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The Voices of Others are the joy and bane of our life. The voice of someone who loves us, the encouraging words of friends, the adoring gurgles of a child, enchanting music, the heart-touching voice of a gifted singer, the recitation of luminous poetry, the clear words of an inspiring teacher, and the admonitions of trusted friends are our blessings. Unsolicited advice, especially if it is unfounded and cutting, can damage us if we have no preset strategy to deal with criticism of any kind. Ask yourself:
- What need in the other person is driving these negative or near-negative words? Have they behaved like this before?
- Is it true? If so, what am I going to do about it to remedy it?
- Is it false? If so, don’t respond to what is immature baiting, seeking a reaction to satisfy their own need to demoralise another person.
- If unsure, reflect about it or seek the advice of a trusted soul-friend.
- If it persists, limit the importance of such toxic people in your life and repair the damage to your inner world with prayer and meditation. God doesn’t need our prayers, but we do, to heal ourselves by touching the Source of Goodness and Light.
Reimagining a Resurrection People in a Good Friday World
I owe this title to Bishop John Bayton of the Anglican Church of Australia. Bishop Bayton is a sculptor and painter and creative writer and he was the retreat conductor before I was made a bishop in 1994. I was amazed at his breadth of knowledge and his deep compassion as well as his artistic gifts. I had been referred to him by the Bishop of the diocese of Gippsland Bishop Colin Sheumack. I was at that time the Dean of the Cathedral of St. Paul in Sale, Gippsland in Victoria, Australia. Bishop Sheumack sent me to him as my spiritual director because he felt that I needed somebody who was of a more artistic way of being, given my preoccupation with mental analyses. It was a wise decision and he was wonderful to me in the process of being elected as a bishop in 1994.
The Gospels are the almost sole repository of information that we have about Jesus of Nazareth. We have references in Josephus and other writings, but anything about his life and interpretations of his life that we have in the Gospels are our sole resource in many respects. I will refer to the gospel of John, which I prefer to call it The Last Gospel of Jesus of Nazareth. I do so because it is an interpretation of the other Gospels, even when they are not specifically referred to in it. The Gospel of John coincides with the other Gospels more in the last week of Jesus’ life, the so-called Passion account, than any other place. This Last Gospel, the writings of a Mystic from a Christian Community with mystical leanings, is deeply concerned about entering the mystery that was created by Jesus’ entry into resurrection. It is also the only Gospel that explores the mystery of Jesus in the world and Jesus in God.
The literal meaning of resurrection, anastasis in the Greek text of the Gospels, is “to stand up”. It does not mean resuscitation, as that is the revival of a dead body, but it is the total transformation of a human being drawn into the heart of God. It is replicated in Christian resurrection in the sense of being drawn up into God in a way that preserves the ultimate identity of our person, the absolute assurance of our personhood. Paul did this in I Corinthians 15 through the use of the Jewish concept of the Nephesh, that is,“life in the body”,” the “absolute representation of who we are in our earthly life.”
Yeshua the Messiah, the Anointed One
Jesus rose out of his darkest experiences to bring light back into the world. According to Matthew darkness swept across the land at the time of his death, though we have no verifiable contemporary references to such a happening. This darkness, with its rich symbolism, would not have lasted past the dawn of the next day. It coincided with the ripping of the temple veil from top to bottom, again without historical evidence. Bridging the gap between humanity and God is the purpose of the resurrection narratives. Its purpose was also to certify or vindicate the way in which Jesus entered the life of God in such fullness and blazing glory. This would lead to speculations about what really happened that day in Jerusalem when the light of the world went back to the light in God. This hidden light of glory has prevailed over the earth ever since via the Cross and Resurrection as symbols of humanity linked to the compassion of God.
The Fulfilment of that which was Foretold
Logos-laden prophets spoke with such depth that what they said referred not only to the present circumstances. It also attracted a wide range of applications in the history of a people and beyond them to other people’s pilgrimages. But because of their perception and depth of wisdom, it was a true exhibition of Homo Sapiens, “the wisdom of humanity’. The Cross at Calvary and the Empty Tomb are prophetic symbols of the redemptive purposes of God as expressed by the prophets.
January 11 2020 My primal inner wish and drive is to know and love God. This comes from the roots of my humanity which are ultimately grounded in God, so they bear the seal, the stamp of approval that comes from the heart of all being. My ultimate purpose is to respect all people that I come across without reservation. That is, except when their conduct or my conduct gets in the way of respect. Even then, I must keep respect in the foreground of my thinking and not let it get obliterated by ego constructs in response to non-respectful behaviour. I have been reading in The Courage to be Happy by two Japanese writers. They have taken the theories of Adler and extracted from them those things that really matter, especially a sense of being human and how that humanity intersects with society. I am still reading through it and I will make further comments on on it when I have completed my first reading. I am also very conscious of becoming a healer. I take this to be the prompting of the Paraclete, my guide, my ultimate reference in all that I do every day. I am also a writer and so I want to become a writer-healer or vice versa, I think the first form applies! I think that Dr Caroline Leaf is correct when she says that we are wired for love and the enhancement of humanity through the development of what she calls “Your Perfect Self“. Their neuroscientific work has led Caroline and Dr Norman Doight and others to elaborate their scientifically referred concepts of the plasticity of the brain and its capacity to heal itself into positive and glorious refrains of being human. This of course does not happen overnight and requires application and a conscious feeding of the unconscious with positive, loving and empathetic ideas that create a panorama of creative ideas of what and how it means to be human; and to exercise our humanity with love and dignity and a sense of purpose. I must sit and do these musings every day as they are ultimately my prayers and the paradigms of my understanding of humanity and the inner world that we all inhabit every day; as well as our outer expression being human in our external surroundings.
Microsecond Moments and Ego Responses
I have been thinking about how the early Christians were remiss in not understanding the Jewish roots of the life of Jesus of Nazareth. If they looked more intently at the Jewish maps of the soul, we may have avoided the starkly dark pictures of the human person and being that emerged in the centuries after Christ. Augustine would later talk about the inner person as “totally depraved”. Christian theologians looked at Paul’s wretched state before God, and “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), as a reason for redemption being necessary rather than as a reason for self-overcoming! Jesus said very little about the temperature of hell or the furniture of heaven. He was more interested in the motivations of humanity, and the ways of ameliorating destructive self-intent. No one can consign us to hell or any projection of such a ghastly place. We do that very well ourselves in our own private hells created by the prevarications and self-massaging of the ego. It would be more realistic to speak of hell as a place where we take all our own private hells and collect them together to muse on the collective mess that we have made of our lives! I recall John 23rd, the Pope wh brought the papacy into the modern world, writing that, “The question that God will ask me at the end will be, ‘what did you do with the life that I gave you?'” So much of our little hells could be avoided if we took a microsecond before responding to something or someone that has unsettled our ego and flared our resentment. Speaking without that microsecond of pausing can be very dangerous. It can alienate friends and perpetuate enemies.
Probing Interior Depths and Maps of the Soul
I focus into my interior depths and search for an access. I am dropping peace and love and beauty of person through the access to what lies beneath the surface of the selem, the imaging ‘floor’ of the Neshama, the radiant depths of the soul. It can then drop into the unconscious and fall through into a recoverable infinity that can unlocked by symbols as in dreams. These depths can also be worked over by Ruach, “Spirit”, and what happens is the replication of Creation. Creation is always replication. Paul talks about the “mind of God” and Ruach connects with the mind of God in creation. We are always imitating the Creator because we are wired by the Creator. We can do no other than imitate. We are the only ones with the mental instruments of creation. We also replicate ourselves in part and we are co-creators. This is a true expression of an ontological relationship, “Being replicates Being”. The unconscious records everything. Nothing is wasted. Every prayer we have ever uttered; everything that others have said to us and we have thought and said ‘within’: and our internal speeches and ravings and tyrannical episodes. The unconscious is the memory pad not only of ourselves but of God’s memory. No secret is unremembered. No detail is too small to recall. Nothing is lost.
In the days after Princess Diana died on August 31 1997 I was requested to read a poem live on the BBC that I had written about her. Diana is a recurring memory, and I post it here as part of the echoing grief and the affect of her life and death.
The Lost Princess: Diana of the English
She came to the Church, flowing train
Prince Charming, Archbishop, vows
Faith hope and love’s sweet refrains
First years pass, children, fame grows.
Protocols of another age rolled aside
Determined, reality, red tape slashed
World’s stage invites, repels, divides
Love’s breakdown, excluded, rejected.
Spurned in power, received in weakness
Touching lepers, lending fame to causes
Reaching out, loving response anonymous
But seeking love yet personal, other hopes.
Desert masters parading wealth, limo-Benz
Under water enmeshed in steel, heart-feeble
Clinical blaze of light, dying without friends
Streets flower-full at home with her people.
Procession bends its way past life-memories
Children gaze in numb grief in a tear-swirl
The lost Princess is found in heart-pictures
Remembered as a voice of care in our world.
Another victim of love’s breakdown looks on
Yeshua knows rejection and tears and sorrow
He recalls joy, laughter and grief overcome
He breathes compassion, her other tomorrow.
Bishop from the Bush
I am Dr Arthur Jones, an Anglican Bishop. I am from the western plains in New South Wales, about 500 kms west of Sydney, Australia. I reflect that bush background. This background has a great respect for core values and integrity and is people-centred.
The right advice
The bishop who ordained me as a priest told me in my first interview with him that I would be all right if I “loved God and loved people”. I have tried earnestly to put that into practice. Bishop Leslie commented several years ago that he was pleased with my efforts to follow his advice. Coming from him that meant a lot. He lived to be 98 years of age and he was the humblest person I have ever met apart from the Nazarene whom we both adored as God’s Compassionate Messiah, the “Man for others” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer). I also consider Saint Therese of Lisieux to be a person of credible depth of human spirit and humility before God.
I have been a parish priest, a missionary for six years in Panama, a full-time academic, a diocesan bishop and I have lectured in New Testament in Asia and Latin America (in Spanish).
I lectured in New Testament at St. Andrew’s Seminary in Quezon City, Manila, from 2000-2017. I have great respect for the Filipinos and I have many friends in the Philippines. The citation for my Order of Australia Award (OAM) reads: “For service to the Anglican Church of Australia and as a theological and language lecturer in developing countries.”
A personal touch
If I cannot bring a personal touch to many hearts, then I will not have achieved the aim and purpose of my vocation. I try to bring an accepting and open approach to every person that I meet. I also bring grounded biblical teaching aligned to a passionate interest in people and pastoral ministry. I love beautiful liturgy and both traditional and contemporary music and lyrics.
Purpose of this website
My biblical focus is the writings of Luke in the Gospel of Luke and Acts of the Apostles, though the Last Gospel, the Gospel of John, is also a primary focus. I am also deeply interested in the Interpretation of the Scriptures in the 21st Century. This website aims to engage people of similar interests, provide information when it is sought, and to share my writings on biblical subjects and the interpretation of the Scriptures with a wider constituency for inter-action.
I have conducted an International Biblical School in Tamil Nadu south of Bangalore in India. I have written a dialogue-style Commentary on Luke’s Gospel and Acts of the Apostles to meet the needs of over two hundred independent pastors who placed themselves under my care in Tamil Nadu. There is more about this on the website.
I am very orthodox in the core matters of the faith and try to be sensitive to the needs of people and reluctant to make categorical judgments about anyone who causes no harm to others. And even when there appears to be ‘harm’ I am suspicious of hasty judgments until I know more of the circumstances.
My vision is to build more and more relationships. I am colour-blind when it comes to race and gender-free when it comes to people’s opportunities and gifts. I also think that more and more Christians should be biblically informed and any added part that I can play in that would be wonderful, We should be respectful of other Faiths and different Christian approaches but well-equipped to “give an account” of our own Faith, without being overly defensive, I have scripts that I would like to publish on U Tube and the Net in general as well as in print.
Bishop Arthur Lucas Jones B.A., B.D., Th.Schol., M.A., M. Couns., Ph.D
I am a graduate of London and Deakin Universities and I hold an M.A. in Classics from Newcastle University and a Master of Counseling and Human Services from La Trobe University. My Ph. D is from La Trobe University and the title was Jesus as Prophet. My degrees are from Australian Colleges and Universities, except for the Bachelor of Divinity from London University.