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This Day in My History

2000:  The Moving Fingers Write
2001:  Careful Planning
2002:  Nip and Tuck
2003:  Caution: Bragging Ahead
2004Just So Darn Charming

2005:  Make a Wish

"Boxcar Children"

Books Read in 2006
(Updated 8/20)

"Foster Botanical Gardens"

Foster Botanical Gardens

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Mefeedia Video Archive

My Favorite Video Blogs

Desert Nut

(for others, see Links page)

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Look at these videos!
Holy Dirt

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Lordy, Lordy

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Support liberty and justice for all

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Cost of the War in Iraq

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5 September 2006

It was Sunday morning, so I suppose it was appropriate that I should be standing in the shower thinking about God.

This introspection was prompted by viewing The Power of One, the story of P.K., a young English boy in South Africa, suffering as the only English boy in an Afrikaans school.  He lives with a German grandfather, (who is imprisoned in South Africa during World War II), and as he grows up, he has a black friend, Gideon Duma. 

Watching P.K.'s torture at the hands of the white Afrikaans as well as by the Nazi students, watching the Blacks being marginalized, tortured and killed by the whites, watching P.K. rejected by his Afrikaans girlfriend's father.  It all just got me to thinking about God and about — more than the human condition, just the planet condition, I guess.

I quote everybody's favorite philosopher, Rodney King:  Why can't we all just get along?

I don't mean to be critical of the higher being, but there's something wrong in the way this planet was put together, if you believe Jesus, who said he is the son of God and that he came to bring a message of peace and to tell us all to love one another.

Up until the time he showed up, if we check back through the recorded history of the Bible, there isn't really all that much that would lead us to believe that this was a loving, peaceful God. 

He threw Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden and condemned them to live in pain and suffering because they took a snack from the wrong tree.

He flooded the entire planet, except for one little boat loaded with animals and animal dung and cockroaches (couldn't Noah have left the cockroaches behind?). 

He demolished an entire city for the actions of a few (you gotta believe there were babies and young children and ... dogs... in that city who got caught in the destruction), and then turned a woman into stone because she dared to glance back at the destruction.

He sent the Angel of Death to kill the babies of the Egyptians in order to get them to free the Israelites.  What kind of loving, peaceful being would kill the babies of one group of people in order to get something good for another group of people?

He tested Abraham by telling him to kill his son.  OK — he recanted at the last minute, but incident after incident had given no indication that this was a being that expected us all to live in peace and love.   The Bible tells of a father who screamed "You WILL obey me or I'll give you a good whupping."  It talks of a being who played favorites and wasn't very nice to those who were not his favorites.

Where was the love?  Where was the acceptance?  Where was the peace?

From the start of time there have been battles between people who look different or think different from one another.  Religion has been the cause of so much hatred and bloodshed it makes you wonder if it's really all it's cracked up to be.  People killing people just because they don't worship the same way, or because they call their supreme being by a different name.

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The picture is of Bele and Lokai, Cherons on Star Trek.   The Cherons are from a planet which is ruled by racial prejudices (unlike this one, of course). They have the skin colored half black and half white. Cherons with left side white are the masters, and Cherons with left side black are slaves. Since their only difference is in their coloring, and they are equal in body strength, they can never beat each other. When the crew of the Enterprise first met the Cherons, Bele (the master) had been chasing Lokai (the slave) for 50,000 years.

Yeah, it's a TV show, but has anybody figured out how many years people have been trying to exterminate the Jews, or drive them out of... wherever they happen to be in whatever century we happen to be discussing?

Stand a Jew next to a Palestinian and I might have a difficult time telling them apart, just like the crew of the Enterprise had a difference telling Bele and Lokai apart, but the difference was blatantly apparent to the two Cherons, who were appalled that it wasn't as obvious to outsiders.  Of course there was a difference, a difference worth killing each other over.

Stand a Protestant in Belfast next to a Catholic in Belfast and ask someone from Peoria, Illinois to identify which is which, and I'll bet they will be unable to do so — yet Protestant and Catholics continue to kill each other — and you wonder if even they understand why.  Same with the Hutus and the Tutsis in Rwanda.  How are they different?   Why is it good to kill a Tutsi baby because it's not a Hutu, or vice versa?

They're rioting in Africa. They're starving in Spain.
There's hurricanes in Florida and Texas needs rain.
The whole world is festering with unhappy souls.
The French hate the Germans. The Germans hate the Poles.
Italians hate Yugoslavs. South Africans hate the Dutch
and I don't like anybody very much!
But we can be tranquil and thankful and proud
for man's been endowed with a mushroom shaped cloud.
And we know for certain that some lovely day
someone will set the spark off and we will all be blown away.
They're rioting in Africa. There's strife in Iran.
What nature doesn't do to us
will be done by our fellow man.

~ Sheldon Harnick, sung by The Kingston Trio

And yet we can't get out of that "I'm better than you are" mentality, no matter where "I" live or who "you" are.  If I'm better than you are, then it must be OK to look down on you, to treat you inhumanely and, in some cases, to kill you. 

So Jesus comes to earth and says we should all live in peace and love and look where it got us.  Now we fight about who has the better religion.  Which church Jesus REALLY founded.  And, now that we have Jesus as our religious leader, who can and who can't enter the kingdom of heaven? Which church does Jesus want you to attend? And if you go to the wrong church, will someone smite you? or turn you into stone? or condemn you to the firey furnace for all eternity?

A friend of mine is a very devout Catholic and is appalled that people we knew in our youth, at the Newman Center, have left the Catholic church.  We were discussing specific people, one of whom is now a devout Buddhist and one a Unitarian.  My friend was saddened that they had left the church, so I guess my question is — what is the point of the Catholic (or any) church?  Isn't it to help people lead good lives, to help them live in peace and to love their fellow humans, to help them find a spiritual path to God?  If so, isn't being a Buddhist or Unitarian or Muslim or Jew just as good, if that is your spiritual path to God?  Why must it be the Catholic church? And if it must be the Catholic church, what happens to all those other people who aren't Catholics?

I'm reminded of the old joke about some guy getting a tour through Heaven, looking in at the Baptists and seeing what a good time they were having, and then at the Methodists and seeing what a good time they were having, but being requested to tiptoe past a closed door.

"Why?" he asked

"Because those are the Catholics--they think they're the only ones here."

So I wonder about God's creation and whether there might have been a little bug in the system the day he created the creatures of earth, because you can't just say that all this turmoil and enmity between people is a result of the human condition because you see it in the animal kingdom as well.

I think about my sweet little Peanut, who had to be removed from his siblings because he was the smallest, the weakest of the litter, and they wouldn't stop attacking him.  Or Xena, with her severe injuries because she had been attacked for being the runt of the litter.

Just watch Animal Planet and you see it all the time — animals attacking their own because they are the weakest and only the strong survive.  The leader of any pack being driven out in old age because someone younger and stronger has come along to take over. We should be, but apparently often aren't, any better than the wild animals. 

So I wonder about God, if there is one, and what the grand plan is. Why he has put us all on this earth to fight it out, and how do we reconcile all this hatred and division between people with the message his son brought telling us how important it is to love each other.

Like I said, I don't want to be critical of the higher being, but there seems to be a great fallacy in the mixed message we are getting.  And far too many of us are being killed trying to figure it out.


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