Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Dear Pope Benedict XVI,

Thank you so very much for your work on releasing unbaptized infants and children from Limbo. You're a pretty good guy, and I'm sorry that I've compared your appearance to the evil Emperor in Star Wars. But I know you have a good sense of humor and have forgiven me. ;-) And that offer for some Corvette Therapy is always open.

Sincerely,
Rae Ann, your unofficial and occasional prophet ;-)

PS Hey, what happened? Did Gore's demons get to you? I hope that your recent comments about the environment only reflect a moderate and sensible concern about "stewardship" and is not evidence of your being brainwashed into the "green" AntiChrist's agenda. Say it ain't so!

My First YouTube

Well, it's not much, but if you have a minute and a half you can watch my very minimalist "Carbon Indulgence" (Soakin' up the sun while it's still free) in the name of Sheryl Crow, who (surely everyone has heard by now) has become a new preacher of the "green" AntiChrist. ;-)

Sunday, April 22, 2007

What the Frogs Told Me

The frogs are happy. They told me so. And we all know that frogs are a famous gauge of environmental health. I'm trying to believe them as I look at the trees covered with dead baby leaves killed by the late freeze, the brown where there will be green again eventually. It's such a depressing and "unnatural" sight.

People are afraid of the collapse of the bee population because they think it might lead to famine. If you read Revelation you can find support for that fear. And there is also a "plague of frogs" in there.* Happy frogs, I suppose. ;-)

Well, I'm not feeling well today and don't have the energy to look up and add the relevant scriptures. Maybe tomorrow.

Sorry for the shortness, in all senses, of this post.

No matter what we might think of ourselves and our power and influence on the world (or lack thereof), it is still a beautiful world. If it ends, it ends. If it doesn't, it doesn't. But it will end for each and every one of us at some point. Well, I prefer to think that as my matter speeds towards the Black Hole of Death the information of my consciousness will indeed be preserved and will somehow find another form in some other dimension or universe. So far, no one can say with 100% certainty that it won't happen that way. And if they do, they are stupid fools.

But even if death is just Nothingness, it can't be all that bad.




*Sorry, I was confused, which isn't unusual. The plague of frogs was in the Old Testament. But Revelation has some frog-like things too:

And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet.

Rev. 16:13


I can assure you that no frogs have come out of my mouth. I only see and hear them... not produce them. ;-)

Friday, April 20, 2007

Tennessee Justice

Mary Winkler was convicted of Voluntary Man Slaughter which means that the jury believed that the crime was committed in an irrational state of mind. I think I would have made the same judgment. Of course, I didn't hear all the testimony, but I think that the prosecution's arguments for premeditated murder were weak. Any prosecution is going to parade a bunch of people with glowing stories of the minister whom they didn't know as well as his wife. Anyone who is married or in any other close relationship knows that your partner knows aspects of you that no one else ever sees. This is one of the things that makes marriages and other close relationships special. Sometimes that exclusive knowledge is about unpleasant things that nobody else should know.

This is the Matthew Winkler that Mary knew, the secret "bad" Matthew, the one who demeaned her emotionally and sexually. Of course, she's not going to go around telling people that their minister is a pornography-driven pervert. She was the good Christian wife who never complained openly about her marriage and who would never speak about her sex life.

As a Tennessean I think it's safe for me to say that I know how these jurors reacted to this situation. We all have a kind of common cultural knowledge of how things are, so predicting their way of thinking isn't too hard. That the jury only took 8 hours to deliberate is good evidence that they were in pretty close agreement from the beginning of the deliberation. Overall, the whole case and trial moved quickly, and quick justice is good justice.

Jealous Gods and Other Delights

Isn't that a fun title? I like it, if I say so myself. ;-)

I think this will just be a random assemblage of incomplete thoughts and other found objects.

External Reality

I've been mulling over this thing pretty heavy lately since I've been dealing with a lot of big external realities. Apparently, there are scholars who spend a great deal of time trying to disprove the existence of a real external reality. I find this strangely amusing in a way, but I also find it a bit disturbing that there are supposedly highly intelligent people who cannot see the External Reality all around them. I think this is part of the Postmodern philosophy. Actually, I don't just think it; I know it.

Punishment and Postmodernism

The 1990s should be remembered as the Rise of Postmodernism. Bill Clinton was one of the biggest proponents of this philosophy which is revealed in his saying, "That depends on what 'is' is." If that isn't a purely postmodern idea, then I don't know what is or 'is'. ;-) Now, some people might find Clinton as generally okay, but I can't really say that myself. I do think that he in large part encouraged a more widespread acceptance of postmodern wishy-washiness. His extreme laissez-faire attitude opened the way for the postmodernists to infect more aspects of society.

In my lifetime punishment has been very out of fashion, and I think we are beginning to see the longer-term results of this demise of punishment. With no 'right or wrong' there is no absolute consequence of an action. While we are instructed by religion and other philosophies that we should not judge other people, this idea has become twisted into not judging people's actions. Well, that's just wrong. We can (and must) judge actions and treat them accordingly in order to maintain some kind of order. Life in prison isn't condemning a person's self or soul; it is merely requiring a consequence of a bad action. While this relationship between the demise of punishment and the rise of postmodernism is undeniable, it is still unclear to me which caused which.

Babyboomers/Toxic Population

I have some very good Babyboomer friends, and I'm on the cusp myself between that generation and the Generation X. But my Boomer friends, I would say, are the exceptional ones. The Babyboomer Generation believes that they are the most powerful and influential in the history of mankind. This hubris is responsible for the Global Warming hysteria, Political Correctness, Feminazism, the healthcare crisis, as well as many other social problems. Sure, this sounds like a "blaming the parents" excuse, but this generation has grown up with the idea that they would change the world by virtue of their numbers. And they certainly are trying. I think maybe it's a generational delusion of grandeur.

Celeb 8

When I was in New York City (Jan. 2004) with my friend, Ellen, we were walking down a street along the border of Central Park (Park Ave.? maybe, but I can't recall) where all the swanky apartment buildings are with their doormen. It was getting dark and we noticed a dark car with very dark windows kind of following slowly beside us. Ellen noticed the license plate that said "CELEB8." I first thought it was an abbreviation of "celebrity 8" but Ellen corrected me that it was probably meant as "celibate." Why in the world would someone advertise that? We joked, and then thought that maybe it was some priest looking for a prostitute or something. Well, since neither of us looks anything like a prostitute the car finally sped up and left. It was really weird and slightly creepy.

Anyway, I don't believe in celibacy. I don't think that religions should require priests, monks, nuns, etc. to give up sex. I understand why they say it is good for them, but I just can't agree because they are missing out on the only Divine Union available in our 5+ sense and 4+ dimensional world. We wouldn't have these physical bodies for such a limited time if we weren't intended to use them and fully experience this physical incarnation. I really don't think that God truly wants anyone to fore go that aspect of our earthly existence. I don't think that God would really want us to reject any aspect of our natural bodies in His name. I just don't think that was God's intention in giving us bodies and sensations and emotions and all of our other human attributes.

Rae Annthropic Principle

This is one of those issues of conflict and confusion. It goes along with the External Reality, the desire to have control but not responsibility, dark matter, the cosmological constant, and all those other bundled up problems of the Universe. Why is the Universe uniquely suited for our survival? That is the wrong question. It's like asking, "why is my arm attached to my body?" The real question is Why are we uniquely suited for our environment? And we basically know the answer to that whether you take the scientific answers or the religious answers or some combination.

I'm very guilty of oversimplifying these things, but really, isn't the least complex and simplest answer usually the best? Dark matter is just the "negative space" that fills in where the other matter isn't. It's like artwork. There is negative space and positive space. The more we look the more we will see. And that seems so obvious.

The reason I cannot fully embrace the Anthropic Principle is because it inevitably leads me to the Rae Annthropic Principle. And I just don't want that kind of responsibility. ;-) If the strong Anthropic Principle were really true then I would have much further-reaching influence than I do. Now, if someone provided me with undeniable evidence that I can control anything outside my "habitable zone" I might accept the Anthropic Principle, but until then it's just a fun but inaccurate idea.

Beautiful Oblivion

People like to think about the nature of Time. Is it an illusion? No, it's not. It's part of that same External Reality that some people just don't like to accept because it implies that 'control' and 'direction' or 'design' lie elsewhere. Well, some people just hate the idea of God or "intelligent design" or anything that isn't some Postmodernist nebula. Time is God, in a sense. If time stopped how would we know? That's the wrong question. If time stopped then it would just stop and there would be nothing. Period. We would cease to exist so we couldn't know or not if we still existed. Is that so hard to understand? There is no point in even asking if we would know. Of course, we wouldn't and we wouldn't care either. ;-)

My sense of time was formed by my skating years when I learned how much one can actually do in a minute. Sometimes a minute can last forever and be filled with a lifetime's worth of pain (or pleasure). It's all about perception and not time itself. Even when you're looking at the tiniest of particles and energies time doesn't change its nature. Well, I'm probably wrong about that according to some theories, but it could also be that those theories are wrong. ;-)

I'm not completely convinced that space and time are the same thing. It seems true enough that you can manipulate space throughout time (we do this every day), but time itself isn't necessarily affected by changes in space. Well, maybe I'm just really dumb, but I see what I see.

Undoing the Laces

I've been fortunate that my real life anecdotal experiences have confirmed most of my beliefs. Sometimes that is the best we can hope for. I like rewards and positive reinforcement. Negative reinforcement has never worked on me. Negative reinforcement is the withholding of something as a consequence of behavior instead of outright punishment or reward. And I think that is the communist/socialist ideology in so many words. Those are about withholding rewards in order to control behavior. It's too manipulative and dishonest. And it does not result in growth and development. Sometimes we need to look less at the gray and more at the black and white. All the grayness of the postmodernist philosophy is taking too much color out of our world. (I swear, I think I read that somewhere, but I can't remember now. So please, if I've accidentally plagiarized someone forgive my memory deficits.)

PS Happy 4-20 Day. Whatever that means. ;-)

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Name That Box



FeaturelessUnremarkableCommonKind

Trapped In A Box

In the Eyes of God/From the Void/The Eleventh Dimension

Narcissus

Scrying

Spirit House

Birthday Earring

It's a Nice Box

Rottweiler or Psychotic Kitten?

Random Assemblage

Is That Really Me?

Does This Look Vicious?

Sunshine of Your Love

The Joker



This project came about completely by accident when I was decoupaging some of my very favorite paper scraps (left over from the cutest gift wrap I got at Pier 1) to this wooden crate in which Spanish clementines (a type of mandarin orange) are sold. I really love these crates because they are sturdy and good for storing things. Most people probably throw them out with the garbage, but since I'm an old country Redneck I keep stuff like that because I know I'll find a use for them. The picture was just an experiment that I didn't like much, and while reorganizing some things I just kind of tossed the picture into the crate. Then I decided that there was just something compelling about that combination.

Then I ended up kind of mesmerized by it because it seemed to look different every time I looked at it, hence the list above reflecting some of those thoughts and feelings. I've never been happy or comfortable with my appearance, and I always find it puzzling and surprising, as if after 39 years I've never really known my own face. I kind of cringe sometimes when I see pictures of myself, but this project has made me try to look more objectively. Well, I can't honestly say that it has changed anything: I'm still not comfortable or happy with my face.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Wow!

Your Pickup Line Is

That shirt looks very becoming on you... but if I were on you I'd be coming too.

Outrageous

Your Outrageous Name is:

Amanda Hugnkiss

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Cock-a-doodle-do!






Cock-a-doodle-do!
My dame has lost her shoe,
My master's lost his fiddle-stick
And knows not what to do.

Cock-a-doodle-do!
What is my dame to do?
Till master finds his fiddle-stick,
She'll dance without her shoe.

Old Nursery Rhyme


There's not much worse than a lost fiddle-stick... ;-)

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Updates of Past Stories

Mary Winkler's trial has begun. Jury selection was completed today and the opening statements are expected tomorrow.

Previous posts about Winkler:

And the Wind Cries Mary

Mary's Cries

Another Song for Mary Winkler


All charges have been dropped against the Duke Lacrosse team members who were falsely accused of rape by a black stripper. I hope that Al Sharpton and others who have severely criticized Don Imus will demand and offer formal apologies to these young men whose lives have been ruined by false accusations and blatantly harmful racism against them. Sure, the Rutgers women's basketball team is allowed to have hurt feelings over being called "nappy-headed hos" (not hoes), and Imus' comment was terrible. But the magnitude of it is minuscule in comparison to the racial hatred those young white men have suffered. I'm just trying to put a little perspective on this issue.

Previous post mentioning the Duke Lacrosse team and "reverse" racism:

News of the Week

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Superheros and Saviors: Harvest of the Earth

Superheros and Saviors are always taken for granted until it's too late. Even those who don't "believe" are just deluding themselves that they are not dependent upon them because it's so easy to take for granted the things that are ever-present, like air.


The Reapers

Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and sitting on the cloud was one like a son of man, having a golden crown on His head and a sharp sickle in His hand. And another angel came out of the temple, crying out with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, “Put in your sickle and reap, for the hour to reap has come, because the harvest of the earth is ripe.” Then He who sat on the cloud swung His sickle over the earth, and the earth was reaped.

Revelation 14:14-16 (NAS)


Many superhero stories involve situations in which the superhero loses or gives up his powers because of the way they interfere with a 'normal' life. The world falls into chaos without the superhero's efforts to save people and stop criminals and other evil people. Before the superhero abandoned or lost his position most people appreciated and applauded him, but there are always the few nasty ones who wanted to blame him or accuse him of being something other than good. Sometimes these evil people are the ones responsible for the superhero's losing or abandoning his powers to save. When things get as bad as possible, or ripe with disaster, the superhero somehow manages to regain his powers and returns to save the world (harvest the Earth) from the reign of chaos.

The story of Jesus is analogous to these superhero stories. He selflessly lived and saved and endured persecution while doing his work. Some people loved and appreciated him, but those whose power was threatened by him eventually captured, abused, and crucified him. They disabled him with his own personal kind of Kryptonite. What was his Kryptonite that made him powerless to resist? It was Love. "For God so loved the world..." (John 3:16) Jesus' Love for his fellow people and his Love for his Father held him tight to the course that led to his Crucifixion which he knew was ultimately to Save the world. The world was Ripe for his Harvest.

Our current world getting pretty Ripe too. We seem to have come to the point in the story when the Savior/Superhero has lost favor with those he serves, partly due to the work of the evil villains and partly due to the complacence and vanity of the larger population. Most take for granted that some Savior or Superhero will come whether they "believe" in him or not. But what they don't stop to think about is that being saved comes at a personal price. God knows that what is freely given isn't valued by most people, so there is a price for the ultimate salvation: a thankfulness and acknowledgement of the Savior's efforts. God knows that unless one is open and expressive of his gratitude for the Savior then he hasn't yet truly understood the magnitude of what the Savior has done.

Some Christian denominations expect a Rapture in which all believers will simultaneously ascend to Heaven. I think the "simultaneously" part is debatable. Part of me is beginning to think that some kind of Rapture is already under way. It seems all the good and kind people whose lives are lived in the Spirit of Christ are disappearing and leaving the world in the hands of the evil and selfish. Of course, throughout history this has seemed the case, but now with such "global" concerns the problem is magnified significantly. Maybe the Harvest has begun?

Personally, I think I'm ready for the Harvest because the world has become so full of human vainglorious conceit, malice, and disregard for others that it is becoming unbearable. And it has become dangerous and painful to coexist with those who reject and ridicule the Savior(s). Christians have always suffered persecution throughout history, but now the "unified" world has concentrated its power to suppress and oppress them.

But it's not too late for those who are open and willing to set aside their own vanity and conceit to acknowledge that they need and want help. All you have to do is ask. And after you receive your salvation, all you have to do is be brave enough to openly express your gratitude and offer praise. That's it. It's not like anyone is asking you for your arm or leg, well, except for the evil ones who will eventually demand from us our very breath of life.

Given the choice, I'll offer my thanks and praise to my Savior instead of giving my life for those who don't and can't care for anyone but themselves.

On this Easter Day we celebrate the Resurrection of Christ which symbolizes our own potential for Salvation. I don't especially care if it is "irrational" to believe in such Salvation. Salvation isn't rational. Love isn't rational. The human world isn't rational.

Enjoy this Easter Day, and if you can be brave enough, offer true and undeniable thanks for the Love and Salvation that is yours for the asking or that you've already received. Be ready for the Harvest because only those who have made it clear that they aren't chaff will be gathered.

And that is today's Easter Sermonette.

Happy Easter

Friday, April 06, 2007

I'm Dreaming of a White Easter

It's snowing (flurries) here. For those who want to use this as evidence of some catastrophic climate change, I'd like to remind them that almost exactly twenty years ago it snowed in April with a significant accumulation (7-10 inches).

Update, 4-7-07:


Thursday, April 05, 2007

A Love Child?







Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad born 10-28-1956

Donald Rumsfeld born 7-9-1932

Does anyone know if Rumsfeld visited Iran in early 1956? I've always been intrigued by their similar faces and expressions. Both are beady-eyed, and my mom always said that you couldn't trust beady-eyed men.

Change of Pace

I foresee a Fergie reply in the form of another crappy rap. Alanis Morissette sings "My Humps":




via tayster

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Stress Tests

New gray hairs added within the last week:

father-in-law died last Tuesday (after three long, difficult weeks in hospital)
youngest son got strep throat last Wednesday
father-in-law's funeral with vultures attending Friday
father-in-law's burial with vultures attending Saturday
online vultures on Monday
youngest son got severe rash, fever, etc. due to mono Today


They say things happen in threes. That's a double dose there. Well, as they say, "What doesn't kill you makes stronger." Or maybe it's, "What doesn't kill you makes you crazy."

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Eulogy: A Quiet Hero

Dear Friends,

Thank you so very much for all of your thoughts, prayers, and kind words during this very difficult time for my family. I can't adequately convey the magnitude of our loss, but it has been heartwarming to hear from all the people whose lives were better from knowing my father-in-law. It is humbling yet comforting to see such an outpouring of love and condolence. Ben was one of those rare generous and kind people who truly lived by the Christian code of conduct. He was one of the smartest and wisest people I've ever known. He could discern and evaluate situations and people with a quick precision that was rarely inaccurate.

There really is such a thing as the American Dream. It is not a myth. It is reality. I know because I live it, and that has been possible, in large part, because of the actions of that very special and beloved man. The success of his life is evident in the fact that all five of his children are successful, happy, and well-adjusted people who get along and love each other. There are no big family conflicts which is pretty unusual these days, especially in large families. This is a testament to the kind of man and father and husband he was for his immediate family and to everyone who knew him.

Everyone has said he was the most generous and caring man they ever knew. That through his hard work and outstanding character he was able to rise from poverty to a level of comfort and security is first-hand evidence that the American Dream is real and available for those who work for it and deserve it. At the end of his life he knew he had come a long way and humbly marveled that his life was as Blessed as it was. His way of summing it up was "it's been a good run." It should be everyone's goal to be able to meet death with that kind of gratitude.

But he was a humble man who never tooted his own horn or called attention to his good works. He just did them because that was the way he believed he was supposed to live. He was one of those quiet heroes, not the kind who expected or even wanted special recognition, because he believed he was just living in the way that benefited others.

I've been a part of this family for 18 years, nearly half of my life, and I feel as if I've lost my own parent because he loved me and accepted me as if I were his own child. This was just the kind of man he was. He was this way with all of his daughters-and-sons-in-law. We all are so very sad to have lost our 'father'. In fact, this loss has severely injured my nerves and the healing will take a good, long time.

This brings me to a point that I wish I didn't have to address. Despite the outpouring of support and kindness, death in our human world has not yet escaped the aggregation of vultures, hyenas, and other opportunistic scavengers. I learned ten years ago when my own mother died that the world largely doesn't care how hurt you are that you've lost a parent. The world just keeps on keeping on, and that's the way it is supposed to be, actually.

But there are those few individuals who lack any kind of human kindness, consideration, empathy or compassion and will take advantage of a grieving person's weakened condition. It is probably an injustice to vultures to compare these foul and unwelcome people to them because vultures are only animals without human emotions and feelings. It's truly a shame that the grieving process must include having to deal with such painful distractions. And unfortunately, when these kinds of cruel and unfeeling people persist in their thoughtless and selfish pursuit of causing us pain the only truly effective way of managing is to avoid them as much as possible.

So, that being said, while it only adds to my pain and injured nerves, I must adjust my habits and activities in whatever ways will ease the situation. These hurtful and aggressive hyenas have infested even the online places where I've enjoyed comraderie and friendship in the past. And in the absence of any kind of advocate I just don't have the strength at this time to endure any extra antagonism. I will have to do what my father-in-law would have done in such a situation: make a graceful exit and hope that eventually when left to their own devices the emotional terrorists will self-destruct or otherwise be revealed for their true selves. I'm sorry that it has come to this, but unless I'm shown another way it's the only one I know.

I will be here, on my own ground, occasionally, but I'm sorry I won't be making many rounds for a while. You know where to find me if it matters.

Thanks again to those who have been kind, generous, and supportive. May we meet again at some more pleasant point.

Sincerely,

Rae Ann

Sunday, April 01, 2007

God Is Not Dead Yet

Update: this was originally published on 10-8-2006, but I have added some new relevant thoughts.


Lubos has some links to some very interesting video discussions of science and religion. These ideas are probably the two that are closest to my heart and mind, and I've spent a disproportionately large amount of my time thinking about them. I wish I could say that the results of all that thinking are commensurate with the effort put into it. ;-) I'm still processing the content of those videos, but I'd like to jot down some initial thoughts.

I agree with Steven Weinberg's dislike of the characterization of God by the Old Testament religions, and by extension the New Testament- though Jesus's God was a "kinder, gentler" God, it still deeply troubles me that a "Father" would "sacrifice" his Son. But I'll get into that more later.

I'm not interested in an angry, jealous, or otherwise human-like God (and the imagery of a Heavenly "Father" doesn't suffice either). And Weinberg is correct in saying that religions built around that kind of God are harmful. Dawkins speaks a little about the issue of good vs. evil and whether there are some external forces ("spirits") that produce good and evil. I'm of the mind that there is a nature of duality (creation and destruction) to the Universe and that it's kind of a normal progression for people to assign "values" to results of these somewhat 'opposite' (though dependent) forces due to their perspective (like, if something good or bad for them).

Dawkins speaks about the use of language, and I tend to agree with his point that the words we use to define things often limit or misrepresent them. He speaks of individuals having "mystical wonder" and "transcendent, mystical experiences" that can be considered "scientific" as well as "religious". In my own transcendent, mystical experiences I've felt "connected" (as opposed to the idea that we are "detached" from some greater "domain" or God, and that is another issue I have with Christianity - the teaching that we are separated from God by "original sin") to the greater Whole while trying not to make value judgments on myself and everything else in that Whole. These experiences are almost always in response to some observance of Nature and not in the process of some religious ritual. I do want to talk about the meaning and purpose of ritual at some point though.

Is "faith" a bad thing? It seems like faith has gotten a bad reputation among scientists. The dictionary says:

1 a: allegiance to duty or a person: LOYALTY b (1): fidelity to one's promises (2): sincerity of intentions
2 a (1): belief and trust in and loyalty to God (2): belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion b (1): firm belief in something for which there is no proof (2): complete trust
3: something that is believed especially with strong conviction; especially: a system of religious beliefs


Only a small part of that definition specifies "belief without proof" (which is where religion seems to fit). Most of it implies a loyalty and trust in something other than the self. Certainly, I would hope that most scientists have faith in science and the scientific method. This does not have to imply adherence to the "unproven" but more of a belief that the unknown can become known. And from what bits I've studied of religion in a larger sense, many religions don't necessarily require rigid belief in the face of opposing evidence. That's mostly limited to the angry, jealous God that many of us dislike. ;-)

The issue of American Patriotism and Religion was briefly discussed in the Weinberg interview. It seems fairly obvious that since the European settlement of America was primarily motivated by the desire for religious "freedom", our 'national character' and/or culture would be strongly influenced by religion. It is not a misrepresentation to say that the foundation of America is inextricably linked to religion, religious practices, and disagreement about religion and religious practices. For some of us perhaps this religious feeling has evolved from attachment to God to attachment to Country. Perhaps Weinberg would find that disturbing, but it's important to acknowledge that many people deeply need to attach to something because it gives them the strength to keep going when life gets difficult. (Think of the famous "Footprints" poem.)

Now back to the New Testament God vs. the Old Testament God. I'm no bible scholar, but it seems that the distinction is a major point of contention among religious groups. Jesus's teachings about God were rather revolutionary but he still had to defer to the God of his Jewish upbringing. He spoke of God's love which wasn't as important in the Old Testament.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.

John 3:16 (King James Version)

That is the first Bible verse my grandmother made me memorize and (very painfully for a shy child) recite in front of her church. Even as a small child I wondered why God would give his only son to save everyone else. It didn't make sense. I understand the concept of sacrifice, but I've never understood a parent sacrificing a child. A parent sacrificing him/herself? Yes, and I think that's probably part of the rise the Trinity - meaning that since God is the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit all together then He really just sacrificed Himself, but that argument isn't really any more satisfying.

Maybe the child sacrifice is a relic of that culture's times. Maybe to the people back then the idea that a God would sacrifice his own flesh and blood was very impressive. But in today's world when children are sacrificed every day for many unholy reasons it just smacks of wrongness.

I do think that many of Jesus's teachings and ideas have been distorted. He did emphasize love and forgiveness and those were revolutionary ideas at his time. It's not too hard for me to apply much of what he said to the world I know by observation, though my ideas on that often differ a lot from the 'orthodox' views. And I don't think that my interpretations dilute or "liberalize" Jesus's message, only the messages of other people's interpretations. ;-) But honestly, I don't really worry too much about that. My 'relationship with the Divine' is between me and the Universe and no one else has the right tell me it's wrong. (Just like so many other things in life.) And that is Religious Freedom.

And about that being "separate" from God or The Fall from Paradise because of Original Sin. Well, I think I should probably save that for another time because there is a lot to say, and I'm still formulating how I want to say it.

Anyway, God is not dead yet. And as the wise men in those videos implied, even if we do ever learn all the "how" of the Universe we will probably never learn exactly "why". And by cloaking Himself in that one word God is still alive and kicking.

And that's this Sunday's Sermonette. ;-)

Addendum: In the months since this post it has become even more clear that a faithless and atheist, or completely secular, society is dysfunctional and prone to the same kind of descent into chaos as an overly religious society. Intolerance is a virus or cancer that spreads and infects all aspects of life and society. If you allow it to infect one part of society it will inevitably spread to the others, eventually leading to the crippling or death of that society.

If you allow science and scientists to attack and disrespect the need of most people to have faith in something larger than themselves you are basically damaging the foundation of a free society. We are seeing this happen everywhere. Religion and God are ridiculed, criticized, and otherwise intolerated in an alarmingly increasing rate. Look around you and tell me this: Is our society getting better without faith, God, or religion? It sure doesn't look that way to me.

But science isn't the villain here. Science is also infected by intolerance and faithlessness. What so few realize is that their faith in science is pretty much indistinguishable from a faith in God, when you boil it down because both rely on the belief that this 'thing' will provide the answers. But I don't really want to go into that at the moment. You can read all about it on Lubos Motl's blog and how he is trying to fight that intolerance and faithlessness that has infected science.

Allow me to tell you why this lack of faith is damaging the world. Or really, allow me to ask you some questions and you can think for yourself. Extend these questions to their logical ends.

How can we expect most people have faith in each other if they don't have faith in something larger than themselves? (hint: if one can't have faith in a larger, greater thing then he/she is probably not likely to have faith in equal or lesser things)

If there is no faith and trust then how are people supposed to function in cooperative and benevolent ways? (hint: one isn't likely to trust anyone who cannot demonstrate having trust themselves)

Freedom absolutely depends upon tolerance. Even when you know or think you are right and everyone else is wrong you must have tolerance for their needs to hold onto or attach to what makes them happy, whether that is believing in God or pink fairies or aliens from an adjacent universe or unseen eleven dimensional constructs. You can tell them why you think you are right and they are wrong, but you still have to respect that they are allowed not to believe you. At this point in the world NO ONE can say for 100% certainty that God does not exist. And thank God for that because if that day ever comes it will truly mark the end of humanity and love (perhaps the most irrational thing that exists).

And I ain't April foolin'.