If I Was God: Disasters

indonesia plane victims

We see it and hear it again:  another disaster with loss of many lives.

A real tragedy.  Natural sadness and grief.

But, predictable as ever, super-natural faith appears to tell us what God was up to in this terrible event.

We hear it again and again. . .miracle of miracles. . .some are saved!

It was no stroke of luck but an act of God that her father caught hepatitis, said Inge Goreti Ferdiningsih, because it made her family cancel their tickets on the AirAsia flight a day before it took off.
“We are extremely grateful, and God is really great,” she said. “I believe that God is saving and protecting us, and this is truly a miracle.” (CNN)

And for another family:

“Maybe it is all God’s plan that my family and I were not on the flight,” Christianawati said. “It was a blessing in disguise.”

Sunday evening, the family went to church to give thanks.
But mixed with Inge Goreti’s tears of relief have been tears of sadness. She recognized names on Flight QZ8501’s passenger manifest, she said.
Friends and colleagues were on board.

If I was God. . .

I might explain to these people, maybe via images of the hundreds killed, that if I really was the God who saved them–saved THEM, and killed all the others– maybe I wasn’t really worthy of being their God, or any God at all.

If I was a reasonable, rational God (these are hard to find), I might simply say, or perhaps SHOUT:  NO, I didn’t save you and let all the rest die.  There was a mechanical malfunction or weather event or terrorist act that brought the plane down.  I had nothing to do with it.  And you just happened to miss the flight (that’s just the way it worked out for you and didn’t work out for the others).  Sad isn’t it?  Happy for you. . .whoopee, you’re alive!  But what about all the other lives lost?  Learn humility.  Learn something from this.  But don’t think you’re Oh So Special that I “Saved You” and let all those other innocent lives perish!  Save your prayers and thanks.  I’m really very tired of those.

Something like that.  If I was God.  But then, I’m not.  And aren’t you glad?  God the Truth-Teller can really be Mean, can’t he. . .or she. . .or it. . .or them. . .

Grief does strange things to people.  And so does faith.

Santa Fraud

DSCF9125
Christmasun. . .by a Christmason

This season has been beautiful in many ways, especially with the rains, the green and a bright sunny walk by the ocean on my Christmas Birthday.

The darker side was shown by scammers and frauds.  An elderly person I work with was “taken” by a phone scam and lost hundreds of dollars.  A professional woman I know was contacted by an “officer” threatening arrest if she didn’t give money.  Another man was approached by a fake IRS agent.

All during the holidays, at Christmas time.

If I believed in Hell, there would be an especially HOT place reserved for these crooks.

This caused me to reflect for a few minutes on the Frauds of Faith. . .

the Sacred Scams.

We’re raised to believe in an obese white fellow (who lives in the land of dark-skinned natives!) who flies around in a bright red suit with super-powered reindeer and somehow squeezes down sooty chimneys (or some kind of breaking-and-entering if you don’t have a chimney) all over the world to bring “just what I wanted!” to millions of children.

Then, we grow up and Poof!  We laugh and move on.

Billions more are raised with fantastic stories of holy babies, ladies in nightgowns floating and singing in the sky and stars that “stop” over one special barn on the planet.  All to teach us to believe right and to believe enough so we’ll get to go to a golden city in the clouds when we die.

Is there a Number I can call to report this?!

(Happy postscript:  the elderly lady who was scammed received a call from a news station that donations poured in after her story appeared and she will get back every dollar she lost!  I very Merry Christmas for her!  I guess we could say there really is a “spirit of the season”. . .with no harps and wings)

More Secular Chaplain Posters for the Holidays!

christmas critter
Posters aren’t this cute. . .but aren’t so cruel either!

These FREE posters are in HIGH demand (slight exaggeration there), so I’ve made more of them to tack on church doors, slip into pew bibles, use as menorah candles or wrap your yule log in (oh, I guess that might not work!).

Have fun. . .think. . .and have more fun. . .into the New Year!

The Best Holiday is NOT a Holyday

Secular Season Greetings

Peace on Earth. . .Between Religions, Beyond Religion

Stars Don’t Stop over Anyone

A Virgin is with Child

I Never Give to Bell Ringers

Every Baby brings a Message

Make Up Your Own Traditions

MORE FREE POSTERS

Cub Scout’s Honor!

Old tattered scout handkerchief
Old tattered scout handkerchief

It’s only been, oh, let’s say, 50 years, since I wore this Cub Scout kerchief.  I still take it with me on hikes to wipe the. . .well, you can guess.  Now and then someone on the trail will recognize it.  “Hey, isn’t that from the Scouts”?

For some reason I never went on to Boy Scouts or Eagle Scouts.  Maybe sports and academics and, of course, Church, took the place of that.  Scouting for goals, grades and god I suppose (oh, and girls!).

But along the way, and over all these years, I never have forgotten the Scout Oath:

“On my honor, I will do my best, to do my duty to God and Country; to be square, and to obey the law of the pack.”

Honor.  Doing one’s best.  Those still seem like very good things.

Duty to God?  Didn’t really understand it then (whose God were we talking about?) and after years of church and bible and prayer and theology and ministry and “being a good believer” I never did discover what “duty” meant.  Follow commands (bibles or bishops)?  Do good?  That shouldn’t be a “duty” should it?

To Be Square!  I love that!  Anyone remember when people said, “Yeah, s/he’s so square!”?

square

I took this to mean, have clean, clear edges (straight-laced).  Honesty, integrity, cleanlinesss.  In other words, Be a Good Boy!  As my grandfather said, “Keep your nose clean.”  Ok.

To Obey the Law of the Pack!  Oh boy.  Well, we were the Wolf Pack but I don’t think we learned much about protecting the endangered wolves.  I suppose this instilled in our young minds that we ought to fall in line and not step out of line to mess up the Laws set down by any Authorities:  Den Mother, Parents, Teachers, Ministers, Police, President, and God, of course.  Follow, obey and don’t question.

I remember that being a scout was a lot of fun.  And my knot-tying and collections to earn badges were silly but brought praise from adults.  Learning to camp and to enjoy the outdoors were highlights of my scout time.

Whenever I pull out the old shredded kerchief to wipe my brow I think of scouting.  How I learned to scout for the good, the best, in myself and others, to appreciate the wildness of Nature, and to seek a “pack”–a community–where I could be a leader and learn from others how to live honorably.

I guess I’ll always be a scout.  Not as square as they may want to make me.  Maybe not as dutiful to someone’s God.  But childlike, wolflike and a little wild, while seeking and scouting for the best.

Progress in the Religion of Church

libby lane

I’m always pleased when Religion, specifically the Church Religion, takes a step forward, makes progress. . .moves, at all.  Honestly, though, it’s not so pleasing. . .I find it both humorous and sad.

At the moment, we can congratulate the Rev. Libby Lane, the first woman ever named Bishop by the Anglican Church.

Church of England Names Its First Female Bishop

I see she’s served as a hospital Chaplain with a commitment to social causes.  Impressive.  I would guess those orgs will be sad to see her leave the worthy work.

While we’re congratulating this step forward into modern times. . .let’s pause to give thought to this:

The Rev. Libby Lane, who has been a parish priest for 20 years, will be consecrated on Jan. 26, becoming the first woman to hold that position since the church was founded five centuries ago.

Yes, only Five Centuries!  Not since the happy days of King Henry the 8th and his Merry (headless) Wives has the Holy Religion of Man Church heard the Male Voice of God saying, “Ok, I give in, let’s see one of them gals wear the holy dress you guys have been hiding in for all these years.  I’m guessing they will look better in the sacred skirts–and those HATS!”  Or something.

Makes us all wait expectantly for the NEXT “progressive” babystep step of the Religion of Church!

No wonder some of us sense that the Church, and Religion itself, is certainly not a headlight for the forward movement of humanity, but maybe a stoplight. . .or stuck in the trunk. . .or, simply running behind trying desperately to catch up.  (It’s hard to carry all those heavy scriptures, theology  books and creeds while holding up the gilded robes to run without losing your head hat!)

Play the “If I Was God” Game

god and rain

I sometimes love playing the New and Wildly Popular Boardgame and App Sensation, “If I Was God!”  No, it’s not a real game, but I enjoy playing anyway.

Here are some of the Exciting Questions in the Game (how would YOU answer?  Come on, tell us. . .after all, you’re GOD!):

Would I create only one special rock in space for little, fragile, dependent living things, or billions of places for life?

Would I choose to stay invisible and keep everyone fighting over what I look like and whose Invisible God is the best?

Would I make a Hell, and if so, what would it look like?  Who would I send there? (this is a very fun question, isn’t it?  Hint:  Dick Cheney could help if you need an architect. . .or someone to send)

If I made a garden paradise called “Heaven” somewhere in a hidden part of the infinite universe, what would that look like and who would go THERE?  Would I make it one Eternal Church Service where I could be PRAISED for ever. . .FOREVER?  Would my Almighty EGO ever get tired of the hymns and hallelujahs?  Would I enjoy all the GLORY while billions of my “beloved creatures” were tortured in that wonderful HELL I made and sent them to suffer in?

Am I a God who loves BLOOD?  Do I set up a drama where people I have made imperfect have to shed blood or kill an animal before I can forgive them and be a Happy God?

A related bonus question:  Would I be as pleased as a potentate to see dozens of holidays made up for Me,  days and seasons when millions of animals and trees would be killed year after year to show how much people love me as the Lord of LIFE?

What do I do about all the OTHER Gods?  Do we fight?  Do I kill them?  Do I spend most of my time trying to prove I’m the ONLY one?  Or the TRUE one?

Would you make people think You LOOK LIKE THEM, allowing them to make You in THEIR image?

And, here’s the question that started this whole post today. . .

What do I do about PRAYER?  When I hear billions of voices praying for everything at once. . .how do I decide?

Today’s gamers dilemma:

It’s raining buckets here on the Left Coast of the US of A.  I imagine there are thousands, maybe millions, of people Praying for Rain. . .and millions of others Praying for the Rain to STOP.

If I was God, which prayers would I listen to and answer?  How would I decide whose prayers WIN and whose LOSE?

And, while we’re playing about praying:

Billions of believers pray for God to protect the children, to bring peace, to heal disease, to “save”. . .

If you were God, how would you decide to act?  Would YOU, Your Awesomeness, Just Do all those good things to show Your love?

GAME OVER.  Aren’t you glad you AREN’T GOD?!

See you next time. . .

Feathery Walk Following Rain

Walking in the rain can be exhilarating.  Walking just after a good rain is great too.  I “captured and shot” these local residents in the natural neighborhood today.  This makes it easy to see why I like this Season of Giving–Nature’s Giving.

Animals in Heaven, saith the Papa

barsotti-dog-heaven

I like much of what Pope Francis comes out with.  While I’m not at all popish, his latest remarks on animals going to heaven* seem based more on childlike thinking.  In fact, he was comforting a child who lost his dog.  That’s sweet and cute.  Probably bad theology and bible-bumbling, but still a nice thing to say.  I guess.

But I have to say I was a bit startled by a few things in this Seattle Times article.

Christine Gutleben, senior director of faith outreach at the Humane Society, the largest animal-protection group in the United States [said]. “Almost immediately, everybody was talking about it.”

The Humane Society has a Director of Faith Outreach?!  Oh brother.

Anyway, only a comment by a pope about animals in heaven could get the Catholic Church all stirred up for yet another angels-on-a-pinhead debate (oh, wait, there’s also those pesky issues of the rights of women, gays, etc).

Oh, but then, wait a minute!  PETA has faith outreach too!  What?

Sarah Withrow King, director of Christian outreach and engagement at PETA, said the pope’s remarks vindicated the biblical portrayal of heaven as peaceful and loving, and could influence eating habits, moving Catholics away from consuming meat — something she said had already been happening anyway.

“It’s a vegan world, life over death and peace between species,” she said. “I’m not a Catholic historian, but PETA’s motto is that animals aren’t ours, and Christians agree. Animals aren’t ours, they’re God’s.”

Right.  Animals belong to God.  I guess that means that baboons are believers too?  Odd that we don’t see any spiders, snakes or mosquitoes in this picture:

Francis and animals

So here’s the picture (no one wants to talk about):  Heaven is one huge, jam-packed Church Service where every Christian (that’s TRUE Christian) will worship and praise God for Eternity (that’s Forever) and right alongside them all (at their feet and on their laps and shoulders) will be Every Animal that Ever Lived!  Holy Stables!

I wonder how the janitor angels feel about cleaning up the Cloud Church after the T-Rex Herd has been there worshipping along with Billions of Believers?  And it has to be really hard to concentrate on singing Handel’s Messiah for the 2 millionth time with all those clouds of mosquitoes and flies!

See what absurdity this all leads to?

(but I secretly hope that cute little puppies and kittens go to Happyland when they. . .gulp. . .die!)

*It appears it was another Papa who said this. . .but Popes will be Popes