ONE Unified Gospel of Jesus,Harmony of Gospels,Parallel Gospels
ONE Unified Gospel of Jesus,Harmony of Gospels,Parallel Gospels
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Can you add a single moment to your life by worrying?  Why become anxious about clothes?  If even the smallest things are beyond your control, why are you anxious about the rest?  Learn from the way the wild flowers grow; they do not work or spin.  I tell you: not even Solomon, in all his splendor, was clothed so well as one little flower.  --Jesus
ONE: 596-600

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The purpose of this weblog is to provide a consolidated forum for feedback, issues and questions addressed to Gregg Zegarelli regarding the book ONE.  If you would like to contact Gregg Zegarelli, please send the email to grzWeblog @  I am continuing to go back through my emails and notes to consolidate issues into this weblog, check back again soon.

Philosophical Issues

Interpretive Issues

Marketplace Issues

Subject: Reader Asks about Translation on Marriage: Mark's Divorce Exception to Marriage
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In Matthew, there is an exception to the absolute prohibition against divorce, translated in ONE as no divorce "except if the very marriage itself is unlawful."  Why is it not interpreted as "except for adultery"?  Most bibles (such as the King James) use the "adultery" translation, but ONE
does not nor does the New American Bible.


This is a great question and it remains under consideration.  The Greek is difficult here and permits different interpretations.  I am continuing to study this issue generally.

This is the "exceptive clause" of Matthew, only contained in his Gospel (in both of his textual references on the topic of divorce: T5:32 and T19:9).  All other Gospels addressing divorce do not have any exception to the prohibition against divorce.

So far as I have read, the language used by Matthew can be interpreted as "adultery," "infidelity" or "unlawful sex acts" such as incest, so it is inherently vague in meaning.  

However, at the point of drafting the Original Printing, I was inclined to use the Catholic interpretation of "incest" particular to Matthew's location as footnoted in the New American Bible, because it seems to be consistent with Jesus' teachings.  In short, generally stated, the dogmatic Catholic reconciliation for this exception is that during Matthew's mission, while converting others to Christianity, it was necessary to permit divorces for marriages that were inherently unlawful, such as those based upon incest.

Now, it seems to me that Jesus was not for one of vague exceptions, particularly when viewed in conjunction with his teachings on forgiveness; so any exception would need to be rather clear, such as for incest.  For example, an interpretation of Jesus' teaching of unending forgiveness (except for adultery--whatever that might exactly be), does not seem consistent with his general teachings. 

Having said that, the Greek term used (i.e., no divorce except for [term]) is πορνειας and not μοιχεία.  The latter Greek term that is not used is actually the more precise term for "adultery" (sex with someone not the spouse).  The former term is, in fact, the term used in the Gospel of Matthew.  It is a far more generalized Greek term and appears to include adultery, sexual immorality, incest, bestiality, unlawful acts, etc.

So, as a matter of textual interpretation, the issue seems to be whether the general word Matthew uses is: a) supposed to broaden the exceptions to prohibition against divorce (allowing more reasons to permit divorce); or b) the only word that could be used to accomplish the meaning intended by Matthew.  Although there are others more scholarly than I regarding Classical Greek, my review indicates that Classical Greek did not have a word for "incest."  That is, if the interpretation is "incest" but there is a more specific word on that concept, that interpretation would be discounted because Matthew did not choose to use that more specific term.  (Such is actually the case with "adultery.")  So, in short, there is a more specific word for "adultery" that was not used, and there is not a more specific word for "incest" which would make the word used by Matthew the proper word to use for "incest."  If we can assume that Matthew wanted to be clear, and if we assume that there is a word more clear than he used, it stands to reason that he did not intend that word.  That is, if he meant "adultery" he would have used the clearer available word. 

From a different perspective, a logical rather than textual analysis, following is the text from the King James Bible:

Whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whoseover shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.  T5:32

Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.  T19:9.

Basically, the rule says as follows (which any computer programmer will understand): If you have divorced your wife (Divorce = True) and she did not commit adultery (HerAdultery = False), then you and she commit adultery with others (FutureAdultery = True).  No inverse or other conditions are identified, such as when (Divorce = True) and (HerAdultery = True): the rule's applicability is silent on this other set of conditions. 

For ease of discussion, let us play it out in the verbatim sense with the wife committing the adultery: a wife commits fornication (we will assume that this does not mean bestiality with a spouse, but the traditional concept of adultery with another even though the Greek does not use that precise term).  Accordingly, the husband can then divorce his wife.  The rule does not address whether future relations between the unfaithful wife are adultery.  Very technically, the rule merely states the other condition: that if a husband would divorce a wife without the "fornication" then his and her future relations with others are adultery.  But, although not textually specified, let us take the situation: a wife commits adultery with X, which allows the husband to divorce her.  Because the condition is satisfied (HerAdultery = True), the rule is silent as to the righteousness of future acts of the adulterating wife.  Accordingly, the rule could be read as frustrating itself by creating the situation whereby the wife who commits adultery actually excludes herself and her partner from the scope of the rule: that is, because she committed adultery (HerAdultery = True) the rule does not apply to her.  (Once again, the rule only specifies if HerAdultery = False, not if HerAdultery = True.)  This is certainly not the better interpretation, and, again, using the "incest" interpretation much more clearly removes such interpretive complexities.

In conclusion: a) Matthew did not use the specific term for "adultery"; b) the word he used is the proper word for "incest"; c) any exception to general rule should be clear; d) there is only one Gospel with the exception; and e) lack of forgiveness is inconsistent with the other general teachings of Jesus; therefore, I believe the use the language that is similar to the Catholic interpretation is the best dogmatic interpretation using the "unlawful" term rather than "fornication" or "adultery."  Although technically not part of the analysis, I am also mindful that some interpretations using the term "adultery" may do so to satisfy a worldly inclination to condone divorces, and this is can be shown historically.  I am personally not inclined either way, and I believe my interpretation is rational and balanced relative to the source Greek text.

As all interpretation questions, I remain open-minded to contrary interpretations.

Posted Saturday, February 10, 2007, 06:30 P.M., by Gregg Zegarelli
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Subject: Reader Asks about Translation on Forgiveness: "Seventy-Seven" or "Seven Times Seventy Times"
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This is a superb project!  I particularly like the idea of the two versions so that the teachings of Jesus are available for everyone. As a Christian believer in the divinity of Christ, I am reading the Original Printing. I may have located an editing error.  On both page 125 and page 231, the text reads "...not seven times, but seventy-seven times."  The three versions of Matthew that I am familiar with read," I do not say seven times but seventy TIMES SEVEN." (Capitals are mine to emphasize that I think in
ONE the words times and seven were placed in reverse order.)  I suggest that they the text read "seventy times seven" in the next printing, if I have interpreted the text correctly.  I did a lot of editing when working. It is truly a nitty gritty process to get all words correctly in print. The concept of this book is worth pursuing. Making corrections is just part of the process.


I wanted to get back to you on your comment. The Greek used is "βδομηκοντάκις" which can be interpreted as "seventy times seven" or "seventy-seven" times. The New American Bible uses the latter interpretation and footnotes that this is an oblique reference to similar language in Genesis 4:24. Following is text from the Greek Lexicon and is cited below:

βδομηκοντάκις  adverb; seventy times; . πτά in MT 18.22 may be seventy times seven (490), but more probably seventy-seven times (77), as in Genesis 4.24.  ἑβδομηκοντάκις, AB, βδομηκοντάκις.  Friberg, T., Friberg, B., & Miller, N. F. (2000). Vol. 4: Analytical lexicon of the Greek New Testament. Baker's Greek New Testament library (125). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books.

Accordingly, although both translations appear to be acceptable, I believe the translation should remain as is.  However, I remain open-minded to more comments or authority on why the change to the text in ONE should be revised.  Please let me know any additional authority for making a change.  If you click on our "Help Us Edit" page, you will see the current revision queue.  We want our readers to really get involved and let us know their thoughts.

As all interpretation questions, I remain open-minded to contrary interpretations.

Posted Saturday, February 10, 2007, 10:00 A.M., by Gregg Zegarelli
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Subject: Reader Asks about ONE is Missing Certain Stations of the Cross (Jesus Falling, Veronica Veil)
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I am finishing
ONE I have enjoyed it very much.  However, I am a Christian and your book does not include Jesus falling and Veronica wiping his face with her veil.  Why not?  During this season, I expect to do the "Stations of the Cross" but I did not see that text anywhere in your book.


The circumstances that you mention are not in the source scriptural texts and, therefore, cannot be included in ONE.  The stories of Jesus falling three times and (Saint) Veronica wiping Jesus' face are not told within any of the Gospels. 

This is a great question, and I admit to you that, when you asked the question, I had to go back to ONE myself, and to the source texts, to verify that there was no omission in the text of ONE.  I make this admission openly because I am completely Catholic educated from grade school through law school, and, even having written ONE, I still need to verify the textual sources against the indoctrinization that is the result of evolution from the source text.  The point fascinates me.

Because ONE unifies the text of the Gospels, clarity and focus are brought to the study of Jesus, and the reader is able to separate what is contained in the text versus what has been developed socially over the centuries.  A detailed explanation of the different "Stations of the Cross" is on Wikipedia at

Thank you for this question.

Posted Friday, March 9, 2007, 3:00 P.M., by Gregg Zegarelli
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Subject: Reader Asks about How ONE Is Being Received in Marketplace
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How is ONE being received in the marketplace?

To me, this is a fascinating study! 

As an initial point, please check the testimonials at  We have really received great reviews from readers. 

Having said that, I will analyze the reviews a bit. ONE was only released on December 1, 2006, but I will describe my understanding the demographic so far. Generally, I believe that there are three categories of readers:

  • Casual readers (non-clergy)
  • Devout, careful readers (non-clergy)
  • Clergy

As to the third category, clergy, there are many sub-categories, since "clergy" is somewhat difficult to define, since it includes various denominations that have different levels of dogmatic constraint.

Let me address these, one at a time.

First, the "casual readers." Casual readers have provided stunning reviews, particularly, because the casual readers tend to be the persons who are and do not want to be scholars, and may have never had the opportunity to read the Gospels.  Interestingly, there are many Catholics who have commented that they have been taught about the bible, but never really were directed or otherwise inspired to read it. These readers have been brought closer to the teachings of Jesus through ONE.  I say, "If you read ONE, you have read the Gospel of Jesus."  I believe that statement.  It is a joy for me when the "regular person" reads ONE, and comes closer to the wise teachings of Jesus.  For the most part, the feedback I have received is that these readers read ONE as a novel and, if at all, only minimally use the Unification Index for source referencing.

The comment from casual readers tends to be, "I never read the Gospels before, and I am amazed how easy ONE is to read.  I am surprised by how many sayings I've heard come from Jesus.  Now, when I go to church, I actually recognize the Gospel reading."

Second, the "devout, careful readers." These readers are the persons who have really helped with the Help Us Edit ONE program. These persons have been a tremendous resource.  The readers in this category have also provided stunning reviews.  The difference is that some of these persons give their compliments wrapped with questions, such as the one concerning Tatian, Divorce or Forgiveness.  What is so special about this group is how nice a group of people it has been.  My experience has been that the people in this group are very thankful for the book and enjoy using it.  At the same time, the people in this group desire to know more with an open mind and frame questions and challenges in a very respectful and open-minded manner.  Such as even Jesus needed help carrying his cross, so do I need this group to help me continue to improve ONE through deepened review.  Where ONE may bring the casual reader to Jesus because of the ease and manner of the text, I cannot say that ONE brings the devout reader to Jesus; the devout reader is already there.  For these readers, ONE provides a new resource and new perspective that allows honing of their understanding, because of the ease of text and the Unification Index.  For the most part, these readers use ONE as a study tool, with consistent use of the Unification Index.

I consider myself part of this group, not being a member of clergy.  I read ONE myself, with a finger at the Unification Index, and I constantly flip back and forth because I enjoy reviewing the text in relation to determining the unification sources.

The comment from the devout, careful readers tends to be, "This is a great work, why did you do xyz?" or "I have really enjoyed ONE with my study group; however, there may be an editing issue with xyz."  The comment regarding Forgiveness is an excellent representative example of this group.  Careful and critically analytical, yet polite, appreciative and open-minded.

Third, the "clergy."  This is the really interesting group to me.  Let me say that many Eucharistic ministers and church ushers, etc., (actually, these are part of the second group) have purchased ONE and provided great feedback, often with, "I will give a copy to my priest/pastor."  And, we have also had significant sales to educational institutions, some religious.  However, we have the least amount of public feedback from this group.  One would think that ONE would be most publicly embraced by this group even more than the second group.  I will not say I am surprised or not surprised, but I will say that I find it interesting and intriguing.  I think the comment from the clergy should be something like as I have admitted in the preface of ONE.  Something like, "The official position of the church is that it is the duty of every Christian to read and deeply study the source Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, as well as all other portions of the Bible.  However, we have determined that ONE is a work of goodness, and we find that it is consistent with the teachings and goals of the church.  Accordingly, ONE is added to our suggested reading list as an endorsed work and as a tool for the further education of all Christians."

Posted Sunday, February 11, 2007, 03:00 P.M., by Gregg Zegarelli
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Subject: Reader Asks about Harmonies of Gospels and Parallels of Gospels
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Is ONE a "parallel of Gospels" or a "harmony of Gospels"?  Or, why is ONE different?

Thank you for your inquiry.  I explain this issue in my response on the question relating to Tatian's Diatessarion.  See Click here to see my response on Tatian's Diatessarion.


Posted Sunday, February 11, 2007, 09:00 A.M., by Gregg Zegarelli
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Subject: Reader Asks about Comparing ONE to Tatian's Diatessaron
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I have a question for Gregg Zegarelli. Could you please forward this question to him?  In the late 2nd century CE, Tatian composed the DIATESSARON (or Diatessarion), with the express goal of making “one” out of the “four” gospel accounts. How is this “goal” different from the account you created today?


Thank you for your inquiry. The goal may very well be the same, although the implementation appears to be quite different.

As an initial point, let me say that we understand that there are "harmonies of the Gospels" and there are "parallels of the Gospels," the former being general integrations and the latter placing the four texts in a columnar parallel.  These countless prior works are readily available, they are important and they certainly have their purpose.  However, ONE is different because it is a parallel within a harmony, and it has a completely new baseline post-unification index.

For example, there have been movies that attempt to harmonize the Gospels.  In other words, any work that integrates the various stories of Jesus from the multiple Gospels is a harmony to some degree.  For example, if a movie has both the washing of the apostles' feet and the "father forgive them they know not what they do" statement, that movie has harmonized the Gospels of John and Luke, since only each of those Gospels have the respective circumstances mentioned.  (That is, only John contains the description of the washing of feet, and only Luke contains the statement from Jesus on the cross.)  Mel Gibson's The Passion of The Christ is a harmony.

Also, there are many great works that place parallel passages next to each other, so the reader can see how, for example, Matthew and Mark each describe the miracle of walking on water.  In my drafting of ONE, I, myself, used parallels as tools at times--although use of parallels was not part of my usual methodology of drafting.

But, ONE is truly different because it is a complete textual integration remaining faithful to original text.  Usually harmonies lose authority in the harmonizing process, and parallels are not easy to read.  And, neither provide a definitive unified citation reference.  ONE provides a unified baseline of reference for deepened study and religious study groups.

Now, if you review the ONE Unification Index on the website, you will see samples of the clause by clause integration.  Each and every clause in ONE is referenced back to its derivative source; every clause of all four Gospels is reconciled into ONE. In this way, the ONE text is both simplified and maintains scholarly authority; this is what makes ONE unique. The Unification Index also provides a foundation for meaningful debate and challenge to the integrity of the unification task.  Also, the re-indexing of the unified text permits an entirely new baseline for comparison and discussion.

So, having said that, throughout time, many have attempted to harmonize and parallelize the Gospels, but not like ONE.  ONE has authority and is easy to read.  Usually authority of reference is lost for ease of text, or ease of text lost for authority of reference.  But, not in ONE. 

That is why ONE has received such positive feedback.  The goal is to learn the teachings of Jesus, and thereby apply those teaching in daily life.  ONE gets the reader to the goal more effectively and efficiently.  That is why I say that, if you are a scholar, you must read all four Gospels separately in scholarly fashion and dissect and integrate them yourself (and you can and should use ONE as a reference during that process).  However, if you are not a scholar, and you do not want to be a scholar, then ONE (I truly believe) is the most effective and efficient way for you to read and learn the teachings of Jesus.

Back to Tatian.  Tatian's work appears to be significantly different in implementation. The entry text in ONE (derived from John and Luke) is very different than in Tatian's work. Whether ONE is better or worse than Tatian, I suppose, depends upon the reader's purpose. I can tell you that we are grateful to be getting kind testimonials from our readers, who include both scholars and casual readers. I have very deep respect for the task undertaken by Tatian, because I cannot even imagine the difficulty of attempting the task without the use of computer technology.  The integration of text and tracking of clauses into the Unification Index was not part of Tatian's work. 

Again, it is one task to harmonize the Gospels, it is a completely different level of effort to track that process and create a Unification Index so that the reader can reference the text back to the source Gospels.  It is the Unification Index that gives new power to the reader.

Posted Sunday, February 11, 2007, 09:00 A.M., by Gregg Zegarelli
Revised Saturday, April 7, 2007, 09:00 A.M.
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Subject: Reader Asks about "Vehicle of Light Analogy."

I was on the website and I saw [Gregg Zegarelli's] "Vehicle of Light Analogy," which I cut and paste here:

Light comes from many sources.  From the sun, from a bulb, from a candle.

But, those are particular vehicles that express the light, they are not the light.  Light is found in the result, not the cause.  In result, we see or we do not see.

The light is expressed through different vehicles, as the context may require.  But, its essence is always the same.

Truth is light.  Likewise, truth is expressed through different vehicles for different contexts.  But, truth is the same irrespective of how contained or expressed.

Institutional religions are not the light, but vehicles for the light.  We should not judge the vehicles of light by which our brothers and sisters see the truth.

We should merely rejoice in the resultant light that we share.  How can I debate whether my candle is better than your bulb?  I am too overtaken with the joy of knowing that we both can see the truth.

However, the light is our Lord, Jesus Christ, our Savior.  Would you please explain the Analogy of the Vehicle of Light in more detail so I understand your point?

Response:  Thank you for your question. 

The key to understanding my point is to focus on the term, "vehicle," which I intend to mean the manner from which the light (truth) is conveyed.  I will deepen the analogy, or, possibly, explain with use of another analogy.

Let us say that you are in a room.  The room is completely dark.  Pitch black.  You are in miserable confusion and bump into things.  You are in pain from the continued injury that you endure from being in the dark.  You desire a light so badly.

Suddenly, your desire is satisfied because a light bulb comes on.  Light fills the room.  Now, you can see.  You do not bump into things, and, so, your injuries heal.  You are so thankful for the light bulb.  Without that light bulb, there is no light for you.  To you, that bulb is the light, the savior of your pain.  

To you, completely understandably, the light bulb and the light are one and the same.  You love that bulb, because it gives you the pleasure of light.

Now, meanwhile, there is a man is in the next room who has the same experience; however, his darkness is saved by a lantern.  That is, the man was in a dark room, desired to see, and, suddenly, a lantern became lit and, now, he sees.  Light filled his room, as well.  Now, that man does not bump into things in his room, and, so, his injuries heal.  He is so thankful for the flame of the lantern.  Without that lantern, there is no light.  To him, the lantern is the light, the savior of his pain.  

To the man in the next room, completely understandably, the lantern and the light are one and the same.  He loves that lantern, because it gives him the pleasure of light.

Now, I ask you: Is the light the bulb or the lanternIs the light either, neither or both?

I believe that the light is either neither or both, equally.  I am inclined to say that the nature of both things, if perfect in form and function, is to supply light.  Both are vehicles, or even causes, of light.  But, they are not actually the light.  They cannot be the light, since they are different things, and the nature of light is indivisibly absolute.  However, they produce the same goodness: that people can find comfort in their respective realities by or through the light that both vehicles produce.

Now, in my analogy, such as might be in Socrates' Allegory of the Cave, you and the man leave your respective rooms and meet.  You are both filled with respective joy, since you have been enlightened.  You for your bulb, which is your light, and the man for his lantern, which is his light.  You now mention to each other that you have been enlightened.

But, now the debate: you explain that your enlightenment is from your bulb, and the man explains that his enlightenment is from his lantern.  You love your bulb and take pride in your enlightenment, and you are loyal to it.  He loves his lantern and takes pride in his enlightenment, and he is loyal to it.  The debate becomes heated.  You claim your bulb is better than his lantern-thus, your light better than his light-and, of course, he disagrees.  Your bulb saved you; his lantern saved him.  You argue the many benefits of your bulb; he argues the many benefits of the flame of his lantern.  And, so resentment develops, hate results and then war.

Do not both persons miss the point?  Both persons are healed of their pain through the light which takes them from their respective darkness.  If light floods a room by a bulb, a lantern or the sun through a sunroof, then the people see.  It matters not the source or vehicle.

So, as for me, I am simply happy that my fellow human beings are saved from the continued pain of bumping into things in the darkness of their respective rooms.  I do not judge the source of the light from which they see.  Jesus taught to love.  To love as a child.  That was the new commandment.  Jesus did not intend the millstone of human dogma to weigh down the perfect lightness of his commandment.

I have heard many persons say, "I love my neighbor, but the enlightenment in which I revel is perfect and their enlightenment is wrong."  Then, the thinking continues, "So, I need to convert my neighbor to my enlightenment."

My response to that thinking is rather simple.  I am careful not to let Jesus' simple commandment to love evolve like the animals of Orwell's Farm.  If my neighbors of firm belief are doing acts of goodness, then the world is a better place.  I will not presume my revelation is better then their own, as the Kingdom of God is within them.  All conversion is to goodness, and they are already there.  Academic rationalizations aside, in reality, there is an insulting and presumptuous despise in trying to convert your neighbors' abstract point of faith that begs resentfulness, then hate and then war.  This is particularly true when the subject-matter is regarding an unprovable abstract point. 

To me, a cup of goodness quenches my thirst just the same whether presented in the name of, for example, Allah, Buddha, Gandhi, Jesus, Mohammed, Moses or Yahweh.

Posted Thursday, April 28, 2007, 11:30 A.M., by Gregg Zegarelli
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Subject: Reader Asks Gregg Zegarelli to Comment on Comparative Religions
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What is your belief regarding other religions?

First, I will say that my personal belief was not necessarily part of the mechanical task of unifying the text.  However, as the author of ONE, it is reasonable to conclude that I have contemplated deeply such things as the nature of religion, so I will address the question briefly.  (I do really mean briefly, since I certainly do not intend this to be detailed work of philosophy or religious analysis; although it may be that we make simple truths more complex than necessary.)

Having said that, I will break down the parts of religions that are generally common among them (such as I can see them), so that we can think about them a bit more clearly.  I believe the breakdown is rather logical and straight-forward, although we may often fail to analyze such things with proper attention.

1.  "Abstract Issues," such as the nature of the soul.  Such issues cannot be evidenced with empirical data.  (I will leave that issue somewhat as it is, in that I will not debate the really existential point such as, "Can the cup you hold ultimately be proved by empirical evidence...ultimately?"  That is too existential for the purpose here, and I will hold with the basic point that debating who is correct as to the nature of the soul is quite a distinct type of question from determining who is correct in an argument over whether a living human being can bleed.)

2.  "Concrete Issues," such as the rules for interacting socially in the "earthy" world.  That is, rules regarding living within a human social existence. 

3.  "Mixed Issues," such as ritual.  That is, ritual actually taking place in the "earthly" world for the purpose of accomplishing the satisfaction of the abstract beliefs in No. 1, above.  For example, the slaughter of a sheep as a sacrifice to God.  This is something in the "earthly world" that has significance for the "spiritual world" and/or afterlife, but is not per se a requirement of core human social interaction.  The ritual itself may have an impact on social interaction (such as a group dancing around a fire), but it is not an ultimate goal per se.  Fasting and prayer are within this category.  The ultimate goal is that something be performed in this life that has a believed impact on a future life.

Thus, to me, it appears that religions generally consist of a combination of abstract beliefs, concrete rules of social interaction/activity, and mixed rules of activity for the purpose of fulfilling the abstract belief.  With that as a foundation, I will think about them with you. 

First, Concrete Issues, the easiest analytical category.  It would seem for the Atheist, that only No. 2 is applicable: Concrete Issues.  This would necessarily be true since, without divinity or "God" as part of the formula, life is defined by the scope of earthly activity.  An Atheist may or may not contradict the rules established by various religions in their respective concrete rules.  An Atheist may be a personally or socially "good" person or a "bad" person, as anyone might be.  Let us stay true to the category, though, and not bleed the point into the "mixed" issues category.  For example, if a Christian, Muslim, Jew, Atheist, Hindu and believer in Confucianism all act with love toward their neighbor in this life (although they have differences as to the after-life/Abstract Issues), there is absolutely no difference between them within the scope as to this discrete category.  Based upon action in this earthly world alone, without the ascribing of religious dogma or beliefs, there is, in this and similar examples, no basis for a Christian, Muslim, Jew, Atheist, Hindu and/or believer in Confucianism to conduct war for causes under this category.  This is true, by definition, and anyone who debates this point confuses or bleeds categories.  That is, within the discrete scope of social interaction, there is no Concrete Issues basis to smack a person who kisses you because they do not share a belief as to the Abstract Issues.

Second, as to Abstract Issues, assuming that Abstract Issues do no touch upon Concrete Issues (and, therefore, by definition, are not part of Mixed Issues), the rules of any religion appear to be academic.  If you say the soul is black and I say the soul is white, being an Abstract Issue, neither of us have any earthly evidentiary foundation for our beliefs, and neither of us have any evidence to refute the other.  If you say the afterlife is white light, and I say the afterlife is a new perfect physical world, even assuming our human minds can contemplate the nature of the God and the afterlife, neither of us can prove our point.  To debate such issues may or may not be rational to some extent, but it is inherently futile.  If someone should argue, "My abstract ideas are better than your abstract ideas, because my book of words says so" it begs the question. 

Now, let me state it a bit differently, so it is clear where it appears that a superficial analysis goes wrong: Words that embody Abstract Issues cannot thereby convert those Abstract Issues into Concrete Issues.  The first time I had a discussion with a friend stating this point, my friend responded, "But my beliefs are true because the Bible says so; I have proof right here in this Bible in the words of our Lord, Jesus Christ, the Savior."  So I will say it again, words (oral or written) cannot make Abstract Issues into Concrete Issues.  If someone believes that Jesus' statements of the Abstract Issues are true, that is what the person believes.  If someone believes that Moses' or Muhammad's statements of the Abstract Issues are true, that is what the person believes.  However, there is no reason for a Christian, for example, to fight with a Jew or Muslim over the statements of Abstract Issues because there is no earthly proof for the earthly debate.  Accordingly, the earthly debate is ultimately futile.  And, therefore, the debate over the relative merits of Abstract Issues is, by definition, academic.

Third, as to Mixed Issues, the analysis is somewhat derivative, since Mixed Issues are a combination of earthly acts for the purpose of divine favor or afterlife qualification.

Irrespective of "why" a religion inspires a worldly action, all or most religions have a rule set for living in the real world.  For example, harmonious and peaceful co-existence with other living things, such as it can be done within the context of the cycle of life and environment.  If we remove "why" someone acts righteously, it is the analysis contained for Concrete Issues, since a Christian may love because Jesus says so, and an Atheist may love because it is proper for controlled social interaction.

For example, take the Ten Commandments (aka, the "Decalogue"): Honor your father and mother, do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not lie, do not covet; all of which are precise commands on social activity in the world in which we exist.  These rules are naturally and self-evidently positive in our social environment, with or without the spiritual or divine implications.

The Ten Commandments (aka, the "Decalogue"):

Do not worship other gods (Abstract or Mixed Issue) Do not murder. (Concrete Issue)
Do not worship idols (Abstract or Mixed Issue) Do not commit adultery. (Concrete Issue)
Do not use God's name in vain (Abstract or Mixed Issue) Do not steal. (Concrete Issue)
Keep holy the Sabbath (Abstract or Mixed Issue) Do not lie. (Concrete Issue)
Honor your father and mother (Concrete Issue) Do not covet your neighbor's goods or spouse (Ultimately a Concrete Issue)

An Atheist and member of any religion can equally follow the social rules in six of the Ten Commandments, and, therefore, are Concrete Issues.  The first four of the Ten Commandments are mixed issues because they are believed to be directives of what to do on earth as a command from the divine.  

As to Mixed Issues, I will sub-divide into: 1) actions purely for sake of the spirit and with no material social goal; and 2) those which have a dual purpose, that is both a spiritual and social function.  For example, the slaughtering of a sheep for no purpose other than as a sacrifice would be the first category, as is the act of praying (a physical personal act with no necessary social function); or, the second category, for example, the "sign of peace" in a church ceremony, that requires an interactive social symbol of peace in a spiritual context, or the first four of the Ten Commandments.

Now, as to the first sub-category, such as praying (or doing so facing a certain direction), I have no basis to judge, because the activity is purely a personal act, with purely personal implications, based purely upon the person's belief as to Abstract Issues.  If a person's religion requires requires prayer during the day, or facing a certain direction, so be it.  Generally speaking, it is an act without social impact.  How am I to judge my brother or sister's peaceful activities?

As to the second sub-category, I will merely analyze it within the category for Concrete Issues, without regard to the purpose or "why" that act occurs for comparative religious analysis.  If a religion requires that a person kiss me or slap me, I can assess that act as a Concrete Issue, so I defer back to the discussion on that category.

Therefore, my analysis of persons and comparative religions reduces to what people actually do, or the "fruits of their labor" as Jesus taught.  You come to know a people by their respective actions.   ONE: 631.  Love is impotent in the abstract.  Although it might superficially seem to be ironic, I believe that I am commanded to forget the institutional religious belief of others.  All conversion is to love, not to institutional religion.  Shall we forget that, in Jesus' story of the Good Samaritan, the first person to pass the injured man was a priest?   ONE: 1038.  His point, of course, was not any disregard for those many good persons who are devoted to God as their sole life's purpose, but a reproach for hypocritical action.  The point is further made by Jesus in his Parable of the Two Sons: one son said he would do his father's will, yet did not; the other son said he would not do his father's will yet did.  ONE: 2061.  Deeds ultimately control. 

As Henry Ford said, "The older I get, the more I watch what people do, and the less I listen to what they say."  I think this is a wise statement. 

I do not filter my love for others, nor others' love for me, by judging the source by academic Abstract Issues.  That yoke is too hard to carry, and that camel too large to swallow. 

Thank you for your question.


Posted Thursday, March 1, 2007, 06:30 A.M., by Gregg Zegarelli
Revised Friday, April 20, 2007, 08:00 A.M.

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Subject: Reader Asks for Comment on the Cycle of Life  

I read your Blog article on "comparative religions."  You say, "For example, harmonious and peaceful co-existence with other living things, such as it can be done within the context of the cycle of life and environment."  I also read your letter to your children, where you say, "But, if you ever laugh at nature when you take life from her, I assure you that she will laugh when she takes life from you."  Can you clarify what you mean?  Thank you in advance.

Thank you for your question.  I will state it briefly, although it has no bearing on my work with ONE.

I personally believe that the creator intended that there be a natural and worldly cycle of life.  An eco-system that human beings share in the natural environment with other animals.  I am personally reconciled with right to life while, at the same time, I believe in the consumption of meat and other things that were once alive: be it animal or vegetable.  I am personally reconciled that human beings are naturally omnivores (although I acknowledge that the Old Testament identifies that humans were vegetarians until the Great Flood, Genesis: 1:29-30; 9:2-7). 

To me, things rest upon intention and necessity.  To me, the fact that living things subsist upon other living things is the state of the creator's nature.  To me, that one living thing gives its life for the life of another living thing is natural.  It is intended.  For those who would debate the issue, I merely ask whether they can reproduce the body of their worldly humanity by the Spirit.  We give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and Jesus clearly paid the tax.  Living in the world requires worldly actions.  But, again, this is my personal view of the world, and, again, does not impact my work for ONE.

For example, it is by technology that we can start thinking about synthetics in place of animal skins for warmth.  For those who are philosophically opposed to wearing animal skins, I can only say that it is a convenient argument for the privileged of today and could not have been so from the beginning, such as, for example, the American Indians needed to take the life of animals for themselves to keep their human condition from extinction.  But, of course, the measurement and circumstances of necessity will evolve in time and change in the context.  And, there is a point of philosophy, and a point of real-world implementation, that need to be separately considered.

But, that said, I do not particularly find visiting zoos a pleasing experience, as I would not, myself, desire to be caged and viewed for pleasure.  I do not believe in hunting for sport without appurtenant necessity.  I do not believe in the memorializing of killed things as prided trophies.  If you need to hunt, then you must; if you need to kill, then you must.  I do not believe in stepping upon ants because we can do so without seemingly worldly consequence.  I do not believe in proud laughing at any time the life of a living thing is taken, be it animal or vegetable. 

I think the proper intention is to live and let live, and when the life of a living thing is necessarily taken, to simply say, "Thank you" and/or "I am sorry" as the context requires, with deepened appreciation for the cycle of life from which we all take and give. 

I do not profess at all that the above is the correct view of the world, only that it reconciles for me.  The closing in Abraham Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address may provide some additional insight into my basic view of necessity to take life and respect for life:

If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him?

Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away.

Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.  Abraham Lincoln.  March 4, 1865.

Posted Sunday, March 18, 2007, 10:00 P.M., by Gregg Zegarelli
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Subject: Reader, a Friend of Gregg Zegarelli, is Surprised by ONE,_is_Surprised_by_ONE  

Gregg, I know you.  You're a "normal" person.  I am very surprised by this religious work.  I had no idea!  Please explain.

First, let me say that ONE is a unification of the Gospels.  It contains the wise teachings and deepened faith of Jesus, to which many people adhere at different points and degrees.  Whether it is a work of religion is for the beholder to take, but it is not for this author to give.  ONE is art, not science; readers will take from it what they will.  I do not think that there is much dispute that the teachings of Jesus are wise, but the concept of religion ironically seems to bring with it constraints of human tradition that seem to cause deepened strife in the world.  These traditions seems to filter some from others, and I am reminded of Jesus' statement, "[Y]ou strain out the gnat and swallow the camel!"  ONE: 2227.  Now, some may say that religion also brings great peace in the world, and, possibly, they are correct.  But, it may be that any such peace actually derives from the more essential loving and contentment in being loved that is a common denominator of many different religions.  (Does not human tradition in some religious institutions prevent women from leading the expression of love in ceremony of mutual devotion?)  So, in short, I think-and certainly hope-ONE is a work of goodness, but I cannot say it is a religious work.  It speaks for itself and is what it is.

Second, having said that, as to me, generally, I suppose people carry their respective belief systems differently.  Some keep it private and personal, and others shout it out.  I cannot say whether one way is correct or better than the other.  I am reminded of Jesus defending those who praised him by compulsion, when he said, “I tell you, if they keep silent, the stones will cry out!” ONE: 1993.  It works for such people, but, I cannot say that has been my way.  It might be that what I naturally say to others is a bit more subtle and non-denominational than customarily recognizable.

Some people of strong devotion openly profess it pervasively in their lives and wear clothing denoting their devotions and position.  This apparently works for those who do so.  I cannot find any absolute authority from Jesus to wear such denotations, although I could argue he implied not to do so.  ONE: 912.  In any case, I do not adorn with such professions; I suppose that makes me, "normal."  Clearly, we see from Jesus himself that people will ultimately be recognized by their deeds, not their clothing.  So, for me, it is enough to try to do good works within the failures of my limitations and weaknesses.  Some people bow their heads at any public dining, and that works them, but I personally think that a simple mental "thank you" without a blink of the eyes is enough.  I have never been able to completely clear my own conscience that such actions are either for others to see or an imposing push of faith onto others, so I avoid the question.  I am also reminded of Jesus' teaching, "But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret." ONE: 550.  I respectfully presume others are doing the same.  (Of course, this is certainly distinct from a situation, for example, where there is a known shared tradition in a group for those who are drawn to do so.) 

Even in starting this document, it is a passive work responding to those who ask me questions, and for those who are interested to read the responses.  I believe that ONE is an interesting project and should be discussed for those interested to do so.  But, it is without imposition.  There is a fundamental difference in movement between a push and a pull.  If I recall, Eisenhower said, "Put a string on a table.  Push it from behind.  It bunches up and goes nowhere.  Now, pull it from the front.  It nicely makes forward progress."  Even if I would speak at all, I think it should be without imposition to others, particularly if grounded upon the unprovable presumptions of correctness regarding Abstract Ideas.  I am glad to speak mutually quietly about such things with those who deeply enjoy the iteration of mutual conversation and study.  I can be devoutly faithful without pushing it upon others; I will be judged later as to whether I have breached some duty to do otherwise.  But, I think that, if we listen, we will hear a whisper.

Third, about the drafting process of ONE, only my wife knew I was working on "a book" by observing the effort (even she without knowing the subject-matter) and none of my other family nor my close friends had any idea.  What good is talking about intentions?  Deeds will speak for themselves, as they are, after having been performed. 

Fourth, I am reminded Jesus' statement that he came eating and drinking and people said, "Look, [Jesus] is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners." ONE: 1021.  Jesus apparently knew how to have a good time.  So do I.  Certainly, so do I. 

Posted Friday, April 6, 2007, 8:00 A.M., by Gregg Zegarelli
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Subject: Reader Asks about Divinity of Jesus  

I really enjoyed ONE.  I have read Mr. Zegarelli's Blog and would like to know whether he believes in the divinity of Jesus?

Thank you for the question, since this is a personal question, I will preface again that my personal belief does not impact my technical unification of the Gospels in ONE.  I will be forever in my life learning as a student.  And, for the reasons I mention throughout this blog, I have a deepened respect for other opinions, and reverence for all religions of love and goodness.  I think there is a splendidly elegant statement in the Preface to the New Testament in the New American Bible: "In all these areas the present translation attempts to display a sensitivity appropriate to the present state of the questions under discussion, which are not yet resolved and in regard to which it is impossible to please everyone, since intelligent and sincere participants in the debate hold mutually contradictory views.

Having prefaced, I will address your question:

The answer to the question, for me, is, "Yes." 

I note that you only asked part of the question, and so I only answered so much. 

Before your question can be fully answered, we must understand and agree on the definition of the term "divinity" and, to understand and to agree on the definition of the term "divinity," we must understand the divine.  To understand what is divine, we must understand God.  To understand God (or God's divine nature), as the lesser cannot understand the greater, we must be equal to or be greater than God.  We must judge to define: we must understand: a) the word and b) the thing to which we would apply the word.  We define by judging and making a match of a word to a thing.  Therefore, we cannot judge or define what we do not understand, or we are fools, bad judges or makers of confusion.  On the other hand, if we can rationally admit that we are not rationally capable of understanding anything that provides a rational basis of understanding and definition of what is or is not divine (or the divine nature of Jesus or anyone), then we rest the question upon irrational faith, which is fine, if we merely rationally admit that faith is inherently irrational, and to each his or her own. 

That said, the answer, therefore, depends upon your definition of "divinity" and the meeting of our minds based upon that definition.  I am not confident that we will or can understand each other regarding that term in a manner that could allow us to complete the answer universally for everyone in the World, or for even each other.  I suppose it is enough for each person to define terms directly and personally, with God, such as each person may understand God.  For me, each person is entitled to a personal revelation that need not be-and probably cannot be-explained or defined to me or to others.

Updated Saturday, June 30, 2012, 8:16 A.M., by Gregg Zegarelli
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Subject: Reader Asks for Clarification on Dogma  

I have read some of your interview and your blog.  You were raised Roman Catholic, yet you make somewhat progressive comments such as woman becoming priests, and priest getting married.  Please explain.

Thank you for the question, since this is a personal question, I will preface again that my personal belief does not impact my technical unification of the Gospels in ONE.  I will be forever in my life learning as a student.  And, for the reasons I mention throughout this blog, I have a deepened respect for other opinions, and reverence for all religions of love and goodness.  I think there is a splendidly elegant statement in the Preface to the New Testament in the New American Bible: "In all these areas the present translation attempts to display a sensitivity appropriate to the present state of the questions under discussion, which are not yet resolved and in regard to which it is impossible to please everyone, since intelligent and sincere participants in the debate hold mutually contradictory views.

Having prefaced, I will address your question:

First, let me start be creating a foundation to help think about your request:

As a general rule, anyone who departs from the constraints of particular dogma is a "heretic."  The Oxford English Dictionary defines "heresy" as, "Theological or religious opinion or doctrine maintained in opposition, or held to be contrary, to the "catholic" or orthodox doctrine of the Christian Church, or, by extension, to that of any church, creed, or religious system, considered as orthodox."  More specifically, the analysis of heresy is a somewhat complex question, depending upon the point at issue, the nature of the contradiction and the adherence by the believer.

But, let us stay on the general concept to make the point.  "Heresy" is such a strong word.  But, in truth, no one who truly believes is or can be a heretic from their own perspective. 

By definition, all heresy is a judgment from one person or group upon another.  It is, by definition, a proclamation from an external source.

And what scary imagery!  Do we not see a traditional cleric pounding his stick pointing to an accused saying, "You are excommunicated, and your soul is condemned to hell"? 

Now, let me expand the scenario.  In fact, the person judged to be a heretic performed no bad deeds at all, but the person is condemned for not sharing in the beliefs of the cleric accuser's dogma.  That is, the accused is so judged for not similarly believing in the Abstract Ideas of the cleric.  Now, remember, the heretic in my example has performed no bad deeds (Concrete Issues), and, let us say, in fact, the person was Mother Theresa's assistant and fully assisted her in her life-mission of actually helping ease the pain of many others throughout the world. 

I suppose the accused can take the cleric's judgment of heresy in two ways: 1) the accused is insecure in his or her belief, and, therefore, to some extent, accepts the cleric's judgment with burden and guilt; or 2) the accused, being a true believer in his or her own dogma, and being therefore without insecurity or fear, naturally repels the accusation as powerless.  To the true believer, no other person's judgment is material.  And, I could take the example to the sublimely ridiculous where the accused argues back, "No, you're excommunicated from my church, and maybe it's your soul that's in trouble" to which the cleric responds, "No, you," and the accused back again, "No, you!"  Okay, let us say in my example, Mother Theresa's assistant was a person of sublime goodness, but a Lutheran as to belief in Abstract Ideas.

Second, having said that, I am reminded of a situation.  A close friend of mine is good person, deeply "religious" and devout; she is a true a student of the scriptures.  But, she is not a member of the Roman Catholic church.  In fact, she is a non-denominational Christian.  In friendly bantering (I somewhat presumptuously call it "friendly"...), I asked her if she believed in the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church's exclusive leadership and dogmatic infallibility, to which she responded, "No."  So, for analytical discussion reasons (not judgment), I indicated that she might be within the definition of a heretic as a protestant, as was Martin Luther, and, she was offended.  She had never thought about it; therefore, she never thought of herself potentially as such.  And, certainly, the great protestant Martin Luther-who desired only to reform a church back to its essence-was claimed to be a heretic.  His heresy was not regarding deeds but over Abstract Ideas; that is, his heresy was not over deeds, but over dogma.

Now, I suppose that I could create a Venn Diagram of the various religious (and possibly philosophical) dogmas to determine who is a heretic of whom, but it is not for me to judge.  Moreover, as I stated in my reflection on Comparative Religions, I merely watch what other people do as a concrete social question because that is the correct concrete worldly context.

Third, and finally, it is clear to me that love and heresy cannot co-exist.  I am reminded that Abraham Lincoln said he would join any church that had love as its only requirement for membership, and I think he was a wise man of deepened faith.  No person who loves and does good deeds can be a heretic.  Truly, that is the end of the discussion for me, although I explain this in some detail in my reflection on Comparative Religions.

If any of the "protestant" or other religions believe in women celebrating a ceremony of love or "priests" taking part in the human joy of marriage, that seems wonderful to me.  We need all the devotion that we can get from fathers and mothers themselves as examples for our children, and, so, those seem consistent with the goal.

I am comfortable with my beliefs, although I certainly respect that my personal reconciliations may not work for others.  As for me, I find no heresy in Jews, Christians, Muslims, Jews, Athiests or anyone who loves and does good deeds.  To me, those who judge so make human life far too hard, and the yoke is supposed to be easy and burden light.  Separation of the wheat from the chaff is the separation of those who love and do good deeds and those who do not.  Nothing more or less.

So, my training may be called Roman Catholic, but, as Mahatma (Mohandas) Gandhi said, when asked whether he was a Hindu, replied: "Yes I am. I am also a Christian, a Muslim, a Buddhist and a Jew."  And, I think Gandhi was a wise man of deepened spiritual faith. 

Thank you for the question.

Posted Saturday, April 14, 2007, 1:00 P.M., by Gregg Zegarelli
Revised May 18, 2007, 6:00 A.M.
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Subject: Reader Asks about "Original Sin"  

Does Jesus Teach about Original Sin in the Gospels and ONE?  Do you believe in "Original Sin"?

Thank you for the question, since this is a personal question, I will preface again that my personal belief does not impact my technical unification of the Gospels in ONE.  I will be forever in my life learning as a student.  And, for the reasons I mention throughout this blog, I have a deepened respect for other opinions, and reverence for all religions of love and goodness.  I think there is a splendidly elegant statement in the Preface to the New Testament in the New American Bible: "In all these areas the present translation attempts to display a sensitivity appropriate to the present state of the questions under discussion, which are not yet resolved and in regard to which it is impossible to please everyone, since intelligent and sincere participants in the debate hold mutually contradictory views.

Having prefaced, I will address your question:

No, and No.  

Original Sin is not, in my opinion, taught by Jesus, although it is certainly part of the Catholic catechism.  Others have different opinions of this point and stretch to indicate that Jesus implied it.  But, I think Jesus was expressly clear on all points he intended.

As to me, I suppose that there are certainly at least two ways to get to a "faith" or a "belief": 1) we get there because we are inspired and drawn to it, or 2) we get there because we can rationalize it to some appropriate degree.  And, I suppose, those two ways are not mutually exclusive, and there can be a mix of both.  To the latter, I added, "to an appropriate degree," because I cannot say any human will ever be able to rationalize the "first cause" (that is, to rationalize how the first "something" was created from nothingness).

I would not be truthful if I said that I am inspired to believe in Original Sin.  But, in reality, I think I cannot believe it on faith, because it contradicts what I can rationalize.  Or, stated another way, I am unable to reconcile it to my satisfaction.  So far, anyway.

Now, I will digress and point out that it has been said that, if you need to prove faith, it ceases to be wonderful.  But, I will direct that speaker back to the great Saint Thomas Aquinas, a man of great philosophy and rationality.  So, let the speaker not pick and choose.  I will point out again: that which makes religious faith so beautiful to the beholder, is exactly that which makes it quite ugly to non-beholder.  This is where religious war begins, over the abstract ideas.  Thus, it is the contention of abstract ideas that ironically creates great strife in the real world.  If we can really find the truth, it will necessarily transcend all religious institutions of love and goodness.

I repeat the statement, so it is not overlooked: if we can really find the truth, it will necessarily transcend all religious institutions of love and goodness.

But, back to Original Sin.

I will probably be oversimplifying, but let me state the general premise of Original Sin:

Adam and Eve were created by God.  They were perfect and good.  They lived in the Garden of Eden, which was perfect.  But, God, although perfect, was apparently somewhat insecure about his creation, so he created a test: "all is yours, but do not eat that piece of fruit."  The Evil One (Satan) tricked Eve, and she and Adam, in an act of imperfection, then ate the forbidden fruit.  God became paternally angry and disappointed, and cast them from the Garden of Eden.  For the first time, they realized that they were naked, and they had shame.  Now, woman would have to bear children in pain.  Etc.

Now, when I start any discussion regarding Original Sin with someone, I usually ask if the person knows that there are two stories of the creation in Genesis: Gen 1:1, and at Gen 2:4/5, labeled respectively in the New American Bible as, "First Story of Creation" and "Second Story of Creation."  This is just a simple framing threshold question, but not important for the discussion to occur.

Then, I usually ask the other person to describe life in the Garden of Eden.  Were there stones?  Could Adam trip on a stone?  If he tripped, did he fall on the ground?  If he hit a stone, could he bleed?  If he could bleed, could he bleed to death?  Could the wound get infected?  What was the eco-system like?  Were the lions vegetarians?  If so, did they have big teeth?  If not, did the antelope they ate bleed?  Was not the strength given to the neck of the wolf to tear and pull flesh from another animal?  Were the sharks vegetarians, and did they not have rows of teeth?  These questions invariably bring the other person to say either that the questions were never considered, or that the person stopped thinking of it and relies on simple faith.

I accept that response, because, after all, we are discussing abstract points of faith.  However, as for me, I cannot get to a point where I can reconcile the state of that nature. I cannot reconcile it on principles of reality, nor can I reconcile it on principles of my fundamental faith in a just and good creator.  Certainly, there was no football in the Garden of Eden, or, at least, no meaningful football.  Perfection abhors the pain of losing.  In the Garden of Eden, no one could apparently drop the ball.  Academics aside, in fact, it is imperfection that is the sine qua non of all meaning in life.  Stated another way, it is exactly the relative degrees of imperfection from which all appreciation is the result.

Back again to the precise point.  I certainly believe that the creator is ultimately just, to whatever extent that the creator is a judge.  I certainly know that humans are bound to the weakness of their flesh, and are sometimes misguided in their thoughts, both reasons being the subject of a proper judge's judgment.

But, I will try to outline the premises of many Christians:

God is good, just and perfect.
God created Adam and Eve, perfect and innocent.
Adam and Eve, though perfect, were tricked or enticed and made a wrong decision.
God is omniscient, or all-knowing, but either did not see that wrong decision coming,
  -- or God did see that wrong decision coming but now needed to create a punishment.
God condemns Adam and Eve with many punishments, as well as their children not yet born.

(At this point, all humanity is burdened with, and guilty of, Original Sin.)

God is good, just and perfect.
By God's condemnation, a human baby is born guilty of Original Sin, even though never having lived with choice;
  -- that is, each child is condemned to pay the debt of the mother and father to the beginning of time.

But, because God is good, just and perfect, God wants to save humans from the guilt of Original Sin.
God sends his son, Jesus, in the form of a human to the world.
It is God's intention that, if Jesus is crucified, then God will lift the guilt of Original Sin from humanity.

God is good, just and perfect.
Jesus was good, perfect and innocent.
Jesus is horribly crucified.
Jesus saves humans from the burden of Original Sin.

Thus, God, in justice, sent innocent Jesus, to die horribly for us, so that we may be saved, from the Original Sin, that God chose to impose upon us, as a debt of our ancestors, because God love us so much.

Now, every accountant knows that there are many business transactions that properly permit accounting in either three entries or two entries, because the first entry and the third entry cancel out the second entry, making the second entry irrelevant.  So, accountants can properly account for the end result in only two entries.  The abstract idea of Original Sin is that God is perfect, then makes man perfect, then condemns man for a mistake, then makes man pay the debts of the ancestors, then sends a perfect son to save man, and now man is saved.  God, controlling all causes and being omniscient, could have just skipped a step. 

For those who can believe in Original Sin, it works for them.  If belief in Original Sin draws people to goodness, then it has served its purpose.  But, as stated, in truth, I cannot testify that I am either inspired to believe in Original Sin, nor can I rationalize it to my satisfaction.  Moreover, Jesus did not teach about Original Sin.  And, moreover once again, I do not believe the premise is conceptually one of goodness-whether or not some believe it self-serves the purpose of Jesus' death. 

Irrespective of Original Sin, I believe that Jesus' purpose was perfectly noble.  If Jesus did not die, his message would not have lived.  To me, his message was simply to love and do good deeds.  To practice what is preached.  But, it is in the extreme power of the amplification by his martyrdom through which his message has been heard throughout the world, and will be so forevermore. 

I certainly believe in Jesus' message, in the Gospels, and the power of ONE, without the negative unnecessary insecurity of the abstract idea of Original Sin.  For me, I cannot believe that there is justice in a God who condemns me for the wrongs of my parents, or who condemns my children for the wrongs I commit.  The abstract idea of Original Sin is a weight on me, my friends and my children.  For me, that yoke is too hard and burden too heavy.   

In close, I do not personally believe that Jesus taught Original Sin.  And, I do not believe the abstract idea of Original Sin was necessary for Jesus' teachings, or was necessary for Jesus to fulfill his blessed mission.   

Thank you for the question.

Posted Saturday, April 15, 2007, 9:00 A.M., by Gregg Zegarelli
Revised April 30, 2007, 6:00 A.M.

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Subject: Reader Asks about Virginia Tech massacre.

What do you think about the Virginia Tech Massacre?  Is it a message from God?

Response:  I am certain that I do not know that answer.  That type of perennial question can be deeply considered and debated, but I cannot say I have the answer or that there is any answer that would be universally accepted.  Some people will attribute real-world problems to their respective abstract beliefs and religions, but, if I would do so, I would be trying to achieve knowledge, by logic, with proof of a concete result grounded upon an abstract foundation; thus, the logic will ultimately fail.  Even the great Descartes may have said, "I think, therefore I am."  But, he begged the question with his first word, since his first word implies his conclusion.  Sometimes the obvious is overlooked.

That said, it is quite possible that there might be universal agreement to the cause of the problem within some limited context.  But, even so, I cannot say that the weakness of our human condition will permit us to implement a perfect solution.  Even Jesus needed Simon.  ONE: 2771.  And, while I might hope and pray that my mother would walk across the Earth for me, I doubt that she could actually do it.

But, back to the cause.  Some believe that such catastrophes are signs from the divine.  They might be correct and they might not be correct.  If any such persons believe it, and it brings them to goodness, so be it.  It is not for me to judge, for the reasons I explain elsewhere.  I am reminded that Jesus said the Father "makes his sun rise on the good and the bad alike, and causes rain to fall on the saint and the sinner."  ONE: 536. 

Apart from what I might believe from faith, here is what I know from reality: there are natural disasters and there are social disasters. 

As to the natural disasters, some of them may or may not be caused by humans, and some may or may not be resolved by humans.  Though we may do what we can do, the question of the perfect original cause of natural events and disasters is too big for me; for those that can profess the answer, they are bigger than I.  If my excessive use of gasoline is the cause for the movement of the tectonic plates from the beginning of time, that cause and that result are not sufficiently proximate for me.  If earthquakes are signs, punishments (or blessings) from God-at the first causation-it is an abstract belief of faith. 

But, the social disasters are different, because the cause and result are sufficiently proximate.  That issue is concrete to me.  That issue is not too big for me, because it is self-defined within my own capacity.

The indifference we show to our brothers and sisters, by lack of love and good deeds, sometimes culminates in a focused reaction of extremity.  The vehicle of that reaction can take many forms, and the result will take many forms.  But, the cause often remains the same.  As Jesus said, "By their fruits you will know them." ONE: 631.  We, as humans, are imperfect, and, at some point, the collection of those imperfections culminates in an event of extreme pain.  Abraham Lincoln expressed as much in his Second Inaugural Address, stating the tragedy of the Civil War as the culmination of, "all the wealth piled by the bond-man's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil..."

Moreover, similar to Jesus' teachings, this concept may be wrapped within the Hindu belief regarding Karma, described as, "[A] sum of all that an individual has done, is currently doing and will do. The results or 'fruits' of actions are called 'karma-phala.'  Karma is not about retribution, vengeance, punishment or reward; karma simply deals with what is.  The effects of all deeds actively create past, present and future experiences, thus making one responsible for one's own life, and the pain and joy it brings to others." 

In close, I cannot add anything more than stating that we have done what we have done.  It is past.  It is done.  The act is finished, but the mission is not.  At times, our collective flaws catch up with us and culminate in tragedy.  But, if  we are truly sorry for our participation in the cause, then we will change.  Love in the abstract  is useless.  Its power is in implementation.

So, the bell tolls, and we grieve. 

But let the tears not cloud our eyes from examining the extent to which it is we who participated in the cause.  And, if at all, to implement the necessary change.  Yesterday is gone, but not tomorrow. 

For I was hungry and you gave me no food.  I was thirsty and you gave me no drink.  A stranger and you would not take me in.  Naked and you gave me no clothing.  Ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.  Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’ 

He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ ONE: 2387

Posted Thursday, April 19, 2007, 7:30 A.M., by Gregg Zegarelli
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Subject: Reader Asks about Separation of Church and State
Email to a Friend:

What is your opinion on the separation of church and state and prayer in schools?  The United States is a Christian nation founded on Christian principles.  As an attorney and author of ONE, the "Unified Gospel of Jesus," I am sure you agree.

Thank you for the question. 

I agree with your statement, that "the United States was founded on Christian principles."  But, the way you state that fact following the precise question gives me reason to believe that my agreement with your statement of fact will cause misunderstanding as to my answer to your precise question.  That is, your statement of fact is somewhat non-responsive to your question, or it might be that your statement does not cause the implication of your question.  I say this because Christian principles, and the core morality relating to the Christian principles, are most certainly not owned exclusively by Christians.  Jesus' fundamental command to love is shared by many institutions of belief.  Does any Christian propose that morality did not exist before Jesus?

Certainly one can believe in the separation of church and state even though the United States is a Christian nation founded upon Christian principles.  I am reminded of a good example of Abraham Lincoln contradicting a rhetorical non-sequitur (it does not follow) when debating for the freedom of slaves:

I do not understand that, because I do not want a negro woman for a slave, I must necessarily want her for a wife.  My understanding is that I can just let her alone.

Abraham Lincoln, The Lincoln-Douglas Debates at Charleston, September 18, 1858.  I mention this now because it is an important underpinning point on the discussion of the nature of slavery and freedom.  You cannot discuss prayer in schools, or separation of Church and State, without the appurtenant discussion of freedom. 

Similarly, because you desire a person to have the right to be free does not necessarily mean that you must agree with how the freedom is used.  By definition, is this not necessarily so?  I suppose, it is something like Voltaire's quotation, "I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it."  If you desire to control another man's thoughts, then you desire to make that man your slave.

Having stated that with regard to the question itself, I will try to answer it in the following Preface and with the two parts that follow, so labeled:


You may know that I am an attorney, and I consider myself privileged to be so.  As I have said, without the training in dealing with testimony as an attorney, I do not believe that I could have unified the "testimonies" of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John into the ONE gospel of Jesus.  On the issue you mention, separation of church and state, I authored a short article on the topic for my law firm's e-mail newsletter in June, 2005.  The cause for that topic was the pending legal issue regarding the Ten Commandments on governmental buildings.  I find the question of separation of church and state absolutely fascinating!  What could be a better topic for interesting discussion than the impact of religion on politics?

Let me start by making a very important observation: things evolve

I will say it a second time, "Things evolve."  Sometimes evolution can be a good thing, and sometimes evolution can be a bad thing-it depends upon the context.  And, sometimes, separated things will naturally evolve into exactly the thing from which they separated.  This is true, just as the animals of Orwell's Farm: at the end, the pigs wore the farmer's jeans.  Are there not many examples of the rebel who accomplishes the rebellion only to become just like the despot who was overthrown?  Do not children often become parents?

I say it again for the third time, "Things evolve."  Now, hold onto that thought and I will make it relevant.  You will understand the point, because institutional religions and governments are not excepted from the natural inclination to evolve.  But, we need to be very careful, because watching evolution is like watching a child grow. 

Part 1.  The Conceptual Foundation.

I will point out a few general factual contexts that are often forgotten by Americans, or, possibly, never learned.  So, let me start by stating the overview of separation of church and state, in a very basic progression:

Step 1.  At a time when there was no United States, citizens of the "Old World" came to the "New World" to practice religious freedom without governmental constraints.  As a general rule, these were very religious people, but people who wanted religious freedom apart from governmental constraint.  We must remember, historically and before the United States, politics and religion were combined, as a practical social matter.  That is, there were expressed or implied "official" religions.  Religions of the state, if you will. 

If you did not practice the endorsed religion of the state, you were in some practical jeopardy.  And, keep in mind that disagreements between or among denominations regarding Christian catechism and dogma could be major issues of heresy and/or prejudice.  Prejudice.  Constraint of worship.  Constraint of thought.

Step 2.  So, the immigrants came to the New World to be free, if nothing more, from prejudice.  Later, there was an idea for a new country consisting of free elections, i.e., no kings.  Majority rule.  Government by the people, for the people.  Democracy.  This idea was embodied in the proposed United States Constitution. 

Now, by definition, it goes without saying that the Amendments to the Constitution, including the First Amendment, were not in the original Constitution.  They are "amendments," right?  So, are we agreed that the Constitution, as proposed, did not have the First Amendment? 

As originally proposed, the logic was something like:

If the freely elected government "imposes" its will, so be it.  That is the nature of democracy.  Government for the People.  No kings.  Decisions by the People.  Majority rule.

That is a democratic way to run a country, and, therefore, fair and equitable, right?  Majority rule.

If you answered, "yes," then I suppose you would have voted for the Constitution as originally proposed.  You would not have needed the First Amendment to the Constitution, nor possibly the first ten amendments, called the "Bill of Rights."  If you answered, "Yes," then you believe that the majority controls, and that it is fair to impose the majority will on the minority because that is the democratic process. 

But, that was not what happened.  The People required an amendment to the proposed Constitution.  Because the People at the time were still very afraid and skeptical of governmental power and control over individual rights and freedoms.  To the extent that you are controlled against your will, you are not free.  America is about freedom.

So, even with the free elections, majority rule and no kings, the People were still concerned that the government would become too powerful and would impose its will against the individual.  Therefore, the People would not ratify the Constitution as proposed unless there were certain guarantees for the individual-against the democratic majority.

Step 3: Key.  Now, here's the important part--the following statement is the key to understanding the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights.  We need to read and reread this point until we believe it, because it is true:

The First Amendment, has absolutely nothing to do with the Majority.  By definition, the Majority will ALWAYS be protected in a democratic system.  Majority control is the natural result of any democracy. 

The first ten amendments, The Bill of (Individual) Rights, are guaranteed rights of the Individual AGAINST the Majority.  They are individual protections against the majority decisions in a democratic process.  They are individual guarantees.  This is exactly where we find individual "freedom" in a democratic government. 

The Bill of Rights is a pact between the Government (and the Majority who elected it) and each Individual that the Majority cannot impose its will upon the Individual; the Majority cannot become a surrogate king.  This is where the "freedom" rings.

To individuals wishing to exist within a free society, it is irrelevant if the curtailment of their personal freedoms derives from king or congress.  Please let me say that again: To individuals wishing to exist within a free society, it is irrelevant if the curtailment of their personal freedoms derives from king or congress.

Without the Bill of Rights, the majority would impose its will on the minority.  A majority of Christians, or Jews, or Hindus, or Muslims, for example, would then impose their institutionally religious will, through the democratically elected government, upon the minority.  This was just not acceptable to the People at the time of ratification of the United States Constitution.  They would not agree to the new democracy unless the MINORITY was protected, the individualGovernment control over religion and speech were fundamental problems in the first place.  It is the individual right to be free from the majority will as implemented by and through the elected government.

Step 4.  So, the People made a deal: "We will accept your proposed United States Constitution, provided that you guarantee that the government-albeit a democracy-will respect certain individual rights, or freedoms."  That is, "Make some amendments to the Constitution to guarantee individual rights, and we will vote for the new document for a new country."

Step 5.  And, so it was that the Forefathers of the United States made the first ten amendments to the Constitution, also called the "Bill of Rights."  In order to get the People to ratify the United States Constitution, they "amended" it to include the individual guarantees.  As the country evolves, we should never forget WHY those amendments exist: we must continue to hold fast the core centerpoint: 

The Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to the Constitution, protect the individual rights against the government and the particular majority that elected it.  It is inherently an "individual" right against all other persons, including the majority.  

Part 2.  The Law.

Okay, that is the general conceptual foundation for WHY the Bill of Rights exists.  Having said that, let us look, in particular, at the First Amendment:

Amendment I.  Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Now, again, put that amendment into context.  It is the VERY FIRST amendment.  And, in the First Amendment, religion is the very first topic-even before speech.  Even before speech.  It was important.  It was the heart of the deal between Government and the People.  Freedom of religion.  No individual freedom of religion, no deal.  No deal, no United States.  The Constitution would not be approved without that amendment. 

Now, as author of ONE: The Unified Gospel of Jesus, people sometimes presume that I am a Christian conservative, and that I would naturally be part of the conservative "moral majority."  I cannot say whether I am or whether I am not.  I suppose that I can say that I am fiscally conservative because of my accounting background, but, as to the Bill of Rights I can only say that I love liberty and freedom as much for myself as my fellow American.  And, it is not for me to impose my religion upon another, whether I am in the majority or minority. 

Although I respect priests for their dedication, I am careful to observe that, if the priests of any single religion, denomination or sect were to be the rulers, freedom of religion in America would end, and so would America.  If the priests of any single religion, denomination or sect were to be the rulers, freedom of religion in America would end, and so would America. 

As Thomas Jefferson pointed out, "In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty."  Letter to Horatio G. Spafford, March 17, 1814.  As Americans, we must be very careful to distinguish religion from morality, as I have stated: Christians do not own morality, and it would be insensitive and false to believe that the practice of any Christian institutional denomination is the sole equivalent of morality. 

Part 3.  My Thoughts.

So, as to my personal thoughts, I will start with a premise, as taught by Jesus: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. ONE: 535.  This is a wise teaching, and it is good for controlled and proper social interaction, irrespective of religious connotations.

Now, with that premise in mind, let me apply it in a political scenario, which I call the, "Analogy of the Islands of Anti-America.

A man is shipwrecked and is on an otherwise deserted island.  He is certainly free.  He can do anything he pleases, he is free of all social prejudice and constraint.  Certainly so, for there is no society.  Nevertheless, he is a "good" man: he loves and does good deeds.  He happens to be a Catholic.

Now, another shipwreck occurs with one man surviving who also comes onto the island.  He is also a "good" man: he loves and does good deeds.  He happens to be a Muslim.

The two men are thankful for each other.  They are entirely equal in strength and power.  They talk and determine they do not share the same abstract beliefs.  At first, they have some concern regarding each other because of their religious differences.  But, then, after more time together, they realize that, fundamentally, they are both "good" men, each loving and doing good deeds, regarding concrete issues.  They need each other, and they realize that, if they work together, they can co-exist better together than apart.  So, they make a pact, "We will be friends, and love each other and do concrete deeds of goodness for each other.  And, as to abstract issues of faith, we will each perform our respective prayers by ourselves; we will leave each other alone regarding religion."  Life, freedom and the pursuit of happiness.  They live and prosper.  They agree to share all they acquire for survival.

Now, it comes to be that another shipwreck occurs.  Another man survives and makes it onto the island.  He is a Muslim, as well.  The two Muslims are loving men who do good deeds.  Nevertheless, as to religion, the three men agree that they will practice religion freely without imposition from each other; the Muslims and Catholic will leave each other alone regarding worship issues.  As to worship, they will just let each other alone.  Otherwise, majority vote controls.

Over the course, of years, there are many shipwrecks, with men and woman.  The Muslims outnumber all other non-Muslims ten-to-one.  There are also some loving and good persons who are Atheists.

The Muslims, now being in the majority-at least for the time being-have acquired superior power and Muslim symbols naturally evolve on the schools that are built with the taxes paid by the non-Muslims.  The Catholics naturally start becoming unhappy.  When the Christians say it is not fair to impose Muslim symbols upon their Christian children throughout the political-social environment, the Muslims say, "Look, we're not passing any laws or making you believe in a god or our religion.  Take us to Court."  The problem is that, because there are so many Muslims, the judges are naturally influenced by their own individual religious beliefs, particularly where the judges are elected.  The Muslims say, "If the Catholics and Atheists don't like it, they can just leave."

And, so all the Catholics leave the island.  Now, the island is all Muslims, it is called, "Muslim Island."  If you go onto the island and you are a Catholic, you are directed to "Catholic Island."  If you are an Atheist, you are directed to "Atheist Island."

All the islands are separated, not co-existing peacefully together as one; they just cannot live together.  If you try to stay on Catholic Island, when you are an Atheist or Muslim, you will be ridiculed, as you might be if you are a Catholic on Atheist Island or Muslim Island. 

These are the "Islands of Anti-America."  Can we agree that such a separatist view of political administration is anti-American, or, at least, can we agree that a separatist view should be anti-American?  On the Islands of Anti-America, you must conform your belief to the respective island's majority determination or do not go there.   

I have heard some say that America is a Christian nation, and that prayer in school is justified because the Forefathers were Christian.  But, even so, who is a "Christian"?  If that is true, what country has the real freedom of religion separated from political administration?  What country has achieved the essential point of political administration with the points of religion left only to the private sector.  Where would Thomas Jefferson pray?  Even Thomas Jefferson would have to leave Catholic Island, since he was a Christian pluralist, and he did not believe in the divinity of Jesus or the Holy Trinity. 

Thomas Jefferson would have to leave Catholic Island and start a new country on a new island or continent.

There is no slavery in America.  If the majority should create a law and impose its will upon an individual for exceeding the automobile speed limit, so be it.  That law is necessary for proper controlled social interaction that does not rest upon a fundamental individual right.  But, we Americans-such that we are able to understand our heritage-without political demagoguery or political pandering so common today, must be very careful to watch any time that the government seeks to impose upon an individual anything touching upon a limitation of the guaranteed individual freedoms.  This would be a curtailment of the individual rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights.  Any elected government official-representing the Majority-who thinks that I should consent to waive my individual liberties guaranteed to me by our Forefathers, thinks me a political fool. 

For those who do not know how to count, they lose their money; for those that do not understand the Bill of Rights, they lose their liberties

If the Majority should elect officials who want to change the Constitution or Bill of Rights to limit individual freedoms against the Majority, it is an evolutionary catastrophe for a free nation, even if that evolution is too incrementally subtle for many to observe.  Shall the majority of Christians in America, by democracy, have the same insensitivity to freedom of religion as did the King of England 500 years ago?  Whether it is argued as the Christians against the Hindus, or the Catholics against the Lutherans, it is of no ultimate difference. 

I love America.  America is growing up and evolving.  Evolution can be good or bad.  I only hope that American will never evolve like the animals of Orwell's Farm.  I will say that, for me, it would be bad for America to forget its roots, that, as Jefferson said, "[R]eligion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship."

So, in conclusion:

1. I believe that a "Silent Moment for Thought or Reflection" is appropriate for the public schools of America.  It is for the parents to teach their children how to use that time.  That time can be used for philosophical thought, thinking through the day's activities or religious prayer.  It is for the individual to decide.  This is balanced between and among religions and atheisms. 

2. I believe that the Christian Bible should be taught in public schools, but only with reasonably equal time in the context of something like "Comparative Religions and Beliefs of the World" or the "Great Books."  Christians do not own morality and it is flatly presumptuous to think so.  Wars are still fought with religious misunderstanding.  Knowledge of others' belief-systems builds a bridge, with sensitivity and understanding.  And, although I understand zealots will disagree with me, I truly believe that incalcitrant institutional religious belief regarding abstract ideas is the devil's trick: judge and hate your brother, cause war, cause death and cause destruction-and do so in the name of your good God.  It is the devil who says to kill for abstract ideas in the name of God.

In America, a Buddhist should be able to move into the most Christian community in the American Bible Belt, go to school and be free of Christian imposition.  Must the Buddhist's child be forced to worship in any certain way?  Morality will be learned from the comparative studies of world beliefs, from the Great Books, and from parental care.  Government must find the common moral groundwork of love and respect that transcends the various systems of belief, without preference.  This is freedom.  If this is not reality in America, then I have a dream.

So, I would do to the non-Christian Minority exactly what I would have done to me if I were in the Minority.  That is, as Abraham Lincoln said, to just leave me alone.  And that I may worship, or not worship, solely as I may please.  I will do the same for you.  As if it were just you and I on an island.  While I am thankful for the morals of the Majority, America is grounded on my absolute freedom to accept or reject those morals, provided that I do not violate a law.  And, for so long as America is not Christian Island, and the laws will provide equal protection, I should be safe for the time being-and I pray that is the case forever. 

If happiness, through peaceful and harmonious co-existence between people of diverse beliefs, is supposed to happen anywhere, it was meant to be America.  As stated by the great Martin Luther King, Jr.:

This is our hope.  This is the faith that I go back to the South with.  With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.  With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.  With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.  This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.  Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring."

And, if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.  So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.  Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.  Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!  Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!  Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!  But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!  Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!  Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.  From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual,

"Free at last!  Free at last!  Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

Martin Luther King, Jr., Washington, DC, August 28, 1963.  As a Christian, practice Christianity in the private sector.  As an American, find the common morality that we share as brothers and sisters in a social environment, namely grounded in love, and, in doing so in the public sector, its truth will set us free.

Posted Sunday, June 17, 2007, 8:30 A.M., by Gregg Zegarelli
Revised June 24, 2007, 6:00 A.M., by Gregg Zegarelli
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Subject: Reader Asks Why ONE Was Written

What inspired you to write ONE?  Why did you write ONE?

Thank you for your question.  Please refer to the interview text online.  Also, please refer to Newsletter 1.2 for a demonstration of the real power of the unified text. 

The power of a teaching is that it is learned so that it can be applied; otherwise, it is merely academic.  The power of a written word is that it is read; otherwise, it is useless.   We can theorize about perfect happiness, but would we not just rather have a nice day?  Academics are fine, but it is real-world implementation that changes lives for the better. 

There are two steps: 1) Education; and 2) Implementation.  Without education, we are lost.  Without implementation, the education lacks power, and we remain lost.  We must know where to go, and then, we must go.

Whether anyone has the strength to implement, and the manner and degree of implementation, is ultimately a personal issue.  Inspiration gives strength; inspiration is part of implementation.

ONE may give inspiration-and I certainly hope it does so-but ONE is focused more in the first cause.  The Education.  Now, even unto itself, education requires an implied necessary implementation, because it takes implementation to become educated.  That is, it takes work and dedication to become educated.  And, with our limited time as human beings, it takes knowledge to know where to direct our education.

Sometimes, the burden of the achieving the education is too difficult or complicated.  Accordingly, the education is not achieved, the implementation is misguided, and we remain lost.  So, for those who desire to be perfect scholars, it is only appropriate to become proficient in the source Ancient Greek and Hebrew, for example, and to read each and every one of the relevant extant works.  But, scholarship is a matter of degree; that is, time and life priorities limit everyone's knowledge at some point.  And, such perfect scholarship is futile, since, in the unending quest for perfect knowledge, the scholar would not have any time to implement.  While the scholar learns, the friend remains in the ditch.  So, we choose and prioritize in the context of our life goals.

While perfect scholarship is worthy, should the lessons of Jesus be so heavy?  Is not the yoke easy and burden light?  Is it complex to teach love?  Is the lesson really so removed from the "common person" that we all must be detailed technical scholars?  It is unquestionable that Jesus, himself, reproached the scholars with simple truths. 

In antiquity, words were removed from the common person.  The printing press changed all that, and the Internet is revolutionizing it again.  The common person needed priests and preachers to express and to teach.  The Word was brought to the common person by necessary hearsay; "I will read it, I will interpret it, and I will tell you about it in the manner of my choosing."  But, not anymore.  The ability to read is more prevalent.  The leadership of the preacher and scholar is certainly important for many reasons.  But, the need to rely upon the priest or preacher to convey the Word is not as it was in the past.  ONE will certainly not put priests and preachers out of business, nor should it.  What ONE should do-and it is something to be embraced-is to make any conversation between the priest, preacher and parishioner more meaningful and mutual.  It will certainly help to level the field of understanding.

The ONE project is about bringing the knowledge of Jesus directly to the common person in a meaningful way.  And-yet, importantly-to do it authoritatively.  To lighten the yoke and ease the burden of implementing what is necessary to become educated in the first cause.  ONE simplifies and clarifies the text of the Gospels for the ease of real-world reading and learning-and does so with the authority of the 3,000 entry Unification Index for deepened academic study.  As the testimonials point out, ONE brings home the education.  The ONE project is an idea whose time has come.

Posted Sunday, March 18, 2007, 10:00 P.M., by Gregg Zegarelli
Revised April 7, 2007, 9:00 A.M.
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Subject: Reader Asks about "ONE" Project  

I noticed that you sometime refer to "ONE" as a book, and other times as the "ONE project."  I don't quite understand that distinction.
Response: Thank you for your question.  ONE is both a book and a project.  Possibly more accurately, a project expressed, from time-to-time, in the form of a book or books.

It is a book in the sense that, at any given time, the project can be expressed in a distinct written form.  It is a project in the sense that the book is and should remain a work in progress.  It is this author's intention that ONE continue to be improved by the readership.  Since the book ONE was released on December 1, 2006, we have received many wonderful testimonials from our readers that we deeply appreciate.  Even so, we have sincerely embraced reader comments through our "Help Us Edit" page. 

As the author of ONE, I would like to believe that the book is a work of goodness and of some value to others, but I cannot say that it is or will ever be perfect or finished.  That is too heavy a cross, at least for me alone.  I invite and embrace the continued help of the readers.  I am humbled to receive the help of others, and I am reminded that even Jesus needed the help of Simon.  I would rather endure the pinpricks of openly acknowledging typographical errors, for example, than to keep secret any flaw in the work.  There is a greater purpose.

As stated elsewhere in this document, the purpose of ONE is to bring home the teachings and life of Jesus to casual readers whose life priorities do not permit deepened scholarship.  Yet, to do so with authority.  To do so with authority is the key to understanding the purpose of ONE and why it is different. 

Stated another way, the real goal of the ONE "project" is to continue to hone the unification of the four Gospels to allow for ease of reading and deepened understanding by the non-scholar-the "regular person" if that is a compliment.  If the layperson informs a scholar that he or she has read ONE, and the scholar has great difficulty refuting the value of the act of reading ONE as an authoritative lesson in the life and teachings of Jesus, then we have accomplished our goal.

I will give an example, which will illustrate the point in a common scenario, albeit still a bit technical:

You know that technology allows us to listen to music in the form of CD's.  CD's are pervasive and a very appreciated consumer technology.

All music is conveyed in the form of sound waves.  However, CD's do not store the music they contain in "waves" but in "digits" (1's and 0's) interpreted back into waves by the CD player.  This form of CD digital music storage is actually different from traditional vinyl albums that used non-digital analog "wave" storage.  (The record player needle just reproduced the wave impression in the vinyl.)

Now, if we wish to listen to music in its pure form, we must make time to attend the concert hall production.  Within the limitations of the environment at the concert hall, the music is self-defining and conveyed perfectly.  We hear the sound waves as released from the instruments.  The gift of this reception is certainly worthy and valued, at the expense of the time and schedule. 

Some purists argue that there is no way to listen to the music as intended but to attend the live concert.  And, the purists may be correct.  It is certainly worthy to hear music at live concerts when and if we can do it.  But, should we not hear the music because we cannot attend the concert?

I will step it a notch.  You may not know this, but it is true: some purists will also argue that music conveyed from traditional vinyl record albums is "warmer" and purer than music conveyed by CD's.  That is, there is no perfect interpretation of a wave into a set of digits.  Again, the traditional vinyl record albums store music in pure analog waves, not in disconnected binary digits that need to be put back together.  And, the purists may be correct.  Wave analog storage is a more pure reflection of the music.  But, ultimately, which sounds better to you?  The CD or the vinyl album?

So, the purist may be theoretically correct: You must attend the concert to hear the music perfectly conveyed.  You should listen to vinyl albums to hear the reproduction of a wave, rather than the reorganization of binary digits into waves by CD players.

But, the purists have a difficult time with those arguments because: 1) the regular person does not have the time to attend concerts to receive perfect music; and 2) the difference in ultimate message to the listener by vinyl versus CD's is effectively immaterial to the enjoyment of the message. 

Likewise, the scholar may argue that there is no way to study the life of Jesus except by reading all four Gospels, memorizing the distinctions and getting a direct understanding through synthesis of the separate works.  The scholar-the purist-may be correct. 

The purists now have a difficult time making their case to the regular consumers about the benefits of wave analog reproduction because regular consumers see the ultimate value of the CD: its convenience, simplicity and accuracy convey every bit of what they need to take from the artist's intended message. 

The goal of the ONE "project" is to keep moving the ONE book forward to a point where it becomes pervasive to regular consumers because its convenience, simplicity and accuracy convey every bit of what people need to take from Jesus' intended message.  The music of Jesus is conveyed consistently and will be actually listened to frequently, and, when the readers have time to attend the concert of the Gospels, they should certainly do so.

Thank you for your question.

Posted Friday, April 10, 2007, 7:00 A.M., by Gregg Zegarelli
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Subject: Reader Asks about Purchasing Locations
Email to a Friend:

ONE is available at, other online retailers and bookstores.  Do you have a preference?

First, I can tell you that, based upon probabilities, it is likely that you will have a positive purchasing experience at most well-reputed retail locations.  Second, I have noticed that there are some online sales offers that seem to be very inexpensive, but neither I nor the publisher can confirm the quality of the merchandise received.

At OUGPress, the publisher website, there are a few advantages: 1) a packaging is in the signature red-foil envelopes, which is inherently suitable as gift wrapping; as a result, you do not need to order gift wrapping at an additional cost; 2) the publisher usually includes an introductory "getting started" brochure, that is not included from other sources; 3) the "Limited Edition" certificate is included for the Original Printing.  The publisher at OUGPress also offers "one price" shipping, as well direct discount rates not otherwise available.  Also, the publisher generally offers a "buy four get one free" special. 

Therefore, I believe that the most consistent excellent purchasing experience, for cost and quality, is purchasing direct from the publisher at

As a result, purchasing directly from OUGPress is often the best choice.

Posted Saturday, February 10, 2007, 10:00 A.M., by Gregg Zegarelli
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Subject: Reader Asks for Reprint of Announcement of ONE: Divine Version
Email to a Friend:

This is the first announcement of ONE.  Many persons found the description of the four witnesses to be compelling and commented on it.  Because this announcement was sent only to contacts of my law firm, Zegarelli Law Group, it is reproduced here.


Zegarelli Law Group Special Update (November 30, 2006)

Dear Clients and Friends of Zegarelli Law Group:

We have a special update! It is somewhat personal, but we wanted you to be the first to know (by this pre-announcement) that Gregg Zegarelli, Esq., has published the book, ONE. Shipping begins tomorrow.

ONE is the culmination of a two and one-half year project for the unification of the four Gospels of Jesus. There are versions for Christians and non-Christians.

You might ask yourself, "Why is an attorney authoring a book about Jesus?' Here's a hint:

The four Gospels of Jesus are called "testimonies" such as they are the four recountings of Jesus' life by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. But, they have significant differences in the testimony.

So, if you are interested, read on.

As many Christians know, there are four Gospels of Jesus: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. It is within these four Gospels that the story of Jesus is told with first-hand statements by Jesus. However, each of the Gospels is not necessarily consistent with the other Gospels, and only some of the Gospels contain some of the stories.

For example, did you know:

• Only one Gospel has the statement, “Father forgive them they know not what they do.”
• Only two Gospels contain the circumstances of Jesus' birth.
• Only three Gospels contain the temptation of Jesus.
• All of the Gospels contain the resurrection, but one has different facts.

The major motion picture, The Nativity Story, that opens tomorrow in theaters is based upon the two of the four Gospels that recount that story. More specifically, the Gospel of Matthew has the story of the "wise men" and the Gospel of Luke has the story of the "shepherds."

What Gregg has done is to take the four Gospels and unify them in an authoritative work of only 230 pages, but with 3,000 references back to the source Gospels. Each of the 3,000 references cites back to as many as four source Gospels. So, for each and every clause in ONE, the reader can source the text back to the original Gospel(s).

Gregg says, “It was as if four witnesses came into my office with four different stories and wanted me to take their case. They all tell the story differently. But, that story must be presented clearly and consistently. Otherwise, the weight of differences is too heavy for the judge and jury to accept. My job, as the attorney-what we attorneys are trained to do-is to reconcile the evidence, and to present the story seamlessly. Then, the impact is compelling.”

He says, “Without ONE, you need to read four books, recall the events, compare and contrast the text, and then try to unify the stories in your mind. I thought, ‘There must be an easier way. Has it really been this hard for 2,000 years?’”

Educated completely at Catholic institutions, including Central Catholic and Duquesne University, it took Gregg two and one-half years on the project of unification and more than six years of deepened study. Gregg, of course, is a technology attorney and former technology consultant, and it required the latest technologies to allow for the unification process.

He says, "If you asked Frank Lloyd Wright why his buildings were not built 2,000 years ago, he would say that the technology at the time did not support the design for the idea. Only now has technology become available to support the design for ONE."

Because the text is only 230 pages, and because it is fully unified, it reads as easily as a novel for casual readers. Yet, because the text is fully cited to the 3,000 source Gospels, it is a superb reference work for students, scholars, preachers.

As stated above, there are two versions, one for Christians (called the "Divine Version") and another version for non-Christians (called the "Universal version"). Gregg is committed to sharing the wisdom of Jesus to persons of many faiths. The Universal version is redacted in a manner sensitive to persons of non-Christian faith; that is, the beautiful teachings remain, but certain miracles that rest on devout Christian faith have been removed.

How has ONE been received by his fellow Catholics? Gregg responds, “If religion divides, it’s the devil’s game. When someone reads ONE, they are taking their valuable time to read Jesus’ message of love, and that is, I think, something for all of us to embrace.”

For more information go to

We recognize that our Client Updates usually have information about recent changes in the law, but we sincerely believe the nature of this work is timely, interesting and compelling.

Posted Saturday, February 10, 2007, 10:00 A.M., by Gregg Zegarelli
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One, by Gregg Zegarelli, is the Unified Gospel of Jesus.  It is the only fully-referenced unified gospel available anywhere at any price.
It is a harmony of the Gospels of Jesus.  One is the Unified Consolidated Integrated Gospels of Matthew, Gospel of Mark, Gospel of Luke and Gospel of John.  It is a parallel of the Gospels.
Your religious library is not complete without this special study bible; a parallel gospel within a harmony of the gospels.  Truly a work of inspiration.  It will inspire you.
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