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Archive for March, 2009

Adjusting

About noon today, a compassionate veterinarian first gave Penny an injection which caused her to lose consciousness, then injected the lethal dose into a vein causing a sleep from which she would never awake. Now, with tears shed, I’m adjusting to her absence here in the studio. For many years I’ve been accustomed to seeing her beautiful full-colored calico body stretched out on a cot along one wall or, sometimes, alert and staring out the window. Poor, half-wild and frightened kitten that I adopted and brought home with me, a Penny that never fully acclamated herself to living with human beings—with the exception of myself—made my bedroom closet and this one room her world. I was her “God” and I trust, she found me to be a “good God”.

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Many years ago I ceased to feel the anger and resentment I once held against fundamental Christianity. I’ve also forgiven those who convinced my husband that he needed to be “saved” and become a member of a local super-conservative church. It won’t do for only one of us to be a X******, were the only words I recall uttering when he first told me he was joining the church. I have only myself to blame for meekly following him into a church that I am positive I would never have chosen on my own. A few weeks after our basic instruction, sometime during 1948, I found myself among the “saved” and a member of a strict, King-James-Bible-only, Bible-believing, congregation.
My skepticism began one evening, either in 1957 or 58, when a good friend—a learned doctor—said to me, you think you are thinking but you are not cogitating. Two or three years later, after reading first, Worlds In Collision by Immanuel Velikovsky, a Russian scientist, and Man And His Gods by Homer W. Smith, a history professor and pundit on ancient Middle East religions, I knew for a certainty I was on my way to “Freedom From Religion”.

Some thirty-six, thirty-seven years later, I answered a rapping on the front door to find a neatly dressed, pleasant-faced man, possibly in his mid-forties, holding a small briefcase in one hand and a sheaf of papers in the other. He introduced himself as a Baptist preacher making a tour of the neighborhood, inviting its residents to attend a special service being held the following Sunday in a nearby boating club. I thanked him politely, but told him I did not attend church services of any kind, something he must not have been accustomed to hearing. He paused for a moment, then insisted on knowing my reasons for not attending church. I told him I did not care to discuss such matters on the porch and invited him in. Although I suspected he had a Bible in his briefcase, he asked me if I had one and I told him I did. I went into my studio and chose the Revised King James Bible. I might just as well have handed him the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures favored by Jehovah Witnesses, which I have. Seems the one and only Bible containing the “Holy Word of God” is the King James Version published during the reign of King James of England. I happened to own a well-worn copy of that particular Bible and brought it forth.
As he began to explain the one and only way to salvation, a subject with which I was already well-versed, and since he wanted to know why I shunned church, I asked him to explain Leviticus, Chapter 27, verses 28 and 29. He opened the Bible to Leviticus, found the proper verses and read them—to himself. He continued to gaze down on the page for a few moments, then closed the book and told me he would explain them by letter. However, in the letter I received three or four days later, he completely ignored the book of Leviticus. Instead of an explanation, I received, not only a sermon, but discovered I was a sinner no better than Eve, the Eve who first brought sin into the world when she disobeyed God. Furthermore, I was on my way to hell! He hoped I would reconsider my obstinacy, and that he would pray for me. It isn’t prayer I was after.
Until somebody can convince me that Leviticus, chapter 27, verses 28 and 29 means something other than what they so obviously state, those verses will continue to mean exactly what I read into them when I first stumbled upon them. No Sunday School teacher I ever had ever referred to those particular scriptures, nor had I ever heard them used in any sermon I ever listened to. Seems God, according to the Bible, and at least up until the birth of Jesus, approved the practice of human sacrifice—as long as the victim was sacrificed to him. They also explain Jephthah’s vow to the Lord and his subsequent sacrifice of his only daughter to God in the form of a burnt offering. They also explain why God, without the slightest protest, willingly accepted the murder of an innocent virgin. Judges, Chapter Eleven. As for Onan, Genesis, Chapter 38, verses 9 and 10, for merely “spilling his seed on the ground”, God slew him. In no way could I accept and love such a God.
Recently, I shared a few memories on my blogsite. I wrote about my reasons for becoming a member of a fundamental Christian church sometime during 1948, and my reasons for leaving the church sometime during 1960. A friend from long ago, keeps in touch with me via e-mail and reads everything I add to my blogsite. In spite of her affection for me and her concern for my soul, I felt a bit challenged when she accused me of blaming God for the bad turns in my life. There are consequences for turning one’s back on God, she wrote. When challenged, I rise to the occasion.
How can I blame God for “the bad turns in my life, when I believe this: if there is a “God”, a Divine Creator, he could not be the God of the “Holy Bible”. For all I know, there is a Force that set all things into motion, but whatever that Force is, I cannot believe that “He/She/It/ Whatever”, inspired men to write what I read when I read the Bible—for instance: according to most Christians I’ve met over the years, God created just one man and one woman with whom to begin the population of the earth. To believe in that God, I have to believe in the Creation story as found in the first five chapters of Genesis. Ah, but I see a serious flaw in the account.
Cain was sent into exile before the birth of Seth. Seth, the first son said to born in the likeness of Adam, was born when Adam was one hundred and thirty years old. I digress a bit here … in whose, or what likeness, were Cain and Abel born? Perhaps a bit ape-like, with Cain a bit more ape-like than Abel? That would somewhat explain “Biblical” evolution, would it not?
According to Christians I have known throughout the years, I am not permitted to assume anything whatsoever when I read the Bible, and yet, they do it all the time. Christians assume, in spite of the Bible’s silence on the subject, that Adam and Eve had other children after the birth of Abel and before the birth of Seth. If true, how was it possible for those sons and daughters, and their sons and daughters, to have committed incest to the point their offspring could have multiplied, moved far away, built cities and become strangers to Cain—and to have done so in the space of one hundred and fifteen years, give or take a year or two. Cain must have been at least in his teens when he slew Abel. Not that it really matters but, at what point in time did God change his mind and declare incest to be a sin?
To believe in the God of the Bible, I have to believe in a God who, at one time, delighted in the sight of sacrificial blood, and found the stink of burning flesh, a pleasing aroma. I’ve never understood that God and never will.
To believe in God, I have to believe in a God so devoid of pity and understanding that he demanded the death by stoning of any bride who did not produce proof of her virginity—blood on the sheet after her wedding night. I find it impossible to believe in and love such a God.
To believe in God, I have to believe in a God who commanded the wife of a priest to be burnt to death, should she commit adultery. I would despise any God who demanded such a cruel death for anyone, regardless of the sin committed. To heads of households, God gave them power of life and death over all female members in the family. As a female, I’d also despise that god—if he existed.
To believe in the God of the Bible, I have to believe in the power of voodoo. I have to believe God gave husbands the right to drag their wives—whom they only have to suspect of committing adultery—before a priest and force them to drink a concoction that could very well kill them. Ordeal by trial was widely used by the church for proof of innocence during the dark ages. In the Bible story, the accused, or suspected women, were given a bowl of water to drink containing dust gathered from in front of an altar where goats, sheep and cattle were sacrificed. The concoction might well kill the women because the gathered dust could contain anthrax! Anthrax can be fatal if swallowed.
To believe in God, I have to believe in more voodoo … sheep and goats able to defy genetics—if they but mate before saplings stripped of their bark, but even more, …
To believe in God, I have to believe he sanctioned child sacrifice! Exodus 22: 29, 30. I would like to read so much as one scripture in the Bible where God “specifically” forbids the early Israelites from sacrificing their children to him. He did, indeed, forbid the sacrifice of children to other gods, such as the Philistine, Baal. If the early Israelites were not commanded to sacrifice their firstborn sons to God, how did the commandment find its way into the “Holy Bible”? I am aware that the word “likewise” has been removed from at least one Bible in my possession. The word, likewise, is ignored by believers who do not, or cannot believe verses 29 and 30 really mean what they say.
Even so … why, if it was not an accepted practice to sacrifice a son to God, was it possible for Abraham—for no other reason than he believed God told him to sacrifice Isaac—to set off on a journey without fearing the wrath of the priests, his neighbors, or the camp elders, upon returning home without his son? God’s intervention in the matter, does not negate the seriousness of the question.
To believe in God, I have to believe God gave instructions to his people, by way of Moses, to stone to death and discard the flesh of any ox who gores a man, and the man dies. The unfortunate animal is not to be killed humanely and its flesh given to the poor. No, God demands the helpless and doomed creature to suffer a slow and hideously-painful death. Naturally, after being stoned to death, its flesh would be unfit to be eaten by a human being. No: I cannot believe in that God.
I also have to believe that any animal: sheep, goat, calf, dog, when used for sexual pleasure, those helpless creatures whom God created without the sense to know right from wrong, must suffer the same senseless and brutal method of execution as its abuser. They, too, must be stoned to death. Why, in the name of God, would God command such cruelties as those few I’ve stated? There are many, many more. Christians may have no problem with such a God, but I do.
My friend’s letter continued, Now you refuse to acknowledge His existence. That is definitely your right to choose. But please know, that when we turn our back on Him, there are consequences. I wrote: I know, you believe those “consequences” to be eternity in hell. Well, at one time, a long time ago, I, too, believed that to be true. My friend added, “Even Paul taught on judgment”.
I replied, “Yes, Paul indeed wrote on the subject of judgment, but Christians, those already convinced that hell exists before they read Paul’s letters to the churches, read his words without comprehending what he actually wrote. Paul, indeed, believed in eternal life for the “saved”, and I have no wish to even try to alter the fact, but a careful reading of his letters, reveals that while he believed in salvation for the saved, he also believed the “unsaved” would simply cease to exist. Please, somebody, send me so much as one scripture wherein Paul describes the torments of a fiery hell awaiting the unsaved, and I will re-examine his letters more closely than I have. Just remember, Paul was, as were other Jews of his time, caught up in the “end of the world” fervor—something still going on today among Christians—especially fundamental Christians as well as those Christians who have a somewhat, more sensible understanding of the Bible—Jehovah Witnesses. At least the latter wisely rejects all belief in hell. Did Jesus believe in hell?:
Fact: Jesus was a Jew. Have Jews ever believed in a literal Hell? If not, Jesus could not have used the terms Gehenna and Gehenna Fire to mean anything other than what the people to whom he was speaking, understood them to mean. If he did believe in hell, he would have had to be referring to the Old Testament. Where, in the Old Testament, can a reader find anything resembling the teaching of hell?
Fact: Jesus spoke the common language of the area in which he lived and taught—the Aramaic language. Just like the English language, the Aramaic tongue is rich with idioms. Jesus used terms such as Gehenna, and Gehenna fire, terms familiar to the people, when admonishing them against stealing, trespassing, envy and so on. Example: Better to cut one’s foot off than to enter Gehenna with both feet meant: Stop your trespassing if you wish to keep the respect of your family and community. Better to cut your hand off? Stop stealing if you wish … etc. and etc.
I picture God, if he exists, as weeping and greatly saddened by the knowledge that his supreme creation, the talking spirit—according to a Jewish friend of mine—finds it possible to believe all the horrible, as well as the foolish things men have written and claimed to be “His Holy Word”. I may have turned my back on the “God” fundamental Christians believe in, the God I know does not exist, but I’m open to anything the God “Who May Exist” wishes to tell me personally. “Something” must be pleased with me because, “Something” keeps leading me to the truth, such as …
I don’t believe in the impossible. Just four thousand years ago, according to the Bible, water is supposed to have covered the entire earth for several months to a depth of fifteen to twenty feet over the highest mountains and then … just drained away … to where? Don’t try to tell me that just four thousand years ago, huge plates, far under the earth’s crust shifted, mountains such as Mount McKinley, the Tetons and the Alleghenies here in North America, the Andes in South America, Mount Everest in Asia, the Alps in Europe, Mount Ararat in the Middle East—as well as all the other mountain ranges throughout the world—rose and land under the seas gave way creating deep basins. Though evidence of a catastrophic flood was discovered in Ur, the region from which the Biblical Abraham migrated, and directly south of the Black Sea, there are remains of civilizations of equal age scattered throughout the world that do not show any sign whatsoever of ever having been destroyed by flooding. There are pristine caves right here in America which contain delicate stalactites and stalagmites that took hundreds of thousands of years to form and which can be damaged by a careless touch of the fingers and yet, today, those same caves show absolutely no sign of ever having been disturbed by raging, debris-saturated flood water for close to a year some four thousand years ago.

No, I don’t believe in “adult fairytales”, or in magic, or in voodoo. Iron axes floating, oil vessels and grain containers refilling themselves for days, bread and fish that miraculously multiplies itself, wind that obeys a spoken command, and so on and on and on. I cannot believe in such impossibilities, and, I cannot conceive of a God, who is supposed to have endowed me with intelligence, expecting me, or anybody else, to accept such nonsense for truth. I gaze in speechless awe and wonder at the marvelous photographs the Hubble telescope has taken of the universe and sent back to earth, and laugh to myself when I think of some of the things I’m supposed to believe when I read the Bible.
Paul warned his followers to beware of myths and ‘old wives’ tales. I think I am on solid ground when I follow suit.
Fact: The King James Bible was not the first Bible in existence. If all Bibles before the King James Bible were directly inspired by God, why did it require, forty-seven learned men divided into six groups, three years to translate the King James version? And, why, did it require another nine months to revise it? That does not sound like inspiration to me. It sounds like good old-fashioned research and study, as well as a “hell” of a lot of comparison and selection from available resources. From pages 244/245, Six Thousand Years of the Bible, by G. S. Wegener, as well as in the preface of a King James’ Bible I once owned.

Fact: History would have to be rewritten, carbon-dating proved a fraud and archaeology determined to be a farce in order to be compatible with “God’s Holy Inspired Word. No, I think it is the Bible which needs to be corrected.

I fully understand: there is a faith that brings a peace beyond understanding. For me, I will continue content with the peace that does not require faith.

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Just Musing

Although I have previously used the following poem of mine on Meander With Me, I am using it once again. After reviewing my reasons for not being able to accept the “God” of the Christian Bible as a Creator I can believe in, I have a few questions concerning how Christians managed to take the Jewish adversary Satan, who appears to have been on friendly terms with God—at least in the book of Job—and turn him into the Christian devil. Have you noticed, fellow-females, how “Mother Nature” is completely left out of the creation process and how women, from the very first chapter in the very first book of the Bible has but one role to play in God’s great “Plan”? I am going to allow your imaginations to take over at this juncture…? That’s it, for now.

THREE TIMES AND YOU ARE OUT

God is Good. God is Love,
or so Believers say
and all who hear and doubt this Truth
are doomed to Hell on Judgment Day.

In the Beginning there was God,
naught but God and God, Alone.
If God is Good and God is Love
then surely Sin was yet unknown.

If God with Holy Powers made,
to keep Him company,
a Heavenly Host of Angels, Pure,
as sinless Pure as He
then How and When, then What and Who
caused Lucifer to fall from Place?
Who tempted him, as he is blamed,
for Eve and Adam’s Fall from Grace?

Without the Devil’s Wily Schemes
we’re told that Eden still would be
the Realm of Man with Sin unknown,
with only Good for Thee and Me.

But Satan foiled God’s Plan for Earth
but how was Satan tempted?
Will Heaven see God’s Plan perfected
and the Saved from Sin exempted?

When once this World has passed away
and Goats and Sheep are separating,
the How and When, the What and Who
will still be out THERE waiting!

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