of us are willing to concede responsibility to that authority. As long as the authority figure seems knowledgeable and non-threatening (to us), most of us are willing to follow whatever orders we’re given despite what our conscience is telling us. In fact, we’re so willing to offload our responsibility that most of us don’t even feel guilty or very upset by continuing the experiment.

However, when someone else shows that they also question the edicts of the authority figure, we’re more likely to listen to ourselves and our conscience, and take on the responsibility of our actions—we may continue the actions, but we feel guilty and upset, or we may start questioning openly that authoritarian’s edicts.

It’s interesting that for most of us, balking against authority takes acceptance by at least one other person. I’m not necessarily an anarchist, but I would certainly hope that I’m not such a sheep that I would willingly zap someone just because someone (whom I don’t know from Adam) says it’s okay. That’s what I hope; what choice I’d actually make…I don’t know.

How ‘bout you? Would you zap someone? Would you continue to zap someone just because you were told it was okay?

How do you know?

How can you “remember” your past or future lives? How do you know what other realities you have, are, or will be participating in? For me, it’s always been easy to see. But with a little practice, it can be easy for anyone.

You see, we all “carry around” our own pasts, like books on tape they’re recorded within our soul. To “read” these books you just need to focus your energies (your self) on that chakra where the recordings are stored.

When I do that, I get short movie-type segments that play out in my mind—like waking dreams, but clearer. I liken it to watching a movie through a gauzy curtain, though sometimes the curtain isn’t there at all, in which case I can see the action and characters quite clearly.

Many times the conversations (if there are any) take place in the native language (in other words, if the memory is from Loir, France, then the language spoken is French). Yet, even though the characters are speaking their native language, I can understand them. It’s as if the meaning of the words is going straight to my brain, so I’m hearing the meaning of the conversation rather than the words of the conversation.

Rarely are there any literal signs to tell me when and where the memory is from. Usually, I have to try to match the mode of apparel and hair styles to a period of time, then try to match the language with a location. Sometimes the location is just “known” by me (the current me) but I still need to match the clothing and hair styles with the era. That’s why sometimes the era is noted by me as being between 1200-1300 AD, because the clothing worn is so generic (European peasantry didn’t have much in the way of style back then) that it’s difficult to match any closer.

Sometimes I’ll see something within the memory image that will be a large help (such as a crest on the side of a coach), and sometimes there is little to note, other than grass-covered hills in a springtime countryside. Without the players there I would have never identified the countryside as being in Asia (more specifically Japan), but several of the players were wearing the clothing of Shindo monks, which gave me the time period—feudal Japan.

The most common method I use for linking in and viewing some of my pasts (or possible futures) is meditation. The one I like best for this type of viewing is a focused meditation. You focus on your second and third chakras (the ones by your belly button and just below your genitals), because this is where the memories are stored.

When I first started, I would get quick flashes, like lightning flashing on a kaleidoscope of photographs. However, as I was able to hold my focus for longer periods of time, I found myself able to move from photographs to fragments of moving pictures. Even these fragments of movement, though, usually came without sound—perhaps a flash of insight (such as knowing where or when). But it wasn’t until it became full blown videos that the “sound” also began to work, and I would hear the conversations and arguments of these memories.

If you’re not into meditation, and I know a lot of people aren’t, you can focus on your pasts or futures just before falling asleep. This allows you to use your dreams as the window through which you can view your pasts and futures. Just before falling asleep, repeat to yourself that you want to the past or future that is having the most influence on your current life. This will trigger you (most times, anyway) to “remember”. Of course, you need to wake yourself up immediately following the memory replay so that you can write it down, just as you would with any other dream. But I think you’ll see the difference between the “memory” and normal dreams.

While dreams rarely make sense, and are usually non-linear in their “stories”, a memory will make sense and it will tell a logical, linear story. Most of us retain the memories of very emotional or traumatic events (which most of the time is the death sequence of the previous life). Many times this can be when the previous person we were died, but other times it can be some other event—a betrayal by lover, friend, co-worker, can be very emotional, so may appear; the los of a loved one, whether child, friend, spouse, etc. can be very emotional and may appear as a memory; or the loss of a major opportunity (especially if it will cause a major change in our lives or major regrets) can be “dreamed” about.

Think about your own life, and the types of memories you have—aren’t they all extremely emotional? Someone you loved, admired, or held in great esteem did something nice for you; a day when something happened that greatly embarrassed you; the horrible argument you had with a friend over 10 years ago; the time you got cheated out of your last dollar by someone. See, those are the types of things that stay in your memory—the emotional things. So, when you delve into your pasts or futures, those are also the types of memories you will find—the emotional ones.

Another way to open yourself up to remembering your pasts, is to look to your current life. Do you have a penchant for African art when all your other tastes are extremely modern? There’s probably a life connection with Africa. Do you find yourself decorating your house with hints of Ancient Egypt—a statue of Isis, an ankh, maybe just some wallpaper border with hieroglyphs on it? Perhaps you spent a life in and around that area during that time period. Perhaps you find that learning a particular language comes easily, while any other language is very difficult? Did you find it easy to learn Russian, but couldn’t figure out French or Spanish to save your soul? Maybe it’s because you’re connecting with a life spent in Russia or the Ukraine.

So if you’re really interested in finding out about your other lives, there are many ways to do it. There are hypno-therapists who will help you regress and remember, there are auric readers who can probably help you remember, but mostly there’s yourself. You have the recordings, you just need to “listen” to them.

Can you hear me…

My husband and I have spent the past few months searching for a home to rent. I was determined to use my “instincts” this time rather than my intellect. Following my intellect and overriding emotions is what had led us to be in this position of needing to find a rental, and I was intent on allowing my inner voice lead us this time.

When my husband and I moved to our current location I had pushed away the little voice that kept hollering at me. It kept saying that we needed to wait, not buy; we needed to rent an apartment or something and maybe buy something later. But rather than listen to that voice, I opted to go with my husband’s choice of moving once. So we purchased a home only to have the home values erode leaving us underwater with no life preservers.

After watching the home values plummet and the neighborhood collapse, we, too, finally succumbed to the realization that we could no longer maintain a home that was so far underwater. So, with a short sale on the verge of completion, I began hunting for some place for us to move to. However, it seems that the majority of people in our area were also trying to rent, either because they had also left homes they could no longer support or because they didn’t trust the housing market and refused to invest in it. Either way, competition was stiff.

The limited rental market, combined with the lack of a finalized closing date on our own home sale left me scrambling and my emotions running high. The heightened emotions were doing a wonderful job at blocking that inner voice that I swore I was going to listen to. Instead, all I could hear was “Grab it! Get it! There might not be anything else!”

With this overly emotional voice of panic screaming at me, it became difficult to be intuitive let alone logical about finding a place to live. We traipsed through places so filthy that I would have never even gotten out of the car to view them, let alone considered renting them had it not been for that screaming voice of panic. Call after call was made, never to be returned, or if returned, it was by a rude, and oftentimes snotty realtor or leasing agent who could care less about my plight. Most often the response was the same, “It’s rented already.” followed by them hanging up. (And this after the house, apartment, or condo had been on the market for only 3 or 4 days.)

I was, therefore, suspicious when I viewed some images online of a place for rent and felt a wrenching in my gut that said, “I recognize that place.” I looked at them again, and re-read the description of the home. My husband and I had never been in the community, so I know we had never seen the house, yet there it was again…that pull of recognition. Although the days on the rental market read 20, I called fully expecting that if I got to speak to anyone they would tell me that the place was already rented.

When the leasing agent called back, she was less than friendly, but not overtly rude. She pointed out that the place was in a 55+ community, as if she expected me to go “Oh sorry…” and hang up. Instead, I responded that both my husband and I were qualified, and suddenly her demeanor changed. We agreed on a time and date to view the home and when we walked inside, that pull of recognition was even stronger.

Because the voice of panic was also still there, I disbelieved my inner voice and I stressed and worried while our credit and work histories were checked and our references were reviewed, all the while expecting to hear them say, “sorry, your credit score sucks…” or “sorry, the owner has found someone else…”. Instead, we got a call from the leasing agent stating that the owner actually understood and empathised with our situation and was quite willing to give us a go.

I couldn’t believe it. Despite the inner voice, despite the instant recognition of the place via the pictures, I was still shocked. It made me realize that no matter how strong your “talents”, you can still be fooled; you can still end up following the voice of panic or other highly charged emotions. Luckily for us, I was trying to listen for the inner voice, so even though the emotions tried to drown it out, I did manage to hear it. But if I hadn’t been listening, or if my doubts had won out, my husband and I could still be struggling to find a place to live.

We all need to make an effort to listen to that inner voice and not let the sounds of our own highly charged emotions drown it out. We need to believe that the path is there if we can just calm down enough to find it. Hopefully, that lesson has burned its way into my brain and I won’t have such difficulties next time listening to, hearing, and following that inner voice.

Answering the Question

Most of us have questions; questions that we may not ask out loud, but they’re questions that we ask ourselves all the same. For some, the questions only appear once in a while, and are quickly dismissed, for others the questions seem like a constant yapping and their silence isn’t so easily gained. For some of us, the questions are as fundamental as “why are we here?”, but for others, the questions may be even more intrinsic to their lives.

It’s these internal questions that send us seeking; seeking for those elusive answers. But maybe the answers aren’t as elusive as we think; maybe it’s just that we can’t see the answers for what they are. I believe the answers are there, everywhere, all around us; we simply need to recognize them. Many times, though, it’s just not as easy as it sounds.

For the most part, the more insistent the questions are in your life, the more likely you are to notice the bits of knowledge or “clues” that litter your path. These “clues”, these bits of knowledge, are any piece of information that makes you stop and rethink how your world, your reality, works. It’s a bit of information that brings you insight; it’s something that gives you an “Aha!” moment (big or small).

Perhaps, you hear something on TV, maybe it’s something just in passing as you’re skipping channels, and even though it seems totally contrary to what you “know to be true”, it resonates with you. So, you find yourself searching for more information about it. Maybe you find the TV show online and watch it. Perhaps doing that makes you want to know more, so you dig out books and articles to learn more. Then, you find that the more you discover about this topic, the more your own previous convictions begin to crumble. Suddenly, you realize that you’re seeing the world from a whole new perspective; you’re seeing the world in a new and different way.

We each do this; every day we do this. We hear, see, or read something that intrigues us, piques our curiosity, or just sticks with us—nibbling at the corners of our mind. We bring it out and puzzle over it, and sometimes we even go so far as to discuss it with others to see what they might think about it. Eventually, we either throw it out because to accept it creates too much fear, too much of a dichotomy with what we “know to be true” and what we want to “believe to be true”, or we accept it, thereby, pushing out the old truth/beliefs and opening our minds, hearts, and eyes to new possibilities, new ideas, and new experiences.

These bits of insights can come from anywhere or anyone. Someone in the line at the grocery store might say something to you, and while during the encounter you barely paid attention, you now find yourself thinking about it. Maybe you even wish you’d paid more attention so that you could have asked a question or two. Or maybe you read something in a magazine while waiting at the dentist’s office. You catch a quick snatch of conversation between a couple people at the bus stop or waiting at the elevator. Or it might even be a tricky turn of phrase in a blog or online story.

As I said, the clues, insights, and bits of knowledge can come from anywhere. They’re easy to overlook, but then that’s why there are so many of them. You might miss half a dozen of small ones, but trip over one nugget of information that encompasses all of the insights of those that you previously bypassed. But even tripping over a nugget of information is no guarantee that you’ll pick it up and pay attention to it.

After all, it’s scary every time you pick up one of those nuggets of information with all its new concepts, and start looking it over. But then new concepts and new ideas are always scary, because you don’t have a knowledge base that can tell you what might happen if you follow this new idea or accept this new concept.

However, if your need for answers to the questions that keep plaguing you is stronger than your fears of anything new, then you’ll let that new concept in and accept the “Aha!” moment. And every time you have an “Aha!” moment, it makes it easier to overcome the fear the next time. After a while, you’ll find that each piece of insight, each new concept isn’t really so scary after all. In fact, you’ll start to see that it really offers hope, confirmation, and assurance, not fear.

Hey God, are You Out There?

The Eye of God

 

I was watching a program on the Science channel the other night that was discussing the various scientific theories and tests being conducted to not only prove that some sort of god exists, but what type.  

It was fascinating if for no other reason than to listen to the various ideas put forth. Some were simple and seemed quite ordinary, while others were so far fetched, they could only have come from reading something out of a scifi/fantasy book.  

The more simple theories and concepts were concerned primarily with proving things from the purely mathematically and scientific approach (such as trying to write the unifying formula, which would show mathematically how all things are related, or trying to find the Higgs boson (or God particle) in the various accelerator labs). The more fantastical concepts included theories that we are merely players in a giant computer simulation—see my article “Have You Ever Been to the 13th Floor?” or that only one of us is real, and the rest of us merely players in that person’s dream (okay, but which one of us is real? I know I don’t feel like I’m a dream person…but then, how would I know what a dream person feels like?).  

They interviewed a beach bum/theoretical physicist living on some beach in Hawaii. He spends his days hanging 10, while scribbling ideas on a pad of paper. I have no doubt that he’s probably more learned in physics than I’ll ever be, but I do have to admit that his interview left me wondering how much of his calculations were physics and how much were chemically induced theories 😉  

As for the hypothesis that we are all just part of a giant computer simulation, well, that may be, but then they need to stop giving us free will and the ability to make our own choices, because as we start thinking for ourselves, we may just overthrow the computer programmer and gamer and take over their worlds as well as our own. They’re playing a very dangerous game, if they think that’s all we are, because no one has that much control over life – theirs or anyone elses.  

Then you have the physicist who was so taken with his research that he chucked it all and became a priest. Hmmmm…what does that say about science? Could it be that when it comes to that unifying force (God, Tao, The Great Creator) that proof isn’t always in the concept, that sometimes it’s in the heart?  

Then there was the neurologist/psychologist who said that “God is all in our heads.” He had rigged up an experiment that had people in a soundproof, lightproof, sensation-free chamber wearing a helmet with small electro magnets attached to the right side. They would sit in this chamber for 30 – 60 minutes and then he would flip on the magnets. According to him, every time he did that, the people would experience “visitors”. They claimed to sense the presence of one or more others in the room with them. They would describe these people and sometimes even be able to remember conversations they had with them. Most of the people also said that they were looking back at their own bodies.  

While he claims that that proves that we are creating our own gods out of our own brain waves, I say it only proves that his technique was able to induce out of body experiences in at least half of his subjects. Of course, since that wasn’t what he was looking for, and since that isn’t something he is ready to admit is possible, then as far as he is concerned, if we can experience the feelings of being surrounded by one or more other people that aren’t really in the room with us, then we must be able to make ourselves believe in an overarching being that only exists in our own brains.  

If you think I’m writing somewhat sarcastically about this program, I guess I am. But one of the problems that I’ve always had with theoretical science and scientists is their ability to create a hypothesis and subsequent tests that manage to exclude anything that might make them have to think outside their own little box. They, like a great many other people (people of faith, science, politics, and business), have a tendency to see only what they want to see.  

Granted, we all have that ability, but I especially resent it when we are fed these limited viewpoints as “scientific facts”, “historic facts”, and “spiritual facts”. While I thank them all for their input, I still reserve the right to think for myself, and if that entails taking a little bit from each category, well…then that’s my choice, isn’t it?  

So, while I love the fact that there are as many ideas and concepts of what God is or is not as there are birds in the skies, I don’t think we should get caught up in any single one. I find several of them interesting, but I think I’ll withhold judgment until I have a little more insight and wisdom—whether I’m still in the physical plane or somewhere else.

It’s all about the story

In a recent post (What’s it all about?) I spoke about frameworks (monads) and even named a few such as loved/unloved, dependent/independent, supported/supporter, and so on. One that has been made famous through its literary rendition is the love/hate story. You have two large groups feuding or angry with each other, a feud or hatred that has continued for decades. However, in the midst of all this, a member from each of the feuding factions meets and falls in love with each other. They defy their families to be together and it all ends tragically. Yes, I’m referring to the story of Romeo and Juliet. But Romeo and Juliet is a no-win version of the story.  

There are other versions, such as West Side Story…at least in that one, only one of the lovers dies. In the movie, Angel on my Shoulder, there is a similar scenario, but in this one the lovers simply continue to meet secretly until well into their middle years when they are discovered by the new pastor. He defies the feuding families and marries the couple. Bittersweet pathos instead of all out tragedy.  

James Cameron’s Titanic is another good example of a framework in action. In this instance it highlights the rescued/rescuer monad. In Titanic, the male lead not only physically rescues the girl, but also rescues her mentally and emotionally. I find this movie an especially good example of this monad, since most of these types of frameworks take a complete lifetime to fulfill, but by putting it in the context of this disaster, it speeds the monad up and makes it that much easier to spot (but without comprising the movie in any way). If anything, in this particular instance, the monad actually adds to the movie’s realism and tension.

Christopher Reeve, the actor who played Superman back in 1978, went through the supported/supporter monad. He got thrown by a horse and so became incapacitated and required support. He could have given up, and his wife could have left the other half of the monad (the role of supporter) for someone else to complete, but they didn’t. She could have given him just physical support and left him emotionally starved, but she didn’t. There were a lot of choices that both of them could have made. But he chose to be supported and she chose to support him, physically, mentally, and emotionally.

In the Harry Potter books, Professor Dumbledore and Harry Potter are actually fulfilling the father/son monad. Now, Dumbledore isn’t Harry’s father, and Harry’s not Dumbledore’s son, but they have created that framework around their relationship and that is how they are relating to one another.  

The relationship monads (parent/child, brother/sister, sister/sister, brother/brother) do not require that you actually be part of the same family. It simply means that you each fulfill the emotional and mental equivalent of that familial role. So, while you might have a sister by blood, you may feel more sisterly toward your best friend, a co-worker, or your sister-in-law.

I use examples of movies, books, and biographies to highlight and speak to this information, because for most people it’s the easiest way to see and understand the concept I am referring to. Just as most plots (movie or book) are a framework, so is life surrounded by a framework. Most of us may not be able to see it, but that’s okay, because if you can see it in your own life, then you’re not immersed in the drama of your life. It would be as if you had suddenly awoken from a dream (Your Life) and now saw only sets and actors instead of “reality”.

Frameworks or monads are a two-person outline of a scenario that we (the players) want to participate in during our lifetimes. The number and type of frameworks is astonishingly huge, but they are only frameworks. The freedom to select how you will react and the choices you will make are all yours. It’s like being an actor with only the outline of a script:  person 1 falls in love with person 2. Person 2 does not share this feeling for person 1.  (unrequited love).  That’s it, the rest of the action is up to the two players. Person 1 can moon around and never really make anything of their life; Person 2 can tell off person 1; Person 1 can stalk person 2 killing everyone that gets near person 2; person 2 can suddenly decide that they do love person 1; etc. The variations are endless. 

So try to see the frameworks that comprise the story in which your favorite movie characters are acting, or that surround the characters in your favorite stories. Once you start to recognize those, it becomes easier to start recognizing the frameworks in day-to-day life, too.

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