Once upon a time, deep in the darkest part of the forest there lived a hermit who had hardly seen the light of the sun for years. Lost and alone in his memories of both having been special and proud as well as those of immense pain and suffering. There was a time in his past wherein he’d been part of a very special group of people–or so they’d been taught by a leader who’d been far more influential because of his ego rather than teaching truth.

Then the day came when the hermit had to run for his life having narrowly escaped becoming a human torch used for lighting the gardens of an evil ruler. The pain and horrendous suffering all around him was more than he could tolerate. As he became fixated on that painful past wherein he’d lost all hope of survival, he was tormented within by images of his family and friends being torn to shreds by wild animals as the crowds cheered for more blood. He retreated in the intense fear of being found by those who were addicted to the pleasures they’d come to enjoy in controlling all others with fear. After all, they would only celebrate his gruesome death.

Reflecting on all his past, day after day, year after year, it seemed that he’d either live forever in isolation or die before he’d ever be able to go home. But what was home? Where was it? Home was not where he was now because he could never accept the present as a choice that held any meaning. Yes, he’d believed the words of that leader, but what energies did the old words of shame, guilt, and remorse hold for him now? How could his “now” experience be so vastly different than he’d dreamed of not so long ago? That leader didn’t seem to feel guilt and shame with his words that seemed to be filled with power and certainty. Or did he? Can guilt and shame come from any other source? These and many other thoughts ran through his muddled mind. With each passing day the hermit began to wonder why he’d been deceived and why he’d actually believed the lies that had sounded so enticing. How could lies have taken him to the place of feeling superior to all others only to find himself as nothing more than a victim of those who destroyed his dream?

The days passed seemingly without the sun rising and setting there in the prison the hermit had chosen. Do we actually chose our own prisons?–he mused. What else can a “victim” choose? And, with that thought tears filled his eyes once more. Had he now become nothing more than a “doormat” upon which the ruling powers were daily wiping their feet–even if they knew not of his existence? Shame, remorse, fear, anger, and despair were his constant companions there in his dark and lonely prison.

Then one day, terror once again gripped his soul as heard voices outside. He was certain that death was to be his next experience except for the bells that were ringing. Strangely, the voices were not sounding hostile, but were more like a celebration. What possibly could this mean? As they got closer and closer he could feel the energies of delight as one of them was playing a flute. He then recognized this as the same tune he’d known long ago; one of an immensely light-hearted mood. As he stepped out of seclusion, mixed with yet a bit of fear, he felt it all melting into a great but unexpected joy.

The news these people came to share was that peace had been made between the powers of the empire and those they’d persecuted and greatly harmed–the hermit and his friends. No more burnings! The slaughter was over! As he learned from these bearers of glad tidings that it was not only safe to come out but that he’d also be welcomed by the new ruler, he was almost faint with the sheer surprise of it all and the renewed hope he felt now growing within. Yet, still with some caution and old memories he returned to what once had been home.

The party was real. He was safe. Life had changed once again–this time to what would prove to be not just freedom from the old threats of death and suffering but was to also hold the greatest challenge yet for this one who was never to be a hermit again. Or would he?

Repressed in his memories were the thoughts of when he’d been a leader- of-sorts himself. Instead of being just a follower, he’d actually been one of the close allies of that leader who’d by now long passed. His old experiences began to surface as he remembered the feelings of being looked up to. Unexpectedly,   to his great surprise, he was invited to fill a position of importance in this new system that was in place as far as the world extended on that day. How could   this be? How could those persecuted before now become allies of that throne? Without questioning all this any further, he just accepted this as his fate–or even more, a kind of favor that now elevated him to a place of power and prestige.

To his surprise, he found himself in the role of a “spiritual authority” wherein he was now responsible to make all the rules to keep the people “in line.” While he also was constantly aware that he was definitely “under control” himself, he had learned how to please the one above him and he was not afraid. As he basked in this new position of authority and the power he held, the pleasures of many women who were “at his service” anytime, anywhere and in what he chose to see as a new purpose that he felt was his to enjoy.

Unconsciousness crept in. He had forgotten the “traps” of the past–that special group and the hermit life as well. He was now faced with a deep inner choice. Would he make rules that served the people or himself? Would serving the new ruler be easier than doing what was right? Would he remember the pain and suffering and refuse to pass that on, or would he bow down to the power he now embodied as a potential perpetrator himself? He secretly imagined what all he could create as the one in control. Would this power lurking inside of him, as even his old “victim” self was mutating into the next stage, become a power he’d use for the good of all or take him to being a perpetrator himself now drowning in his old shame once again.

As the intense pleasures all around him increased, he found himself adopting and embodying the same old energies that had once driven him to despair and hiding. Women had become his “property” for satisfying his every lustful fantasy for pleasure. Political power became his idol of worship as he spoke and people trembled. Fabricated “beliefs” for the masses to adopt or else, became his mantra. He learned how to use beliefs as a means of offering hope to people–hope from the very fear and torment that he had created. He accepted their money as they burned in shame and then blessed them with a  “peace” that was nonexistent in that scenario of shame and fear.

But then a question arose; what to do with all the people who refused to be followers of his regime? As he viewed any and all refusals to “fall in line” as the potential destruction of his authority, a thought passed through his muddled mind–the stake!! And with that, his orders bellowed throughout the land and the stench of burning flesh once more penetrated the realm, blood from the swords of his soldiers flowed everywhere, terror reigned anew as a victim-turned-perpetrator was creating more victims. And with all this, the old cycle was being repeated as once again he lost himself in the energies of an unconscious hermit; now hiding in the patterns of disowned shame.

(This story, in case you didn’t notice, is very much like the history of the Roman Catholic church and far too much of Protestant Christianity in a vast number of places. Victims turned perpetrators is the sad story of human history. From the burnings of “heretics,” the Inquisitions, the Conquistadors, racism, the Crusades, the witch-hunts, the slaughter of Native Americans, slavery, the destruction of libraries and ancient texts that held great wisdom for the human race, the purposeful distortions of the ancient “sacred texts,” the pedophile scandal, horrendous misogyny seen in the mistreatment of women, and much more–history has been written by the “winners.” Their false “authority” hangs over the land like a plague of fear and victimization yet unresolved. All in our past that we fail to transform will show up again in our future. I’m doing my part to change all that. Won’t you join me? See www.MeetJimStacey.com)

See my book Liberating Jesus From Christianity, on Amazon, for more details.

–Jim Stacey, all rights reserved