Shalom my dear brothers and sisters,
I would like to take this opportunity to share with you what Talmidaism means to me – the place that Talmidi philosophy has in my life, and what drives me to continue in the face of all obstacles.
For non-religious people, their general idea of a religious person is of someone who is hateful, angry, intolerant, judgmental, mentally unbalanced, and generally an unpleasant person to be around. Most religious people would automatically dismiss these criticisms – even if they happen to be accurate descriptions of the type of person they truly are – as being the mere falsehoods of atheists. However, from my own experience of certain supposedly ‘religious’ people, I would have to say that this level of criticism is not entirely unwarranted. And from my own experience of God, the way that these kinds of religious people behave breaks God’s heart.
If you want to be a witness to our heavenly Father, and be faithful to the message of the Prophet Yeshua, you have to ask yourself, “How am I being different to other people? What more am I doing than others?”
If your spiritual energy is spent being angry against those whom you disagree with, or finding opinions to do battle with, or seeking out people to judge and criticise, then how is your religious outlook any different from anyone else’s? “For if you love only those who love you, what credit is that to you? Because even tax collectors do the same! And if you do good only to those who do good to you, what more are you doing than others? Don’t even Gentiles do the same?” (SY 70:3-4, cf Mt 5:46-47, Lk 6:32-33)
I have come across religious fundamentalists on YouTube who handle this criticism, by saying that they are proud to be nasty, horrid-minded people, and firmly believe that this is what God wants, because ‘what they are doing is in a noble cause, and they are fighting evil’. From my own experience of God, I know with certainty that these kinds of people are the last that God’s reputation needs.
The prophet Yeshua dealt with this kind of outlook when he said, “You justify what you’re doing in the eyes of human beings, but God knows what’s in your heart. What you do may be considered by some to be a noble thing, but it’s an abomination in the sight of God.” (SY 111:5-6, cf Lk 16:15)
Fundamentalism, quite frankly, is the spiritualisation of nastiness; in our reaction to this therefore, Talmidaism has to be the spiritualisation of goodness, and doing what is just and decent. The worst examples of religious people have caused non-religious people to view Religion with disgust, because this kind of religious person has turned Religion into an obnoxious travesty of what God originally intended it to be. If that image of Religion does not change, then humanity will eventually lose the positive benefits that true religion has to offer – in effect, humanity will have religion taken away from it.
When Religion does what it is meant to do, it helps people get through the ups and downs of life. Studies have shown that genuinely spiritual people are better able to withstand and survive the tragedies of life, and the process of grieving is shorter and less damaging than it would otherwise be. They are more more able to grasp and deal with ethical dilemmas, and don’t have to flail about or waste time looking for answers and solutions, because a decent religious faith will have given them a solid foundational basis to enable them to deal with such problems.
One of the aims of my own ministry – which I firmly believe God has called me to – is to change the warped and ugly image of God that so-called religious people have presented to the world. Deep in my heart, I feel called by God to change this slanderous and false picture of God, and to change how people see the purpose of religion – to change how they see the very Kingdom of God. In short, I feel a calling from God to change how humanity understands what it means to be a religious person.
Atheists often point out that the more advanced and knowledgeable a society gets, the less inclined it is to be religious. Countries like the Nordic countries, Czechia, Korea, and New Zealand are countries where the majority of the population profess no religion.
As I regularly point out, science and knowledge are only a threat to your religion, if your religion is based on false premises. That is why fundamentalists are so distrustful of knowledge and learning, and why they trash science with such angry viciousness.
In contrast, Talmidi philosophy remembers that Israelite mysticism praised Yahveh as the God of Wisdom; knowledge and learning were understood as being gifts of God, and were to be embraced by the human race. How can we possibly fear what God has given us? Why reject something that is a part of God’s very own Self?
I personally have always loved science, and I feel so happy that I have found a faith that is not in open conflict with science, and does not fear scientific knowledge. For example, I have never, ever had a problem with evolution or the great age of the Earth; it has never been a threat to my faith in God as my Creator, because I have always believed that God is the Creator of all the physical laws in the Universe.
False religion is about extolling the worst values of humanity, and portraying the ugliest, authoritarian image of God – one that only a sociopath or psychopath would comfortably follow.
True religion is about spiritualising the highest, most decent and truest values that God has given us, and placed within the human heart. True religion reveres values that are relevant to the conduct of everyday life. True religion helps you to become a better person, with a persona that people want to be around, and become someone who is not afraid of difficult questions; true religion helps you to survive through the hardest times, and come through them less scarred or broken.
To be a Talmidi – a Follower of the Way – you do not have to abandon your God-given intellect or reason. Being a Follower of the Way does not require you to perform mental gymnastics in order to justify what is unjustifiable or plain stupid. Being a Follower of the Way does not mean you have to stop being a rational, thinking human being.
I want you to think about and bring to mind the best, highest, noblest, most beautiful ideals that any decent human being would gladly and willingly stand up for – ideals that our loving Father in heaven has placed within the human heart – and I tell you, those are the very ideals that Talmidaism reveres and aspires to as well!
To me, Talmidaism is a beautiful, noble and empowering faith. We are privileged to be a part of such spiritual beauty. We are also ambassadors for a wonderful, awesome and loving God. God wants humanity to evolve into something greater and better, not fossilise itself in the past. I believe we will evolve into something higher over the generations, if we are willing to approach religion with the right mindset – a healthy, psychologically stable mindset.
My personal calling from God is to help people realise and understand that the ugliness that comes from religion is not from God. This kind of religion fills most decent people with disgust. Most ordinary people groan and run from this type of religion, because it is born from the darkest recesses of the human mind.
The day has to come, when this way of practising religion is gone, and instead, the image of a religious person will be of someone in whose company it is a pleasure to be – someone who can be counted on to be fair, honest, and do the right thing – someone whose sense of right and wrong far exceeds any slavish obedience to political or ideological dogma.
Many religions are about controlling others, passing on sociopathic values from generation to generation, guilt-tripping their followers or milking money from them. Wouldn’t it be great if there were a religion that helped you to be the best human being you can be, a religion that taught you values that were actually relevant to the daily conduct of your life? A religion that helped you to know what God is really like – helped you to experience God as a living Being, to revere wisdom and knowledge, to be unafraid of what was different, and extolled values that helped society to reconcile and be at peace? Wouldn’t it?
The bottom line is that I do what I do, in spite of illness, disability, mental handicap and psychological trauma, because of the mission I firmly believe God has given me. Through my spiritual experiences, God has given me a completely new perspective on God and religion – at least, new to me. It was God who converted me to Talmidaism, not any human being; and it was God who called me down my present path, which I will walk until my dying breath.
Because of my various handicaps and disabilities, I can’t do this alone. I need help. That is why I need you, and value you all, because I need you to walk this path with me.
Have a happy and joyous Hanukkah!