“It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.” — Chinese Proverb
When we first went online in 1999 we were the first alternative interfaith seminary (and mystery school) to work in the cyber realm. Our site was the only place esoteric and alternative “believers” could come to become ordained, get a minister license, and start their own ministries immediately. The church/seminary website did not have ANY security, no 12- hour malware scans like we must pay for now, no Google blacklisting threat — Google didn’t exist when we first went online, actually! — no porn site spamming onslaughts with tens of thousands of spam comments coming from overseas. No blogs existed then, either, come to think of it.
In the days before cyber warfare our website focused not on safety and defense but on simply getting the word out. We were among the pioneers in building the online spiritual community, many of our forum members were original contributors on places like Beliefnet. We offered a service — minister ordination — to people who had alternative spiritual beliefs and to mainstream believers who had not time or money to sit thru four years of seminary just to be able to perform a wedding. Many ordinands thus came (and still come) to us simply to become an ordained minister in order to officiate a wedding for a family member or close friend. Many others want minister ordination to found their own church, non-profit organization, or alternative spiritual healing practice, or to do spiritual teaching and lecturing.
From our beginning in 1987 our mission has been to get clergy the credentials they need so that people in every county of every state can find alternative, multi-faith or interfaith ministers to help them along life’s milestones and find a spiritual home.
Our Theological Seminary also has the authority to grant the Doctor of Divinity, Theology, PhD in Religion or PhD in Metaphysics and other religious degrees to help our clergy serve their communities better by reassuring their clients and parishioners they are not a flake or a fake. People deserve to have clergy they can trust not to judge them, trust not to deny services to them because they are not a member of their church, or their church does not “approve” of their flavor of religious beliefs.
People deserve non-denominational clergy who are not brainwashed in the “traditional” stuffy four-year seminaries. Alternatives to mainstream clergy are in high demand and that’s why our ministers and rabbis prove time and again as they perform weddings, funerals, work as hospital and prison chaplains and bring spiritual healing. Our clergy have already gained knowledge by field experience, by actually laboring in the field of spirituality and religion. They have studied and worked independently, gaining credit for so-called life experience as they do hands on labor working unnoticed, guiding, counseling and ministering to countless people-in-need.
The darkness comes around every now and then — every year like clockwork in the case of our solstices and equinoxes! — and tries to crowd out the light. In the past month our seminary and church’s 13 year old (admittedly clunky) website got attacked by everything from anti-semitic Turkish hackers to black-hat SEO campaigns waged by competitors. So just like the solstice, we are hoping for the light to shine and dispel this darkness. Many people get depressed this time of year, biologically assisted by the shortness of light exposure each day.
Darkness psychologically affects us, brings us down. We love it when Nature turns on the lights with the Winter Solstice and all the world’s religions/cultures have created holidays for that event. Earth turns the corner this year and the days begin getting longer on December 21, 2012 at 6:12 a.m. Eastern Time, USA. I don’t think there will be doomsday that day, as some claim the Mayan calendar predicted. Now that would really be depressing… I need to cheer up and “count” my lucky “stars.”
Beliefnet.com has a whole section on the Winter Solstice, the Return of the Light, in all the faiths of the world. Their inspiring words have cheered me up this day as I battle it out with search engine rank damage, malware recovery and anti-hacking security updates. As I told our alumni today on our two forums, part of me longs for the days when we were just a “correspondence school” doing everything with magazine ads and snail mail. Magazine ads, what are those? Hee hee.
Here’s some inspiration from Beliefnet.com:
The holidays mark a time of joy and celebration, but also a time of long, dark days. May this collection of quotes inspire you to see the light.
Light above you.
Light below you.
Light all around you.
Light within you.
“Winter is the time of love and of taking the light within.” –Terry Lynn Taylor
“Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face.” – Victor Hugo