Archive for the ‘inspiration’ Category

Murder is Murder, Period!

July 17, 2016



Qandeel Baloch (Fouzia Azeem) was spending Eid al-Fitr (a Muslim festival for “breaking the fast”) with her family. Her brother seems to have thought it meant “Festival for Breaking the Neck” or some such as he strangled her while she slept.

A woman in Pakistan fighting for women’s rights in a nation and a religion which is intolerant to both. Her brother, Waseem, claimed it was an “honor killing”.

The phrase, like Waseem himself, is an oxymoron.

Perhaps he should be the victim of the same for being an utter disgrace to his family, his nation, his religion, his sex, his species, and the planet as a whole, as well as to the God he claims to worship.

There is no honor in strangling your sleeping sister. Heck, it doesn’t even soundly “manly”! I don’t care what freakin’ “religious” beliefs you might have. Any religion that condones this stuff is an abomination, and do not think I am accusing Islam alone for it. The Catholic Church did similar atrocities for centuries before they became “enlightened”. And it wasn’t just them as it also held true for Jew, Christian, Protestant, Muslim, Sunni, Shiite, Jain, Hindu, Shinto, or practically any other religion ever devised by Man.

It doesn’t matter if you are Jew, Christian, Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Sunni, Shiite, Jain, Hindu, Shinto, or Scientologist, religions are almost universal in reserving justice and death to the Almighty and I do not recall Him abrogating that responsibility to any of His creations whether they be Jew, Christian, Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Sunni, Shiite, Jain, Hindu, Shinto, or Scientologist.

In 2015, it was Sabeen Mahmud, a supporter of Abdul “Mama” Qadeer Baloch – killed by assailants. In 2012, it was Malala Yousafzai – shot by a Taliban gunman. These are not the only ones as there are around a hundred of these “honor killings” done every year in Pakistan, a location permanently removed from my list of places to travel. A location where you can apparently kill a family member for any reason whatsoever but claim it an “honor killing” and get the Stay Out Of Jail Free card.

The question one has to ask oneself is why are men so damned afraid of women? Can it be that they – alone – are the creators… you know, like the Creator?



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Killing the Messenger

August 10, 2013

crucifixion

It is an ancient request, to not kill the messenger.

That request was put aside in the case of Jesus and the messenger was killed.

Since practically everyone who has ever heard of the crucifixion knows this fact, why do I mention it?

In the Christianity of today, we greatly revere the act of extermination of the messenger. The crucifixion is pointed to as the reason for Jesus coming at all. Oh, all the magical goodness that came from that foul deed!

But what seems to be forgotten here is the message.

The church tells us that the message is the everlasting life and the redemption of sins. They tell us that was the message.

But again, that is focusing on the murder of the messenger, not the message.

The message that Jesus brought: that God is with you and in you always, that your life’s journey is about getting closer to Him, that you can do all the things that he, himself, did “and greater”… all this is lost in the resounding message from the Church.


It seems the messenger was killed and the message was forgotten.

What a waste.

a Time of Testing

December 15, 2012

In the aftermath of the tragedy in Connecticut, we have the much anticipated mouthings of those with political leanings about what legislation can be passed to end such events.

And though religion has been removed from school many years ago, I was gratified to hear it was not absent from the scene when the gunfire was erupting. Several of the teachers gathered their children into a corner and prayed over them, even though one said she figured they were going to be killed anyway.

She had not immediately thought of contacting her lawmaker to demand some “proper action” be taken. She behaved as a Christian should have behaved in such a position, turning to God for help. Only God can get a person through such tragedy unscathed, and the bullets are not the only things inflicting wounds in such cases. The media – given their appropriated license to edify – show scenes of the death and panic, soul-searching images that evoke emotion and scar the psyches of us and our children for ages to come.

One news report said the community can never be the same. Why not? The Amish schoolhouse shooting is pretty much forgotten in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. We met, by accident, one of the mothers of a child taken in that tragedy. She was holding a new baby, laughing with friends. She has moved on from the tragedy, like Christians are supposed to do.

Why would the Connecticut community not be able to do the same?

Perhaps God should be allowed back into the schools, back into the community, and back into the daily lives of all Americans. When we turn to Man (i.e. Congress) in times of trouble, we cannot find any lasting solace.

As a Christian nation, shouldn’t we start behaving more like Christians?

Forgive… and move on with our lives, in faith.


Another Metaphor for Life

October 26, 2012

We recently screened-in our patio to make a more pleasure porch to rest in the evenings.

Still, though, some insects come into the area and cannot seem to find their way back out.

The section of the screen adjacent to the open door seems to be the main field of activity. Apparently, they knew they flew in from the south and should, naturally, be able to return to the south and find escape.

But the concept of a door does not seem to have a place in their lexicon.

So they fly repeatedly into the screen, trying to get to the freedom beyond. They can see it and feel the breeze coming from that direction but cannot make any headway through the fabric of screening material.

A few actually explore further and find the door to freedom into the outside world again but it seems far too many fight against the screen as if not understanding it won’t give way. They crawl around on the surface hoping to find the opening through the screen, but the search is in vain.

Some few even venture into the small space between the screen and the frame, thinking the exit is somewhere along that tight space. Most of the little critters die in that small space either from exhaustion or from pushing themselves into such a tight space that they can no longer withdraw from the spot they’ve gotten themselves in.

Most, give up the fight at all and simply die either still clinging to the screen itself or resting on the frame at the base, too tired to continue the seemingly useless struggle.

Though most people seem to think insects are a completely differing sort of life form, it see in them the same life-force given by the Creator to life and survive. Or, in some cases, not.

Their actions, even in the instance of the screen porch, seem all too reminiscent of how many humans approach – or attack – life.

The Silent Minority

October 18, 2012

I recently learned of a new religious movement in America.

No, nothing like Scientology, but another Christian movement. Rather than the Religious Right, this group is the Religious Left.

Whereas the Religious Right wants to control the direction of the politics in the country into their rather narrow interpretations of what they consider morally correct, the Religious Left is a little more lenient in their beliefs. They try to be less judgmental than their right-leaning associates and see nothing scripturally wrong with people of differing sexual orientations, marital needs, or even with abortion.

Of course a lot of the Right-leaners, considering that they are… well, right, comment on the website that homosexuality and abortion are damnable sins. The Left website removes those sort of negative comments. It seems that, like their co-religionists, they are also concerned with being right.

Another way they are like the Christian Right is that they are politically motivated, helping voters choose the candidates whose purposes align most closely with their ideals. They think that rather than choose where to be charitable, they should concentrate on the broken parts of the system that produce such problems.

So, like their Right-leaning cousins, they are politically motivated by what their interpretation of the scriptures means. And, it appears, they are just as judgmental, albeit more leniently than their cousins.

And the one part that still confounds me: where in scripture did Jesus say we should get out and get political? Where did he say we had to control the lives and thoughts of our fellows? Where did he say we should condemn others for their thoughts and actions?

Where, indeed, did He charge us with the task of judge to our fellow man? Wasn’t the point of the story about the stoning of the woman about us being unable to fairly judge people for sins when none of us is blameless?

And I thought He supped with the tax collectors, prostitutes, and sinners to show us that none of that really matters. He was showing us that beyond the differences we assign to people, they are still the same as we.

The only judge we need answer to in that regard is the Almighty, and that won’t be until the final curtain call. And as for all the apparent need to do something political, do not delude yourself that you are doing it for God, or Jesus, or all the Saints and Angels in Heaven.

As Chuck Swindoll said, all of that is really nothing more than egotism, pure and simple. No matter how nicely you try to dress it up in scriptural references, it is really all about YOU trying to force other people to conform to what YOU think is correct.

But Jesus said that is really just between you and God, not any other Man.

And I liked that Chuck Swindoll also said the Greeks had a term for all this egotistical chest-beating.

He said the Greeks called it: hogwash!

I wonder what Jesus would have called it? I think He did speak Greek…

Whose Opinion is Correct?

February 6, 2012

In all things involving religion and philosophy, people have the either/or mind-set. Either something is right and everything else is wrong… or it is wrong itself.

I have a completely different view of the matter. Buddha himself found nirvana and told his followers that they could not get there using his path. Whereupon two millennia of Buddhist monks have sat in the lotus position meditating on the path, just as Buddha had done, each hoping to achieve nirvana.

Funny, they seem to have disregarded his instructions…

I believe that Jesus said much the same thing about us each coming to the Father in a different way.

Whatever faith works for you is correct, for you. I do not intend trying to change anyone’s mind to my way of thinking. I rejoice in the different points of view – and what we can learn from them.

If not everyone thinks that way, that’s okay.

I figure if God really wanted everyone to have the same thoughts He would have made us alike. And because He made us so unlike, there must be a fundamental reason: for both Him as well as us to delight in the variety, not by trying to homogenize our thinking.

There is no right or wrong in this matter. Whatever path takes you closer to God is the path you need to embrace. But don’t expect everyone else to trod the same track. Or expect anyone to consciously move along the track to the Almighty.

For a society, people think laws should be enacted to keep “others” in line, but where do you draw the line? How much control should others have over your life? You would probably think it was great place if all the laws reflected your own lifestyle, but if those laws forced you to change your beliefs, you’d probably leave.

So many in this “Christian society” feel comforted by the Christian-based laws passed here, but what if the nation were taken over by a theocracy you did not personally believe? Either a more conservative branch of Christianity or one far more liberal that the one you embrace. Any theocratic form of government cannot work for everyone.

There is no right or wrong, just opinion.

And this is mine.

What’s Wrong With Religion?

January 25, 2012

I have often heard people – believers as well as atheists – moan about what is wrong with religion, whether one specific one or merely religion in general. Having spent a lot of time involved in a wide variety of religions I think I have the answer to that question.

There is nothing wrong with religion.

Each religion, each cult, each philosophy answers a need in someone. And as we were all created different, we have different needs. Hence the plethora of religions. Many people have converted from the religion they were raised in to join another that more closely answers their individual needs. Thank goodness we have religious freedom!

The only difficulty arises when one person belonging to one of them thinks it is so wonderful that everyone should get involved. Starry-eyed evangelism can be very annoying to many.

Still, we should take it in the spirit it is given. People love to share the joy they found with others. They want others to find the same joy. That the joy they have found will not resonate the same with everyone else does not occur to them. Many people don’t seem to know this, fully expecting it to mean as much to everyone. Their exuberance can rub people the wrong way.

Still that does not mean there is anything wrong with the religion. Or the adherents.

So rather than get annoyed and try to change or shut up the person spouting their faith at us perhaps we could simply alter our own feelings of annoyance. It is far easier to change yourself than others, after all. Allow them to proselytize without lashing out at them, revel with them in their joy, and move on with your life.

I believe that is the sort of thing Jesus was teaching.

a Word on My View of Religion(s)

January 18, 2012

I really don’t think many people have taken the path I have journeyed.

There are some, I am certain, but not many I am sure.

Mother was a Baptist preacher’s kid, Dad was an atheist.

That was a strange beginning, for sure, but it got even more bizarre.

Dad was a scientist working for NASA – and you know how prevalent atheism is among that crowd… scientists, I mean – but then Dad got involved in the paranormal and psychic research.

Eventually he became religious but it was a very backdoor sort of method, and he wound up being a Buddhist.

My path went a little different. Sure, I had the very scientific upbringing but I did not go into any of the hard sciences. I started down the road to nuclear physics but wound up in history. Quite a change!

And history is a fascinating subject. Not merely the names and dates of the cursory overview you get in public education, but the in-depth look of how ancients people lived and thought – as much as we can figure that out. And also the history of science.

One area I differed from others in that field was that I assumed the ancients were very much like we are, working toward survival just like everyone today.

And the one constant throughout history is religion.

Many have called prostitution the world’s oldest profession. I think, if anything, it would be the second oldest, priest being the oldest profession.

Our need to understand what is beyond our immediate experience has always been vital to man… especially so the realm beyond life.

And much of the history of the race has been our struggle to come to grips with this one concept.

In my researches, I have come across hundreds of varying religious systems throughout the history of the planet. I suppose it would be easy for a historian to simply write off all such as a cultural necessity for the race and find no meaning in it. Still, there seem to be less atheists in the historical fields than in the sciences.

But in the broad sweep of history there are threads that bind the race together from those earliest times to today.

The concepts we hold on life, death, and the Divine have been in play for much longer than Christianity or even Judaism has been around.

The overall picture showed me that there was something behind all this struggle. Underlying themes kept repeating, patterns reiterated.

And, I suppose with the same wonder Pythagoras noticed in natural geometric shapes, Newton pondered in the motions of the spheres, and Bach marveled over in the harmonics of sound, I began to see the hand of the Almighty at play. The repeating patterns could have been a mere coincidence or a mysterious quirk of our race, but appeared to be something more infinitely attuned to the universe around us.

For years I called myself atheist, or agnostic, or indifferent.

Now I have come to know the Almighty. And like Bach, and Pythagoras, and Newton, among many others, I can see the patterns of the Divine Hand in everything around us.

It has been an interesting journey. And that’s probably why my take is so very different than many others.

This does not make my version right for you, but its the version or path that worked for me.

We all come to the Almighty in different ways, none any “better” than the other. Perhaps that is why we were all created to be different.

the Miracles of Jesus

January 15, 2012

Many authors have tried to explain the how and why of the miracles performed by Jesus. And by that I mean, translating them into “believable” scientific explanations… as if “miracles” require any sort of basis in our sciences.

Laurence Gardner explains the walking on water as nothing more than a plank they normally used to baptize people on; when Peter walked on it later he did not know its course and slipped off it. Funny, that someone would not already be familiar with such a local custom, if such it was, and slip off the darned thing.

Raising Lazarus from the dead was nothing more than an initiation into some sort of Mithraic cult (raised on the third day like JC was later, mirroring the cult thing… although why JC would need such initiating is never explained). True there was a strong following of this cult throughout the Roman Empire at the time and later and perhaps its inclusion somehow resonated with the Roman audience, but I really don’t see how the Cult of Mithras would get conflated with this story.

And several writers have mentioned that the feeding of the multitude (or multitudes, if you include the second such event) was nothing more than feeding them intellectually, filling them spiritually. It had nothing to do with fishes or loaves. (Although why would they be able to pick up more after the event than the original fishes and loaves?)

Okay, whatever.

Perhaps some of the miracles could have been metaphor or even sleight-of-hand in a way to get people’s attention or the use as a learning aid.

Maybe.

But, if such was the case, why would He bother saying “These things I can do, you can do and greater”? [John 14:12] If He had engaged in nothing more than semantic posing, ancient sleight-of-hand, and metaphorical mind-games, what were we supposed to be able to do “greater than”… nothing!?

So, what we have boils down to this: if they were actual miracles, as the book says, then they do not require any “scientific” explanation whatsoever. If you think they do require some sort of verifiability from an outside source, then you are probably not ready for taking the “leap of faith”.

And there is nothing wrong with that.

As I have mentioned elsewhere, God created atheists as well. And I don’t think He created them so the religious would have someone to argue with or try to convert. His ways may be mysterious but some of His actions are very transparent, and that is one of them.

And, of course, I will touch on the subject of atheism again. It is territory I am completely familiar with.

If Jesus Came Today…

January 12, 2012

Of course, if He came riding on the clouds with the angels trumpeting around Him, we would all know for certain who it was.

But, if He came quietly, talking to small groups, spreading His Word quietly, slowly, ministering to small earnest groups in meed of such, would it appear to the rest of us that He had really returned?

Some of the scriptures tell us that His Second Coming will be with the fanfare and trappings of a mighty conqueror. That image of the Prince of Peace is a little hard for me to summon after reading the quiet peacefulness of His Ministry.

So, what if He came more quietly, like some itinerant preacher quietly spreading His message of hope and forgiveness? Would any recognize it was He?

I doubt it.

There is one preacher today who, in my opinion, is preaching a message that is very similar to that of Jesus. He rarely mentions scriptural verses, rarely mentions the sacrifice of Jesus, and spends most of his time talking about your personal relationship with the Almighty. And – Hey! – isn’t that what Jesus did as well?

I am not trying to say that this one preacher IS the Second Coming, only that if Jesus did come again, would we even recognize His teachings?

Unfortunately, most of the “mainstream” religious organizations think very poorly of this preacher and his message. And that says very little for them, I believe. Their “brand” of salvation has become too formulaic, too sterile, a little too closed. In fact, they themselves sit in judgment on a preacher who refuses to be so judgmental.

As Casting Crowns said in one of their songs, “Jesus paid much too high a price for us to pick and choose who should come”.

Perhaps their brand of Christianity allows them to sit in judgment on others with a calling such as theirs.

Perhaps they simply cannot stomach the very positive and uplifting message of this one preacher.

Perhaps they feel somehow superior because they have had divinity school and this other fellow has not.

Or perhaps they are simply jealous of his success.

Either way, Joel Osteen does not seem to pay much heed to his detractors.

In much the same manner as Jesus.