Is the Apocalypse close at hand?

“The beginning of the end, according to Revelation, will be augured by mysterious signs and wonders—a black sun (eclipse this year), and a blood-red moon (we had that this year also), the stars falling to earth (yeah, well we get a meteor shower every October), persecutors and false prophets (always plenty of those around), plague and pestilence and famine (we can count on there being plenty of that somewhere in the world). Then the satanic arch-villain who has come to be called the Antichrist will rise to absolute power on earth.”

This quote (parens are mine) is from A History of the End of the World by Jonathan Kirsch. For over 2,000 years there have been folks who thought the end was near; was, in fact, going to happen in their lifetime. How disappointing it must have been for them to die before it happened, how silly to believe a preacher preaching over 2,000 years ago of the Apocalypse which he thought would happen in his lifetime. There have always been signs and probably always been someone who seemed like an arch-villain, and now, here in my lifetime, there is one.

Trump is not going to make me a believer but whoever cast him in the role should get an Academy Award.

Who Made Satan?

The following is a chapter from the novel A Stone’s Throw, Orvie’s Stories by Mort Mather. A great book: funny and philosophical.

Who Made Satan?

Perry and me are sitting on the bridge by Gabovich’s fishin’. It’s easy ’cause all ya have to do is drop the hook in the water and the current takes it downstream, and then ya just pull on the line every so often to make it more interesting for the fish. I got a cork on my line, which keeps the hook a little off the bottom. Perry’s got a real bobber made outta red-and-white plastic. Whenever the cork or the bobber goes underwater we pull on our line and hope the fish took the hook. Sometimes the cork will just bob a little bit and if you pull you don’t get anything ’cause the fish was just nibbling at the worm and hadn’t got a good bite at it. I’m pretty good at knowing when the fish is just fooling around and when it’s taken the hook.

Perry says that God is good and loves everybody and that he made the earth and everything, so I ask him if he made Hell and he says no, that Satan made Hell. Now, ya see, right off there’s something wrong. If God made everything then he must have made Hell, or he didn’t make everything. Take your pick. So then I think, God didn’t make the brooder house. Dad and I built that, so it’s OK that Satan made Hell, but when I ask Perry if God made Satan he says no again. So we’re back to God didn’t make everything.

Perry explains that Satan and God and some other angels were already around when God created Earth. I ask him what they were doing.

“I don’t know. Like us, I guess, just sittin’ around.”

“What, were they just watching God create Earth, then?”

“I guess.”

“So, then Satan says, ‘I’m going to create Hell,’ or what?”

“Yeah. I think he was jealous because God created this swell universe with animals and stars and people and everything and Satan couldn’t do it so he made Hell.”

“What were the angels doing? Do they ever come to Earth?”

“Sometimes, I think, to give God’s messages and stuff.”

“So they’re messengers?”

“Yeah, pretty much, I think. I think they sing sometimes.”

Perry gets a bite but the fish gets away. He pulls in the line and puts another worm on the hook and just then the same thing happens to me. As I put on a fresh worm I ask him what Satan does.

“Oh, he comes down to earth a lot. He is the one who tempts us to do wrong things because if he can get us to sin and we don’t confess to the priest then Satan gets us and we go to Hell.”

“Does God come down to earth?”

“No. He sent his son Jesus but he never came himself.”

“Why not? Why doesn’t he come down like Satan and tempt us to do the right thing?”

“I don’t know.”

“Seems like it’d be a good plan.”

It starts getting hot, so we go under the bridge to get out of the sun.

Trump for Life

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/politics/wp/2017/09/25/a-trump-judicial-pick-said-transgender-children-are-proof-that-satans-plan-is-working/?utm_term=.aa688e96d563&wpisrc=nl_az_most&wpmk=1

A Trump judicial pick said transgender children are proof that Satan’s plan is working. Thank you, Texas assistant attorney general Jeff Mateer, for providing proof that Satan wrote the Bible.

While I’m at it let me say that I think Trump does not plan to give up the presidency in his lifetime. Yep, you heard it here first, Trump plans to hold on to leadership of the free (ha) world. He hasn’t shown his tax returns, he hasn’t divested himself of his holdings, he does whatever he wants to do. He has said he could commit murder in Times Square and get away with it.

How can he possibly hold on to power in the face of the Constitution? Ask yourself how he can be stopped. Will congress step in? Will the police? Will the military? Will there be riots? Will there be a lot of people with guns killing people who don’t support their president?

Here is an exercise. What if, soon after Trump was elected, it became obvious the election had been rigged by the Russians, so obvious President Obama declared the election results false and that he would remain President until a new election could be held and Congress agreed? Several new laws were passed including allowing a president to hold office for more than 8 years.

Don’t underestimate Trump. He is dividing us, on purpose; he is making violence acceptable, on purpose; he is turning us into a nation of haters, on purpose. The purpose? Divided we fall….into his trap.

Is this all there is?

I used to wonder (and believe I even asked you) if an aging agnostic would eventually ask, “is this all there is?”
The answers to that question could be mind-blowing.

You probably mean atheist and the fact is that most atheists die quite contentedly without ever asking that question. It comes from giving thought to life and belief and faith and knowledge and thinking is a pretty good thing.
I am agnostic however many people, you apparently are among them, who think that agnosticism is a belief or a faith. It is simply the acknowledgement that metaphysical notions are not known. If a genie appeared and offered to give me one wish it would be that everyone in the world become agnostic; there would be agnostic Catholics, agnostic atheists, agnostic Jews, agnostic Muslims, etc. Everyone would retain their belief/faith and they would freely tell others if they wished, spread the word like the Mormons do, but they would understand the difference between belief and knowledge. I like to think that if everyone understood that their belief was not any better or worse than any other belief and that we should be respectful of others’ beliefs the world would be a safer and happier place.

What do I believe? I believe that this life is wonderful. I like to make an analogy that fits well into the Christmas season. I like to think of life as a gift and I know that if I gave someone a gift that was unwrapped and the recipient exclaimed “great gift, Thank you! What else did you get me?” I would think that person was an ingrate. Just in case the analogy escapes you I’ll put it in terms of your belief. God gave you life and you are saying “is this all there is?” I think this life is wonderful and I give thanks for it frequently. I’m not looking forward to something else. If this is it, thank you! If there is more, wow! But my job in this life is to live it fully, to use the gift well and with appreciation.

Trump is not the problem

Trump is the personification of the problem, he is the trickle of water on the face of the dam and, as Orvie in A Stone’s Throw said: “You can’t stop a leak on the downstream side. That’s where you see the water coming through, but no matter how much stuff you push into that hole and how hard you push it in the water is gonna get through. Ya gotta find the upstream side of the hole, but it’s not just on the other side of where the water’s comin’ through.”

The problem is not Fox “news” and other right wing commentators either because the United States is not alone in accepting nationalistic hate mongering leaders. I don’t know where the leak in the dam is but unless we find it, we won’t be able to fix the problem without reliving the 1930s.

From the Quran?

How do you feel about this quote? “If you reject my commands and abhor my laws you will eat the flesh of your own sons and the flesh of your own daughters.”

Wow, that’s harsh. It’s no wonder that people who get that kind of religious teaching could become radicalized. Can you imagine a religion that says people’s hands should be cut off?

http://kos.salsalabs.com/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=WovCxmndOvadFMsQ1M8E9oHPTdeUuOHQ

Check out this link. It is in German; I found it easier to read the subtitles with the sound off.

Tom Robbins reread

I recently picked up Skinny Legs and All by Tom Robbins and couldn’t put it down. I may go back and reread his other books soon; so many laughs and such good thoughts like:

Of course, as long as there were willing followers, there would be exploitive leaders. And there would be willing followers until humanity reached that philosophical plateau where it recognized that its great mission in life had nothing to do with any struggle between classes, races, nations, or ideologies, but was, rather, a personal quest to enlarge the soul, liberate the spirit, and light up the brain. On that quest, politics was simply a roadblock of stentorian baboons.

 

Some Good in the Bible

While four of the Ten Commandments are bull shit and nothing a loving god would command there are some good things in the Bible. Leviticus 19:18, “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.” That is from a god I could support. Jesus takes that up a notch in Matthew 6:44 “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you…” What a guy!
The Bible should not be taken literally as it is mostly myth and what is not myth was passed down by word of mouth for generations before being written and the written word was copied by many different hands over and over. In that process embellishment has certainly occurred and some changes were made simply as an expedient of the time such as the date of the birth of Jesus. However, it is a mistake to throw out the good with the bad or to try to make the bad good because of the truisms. Those who believe in God should use their God-given mind to sort out the gems from the junk. Those who don’t believe in God can use their mind without the need of a creator.

The Ten Commandments clarified

Can you really respect a God that dished out the Ten Commandments? Would you respect a boss who laid down such commandments? How about if the leader of your country acted like God.

You got a new job; it was the only job available so you really had no choice and your boss is laying down the law

1. I am the boss. I am your only boss. You shall have no other boss than me, ever.
2. Don’t even think about another boss or another job. I am a jealous son of a bitch and if I ever catch one of you even thinking about leaving here you will regret it. Not only will I make your life miserable but I will make your family’s life miserable, even your grandchildren’s lives.
3. It’s OK for me to call myself a SOB but you better not call me anything but Mr. Boss and Sir and it better sound sincere—no snide remarks behind my back either because I can see and hear everything that goes on not only here at work but even in your homes.
4. I built this factory in six days, believe it or not. A little joke there. You don’t really have a choice. You must believe it. I found it a good thing to rest on the seventh day and what is good for me is good for you. You, too, shall do no work on the seventh day but rather you must spend the day thinking about me. You will have to fast on the seventh day because I forbid you from letting anyone else work either. Perhaps, you could eat any food that was lying around, you know, just so you don’t work or cause anyone else to work and as long as you are thinking of me. Maybe you could, like, pick up an apple and look at it and say, “oh, beloved boss of mine thank you for giving me a wonderful job so that I can have this day to love and respect you and thank you for allowing me to eat this apple.”
5. This may be a little difficult to follow because I am the supreme boss who you must honor but you should also honor your father and mother, just not as much as you honor me. They aren’t supreme bosses like I am but they are there when I’m not so I kind of relinquish some power to them, because, you know, I can’t be everywhere all the time. But don’t forget that my spy-cams are everywhere.
6. You are not allowed to kill another worker. That’s a no-brainer. Once you start working for me, you are mine and nobody, but nobody, takes anything that is mine. It’s good for you too since everybody else is also forbidden to kill (There will be some exceptions when I will tell you to kill people. More on that later.)
7. Don’t fuck anybody but your own spouse. I told you that I was jealous so it’s only natural that some of that trait might wear off on others. Anyway adultery is just not a good thing. It’s not good for company moral.
8. No stealing. Hey, would you want someone to steal from you? OK? So don’t steal.
9. Don’t say false things about your neighbor.
10. Do not covet anybody else’s house, ditto anybody else’s wife, or his servants or his SUV.
Got it? Any questions?

Yes, Sir. What does covet mean?

It means want, desire, get a hard-on for.

Oh. Sir, are the covet things listed in order of importance? I mean, is it more important not to covet his house than his wife? And if I can’t even desire my neighbor’s wife, isn’t the adultery thing redundant?

OK, time to get back to work.

Oh, oh, Mr. Boss. Are we allowed to lie?

Read number 9.

But that just says don’t spread untrue rumors about people.

It means don’t lie.

But why didn’t you…

Oh, I forgot number 11. No questions. Actually I didn’t forget because I’m infallible. I was just teasing you.

If you are religious and you question your religious leader about the Ten Commandment and press for answers beyond the point where the only answer is “it’s a leap of faith”, your religious leader may invoke the eleventh commandment.

Run this same exercise for the leader of a country rather than the leader of a business and you may find yourself describing Moamer Kadhafi, Saddam Hussein. or Kim Jong-Il.
The Ten Commandments do not describe a loving or a lovable God. But, hey, you better accept them as God’s word or He will make you suffer for eternity which, as I understand it, is a long time.

Are We Headed for Another Inquisition?

In the mid fifties Will Durant wrote in Volume VI of The Story of Civilization “We are today so uncertain and diverse in our opinions as to the origin and destiny of the world and man that we have ceased, in most countries, to punish people for differing from us in their religious beliefs….Until the middle of the seventeenth century Christians, Jews, and Muslims were more acutely concerned with religion than we are today; their theologies were their most prized and confident possessions; and they looked upon those who rejected these creeds as attacking the foundations of social order and the very significance of human life.” Mr. Durant is contrasting Europe before the Reformation with America in the fifties. This paragraph begins a chapter titled The Methods of the Inquisition. He writes of the 1400s and 1500s, “Each group was hardened by certainty into intolerance, and branded the others as infidels.”
I wonder if he would find such a contrast today. It seems to me a frightening number of us are “hardened by certainty into intolerance.”