Whenever I have the opportunity to fly, I like to stare out of the window and see the earth from up above. It amazes me to see neat rows of buildings, homes, and plots of land, all intricately connected by highways and roads with tiny ant-like cars creeping along. These meticulously cultivated formations radiate from each city center and seem to ripple on for dozens of miles. Comedian Joe Rogan describes the city of Los Angeles like a petri dish of toxic bacteria from the air. Anyone who has witnessed the growth of bacteria on a petri dish knows that it does bear a striking resemblance to developing cities, complete with pollution and eventual resource depletion.
Many holy books and manuscripts contain stories of mass extinction such as Noah's Ark, Sodom, Gomorrah, and more recently Pompeii. The book of Revelations even alludes to the 'End of Days'. I think the probability of another cataclysmic asteroid is possible, like an injection of penicillin onto a bacterial culture growing on a large petri dish.
There are both 'good' and 'bad' micro organisms that can either cause injury or aid in the coexistence of life. Such organisms exist within human beings. The good bacteria on our skin help to regulate pH levels, others within our digestive system help to break down food into building blocks that can be used to fight infection and boost our immunity. Our bodies are hosts to colonies of both good and bad micro organisms much like the earth is host to plants, animals, and humans. Sometimes imbalances can occur where harmful micro organisms grow out of control and begin to harm the host. If left unchecked, these harmful parasites can eventually kill their host by depleting energy and resources. The key to maintaining overall health is to maintain balance. When the corrupt micro organisms consume the healthy ones to the point of no return, then sickness and death are sure to follow.
My mother used to accuse my brother and I of having stomach worms that would "dance" when we ate too much candy (we never actually had worms). It still makes me laugh just thinking about it; however, she was on to something...
Besides the colonies of bacteria that live on and in all parts of our bodies, we are drastically affected by their 'cravings' and needs. Our bodies crave sugar when yeast cells within our digestive tract grow out of balance. These micro organisms seemingly 'hijack' our minds and bodies to act in their interests. These barely visible microscopic 'beings' have an incredible influence over an amazingly advanced creature such as a human being. By eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and maintaining proper hygiene, one can improve their host ecosystem and overall well being. One can take control of their 'cravings' and channel their energies into accomplishing what their minds truly desire instead of being a victim to their parasitic demons.
After developing a healthy balance between body and mind, I think it bears mentioning that humans are vulnerable to spiritual corruption as well. While many people might argue that spiritual health is not as important as mind and body, I believe ALL three of them are as necessary as the legs of a stool. There are poisons in this world that corrupt our spirit and change our ordinary behavior into perversions of ourselves. Basically these poisons can turn into addictions that cause us to deviate from the path we truly wish to follow. Sex, drugs, and alcohol have often made the list, but these are really just symptoms of a deeper spiritual corruption. The church references the seven deadly sins: Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy, and Pride as the gateways to spiritual decline. I believe sin can be defined as anything that turns us away from God and feeds the parasitic demons within.
When I was young, my older brother would often introduce me to new superheroes. I discovered The Force, supermen, super robots, ninjas, and basically the characteristics that make a hero heroic. We celebrate heroes in almost every culture because they embody a courageous Spirit. One hero that changed time itself whose influence is seen every day from buildings to billboards and tiny pieces of jewelry is Jesus Christ. Nearly every soul on this planet recognizes His name. As a rational thinking person, I would apply a lens of skepticism over ideas that I wished to challenge, including religion. Under this lens, I could appreciate the social benefits of belonging to each religious community. I could see and understand the need for a moral compass especially in ancient times when basic education was lacking. I can see the reason behind organized religion and I've felt the presence of spirituality so I cannot deny another persons faith in God. I tend to draw the line when I see religion used as a tool to manipulate people into sin such as war, vanity, pride, prejudice, injustice, and abuse. I think this happens as a result of human politics which seems to be an innate component of our nature.
Jesus (originally Yeshua or Joshua today) embodies the antidote to our human corruption. Of all the characters in heroic stories or religious doctrine, He perfectly exhibits heroism. As a writer, I've studied the traits of character development and I've read hundreds of books where the hero of each novel seems to embody the same Spirit. Still, while applying the lens of skepticism to the holy books I've read, no one compares to the character of Christ. He is the perfect superhero. The scriptures about Him were written years after his death and ascension by his followers.
A literary technique that I found used by Miguel de Cervantes was in writing his lovable-fool protagonist, Don Quixote, as a vessel to speak out against the church, the crusades, and atrocities like the Spanish Inquisition. Cervantes was able to speak his mind against powerful authorities and influence readers while embedding his message in the hilarious antics of a wacky errant knight. The most conspicuous message I took away was whether or not Don Quixote was dealing with reality, he had rock solid faith in God and in himself, which made his courage real in the face of danger (imagined or not). I can relate to his mindset each time I step into the boxing ring or ride my motorcycle. I feel the fear and doubt that I may incur harm yet I've learned to manage this by believing in myself and my God given abilities. Christ was able to accomplish amazing feats: turning water into wine, walking on water, calming the sea, dispelling the clouds, healing the sick, feeding thousands of poor souls, restoring vision to the blind, hearing to the deaf, the ability to speak to the mute, healing the paralyzed, driving out demon spirits, reading people's minds and hearts, prophecy, and raising the dead back to life. As a character, His gifts were truly sublime!
"I assure you that if you believe and do not doubt, you will be able to do what I have done. And not only this, but you will even be able to say to this hill, 'Get up and throw yourself in the sea,' and it will. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer."
― Matthew 21:21
The defining moment of literary heroes is when they are matched against an enemy force of unimaginable terror yet remain faithful on their mission to rescue or protect their loved one(s) from being harmed. This is what separates Christ from other religious or literary figures. He didn't have super strength like Hercules, Samson, or Superman; He was vulnerable to pain and suffering. He willingly entered into a trap set by religious authorities and Roman courts only to be beaten, whipped, and crucified (a barbaric practice of the Romans to punish those who threatened the State in such a manner as to severely discourage anyone from following suit). He spoke of the upcoming events to his disciples the nights before he was betrayed but they could not understand as they knew something big was fast approaching.
During that time in Jerusalem there was the celebration of Passover, which is the Jewish festivity of their liberation by God from the Pharaoh in Egypt around 1300 BC. During this celebration, the people of Jerusalem had begun to hear about Jesus and his miracles and were heralding Him as their prophesied Messiah. This threatened the Jewish high priests and their comfortable lifestyles as Christ spoke out against their hypocritical ways of public piety while private practice of lust and greed. The corrupt high priests made a deal with one of the disciples to betray Jesus as they believed that if He truly was the Messiah that he would be able to save Himself. As Jesus divined, He knew the manner in which he was to be betrayed and still proceeded without fighting into the hands of his persecutors.
In the old days it was religious custom to offer animal sacrifices to God in gratitude for life. The passover feast celebrates the freedom granted to the Jewish slaves in Egypt who Moses instructed to mark their doors with the blood of a sacrificial lamb to signal the Spirit of Death to passover their household when the final plague occurred before Pharaoh would concede to letting the slaves go. Jesus made cryptic comments at the Last Supper where he took bread and wine, gave a prayer of thanks and offered it to his disciples,
"this is my blood which seals God's covenant, my blood poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins."
― Matthew 26:28
The events leading to His capture, death, and resurrection are well known or can easily be read about, but the unusual part (barring His resurrection) is that ALL of the Roman Governors (except for Pontius Pilate as historical State evidence) and Jewish High Priests have long since been dead and forgotten whilst His story lives on. In fact there is more literary evidence to suggest the existence of Jesus Christ having lived and walked on this Earth than that of Julius Caesar. From a skeptics perspective, no mortal literary master has created such a hero the likes of which Shakespeare, Homer, Cervantes, or Dumas can boast.
His influence which began with a grassroots following of poor uneducated fishermen has literally changed the face of the earth almost 2,000 years later and is STILL happening today! His message was that Nothing is impossible for God and with a little faith we too can share in the Kingdom our Heavenly Father has prepared for us. Like the meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs, Christ impacted the earth to conquer spiritual death. Whether you choose to believe or not, His life, message, and example is the antidote to infidelity or lack of faith in ALL things physical, emotional, and spiritual. He came to expose and excise the cancer of sin so that we may have a share in the Divine Kingdom.
"I came to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already kindled! I have a baptism to receive, and how distressed I am until it is over! Do you suppose that I came to bring peace to the world? No, not peace, but division;"
― Luke 12:51