Does your God still punishes the living?

RHEI never heard of Rachel Held Evans, but obviously Yahweh knew her well and he killed her. Or at least that with what many Evangelical Christians believe. “Yahweh” is the name of the tribal god of Christians and Jews — Muslim’s call him “Allah”. Rachel was a very popular Progressive ex-Evangelical Christian who use to believe in a nasty Yahweh, but she escaped conservative Evangelicalism and became a popular author who wrote against Trump Evangelicals, for abortion, for the LGBTQ community and against Biblical literalism. If you are religion-free, these controversies seem silly to you, but they are deadly topics for many Christians.

When I read today that Rachel Held Evans died from an allergic reaction to an antibiotic, I instantly told my honey, “The Evangelicals are going to say this is God punishing Rachel.” And sure enough, with only a little searching, this nasty evangelical site confirmed my suspicion:

At age 37, Evan’s has died as a result of severe swelling on the brain. It is appointed once a man to die, and then the judgment (Hebrews 9:27).

Rachel Held Evans was a heretic. While she was not a professional theologian or clergy person, her influential writings no doubt led many sinners astray or, at the very least, provided false assurance to those living in sin that they stood justified before God.

Going to Twitter, more holy virulence can be found:

I’ll stop there.  Like I said, since I care nothing for Christian debates nowadays, I had never heard of Rachel.  But as I read about her today, I am sure that the world lost a very, very fine thinker and writer.  As for why it happened, like other religion-free people, I just feel that shit happens because the world is dangerous. It is very sad.

So, do you believe in a higher power that punish people in this life?  I don’t.

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Painful Transformations

Everyone thinks this is beautiful and wondrous video. But to me, this guy’s metamorphosis looks like it really, really hurts. Has anyone ever interviewed that moth?

I can imagine setting this same video to real scary music so that it makes my point.

Hell, and we think that being a teenager (transforming into an adult) is painful, but this caterpillar had it much worse.  This similarities were striking: My kids gobble food the same way.

Don’t let the end-product fool you, improving and growing hurts like a son of a witch. 😉

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No Comparison

At 19 years-old, I dropped out of college for a second time, flew to Europe with the simple goal of hopefully learning to speak German beyond my High School level. I hitched around a while, joined and graduated from a language school (Goethe), but after 3 months, even though my German was better, I still felt very dissatisfied. I realized that I come to Europe to “see the world” yet I hadn’t.  Europe really didn’t feel much different from the USA — or at least not in what I wanted to experience. So with $15 in my pocket, I threw my thumb out.  Things began to really change in Turkey and 6 months later I was in India with a huge amount of dangerous, fun and fascinating stories in between. I returned to the US happy that I had made it alive and brought with me an education that dwarfed what I was to learn in college.

My son is 19 years-old now, in Engineering school and in Navy ROTC. Recently, via Skype, we reflected what I did at 19 years-old. My son, who is very curious, well read and interested in almost everything, said he had no desire to do “that sort of thing”. And upon reflection we both realized that we could not compare our desires at that age.

When I was 19 years-old, it would still be at least 30 years before teenagers would be able to explore the world through the internet. Unlike me, since my son was young, with a simple push of a button, he has been able to hear foreign languages, see all sorts of videos or movies showing other countries, other life styles. He has soared over the world with google earth and taught himself everything he wanted to know like computer programing, electronics, political science, physics, music and much much more. For me, any of that would haven taken great effort to obtain by travel and by many library trips.

My son may have touched his world much more deeply at 19 years-old than I had even after my foreign travels. On top of this, he has built robots, participated in many sports, and will be sailing on large Navy ships this summer. And heck, he even won a scholarship to Bolivia and Peru two years ago. No wonder he feels no desire to make such a fool hearty trip as I did. I am proud of my young man and have much to learn from him.

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Revelation’s 7 Churches & US Cities

7ChurchesThe Book of Revelation starts with the writer stating the he heard Jesus giving a message to 7 churches in present-day Turkey. These churches are suppose to have been founded by the Apostle John.  I was suprised to find out that many American cities (and even cities in other predominantly Christian countries) bear their names. But of the seven churches, two of them have no cities named after them:
1. Pergamum, which Revelation calls “Satan’s Throne”. OK, I can understand that one.
2. Loadicea of which the writer says, “You are lukewarm,… I am about to spit you out.” Again, sort of obvious why you wouldn’t call your town “Loadicea”.

As for those the churches whose names towns bear, we have these 5:

Ephesus:

Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee

Smyrna:

Alabama, Arkansas, California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Washington.
Also found in Mexico.

Thyatira:

Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee

Sardis:

Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas
Virginia, West Virginia

Philadelphia:

Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington.

Also found in: Canada, Costa Rica, Egypt, Germany, Jamaica, Liberia, Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe

Since this is part of my ERB series, let me do some comparative stuff.

My home state, Ohio, has a Jerusalem, Mecca and Medina.  California and Indiana also have a Mecca.  Other interesting towns: Lebanon, Pennsylvania; Damascus, Oregon; Alexandria, Virginia; Palestine, Texas; and Morocco, Indiana.

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Separateness

“We are here to awaken from our illusion of separateness.”
— Thich Nhat Hanh

Poetry_PoleTwo years ago, my sweetheart and I put a “Poetry Pole” in front of our house.  Each week I try to put up a new poem for passerbys to read.

George, a neighbor down the street, is one of several regular readers of our pole. George is 86 years-old and spent most of his life running his own restaurant with little time for reading. But after retiring, he decided to start reading all the things he missed. Though George is a refreshing outspoken atheist, all his kids are into Buddhism and have encouraged him to recently read up on Buddhism, with their most recent recommendation being Thich Nhat Hanh, who I have read a bit of.

As often happens, George caught my sweetheart and I today when we sat on our front lawn sipping drinks and chatting.  He came up to me and pulled a crumbled yellow sticky note from his pocket and told me, “Sabio, I’ve been saving this to ask you to explain it to me”, and handed me the above quote.

My explanation was a follows:

George, let’s start with the simple notion of “self”. (Readers will know where I am going). We all have this illusion of ourselves as being different and set apart from other people — separate. But think about how when your kids return on holidays, they often return to their Middle School personalities as they relate to each other. You see, we have no “true self”. Who we are changes depending who we are with and what our environment is like. We are not separate, we are connected and dependent. And “self” is just one such example.

But I said, I don’t think we are here to awaken, but instead, like squirrels and cockroaches and bacteria, we are just here. But I do think that waking up occasionally from such illusions of separateness can be very useful.

George was thankful for my insight, but I warned him that Thich Nhat Hanh may disagree with a good part of what I explained. We both smiled and then shared more stories.

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Proof of Miracles

image_1552939090437This weekend my lover and I took a long walk in a local wooded, hilly park. It is the end of winter with barren trees, dull colors and cloudy skies — all with a beauty of its own. Without foliage, dead fallen trees stood out as they litter the forest floor. With all these trees, both of us reflected and confessed that we, ourselves, had never seen a tree fall. For all these dead trees around us, not once had we been in the forest when even one of them had fallen, and yet here they are – hundreds of fallen trees.

The Bible, and other religious texts, are full of stories of miracles — really big obvious miracles. Not subtle miracles like finding a hundred dollar bill on a sidewalk when you we short on money or like the dead sea being parted, or blind people being cured and the dead brought back to life.

One of my standard arguments against miracles has been that nowadays with almost everyone with a camera in their pocket, we get youtube witnessing of robberies, killings, accidents, hurricanes and more, but never youtube videos witnessing miracles. With all the amazing miracles religious people base their faith on, it seems they only happened at a time when there were no cameras and thus no evidence. And if they happen nowadays, it is only a miracle that no one is catching them on their cameras.

But consider the dead fallen trees as miracles. It is obvious that miracles happen, the Bible tells us so, we can read about them on any walk through the Bible. It is obvious that trees fall, we can see them in the forest on any walk. Just because we don’t see the trees fall, does not mean they don’t. It actually takes very like faith, with such trustworthy evidence, to know that trees fall or that miracles happen.  No?

Please tell me you see the problem with such logic. If you don’t, and this story moved you, then you need to embrace some religion if you haven’t already.

For fun, on my poetry blog, I tried to capture this little essay in a poem.  If you have time, tell me which works best.  See here.

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Insects & Fake News

Starting about three weeks ago we saw the media flooded with headlines like these:

So, if we listened to all the news — we were soon doomed.  But then two scientist decided to double check the study all this hype was based on and found it hugely lacking.  Listen to this great short 13 minute podcast here for the details, but here are a few main weaknesses of the original article:

  • They did not count bugs themselves but review articles by people who did.
  • They searched all bug articles using the word “decline” so they had a huge bias there.  Searching for articles with “increase” yielded even more studies.
  • They ignored many other confounding points.

Conclusion, and I hate to agree with Trump here, you should not blindly trust the media.  Consumers beware.

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