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Archive for September, 2008

Nothing In Particular

I’m not “down”, but neither am I “up”. Everything is as it should be. My studio is delightfully cool, overhead fan on medium speed, coffee cup within easy reach, Scamp, sprawled belly-down on the floor beside me, Penny stretched out on the cot in one corner of the room while Musette has chosen the top of the large oak dining table— which has always served as my work bench—on which to nap. My little world appears to be in order, which allows various thoughts to creep in and around my brain. I’ll start with . . .

Up until a few months ago, I had what I thought of as a “bit of family” living to the back of my house. MaeLynn, about thirteen, knew she could depend on me to come up with an occasional egg or two, the necessary sugar or whatever else she needed to finish out a receipe, but she never came over to visit, but why should she? Although I had my problems with the two younger children, Heidi, just turned nine, was beginning to show what I choose to call progress when all friendship between her parents and I came to an abrupt halt. I miss her but not that brat of a younger brother.

 Our freindship may have come to an end anyway because I had just come to the decision that, for my own sake, I must forbid Nicholas to come in my home unless there was another adult present. Though but seven or eight years old, he is already an accomplished liar. He has proven that all too often.  I’m not going to go into the details, but he gave me good cause to worry. He already knows how to take revenge on someone he doesn’t like, and he did not like the restrictions I demanded of him. One lie from his little pea brain and I’d be in serious trouble, but back to the “finale”. I miss Heidi, however. Although not her fault, Heidi caused the rift between her parents and me.

Briefly: Last New Year’s Day, Heidi showed up at the annual Picnic In The Park for the residents of Harbor View/Arton Lane Streets. While there, Heidi, got her hands sticky. One of my neighbors took Heidi into her house  so she might wash her hands. Heidi, who has never been taught any rules whatsoever—such as never touching a strange dog—must have frightened the dog when she bent to pet him and he bit her on the lip. I did not see the children for the rest of the week, the following week Heidi came over to my house. I saw a cut on one of her fingers, washed her hands, put some Neosporin on the injury and a clean bandage. I did not see so much as a scar on her lip. About a week later I found out her mother, and possibly the father, had sued the owner of the dog for fifty thousand dollars! I did not hear anything more so thought the matter was dropped. It wasn’t, the amount reduced to twenty-five thousand. I can’t be friends with people like that.

This past Wednesday I had my left eye “lased”. The previous week I had the right eye treated. While waiting, a patient, who had also been there the week before, now sat to my left. I started up a conversation. I think I asked her if she had noticed a difference in her sight since the week before. She then asked me a question, “Do you go to church?” I haven’t kept track of the number of times I’ve been asked that,  but it has happened a few times over the last several years and the question still leaves me puzzled. I listening to her go on and on about how God cured her of cancer, then agreed that a person’s faith, not necessarialy faith in God,  does have healing power. I then proceeded to ask her some questions. The time between my first question and the appearance of the Ophthalmologist was anything but dull. I’m not lonely but what I’d give for an intelligent conversation now and then. For instance, I’d like to ask a few republicans what they thought of the possibility that, should McCain be elected President McCain, we could have, if somthing happens to Mccain, a president who believes in witchcraft, witches and warlocks? Shades of Salem! Sarah Palin has no worries about herself however. She has been sufficiently prayed over, “dehexed” and protected against witchcraft by, can’t come up with the name right now, but her pastor saw to it that one witch was run out of one Alaskan town  We may yet see a few witches and warlocks hanged for the crime of witchcraft before this charade we call “civilization” blows itself off the face of the earh.

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My Friend and Me

     I may have used this as an early blog, but having nothing new for today, I decided to freshen it up a bit and to use it. Next time, I promise, something new.  

My Friend and Me

Mary A. Gallagher Kaufman

I have this friend, not really a buddy-buddy type of friend, not the kind of a friend with whom I feel I can share my most intimate secrets, but we get along well enough. We don’t get together often but when we do, we enjoy each other’s company. During those occasions, I try my best to steer the conversation to subjects on which we have agreement. It isn’t easy. She believes in reincarnation, spirits, communion with the dead, angels and in God who, she believes, guides every aspect of her life. I believe in none of it.

Our friendship is based on this: we both believe in kindness to others, love, generosity and forgiveness__not only of ourselves but of those who, intentionally or otherwise, hurt us. We both believe in lending a helping hand to others for as long as we are able-bodied. We also have this interest in common, writing. However, a problem exists. Our interest in writing does not allow for meaningful communication. She is interested in the supernatural, both in her life and in others with whom she comes in contact. My interest lies in poetry, essays, short stories, my autobiography and in the study of religion; mainly the Christian faith that has its roots firmly planted in the entire Mediterranean area.

Our friendship began when she asked me to help her with a book she was writing. However, I found myself imposing on her, the rules I demand of myself: above all, be logical. Because I find no logic in believing in something that cannot be explained—except by believing in the supernatural—and “just simply ‘knowing’ or having ‘feeelings’—is certainly not logical, I came to the conclusion I was of no help to her. From there on, my one and only goal has been to encourage her to keep writing, and to look for a publisher interested in spiritual matters. If authors such as the two who wrote the book Left Behind, became successful in their field of “expertise”, any would-be writer of the supernatural can make it to the “Top Ten”. That, I believe.

In spite of knowing my dislike for stories, poems and little messages meant to drive home spiritual lessons, there are those who continue to send me emails designed to convince me of the error of my thinking. There is something devilish in my makeup that causes me to respond to those who believe God to be the one and only pathway to peace and happiness. They can’t understand how I can be anything but miserable.

The first words to greet my eyes when I opened an e-mail one morning was from a friend from Pennsylvania. Can You Read This Without Weeping? were the first words to greet me. Below the title was the story of a taxicab driver and his kindness to an old woman.

I sent the sender the following: Nice to hear from you and, as usual, I can’t help commenting on such stories as the one you sent. Yes, I agree__the taxicab driver who, instead of leaning on the horn to announce his arrival at the old woman’s apartment building, a complex inhabited mostly by the indigent elderly, was most kind and thoughtful when he went to her door instead. He showed his concern by carrying her luggage out to the cab, but why you assume it was God’s prompting is beyond my understanding. The building was, after all, situated in a seedy section of the city, often times unsafe-for-the-able-bodied, let alone the aged. If only all old women were as fortunate as the one in the story! She apparently had never known what it was like to be poverty stricken. Before leaving the apartment, she had neatly boxed all things she could not take with her and for which she no longer had need. She had covered the upholstered furniture with sheets, even though she knew she was not returning. It was to be her last journey, a ride provided by the hospice where she would be lovingly cared for, kept out of pain and where she would die in a clean bed. Again, I agree: It was a kindness few taxicab drivers could afford when he, without hope of recovering the expenses involved, drove her about the city as she recalled one happy memory after another; proof to me she had memories worth treasuring.

Do you think that without God guiding him, the driver would have leaned on the horn when arriving at the old woman’s apartment, waited impatiently for her to make her way to the cab and, as quickly as possible, unburdened himself of a garrulous old woman? Without God telling him to, would it have been impossible for the cab driver to make an old woman’s last chance to renew more happier times, a reality? Without God’s prompting him, would the cab driver have taken his passenger straight to her destination, a hospice where hopelessly ill people go to die?

Without God’s prompting, do you believe it is impossible for anyone to do a good deed for no other reason than it’s “the right thing to do”?

No, I did not feel tears rising to the surface when I finished the story. Every morning I bring in the paper, settle myself in my comfortable lounge chair, air-conditioner turned to a comfortable eighty two, or three degrees, the overhead fan turned on and a cup of Splenda-sweetened, dairy-free, cream laced coffee within easy reach. I oftentimes wish I had the good sense to stick to Dear Abby, Your Health columns, the daily cartoons and the Editorial/Opinion pages. Before leaving my chair, the crossword puzzles, as well as the daily Jumble, are clipped and ready for future entertainment. It’s a rare morning I rise from my chair to face the day without thinking I’d be happier for not having read such items as the following …

Mount Holly, NJ A couple has been charged with beating their infant son to death, then burning his corpse in their fireplace, officials said Friday. … Investigators think the couple killed their son when he was seven to eight months old. …

That is the kind of a story to bring tears to my eyes.

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Small Treasures

I wonder why I find it such a satisfaction to know that I own something that few others own: in this case a small book entitled “To Every Thing A Season“, written by Joyce Sequichie Hifler.  

I can’t for the life of me, figure out why I was in any way curious about the author, or if or not I had a fairly rare book in my possession, but ‘I’ve just come from spending a good hour on the Internet searching for another copy. Amazon, and only Amazon, appears to have the only two other books in existence, both used. One priced at $19.99 and the other at $29.93.

I have no idea where I purchased the small volume or from whom. I’m fairly certain it was not a gift because it lacks any such proof on its inside cover. I have an idea the few, full-page, simple but meticulously drawn pen and ink illustrations encouraged me to add it to my library, as well as the words, ‘I grieve so for little things‘ to be found on page 50. Ah, I must have thought to myself, a kindred soul with whom I wish to commune. Other than a notation I left on page 42 which reads, when hurting’—mental hurting—’there are no such things as little hurts, I must not have communed any further than page 50, and I think I know why. Perhaps when I came to page 50, and just before six words that first caught my eye, The silver flagon of life that is full to overflowing goes to the person who has the ability to see God in every situation . . . I was completely turned off.

If “God” had not entered my life sometime during 1948, I might have been a far happier wife and mother than I  proved to be over the following years. If “God” had remained the non-entity he had been in my life up until 1948, I might not now have the memories that keep popping up, memories I wish to hell weren’t here in my head.  I might have finished reading the book, but I had already accidentally opened the book to page 82 and found . . . If we can allow our unhappy memories to be peacefully forgotten they will never create a problem . . . blah, blah, blah. I closed the book and did not open it until this morning. I am, one by one, finding new homes for those books I know I can’t take with me if and when I move to a nearby retirement home. Of course, knowing that the little volume in my possession is almost irreplaceable, I have daughters who might like to share its ownership. Really, its a book I can reccomend as “uplifting”, even if I haven’t read it all, and don’t intend to. 

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Not Too Early

Although we have, beginning tomorrow, 99 days to awake to another Christmas Day, it is not too early for those who send out an annual Christmas letter in lieu of purchased cards to think on its content. As a rule, I much prefer letters to cards. No matter how small the handwriting, one can say just so much on the back of a card. To those who intend to send me a Christmas letter, tell me what’s going on in your life. Tell me something about what you did during the year, bring me up to date on your family and, if you traveled, rather then tell me how many countries you managed to visit in the space of a week or two, or how many ports your luxury liner pulled into, fill me in on some memorable and exciting experience. Describe what you saw and what you felt so that I might share the occasion, if only in my imagination. Above all, do not use the Christmas Season as an opportunity to “save my soul” from something I know does not exist, which leads me to . . . 

 A RESPONSE TO SENDERS OF CHRISTMAS CARDS

CONTAINING THE VERSE, JOHN 3:16

 

MARY A. GALLAGHER KAUFMAN   
During the 1998 Solstice Season, I received a Christmas letter with the words, ARE YOU DREAMING ABOUT SOMETHING printed in bold lettering at the top of an original, computer-composed, gospel-oriented, scripture-quoting Christmas Letter. Under the message, an angel hovered over a town trumpeting “Good Tidings”. The Good Tidings? John 3:16.
Are You Dreaming About Something, is a thought-producing question. I am willing to discuss dreams with anyone who wishes to discuss the subject: daytime dreams, moralizing dreams, naughty dreams, frightening dreams, fulfilled or unfulfilled dreams. I’ve had a few of such dreams myself. On the other hand, gospel messages intended to show me the error of my atheism, whether they be factory-printed, computer-typed or handwritten, are not welcomed by me at any time of the year and definitely not at Christmas time. I do not send out greeting cards advertising my atheism and belittling Christianity. I celebrate the twenty-fifth of December with a joyful heart: I like Christmas trees, Christmas music, the glitter, the lights, the festivities, the gaiety that goes with the season, and I like receiving cards during the Solstice Season containing messages from friends I rarely see during the year. However …

The Biblical scripture, John 3:16, prominently displayed below the figure of the angel blowing a trumpet on the afore-mentioned Christmas letter, was not, in my opinion, sending out “good news”. The message testifying to the belief of its sender that the majority of human beings, born since the creation of Adam and Eve, are going to go to an eternal damnation is not, to my way of thinking, an appropriate Christmas theme. John 3:16 is as far from a heavenly message of love and great joy to all mankind as a Red American rose is from a skunkcabbage. The scripture quoted gives me cause to question the proselytizing many Christians practice every Christmas Season. Sometimes, I’d like to do a little proselytizing of my own.

To the dear friend who sent me the Christmas letter with its heavenly angel trumpeting out the “good news”, I’d like to send this…

Yes, Dear Friend, I have dreams. I dream of the day when people of all religions and all races will put into practice at least some of the teaching the architects of those religions have preached down through the centuries. Each and every founder of every recognized religion throughout the world, in one way or another, taught The Golden Rule. It might come as a surprise to some to realize that Jesus did not coin the teaching . . . Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.

I wonder if Christians who find comfort in the scripture, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believeth on him shall not perish,” ever stops to think of the horror behind the teaching? Exactly what is the scripture telling the reader? Why is it part and parcel of the “Good News” that is printed and sent out at what is supposed to be the most joyous time of the year? I realize that to fundamental Christians it means but one thing, everlasting joy in heaven—and I never argue the point—but what about the words, should not perish?

Those three words mean just one thing to the fundamental believer: the preponderance of mankind is going to spend eternity in hell! I do not believe John 3:16 to be an appropriate Christmas message, but then I do not believe God created a lake of fire, popularly known as hell, in which he plans to eternally barbecue the majority of his human creation. Translators, not understanding the numerous idioms to be found in the Aramaic language, idioms that Jesus would have had to have used—he certainly did not believe in the Christian hell—were badly mistranslated. It is as simple as that. Those mistranslations have been handed down from one misinformed generation after another until here we are . . . two thousand years into the lie!

Christmas “One And All” letters sent out in lieu of cards are a wonderful way of keeping family and friends updated on one’s activities throughout the year and I’d like to see more of them. I love the season for what it is: a chance to bring the family together, in thought if not in actual contact. Christmas is a time to remember friends and let them know they have not been forgotten; that they are still cherished and loved. If Christians wish to believe that Jesus was born on the 25th of December, its as good as any other date, but they should not take the day for an opportunity to further the Christian gospel, especially with a passage like John 3:16. Am I being unduly harsh? Perhaps so, but I’ve come to the conclusion I should feel just as free to express my lack of faith as others feel free to persuade me to their’s. For some reason I can’t figure out, it doesn’t seem to work that way. At any rate . . .

Let angels blow their trumpets and let the really, really “Good News” go out over the face of the earth—Heaven may await the Christian believer—and I never argue the point, but there is no damnation in some fiery lake of fire waiting the “unsaved”! Now, that’s really good news.  

How do I know:? The Bible Tells Me So!

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Just musing

THE BOOK OF GENESIS

Chapter 1

Verse 27: God creates man . . . in the image of God . . . male and female created he them. When a teenager, I questioned my Sunday School teacher about the verse. It means we are created with the spirit of God within us, she replied, and I dropped the subject. However, I outgrew my childhood and though I admit I was well into my late thirties before I began to develop the ability to think for myself, I have not yet ceased to do so.

Although I have dealt with Genesis, Chapter 1, verses 1 through 31in my study of the Bible, I’ve chosen verse 27 for today’s blog. I’ve a question: If both men and women were created in the “image” of God, does not that leave the impression that God is as much female as male? Could not that possibly explain a problem as old as the beginning of the “animal who thinks”, and that’s homosexuality. Could  that verse possibly explain homosexual behavior in both sexes? God—in both men and women—at war with him or herself? Sure sounds reasonable enough to me.

Wouldn’t you know it? Of all the essays I’ve written and have safely on floppies, the one on homosexuality I was hoping to add to this blog, is gone, as in really, really gone. The moderator of the Creative Writer’s Group of which I was once a member, must have been impressed by its content because she asked if she might have a copy to give to a young homosexual she knew. I probably gave her my one and only copy, thinking I had the original safely tucked away on a floppy. If I did, it could have been on one of the two or three floppies my newly acquired scamp of a Scamp chewed up when I conveniently left my computer chair too close to my work table. And that should teach me not to leave my floppies scattered about. 

     I think by now I’ve made my position clear enough on the subject of homosexuals and lesbians. Whatever goes on behind closed doors of consenting adults is none of my business, or anybody else’s business. I believe this: It takes more than just sexual organs to determine what goes on inside the human brain. I think Genesis, Chapter One, Verse twenty-seven more or less justifies my position. If I’m wrong, and i well might be, whatever happened to the scripture: Vengence is mine, saith the Lord.

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THE BOOK OF GENESIS

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A Bit Backwards

   

 

 

 

 

 

I should have used the following before publishing my study on Adam, Eve and Cain’s wife. I believe I used this earlier on my blog but I’ve worked on it since.

Foreward

The Bible, From My Point Of View, was first intended as a response to the Jehovah Witnesses who come to my door, convinced if I but listen for a few minutes to the message they bring and read the pamphlets they leave that I will, in time, become a convert to their particular faith. I will grant them this: they understand the concept of hell to have been nothing more myth and superstition, that it was never a plan conceived by an angry God to punish wayward mankind. However, I believe an average intelligent person—I like to think I fall into that category—can discover the truth without becoming a Jehovah Witness.

Fundamental Christians have no trouble believing the Bible—mainly the King James Version—to be the indisputable Word Of God and written under inspiration from God. Fundamental Christians believe, or are supposed to believe, that all religious writings, other than their own, are based on nothing more than culture, legend, myth, lore and superstition.

I believe in order to understand the Old Testament, the reader must first discard all preconceived notions and ideas taught as literal truth and read the various books as he would any other book written when myth, lore and superstition served in place of proveable facts.

I believe the Old Testament, though containing some wisdom worth heeding, is a book filled with ghastly laws written by men as cruel, as savage, as primitive and as ignorant as their Philistine neighbors. I believe the Old Testament is filled with horrible events God did not cause to happen, and predicts even more terrible events he never will cause to happen. I believe that if mankind succeeds in annihilating himself, God will have had nothing to do with the process.

I believe in order to understand the New Testament and to understand the character of Jesus and his mission in life, the reader must first understand the concept of the role the Promised Messiah was to play in the lives of the Jewish people, if and when he made his appearance.

In response to my question I sent to a Rabbi S. concerning whether or not the Jewish Messiah was to remain unmarried and celibate in order to fulfill the requirements of the role, I received the following: Since the Moshiach—Messiah—is a human being who is claiming the Kingdom and throne of his ancestor King David and is obligated to obey the 613 commandments listed in the Torah, to be celibate would violate the commandment to be fruitful and multiply. So, not only is the “Messiah” free to marry, but would have to have at least one child to satisfy the commandment.

Since I cannot divulge Rabbi “S’s” full name without his consent, I suggest the sceptic find out for himself as to whether or not Jesus was married during his ministry here on earth.

 

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