Humanist Voices
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Humanist Voices

Chat with Rholdee Dela Mance Lagumbay

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: What was your background in religion growing up?

Rholdee Dela Mance Lagumbay: Well, I was born a Roman Catholic family. My Grandfather is a hardcore RC. Every Sunday we go to church. But when we go home, I feel empty. When I grew up, I started seeking. I found other Christian Churches and attended their services. Still I find something is lacking. You see, Christian Churches always say that “Salvation” is only through Jesus Christ. But how about others who did not know Jesus in their lifetime? This idea deeply troubled me as I was growing. This is the “emptiness” I felt. If God was so wise, why can’t he understand the fact that there are some who will never know him in this lifetime?

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: How did you find Catholicism?

Lagumbay: Catholicism, Roman Catholicism (to be very specific) for me is not more of a Spiritual institution, but a Political one. It was created by Constantine the Great to expand his influence over Rome. He used the teachings of a Great Spiritual Master, wrapped it with Myths and Legends — viola! Mar Yeshua Ha Messiach became Lord Jesus the Christ. The Bible was compiled to support this Claim. He who says something against their “Canon” ia then a Heretic. Excommunication was the most painful thing to happen. If you’re not killed, you’ll be put into exile.

The word Catholic means Universal. This should’ve been the focus of this Religion. Everyone is Part of the “Body of Christ” so to speak. Christian or not, Theist or Atheist, we are all part of the whole Universe, therefore Kathulikus (Greek word for Universal). This has been wrongly used by the Roman Catholics.

The Catholic Universalist Church is part of the Growing Liberal Catholic Movement. We are the type of Catholics who do not believe in the Authority of Rome, but we believe in the Divinity and Dignity of every man. We are the Heretics, the Gnostics, and the Mystics.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: What is mysticism within the Catholic tradition?

Lagumbay: Mysticism, is acknowledging that life in itself is ‘Mystical’. Man is the temple of “God”. Now, when I say God, I do not mean an old man in the Sky, but the One Ultimate Reality. It’s the all pervading Energy Consciousness that surrounds everything and everyone. The whole Universe, including “us” is made up of this Energy Consciousness. If you like, this is somewhat to what Star Wars called, “The Force”.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: What is Mysticism within the Church?

Lagumbay: It is actually the belief that God is within everything and everyone, yet beyond everything and everyone. This “God” that I speak of is both immanent and transcendent. We are all “Mystically Connected” to everything and everyone in the whole Universe. As per Albert Einstein, “Everything is Energy”. We are made up of the same substances. Our bodies are the real Temple of God. When we Pray or Meditate, the real “communion” with God happens internally, not in a church building. Now, this is the greatest mystery. Man is the meeting place of Both the Divine (Spirit/God/Higher Self) and Mundane (Physical/Lower self). His body is the Temple of the living God!

As Catholicism evolved, it acquired so many rituals that helps Man attune to his higher self (e.g. Ringing of bells, incense, kneeling, raising of the Chalice, singing, etc.), so we retain these practices up until this time, since we believe this is vital to our Psycho-spiritual evolution.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: How do you practice the teachings of Jesus Christ in your universalist church?

Lagumbay: The Catholic Universalist Church has no doctrines or Dogma. We consider ourselves ‘pre-Nicene’ Catholics. Meaning, we do not adhare to all the councils. We do not even use the Nicene or Apostles creed.

We believed that the core teaching of Jesus was Love. It is giving highest respect to everyone.

We believe that the best way to serve “God” was to serve our Fellow man. We were given orders by our Master Jesus to Love, not to Judge our fellow man.

We welcome everyone to the Church and worship with us regardless of Gender, Race, Religion, Political Beliefs, etc. The Sacrament is also open for everyone. We do not believe in ‘conversion’, since religion is not important. Connecting with God is a peraonal thing to do. You can do that without having a religion. The only advantage if you are in CUC is that, you are free to whatever you want to believe. The Church will not condemn you for that. We will encourage you to pursue your Path (e.g. BUDHHISM, HINDUISM, ISLAM, ETC.) as we believe every man has different paths that is neccesary for Spiritual Growth.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: As a Catholic priest in the Catholic Universalist Church, is this a title different or a content difference being in the universalist church as opposed to the common title of “Roman Catholic Church”?

Lagumbay: For the Catholic Universalist Church, priesthood is Servant Leadership. It is a Vocation, not a profession. We as ministers do not accept “payments” for sacraments.

We prefer to be called as “brothers”, but in the PH people call us “Father”. It sounds weird for me being called ‘father’ by people 60 to 70 years of age, but eventually I got used to it.

Priesthood, for us is a facilitator of the Sacraments. We lead the Worship Services. However, we do not see ourselves Higher than anyone in the congregation. In the Mass, we “worship” with everyone. We are all equally important. Again, you do not need a Priest to connect with God. We are just here to aid you with the rituals you need. Nothing more.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: How do you view the teachings of Jesus Christ?

Lagumbay: Jesus Christ, or Yeshua Ben Yosef was a radical Jewish Rabbi who knew the Higher Spiritual truths (abou God/the Force) and is far more advance than any other ‘teachers’ of his time. He calls God “Abba”. This does not mean Father, but is actually ‘Heavenly Father/Mother who is the Source of Everything’. Jesus had female disciples which shows equality. He often speaks of the “Kingdom of God is Within!”, meaning, we co-create heaven here on earth by ‘following his teaching’, not by believing that ‘he is God’. Jesus, for us is more of an Enlightened Master just like the “Buddha” of Buddhism. He embodies the ‘Wisdom of the Cosmos’, which he showed to us through words an actions. Jesus knew that every man has this Divine potential to become like him. The goal of Christianity is not to believe that Jesus was God, or the Only Son of God, but an active transformation of oneès life through Love and Compassion. Master Jesus showed the way we need to follow. Mistranslations made Jesus the “Son of Man” (Bar Nasha in Aramaic). But it’s wrong. The word in Aramaic is Bar Enash, which means, “Son of Mankind”. So, Jesus was preaching not about his “Second Coming”, but he was preaching this grand awakening or Enlightenment of the Masses. It is when us, Humans will finally awaken to our true potential and evolve into a higher being (which was embodied by Jesus 2000 years ago).

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: What trends among the youth trouble you?

Lagumbay: What troubles me about the youth today is having “unprotected” and “uneducated” sexual practices. I am not pro or anti pre-marital sex. However, these acts have great consequences if done in wrongly (e.g. STD’s, teenage pregnancy, etc.) Education must be the youths number one weapon. They should be properly informed about this.

I guess movies and social media has a great impact on youth today. I also believe that this platform can help educate the Youth.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: What trends among the elderly trouble you?

Lagumbay: What troubles me about the elderly is that, most of them has closed minds and hearts. For them, they have already reached the “pinnacle” of wisdom, so they stop learning. There are no more room for new Ideas and innovation.
They are the hardest people to deal with.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Robust societies have rich ties between generations. How can we regain that in the digital era?

Lagumbay: For me, genuine love and compassion creates a very solid tie between people, regardless of race, gender, nationality, age, etc.

If the Youth and the Elderly could both educate each other using the language of “Love and compassion”, then I guess both generations can learn from each other.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: How do you practice the teachings of Jesus Christ in your universalist church?

Lagumbay: God is love. Jesus showed this through his life and teachings. He did not preached about the “end of the world”, but he preached about the future of Humanity. He preached about the evolution of the Soul, perfected through the purifying flames of ‘Hell’.
For us, hell is Real but temporary. A God of love will not punish his Children for Eternity. Going back to “the Force” concept, we are all part of God. God can never punish a ‘part’ of Himself forever. You cannot say, “finger I do not need you because you are sinful.” Instead, you redeem your finger. Same is true with God. The purpose of punishment is for us to be corrected, and become better individuals. Why do you think God will punish ‘for eternity’ a person that only lived a short and temporary life here on earth? That is totally nonesense. The belief of eternal hell is for control, and for money-making as well.
It is far more logical to believe in karma and re-incarnation (which was originally one of the earliest teachings in Christianity).

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: As a Christian Gnostic, how does this overlap with humanism, especially through HAPI?

Lagumbay: Spirituality and Humanism is “inseparable”. Why?

Because, “God is our Highest Self. It is the ‘Spark of the Divine’ that makes us truly Human.”
I am a Spiritual Humanist. I also believed that Jesus was a Spiritual Humanist. He puts more weight on Human Dignity than following rigid rules and dogmas. He understood that “Laws were made because man do not understand Love. Love is the Fulfilment of the Law.”

That is why I am still here on HAPI, despite of those Radical Atheists bashers.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: How did you find HAPI?

Lagumbay: I found HAPI Before I became a Priest. I was so lost that time. I had been through a series of paradigm shifts. It was a journey of “Spiritual Awakening”.

I bumped into HAPI through Facebook. I met a lot if likeminded people, surprisingly most of them are Atheists and Agnostics. It was through HAPI that I met Gino Paradela, whom introduced me to Catholic Universalist Church which I am now a minister.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: What is the history Christian Gnosticism in the Philippines?

Lagumbay: Before us, I have not known of any authentic ‘Christian Gnostics’ in the Philippines. Most of the groups I know are ‘imitations’, or simply “false gurus” promising Enlightenment using the teachings of Master Jesus.

However, in it’s simplest form, everyone can become a Gnostic. Gnosis is a Greek word for “Knowing” or “Wisdom”. It is knowledge not based on books or external teachings, but an ‘internal revelation’ of the Divine (God/Spirit). Gnosis is attained through meditation, contemplation, and action. We value the Bible, in the sense that it does not hold an absolute truth. It’s not a rulebook, but a compass. Read the scripture, contemplate, forget it’s meaning, meditate, and read it again. You will view the scripture in a different light.

And of course, you take action afterwards.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: If you could take one principle in the Bible for humanists, what would it be?

Lagumbay: Love. That is the core principle of the Teachings of Master Jesus. If we have Love, then we don’t need complicated Laws. Love is the fulfillment of the Law. The Laws are made because of Love. Love is the force that binds everything and everyone. God is Love! When we say, “do not do unto others what you don’t want them do unto you”, that doesn’t mean you are being kind because of a Reward of Heaven, or you are afraid of Hell’s punishment. You do ‘Good’ because the moment you look at into the eye of your fellow man, you see the Soul of God in him, which is also the same Soul in you. You do not hurt them because hurting others would also mean hurting God; and to love others is to love yourself More.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: If you could take one lesson from the Bible, what would it be for humanists?

Lagumbay: When Jesus was accused by the Priests of Blasphemy, he answered back, “Is it not written in your law? ‘I said you are gods’?”

Jesus was actually refering to Psalm 82:9 that says, “I said, you are gods, and all of you are Children of the Most High.”

Being that said in the Old Testament, and hearing that from the mouth of Master Jesus, we can conclude that Ancient Masters knew this One Ultimate Truth — that we all made up of the Same cosmic Substance, and we carry the DNA of God (e.g. The Force). We are the co-creators of our own reality. We can make our earth a Heaven or Hell depending on how we live our lives. Worship means to serve God, and we do that best when we serve our fellow men.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: If you could re-interpret a mainstream interpretation of Christianity for the general public to have a change of heart and mind about The Gospel, what would it be?

Lagumbay: “Nobody is coming. GOD has already SENT YOU.”

Let us not wait for a Messiah that would save us from damnation. Only we can save and uplift ourselves from the Hell thaf we are into right now. Only us can change our bad behaviour. Only us can change our attitude. Only us can overcome our addiction. Changing ourselves, we are also uplifting our consciousness. By doing that, we are also others. Thus, we are contributing to the Grand Awakening of Humanity.

Do not wait for Master Jesus to be re-incarnated on the World. We all poses the ‘Christ Consciousness’ within us. We need to awaken that ‘Divine Spark’ in us. We are born in this world to heal it. We are the ‘Messiah’ in training.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: What are your hopes for Christian Gnosticism and humanism in the Philippines?

Lagumbay: Well, I hope that Christians will be more open minded in the future. Gnosticism is a way of life. You can keep your religion, however you can choose to ‘tap’ the ‘Spirit’ within you, than following rigid rules and church doctrines. If your church rules contribute to spreading Genuine Love, then Go practice it. If not, don’t support it. If many of these rules contribute on hate, division, elitism and discrimination, then maybe you need to find a new Church.

I hope that Humanism will not be demonized by mainstream Christian Churches. I am looking forward to a future of Atheists, Theists and everyone in between will work together for the betterment of Mankind, rather than arguing who is right, when that act does not change anything at all.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Any final feelings or thoughts?

Lagumbay: Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to share my thoughts, words and ideals about Humanism. I hope and I pray with all my Heart that One day, there shall be no walls dividing Mankind. I hope that mankind will finally be free from the enslavement of Religion.

You see, instead of us accessing God within and unleashing our true potential as Divine Beings, religion trapped us into believing that we are damned, and that we are hopeless if we do not submit into their authorities.

Let us take back our Powers. We are the Temple of God. Our Hearts is the Altar of Sacrifice. We best serve. God by serving our Fellow man.

When I look into your eyes, I see the Soul of God. It is my Soul. To hurt you, is to hurt my self.

And to love you, is to love myself more.

Namaste.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Thank you for your time, Rholdee.

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Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Scott Douglas Jacobsen is the Founder of In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal and In-Sight Publishing. Jacobsen supports science and human rights.