Hi Friends —
I’ve been reading Bernard Dozier’s blog posts for over a year. He’s insightful and witty and I always learn something from him. Most important, I’m never bored. Catherine Ponder is right — Bernard Dozier is a “southern gentleman of wit and wisdom.” He’s all that and more.
I called up Bernard and asked him to allow me to record him reading his blog post. He agreed. So what is new here is that we have not only a written post, but also an audio podcast.
Think of it as a spiritual tract, filled with all the insight of Bernard’s 50+ years as Unity minister, but now conveyed as a seven minute sermon-ette delivering not only wisdom but charm. Wisdom and charm. That’s a powerful combination. Catherine Ponder also wrote about Bernard:
Although Bernard has now retired from serving in an active church ministry, he continues to work quietly and inspire many Truth students from his home. I shall always appreciate both the wit and wisdom Bernard has shared with me in the past and present. Knowing him reminds me of Charles Fillmore’s observation, “When there is more joy in religion, there will be more religion in the world.”
So if you enjoy this post and podcast, then scroll down to the bottom of the page and add a comment. Comments spur conversation and conversation leads to greater understanding. And we all need as much understanding as we can get. So I hope this prospective podcast enriches everyone’s spiritual journey.
Sunday, June 9, 2019
Episode 1—Examining Concepts: Sin and the Devil
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Examining Concepts: Sin and the Devil
By Bernard Dozier
The “Hellfire and Brimstone” preachers of my childhood made sin and the Devil and Hell real enough to my creative imagination.
On Saturdays I’d go to the movies—on a makeshift screen set up in a musty, abandoned department store in my 1930s south Arkansas farm town. On Sundays I’d go to church. The movies were serialized cliffhangers in the dark and in stark black and white. The Sunday sermons were in broad daylight, but they painted, in fiery Technicolor, the eternal roasting due unrepentant sinners. But, after the movie and after the sermon it was back to the mundane world where sin was hard to find—back to slopping hogs and chopping cotton.
I was far away from the farm and well into my manhood before sin, the Devil and Hell began appearing as much fantasy as the old cliffhangers. The reality dawned that sin couldn’t be a frightful, supernatural “thing” and that it must be a flimsy, man-made thing if Jesus showed zero fear of it. He treated it casually...as if it were no more than a bothersome house-fly. He showed that sinners had power over sin...and could forgive, and with a single thought step free of it.
What it boiled down to, I concluded, was that sin isn’t a hard and fast literal THING, but rather a state of mind (it took a while longer before I realized that He also described Heaven as a mentality or state of mind).
Sin can be any size we choose and we can give it as much space and time in our lives as we choose. If we make sin the primary building block of life, that is the most grievous and wasteful sin of all. Jesus’ attitude seemed to be, “Why mess up God’s Creation Miracle with sin’s ugly, nasty, mean, limited, unpleasant, unproductive, and totally unnecessary thoughts, feelings and imagery?”
Jesus’ cure was to think about something better—something good, something desirable, something loving and creative. In other words, “ Get on the heavenly side.” Focus the mind on producing some pleasure and treasure for yourself and others.
Now, lets quickly deal with the Devil. This goes back in time to when ignorance and superstition ruled, when people counted on fingers and toes, and when rocks, rivers and man-made objects were worshiped as gods. In the language (Aramaic) Jesus and the disciples spoke, the word satan simply mean “adversary.” A satan was a usually an annoyance, a competitor—a shopkeeper, a neighbor, the tax collector—but might also include a pesky family member, such as a wife or husband or teen-ager.
So, when gossip began circulating about the (actually impossible) problem God was having keeping control of Heaven, people started personifying/humanizing “the adversary,” so eventually “Satan” was assumed to be the bad dude who was the progenitor of all the bad, wrong, unexplainable stuff (evil) in the world. They hadn’t been taught about the spiritual law of Cause and Effect as it operates in a single reality and Creation. We know how this personification thing works. Every time we refer to “Uncle Sam,” we’re personifying the U.S. Government....and sometimes even make Uncle Sam out to be our adversary.
What it boils down to is that we (and the world) will be a lot healthier-minded when we realize that Satan is just as much a negative mentality as sin is. Actually, there are no better “salesmen” of Satan than the preachers who tout Satanic powers from the pulpit of Jesus, who Himself had nothing to do with—and no power to give to the idol of “Satan.”
The reason why the Devil seems so real—and so personal—is because the Devil is a micro-thin mask for our Ego. Ego in us is a false sense of identity—believing that we’re human instead of spiritual. If we choose Ego’s version of reality, we end up in a peck of trouble—which pride and personal will produces every time. Jesus’ temptations were obviously issues that His Ego proposed to get attention, acclaim, and personal power, but which His Christ Mind rejected outright.
We’ll have to deal with Hell later. But just realize that there’re many levels of comprehension, understanding, motivation, and communication, but there is but one God, one Power, one Presence, one Reality, one Source, one Being, one Truth, one Way... and Jesus taught us and showed us how it works.