Friday, July 31, 2015


One day, the governor of Kyoto called upon Keichu, the great Meiji Zen master. One of Keichu's attendants brought the governor's calling card to Keichu. The card read, "Kitagaki, Governor of Kyoto."

"Never heard of him," said Keichu to the attendant. "I have no business with nobodies: tell him to go away."

The attendant returned to the governor with the story. "My mistake," said the governor, and taking the card he scratched out the words, "Governor of Kyoto." Then he handed the card back to the attendant and said, "Please ask your teacher again."

The attendant returned to Keichu. "Oh, that Kitagaki!" he exclaimed. "Bring him here! I want to see that fellow!" 

Retold by Paul Jordan-Smith from "Zen Koans" by Gyoma M. Kubose

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Master Meister

                                                                       Dedicated to J.A.H.

Not that one should give up, neglect or forget his inner life for a moment, but he must learn to work in it, with it and out of it, so that the unity of his soul may break out into his activities and his activities shall lead him back to that unity. In this way one is taught to work as a free man should (dispassionately). Keep your eye on the functioning of your inner life and start from there--to read, or pray, or do any needed outward deed. If, however, the outward life interferes with the inner, then follow the inner; but if the two can go on together, that is the best of all and then the man is working together with God.

~Meister Eckhart   From "The Talks of Instruction."

(I am proud of you Aaron)

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

New and Improved

If you look at the letterbox picture (bottom left) at the top of the page, you will now see three new tabs: Gift Gratitude God. That was the original name of my web site and the philosophical theology at it's heart. After its second year in existence, I declined to pay the annual "domain name" cost and had Gwenn change the name to WPGrogan. Drab and dreary perhaps, but it was free! Regardless of the name, every blog posted had Gift Gratitude God as it's center, it's core. It is what I promote, it is what I teach, it is what I believe. (no matter how imperfectly)

The change was necessary because Gwenn told me that the continuation of the web site (which did appear in most browsers as the second link available under my name) was totally arbitrary and could disappear at any time. We didn't own the rights and only the anomalous nature of the title protected it from (possible) removal. So Gwenn, over the last seven days, dovetailed the main ingredients of the web site into the blog. And I couldn't be happier! It is my hope that you will jump at the opportunity to "check under the hood" and "take it out for a spin." Enjoy your Wednesday!

The Question

Now there lived in Damascus, at the height of that great city's glory, a famous Imam. This celebrated man, equally at ease in caliph's palace or monk's retreat, had obscure origins; yet so great was his piety that Allah always seemed to favor him, for he rose far in the world.

One day, the reigning caliph decided to hold a triumphant procession for his Imam: "As a mark of our esteem for your piety," he proclaimed. The Imam took the costly and elaborate presentations calmly, for he was a man who thought of himself without vanity. Finally, all was in readiness and, although it was the time of rains, the morning of the procession dawned bright and clear--still another sign of Allah's approval upon which all commented.

Through the winding streets of Damascus moved the colorful procession. First came the wild desert sheiks in striped robes of red and yellow, mounted on small-headed horses. The more sophisticated nobles followed them on foot, their heads bent piously down, the gold in their tunics glittering in the sun. After the nobles came the holy men of the city and with them, in their center, the Imam clothed in robes of snowy white linen.

The citizens of Damascus lined the streets, cheering and throwing sprigs of jasmine and clusters of roses. As the Imam approached, the shouts of praise rose to new heights and the heavens seemed to rain flowers. At such acclaim, the Imam's heart swelled with joy and satisfaction, although his face did not betray him.

Now it happened that just as the procession was approaching the palace gates, outside of which the caliph and his retinue waited to greet him, the Imam heard within him a Voice that seemed to well from his very bowels: "And have you," It asked, "forgotten Me so soon?"

As though struck by a blow on the back of the head, the Imam fell to the ground. But before anyone could touch him, he leapt up and fled through the crowds, burning with a terrible remorse. Far he fled into the desert and swiftly, as though hot coals filled his sandals. Finally, exhausted and unable to go further, he halted at an abandon hut. The Terrible Voice still filled his ears with Its sound. The tears still streamed from his eye's. The Imam vowed that never again would he enter a city of men until he had cleansed all falseness and vanity from his heart.

For five long years the Imam lived in a little hut, meditating, praying, and praising Allah. For ten years more, he roamed the desert and passed through small towns, aiding those he could help, giving comfort to all.

Then one day, by chance, his path led him once more into the city of Damascus and through the very gate by which he had fled fifteen years before. But how the Imam had changed! A diet of herbs and berries had starved the flesh from his frame; prickly vines and desert thorns and stones had scarred him from head to toe. The once radiant Imam was now more decrepit and shattered than the poorest of beggars in the poorest of villages.

When the smaller children caught sight of this ragged apparition, they screamed and fled; the older ones threw sharp-edged stones. The grown-ups, citizens of Damascus who fifteen years before had strewn the Imam's way with flowers, now pelted him with pieces of filth; and instead of praises, filled his ears with their jeers and gibes. The poor Imam's heart swelled with sadness and despondency and he hung his head low.

Just as he dragged himself past the palace gates, where the guards stood with raised sabers to drive him off, the Imam again heard that terrible Voice, welling from deep within him; "And have you," It asked, "forgotten Me so soon?"

~Elizabeth Retivov  Stories from an Eastern Coffeehouse (N.Y. Hedgehog Press 1963)

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Power of Christ Compels You

Okay Pat, you brought some things to light that I didn't know concerning Lucifer and Beelzabub, I'll grant you that. But there is no arguing about Satan! He appears many times in the Old and New Testament.

Yes, yes he does. Lets look at a representation of Satan in each. 1st Chronicles 21:1 says, "And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel 2) And David said to Joab and to the rulers of the people, Go, number Israel from Beersheba even to Dan; and bring the number of them to me, that I may know it."

Okay, pretty straight forward. Read the rest of the chapter so you understand that this is where David builds an altar that will, eventually, become the spot where the Temple of Solomon is built. (The First Temple)

Now lets move to 2nd Samuel chapter 24, verse 1: "And again the anger of the Lord (the Hebrew in this case is YHWH) was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah. 2) For the king said to Joab the captain of the host, which was with him, Go now through all the tribes of Israel, from Dan even to Beersheba, and number ye the people, that I may know the number of the people."

So which is it? Satan or the Lord? (Yahweh) The text is very clear. If the Bible is to be taken literally, God and Satan are interchangeable.

Lets move to the New Testament. Matthew 16:23 says, "But he turned, and said unto Peter, 'Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.' " This was Jesus speaking and he just called Peter, Satan. (interestingly, a few verses earlier, [verse 18] Peter is the rock in which Jesus is going to build his church--"and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.")

Is Peter actually (literally) Satan?

Pat! Pat! You're just cherry-picking! Well, in my defense, the cherries are there to be picked. I didn't write the Bible and I don't think it can be read literally. You're the one who says it is inerrant, must be taken literally as the WORD OF GOD, not me. But you really don't believe that, do you? You bend, fold, and mutilate the scriptures to your own design, notion, and purposes. You doubt me? The World Christian Database carries "extensive data" on 9000 Christian denominations. (nine thousand!!!)

And what causes the creation of a new denomination? Doctrine disputes. A different interpretation of scripture. You've got it wrong (literally) and I am going to start my own "true" church, sect, cult, or ministry. Why you ask? The power of Christ compelled me.

(And yes, the title of this post [taken from the Catholic rite of exorcism] and the last sentence are an intentional jab at spiritual arrogance.)

Monday, July 27, 2015

The Devil Made Me Do It

Lucifer as a proper name is used ONCE in the entire Bible. To be sure, the Vulgate uses lucifer in other places (Job 11:17--Job 38:32--Psalms 110:3--2nd Peter 1:19) but what one finds is the following translations: though shall be as the morning; Mazzaroth [constellations], morning, and morning star, respectively.

Lucifer's one appearance is at Isaiah 14:12; "How art thou fallen from heaven O Lucifer, son of the morning." Problem is, if you actually read from the beginning of the chapter, you'll see it is the King of Babylon who is being discussed. Verse 4 makes this absolutely clear. "That thou shalt take up this proverb against the king of Babylon and say, How hath the oppressor ceased! the golden city ceased!"

To understand the confusion, we have to start with the Hebrew: helel ben shahar is the text (shining one, son of the dawn). The Greek rendition was heosphoros (dawn bringer). And the Latin, lucifer. (light bearer) All three are references to the planet Venus. Only later in the Christian tradition did lucifer become a proper name. (Lucifer)

So, Beelzabub was a Canaanite god and Lucifer was a Babylonian king. Where the hell are all the devils?

To Be Continued

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Lord of the Flies

Reading Matthew 12:24, "But when the Pharisee's heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the PRINCE OF THE DEVILS." (emphasis mine) Verse 26 and 27 go on to say, (Jesus speaking now) "And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand? And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? therefore they shall be your judges."

Point being, Satan and Beelzebub seem to be thought of as one and the same. (see Mark 3:22 and Luke 11:15 as well) As familiar as we are with Satan, Beelzebub is not as well known. Lets take a look where he came from.

Baal was the main God of the indigenous people of Canaan. Baal meant Lord, Master, Prince, or "one who exercises dominion." In the 2nd Book of Kings, chapter 1, we read about Ahaziah, King of Israel, having injured himself in a fall, sending messengers to Baalzebub the god of Ekron, to see whether or not he was going to recover from his "disease."

Verse 3, "But the angel of the Lord said to Elijah the Tishbite, Arise, go up to meet the messengers of the king of Samaria and say unto them, Is it not because there is not a God in Israel, that ye go to enquire of Baalzebub the god of Ekron?" Basically, HEY! why aren't you coming to me with your problem instead of a rival? God isn't happy with Ahaziah and insures that he will "surely die." (verse 16)

Understand that Baalzebub appears no where else in the Old Testament. Baal appears everywhere, as a stand alone rival to Yahweh (Numbers 25:3--Jeremiah 23:13) as well as places and peoples names. (Baalpeor--Baalhamon--Baalhazor--Baaltamar--Baalgad/Jerubbaal--Eshbaal) But Baalzebub shows up only in 2nd Kings chapter 1. How did this local god become the prince of the devils?

Between the 3rd and 1st century BC, the Hebrew scriptures were translated to Greek. (the Septuagint) Between 390-405 AD Jerome translated the Greek into Latin. (the Vulgate) Here's what happen to the word Baalzebub: Hebrew: Ba'al Z'vuv Greek: Beelzeboul Latin: Beelzebub.

The devil is in the details but this Beelzebub seems to be a demonic fraud.

To Be Continued