The issue of public prayer at secular events has been fussed over many times. The Supreme Court is going to hear Town of Greece v. Galloway soon. It deals with whether, or not, Greece NY should open town meetings with a prayer.
Once, a man saw his child get excited when there was a prayer on TV. The kid said that the prayer meant the cartoons would start soon. There was a religious program, before the cartoons. The prayer was at the end of the show, meaning the cartoons were about to start.
That is about what prayers before a public event are worth. Prayer is reduced to a meaningless gesture, when used in this manner. This does not speak well for the custom of prayer.
One superhero is reported to feel the same way. “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
Pictures are from Gwinnett County.
It was a gloomy sunday morning, and there was nothing good to say. Rather than not saying anything at all, PG decided to go into his archives. This post is from May of 2007. It is about responsible behavior, and a religion that does not encourage it. This might be hypocritical, but no one forced you to read it. Part two is another rerun. It is written in first person. The pictures, from “The Special Collections and Archives,Georgia State University Library”, need text between them.
It all started when a girl went to a back room with a former boyfriend. Her current bf stormed out of the party, and flipped his car when it went off the road. Being a star quarterback did not prevent the fatal consequences. The local radio whiner had a few things to say. Since alcohol was a suspected factor, the question became, “how do we teach teenagers to drink responsibly?”
PG is a retired drunk, and has a few dozen opinions on this issue. His wandering mind settled on a related subject…Jesus. G-d’s love baby is similar to alcohol. Both are legal, both have potential for good and ill, and neither works for PG. The thought occurred “How do we teach Teenagers to Worship Jesus Responsibly?” Now, this may be the first time those two concepts have been paired like that…Jesus and Responsibility…but it should not be the last.
A central concept in the world of Jesus Worship is the avoidance of responsibility…”Jesus paid the price for my sins on the cross”. While you may feel better to think you are forgiven, that does not help the person who was hurt by your actions. If star the quarterback had run into someone, G-d might forgive him, but this does not help with the medical bills.
Today’s seminar is about the Worshiping Responsibly. It is about having respect for your neighbors who do not agree with you, and do not want to hear about your “salvation”. It is about not creating ill will for Jesus with obnoxious behavior in his name. It is about not dragging Jesus into your personal quarrels, using his name in anger to hurt your neighbor. It is about Responsibility. Your actions have consequences, and just because you are doing it for Jesus does not eliminate that reality.
There are two big reasons why PG is not a Jesus Worshiper. The first one is, he simply doesn’t agree with the teachings. The Bible is not the word of G-d, Jesus was killed because he was a troublemaker. The death, and reputed resurrection, of Jesus has nothing to do with what happens to people when they die. If you don’t agree with the dogma regarding life after death, the Jesus worship church has little to offer you. Christianity is more a scheme for life after death than a religion.
The Second reason is the sorry behavior of Jesus Worshipers. This prevents PG from having a cosmetic, social oriented membership in a church. He does not want to pretend to worship a spirit which causes him misery.
Responsibility is not valued in the Jesus Worship community. Respect for non believers is seen as a sign of weakness. And, while not all Jesus Worshipers are fanatics, many admire and support the loudmouths who give their faith a bad name.
When it comes to belief, moderation is not valued. Fanaticism is admired. There is little responsibility taken. It is just the Jesus talking.
Christopher Isherwood once said, in a magazine interview, that the doctrine of a religion is not as important as the person who tells you that doctrine. (If anyone can find this quote on the internet, please leave a comment with a link.) It is a common belief that religions are about beliefs, but many find that it is the person who draws you into the community. A corollary of this is when you have a bad experience with a person who represents a religion. This person can drive you far away from wanting to have any participation in a religion. The idea that G-d would send a person to hell because he knew an offensive Jesus worshiper is tough to believe.
So much for world affairs. It is time to tell a story, with no moral and no redeeming social value.
In 1980, I was staying at a place called the Sea Haven Hostel, affectionately known as Sleaze Haven. This was in Seattle WA, as far as you can get from Atlanta, and still be in the lower 48. I was working through Manpower, and staying in a semi private room for $68 a month.
There was a Christian group that met in the basement on Sunday Night. Now, as some of you may know, I am a recovering baptist, who hasn’t been to church since 1971. However, the lure of a free meal was hard to resist, so I went to a few meetings.
One night, after doing quality control work on the local beer supply,I cheerfully joined in the discussion. This was the night when I realized that the Bible is not the Word of G-d, a concept that has been very handy in dealing with the clumsy efforts of our Jesus-mad culture to convert me.
They seemed to like me, though, and welcomed me back. Maybe it was the southern accent.
One Sunday, after the dinner was finished , it was time to have a prayer to begin the meeting. I raised my hand.Now, Jesus Worshipers enjoy prayer as entertainment. When they bow their heads, you see them stretching and deep breathing, in anticipation of a good, lengthy, message to G-d.
My message was a bit of a disappointment. Instead of a long winded lecture about Jesus and the magic book, I said what was on my mind. Lord, thank you for letting us be here today.
Number five on the yahoo home page news items is “David Bowie Controversy”. The old boi has some product for sale, and it must not be moving fast enough. The video has some religious imagery, including a scantily glad lady with a gushing stigmata. In the end, there is a tableau, with Ziggy ascending into the ceiling. The bathrobe he wears is more appropriate for a senior citizen than his thin white duke getup.
When PG was in high school, he took Spanish. The teacher was a fundamentalist Catholic named Mrs. DiPaola. Religion and politics were more fun than verbs and nouns, and she was easy to distract. One day she was talking about an uncle of hers, a truly righteous man. When he died, these bloody spots appeared on his hands. It was the stigmata, the wounds of Jesus.
When the Romans put someone on a cross, the spike went through the wrists. There is a space between bones, and the giant nail went through without breaking one. If the nail was in the hand, the weight of the body would tear it off. The Romans were pros. Pictures today are from “The Special Collections and Archives,Georgia State University Library”.
There is a graphic on facebook, with a message that PG agrees with. Seek, and yea shall find. (Pun not intended.) Not only does it have a good message, but the source is easy to find. Learning the context, of the message, can shine a light on dingy corners. G-d is in the details.
Without further ado, here is the message: Each of us bears a responsibility to reject hate, whatever its form, whatever its justification. A soul filled with hate can devastate a community. A nation filled with hate can devastate a people. It must start and end with each of us. George Takei
The comment is part of a blog post written August 7, 2012. It was in response to the attack on a Sikh temple in Wisconsin. Mr. Takei says that Sikhs are confused for Moslems, leading to incidents like this.
This is highly ironic. The Sikh people originated in India. Some say that Sikhs are Hindus, and others say they are not. Some say that Sikhism is a warrior branch of Hinduism, created to fight Islam. These differences can be very confusing to outsiders.
Sikh is pronounced seek, like hide and seek. Sikh is not pronounced sick, as in ill. How you say a name affects your thoughts. Pictures today are from The Library of Congress.
Today is the National Day of Prayer. This is a repost.
Pictures are from “The Special Collections and Archives,Georgia State University Library”.
Good Morning G-d. Please give me the slack I need to make it through this busy life. I have a birthday today, and am getting older. Please give me less pain, both above and below the neck. Thank you for letting me get this far. Thank you for the gift of sobriety, and the memory of inebrience. The gift of moderation would have been appreciated. Help me to overcome body chemistry telling me to be unhappy. If this doesn’t work, help me hide it better.
Please tell the Jesus Worshipers to shut up. They make too much noise. Help me to forgive them. Give Jesus Worshipers a bit more humility. Help Jesus Worshipers to get over their confusion, and quit hating gay people. Let people know that G-d does not write books. Let men know that A REAL MAN KEEPS CONTROL OF HIS TEMPER. Please tell the proud people praying today that it is better to listen than to talk, and that louder does not mean more true.
Please find a happy medium for Atlanta water. Let us have neither drought nor flood. It would help if the developers would move to North Carolina, and the politicians would grow a conscience.
G-d, please try to get along better with Allah. This is important. Maybe if you and her got along better, then all those religious crazies would hate each other less. Help white people and black people get along better. Please be good to the people who have already lived, and are now deceased. Please understand that I am not in a hurry to join them.
Help Mr. Obama with the mess this country is in. Help Israel get along with her neighbors, and live within her borders. Help the world solve the carbon dioxide problem.
Thank you for the birds that sing. Thank you for dogs, and dog owners who clean up. Thank you for earth, air, fire, and water. Thank you for the people who enjoy this prayer. Help those who are offended to get over it. Namaste, amen, all my relations, Good Bye.
In honor of the National Day of Prayer, Chamblee54 presents a rerun featuring a story by Mark Twain. The pictures are from Gwinnett County.
Over a hundred years ago, the United States was involved in a war that did not want to end. This conflict was in the Philippines. Although there had been an official end to the war, guerrillas continued to fight the Americans. The war was a nasty affair, with many atrocities.
The War against the Philippine people was a souvenir of the Spanish American War. There had been a rebellion against Spanish rule in the islands. After the American forces routed the Spanish, the rebellion shifted to the American occupiers. It was a war stumbled into, and difficult to end.
Mark Twain was horrified. He wrote a story, The War Prayer. As Lew Rockwell tells the tale
“Twain wrote The War Prayer during the US war on the Philippines. It was submitted for publication, but on March 22, 1905, Harper’s Bazaar rejected it as “not quite suited to a woman’s magazine.” Eight days later, Twain wrote to his friend Dan Beard, to whom he had read the story, “I don’t think the prayer will be published in my time. None but the dead are permitted to tell the truth.” Because he had an exclusive contract with Harper & Brothers, Mark Twain could not publish “The War Prayer” elsewhere and it remained unpublished until 1923.”
HT to David Crosby and his autobiography, “Since Then“. A book report is forthcoming.
Getting back to “A War Prayer“, the story starts in a church. A war has started, and is popular. The troops leave for glory the next day. The preacher has an emotional prayer to send them on their way. Unknown to the minister, there is a visitor. “An aged stranger entered and moved with slow and noiseless step up the main aisle, his eyes fixed upon the minister, his long body clothed in a robe that reached to his feet, his head bare, his white hair descending in a frothy cataract to his shoulders, his seamy face unnaturally pale, pale even to ghastliness. With all eyes following him and wondering, he made his silent way; without pausing, he ascended to the preacher’s side and stood there, waiting.
With shut lids the preacher, unconscious of his presence, continued his moving prayer, and at last finished it with the words, uttered in fervent appeal,” Bless our arms, grant us the victory, O Lord our God, Father and Protector of our land and flag!”
The stranger motioned to the preacher to step aside. The stranger stepped into the pulpit, and claimed to have a message for the worshipers, sent directly from G-d. The preacher’s message was for support in time of war, and implied that G-d and the preacher support the same side in this conflict. There is an unspoken part to the prayer. This unspoken part was what the stranger was going to put into words.
“”O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle – be Thou near them! With them, in spirit, we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe. O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with their little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it- for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet! We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen.“
The Golden Rule, or the ethic of reciprocity, is found in the scriptures of nearly every religion. It is often regarded as the most concise and general principle of ethics. It is a condensation in one principle of all longer lists of ordinances such as the Decalogue. Pictures are from The Library of Congress.
You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Leviticus 19.18
Whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them. Matthew 7.12
Not one of you is a believer until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.
Forty Hadith of an-Nawawi 13
A man should wander about treating all creatures as he himself would be treated. Sutrakritanga 1.11.33
Try your best to treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself, and you will find that this is the shortest way to benevolence. Mencius VII.A.4
One should not behave towards others in a way which is disagreeable to oneself. This is the essence of morality. All other activities are due to selfish desire. Mahabharata, Anusasana Parva 113.8
Tsekung asked, “Is there one word that can serve as a principle of conduct for life?” Confucius replied, “It is the word shu–reciprocity: Do not do to others what you do not want them to do to you.”
Comparing oneself to others in such terms as “Just as I am so are they, just as they are so am I,” he should neither kill nor cause others to kill. Sutta Nipata 705
A certain heathen came to Shammai and said to him, “Make me a proselyte, on condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot.” Thereupon he repulsed him with the rod which was in his hand. When he went to Hillel, he said to him, “What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor: that is the whole Torah; all the rest of it is commentary; go and learn.” Talmud, Shabbat 31a
“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.” Matthew 22.36-40
There was a tasteful graphic on facebook. In a surprising twist, it was credited to “author unknown”. Apparently, this poem stands on it’s own merits, without having a famous name at the end.
I was hungry and you formed a humanities club and discussed my hunger.
Iwas imprisoned and you crept off quietly to your chapel and prayed for my release.
I was naked and in your mind you debated the morality of my appearance.
I was sick and you knelt and thanked God for your health.
I was homeless and you preached to me of the spiritual shelter of the love of God.
I was lonely and you left me alone to pray for me.
You seem so holy, so close to God.
I’m still hungry and lonely and cold.
PG copied the first few words, and asked Mr. Google to find a text copy. The first result listed was from the much coveted domain Bible.org. The commentary begins with an amazing quote. “Many Christians have allowed their knowledge of the truth to outdistance their practice.”
The Jesus worship church does not lack self confidence. It is built on belief. Part of the belief process is convincing yourself that what you believe is, in fact, what is really going on. This is called truth. In the case of beedotoh, truth is what the magic book says. The concept of doing something is not as important as what you believe. To an outsider, it is a strange custom.
Gene Robinson, a professional Jesus worshiper, said recently. “If you base your sense of success as an activist on results, you’ll burn out quickly. But if speaking your truth is enough, you can go forever.” If you shake your head too much, it might fall off your shoulders.
Most people are not activists. It may sound like a cool thing to do, but many are content to live lives of kindness. Which leads to speaking the truth. If your idea of the truth is outside the community orthodoxy, you might find yourself an outsider. Is your wonderful integrity going to keep you company on saturday night? Sometimes it is best to be careful how you express your “truth”. The pictures are borrowed from Gwinnett County.
The last two weeks have seen the trifecta monday post describing an after dinner ecstasy, involving a deck of cards. Trifecta works in units of three. One more post is required. The trilogy troll will not triumph. Curley and Larry will find Moe.
The cards marked jokeroker were removed from the deck before the event. This deck had two jokers. One joker had a note. Guarantee If there is any defect in this pack we shall be glad to replace it. Return it unused to The United States Playing Card Company Cincinnati, Ohio 45212
The jokers had a drawing of an unsmiling king. He was riding a bicycle, with six spades on his shoulders. The king was riding by a stone, with the number 808 engraved. 808 is the telephone area code for Hawaii, and is a police code for disturbing the peace. One of the first synthetic drum machines is the Roland TR-808. These three digits are formed by sandwiching a zero between two manifestations of two cubed. The eight is also the infinity sign, stood on one side.
Poker rhymes with joker, but the game doesn’t use it. The fool of the tarot deck is said to be the inspiration for the joker. If so, then this is the only representative of the major arcana in standard playing cards. The character in the Batman shows is probably not inspired by the playing card. Pictures are from “The Special Collections and Archives,Georgia State University Library”. They have nothing to do with the subject of discussion.
The third sunday in april is the start of the warm weather festival season. When PG called Uzi, at twelve noon on the dot, the only question was which festival to go to. Both Candler park and Piedmont park are notorious parking disasters. Uzi speculated that they should go earlier, rather than later, and PG agreed.
Since PG had not bathed since friday, a shower was in order. The idea of showering before going to hang with hippies is a bit esoteric, but this is PG we are talking about. While waiting for the hot water to reach his back, a cosmic thought plowed through his head.
There are two questions that many people face these days. Are you a racist? Do you believe in G-d? These questions are very similar. Both are nobody else’s business. Both concepts are dependent on the definition of key terms. Whereas the concept of G-d seems to be shrinking, the boundaries of racism grow larger every day. PG has long questioned whether belief is the proper venue for knowing G-d. Maybe having a yes/no opinion on racism is similar. Being honest is a dangerous business.
So Uzi arrives at PG’s place at one pm, exactly one hour later. It was no surprise when the side street by the park had no parking, and you had to go three streets west to find a place. There is a entrance gate to the festival, with wristbands enabling beer consumption on sale. PG asked for a non drinker discount, which is tough to facilitate with free admission.
The 420 festival is set up different in 2013. The main stage has moved a hundred yards south. There is a VIP area in front of the stage, with an admission charge. The concept of a VIP area in Candler Park is …. WRONG. It should be noted that few people paid the VIP surcharge.
There was something called the Silent Disco. People were wearing headphones, and dancing to the canned music. Some of the people seemed to be having fun, so it must be ok.
A proposal was made to go by Piedmont Park, and see what the parking looked like. Just driving down Piedmont Avenue in front of the park was a gridlock nightmare. At three pm, it was too early to go for dinner. Ordinarily, this would be the time for getting started. Some things you have to try once, just so you will know not to do it again.
About a year ago, Chamblee54 published Jesus and Mr. Gandhi. 1805 words were devoted to a reputed quote from Mohandas Gandhi. The subject is worth revisiting, but with fewer words. There is something about religion that opens the verbal floodgates. This is a problem for people who do not agree, or share your passion for the subject.
The quote is “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” It is regarded as suspect. Mr. Gandhi gave many speeches, and spoke to the press many times. There is a massive archive of his words. If the quote about Christ and Christians, is real, then there is probably a source.
In the 1800 word piece, a bigtime Christian writer denounces the quote. Apparently, this man assumes the quote is real. The concept is that Mr. Gandhi does not “know” the “real Christ”.
The writer gets his information about Jesus from the Bible. The reputed words of Jesus were said in Aramaic. They were quoted, after his death, by scribes who never met Jesus. The New Testament was written in Greek. These texts were copied by hand, and compiled into a canon for the Catholic church. This canon was translated into contemporary languages. This version of the Jesus story is regarded as the verbatim, inerrant truth.
Christianity is a religion based on beliefs, rather than practices. The believer accepts, without questioning, an ancient text as the source of these beliefs. Evidently, this willingness to accept hearsay as truth extends to bumper stickers.
Another problem is using the word “Christ”. This was an honorific title, and not the name of Jesus. (Some say that the name was closer to Joshua. It was probably an Aramaic name that we would find difficult to pronounce.) There are many people who say that Jesus might not be the Christ.The two names are not synonymous, nor is Christ the last name of Jesus.
Who/what was the real Jesus? The light skinned Jesus of velvet paintings looks little like the real thing. Even critics of the church, who like to talk about what “Jesus really taught”, are relying on the product of a Catholic committee. The truth is, we don’t know very much about the historic Jesus. We fill in the blanks to suit whatever the current agenda is. What you think about Jesus says more about you than it does about Jesus.
PG has been forced to have an opinion about Jesus. This has often been painful, with selfish people forcing their loud, vulgar thoughts on everyone present. There were two forces known as Jesus. One was the historic figure, whose life was partially recorded in the bible.
The second Jesus was a spirit, living in the hearts of those who believe in him. The present day spirit Jesus has little in common with the historic Jesus, other than the name. The best way to know Jesus is through the words and deeds of his believers.
Getting back to the writer … This Jesus, the Jesus of the Bible, would have rebuked Gandhi as he rebuked the Jewish leaders of his day, the people who led people walking behind them on the road to hell. Like them, he was convinced of his own goodness, his own worthiness. There are two good reasons to stop using this quote: Gandhi liked only the Christ of his own making and he believed that he was worthy of the favor of this Christ. On both accounts he was wrong; dead wrong.
Pictures are courtesy of Gwinnett County.
Like many people, PG only heard the name Kermit Gosnell yesterday. There was a link on facebook to a feature in The Atlantic, Why Dr. Kermit Gosnell’s Trial Should Be a Front-Page Story. The link had a blurb about the article. “The dead babies. The exploited women. The racism.”
For those just coming in, Dr. Kermit Gosnell ran a shady abortion clinic. The allegations include murdering viable babies with scissors. It is a gruesome, horrific story. The feature in the Atlantic does a much better job than this slack blogger. Dr. Gosnell is currently on trial as a result of his activities.
This was the first, of many, eyerolling moments. PG looked through the feature, and finally found the racism angle. It seems like PWOC women got to sit in better waiting rooms than POC women. Why this is mentioned in the same breath as cutting baby spinal cords is a mystery. In an ironic touch, it seems as though Dr. Gosnell is black.
PG made a facebook comment, which received a quick reply. This comment was made before knowing about Dr. Gosnell’s ethnicity. “This is a nasty story. However, the way The Atlantic is “racializing” the story does not help. Note how the eighth word of the blurb is racism. You have to dig down in the story for an explanation. Maybe the blurb writers think that racism is a magic word, that will get the story more attention.” ~ “Look up Margaret Sanger the founder of Planned Parenthood and you may see why this could be construed to be racist. Eugenics at the core of the organization.”
The arguments about Planned Parenthood have been around for years. The anti abortion crowd loves to throw mud, and has a bucket waiting at all times. There is a anti abortion twittergasm going on as we speak. And speak, and speak, and speak.
The simple truth is that criminalizing abortion would not prevent the horrors of Dr. Gosnell. His late term abortions are already illegal. Overturning Roe vs. Wade would not prevent horrors like this, and just might make them more common.
Many women do not want to have a baby. They are going to abort the pregnancy, whether you like it or not. Making political power noise about abortion is not going to stop them. All that noise does is create a toxic atmosphere, which just might help create a future Gosnell clinic.
What can be done? PG is just a slack blogger, and does not pretend to know how to stop abortion. He is horrified by the death of babies, just as is he disgusted with the toxic rhetoric of anti abortion bullies. The hysteria about abortion is one reason many people are reluctant to discuss the issue. Yelling at people will not save babies, even if it does make you feel good about yourself. It is not about saving babies, it is about having a big emotional experience to justify privilege.
Much chattering about this story regards the lack of attention in the corporate media. There are a lot of stories competing for attention, and there is not room for all. The article in The Atlantic was written by Conor Friedersdorf. If you follow the link, you see a list of things he has written lately. Three of the last nine stories are about drone warfare. This is where the United States sends unmanned aircraft into countries eight time zones away, and kills women and children. If you try, you can make that story just as disgusting as Dr. Gosnell. You can even say it is racist.
Pictures are from “The Special Collections and Archives,Georgia State University Library”.