Friday, March 7, 2008

Apocryphote of the Day: 3-7-08

Jesus said, "The Kingdom of the Father is like a woman carrying a jar filled with meal. While she was walking on the road still a long way out, the handle of her jar broke. Behind her, the meal leaked out onto the road. She did not realize it. She had not noticed a problem. When she arrived at her house, she put the jar down and found it empty."

Gospel of Thomas 97 (trans. by DeConick).


lightseeker said...

What an interesting coincidence - this unusual and perplexing parable came up in another forum I'm on.

To me, the story of the woman with the jar of meal has to do with the theme of watchfulness/awareness in terms of the Kingdom of God. The jar represents the soul, the meal represents the Bread of Life, i.e. Spirit, and the woman walking with the jar represents the person who is on his/her journey through life. At the outset, when we are babies or little children, we are already born full of Spirit, which is a precious gift from God - we are already *in* the Kingdom so to speak. But if we are careless, if we fail to walk in God's Way (follow his Word/Laws), if we are not alert and conscious of God’s Kingdom and presence in our lives every day, by the end of our lives, upon death when we arrive at our "home" in heaven to face God's judgment, our souls may be found to be empty vessels. Like the foolish, oblivious woman in the parable, we have lost the Kingdom - our place in God's House, and we have lost eternal Life.

The lesson is to be ever alert while we journey through life, to walk in God's Way and remain filled with Spirit every day, and to guard the Bread of Life (our precious birthright from God our Father) and not let it trickle away.

Thanks, April, that's a good one!

José Solano said...

“I don’t think Jesus ever said that or for that matter GT saying 98. This is someone’s very confused recollection of what someone else said Jesus said. It’s a “he said she said” tale.

Frank McCoy said...

In 97, we perhaps have a variation on a theme also found in Fug 200-201, where Philo states, "In the next place they dig...cisterns, having no excellent thing of their own to afford nourishment, but needing the inflow from without, that must come from teaching, as the instructors keep on pumping in unbroken stream into the ears of their pupils the principles and conclusions which constitute knowledge (epistemes), that they may both grasp what is imparted to them with their intelligence and treasure it in their memory. As it is, the 'cisterns' are 'broken,' that is to say, all the receptacles of the ill-conditioned soul are crushed and leaking, unable to hold in the inflow of what might do them good."

In 97, I suggest, the woman represents a person who had been listening to a teacher uttering the principles and conclusions which constitute Knowledge (although, in Thomasine thought, in the sense of gnosis rather than that of episteme). Her soul's receptacle, the cistern or jar, became filled with these utterances. However, once she left the presence of the teacher and was on her way back home, the receptacle of her soul broke. That is, after she left the teacher and was on her way home, she failed to grasp what she had heard and she did not treasure it in her memory. As a result, as she walked on the road leading to her house, the Knowledge she had heard left her without her being aware of this and, by the time she arrived at her house, she was void of the Knowledge she had heard.

In this case, in 97, the Kingdom is Knowledge (Gnosis). Compare Th 39, where the Thomasine equivant of Matthew's "the keys of the Kingdom" is "the keys of Gnosis".

José Solano said...

The problem with this parable is that it simply does not make any sense by itself. You can take what the woman went through and read into it all sorts of things but you are still left with a woman unconscious of her broken jar spilling all its meal being likened to the kingdom of the Father. It might relate more to something Philo wrote but it doesn’t sound like anything Jesus would say.

The Philo citation reminds me of a Taoist story in which a monk is visited by a missionary. The monk pours the missionary a cup of tea that he deliberately overflows so that it spills all over. The message being that the cup, like the missionary, is so full it cannot hold any more so it’s a waste of the monk’s time to talk to him.

In the parables of the ten virgins or the wheat and the tares you have ignorant people contrasted with people doing the right things and this serves as an acceptable analogy to the church, the kingdom of God on earth, where some are prepared and doing the right things for the Lord but others are not. Some are therefore accepted and others are not. With GT saying 97 you are left hanging with what is essentially an absurd analogy. Something is missing and therefore whoever added this to the collection of sayings, perhaps in 200 AD or after, left out some reconciling segment or was just was pretentiously, pompously gobbledygooking.

With GT 98, perhaps written by the same person, it’s even worse.

JMS Providence said...

I don't know about all these GTs and 90 somethings, but it does make sense to me when I think about the progressiveness of God's Providence and how though it starts well (at first, relatively speaking) through the central figure God has chosen at each time period (and the people through whom they work), yet eventually in the hands of greedy, powerful men, "the kingdom of God" becomes corrupt, i.e. until God does something anew once again.

Religious institutions, in this way, must realize respectively that they too have a time of birth and an eventual time of death. Unfortunately, what they end up doing is persecuting those through whom God is working anew, thus failing to heed such warnings, Acts 5:33-39.

Light has the right idea, though I've simply magnified the principle. Jesus was certainly aware of this as demonstrated in his own people who failed to recognize their very own Messiah, first and foremost, and so such a parable exemplifies the very foundation of such a tragedy (2 Cor 2:1-8, the Apostle Paul new about this, but could not speak openly concerning it as he was required to prove that the crucifixion was not a mistake or out of God's control, but God's preordained plan through which people could in fact be saved, in part at least. In this way, the Apostle John was aware of this as well, John 3:5-15.).

So it is with the parable of the Tenants, as God's Kingdom will continue to be fulfilled on the earth, beginning with the person (actually two witnesses, the first being an Elijah or JB, the second being a Christ) God raises and sends out to the people of his choosing at each time period.

Hmm, perhaps I've said too much, but as Frank illustrated, the Kingdom is (the key or the right) knowledge.

April DeConick said...

Okay, I just have to interject.

Parables are simple. That is the point of teaching in parables. When you start struggling it means you are trying too hard.

To understand the parable all you have to do is understand the main point of the story. That is the comparison.

What is it here? The woman didn't realize that her jar was broken. So the Kingdom is like don't realize it is here. It happens without us knowing that it is happening.

See how simple that is?

Now try it with the woman who leavened the bread with yeast - and think like someone who doesn't have a clue how yeast works.

José Solano said...

Coptic is one thing exegesis is another.

“And with many such parables [not GT 97 & 98] He spoke the word to them as they were able to hear it. But without a parable He did not speak to them. And when they were alone, He explained all things to his disciples.” Mark 4:33-34

Be assured that if you ask ten scholars to independently state what GT 97 means you’ll get ten different answers. That’s how “simple” it is.

Hi Jms Providence. GT is just short for the Gospel of Thomas, a collection of sayings attributed to Jesus. The little book The Fifth Gospel by Stephen J. Patterson, James Robinson and Jans-Gebhard Bethge contains the complete text and is an excellent introduction to it.

The Gospel of Thomas ends with the fascinating saying: “Every woman who makes herself male will enter the kingdom of heaven.” People can have quite a field day interpreting that one.


JMS Providence said...

"What is it here? The woman didn't realize that her jar was broken. So the Kingdom is like don't realize it is here. It happens without us knowing that it is happening."

Thank you, Dr. DeConick, as with this I must agree.

"Be assured that if you ask ten scholars to independently state what GT 97 means you’ll get ten different answers. That’s how “simple” it is.

Hi Jms Providence. GT is just short for the Gospel of Thomas, a collection of sayings attributed to Jesus. The little book The Fifth Gospel by Stephen J. Patterson, James Robinson and Jans-Gebhard Bethge contains the complete text and is an excellent introduction to it."

Very interesting, Jose. Thanks!

April DeConick said...


Mark's use of Jesus' parables is part of his Messianic Secret theme. It has nothing to do with how parables were actually used in discourse and teaching. There are many examples of this sort of teaching and it is always to those who have no formal education to teach something abstract in concrete terms.

Because different people provide different interpretations says nothing for the fact that parables are quite easy to understand as long as the person knows that they are like children's stories, like Aesop's fables. In many ways, we have become too intellectual to get them as an ancient audience might have. They do require you to leave behind everything you have been taught about how things work scientifically. Certainly they may have multiple meanings, but all of them are quite simple and do not require heavy exegesis.

I'm not sure what to make of your comment about there is a different between Coptic and exegesis. I hope you aren't suggesting that I do not know how to exegete.

Frank McCoy said...

How did the Thomas community interpret parables? Did they see them as utterly simple, or did they (be it correctly or incorrectly, it matters not) perceive in them allegorical elements and, so, give them other than utterly simple meanings? I suspect the latter.

In any event, I strongly suspect that 96, 97 and 98 were held to be closely inter-related by the Thomas community and interpreted by them in a fashion that made them consistent with each other.

As respects Th 96, I think that Matthew used a version of Th containing it as a source, making it his source for 13:33 (IMO, he used Mk and Th, rather than Mk and Q, as sources). He understood the yeast to be teachings, which is why, later in 16:5, he identifies the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees as being their teachings. I suggest that he took the yeast to be teachings because, he knew, that is what the Thomas community took the yeast to be.

So, I suggest, in Th 96, the woman is a teacher and the yeast is her teachings. The receptacles of her pupils swell as the teachings enter into them, and even a small amount of teaching brought great expansions of them. What she teaches is Gnosis and this Gnosis is the Kingdom.

In Th 97, the Kingdom, the teachings which are Gnosis, is the flour/meal and the pupil's receptacle is the jar and, with the teaching session over, the pupil is on her way home. Initially, her receptacle is filled with the teachings she received from her teacher. But, because she failed to grasp what she had heard and failed to treasure it and entrust it to memory, it gradually leaked out of her receptacle until, by the time she reached her home, it was all gone.

In Th 98, we have a pupil who, after the teaching session was over, grasped what was said by the teacher and treasured it and entrusted it to memory. This teaching, which is Gnosis and, so, is the Kingdom, is the sword. Compare Cher 30-31, where Philo identifies the Logos (Reason or Word) of God as being a sword of flame teaching you choose the good and to reject the evil and then states, "Remember how Abraham, the wise, when he began to make God his standard in all things and leave nothing to the created, takes a copy of the flaming sword--'fire and knife' it says (Gen. xxii. 6)--desiring to sever and consume the mortal element away from himself and thus to fly upward to God with his understanding stripped of its trammels." In 98, the sword of the teachings is wielded by the pupil's potentially immoral element, the inner man, the spirit, and this inner man directs it at the mortal element of the pupil, i.e., the pupil's outer strong man, the body of flesh, which is the abode of the inner man, the spirit. At first, the inner man, the spirit, tentatively thrusts this sword into his abode, the outer strong man. But, then he drives it home, thereby severing himself from this mortal element and consuming, i.e., destroying) it. This destruction of the strong outer man, the abode of the inner man, the body of flesh, is not literal. Rather, it is its non-literal death so that the pupil can then be non-literally born anew as spirit alone (compare John 3:6-7). This is to become a child again, but not a child with an inside and and outside and an up and a down like a child born of a woman, but one without an inside and outside or up and down. Then you can enter the Kingdom. (compare Th 22). So, one must first receive the Kingdom (i.e., Gnosis) as a teaching and firmly grasp its meaning and memorize it before one can be reborn in the spirit alone enter it as the realm of the immortal inner man, the spirit (compare Th 1, where one must properly grasp the meaning of Jesus' words/sayings before one can have eternal life and Mk 10:15, where one must receive the Kingdom before one can enter it).

lightseeker said...

Frank, I admit you've got an interesting interpretation of GT 97 in terms of not retaining what one has been taught. The handle of the jar could represent one's ear that has "broken off." However, at the beginning of this saying there is no analogy that depicts how the woman's jar was filled or by whom (who taught her and how/what she was taught) so I don't think this interpretation reflects the original intended meaning.

To associate 96, 97 and 98 as all being related to teaching is dubious. They may have been grouped together since they are all Kingdom sayings, but that may be the extent of it. 96 *may* have to do with teaching/spreading the Kingdom on a certain (macro?) level (that may be how Mt used it - for his theme of teaching/evangelizing to Jews); however, although I agree with your interpretation of 98 as killing/dying to the (carnal) self, 98 doesn't have a teaching theme at all, and I just pointed out why 97 probably doesn't relate to teaching.

Also, I don't think scholars agree on any logical order in which the sayings of GT are compiled - it's just that, a compilation of sayings meant to preserve them in writing. Some sayings are grouped loosely by themes (i.e., 1-5 having to do with our true "hidden" nature as eternal Spirit). It is agreed 114 was likely tacked on much later, certainly not part of the early core of sayings.

Saying 114 has to do with the ancient belief that "maleness" was spiritual vs. "femaleness" was earthly (Father in Heaven vs. Mother/Earth Goddess?) - so to make a woman male meant to turn her mind/soul toward the spiritual rather than earthly thoughts/pursuits. It's not meant that Jesus would literally turn Mary into a man (although some people did take it literally - women ascetically became like celibate men/monks - erroneously, I believe, just as some people took the Eunuch saying in Mt literally - early Church father Origen castrated himself, ugh! It (114) was a later apologetic saying to counter male prejudice against women's authority in the early Church, and likely was based on how Jesus saw past a person's gender or outward, physical appearance to the Spirit within each human being, the way God sees each person; he likely appreciated and taught both genders, especially any person who was receptive, spiritually inclined and advanced in spiritual comprehension, as apparently Mary Magdalene was, as we've learned from several of the apocryphal gospels that were "banned" as "heretical" by the orthodox Church. The NT canonical Gospels are have their share of apologetic verses (even sayings put into the mouth of Jesus!) added later by the Church as its dogma/Christology evolved to ever greater heights and "corrections" had to be made to older versions of the Gospels (e.g., verses pertaining to persecution faced by the early Church, or to marginalize Jesus' siblings as "cousins" as the dogma of Mother Mary's perpetual virginity was sanctioned). So even if 114 was not an authentic saying of Jesus', I believe it was based on how these early Thomas Christians understood Jesus' egalitarian approach to teaching women as well as men, and that a woman could be just as spiritual, or even more spiritual, than a man, despite the prevailing sociocultural beliefs and conditioning.

I do agree with April, though, simpler is usually best as interpretations go, based on the likely audience. But I believe, just as the stories of the OT scriptures were understood to have underlying mystical ("hidden") spiritual meanings in addition to any moral teachings, so did Jesus very carefully craft his parables with multiple levels of meaning meant to be grasped at whatever spiritual level of comprehension the hearer had attained. The general, illiterate masses got the simple interpretation ("milk") and smaller, more spiritually advanced "study groups" delved into the deeper, mystical meanings ("solid food"). I believe this is true for the GT, whether one believes the sayings can be attributed originally to Jesus or not (I believe a good many of them - or the core/roots of certain sayings - can, even if later Thomasine Christians, e.g., the Syrian community, expanded some sayings to reflect their more ascetic/Gnostic beliefs and even added their own). In the end, no matter whose mind or mouth from which it flows, Wisdom is Wisdom. Rather than tossing aside an entire body of writing because someone or some entity has taught us it contains "wrong" (heretical) beliefs or it's not as valuable or "inspired" as other gospels, I believe we should each tap into our own internal Source of Wisdom to discern the gems from the dross (or even the slightly tarnished gems). One man's junk is another man's treasure - it's all in how we perceive it. And in that sense, it's all good. If the Wisdom contained in the GT guides one to connect with God and the Kingdom within oneself and lead a good life, with Love, compassion and good will toward all, then that is very good, and that is also the Christian Way, as was understood by those who followed the teachings of apostle Didymos Judas Thomas. It's just a different Way than was adopted and taught by what became the orthodox Church.

Peace to all. AMEN. :-)

lightseeker said...

Another reason why GT 97 is not about teaching is that for the Thomasine Christians, salvational knowledge (gnosis) could not be taught by another, it could only be found within oneself - it had to be experienced to be comprehended. The "teacher" could only guide the pupil, but the pupil had to access and drink in the knowledge of his/her true spiritual identity/reality on one's own; it is the self-discovered inner knowledge, that one was created from the same eternal essence (in the same "image") of God/Spirit, which leads to the state of enlightenment, and thus the knowledge that one can never die - Eternal Life.

Refer to saying 13:
Jesus said to his disciples, "Compare me to something and tell me what I am like."

Simon Peter said to him, "You are like a just messenger."

Matthew said to him, "You are like a wise philosopher."

Thomas said to him, "Teacher, my mouth is utterly unable to say what you are like."

Jesus said, "I am not your teacher. Because you have drunk, you have become intoxicated from the bubbling spring that I have tended."

Like a good shepherd (to borrow that metaphor), Jesus guides the initiate to the spring of Eternal Life, but he is not the spring itself. Gnosis/INNER knowledge is the key to Eternal Life, and the Source is available to all who seek to drink from it.

lightseeker said...

Pardon me for adding one last thought.

Jose said, "... reminds me of a Taoist story in which a monk is visited by a missionary. The monk pours the missionary a cup of tea that he deliberately overflows so that it spills all over. The message being that the cup, like the missionary, is so full it cannot hold any more so it’s a waste of the monk’s time to talk to him."

This is a great illustration of how the Thomasine Christians probably thought. One can fill one's head, ears and mouth with all kinds of words and dogma taught by others or read in books, but until one has found and heeded the Teacher/Source of knowledge within oneself (also see Jn 14:26), one has not truly learned and comprehended in the spiritual sense. There is a huge difference between intellectual knowledge and knowledge gained from experience (even transcendent mystical experience, perhaps, through prayer and contemplation). One can have a head crammed full of all kinds of learning, including knowing every word in the Scriptures of the OT and NT (or all the books in the NYC Library for that matter), and yet still be un-en-Light-ened (with the Light of God/Life/spiritual wisdom that comes forth and shines from within).

Yes, the missionary was wasting his words on the monk. It's also a good lesson not to judge appearances and assume one knows who needs saving/enlightenment (ref. Mt 7:1-5). As in the story of the monk and missionary, the reverse could be true - for God alone knows the state of each person's heart and soul, and what knowledge needs to be imparted there (Mt 7:7-9).

I believe we are all "works in progress," working on ourselves on becoming... enlightened or perfected. As the Thomas Christians likely understood, one should seek to enlighten or perfect oneself (best perhaps before attempting to enlighten or perfect others...). Blessings to all on your individual journeys of becoming!

José Solano said...

My apologies Dr. DeConick if my comment about exegesis left the impression that I could be impugning your overall ability to exegete. I must confine my focus to just your interpretation of this particular GT saying with which I disagree.

I do accept your view that parables are simple, especially when you’re told what they mean. We must recognize that most of the people Jesus was talking to in parables, learned scribes or simple fishermen, did not understand what He was talking about and He later had to explain them to His apostles and disciples who recorded them for us to ponder today. There has certainly been a lot written about them over the last 2,000 years.

I do believe that my interpretation of the kingdom of heaven in the canonical parables is a simple interpretation derived from the context and is consistent with the orthodox Christian interpretation, at least at an initial level. I do not believe that the Catholic Church or the Orthodox Churches, or many Protestant churches would have any conflict with my interpretation. It’s when we get into Gnostic symbolism with no context that it becomes a field day for disparate interpretive speculations.

With respect to some comments made by others, I find in the Scriptures both a teaching to examine ourselves, as many Gnostics teach, and a teaching related to doing the right things in the world, as some Gnostics teach. The kingdom of heaven is both within and among us and the canonical kingdom parables can to be seen in this light. There is an inner and an outer work. We must remove the beam from our own eye first but still extend ourselves to help remove the speck or beam from someone else’s eye, if they have ears to hear. The Lord “sows seeds” that hopefully germinate and the mature plants spill/sow seeds of their own that provide a new generation of nourishing food. (Hope this doesn’t sound too much like the Chauncey Gardiner (Peter Sellers, Being There) "parables."

Thank you for posting these sayings that allow us to reflect on them and engender lively discussions.

Nick Kiger said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nick Kiger said...

Jose wrote: "We must recognize that most of the people Jesus was talking to in parables, learned scribes or simple fishermen, did not understand what He was talking about and He later had to explain them to His apostles and disciples who recorded them for us to ponder today."

I have to disagree with you on the notion that the parables were not understood by common and learned people. Jesus often uses rural imagery that would have certainly been understood by common people. It is true that the Gospels, the Gospel of Mark most specifically shows the parables as great mysteries that only a few people can understand with the help of Jesus. While this is apparent, what I think you are missing here is the purpose for these parables to come across this way. The parables are used to separate two groups of people. Those who understand, and those who do not. Those on the inside and those on the outside. Mark does this beautifully and as Dr. DeConick as already pointed out, separates those who do know and those who don't know the messianic secret.

So, the parable is simply a tool in the narrative. Just because the parable is used in this way does not mean that it was not easily understood by those reading it. We must also remember that we are reading the parables with 21st century eyes. What may confuse us may not have confused the 1st century reader considering the context. The problem arrises when we try to "interpret" the parables instead of letting them speak for themselves.

José Solano said...

Hi Nick Kiger. You’re not so much disagreeing with me as you are with what the Gospels clearly state, which I have already referenced.

Mt. 13:1 introduces the parable of The Sower which is then explained in v. 18 after the disciples ask Him, “Why do you speak to them in parables” (v. 10) and Jesus refers to the “mysteries of the kingdom of heaven” (v. 11). Throughout Mt. 13 he is giving explanations and the reason why he is speaking in parables. In v. 36 His disciples directly ask: “Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field” which He does. After which (v. 51-52) he asks the disciples “’Have you understood all these things?’ They said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord.’”

I could go on multiplying references from the Gospels but this will have to do for now. These parables are not being read, they are being spoken and heard.

paulf said...

If Jesus did actually teach the parables, it seems to me likely they had an easily understood meaning to his audience.

What was the purpose of talking to people in a manner that they wouldn't understand? Was God trying to trick them into unbelief so he could punish them later? It doesn't make sense.

My view is that in reporting these parables, the gospel authors had to deal with the fact that their theology about Jesus differed from the actual message of Jesus in some way and so they stuck in their own meaning with the caveat that his listeners were puzzled.

Which they would have been if they only knew that he wasn't really there to teach anything useful, but just to die for their sins.

José Solano said...

I dunno Paulf but it happens all the time. That’s why I give out so many Fs to my students but I keep trying to have them learn the subject. And I don’t speak to them in parables. It only seems that way to some.

I suspect the parable may be somewhat of a homework assignment or something to be handed down for others to ponder. Eventually they may have an “Aha!” experience. Hmm. Would that be a sort of Gnostic enlightenment realization?

There is logical thinking and then there is analogical thinking which also impacts other functions of consciousness. Parables are analogical. Zen koans are different and merely serve as “mind blowers.” They have no meaning but do have a function. Perhaps some Gnostics thought Jesus was employing koans. I’ll keep an eye out for any examples of this.


lightseeker said...

"There is logical thinking and then there is analogical thinking which also impacts other functions of consciousness. Parables are analogical. Zen koans are different and merely serve as “mind blowers.” They have no meaning but do have a function. Perhaps some Gnostics thought Jesus was employing koans."

Aha!! You're on to something, Jose. ;-) Yes, koans serve to force one to let go of logical reasoning, of all that's been learned previously - preconceived ideas or paradigms that may box us in. Spirituality has nothing to do with logic or reasoning! It's a state of being, a state of consciousness.

Many of Jesus' sayings tend to have a Zen-like quality to them. Mt 6:25-34 is all about living in the now moment, not worrying about tomorrow, and that God's abundance will come to us if we have faith and believe we are worthy of (i.e., allow) it - gee, how "New Age-y" is that? ;-) And Jesus spoke these things nearly 2000 years ago! That is Truth! (A wonderful book is "The Zen Teachings of Jesus" by Kenneth S. Long - at 16 he left Christianity to study eastern religions, only to come back to Jesus and Christianity at age 40 - somewhat like myself!) This mind-set or state of consciousness (spirituality!) is exactly what one must achieve to access or enter the Kingdom as a little child, to see the Kingdom through ONE'S OWN new and innocent eyes. There is an unseen, mystical quality of the Kingdom that is within us and surrounds us every day, and yet we fail to see it! (People with a "6th sense" can and do sense this unseen realm - and yet were accused and put to death by the Church as witches or heretics! And yet these are the people who may be most in touch with Spirit! Ironic what fear of non-conformity can do, eh?).

Yes, Gnostics tend to use Jesus' sayings as koans, to spark a new way of perceiving the world and God's Kingdom and our reality within it, from within themselves, by seeking the Kingdom within, then bringing it to the outer world with them. That is how we shine our Light to guide others! And in a sense, this is how Jesus also understood is how we bring God's rule to Earth - by transforming within and bringing it through each of us, one person at a time, until we are all united as one people - God's children - on a "New Earth" in a new age. This is how new paradigms evolve and higher levels of consciousness are reached - i.e., the goal being Christ-consciousness! After all, isn't that what Jesus himself was inspiring us to be, like Him?

This may be a more modern Gnostic view, but I believe we should all try to expand our consciousness, allow ourselves to think (and sense!) outside the box of how we've been taught (by the Church, our parents, society, etc.) to think and interpret Scriptures (any literature/art!), what we've been taught to believe is the only, correct way to Truth and enlightenment. The Church is a good start, but we've moved on from baby food. We're hungry and ready for more. Jesus encouraged us to find the Teacher inside each one of us. The Kingdom starts with elevating and expanding one's own consciousness, from within, and then sharing that consciousness - Light - with others, teaching or setting examples. That's the wonderful thing about Light and unconditional Love, it tends to rub off on others - they wanna know how they can have what you've got that works so well in your life! But the trick is, we all can access it, right inside each of us, it's available to all, God's gift to us.

Okay, I'm done, getting off my soap box now, LOL! Good conversation!