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Saturday, March 19, 2011
Here's some Lutheran humor for those god-forsaken (just kidding) ELCA Lutherans that have contacted me. You also can picture the guy in the white shirt as a COG member and still find the humor in it. Know it all biblical literalists always are fun to pick on.
Are you ready to surrender your brain to your minister and start wearing the blue hat and white robe? The blind obedience to the ministry of Armstrongism is appalling! It is much better to do what you are told and not enjoy a cigar, some chocolate, etc., in order to show how submissive you are. I guess he sees no disconnect between his fist paragraph where he says we are to do what a ministers says, but that the failure to follow such commands is not a sin.
There is no dispute that the church has legitimate traditions and the
authority to implement and enforce those traditions. The appointed
ministry could make an edict tomorrow requiring us all to wear blue, pointy,
scull-caps and long white robes. This would be within their authority, and any
member of the congregation who refused to wear a pointy cap could be
rightly dis-fellowshipped by that God given authority. I am unconvinced that
failure wear a pointy hat would be a sin, unless that sin was a sin against
church authority. Failure to wear a pointy hat would (to me) seem to be a
breach of rightfully implemented church tradition. Calling a transgression of
the pointy hat rule a transgression of God's law (SIN) seems to be a bit of a
stretch. Please feel free to correct me on this matter.
The no smoking tradition is based upon an extension of the principal that
our physical body is the Temple of God and that we must do what we can to keep
that temple pristine. This is a good and righteous principal; while recognizing
that this body is a temporary shell that is designed to fail and
thatover-working to "live forever" in the flesh, due to our own physical
efforts, is at best vanity and at worst idolatry.
I have witnessed far too many people in the church (particularly in
Southern California) who seem to be of the opinion that failure to self-medicate
with the latest herbal supplement cure-all fad; and a failure to do the Jane
Fonda work-out 8hrs a day, while enjoying yogurt colonics is also a "sin"
against the temple.
I find it amusing that simply breathing the air in Southern California has
been equated to smoking two packs of cigarettes a day.
I also find mildly entertaining the obese, diabetic deacon (with twinkie in
hand) railing against chewing on a green leafy vegetable (tobacco).
Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send
portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our
LORD: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength.
This is only one of many scriptures that show that as humans there is no
sin in enjoying what could be considered a "guilty pleasure" from time to time
(in moderation). Like chocolate cheese-cake, a drink of good whiskey or (dare I
say it) a fine cigar.
This scripture in Colossians:
So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new
moon or sabbaths,
is obviously not talking about smoking a cigar in particular.
but to be fair, the oft quoted:
1 Corinthians 6:19
Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in
you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?
is obviously not talking about smoking a cigar in particular, either.
In conclusion, the church absolutely has the authority to make tradition.
That tradition could legitimately be a ban on smoking, prohibition of make-up,
high fructose corn syrup, and the implementation of mandatory yogurt colon
cleanses and pointy hats as a tradition for us to follow. I am simply not
convinced of the level of "sin" involved in fudging on these traditions, nor the
wisdom of the ministry legislating these types of "specks".
If I am ever so spiritually solid, that a major spiritual concern of mine is
my level of high fructose corn syrup intake, (or more particularly legislation
of my brother's corn syrup intake) then I can safely say that I am over-due to
get hit by a bus, and be whisked off to the kingdom.
Friday, March 18, 2011
When Despair Comes Calling
"The battle went hard against Saul, and the archers overtook him; and he was greatly distressed by reason of the archers."
I Samuel 31:3
I always read this scripture and elaborated on its implications when doing the funeral of a Church Member who had taken their own lives.
This business of the "battle going hard" is one worth discussing. Sometimes that's just how life feels and rarely, but on occasion, some of those disillusioned by their experience with the Bible, the Church and all the failed promises or misguided perspectives humans allow themselves to adopt can take a final toll.
4 Saul said to his armor-bearer, “Draw your sword and run me through, or these uncircumcised fellows will come and run me through and abuse me.”
But his armor-bearer was terrified and would not do it; so Saul took his own sword and fell on it. 5 When the armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he too fell on his sword and died with him. 6 So Saul and his three sons and his armor-bearer and all his men died together that same day.
Suicide is a very difficult topic to address when it involves those who had such hope gone badly with regards to religion. It truly is a permanent solution to temporary problem, but it sure does not seem that way at the time.
As a former pastor, I knew the real truth of some of the deaths in the congregations around me. I've known of both minister and member who outwardly died suddenly of this or that thing, but really ended their own lives. It is unspeakable and very difficult to face for those who survive. If the one who ended their life could see what carnage they leave behind with family and friends, they might rethink it. However, thinking is not one's strong point when despair overtakes them.
The battle just got overwhelming and despair set down its roots leaving the person with nothing.
Suicide is always seen as a quick thing. It happens in seconds and minutes. I have known good men, who in the despair of ongoing church drama and endless scandal drank themselves to death. That takes a bit longer. In our culture one is allowed to kill themselves slowly by confusing sugar, caffeine, alcohol and nicotine as the four food groups. It's ok to kill yourself slowly. But it is not ok to take your life quickly. You can abuse yourself willingly years and die knowing life styles and addictions are taking their toll, but you can't turn on a lethal drip of something to choose the time of your death.
We might wonder if Jesus, in the story, did not commit suicide. Overturning tables in the Temple with the Romans already waiting to crush any trouble around the Temple during Passover might be considered suicidal. It worked for Jesus. Stephen seems to have committed suicide by flapping his mouth against those that could hurt him. His deaconship was rather short lived. He may have done better had he explained his position or discussed it. But just ramming it down their throats was definitely suicide.
In the Bible, some seem to see proof that "God" hates abortion and those that end the life of a child in the womb are murderers. However, if you have any sense of the Bible stories, it is not difficult to conclude that all bets are off once the child is actually born.
"God" is real big in the OT on scraping the children of the enemy off the face of the earth, and in ways that would leave most of us with life long nightmares if we saw how it was done. Go watch the stoning of a woman on Youtube. It still happens. Actually don't. You'll be sorry that clip now plays in your head. Strange and horrific rules and laws from the mind of the God who became Love.
But let's talk about the fast form and the form that arises when despair in the heart of the person has reached it's maximum. I realize this is an almost unspeakable topic. Let's talk about it.
Recently I noticed that in my town all the radio preachers were talking about suicide. It seemed odd. All of them were warning against it or equating it to letting Satan get in and work his magic etc. I found out that in the month just before and after Xmas, several local pastors had ended their lives. Now the programs made sense, but the act of a minister killing himself did not of course and they felt they all had to talk about it. I only recall them addressing it as a no no for the yet living congregants and Satan getting all the credit, but one never found out what the despair in the heart of the victim really was.
Why do deeply religious people sometimes end their lives? The killer is despair. Why despair? Because in religion one is supposed to find the answers and the hope and the meaning of it all. In our experience with WCG, the Wonderful World Tomorrow became the Horrible World Today again with a heavy dose of anger, skepticism and despair over "what it's all about." Idealists and those who can't suffer drama well are perhaps the most vulnerable.
Our religious beliefs are supposed to relieve the drama, anxiety and fear we experience in life. It's why when others attack your faith or beliefs we fight back. If you take away my truth or if you show me wrong in a way that leaves nothing encouraging, one loses courage and the trinity of drama, anxiety and fear return putting us back where we first began when we thought we had the truth that held it at bay. We're all afraid of death. Religion is what humans adopt to reduce that fear and the anxiety that sits just below the surface whispering "it's all for nothing." The last sermon I ever gave was entitled, "Nothing is for Nothing." It was the only topic I could come up with to wrap up the previous 30 years. I still believe it so we'll see.
According to Psychology Today...
In general, people try to kill themselves for six reasons:
- They're depressed. This is without question the most common reason people commit suicide. Severe depression is always accompanied by a pervasive sense of suffering as well as the belief that escape from it is hopeless. The pain of existence often becomes too much for severely depressed people to bear. The state of depression warps their thinking, allowing ideas like "Everyone would all be better off without me" to make rational sense. They shouldn't be blamed for falling prey to such distorted thoughts any more than a heart patient should be blamed for experiencing chest pain: it's simply the nature of their disease. Because depression, as we all know, is almost always treatable, we should all seek to recognize its presence in our close friends and loved ones. Often people suffer with it silently, planning suicide without anyone ever knowing. Despite making both parties uncomfortable, inquiring directly about suicidal thoughts in my experience almost always yields an honest response.
- They're psychotic. Malevolent inner voices often command self-destruction for unintelligible reasons. Psychosis is much harder to mask than depression-and arguably even more tragic. The worldwide incidence of schizophrenia is 1% and often strikes otherwise healthy, high-performing individuals, whose lives, though manageable with medication, never fulfill their original promise.
- They're impulsive. Often related to drugs and alcohol, some people become maudlin and impulsively attempt to end their own lives. Once sobered and calmed, these people usually feel emphatically ashamed. The remorse is usually genuine, and whether or not they'll ever attempt suicide again is unpredictable. They may try it again the very next time they become drunk or high, or never again in their lifetime.
- They're crying out for help, and don't know how else to get it. These people don't usually want to die but do want to alert those around them that something is seriously wrong. They often don't believe they will die, frequently choosing methods they don't think can kill them in order to strike out at someone who's hurt them-but are sometimes tragically misinformed.
- They have a philosophical desire to die. The decision to commit suicide for some is based on a reasoned decision often motivated by the presence of a painful terminal illness from which little to no hope of reprieve exists. These people aren't depressed, psychotic, maudlin, or crying out for help. They're trying to take control of their destiny and alleviate their own suffering, which usually can only be done in death.
- They've made a mistake. This is a recent, tragic phenomenon in which typically young people flirt with oxygen deprivation for the high it brings and simply go too far. The only defense against this, it seems to me, is education.
Everyone I have ever asked, "Have you ever considered suicide," said..."yes of course. We all have those times when the thought crosses one's mind." And then they forget about it.
Sometimes those who find no reason to go on, and more commonly today than ever, feel the need to take others with them. Our collective experience with Milwaukee and the WCG is a case in point. I always felt that somewhere, sometime this event would come to WCG or at least one of the splinters. I felt it would happen a bit higher up the chain but the Saturday morning when I heard that there was a Saturday morning rampage in a church in a hotel setting, I said to myself, "It has happened." And it had. That's what despair can do.
What to look for.
Conditions associated with increased risk of suicide
- Death or terminal illness of relative or friend.
- Divorce, separation, broken relationship, stress on family.
- Loss of health (real or imaginary).
- Loss of job, home, money, status, self-esteem, personal security.
- Alcohol or drug abuse.
- Depression. In the young depression may be masked by hyperactivity or acting out behavior. In the elderly it may be incorrectly attributed to the natural effects of aging. Depression that seems to quickly disappear for no apparent reason is cause for concern. The early stages of recovery from depression can be a high risk period. Recent studies have associated anxiety disorders with increased risk for attempted suicide.
Emotional and behavioral changes associated with suicide
- Overwhelming Pain: pain that threatens to exceed the person's pain coping capacities. Suicidal feelings are often the result of longstanding problems that have been exacerbated by recent precipitating events. The precipitating factors may be new pain or the loss of pain coping resources.
- Hopelessness: the feeling that the pain will continue or get worse; things will never get better.
- Powerlessness: the feeling that one's resources for reducing pain are exhausted.
- Feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt, self-hatred, no one cares. Fears of losing control, harming self or others.
- Personality becomes sad, withdrawn, tired, apathetic, anxious, irritable, or prone to angry outbursts.
- Declining performance in school, work, or other activities. (Occasionally the reverse: someone who volunteers for extra duties because they need to fill up their time.)
- Social isolation; or association with a group that has different moral standards than those of the family.
- Declining interest in sex, friends, or activities previously enjoyed.
- Neglect of personal welfare, deteriorating physical appearance.
- Alterations in either direction in sleeping or eating habits.
- (Particularly in the elderly) Self-starvation, dietary mismanagement, disobeying medical instructions.
- Difficult times: holidays, anniversaries, and the first week after discharge from a hospital; just before and after diagnosis of a major illness; just before and during disciplinary proceedings. Undocumented status adds to the stress of a crisis.
- Previous suicide attempts, mini-attempts.
- Explicit statements of suicidal ideation or feelings.
- Development of suicidal plan, acquiring the means, rehearsal behavior, setting a time for the attempt.
- Self-inflicted injuries, such as cuts, burns, or head banging.
- Reckless behavior. (Besides suicide, other leading causes of death among young people in New York City are homicide, accidents, drug overdose, and AIDS.) Unexplained accidents among children and the elderly.
- Making out a will or giving away favorite possessions.
- Inappropriately saying goodbye.
- Verbal behavior that is ambiguous or indirect: I'm going away on a real long trip., You won't have to worry about me anymore., I want to go to sleep and never wake up., I'm so depressed, I just can't go on., Does God punish suicides?, Voices are telling me to do bad things., requests for euthanasia information, inappropriate joking, stories or essays on morbid themes.
How to Help
Sometimes the battle goes hard against us. But ending one's life is a permanent solution to a temporary problem and leaves a lifetime of anger, guilt and shame for those left behind.
- Take it seriously.
- Remember: suicidal behavior is a cry for help.
- Be willing to give and get help sooner rather than later.
- ASK: Are you having thoughts of suicide?
- If the person is acutely suicidal, do not leave him alone.
- Urge professional help.
- No secrets.
- From crisis to recovery.
Myth: The people who talk about it don't do it. Studies have found that more than 75% of all completed suicides did things in the few weeks or months prior to their deaths to indicate to others that they were in deep despair. Anyone expressing suicidal feelings needs immediate attention.
Myth: Anyone who tries to kill himself has got to be crazy. Perhaps 10% of all suicidal people are psychotic or have delusional beliefs about reality. Most suicidal people suffer from the recognized mental illness of depression; but many depressed people adequately manage their daily affairs. The absence of craziness does not mean the absence of suicide risk.
Those problems weren't enough to commit suicide over, is often said by people who knew a completed suicide. You cannot assume that because you feel something is not worth being suicidal about, that the person you are with feels the same way. It is not how bad the problem is, but how badly it's hurting the person who has it.
Myth: If a someone is going to kill himself, nothing can stop him. The fact that a person is still alive is sufficient proof that part of him wants to remain alive. The suicidal person is ambivalent -- part of him wants to live and part of him wants not so much death as he wants the pain to end. It is the part that wants to live that tells another I feel suicidal. If a suicidal person turns to you it is likely that he believes that you are more caring, more informed about coping with misfortune, and more willing to protect his confidentiality. No matter how negative the manner and content of his talk, he is doing a positive thing and has a positive view of you.
Suicide prevention is not a last minute activity. All textbooks on depression say it should be reached as soon as possible. Unfortunately, suicidal people are afraid that trying to get help may bring them more pain: being told they are stupid, foolish, sinful, or manipulative; rejection; punishment; suspension from school or job; written records of their condition; or involuntary commitment. You need to do everything you can to reduce pain, rather than increase or prolong it. Constructively involving yourself on the side of life as early as possible will reduce the risk of suicide.
Give the person every opportunity to unburden his troubles and ventilate his feelings. You don't need to say much and there are no magic words. If you are concerned, your voice and manner will show it. Give him relief from being alone with his pain; let him know you are glad he turned to you. Patience, sympathy, acceptance. Avoid arguments and advice giving.
Myth: Talking about it may give someone the idea. People already have the idea; suicide is constantly in the news media. If you ask a despairing person this question you are doing a good thing for them: you are showing him that you care about him, that you take him seriously, and that you are willing to let him share his pain with you. You are giving him further opportunity to discharge pent up and painful feelings. If the person is having thoughts of suicide, find out how far along his ideation has progressed.
If the means are present, try to get rid of them. Detoxify the home.
Persistence and patience may be needed to seek, engage and continue with as many options as possible. In any referral situation, let the person know you care and want to maintain contact.
It is the part of the person that is afraid of more pain that says Don't tell anyone. It is the part that wants to stay alive that tells you about it. Respond to that part of the person and persistently seek out a mature and compassionate person with whom you can review the situation. (You can get outside help and still protect the person from pain causing breaches of privacy.) Do not try to go it alone. Get help for the person and for yourself. Distributing the anxieties and responsibilities of suicide prevention makes it easier and much more effective.
Most people have suicidal thoughts or feelings at some point in their lives; yet less than 2% of all deaths are suicides. Nearly all suicidal people suffer from conditions that will pass with time or with the assistance of a recovery program. There are hundreds of modest steps we can take to improve our response to the suicidal and to make it easier for them to seek help. Taking these modest steps can save many lives and reduce a great deal of human suffering.
"How do you know you are supposed to having the experience in life you are having? Because you are having it."
"Experience is not only the best teacher, it is the only one. Everything else is merely hearsay."
I hope this is a helpful and balanced view. Those you never hear about in the saga and drama of the WCG are those we need to remember and encourage. Tens of thousands associated with WCG have simply faded away to wonder what that was all about. Most will keep searching for their truth and continue their journey. Some will give up or be tempted to give in to the despair that theological upheaval inflicted on the many by the few can cause. Those who have hijacked the hopes of others, perpetuate their own views and do very very well at it will be fine. They are empty clouds but doing well.
And finally in answer to the thought that went through your minds while reading this...the answer is no. I am fine. I have been here as have many. But I am fine.
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Children in the Bible--We'll Keep the Flames of Molech on for You.
One thing is for sure...the Bible is not child friendly. Actually, if you really know the book, Old and New, you will have to admit that small children must not have been much a part of the culture. The first humans were the first parents, Adam and Eve, not the first children so I imagine they have no good childhood memories. Well actually they have none since they never were children. Their kids, Cain and Abel come on the scene pretty much full grown. No pleasant times frolicking in the Garden of Eden.
They actually show up just in time to have Cain murder his brother and get himself booted out of the Garden by God afraid of those who don't exist killing him, go figure. Seth comes along, pretty much fully grown too. We certainly get no hint that this family every had picnics, hugs or good memories of being glad they had each other. The grown kids marry, who knows who, must be sisters that weren't worth mentioning who also only show up as full grown women having babies by brothers. Ewwwwwww, but that's the alternative since they had no girls or boys next door to get their attention. There was no next door. Incest was a necessary thing, so say literalists, until they got enough humans on the planet to marry mere cousins and then people you eventually figured you weren't related to, but were.
The main heroes of the Old Testament were adults, who in some cases were given remarkable birth and childhood mythologies to show how great an adult they really were. Often stories from previous or surrounding cultures were borrowed for the baby to show what an amazing adult he was. You know, Abe Lincoln was never really a kid until he was a famous adult. Then we find he was so darn honest as a kid, studied by the light of one lone candle by night but did succeed in not being born of a virgin as we might not have taken that all that seriously. You never heard that the child called George Washington, "could not tell a lie," until he was famous. No one waits at the hospital for famous baby to be born. The stories of remarkable children always come when the adult becomes remarkable. After all, remarkable adults must have had remarkable childhoods. This is how Moses, David and Jesus are portrayed, but any idea that we are seeing the lives of real children is illusionary. Amazing adults are pretty ordinary kids I would imagine, unless you are Bible Times adults.
We read about grown armies killing "men, women and children," but that's just a sanitation problem and incidental to the great exploits of Israel obeying the Loving Heavenly Father. Sometimes the children get murdered in the womb or special attention is paid to the fact that their heads were smashed against the wall. Nice touch there. Sometimes they get sacrificed as in the case or near case of Abraham and Isaac. Great story of childhood ala Bible times. Even though it worked out ok, according the script, I imagine Isaac was no longer interested in following Dad into the hills for weekend campouts. He prolly wondered what nonesense Dad was into now and passed choosing rather to hid under the table until Dad fell asleep.
Here are some of the Bible's greatest childhood hits...
Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod [sceptre], he shall not die.
-- Proverbs 23:13 (AV)
This is really good to know. Beating them was fine and dandy and it doesn't say spank. It says beat with a rod! Hit with a stick. Bash with a hoe. Smash with a sceptre. The reason is because "it won't kill them." Whew...good news there.
Execute stubborn kids
If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son ... Then shall his father and his mother ... bring him out unto the elders of his city ... And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die.
-- Deuteronomy 21:18-21 (AV)
Whoa! Excellent! No attempt to encourage or find out why this might be occuring in the child's life. Prolly is the parents beating him all the time with rods, knowing full well he won't die. He might be mentally ill, but we can attribute that to demons and not take any personal responsibility. The Bible is not big on understanding how one way of being leads to other ways of being or how abuse leads to mental illness. It's all about Dad. It's all about the parents. It's really never about the kids.
Kids killed for mocking hero
Some small boys came out of the city and jeered at [the prophet Elisha], saying, "Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!" And ... he cursed them in the name of the Lord. And two she-bears came out of the woods and tore forty-two of the boys.
-- II Kings 2:23-24 (RSV)
Well that should teach them. Of course the kids were making fun of Elisha's boss who was taken up in a fiery chariot and thought Elisha should give it a try. I sense they were skeptical the first rapture happened. At least, they seem not to have been convinced so as not to make fun of the man who took over after the boss left rather abruptly.
God orders child sacrifice
God did tempt Abraham, ... And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest ... and offer him there for a burnt offering...
-- Genesis 22:1-2 (AV)
Oh I know, God didn't really mean it. He was just joshin Abe, but in those days, God's didn't Josh. If you asked God if he loved children, like WC Fields, He would have said, "If they are properly cooked." Kids just had no value and certainly no say in the fantascies of their adult parents.
Daughter: a burnt offering
Jephthah made a vow to the Lord: "If you give the Ammonites into my hands, whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return ... will be the Lord's, and I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering." ... and the Lord gave them into his hands.... When Jephthah returned to his home..., who should come out to meet him but his daughter, dancing to the sound of tambourines! And he did to her as he had vowed. And she was a virgin.
-- Judges 11:30-32, 34, 39 (NIV)
So in come his sweetie, Biblical Ipod blaring and pow! "Sorry Sarah, I had a chat with God and told him if I got to win as a Bible man needs to win...well...just follow me. I'll explain it on the way." Of course, Mom just said, "Sarah, do as your father says. Love ya!" Later that night as Jephthah and Mrs. J held each other gently in bed, the both thought back on how the Lord had blessed them even though it had been a difficult day.
I have always been inspired and informed by these two examples of what it was like being a young Bible Times girl.
Woman must marry rapist
If a man [meets] a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her ... He must marry the girl ... He can never divorce her as long as he lives.
-- Deuteronomy 22:28-29 (NIV)
A marriage literally made in heaven! "Ok, I raped you. You want to kill me. You must marry me...me who raped you and we are stuck forever or they will cut both our heads off. Kiss me and act like you mean it."
Virgin women are war booty
"Have you allowed all the women to live?" he [Moses] asked them.... "Now ... kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man."
-- Numbers 31:1-18 (NIV)
"So you like women do you....caught you, caught you! Ok, check out these sweet things _________. If it is not intact, kill the _________. If she is pure and new...keep her for your pleasure and enjoy boys. "I, the Lord, through my Servant Moses, the most meek man on the planet, decree it." Uh huh.
Lets see...New Testament kids that got into the story...
There would be demon possessed ones that Jesus heals. There would be kids that were dead that Jesus and few of the skilled Apostles resurrected, and of course Jesus himself, who had an amazing birth because he was an amazing adult. We have some great stories of Jesus killing some of his playmates for mocking him, but those books didn't make the cut. Oh yes, we have the infants slaughtered by Herod as Mary and family slipped out of town smirking "I know something you don't know," at her neighbors with small children. I know some adults were called "children of the Devil," so that counts I suppose and false churches were called whores but those would be older kids.
No, kids don't make out so good in the Bible. They are used, abused, disowned, fried, burnt, slapped, kicked, hit, beat, sacrificed, speared, sold, eaten, ignored, marginalized and mauled. The famous ones that make it to adulthood get delivered, Angelic choirs, Kingdoms and babes galore. They get visited by Wise Men, who survived their own childhoods intact but left home as soon as they could, which is why there were called Wise Men. Bible Times were something no kid in his right mind would ever wish to return to. I'm sorry that babies were born in cultures where Bible Times parents were so ignorant of what to do next they just asked the Priests. Like they knew.
There are some kids in this world today who sadly do live in Bible Times. Their parents read the Bible and faithfully follow it's loving guidelines for child rearing and interpersonal family communications. These kids learn that all they need is "the rod of correction," or be told, "because we said so that's why." The often hear, "God is not going to be happy with you," or "you might go to hell for that Johnny." Every week they get to hear the Minister remind parent and child that they must bring up that kid in the way he "should" go, should being relative to whatever the Preacher thinks they should be, so that "when they are old, they will not depart from. it." Of course most depart long before they are old just to recover and get their minds back in tact. There are American Bible Times Talibanic parents who are soaked in the child rearing techniques of the Bible (see the list above) every week or most every month. God said it, we practice it, that does it for us. Of course, when the child grows up a bit, they will walk and should.
Go get a concordance, or topical Bible and look up "snuggle, kiss, blowbelly, "a boo", picnic, swimming, hugs, vacation, free time, love you mom, love you dad, love you son, love you sis, sports, college, education, free thinking, respect, reading, children's literature, Goldilocks, quiet time, caress, self esteem, mental health, smiling, mommy, daddy, bedtime, stuffed animals, puppets, cook out, fishing, zoo, did I say "blowbellies?" .... oh you know, the good words. Good luck... and we'll keep the flames of Molech on for ya!
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
You would think that the Antichrist has arrived considering the hullabaloo that Rob Bell's new book has raised over the last several weeks. For weeks now various conservatives and evangelicals have been having fits because Bell says that he believes in a God who...........well, check it out below
Being part of Armstrongism you naively follow along with the 'restored knowledge' that comes from the enlightened minds of the apostle, evangelists and ministers. Since they are the direct mouthpiece for God you are instructed to inculcate the words from them as God spoken. Most members only study the Bible accompanied by myriads of booklets and articles from those chosen mouthpieces. HWA, Meredith or Flurry says it and it becomes etched in stone.
But how many ACTUALLY study the Bible without using COG approved literature? Not very many! Not even those in UCG, LCG, and PCG's little 'colleges'. Their study programs are geared to promote the views and understandings of their individual churches. Anything beyond that understanding is considered demonic and unimportant.
Because of that, most COG members have no idea on how the Bible is written, who wrote it, the significance of the myth, metaphors, saga's, legends and anthropomorphism is to the story. Eschatology, hermeneutics, exegesis, are incomprehensible words to the average COG member. Armstrongism deals exclusively with eisegesis and proof-texting. Neither of which have any validity in Biblical studies.
In-depth study of the Bible is not done because if there are discrepancies found between official church teaching and things dug up during studies, then it would 'damage' the faith of the brethren.
How many have even looked into WHO wrote the books of the Bible? How many know about "Q", the four source documents: "E", "P", "D" and "J"? How many know the difference between 'fact' and 'truth'?
There is a new book that is coming out that can be useful in learning about these things. So many in Armstrongism and Evangelical Christianity have 'checked their brains at the door' and never attempt to expand their knowledge. It's not about disproving something but about learning, enriching one's mind, and moving the relevance of the Bible into the 21st century. How it can be useful for ones benefit instead of being used as a weapon.
Now I can hear the rabid Armstrongites claiming this is a book that's claiming the Bible is a forgery. Nothing could be further from the truth. Check out James McGrath's comments about this:
The subtitle gives a misleading impression of what the book is going to be about, in three important respects. First, it sounds like it could be addressing the issue of people claiming to write in God’s name, when in fact they aren’t. No, the book is about forgery in the more mundane sense – people writing in the name of other people and trying to pass their work off as genuinely by some other person. Describing the book's focus as on “the Bible’s authors” is also misleading, both because there is little about the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament (there is a brief mention of Daniel) and because a great deal of attention is given to forgeries and pseudepigrapha outside of the canon. These are, to be sure, helpfully brought into the picture as examples of the broader context of New Testament forgery. But it remains the case that readers may find themselves surprised, given the subtitle, by just how much space in the book is devoted either to non-Biblical examples, or to phenomena other than forgeries in the strict sense. Finally, whether the Bible’s authors are or are not who we think they are depends on whether one has kept up-to-date on Biblical scholarship. While there are certainly a few new or distinctive suggestions in the book, for the most part the works which are discussed as not having been written by their purported authors are ones that most scholars would agree with Ehrman about.So what is the book about? It is about forgery in early Christianity, with primary (but not exclusive) interest in the New Testament. The most distinctive component is summed up well by the book’s title: Ehrman argues throughout that the attempt to sugar-coat pseudepigraphy as something acceptable, non-deceptive – in short, something other than forgery – is problematic. As Ehrman himself puts it, “The Bible…contains what almost anyone today would call lies. That is what this book is about” (p.5). The irony that Christianity historically presents itself as being focused on and offering “the Truth” is highlighted throughout. Ehrman mentions that he is working on a scholarly monograph on this topic – and emphasizes that this book is not it – but nevertheless, scholars will definitely find that even in this format, Ehrman makes suggestions that are worth reflecting on and engaging.
A more in-depth review can be found here: Book Review of FORGED
You can also checkout this book to further enrich your thinking:
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
YHVH/Jesus/Bright n Morning Star
Old Testament Psychopath-Gospel Caretaker-Conan of Revelation
The Jesus of the New Testament loves little children and reminds the adults in his crowds that unless they become like little children, they shall never see the Kingdom of God. In the New Testament, Jesus blesses little children and chides the adults who try to run interference between him and them. Jesus even raises children from the dead in compassion for them and their grieving parents.
In Church I learned to sing, "Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world. Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world."
I also learned to sing that "Jesus loves me, this I know. For the Bible tells me so. Little ones to him belong. They are weak but he is strong."
I also learned, over the years, that we were only talking about the Jesus of the New Testament, minus the Book of Revelation and a few other rather threatening comments by Apostles in the name of Jesus, towards humans contained in various books of the New Testament. Since most Christian churches teach that Jesus is God and "the God of the Old Testament," we do have wonder what brought about Jesus' own repentance over the hideous things that He, as God in the Old Testament, is recorded to have done.
The New Testament clearly teaches that Jesus, somehow, is considered to have been God in eternal reality before he was Jesus in the flesh.
56 "Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad."
57 "You are not yet fifty years old," the Jews said to him, "and you have seen Abraham!"
58 "I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "before Abraham was born, I am!"
1 Corinthians 8:
6 yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.
5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.
16 For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible,
whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.
17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
These are among a few of the New Testament scriptures that equate the man Jesus of the New Testament with being God of the Old, Creator and Sustainer of all things from the beginning. So by default, this would be both the Jesus who first killed with abandon "all the little children of the world" who got in Israel's way, including the women and animals on most occasions, and the Jesus of the New Testament who simply loved all the little children of the world, red and yellow, black and white. They are precious in his sight." Truly a God in the flesh that had changed a lot. The Jesus of the Book of Revelation goes back to his people killing ways, but that's another story. Why does God or Jesus never hold seminars on their existence and plan for humans that we can all attend without all the drama and slaughter to get us all to obey? Oh well, I'm not God, that's for sure.
Some would argue that Jesus was God the Son, the second part of a three God Trinity, that is really only one God and that God the Father God was responsible for this slaughter. It is one God in three aspects, which is hooey but the New Testament Jesus would never have understood it either. If Jesus was the Lord of the Old Testament, he certainly has morphed into a nice guy since then. The God of the Old Testament was one cruel man, woman, child, suckling and animal killing freak. The Sabbath School song of the God of the Old Testament would have been, "Jesus hates the little children, all the children of the world. If they ain't from Israel, He will send them all to hell. Hacking-whacking all the children of the world," instead of the Sunday School one we know so well evidently.
Let's take a look at how Jesus , as God the Son perhaps, treated all the children of the world back in the Old Testament
Jerico is destroyed by Jesus as God Joshua 6:20,21
20 "So the people shouted, and the trumpets were blown. As soon as the people heard the sound of the trumpet, the people raised a great shout, and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city.Now it gets better.
21 Then they utterly destroyed ALL in the city, both men and women, young and old, oxen, sheep, and asses"
Way to go! Jerico was a real estate need that the Israelites had and young men and maidens, old men and children, and let's throw in the animals too, had to go. Butchered all. Jesus loves the little children! Let's keep looking.
The Kingdom of Sihon destroyed by Jesus as God. Deuteronomy 2: 33-35
33 "And the LORD our God gave him over to us; and we defeated him and his sons and all his people.
34 And we captured all his cities at that time and utterly destroyed every city, men, women, and children; we left none remaining;
35 only the cattle we took as spoil for ourselves, with the booty of the cities which we captured."
So here we have Jesus as God killing all the humans but now allowing the sparing of the cattle for booty. This topic of booty is going to get even better as Israelite men become discouraged over killing everything in site, including the babes. It seems the rules of engagement changed as the women got better looking, but the children always got the axe.
Deuteronomy 20: 10-17
We have to assume here that Moses is speaking for Jesus and passing on the ways of God to the men of Israel. He's a bit ticked that he's caught the men not killing all the women as instructed and so Moses says, with Jesus, Lover of little children's permission, to kill all the "little ones," and the non-virgin women. How one figures this out I guess we don't even want to know. At any rate, good news!
10 "When you draw near to a city to fight against it, offer terms of peace to it.
11 And if its answer to you is peace and it opens to you, then all the people who are found in it shall do forced labor for you and shall serve you.
12 But if it makes no peace with you, but makes war against you, then you shall besiege it.
13 And when the LORD your God gives it into your hand you shall put all its males to the sword,
14 but the women and the little ones, the cattle, and everything else in the city, all its spoil, you shall take as booty for yourselves; and you shall enjoy the spoil of your enemies, which the LORD your God has given you."
Here's a deal that Jesus God of the Old Testament offers during war. Surrender and you can be our slaves and do forced hard labor for us forever. If you don't surrender, then all the men get the axe, but new rules for women and children. Now the children go into forced labor, no doubt and the women get kept to enjoy! Shake your booty!! The rules are a changin!
14 And Moses was wroth with the officers of the host, with the captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, which came from the battle.
15 And Moses said unto them, Have ye saved all the women alive?
16 Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the LORD in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the LORD.
17 Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him.
18 But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.
The guys can keep the virgins for themselves as sex partners! Yeah Jesus, lover of all the children of the world! With grateful hearts, no doubt, they can now kill and have great sex with the booty. We have to assume the term "women children" means little virgin girls. Ewwww... Oh well, these are Jesus God of the Old Testament's rules of how we "suffer the little the children to come unto me, for of such is the Kingdom of heaven," at this time in history, so NO arguing.
It seems that the God of the Old Testament, Jesus before his incarnation was not so much against abortion as long as the fetus had actually been born first and started life as someone's dear child. There are scriptures of commands to kill women with child, but I spare you. I don't think there was any discussion in these times as to when life began. It was all about when and how to end it if it got in the way of the progress of God's chosen people.
Even in the New Testament, where Mary, mother of baby Jesus is told to flee before Herod kills all the children under two years old, she just leaves town with Jesus saying nothing! Do these people not know how to warn their neighbors! Did Mary saunter out of town with baby Jesus singing, "I know something you don't know..Have a nice last Sabbath." I guess only your own Bible babies are important and others can just go fish.
Not very pleasant stuff. Somewhere along the line, Jesus changed from a killer without conscience to a lover of little children, commanding his disciples to " forbid them not, for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven." Perhaps the story of Jesus coming to John the Baptist for baptism unto repentance has meaning after all.
Christians puzzle over this as the perfect Jesus of the New Testament would never need to repent of anything to be baptized of John. So as the texts evolve, we see that it finally ends up that Jesus was not really baptized for his sins unto repentance but merely did it for our example of what WE should do. I never killed thousands however. From Mark to John, one can see the evolution of the text and how this embarrassment of anyone thinking that Jesus had to repent of anything and be baptized for his sins was dealt with.
But maybe Jesus knew (I don't personally believe he thought he was God in the Flesh) something about his own past? Perhaps being the merciless infant, child and woman killer as God of the Old Testament, got to him after all. Of course, I am being a bit theologically off here and a bit tongue in cheek, but maybe Jesus as God did feel a need to repent so as to be able to explain the change in his past behaviors. There is no record of anyone in the early church asking him or the Apostles about this change from killer God to Jesus loves all the children of the world God. Perhaps he said, "ask me that again and I'll kill ya." End of discussion.
This Jesus God of the Old Testament might explain a few things that seem pretty common in our modern era. Killing old men, women and children has not changed much in the land of the Israelites. I think the armies that once got to keep the booty still get to feel women and children are fair game when it comes to killing what gets in the way of their progress and real estate needs. In the same way, Christians with certain leanings seem to forget the Jesus of the New Testament Gospels and revert to the Jesus of the Old or at best the Jesus of the Book of Revelation to conquer in his name, those pagans who get in their "Go ye therefore into all the world" way. So there is a God for every taste and need it seems yet today.
I suppose one reason for the Book of Revelation may be Jesus, as OT God, can say..."I'm baaaaaaaaack!"
Actually it's pretty darn difficult to explain why the Bible is the "best book ever written," when in fact it is one of the most violent, repulsive, clannish, cultish and bloody books ever written. The rules of engagement never favored the innocent and certainly not the non-Israelite, and we would have to admit that if indeed the Jesus of the New Testament was the "God of the Old Testament" before he came on the human scene, he has changed a lot in the text and in his behaviors. Perhaps endless war and killing does that to a God. Be nice if it did this to humans.
Let the spittle begin...........................Come on Watchman let's hear it......
Let the spittle begin...........................Come on Watchman let's hear it......
Monday, March 14, 2011
How often do we say, "What is, is." While we might say that, we so often don't really believe it and then, with hard work and determination, set out to change what is to what we need it to be, rather than what is. And yet, What is....still is.
"If you understand...then things are as they are.
If you don't understand, then things still as they are."
There is freedom in deeply understanding that what is...is, and let it be so. When someone close to our personal consciousness or family suffers or dies, we learn, or don't what it means to accept "what is...is." Inspite of what you have heard, no one in the real world of people that you ever really knew, came back from really being dead. Life ends for everyone and everything and in that we learn or fight "what is..is." If you are lucky, you get old and die now that you are here. We, as humans, can spend weeks, or months or years railing against the "what is-ness" of any particular situation but that is our problem and doesn't change a thing. We can progress quickly, with acceptance or kicking and screaming all the way, through the four, five, six or seven steps of grief. We can spend six months in shock, four in denial, two in bargaining with the deity to reverse what is, a few in anger and then over years, accept what is and was from the day "what is" paid us a visit.
My dad has a habit of noting, "well that's the way it is and I'm not going to worry about it." It seems to have served him well into his 91st year. This is a man who tells me he once took my brother and himself for a ride in the car and thought of ending the "is-ness" of his handicaps and mental disabilities due to birth a premature birth and subsequent medical disasters, but running into a tree. Whew...my brother is older than me so I appreciate that dad was able to put some space between the thought and the event. My "is-ness" would never even have made it to a "was-ness" if he had done that. History would have been different and of course, produced more "is-ness" for others.
The mind is a terrible thing at times...it needs to be wasted on some ways of being. There is magic in facing what is. Somehow, it disarms the beast and puts some space in there where we can start to accept how things are rather than rail against how they are and can't be and we won't accept it. A simple way of being in such times is to have the ability, ok fake it until you make it, of simply noting "Is that so?" when confronted in life with what is. "Is that so?" Such a simple thought form and yet so disarming to the emotions and sudden change "is-ness" can inflict upon us if we are lucky enough to spend substantial time on the planet. Reality for some and those that love them, is that they don't get to spend much time here, or leave too quickly and the skills of accepting what is are learned, or not, early in the cycle.
Whenever I suffer the panic or anxiety I feel at times that my mind and subsequent chemistry can provide me with on various topics, it is due to resistance to what is. All negativity is some form of resistance as notes in The Power of Now.
Just ask yourself when you are angry, or bitching, or nervous, or anxious or in a panic..."am I resisting something? Is there something I am not accepting?". We are resisting what is. The plain and simple, what is, of many topics and circumstances.
A middle age nurse, friend of my sister, tells everyone how excited she is to get her new motorcycle. She's that kinda woman, and now she is dead leaving four children behind. That is what is. My nephew, wearing his headset and walking along the railroad tracks can't hear the train and he was killed. I didn't want to write the word "killed" rather opting to say it in a more gentle way, but I'm practicing here noting what is. A brother-in-law, who all his life was very careful about what he ate, never smoked, drank only good red wine and prayed every day, died relatively young of cancer, go figure. What is...is. These "is-nesses" can be magnified and multiplied tens of millions of times, no billions and the degree to our mental and spiritual health thrives is the degree to acceptance of what is.
I'm not speaking of complacency to what is and needs to change. I am speaking of those life things that simply cannot change no matter how long it takes us to admit it.
When a pastor (I no longer am as that is what is,) I am sure I noted how amazing it must have been for Methusaleh, in Genesis, to live to be 969 years old. It never happened, but I have since thought it is not so much amazing as a human disaster. That's a lot of psychological baggage over that much time! How many loved ones do you accept died this way or that? How many children? Would one be married to the same person for 700 years or how about 900? (Of course in that culture, as long as you could afford them, multiple wives were the norm). How about 900 years of multiple wives! How many funerals and how many stressful weddings and stonings? Only a human with a highly developed sense of accepting what is could possibly survive the psycho-baggage of a life that went on and on like that. One would truly have to get help by joining ON and ON Anonymous...:)
Some simple awareness skills can help. When life does what it does and is what it is and everything in us screams NO, learn to think and audibly say YES. "Yes, it is so " goes a long way in the mind giving you space to accept what is. Learn to say things to yourself such as "I am divorced now." "I am no longer this or that." "My father, mother, sister, brother, child, has died." "That career is over." "I have changed." Say it and disarm it. This is when we most want to say NO but the magic of acceptance comes from facing the beast and disarming it with knowing that it is so. We do it over and over and each time we give the mind space to process the events and give us some personal growth in it's place.
A word about health challenges. We have a lot of say over the state of our health. Genetic factors also do over which we have no control at our level for the moment. In health, what is can change if we change. Most people think Sugar, Caffeine, Alcohol and Nicotine (SCAN) are the four main food groups and one should have lots of each every day. I see what is in those people all the time. They won't say NO when they should. But whatever...when illness comes, or the predictable problems of old age, are we not better to accept it, doing what we can, but knowing the nature of life is to have it end and change forms? A skill we adopt or a maybe better said, a way of being we can be when ill is to not identify who we are with the illness. One might have cancer, or , or a disease, but that one is not that cancer or illness. "I am being challenged in my health by cancer, but the I that is me is doing just fine." That's a step towards not too closely identifying the problem with being who we really are and it can be an easy, just do it thing, or a struggle to get out of the head and into the "is-ness" of whatever it is we are challenged with in life.
"What is...is." A mantra for living in the real world of drama, events, tragedy and what is. A mantra that can disarm the beast and open up space for us to be.
If you understand...then things are as they are.
If you don't understand...then things are as they are.