Sunday, June 26, 2005

Wandering in the Wilderness

I know just how pitiful a servant Steve is to his Lord. He's self-centered and lazy. He hoards his coin, his talents and his time for himself and his family -- and it worries him. It worries him so much he humbly includes in every prayer to his Creator, "Please have mercy on me a sinner!" -- and means it.

I now worship God at a "stump", all alone and not in a church. That stump altar gets lonely. I miss the fellowship, the music, the things I grew up with -- but at this time I believe the stump is God's will for me. It took my leaving the church to understand just how far the church has wandered from God's basics -- loving Him AND our neighbors unselfishly with self-sacrifice. It has allowed my Creator to drill down through the traditions of men and give me a better understanding of what He's really all about.

It sometimes takes wandering in the wilderness a while for God to clear things up -- to separate the gold from the dross -- to separate His message from that taught by traditions of men. It sometimes takes praying at a stump for the Creator to give a person a new conscience.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

If I Were God ...

First scene. Pastor's office at the First Self-Righteous Church. Young woman (Faith Freeman) telling the pastor her sad story. She's trying to control three little children.

"My husband is in the hospital. He's dying. We have no insurance. I have my three children to take care of and we're out of food. I only have a high school education and no work experience. We have nothing to sell -- no savings or other income. Our car was repossessed by the bank. I walked here. It was the closest church. Our landlord is kicking us out. The only other family members we have are out-of-state and told me they have their own problems. Can you help us?"
Her story touches the pastor's heart. He gives her twenty dollars out of his own wallet and tells her he'll "see what he can do".

Next scene: Sunday morning service at the First Self-Righteous Church.

Good Pastor advises the congregation that there is woman ("not of our church") who is facing trials. He explains her problems and asks the congregation to remember her in their prayers. Christian Churchman (his friends call him Chris), sitting third row back, bows his head with the rest of the congregation and asks God to take note of this poor woman and her family.
""Please Lord", he prays, "look down upon this poor woman and provide for her needs".
"After the prayer is over, he glances over at his own family and realizes how blessed he is.

Next scene: Heaven

""... look down upon this poor woman," God hears as Churchman prays.
""Well, ALRIGHTY then!" the Creator exclaims (sounding just like Jim Carey and blowing an angel off the Throne). "Thanks to Christian Churchman I'm now aware of this poor woman. Why, I would have never noticed her from all of her prayers, but I never miss those from good Churchman".
""... and provide for her needs." Churchman's prayer ends.
""Sure thing," God grins. "I'll get right on it!"

Next scene: Churchman family leaving church in their year-old Ford Explorer.

"Where do you guys want to eat today?" Christian asks his family. Kids want McDonalds, but Momma wants Red Lobster. Momma wins. "I'll have to stop at an ATM and get some money", Christian says.
"No you won't," Momma advises. She digs into her purse, pulls out a $100 dollar bill and hands it to Chris. "Here. Here's for our meal and your next week's lunch money."
"Chris takes it and sticks it into his shirt pocket because he doesn't want to dig for his wallet while driving.

Next scene: Red Lobster's parking lot.

"You guys wait for your mother!" Chris yells at the kids as they pile out of the SUV. His smallest, cute-but-headstrong Angie (short for Angel), leaps from her seat and starts across the parking lot. Chris grabs for her and when he does, the $100 bill in his shirt pocket flies out onto the pavement. A strong gust of wind comes up from nowhere, picks up the bill and blows it into traffic where a FedEx truck runs over it. After the truck passes, the bill has disappeared.
"Aw, hell!" Christian curses. "Sonofabitch!"
"Watch your language!" his wife scolds him. "It's your own fault and the kids have big ears."
"Yeah. Right," Churchman mutters as he and his family search for a while before giving it up as a lost cause.

Next scene: A few blocks down from Red Lobster. Faith Freeman and her brood are walking out the door of the unemployment office.

"I'm hungry!" her youngest wails -- just like he's been wailing for the last thirty minutes while she was filling out papers. "And my feet hurt!"
"I know, little guy," she sighs as she stoops over to pick him up. Suddenly, out of the corner of her eye, she notices something fluttering against the curb. It looks like money. She steps over and picks it up -- a $100 bill.

Next scene: Heaven.

"Your prayer has been answered, Chruchman," God grins.

If I were God ...

"Hate Speech" Legislation

After a lifetime of knowing the negative effect of hate speech, I now support the people's (not the government's) freedom to say what they please -- even if it is hateful. I'll try to explain why.
I now understand things I didn't when I was younger. Treatment of minorities (of all kinds) in America still has room for improvement, but things are a world better than they were in the 50's and 60's. What made that happen? It was education -- not legislation. Threats of punishment will temporarily force people to do something -- but only as long as force is applied. When people change their minds, you no longer have to force them.

Minorities are respected much more today than in the 50's and 60's. This is because speech was free (more or less). Minorities proclaimed their truths in the streets, with signs, with marches, in the churches, in the schools. They virtually "out-shouted" the "hate speech".

There was government legislation that helped, but most were laws against acts, not speech. It was laws like those that abolished segregation and discrimination in schools, in the workplace, etc. It was legislation that let the disease of ignorant discrimination (on all sides) be successfuly treated with the right medicines -- education and assimilation.

Now, an entire generation exists that finds it hard to imagine a time when blacks were not allowed to drink from the same water fountains as whites, Indians were not sold whiskey in a bar, and neither were allowed to date white girls.

It was not the restriction of anyone's speech that led to a reduction of hate speech -- it was the freedom of all speech. Such freedom, along with education is the only way to ensure political, economic and social justice for all.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

What Do We Know?

What both science and theology know is a molehill compared to the mountain of what they do not know. Part of this is due to the fact we just haven't figured things out yet. However, part of it is due to the fact our reasoning ability has only evolved so far. In spite of what many like to think, the evolved intellectual ability of H.Saps is far from infinite. There are "truths" that humans would have no more ability to comprehend than my old hound dog, Jake -- even if they were documented and explained.

These facts keep me humble.

Do I ever play the "Only God knows" card? Of course I do. There are logical problems with some traditional Christian (and other theological) concepts. The majority of these I attribute to H.Saps' ignorance and instinctive behavior manifesting itself as tribal traditions.

For the rest, I have two choices. (1) Theology is bogus because there is no Creator or (2) There is a Creator, but exactly what role that Creator plays in the macro/micro management of His creation -- no one really knows.

As per my nature, nurture (and possibly the will of the Creator), I have chosen to have faith in number (2).As with all people who have chosen to accept a premise on faith, I have no choice at times but to admit ignorance -- to "cop-out" if you will, and say, "Only God knows".

Saturday, June 04, 2005

God On a Leash

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD." (Isaiah 55:8)

Kinda like what I tell my old hound dog, Jake. I can't understand how he can tell which direction a rabbit ran from an hour-old spoor. He can't understand why I punch my fingers so much (on a keyboard). Different species.

People try to put their Creator on a man-made leash. Who knows? Maybe old Jake gets together with my daughter's Shitzu and figures me out.

Jake: "He pecks his fingers on the table in order to drive the cat away."
Shitzu: "Yes. Everyone knows that the cat is Evil and the Master is Good. That must be the answer."
Jake: "Spread the word. The Master overcomes Evil by pecking on the table. Truth."

Yeah. I trust our skull jelly to analyze the Creator.