Who’s Spinning the Planet?

I saw a sign the other day that nearly made me drive off the road. It was in front of a church. (Yup. Buckle up.) It said:

“Did the LORD wake you up this morning? No? Who rotates earth?”

Oh, where to begin.

First of all, I instantly got this image of the sign creator gleefully looking at his work and saying, “Yes! Finally! Proof that God exists that NO ONE can argue with!!!!”

I weep for humanity.

To be absolutely clear, this blog post is not about whether or not God exists. I’m not going there. I have a cold, and that’s much too meaty a topic for me to dig into at the moment.

No. This post is about the ignorance of Man and the stupidity, in particular, of this sign.

In the Trump era, I’m kinda getting used to people taking absurd leaps in logic. Mostly I just shake my head sadly and move on. But to ask who’s spinning the planet, you must first believe that in order for the planet to spin, some entity or other must be spinning it.

To that, I can only respond, “Kindly get your head out of the stone age and join the rest of us in 2019.”  Anyone with a passing concept of the laws of physics knows that there’s no one sitting at a gigantic pottery wheel in the sky, tediously spinning, spinning, spinning our world for us. If that were necessary, it would be a horribly cruel job to saddle someone with. It sounds more like a task to give someone who is residing in hell.

That there are people out there who have never taken physics or learned of gravity or heard of Copernicus doesn’t surprise me overmuch. (Saddens me, yes, surprises me, no.) But in order to take this sign seriously, you have to believe in witchcraft. Your society would have to be at the developmental stage where you think that you must provide a blood sacrifice in order to make the sun rise each day. You’d have to wear bones in your nose and club your women and drag them into your cave.

If your spiritual belief includes a higher power, I hope that he, she, or it is sophisticated enough to not be wasting time on the minutiae. Because there’s a lot of work to do up in this mo’ fo’. There’s no time for dilly dallying.

50271393_1284510655021781_4376981560532926464_n

Read any good books lately? Try mine! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

Spiritual Wealth

In the interests of full disclosure, I am not a Christian. But I do believe that there are a lot of important lessons to be learned from the Bible. I think there are lessons to be learned from many other sources as well. The trick is to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Unfortunately, the chaff often does not come from the philosophy itself, but from the way that philosophy gets twisted by others for their own benefit. Nothing makes me more angry than seeing people get taken advantage of. Nothing is so heartbreaking as seeing people preyed upon and then cast aside.

I may not be an expert on all things Christian, but I do know this: Jesus did not advise people to crave money. He never said that the way God shows favor is by making you rich in this life. He cast out the money lenders. He said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven.” (Matthew 19:24)

Basically, Jesus wasn’t about stuff. He wasn’t about accumulating riches. He wasn’t trying to show people how to game the system so that God would give them prizes.

He did not approve of greed. And he certainly never told anyone to go without groceries so that some creepy preacher could buy a private jet. Jesus would be horrified by the prosperity gospel.

Money is not the key to happiness in this life or any other. Whether you agree with him or not, does Trump seem particularly happy to you? He worships Mammon, and I wouldn’t want his life for anything. Golden toilets don’t make the going any easier.

Love, decency, kindness, generosity, the ability to learn and think critically… these things are priceless. Clamoring for stuff and money… that’s not your kingdom here on earth. It’s just a form of burial before death. If you learn nothing else in this life, let it be that.

Money Church

A big thanks to StoryCorps for inspiring this blog and my first book. http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

Talk About a Scary Movie

So, there’s a movie out called The Trump Prophecy that makes out that Trump is the instrument of God. I kid you not. He can commit billions of dollars’ worth of fraud, brag about grabbing female private parts, be completely incapable of quoting the Bible, take children away from their parents, and yet the evangelicals will endorse him wholeheartedly, even in the form of a movie.

Oh, and it gets worse. The “prophet” in this movie? Mark Taylor. Real guy. Google him. He actually believes that the Democrats control the weather and that they can conjure up hurricanes to cover up election fraud. He also thinks that God talks to him through racehorses. I’m not making this up. You can see him say such things on Youtube.

Here’s hoping that the majority of us have enough critical thinking skills left to know how insane all of this is. The ones who are already convinced will love this movie. I doubt it’s going to cause anyone else to go to the dark side. But these days, you never know.

Not since the Roman Empire have so many tried to deify a leader. And even the Bible warns us that that does not turn out well. Trump is the least Godly president we’ve ever had.

The world has gone mad.

The Trump Prophecy

A big thanks to StoryCorps for inspiring this blog and my first book. http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

What Does God Think of Climate Change?

Always supposing you believe climate change is real (and I do), I have a thought experiment for you. If you believe in God, then what do you think God thinks about what we are doing to our planet? I mean, we’re taking this amazing gift, and we’re basically pooping all over it. My guess is she or it or he would be mighty disappointed in us. If I were God, I’d be totally rethinking this whole “free will” thing. Because we are definitely screwing things up.

Or maybe the old testament got it right, and what we have is a vengeful, fear-inducing God. If that’s the case, then climate change is some form of punishment, and we better start paying attention. The time for basking in our blissful ignorance is long past.

Here’s an even bigger thought experiment for you: Even if you don’t believe in God and/or climate change, please explain to me why it doesn’t make sense to live a green and clean life? What are the disadvantages?

If our actions just boil down to laziness, selfishness, greed and a basic resistance to change, then God doesn’t even need to be in this equation. We should all be disappointed in ourselves.

climate change

Who Gave Me This Gift?

Here lately, I’ve been having quite a few frustration dreams. You know the kind. I’m lost and no matter how hard I try, I can’t find my way out. Or I keep cleaning, cleaning, cleaning, but the place is still a mess. Or I’m running in slow motion. Or I’m trying to say something really important, but no one is listening.

Just the other day, I was thinking about these dreams as I fell asleep. I was trying to figure out the source of my frustration. I was feeling… well… frustrated that I couldn’t reach any conclusions. And those thoughts, as I drifted off, triggered an even stranger dream.

In this one, I had been given the gift of a tank top. I do like tank tops, but it’s the dead of winter, so I was a little befuddled by this. I decided to try on the tank top anyway. It fit well, but I felt some strange lumps in the shoulder straps. I reached up and pulled out a wrench. And then a screw driver. And then a hammer. And then a saw… and so on. It was like the hardware equivalent of a clown car.

And then a voice said, “You have all the tools you need.”

That woke me up out of a sound sleep. Because… who was that?

The current thinking in terms of dream interpretation is that every actor in your dream is a manifestation of yourself. But that wasn’t me. I know it in the very marrow of my bones. My Id is not that confident. My Superego couldn’t be bothered. It wasn’t any part of me. Who, then?

A friend of mine theorizes that it was God. Her spiritual beliefs and mine aren’t very similar. I don’t anthropomorphize my higher power. And even if I did, in the Trump era, it’s safe to assume he or she has much bigger fish to fry.

Could it have been my mother, speaking to me from beyond the grave? Or my late boyfriend? My father? My sister?

I don’t know. I just know it wasn’t me. It was a good message, though. If it had been a sinister message I’d be worried. But it was a positive message. “You have all the tools you need.” The minute it was said, I believed it. So I’ll just focus on that.

Sometimes you just need to take the gifts that are given to you, and say thank you.

Voice of God

Like the way my weird mind works? Then you’ll enjoy my book! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

 

The Church of the Random Word Generator

Here’s why I take exception to the implication that any multi-language translation of an ancient text is the exact and perfect word of its author: Have you ever used Google Translate? Seriously, most old texts that are still studied today have been through so many idioms that the very idea that they bear even a passing resemblance to the original intent is laughable, at best. And even if you go to the original documents, in some notable cases, they were written 40 years or more after the events in question took place. Could you accurately describe something that happened 40 years ago? I couldn’t.

In addition, ancient scripts were written in the context of the times, and now we’re attempting to interpret these messages through our modern lens. That’s like dropping a modern teenager into the year 1530 and expecting that kid to fit right in. Whatever, as they say. Good luck with that.

Now, you also have to realize that many of the texts that came down to us came without spaces between words, or even vowels and punctuation, and you can see where the finished version that we currently rely on is a little sketchy in terms of accuracy and original intent. So maybe those words were separated rather, um, randomly.

I’m not bashing your religion. I’m just saying that rigidity is not the way to go. Add common sense into the mix. Throw in a dash of critical thinking. Remember that historical context is everything. Then you can be as spiritual as you want. Amen.

But thinking about all those translations and all the loss of integrity that has crept in over the years as various people added, deleted, and changed things, has made me think of my old friend, the Random Word Generator. What if religious texts got so altered over time that the words seemed random, and we were forced to interpret that mess?

I decided to do a little thought experiment. I pulled up a fairly standard version of The Lord’s Prayer (which is the only religious thing I know by heart), and I determined that it was 71 words long. Then I asked the Random Word Generator to spit out 71 words. Whoa, Nelly. That makes for one strange religion.

For added fun, I broke up our random words as if they were the Lord’s Prayer, giving it the same word count in the stanzas, and the same punctuation as this English version, and wound up with this:

The Lord’s Prayer (as per the Random Word Generator)

Record Pause, bronze stuff pottery shoot,

route drown attitude Photocopy,

compose write hallway,

curriculum bold cultivate racism,

worm harass death rotate staff crown protest.

Ice campaign elect snack adult conservation strict.

Roll traffic self inside license,

age convince limit crosswalk

witch wrong jump master.

Charm building treat electron mirror winner,

glare recession gold competence wrestle.

Eat concentration grain hurt bang,

wing ensure miracle, pool hen train,

Museum victory carry pity. President.

If I tried hard enough, I’m sure I could find some great advice in there. It might even alter the way I live my life. There does seem to be a certain level of violence implied as well. (That’s something that most world religions can’t seem to avoid.) It also shows hints of politics, a little bit of economic socialism, and it has me thinking that maybe children shouldn’t be able to get drivers’ licenses at the tender age of sixteen.

Hmm…

Heiroglyphics

Like the way my weird mind works? Then you’ll enjoy my book! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

On the Brink of Monumental Change

I have always been fascinated with that split second in time when one’s life becomes completely different. Everyone has experienced this. The death or birth of a loved one. A job offer that changes your career path and/or drastically improves your financial situation. A medical diagnosis. An epiphany. A marriage proposal, a divorce request, an acceptance or a rejection letter. A tragedy or a triumph.

Most of the time these exact moments are unanticipated, but after the fact you can look at them and realize that that was the point when your path veered off in a different direction. The sharp, tiny little pivotal point.

If there were a way to study and measure those points, would we find that they possess an increased amount of psychic or spiritual or kinetic energy on a subatomic level? I’m sure there’s an adrenaline surge. No doubt the heart rate increases. One is definitely spurred to take action, or is left stunned and unable to function.

I’m convinced that in those moments, there’s something there that wasn’t there before. I’ve felt it. Some would posit that it is the presence of God. Others might call it fate or chance or dumb luck. I have no idea, but I think that those answers are too easy. They are what we resort to when we can’t adequately explain things.

I just wonder if there’s an actual, physical… something that happens. I wonder if we’ll ever be scientifically sophisticated enough to find out. And if we do, will we be able to accept what we discover? Because as it stands now, I believe that that moment of being on the brink of monumental change is where science and religion intersect, and that, perhaps, is the most powerful moment in life.

[Image credit: iso.500px.com]
[Image credit: iso.500px.com]

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!

Whether or not you believe that Jesus was the son of God, his mother apparently did. Can you imagine the pressure, raising the son of God? I mean, kids are a handful as it is, without them being divine.

How did Mary handle the terrible twos? How do you discipline God’s son? Did she and God debate parenting styles? Did God take an active part in his upbringing? Did he show up for his Bar Mitzvah?

Was Jesus informed of his parentage right away, or did Joseph, like other adoptive parents, wait until he was old enough to understand this news? Did strange and important people like the Magi keep showing up at his door throughout his life, or was he pretty much left alone to grow up?

And if he did know, how did he interact with the other kids in the school yard? Was he involved in sports? I suspect he wouldn’t have been the short stop. Did he play games? Did he always win? Did he always let everyone else win? Was he popular?

Most importantly, how did Mary prevent him from having a massive ego? I mean, if God were my honest to… uh, God… father, I’d have a hard time not feeling superior. “My dad’s holier than your dad.” How did he view the adults around him? Did he feel lonely and set apart?

The Bible doesn’t really go into detail about these things, and unanswered questions like these are why I struggled with Christianity as I grew up. I prefer to take what wisdom I can from all the religions I encounter and go from there. There is a great deal of knowledge all around you if you care to look for it.

Baby hand in father's palm

[Image credit: healthofchildren.com]

The Pope and Higgs Boson: Too Much God to Digest all at Once?

So, we have a new Pope. That’s a load off. Not that I’m Catholic, mind you, but I think it’s never a good thing to have a vacancy for the position of God’s representative on earth, do you? He’s from Argentina, he’s chosen the name Francis, and he’s a Jesuit. All of these things are firsts, and for the Catholic Church, firsts are usually avoided, so this impresses me. And the fact that he was never a Hitler Youth is a big fat plus in my book. He’s also the first Pope in 600 years to have to deal with a Pope Emeritus, which can’t be easy, but so far he seems to be handling it with aplomb (a word I don’t get the opportunity to use very often).

During the great outpouring of admiration that we’ve all witnessed, you learn that he is a man of the people. He’s humble. He cares about the poor. He has held mass for the homeless and the prostitutes of Buenos Aires. He wants to be a populist Pope. Again, all wonderful things.

But I’m having a bit of trouble reconciling all of the above with what the Christian News Service says about him:

“In 2010, when Argentina became the first Latin American country to legalize same-sex marriage, Cardinal Bergoglio encouraged clergy across the country to tell Catholics to protest against the legislation because, if enacted, it could ‘seriously injure the family,’ he said.

He also said adoption by same-sex couples would result in ‘depriving [children] of the human growth that God wanted them given by a father and a mother.’”

CBS News correspondent Mark Phillips says that until now, Pope Francis’ conservative views on birth control, homosexuality and women’s roles in the Church have not made him popular with his relatively progressive Jesuit brothers. That, to me, is a bad sign. If you are a steadfast conservative within a progressive group, what does this say about your ability to be a Pope who listens to Catholics in the modern world, particularly ones with diverging viewpoints?

How can you be a Pope of the people and shun homosexuals? These are our brothers, our sisters, our nieces, our nephews. Are you saying that pedophilia is more acceptable? It certainly seems to be in many areas of the church. And how can you view women as subordinate in the 21st century? Our mothers, our sisters, our daughters. And most important of all, how can you preach to prostitutes and yet believe that birth control is a sin? Isn’t that tantamount to a death sentence for them?

It will be interesting to see what message he brings to those countries in Africa where entire populations are on the verge of extinction due to AIDS. When it has been proven, time and time again, even by your own priests, that abstinence is not going to work, it’s time to wake up and move into the present. But that is probably way too much to ask of a man who is 76 years old, and a religion that is at least 1900 years old.

higgs

In other news, the very next day in CERN, they announced that they’re confident they’ve discovered the God particle, also known as the Higgs Boson. According to Hayley Dixon of the Telegraph, “Finding the Higgs plugs a gaping hole in the Standard Model of physics, the theory that describes all the particles, forces and interactions that make up the universe.” That, my friends, is HUGE. In my opinion, Higgs Boson is where God and science intersect. And I firmly believe that they can intersect, if you have an open mind.

According to CBS News, it is “the subatomic particle predicted nearly a half-century ago, which will go a long way toward explaining what gives electrons and all matter in the universe size and shape.”

WHY ISN’T EVERYONE TALKING ABOUT THIS? I’m stumped. I guess the building blocks of the universe got overwhelmed in the news cycle that is Pope Francis. And that’s a shame, because if you have any faith whatsoever, both of these events will have a sweeping impact upon you, whether you’re aware of it or not.

Or maybe it’s just that we mere mortals can only digest so much God in one sitting. Either way, hold on to your hats. This is going to be a bumpy, albeit fascinating, ride.