Saturday, October 20, 2012

Review and Commentary of Aaron D. Taylor's Alone with a Jihadist

(By Guest Blogger - Michel Weatherall)

I had assumed this book to be a debate between the author – an evangelical Christian – and Khalid, a Muslim Jihadist with a hate-on for America and in general, Western ways. If, like me, you were hoping for a near line-for-line reading of this pair's actual conversation – like me – you will be disappointed, as Khalid is almost mentioned by name only. However, when Aaron D. Taylor describes himself as a charismatic-raised, Bible-belt evangelical, I was expecting the worst. I was quite surprised by what he had to say. Although we never hear the finer details of this conversation, we can see throughout the rest of the book that the author was genuinely effected. So, if the book isn't a 'play-by-play' commentary of Aaron and Khalid's debate, what is this book about? I think the author begins by attempting to answer a sobering question Khalid challenged he with:
”Jesus didn't leave the world with a comprehensive social system, economic system, political system, or any other kind of system to regulate society...How would you implement the Bible from a governmental point of view?” pg. 18
To which Taylor concludes,
”The Bible can't be implemented from a governmental perspective!” pg. 20
And I think this is the gist of the entire book. He further explores this issue by looking at the only divinely-ordained earthly government, or theocracy, we know of in the bible.
”...theocracy was tried once and it turned out to be a big fat failure. If we read the Bible as a narrative, then we have to conclude that theocracy doesn't work. The very things that theocracy was supposed to prevent actually increased under theocratic rule... Most human beings who are forced to conform to a strict set of laws will rebel every chance they can get.” pg. 24

”God started the theocracy experiment with Moses... we have to conclude that even God ordained theocracies are unable to establish the Kingdom of God on earth.” pg. 184-185
I was surprised to see that Aaron D. Taylor found himself seeing issues that I myself has stumbled across. A Nationalistic Moses. Too many times I have brought up the issue that the 'ways' and laws, and even how God is between the Old and New Testaments are different. And so many times Christians have blatantly denied it or attempted to 'educate' me in why I just couldn't see how they were all really the same. Not Aaron.
”Jesus was very comfortable with discarding old ways, even if those ways seemed right at one time. Jesus taught that old wineskins should be discarded, not simply patched up (Luke 5:36-39).”, pg. 90

”When it comes to God's self-revelation to human beings, clearly there's a then and there's a now.” pg. 91
But I couldn't help but notice his open-mindedness. Again, quite a surprising and refreshing trait for a Christian Fundamentalist. He speaks of Chomsky and Thoreau and Anarchism and specifically how Chomsky and Thoreau had defined it. (”Can there not be a government in which majorities do not decide right and wrong – but conscious?... Must the citizen even for the moment... resign his conscience to a legislator?” pg. 180). Government by (individual) conscience rather than institutional imposed law (via fear of punishment). I have seen this same point of view, but I had been introduced to it by Lao Tzu in Taoism.

What most impressed me about ”Alone with a Jihadist” and Aaron D. Taylor was his open-mindedness, especially for a Christian Fundamentalist. His willingness to seek out and accept the truth where the truth speaks loudest; from his willingness to actually listen to the grievances of a Muslim Jihadist, to words of wisdom from a Roman Catholic Pope (pg. 34), to the conscious-driven government of anarchism (Taoism?), to even acknowledging what the Hebrews under Moses and Joshua intended to do to the indigenous Canaanites was nothing less than genocide.
”I take Hebrews 8:13 at face value when it says the Old Covenant is “obsolete”, so that rules out every argument based from Mount Sinai on that says Israel is supposed to wipe out the Canaanites (Never mind the fact that Christians who use this argument balk at the term ethnic cleansing to describe what's going on today while appealing to Old Testament texts that advocate genocide to justify their position).” pg. 153
In every book review that I write, I always enjoy attempting to identify its potential target audience, and it is for this reason I don't want to say that Aaron D. Taylor seems to have the insight and wisdom of a pluralist or a syncritist too loudly. I believe this book has an audience within the American Evangelical; Bible-belt Christians. If not, then it is a book they should most definitely take seriously. If fundamentalism itself is allowed to run its course; if the American-Evangelical and Islam continue its escalating conflict, either fundamentalist position will only dig their heels in deeper and deeper. The only outcome in this scenario is disastrous for us all! A voice like Aaron's gives me hope that there is another option to fundamentalism.
”I believe that for too long the word “evangelical” has been synonymous with hyper-nationalism. We've turned the Lord Jesus Christ, Savior of the world, into a tribal deity who fights for the U.S. Flag. We've made God into our image and transformed Jesus into the defender of American values.” pg. 56
A hyper-national American tribal-deity. Now that's a title that caught my attention, and it is at this point that he begins to take a closer look at Religiosity in more detail.
”Religion creates cultures, cultures reinforce tribal and national identities, tribal and national identities lead to competition for resources and prejudice against other human beings, and competition and prejudice lead to violent conflict. In short, religion leads to war.” pg. 166-167

”Religion provides a means by which human beings can dehumanize others with the approval of their conscience.” pg. 167

”Religion and nationalism don't mix.” pg. 168
He systematically identifies the traits of tribalism; American Religious Nationalism. American Christian Zionism; masked hatred and racism and the illusion of a Just War, as the derogatory plagues that they are. Although he never uses the word, what his describes are all byproducts of the Disease of Religiosity.

 He compares the casualties of the invasion of Iraq to that of 9/11
”If a similar death toll were to occur in the United States, more than 295,000 lives would have been lost – about a hundred times the number of people killed on 9/11” pg. 111
Comparative civilian casualties were 100 times worst, yet somehow this form of violence is deemed acceptable because of the defense of freedom and democracy. He identifies that violent revolution are not a necessity for freedom and democracy as too many Americans believe.

Just because the U.S.A. achieved independence through violent revolution doesn't mean they must have.
”Canada and Australia are highly successful first world democracies and neither of them achieved their national sovereignty through violent revolution... Canada and Australia received their freedom gradually.” pg, 79
”All nations advance their self-interests by the power of the sword. No matter how much one nation claims to be more righteous, more holy, than all the other nations, Kingdom of God citizens know better.... A careful study of the New Testament reveals there are two types of kingdoms available to mankind – and only two. The Kingdom of God always looks like Jesus and operates from the basis of power through redemptive love and the kingdoms of this world operate from the basis of power-through-the-sword. The Kingdom of God always comes under the people to serve them. The kingdoms of this world would always rule over people to subdue them.” pg. 40
The Point? No nation is a Christian nation. No nation has Jesus' 'vote' or backing. No nation represents The Kingdom of God and that includes America.

But wouldn't Democracy be the exception? A significant portion of the Muslim world sees it differently.
”...summarized in three short sentences: Christianity leads to democracy. Democracy is man-made law. Man-made law lead to chaos. Whether we like it or not, this is an argument that millions of Muslims around the world, even the less radical ones find compelling. For them, words like “freedom” and “democracy” mean pornography and partial birth abortion. Democracy is convicted murderers and child molesters serving a few years in prison and then being set free to roam the streets again. Freedom means gambling, miniskirts, and legalized drugs. In short, democracy is man-made law, which is a mockery, something that's totally flexible, open to the whims and interpretations of the society.” pg. 53-54
He listens to the flaws and errors that are inherent within democracy without turning on it. If we can see the errors of our ways, at least we stand the chance of ejecting or correcting the bad while maintaining the good.
”We tend not to listen to people who support terrorists, but I think that may be our most profound weakness. Because if you actually sit down and listen to them... you will hear an anger and frustration with America and the Western world that isn't emerging from a vacuum.” pg. 169
This made me think of Osama Bin Laden. When America put him in power to combat the Russians he was a Freedom Fighter. When he challenged and turned on those American powers; when he ceased being of use, he became a Terrorist.
One question that continues to echo in my conscious is whether the fictional character V from  'V is for Vendetta' was a freedom fighter or a terrorist. Or maybe they are the same thing from two different points of view. A Frankenstein's Monster.

Near the end of the book he even gives credit to our critics, acknowledging that their anger and frustration do not come out of a vacuum. Although this does not accept the actions taken by some extremists, it does at least concede that our past actions (and inactions) have played some degree of influence. We of the Western World are not saints and possibly, just maybe, we've had a hand in creating Frankenstein's Monster. This is the only road to love, compassion and peace that I know of.

 I will finish this commentary or review with a simple, but sobering line from this book; one that I think is pointedly aimed at many Americans.
”Jesus has lots of fans, but very few followers.” pg. 164

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Life Immortal?

For those of you who know me well enough, you'll know that a great deal of my worldview, my 'theology', my spirituality if you will, hinges on the Genesis story up 'til what is commonly accepted as the fall of man. (Although my take on it is somewhat different). But here's a somewhat scary interpretation on it. Quite a different one I should think.
"The traditional, orthodox Christian view was that man was created perfect, innocent, foolish and happy, living naked in the Garden of Even. Then came knowledge and wisdom and the Fall of Man, to which the sufferings of man are due, notably (1) work by the sweat of one's brow for man, and (2) the pangs of labor for women. In contrast with man's original innocence and perfection, a new element was introduced to explain his present imperfection, and that is of course the Devil, working chiefly through the body, while his higher nature works through the soul. When the "soul" was invented in the history of Christian theology I am not aware, but this "soul" became a something rather than a function, an entity rather than a condition, and it sharply separated man from the animals, which have no soul worth saving. Here the logic halts, for the origin of the Devil had to be explained, and when the medieval theologians proceeded with their usual scholastic logic to deal with the problem, they got into a quandary. They could not have very well admitted that the Devil, who as Not-God, came from God himself, nor could they quite agree that in the original universe, the Devil, a Not-God, was co-eternal with God. So in desperation they agreed that the Devil must have been a fallen angel, which rather begs the question of the origin of evil (for there still must have been another Devil to tempt this fallen angel), and which is therefore unsatisfactory, but they had to leave it at that. Nevertheless from all this followed the curious dichotomy of the spirit and the flesh, a mythical conception which is still quite prevalent and powerful today in affecting our philosophy of life and happiness.

"Then came the Redemption, still borrowing from the current conception of the sacrificial lamb, which went still farther back to the idea of a God who desired the smell of roast meat and could not forgive for nothing. From this Redemption, at one stroke a means was found by which all sins could be forgiven, and a way was found for perfection again. The most curious aspect of Christian thought is the idea of perfection. As this happened during the decay of the ancient worlds, a tendency grew up to emphasize the afterlife, and the question of salvation supplanted the question of happiness or simple living itself. The notion was how to get away from this world alive, a world which was apparently sinking into corruption and chaos and doomed. Hence the overwhelming importance attached to immortality. This represents a contradiction of the original Genesis story that God did not want man to live forever. This Genesis story of the reason why Adam and Eve were driven out of Eden was not that they had tasted of the Tree of Knowledge, as it popularly conceived, but the fear lest they should disobey a second time and eat of the Tree of Life and live forever.""Lin Yutang, "The Importance of Living", pg. 15-16.
God did not want man to live forever. The Heaven of the afterlife? Immortality?
 And what if God has never intended for Man to live forever... in any way or form; That there is no immortality in the afterlife - either Heaven or Hell. That man's soul is not innately immortal... and never will be.

 Would Christians still be 'good' and 'do the right thing' if there were no reward, no immortality of the afterlife, no Heaven - no carrot.
What would you do?

 And if there was no goal at the end of the race, would we still race? Wouldn't that make us spiritual hedonists? I like Lin Yutang's take on the Garden of Eden story because it answers questions that the more traditionally accepted version doesn't and can't answer.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Dharma Entanglement: The Edenic Birdcage


 Pedro saw an inherent problem with the imagery of God.

 Pedro is a marionette, a string puppet. Everything and anything Pedro did was completely and absolutely according to the will of God.

 On the issues of sticks and carrots - Pedro thought - I am being rewarded or punished according to actions I am not completely in control of or even guilty of. How can this be a loving God?

 Pedro realized – that from a certain point of view – he was enslaved to this deity, regardless of whether he chose to “surrender” to this God or not. What attached him to God; the strings that controlled and manipulated him, put bleeding wounds that could never heal. Pedro's ambitions were to somehow regain control – to take possession of the puppeteer's central rod & control bar; to be in control of himself, and potentially from that position, choose to follow or not follow this deity; to legitimately make the choice to 'surrender' or not.

 The story ends sadly for poor Pedro. For once he does finally gain possession of his central rod & control bar, he discovers that he completely and totally looses control. He can never find himself in a position to legitimately make that choice to follow this deity or not. That he was never anything more than a slave.
 ...poor Pedro.


I realize this is only one of many potential perspectives. But there is an issue of the tension between Love and Control. And I for one do not believe these two things are compatible.


A great example of this is the story (novel and movie) of Coraline. It is The Other Mother, (or the Beldam), and her alternative and near identical 'Other World'. On initial look everything is better. Everything is catered to Coraline because the Other Mother loves her.

But as the story unfolds we discover that that nagging uneasiness we've felt from the very beginning may very well have been justified. The Other Mother is the true power and force behind this entire other world. God-like in her power with a tiny exception; she cannot create, but only copy, twist, and manipulate.

But why? She just wants someone to love. There's a price for her love and adornment. The sacrifice of one's freedom. You must stay in her fabricated world forever. In essence, becoming her slave. (And as the story advances, we discover that it becomes worse than this for this fake God – thisDemiurge – becomes easily bored of her newly acquired objects of love and affection, only to discard and abandon them, essentially, to death). (On a side note, it is also interesting that another name for the Gnostic's Demurge is Ialdabaoth, or Yaldabaoth, an imperfect god or a blind god. What's further interesting is that Coraline's Other Mother has artificial eyes - buttons! - sewn on, for without them she is blind).

Coraline reminds me so much of a certain point of view of Gnosticism that I am somewhat surprised nobody has made the comparison before.

If we reread Genesis, but from a certain Gnostic perspective, we can clearly see this exact same pattern. The source material (the book of Genesis) itself is not altered, but its interpretation is. In this perspective it is the symbols and imagery that are switched.

The Edenic Birdcage

”The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it”. Genesis 2:15 (NIV)
The Edenic God created Adam in a world (the Garden of Eden) without worry, experience (or the potential of growth). Could the Garden of Eden have been intended as a birdcage or a prison for Adam?
”The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”” Genesis 2:18 (NIV)
This Edenic God realized Adam’s thirst for something more. He then realized that to work the Garden of Eden and take care of it was not enough to fulfill Adam’s emptiness. The Edenic God acknowledges that Adam is missing something and states that it is not good for the man to be alone. He then declares that he will“make a helper suitable for him.” God then creates all of the animals and gives Adam the task of naming them all. But yet this Edenic God still fails in making a helper suitable for him.
”Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field”. Genesis 2:19-20a (NLV)
Could this have been an attempt for the Edenic God to “make a helper suitable for him”? God is again attempting to fill this emptiness that plagued Adam.
”But for Adam no suitable helper was found”. Genesis 2:20b (NLV)
This very much concerns me. An omnipotent being would absolutely know what this emptiness within Adam was and would not (ever) need to guess at it. It would seem that this Edenic God wanted himself to be Adam’s fulfillment. He wanted Adam to be content with him alone, yet he wasn’t. So why wasn’t Adam? I believe that what Adam’s thirst was for freedom. If for the sake of argument we assume the Edenic God is keeping Adam as a pet (a being to worship him, or being forced into worshiping him) within the “artificially” created paradise-world Eden, the last thing this God would give Adam would be freedom:
”So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs [or took part of the man’s side] and closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib [or part] he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said,“This is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman’, for she was taken out of man.”” Genesis 2:21-23 (NLV)
This is interesting considering that in Genesis 1:27 it says
”So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them”. Genesis 1:27 (NLV), bold text.
…yet in Genesis 2:21-23 (some time after Genesis 1:27) Eve is “created” out of Adam. Genesis 1:27 (the creation of Adam) states that he was created male and female. Is Genesis 1:27 suggesting that Adam was originally a hermaphrodite, physically having both male and female organs? I wouldn’t think so. The reference in Genesis 1:27 to creating man (Adam) both male and female, I believe is referring not to physical gender, but to internal facets.
Call it the mind and body, the soul and spirit, the intellect and instinct, the ego and the psyche, it matters little what exactly you call it. The fact is that originally man (Adam) was made whole and complete. It was only in Genesis 2:21-23 that this whole and complete man (Adam) was divided or separated. It would seem that Adam was originally created whole, yet within the Garden of Eden, unsatisfied. If this is the case then it follows that in Genesis 2:21-22 Eve was not created but removed from Adam. This Edenic God attempted to make Adam into something less than he was created as. Possibly something that would be content within this Edenic Birdcage. He attempts to make Adam unwhole. The original, whole and complete Adam (man) had to be made unwhole and divided because this Edenic God could only have obedience and worship in part.

The Edenic God attempted to force Adam (mankind) into servitude (slavery?)

 The Holy Serpent 

It is only within the next three verses that the serpent makes its first appearance.
“Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made”. Genesis 3:1a (KJV) “Now the serpent was the shrewdest of all the creatures the Lord God had made”. Genesis 3:1 (NLT) “Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made”. Genesis 3:1a (NIV)
It says that the serpent is subtil (subtle), crafty, or shrewd.
Subtle: 1) evasive or mysterious; hard to grasp (subtle charm; a subtle distinction). 2) (of scent, colour, etc.) faint, delicate, elusive (subtle perfume). 3a) capable of making fine distinctions; perceptive; acute (subtle intellect; subtle senses). b) ingenious; elaborate; clever (a subtle device). 4) archaic crafty, cunning.” The Oxford English Reference Dictionary, Second Edition, 2001, pg. 1440

Crafty: cunning, artful, wily”. The Oxford English Reference Dictionary, Second Edition, 2001, pg. 332

Shrewd: 1) showing astute powers of judgment; clever and judicious (a shrewd observer; made a shrewd guess), 2) archaic a) (of pain, cold, etc.) sharp, biting. b) (of a blow, thrust, etc.) severe, hard. c) mischievous; malicious”. The Oxford English Reference Dictionary, Second Edition, 2001, pg. 1343
It is only in the New Living Translation, which a word even comes close to suggesting evil is used. It does not say that the serpent is evil, nor does it say that it is in possession of Satan.

In this interpretation, the Edenic God is not one in the same as the commonly and traditionally understood monotheistic God. In this interpretation it is the Holy Spirit that filled the serpent and reaches out to help and to save humanity. To “bring us into the light”. The message the serpent gives Eve is the path out of the Garden of Eden (the birdcage). But is there any evidence to support this theory? Does the bible show that knowledge is good rather than evil? (Isaiah 11:2 states that knowledge (Hebrew, da'ath) is a gift of the Holy Spirit).

In Proverbs 8:10 Solomon says “Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold”. And in Proverbs 8:12 Solomon is quoting “Wisdom”, the first of God’s works, “I, wisdom, dwell together with prudence; I possess knowledge and discretion”. Both use the word “knowledge”, or da’ath in the original Hebrew, which is the same word used in Genesis 2:9, “And the Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground – trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil”.

It is after both Adam and Eve eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil that the Edenic God becomes concerned about the tree of life.
”And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever”. Genesis 3:22 (NIV)
The Edenic God then proceeds to banish Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, I believe, out of fear of them discovering the tree of life.
”So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken”. Genesis 3:23 (NIV)
It is interesting that Adam was banished to “work the ground” yet earlier, in Genesis 2:15 the Lord God had put Adam in the Garden of Eden to “work it and take care of it.” There seems to be little difference. In Genesis 3:22 there is the first reference in the Bible to having (or the possibility of attaining) eternal life.
”Then the Lord God said, “The people have become as we are, knowing everything, both good and evil. What if they eat the fruit of the tree of life? Then they will live forever!” Genesis 3:22 (NLT)
This verse occurs after Adam and Eve had eaten the forbidden fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. I find it a very interesting verse. It tells us some things: First of all, since the question is asked, “What if they eat the fruit of the tree of life?” and then answered, “Then they will live forever!” Tells us that Adam and Eve were not originally immortal, and that since this Edenic God, made them with death, then he also ruled over death, or ruled them with death. They had not yet eaten the fruit of the tree of life!
”Because God’s children are human beings – made of flesh and blood – Jesus also became flesh and blood by being born in human form. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the Devil, who had the power of death. Only in this way could he deliver those who have lived all their lives as slaves to the fear of dying”. Hebrews 2:14-15 (NLT)
“…lived all their lives as slaves...” Doesn’t this line say a lot?

Secondly, why does the Edenic God seem so concerned or fearful? Why does the Edenic God not want mankind to partake of the fruit of the tree of life? It is in the very next verse (Genesis 3:23) in which God banishes them from the Garden of Eden.

And finally and most importantly, exactly what is the tree of life? And why does this Edenic God not want Adam and Eve to eat the fruit of it? What is the fruit of the tree of life? I believe that the Tree of Life is nothing short than the true God – a God unbounded by religion.

Towards the Mu Portal 

The heretical Rabbi, Yeshua of Nazareth, spoke of a strange and elusive concept he called The Kingdom of God. something that was yet to come, yet strangely present in the Here and Now; within ourselves. An unrealized potential.

The potential is that Yeshua is the Fruit of the Tree of Life (and must be consumed...) not so much for Salvation, but for enlightenment. Not so much the roll of Redeemer but as Revealer.

Yeshua was an exemplar; he was a Revealer rather than a Redeemer. It is religion, religiosity itself that kept us ignorant, captive, and slaves. Let's add that this interpretation (either interpretation) are not literal history. I don't believe either historically happened. They are myths (and myths are not lies or fiction), but myths with meanings. The truth is not in the fact of whether these events really happened or not. I think many people fail miserably to see and recognize that it doesn't have to be literal history to be true.

If Yeshua, and especially his teachings on this Kingdom of God, is the fruit of the Tree of Life (Genesis 3:22) then it is only through knowledge and wisdom that we're to be freed of our bondage to religiosity. What I believe Yeshua truly taught wasn't the advent of new religion (Christianity), but a heightened awareness - a sort of freedom and enlightenment, rather than a salvation. Yeshua's Kingdom of God wasn't a new religion, but the end of all religion. The escape hatch from this Edenic Birdcage; emancipation from the Entrapment of Religiosity.

The Garden of Eden is only a deceptive paradise, little more than a birdcage, in which Adam & Eve are unknowingly imprisoned. Objects of this deity's love and affection (and a source of worship) but only under certain conditions. Mankind is not content and somehow innately knows it; is missing something and reaching for it. This Edenic God (desperately) attempts to fulfill this longing and repeatedly fails.

Enters the Holy Spirit as the serpent, giving directions to their escape from this delusional cage of Paradise. Acting of behalf of something above and beyond the Edenic God.

he Mexican marionette Pedro made a simple mistake. What he thought was God was really little more than his religiosity. He was trapped with no way out. The thing he replied upon to save him was the very thing that condemned him. He would never discover the exit of his Edenic Birdcage.

Coraline, with the help of a Black Cat who was not subjective to the Other Mother's deceptions (?... the Serpent?, The Holy Spirit? Sophia?) saw through the Beldam's deception and lies and aided in Coraline's escape from her Edenic Birdcage.

And Adam & Eve (mankind) became enlightened by the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, gaining the potential of Tree of Life.

I think this may very well be the defining difference between the Religious and the Spiritual. The stories of Pedro and of Coraline's Other Mother, and the Great Escape from the Prison of Eden, are all lessons from parting ways from the disease or plague of religiosity. These are slave masters.

What is important is the meanings and the lessons and the wisdom that are behind these myths, images, and symbols. These stories can be just as true for the Atheist as they are for a Christian or Buddhist or a Muslim or a fill-in-the-blank.

What Coraline and Adam & Eve all discovered was the Mu Portal. Not only an exit point from their own dependencies on religiosity, but the knowledge and wisdom to realize that their religiosity was not only unneeded, but the one thing that kept them captive. It is the only way to attain Spiritual Solace and growth. It is their only way to break Fear's grip.

Epilogue: Fear 

There can be no argument that punishment (and please remember, punishment is not the same as discipline) is within God’s power, right, and authority. However, is it within God’s nature? 1 John 4:16 says that “God is love”. It does not say that God is loving. It says that God is love itself, and love and hope are intricacy connected. 1 John 4:18, reads:
"There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love."
And again, Psalm 103:13:
"The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him."
Some Christians see "fearing God" as a judge or master and tremble in fear of punishment. However with the verses I've quoted this doesn't fit at all, especially 1 John 4:18.

There are two types of fear, servile fear and filial fear. I believe the only justified fear (for a Christian) is filial fear. Servile fear is the fear of a slave and has nothing to do with the type of fear that is the origin of wisdom. Filial fear "drives out all fear" (1 John 4:18), it drives out servile fear - it drives out the fear of a slave - the fear of punishment, the fear of "holy terror".

I would say that filial fear really isn't fear at all. It is interesting because if these types of Christians are scared to death of what God thinks of you or what he may do to you to punish, then, as 1 John 4:18 says, "...because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love", makes me wonder about these people. Sounds like this servile fear of God and what He, as a Slave Master, can or will do to you makes one more slaves than children.

This servile fear will spiritually murder you on the inside.
“When we feel the need to be seen to be good, like a frightened child, we will pretend in order to please. Pretense kills more people than cancer”. The Beautiful Life, Bloomsbury, London, 2007, pg. 60
...and that, I think, is the defining difference between the two. Pretense. Wearing Masks. Hiding.

Attempting to be something to appease a deified spiritual superman in the sky.

But it is filial fear that I believe is the path to freedom and wisdom. Once we cease fearing punishment and constant reprisals we become free to accept accountability and responsibility. We are no longer dependent upon this deified spiritual superman; in fact, we become free of this idolized anthropomorphic God.

This concept of servile fear vs. filial fear is not unique to Christianity by any means.
Verse 63 of the Tao Te Ching speaks of how
"[M]any young people go to school because they are required to do so. Adults go to work because if they don't, they will not receive the necessities of life. Most people go to church because they believe that if they don't go, they won't get into heaven. Most people don't commit crimes, because, if they do, they will go to prison. Even most babies and young children are accommodated to the system of coercion by physical punishment when they do something that displeases their parents... The use of force indoctrinates us into behaving contrary to our human natures and contrary to the [Tao]." Ralph Alan Dale's translation and commentary of The Tao Te Ching.
Why do we not run a red light or speed when we drive? Usually it is because we do not want to get a speeding ticket (fear of punishment), not because of a knowledge and concern of the dangers it may inflict upon others.