Whose God is It Anyway?

Whose God is It Anyway?

Faith: Find yours or don’t, but for God’s sake and mine, let others do the same.  Part 2 0f 2

 

In case you haven’t met, let me introduce you to the God I’ve come to know* and love.  You might recognize Him/Her or He/She might just resemble your God (presuming you know One, of course).  That resemblance would be natural.  Your God and mine are probably related.

*Legally, my “knowledge” of God is subject to change at any time, for any reason, and without prior notice.  Any resemblance of my God to anyone else’s is unintentional and purely coincidental.

My God is not a jealous God.

My God knows that those who believe in God desperately want to know His/Her plans and His/Her will so we can take a shot at living in the manner He/She wants us to live.   But God doesn’t work that way. If there was a book that perfectly defined how God wants us to live, it would be helpful. But to be perfect, such a book would need to be written in God’s hand, not a human hand. The only such writing I can think of (though my theological education is admittedly woefully inadequate) may have been made on the tablets that Moses brought down from the mountain. Those rules, while often broken, have stood the test of time very well. But the writings of people, no matter how inspired by God they may be, have to be flawed, simply because all humans are flawed.

What we inherited from our ancestors are texts written by people, many of whom may have been inspired as holy messengers. Accordingly, each text likely carries a degree of spiritual wisdom, but all are nonetheless imperfect. The contradictions that exist within, for example, the Bible, can only be attributable to the fact that many human authors were contributors, and their memories or interpretations of The Word were more-or-less good, but not perfect. It they were perfect, there would be no contradictions in the Bible. Likewise there would be an easily recognizable correlation among The Koran, the Bible, The Torah, The Kojiki, the Four Texts of Confucius, The Tripitaka and other all sacred texts, except for the fact that they were nearly all written by men (there’s an inherent bias right there) to define a monotheistic or polytheistic God’s Will in the world.

If the inspired men who authored and compiled the Holy Scriptures were not flawed, all religions would share the perfect vision and there could be no such thing as religious disagreement, let alone religious wars.

I seriously doubt that God ever intended women to be denied the opportunity participate fully in the development of our world’s religions. Men certainly don’t have an exclusive proclivity on spirituality, intelligence, perceptivity, reason, or any other key theological components.  But God’s rulebooks were overwhelmingly composed by the males of the species, and were terribly flawed by that chauvinism alone. Imagine how much more theologically advanced our species would be today, if the perspectives and wisdom of women, fully half of humankind, had not been excluded from their rightful positions in the mix from the beginning. The religious hurdles we face today might have already been cleared long ago if women had their equal place at the table.

God does not want any of us to feel threatened by anyone else’s interpretation of God. Neither should we be threatening to those whose faith is not aligned with ours. No human can ever fathom and understand all that God is. We are only just now taking our first little forays outside of our solar system, which is in itself a tiny and insignificant portion of God’s universe.  We are all blind as we describe the elephant in the room using our imperceptions to prove our imperfections from where we stand in the room. Our descriptions need not be the same to still be correctly attributable to the same God (or pachyderm). God is not apt to require anyone to blindly and fully accept any religion’s narrow definition of God and faith. I lose no favor from my God from my inescapable inability to fully know and define God.

Rather, if anything, I think God wants us to look for elements of the True Way in any venue, idea or religion. Likewise, God gives us license to disregard (not, however, to destroy) any idea or practice that one’s self perceives as contrary to the foundations of love of God. My self perceives that we should welcome (not merely tolerate) one another’s differences.

It is ironic that people are self-compelled by fear of the unknown to feel they are completely and unquestionably right in their faith, while God knows none of us is even remotely able to be so.

It is tragic when people so desperately need to believe that they are completely right in their faith, that it becomes their duty to destroy all believe otherwise.  Might is not right.

My God is an inclusive God.

I believe that the self, the soul/spirit that is in every one from birth, is a fully included particulate of God on earth temporarily residing in a biological vessel. Further I believe it’s nearly certain that other particulates of God inhabit other vessels, not only on earth but in other realms in the universe. As we are all particulates of God, no one is worthless, nor is any one inherently more valuable than others. If all are included, there are no “chosen.”

My God is not a vengeful God.

As God is not vengeful, God needs or wants no agents of vengeance. (Vengeance is mine say the Lord.)  My God grieves when people are persecuted, are made to suffer, and are wounded (physically, emotionally and soulfully) or die in war. God grieves all the more when wars are perpetrated in God’s name. “Holy War” is the ultimate oxymoron. Those who perpetuate deadly Holy conflicts are proxy-morons. God neither condones nor punishes them, but forgives them.

My God is a generous God.

For a long time I drove around with a bumper sticker on my car that read “Grace Happens.” It was a play-on-words about Grace Church, where I was a member of the most wonderful, spirit-filled congregation I have ever known. Grace Church was happening. But the broader and simpler statement, Grace Happens is also true.

I deepely believe in God’s Grace, the no-strings-attached gifts that God presents to us from time to time regardless of how undeserving we may be. God’s Grace is bewildering because it is completely unrelated to our worthiness. God’s Grace is not a reward reserved only for the righteous; neither is misfortune a punishment just for the sinful. There is no fairness or unfairness involved in God’s Love or God’s Grace. Each is simply and magnificently a gift freely given. The apparent randomness of Grace is mystifying.

My God is a forgiving God.

I believe that God’s generous love freely forgives and informs how we should comport ourselves as well. I need to be forgiven, and need to forgive. The comfort and peace that so unexpectedly comes when one forgives is surprisingly as strong as, or greater than, that felt by the forgiven.

My God is a patient God.

I believe that God waits patiently for me to learn and accept what God wants of me. The surest sign that I am doing as God intended is an enlightenment of my spirit.

My God is a loving God.

God motivates through love, not fear. God does not want us “obliged” but “inspired” to love one another, to worship, and to do no harm. To be obliged is to follow “the rules;” to be inspired is to be infused with “the Spirit”. The fearsome God portrayed in the Bible (especially the Old Testament) and in other religious scripture, appears intent on defining duties as the price of admission into God’s Kingdom. I believe that God’s power lies in love, not in duress.

 My God is an eternal God.

Achieving a favorable eternal existence ought to be a crucial concern in the lives of those who believe in an eternal soul. Life presents opportunity and danger to the soul. We, being particulates of God, are eternal. Nourishment of one’s soul in a lifetime is the opportunity. The damage one does to one’s soul is the danger. After a life, a soul (the essential you) will carry the soul-nurtured nourishment and the self-inflicted damage of that lifetime forever. An earthly human lifespan is an infinitesimal moment in eternity. That makes what we take with us infinitely more crucial. That’s why I love watching Ebeneezer Scrooge when he finally figures that out.

My God is a pained God,

especially when we kill one another, and even more so when we kill in God’s name.

Faith: Find yours or don’t, but for God’s sake and mine, let others to do the same. – Part 1 0f 2

Faith: Find yours or don’t, but for God’s sake and mine, let others to do the same. – Part 1 0f 2

“Organized religion preaches Order and Love but spawns Chaos and Fury. Why?”, Kerry Thornley (1938-1998)

 

My Definitions

Faith – Strong belief in something or someone based on experiences.

Blind Faith –Strong belief in something or someone, despite any and all evidence to the contrary. (Not necessarily less valuable than experience based faith, just different.)

Religion – A series of strong beliefs in a defined system of faith in a deity or deities

Tolerance – The simple recognition that as humans we always have been and are prone to error, including those inspired to write “Holy “books. This is why matters of faith differ. Accordingly, all should  be allowed to believe as we each see fit and give others that same respect.

Creed – A statement of faith beliefs – “I believe in…”

My Take What You Want and Leave the Rest Creed

For your consideration, these are my strong beliefs, blind and otherwise:

Do I believe that God, the Creator, exists? Yes, I do. I can find no other plausible reason for the elegance of the world and the universe in which I live. I can conceive of no other explanation for the creation and evolution of life on earth. I can think of no other answer to the origin of the source of my conscious self that has no single physical presence in my body. If we who have life in this world and all who came before us, from us, and will come after us are but a random chain of accidents, we must be the most unlikely and phenomenal of coincidences. And this most unlikely accident cannot account for that self that is conscious in me.

Do I believe myself to be a spiritual as well as physical being? Yes, I do. My “self” is more than a biological mechanism. Absent a spiritual aspect of being, how could a biological being be “self”-aware? What possible combination of chemicals inside me has random chance combined to concoct the resonances of Love, Justice, Liberty and other ideals? If I were not a spiritual, self-aware being, how would I differ from an asteroid floating aimlessly in space, or a ping-pong ball randomly bouncing in a bingo machine? As a living being with the freedom to choose, if not to determine my future, to influence it, I am able to see and create options and assign relative values to them. From whence, other than the self, would those values come? If an asteroid collided with earth, and no self-aware being existed, so what?

Oh yes, I believe in a maker – an architect – an initiator – a being enormously great and completely perfect – perfection being in full accordance with the workings and intent of Creation. I am even willing to hope that my ‘self,’ my spirit, my soul, may actually be a minute but not totally insignificant particulate in this greater being, God. I thereby can also believe that death may not be an ending, but a re-joining with, or a re-positioning in, that colossal universal being. And I believe that through the self, my soul, my spirit, I can communicate with God and with my fellow participant souls in God, through prayer, meditation, and the sheer thoughts of love and concern.

As importantly, however, I am as certain as certainty allows that neither I, nor any other being that had life on this planet, has the wherewithal to contrive or postulate a system of beliefs that accurately and totally defines universal perfection – “the True Way.”   No religion, no prophet, no seer or saint that has walked this earth has had an even partial understanding of any more than a miniscule fraction of “the Universal True Way.”

“How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, ‘This is better than we thought!?’ Instead they say, ‘No, no, no! My god is a little god, and I want him to stay that way.’ A religion, old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the Universe as revealed by modern science might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths.”

Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space

The power and security of the idea of the True Way is alluring and many have succumbed to the Siren songs of power and security by professing to know the True Way. But no one has ever even conceived of the full extent of the essential questions concerning the True Way that need to be asked before one can begin to understand the answers.

Absolute righteousness – being in complete and pure accordance with all that is the True Way – is impossible for beings such as ourselves because we are but tiny participants unable to completely imagine, let alone comprehend, the universe. Nonetheless, fearing the unknown, we are driven to believe that we can and do know all, so we have established and propagated thousands of religions, each of which professes to be the one True Way to God’s perfection. Each religion’s true believers are God’s “chosen.”

While it is axiomatic that there is only one True Way, it is also a mathematical certainty that none of man’s existing religions is absolutely righteous, i.e., really comprehends the one, complete and perfect version of the True Way. It is pathetic and tragic when one doctrine’s believers must either convert or exterminate that which does not ascribe to their woefully incomplete definition of the one and True Way.

Epilogue

Epilogue

Just My Luck You’ve been one of my readers

Well, that’s about it for this initial solo performance by Blowin’ My Own Horn.  Front to back I have shared every segment of every chapter of my manuscript, Just My Luck. 

If you hung in there and read all 45,000 or so words (roughly the equivalent of a +/-200 page book), I thank you profusely for your generous attention.  If you chose to read selected parts that you felt might interest you, I applaud you for your discretion and hope you found your selections worthwhile.  If you gave up in disgust after a while, you’re probably not reading this, so I really don’t care.

I know that a lot of this writing was very, very personal – too personal in a few places (pointed out by Doris) that I amended after their initial postings.  It had to be personal to validate why I learned what I’ve learned.  I’ve been happy to share that with you.  If it was helpful to you in any way, finding out you are not alone in some of your own situations or views, or giving you food for thought, or giving you a dartboard at which to unleash your frustrations at idiocy, I’m happy.

Reiterating a notion from the Introduction, what I learned from the experiences that I was lucky to survive  grew from my own, unique “core me” perspective and rationale.  I would be stunned if any two people on this planet shared identical “core me” perspectives, even identical twins.  So what is of value to you may differ a tiny bit or a whole lot from what is of value to me.  I invited you to take what you want and leave the rest.   I hope you found some value in the work.

Now a Plea

I would like to bring my manuscript to the attention of some literary agents who might find it worthy of representing to publishers.  In a bold faced plea for your help, only if you think this book might interest others, please send me an e-mail or an attachment or whatever that I might include in a testimonial package supporting Just My Luck.  Please also indicate rogers quoteif you would prefer not to have your note, letter or whatever, made available on the Internet for prospective agents or publishers to access.  I hope you will help stuff my inbox at jash1221@gmail.com.

Thanks for stopping by my blog.  I have more to write and post including how my efforts to publish Just My Luck may fare.  So stay tuned.

Many thanks for now,

Jim

Death, Taxes & Politicians’ Friggin’omics -Part 2

Death, Taxes & Politicians’ Friggin’omics -Part 2

Just My Luck – Chapter 14 – Part 2 – Evil’s Root

Politics is the gentle art of getting votes from the poor and campaign funds from the rich, by promising to protect each from the other.Oscar Ameringer~Oscar Ameringer~

Greed

Ralph Waldo Emerson, the wise 19th Century observer of the human condition, once wrote, “The love of money is the root of all evil.” 

 

RWEmerson1859
R. O. Emerson

Today, many who quote Emerson do him a disservice when they truncate the sentence to “Money is the root of all evil.”   Emerson was fully aware that money is not evil any more than a rock or a car, or a feather is evil. It is an implement, but not an implementer.

A thrown rock may convey evil, a car purposely driven into another car may be used for evil, and a feather…well maybe a feather used to unmercifully tickle can be a tool of evil, but there always must be a human involved before any object can be used to serve an evil intent.

Obviously, ‘’the love of money” is greed, pure and simple.

Greed is a disease, a particularly nasty disease.  It can infect anyone, but is especially virulent when it attaches itself to the rich.   A wealthy person has more opportunity to feed greed than your everyday miser. This makes them quite susceptible to this malady. But it is not my intention to suggest or imply in any way that all who are wealthy, or even a majority of the wealthy, are necessarily greedy.  My only point here is that those among the wealthy who are greedy can be highly dangerous.

Greed attacks the soul; it infects the very essence of the person with the disease.  The putrid environment of a greedy soul can easily infect others, and those who are not infected can nonetheless be sickened in its presence.

That is why it is best to weaken and isolate the carriers as much as possible and to be very wary of these sinister people.

This isn’t news.  Greed is not a new phenomenon that has only just infected the human condition.  It was one of the maladies in ancient Greek Mythology that escaped from Pandora’s box.  Mankind has been dealing with the disease for centuries looking for ways to purge it from our midst.

So far this only happens in fiction. Charles Dickens’s wonderful main character, Ebenezer Scrooge, in his morality story,  A Christmas Carol, is the epitome of Greed who is transformed, redeemed, safely around the corner (cured) by a merry band of ghosts: Jacob Marley, Christmas Past, Christmas Present (not gift, but now), and Christmas Future (the latter greatly resembles my old friend the Grim Reaper).

xmas 2 come
Might this be Ebenezer’s Last Christmas Eve?

Opening on Christmas Eve, the story is not subtle, but it incorporates so much in so little. Scrooge is a greedy and evil financier (sound familiar?), he exploits debtors and his lone employee (who is the most admirable, patient, and put-upon foil possible).  Scrooge is self-estranged from his family and his world is nearly microscopic – counting house, eatery, home and back.  His home is shabby chic before it was popular and he is the most miserly, miserable miscreant in the solar system.

Lesson: greedy people are their own worst enemies.

Like I said, subtle.

(I wonder, are the bogus mortgage securities bankers with summer homes in the Hamptons down at the mouth when a stiff breeze fills the sails on their yachts?)

Intervention and Redemption – Oh That It Were True

Scrooge is visited (assaulted actually) by spirits (souls) hell-bent on his redemption.  Jacob Marley, Scrooge’s partner who conveniently died on Christmas Eve seven years earlier, stops by for a chat and gives Ebenezer an eye-ful of what’s in store for him if he doesn’t soon change his evil greedy ways.  To drive down the point, Marley arranges for three other spirits to gang haunt Ebenezer. (None of these spirits were once human, though two look like humans, but all are related to Christmas times.)  They replay his checkered past, show him the effects of his current curmudgeonly persona, and scare him to death about his future, literally.  Oh so subtle.

The net effect of his long Christmas Eve: Scrooge survives to live another day, is a new man, a generous man, a friend to all, is a pillar of generosity, finds his family values, gives his beleagured minimum wage clark a raise and is beyond happy.  Add in Tiny Tim, a cripple little boy who now may walk again, and this ending is over the top!

Sno-cones and cookies for all.   Such a wonderful story.  !   I do truly love it, but:

Soooooo fictional.

For many years I have been enamored by Alistar Sim’s portrayal of Scrooge in the 1950’s movie of the same name. There have been numerous cinematic and made-for-TV versions of this story, including a musical, cartoons and one modern adaptation starring Bill Murray. A host of fine actors besides Mr. Sim and Mr. Murray have undertaken the role on screen scroogesincluding George C. Scott, Jim Carey, Patrick Stewart, Reginald Owen, Albert Finney, Michael Cain (with a supporting cast of  Muppets), Frederick March, Mr. Magoo, Fred Flintstone, and Scrooge McDuck (Uncle of Donald Duck, not to be confused with Donald the Trump).  With the exception of Fred Flintstone’s performance I think I have seen them all. 

The litmus test for my ratings of them is the joy that overwhelms Ebenezer Scrooge when he realizes he wants to, and still has time to, amend his evil ways before Christmas Future comes a’callin, agin.   The energy and exuberance of the transformation in Alistar Sim’s portrayal puts a broad smile on my face every time.  I make a point of watching it at least once, often more, each Christmas season and (ask my wife, it’s true) once each summer – usually in August.happy scrooge

Reaching back to some of my earlier posts, it touches my soul to see that albeit fictional transformation from a pure evil to a magnificent benevolence.  I have been moved by it since before I was a teenager and will probably think of it, if there’s time, when I meet the Grim Reaper for the last time.

Michael Douglas’s nefarious character, Gordon Gekko, in the movie Wall Street, has rgekkoeplaced Ebenezer as the poster child of the disease.  His oft quoted line, “Greed…is good”  is classic.  It is only from the inverted perspective of evil, that those words could be uttered.

Unlike Ebenezer, when Gordon hits hard times his stripes don’t change.  You can knock the greedy down, but you can’t cure them. The best we can do is contain them.  Isn’t that right Mr. Madoff?

Use It Well

The purpose of money is to represent value and facilitate the exchange of goods and services.  It can only be put to good or bad purposes by people. Despite all kinds of manifestations that complicate money: credit, debt, insurance, interest, dividends, derivatives, credit swaps, etc., etc., at its core money is basically a fine invention and necessary tool in any civilized society.

The ways people use money is what counts.

Closely related to greed, hoarding is another disease.

Hoarders
Items Rendered Useless

“Reality” television displays instance after instance of people who are obsessed and possessed by their possessions.  Unable to relinquish ownership of anything, their homes become dense tall indoor forests of haphazard and useless stuff stored in all the rooms of their houses, leaving only narrow pathways traversing through.  By hoarding their items, blenders that no longer blend, newpapers whose stories are no longer news, clothing that no one wears, toys that no children play with, the hoarders remove all intrinsic value in the items and thereby convert them to coveted junk.

Some people hoard only money and the same thing happens there.  Once in a while a news story will describe a seemingly poor, destitute person who dies leaving his or her astounded heirs millions of dollars that had been squirrelled away in hiding places in departed’s former home.  That lonely soul was never financially wealthy, he or she was simply a hoarder of the paper and metal physical representations of money.

The point is, money that is not circulated has no value until and unless it is returned to circulation.

wheredidthemoneygo
Money at Work

Another way of stating this is money that does no work (facilitating the exchange of good and services) has no real societal value.  The money hoarder’s home stuffed with paper and metal is just a big piggy bank; its contents only become currency again the moment the coins and paper monies are released from captivity and are transacted.

The rich (the top 10% most wealthy who are stewards of 50% of the wealth in the USA) hoard money, only differently.  True, most spend lots of money, invest lots of money, and donate lots of money to benevolent causes.  What they spend and donate goes back into circulation.  They are mostly kind hearted, generous people, many of whom earned their wealth themselves.  Many are passively making money while actively giving goodly portions of their wealth where it will do the most good for humankind.

The money the rich invest to continually maintain and grow their fortunes, remains under their sole care, custody, control and benefit.  The often quite considerable monies dedicated solely to the preservation of wealth can benefit only a microscopic portion of humanity.  They do not typically circulate to nourish others as “consumer spending, the life blood of the economy.”  These investments come home every night under the roofs of the rich who already have exponentially more than they could ever spend.

Those who have no need for more money but eagerly work to amass more anyway have fallen in love with hoarding-money bedmoney.  The buying power they remove from circulation might as well be in walls, in mattresses, or under beds and floorboards like the possessions of other hoarders.

Meanwhile consumer spending that circulates the nourishing lifeblood of the economy among fellow citizens, operates without the participation of significant portion of 50% of the nation’s wealth.

Let’s be clear here, consumer spending is a process of give and take – presumably an even exchange of value for value.  Investment is a win/lose risk proposition whose sole objective is to take and whose only consequences are win, lose or draw.

Under many roofs of the 10% and others who aspire to that lofty height, the primary financial goal is “wealth preservation,” not survival, not relief from hard work, not small pleasures, not the joy of giving.  These may all be objectives as well, but not the primary purpose of the fortune.  Preserve your wealth so that the major achievement of your wealth is that you can leave it to your gene pool, who will leave it to theirs, etc. etc.

I wonder, “Why is that?  What purpose does the handing down of immense kinetic spending ability serve?”

Don’t be a moron,” you reply.  “Everybody knows Money is Power.”

Yes it is, yes, it certainly is.  Just look at our money-bloated friend in Las Vegas.

Risk & Reward

Venture capital looks to grow capital by taking calculated risks in funding the growth and development of someone’s idea to create something new, or better, or cheaper, or modified to increase value.  A successful venture that adds new or improved or less costly products or outlets betters the flow of spending in the economy.  In a well proportioned economy, that’s great.

But what are the expectations of the Venture Capitalist?  What is a hedge fund’s objective?  Profit, certainly.  Nothing wrong with that except when it violates the common sense principles of ENOUGH.

When a financier seeks a 50 to 1 return on his/her investment, the investment itself becomes ridiculously disproportionate and thereby toxic to the economy. When returns of 10 to 1 are considered failures, someone is dangerously in love with money and their greedy expectations infect our entire society.

I Repeat

The lifeblood of the economy is consumer spending.  The wider money is distributed among people, the greater can be the demand for goods and services.  Self serving greed that hoards money and curtails consumer spending undermines our economy.

Greed is Economic Public Enemy #1.

End of story.

 

©2016 James Ash