Dr. Mike Obsatz, Professor Emeritus at Macalester College
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Empire Consciousness, Oneness Consciousness and "Human Sacrifice"
As a child in Hebrew School, I never appreciated the idea that Abraham was asked by God to sacrifice his son. The idea of a God that required a sacrifice was foreign to me. My parents did not believe that, and yet they sent me to a school that taught that.
It was also interesting to me that many Christians I knew as a child believed that "Jesus died for your sins." Again, the idea that someone has to be sacrificed to appease a judging, vengeful God because we are so evil.
This is very different from the image of God that Jesus actually taught. According to Jesus, God is loving, forgiving, grace-filled, compassionate, generous and kind.
In my extended family, sacrificing for others seemed very important. People in my family or origin often talked about how much they gave up for others, how much they did for others, how much they denied themselves so others could have more. This martyrdom was stressed as a virtue.
Since I have moved to a different understanding of God, and a different concept of generosity. I now know that I don't have to give up everything to be a generous, loving person. I can enjoy myself, enjoy material possessions, enjoy nature. I still believe in helping, supporting and nurturing those in need. However, it does not mean that I have to "live poor."
I grew up being poor, being part of a farm family where my parents worried about paying the mortgage every month.
If we lost the farm, where would we live? We also had enough food, but we had very few "extras." I always wore hand-me-down clothing until I could buy something for myself at age 18.
I am sad that there is poverty and oppression, and I will contribute to those in need with my time, talent, and treasure. Usually more than the 10 percent tithing that is encouraged.
Another aspect of being sacrificed is related to the intense bullying I experienced from ages 5 - 12 for being Jewish. I was harassed, beaten, shamed, spat at, cursed, and ridiculed. When bullies pick on one person, they are, in effect, projecting and dumping all their sins, frustrations, inadequacies on that person. They believe that by tormenting someone else, they can temporarily relieve themselves from their own feelings of shame, pain, and abandonment. This is like human sacrifice.
The Crucifixion, witches burned at the stake, lynching of Black men, and the Holocaust where 6 million Jews were killed, and intense bullying of children and adults -- these all are examples of scapegoating, and finding someone or some group to blame for all of life's difficulties and a person's feelings of worthlessness. It also is a way to feel superior, in control, and purged of one's impurities.
Sometimes the victim is blamed, such as in some rape situations. Sometimes, the messenger is blamed, as Jesus was, for his bearing of "good news and glad tidings." If the message threatens the current belief system, it is ignored, or in some cases, destroyed along with the messenger.
Empire Consciousness is about domination, power, control, and justifying the degradation of those "at the bottom." This results in bullying, wars, and discrimination and hatred. Part of Empire Consciousness is the belief in scarcity, and the need to hoard and conquer others.
All empires have done this. Great Britan is a perfect example -- taking over countries, planting the British flag and turning the inhabitants into slaves. Americans did this with the Native Americans. The other empires -- Greece, Rome, Ottoman, etc. -- conquered and destroyed native people for their own gain. So creating the concept of a punishing, vengeful God goes along with the idea of oppression and oppressors. The image reflects the type of consciousness.
One thing that happens with Empire Consciousness is that those all the bottom are taught to distrust and fear each other and fight among themselves. Fear, revenge, and a we/they mentality always exist.
Oneness Consciousness is about seeing the connection between all people, and believing there is enough to go around. The God of Oneness Consciousness is one of generosity and compassion. No need to sacrifice oneself, or anyone else.
Any individual can live in Oneness Consciousness -- no matter what gender, race, sexual orientation, class, etc.
So -- the type of consciousness is the enemy, not particular groups or individuals.
Until we get passed labeling and demonizing groups, we will continually promote and live in Empire Consciousness. It is also a way of attempting to deny and medicate one's pain and feelings of worthlessness. It is the refusal to examine oneself, and one's limitations and imperfections -- and still know that one is lovable as he or she is.
The answer to moving past the need for human sacrifice is to grow in awareness of the worth and connection of all of humanity.