Where does religion stop and spirituality begin?
The Chronicles of Enoch does receive many questions on this topic though, considering the source material and look of the series, that is hardly surprising.
Is it a religious work? No necessarily; we do deal with some themes in common with a few of today's popular religions but we espouse the views of none of them. We share their viewpoint as certain characters see it; Jewish characters represent their religion, Christian characters theirs, atheists and agnostics, etc. theirs too. We chose to use the name The Creator quite intentionally because that could be any god, not just one.
Yes, we see uses of 'Allah', 'Hashem', YHWH, Yehovah, and so forth by characters but this is quite normal, people will invoke their god and we cannot ignore that.
But you have Lucifer, the angels, the Fall and even Jesus makes an appearance! you cry. Surely that ties you to the Judeochristian tradition!
Not really. Gilgamesh is present with strong intent, so are Conan and a number of others. Just because the stories are true does not mean that they are accurate.
It might surprise a few of you to know that I am an agnostic Christian. I have tried to find a - what would you call it? - meeting or church which I feel confortable in. I have tried Methodist, Southern Baptist, general Christian, Mormonism. I felt something, I enjoyed the community but there was always something missing or something added on that I didn't like. That is a topic for another day, though, or maybe we'll come back to it later. You know how my narrative style so we never know where we're going to end up.
The Bible & Books of Enoch
Obviously, the apocryphal and contested books of Enoch are our primary inspiration. They also led to our dominant confusion and line of enquiry. You see, as we investigated, we found that they were considered, for want of a better word canon in the Bible until somewhere around the 11th-13th century AD. At that time, it is rumoured (and written down by the monks who copied the Bible) that all copies were rounded up and taken or ordered to be burned. No explanation was given as to why.
Then, when a treasure trove of clay pots were discovered in caves near Qumran in 1947 (again that year eh, who said patterns don't happen?), efforts were made from certain circles to repress, damage, or discredit what was found within, including the only physical copies of our inspiration. In some recess of my researching mind a thought sparked 'if you repress it, it worries you' while another thought added 'unless that's what they want you to think'.
You see, I was thinking like Asmodeus already.
Of course, most of you will know the stories of the Books of Enoch already; Enoch is taken on a tour of Heaven and Sheol by Uriel, the almost archangel; Enoch tells the tale of the Nephilim and their origins; Enoch is asked to present the Nephilim's case to The Creator for forgiveness and said suit is refused, resulting in the Flood and destruction of the Fallen Angels. It gives us some very disturbing things to think about;
The Earth is Lucifer's kingdom and he has eminent domain here.
The Fallen angels are here, on Earth as bodyless spirits but can and have both possessed human beings and influenced human events
There may or may not still exist a race of angel/human hybrid monsters that look a lot like us.
The Church tried to hide it...
So, of course, this sent the mind fizzing and I realised there was ample material right there but I am a thorough chap.
Religion Vs Faith
One of my sticking points with organised religion was that they were never able to adequately provide an answer to the following scenario;
A devout Bhuddist monk in the far mountains of Nepal never leaves his immediate area. Yet in his 80 years as a monk, he has tended many of the sick, helped the needy, devoted himself to Good Works and done no harm to anyone. He has lived the perfect life but has never even heard of Jesus Christ let alone followed Him. What happens to this man when he dies if Christians are right?
See, your smiling, bald, and generically ethnic fellow, according to mainstream Christianity, is going to Hell because he didn't accept Jesus. I don't like that, it's like the whole unbaptised babies thing in Catholicism. This is why I 'broke away' from organised religion (Jesus Himself said that God lives in no building nor does He need one); the hypocrisy.
How can a man or woman who lived and good life serving others be punished for not doing what we tell them to do? To me, a being who created the entire universe and keeps it ticking, who created all life and everything we see, could not be that petty and cruel.
See, we're suffering from what we call anthromorphism here and the human race is very good at it. I will lay out the principles of it as I see them;
People judge others (that's a whole other question by itelf) by their own standards so they expect The Creator to think like them. To me, a Supreme Being of any kind will, by the definition of 'supreme', be above such human frailties of pride, anger, etc.
It is mentioned in scriptures that, for The Creator, one thousand years is as a day. This means His thought processes will be quite different to ours as he is supposed to see All Things. Little dogmatic things are not going to occupy His attention.
He made everyone and therefore, if we follow Scriptures, loves everyone. All people, whether they are approved of by other people are not, are His children. This is just me but I love my children without condition and only punish them when they do something bad. I don't punish them for not doing things exactly as I do them because they're children.
To make The Creator what I call 'Angry Santa' is actually an insult to Him because it makes Him human and He is not, the scriptures of everyone are quite clear on that. He does not sit there with a big list, checking the Good and Bad columns every once in a while and presenting this to us on the Day of Judgement.
Humans, though, like to make things simple so that they can understand them and have, in fact, managed to make them more complicated, they they are also wont to.
Let's be honest; law is complicated because that makes sure we need lawyers instead of just doing things ourselves. Religion is complicated so that we need priests and all that hierarchy of old men to incede with the Creator on our behalf and, as a rule, live rather well from the arrangement. The fact that those who are 'higher up' in any church do well from their position is another of my sticking points when they're supposed to represent a man who preached humility and the lack of a need for material wealth unless you were helping the poor with it.
Nobody wants you to cut out the middleman and just be a nice person by yourself and that's it!
To me, as long as you follow the Golden Rule, something I believe to be one of the central foundations of the universe and one thing The Creator really would care about;
"Do to others as you would like others to do to you"
That's it. It doesn't matter what you call The Creator, it doesn't matter who you say you are, it doesn't matter what you say you are, it matters what you do. What you don't do and why is less important; that's just dogma.
Dogma was put in place to make sure the people in the fancy robes and hats kept their jobs. I ascribe to the saying
"Religion is from Man; faith/spirituality is from God/The Universe/add name here"
The Chronicles Related
So, The Chronicles of Enoch is set to be quite the controversial series which may well upset a lot of people but that is how people learn, by being challenged and possibly angered. The buddhists believe in the concept of 'holy pain' a suffering which is brought about by challenging and undermining your accepted beliefs in order to force you to challenge them. As a result, you either reinforce your beliefs as you reconstruct them or you learn something new, about yourself if you did it well.
We're not here to be contraversial for its own sake and to sell books due to said contraversy. That would probably work, we've seen plenty of examples of it this over the past twelve months; middling authors using some form of contraversy to gain exposure and a little bit of temporary fame (or imfamy) and so, they hope, sell a lot of curiosity copies. That's cheap and nobody should intentionally do that, in my opinion, and we are not doing that.
We believe that many of today's ecumenical institutions have betrayed not only their followers but their god and their origins. They have become a business (especially the American Evangelicals and Mormons), they accumulate wealth and invent quite a lot of what was added to their Bible through - aha - 'creative translations' (they call they inspired). They drown their 'flocks' in senseless and often contradictory dogma and do not encourage investigation into some of their more 'loose' interpretations.
To me - whether it is in politics or religion - if you actively discourage independent investigation so people can hear the testimonies of others, you have something to hide.
The Chronicles of Enoch is setting out to lift the lid from all the mess out there and dig down, looking through the dross to find what really, truly, matters when you get down to it.
It's a series about being human, about true spiritual growth, and learning about both, among other things. It's about uncovering secrets, revealing lies, and really, really challenging how people think and asking them what they think really matters.
Its principle lesson is there for you to find and may well be what you need to hear the most. It'll likely be different for everyone.
How does one conclude something like that? With a great deal of introspection, I expect.
The most important thing to take away from this is that The Chronicles of Enoch, while filled with religious characters and themes, is not a religious work. It has no intent of converting people to one religion or another, it is challenging what people think about faith and spirituality instead; of breaking dogma and restrictions. It is meant to teach and, the interesting part is that you get to decide what the lesson is and, possibly, teach it to yourself.
Being spiritual is, in fact, much harder than being religious, there are fewer opportunities to cheat, for a start. It requires a sacrifice greater than simply attending a particular building once a week or handing over 10% of your income. It's greater than supporting certain politicians or celebrities, watching certain TV shows or mouthing certain empty words. It's much more internal and you are your primary judge and, I think, the only one that really counts for the time being.
Look at Sable; he knows The Creator exists, he's met angels and seen Holy Wrath exercised in person and has been in communion with a being somewhere that looked incredibly (in his opinion) like Heaven. He knows it exists so faith is not a problem in that respect. Sable, however, was present when Michael delivered The Creator's Judgement on the Nephilim and damned them all to an eternity of Earth, therefore closing the Gates of Heaven to him forever. Sable, though, decided he was going to continue to do good, regardless of the fact that he is convinced that no reward is forthcoming. That is rock-hard faith if anything is; I can't help but admire him for that.
To conclude; I don't believe any god or Supreme Being can be limited by human traits so obviously, that good people that are not Christians, Jews, or Moslems will be rewarded if such a thing is forthcoming at the end. Angry and bitter humans vivisected the holy writings in order to justify their excesses and control those 'below' them. It has been altered to suit the needs of kings and despots. It maintains the lucrative careers of the priestly class and their hangers-on; responsible for creating both the smallest and richest country in the world as a result.
It is no mean stretch to imagine that Lucifer and his Fallen are responsible for all of that. Afterall, if you want to prove how humanity will disappoint The Creator, you have to work at undermining everything that makes Man (or Woman) great, cause division and conflict, and destroy their faith in what is truly most important: