Biography, Synopsis, and Credentials
The Primacy of Stewardship: The Handbook for Christians Who Believe in Democracy, by John Manimas
Using excerpts directly from the book.
Recent photo of John Manimas:
I received scholarships from … Brandeis University. -- [Bachelor of Arts, Politics, 1966, with emphasis on social and psychological science applied to public policy. Later, School of Education, University of Massachusetts, Amherst in Master of Arts in Teaching Program (MAT); earned the Teacher's Certificate for Social Studies, 7-12. Social Worker for the State of Vermont for 25 years, approximately 400 hours continuing education in child development, psychology, neurology, family dynamics, brain development, causes and effects of alcohol and substance abuse, child rearing, family law, causes and treatment for behavioral problems in children and youth. Seven years as a Christian Educator in and for the United Church of Christ -- Bennington, Vermont; East Providence, Rhode Island; Saxtons River, Vermont. The first time that I perceived that Jesus was teaching evolutionary science rather than morality was when I first read the New Testament in 1958, at age fourteen. I followed that with fifty years of formal education and self-directed study to test and develop my viewpoint and find a way to present this concept to those with an open mind.]
At age fourteen, I told Father Dunn of the Church of the Holy Family that I wanted to read the Bible before making a personal decision as to whether I would pursue Holy Orders (become a priest). I asked the cost. He said six dollars (it may have been three dollars). I earned the money and returned. When I offered the payment, he handed me the Bible and said, "The Bible is free." I knew instantly that he had only tested me so that I (and he) would know the measure of my interest. I also remember distinctly leaving the rectory that day, with my Bible in hand, believing that the truth in the Bible was for me priceless and therefore free. Many years later I inquired as to the welfare of Father Dunn. I was told that he had moved to another state and married a nun. Upon hearing of his life's path, I believed that I got my Bible from the right man. I did not become a priest because after reading the Bible I concluded that Jesus recommended the practice of morality in the marketplace, not behind the walls of a fortress.
From Chapter Two: The Tree of Life: Jesus Taught Evolution:
When I studied the Four Gospels, re-reading them three times and taking notes, I could not help but focus on Jesus' frequent references to "the kingdom of heaven." A careful study of the Gospel naturally provokes this question. What is the kingdom of heaven? I concluded, based on all the parables where the kingdom of heaven is "likened" to something familiar on Earth, that the kingdom of heaven is the kingdom of life. In fact, I concluded that the kingdom of heaven means the kingdom of life in the universe, not just on Earth.
From Chapter Twelve: Learning About Religion
I learned about religion myself by seeking books for beginners about religions other than my own Christian tradition. Then I moved on to books for those who are no longer beginners. I studied what are called the world religions or the great religions: Buddhism, Confucianism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Sufism, Taoism (in alphabetical order here) and the Celtic religion. I also have studied Native American cultures and as a student of political science I have studied Communism, which can be regarded as a religion. Communism, just as is true for any religion, is ethical and benevolent in both form and content when it is not corrupted.
While I have taken these personal studies seriously, I have spread myself thin, and I do not claim to be an expert in any religion other than my own Christianity. And I do not claim to be a scholar in the field called “Comparative Religion.” To me, that field becomes bogged down in knowledge of minute facts about other religions while neglecting the enlightening truths about religion itself. My approach was not so much comparative as analytical. Many years ago I developed a systematic approach to learning about religion. I call my approach or method The Seven Pillars of Religion. I consider this approach to be an excellent way for children or adults to use the scientific method to learn what religion is and how it influences our lives, our behavior and our politics. I recommend The Seven Pillars of Religion to you as the best way to learn about religion, either publicly or privately, and as the best way for our civilization to prepare for the reconciliation of science and religion. The seven pillars of religion are:
People, Calendar, Ritual, History, Teleology, Ethics, Institutions.
…how can we be reconciled to our brother and sister if we discredit and disrespect their religious beliefs so greatly that we do not even ask what they are? How can we be reconciled to our fellow human beings if we do not know them, and how can we understand them if we do not know their religion? My position should be clear by now. My understanding of Jesus’ teaching is that in order to be reconciled to my fellow human being I must learn about their religion. To make a genuine effort to learn about the religions of other people is not optional for a Christian. It is an obligation at least as great as the obligation to share the story of Jesus and of his teaching. And this is the teaching of Jesus when advising us to be reconciled to our brethren.
[From:] Preface to this Third Edition (Hardcover)
What you are about to read may change your mind.
Jesus Christ (or the source) taught scientifically precise facts about how the universe works. I carefully examine and interpret the detailed content and credibility of the teachings as science - not the person or historical issues. Good stewardship is not simply moral or meritorious behavior that makes one a good or generous person. Good stewardship is scientifically mandatory for a technological animal such as humans on Earth, in order to survive and thrive. A Christian is obligated to learn about other religions in order to “be reconciled to brothers and sisters” and neighbors near and far. Individuals and all of human civilization must reconcile science and religion or we will self-destruct. Each chapter of the book could stand alone while they all work together to support the major premises. The purpose of the book is to correct the most important misunderstanding in human history, which is the belief that Jesus was moralizing, talking to Jews about morality and moral behavior and talking about a kingdom of heaven that people go to after they die. The kingdom of heaven that Jesus named is the kingdom of life in the universe. And it has rules. -- John Manimas, September 2009
[Two following excerpts from the Foreword and Chapter One are optional reading for an "extended synopsis" for those who want more information. Brief conclusion is at end.]
The theme of this book is that Social Justice is the Gospel. This is scientific information, not just a message about morality or how to be nice to your neighbors. … He empowered people with information. The Primacy of Stewardship sheds light on that vital information.
… I disagree with the proposition, openly advocated by Joseph Campbell and implied by Carl Jung, that Jesus was addressing the "inner life" or the "collective unconscious" of human society, or any form of morality that is deemed by the divided human brain to be in some way separate or distinct from practicality. The message of Jesus is not only scientific, it is profoundly scientific; it is the most important scientific information we have ever received and have in our possession. Matthew Chapter 23 is a description of who and what we are, a species of technological animal that has a persistent problem with authority, sexuality and social status, and the essential capacity to change one's mind when new evidence tells us that old ideas are errors in understanding. This pattern of human "authoritarianism" is everywhere, in families, in social groups, in tribes, neighborhoods, institutions, clubs, towns, cities, states, nations. It is as much a part of us as our human scent that is always with us when we walk through a field or forest. Wherever we are, there is the smell of authoritarianism. Our obsession with status, conformity, power and hierarchy is as much a part of us as our skin. It is stamped on the human identity. We can understand it and resist it. We can mediate its negative effects with our rational mind, with equality, democracy, and with social and economic justice. We can correct our innate faults with good stewardship. The Good Shepherd is not a nice man. The Good Shepherd is the species of intelligent being that survives and thrives in a universe governed by physical and spiritual laws, a universe that has no regrets, only survivors.
Jesus never said, "Take me to your leader," or "I have come to talk to your philosophers, your kings and warriors, your scholars, the rich and powerful." He sat at the table with "sinners" and said he had been sent to speak to the "sinners" and the poor and the powerless. When his disciples tried to chase children away, not only did Jesus tell his disciples to let the children come to him, he also informed his disciples (Matthew 19: 13 -15) that they would not be admitted into the kingdom of heaven unless they were humble and awed by the universe like little children.
The authority most worthy of one's respect is the authority of truth, not the authority of “office” or social status or of certificates and diplomas. Academic degrees may become a weapon of mass destruction if their owners have no ethics and teach doctrines of conformity and dogmas of compliance or deform the truth for a price. Jesus speaks directly to you and to me, directly to the lonely, the dejected, the rejected, the confused, the uncertain, the afraid, the average reasonable person. You are not enlightened by the hierarchy. You are enlightened from that moment you believe you are fully qualified to hear the message of Jesus directly within the record of his words and actions. He spoke to the crowds, to the poor and the sick who wanted truth, reality, healing. He brought all three to us, to the people. "Hear, all those who have ears to hear. See, all those who have eyes to see!" he said. I want everyone to see what Jesus really taught, so that no one will be fooled by those who use religion as a confidence game, the liars and hypocrites, the authoritarians. My viewpoint is that the most important truths are the points where science and religion converge. I present the teaching of Jesus as a unified whole, a message to humanity of supreme importance that is consistent with biological and social science. I stand on common ground with everyone who believes the message of the Gospels is important. However, I stand on new ground with my viewpoint that we have disastrously underestimated the scientific content of Christ's teaching, the reality that the Good Steward is the highest level of evolutionary development for any intelligent being, on any planet, in this one universe. By "scientific content" I mean that the Gospels convey information about the physical reality of the universe, not about a separate non-physical or mythical or spiritual realm.
From Chapter One: My God and Your God:
My God sent Jesus to us to tell us what we need to know, to tell us that good stewardship is our primary obligation and our primary goal. The reason we need to be good stewards is because any technological animal that has the capacity to change and control natural processes must be a good caretaker of the life-supporting environment. Otherwise, that creature will self-destruct.
Conclusion of the study and research embodied in The Primacy of Stewardship:
Survival of the good steward is survival of the fittest. Serious democracy requires serious equality.
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