My real name is not John Cross. It is something else, which I do not reveal, because I work as a musician at a Christian church and also have several close Christian family members, friends, and acquaintances who strongly believe in the traditional notions of God, “spiritual realms,” the afterlife, the “supernatural” and so forth. While I respect their right to believe as they do, I do not share their religious beliefs and nor do I generally feel comfortable sharing my views with them. This can sometimes make things awkward, frustrating, and lonely for me, and especially during some religious or “moral” discussions with them in which it takes a good deal of tact, patience, and self-control to navigate such conversations in a way which allow me to both preserve my integrity with how I see reality while not insulting them or rejecting their views outright at the same time. I am not always successful in doing this, as it is quite difficult, which is one of the main reasons I almost never overtly share my views on religion with almost anyone. I guess you could essentially call me a “closet non-Christian.”
For those who are my close friends and family, or know me less well, and discover who I am behind these writings and podcast episodes on “The Oneness of All,” who may find what they discover on this site and on this podcast surprising, hurtful, disturbing, offensive, a betrayal, etc., I understand why you may feel that way and I ask for your forgiveness and wish to sincerely apologize for this hurt, as this was never intentional. I do not apologize for my views, as I do passionately believe in and am as certain as I feel I reasonably can be about what I express on this site, however I do apologize for any hurt the revelation of my true positions and points of view may bring to some who find this site and podcast. I discuss these misgivings throughout several podcast episodes, as this has weighed heavily on my conscience ever since I realized I could no longer in good faith, call myself a Christian believer, while at the same time realizing I could also not bring myself to be completely transparent about this fact to my Christian friends and family. The fact is I just didn’t have the courage or the fortitude to deal with the potential fallout the revelation of my honest thoughts would likely bring as I will explain more here.
At one point around 2015, I did express some of my doubts to several of my friends at the church where I work, but did not again revisit my position with them at a later time. The truth is, I was never entirely forthcoming about the degree to which how certain I was then and am now about my lack of faith in the supernatural and Christianity in particular. I was less harsh in the way I expressed myself about these things, stating I was more doubtful than anything else, but I had already gone far enough along the path to finally realize that Christianity and faith in the supernatural was not tenable for me any longer, and almost certainly never would be. As I state often on this site and on my podcast, I will never be able to be convinced of any theistic position since they all require a fundamental belief in dualism which is contradictory and impossible as I demonstrate and express often on this site and on the podcast. The reason dualism is impossible, and contradictory is because dualism is the idea there somehow exists two separate, opposite, and independent “realities,” which if this was true, would result in nothingness, which is obviously false. The math problem which easily illustrates the problem with dualism is +1 – 1 = 0. With the true nature of reality, oneness, there is no contradiction as the two “sides” to reality of stasis (consciousness) and change, or discreteness, are simply two sides of the same single coin, not two separate, opposite, or independent “realities” as purported by the notion of “substance dualism” as championed by the 17th century philosopher Rene Descartes. This for me puts an end to the possibility of any dualistic worldviews being tenable, whether it be Christianity that purports the reality of a separate and independent Heaven and Hell, God and the Devil; Hinduism which purports several different gods, or any other dualistic worldview which purports the notion of reality comprising of two separate and opposite, independent “realities.” In a nutshell, any worldview which does not accept the fact of the oneness of all, and the inseparability of the two “sides” of a single “coin” of stasis (consciousness) and change, cannot be true due to the contradictions and double standards they require to maintain them. Oneness has no contradictions, while dualism has contradictions at every turn because the view is itself flawed by a mistaken presupposition of reality – that there is a fundamental separateness and independence between different apparent entities, forces, and phenomena. As I also explore often on this site and on the podcast, contradictions and double standards are always false because they negate a given premise, thus invalidating it. This is for me, all I need to confidently reject any and all dualistic positions, and therefore any and all theistic positions, since theistic positions are manifestations of dualism by their very nature.
The bottom line for me is I fundamentally reject dualism, therefore I reject theism, since the very premise of theism depends on the idea of dualism being true as stated previously. While I discuss throughout this site and on the podcast several other objections and reasons for my non-belief in any gods, the problem of believing in the contradictory and therefore false premise of dualism takes every possible theistic position off the table. That is why the idea one must be “omniscient” to know there is no god is mistaken. As I discuss throughout this site and on the podcast, if there are “knockouts,” that is, certain premises which if true would make a given proposition impossible, then the proposition in light of such a provably false premise cannot be true. For me, I know as a logical, sound reasoning matter of fact, not to mention what I have gleaned from meditation that dualism is false, therefore theism cannot be true because in order for theism to be true, dualism would also have to be true, which it cannot be. Again, +1 – 1 = 0, or nothingness. While reality clearly is not nothingness, that is the mathematical and logical proposition of the dualist. While they may deny this, that is what a dualists’ logic is saying, and what their logic is saying is clearly false. Since there is something rather than nothing, then the only logical conclusion for the apparent dualistic nature of reality we encounter is that the two apparent “sides” of reality can only be two sides of the same one “coin” if you will. Yet this reality is clearly not within the belief system of Christianity, which purports the fundamental and permanent separation and independence of God and Satan, Heaven and Hell, etc., rather than seeing these things as two sides of the same single “coin” of All.
I have not told any of my Christian friends and acquaintances about “The Mystical Voice.” I believe the most honest “answer” I can give about what I believe to be true about reality is the one I expressed in my post, “The Principles of Oneness” – that all is One, with the two principles of stasis and change underlying all that is. As for all of the intricate and complicated ways things occur and evolve, moments of serendipity and spontaneous understanding, I do not have an answer for them, and nor do I feel there can be an answer. I do not have to have an “answer” whether I say it is God, Allah, or natural forces. All simply IS. I can live with not having an “answer.”
Working for a Christian church as a musician in which nothing but Christian music is sang and played brings unique challenges to my life as one could imagine given my point of view. I sometimes feel hypocritical and disingenuous allowing others such as my church friends and acquaintances and my family to believe I am still a Christian while no longer actually being one in reality. This was definitely not by design. There was a time from around 2010 through 2011 when I gave one last honest attempt at being a Christian. I read the Bible intently, tried to understand and properly interpret scripture, listened with great interest to several sermons, and prayed consistently and with great passion. After I found myself becoming a bit judgmental and concerned about converting the “lost souls” of those who did not “believe,” a part of me began to feel uncomfortable with this insecurity and self-righteousness within myself. I decided to take a step back and take another good hard look at the Christian faith rationally and logically. Shortly after I began to do this around the beginning of 2012, not long after I began work on “The Mystical Voice,” I realized I could no longer deny the endless contradictions and double-standards inherent in the Christian faith and indeed in all theistic religions which purport the existence of the “supernatural.” Once I realized belief in God and the supernatural is the exact same contradiction as believing in “round squares,” I knew I could no longer deny the painfully obvious. I realized in my newfound awareness I could not and would not ever again be able to be a Christian while maintaining intellectual honesty and integrity at the same time. I knew doublethink was the only way I could remain a Christian while also possessing the knowledge and awareness I had gained and continue to gain through critical thinking, rational analysis, and meditation. I also realized, after coming to understand the myriad problems with the idea of an “historical Jesus” as I explored in “Caesar’s Messiah” and “The Christ Myth,” I was unable to look at a factual living Jesus as described in the Gospels as a reasonably viable possibility given the amazing lack of any written evidence about Jesus during his supposed lifetime, combined with far more plausible explanations for the Jesus story and the origins of Christianity. Even if I were to grant an historical Jesus, it would still be a matter of faith to believe in the supernatural claims of Jesus as the Son of God, who died and was resurrected to pay for the sins of the world. The sum total of all of these realizations made ending my commitment to being a Christian and opting instead to look at life openly and honestly as a freethinker and/or a secular humanist the only “choice” I felt I had, and given how compelling the reasons and logic to no longer believe were to me, made it not actually feel like a “choice” at all.
That being said, I initially struggled a great deal with my first realization I had serious doubts about Christianity after taking a class entitled “Belief and Unbelief” in college, around 1994. I had such an immensely painful crisis of faith, I turned to what ended up being some fraudulent meditation techniques, one of which whose organization I almost joined for $5,000 to become a monk in the South Pacific. For the other technique I spent close to $6,000 in total over three “degrees” as they called them, and even loaned a friend of mine $5,000 for him to complete the same “third” degree, which he did pay me back for over time. By the time I got to my second serious questioning of Christianity around 2011/2012, this would be an entirely different outcome altogether. Whereas before after my initial questioning I had meandered between no faith or indifference to strong belief, this time there was no going back to my Christian faith after I put my faith questions through the wringer of some writings and online lectures from some brilliant minds such as Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Marshall Brian, Greta Christina, J Anderson Thomson Jr. M.D., Clare Aukofer, Joseph Atwill, James S Valliant, and C.W. Fahy, among others, and countless hours of thinking for myself, as well as talks with my friend Dave on several topics which also came to my own mind largely influenced and inspired by these studies, my faith stood zero chance of survival. At the same time I was eventually able to reconnect with genuine meditation in 2018 through the wonderful app of Sam Harris brilliantly entitled “Waking Up,” and around the same time, started my podcast found on this site, “The Oneness of All.” What makes Sam Harris stand well apart from other atheists for me, is his acknowledgement of the validity of the project of “spiritual inquiry” if you will, and I know of no other atheist who has made such immense contributions to a spiritual path without belief in gods, the supernatural, or religion. His “Waking Up” app is essentially based on examining one’s own mind and what it does, not buying into any belief system, “attunement processes,” or several other pitfalls I encountered in the two other fraudulent mediation techniques I had worked with in the past. While I don’t agree with everything Sam says, particularly with respect to consciousness as I discuss often on the podcast and on this site, and in my many talks with my friend Dave, his contributions to providing a platform on genuine meditation and spiritual practice without belief or religion cannot be overstated.
Returning back to some of my thoughts on belief and some reasons why we may believe or not believe, this brings to mind something I found in the excellent book “Why We Believe in gods,” by J. Anderson Thomson Jr. M.D., and Clare Aukofer. In this book they talked about the incredible importance of the attachment system as a motivation why some continue to believe in gods despite the evidence against belief, for fear if they no longer do so they may threaten the relationships they have with their believing friends and family. I can certainly empathize with this, however I feel either one is convinced of a proposition, or one is not, and just because it is sometimes not convenient when one’s beliefs conflict with the beliefs of those closest to them, that does not mean you can just then necessarily change your actual beliefs on a dime in order to be aligned with the beliefs of others. In fact, I actually don’t believe this is possible for many, which is why there are many who live and often remain “in the closet” about their genuine views as I do. There is a reason why it is a famous adage to not talk religion or politics in polite company. I talk both and more on this site and on the podcast a great deal since “The Mystical Voice” site and “The Oneness of All” podcast is my “safe-haven,” my “parachute,” the places where I can express my views and explorations freely and independently without judgment for myself and concern of hurting others. It is a safe place where I can express my thoughts on these difficult things without the negative consequences of saying them out loud to everyone.
When I began to move away from being a “believer” to a “non-believer,” around 2011/2012, opting instead to seek Truth independently from any religious dogma, I believed at that time announcing this “de-conversion” from Christianity would not be well received by my Christian family, friends, and acquaintances, and especially not the pastor at the church where I work, whom I knew had a history of firing a non-believing musician in the past. I therefore decided to keep quiet about my inward de-conversion from Christianity so I could still keep the valuable relationships I had made at the church, not to mention my job there, while seeking Truth independently of church dogma at the same time. What I find fascinating and quite telling is that in spite of my inward “de-conversion” from Christianity, I am continually told by church members what a generous, “Godly” and “Christian” man I am. I take that as a compliment because I know within the context of their understanding of these words, they see me as a “good,” loving, and compassionate man. I think this goes to prove the fact one need not be a “Christian” to be a loving, caring, and compassionate person who is considerate of others, is not consumed with greed and selfishness, and has a “moral compass.” It is often implied or explicitly stated by some Christians that a person cannot truly have these attributes or be a “Godly” person without being a Christian – as if Christianity has a monopoly on all which is good, honest, compassionate, and loving. My experience demonstrates to me otherwise. It is in being an open, self-honest, and aware person, and not an ignorant one that makes all the difference – not whether or not one is a Christian.
Fast forward to 2021 and the church where I work was in a deep crisis over our new pastor, who was eventually removed by a vote of no confidence. I discuss this odyssey in some podcast episodes from the spring and summer of 2021 detailing the drama as it unfolded. The conflict heated up when this pastor pulled me in to a meeting to “get to know me better,” which was in reality only an action he took in response to him taking exception to my supposedly undermining his “authority” according to him. It is interesting how he never bothered trying to “get to know me” for some three months before I supposedly undermined his authority, but I digress. He asked me some pointed questions about my faith, clearly testing me to be sure I gave the “right” answers for how I would “know” whether or not I would be going to Heaven after I die. I told him I “hoped” I would go to Heaven, and that I could only say to God I did the best I could do. This was clearly not the “right” answer he was looking for, and then the next day pulled my closest friends who are members of the church into a meeting to talk about his “concerns” about me behind my back. This was from a Christian standpoint, un-Biblical, and from a “worldly” standpoint, unethical. I called the pastor on this in a heated argument we had over the phone as the crisis came to a head. That evening of the call I was broken and extremely upset, and prayed with my friends, which was actually quite comforting. The last thing I wanted to do in that situation was have a theological discussion about why I was still not a believer and had not converted “back to the faith,” even in the midst of this crisis. The truth is, I had given vague answers to the pastor’s questions on my faith because I was not a believer and was trying to be as truthful as I felt I could be in my responses to his questions. That backfired on me, but actually set up a chain of events which eventually led to his dismissal. So the ironic thing is, a non-believer had a major role in saving the church. I do not say that hyperbolically or to be egotistical. It is an almost certainty had he won the vote to stay on as our pastor, the church would probably no longer exist since my friends, myself, and perhaps more than half the church were prepared to leave the church had he won, and we are the ones who basically do almost everything in the church. I actually did resign my Music Director position at the church for a time, and then returned once he was voted out.
While I was pleased the church voted this pastor out, and I believe it was the best thing for the church’s survival and the growth that has followed, literally saving it, a problem actually emerged for me from my good friends going to the wall for me, defending me, praying for me, and supporting me all the way throughout this very trying episode. While on the one hand I loved the way they supported me, and was quite moved by their outpouring of love, I did not know on the other hand how I could then turn around and reveal to them my position on the God question had not changed, and I was still a non-believer. They had not only defended me, but did so vouching for my faith. It was therefore unfathomable for me to just then say out loud to my friends, “No, I actually still don’t believe in God, but thank you for your support.” Had I done that it would have validated the pastor’s accusation I was a heretical non-believer, and would have made it extremely easy for him to push me out of my position at the church because his ego was bruised, not because he actually cared about the status of my “salvation” or his desire to “get to know me.” Again, as I said before, he never bothered trying to “get to know me” for some three months prior to this incident that trigged this entire fiasco. The interim pastor who came before him sat down with me within a week to get to know me, and never once grilled me to the wall on my faith, and nor did he try to “discern” whether or not I was “worthy” enough to hold my position as Music Director with the church.
It seemed unfathomable to me after all that had transpired and what I could see was on the line for the survival of this church family, to make such a confession of non-faith, so I again found myself back to where I was originally – keeping quiet about my non-belief in God and the supernatural. It is one of the reasons I pulled my podcast off the major platforms and decided to self-publish here, to keep a lower profile and share it with those whom I wish to know about it, making it much less likely for anyone else finding out about it. It is sad for me to have to say that my very best friends are completely unaware of a very large part of my being and body of work I consider quite important. It is a fact I am not at all proud of or happy about, but I honestly don’t know a better way to realistically handle this unfortunate confluence of immovable facts of my situation. Telling the whole truth seems untenable and would be impossibly uncomfortable for me within my life circumstances, while at the same time keeping this to myself and only a handful of people is being dishonest and disingenuous to my very best friends whom I dearly love. It is a very difficult conflict I don’t believe I will every truly come to peace with or be comfortable with, although I do believe I am handling this in the best way I know how under the circumstances. In a very real sense, I have learned in more than one area of my life to live in “boxes,” with some things in one box and other things in other boxes, deliberately keeping some parts of my life out of other parts of my life. It is not the way I would choose to live if I had an actual, practical “choice,” and nor would I recommend it to others, as I sincerely believe it is far less stressful to lead a life as fully integrated as possible. Nevertheless, this is the way I feel I must live given the unchangeable nature of the circumstances of my life – how much my church friends mean to me and how much I love them, and how passionately I feel about the views and positions I hold as a non-believer.
Perhaps the best expression of my conflicting thoughts on these issues can be found in my podcast episode number 133 entitled “When in Rome.” In this episode, I talk about my love for a movie called “Sommersby,” which stars Richard Gere and Jodi Foster in a tale in which a man returns home from the Civil War posing as Jack Sommersby, only to later be found out to be Horace Townsend. Horace maintains he is Jack because if he did not continue the appearance of him being Jack Sommersby, the town he worked to restore via a tobacco crop would be ruined, as would the woman he came to love named Laurel, Jack Sommersby’s wife. Also ruined would be the life of their new baby daughter they conceived together, who would have been considered a bastard and Laurel a whore in 1867 if Horace was not Jack Sommersby. While he maintains the lie of his true identity, it is obvious he does the “right” and “noble” thing by maintaining the lie for the good of everyone else. What is interesting is Horace Townsend never did the right thing throughout his life as the story goes, until he stuck with being Jack Sommersby, even while facing the death penalty as Jack Sommersby for murdering someone. The moral of the story for me is the fact that sometimes honesty is not always the best policy, as I also discuss in another podcast episode number 60 entitled, “Is Honesty Always the Best Policy?” Sometimes it is better for some things to remain unknown for the betterment of everyone else. This is precisely the situation I found myself in with the church’s future on the line had this pastor been allowed to stay if I admitted to being a non-believer. While I didn’t like lying, I believe doing so was the best thing for saving the church from this corrupt and if I may use a religious expression, “un-Godly” man. I for one wish it was not that big of a deal what anyone believes, and even one of my adversaries in the whole pastor fiasco told me it should not matter what my beliefs are to be a musician for the church. I agreed with her, but interestingly enough, the pastor she worshipped didn’t agree with her. What’s interesting is the pastor’s suspicions were actually correct about me being a non-believer, but what he failed to see is the error of his ways in trying to push me out because of his own self-righteous judgment of me, even though I have for the past fourteen years served and continue to serve this church faithfully with love and care for these wonderful people I have the privilege to know and call my friends, and more appropriately, my family.
I was raised Catholic, and my faith has gone through several transformations throughout the course of my life from intense religious faith to great skepticism. I used to weep over the passion scenes in the film “Jesus of Nazareth,” and also the brutally graphic depictions of Jesus’ suffering in Mel Gibson’s film, “The Passion of the Christ.” I was a huge fan of Jesus, believing the stories which were taught to me in CCD class as a young Catholic were literally, factually correct. At the same time, while my heartstrings have always been vulnerable to emotionally charged stories and depictions, I had my critical-thinking, abstract mind tugging away at my heartstrings when I was in college while taking a class called “Belief and Unbelief,” beckoning me as it were, for the very first time, to seriously listen not only to my heart and what I wanted to believe was true, but to reason and logic, which has the advantage of allowing us, at least for a time, to be better able to separate ourselves from emotional influence which can cloud our judgment. Emotions, while not “good” or “bad,” can be too easily used as an escape to avoid reality, honesty, and responsibility. It is too easy to lie to ourselves by giving in to what our egos want to believe.
I was amazed and bewildered as it was related to me by two church members independently, how the pastor at the church where I work once fell to the floor and wept during a church council meeting, bemoaning it was “demonic forces” which were responsible for what members were saying in calling him out on his less than stellar behavior. Emotionally charged outbursts like this, just like the dramas we perpetuate, and shockingly brutal portrayals in pieces of propaganda like Mel Gibson’s “Passion,” are nothing more than clever distractions created to help us avoid responsibility and facing the truth. When we find ourselves cornered in the undeniable awareness of the contradictions and double-standards of our faith we can no longer rationalize, or any other non-truth we wish to defend, we often tend to resort to childish emotional outbursts and rantings – all evidence of our inherent awareness of the fictions we defend out of egotistical self-preservation.
Simply put, I consider myself a seeker of truth based on evidence, sound reasoning, critical thinking, abstract logical thought, and most importantly, an inherent awareness that truth is ultimately not dualistic, but One. While facts matter in the honest pursuit of truth, fact is not necessarily truth, and truth is not necessarily fact. I prefer to look at the truth behind the facts – such as the fact that while the resurrection story of Christ may not be factual, it is “true” in what it can represent – a truthful metaphor for how we too in our lives can be “dead and buried,” only to “rise again” after overcoming trials in our lives. Most of us know what it means to be “dead” at some point in our lives only to find ourselves “alive again,” “resurrected” as it were.
While an atheist will typically say the story of Christ’s resurrection is not true, I would argue it is a True story, but not a factually correct story. It is the awareness of the difference between fact and Truth that separate the atheist and theist from the “mystic,” or one who perceives “The Oneness of All.” The atheist and theist still operate within the illusory, dualistic game, believing dualism to be ultimate Reality. For the atheist, this is blatantly evident in their beliefs in the concepts of self and other, as well as the all-or-nothing notion that Biblical scripture must be either entirely true or entirely false, without perceiving the truth behind stories which may not necessarily be factual. For the theist, their belief in dualism as ultimate Reality is evident in their beliefs about the apparent separation between self and other, God and “his people,” their beliefs in Heaven and Hell, God and Satan, the “saved” and the “damned.” For someone who perceives “The Oneness of All,” such dualistic notions are seen for the illusions and unrealities they are.
That being said, I certainly do agree with the atheistic viewpoint there is no “supreme being” with a will and a “plan” overseeing the Universe and all that occurs within it. However, I take it a step further than the atheist, and reject the notion of any being truly existing because no thing actually exists since all things are ever-changing and transforming into “something else.” Since no form is permanent, and all forms are always nothing more than a composition of other pre-existing elements, then All is truly nothing more than a whole manifested in countless forms which are ever-changing and endlessly evolving. This means no “being” of any kind, whether it is an animal, a person, a flower, or a plant exists as a permanent, unchanging form. The notion of permanent form, and for Christians and Muslims, the permanent self, or “soul,” is an entirely egocentric view which contradicts several things we know to be True about Reality and the nature of the universe, such as the fact that when you damage the material brain, it can radically affect the supposedly “non-material” self or “soul.” This would not and could not be the case if the “self” or “soul” was truly “independent” of the material brain.
A more appropriate adjective for my viewpoint is that of an a-egotist – a word I do not believe actually existed until now. An a-egotist is someone who rejects the idea of a permanent and essential “self,” since such a notion is demonstrably false and illusory, as all things, beings, and concepts depend on the existence of other pre-existing elements for their existence, making the notion of independent “self-essence” impossible and contradictory. Only if things existed independently of everything else could the notion of “self-essence” or “individual permanence” be even possibly true. Since all things and forms depend on the existence of everything else for their existence, all is truly One and inseparable. As all things are ever-changing and endlessly evolving, the notion of a permanent anything, including the concept of the “self,” is untrue and an illusion, since no form whatsoever is permanent. The only which is “permanent” and “eternal” is All – not the forms within it. All is timeless – without beginning and without end. Every form within it is impermanent and illusory. Our egos, our notions of “self,” are no different than any other form, and are also impermanent. Since our egos cannot handle the fact of its impermanence, it invents all kinds of intellectual “loopholes,” such as the notions of “eternal souls,” the “afterlife,” and “God” to comfort itself against the reality of a fact it cannot accept. These notions are all nothing more than defense mechanisms created by the ego, for the ego, to lull itself into the illusion it has individual “separate” existence and permanence, when it never does.
The truth is, I love my Christian family and friends. They are wonderful people. Since there are many things in Christian scripture which are truthful, though not necessarily factual, and I was raised Catholic with a solid background and knowledge of Biblical scripture, I can oftentimes seamlessly engage them in conversation without compromising how I see Reality. As I said earlier, this is not always easy to do within all such conversations, but when things flow naturally, I find myself able to often “translate” what they say to me in the terms of Reality as I understand it, knowing they perceive things differently than I do. This is how I can agree with a Christian that the story of Jesus’ resurrection is “true.” To the Christian, the story refers to literal fact – that Jesus rose bodily from the grave and appeared to his disciples, and for me, it metaphorically represents the Truth of the “death” and “resurrection” we can all experience within our lives. We both “agree,” but understand the same story in an entirely different way. I would rather not directly challenge their viewpoint, since I don’t see much value in trying to “convince” someone of anything, although I do see value when others see for themselves in their own time. I actually enjoy praying with them, as the essential meaning of prayer for me is in supporting others, not offering supplication or propitiation to a “divine being.” I also enjoy playing much Christian music, despite the lyrics and titles of the songs I often disagree with because I am first and foremost about music, and not the words which are sung. It is my love for music which allows me to play much Christian music with joy and happiness regardless of the titles and the lyrics of the songs I sometimes disagree with.
All that being said, there is much in Christian scripture I find quite truthful and compelling such as the story of the prodigal son that makes my cry almost every time I read it or hear it, much of the beatitudes are lovely and inspired, the wisdom of the Golden Rule to do unto others as you would have them do unto you, and the story of Jesus facing his fears head on by going to his terrible death with dignity and immense courage, while not answering an angry action or word with another angry action or word has always been incredibly inspirational to me and still is. I find great value in these stories even though I do not believe in an historical Jesus and definitely not the “divine” Jesus as claimed in the Gospels, and nor do I believe any “divine being” or “purpose” is behind it all. Nevertheless, that for me takes nothing away from the inspired and beautiful lessons that can sometimes be conveyed from the Bible or other religious and spiritual traditions. The mindboggling architecture inspired by religion in the form of cathedrals all over Europe is truly awe-inspiring. I once sang with a college choir in the incredible Canterbury Cathedral in England, which was consecrated in 1070. It was a truly humbling and amazing experience and listening to the monks sing their own Gregorian chants brought me chills as I heard their pure voices resonate throughout that massive structure. So much of the greatest music of all time is either directly religious and/or inspired by religion such as Gregorian chants, Bach’s many choral masterpieces like the “St. Matthew’s Passion,” the “Mass in B Minor,” and Handel’s great oratorio “Messiah,” perhaps the most famous and well-loved piece of religious music of all time, often sung by both amateur and professional choirs all over the world every year during the Christmas season. Mozart’s “Requiem,” his great, unfinished “Mass in C Minor,” and Beethoven’s “Missa Solemnis” are towering masterpieces that cannot be denied. I love all of these amazing masterpieces, even if I don’t believe the words “Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy,” sung in Latin in the “Kyrie” section of the mass warrants the kind of amazing treatment given it by Mozart in his great “Mass in C Minor,” the incredible double fugue in his “Requiem,” or Beethoven’s “Missa Solemnis.” For me, the voices are just other instruments, and since I often tune out the words, especially when sung in Latin in which I do not understand much of what is being actually sung, I can still admire the amazingly wonderful music. I love much sacred music for its sheer beauty, and I can appreciate the composers’ aspiration to communicate what is beyond the mundane world of ever-changing appearances, that which is unchanging, that which is beyond the known. While I believe these aspects of reality cannot be denied, that does not mean there is a God. It means for me, there is a Oneness of All, hence the title of my podcast. As for the composers I mentioned previously, they worked in the Christian tradition since they lived and worked and were raised in a Christian Europe. However, the universality of what I hear in their music is much of what I so admire about their sacred music especially, even if I don’t believe in a being from whom we need to beg for mercy… kyrie eleison. I also love and appreciate many aspects of Christian practice such as the honest reflection on one’s life, decisions and their consequences, taking ownership of being less than perfect, and discovering humility through the honest understanding of how difficult life can be, the candles, the sitting in silence, the music… the beauty of a candlelight service on Christmas Eve.
Also, when it comes to being involved with a Christian church while being a non-believer, I try to remember the big picture – that which is valuable about being involved with a church. There is great value in what a church can offer in their humanitarian efforts to help and support others. The support system of wonderful people is what makes a church great – not some “divine being” that is “behind it all.” I honestly cannot think of a secular equivalent which provide a similar kind of community support system in a similar way churches can do. There may very well be such institutions, however I am not aware of them. With the exception of natural disasters and circumstances beyond our control, it is people who make or break life as we know it, but most of us are uncomfortable with the fact of that responsibility, opting instead to give credit to God when things are “good,” and blame to Satan when things are “bad.” This gives us a convenient excuse to ignore the truth of our responsibility in making life here on Earth either a living heaven or a living hell. The humanity of supporting and helping others, and reaching their hearts through music is the value I find in working for and associating with a church – not the dogma of its religious beliefs. The bottom line for me is I love the church for the people and the support system it provides, while not accepting what I consider to be the untenable metaphysical claims of Christianity such as the idea of a separate and independent God from its creation, the immaculate conception, the resurrection, miracles, and any other claims for the supernatural. The Christian metaphysical claims of reality is the bright line where it ends for me. The community and the support and the love is enough reason for me to be a part of something, and to want to continue to be a part of something, regardless of what I believe.
I must express what I see, and therefore feel compelled to record my journey in my quest for truth on “The Mystical Voice” and “The Oneness of All.” The contents of these pages and on the podcast are for those who wish to seek and find, question and contemplate for themselves. It is not about me actively “evangelizing” to others, as truth is about coming to the waters to drink, not being force-fed against one’s will.