Ethical Considerations Potpourri

The Big Philosophical Question Comes Home to Roost

It has come to my attention that my sister thinks I’m Godless. By all appearances, she is well-adjusted person, not one of those Born-again, Bible-thumping caricatures who send death threats rife with spelling errors. No, no, she is, by all measure, fairly normal and ordinary. Yet she apparently thinks I’m gonna burn in hell.

It began with an email forward she dispensed to everyone in her address book. Anyone who knows me is aware I rarely ever engage in this sort of virtual junk mailing, mostly because I assume everyone is as busy as I am, but also because I’m not in the habit of inflicting my causes on others. Regardless, I was greeted to this missive, allegedly penned by Ben Stein. Personally, I have great doubts about its authenticity, but that really is a discussion for a later time.

Herewith at this happy time of year, a few confessions from my beating heart: I have no freaking clue who Nick and Jessica are. I see them on the cover of People and Us constantly when I am buying my dog biscuits and kitty litter. I often ask the checkers at the grocery stores. They never know who Nick and Jessica are either. Who are they? Will it change my life if I know who they are and why they have broken up? Why are they so important?
I don’t know who Lindsay Lohan is either, and I do not care at all about Tom Cruise’s wife.
Am I going to be called before a Senate committee and asked if I am a subversive? Maybe, but I just have no clue who Nick and Jessica are.
If this is what it means to be no longer young. It’s not so bad.
Next confession: I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejeweled trees Christmas trees. I don’t feel threatened. I don’t feel discriminated against. That’s what they are: Christmas trees.
It doesn’t bother me a bit when people say, “Merry Christmas” to me. I don’t think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it. It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn’t bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu. If people want a creche, it’s just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away.
I don’t like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don’t think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the concept came from that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can’t find it in the Constitution, and I don’t like it being shoved down my throat.
Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from that we should worship Nick and Jessica and we aren’t allowed to worship God as we understand Him?
I guess that’s a sign that I’m getting old, too.
But there are a lot of us who are wondering where Nick and Jessica came from and where the America we knew went to.
In light of the many jokes we send to one another for a laugh, this is a little different: This is not intended to be a joke, it’s not funny, it’s intended to get you thinking.
Billy Graham’s daughter was interviewed on the Early Show and Jane Clayson asked her “How could God let something like this Happen?” (regarding Katrina); Anne Graham gave an extremely profound and insightful response. She said, “I believe God is deeply saddened by this, just as we are, but for years we’ve been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of our government and to get out of our lives.
And being the gentleman He is, I believe He has calmly backed out. How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand He leave us alone?”
In light of recent events…terrorists attack, school shootings, etc. I think it started when Madeleine Murray O’Hare (she was murdered, her body found recently) complained she didn’t want prayer in our schools, and we said OK.
Then someone said you better not read the Bible in school. The Bible says thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, and love your neighbor as yourself. And we said OK.
Then Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn’t spank our children when they misbehave because their little personalities would be warped and we might damage their self-esteem (Dr. Spock’s son committed suicide). We said an expert should know what he’s talking about. And we said OK.
Now we’re asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don’t know right from wrong, and why it doesn’t bother them to kill strangers, their classmates, and themselves.
Probably, if we think about it long and hard enough, we can figure it out.
I think it has a great deal to do with “WE REAP WHAT WE SOW.”
Funny how simple it is for people to trash God and then wonder why the world’s going to hell.
Funny how we believe what the newspapers say, but question what the Bible says.
Funny how you can send ‘jokes’ through e-mail and they spread like wildfire but when you start sending messages regarding the Lord, people think twice about sharing.
Funny how lewd, crude, vulgar and obscene articles pass freely through cyberspace, but public discussion of God is suppressed in the school and workplace.
Are you laughing?
Funny how when you forward this message, you will not send it to many on your address list because you’re not sure what they believe, or what they will think of you for sending it.
Funny how we can be more worried about what other people think of us than what God thinks of us.

Obviously someone tacked on that end piece but I’m not certain where “Ben’s” spiel ended and theirs began so I resisted the urge to crop text. What I couldn’t suppress, however, were my fingers on the keyboard. So this was my reply:

For Billy Graham’s daughter to say that Katrina was, in essence, God’s wrath, is completely repugnant to me. Because, if that’s the case, what do you tell people who ‘tow the line’ and still, horrible things happen to them? Do you tell them they didn’t pray hard enough, or their faith wasn’t strong enough?

Her response wasn’t ‘insightful’, it was myopic and judgmental. Sure, Maureen O’Hara was murdered, but so were Martin Luther King Jr, and the Kennedy brothers. And if memory serves, the great institution of The Church was responsible for The Crusades, The Inquisition, Joan of Arc and oh yeah, the Salem Witch Trials.

If a stated belief in God is the answer, why is there so much strife in the Middle East? Or is a belief in God limited only to those of a Judeo-Christian dogma?

This was her response:

Just one question. Do you believe in God at all?

I’m sure you can surmise I was already agitated by the supposed Ben Stein, reap-what-we-sow speech, so this was akin to jabbing me in the thigh with a Tazer. Now I’m highly pissed. And offended. And truthfully – disappointed. But we’ll get to that in a second. So, as I have a tendency to do when I’m really riled up, I burrowed into my extensive vocabulary and intellectualism. (Believe me, this propensity confuses the hell out of most people, especially if they happen to be horny, and possibly drunk, men) I fired back with:

My ability to critically examine issues, think independently and objectively, not to mention be aware of world and culture history really has no bearing on my spiritual status.

I also tacked a link to my Christmas blog entry. You know, the one about St. Nicholas.

This morning, I found this little gem in my inbox:

That wasn’t my question. Do you believe in God?

There are a number of ways I can proceed with this, none of which I’ve decided. But obviously I spent a great deal of my day and night considering the notion that my sister can’t see the difference between Propoganda and Faith.

The former is the stuff spewed by politicians, lobbyists and special interest groups who call on the name of God and Belief in their own self interest. Kind of like Tom Delay on Chris Matthews discussing the moral superiority of Republicans and oh yeah, himself, when he’s accused of setting up a non-profit organization and allowing Jack Abramoff to pay off their mutual ‘friends’ with the money.

Faith, on the other hand, is private and selfless and benevolent.

There is a part of me that still views my siblngs, all older, much like a small child perceives his/her parents. While we’re all grown, we still remain trapped by our birth order and established familial roles. Therefore I still see them through an awed mist; omnipotent and omniscient. My logical adult self scoffs at this idea, but it does nothing to soothe the little girl with the long chestnut pigtails who always thought her Big Sister was the “coolest”.

So will I answer her inquiry?

Because I shouldn’t have to.

How I live my life is enough.

6 replies on “The Big Philosophical Question Comes Home to Roost”

I believe I prefaced the forworded article as: Something to think about. I did not imply that they were my beliefs or that I agreed with everything that was quoted. It is interesting to see how other people of “faith” spread their propaganta, and as a open minded “older” sibling it is interesting to find out how other feel about such messages being published and sent into cyberspace. I must recieve at least 3 or 4 faith related e-mails a day that I don’t forward to everyone in my address book. Your insight was something I wanted to know. Your answer left me questioning your spirituality. And because I love you unconditionally, I was worried about you.

i wonder about this alot, too..

how in western thinking, we always equate spirituality with the belief that there is a dude in the sky who is watching us.. and sometimes lets things happen to us.. and that he had a kid named jesus who came down here..

i have always thought that this was a pretty large flaw in our thinking.. to think that god is like us..

i really doubt that he is anything like us, really.. i mean.. the dude inevented the universe.. that is pretty impressive..

to box god, the supreme being, or whatever you want to call him into being, thinking, or acting like us is kind of insulting to him, i would think..

i am always amazed when people do ask about why god lets things happen.. like he’s our baby sitter or something.. if he always made sure nothing happened to us… how fun would that be?

on the other side of the coin.. i think it’s also odd how if we say we are buddhist, or wiccan, or hindu, or whatever… americans are generally accepting.. if someone proclaims they are a christian.. they are shunned..

i have found that you find people of high octane faith in the most unlikely places..

Unfortunately too many people who proclaim themselves to “Christian” these days act like dorks. (Refer to the example above) The president of the Catholic League is another one. Everytime he opens his mouth, the latest being to bitch about “The DaVinci Code”, I’m embarrassed for Catholics around the world. In this state alone, there are churches who might lose their non-profit tax status for hosting fundraisers for Gov. Candidate Blackwell. In the last presidential election, he told a prosecutor to disallow a big stack of voter registration forms, and the prosecutor refused, citing it was ‘against the law’. The man, in essence, attempted to rig the election results. How can these particular churches, if they claim to be ethical, support him?

I think the question here is, do you have to be a Christian, and believe in a “type-specific God” in order to be “saved,” which is what so many of the people in the newer “Christion religious denominations” in America claim, or can we truly believe, as I do, that the true God, or Allah, or Buddah, or Creator, whoever one chooses to call Him (or Her) would not choose to PUNISH us with hurricanes and 9/11 and AIDS because we are homosexuals, drinkers, play rock and roll music, and are fornicators and whatever else they choose to think is wrong? Utter crap. CRAP I say. Weather happens. Things happen. God is NOT a punisher. I do NOT believe that with every core of my being. What we choose to do with the things that happen sometimes is what God really wants us to learn from. Does it always make sense? No. Hell, no. Does it hurt like a mother? Hell, yes. Does it piss us off and make us do dumb shit? Yes. But hopefully something good comes out of it all. We learn something, we grow, we come out of it stronger, we bring something else to the table, something. I also received that email. What I DID like about it was the beginning part – is that I am also sick of people choosing their words carefully every time they speak for fear of offending someone. Say Merry Christmas, for Chrissake. Say Happy Hannukkah, right after, if the person says they are Jewish, with a heartfelt apology, and then get on with it. Geesh. THEY will. Everybody gets so worked up about everything. If you want to be religious, be religious. But don’t come to my house and try to save me during my dinner. And don’t tell me I’m going to hell if I go to a different church. If I go to church (even if I don’t go that often – maybe if I don’t really go at all) and I’m a good person, I ain’t goin’ to hell, and you can’t tell me otherwise. “I am who I am” – Popeye

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