Trying To Keep A Dead Horse Alive

I have written a few times about how three of my four children have ostracized me because I eventually rejected the religious cult in which their mother and I originally raised them. Thus, I am considered a heretic or an apostate and therefore, by fiat, I am to be treated as a “leper” by all, including family, who follow the creeds of that cult.

I achingly miss my children and their children; it has been years since my children have spoken to me or since I have hugged their children. I have been hoping — hoping, that they will somehow, at sometime, someway change their mind and let me be their “father” and they, my “children”.

But hope can be both a source of strength or source of angst. I used to hope that the three who have rejected me would escape and come to embrace me once again so that I can do what fathers and grandfathers do to those they love. But I do not hope anymore. I give up; I surrender to hopelessness. George Bernard Shaw once asserted, “He who has never hoped can never despair.” I no longer want to despair and grieve; to hope for what will never happen. I want the pain of despair to stop. The only bright spot is that my youngest son has not turned down that path of rejecting me and for that I am beyond elated and joyful. His love stops me from bleeding out.

Freidrich Nietzsche explained,“Hope is the worst of evils, for it prolongs the torments of man.” Hope may not be the worst of evils, but it certainly stands tall against many of them. So, given that my children [except one] refuse to answer my frequent texts, calls or letters, I will no longer despair. I will no longer hope because to keep hope alive is tantamount to keeping a dead horse alive. How foolish and futile – because the horse is “dead”.

Published in: on November 1, 2017 at 3:00 PM  Leave a Comment  
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The world is replete with varying beliefs about “God” and religion. These varying beliefs have been the source of much of the pain humans have suffered over the millennia. Even to this day, those beliefs engender division, antipathy and misery. Having either read or listened to many of these varying and often contradictory beliefs, I ask you to imagine the following:

Imagine a “God” who had nothing to do with the Bible, the Koran, the Talmud, The Book of Mormon or any other “holy” book.

Laws proscribing theft, rape, murder and so forth would still exist and would still be violated as they have been even with these “holy” books in circulation. Besides commenting on morality, these books purport to present doctrines such as details about such subjects as, the essence of “God”, baptism, prophets and prophecies, gender roles, et cetera – all of which provide fodder for debate, division, persecution and even pogroms.

Most importantly, however, someone once said that the author of a “holy” book is not as powerful as the person who has been deemed authorized to interpret it. God” may speak, but the mullah, the minister, the monk, the prophet, the priest, the preacher, the pope, the “whoever”, explains. (No wonder there is this phenomenon: same book, different interpretations.)

Imagine a “God” who is something other than a “He” or a “She.”

How “God” is referenced has subtle implications and ramifications with respect to how humans define their gender roles. Referencing “God” in terms of one of the sexes, and not the other, buoys a sense of entitlement to govern or dominate the gender not chosen to reference “God.”

Imagine a “God” who banned/forbade the practice of religion with all its accouterments.

There would be no churches, temples, kingdom halls, synagogues, or mosques. No need for prophets, popes, cardinals, elders, nuns, ministers, deacons, mullahs, priests, preachers.

Additionally, there would be no need for religious rituals, baptisms, holy water, robes, or collection plates.

Also, no place or time would be considered “holy.”

Thus, without religion, there would be one less thing to argue about or kill over (albeit true that humans will always find plenty of other reasons to do either one) and one less reason to feel superior (or to feel “saved” or “righteous”).

Imagine a “God” who had nothing to do with our successes or our failures.

There would be no reason to “thank God” for winning the ball game, or receiving an award, or finding a job or escaping death. After all, why would “God” help you do any of those things and yet let millions suffer hunger, disease, genocide, rape and torture? That kind of “God” would have misplaced priorities.

Imagine a “God” who did not need a Satan against which to stand in contrast.

Sufficient is the “evil” within humans without the need for a being who personifies “evil.” Is it that humans are more comfortable pointing to something outside themselves to assign blame for much of the horrors we experience? Assuming that “God” is “good,” Prison Earth is filled with enough evil humans who stand at the opposite end of that continuum.

Imagine a “God” who did not need a hell with which to punish or a heaven with which to bribe.

How righteous or honorable is the person who lives a certain way because he wants to receive an award or avoid punishment. How would worshippers live if there were no prospect or living in eternal bliss or eternal torment? If heaven is a reward for “righteous” behavior and hell for “wicked” behavior, by which standard is one judged? Is it Christianity, Islam, Shintoism, Hinduism? Which branch or sect of those religions?

What happens to infants who die? What happens to those who convert from one religion to the other? Why punish/torture even the most vile human being for an eternity? How does eighty years of being “wicked” justify billions and billions and billions and billions and billions of years (i.e., forever) of excruciating torment?

Imagine a “God” whose ego did not require adulation, sacrifice or worship from humans.

“God” – the creator of a universe of unimaginable size, power, and complexity versus human beings. Why would such a Being require, demand puny humans to worship, praise and heap adulations on it? Is it not possible for humans to respect and love each other in the absence of worshipping “God”? Of course! I present atheists and deists who are law abiding and exhibit behavior characterized as loving, and decent.

Imagine a “God” who placed emphasis on love rather than doctrine.

Is “God” part of a Trinity, or is “God” a distinct separate being from the other two members of the Triune? Is hell the grave or a place of torment? Is the cow a sacred animal or a delectable source of protein? Is pork unholy or best served fried? Or are love and respect for each human more important? How much sense does it make to observe the Sabbath but lie, or steal or even kill during the other six days of the week? How much sense does it make to condemn homosexuality but pray to “God” to bless your country as it engages in activities of which not even the prophets of your religion would approve?

People declare that all religions teach love and respect for human beings, but they insist on overlaying that notion with all sorts of doctrines and ideologies that turn the simple and sublime into complicated and convoluted.

Imagine a “God” who did not need humans to kill or punish in his/her/its/their name.

Put succinctly, why does an all-powerful “God” need humans to kill each other in defense of “Him” or “Her” system of worship? “God” is in the best position to kill because “God” would know all the relevant facts and motives; humans cannot. “God” would, presumably not kill the innocent while killing the “guilty”; humans often claim that “collateral” damage is unavoidable.

I ask you to please do the following:

Imagine a “God” not made in the image of “HuMan.”

Published in: on June 21, 2013 at 1:37 AM  Leave a Comment  
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A Clash of Convictions

Convictions usually flow from beliefs, and beliefs are often embraced without much scrutiny or examination. Very few beliefs are subjected to a rigorous series of stress tests as a way of verifying their logic or veracity. But whether a conviction is rooted in tradition [usually unexamined] or is the product of dispassionate and arduous inquiry, they will often find themselves in the same space at the same time with other convictions; a clash is inevitable.

When convictions clash there will be a cost — sometimes heavy, sometimes benign or innocuous but there will be a cost nonetheless. This cost can claim not only the participants as its victims but any third-party observers who because of circumstances stand too close. I submit that my grandchildren are third-party victims in a clash of convictions.

When I was a teenager, I was baptized as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Before the age of 19, I married another Jehovah’s Witness and we had four children whom we raised as such. After 20 years of preaching from door to door, conducting Bible Studies, attending meetings at the Kingdom Hall and so forth, I submitted a letter to Jehovah’s Witnesses in which I denounced them. I had finally stopped ignoring my gnawing reservations and put my beliefs to the test; they failed. [That was in December of 1985.] Rejecting those beliefs, however, rendered me an “apostate,” an absolute heretic. Among Jehovah’s Witnesses, that was the worst sin of all and required that all Jehovah’s Witnesses ostracize me. And even though, I never tried to dissuade or convince anyone, I was declared an untouchable.  They were not to even acknowledge my presence. My children, as practicing Jehovah’s Witnesses, were to do likewise.

But for years, they did not; they would talk to me and even let me visit with my grandchildren. As the years piled up, however, they became less accepting of me due to the hardening of the policies regarding persons of my ilk that were handed down by the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses.  Then, I made matters worse; I drove the nail into the coffin. I wrote a book of essays. Twenty-three of the 116 essays were an indictment against religion [not just Jehovah’s Witnesses but all religions]. Immediately thereafter, my children [all but my youngest son who had stopped being a Jehovah’s Witness] severed all ties with me and by default, I cannot see my grandchildren either. This despite the fact that I have never — not once — spoken to my children about why I rejected their religion and what I now believe. Nonetheless, I was deemed a pariah and subsequently scorned by judicial decree.

So, there is the clash of convictions, and my grandchildren are “collateral damage.” I miss them, and they will likely grow up not knowing me. That fact is a source of great pain for me. My children and I are at an impasse. If I “repented” and asked for forgiveness and sought to return to the “flock,” I could see my children and grandchildren. Or, if my children ignored the decrees issued by their religious leaders and embraced me anyway, I could see my grandchildren.

Persons who maintain and live by their convictions are often held in elevated esteem. They are often lauded for being true to them, and to violate those convictions would be seen as hypocritical or craven even if the price for doing so were extreme. The strength of one’s conviction is in direct proportion to the cost one is willing to pay for adherence. To put it honestly, being true to my conviction means more to me than being accepted by my children and my children being true to their conviction means more to them than talking to me.

How ironic. I raised my children to be what they are and now what they are comes to a clash of convictions. Nevertheless, what is even more painful than being rejected is being rejected with ease. I truly understand my children’s adherence to their convictions [they probably do not understand mine]; that is painful enough. I can only hope that ostracizing me because I am an “apostate” is not easy for them. I can only hope that this clash of convictions is hurting them as much as it is hurting me. I can only hope that they too see the price for upholding these convictions is exorbitant. If they do not, then my pain is twice felt and my conviction twice costly.

Published in: on April 12, 2012 at 3:33 AM  Leave a Comment  
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