Everything Is Relative

Christianity and Islam are each Monotheistic religions based upon antiquated Hebrew myths. They each worship one God. They each preach heaven and hell. They each cherish their own holy book. Each of their holy books teach peace and love. Each of their books teach violence and murder. Christianity and Islam are each represented mainly by good and decent people who want to lead good lives and go to heaven. Yet both Christianity and Islam have extremist terrorist groups which maim, torture and murder those who do not believe as they, and who kidnap children and convert them to their cause. In my mind, the Christian terrorists in Africa are no more representative of the good and decent Christian; then the Islamist terrorists in the Middle East are representative of the good and decent Muslim. I believe that when the Muslim and the Christian each take the finer and more refined passages of their holy books as their guide for daily living, then neither are a threat to anyone, and each represents themselves and their respective religions with honor and dignity.

That said: Everything is relative.

Advertisements

The Religious Restoration Fraud

The Right wing zealots of this generation of Christianity are no longer satisfied to merely practice their religion uninhibited in the home and in the churches, now they want to impose their religious views on others in the context of a business and at work.

The very concept of “restoring religious freedoms” is a misnomer and a misrepresentation of reality by hypersensitive zealots who pride themselves with self absorbed persecution complexes. That said, to my knowledge Christians of my generation (I am 54 years of age) have never experienced anything except religious freedom. I was raised in the church, and I raised my children likewise. Not even once, in over forty years of going to church do I recall our services ever being interrupted by a state representative who was “checking up on us”, nor do I ever recall the doors of the church building being closed by the state for any reason whatsoever. I lived the life of religious freedom, and so does every Christian of every divergent doctrine so associated.

Claims to the contrary are asserted by those who represent a new “chip on the shoulder”, persecution complex mentality of the 21st CE self righteous zealots
who quite frankly discredit the decent Christians who mind their own business and just want to worship their God peacefully and quietly. The latter are “the remnant” of the truly righteous Christians, in that they simply wish to do as Christians of my generation have always been free to do: Merely worship God without fear of persecution, and insofar as they possibly can, to just live peaceably with all humanity. For those who are satisfied to practice their Christian faith thusly, these have never been hindered from doing so in any shape, form, or fashion for as long as I personally have been aware.

These “Religious Restoration” laws are by no means designed to address the protection of the rights of good and decent Christians, for the rights of good and decent Christians have always been protected by this society. The legally and socially protected right to worship one’s god privately and without fear of hindrance from the state or any other individuals whatsoever is a right that by no means needs to be restored, for by no means has such been denied or discontinued.

These “Religious Restoration” laws are rather bigotry and racism restoration laws, which are designed to empower private business owners and citizens to circumvent the Civil Rights laws of the 1960’s by asserting their religious rights to authorize public bigotry and racism. The right to discriminate is by no means what religious freedom is about. On the other hand, the restriction of discrimination is precisely what Civil Rights laws are about.

So recognize these “Religious Restoration” laws for what they are and for what they are not:

Religious Restoration laws do not restore religious freedom, for religious freedom (especially for Christians) has by no means been denied or discontinued.

Religious Restoration laws are on the other hand, designed to enable and empower discrimination, which has nothing to do with the freedom of religion.

Such as they are, these are my thoughts on “Religious Restoration” laws.

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.

On Religion and Respect

The issue of Religion is not so very very difficult if we but distinguish between “freedom of” in contrast to “freedom from”; and “private right” in contrast to “public realm”; and commit to the respect of each on behalf of everyone.

For respect is the unwritten social contract which enables people of different cultures to live together in peace and harmony:

Every person has a “private right” to “freedom of” religion. The right of private worship is sacred in a civilized society. Thus; the practice of private religion must be free from State interference or social censure. So long then as no one is harmed in any way, each individual or collective groups simply must be free to worship as they wish without interruption or interference by the State OR BY ANY OTHER religious body, institution, or individuals.

At the same time, these being private rights, then the free exercise of one’s religion must naturally be restricted to the home and/or church building/grounds. Whenever religious relics, traditional teachings, prayers, adoration, singing, and otherwise are practiced, promoted on behalf of, or imprinted into the public realm or onto public property, then the rights of all non-religious or “different religion than” peoples have been infringed upon and undeniably violated. The restriction of the practice of one’s religion to the private sector is only practical in the light of both the nature of the freedom of religion and the neutrality of and therefore freedom from religion in the public sector.

Therefore, the “public realm” simply must be a “freedom from” religion zone. Neutrality in the public realm is the most practical means by which to protect the rights of and at the same time to respect the beliefs of all peoples. Neutrality in the public realm then is the proper means necessary in order to protect the private rights of religious practice, and at the same time to respect the faiths and philosophy of all peoples. Such neutrality then being an effort to give preference to none over any other.

Neutrality with regards to religion in the public realm then protects everyone’s rights, including all but not exclusive to any particular religious group and/or ideology. This is in fact to respect the faiths and philosophy of all peoples, in an effort to give preference to none over any other. And such is only right since the public sector belongs to the public at large. Thus, no person of one faith should have to read passages from the holy book of another faith inscribed on a public park bench. Furthermore, no parent of any given faith should have to subject their children to being lead in prayer by a Public School Educator which is directed to a different deity than that of that family’s religious beliefs.

Public neutrality is simply the most practical means by which to show proper respect for each person’s faith and beliefs.

CONCLUSION:

Respect is the unwritten social contract which enables people of different cultures to live together in peace and harmony.

As a matter of respect for each individual’s right to their own personal beliefs and private religious practices, society must never allow those rights to be infringed upon or denied.

Then again, as a matter of respect to each individual’s right to their own personal religious beliefs, society should ever maintain an absolute and unqualified neutrality in the public domain with regards to any religious beliefs whatsoever.

For respect is the unwritten social contract which enables people of different cultures to live together in peace and harmony.

Dave Henderson
Denison, Texas

A Sinner’s Story (short version that is)

Periodically when people find out that I used to be a Christian, I am asked:

“Dave, how could you do it?  How could you give up your faith?”

And indeed, such is a reasonable inquiry.  For the fact is that conventional wisdom here in the Bible Belt (North Central Texas) would certainly not counsel one to deny one’s familial faith or the creed of one’s church.  Such is simply not  done “in these here parts”.

In my defense though, there is a story behind my change of philosophy.  Today I offer you the abbreviated version of why I am no longer a Christian.  In essence, this is:

A Sinner’s Story (short version)

It all began one day as I was reading my Bible, perusing the pages of holy script and pondering the heroes of the ancient past.

Heroes like:

1.  God; who drowned babies and animals alike when the adults of a specific generation were not living the way he wanted them to live.   (Genesis 6-8)  Point of detail:  These adults were the product of his creation.  Just sayin’….

2. And “Righteous” Lot; (2 Peter 2:7-8); who offered his two daughters to be gang raped in order to protect two perfect strangers (of course they were males) whom he was lodging. (Genesis 19).  Now in Lot’s defense, at least he never did anything really bad like his wife; old “what’s her name” (Luke 17:32)  who actually did the unthinkable:  She looked back!!! Of course God (see Bible Hero #1 above) taught her!  He killed her right there on the spot.  Turned her into a pillar of salt, he did!!

3.  Then there is Moses; who got highly agitated at the Israeli soldiers for sparing the Midianite women when God’s army was in the process of executing his judgment upon the Midianite people.  So, good ole Moses set the Israeli soldiers straight:  He told them to kill all the Midianite male children and women; EXCEPT FOR the virgins!  The virgins were a “booty prize”:  The Israeli soldiers got to keep them for themselves! (AFTER killing all the male children and “experienced” women first; “business before pleasure”; Numbers 31:17-18)

4.  And of course, who could forget Joshua;  who after the walls of Jericho fell, lead the Israelis on a rampage that involved utterly destroying men, women, and children with the edge of the sword.  Oh, I almost forgot, they also slaughtered the animals as well.  (Joshua 6:21).

So anyway, as I am reading the Bible and contemplating the heroes of the Bible, it occurred to me:

If Biblical heroes were baby killers and animal abusers, who discarded and acquired women as mere sex objects, then how could I do any worse as a bleedin’ heart, peace lovin’, tree huggin’ Atheist?

So that is exactly what I became.

END OF STORY (short version that is)

Belief in the Resurrection of Jesus: Reasonable Conclusion or Religious Conviction?

Recently I read the book “Cold Case Christianity” by J. Warner Wallace.  The author is an experienced “cold case” criminologist, and applies techniques of his trade to assess and evaluate the accuracy and authenticity of the biblical claims of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Evidently, this book is a popular read among those who maintain that there is actual evidence to sustain the claim that the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth was an actual historic event.  Having given the book a serious read, I wish to offer my thoughts regarding.

I was for the most part impressed with his call to logic and appeal to reason as a means to conduct a homicide investigation. I love reason and logic, and as the author  worked in the profession of criminal investigation, then certainly a careful, disciplined, and systematic approach to every case he encountered must have been paramount in order for him to arrive at the truth as to “who dun it” (I simply LOVE “who dun its”; I am a sucker for a detective flick!!!)

That said, I was impressed with his use of logic relative to his profession as recorded in each respective example which opened every chapter. I did see the connection between logic and deductive reasoning as applied to any such circumstance involving witnesses, claims, and conclusions. His principles are logical and practical, and can be exercised efficiently in any situation which involves claims and necessary conclusions. Frankly, since I work in the automotive field myself, I likewise utilize these very principles on a daily basis as I attempt to interpret and evaluate a car owner’s claims about what his/her vehicle is doing relative to finding the cause for such claimed activity.

Now, I do take respectful issue with two particular lines of reason employed by the author relative to how he connects his numerous cold case murder scenes with an interpretation of New Testament writings:

1. The author builds a case on the concept of witnesses, yet among the New Testament writers, there are few who claim to be actual witnesses of any of the events which they recorded. It is of course true that the New Testament writers claim the validity of certain events, yet they do no claim to be witnesses of such. They merely claim the validity of such events.

I will elaborate more on this below, but for now I merely wish to assert my disapproval at building a case on the concept of witnesses where folk make very few such claims. It seems to me that the New Testament writers are for the most part merely “claimants” in that they make claims of the certainty of events, yet for the most part they are not “witnesses” for they did not witness such events (nor do they claim to have witnessed such events). This is particularly the case with reference to claims of the resurrection.

2. The author criticizes skeptics with reference to not allowing the possibility of supernatural explanations, yet I know full well that he would not for even a moment give the concept of a supernatural explanation serious consideration while attempting to solve a crime. And since he bases the very concept of the entire book on alleged similarities between solving cold case crimes and interpreting the New Testament writings, I find this particular element of his book somewhat inconsistent, to say the least.

Having so evaluated the book in general, I wish now to offer thoughts as to why I maintain that it is not reasonable to believe in the actual historic resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. More specifically, I maintain that there is not sufficient evidence with reference to the resurrection of Jesus to warrant the conclusion that he actually arose from the dead. In fact, to conclude that Jesus rose from the dead is to conclude the least likely possibility under the circumstances.

In so doing, it is not my intent to insult anyone’s intelligence or deny anyone’s right to private opinion.  I do however wish to assert my thoughts that a belief in the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth is by no means a reasonable conclusion based upon actual evidence.  Rather, I wish to suggest that belief in the actual resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth from the dead is a religious conviction based upon gradual indoctrination, which is not to be confused with a reasonable conclusion based upon actual evidence.

That said, these are my thoughts as to whether it is reasonable to conclude that the supposed resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth was an actual historic occurrence:

Firstly, I maintain that it is not reasonable to conclude that Jesus rose from the dead because there are no known statements made by actual witnesses that the alleged event actually took place.

Now, there are many statements made by claimants well after the alleged resurrection supposedly took place, but even these make no claim to be eyewitness accounts of the alleged event. There are furthermore many statements made by claimants as to there having been witnesses of the alleged resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. But there are simply no known statements made by actual eyewitnesses of the alleged event itself.

Secondly, I maintain that it is not reasonable to conclude that Jesus actually rose from the dead because the claims themselves that the event actually took place and that there were witnesses of an allegedly resurrected Jesus are by no means contemporary to the supposed resurrection itself. In fact, the earliest known statements by claimants that such occurred are not made until at least 20 years after the event is supposed to have taken place, and even then, those claims are recorded by a man who never even knew Jesus at all. For the fact is that the earliest known references to the alleged resurrection of Jesus are the many references which are traditionally attributed to Paul, yet those claims themselves are no more contemporary to the supposed resurrection than 20 years afterwards.

Furthermore, the earliest known writings which describes the context itself of the trial, execution, burial, and sightings of an allegedly resurrected Jesus are no more contemporary to the supposed resurrection than some 40 years. Even then, the original writing of the earliest recorded descriptions; traditionally attributed to Mark, are by no means available to us today. In fact, the earliest known copy of that statement dates to some 80 years after the alleged event. Perhaps most disconcerting is that the earliest known complete gospel of Mark narrative dates to some 280 years after such narrative was originally written, which is over 300 years after the resurrection allegedly took place!

Frankly, not only is the case of “did Jesus actually rise from the dead” a cold case investigation, even the statements made by the claimants are “cold claims” in that the statements themselves are by no means contemporary to the alleged event itself. I daresay even the most experienced and the most capable of cold case criminologists would be hard pressed to definitively solve a case when there are no known statements made by actual eyewitnesses, and even the earliest statements made by claimants attempting to describe the alleged crime scene itself are not made until some 40 years later.

Thirdly, I maintain that it is not reasonable to conclude that Jesus actually rose from the dead because the statements made by the claimants are not consistent with each other. The accounts of the alleged resurrection differ as to several details, including what day he was executed, what time he died, what the final words of Jesus were before he died on the cross, who buried his body, how many women visited the tomb after the alleged resurrection, what the women saw when they visited the tomb, what the women did after visiting the tomb, the order of alleged appearances by Jesus after he supposedly rose from the dead, and even whether he ascended back to heaven within a day after he supposedly rose from the dead, or whether the ascension took place over a month later!!! And these are merely some of the contradictions of some of the claimants who assert that Jesus actually rose from the dead!!

Now, do these contradictions of the various statements of the various claimants discredit the claims themselves that Jesus actually rose from the dead?

In my opinion, these contradictions do not in and of themselves discredit the claim that Jesus was resurrected from the dead. In fact, it seems unreasonable to presume that a number of different claimants of any alleged occurrence would actually recollect all events the same. Furthermore, since there is no way of knowing whether ANY of the claimants who assert that Jesus was resurrected from the dead actually saw or even knew him personally, it would seem unreasonable to expect these accounts to be consistent as to specific details. Frankly, the conflicts and inconsistencies as to specific details relative to their claims are only natural. But therein lies the issue: These accounts were ONLY NATURAL!

In other words, whereas the contradictions and inconsistencies as to certain details relative to the statements of the various claimants do not in and themselves discredit the claims, nonetheless such contradictions and inconsistencies do in fact discredit any claims that the claimants themselves were writing under the influence of divine inspiration. If further follows then that these contradictions and inconsistencies likewise discredit any claims as to the inerrancy of such claims themselves.

Such being the case, then these claimants are only human, and are therefore given to the natural tendencies and limitations of all such beings. Furthermore, the written claims themselves being the product of natural claimants as opposed to being the product of divine inspiration, then it subsequently follows that the claims themselves are open to inconsistencies and errors.

Such is only natural. For the claimants themselves are but natural humans, and their written claims are but natural human writings. That being the case, then it is only reasonable that their written claims should be evaluated naturally, and the process of assessing any conclusions from such should likewise be in accord with any other such natural conclusions. Which leads to my fourth and conclusive thought regarding whether to conclude that the alleged resurrection of Jesus actually took place or not.

Fourthly, and finally, I maintain that it is not reasonable to conclude that Jesus actually rose from the dead because the claim itself is simply not credible.

When dealing with natural circumstances the very concept of supernatural involvement should logically be regarded as the least credible of all possibilities and consequently the last of all possible conclusions. So much so in fact that in any cold case crime investigation, supernatural involvement as to the actual cause would not even be given serious consideration. And with good reason. Regarding supernatural involvement in any situation as being the least credible and the last of all logical conclusions is simply reasonable and rational.

Frankly, supernatural claims require supernatural evidence in order to be given any serious consideration. In any natural situation.

In conclusion, I maintain that it is not reasonable to conclude that Jesus actually rose from the dead because:

1. There are no statements from eyewitness to confirm the claim.

2. There are only claims, and none of those are contemporary to the alleged event.

3. There are multiple contradictions and inconsistencies between the claimants.

4. The claim is not credible in and of itself.

That said, I maintain that belief in the resurrection as a matter of faith and religious conviction is certainly a prerogative open to anyone.  However, that right acknowledged in no way gives credibility to the claim that Jesus actually was raised from the dead.  In fact,  there is simply no evidence sufficient to warrant the conclusion that the resurrection of Jesus was an actual historic event.

Thus I conclude and unequivocally maintain that  it is simply not reasonable or logical to conclude that Jesus actually was raised from the dead.

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?

On God and The Human Condition

If a person requires the concept of a deity in order to be sensitive and caring, or kind and compassionate; then by all means such a person should serve their God by being sensitive and caring, kind and compassionate.

If on the other hand, a person’s concept of a deity encourages that person to be insensitive to the suffering of the poor, and indifferent to the circumstances which lead to such suffering, then it seems to me that such a person should review their concept of “God”.

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.