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52 year old working professional. Raised and schooled as a Roman Catholic and became "born again" at 21. Taught various Sunday School ages for many years. Served as an Elder in a small Baptist church. Did a slight veer back to the Catholic way in recent years, but am now convinced that there are many paths to God. I enjoy reading and studying the world's great religions and believe that there are real truths in each of them, and that there are many paths to God, just as many streams lead to a single river.



A practical guide to personal freedom. It is not religious, but very spiritual. Don Miguel Ruiz is a shaman in the tradition of the Toltec. A shaman (nagual) guides an individual to personal freedom. Experience freedom, true happiness and love. Make these simple agreements with yourself...

1) be impeccable with your word

2) don't take anything personally

3) don't make assumptions

4) always do your best.

from "The Four Agreements" by Don Miguel Ruiz, 1997, Amber-Allen Publishing, San Rafael, CA.


from Hinduism: Create a home altar.
from Buddhism: Meditate and find peace.
from Islam: Surrender to prayer.
from Christianity: Forgive yourself and others.
from Judaism: Make time for the Sabbath.
from Native American Spirituality: Let nature be your teacher.
from Taoism: Go with the flow.
from New Thought: Catch God's vision of your life.
from All Traditions: Offer yourself in service to others.

from "Wisdom Walk: Nine Practices for Creating Peace and Balance from the World's Spiritual Traditions" by Sage Bennet, PhD., 2007, New World Library, Novato, CA.


"What is objectionable, what is dangerous about extremists, is not that they are extreme, but that they are intolerant. The evil is not what they say about their cause, but what they say about their opponents." --- Robert F. Kennedy
"A religion that takes no account of practical affairs and does not help to solve them is no religion." --- Gandhi
"If you judge people, you have no time to love them. " --- Mother Teresa
"There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why... I dream of things that never were, and ask why not? --- Robert F. Kennedy
"O Great Spirit, let me walk in beauty, and make my eyes ever behold the red and purple sunset. Make my hands respect the things you have made and my ears sharp to hear your voice. Let me learn the lessons you have hidden in every leaf and rock." --- from a Sioux Indian prayer
"Charity is no substitute for justice withheld." --- Saint Augustine
"There is not a liberal America and a conservative America - there is the United States of America. There is not a black America and a white America and latino America and an asian America - there's the United States of America." --- Barack Obama
"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." --- Martin Luther King, Jr.
"Social justice cannot be attained by violence. Violence kills what it intends to create. " --- Pope John Paul II
"Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love, where there is offense, pardon... For: It is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned. It is in dying that we are born to eternal life." --- Prayer of Saint Francis
"Peace cannot be kept by force, it can only be achieved by understanding." --- Albert Einstein
"A man who views the world the same at fifty as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life." --- Muhammad Ali

"Life is the gift of nature, but beautiful living is the gift of wisdom." --- Ancient Greek Adage

"The main emphasis in Buddhism is to transform the mind, and transformation depends on meditation." --- The Dalai Lama

"An eye for an eye, and the whole world would be blind. " --- Kahlil Gibran

"There is a means of polishing all things whereby rust may be removed. That which polishes the heart is the invocation of Allah." --- Qur'an

"How can a man's life keep its course if he will not let it flow? Those who flow as life flows know they need no other force: They feel no wear, they feel no tear, they need no mending, no repair." --- Lao-Tzu, "Tao Te Ching"

"I don't know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know, the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found a way to serve." --- Albert Schweitzer

"The most powerful moral influence is example." --- Huston Smith

"I believe in God, but not as one thing, not as an old man in the sky. I believe that what people call God is something in all of us. I believe that what Jesus and Muhammed and Buddha and all the rest said was right. It's just that the translations have gone wrong." --- John Lennon

Thursday, June 4, 2009


Finally, a leader on the world stage promoting a bridge of cooperation amongst the differing religions and nations.

U.S. President Barack Obama made it clear to the world, both in the West and in the Middle East, that America will never be at war with Islam. His nearly one hour speech almost had a religious tone, saying it was time to speak the truth and seek a new beginning. He will never make everyone happy (i.e. he neglected to mention the sufferings of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, nor did he castigate Iran for growing their nuclear weapons program), but compared to his predecessor, he did not present words of antagonism.

He quoted from the three major religious texts, the Talmud, the Bible, and the Qur'an.

Friday, May 22, 2009


When Christians partake of Holy Communion, also known as the Holy Eucharist, are they eating something that is symbolic of Jesus's body? Is the same to be said that some juice or wine is symbolic of His blood? Perhaps the best source for the answer would be to check the Gospel of John for what Jesus Himself is recorded to have said.

The 6th chapter of the Gospel of John provides great insight into this subject. In the synagogue at Capernaum, Jesus and some Jews were having a conversation when they asked Him, "What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?" In 6:29, Jesus answered them with "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent." The Jews then asked "What then do you do for a sign, that we may see, and believe you? What work do you perform? Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, 'HE GAVE THEM BREAD OUT OF HEAVEN TO EAT.'" (the last clause is from Exodus 16:4)

John 6:32-33 captures Jesus' response, "Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world." The Jews asked Him to give them this bread He was talking about.

Jesus continues in verses 35-40: "I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. But I said to you, that you have seen Me, and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him, may have eternal life; and I Myself will raise him up on the last day."

The above verses help set up the following...

Jesus says "I am the bread that came down out of heaven." --- John 6:41
Jesus says "I am the bread of life." --- John 6:48
Jesus says "I am the living bread..." --- John 6:51

It is this last verse that brings us clearly and unmetaphorically to the answer of whether of not the communion host is truly the body of Jesus...

Verse 51: "I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he shall live forever; and the bread also which I shall give for the life of the world is My flesh." The Jews began to argue with one another saying "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" Jesus responds in verses 53-58: "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For My flesh is true food and My blood is true drink. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also shall live because of Me. This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate, and died, he who eats this bread shall live forever."

Look how many times Jesus tells His listeners that they are to eat His flesh and drink His blood. He does not say that it is anything symbolic or that He was speaking metaphorically. He never attempted to soften it and He never claimed to be misunderstood. He says in verse 55 that His flesh is true food and His blood is true drink!

Fundamentalists try to state that Jesus is using symbolic language and is speaking metaphorically, and as evidence they cite that Jesus also refers to Himself as a door and as a vine. There is no connection between His use of door, vine and bread/blood.

The Greek word for "eats" is trogon which is a very blunt word that provides a sense of chewing or gnawing.

Fundamentalists also cite John 6:63 in which Jesus says "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life." So, suddenly it's pointless to eat His flesh?

Bottom line: Jesus commands His followers to eat His flesh and drink His blood. How can this be done? The Roman Catholic Church takes the position that the communion host is the actual body of Jesus and the juice/wine is the actual blood of Jesus. This is done through a method called transubstantiation. The Church, as ordained by Jesus Himself, has the power to do this. Jesus gave this authority to his chief apostle Peter, who was the first Pope.

Holy Communion is so important to Catholics that it is offered in every single Mass, not just one time a month as non-Catholic Christians practice. Each Mass culminates near the end with this sacrament.

Scriptural quotes are taken from the New American Standard translation of the Bible

Sunday, May 17, 2009


Sage Bennet is an ordained minister who offers seminars, retreats, counseling, and coaching to those exploring the deeper mysteries of their spiritual journeys. Her website is She published "Wisdom Walk" in 2007. This book provides a simple, easy-to-follow guide bringing the world's spiritual traditions into your own life through practical, powerful rituals. In short...

from Hinduism: Create a home altar.
from Buddhism: Meditate and find peace.
from Islam: Surrender to prayer.
from Christianity: Forgive yourself and others.
from Judaism: Make time for the Sabbath.
from Native American Spirituality: Let nature be your teacher.
from Taoism: Go with the flow.
from New Thought: Catch God's vision of your life.
from All Traditions: Offer yourself in service to others.

Quotes from "Wisdom Walk: Nine Practices for Creating Peace and Balance from the World's Spiritual Traditions" by Sage Bennet, PhD, 2007, New World Library, Novato, CA.

Friday, May 15, 2009


What does the Bible say?

Protestants believe in a number of different ways to attain eternal life. This is confirmed by the approximately 33,000 different Protestant denominations (World Christian Encyclopedia by Barrett, Kurian, Johnson (volume 1, page 16, Table 1-5; Oxford Univ Press, 2nd edition, 2001).

Generally, Protestants believe in a faith alone (sola fide) method based on certain passages in the New Testament, although none state that man is saved by “faith alone.” Actually, the Bible says that we are not saved by faith alone (James 2:24).

Faith is perfected through works!
Matthew 25: 35-39 is the passage wherein Jesus states:

For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me drink, I was a stranger and you invited Me in…”

Galatians 5:6 states:

“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love.”

James 2:21-24 reads:

“Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered up Isaac his on the altar? You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God. You see that a man is justified by works, and not by faith alone.”

Protestants often cite Ephesians 2:8-9 as evidence that we are saved by faith alone. However, they inevitably fail to include verse 10. The entire passage reads:

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast, (v. 10) for we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

If you only read the part up to the word ‘boast,’ in can be interpreted that faith alone is correct. But that is not what it is saying. It is saying we should not boast in our works. Verse 10, beginning with ‘for we’ firmly states that were created for good works!

Remember James 2:24? It says man is justified by works, and not by faith alone!
Not by faith alone
Not by faith alone
Not by faith alone

The Protestant position of faith alone salvation has no firm scriptural basis. The Catholic position of faith plus works is based on strong scriptural evidence.

Scriptural emphases added by CozmicJunkyard. All scriptural quotes are from the New American Standard.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

GENDER ROLES IN ISLAM SINCE THE CRUSADES (beginning of humanities paper)

In Islam, men and women are considered equal in God’s eyes, most notably spiritually. At the same time, Islamic law and practice recognize that there are differences between the two, resulting in different rights and obligations. Spiritually, it is clear according to the Qur’an that men and women stand on the same spiritual level (Sura 33:35). That sura reads in part “Surely the men who submit and the women who submit, and the believing men and the believing women, and the obeying men and the obeying women, and the truthful men and the truthful women, and the patient men and the patient women, and the humble men and the humble women…”

Traditionally, within marriage, women are expected to be the homemaker and caregiver to their children, while men are expected to work and be able to financially support his wife and family. In Islam, men are the maintainers of women because Allah has made some of them to excel others and with what they spend out of their wealth (Sura 4:34a). The traditional structure of Islamic society is based on complementary roles as the man is seen as the protector and provider for his family and its imam, religiously speaking. The woman is the real mistress of the household, in which the husband is like a guest. Her primary duty is to raise the children and attend to their earliest learning (Nasr 191).

Muhammad described the importance of mothers in the hadith. One famous account is “A man asked the Prophet: ‘Whom should I honor most?’ The Prophet replied: ‘Your mother.’ ‘And who comes next?’ asked the man. The Prophet replied: ‘Your mother.’ ‘And who comes next?’ asked the man. The Prophet replied: ‘Your mother!’ ‘And who comes next?’ asked the man. The Prophet replied: ‘Your father.’” Islam teaches that the primary role played by women is to be mothers and mothers are considered the most important part of the family, though not the head of the family.

SIGNIFICANCE OF THE QUR'AN AND ISLAM SINCE 9/11 (beginning of humanities paper)

The horrible and tragic events of September 11, 2001 not only changed how the world views America, but how Islam and its holy book are viewed by America and the rest of the non-Muslim world. The events of that day introduced Islam, Muslims and the Qur’an to many people who previously had little or no understanding of the religion, and then developed a misunderstanding based on ignorance, prejudices and lies. To most religions, especially Judaism and Christianity, Islam was founded by the Prophet Muhammad and literally began in the 7th century.

However, Muslims view their faith in a much different way. They see the Qur’an as the final expression of God’s plan for humanity, a plan that was put into place the moment God created mankind. Consequently, Muslims see themselves not as part of something new or invented, but as part of the world’s most ancient faith. The meaning of the word muslim, “surrender to God,” applies to anyone who surrenders to God, therefore, there were muslims/Muslims prior to Muhammad and even prior to Abraham.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


The next time you find yourself debating an atheist, try this line...

If I'm right, I win. If you're right, you win nothing. If I'm wrong, I lose nothing. If you're wrong, you lose!

What does an atheist lose if he/she is wrong? Everything.
What does a believer in God lose if he/she is wrong? Nothing.

Saturday, April 11, 2009


God is certainly not dead, nor have any of history's previous such pronouncements been accurate. Man may try all he can to "kill" the Creator, but all he does is distance himself from God. The Divine is always present and ready to be loved.

However, right-wing Christian fundamentalism IS dead!

Religion and politics can mix, but church and state cannot.


Newsweek's April 13, 2009 edition had a cover story entitled "The Decline and Fall of Christian America," a finely written article by Jon Meacham. A sea-change is happening spiritually across this land, and across the world. A more open perspective is occurring and people are considering other faiths and spiritual paths for the first time. Perhaps God is not limited to a box, that is to one particular organized religion. God created everything except religion, which I believe is a man-made thing in order to find God. Meacham cited Harold Bloom's 1992 book "The American Religion: The Emergence of the Post-Christian Nation" and uses this quote:

"Religion ... shall mean for us the feelings, acts, and experiences of individual men in their solitude, so far as they apprehend themselves to stand in relation to whatever they consider the divine."

Very cool definition.

For a great and yet non-textbook read on the three Abrahamic faiths, I encourage you to read Bruce Feiler's "Abraham." Feiler spent time with leaders of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and offered up a wonderful perspective on the three. The three are interwoven together because of Abraham.

What is your perspective?


Barack Obama will do a good job because he is more nuanced than GWB. W was too provocative, seemingly always to force America's way throughout the world with no consideration for others. Obama will gain the world's attention in more positive ways, not just one way (American imperialism).

Thursday, April 9, 2009


The "bad guys" are those that want to do harm to our country and people, namely Al Qaeda and the Taliban. It's about time we search them out again. Bush gave up the chase too soon to topple Saddam Hussein, who was no threat to our freedom. With Bush, it was way too personal. The Bush administration had an unsavory agenda, I don't think Obama does.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


Well, it's been awhile since I've posted anything on this blog, but some things have come up, such as becoming a Grandpa, trying to do a short sale, and moving into an apartment. Please check out my Twitter page, either as Brad Baumann or CozmicJunkyard.

Since we've last communicated, actually just me, the U.S. has elected an African-American as President. What a momentous event! I know some do not like his politics and think the country is headed towards socialism, but that is not his goal. The world is seeing the U.S. through different eyes now, though it is not unanimous on supporting our President's ambitious goals, such as devoting more money and troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. Finally, our shift is changing from a place we should never have been to where the true "bad guys" are.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008


Did the U.S. commit genocide against Native Americans and Blacks (slavery)?
American blacks could not vote until 1870.
American women could not vote until 1920.

Friday, April 25, 2008


This site was created to share ideas involving religion, interfaith issues and spirituality, a topic normally considered taboo, but nonetheless intertwined in so much of today's news and events.
The purpose of this blog is to have exchanges with people who are not normally inclined to do so.
I hope to engage people of like minds and not so like minds to share their thoughts and words on this topic. From the U.S. presidential race to events in the Middle East, religion and politics, whether we admit it or not, often take center stage in the discussion, at least subliminally.
Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, etc. Which religion is true? Does each contain truth?
My goal is to show that there are truths in each of the major religions.
Welcome to CozmicJunkyard!


"No god but God" by Reza Aslan

The following description of "No god but God" - Random House, New York 2006, is from author Reza Aslan's website (

Though it is the fastest growing religion in the world, Islam remains shrouded by ignorance and fear. What is the essence of this ancient faith? Is it a religion of peace or war? How does Allah differ from the God of Jews and Christians? Can an Islamic State be founded on democratic values such as pluralism and human rights?

A writer and scholar of comparative religions, Reza Aslan has garnered international acclaim for the passion and clarity he has brought to these questions.

In No god but God, Aslan challenges the "clash of civilizations" mentality that has distorted our view of Islam and explains this critical faith in all its complexity, beauty, and compassion.Contrary to popular perception, Islam is a religion firmly rooted in the prophetic traditions of the Jewish and Christian scriptures. Aslan begins with a vivid account of the social and religious milieu from which the Prophet Muhammad arose.

The revelations that Muhammad received in Mecca and Medina, and which were recorded in the Quran, became the foundation of a radically egalitarian community, the likes of which had never been seen before. Soon after the his death, the Prophet's successors set about the overwhelming task of defining and interpreting Muhammad's message for future generations. Their efforts led to the development of a comprehensive code of conduct expected to regulate every aspect of the believer's life. But this attempt only widened the chasm between orthodox Islam and its two major sects, Shiism and Sufism, both of which Aslan presents in rich detail.

Finally, "No god but God" examines how, in the shadow of European colonialism, Muslims developed conflicting strategies to reconcile traditional Islamic values with the social and political realities of the modern world. With the emergence of the Islamic State in the 20th century, this contest over the future of Islam has become a passionate, sometimes violent battle between those who seek to enforce a rigid and archaic legal code on society and those who struggle to harmonize the teachings of the Prophet with contemporary ideals of democracy and human rights. According to Reza Aslan, we are now living in the era of the Islamic Reformation.

"No god but God" is a persuasive and elegantly written account of the origins, evolution, and future of Islam.


  • SHAHADAH: There is no God but God, and Muhammad is His messenger.
  • SALAT: Obligatory prayers, five times a day.
  • ZAKAT: Setting aside a portion of your possessions for those in need.
  • RAMADAN: A month of fasting from dawn until sundown, abstaining from food, drink, and sexual relations.
  • HAJJ: Once in a lifetime pilgrimage, health and finances permitting, to Mecca.