Angels exist in many religions, but particularly in Zoroastrianism, the Abrahamic faiths (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), and Mormonism.  They are considered the “messengers of God.”  In Judaism, they are considered countless and a part of the “heavenly hosts.”  This carries into Christianity, which inherited the belief, and provided a structure for the “choirs” of angels.  They consist of the lower order: virtues, powers, principalities, dominions, and thrones; angels, archangels, seraphim, and cheribum are among the higher order of angels.

Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox traditions of Christianity have placed special devotion to a few particular archangels: Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael.  Michael is known as the archangel that will defeat Satan and place him in Hell where he many no longer harm humans in the final battle at the Last Days or Final Battle.  It is even to find Roman Catholic statues and statuettes of this prophetic battle.  Mormonism places emphasis on a particular set of angels that guide prophets, visionaries, and leaders in their faith, especially Joseph Smith who is believed to have been given the special revelation that Jesus appeared in the Americas after His resurrection.

In Islam, angels are a fundamental part of the faith.  Humans are also regarded as superior to angels in Islam.  In this faith, angels have particular duties:  at God’s throne, praising God, blessing the righteous in Paradise, and torturing the damned.

Angels also have a place in popular culture.  It is not uncommon to find pictures or statues of angels inside houses and churches.  They also have appeared in television (fictional accounts) in such series as Highway to Heaven and my personal favorite Touched by an Angel.  The latter has been very inspiring to me and uplifted my soul in times of distress or sadness, but also joy and inspiration.  In that series, the angels helped ordinary and extraordinary people in their daily lives and find God in the times of despair.



The Dangers of Fundamentalism

Fundamentalism exists in all religions and belief systems (yes, there are fundamentalist atheists).  Fundamentalism is the literal belief in a certain belief system, usually a religion.  The most common forms of fundamentalism seen in the news are Muslim fundamentalism and Christian fundamentalism.  Muslim fundamentalists are a minority and these are usually correctly identified as extremists.  They take key portions of the Qu’ran literally and ignore the other parts.  Generally, they follow mullahs that lead them to these dangerous line of thinking.

Christian fundamentalism isn’t too dissimilar.  Christian fundamentalists take key portions of the Bible literally (generally ignoring the parts they do not like and preaching loudly the parts they do like).  In the 19th century, what we know of as modern Christian fundamentalism emerged in Britain and the United States.  They claimed five fundamentals of faith: 1) the virgin birth of Jesus Christ, 2) the crucifixion of Christ, 3) literal resurrection of Christ after three days on the cross, 4) the Earth and the universe was made in 6 literal days, and 5) salvation only came through Christ.  If you were not “saved,” they taught you went to Hell.  While not one of the 5 fundamentals, they also believe in Dispensationalism (that emerged at the same time), which taught the end of the world would be the result of the humanity’s sin and the “saved” would be raptured into Heaven while those that did not convert would be left behind on Earth to deal with the Tribulation period (a 7 yr. period when the AntiChrist would reign and all kinds of tortures would be let loose that accepted the “mark of the Beast” (666; means Nero Caesar in Hebrew numerology) and then the final battle between Christ and Satan would take place.  Naturally, Christ would succeed and tie down Satan in Hell for a thousand years while a New Earth was made where there would be no suffering, pain, or sin.

I was brought up as a child as a Christian fundamentalist.  I was scared all of the time and afraid any minor sin would leave me on Earth to be left behind.  Looking back, it seems silly that I would have such fears, but they were very real to me and scary.  I still have mental scars from that time.  Suffice it to say, once I went to university and learned about other religions (especially how most religions have so much in common) and then found the United Church of Christ (a progressive Christian denomination), the fear was gone, and I realized how ludicrous Christian fundamentalism is as a belief system.  Christian fundamentalism thrives on fear and misinterpreting the Bible by taking advantage of people and their fears manipulated into bigotry and harm to others.

Another kind of Christian fundmentalism exists: the FLDS Church (Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints or fundamentalist Mormons).  They believe the men must have many wives like the Old Testament patriarchs and their Mormon founding fathers in order to set up a celestial kingdom of their own in Heaven.  It is quite dangerous.  Fear and bigotry are quite common in this belief system too.

Other belief systems, as I mentioned, have fundamentalists too.  Hindu and Buddhist fundamentalists who have been known to conflict with Muslims and Christians in India and other areas of Europe and Asia.  There is hope: the way to get out of fundamentalism is re-education.  In many ways, fundamentalism is a lot like brain washing, and Christian fundamentalists do not hide that they want to convert children (“so they won’t go to Hell”).  University education saved me from remaining in a horrible Christian fundamentalist mindset and it may easily help others too.  For those that cannot afford a college education, go to a library and read about the facts of life and other belief systems.   You can even do it online by googling things.  A simple google search will show the facts that Noah’s Flood did not happen and likely based on the ancient Mesopotamian myth of Gilgamesh.

If you are a fundamentalist (my readers), please educate yourself and escape that hellish mentality before you harm others and yourself.  It is for the best.


Taking away DACA is immoral

Exodus 12:49 and Leviticus 24:22 – “There shall be one law for the native and for the alien who resides among you.”

Deuteronomy 6:10-13 – The people of Israel are made aware that the land had come to them as a gift from God and they were to remember that they were once aliens.

Deuteronomy 10:18-19 – “For the Lord your God…loves the strangers, providing them food and clothing.  You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”

I Chronicles 29:14-15 – David praises God:  “We are aliens and transients before you…”

Psalm 146:9 – “The Lord watches over the strangers…”

Ezekiel 47:21-22 – The aliens shall be to you as citizens, and shall also be allotted an inheritance.

Matthew 25:31-46 – “…I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”

Hebrews 13:1-2 – “…show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels…”

As exemplified above, in the Old & New Testaments, God commands kindness and welcoming the stranger or alien (foreigner) among the native population.  The verses above are not the only verses in the Bible that state this message: there are many more.  Trump’s anti-immigration policies are not just immoral; they are anti-Christian.  I know evangelicals and fundamentalists view Trump as the Second Coming, but he is more like an Anti-Christ figure as he illustrates through all of his actions that he is the most unlike Christ.

If you consider a Jew, Christian, or Muslim; then you recognize the God of Abraham and know that She teaches compassion and to welcome and house the stranger or foreigner among you because once the Hebrews (Jews) were once aliens (foreigners) in Egypt before they gained their own land (Israel) and the prophets of God were taught to honor God by welcoming the foreigner among you.  In the Book of Hebrews in the New Testament (13:12), it says you may be “entertaining angels unaware” and there were many instances of this in the Old Testament.

However, that is not the main reason: the primary reason you are to welcome or house the foreigner (or migrant or immigrant) is because it is the right thing to do and the moral choice.  God is compassionate and merciful; loving and just; understanding and luminous (enlightening).  If you ever find yourself in a situation when an migrant, immigrant, or foreigner asks for your help, give it.  Read your Bible, Torah, or Qu’ran; welcome the foreigner among you as that is what God teaches us to do.  Amen.


Natural Disasters are Not a Punishment from God


Lately, due to the extreme weather, televangelists have been declaring that hurricanes, earthquakes, and firestorms, etc. are a judgment of God, a punishment, against humanity or a particular population, especially in the United States.  For anyone who has read the New Testament, one would know that Jesus is not a deity of punishment.  The only time he is described as punishing people, namely Satan, is in the Book of Revelation, and even modern theological scholars have stated that this book was written by a man named John of Patmos who claimed to have visions while a prisoner in the Roman Empire during the mid- to late first century CE (or AD).  It is a book of hope and written while Christians were being persecuted by Emperor Nero (the name of the Beast; 666 in Hebrew decoding means Nero Caesar; Caesar is another name for Emperor) and later Emperor Diocletian.

God loves Her people.  She is not one of terror and destruction upon humanity.  The crucifixion would be meaningless if we look at God this way: the sacrifice on the cross for humanity’s sins would be for nothing.  He is love.  God is love.

Why do natural disasters happen?   Because Nature has cause and effects.  As the planet warms, there are dangerous effects upon the planet.  There are stronger wildfires, stronger hurricanes, and more powerful tornadoes.  It is not because of the wrongdoing of a single person or group even if a greedy televangelists tells you so because he wants to profit off of your fear.  Any preacher, minister, or pastor that teaches that natural disasters are the result of God’s judgment is a false prophet, and if you recall your Bible readings, Jesus repeatedly warns of false prophets.

— Rev. Josh Spencer

Universal Life Church

The Theology of “Breaking Bad”

“Breaking Bad” is a crime western that aired on the AMC network from 2008-2013, and full of drama, crime, mystery, and western style fights.  It is also full of theology.  The term “breaking bad” equates to saying “raising Hell” or being problematic.  Thee main character, Walter White, is a high school chemistry teacher that becomes a meth dealer in his New Mexico town, which later expands to all of the Southwest.  He does so, as the series suggests, because he is diagnosed with a terminal lung cancer.

Due to his condition, and the poor state of his family finances (his wife is a bookkeeper, he has a special needs son, and a newborn daughter) all while living on a teacher’s salary.  However, throughout the series, he is offered chances of redemption, but turns it down each time.  First, due to pride (one of the seven deadly sins), he refuses charity from a friend who is an affluent chemist in New Mexico to pay for all of his medical bills.  He refuses because he doesn’t like the idea of taking charity, and so he makes and sells meth instead.

Second, he goes into remission from his cancer.  He no longer needs the extra financial support, but he states he needs to have money for his family after he dies, and so stays in the illegal drug trade of meth.  Time and again, he refuses help, and becomes a villain in the process that kills other drug dealers, drug lords from Mexico, and etc.  In the end, he is shot and dies alone.

The moral of the story: if you are given a chance for redemption, take it.


Many religions and mythologies tell the story of how the world and universe was created.  The Bible says it began with a word, and perhaps God did say a word that initiated the Big Bang and sent the universe into being.  This is how I view the Creation of the universe as science tells us and most progressive Christians like myself view it this way.

Let me tell you that story.  The universe was nothing and then suddenly with a big bang, the universe began forming and continues to form as it ever expands.  Our planet Earth was a lifeless rock until it collided with another planet, which also resulted in the moon, and that was the beginning of life itself on our third planet from the Sun.

Slowly, over time, atoms formed.  Much later, lifeforms began to form and evolve.  Over many, many million years, humans would eventually come into the picture.  This is the part I love of humanity’s story.  We are all made of stardust.  Yes, the collisions in the universe (that still happen today) slowly formed stars, and that dust, it’s debris, created us ultimately.

This version does not contradict the origins of the universe (it just didn’t happen in 6 literal days) in Genesis.  If anything, it supports it, and even the stubborn Vatican came to agree with this assessment.  This is what I do not understand: if the conservative Roman Catholic Church can and does support that Creation was the Big Bang and evolution: why won’t other conservative Christians jump on board.  Why is it that only liturgical and progressive Christians, progressive Jews, and other progressives of faith support this worldview?

Lost…and Found


Today, I re-watched the series finale of the great series Lost titled “The End.”  I have to admit I cried watching it.  It was so emotional and touching.  Anyway, for a theological nerd like me, the series is full of theological metaphors.  The final scene has Jack and the others involved in the jet crash reunite in a church.  The windows have icons from all religions and ironically, Jack’s father, is named Christian Shepherd.

These characters have been in metaphorical  Heaven and Hell together.  Some have bad pasts they must atone for and do.  Others explore science and faith on the island.  It is Jack who, the true skeptic, finally accepts the truth at the end: they all died in the plane trash.  The island was a place they somehow metaphysically created to work out their life issues together so that they could eventually move in to the next phase of existence: heaven or reincarnation.  The show doesn’t give us that answer as no one really knows what happen or where we go when we die for a fact.  Yes, we all have theories and speculations, and some have had near death experiences, such as myself.

However, I do believe the Roman Catholics are right about Purgatory: a state of limbo where we repent for our sins until we are able to go to Heaven.  This is essentially what happens on the series Lost.  Some find redemption sooner than later and leave the island, but when they arrive at the church: no time has passed there.  As Jack discovers when he enters the church sanctuary, he sees all of his friends there, and they all talk and hug.  Then, Jack’s father opens the door, and they see a great light, and move on…  They are no longer lost, but found.