Category Archives: religion

Angel Thinking

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Yes, you are about to read more Mickian nonsense about an agnostical atheist who believes angels are real.  Heck, I not only believe in angels, I am one.

The word itself comes from Biblical Greek where angelos was the word for messenger.  And because the pre-twelfth century translators of the Bible looked at the “el” part and thought of the Hebrew word that meant “God”, they used angel to mean a messenger from God.

Now, I am not being a sacrilegious atheist when I claim to be an angel.  That is mainly because I am not technically an atheist.  I do believe that a spiritual creative essence informs the universe, but I am actually an agnostic because that means I actually don’t know anything   “A” for “not” and “gnostic” for “a know-er of stuff”.   I am a teleological idiot because I actually don’t know anything about anything.  But I do have the ability to look at evidence, weigh it, and reach a logical conclusion about what is most probably true, and I firmly believe in that  only until more evidence comes along.  I believe that particular thinking process is what is known as science (at least until better evidence comes along).  So, scientifically considering the issue, I stupidly believe I am an angel.  I bring possible knowledge from God.

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Grandma Beyer used to have a picture like this in sepia tones on her bedroom wall in Mason City.  I studied that guardian angel picture for hours as a child.

Thinking about stuff hard enough gives you insight, at least if you don’t over-heat your brain with hard thinking and catch your hair on fire.  A lot of stuff has been happening that I have been thinking hard about.  Here are some examples.

  1. Donald Trump is proving to be a really epically bad president.
  2. There are multiple really epically bad hurricanes forming one after another in the Atlantic.
  3. The spell-checker on WordPress hates how I spell epically.
  4. A monster earthquake hit Mexico.
  5. The Bible has this book in it called Revelations that calls for bad weather and earthquakes and a battle called Armageddon that will bring an end to everything.
  6. Kim Jong Un is an epically bad leader in North Korea who has nukes.
  7. It is easy to see where the unavoidable conclusion is headed in angelic “message from God” terms.
  8. Satan was an angel too.

So, as an angel, here is what I believe God is saying;

“As human beings, we all need to learn to love one another more.  Love is the only answer that cures hate.”  – God (No, really, he said this to me!)

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Seriously.  We need to take the weather anomalies as a sign that the time for climate change denial is long over.  We need to work together with all people on the planet to lovingly change those things we do that have caused the crisis.  We need to lovingly make peace with North Korea.  Fighting them will only lead to the Biblical ending of the story coming to pass.   I have an anomalous agnostical faith that there is a lot of truth in the Christian Bible.  (The spell checker doesn’t like “agnostical” either.)  Loving other people besides ourselves and the people who know and love us is the only possible solution to the problems before us.

Of course, I am saying all this angelic crappola tongue-in-cheek because I am, after all, a humorist, and I agnostically don’t know anything at all.  But that doesn’t mean I don’t mean what I say.

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Why Do You Think That? Part 5

On a sleepy summer Sunday it is only natural to think thoughts about God.  And I have to include Jesus and Christianity in all of that meditation.  After all, as a boy I attended Sunday school on Sunday morning in the Rowan Methodist Church and then would attend the Sunday service with my mother and father, brother, and two sisters.  We would sing songs from the Methodist hymnal.

But here’s the kicker.  Over time I have studied and learned science, how the world really works, and how people really act.  I have noticed that most of the most intelligent writers, scientists, and thinkers are atheists and agnostics.  I have had to make my peace with these things;

  • There is no life after death.
  • Jesus may not have been a real person.
  • If he was real, he had very little in common with the Jesus we worship.
  • Jesus doesn’t need to be real to have value in my life.
  • There is no white-haired old man sitting on a throne in heaven.
  • There is no heaven.
  • If there is no heaven, then there certainly is no hell.
  • We are all connected… even those of us who don’t live on this planet, in this galaxy.

So I guess, that makes me an atheist who believes in the existence of God.  And because of this moronic oxymoron, my thesis now has to be; Even atheists have a need for religion.

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Saint Raphael

Yes, when it comes to religion, I am an idiot.  Just like all the rest of you are.  Mark Twain once said something like, “Religion is the firmly held belief in what you know ain’t so.”  That misquote, of course, is taken entirely on faith from a vague memory of a passage in the short story “Captain Stormfield’s Visit to Heaven”

Of course, I am not saying that I find no value in religion.  I was associated with Jehovah’s Witnesses for almost twenty years because that was the religion my wife clings to.  They are a Bible-based religion with a strict literalist interpretation of scripture who are expecting the end of the world, this “wicked system of things” at any moment now and go around knocking on doors and giving away free Bible literature with their own Truth professionally printed to save as many of the unbelievers as possible.  Don’t get me wrong.  I have never really fully accepted what they believe.  But I have freely participated.  Their belief system makes them some of the most loving, self-sacrificing people you could ever meet.  They are non-violent and believe in helping everybody no matter how far they have to bend over backwards to do it.  There are very good things in the Bible about living a moral life that are absolutely true and will make you and your children into better people.  But here’s the most important thing about living that kind of life.  If you are doing it for the promised rewards of eternal life, then you are doing it wrong.  The goodness you do in this life and the love you both give and receive is the only heaven there is.  Hardship taken on as a sacrifice to a loving God gets you nothing but the feeling that you have done the right thing.  But let me assure you, that feeling is a treasure greater than fine gold.  That mental state you create for yourself is the whole point and purpose of religion.

 

I do realize that liars are the people most likely to say, “Believe me…” before telling you something is true, but believe me, I don’t expect you to accept my cold clinical dissection of what religion is in my world view.  I want you to believe whatever you believe is true about Jesus, Jehovah, Allah, or Budda…  or nirvana or existentialism or science.  I accept you and love you for who you are.  The important thing is that we are all connected.  Most religions make us nicer to each other and make us more loving and kind, as long as we are not allowing ourselves to fall victim to the dark side that exists in every religion.  When your religion tells you to hate something, especially when it tells you to do something to punish that something you hate, especially especially if that something you hate is another person of some kind, then that’s where Eve is biting the apple, that’s where all the trouble starts.

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Don’t let atheists tell you they don’t believe in anything.  I hear Neal DeGrasse Tyson talk about being made of star stuff and teach about the connections we have with everything in the universe.  Listen to him yourself on Cosmos talking about the wonders of science and the human quest to know, and tell me if you don’t hear hymns to God in his reverent explanations.  He just knows God in a different form than you do.

So here is my humble conclusion on a sleepy summer Sunday morning when my meditations drift back to a boyhood of telling Jesus jokes in the down-time during Sunday school.  I am an atheist who believes in a loving God.  And even atheists need God in their life.

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Evidence There is a Living God

A humorist does well to remember that you should not joke about religion.  God does have a sense of humor.  But it is a sense of humor backed by the ever-present threat of being struck by lightning.  And among religious types, a sense of humor is about as common as a nudist wandering into the midst of a porcupine convention just as the thistle-pigs begin arguing about whether or not God is actually a porcupine.

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On the question of God and whether we actually have one, or whether he’s alive or not, we often turn to philosophers for insight.  Friedrich Nietzsche was a philosopher with a hard to spell name.  People often turn to him for evidence of god and the accompanying God-thoughts.

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But it is entirely possible that Nietzsche did not get the absolute last word on the matter.

Nietzsche was a bit of a poozer when it comes to questions about God.  He said that God is dead because the big guy in the sky didn’t seem to be active in the world.  At least, not since Bible times.

And if we are supposed to believe that God Jehovah is real because he’s written down in a magic book that so very many people believe in, they why isn’t god Thor to be believed in any more?  He’s written down in some very old books too.  And isn’t the story about how Thor almost drank the ocean dry on a bet just as impressive as Jehovah parting the Red Sea for Moses?

But Nietzsche wasn’t a complete and total poozer.  He did have some wonderful things to say along with the klunky and hard-to-understand God stuff he said.

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It takes a big mind in a big head to think of making the stars dance just by generating chaos-waves in your big old head.  That’s the kind of big idea that could become a religion of its own… if Nietzsche wasn’t already dead, of course.

But I tend to believe there really is a living God.  My sister posted an old picture of some of the reasons why on Facebook today.

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My thing one, thing two, and thing three (in the baby carrier with her feet up) are all the reason I need to believe in miracles.  Thing one was recently promoted to Corporal in the Marines.  Thing Two has applied for a job at Walmart, and thing three will be a sophomore in high school this fall.  Grandma Aldrich is in the middle between thing one and my sister’s girl.  The little blond one on the left is my sister’s kid too.  All of them are miracles in human form.  Grandma Aldrich is gone now.  She died not long after this picture was taken.  But her life resonates through mine, and through me to my children and nieces and nephews also. I would not be me if it wasn’t for her.

So there is proof of a living God.  Everything that exists cannot be erased from existence, even when it disappears from memory.  So we are all eternal.  We  all have touched the stars… at least, in a metaphorical sense.  And our bodies, science has proved, are made of star stuff in a literal sense.  So it is not too much of a stretch to believe we can make the stars dance.

And if my quasi-religious joking around has God thinking about how to apply a good thunderbolt, well, I was making fun of Nietzsche… wasn’t I?

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The Right Words

I discovered a new artist today.  I was reading posts in the Facebook writer’s group, 1000 Voices for Compassion.  And there in a post by Corinne Rodrigues was a YouTube video by Andrew Peterson.  And it was a miracle.  I clicked on the video and he sang my soul.  Here is the original blog post.  And here is the video.

Yesterday I posted a self-reflected goopy bit of nonsense about how I write and draw.  Today, I realized I haven’t explained why I write and draw.

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You can capture it in words.  You can capture it in pictures.  Like Andrew Peterson did, you can capture it in music.  It is deep and profound and eternal… and you can’t really explain it, but it is the singularity… the right word… the way to caress the very face of God.

 

This music from Andrew Peterson is musical poetry that expresses love in terms of romance and religion.  Love of the significant other is equal to and intertwined with the love of God.  There is a truth in that, and a fundamental reason why despite how religion has let me down, I will never be an atheist again.  Through the right words I have come to know God.  I speak to him daily.  I spent twenty years as a Jehovah’s Witness, even to the point of knocking on doors and sharing the little pamphlets that are supposed to contain the capital “T” Truth.  I can’t do that any more, though.  The thing is, they believe the chosen of God, the only people who can reach paradise, are the people who all say and do and believe the very same thing, the very same words.  Anyone else is left to destruction.  No paradise.  No life after death.  And they clearly tell you what the words are, and you must repeat them like a magic spell.  Peterson’s music is forbidden.  JW’s don’t want you to listen to anyone’s words but their own.  So, since this is Christian music, but not JW Christianity, it is the work of the devil, trying to lead you to destruction.  What kind of selfishness is this?  And yes, I have repeatedly been shown the words in the Bible that say that this is so.  But I have stopped believing that all words in the Bible are the right words.  When the Bible speaks of love… those are the right words.  When the Bible speaks about what you must hate and who is condemned… those are not.

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You may have noticed that I have obsessively searched out and shared this Andrew Peterson music.  I do that when I find the right words… good words… I obsessively want to find more and more.  I did that once with butterflies.  When I was a boy, I chased them down with nets and collected them.  But you have to put butterflies in killing jars and then mount them on pins and Styrofoam boards to collect them.  I realized too late that this was not the right way to treat them.  You have to let them flutter in the sunshine and float on the breeze.  You have to let them live.  And so must you do with the right words when you find them.  You must use them and share them and let them live.

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Yes, the reason I write is because my life has been lived and it is coming to an end.  But it is a good life.  A life filled with wisdom and love and the very best of those words I have collected in butterfly nets over time.  And I must share those very right words… and let them live because they are beautiful and true… and it is simply who I have to be.

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Wisdom From the Bob Ross Bible

If there is a Church of Sacred Landscapes then Bob Ross is its Jesus Christ.  That is not a sacrilegious statement of bizarre cult-mindedness.  Painting is a religion that has its tenets.  And Bob Ross explained to us the will of God on his painting show on PBS.  All the illustrations used in this post come from the Facebook page Joy of Painting with Bob Ross. All the wisdom comes from things the Master said on the show.

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Bob Ross was the prophet of the paintbrush.  He would present us with a lightly prepared canvas at the beginning of the show and then proceed on camera to take his brush and palette knife, and all his paints, and create a piece of the world before our very eyes.  And he was not Picasso or Van Gogh or even Norman Rockwell.  He was not a talented artist, but rather a very practiced one who knew all the tricks and shortcuts to sofa painting, the art of knocking out scene after scene after scene.  He could make his little piece of the world in only half an hour, and he made it obvious how we could do the same.  His work was not gallery quality… but his teachings were Jesus-worthy.1918971_1025737477472968_4026443126606690255_n

His work was natural, flowing, and realistic in the random complexity it presented.  He took standard paintbrush strokes and pallet knife tricks and made them dance across the canvas to make happy little trees.

His painting methods presented us with a philosophy of life and a method of dealing with whatever mistakes we might make.

And of course, any good religion must take into account the existence of evil.

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Bob Ross tells us that evil is necessary as a contrast to what is good and what is true.  We need the dark.  But we don’t have to embrace it.  Bob’s paintings were never about the dark bits.  He always gravitated towards the light.

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Of course, sometimes you have to beat back the darkness.  A good artist takes care of his tools.

Bob Ross admonishes us to look and to learn and love what we see.  The man radiated a calm, gentle nature that makes him a natural leader.  His simple, countrified wisdom resonates because we need calm and pastoral peace in our lives.  It is one of the main reasons mankind needs religion.

So I definitely think we ought to consider building a Bob-Rossian Church of the Sacred Landscapes.  We have our prophet.  The man has passed away, yet he is risen to paint again endlessly on YouTube.

And if you are willing to try… Bob Ross will smile upon you.

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Monkey-Wild About “Peanuts”

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Yesterday the Peanuts Movie came to the dollar movie theater in Carrollton.  And my two kids at home and me went to it.  I invited my wife, but with the righteous indignation of a Jehovah’s Witness unshakable in her beliefs, she said, “Why would I want to go to a Christmas movie?”  She associated it not with the beloved comic strip in the newspapers, but with the old Christmas special.  And she would not be talked into it.  It is a matter of faith, after all.  Celebrating Christmas, naturally, loses you the chance to live happily ever after on a paradise Earth… after Jehovah God smites all the wicked people and all the deluded people who never worshiped him properly using his proper name, and also that rude postman my wife doesn’t particularly like.  Of course, it is not a Christmas movie.  The only Christmas part it has in it is a brief Christmas carol from the old TV special that Snoopy ruins.  So God didn’t punish us for enjoying this movie… at least, not yet.

We unrepentantly enjoyed the movie.  I enjoyed it as a culmination of more than 50 years of reading and laughing at Charles
Schulz’s satire of the uncertainties of childhood as they affect the whole of our adult lives.  My kids loved it because it is an excellent cartoon that is filled with hilarious moments that trace directly back to the comic strip.

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The central story is about Charlie Brown’s self doubts mixed with his never-ending crush on the little red-haired girl.  In his own hesitant, hide-behind-the-bushes style, Charlie pursues her and plans how he might win her heart.  In the comics, it never worked out.  He always failed.  He was always the lovable loser, and the red-haired girl never noticed.

I was inspired to write a poem about it because I could so deeply identify with his crisis of confidence.  Here is that sappy poem;

Little Red-Haired Girl

You never told her that you loved her, Charlie Brown

That little red-haired girl, so cute, so nice

You only looked and looked from afar

You never told her that you loved her, Charlie Brown

You could’ve held her hand

You could’ve walked her home from school

You never told her that you loved her, Charlie Brown

She never got your Valentine

At least, you forgot to sign your name

You never told her that you loved her, Charlie Brown

No hope of marriage now, nor children

Happily ever after has now long gone

You never told her that you loved her, Charlie Brown

Now every love poem is a sad poem

And the world is blue and down

You never told her that you loved her…

You never told her that you loved her…

You never told her that you loved her, Charlie Brown

 

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The main story is paralleled in Snoopy’s Red Baron fantasies as the movie goes along.  The lady-dog-pilot, Fifi, is kidnapped by the Red Baron.  Snoopy, the dashing, daring WWI pilot sets out in his Sopwith Camel dog house to rescue her.  And after being foiled several times… he succeeds!  And not long after, Charlie Brown himself succeeds.  The little red-haired girl actually chooses Charlie Brown to be her summer pen pal project buddy.  I should probably be outraged because in the comic strip she never knew he was even alive… But I loved the happy ending.  Charlie Brown deserves it.  I deserve it.  I believe even Charles Shulz would be charmed by it if he were still alive to see it.

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I apologize if I spoiled the movie for you, but it is something you should already know anyway if you ever read and loved the comic strip.  It is not the surprises that make this movie work.  It is the being true to a time-honored comic-strip and the bringing of it so completely and so beautifully to life.  And my wife looked again at the movie trailers and decided she had been wrong about it being a Christmas movie.  Maybe we are not doomed after all.

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The Jesus Logic

Danse 4Here is a syllogism to explain Jesus logic;

  1. Jesus walked on water.
  2. Cucumbers are 80 per cent water.
  3. I can walk on cucumbers.
  4. Therefore I must be 80 per cent Jesus.

Here is another.

  1. Jesus turned water into wine.
  2. I can drink wine and turn it into urine.
  3. Urine is an icky kind of water.
  4. Since I can do the opposite of Jesus, I must be the anti-Christ.

You can draw your own conclusions about the mathematics of believing in religion.  I have no qualms about letting others believe whatever they want to believe about the universe, its purpose, and who made it.  I think it is very pompous and self-serving to think you are qualified, either from science or faith, to say you know the absolute truth about those things and others must accept your logical conclusions.  Here is my own pompous and self-serving opinion.  There is a God. I know this because I talk to Him daily.  He speaks to me through signs and resonances and Bible-reading and feelings.  But, here’s the rub; I have hoarding disorder and diabetic depression and other mental illnesses.  Since I am crazy, you probably shouldn’t believe the voices in my head that I listen to.  But I get comfort from my belief in God.  Christianity teaches that we should love one another.  This, I think, is the most important truth we can possibly accept.  Part of loving others is not condemning them for what they believe and trying to impose my beliefs upon them.  God, to me, is everything that there is.  The universe around me is vast and complicated.  I will never know even a half a grain of sand worth of all the knowledge wrapped up in grains of sand on all the beaches on all the planets in the universe.  But the universe is alive and self-aware because I am alive and self-aware, and I am part of the universe.  And here’s the kicker, my conclusions about life, the universe, and everything make no more sense than the Jesus logic I presented at the outset.  After all, I am provably crazy.

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