Category Archives: Religion

Our Existence ~ Question & Reason

yin-yang-a1All the philosophers, sages, theorists, scientists, & ancient texts, comment and theorize, however the denouement*1, is life itself.

Over and over we’re presented with ancient stories that supposedly explain our existence. The question we seldom ask ourselves, what is truly important?

According to the Bible (Genesis 2:7), this is how humanity began: “The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” “God then called the man Adam, and later created Eve from Adam’s rib.”

Gallup polls and the Pew Research Center found four out of 10 Americans believe this account. It’s a central tenet for those who consider themselves literal Christians. (This isn’t an endorsement, merely describing what is believed by many.)

Whatever your level of consideration of the nature of God, the core to any of the ancient religions is our beginning, our ending, and the life in between those two moments, whether for us individually or humanity as a whole.2018-07-17 12.06.05

Before you access your own reactions to any religious theme, this isn’t about any specific religion, it’s about how do you view yourself amidst what you’ve learned so far? These references are simply to say, there are millions of people over thousands of generations who have considered, why, when, and who are we? Whatever your answer, the key to this always comes back to how much do you value these ideas? Your answer defines who you are, and how you adapt and progress with your life.

Let’s start with the basics

When you first enter this world, you are helpless, and require someone to take care of all your physical needs. This gradually changes over time, but even when you are able to provide for yourself, your perspective about your life typically revolves around you as the most important person. You’ve come to think you deserve to receive attention, entertainment, nourishment, and shelter.  That’s a very egocentric world view, which hopefully changes over time. This becomes critical if you marry and have children. If it’s still all about you, then the marriage is doomed and the children will suffer, unless someone else picks up the slack.

What do you value above everything else?

Some will insist that it’s their faith, or belief in God. Many people will say, that just shows you how important God is in our lives. Here’s the thing that’s troubling about that statement. An example, the United States is supposedly a Christian nation. We have many churches and there are quite a few people that financially support them. Yet, what are our priorities?

Gospel_of_wealth_Andrew_Carnegie

click on the image to find this book

We build huge athletic and entertainment facilities overall costing billion$ while we have people that are hungry and without adequate shelter. We see huge churches, often led by clergy with vast income from their patrons. Our response for those in need seems more in keeping with Ebeneezer Scrooge rather than the text used as a guide in the Bible.

Mark 10:21-22
Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, ‘You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.

Luke 14:12-14
He said also to the one who had invited him, ‘When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.’

There are many more, but you get the general idea. So, is the Bible to be interpreted literally, or as a convenience when we agree or tell others we agree with it?

We have a poverty problem that’s not being addressed. Some say, there’s always those who either can’t or won’t do for themselves, how is it my responsibility to provide for them?

Luke 12:16-21
Then he told them a parable: ‘The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’ Then he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.’

Matthew 7:21
Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

Matthew 25:40
‘And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

Do we as a nation appear to be be Christian, from other nations perspective?

The United States has been at war for well over 90% of the time since it began as a nation. Even before the USA was formed, the colonies were at war with those who were the indigenous inhabitants.
invade_bomb_muslim_lands
What does the Bible say about living at peace with other people?

Matthew 5:9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”

Romans 14:17-19 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.”

Luke 6:27 But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you ..”

There are many more, but again you get the idea, or should understand that the text claims peace is the goal, and to direct our life towards peace.

I’m not suggesting that we live in a world where we can ignore defending ourselves, but is this what we should be doing? Do we need to participate with people all over the world in conflict? Does the reading of the Bible or the declaration, we are a Christian people, mean anything?

Yes, I get it, we’re imperfect but I think deep down we know it’s a sham. We can try to convince ourselves or tell others how much our faith or belief in God means, but there’s a lot of activity that shows we don’t believe any of it. We’re not alone. There’s the world of Islam which claims to be peaceful, and the Hindu. Look at the global map. A lot of conflicts going on with most of them conducted by fervent believers in God.

active_global_conflicts

We claim we believe in capitalism, but does that mean we should grab every dollar we can lay hands on, and especially place those who are at or near poverty, into worse conditions when we withhold more earnings or reduce wages & benefits to gain more profit?

Proverbs 14:31
He who oppresses the poor dishonors his Maker: but he who honors Him shows generosity toward the poor.
USA_poverty_chart

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Notes:
1* Definition of denouement: the outcome of a complex sequence of events.

A Watershed Issue That Won’t Go Away

The issue of abortion or as some refer to it, women reproductive rights, has been a topic of intense debate for at least 50 years.

The legal aspects & from a political position, I thought were settled in the Supreme Court decision • Roe vs Wade in 1973. From that point going forward, like it or not, abortion was legal in the USA.

That didn’t make it any less important or controversial. Arguments went back and forth, and in some extreme situations, life threatening activities were carried out by some extremists. It’s difficult to be taken serious if you supposedly support a pro-life position and then participate or support violence.

That’s been less of a reality as a means to advance a cause. New battles have emerged. Each time there’s an action, there’s a reaction.

Increased activity has recently occurred when some state legislatures decided that if an abortion was requested, and the woman having the procedure births a live baby, the physician is legally permitted, and in some states required, to complete the abortion.

The reaction to this pronouncement, motivated some states toward legislation which makes it a crime to destroy a living, breathing child. It’s referred to as, “the heart beat bill”, and it’s purpose is to protect that baby after its born, just as any other human baby. There are as of this writing, four states working to ban abortion, unless the life of the mother is threatened.

This spawned a series of vitriolic public announcements, which often have little impact.

There was one though, which received a huge panorama of comments. This AP story refers to a tweet that caught attention from a lot of people.
Alyssa Milano calls for sex strike, ignites social media
I agree with her idea, but not probably for the same reasons.
Overnight without warning, the pro-choice advocates assume the position that pro-life supported for decades. Be responsible for your reproductive capacity. Exercise your rights as a human with intelligence and morals. Don’t sleep with every Tom • Harry & Dick, who comes along. If you do, at least act responsibly and use an effective birth control method, so you don’t bring forth an unwanted or unloved child. We have plenty of those to go around.

She at least stated the obvious, women are more than sex objects. Women should indeed empower themselves and have the final right to choose for themselves. There’s more to abortion legal rights than merely a final contraception. There are instances of rape and incest, which need to be handled with concern for the well being of a woman’s physical and emotional health. Unwanted pregnancy is a public concern, and needs to be addressed with dignity and respect, not necessarily the heavy handed iron fist of new restrictive law.

Governor Kay Ivey signs most restrictive abortion ban in the nation into law. NBC15 News – Alabama – May 15th 2019.

This is the other swing of the societal pendulum. It’s another step in a long line of overt actions without working with the public, most specifically women. As a father, and grandfather, I of course want to see children, and unborn human life protected, but there are many points of view that need a better understanding. As a man, I’ve done what I needed to be responsible. I think it’s the right and duty of women to weigh in on this topic.

What do you think?

 

Patrick Has His Day

St_Benin_Church_Window_St._Patrick

A stained-glass window of Saint Patrick at Saint Benin’s Church, Ireland

St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland. Most of those who celebrate, use the occasion to parade around, frequently in outlandish costumes, wear green somewhere on their body, and many use this day to drink intoxicants, some of them are dyed green.

Saint Patrick’s Day is a public holiday in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Newfoundland and Labrador (for provincial government employees), and the British Overseas Territory of Montserrat.

It is also widely celebrated by the Irish diaspora around the world, Popular in the United Kingdom, Canada, United States, Brazil, Argentina, Australia and New Zealand. Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrated in more countries than any other national festival.

There are all kinds of stories surrounding this 5th century Catholic Bishop. Some claim he was born in Scotland, others, south of Hadrian’s wall, around 387 AD. His real name was Maewyn Succat. It was his extensive missionary work in Ireland for which Patrick is famous. During the thirty years of work there, he supposedly converted over 135,000 people, established 300 churches, and consecrated 350 bishops. Patrick died on March 17, 461.

The story has young Maewyn, at age sixteen, captured by Irish raiders and spending several years as a slave in Ireland. It was during this time he learned various rituals, customs, and language of Druids. It was these people that he eventually evangelized. Maewyn was said, to have a dream in which God spoke to him, saying, “Your ship is ready.” Patrick was then able to escape Ireland by ship. He returned to his family, studied and entered the Catholic church, like his father and grandfather before him. He later returned to Ireland as a missionary and worked in the north and west of the country.

He claimed another dream in which he received a letter, labeled the “voice of the Irish.” When he opened it, he heard the voices of all those whom he had met in Ireland begging him to return.

Saint Patrick returned to Ireland to evangelize the native people to Christ. He incorporated many of their pagan symbols into symbols of Christianity. The Irish 3 leaf clover, the shamrock for example, represented the “trinity”. Green became the “in color”.

According to popular legend, St Patrick rid Ireland of snakes. However, it is thought that there have been no snakes in Ireland since the last ice age. The “snakes” that St Patrick banished from Ireland, may refer to the druids or pagan worshipers of snake or serpent gods.

st_patricks_day_revelers

A crowd gathered to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day – ©bigstockphoto.com/Stu99

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We have always found the Irish a bit odd. They refuse to be English.” ~ Winston Churchill

Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy, which sustained him through temporary periods of joy.” ~ William Butler Yeats

Be true to your work, your word, and your friend.” ~ John Boyle O’Reilly

Christ beside me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ within me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me.” ~ Saint Patrick

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