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Archive for December, 2008

My Own Private Genesis

I have no quarrel with God. My quarrel is with the person who believes in a virtual hell for no other reason than he fails to exercise his mind when reading the Bible, and then tries to convert me. Perhaps if I had not become a victim and suffered the consequences, the following might never have taken place. … From my Autobiography.

If the human brain, especially from childhood, suffers indoctrination into a two-thousand year-old religious belief concerning the existence of a place of eternal punishment, it is not easily converted into believing otherwise—unless it undergoes an epiphany, a conversion. I had had such an experience.

Other than recalling the event took place while Carl was in Susquehanna County and busy with spring plowing and planting, I can’t remember the actual day I welcomed and invited into the house, two Jehovah Witnesses who knocked on the front door. I can’t remember which one of us brought up the subject of hell, but my visitors repudiated the belief . I “knew” better. There was a hell. The Bible said so. Smiling, one of them held out a tract and asked me to read it, then, mission accomplished, they prepared to take their leave. Determined to prove them in error, I invited them to stop by next time they were in the area.
After shutting the door, I collected the Bible, a pen and a large note pad and made my way to the kitchen table for some serious study. I laid the tract aside and opened the Bible. Already well acquainted with the Gospels, I began reading the letters of the Apostle Paul, reading them more carefully than ever before. Halfway through Hebrews, the question came barreling in: the words, forthright, clear and strong. They came as though from someone standing just behind me and looking over my shoulder. If it’s true, why didn’t Paul preach it? Frightened, I swung about, thinking my visitors had returned and made their way to the kitchen. I was alone. I sat stunned, then elated. I rose from my chair knowing truth had been staring me in the face for years, and I hadn’t the wit to recognize it

No, I did not become a Jehovah Witness.

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A few minutes ago I brought up, as I try to do every day, The Hunger Site. By clicking on the designated area, a certain amount of food is distributed to the hungry chilren of the world by various sponsors of the site. If enough computer users do this every day, it will make a difference to at least a few hungry children. For as long as I can remember various organizations have pleaded with the public to help feed the hungry children of the world. That plea will continue until the “world” does something to insure that every child born is born a wanted child. At this very moment there are thousands of children here in the United States who need a home, love, care and an education. Problem is, they are not only, in many cases unwanted, but no longer babies. I could not but think the question: Where are all those out-spoken anti-abortionists? Why are they not eager to “put their beliefs” to work and adopt those unwanted children? You tell me.

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this blog is still in the editing stage
THE DELUGE, ACCORDING TO:
THE KING JAMES VERSION OF THE BIBLE
Compiled By
Mary A. Gallagher Kaufman
F: = Fact
C: = Comment
Q: = Question
I have brought this study of a world wide flood, as described in Genesis Chapters 6 through 8 of the Bible, to a close with a question. I shall begin the story in the same manner, but first: While a believing member of a fundamental church, sometime during 1948 until probably 1959, I was taught three things concerning the nature of God. God is omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient. God is everywhere, God is all-powerful and God knows all things.
Gen: 6, 6. And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth and grieved him at his heart.
Q: What kind of a god is God who, knowing before he created human beings, that he was going to destroy everything later on, including the unborn within a mother’s womb? Doesn’t say much for the anti-abortionists who bring God into the picture when denying a woman the right to decide for herself whether or not she is prepared to bring a baby into the world.
Gen: 6:19 And of every living creature of every sort of flesh, two each, you will bring into the ark to preserve them alive with you …
Gen: 6:19 of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark.
Gen: 6:21 And take thou unto thee of all food that is eaten, and thou shalt gather it to thee; and it shall be for food for thee and for them.
Q: From where, and in what manner, could Noah have gathered and stored the tons of food needed to feed all those animals and birds for almost a year? From where and how could he have gathered and stored the tremendous quantity of bedding required to keep the animals clean and comfortable? How did he manage to store drinking water for all on board the ark?
Before I ask a question which appears logical to me—what did the carnivores eat during the many months the ark was afloat—I will have to acknowledge the following …
Gen: 1:29,30 Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed …it shall be for meat … wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat …
F: Genesis, 1:29,30 creates an enigma when it come to the authenticity of the story of a world wide flood, and, for me, the Bible itself.
Q: If, just four thousand years ago—and that’s when the flood took place according to the Bible—all animals and birds who entered the ark were created to consume only “green herbs”.
Q: In what way did animals and birds who entered the ark with digestive systems able to subsist on plant life, leave the ark with totallly different digestive systems?
Q: How did the fish that lived in fresh water, survive the sudden mixture of salt from the sea during the flood, and the fish that lived in the sea, survive all that fresh water?
Gen: 6:14 Make thee an ark … of gopher wood … and without of pitch.
Q: How was it possible for Noah and his sons—possibly with the help of a few neighbors—build a structure approximately five hundred feet in length, ninety feet wide, fifty-five feet high and with three floors and do so with nothing much other than gopher wood and pitch? Knowing what they were building and its pupose, would not every man have been busy building his own boat in which to save himself and his farmily from an oncoming flood?
Gen. 6:16 You will make a tso’har (roof or window ) for the ark, and you will complete it to the extent of a cubit up ward, … you will make a lower story, a second story and a third story.
Q: In what manner were the animals on the lower decks supplied with fresh air?
Q: What did Noah and his family use for light on the lower floors of the ark? How could they possibly have stored enough fuel for the crude lamps then in existence, to last them the months the ark was afloat?
Gen: 6:21 And take thou unto thee of all food that is eaten … and it shall be for food for thee, and for them.
F: Animals, birds and reptiles eat and drink. They also urinate and defecate.
Q: In what manner could Noah and his family have rid the ark of the “sea” of urine and the “mountain” of waste those animals, birds and other creatures would have produced over the space of many months, remembering the ark had but one window …Gen: 6:16
Q: How could Noah and his sons have garnered enough food to feed all life on board the ark for all those months?
F: All flesh must have water to survive.
F: Noah could not have depended on the flood waters as a source of drinking water. Salt from the seas and pollution from the rotting flesh of drowned men, women, children, babies, animals, fowls, snakes and reptiles would have made all water on the earth unfit for drinking.
Q: In what could Noah have stored the water necessary for all life on board the ark?
GEN. 8:10,11 And he (Noah) went on waiting still another seven days,…Later on the dove came to him … and look! there was an olive leaf freshly plucked in its bill…
F: All vegetation, with the exception of those with roots able to exist in water die when submerged under water. How did the olive tree, from which the dove picked a fresh leaf, survive all thoe months under water and how did it produce leaves while it was submerged?
C: Never once during my lifetime have I heard the following discussed in Sunday Schools, church sermons, by television evangelists, or in any discussion whatsoever, anywhere.
F: There are caves, right here in America containing delicate, pristine stalactites and stalagmites which took many thousands of years to form and are easily destroyed by so much as a careless touch of the fingers.
Q: Why aren’t these caves filled with mud and debris of all kinds, if a world-wide deluge took place a mere four thousand years ago? Or even if a flood such as that described in the Bible took place fifty thousand years ago?
GEN. 8:16-17 “…Go out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons…Every living creature that is with you…be fruitful and multiply.”
Q: On what did Noah and his family exist until the earth had time to restore itself? The earth would have been a barren wasteland, covered with a thick layer of mud and debris when Noah, his family and the ark’s passengers disembarked. .
Q: On what did the animals, birds and reptiles live until the earth had time to recover itself?
Q: How did animals and flightless birds native to such countries as the Americas, Australia, Japan and isolated islands, find their way back to their native habitats? How did the animals indigenous to the Americas, find their way up to Siberia, over the frozen Siberian Strait, down through Alaska and into their individual native territories in the North and South Americas?
C: There is historical evidence that various civilizations were thriving in places such as India, China, Japan and Egypt long before the flood. There is no historical record that these areas were inundated by a deluge such as that described in the Bible.
C:..Noah and his family were of Semitic stock. The flood, according to the Biblical chronology, occurred just two thousand years before the birth of Christ.
F: Frozen carcasses of mammoths with grass still between the teeth, and with flesh fit to be fed to the dogs, were found in Siberia.
F: There is but one way the flesh of any animal, bird, or reptile can be kept from decomposition and that is by freezing. In the case of a mammoth, super-fast freezing.
F: If the story of a world-wide flood is true, there would have been nothing but scattered bones to be found.

Gen. 7:19,20 And the waters prevailed … Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered.
F: Mount Everest is 29, 028 feet in height.
The following is a question to which I have never been given an intelligent answer.
Q: To where did all that water drain?
F: I believe that the average Christian knows better. This earth was not flooded as described in the Bible. However …
Q: If I can dismiss the first eight chapters in the book of Genesis as not meaning what they actually report, why should I accept, or expect, anything in the bible to be the truth?

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Once again, I believe I used the following poem on my blog, but I have revised it. God’s name, according to the Jewish scriptures, was Yahweh, but never written as such. Acccording to a Jewish publication to which I once subscribed, used G-d when referring to Yahweh. I have no hesitation in believing that there are those who wonder why I’ve become absorbed in my study of the Bible. Anyone who has lived with a mate who has allowed religion to become a detriment to happiness, or has grown up with parents or a parent who has done likewise, will understand my need to get my thoughts and opinions in writing.

IN THE BEGINNING
from The Iconoclast
by, Mary A. Gallagher Kaufman

In the beginning, God created . . .
Before another word is read
from any work believed inspired,
make room inside your head
for a bit of cogitation.
Don’t let your common sense be mired
in someone else’s “ology”.
Tales written many thousand years ago?
Treat them with skeptology.
It should be stated, bold and clear,
any time you choose a book
based on some theology,
it possibly could interfere
with thought and serious meditation.
Let not your thoughts be snared in fabrication.

When facts are intertwined with fable,
pursuers of the truth must be able
to substantiate and differentiate
between ancient legends and reality.
Weed verity from nonsensicality
and trust in your mentality
to bring you safely through the lures
that lie in wait for those receptive to
solidification of the brain.
I maintain it’s an insult to intelligence
to believe some great omnipotence
merely spoke and it was so.
With just His Word, things came to be?
The tale perplexes me.

Faith and credence can’t abide side by side
with wisdom and philosophy.
Legends, fairy tales and myths,
are created for diversion,
for merriment and laughter
but if its truth you’re after
and you take a biblical excursion,
please read with careful scrutiny,
with a certain sense of mutiny, because,
the Bible you believe inspired,
contains upon its pages
legends, lore, that through the ages,
have kept all those of trustful-mind
fast in the church’s fold, and blind
to what extent they are bemired
in dogma’s, harsh hierarchy.

Gods have lived and gods have died
long before I came to be.
Of things I’ve learned, I learned quite well
I absolutely need not fear
some unseen, unknown deity.
Although in heaven I’ll not dwell,
neither have I fear of hell.
We’ve but one chance and only one
to love, to laugh, dance every measure.
For me, I find the greater treasure
is being free to search, explore,
to use my wits and to ignore
tales that bound me here on earth
to thoughts of heaven and rebirth.
Or, in dread that death might see
me facing some eternity
in flaming fire, in pain and woe
and all because—’twas long ago—,
with facts and thinking in escrow,
misguided men said it was so.
But I’ve a brain, I took a look—
I explored, I searched the Book
and on my own, came this conclusion:
I’d been trapped in an illusion.
Call me crazy, call this libel:
“G-d” can’t be found within the Bible.

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Without doubts and questions, we would still be living in the ancient past. Although my study of the Bible is not yet complete, I have decided to use it as a major source of material for my blogsite. Although I have already published the Preface, I feel I must use it before continuing on to Chapter One.
The following thesis 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 the same case can be made in reference to the Christian Bible.
I believe in order to understand the Old Testament, the reader must 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 facts.
I believe in order to understand the New Testament and the character of Jesus and his mission in life, the reader must first understand the concept of the role the Promised Messiah in the lives of the Jewish people.
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 skeptic find out for him/herself as to whether or not Jesus was married during his ministry here on earth.
If what the Rabbi wrote is true, than Jesus must have been married in order for the the apostles and his followers to have, after his death, formed what was to eventually become the Christian church.
Chapter One
THE BOOK OF GENESIS
Verses 1-2-3-4-5 The story of the Creation.
11 God causes vegetation to grow.
14 God creates the sun, moon and stars
Q: How is it that vegetation could sprout and yield seeds without benefit of sunlight?
20 God creates the creatures that live in the sea and fowls that live on land.
24 God creates the creatures who live on land.
27 God creates man . . . in the image of God . . . male and female created he them.
There you have it: so simple a child can easily understand it. 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 the process. I’ve a question concerning verse 27. If both men and women were created in the “image” of God, does not that give me reason for believing God to be as much a female God as a male? Could not that possibly explain what is a sin to so many—homosexuality: might not that verse explain occasional homosexuality in both sexes, that a person is born either heterosexual or homosexual, that he/she has no choice in the matter?
I believe I had been a member of the Mennonite church for at least nine years before I began expressing any doubt concerning anything found in the Bible. I no longer remember exactly in what order I first began to question what my Sunday School teachers was teaching us, but Genesis, chapter I, verse 27 was a likely beginning. I know there came a certain time which I will go into later on when I realized I had not been taught much of anything worthwhile as far as the Bible was concerned, that I’d have to find my own way through it.
J.I. Rodale, in his Synonym Finder, does not liken in any way the word ‘spirit’ to the word, image’. The problem with what I had been been absorbing? If God is a spirit: an all wise, all knowing, all powerful spirit, and we are created in his image, that does not explain the evil that men do. Of course, my Sunday School teacher had a ready answer for that. The fallen angel Satan, recreated by the early Christian fathers into the Christian devil some four thousand years after Adam and Eve were driven from the Garden of Eden, was supposed to have stopped all doubting on my part. After all, Satan, Lucifer, Beelzebub, Prince of Darkness, whatever a believer chooses to call him, has been reigning over an imaginary hell for some two thousand years. Seems easy enough to understand, and, I understood. That is, I understood until I began think, to cogitate, and to ask more questions. I asked him to explain Isaiah Chapter 45, verse 7. I doubt he even knew the verse existed. I’ll bring that verse up at a later time.

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Saturday Evening: 6/08 This has been, in some ways, a troubling day and yet, a good day. Any day one comes to terms with facts and makes a decision regarding those inescapable truths, is a good day. So, today has been a good day. My daughter from Lauderdale arrived the night before to spend the day with me, allowing me, for the first time to talk some things out that have been troubling me for some time. First: If I can do so, I will, somehow, attend the family reunion next summer, but I’m wearing out. It will be my last. Since almost all of the family lives up north, I am absolutely against the idea of having it in Florida.
After the last reunion it seemed to me a good idea if I started to prepare to move to a local retirement home. To insure myself future occupancy, I placed a deposit with the home. A couple of weeks ago my health insurance bill made its appearance in my mailbox, and it’s a baut. It was then an all too painful truth began to set in. I can, as long as nothing disasterous occurs, live quite comfortably right here in my nice little house for the rest of my life. The more I think about all I would have to give up should I sell this house, the more convinced I am I do not want to move. Not even for three good meals a day, housekeeping once a week, linens and bath towels replaced once a week.
Then my daughter and I talked about other things. For instance: my blogsite and in particular my blog, “Blame”. Thoughout the years my children have taught me many things. After all, didn’t I have a geat deal to do with the people they are today? I am thankful my daughter Bette, who left a well thought-out comment on my blog “Blame”, was hardly out of her baby years when my husband’s brother finally consented to selling his half of the farm, thus ending my “hell on earth” but, at a price that was bankrupting us, eventually causing Carl to try farming where he heard it was cheaper to do so. That move cost him more than he ever dreamed: it cost him “me”.
But Bette was right with every word she wrote in her comment. I’m one hell of a happy old woman. Why let anything in the past ruin today? Because I deleted “Blame” and the comments that were added, I am going to reinstate my son Jacques’ comment and put an end to all things negative. That is, except for my studies of the Bible and poems from The Iconoclast. If nothing else, it at least helps to keep the brain cells sharp.
Comment:
Well, I imagine that had to be difficult both for Bj to write and for Mom to read. I can surely relate to Bj’s decision to withdraw from reading Mom’s blog: As a member of this family, the personal matters discussed on this blog are often extremely painful to me, as well. And I never know what to say in response.
I can relate to Mom, too: I lived–consciously aware–through a good deal of that tragedy. And I can only dream of what a wonderful life I might have had if I had only had a father who put his wife and family before the concerns of his brother and of some imagined God. And if I had only had a mother who wasn’t almost completely absorbed with trying survive, for just one more day, the marital disaster that had befallen her. And if only that damn Mennonite Church had never brought living Hell into our home.
I can relate to Bj: What done is done; let’s put it behind us and let’s get on with what life we have left and enjoy it as much as we can.
I can relate to Mom: She is not speaking of some simple pleasures denied about which she still pouts; the damage done to our family–and especially to her–was immense and some of the wounds may never truly heal. I can very much understand the need to discuss this in the open and the benefit from that.
My guess is that family conditions such as ours were not that uncommon for those of us who are older and who experienced, first-hand, a much colder, harder, and less sensitive environment than I believe generally exists today.
No wonder so many people who follow this blog respond so enthusiastically to it.

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