Tag Archives: Faith Traditions

Easter Weekend Reflections from Airlift Mike

Whether the reader of these words be Christian, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Atheist, Agnostic, or none-of-the-above – there is one thing in which we all must be in agreement: this Jesus of Nazareth’s impact on planet earth and it’s history is undeniable, quantifiable, and measurable.

Through all these now twenty centuries, his messages of Peace, Love, Hope & Redemption have reverberated strongly, from the blood-soaked sands of his birth in the Middle-East to the church steeples on the corners of Anytown, USA.

And as you and I dance every day on a whisker-thin bubble that separates this life from the afterlife, Easter weekend reminds us all of his hopeful, joyful promise of that life which follows this one.

Let’s be honest. This is the part that hangs us all up the most. 

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The Laughing Christ – an artist’s rendering that has adorned the Airlift Productions Studio Walls for over two decades

Life after Death? Really?

When I’m often questioned on this one, I respond, “Well, where do you go when you dream? We already spend a third of our lives (sleeping) existing in pure consciousness. What’s the big deal about going from one third to three thirds?”

We will all do the math.

Life is but a parenthesis in eternity.  From cradle to grave, sperm to worm, womb to tomb … in the final reality – Eternity – no more real than an eight hour nightly dream on your Serta perfect sleeper. For true.

Jesus of Nazareth got that! He lived that. He died that. Or did he? 

Truth be known – You and I are but ghosts driving  meat-coated skeletons made from stardust! Let that one sink in a bit. The biggest part of any of us will never show up in an autopsy. And it’s not about the name on your driver’s license, or how much water you displace in a hot tub. All things must pass. You and me included.

What fights the realization that these words I write are true is Ego. E-G-O – Earth Guide Only, Edging God Out, Eliminating Golden Opportunities! Merely one of the teachings that the Nazarene – in his too-short tour of duty – was trying to get through to mortal man.

And I continue to be amazed by some of our sayings, like “Hey, I’m only human!” No, you’re not. We’re all more. Much more.

But here’s the big caveat – only to the extent that we realize this, internalize this, and make it our day-to-day reality. 

Yeshua, along with the Lion and the Lamb ... and a promise of 'swords to plowshares' ... death to the EGO and a promise of everlasting Life
Yeshua, along with the Lion and the Lamb … and a promise of ‘swords to plowshares’ … death to the EGO and a promise of everlasting Life

If you’ve run with me this far, let’s take it a bit further.

I’ll never understand the Christian who makes fun of the Jew, when Judaism was the incubator for all Christianity! While many will agree that Jesus to his death was still a Jew, few realize that St. Paul (Saul of Tarsus) to his beheading by Nero in 68 AD Rome – was still a Jew!

So, if looked at from a different perspective, all what we term ‘Christianity’ today could be viewed as a rather elaborate and magnificent Jewish sect.  Yes,  the two great faith traditions are inextricably and deliciously intertwined at the root forever.

Easter, Passover – from solemn seder meals to Good Friday crawfish boils – we all need to find a way to come to the same table!

And 9-11 & Osama Bin Laden no more represented sacred Islam than David Koresh at Waco or a hooded Klansman at a lynching represented sacred Christianity. But that is the subject for another holiday weekend blog, another day.

"I am in the Father... and the Father is in Me" ~ 21st century style
“I am in the Father… and the Father is in Me” ~ 21st century style

Yes, this Jesus of Nazareth sure did teach us all to “color outside the lines” … and think “outside the box”. Wait a minute, you mean there’s a box?

Yes, the one humans call a coffin.  

And the everlasting promise of this Easter weekend – no matter what your faith or belief system – is that ‘the box’ is not the end … of … the … story.

(to be continued)

Airlift Productions & Airlift Mike wish ALL across the planet a Happy, Peace-full, Easter Weekend!

                To Communicate is the Beginning of Understanding! 

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Merry Christmas! And An Open Letter From Jesus of Nazareth

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I am the one called Yeshua and was born some twenty centuries ago in a sleepy village known as Bethlehem, Israel, Middle-East on planet Earth in the backwaters of the Milky Way. And times were hard.

Slavery. False gods. Racism. Prejudice. Violence. And most of the known world lived under the boot of the Roman Empire. Today in 2017, sadly, these same problems persist – only the names have been changed to protect the guilty.

Ironically, I drove the money changers out of the temple all those centuries ago, only to see that the religions founded in my name have today all opened the doors widely. And let them all back in!

It would seem that my message of Love, Peace, Brotherhood, and Equality of all men has been hijacked by otherwise well-intentioned men who claim to follow me – only to use it to their own ends.  And all from separate camps.

JesusLooksDownFromCloudsAirliftProductionsFrom the Roman Catholic to the Protestant, from the Southern Baptist to the Jehovah Witness, from the Mormon … to David Koresh’s Branch Davidian compound at Waco – all have built WALLS to keep their believers IN, and the non-believers OUT.

A True Faith, a True Religion, indeed a True Spirituality should build bridges – not walls. The bridge, by definition, must touch both banks of the river, and allow for two-way traffic. I came to the 3rd rock from the sun to serve as a bridge … God the Father in Me became Man … so that one day man could become … and return to God.

And as to this fixation on the Cross? Way too much emphasis has been placed on the final ugly twelve hours of my life (from Gethsemane to Golgotha, thanks, Mel Gibson) fostering centuries of guilt, when the emphasis should be placed on the glorious, Joy-full, Joy-US way in which I lived each and every day of my Life!

After all, should I return today and be found guilty of similar ‘crimes against the state’/sedition and be sentenced to death, twenty centuries from today, would you be wearing an electric chair or a gurney with a syringe around your neck? I think not.

If there should be any symbol at all for my true followers – it should be the Open Tomb, for I came indeed to grant ALL the keys to eternal life.

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Yes, of course, my blood was shed for ALL  that fateful Friday on the ‘hill of skulls’, but what I wanted remembered and commemorated was the way in which I lived, not the excruciatingly painful way in which I “died” and went to the cross.

My LIFE is my message. Consider, as a case in point, my very first miracle – at the wedding feast at Cana.  Many know of the water that became wine in the jars of clay. But few realize that I was the very last to leave the dance floor that night.

And as to this Micheal who purports to put these words into my mouth?

Well, frankly, the Father & I have through all man’s centuries always chosen to work through plain, ordinary, salt-of-the-earth types – fishermen, shepherd boys, whores, even tax collectors.  Simply add one more sinner to the list.

Finally,  your Faith in me should not be relegated to an observance, head-bowed once a week in a building, in a church or temple. It should be knit into the everyday fabric of your daily life … and lived!

After all, I came to your planet not to be venerated.  But imitated.

Follow me.  Please?

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Oh, and I almost forgot. Merry Christ-mas to ALL from the New Jer-USA-lem!  And thanks for all the neat presents. You really shouldn’t have.

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Respectfully, and with prayers for the 3rd rock to IncreaseThePeace ~

Micheal Z

Requiem For A Hero: Charlie Ziants (1925-1996)

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My Pop – Charles Edwin Ziants – at his favorite place, the beach, enjoying his last year, 1995

Yesterday, March 17th, was St. Patrick’s Day 2015, tomorrow will be St. Joseph’s Day 2015, and today (as the old Temptations record out of Motown would extol) … “was the day my daddy died”.

Some of my earliest recollections as a child are of trying to fall asleep in New Castle, PA, while listening to his raucous  laughter from down the hallway, as he sat in front of a b/w TV  watching Jackie Gleason in ‘The Honeymooners’. I would later join him.

What a character! ‘Good time Charlie’ to the gang around the golf course or bowling alley, ‘Mr. Ziants’ to many around the power plants (coal, then later, nuclear), ‘Chuck’ to Phyllis, his wife of 40+ years  … and ‘Sir’ or ‘Pop’ to my brothers and me.

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Chuck Ziants, who would later master the thing, at the accordion in 1935 Windber, PA, flanked by his Uncles Steve & Joe. And boy, could Charlie make that thing … sing!

Felled way before his time, at only 70, by Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, pop was otherwise healthy as a horse, as the expression goes. Extremely rare, CJD is often called the human equivalent of mad cow disease (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) … in short, he ate something that didn’t agree with him.  CJD, named for the doctors that first discovered it, is incurable and invariably fatal.

Towards the end, he and I would joke about his going out like a Viking – sword in hand,  ship ablaze, on his way to Valhalla! What really happened was … they kept his brain for further study before the cremation.

The various faith traditions around the planet have different takes on the afterlife. Buddhist tradition holds that in the bardo (the in-between-world) the spirit gets to choose the parents into whom’s lives it will incarnate. If that’s true, thank God I picked this guy.

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Charlie Ziants – in a pic he sent home from Europe to his sweetie Phyllis – trying to look all macho and all that. I’d say, for only 21, he pulled it off.

Courageous – a veteran of both World War II & Korea … Brilliant – Ohio State Buckeye Grad & accomplished engineer …. Trustworthy – he raised five kids … Loving – a pat on the back or kick in the butt when needed …. Gregarious & Fun – always there with a joke, laugh, and a cold adult beverage … Supportive – a treasure trove of sage advice & counsel … Resilient & Resourceful – never without a job or paycheck … Athletic – a true bowling & golf ace … Musical – you should have heard him on the accordion & piano …  and with a Sense of Humor, coupled with a Voice and a Laugh, that could fill a hall and really grab attention.

Rumi, the Persian mystic & poet once wrote, “When you are dead, seek for your final resting place … not in the dirt, but in the hearts of men”.  Charlie even pulled this feat off too!

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Charlie Ziants quietly celebrating a rather good day on the golf course with his mates, Beaver Falls, PA, 1971

Have you ever been on the interstate and found yourself in between two big semi-trucks as you barreled down the highway, knowing that you were safe from state police radar because you were ‘in the cradle’, safe between these two big guys?

I would later comfort my mother, at both the funeral and today, that Charlie dropping his body on this date – the 18th of March, in between St. Patrick’s and St. Joseph’s day, on his way to the ‘other side’ – did exactly the same thing.

Pop, as the family today commemorates the 19th year of your passing , may God Bless You, sir. Many thanks for your service, both on foreign shores in the U.S. Army … and on these shores raising the tribe of Ziants.

Airlift Productions ~ Audio Alchemy from NOLA since 1984