Damned To Pay Our Dues

Those who are born wealthy,
Use their money to stay wealthy.
Those who are born poor,
Work for money to be healthy.

A ceaseless quest,
To exploit Mother Earth.
Manufacture money from trees.
Then pretend there is a worth.

To a rectangular shred,
Manufactured and stamped.
To symbolize some value,
To we the living damned.

Damned to pay our dues,
For exploiting her so.
Damned to become earthworm feed,
And to help her flowers grow.

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Walking With God

You say I should see God,
When I look upon a tree.
My perspective once was thus,
But not these days for me.

God must be shy or wise,
To hide Herself so well.
Oh, let’s go take a walk.
To the seaside to seek shells.

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

On Public Meetings and the Right to Pray

I offer this recommendation as to the proceedings of any community meeting (City Council, School Board, etc).

Let each meeting be opened with a prayer addressed to God the Father in the name of Jesus Christ by a Christian Minister or a representative of the Christian community.

Followed by a prayer by a member of the Jewish community, addressed specifically to Jehovah.

Followed by a prayer to Allah by a member of the Muslim community.

Followed by a tossing of bones or the taunting of a political opponent with a gris gris by a member of the Voodoo community.

Followed by an oration by a member of the Asian community to their deity, accompanied by tossing salt in each corner of the room if necessary.

The Hindu and any Native American representatives should be permitted their moment of public prayer and/or meditation whichever the case may be.

A member of the Zen Buddhist should be allowed equal time to sit/meditate, with the burning of incense as desired.

And then the Satanists should be allowed to pray to Satan, any Pastafarians should be allowed to call upon His Noodleness for guidance from the holy buffet in the sky, and by all means the Bokonists should be allowed their time for public oration (No public rubbing of bare feet without a Permit,for there simply must be SOME sense of order!)

Of course, the Humanists should be allowed time to make their plea to the crowd, as the Humanist would seek only the guidance of clear minded humanity in search of communal good for the business at hand.

Speaking of the business at hand, once each group has been adequately represented by a public prayer and/or plea on behalf of their religious/social view, then FINALLY let the meeting be called to order and the business at hand be discussed, deliberated, and decided upon.

HOWEVER, time must be allowed at the end of the meeting for the Christian, the Jew, Muslim, the Voodoo-ite, the Asian, the Hindu, the Native American, the Zen Buddhist, the Satanist, the Pastafarian, the Bokonist, and even the Humanist to have the opportunity for a closing prayer/oration/meditation; whatever the case may be.

Now, I only offer this format as a suggestion.

Of course, there is an alternate thought:

Call the community meeting to order, discuss the agenda and do the bidding of the purpose of such a “meeting of the minds”, and when done, go home, all the while leaving prayers and religious practices for private homes and private meeting places where such belong.

Just a thought.

On A Personal Relationship With God

Recently I was asked by a friend:

“Dave, if God were actually real, wouldn’t you want to have a relationship with him?”

This is a most interesting question, Intriguing actually.

The question presupposes a PERSONAL God in that the question is founded upon the principle of “a relationship”.

In that regard, this question dismisses the concept of a strictly impersonal god.

Which is quite unfortunate, for the concept of god as an impersonal being with no feelings whatsoever as to effect or outcome, might at least be a plausible theory in the light of circumstances as they are.

Such a view of God might be classified as “Naturalism”, or “Pantheism” (I have a difficult time distinguishing the two), in that such would identify a deity in the context of our materialistic reality.

For regardless of one’s perspective, surely it is evident that we exist in a Universe which in and of itself is indifferent as to our well being in any given situation.

For example, if you are in the path of a tornado, the tornado will not “have a change of heart” and alter its course so as to not inflict bodily harm upon you or to prevent your untimely demise. Indeed not. If you are in the path of a tornado, it will either alter its course due to some action of natural physics, or else you and tornado will meet head on.

Similarly, the tree that falls in the direction of a baby will not alter its course to save the baby.

Such is the nature of our Universe.

The principle of physics as they are do not reveal evidence of anything other than an impersonal reality with no concerns whatsoever for effect or outcome. If one is inclined to envision this impersonal phenomena as a deity, then such a deity is non personal, and thus not given to being in a “relationship” with anyone as such.

On the other hand, if there is a god with whom someone can have a “relationship”, then we are talking a “personal” God.

Now, with that premise in mind, I revisit the question that my friend posed to me:

“Dave, if God were actually real, wouldn’t you want to have a relationship with him?”

Now, as the person who posed this question is a Christian, then I can safely assume (he confirmed this by the way), that he refers to Jehovah, the God of the Bible.

With that thought in mind, let us role play the conversation as though I had never even heard of or even knew anything about Jehovah:

Friend: Hey Dave, would you be interested in meeting someone?

Me: I don’t know. Who is it?

Friend: His name is Jehovah.

Me: Well, tell me a little about this Jehovah.

Friend: Well, once he drowned all the babies in the world, and most of the animals while in the process of drowning people whose lives he did not approve of. (Genesis 6-8)

Me: Well, that does not sound very nice. Anything else you can tell me about him?

Friend: Well, another time he commanded his army to kill all the men, women, and children of 60 cities so his people could possess their land. No survivors remaining was the goal. So they killed all the men, and all the women, and all the children in all 60 cities, just as instructed by Jehovah. (Deuteronomy 2:31-3:7)

Me: Wow. Sounds brutal. Anything else I should know about this Jehovah?

Friend: Well, another time he endorsed the killing of men, women, and children by the edge of the sword (Joshua 6:21)

Me: Hmmm…. I don’t know man. This guy is a baby killer and animal abuser, and you want me to meet him? I don’t think so.

Friend: Well… why not? I mean he has some other redeeming qualities that you should take into consideration.

Me: Look, nothing personal man. You have told me enough to know that I really do not want to meet this guy. Frankly, from what you have already told me about this Jehovah guy, it sounds like we do not belong to the same “karass”.

Friend: Huh?

Me: “Karass”. Its a slang term that I once read in a Kurt Vonnegut novel. I guess what I am saying is that based upon what you are telling me, this Jehovah guy and me simply do not have much in common.

Friend: So you don’t think you want a relationship with Him?

Me: Again, nothing personal. But.. no, not really.

———————————————————————————————————————————————–
In closing, let me say this:

I am by nature a gregarious person, who loves to meet and get to know other folks. However, were a person to move into my community who had done and endorsed the things that Jehovah is alleged to have done and endorsed, I honestly do not think I would be a part of any neighborhood welcoming committee.

I don’t mean to be negative. I don’t mean to be disrespectful.

But, frankly, after years of studying the Old Testament, and then finally visualizing what I have read and thought about the suffering and the brutal treatment of babies and animals alike recorded therein and openly attributed to Jehovah; I have come to a conclusion:

I really do not want a relationship with Jehovah.

We Are Our Own Salvation

The older I get, the more intrigued I am by our Universe.  And I suppose that which intrigues me most of all is that the Universe is everywhere.  The Universe is literally:  EVERYWHERE!!

I am furthermore humbled by our lack of knowledge regarding the Universe.  I realize that humanity has made great strides towards learning what is “out there”, but the simple fact is that we do not have a clue as to the extent of that of which we remain ignorant regarding the Universe.

We simply have no clue how little we know because we just do not know  how much there is which is either yet undiscovered or forever not to be discovered.  Fascinating!

All we really know is that our Universe is ever expanding at a continuously accelerating rate.  Since it appears to be expanding in a curve, then one of two occurrences will inevitably end its existence as it is now:

1.  The Universe will expand to the extent that it rips apart, or

2.  The Universe will turn back in on its self, resulting in who knows what (another great expansion, thereby resulting in yet another Universe?  No one knows for certain)

Regardless, the Universe is on an unavoidable trek to an inevitable end, and no one can or ever will be able to do anything to prevent that reality.

Furthermore, I am but a seemingly immeasurable speck within this massive ever expanding mass known as the Universe.  I am nothing.  Well, not quite, but so close as to be nothing in terms of the measure of all things.  In the grand scope of all reality, I am simply an insignificant coincidence to an expansion which will either rip me apart or collapse upon me should I happen to be living when the great expansion comes to its inevitable end.

Frankly, the great expansion which is our Universe is completely indifferent to my well being.

That said, it occurs to me that we of humanity are the only known species in the entire Universe with our degree of concern for the well being of ourselves and sensitivity and compassion for others.  (Note, I make this statement within the context of an already admitted ignorance as to other species and/or other universes that may possibly exist… “out there”!  My statement is thus asserted strictly within the context of that aspect of the Universe that we are aware of)

This is not to say that other sentient beings are not concerned with their own well being.  Indeed all beings are.  And this is not to say that other sentient beings do not have an instinctive concern for the well being of other such beings, in particularly their own offspring.  (Indeed, a mama cow or a mama bear can teach us much about natural filial concern!!)

However, it does seemingly appear that we of humanity may have an even more so refined sense of compassion and concern for the welfare of other beings.  That being the case, then there is a natural responsibility to care the welfare of others, because if we don’t do it, it simply will not get done.

There is no evidence of any celestial mastermind either driving this expanse, or overseeing its day to day operation.  Hence, there is no mystical helper to take care of matters that we choose to just ignore.

So if we choose to implement social systems that leave people in the streets, homeless, hungry, and without healthcare, we need not expect some celestial savior to swoop down and make it all better.

And if we choose to poison our environment with fracking, or ignore the effects of climate change, we need not look for some divine intervention to make it all better.

We are on our own.

As scary as it may sound, we of humanity are our own salvation, or there simply is no salvation.

In the words of Vonnegut:

” we are here to help each other get through this thing, whatever it is”

I truly do not know whether helping each other through this unexplainable circumstance known as life is the purpose for existence, or whether there simply is no purpose for our existence.

All I know is that in the light of our existence within an ever expanding Universe which evidences itself day and in and day out to be completely indifferent to our well being one way or the other; we can choose to do whatever we can to save our planet and alleviate undue and unnecessary suffering in the process.

Or not.

Either way, the Universe continues to expand on the way to its inevitable end and leaves us to our own doings.

We are our own salvation.  Or there is no salvation.

The Words of Jesus Regarding “The Judgment Day”

Interesting thing about Jesus’ version of “the judgment day”.

In Jesus’ version of “judgment day”, he does not tell those who were so poor that they need to be fed by others:

“Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels”

Nor in Jesus’ version of “judgment day” does he tell those who are homeless:

“Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels”

Nor in Jesus’ version of “judgement day” does he tell those who are sick and in need of someone else to provide for their healthcare:

“Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels”

Nor even in Jesus’ version of “judgment day” does he tell those who are in prison:

“Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels”

Interesting.

What is even more interesting is that Jesus DOES tell those who fail to feed the poor, shelter the homeless, provide healthcare for the ill, and even take care of those who are in prison:

“Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels”, and then he simply sends them “away into everlasting punishment”.

Interesting.

Ah well, surely Jesus did not ACTUALLY mean what he said here… right?

I mean, surely Jesus is using figurative language here… right?

I mean come on man, surely Jesus is not SO CONCERNED about real life situations like the well being of the poor, the homeless, and the incarcerated that he would ACTUALLY make such scenarios a criteria for eternal judgment… would he?

Besides, everyone knows that people who are so poor that they cannot feed themselves or provide shelter for themselves are in that condition due to no one’s fault but their own… right?

So I am not ACTUALLY  accountable in Jesus’ eyes to ACTUALLY help those people… right?

And Healthcare is a privilege to be purchased and not an inherent human right to be provided for.. right?

And prison conditions, hey, that is not my concern.  Those people in prison gave up their rights when they committed crimes against society and humanity…right?

I mean surely Jesus is gonna take these types of factors into account on Judgment Day… right?

Besides, surely even if I do pass judgment on the poor as being lazy and therefore I do not believe in providing for their welfare; and I figure I have to work hard to pay for my house so why should anything just be given away to the homeless, and I figure that since I have to work hard to pay for my Healthcare then I therefore naturally oppose Universal Healthcare for all on principle; and I am not in the least concerned about prison conditions since those people are just getting what they deserve….

Surely I will not be accountable for such perspectives on Judgment Day.. right?

I mean, SURELY so long as I take my family to church every Sunday, and pray before every meal, and even stand and sing “God Bless America” at the same time everyone else does; then little things like turning my back on the poor, supporting denying Healthcare for all, and my opinions on prison conditions won’t be held against me by my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ… right??

….. right???

MATTHEW 25:31-46 (source: biblegateway.com, bold lettering mine. Dave)

31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:

32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:

33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?

39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:

43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?

45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.

46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

Not to worry people.  These are JUST Jesus words as to “THE  JUDGMENT DAY”.

Not to worry   …. right?

Life is The Jericho Road

One of my favorite Parables attributed to Jesus is about a person who gets beat up, left for dead, ignored by religious leaders, and gets helped by another of conventional society’s misfits.

I love this Parable.

This Parable is not about God.

This Parable is not about Heaven or Hell.

This Parable is about life.

This Parable is about “the real world”.

This Parable is about “The Human Condition”:

The Parable of the Good Samaritan

25 And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?”

27 So he answered and said, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’[h] and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’”[i]

28 And He said to him, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.”

29 But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

30 Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. 33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 On the next day, when he departed,[j] he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’ 36 So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?”

37 And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.”

Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

(Source:  biblegateway.com)

My thoughts:

Life is the Jericho Road:

This parable is often called “The Parable of The Good Samaritan”.  Note even the heading above as copied and pasted from Biblegateway.com.

But I maintain that this is actually “The Parable of Those Who Wish to Justify Themselves”.

The text itself is quite clear on the matter.  Jesus told this story in response to an individual who is attempting to justify himself in response to being told to love his neighbor as himself.

This is “The Parable of Those Who Wish to Justify Themselves”.

There are many people in life who “wish to justify themselves”.

Life is the Jericho Road:

There are people in life  who will beat you up and leave you for dead.

Thugs is what they are.

Life’s thugs.

Life’s thugs may not always actually hit you with their fists.  But they will sure enough kick your teeth in and leave you  helpless.

Life’s thugs do not always operate as “desperados”.

LIfe’s thugs may very well wear business suits.

Life’s thugs may be Wall Street investors or CEO’s.

Life’s thugs are those who ruthlessly take from others, and do not concern themselves with the well being of those who they plunder.

Life does have its thugs.

Life is the Jericho Road:

There are people in life who get beat up and left to their own resources.

These people are the victims of life.

These people may live on the streets just blocks from where you live.

These people may very well be checking out your groceries at your Corporate operated “Market”.

Or these people may be victims of War.

War which is ironically waged by a “Christian Nation”.

These people are victims of life.

Life is the Jericho Road:

There are people in life who are “comfortable”.

And like the Priest and the Levite on the Jericho road….  they choose to “pass by on the other” side when they encounter life’s victims.

Like the Priest and the Levite they have places to go and things to do.

Perhaps they must “pass by on the other side” in order to go to Worship Service.

Perhaps they must “pass by on the other side” in order to go to Men’s Prayer Breakfast..

Perhaps they must “pass by on the other side” in order to go to Ladie’s Bible Class.

Whatever the reason, there are many in life who are so comfortable with their lives that they have not the inclination to be bothered by the problems of the victims of life.

And so they choose to “pass by on the other side”.

Life is the Jericho Road:

There are some in life who actually have compassion.

There are some in life who may actually have sincere pity for the plight of others.

And these folk may very well be society’s misfits themselves.

They may be minorities.

They may be “illegals”.

They may be openly Gay.

They may be Atheists.

They may be worse yet:  Liberals.

Whatever they are, they certainly can be no lower on the scale of “conventional society” than was the Samaritan in the parable as told by Jesus.

The Samaritans were scum in the eyes of the Jewish society of Jesus’ day.

Kind of like minorities are all too oftentimes regarded in our society.

Kind of like “illegals” are all too oftentimes regarded in our society.

Kind of like Homosexuals are all too oftentimes regarded in our society.

Kind of like Atheists are all too oftentimes regarded in our society.

And kind of like Liberals are all too oftentimes regarded in our society.

Indeed there are Samaritans on life’s Jericho Road.

Good Samaritans.

Good people.

People who actually care.

For such is what set the Good Samaritan apart from the Priest and the Levite.

The Samaritan differed no more from the Priest and the Levite than minorities, “illegals”, the LGBT community, the Atheists, and the Liberals differ from conventional society today.

So what did set the Samaritan apart from his religious counterparts in “The Parable of Those Who Wish to Justify Themselves”?

He had compassion.

He had mercy.

He actually cared.

Jesus said it, not me:  “Go and do likewise.”

Life is the Jericho Road.

One Life to Live

If there is such a concept as “meaning to life”, or if indeed there is a purpose to our existence, it seems to me that such purpose for and meaning of our very being is a development of human experience rather than being a dictate from without.

What happens in this realm of existence seems to affect and influence this known reality exclusively.

Attempts to attach a deeper meaning or to assume some inherent purpose to our biological existence seems to me potentially detrimental to the natural process of genuine humanness in action.

Speculation of a life hereafter tends to foster unnatural hopes or create undue fears which merely confuse the ever present issue of the already seeming chaos which is our very daily lives.

There is simply too much to this life to be distracted by speculations of another.

Perhaps in another lifetime.  But probably not.

Just Be Decent

Religion as a means of self improvement is understandable.

By self improvement I do not mean making more money or establishing some degree of social credibility, be it in the workplace, the region, or even in the home.

By self improvement I mean being a decent person.

Now by decent I do not mean following moral “rules, regulations, or codes”.  I do not mean living a “conventional lifestyle” to please mass opinion.  I do not mean refraining from certain practices in order to fit a mass dictated concept of “decent” as contrasted with “indecent” behaviour.

By decent I mean giving a damn about your neighbor, your friends, and yes, even the plight of people you don’t even know.  By decent I mean treating people nice and actually CARING that there are poor people, hurting people, socially discarded people, who are PEOPLE.

By decent I mean GIVING A DAMN about the existence and welfare of every single person alive, anywhere and at any time.

Now, if religion is your crutch that you feel you need in order to develop and maintain any sense of social conscience within your inner being, then go for it.

The main thing is to be decent.

Personally, I think being a decent person is a human thing and has nothing whatsoever to do with religion.

But whatever works.

Just be decent.