The Lobotomy

October 31, 2017

brain to think removed

the pumpkin could merely grin

his Carver was pleased


Jesus Became a Capitalist

October 22, 2017

Jesus is a loving man deep inside his heart, but being born the Chosen One creates great pressure 

And modesty is a sinking ship, when assured how great thou art 

He grew weary from years of prayer requests — heal the sick, end the wars, and let us score a touchdown 

So he sold the family biz for a billion bucks, and flew a private jet out of town

Now he’s a scratch golfer with a hot, young wife, living just outside Palm Springs 

He attends church once a month, enjoys making wine, and contributes to many tax-deductible charities

There are occasional days — usually after tennis — when Jesus wonders if he should have done more

But a deep massage and sauna serve him well, a reminder he is happier than ever before

Jesus is a loving man deep inside his heart, but he’s called it quits, and we’re on our own…

It’s time we each start doing our part. 

A Few Words on Blasphemy Day

September 30, 2016

Today is Blasphemy Day, an international “celebration” of speaking up against religion and religious laws. I am all for the separation of church and state. I’m against any laws based on religion — laws are made to protect citizens, not promote any agendas. I’m also very glad I live in a country that allows people to stand up for what they believe in, whatever those beliefs may be. However, I don’t like any religious ideologies being shoved down my throat. Similarly, I don’t need to have non-believers shouting about how ridiculous religion is, which is what Blasphemy Day has become in many cases.

Religion is probably the world’s leading cause of war, hate, fear, guilt, and anxiety. I can’t imagine a God who would willingly put His creations through the suffering that we humans are suffocated by on a daily basis. Are we all just some school project that the Lord is working on? Are we rats in a cage being tortured by a Master, seeing what lengths we will go to in order to receive a piece of everlasting cheese? I don’t think so, but it isn’t my place to criticize those who believe. It’s counter-productive. I have better things to do.

There’s a thought that’s been regurgitated by philosophers for thousands of years, which basically states: a wise man realizes he knows nothing. This belief is paradoxical and somewhat self-deprecating…and pretty damn perfect. Count me in.

Today, like every day, we have a choice. We can criticize those who believe differently, or we can accept it and move on to fight more useful battles. Some will put their faith in religious texts, some will put their faith in science. Both of these leave plenty of room for error and modification. I will choose to put my faith in those of any religion, or lack thereof, who use their energy towards making the world a bit better for everyone living in it. If there is a God — and I can’t say that there isn’t — I think it’s what He would want; taking care of each other and our world. Let’s be good to each other. Anything else seems like blasphemy to me.

Humor me for a moment, and please hear me out. Let’s pretend that you love the color red. You have a sporty red car, and love to just drive around on sunny days with the windows rolled down and the radio on, minding your own business. But wait, one day someone stops you on the street.

“Whoa, hold up, buddy. What are you doing in that red car?”

“Oh gosh, I just love the color red,” you reply with a chuckle.

“Hmm, well, we don’t allow red cars.”

“Excuse me? Why not?”

“Because I have this book here, which says that anyone with a red car is evil and should ideally be killed by stoning. Cars are only intended to be the color blue, no exceptions. I can’t really kill you, but you will need to have your car painted blue immediately. Oh, I almost forgot — unless you ask for forgiveness, you will spend all of eternity in a bottomless fire pit. Nothing is actually going to happen now, but when you die watch out, because that’s when it starts.”

This conversation sounds ridiculous, yet way too familiar. Maybe I’m just becoming more aware as I get older, maybe I’m just paranoid, but doesn’t there seem to be more and more hate and social injustice in America? Specifically, hate and injustice in the name of God — because the Bible says so.

I’m not trying to insult the Bible or Christianity. I know many Christians who are truly great, caring people. The majority of Christians are like this, as with the majority of Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Taoists, Hindus, atheists, etc. I completely respect the opinions and beliefs that most Christians adhere to. Likewise, the Bible has countless verses that emphasize (and, in fact, demand) kindness, compassion, and love.

Unfortunately the Bible also contradicts itself. A lot. There is a growing number of people who choose to overlook the message of love, and focus on the parts of the Bible that condone the avoidance, oppression, and even persecution of those who do not believe or act a certain way. I know from repeated firsthand experience that there are many Christians who believe they will experience eternal damnation if they show any support or kindness to so-called “sinners.” Just last week, one of my lifelong friends told me that I will never understand unless I believe the way he does. “It’s a heaven and hell issue. I listen to what God tells me in the Bible.”

So, to these people I ask this question:  Can God change His mind? I’m being serious. Is it possible that the Bible needs updating? Thousands of years later, is there just a chance that God has grown wiser with age? Could He feel bad that He has caused so many of His children to turn against each other? Maybe there should be a Newer Testament, in which God declares that He is sorry for all the guilt, fear, hatred and war that Christianity has caused, and that He has decided we should just be kind and respectful of others. He might also remind us that we can leave the judging to Him.

Many will scoff at this. They will bring up the omniscience of God; that He knows that past, present and future, so why would He possibly need to change His mind? Fair enough, but why then do we bother to pray? Is it just to try to make ourselves feel better? If a baby is expected to surely die, and we pray for mercy, and the baby survives, did God change His mind and perform a miracle? If the baby dies is it because God decided not to change His mind, and therefore simply works in mysterious ways? If He knows everything, why did He create us? Why put us through this exercise if He knows our fates already? It’s like God is just watching a rerun of a horribly sad reality show. Ah, yes, here is the part where Bob sins, and then…wait for it…asks for forgiveness! Yes, Bob, you are good to go until you screw up big time in March of 2019. But then you ask for forgiveness again and everything is fine when I take your life by way of a massive heart attack in 2028…

My goal is not to question God or bash Christianity, but just to make people consider that if there could be even a razor-thin possibility that God could change His mind, then there would be nothing wrong with a mere mortal doing the same. The Bible can be followed the way Mother Teresa did, or the way the Westboro Baptist Church does. You have a choice, and either way you are following the word of God. The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “I have decided to stick with love, hate is too great a burden to bear.” Living with hate and fear sure seems like a hard life to me.

Christian extremists — those of you who feel that people who believe differently than you are not just wrong, but a threat or even evil — please consider and remember one Bible verse above all others:

Colossians 3:12,

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.

This is actually a great message for any of us, regardless of our religious views. I’m far (really far) from perfect, but I want to get better. As hard as it is for me sometimes, I won’t hate the haters — but I will try to change their minds. Let’s all get older and wiser. Let’s just be nice. I’ll go first.

“Vacation Bible School is pretty cool.  First, we get to sing songs on a stage, then we play games, then we have a boring class about Jesus, then we have another boring class about Jesus, then we have drinks and snacks.  I can’t wait to go back this summer!” ~ Recent quote from my five year old daughter

Although I wouldn’t consider myself a fan of organized religion, I’m a big believer in the good values that Vacation Bible School can teach kids.  I grew up going to church on Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and Wednesday evening.  I didn’t always (or maybe ever, really) look forward to church, but I always enjoyed that one week of VBS each summer.  It didn’t feel like going to church, but instead was just fun.  Like my daughter does now, we too played games, sang songs, and ended each day with drinks and snacks.  Along with the fun, I remember one recurring theme year in and year out: to love and be nice to each other.

Despite not being big on religion, I definitely think there are positive messages in the Bible, just as there are in the Tanakh, Qur’an, Vedas, Tripitaka, and every other sacred text.  I’m far from a religious scholar, but I know one message consistent throughout almost every religion is the ethic of reciprocity, or what Christians commonly refer to as the “Golden Rule.”  Paraphrased, this means to treat others as you would like to be treated.  Regardless of your brand of faith (or lack thereof), it’s hard to argue with this ideology.

Growing up in a Protestant Christian church (Nazarene, to be specific), I remember numerous sermons focusing on hellfire and damnation.  I’m not saying that this was always the subject, but there was plenty of fear and guilt to go around.  Sure, there were times when the pastor spoke about something funny or lighthearted.  I don’t recall the topics, but there were certainly occasions when the nave was full of laughter.  Even on those days, though, our orator would usually end his speech by asking everyone to accept Jesus into their heart, and therefore avoid spending the rest of eternity in a bottomless pit of fire.  Fear and guilt…  Luckily, however, this has not been my experience with Vacation Bible School.

Paraphrasing the Golden Rule a bit more, you could say it simply means to be kind.  This is what I remember being taught when I was at VBS, and it has been the gist of what my kids seem to be learning as well.  I’ve seen firsthand that, although my daughter describes it as a “boring class about Jesus,” she is actually learning about being nice to others, making new friends, and playing (and praying) together.  My kids are being taught about kindness and compassion.  I can only hope that the majority of churches run their summer youth programs this way.

It’s odd, considering every religion stresses the importance of the ethic of reciprocity, that there is still so much hate in the world.  If we are honest with ourselves, we know that being kind to others is very rewarding, and no rational person is going to say they don’t enjoy receiving acts of kindness.  Why, then, does it seem to be so hard for people to be nice to one another?

One of the songs we sang back when I was a kid was “Jesus Loves the Little Children.”  Jesus loves the little children, all of the children in the world.  Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight…, the song insisted.  I think Jesus would still love the children when they grow up, right?  Maybe we need VBS for adults, or should at least shift the focus of church services away from scaring congregations or causing them to feel bad about their actions, and instead concentrate more on human relations.  That means (good) relations with all humans, not just those who view the world the way we do.  Some will disagree, but I personally can do without any extra fear and guilt in my life.

I think the Dalai Lama puts it best when he says, “My religion is very simple, my religion is kindness.”  Because at the end of the day, isn’t being treated kindly about as good as it gets?  I know it’s what I want.  Oh, and drinks and snacks, of course.