THE MANIFEST

Eternal hell fire.  Burn forever.  Scary at age 7.  Fear still in there at eighty.  Doubting Thomas?  “Looking for loopholes”(W.C.Fields).

Madeleine Albright just described herself as religious  with doubts.   Someone suggested one couldn’t be genuinely religious without some doubt.

Don’t know why the Pope’s declaration that there is no hell got so little attention. That’s great news for some of us.  More than anything said in America lately.

It is hard to know who to listen to.  No first to politicians.   Or radicals of either ilk.  Religion was the bedrock of my youth.   I remember people saying about one going to college that “…that will take their beliefs away”.   Christopher Hitchens said one “…can be an atheist and still have beliefs.”  There is a difference between religion and spirituality. There are countless religions world wide and in our country.  There is no telling how many varieties of Baptist churches there are  the South.

Are they all right or only one of em? Which one?

I have collected a lot of  “stuff”.  To follow are a lot of plagiarized comments. And/or unidentified  presentations.   The one below is a  comment on unusual religious beliefs.

supernatural-beliefs.jpg

I read somewhere there are at least a dozen religions that feature virgin births.   I can’t help wonder if some father didn’t forward this conjecture to save face for ‘”…my precious baby girl”

I have tried to read some writers who seem to be data based in their speculations.  Hard questions arise.  Was there God before humanity?   One of the eye openers from a few years back was A SHORT HISTORY OF NEARLY EVERYTHING by Bill Bryson. 

One example therein explains modern life this way;  the big bang occurred about 13.5 Billion years ago.  Bryson says if you open your arms to full wingspan that the distance from the tip of one middle finger to the wrist on the other hand is the time earth exhibited no life. From that spot to the middle fingernail, as one files off one simple file, represents life as we know it on the earth.

Anything but a “writer”, I consulted THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE, by Strunk and White. Please understand my amateur editing and typing attempts.

Maybe the “glitches” don’t matter as much as Strunk and White’s final advice: “Your whole duty as a writer is to please, satisfy yourself, and the true writer always plays to an audience of one”. It appears that 2000-2008 (Bush 2 administrative years) caused us to “choose sides”. And it seems that feelings were so deep that once committed to their view, very few were willing to listen, much less alter their stance. Winning the argument seems more important than learning the truth of the matter.

“Wicked sins” are racism, war, violence, murder.

“People who fight wars are not the ones who benefit from them”

Dick Cheney is a chicken hawk.  (see above).

“War has a long tail.”

Rush Limbaugh on Obama (“I hope he fails!”)

We butchered 200,000 Iraqi citizens.  Forget hell.

“…you are right from your side and I’m right from mine”. ONE TOO MANY MORNINGS—Dylan.

  • ALOT (A LEVEL OF THINKING) by Tom Parham was published in 2015.  I tried to cover serious topics (war, race, poverty, religion, politics) that seemed to trouble me more and more.  Below I snipped parts of ALOT and placed them in a some what “order”.  Here is a link to a PDF of the full book – https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B4Gm-uQHsPd8ZDhJZmJFQy1ZX2tlVDNtYWYwUzJDY3djR1VF/view?usp=sharing
  • I am trying to read Stephen Hawking’s A  Brief History of Time.   Too much for me.   But I did read the conclusion.  The following is pretty clear:

    “ Then we shall all, philosophers, scientists, and just ordinary people, be able to take part in the discussion of the question of why it is that we, and the universe exist.  If we find the answer to that, it would be the triumph of human reason…for then we would know the mind of God.”

Some of these protesters seemed to be reasonable people. Dr.C.H.Hamlin was a pacifist professor. A Southern gentleman, Dr. Hamlin firmly states “…we got no business messing with those “VIANESE”.

I had a son in New York City on 9/11. We didn’t know his whereabouts for several hours. I shared America’s anger over this tragedy and I can understand the desire for revenge. Any good coach knows the adage “don’t get mad, get even”,but it seems the administration at that time could not wait to join in a new war.

If you go in the Middle East you will own it. (Scowcroft)

My years of watching told me to be cautious about getting into war. And the Bush Administration was moving way too fast for me. It was obvious that not much listening was going on. I doubt my conservative friends would know who Jello Biafra is. Jello said …”even the most Bush-happy, flag suckling jack-arse knows deep inside something is wrong”. Were these guys stupid? Evil? Was it pure hubris? E.L. Doctorow referred to “…hierarchal warrior nonsense”. Was it for money? Was it to protect the oil industry? Was this a headlong leap before you look?

They bought a guy named “Curveball”. Chalabi wasn’t it? Never in my life and in certainly no more important moment, or with more surety, did I know someone was lying to the country than the “sixteen words”. (“The British Government has recently learned that Saddam Hussein sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa”…George W. Bush in the State of the Union speech). The main source, “Curveball”.

From Clinton and a rare surplus, to a trillion and a half in the red? Someone explained a trillion dollars this way: If you could initial a dollar bill every second, non-stop for 32,000 years you would have a trillion dollars. The wars “off the books” and the collapse during the Bush W. years created debt that will long be with us, no matter who or what.In the words of the great philosopher, POGO “…it happened during my administration”.

In the impending days before the 2008 election there was at least one agreement. Commonly heard was the statement “…well no matter who wins things are so bad they won’t be corrected in one term, probably not in two”.

Coaches live and die with their win/loss record. George W. Bush was 0-10 for eight years in a row on the economy. Don’t kid yourself. The multi-trillion dollar runaway galloping deficit has its origins in 2000-2008. Don’t forget it.I would have fired Bill Clinton. His total disregard for the dignity of the presidency was grounds for divorce from any number of institutions. And yet it begs the question: Oral sex or the Iraq war and a bankrupted country?

Still I wonder what could have been accomplished if the OBAMA administration had not had to deal with “…harsh partisanship and a GOP leadership interested primarily in improving the fortunes of the wealthy…”The Department of Veteran Affairs announced that we are experiencing 22 suicides daily by veterans of these two wars. This totally shocked ancient me. That is almost one veteran per hour. Similarly, they reported an estimated 1800 total of similar suicides in the first quarter of 2014.

To me, this is among the most startling, sad, and truly disgusting among facts that have accrued from a decision that was so flawed and ill advised. Not one dime for our veterans wounded physically or psychologically should be begrudged, and yet the cost of all this damage, personal and financial, has to be borne by our country. This mistake was colossal. It was wrong. And the message is clear: The decision to go to war must be made with the utmost caution from our leaders.

I am on the”burn and scatter” plan, Cremation, and I have my urn picked out my urn.  Tennis trophy, the cup style. All I have to do is scratch out some engraving and —ready to go. Matter of fact this might be a source of income. Lots of trophies that really are sort of useless.

And Bob, from ALL ALONG THE WATCHTOWER—a ray of hope:

“But you and I have been through that

and this is not our fate.

So let’s stop talking falsely

The hour’s getting late.”

Faith may come casually. “She said, tell me, are you a Christian, Child? And I said, “…Ma’am, I am tonight!”  WALKIN IN MEMPHIS.

Pete Segar:  “The best thing for the economy is no war!”

“WHY CAN’T I FREE YOUR DOUBTFUL MIND AND MELT YOUR COLD, COLD HEART?”–Hank Williams.

I have always lived in North Carolina. I am a true son of the South. I take great pride in the South. A young man commented on a beautiful, full, “southern moon” to Oscar Wilde. Oscar replied “….yes, but you should have seen it before the civil war.” Southerners are unique people. Lots of characters. Some good and some bad. Racism is a part of our heritage. One cannot be from the South and not feel its sting. Sadly too, we have learned it is not limited to our area of the nation.

Someone suggested that racism is the “pox of the nation”.

Dr. Mildred Hartsock was the Head of the English Department at Atlantic Christian College.I became an English major and took 22 hours under Dr. Hartsock. She changed my thinking any number of ways. Non more so than on the subject of race. And nothing she said shook me like a statement she made in class. “If you have a child that you you would not let marry a member of the black race, you are prejudiced.”

As a young instructor in college one of my teaching assignments was First Aid and Safety. Located near both the ocean and the woods—sharks and snakes were subjects that college kids feared, probably to the extreme. I would warn them “…hey, forget the snakes. Worry about those Marines coming down U.S. 301 hell bent from New York for Camp Lejeune, with a dozen beers in them”. Drunk driving, racism and war were the big problems then and now.

2020 is different from all of it.  I was proud of our  country and Barrack Obama and easing off of “Bush bashing”.  I began to try to find better reading.  No one directed me better to current books than my son, Dan.  “You ought to read SAPIENS by Yuval Harari.” SAPIENS consequently stayed on the NYT best sellers list for sixty plus weeks.  Bill Gates and President Obama listed it as their top book recommendation..  Harari since has written two more significant books on humankind.  I can’t do justice to the several sources I am to  mention.  Do you own homework (…the hour is getting late”)

NUTSHELLS––SAPIENS dealt with humankind’s past.  HOMO DEUS, the future.  21 LESSONS for THE 21ST CENTURY, the present.

First SAPIENS.   Harari points out that no much human history occurred before 1500 bc.  Neanderthals showed up about 70k years later and in another 70k were extinct.  Replaced by us, Homo Sapiens.   He contends Sapiens evolved,  and eliminated Neanderthals due to the “ability to gossip”.  Conversations led to groupings, who concocted rules, laws, governance, religion.

Sapiens are the deadliest species in the annals of biology.

HOMO DEUS.

Biological knowledge x computer power x data is producing rapid change.  Data reveals truth, not religion or “my gut”.   Data can reshape and reengineer humanity.

“Mankind’s quest to upgrade humans to gods.”

Mankind has almost, and will, conquer the three remaining super problems–famine, plague, and war.

The main task will be to find happiness.

Homo Deus is where mankind is headed.  Artificial intelligence is on its way.

Harari contends the Sapiens may be more like Neanderthals than Homo Deus of  the future.

Terrorism will be dealt with. No reason for war.

Theology is not true enough to survive.

Algorithms rock.

Religion:  All the people think it is true.  All the philosophers think it is untrue.  Magistrates often find it very useful.”

’21 LESSONS for the 21st CENTURY

Present problems to be dealt with:  War, ecological problems, fake news, climate change, dying liberal democracy, immigration, the meaning of life today.

“…the reliance on the heart may prove to be the achilles heel of liberal democracy.”

The truth (accurate data) will set you free.

christians

Jared Diamond authored best seller GUNS, GERMS AND STEEL

Another, UPHEAVAL, lists these reasons for religions:

  1. Explanation 2. Defusing anxiety 3. Providing comfort  4. Organization and Obedience 5. Behavior towards strangers  6. Justifying war.

Michio Kaku  (speaker at High Point University’s TV show.  Author of THE FUTURE OF HUMANITY. )

Another bright one.  Maybe one of the best TV interviews.  Nido Quebein is moderator.  Run it down through PBS

There are three waves of science–mechanical, electrical, technology.

Are we the last generation to die?  Immortality a real possibility?

Advanced civilizations seem possible.  But we will have the courage to leave this home, knowing that we won’t see it happen.   An uninhabitable  earth looming?

Malcolm Gladwell (2 books of many)

OUTLIERS  are not outliers at all.  They are products of history and community, opportunity and legacy.  Their success is not mysterious or exceptional.  Due to advantages, inheritances, luck–some earned, some not, variables critical to making them who they are.

Why were Canadian hockey all stars more apt to have a January birthday?  Bill Gates and computers?    10,000 hours?   Thought provoking.

DAVID AND GOLIATH concludes David was not an underdog at all.  Accurate as a modern .45 with his sling shot.  A near blind giant  ( “…come nearer, David”).   Acromegaly.  Chip shot for David.

Bill Bryson wrote A WALK IN THE WOODS among many books.

A SHORT HISTORY of MANKIND is a godsend for  science teachers.

THE BODY is newer:

***one sliver from a cadaver, one millimeter thick from the epidermis is all that influences skin color.

***a teenage driver adds one more teenager.  Odds of a wreck go up 400x.

***Tie your fitbit to your dog’s leg!”

Exercise—-Average weight for women in 1960 144, up  to 166 today.  Men 166 to 196.

Sitting too much is a killer.

One guy had the hiccups for 67 years.

Others suggested, MY READING LIFE by Pat Conroy.

What is an anti-theist?  Try Christopher Hitchens.  Hitchens concludes that extreme religious suppositions require thorough scienfic support.

Thinking from “my gut?

Religious leaders, politicians, warriors, fox news, history itself reveal mistaken wars, imprisonments,  race, civil rights, lawyers, business tyrants, have led down some dark alleys.  Lying seems an all time high.   Too many to keep up with.  Cadet “Bone Spurs” suggested his attendance  at NEW YORK MILITARY ACADEMY prepared him as commander in chief.  I was on the staff one summer at NYMA.  We had a camp water fight.  The only time battle was mentioned.

Hannity rudely bludgeoned Mark  Cuban with the repeated “what has Biden done?

If for no other reason OBAMA/BIDEN worked our way out of the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld catastrophe of a war off the books (fade to trillions) and blood loss indefensible.

By  the way,  They got Osama Bin Laden.  History has and will shake all this data down.

Prescient?  Alexander Hamilton warned democracy of one who would “…throw things into confusion so he may ride the storm and direct the whirlwind!

Bob Dylan quotes:

May you have a firm foundation when the winds  of changes shift.

 

Strap yourself to a tree with roots.

 

It is not he or she or him or it that you belong to.

 

I gaze into the doorway of temptation’s angry flame,

and every time I pass that way it always calls my name.

 

Most of the time I am strong enough not to hate.

 

Don’t hate anything but hatred.

 

I would be kinder.  (Given another chance.)

 

Sometimes it is stupid to get into any kind of wind.

How did I do?  A quick look at some fun and correct choices

If  you list these you better put your Wife first. Check.

Bear Bryant said “coaching is only for those who can’t live with out it.”  Check.

And, “…if you do, get in a league you can win in.”  Tennis rather than basketball.  Check.

Got up with a hangover to go hear Coach Jim Leighton.  Check.

Tried to do  what he said.  Check.

Read DIE BROKE upon Retirement.  Check.

Quit resisting technology.  Semi check.

Embrace religious doubt.   Out the “snake handlers”   Check.

THE EARTH

disaster.jpg

 

*****College ideas I pushed:  CPR, VIDEO for athletics, women’s sports (Title 1X).  Women’s soccer.  Start varsity soccer- hire David Adkins.  Pushed men’s volleyball as a varsity sport for southeast, high schools and colleges.  Exposed “spearing” as an unsafe tackling technique.  Bought O. Charles Olsen’s THE PREVENTION OF FOOTBALL INJURIES (1972)   E=1/2 times mass times  v squared.  BIGGER, FASTER, TOUGHER PLAYERS INCREASE FORCE, INJURY TO HEAD AND NECK, DEATH.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A. “Blessed are the Peacemakers: For they shall see God” (51)

Memorial Day has passed once more.   Surely a day to be valued with deep gratitude.   It stirred me to think that perhaps we need another day of deep gratitude.

While the Nobel Peace Prize does a great service to history’s “peacemakers,” should we not be supremely thankful for those whose heroic efforts have prevented the horror of an avoidable war?

From the pre-teen smaller kid who stands down the school bully to the giants of peace—Don’t they deserve a “Peacemakers Day”?   The names of warriors, generals and courageous defenders of all people pour rather easily off our tongues. How about Ghandi, Desmond Tutu, the Dali Lama, Begin and Sadat and Carter, Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, Linus Pauling and numerous others, past and present.   People who, often at great risk, devote themselves to our greatest gift—life itself.

No one is being critical of Memorial Day’s deep significance. Just a deeper appreciation for Peace.

“If God is on our side, he’ll stop the next war” Bob Dylan-With God on Our Side (1963)

B. LOOKING FOR LOOP HOLES (228)

Longtime attache:  Mr. Fields, why are you studying the bible at this late date?

W.C. Fields: I’m looking for loopholes.

I am still amazed at the subdued attitudes toward the pope’s denial of the existence of hell.   Bet w.c.  fields would have joined me in celebration.  See blog 223.  I tend to agree with the late Christopher Hitchens’ description that the notion of hell was often used as a form of “child abuse”.  More on Hitchens later.   For now he joins Yuval Harari, Bill Bryson, and Jared Diamond as authors  I have become interested in studying.  And will now recommend through some comments their books contain.

Infinity and eternity are tough to grasp.  Bill Bryson, in his “A Short History of Nearly Everything”,  used this example to explain how long this world has been around (13.5 billion years).  Bryson says if you spread you arms to full wingspan,  the distance from the tip one middle finger to the other represents 13.5 billion years.  The distance from your left middle finger to your right wrist represents earth’s existence before any kind of life appeared.   If you take one finger nail file off the middle finger of that right hand, that would approximate the length of time mankind of today (homo sapiens) has existed.  Did god invent man, or did man invent god?  No mankind before that nail file, no religion.

Below are some excerpts from these authors:

Jared Diamond, The World Until Yesterday

Reasons for religion

  1. The function of explanation 
  2. Defusing anxiety 
  3. Providing comfort 
  4. Organization and obedience   
  5. Codes of behavior towards strangers
  6. Justifying war

Table 9.2. Examples of supernatural beliefs confined to particular religions

1. There is a monkey god who travels thousands of kilometers at a single somersault. (Hindu)

2. You can obtain benefits from the spirits by spending four days in a lonely place without food and water and cutting off a finger joint from your left hand. (Crow Indians)

3. A woman who had not been fertilized by a man became pregnant and gave birth to a baby boy, whose body eventually after his death was carried up to a place called heaven, often represented as being located in the sky. (Catholic)

4. A shaman, who is paid for his efforts, sits in a house in dim light together with all of the village’s adults, who close their eyes. The shaman goes to the bottom of the ocean, where he pacifies the sea goddess who had been causing misfortunes. (Inuit)

5. To determine whether a person accused of adultery is guilty, force-feed a poisonous paste to a chicken. If the chicken does not die, that means that the accused person was innocent. (Azande)

6. Men who sacrifice their lives in battle for the religion will be carried to a heaven populated by beautiful virgin women. (Islam)

7. On Tepeyac Hill north of Mexico City in 1531, the Virgin Mary appeared to a Christianized Indian, spoke to him in Nahuatl (the Aztec language, at that time still widely spoken there), and enabled him to pick roses in a desert area where roses normally can’t grow. (Mexican Catholic)

8. On a hilltop near Manchester Village in western New York State on September 21, 1823, the Angel Moroni appeared to a man named Joseph Smith and revealed to him buried golden plates awaiting translation as a lost book of the Bible, the Book of Mormon. (Mormon)

9. A supernatural being gave a chunk of desert in the Middle East to the being’s favorite group of people, as their home forever. (Jewish)

10. In the 1880s God appeared to a Paiute Indian named Wovoka during a solar eclipse, and informed him that in two years buffalo would again fill the plains and white men would vanish, provided that Indians took part in a ritual called the Ghost Dance.

Get this—yesterday at swimming pool gossip hour, a community friend pointed out that a local resident was actually arrested for this scam:  selling the fact that for a certain amount of money he could earn you access  to god, who in turn would grant you the kind of strength the salesman had demonstrated (among others feats, he tore a phone book in two! ) ps –an addendum to this addendum relates there  actually were two family members charged in the scam.  And, in fact, the two had an earlier disagreement about the money split, so one broke off into his own connection to god.  From 13.5 b till yesterday a new religion from Lands End!  Sounds like the Baptists.

VIRGINS.     The copy below shows an amazing number of virgin births.  I couldn’t help wondering if at least one of these virgin’s fathers didn’t concoct this theory as an “out” for a beloved daughter?

Christopher Hitchens “God is Not Great”

As for Bethlehem, I suppose I would be willing to concede to Mr. Prager that on a good day, I would feel safe enough standing around outside the Church of the Nativity as evening came on. It is in Bethlehem, not far from Jerusalem, that many believe that, with the cooperation of an immaculately conceived virgin, god was delivered of a son.

“Now the birth of Jesus Christ was in this wise. When his mother, Mary, was espoused to Joseph, before they came together she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.” Yes, and the Greek demigod Perseus was born when the god Jupiter visited the virgin Danae as a shower of gold and got her with child. The god Buddha was born through an opening in his mother’s flank. Catlicus the serpent-skirted caught a little ball of feathers from the sky and hid it in her bosom, and the Aztec god Huitzilopochtii was thus conceived. The virgin Nana took a pomegranate from the tree watered by the blood of the slain Agdestris, and laid it in her bosom, and gave birth to the god Attis. The virgin daughter of a Mongol king awoke one night and found herself bathed in a great light, which caused her to give birth to Genghis Khan. Krishna was born of the virgin Devaka. Horus was born of the virgin Isis. Mercury was born of the virgin Maia. Romulus was born of the virgin Rhea Sylvia. For some reason, many religions force themselves to think of the birth canal as a one-way street, and even the Koran treats the Virgin Mary with reverence. However, this made no difference during the Crusades, when a papal army set out to recapture Bethlehem and Jerusalem from the Muslims, incidentally destroying many Jewish communities and sacking heretical Christian Byzantium along the way, and inflicted a massacre in the narrow streets of Jerusalem, where, according to the hysterical and gleeful chroniclers, the spilled blood reached up to the bridles of the horses.

 


The Future?

“Sapiens” by Yuval Harari  is thought provoking.  President Obama and Bill Gates listed it on top of their reading recommendations.  And, as slow as the first 13 billion moved, the immediate past and present have picked up the pace.  Harari points to the computer as the clue to the hastening developments. Not the least of which is our increasing ability to gain “data”.  An acceleration of data collection will truly be rapid. So much so that Harari’s next book “Homo Deus” (man god) contends that the next version of man will differ from the homo sapiens we are today into a newcomer as different from us as we are from neanderthals.  Heavy.

I don’t know who will win the lottery prediction of mankind’s end.   Most have suggested we better be ready Thursday or so.  But looking at the scope of our past and speed of change, aren’t we perhaps just at the beginning, not the end?

Truth as the goal?

Is the truth what we should pursue, if not worship?  We are witnessing artificial intelligence galloping forward. New knees were unthinkable not long ago. New brain in the future?  No way?  Harari would say not long now.  Would it not follow that soon one would not have more evidence than faith to lean on.  Hitchens says exceptional claims demand exceptional evidence.  What I do believe is that Hitchens deserves  the right to be an “antithesis” rather than an atheist.   Certainly Americans have the right to freedom of thought.   And who knows,  the data required to unleash the many mysteries of life and beyond, may be nearer than we know.

Christopher Hitchens “God is Not Great”

Chapter 15 – Religion as the Original Sin
There are, indeed, several ways in which religion is not just amoral, but positively immoral. And these faults and crimes are not to be found in the behavior of its adherents (which can sometimes be exemplary) but in its original precepts. These include:

• Presenting a false picture of the world to the innocent and the credulous
• The doctrine of blood sacrifice
• The doctrine of atonement
• The doctrine of eternal reward and/or punishment
• The imposition of impossible tasks and rules

Chapter 16 – Is Religion Child Abuse?
When we consider whether religion has “done more harm than good”—not that this would say anything at all about its truth or authenticity—we are faced with an imponderably large question. How can we ever know how many children had their psychological and physical lives irreparably maimed by the compulsory inculcation of faith? This is almost as hard to determine as the number of spiritual and religious dreams and visions that came “true,” which in order to possess even a minimal claim to value would have to be measured against all the unrecorded and unremembered ones that did not. But we can be sure that religion has always hoped to practice upon the unformed and undefended minds of the young, and has gone to great lengths to make sure of this privilege by making alliances with secular powers in the material world.

Chapter 19 – The Need for a New Enlightenment
“The true value of a man is not determined by his possession, supposed or real, of Truth, but rather by his sincere exertion to get to the Truth. It is not possession of the Truth, but rather the pursuit of Truth by which he extends his powers and in which his ever-growing perfectibility is to be found. Possession makes one passive, indolent, and proud. If God were to hold all Truth concealed in his right hand, and in his left only the steady and diligent drive for Truth, albeit with the proviso that I would always and forever err in the process, and to offer me the choice, I would with all humility take the left hand.” —GOTTHOLD LESSING, ANTI-GOKZ.E (1778)

“The Messiah Is Not Coming—and He’s Not Even Going to Call!” — ISRAELI HIT TUNE IN 2001

 

Yuval Noah Harari 

In the 300 years of the crucifixion of Christ to the conversion of Emperor Constantine, polytheistic Roman emperors initiated no more than four general persecutions of Christians. Local administrators and governors incited some anti-Christian violence of their own. Still, if we combine all the victims of all these persecutions, it turns out that in these three centuries the polytheistic Romans killed no more than a few thousand Christians. In contrast, over the course, of the next 1,500 years, Christians slaughtered Christians by the millions, to defend slightly different interpretations of the religion of love and compassion.

 

George Carlin

Religion has actually convinced people that there’s an invisible man living in the sky who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place, full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever ’til the end of time!

But He loves you. He loves you, and He needs money! He always needs money! He’s all-powerful, all-perfect, all-knowing, and all-wise, somehow just can’t handle money!

 

W.H. Auden, “The More Loving One”

Looking up at the stars, I know quite well
That for all they care, I can go to hell.

 

Edward Gibbon, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

The various forms of worship, which prevailed in the Roman world, were all considered by the people to be equally true, by the philosopher as equally false, and by the magistrate as equally useful.

 

Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

Sometimes the Bible in the hand of one man is worse than a whisky bottle in the hand of (another)… There are just some kind of men who – who’re so busy worrying about the next world they’ve never learned to live in this one, and you can look down the street and see the results.

 

Garrison Keillor

Anyone who thinks sitting in church can make you a Christian must also think that sitting in a garage can make you a car.

 

Stephen King

When his life was ruined, his family killed, his farm destroyed, Job knelt down on the ground and yelled up to the heavens, “Why god? Why me?” and the thundering voice of God answered, There’s just something about you that pisses me off.

C. What the Hell? (223)

BIG WEEK AT EMERALD ISLE.  WON $27 AT THE VFW POKER GAME,  GRANDSON TOOK FIRST POOP IN POT, POPE DECLARES THERE IS NO HELL.  POKER, POOP, POPE.

WHOA!  RUN THAT BY ME AGAIN.  NO HELL?  AND NOBODY CELEBRATING BUT ME?

BEING A PREACHER’S KID I SPENT A LOT OF PEW TIME.

THERE ARE DEGREES AND VARIETIES OF ALL RELIGIONS APPARENTLY.  BAPTISTS MORESO THAN OTHERS (SOUTHERN, FREE WILL, MODERATE, EVANGELICAL, ETC.)

MY  “PRIMITIVE BAPTIST” GRANDMOTHER’S ANNUAL TWO STAY WEEK CLARIFIED THAT.  AND WHILE MY DAD WAS A WAKE FOREST GRADUATED “MODERATE”,  NONE OF THE BRANCHES WERE UNAWARE OF “…HELLFIRE AND BRIMSTONE!”  LATER I BEGAN TO SUSPECT IT WAS SOME KIND OF TRUMP CARD TO REIGN IN MY LITTLE ASS, BUT AT FIVE AND SIX YEARS OLD MY EARS PERKED UP WHEN THE TERM SENT MY IMAGINATION  INTO THE TERROR  ZONE OF “…BURNING IN HELL FOR ETERNITY!”

I HAD ALREADY BEEN IDENTIFIED AS A THEIF, A LIAR, AND STUPID,  HAVING NIPPED MY 50 CENT COLLECTION ENVELOPE WITHOUT REALIZING MY DAD COUNTED THE MONEY.  THEN SWORE THAT CHOIR MEMBER BROWNIE SWANN GAVE IT TO ME.  I  SPENT A LOT OF TIME LOOKING AT BROWNIE.

NEEDLESS TO SAY IMAGES OF HELL WERE “SEARED” IN MY THINKING (PUN INTENDED).  I MEAN SEARED!

THAT IMAGINATION, NOW NEARING 78 YEARS OLD HAS NEW LIFE.  AND, WHILE I HAVE CALLED SEVERAL FRIENDS I KNOW WHO SHOULD BE HAPPY,  NO ONE SEEMS TO APPRECIATE WHAT THE POPE HAS UNLEASHED.    SOME ARE EVEN UNHAPPY.   AS A YOUNGSTER I THOUGHT A CHURCH MEMBER WAS SAYING “BIEBASEZ” INSTEAD OF BIBLE SAYS.   JARED DIAMOND CITES “REASONS FOR RELIGION”, SUCH AS EXPLANATION, COMFORT, ANXIETY, ETC.  ONE IS REVENGE!  THIS MAY BE A GAME CHANGER:  “NO HELL?  GUESS I’LL HAVE TO TAKE THAT SUCKER OUT MYSELF!”

ONE REASON FOR RELIGION DIAMOND CITES IS ” JUSTIFICATION FOR WARS”.

FRIEDRICH NIETZCHE :  IF THERE WAS NO GOD MANKIND WOULD HAVE INVENTED HIM.

MY SISTER-IN-LAW SAYS THE POPE HAS FREED UP A  LOT OF PARENTAL NAMING POSSIBILITIES–I.E. ADOLF, OSAMA, CAPONE,  DILLINGER,  BLUE DUCK, CURLY, ETC.

MARIE IS A LITTLE CAUSTIC.

COACH MORNINGSTAR SAYS “SEX” IS UNDEFEATED.  AND NOW THAT DAMNATION FOR THOUGHTS  (THINK JIMMY CARTER) ISN’T A FRIGHT,  I DON’T THINK THOSE GUYS SHOULD BE FOUND DAMNABLE FOR SEXUAL DALLIANCES  (CLINTON, EDWARDS, TRUMP, GARY HART, TIGER,  ETC.)   MAYBE  WHOEVER “MADE SEX” MADE IT TOO POWERFUL FOR US HUMANS.   SWAGGART AND JIM BAKER SHOULD STILL SWING.

WHAT DO WE DO WITH “WHAT THE HELL”, “LET’S GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE”, “YOU WILL ROT IN HELL”, ETC?  HELL IF I KNOW.

AT LEAST I WON’T GO TO HELL FOR USING ALL CAPS.

WHATEVER A  PLETHORA IS, THERE’S ONE FOR FRESH THOUGHT.   “…I’M LOSING WEIGHT AND TURNING KINDA PALE.  LOOKS LIKE I’VE GOT A TIGER BY THE TAIL”

MY GRANDSON WAS ASKED HOW A POOP “HAPPENS”?  WITH A LOOK OF —HOW COULD YOU ASK?  HE SAID, ” … IT JUST SLIDES OUT.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

D. SEZ WHO? ( )

A local minister, Casper Holyrod, died recently. His obituary provided a possible resume builder when it quoted a suggestion by the minister: “Preach the gospel at all times. Even if you have to use words” Don’t actions speak louder than words? If you are indeed “Christian”, act like it. Embrace its obvious lessons. Swearing allegiance on an occasional Sunday isn’t the answer. I certainly don’t know the admission standards for the pearly gates, but don’t let them beat you up with the “guilt stick”. Your guess is as good as anybody’s and it is yours alone.
•“… sometimes I turn, there is someone there. Other times, it’s only me.” EVERY GRAIN OF SAND.

E. ERIC TAYLOR –“YOUR GOD”( )

When the boatmen stole the Africans
Did your God ride or row?
When they roped them and they shackled them
Was he with them in the hold?
Was the ocean moon so beautiful
That it brought him to his knees?
What did your God see?
When she prayed out loud in Cherokee
Was that your God by the fire?
When she swayed up there in the sweet gum tree
Was he hanging up there beside her?
Did he bless the silver rivers?
Did he fix himself a drink?
What did your God see?
If I sing hallelujah, will he hold my hand?
Can we dance among the blessed and the damned?
When the glory train is moving onto Beulah Land
Can I ride as far as Andilar and come on back to town?
Did your God ride the bullet
To the old Lorraine Hotel?
Is it the blood of the lamb, is it another man down
Did he catch him when he fell?
Did he calm the waters?
Did his heart just freeze?
What did your God see?
Did your God ride the backroads
On a Texas summer night?
Did he stand there in the pine grove
As they drug him out of sight?
Did he stand for the last communion?
Did he kneel to wash his feet?
What did your God see?
If I sing hallelujah, will he hold my hand?
Can we dance among the blessed and the damned?
When the glory train is moving onto Beulah Land
Can I ride as far as Andilar and come on back to town?

.

F. HOW DO IT KNOW? ( )

Jared Diamond’s book, THE WORLD UNTIL YESTERDAY, has a chapter on religion. He lists several reasons for religion: 1. explanation 2.comfort 3.anxiety 4.order 5.organization 6.treatment of others, and interestingly 7.justification for war.
Was it Friedrich Nietzche that contended “If there was no God mankind would have invented him?”
Maybe my parents named me properly (Thomas, as in “doubting”). Maybe I was just like the thermos bottle (“how do it know?”), but listening over and over again I began to assume a devil’s advocate attitude (now there is a pun). And early on, and later on, I was probably a definable agnostic. There have been later life experiences that have led me to a kind of faith.
Yet it still bothers me for someone to contend that they KNOW about the “hereafter”.

G.DEVOTIONALS (393)

There were additional plusses in the church. Quite often people would go blank on their bible verses. Otis never got his right. David Spear was Madison’s early version of Hunter S. Thompson. He tried a piano recital piece sans music, and couldn’t hit note one. I lived for those moments. ***

I soon became quite adept at zoning out. I could look straight at my father, yet be on the baseball field, swinging on a vine at the river, or kicking shit out of Tuddy. I’d catch flies, stare at the one blue windowpane. I memorized the Broadman Hymnal (or song book).

If you eliminated the days that asthma kept me at home listening to mom’s piano students mangle our piano, I liked music.

“Jesus loves me this I know”. “Little hands be careful”. Joanie Mitchell and “Amazing Grace”. “Softly and Tenderly” from a Trip to Bountiful. Wow! Some of the words bothered me at age 7. “There is a fountain filled with blood”? “Such a wretch as me”? “Was it for sins that I had done he groaned upon the tree???” I hadn’t hurt Jesus. “What a friend we have in Jesus.” I wouldn’t hurt a friend, except Tuddy.

I learned all the words to the hymns. I hummed them silently, having been told I was a “talentless monotone.” A perception that remains accurate.

There were highlights being the preacher’s kid. We were held high in regard. A Mr. Mason bought my dad a lovely suit and that impressed me. Dinners on the grounds at the rural churches yielded great food.

The height of the year was the children’s five-pound paper bags at Christmas. Each child could walk up to the front and examine the treasures inside: apples,or anges, tangerines, raisins on the vine, candy—mostly peppermint and Three Musketeers. More than one year we got the “Book of Life Savers” (60 cents at McFall’s Drug Store.)

We also had family devotionals. (The family that prays together stays together). After breakfast we read from the Bible (or Dad did) and then he’d pray. An-other lesson in patience. Tuddy and Billy (and the gathering rest) learned to avoid my home in the a. m… I was both embarrassed and tickled when they got trapped into a ten-minute prayer.

***D

I. “COME GATHER YE CHILDREN THROUGHOUT THE LAND

Can we change the war mantra (…and rumors of war, et. al.)? Hell—we used to be cannibals. Someone said in fifty years mankind will be appalled that we ate animals. In my life time smoking cigarettes has stopped among people able to quit. You were “chicken” if male and you didn’t play football. Now you are crazy if you do. Mixed marriage? Tolerance for pot? Gays? “KEEP PECKING AWAY AT IT.

J. “W”, CHENEY, RUMSFELD ( )

I had only one friend in Vietnam. My childhood friend, Deems Webster, was “over there”. And he knew my imminent decision. A letter from Deems influenced my thinking when he said “… this ain’t John Wayne and SANDS OVER IWO JIMA. Don’t come.”
Deems was like a little brother to me. Why was he there and I was not?
In my first job I taught a lot of freshmen. Being at a small school I knew most of the kids by name. In my third year of teaching I was informed a young man named Butch Benton had been drafted and sent to Vietnam. He was killed shortly thereafter. I didn’t know Butch any better than most of my students, but I can see him now in my mind’s eye. He was a tough kid I knew, and a nice young man, reddish hair, standing at the gym’s entrance in his “P.E. uniform” of blue shorts and a white tee shirt that said A.C.C. P.E.
I was beginning to consider volunteering for the military service. One school day, after breakfast, I went into the office of Ira Norfolk, the director of athletics and the men’s basketball coach at Atlantic Christian College. I had served for two years under Coach Norfork as the freshman team coach. Coach Norfork was a retired career marine. He had been at the Chosin Reservoir battle in Korea. I sincerely suggested to him my intentions and asked his opinion. He was very clear in stating that”… I need you more than they do. “While this may have been the answer I wanted, I accepted his advice and thus continued a forty year teaching and coaching career. Several things became apparent over the years. One was that I was not alone in seeking Coach Norfolk’s opinion about military service, and it seems, having seen the worst of war, he did all he could to discourage me and other fellow athletes under his supervision from enlisting.
The years also made me aware of other beliefs. Up until 30 years I was single. My players and students became very close. Certainly it is not the same as being a parent. But you do become very aware and attached to these young people, and I began to appreciate them and to value their worth at a high, high level. Becoming a parent only magnified my love for young people,
and I began to detest any thought of an unnecessary war taking one of them. I can only imagine the loss of a child. I surely don’t belittle the loss family’s bear. As the saying goes “… hate the war, but love the warriors.” If anything has manifested itself in the last ten years of war, it has been the noble behavior of the majority of our troops.
And yet one has to wonder about the cost of blood and treasure of the Iraq war. As the announcement was made of Desert Storm in Iraq I was much older. SCUD missiles and infrared green television screens on daily news, and “success” came quickly. It became obvious that the American military could be very efficient. In short order, we began to hear about how easily and how many had killed. Sentences still ring in my head from the time: “Americans are very good at killing.” Or “…we mowed them down so easily.”
And I did wonder.
Two of my generation’s highlights were the family car and the television set. And from the moment of the first test pattern until now, there has hardly been a day that did not feature Middle East violence. Over and over again we watched something bombed ad nausea. It didn’t make sense that our killing thousands indiscriminately would be taken lightly. (200,000 Iraqi citizens).
As I have mentioned, strong political beliefs have dictated a lot of thought on my behalf, and I was becoming more and more aware of America and what its role should be in dealing with the “bad guys” that always seemed to be out there.” There will be wars and rumors of wars.” But do we have to fight them all? And for everybody. And for what reasons? The loss of any noble young American seemed a high price in any currency.
I had a son in New York City on 9/11. We didn’t know his whereabouts for several hours. I shared America’s anger over this tragedy, and I can understand the desire for revenge.
Any good coach knows the adage” don’t get mad, get even”, but it seems the administration at that time could not wait to join in a new war.
This was a turning point for me. As a long time coach I had developed a pretty darn good BS detector, and it seemed to be flowing. George Senior had been told”… if you go in the Middle East you will own it”. “W” however didn’t seem to be in a listening mood. Brent Scowcroft? Hadn’t he given pretty good advice? Or maybe advice was coming from more aggressive sources: Cheney, Rumsfeld and the like?
My years of watching told me to be cautious about getting into war. And the Bush Administration was moving way too fast for me. It was obvious that not much listening was going on. I doubt my conservative friends would know who Jello Biafra is. Jello said”…even the most Bush- happy, flag suckling jack-arse knows deep inside something is wrong”.
Where these guys stupid? Evil? Was it pure hubris? E.L. Doctorow referred to “…hierarchal warrior nonsense”. Was it for money? Was it to protect the oil industry? Why this a headlong leap before you look?
They bought a guy named “Curveball”. Chalabi wasn’t it? Never in my life and in certainly no more important moment, or with more surety, did I know someone was lying to the country than the “sixteen words”. (“The British Government has recently learned that Saddam Hussein sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa” —-George W. Bush in the State of the Union speech). The main source, “Curveball”.
Watching this performance, mainly from the look on W’s face, was it for me. Holy smoke, somebody better start watching these guys.
But George had his nose open and in we went.
Pretty soon all kinds of crap hit the fan.
This book will conclude mainly as an anti-war statement. And I intend to say much more on that subject later. Yet there were all kinds of blunders appearing, and while the war is the one that seemed to me as most dangerous to our country and world, there was stuff, mostly of ghastly proportion, unfolding at a rapid pace. Try deregulation and the silently unfolding second most serious financial collapse to hit our nation.
I intend to list some of the happenings of 2000– 2008. It’s hard to keep the war out of the politics. Some are interwoven. Chalabi, Cheney, “Scooter” Libby, and Valerie Plame? From Clinton and a rare surplus, to a trillion and a half in the red? Someone explained a trillion dollars this way: If you could initial a dollar bill every second, non-stop for 32,000 years you would have a trillion dollars. The wars “off the books” and the collapse during the Bush W. years created a chilling, galloping debt that will long be with us, no matter who or what. In the words of the great philosopher, POGO, “…it happened during my administration.”