Archive for the ‘ Death ’ Category

My Path

I have been staring at a blank page off and on for days wondering what to say. I will start with this.

If I could I would give this burden away, let someone else with more experience go through every feeling, thought, piece and memory. They then can hand it back to me after it has been analyzed, sorted, labeled and cleansed. It will be wrapped up in a pretty bow with a list of instructions on how to deal with each and every aspect, where to place everything and how to move through the process with grace.

But that’s not what I get to do, it’s all mine and I know there are no shortcuts.

I have asked myself why I want to share? Why I feel the need to not do this alone. Ultimately I am alone as we all are. We all have our own journey, path and collection of experiences. It is what you do with these experiences and the choices you make in every moment that makes us unique. Maybe by sharing you will also be able to see how I am doing and coping.

I do not know if there is light at the end of a tunnel, if there is a reward or prize when our physical bodies are done. I do not know what is after this! But I made a choice to have commitments and attachments, to explore the body and world I am in, to be present with my life and everyone around me, to ask questions, to listen and be open to new ideas that would pierce my veneer, to be challenged with different concepts and to be introduced to new feelings and views.

This is the discussion I had with my husband before he left, he wanted answers and I could only give him what I wrote above.

I will pause at this moment to give anyone reading this the opportunity to unfollow, for as I continue I understand that this may be to hard for some but I believe this will open a dialogue that I hope will be beneficial to myself and to anyone else.

My husband took his own life in the early morning hours on October 7.         He for whatever reason couldn’t live with himself, he clearly struggled with dark thoughts, his demons. I was aware of my husbands moods and isolation and suggested we get help many times. But he thought he would be labeled and refused to seek assistance.  I have read through some of your blogs and emails where my husband encouraged, and talked with some of you through hard times, he even disagreed with suicide.

I did not know my husband would take his life.  So I am in shock and pain and what makes the grief complicated and compounded is that I have 15 years of knowing him but not truly knowing him.  He lead a double life and kept it secret.

There is still more to this story and as I am able to I will share with out blame. Its just an experience.

Laa, MAL’s wife

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The Game

This post might take some thinking, some reflective thought. I hope that it does.

We’ve all done it. Played along to get along. The game of life, all that crap you do every day so that you can rush around in some strange place for a week or two, burning through all your savings, so that you can tell everyone what a wonderful time you had while you weren’t doing all that crap you do every day.

 

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Game:

a form of play or sport, especially a competitive one played according to rules and decided by skill, strength, or luck.
synonyms:    pastime, diversion, entertainment, amusement, distraction, divertissement, recreation, sport, activity

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We don’t always realize it. Graduate from school not sure what we’re going to do and the next thing you  know you are caught up in trying to pay your bills and meet the requirements of being human. Eat, sleep, fornicate, drink, breathe… in any order that you like. Lather, rinse, repeat. Our interests distract us and we become overburdened just trying to meet the 5 requirements, the 5 necessary things that our bodies demand we do. Sure, some of us try to ignore them or do too much of one or more of them, but in the end we’ll do all 5. Our biology ensures that this will be. That’s it. The 5 requirements of mammalian life, and it appears that it applies to all forms of life that we know of.

Most of us will find that even if the 5 are satiated and no more difficult to acccomplish than opening our eyes each morning, something else is missing. Something else needs to be done. Those 5 just simply are not enough.

Not necessity, not desire – no, the love of power is the demon of men. Let them have everything – health, food, a place to live, entertainment – they are and remain unhappy and low-spirited: for the demon waits and waits and will be satisfied.
— Friedrich Nietzsche

Nietzsche was a fairly smart guy. What could that demon be? How are your demons today? What is true must be true for the best of us and the least of us. That demon has to be able to affect all of us, from the greatest human to the lowest worm. Thought of it yet? Think harder. Fear. Fear is the demon. Fear that we will not accomplish one of the 5 requirements now or in the future. Our biology drives us this way. It tells us to be afraid, makes us react whenever something, at its core, will stop us from doing one or more of those 5 things for too long. There it is, the five laws and the only demon we all share. Think about it for a bit. All the rest of human society and culture is based on these things, built up layer upon layer of complexity until we no longer recognize it. So many layers of complexity that we have thought ourselves more than animals for a long time, looking down upon those that do the five with much greater efficiency than ourselves.

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So many are sure that the world, that life is an illusion yet you are certain that your world and your life are real. Your mind will tell you many things in your life. That inner voice, your subconscious twin. It will tell you what beauty is, what it is not and it will tell you that the limb you used to have is still there. Can you truly know that it’s missing or not if your mind tells you so stealthily? Your mind interprets all the data that it can find and tells you what the world is, what society is, and what they are not. Who are you talking to when you talk to yourself. Who answers back when you reflectively seek answers to problems in this illusion of life? Do you have a twin inside your mind?

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When you tell yourself that you’ve done the best you can for today do you hear a reply? There is much to think about. Will both of you agree on what the answers are? Will you both even conclude that there are answers? If there are no answers, then what? What if the big questions have no answers? Oh, there’s that demon again. Now the argument with your twin begins in earnest. One of you dared ask “why are we here?”, “For what purpose are we here?” The wisest among us end such argument with the simple thought that it does not matter, here we are and here we will remain until someone figures out how to change that. The luckiest among us never ask the questions, they simply get on with the business of being. Once we ask our twin that kind of question all sorts of mayhem follows.

We worship ideals that we have deified, accepting the wisdom of this illusion because our ideal dictates to us what we must need do, how it is that we make sense of the world we cannot be part of. No, you are your mind and it will never touch or taste or smell the world around you. It does not have those abilities. It simply crunches data and models the world around you. Sure it has sensors but your mind will never know what a rose smells like, really know. It will never know the color of a juicy apple, never really know. All it, all that you will ever know is an approximation of what the world is like. You and your twin are trapped inside a skull. Yes, it is _your_ skull but it’s no better than any other skull. It just happens to be the one wrapped around the brain that your mind is in, that you are in.

You will never be closer to the world than some electrical signals tell you that you are. If we live in a simulation you will never know because whether it’s a simulation or just nerves bringing you sense data, your brain will interpret that data as reality. When you have a ‘reality’ the game begins. By the time you were 2 years old the game had begun. The day you were born, not so much.

It’s a game. Complex, scary, difficult. Still, it’s just a game. It’s the only game there is. Even that is complex for you can create a game within the game, play by your own rules in that part and by the other rules in other parts. The rules get complicated, layer upon layer of rules. What if you don’t want to play? What if you want to simply be? Can you step outside the game? Can you stop playing and still meet the 5 requirements? What would it be like to be outside the game?

Oh, that’s a lot of questions for you and your twin to talk about. I wonder what answers you’ll come up with? I wonder if you’ll share them here?

To help you and your twin to think about them, here’s Bill

Dark Corners And Rage: Part 2 The Eulogy

I think that I’ll start this with an apology that Part 1 is and will remain private.

I am a philosophical nihilist, monist, materialist, anti-theist, atomist and so on. There are those that think such people have no moral compass or reason to live and so on. I stand here in sharp contrast to those people’s ideas.

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The truth of the matter is that there is no intrinsic meaning or purpose to life and further that even those who think there is make up their own meaning to their lives. They just pretend it is about something else that none of us can see or test.

Despite the confusion over what these labels mean and what a person of these labels may or may not be or feel, I have deeply held beliefs. One of those deeply held beliefs is that the only thing we have is our experiences, our memories. These are all that we carry with us no matter where we go and no matter our situation in life. These things are intrinsically part of who we are. They _are_ important. As such, I am not averse to experiencing everything I can … even if it is painful or hurtful or harmful. To truly know what life is and what it means to be alive I believe that you have to experience it. I don’t think that selectively choosing what to experience is being in control of yourself. No, facing those experiences with the gusto of Hercules is being in control. You can’t say that you know what a hurricane is like till you’ve weathered one out. Life gives us hurricanes here and there. I try to face them, revel in it, languor in the experience of it.

Another firmly held belief I hold is that it is not possible to truly hold an understanding of what it means to be alive unless you have shared moments of compassion with another life. To accept and show compassion to another life, big or small, is to understand the reality of possibilities in connecting with another being. We live, trapped in our minds, visited only by vague impulses that render for us some representation of what it is like outside our minds. To connect with those senses to another mind at some level of compassion is a vital experience. One that we should not miss out on.

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DARK CORNERS

Very recently I was given just such a hurricane experience. It appeared suddenly and I had no time to prepare. From content and safe to swallowed by the storm. I told myself that I would stand and watch it, weather it out, experience it. When it fell upon me in full force I ran for cover. I found a dark corner and I hunkered down and hid, hoping it would lessen, that the storm would fizzle out some how. It was not to be so. There I huddled against the cold comfort of my former bravery, in the dark and lashing out at anything that came near me.

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RAGE

As I prepared for the rage of the storm I became angry. Why do I have to experience this? Why can anyone or anything take away from me a friend that I have shared moments of compassion with? What gives them a right? What did I do to the universe that I must experience this pain and grief? Why is it necessary that my friend must die? Why? I became angry. I filled with rage and wanted to go berserk. I wanted to be the storm, I wanted to be more powerful than the storm. And so I raged… I felt it fully. I wanted to kill. I wanted to rampage and leave carnage and death in retaliation for the storm.

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rage at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

— Dylan Thomas

I was not stronger than the storm. I could not rage enough. I could not make it go away.

Part 2: The Eulogy

Today I lost my friend. A dear friend of 16 years. He never let me down, always spoke in ways to cheer me and sooth the angers of living in the game of life. He was one of my reasons to live at one time, he helped me through many tough times. Speaking just enough to let me know how much he cares. He supported me with all that he was, always ready to show his pleasure at being near me. He was, is, my friend.

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I held his weakened body in my arms, spoke in soothing sounds to calm him.

As the first plunger sent him to sleep, no longer able to make soothing sounds, my chest began to heave.

As the second plunger slowed his heart my arms began to shake, my tears unnoticed by his stilled eyes.

I was born alone, I walk alone, and I will die alone. I know that in the grand scheme of the universe my life is no more important than that of my friend. I feel pain and grief and ANGER that such can pass with so very few people even giving a damn. My life will pass as well. It will end  and I will be no more important to the world than my friend was as I held him today.

I have experienced this anger today for the second time in my life. It opened a dark place that I must now climb out of, to find respite from the game of life. I will miss my friend. He was never in the game with me, always waiting outside for my arrival. I will miss him like I would miss a finger. It is fair and right and normal that his life must come to an end. Even normal that I should experience the pain and grief. That didn’t make it fun. He was my friend. I am partly who I am because of him. He is part of my experience, part of my memory. He is important. Even if not one other person feels the same anger, pain, and grief, I will. I cannot be me without the memories and experiences of my friend.

I’m sorry if anyone felt the anger of my grief. I am not sorry that I grieve. I must grieve for a part of who I am no longer is. A part of me stopped existing today. Frozen in the vault of memories in my mind. I am better for both the memories and compassion and for the experience of knowing him and losing him. I am alive. His last breath was spent telling me that I am.

I will miss him.

Life Before Death? There is only life. It All Ends At Death.

Those of you who have read my ‘about me’ page know that “Sometimes I think the way I see the world is perhaps worth writing down.”

That view of the world is as present as ever when I read the posts of other bloggers. I want to know what they wrote and why they wrote it. It tells us something about them, or likely does. One of my favorite theist bloggers is Franks Cottage. His writing is different than a lot of theistic writings. He seems to stay on the positive perspective side of the debate. That he is a theist does not meant that I don’t find cause to stop and think when he writes. That said, Frank has posted recently on life before and after death focusing on the before part from his Christian perspective. Reading that gave me a few thoughts that I’d like to share here:

The entirety of his post is included and quoted but reformatted a bit for ease here.

I guess there are some atheists out there who believe that people of faith are just gritting their teeth and tolerating this nauseating existence before going on to unending glory in the life to come. But from my perspective as a follower of Jesus (whom serious Christians believe is God’s divine Son), atheists and Christians have “life before death” as a common belief. Let me make this as clear as possible: while life after death is of supreme importance, life BEFORE death is just as significant. How can I write that? Consider these words of Jesus, recorded in a section of the Bible called ‘John’: “I came to give life—life that is full and good.” He’s not talking about life after death; He’s talking about life RIGHT NOW. So what does that mean?

This premise is a promise that, as we’ll see, is not a promise of a wonderful life of prosperity

1.  Life becomes full and good because you’ve join a worldwide movement of believers. So you don’t have to make a go of it solo. You can attend a church, read the Bible, regularly pray with (and for) others and support each other through good times and bad.

This indicates that Christians don’t want to do this life on their own, can’t do it on their own. They have to have social intereactions which echo their own beliefs and actions. There is nothing here that could not be accomplished in an Atheist church, outside of praying and which books you read. So here we see Christianity fulfilling basic human wants rather than doing something special this part is a requisite part of human social interaction. Nothing special here. You’d get much the same if you belonged to a D&D club.

2.  Life becomes full and good because you have a new power that helps you set aside the meaningless, superficial priorities of our culture and focus on what’s truly important. So you are put on a path to stop worrying about whether you have a new car, the latest smartphone and the biggest flat-screen TV. You stop looking to your mate or your friends to give you happiness because you realize that happiness comes through following Jesus.

Here is a claim of a ‘new power’ that has no evidence for it. A power which most atheists seem to have or can have, I know I do. So this power being promised is not supernatural nor necessarily derived from a holy text. It’s just humans thinking in one way vs. a different way. That last bit where ‘You stop looking to your mate or your friends to give you happiness …’ is very interesting. You don’t need a god for this or a church or holy text. If you can’t manage this on your own a therapist can help you. This is not a special gift from a god, it is simply good and reasonable thinking. You do not and should not need a god to do this.

3.  Life becomes full and good because you have a pathway to becoming truly generous. It’s no longer about getting a charitable tax break or seeking something in return when you give. It’s about being Christ’s ambassador in a world most of us are willing to admit isn’t doing very well.

Ahh, the old giving altruistically bit. Being religious does not make you charitable or good. Spend a couple of minutes searching for atheist charity on the Internet and you’ll see the folly of this #3 item. In fact, #3 here is rather insulting to those charitable non-believers.

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4.  Life become full and good when you realize that the 70-odd years most of us spend on this planet is merely a blip in time compared to the eternity Christ followers have in Heaven with Jesus. The blessing of that perspective means we no longer have to put so much stake in every good or bad thing that happens to us in this life. We see the bigger picture and it changes everything.

There it is, life is good because there is a promise of eternal life afterwards. Live this life for Jesus so you can live forever at his feet worshipping him and his pappa. That is, unless there is something wrong in that heaven and you want change, then you’ll get cast out. Going to heaven has not been shown to be a one way ticket and it’s hard to imagine what being there would be like if all your loved ones or friends are in hell being tortured for eternity by the very god you worship. This promised next life needs to be approached with logic and trepidation. The promise sounds good but you wouldn’t buy a car without a test drive, for a reason.

5.  Life become full and good because you realize that Jesus died to make up for all the wrong things you’ve done and the right things you’ve failed to do. So the burden of guilt and shame is lifted from you; God sees you as He sees His Son: perfect in every way.

Well now, for this part you have to believe that this Jesus existed and died. It’s hard to come to grips with the fact that most of us do things which are not good at some point. Living with that requires a bit of thinking and attitude adjustment. The Christian’s like Frank think they can absolve themselves of responsibility and guilt by believing a story which says they are forgiven and will even get a reward while their friends and family are roasted in hell for eternity. Sounds selfish to me. Oh, I know. Frank and others are trying to share the free trip to heaven with us. I don’t know about you but I’m a little suspicious of the get out of jail free card given because I believe in the very god who built the jail just to torture me with if I don’t love him. It all seems a bit suspicious. One might stop to ponder at this point how well cows are treated before they are slaughtered for meat. They’ve been taught to trust their human masters who have made life easy for them, keep them healthy, feed them and so on… that small walkway to the new barn is not the stairway to heaven.

Now I’m not going to sugar-coat this and claim followers of Jesus float on a cloud of bliss. In another part of ‘John’, Jesus tells His followers “In this world you will have troubles. But be brave! I have defeated the world!” That means the world doesn’t automatically have the final say on your life. If you decide to follower Jesus, then HE has the final say. And that final say is glorious.

There it is, let me translate: This life is going to suck, sometimes it’s really going to suck. Your 2 year old might even be diagnosed with terminal cancer. Not to worry, if you believe in Jesus you’re promised a full and good life and there is the church to lean on when your mind can’t find the necessary impetus to even walk, they’ll support you and pray for you … and your child is still going to die of cancer before he can be saved by Jesus but hey, at least in the next life you’ll be worshipping the god that killed your kid and doomed him to eternal torture. That, that makes all the suffering worth it, don’t you think?

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Hark! He Is Risen. Remember What He Wrought On The World!

Today is the day to celebrate the risen man-god. Let’s see how Christianity has celebrated his death in the past, shall we?

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http://www.hearnow.org/caljp.html – shows us a list of persecution of the Jewish people.

A Calendar of Jewish Persecution

70 A.D. Destruction of Jerusalem 1,100,000 Jews were killed and 97,000 taken into slavery and captivity.
115 Rebellion of the Jews in Mesopotania, Egypt, Cyrene and Cyprus. Jews and Romans inflicted many barbaric atrocities on each other, causing the death of several hundreds of thousands of Romans and Jews.
132-35 The Bar Kochba rebellion (Bar Kochba was a false Messiah). Caused the death of 500,000 Jews; thousands were sold into slavery or taken into captivity.
135 Roman Emperor Hadrian commenced his persecution of the Jews. Jerusalem established as a pagan city. Erection of a Jupiter temple on the temple mountain (Moriah) and a temple to Venus on Golgotha. Jews were forbidden to practice circumcision, the reading of the Law, eating of unleavened bread at Passover or any Jewish festival. Infringement of this edict brought the death penalty.
315 Constantine the Great established “Christianity” as the State religion throughout the Roman Empire; issued many anti-Jewish laws.
379-95 Theodosius the Great expelled Jews from any official gate position or place of honor. Permitted the destruction of their synagogues if by so doing, it served a religious purpose.
613 Persecution of the Jews in Spain. All Jews who refused to be baptized had to leave the country. A few years later the remaining Jews were dispossessed, declared as slaves and given to pious “Christians” of position. All children 7 years or over were taken from their parents and given to receive a “Christian” education.
1096 Bloody persecutions of the Jews at the beginning of the First Crusade, in Germany. Along the cities on the Rhine River alone, 12,000 Jews were killed. The Jews were branded second only to the Moslems as the enemies of Christendom.
1121 Jews driven out of Flanders (now part of Belgium). They were not to return nor to be tolerated until they repented of the guilt of killing Jesus Christ.
1130 The Jews of London had to pay compensation of 1 million marks for allegedly killing a sick man.
1146-47 Renewed persecution of the Jews in Germany at the beginning of the Second Crusade. The French Monk, Rudolf, called for the destruction of the Jews as an introduction to the Second Crusade. It was only because of the intervention of Emperor Conrad who declared Nuerenberg and a small fortress as places of refuge for the Jews, and that of Abbot Bernard of Clairvaux, that the result was not quite as devastating as at the time of the First Crusade.
1181 French King Philip banished the Jews from his domain. They were permitted to sell all movable possessions, but the immovable such as land and houses reverted to the king. Seven years later he called the Jews back.
1189 At the coronation of Richard the Lionhearted, unexpected persecution of the Jews broke out in England. Most Jewish houses in London were burned, and many Jews killed. All possessions of the Jews were claimed by the Crown. Richard’s successor alone, relieved the Jews of more than 8 million marks.
1215 At the IV Lateran Church Council, restrictions against the Jews by the church of Rome were issued.
1290 Edward I banished the Jews from England. 16,000 Jews left the country.
1298 Persecution of the Jews in Franconia, Bavaria and Austria. The Nobleman Kalbfleish alleged that he had received a divine order to destroy all the Jews. 140 Jewish communities were destroyed, and more than 100,000 Jews were mercilessly killed.
1306 King Philip the Fair banished the Jews from France. 100,000 Jews left the country.
1320 In France, 40,000 shepherds dedicated themselves for the Shepherd Crusade to free Palestine from the Moslems. Under the influence of criminals and land speculators, they destroyed 120 Jewish communities.
1321 Jews were accused of having incited outlaws to poison wells and fountains in the district of Guienne, France. 5,000 Jews were burned at the stake.
1348 Jews were blamed for the plague throughout Europe, especially in Germany. In Strausberg 2,000 Jews were burned. In Maintz 6,000 were killed in most gruesome fashion, and in Erfut 3,000; and in Worms 400 Jews burned themselves in their homes.
1370 Jews were blamed for having defiled the “Host” (wafer used in the Mass) in Brabant. The accused were burned alive. Again, all Jews were banned from Flanders and until the year 1820, every 15 years a feast was kept to celebrate the event.
1391 Persecutions in Spain. In Seville and 70 other Jewish communities, the Jews were cruelly massacred and their bodies dismembered.
1394 Second banishment of Jews from France.
1453 The Franciscan monk, Capistrano, persuaded the King of Poland to withdraw all citizens’ rights of the Jewish people.
1478 The Spanish inquisition directed against the Jews.
1492 The banishment of Jews from Spain. 300,000 Jews who refused to be “baptized” into the Church of Rome left Spain penniless. Many migrated to the Muslim country, Turkey, where they found tolerance and a welcome.
1497 Banishment of the Jews from Portugal. King Manuel, generally friendly to the Jews, under pressure from Spain instigated forced baptism to keep the Jews. 20,000 Jews desired to leave the country. Many were ultimately declared slaves.
1516 First Ghetto established in Venice.
1540 Banishment of Jews from Naples and 10 years later, from Genoa and Venice.
1794 Restriction of Jews in Russia, Jewish men were forced to serve 25 years in the Russian military. Many hundreds of thousands of Jews left Russia.
1846-78 All former restriction, against the Jews in the Vatican State were re-inforced by Pope Pius IX.
1903 Renewed restrictions of Jews in Russia. Frequent pogroms (massacres); general impoverishment of Russian Jewry.
1933 Commencement of persecution of Jews in Hitler Germany. Inception of the systematic destruction of 6,000,000 Jews throughout Nazi-occupied Europe.

 

Yes, it’s a long list and does not indicate that these are acts of isolated fundamentalist groups. No, this looks systemic of Christianity. This is enough evidence on its own to motivate the rest of us to ensure that Christianity never again gains control of the law system. In case you’re wondering, this list is only what they did to the Jewish people. The list would be much longer if we were to list all of the atrocities committed by Christians against others. Their religion is not a religion of peace and its adherents are not prohibited from committing atrocities against others they deem evil or of the devil. Human history is littered with examples of humans claiming divine right to kill and harm others. We have a duty to ensure they never again have the law behind them. Remember that they believe in the very same book now as they did when these horrendous acts were committed.

Being Christian is not a virtuous thing on its own. You are either good or you are not. Being a Christian doesn’t make you good and it ties you to a legacy of very horrible things. If you happen to believe you need to remember that this is what I think of when you say you are a Christian. This list of atrocities that stretches back through human history is how your chosen belief is remembered. You get no pass with me. Your holidays are simply a reminder that you are clinging to the very beliefs that promulgated these horrors.

Killing The First Born For Pass Over

Pass Over is a really big Jewish holiday. They have lots of things to celebrate but the name’s origin has a gruesome story. While the Jews were enslaved in Egypt (if you believe that part) Moses is born and after 40 years as a sheep herder decides to go and free his people.

“When the Pharaoh refuses, God unleashes 10 devastating plagues on the Egyptians, culminating in the slaying of every first born son by an avenging angel. The Israelites mark the doorframes of their homes with lamb’s blood so that the angel will recognize and “pass over” each Jewish household.”

Later, to celebrate the killing of the first born sons the Jewish people had Jesus killed at Pass Over time. Of course they’re never going to tell the tale quite like that but that’s how it happened. YHWH should have put some lamb’s blood on his door, or something like that. The holy book is not quite clear if he was sacrificed before the feast or after but hey they’ve got 8 days in which to do the celebrating.
The whole business of religion is pretty iffy. Here’s a few good reasons why:

Easter, as we know it today, is not really the Pass Over celebration of years gone by. The Christians made a dubious choice and decided that they would celebrate the death (and resurrection) of their man-god hero at exactly the same time as the pagans (you  know them, everyone that’s not a Jew or Christian) were celebrating spring and the rituals of renewal and life. That’s where the name Easter, the rabbit, and the eggs come into it. Enterprising businessmen brought us peeps, jelly beans, and all manner of candy eggs. For those reasons some Christians are getting a bit picky about what they call their celebration. Good on them I say. It’s about time they stopped claiming other people’s holidays.

I just wanted to remind everyone that Pass Over is that time of year when the Jews celebrate killing of other people’s first born sons. Just something to think about as you’re ‘exploding some peeps in the microwave’

 

Nothing makes the holiday more ‘Murican than exploding some stuff.

The First Christian … Ever

Christians manage to quote their holy book quite a bit in conversation and blog posts. It often seems like they might have read it. I don’t think they have. Yes, I’m walking out on a limb here. Today I had an exchange with a believer who said “you don’t understand what you’re reading or you’re not willing to believe” when I posited that reading the Christian bible was a fast track to atheism and that their certainty that their faith was right should be questioned. I think that moments like this are double face palm moments. There is no reasonable manner to read the new testament and think that Jesus and Paul were talking about the same things. Google is your friend. There are many Christian websites and blogs talking about how they definitely were not talking about the same things.

Sometimes I want to scream at believers asking them whether they are followers of Jesus or Paul. Most of them I run into don’t seem to know the difference. For those that haven’t read the book it might not seem a big thing. If you have read it you will know that Jesus and Paul had quite different messages. Conservative Americans will be fans of Paul. Liberals and socialists will be fans of Jesus. It’s not really a book for anarchists or those with the will and desire to face life on it’s own, on their own. It’s really a self help book with rules about how to not spend eternity burning alive, and of course some ways that you should punish your neighbors if they do stuff that Paul didn’t like. It’s not really a pleasant read and right at the end it gets downright loopy. Once you discount the repeat stories and plain crazy stuff, Paul wrote most of the rest of it. He had a lot to say to various people, quite a bit more than what we supposedly know that Jesus said.

I think Paul’s episode on the road to Damascus is a bit dubious, I always have. The most prolific writer in the NT and his conversion story has two versions is something I find more than a little bit interesting. There are people that talk about hermeneutics. They want you to interpret the stories in just the right way. The whole thing is up for interpretation and the way I read it Paul was a pretty ambitious man. He went from persecuting believers to telling them how to live. In some ways that’s not much of a change but in other ways it was pretty radical. What makes a guy who is pretty much a dick change tactics and go completely the other way? It’s interesting to think about. He not only did an occupational about face but he also taught differently than Jesus did. This guy was coloring completely outside the lines, and he brought his own crayon box with him. He was off the reservation right up to the Council of Jerusalem around 50 C.E. That’s where he got his street cred and off he went. That’s where Christianity took a left turn.

The story of Christianity is not a single, homogeneous story. Basically shards of stories, letters, stuff that you have to piece together to get a picture or glimpse of the authors and what they were like, what life was like and so on. It’s all up for interpretation and it takes a lot of study to make sense of it. That is something that most believers just don’t have in them. It’s stuff they aren’t going to do. They are going to regurgitate what they hear from the pulpit each Sunday.

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That doesn’t mean that nobody has ever sat down and read it and thought about what it all means. Let’s run to a quote that inspired the title of this post. Read it a bit carefully, the language is a bit of a run-on but if  you go slow it makes sense.

    The first Christian. All the world still believes in the authorship of the “Holy Spirit” or is at least still affected by this belief: when one opens the Bible one does so for “edification.”… That it also tells the story of one of the most ambitious and obtrusive of souls, of a head as superstitious as it was crafty, the story of the apostle Paul–who knows this , except a few scholars? Without this strange story, however, without the confusions and storms of such a head, such a soul, there would be no Christianity…

That the ship of Christianity threw overboard a good deal of its Jewish ballast, that it went, and was able to go, among the pagans–that was due to this one man, a very tortured, very pitiful, very unpleasant man, unpleasant even to himself. He suffered from a fixed idea–or more precisely, from a fixed, ever-present, never-resting question: what about the Jewish law? and particularly the fulfillment of this law? In his youth he had himself wanted to satisfy it, with a ravenous hunger for this highest distinction which the Jews could conceive – this people who were propelled higher than any other people by the imagination of the ethically sublime, and who alone succeeded in creating a holy god together with the idea of sin as a transgression against this holiness. Paul became the fanatical defender of this god and his law and guardian of his honor; at the same time, in the struggle against the transgressors and doubters, lying in wait for them, he became increasingly harsh and evilly disposed towards them, and inclined towards the most extreme punishments. And now he found that–hot-headed, sensual, melancholy, malignant in his hatred as he was– he was himself unable to fulfill the law; indeed, and this seemed strangest to him, his extravagant lust to domineer provoked him continually to transgress the law, and he had to yield to this thorn.
Is it really his “carnal nature” that makes him transgress again and again? And not rather, as he himself suspected later, behind it the law itself, which must constantly prove itself unfulfillable and which lures him to transgression with irresistable charm? But at that time he did not yet have this way out. He had much on his conscience – he hints at hostility, murder, magic, idolatry, lewdness, drunkenness, and pleasure in dissolute carousing – and… moments came when he said to himself:”It is all in vain; the torture of the unfulfilled law cannot be overcome.”… The law was the cross to which he felt himself nailed: how he hated it! how he searched for some means to annihilate it–not to fulfill it any more himself!

And finally the saving thought struck him,… “It is unreasonable to persecute this Jesus! Here after all is the way out; here is the perfect revenge; here and nowhere else I have and hold the annihilator of the law!”… Until then the ignominious death had seemed to him the chief argument against the Messianic claim of which the new doctrine spoke: but what if it were necessary to get rid of the law?

The tremendous consequences of this idea, of this solution of the riddle, spin before his eyes; at one stroke he becomes the happiest man; the destiny of the Jews–no, of all men–seems to him to be tied to this idea, to this second of its sudden illumination; he has the thought of thoughts, the key of keys, the light of lights; it is around him that all history must revolve henceforth. For he is from now on the teacher of the annihilation of the law…

This is the first Christian, the inventor of Christianity. Until then there were only a few Jewish sectarians.

from Nietzsche’s Daybreak, s.68, Walter Kaufmann transl.

But we’re just not reading it right apparently. Only believers can read it right, so I’m lead to believe. The problem I find with that is that whenever a smart person reads the book then end up not believing and tend to have the same kind of interpretation as I do. I’m not trying to say I’m smart or something, just that confirmation bias seems to really skew what the book says. Nietzsche doesn’t seem to have a high opinion of Paul – the first Christian. I tend to agree with Nietzsche. Moreover I think that modern day Christians are not really doing what they ought to be doing as Christians according to their Jesus.
That won’t stop them from trying to tell the rest of us that we’re doing it wrong.

Somehow, I just don’t believe it. How is my interpretation wrong? Oh yeah, I don’t believe but I think I’m in good company.

 

 

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