Two Transylvanians, Bula and Ionel, cut wood in a frosty cold winter day.
A man was flying with a hot air balloon, and at some point, he realized he was lost.
He lowered the balloon close to the ground and found a woman on a meadow. As he approached her, he cried out to her: “Be nice, can you help me? I promised a friend to meet him, but I do not know where I am.”
The woman replied: “You are in a hot air balloon, about 10 feet high. You find yourself between 40 and 41 degrees north, and between 59 and 60 degrees west.”
“Well, you're probably an engineer!” said the man in the balloon.
"That's right," said the woman, "but how do you know?"
“Well, all you have said is technically correct, but I have no idea what I could do with the information from you and I'm still in the mist. To be honest, you did not help me at all. I can even say I lost my time listening to you.”
Then the woman answered, “But you have to be a director!”
"That's right," the man replied, but how do you know?
“Well, you do not know where you are or where you're heading. You got up to the height by taking advantage of a flame that made the situation hot. You made a promise that you do not know how to keep it and you expect the people under you to solve your problem. The truth is that you are exactly where you were when we started talking, 1 minute ago, but suddenly you find this is my fault.”
Bill: "Was it a joke or was it serious?"
Jo: "It was serious"
Bill: "It's good because I do not like that kind of jokes."
Jo and Bill are at the box office in a train station.
Is the church representing Jesus Christ’s vision of the world?
Many historians and analysts cast doubts the biblical characters (Abraham, Moses, Saul, David…) really existed, since the only source is the Holy Scripts and the oldest writings found are thousand years after the events; but Jesus Christ is a different story, his teachings coming for more then one source, and his life is so inspirational that the most powerful faith on Earth started with those events, bearing his name, Christianity.
I doubt that the resurrection (that is central to Christianity) really happened, but for me Jesus’ guidance marked a turning point in humankind civilization.
Jesus was kind and compassionate, a Jewish rabbi that revolted against the other rabbis because of their greed and misconduct; actually, the only time recorded as Jesus being violent is when he turned upside-down the tables in the temple where the other rabbis received gifts for themselves, claiming the gifts are for God. Maybe this event and stories like the good Samaritan obfuscated the temple’s rabbi to a point that they joined hands to condemn Jesus to death, asking Pilate (the roman governor) to crucify him.
In a time when the law was “an eye for an eye” Jesus advised his followers ”do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.”… Even today for many it is difficult to accept such a behaviour.
His vision that a good society should be based on understanding and forgiving is well outlined in the story below. Those times the traditions (and the law of the land, by the way) were very tough and unfair for women. A woman caught cheating her husband was stoned to death by the angry mob; and some of them were rather raped. Many women were forced in arranged marriage, and when they committed such an act was rather out of love, and for the man was for pleasure; still, the man got a tap on the shoulder, and the woman killed in a horrific way.
And here is the story…
A woman was caught cheating her husband and the mob ready to stone her; but someone in the crowed stopped the process, asking Jesus to be the judge. Christ was known as understanding and forgiving, but in the same time fair. Going against such a powerful tradition, and pardon the woman, would have been probably ignored by the crowd and Christ’s reputation blackened. But he could not accept such a barbarity. Jesus picked up a stone, turned to the crowed with his hand stretched and said: “The one who think never committed a sin in his life take this stone and hit me.” The crowd dropped the stones and left the plaza.
Going back to my original question… with such a positive message to the world, how comes that the institution representing Jesus on Earth have such questionable standings along centuries, involved in murders, false accusations, bloody fighting among different Christian branches (Catholic, Orthodox, Protestants, Anglicans,…). My take: the church became an institution that fight for itself rather then fighting to promote the true Christian dogma.
I cannot tell it better than Dostoevsky did in one of his stories, and well explained in the article below in Wikipedia…
There is no doubt that religion is bringing violence. During human history in the name of God unimaginable atrocities were committed; and still happens today in some part of the world. In the Middle East there is a continuous religious war, Buddhist monks in Myanmar killing Muslims…
Are the religious texts an inspiration for the violence? Of course... All great moments in any religion are winning bloody wars in the name of God, more killings, bigger the victory; and most of the time there is no description about what the opponents did wrong, except they did not bow to the right God. Bigger the king, more atrocious wars in the name of God. King David for Judaism, Crusaders and Inquisition for Christians, Islamist militants for Islam are examples for monotheist religions violence in the name of God.
Polytheist religions are no better. Sri Lanka was born in the second century BC as a result of a Buddhist bloody war. After the bloodshed, some enlightened ones consoled the winning king… that the slain "were like animals; you will make the Buddha's faith shine".
In India, Hindu and Muslims kill each-other.
From my readings the most violent religions are those worshiping God. And that is because God’s example. All His appearances were disastrous for humankind.
And the blind faith asked of believers is incomprehensible. What kind of God will ask a father to kill his own son as a proof of faith? Well, He stopped Abraham before killing Isaac, but the example is set. A good believer (Abraham) was ready to kill his son to score a point for himself.
Modern days in our western world…
Here is a prominent example. USA is the most religious country in the western world and the most violent as well. Maybe a direct connection is too far fetched but should not be completely ignored. The TV talk shows claim the murderers are mentally ill, but this is not a good explanation for me. The ratio mental illness percentage in USA population is not larger than in other countries… and not all mentally ill people commit murders. Maybe has something to do with the number of guns owners in the country... Down the road it is the culture, and religion is very important in USA.
My last example is about baseball player, Osuna. Before every appearance on the field he does his prayer and the cross sign. After the game (if he wins) he is looking up to the sky to thank God. And this year he was the only Jays player banned for 75 games (he lost more than 2 million dollars for that); the reason is domestic violence. Now the reader may do the math, the only player in a team with deep religious feelings is the only one found violent at home.
Note: this month my blogs talked about religion, and I was mostly critical. But I will write one more blog, sometime next week, with a positive feeling… about Jesus Christ.
Those reading my blogs know that I do not believe in a God as described in the Holy Scriptures, but I do not deny that a God-like deity might exist. I simply do not know.
Is God guilty of an overcrowded planet?
I will start with these statements:
Abortion is a sin in monotheistic religions. I asked a colleague that is deeply religious, if having as many kids as one can be right. He said, “Yes, God will take care of the problem.” I asked same question to an Indian neighbor, he is a Sikh. He said “when a new human is born, a karma is born as well, and karma survives the natural death.” From my understanding from the discussion was that if the new human will go through unimaginable pains is still OK, a karma is added to this universe, and this is good.
In my opinion both statements are the result of brain-washing, those guys did not make any effort to really understand the implications of over-population, hiding behind teachings they are afraid to challenge.
The pressure from those countries where land and resources are in serious conflict with population needs could be seen more and more obvious: the flux of emigrants toward Europe and US reached levels that led to unprecedent nationalistic and anti-emigrant feelings in North America and Europe.
Where is God to offer a solution? Well, no-one saw any statement from God so far, and God representatives on earth deny the problem, and that is no wonder. There are girls who abandon unwanted kids; where is church offering shelter for those desperate girls and their babies? By the way, God’s teaching says that we should help the ones in need, but in the city where I live the churches close their doors overnight and the homeless sleep outside at 20-30 Celsius under zero, some dying.
So, God will not solve the problem, and God’s representatives cannot go beyond their hypocrisy.
I will talk about one of the overpopulation consequences…
I saw a debate the other day on CNN about the problem which torn apart US public opinion, illegal emigrants’ kids being split from their parents. Before I say my opinion, I will state that I was ready to fight to death to keep my kids in my arms when they were babies; but I stayed away from any position that could lead to such a dramatic situation (and believe me, I saw bad times in communism where my two kids were born). Also, I agree that a solution should be found to this crisis, but in the same time a strong signal should be sent to the world that illegal emigration is not tolerated and is punishable.
So, what about the debate? Those raising the problem of the inhuman nature of the exercise of parents and kids being split were right, but came with no solution or suggestion; they looked like hysterical individuals, good-hearted people with empty heads who did not understand that a problem has a root cause and needs a solution, not finger pointing. And I think they did not dare to name who is guilty of all this: promoters of religious teachings (against birth control) refusing to adapt to new realities.
Did God do a mistake? Of course not. He is the Creator and He shaped this world as he wanted. So, why did He do it this way? Because this world’s auto-destruction was designed from the beginning; overpopulation and all that comes with it is the signature of world end; pollution and insane resource consumption generated by an overcrowded planet will lead to war, and the weapons existing today is nothing else but annihilation. But why should God design a world that will auto-destroy? Because all in this universe has a start, growth, decay and annihilation. One exception to the rule: God, He is eternal… or maybe only by our understanding?
How many of us add the good and the bad in our lives? And if the result is below the water level what do we do? A believer will ask the priest, and I actually saw such an answer, from Billy Graham, one of the best-known evangelists in US. He said hat you should count all the good in your life and you will realize how much God cares.
Now, I do not take anything lightly, and I try to understand what I am told. I found no proof of God watching over me when I had good times. Besides, some of those good times might not be God’s liking.
Besides, I am wondering if a priest really believes my good times were controlled by God, or he says whatever people will pay for (by the way many pastors are rich).
Let’s assume the good is God’s doings and the bad is Devil’s. Many will say there is more harm than good in this world, so, the question is “who is in charge on Earth?”. This is a long debate, there is no room in this blog for it… But my feeling is that neither God or Devil are watching or caring. In biblical times the God walked the Earth and talked to the prophets; not any more, He is not around. We are who we are, with the ups and downs, created by God or the result of evolution, or a combination (someone spreading the seeds of life and the evolution launched) … and now we are alone, on our own.
Do we want God to return and take a look at us?
What I read from the Bible is not encouraging. In biblical times, God walked on the Earth. He did not like the evolution of his creation and wanted to destroy everything ... only Noah and his family escaped the great deluge, everyone else on Earth killed by water. Later, God wanted to teach the world that sin is a punishable offense and his eyes fell on Sodom and Gomorrah. Nowadays, the sins in these cities may seem acceptable, but God does not play the half-measures, the two cities have been erased from the face of the earth, sinful or not, old, young, and children. And there is the story of the Jewish people escaping from Egypt. How did God persuade Pharaoh to let His people go? Ten plagues on Egypt, one worse than the other, culminating with the death of the firstborn child in all Egyptian families, and God did the killings personally.
Do I believe all this happened? No. But the teachings and examples are in the most read books of our planet ... the holy books of God. And what followed is true, recorded in history; in the name of God unimaginable atrocities were committed, which my pen refuses to write. And the horror continues today in those countries where the rule of the land is the rule of God.
God is not watching and should stay that way, unless He is more selective whom to look at, starting with those in power having their hand close to a nuclear button (some buttons bigger than others).
Is our world perfect? NO, too much suffering. But a perfect being (God), if He wanted to, would have created a perfect world. So why did God create us and our imperfect world?
Here is what Cioran, the philosopher I am reading these days says:
“This world was created from God's fear of solitude. In other words, us, the creatures, have no other meaning but to distract the Creator. Poor clowns of the absolute, we forget that we live dramas for the boredom of a spectator, whose claps have never reached the ears of a mortal.”
And he does not stop here, the philosopher is angrier and angrier:
“I am displeased with everything. If they made me God, I would immediately resign.”
Can truth exist without falsehood? No, something exists only in relation to something else, ... and if God created everything, He created the lies too, painting our lives with so much color.
“If the truth were not boring, science would have made God disappear long ago. But God as well as the saints is a way to escape the dull banality of truth.”
Here are some more quotes from Cioran:
“The more we are obsessed with God, the less innocent we are… Thus, God seldom finds himself in an innocent soul.”
… and guess what? Religion is more important for non-believers, because the believers have an easy task, they believe everything without questioning…
“From the cradle to the grave, each individual pay for the sin of not being God. That's why life is an uninterrupted religious crisis, superficial for believers, shattering for doubters.”