The Twelve Years of Christmas

THE 12 YEARS OF CHRISTMAS
By Dave Henderson

There are two Canonical accounts of the birth and early childhood of Jesus.

By Canonical of course I mean texts that are deemed worthy of inclusion in the Bible per the standards of the Catholic scribes who composed such in the 4th Century CE. There are several Infancy gospel accounts, but only those of Matthew and Luke met the approval of the Bible composers. I myself am somewhat partial to the Gospel of Thomas. Thomas relates several fanciful boy Jesus stories which did not merit Catholic scribe approval for inclusion in the Bible; yet which are both entertaining and enlightening nonetheless. A topic for another day no doubt.

Now though the tone, topics, and even time frames of Matthew and Luke differ with regards to the childhood of Jesus, they each claim that he was divinely conceived and of a virgin birth. Those two qualities in and of themselves were enough apparently to merit Catholic scribe approval in spite of the obvious differences in their accounts.

Matthew envisions Jesus as having been born during the days of Herod, and furthermore being proclaimed to be “the King of the Jews”.

Luke on the other hand envisions Jesus as having been born some 12 years later; during the days of the Census of Cyrenius (Governor of Syria), and furthermore indicates that his birth brings “Peace on earth, and goodwill to humanity”.

Thus, Matthew portrays Jesus as a Messiah sent to reclaim the throne on behalf of the nation of Israel. The emphasis of the Matthew’s version then is that Jesus is a boy ruler who was in constant danger of being “found out” and executed by the reigning madman; Herod the Great. Matthew thus depicts the parents of Jesus as nomadic refugees who lived life “on the lam” and lead a low profile existence due to the constant peril surrounding the boy king and Messiah of the Jewish people.

Now, like Matthew, Luke likewise envisions Jesus as being miraculously born to a Virgin mother. In fact, he even “spices up” the story with a dramatic description of the setting and surroundings. (The stereotypical Nativity scene owes much to the author of Luke; who was likewise the author of the imaginative and informative canonical Acts of the Apostles).

However Luke represents Jesus not as a ruler, but as a reconciler of humanity. Rather than proclamations of rule and reign for Jesus, Luke emphasises Jesus as a savior who brings peace on earth, and goodwill towards humanity. Thus, Luke portrays the parents of Jesus as leading a stable (no pun intended) existence which allowed them to function as normal faithful Jewish parents both in ritual practice and personal lifestyle.

The contrast to the versions of the story of the childhood of Jesus is quite clear:

Matthew envisions a baby Jesus whose life is in constant peril, and whose existence brings grief, suffering and murder.

Luke envisions a baby Jesus whose life was publicly celebrated, and whose existence brings joy, peace, and goodwill.

The accounts of Matthew and Luke differ so drastically with regards to the birth and early childhood of Jesus as to merit a query and inquiry as to why the distinction.

It seems to me that the answer to the question is to be found by considering the local events of each world into which Jesus was born:

Matthew envisions baby Jesus being born during the days of the ever mercurial Herod the Great.
Luke envisions baby Jesus being born during the days of the Census of Quirinius (aka Cyrenius).

The generally accepted death of Herod the Great was 4BC.
The well recorded Census during the days of Quirinius was during the years of 6-7CE.

Since Matthew envisions Jesus as being two years of age when Herod allegedly killed all the babies of Bethlehem, and since Herod seems to have died shortly thereafter, then Matthew dates the birth of Jesus approximately 6BC.

Hence: Jesus’ birthday per Matthew: 6BC
Hence: Jesus’ birthday per Luke: 6AD

Hence: THE TWELVE YEARS OF CHRISTMAS.

The distinction between the worlds into which Jesus was born is evidenced by the events of each respective era.

Now 12 years may not sound like a long period of time, but such can allow for an extreme social shift in any given society. For example, consider our own culture in 1981 as compared to 1969. The differences in those two time eras in US History amounts to two distinct cultures. Yet distinguished solely by time. Indeed a dozen years can make a significant difference in the thinking and general disposition of any populace, and the world into which Jesus was born is a primary example of such.

And those social distinctions are likewise evidenced by each respective account of Matthew and Luke.

The world into which Jesus was born per Matthew (6BC)…….

Was ruled by a tyrant by the name of Herod the Great. Now the fact that Matthew envisions Jesus as being born during the days of Herod is significant.

Herod was a ruthless individual; and a paranoid personality.

Herod was especially ruthless with regards to his royal power and his personal pleasure. When he wanted another wife, he married her, and had his wife and child banished. In order to protect his royal position, he had several family members executed, including his favorite wife and two of his own children. His ruthless nature and atrocious deeds even offended Rome periodically throughout this 33 year reign.

Herod was so paranoid that he reportedly hired secret police to walk the streets and monitor public opinion. He likewise would not allow public demonstrations. (Herod would have fit in quite well in post 911 America. Or so it seems to me)

It was in fact Herod’s reputed paranoid and ruthless nature which Matthew incorporated into the story so as to provide a context whereby the life of baby Jesus would be in mortal danger. The life threatened baby god/hero story was of course a common and recurring theme of the cultural myths of that era. For example, the Greek god Dionysus was in peril from birth, which lead to his being ripped apart by Titans. And the mother of the infant Horus had to flee into the marshland of the Egyptian Nile Delta in order to protect the Egyptian god from those who sought to take his life. And of course, the Hebrew baby Moses was spared from a “mass baby execution” much like Matthew’s claims with regards to baby Jesus. (The latter may in fact be the very story Matthew relied upon as he depicts baby Jesus in a similar circumstance)

So likewise Matthew portrays baby Jesus being urgently relocated by his parents to Egypt in order to escape Herod after the paranoid and ruthless King heard that another “king of the Jews” had been born in Bethlehem. Per Matthew, Herod had all babies less than two years of age in Bethlehem and in the coastal region executed in search of baby Jesus; whom he naturally viewed as a threat to his royal reign. (Fortunately, there is absolutely no historical record to confirm this alleged atrocity, thus the claim by Matthew that this slaughter took place is more than likely mythical.)

Try as Herod might to find and slay the boy Messiah, revelations from God to the parents of Jesus kept the nomadic couple one step ahead of his dastardly intentions for baby Jesus. First they were warned to flee with the baby to Egypt and await word. Then, when they received word that Herod had passed away, they made their way back to Judea. Finally though, when they learned that Herod’s son was on the throne, they went into hiding in Nazareth.

And so Matthew’s account ends as it began: Jesus a hunted boy, his parent’s nomadic ploys to rescue their son from the clutches of the powers that be ever hanging over their heads. Like refugees they settled in Nazareth.

There is of course no indication in Matthew that the potential danger for the boy Jesus ever went away, but rather that his parents simply outmaneuvered and hence successfully hid their son from a sure death if ever caught.

Then, 12 years later:

The world into which Jesus was born per Luke (6AD)…….

Judea in general, and Jerusalem more specifically were in the embryonic stages of an emotional and radical social revolution. The social frustration which subsequently developed would span approximately 135 years; and its inevitable end would alter Jewish history forever.

Herod the Great had been dead for ten years, and his son Herod Archelaus would soon be recalled by Rome for evident incompetency in the light of his inability to suppress the populace that were under his rule.

The first decade of the millennium was a time of radical resistance and religious reformation for the Jewish people. One movement lead by a “Judas the Galilean” rebelled against any form of Roman influence in the Jewish culture, including taxation and census calculation. These were a matter of more than petty concern to Judas and his band, who were representative of a nationalistic revival among the people.

Judas was a patriot and a zealot, and the movement which he inspired would become known as the Zealot movement. Judas would eventually pay the ultimate price for the cause he so believed in, as would his two sons after him (Both were crucified, the Roman mode of execution for treason and sedition), yet the movement he inspired became an organic and influential faction amongst the Jewish people even into the next century. Their dedication to Orthodox Judaism, and their willingness to fight for Jewish independence would in time be the catalyst for the uprising of the 60’s which lead to the Jewish Wars of the late 60’s and 70’s; and again to a similar yet even more violent uprising in 130’s CE. The latter rebellion was crushed so extensively that the Jews were completely banished from Jerusalem after 135 CE.

Although Judas is recognized as the founder of this nationalized Zealot movement, the rumblings of dissent and dissatisfaction were already underway in the years leading up to the Census which so incensed the militant patriot. These populist movements were in response to the perceived Roman involvement and influence in the practices of the Jewish religion, and resulted in organized demonstrations and civil disobedience in isolated instances. One such instance stands out for its brutal response and subsequent ramifications.

The Golden Eagle incident began as a somewhat presumptuous and admittedly disrespectful act by Archelaus, but surely no one could have foreseen the bloodbath to follow. In defiance of Jewish law, Archelaus inexplicably had a Golden Eagle mounted on the Temple entrance. The graven image in public display over the Temple entrance was too much for the more proactive Orthodox Jews; hence two Instructors (named Judas and Matthias) along with a number of students removed the Eagle and destroyed it with axes.

Archelaus was furious. His reaction was drastic, and his response was dastardly.

Archelaus had the two Instructors and approximately 40 of the students who were involved in the destruction of the Golden Eagle publicly executed by being burned alive. The fury this action instigated was swift and brutal. In the evening, demonstrators and mourners throughout the city but especially in the Temple area made such a noise that Archelaus and those with whom he was feasting were disturbed.

Finally, Archelaus sent a General and a few men to quiet the crowd and appease their anger. The General and his men were stoned, with many killed in the process. After killing the King’s men, the mourners continued to wail and lament the awful experience of the atrocious execution of the two teachers and the 40 or so students.

Realizing now that he had an uprising in the making, Archelaus sent the entire Army in to invade the temple and break up the crowd. It was after midnight when the Army entered the Temple. The result was a melee that developed into a massacre. By the time the fighting ended there were over 3,000 dead. Relations between the Jews and the Romans was never the same again.

As for Archelaus, this incident cost him his royal position. He was recalled by Rome and given a less volatile domain to rule.

As for Jerusalem and Judea; the next century and a third would be marked by a continuous struggle and a seemingly constant friction between the Jewish people and their Roman overlords. The attempted assimilation of the Roman influence into the the religion of the Jews merely intensified the resentment of the nationalist zealots; who likewise rebelled continuously against the concept of the assumed authority of the Roman government over the national identity of the Hebrews. The feelings were ever intense and emotions were seemingly always at the breaking point on both sides. These were difficult times, and social frustration was to be a way of life from that time forward until the Jewish people were completely subjugated and subsequently banished from Jerusalem in 135 CE.

And so it was that Luke envisioned the birth of Jesus at a time of intense turmoil and social instability.

Is it then any surprise that Luke records the arrival of baby Jesus at precisely the very time that the region of Judea were so badly in need of:

“Peace on earth and goodwill towards humanity?”

In closing, it is evident to me that Matthew and Luke each envisioned a Jesus who, like Jeff Lebowski in “The Big Lebowski” was a “man for his time and place”.

Matthew envisioned the Messiah, the deliverer, the king of the Jews. Thus Mathew depticted Jesus being born at a time when he could draw the attention of the oppressive Herod, and be confirmed as the rightful ruler of the Jews by outmaneuvering Herod’s efforts to kill him, thereby establishing the superiority of the rightful “King of the Jews”.

Luke of course envisioned a Reconciler, one who would bring peace to a time or war, and bring tranquility to a period of chaos. Thus Luke depicted Jesus being born at a time when the message mostly needed was: “Peace on earth; Good will to Humanity”.

If ever there was a time when these words had true meaning, it was then and there.
If ever there was a time when these words have true meaning, it is here and now.

I don’t particularly care whether Jesus was born in 6BC.
Nor do I care whether Jesus was born in 6CE.
In fact, I honestly do not care whether Jesus was ever born at all.

What I care about is:

“Peace on earth, goodwill to humanity”.

Because with or without Jesus, there will never be the former, unless we all begin with the latter.

To all my Christian friends: MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

To all my Jewish friends: HAPPY HANUKKAH!!!

To all my fellow Humanist friends: HAVE A GREAT DAY!!!

Dave Henderson
Denison, Texas

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Content and Discreet

Content to be a wage slave,
I sing praises to the USA.
Better to be like everyone else,
Than to seek a better way.

Content to pledge allegiance,
To the flag of imperial rule.
If not brain washed at home,
What better place than in school?

Content to defend the rights,
Of plutocrats to exploit the rest.
Better that the poor stay hungry,
Than that there be social unrest.

Content that the few have the most,
And that the many provide for the elite.
Best to lower your eyes and submit,
And to be quiet and discreet.

Just who was Herbert Marcuse,
To critique one dimensional man?
Better to let as is be,
Than to think out a more humane plan.

Content to be a wage slave,
I sing praises to the USA.
Better to conform and comply,
Than to seek a more humane way.

Dave Henderson
Denison, Texas

Spatial Form and the Sentient Being

The existence of all sentient beings is a struggle between the finite nature of spatial form and the seemingly infinite nature of time.  And time always trumps space. For long after the spatial form decays, dies, and decomposes, there will still be time.  Decomposition of course actually  transforms the elements of the spatial form to another state of existence; hence there remains a space time continuum between the carnal and the temporal. As for the cognitive nature of the sentient being, the fate of such remains a point of debate and conjecture.

Your guess is as good as mine.

Dave Henderson

Denison, Texas

Religion As A Response To An Existential Reality

Religion which develops as a response to the human predicament of an existential reality; supplements mere existence with purpose while attaching meaning to life, and is utilized as a means to cope and connect midst despair and disconnect.

For on its own terms, reality is chaos and an absurdity.

Chaos because we have no control over our being. At least in terms of our having come to be. Granted, within the bounds of situation, skills, circumstance, and opportunity we have limited control over our essence; that is what we as a person become. But the notion that “we are in control” is perhaps the most profound of all paradoxes. If Nature is a personal being, then surely Mother Nature mocks us at every turn.

We live, we love, we seek, we aspire, we find, we accomplish, we decay, and then we die.

Just as we have absolutely no control whatsoever over our having come into existence, we are generally limited even as to when we expire.

In the view of our immanent decay and demise we struggle to connect. Ever in search of a comfort zone, the quest for connection is a continuum. A continuum of unpredictable uncertainty at each turn. We never know when we might get deathly ill; we never know when we might wake up with a sore throat and be down with a cold for several days. We never know when we might slip and fall, or just happen to be on the bus that is involved in a wreck. We never know when we might suffer any mishap of any given degree. We never know when our loved ones might suffer any mishap of any degree. Life is a continuum which oscillates between desirable distractions from the reality of our mortality; these desirable distraction being known as “good times”, and the grim reality that life is the predicament of a natural and therefore temporary existence wherein we are subject to conditions of the continuum which are unpredictable and oftentimes beyond our control.

The absurdity of it all is that in spite of no odds for survival, nonetheless we press on. We mostly shelter ourselves from reality by simply not thinking of the inevitable; opting rather to make a life for ourselves which will as surely corrode and crumble as the fact that we most assuredly do exist. We choose to endure and persevere as though we have a choice, yet the truth is that the only alternative is to lay down and die. Yet again herein is the absurdity: Whether we choose to endure and persevere or whether we choose to lay down and die; nonetheless eventually: We decay and we die. The truth be told, we have no control and we will lose our fight for living regardless of all efforts to the contrary.

Reality then on its own terms is chaos and an absurdity.

And so humanity, seemingly in an effort to cope with the chaos, has developed an alternative to reality whereby meaning may be attached to the absurdity of the human predicament. This alternative is religion. Religion then is, for all practical purposes, an alternative to reality.

Religion offers as an alternative to the chaos of reality: Hope to survive this life by living in another, an inherent purpose for our being, and an ultimate meaning to it all. Reality on its own terms does not offer hope as such, for reality is merely existence, such as it is. Reality on its own terms does not involve purpose as such, for existence is merely a random state of being, a natural development from other natural developments if you will. And reality on its own terms does not have meaning as such, for reality is merely being, and being is all that there is.

For many, the brutal reality that there is no hope to survive this life nor promise that we might live in another is simply too much to accept. Furthermore, many cannot abide the thought that their life has no inherent meaning or ultimate purpose. And so in order to cope with a reality which on its own terms lacks hope, meaning, or purpose, many turn to religion to offer an alternative to reality. For these folk, the solace and consolation that they find lacking in life, is fundamental to and is in fact the fabric of the alternative to reality which is known as religion.

Thus, for those who want more to life than life itself, there is an alternative to reality which promises life in the great beyond. And for those who seek answers which existential being by its very nature simply cannot supply, those answers are found via the medium of the alternative to reality which is known as religion. Thus, in this alternative to reality there is the hope, the purpose, and the meaning which is lacking in existential reality.

Religion then which develops in response to the human predicament is a means by which some “folk can cope” with the evident emptiness of an existential reality. Ironically, in so doing, believers actually do as most folk do by distracting themselves from the inevitable and pressing on in spite of their own mortality. Yet, rather than merely ignoring the inevitable reality that no one will survive this experience known as life, religionists supplement that predicament with an alternative to that reality which in fact satisfies their yearning for hope and for answers. In this fashion, believers experience the consolation which they find lacking in reality, by imagining that that they are somehow in control and are able to overcome the inevitable reality of decay and eventual death.

In conclusion, it is my personal opinion that religion which develops in response to the human predicament of an existential reality, is a natural development and is on its own terms a good thing. Now, that might sound strange coming from an Atheist. But to me “good” is anything that eases pain or offers consolation. Thus, so long as one’s religion helps them cope with life, and does so without moving them to condemn or control the life of others, then speaking for myself, I would deem such a religion to be a good thing.

Furthermore, having lived in that alternative to reality known as religion even into my 40’s, I understand the concept of being consoled when a loved one passes away by imagining them “in a better place”. Admittedly, now a days I console myself when I lose a loved one by acknowledging the more evident reality that they “are no longer suffering”. But so long as the effect enables a person to cope, then let the details be damned.

It’s like John Lennon sang:

“Whatever gets you through the night,
‘salright, ‘salright”

Dave Henderson
Denison, Texas

A Moral Code Based Upon The Bible

When a society bases its moral code on the Bible, that society utilizes the moral code of the Hebrews of some two to three thousand years ago as its standard for right and wrong attitudes and activity. The Hebrew culture of some two to three thousand years ago was sexist and homophobic; and its national way of life was based upon imperialism, militarism, and institutionalized slavery. It would seem then that any culture which bases its moral code on the Bible would surely be destined to become a society which is sexist and homophobic; which would invade and control other cultures, and whose economy would be based upon the exploitation of human servitude.

America: Won’t You Please Come To Your Senses

They bound and gagged Bobby Seale;
Just to shut his mouth.
‘Cause they did not like the truth,
That the man was putting out.

Nixon shredded the papers,
And erased 18 minutes off the tape.
So that accountability for his ways;
He could then escape.

Our troops shot four unarmed students dead,
At the Kent State Massacre in 1970.
A tragic day for America,
Or so it seems to me.

Illegal US wars in Latin America,
While Reagan simply smiled and waved.
Propaganda his main device,
His image was successfully saved.

O for shame, for shame.
America finally learned to blush.
When President Clinton,
Got a BJ in the White House.

And then the Great Snipe Hunt,
Of the 21st Century!
Off to war Bush sent us,
In search of WMD’s!!

Our troops do torture,
Our drones indiscriminately kill.
But “Onward American Soldiers”
Perpetual War is Conservative America’s will!

Cops get away with murder,
The Grand Jury has the final say.
Troops get away with torture,
Presidents simply get away.

But listen up War Hawks,
Listen up apologists for torture by our side.
Listen up those who gag informative mouths,
And force truth revealers to go overseas and hide.

You can sing “God Bless America”,
At the Ballpark in the 7th Inning.
But you cannot change the facts,
That America has done a lot of sinning.

So pledge allegiance to your flag,
And sing God’s praises on our land still.
But why not a “Come to Jesus” meeting,
And come clean about our social ills.

Once and for all,
Bring America off our high horse.
And admit we are a nation like all others,
With merits and demerits of course.

Admit when we are wrong,
Hold the guilty to account.
Let’s clean up our act,
And actually be what we claim to be about.

Recall our troops,
Regulate our cops.
Time to clean house,
Grab a bucket and a mop.

Let’s embrace open democracy,
Welcome dissent as social input.
Restore the Free Press,
Time to get off on the right foot.

Won’t you please come to your senses,
Let care and compassion prevail?
May hatred, weaponry, and bigotry,
All be sent to hell.

We can change what we want,
But we have to want the changes we need.
Let’s change the shape we are in,
For America is in a shameful state indeed.

Dave Henderson

On Offensive Mascots

As of late, the topic of “offensive mascots” in sports has resurfaced, specifically with reference to the Washington Redskins. Although this topic oftentimes circulates, there seems to be very little action taken towards changing the name of questionable mascots. Yet the controversy abounds, as evidenced by the recent Native American demonstration outside the nationally televised Dallas-Washington Monday night football game in Texas.

Invariably, (and predictably) people tend to opine quite passionately on each side of this issue when the topic arises. The arguments vary from allusions to tradition and history by those who wish to maintain the “status quo”, to accusations of bigotry and racism by those who are calling for changes to be made. The “maintain status quo” crowd claims the groups calling for mascot name changes are being overly sensitive. The “make name changes” crowd claims that those who cling to questionable mascots are being insensitive.

Who is right?
Who is wrong?

Let us consider the perspective of “the maintain status quo” crowd.

I can well recall my perspective when I first became aware that there even was an issue relative to team mascots. I thought the whole debate was simply ridiculous. I had grown up a baseball fan, and in particularly was taken with Hank Aaron, the great Atlanta Braves slugger who eventually broke Babe Ruth’s career home run record. As Hammerin’ Hank neared the record, the role of the longtime Braves’ mascot Chief Noc-A-Homa took on a more than significant meaning to baseball fans of the early ‘70s. In fact, during the period of time en route to Aaron’s eventual overtaking of The Babe on the All Time Home Run list, Chief Noc-A-Homa was perhaps the best known and most beloved of all baseball mascots.

I had likewise attended Texas Rangers baseball games in my home community of DFW, and more than once I had the opportunity to watch them compete against the Cleveland Indians. It never occurred to me when I saw the Chief Wahoo caricature on the opposition’s caps that such was somehow insensitive or offensive. I merely wanted my Rangers to beat the visiting Cleveland club. The image of the Native American with the silly looking grin on his face was of no concern to me one way or the other.

Such is the perspective of the unaffected and the historically biased with regards to racial insensitivity. Unfortunately, such is the perspective of conditioned ignorance which can lead to selective insensitivity.

I myself unwittingly maintained a historic bias with regards to racially insensitive mascots and logos.

My historical bias was of course that of a sports fan. My perspective was to view mascots such as Atlanta’s Chief Noc-A-Homa and Cleveland’s Chief Wahoo as merely an aspect of the sports fan experience. I never would have thought to associate Chief Noc-A-Homa’s Tee Pee in the stands as making fun of or insensitive towards the Native American people. Nor would I have thought of the silly grin on Chief Wahoo’s face as somehow disrespectful towards or demeaning of Native American persons. But the reason for my clueless perspective was that I was viewing such through the prism of a sports fan with no depth of thought as to unintended effect.

But my thinking on the matter was likewise clouded by yet another historical bias. For my historical bias as to offensive mascots was not only that of a sports fan, but likewise my historical bias was that of being the product of a less racially sensitive time than even now.

Granted, the ‘60s and ‘70s (my school years) were times of growth, maturity, and progress with reference to race relations. Yet, those were likewise times of awkwardness, frustration, and insensitivity towards minorities as caucasians and minorities alike adjusted to the concept of social equality. Now in some ways these were mere “growing pains”, yet there was an undercurrent of a more problematic nature which made the transition uncomfortable and in some cases unbearable for minorities in general. There were doubtless positive strides made towards social equality, but looking back I think we were more slow to be SENSITIVE to the feelings of minorities in the process than we likely realized. Frankly, there was a sense of condescension as minorities were allowed to “come on board” so to speak, that left an impression that we caucasians were doing some sort of favor for African Americans and others by accepting them onto the same side of the street, into the same public schools, and yes; even into the same public restrooms. Consequently, there was undoubtedly an intensified frustration for minorities who were being “allowed” into a mainstream public, when that public included restaurants with names like Sambos and where influential city personnel and public officials had lawn ornaments of little black boys with white hats and silly grins.

The transition of race relations in the ‘60s and ‘70s was frankly slow and tedious, and our thinking was unfortunately still clouded by an assumed superiority and a sometimes unintentional yet nonetheless ever hurtful insensitivity to people who had been subjugated and separated for no fault of their own save the ignorance and arrogance of our own forefathers.

But that was then, and this is now.

Frankly, the times of unintentional insensitivity are times of the past. As lame as the excuses were then, there simply are no longer viable excuses for vile conduct. We caucasians have had plenty of time to finally grow up and get over our assumed superiority over the minorities of our society.

It is time that we stop telling others what is and is not offensive, and time for us to LISTEN to others as they ENLIGHTEN US as to the realities of insensitivity and inappropriateness.

It is time for us to accept that ours is not to assume that we know what is and is not acceptable, and time for us to LISTEN to others as they ENLIGHTEN US as to what is and what is not appropriate.

I am convinced that the burden of responsibility is upon society to listen to AND to defer as a matter of respect to minorities with reference to any and all mascots that they deem offensive, and make the necessary adjustments post haste. If that means that the name Redskins needs to go the way of the name of Sambo’s, then so be it. If that means Chief Wahoo needs to go the way of racist lawn ornaments then so be it. If that even means that mascots such as Chiefs (my favorite NFL team as it were), Braves, and Warriors need to go by the wayside as well, then so be it.

The responsibility is not for minorities to “grow up by giving in” to the will of the caucasian driven society, but rather the time is come for society to be sensitive to and willingly defer to the feelings of all people.

The place is not society’s to dictate to minorities what should and should not be offensive to them. Rather the time has come for society to be sensitive towards the feelings of all people and acquiesce to those who request change as a matter of respect for their heritage and their culture.

Frankly, the time has come for a culture which claims to be founded upon Christian values to practice what their principles preach. It is time to “do unto others as we would have them do unto us”.

It is time to stop hiding behind lame excuses of pure intent, and time to make respectful changes necessary to demonstrate pure intent.

It is time to be sensitive towards the feelings of others.

It is time to actually care about the effect that our social actions have on others.

It is time for our society to grow up and do the right thing.

Dave Henderson
Denison, Texas

Ironies and Ignorance

Our founding Fathers wrote that “all men are created free”; yet only white, male, landowners were originally allowed to vote….

Our founding Fathers wrote that “all men are created free”; yet slavery was legal for almost 100 years after the fact…..

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Many locals of my beloved Texas, which was stolen from Mexico, have an issue with the fact that there are so many Mexicans in Texas…..

The Native Americans, whose land America stole, were the last major group to be allowed to vote (1924)…..

Our country was founded on illegal immigration, yet many of our society have an issue with illegal immigration…

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Jonathan and David in the Bible may very well have been gay lovers, yet in spite of the fact that David was “a man after God’s own heart”; many Christians believe homosexuals are going to Hell in a handbasket (granted, decorated with pretty colors, but en route to the fiery torture chamber nonetheless!!!)….

Right wing Religious types condemn Homosexuals to Hell; yet Jesus never said a word about Same Gender Relationships one way or the other….

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Right wing Religious types condemn women for having Abortions, yet the only Abortions I can find in the Bible were performed by God (cf Numbers 5:20-22):

(“But if you have gone astray while married to your husband and you have made yourself impure by having sexual relations with a man other than your husband”  here the priest is to put the woman under this curse—“may the Lord cause you to become a curse among your people when he makes your womb miscarry and your abdomen swell.  May this water that brings a curse enter your body so that your abdomen swells or your womb miscarries.”

“‘Then the woman is to say, “Amen. So be it.”)

(Note the impersonal reference “your womb miscarry/miscarries”.  Did not the inspired writer, traditionally believed to be Moses, not realize that the unborn baby is a person, and thus should be so referenced?  Silly Moses, fetuses are kids!!)

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Right wing Religious types regard homeless persons as lazy, shiftless ne’er do wells, yet Jesus was a homeless person….

Conservatives condemn government providing welfare for the poor, yet they have no problems with government subsidies for Corporations…

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CONCLUSION:

Ironies abound and Ignorance abides…..

Dave Henderson

Denison, Texas

What The Hell??

The old pagan myth of the concept of “Hell” was one of my earliest stumbling blocks when I was a Christian.  After believing in the existence of Hell for the better majority of my life, there came a time that I began to critique the very concept itself.  There are many things about the very thought that “bad people” and unbelievers will be eternally tortured that simply do not make sense.  At least such seems so to me after years of reflection and thought on the matter.

And so even before I abandoned faith and evolved into a skeptical aging Atheist,  I had already rejected the notion that there really is an eternal torture chamber which awaits the eternally damned who dare doubt the deity of Jesus or who dare live as they damn well please instead of bending the knee to Jehovah.  Allow me if you will to opine on the matter a might:

Firstly, it does not seem reasonable that people who never asked to be here in the first place would be subject to eternal torture for making the wrong choices.  It is not as though any of us volunteered to live as human beings, and then we were found derelict in duties which we had chosen to swear to uphold.  In fact, far from it.  Life is an involuntary situation in that not a single one of us asked to be here in the first place.  Frankly, each of us was thrust into life unwittingly and unwillingly.  The concept of eternal torture then seems a drastic and frankly dastardly measure to inflict upon folk who “did not measure up” to a position that they never asked for in the first place.

Secondly, it would seem that the results of the Creation indicate that God was irresponsible to have made us as he allegedly did in the first place. If the Bible story is true, then God initially made everything good, only to see it “go to Hell in a handbasket”!! (The pun is definitely intended).  If such be true, then who’s to fault?  Are the involuntary subjects in the grand social experiment ultimately to blame for the results?  Or is the all knowing Creator actually accountable since per the story, it was he who gave us the freedom to make the wrong choices in the first place?  Did not the all knowing Creator foresee the results?  Did not the all knowing Creator foresee the suffering which would result from his decision to create us as he did?  Did not the all knowing Creator then foresee the eternal torture of every individual who would ever eventually wind up in Hell?  In the light of the supposed nature of God as an all knowing deity who can foresee everything, and in the light of the dreadful results of the Creation, is not then God himself actually accountable  for the results, seeing it was He who allegedly chose to make us in the first place?

CONCLUSION:

My ultimate hope for all peoples; regardless of personal beliefs, is that no one would live in fear of being eternally tortured in an afterlife.  This life bears enough burdens sufficient to satisfy the concept of consequences for one’s actions without us having to worry about whether we will be subject to an eternal double jeopardy by being eternally tortured for the choices that we had made while living in this one life on earth.

Hell is a pagan myth.

Heaven is a speculative concept for the hopeful.

The here and now is reality.

Dave Henderson

Denison, Texas

An Ode To The Arawak

Several swam out that day to greet,
The ship that sailed in from the sea.
Like a welcoming committee,
Greeting aliens from a distant galaxy.

Their kindness and gentleness,
Were met with violence and force.
All impending afflictions and brutality,
Were in the name of God and flag of course.

There were women who were raped.
And the men were enslaved.
Those uncultured heathens soon learned,
The way civilized people behave.

The quest was to find gold,
To take back to the Queen.
The natives were forced to dig in caves.
While being bullied and treated mean.

If any enslaved laborer failed to produce,
A quota of gold that would satisfy.
His hands were simply cut off,
And he was allowed to bleed until he died.

The misery and the suffering,
The massacres, tortures, and the rapes.
Were so much to bear,
Many sought suicide as an escape.

O if only the natives had understood,
Their noble place in world history.
Surely then they would have been proud,
To endure a purposeful misery.

O if only the natives had understood,
And come to the realization,
That their suffering was justified,
In the name of God, and Western Civilization.

Several swam out that day to greet,
The ship that sailed in from the sea.
Like a welcoming committee,
Greeting aliens from a distant galaxy…..