The intellectual freedom of higher education in the ‘swinging 60’s’ enabled me to break loose from the values of my parents and their generation. Even so, I recognised their values had enabled them to come through the destruction and deprivation of the Great Depression, World War and post-war Britain austerity with great fortitude.
As outlined in “You Shouldn’t Be At Our School!”, a formative influence upon a child of the post-war ‘baby boom’ was the disharmony and hypocrisy between churches. In my mind it tarred all Christians with the same brush and badly reflected upon the God they believed in.
Nevertheless, when a child I’d once thought it must have been awesome to have been around Jesus and seen everything He said and did.
Also, two verses from Sunday Mass got embedded into my brain and, although buried in the unconscious, they never got overwritten. One was of Jesus telling his disciples they’d do even greater works than He was doing! The other was by someone who’d been with Jesus, and who surmised: If everything He’d done was written down there wouldn’t be enough room in the world to contain the books! [John 14:12 and closing sentence of that Gospel.]
In view of that eye-witness account and churches’ misrepresentation of their founder, I became convinced a lot of what he’d taught had been lost, or even suppressed, by the early church.
THE NEXT STAGE OF MY JOURNEY INTO ‘FREEDOM’
The first two stages leading to my freedom had come from the clash of school and church. My reaction directed me elsewhere. The truth must be out there somewhere and so I decided to investigate and search it out for myself.
First port of call was the supernatural and possibility of an afterlife. After all, maternal grandmother occasionally referred to the first. Seances seemed open to trickery and were renowned for variability and inconsistency. So I never attended any. Having a scientific bent I looked for consistent, reliable reports of such contacts. Accounts by those who’d almost died seemed more authentic than mediums’ claims of contact with the dead.
Then came yoga and eastern religions a few years before the famous Beatles took an interest in Transcendental Meditation. I delved into and accepted these esoteric spiritual doctrines, such as reincarnation and karma.
At 21 years of age, after learning about the Western esoteric tradition, I joined a mystic brotherhood supposedly descended from ancient Egypt through a chain of historic personages such as Da Vinci, Bacon, Wren and Newton all of whom, it was claimed, added to and transmitted that ancient wisdom which had been held ‘sacred’ by 12-13th Century ‘heretical’ Cathars of southern France, and later the Knights Templar. (Later freemasonry merely skimmed the surface of that arcane, initiatory knowledge.)
What made it especially attractive from my standpoint were references to the ‘mystical life’ and ‘secret doctrines’ of Jesus, who was claimed to have been one of the perfected ‘masters’! This teaching was supposed to have been akin to that of Gnosticism and the Jewish Kabbalah.
My historical interests devoured the rise of the early Church, medieval alchemy and the start of scientific method in the early 17th Century, as well as literature and secret codes then in use in England and German Brunswick-Luneberg and Palatinate of the Rhine.
This opened up research into early Church history including the ‘French connection’ to Glastonbury and its legends. Developments of early science from alchemical literature and secrets buried in codes, plus claims about Cathars of the Langued’oc (persecuted Christians also known as Albigensians) and the Knights Templar in France were highly fascinating.
Consequently, I was well placed and connected to know modern authors’ claims about a supposed romantic connection between Jesus and his disciple, Mary Magdalene, were untrue. Such stories and their dramatic conspiracy claims make fascinating fiction. (My publishing source confided that it was a marketing ploy to increase sales!)
[For more on the last read What Have Paul Keith Davis Video and Mary Magdalene In Common? and my ‘The Magdalene Legacy’ – a Critique’, as well as Ian Paul’s article The Evidence for Jesus outside the New Testament.]
The mundane event of a dinner party in mid-1980s played a pivotal part in my journey into freedom. But I knew it not. This social event held by young parents, the father being in training as an Anglican curate, included his vicar and a couple from Cheam Baptist Church. We got around to chatting about our philosophies of life but these folk were like ‘aliens’ from my highly ‘enlightened’ viewpoint!
I was surprised the vicar was open-minded and seemed to agree with my New Ager claims that all religions lead to God, just like spokes of a wheel connected to a hub.
BUT the Baptist couple would have absolutely none of that and strongly disputed my views. How closed and ignorant!
I recall my outraged thought, “Baptists are such Biblical bigots – I’ll never touch them with a barge pole!” However, I never expected this was all borrowed! This vow would come to be used against me…twice! That is, I was yet to discover the Lord God has a sense of humour!
Soon afterwards, the curate invited me to a public meeting with a guest speaker, John Richards. It was a memorable occasion for three reasons; first, his name is my Christian names in reverse order and, secondly, for having gently confronted me upon noticing a small pin on my jacket’s lapel displaying a cross within a star of David. He asked, “What does your family say about that?” and I retorted “Nothing, what’s it got to do with them?” After all, they were aware of my search for lost Christian-related wisdom. But John was referring to a church ‘family’ – which didn’t apply because I wasn’t a churchgoer!
Therefore, I had nothing further to discuss and later listened warily to his investigations into witchcraft and satanism as secretary to the bishop of Exeter’s study of exorcism, later an advisor to the Archbishop of Canterbury. It was all very irrelevant to me in view of my disliking the ‘black stuff’ (including freemasonry) – but that was a mistaken notion!
So for many years I gave no further thought to that John Richards’ event…BUT the fact it did play a significant part in my long journey has been confirmed by his name popping up 47 months after publication of this post – and ’47 is my birth year!. At a conference on healing on 9th September 2017 in Guildford Cathedral I attended a session by the bishop’s advisor on deliverance. He began with his personal testimony and how it involved his spiritual director John Richards! (In view of this ‘God-incidence’ these three paragraphs are new.)
You may think of that esoteric brotherhood as akin to freemasonry, which seemed quite ‘creepy’. There was no ostensible connection and the history, principles and exercises taught by the first made it very different. They taught about a ‘Cosmic’ supreme being, not the God of Abraham, but an ultra-intelligent, superhuman, all-pervasive mind. Thus, it was important to ‘attune’ with its ‘cosmic consciousness’ by exercises for developing the inner self and supernatural senses – even the facility of invisibility.
Naturally endowed with being able to dream vividly in colour, I now found I could control and change content during a dream. That is, to make a conscious decision to shut down one unsatisfactory dream and move into, or even replay, a better one. I was, however, to fail spectacularly with two, as you’ll read later…
Whilst asleep I once experienced nirvana – the sublime state sought by Buddhists – only to discover its deep danger. I floated in a transcendent, golden light. BUT going deeper this light changed, as though an invisible hand had drawn a curtain aside. Then I saw behind the peaceful and beautiful light a terrifying darkness lay deliberately hidden. It appeared as a gigantic, devouring spider – I was thoroughly repelled and frightened for my life! Next, I awoke alarmed and grateful, yet unable to fathom its meaning.
My search for Truth had led me unwittingly into captivity and I became entangled within an invisible demonic web. I didn’t know I’d been seriously misled and deceived and was in grave personal peril.
After 21 years of searching for and attaining extensive esoteric knowledge, however, I’d find myself in a diametrically opposite situation – utterly incredible!
My journey into freedom was to enter its next stage, where the allure of a ‘false Gospel’ lured me to the devil’s door >> (next).
[Bible quotations are by courtesy of BibleGateway.com]