America's 'Born-Again' Christians
The results of several Gallup surveys can be of help to us in further understanding something about the population that makes up 'born-again' Christians in the United States. So can the comments of 'born-again' Christians themselves who have subsequently turned to the Catholic Church. In addition, the article in the second section of this newsletter - 'End-Times' Perspective: A New Look at the 'Rapture',
is an effort to bring new concepts to bear on the current of 'end-times' theology that prevails today, and to translate the historical, biblical perspective into experiences of a changing earth that many are already having. You may want to read this article first, or come back to it after reading this first section.
To begin with, let us address the Gallup poll results: In an article titled: "'Born-agains' wield political, economic influence
" (April 13, 2004), Gallup's 'Religion and Values Editor' reports results from 2,000 to 3,000 telephone interviews conducted annually with American adults from 1993 to 2003. Here are some of the findings:
- 42% of the survey of Americans called themselves 'born-again' in 2003.
This is in keeping with the statistics for 1993-2003 in which this percentage held, for the most part, within the low to mid-forties range.
- The gap between the percentages of Republicans and Democrats who identify as 'born-again' has widened in the last 10 years. In 1994, 42% of Republicans and 38% of Democrats said they were born again. In 2003, the percentage of born-again Republicans was 49% and the percentage of Democrats was 39%.
- 'Born-again' Christians tend to give President George W. Bush -- a conservative, born-again Christian -- higher approval ratings than do those who are not born-again Christians. In November 2003 (when Gallup last asked respondents whether they are 'born again'), 57% of 'born-again' Christians said they approved of the job Bush was doing, compared with 46% of those who said they are not 'born-again'.
Bush's overall approval rating at the time was 51%.
Another Gallup article titled: "A look at Americans and religion today
" (March 23, 2004), reveals some additional characteristics of the 'very religious' in America. (This, of course, does not mean that they are all 'born-again' Christians.)
In 2003, Gallup analyzed responses of more than 12,000 randomly selected Americans to the question: "What is your religious preference --- and followed this with questions concerning their feelings about their religion. The data show that Americans are, for the most part, 'very religious':
- 82% of American adults can be classified as Christian.
- More than 6 in 10 Americans say that religion is 'very important' to them in their own lives, and another 24% say that religion in 'fairly important' in their lives.
That leaves only 15% who say that religion is not very important.
These levels of self-reported religious importance have not changed greatly over the years. The article also notes that "religion is most important to Protestants, less important to Roman Catholics, and least important -- not surprisingly -- to those who have no specific religious affiliation at all."
Within the same article, another survey conducted in 2003 concerning demographics of Americans considering religion to be 'very important' indicates that:
- Blacks constitute the subgroup in American society today for whom religion is most important as compared with other subgroups.
- Religion becomes much more important to Americans the older one gets.
- Those living in the South are much more likely to say that religion is important
in their daily lives than those living elsewhere in the nation.
- Conservatives and Republicans are more religious than moderates, liberals, or independents.
- Women are much more religious than men are.
- Those with lower levels of educational attainment are more religious
than those with more formal education.
- Those considered 'Liberal' had the smallest percentage
of responders considering religion to be 'very important'.
Another helpful source of information about the 'born-again' experience and a question which, perhaps, does not readily occur to many who are not Catholic, is the one that the writer below poses in the Catholic Answers Forum
in relation to the difference between the evangelical 'born-again experience' and the Catholic sacrament of Baptism in which the baptized individual is 'born again'. She writes with the question: "Evangelical "born again" experience: real, exaggeration, or hoax?"
"Many of my friends claim that at one time in their lives they repented and gave themselves to Christ, and Wallah!, they suddenly feel totally new, and then become convinced that they are saved and that nothing can keep them out of heaven. I'm referring of course to the notion of Once Saved Always Saved (OSAS). Anyhow, what really concerns me is the fact that these people claim to have a profound religious experience by which everything all of a sudden makes sense to them, and that they are assured of their salvation. What confuses me even more is that many Catholic Charismatics I know say that after being Baptized in the Spirit that they have become "born again."
Could some of you ex-evangelicals maybe tell me how your "born again" experience was, how you viewed it before you became Catholic, and how you now view it as Catholic? Thanks! It really means a lot to me."
For a variety of answers to this question you can visit the Catholic Answers Forum
website and read as much as you like of a very informative list of personal responses.
In the end, after reading the Gallup poll results, hearing from the respondents themselves, and understanding something of the effect of the 'religious right' on current public policy, we are still left with many questions as to what this all means and why it is happening.
The writing below is an attempt to respond with a portion of an answer.
'End-Times' Perspective: A New Look at the 'Rapture'
It is possible that a concept as difficult to understand for non-Christian fundamentalists as the 'Rapture', can be better understood if we translate it into a context that relates to changes on the earth that we do understand, or, if not understand, at least intuitively perceive. Such a translation cannot be supported by empirical evidence any more than the 'Rapture' can be supported by empirical evidence, unless what we mean by 'empirical' can include 'experience' itself. If that is the case, then many of us are already experiencing changes in the spiritual atmosphere of the earth - changes that relate to the advent of greater light being present.
Such changes can be felt and understood, not by faith alone, but through our experience of both light and dark 'energies' and of the changing times we live in. With this in mind, it is possible to reformulate the meaning of the 'Rapture' so that it corresponds to the spiritual and light-based perception of the times we are in, and to the projected outcome of the changes already taking place.
THE 'RAPTURE' AND THE EARTH'S 'DIMENSIONAL SHIFT':
There are two ways to look at the 'Rapture' - one as an act of God, through the Christ, that lifts the Christian faithful into heaven where they are seated at the right hand of God. The other, as an act of God, through the Christ-light, that mediates the earth's 'dimensional shift' into a higher plane of vibration, carrying the earth and its inhabitants into a new realm of spiritual consciousness.
Both views are historical - one from a biblical Christian perspective, the other from the perspective of the Mayan Calendar, the Hopi prophesies, and the 'secrets' encoded within the Great Pyramid of Gizeh as well as the 'secret' of the Sphinx itself.
* * * * *
To deepen our understanding of 'the Rapture', we need to take yet another step into a relatively unknown area of physics and metaphysics - one that has been explored by some and discounted by many. The background knowledge for gaining perspective in this area has to do with 'vibration'. An understanding of 'vibration' will enable us to link the ideas of 'Rapture' with those of 'Dimensional Shift'.
'Frequency of vibration', when referring to sound, light, or electromagnetic waves, has to do with the number of repetitions of the wave that occur per unit of time, for example, the number of peaks per second. The greater the frequency of repetition, the higher, we say, is the vibration. Within the space-time continuum, our physiology allows us to hear sound within a particular range of frequencies, and to see light and color within a particular range of frequencies as well. There are frequencies of vibration that are both higher and lower than what we can see, hear, and feel, but they are generally not accessible to our three-dimensional awareness.
The premise of a spiritual universe which underlies the physical, is that the 'higher vibrations' (greater frequencies) of light in which the spiritual realms live and have their being, coexist along with the lower, but we are not aware of them. This is because that which vibrates at a lower rate cannot be aware of the higher unless a point of intersection occurs through something that might be described as an energetic 'funnel' or tube, by which the higher is made available to the lower and the lower made capable of rising into the higher. In an esoteric sense, this is the meaning of the six-pointed star that is the 'Star of David'. It is a representation of the joining of spirit and matter - the ascent of the lower triangle into the higher, and the descent of the higher realms of spirit into the lower.Such a joining has everything to do with the
earth's 'dimensional shift' being prepared even now, and also relates to one of the fundamental ideas of the 'Rapture' in which individual souls are 'taken up'.
A 'dimensional shift' can take place for a person or for a planet. In some instances it is referred to as 'ascension' or an 'ascension process' - a term that I am uncomfortable with because, historically, it has referred to a spiritual elite and left out the rest of humanity. However, we can speak more plainly of a process that the earth is currently going through that is affecting all of humanity, and that will do so even more in the future. This process, sometimes referred to as the shift from three-dimensional to four-dimensional reality, has to do with the joining of the upper and lower realms through the increase of spiritual light on the earth. It is the embodiment, on earth, of the Star of David.
The process results, in part, from the preparation that many have undergone in order for this to take place, but even more so from the fact that it is time, within the Mind of God. It is time for the earth to move into another level of its own evolution, along a trajectory that has been laid down from the beginning. It is important that we know that whatever physical or metaphysical constructions relate to this change, it is God that is the Initiator, not some impersonal process.
Nevertheless, on a process level, we can talk about the mechanisms of change and about the steps which are part of it. The mechanism for change is the earth's current passage, now in its incipient form, through the penumbra of what is called a 'photon belt' - an area of higher frequencies of light which is generating a change in the vibrational frequencies of the earth plane, even now. As a result of our passage through this 'photon belt' and as a result of more light being present on earth, there are more opportunities for the growth of spiritual consciousness. There are also more frequent events, catalyzed by the force of light, that manifest darkness as it is rooted out from its dormancy within individuals and within collective consciousness as well. Such 'darkness' seeks to have no part with light, but instead, to limit its expansion.
Opportunities for the growth of spiritual consciousness may be sought deliberately as, for example, through study, prayer, meditation, and spiritual practice. However, even without seeking out such activities, consciousness can and is being affected by the light itself which is the light of God, the light of the Christ, becoming more potent now on the physical plane. This light is beginning to alter us in visible and in not-so-visible ways.
- It alters our perception of time, at first speeding it up, and ultimately bringing us to a place beyond time, where co-creation creates a presentness at each moment.
- It alters our perception of separateness - creating at first a longing for unity and a sense of its possibility, and ultimately a sense of oneness with all around us and with the universe itself.
- It alters our awareness of our own inner workings - the pains, struggles, and darkness we have carried for lifetimes, bringing these to the surface of consciousness in order that they be healed, and ultimately separates the light from the dark within, reawakening our original remembrance of the freedom-to-be.
- It alters our sense of attachment to the emotional plane of experience, largely induced by the karmic learning we have needed to go through, and takes us past karma to the experience of unconditional love as the ground of all being.
- It alters our longing for God - increasing the search for deeper meaning and for the truth of who we are, and ultimately brings us to a sense of participation in an illuminated universe in which God is everywhere.
This, then, is the meaning of a 'dimensional shift' to the fourth dimension. It is a shift engendered by the changing frequencies of light interacting with the physical plane, which changes our consciousness. Does it affect everyone in this positive way? No, it does not. For some are immersed to a greater degree in energies that seek the limitation of the expansion of light, and these individuals, during this time, may be more completely aligned with forces of hate and destruction that seek power over others - justifying this, through rationalizations that claim authorization by God. This, of course, is never true. Nevertheless, in the presence of these energies it seems, to some, to be true.
Understanding how the higher vibrations of light might affect humanity is important in order to picture what might happen if the heightening of spiritual vibration (the higher frequencies of light) were to be speeded up on the earth. Up until now, it has proceeded gradually, though not without dramatic effect as we have witnessed in the current conflict in Iraq, in Israel-Palestine, and in the intensification of acts of terrorism both at home and abroad. But what if a major shift in spiritual energy were to occur rather suddenly? What if the earth itself were to move more deeply into 'the photon belt' and were, in a moment, to suddenly be thrust past a threshold of light which the darkness could no longer penetrate? What would advance past this threshold, and what would remain behind?
This is the mystery of the 'Rapture' which, in the prophetic language of the Bible, has sought to capture this entire process in concrete, biblical terms. The 'Rapture' is not false. It is true. But it is true in an entirely different way than those who are current proponents of biblical interpretation are interpreting it. It is also not part of a 'pre-tribulation' scenario, but rather something that is linked to the entire process of purification of the earth that has been outlined above - a process that has consequences for both the expansion of light and for the expansion of darkness.
The name 'Rapture' should probably be changed, for it suggests something that obliterates the full meaning of the 'dimensional shift' that is taking place and will take place. It also makes exclusive the Christ energies which help uplift all during this passage or shift. With due respect to its origins, the current biblical interpretation does keep the heart of God in the picture as opposed to making it an impersonal process related simply to energy and consciousness. Nevertheless, this interpretation makes it seem that only Christians in a particular relationship with Jesus can be 'uplifted' or 'taken up'. This cannot be true, for the light of the Christ is what uplifts, and it uplifts not only those who believe, but all beings who, in their hearts, bodies, and minds can hold the higher vibrations of light that are progressively affecting
Here is another great mystery - the mystery of inclusion, not of exclusion. For whereas the present understanding of 'the Rapture' suggests that only a group of select souls will be 'saved' to dwell with God and to avoid the trials of the Tribulation, it is more truthful to say that all who seek the light will receive the light and will become part of whatever 'dimensional shift' takes place. In this context, it is not possible to say whether this includes every single person on the earth or not. For the knowledge of God and the action of God does not move according to what people say or what they espouse by their words, religious or otherwise. It moves according to what people hold in their deepest hearts, no matter what their words may indicate. Universal redemption or 'upliftment', held in the Mind and Heart of God as the
earth changes, is indeed universal. It is offered to all. However, it must also be chosen by each one, instead of making a choice for darkness.
There is always a problem in discussing such things, because our hearts go out even to the souls who may turn away from the light and choose darkness instead. Some comfort may be taken from the fact that such souls will not be punished in hell, but will have an opportunity to grow and learn just as they have in the past, along a three-dimensional space-time continuum in which further lessons can make them ready for continued spiritual growth. Therefore, they are not 'lost'. They are only operating within the limits of their capacity and within a different time-frame with respect to spiritual evolution - one that will eventually bring them forward at their own speed.
There is nothing to do in order to prepare for whatever shifts in spiritual energy lay ahead, other than what we always do. In the present, what is needed is what has always been needed - consciousness, responsibility, love, and devotion to God. By striving to live a sacred life, we move with the light already present on the earth. We also remain able to help each other along the way, to help the earth, and to assist in the unfoldment of God's plan for creating out of this beautiful earth, a sacred and holy planet.
The purpose of Light Omega is to bring us all into greater planetary consciousness with awareness of the suffering of others and with a willingness to remain awake to the challenges, dangers, and possibilities we face today.