Offending the Devil


If I was Satan, I’d be offended!

Even the Devil gets disrespected sometimes!

The Greatest Enforcer of Evil in the Universe, created with a “mission” from God (!) and His Evilness is so often Ignored!

The tragic crush of people on Hajj in Saudi Arabia this week is indeed sad.  No one wants to see this kind of thing happen to pilgrims.

So, the blame game is on.

The government is taking heat, but the Top Religious Leader in Arabia has the perfect explanation.  Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin-Abdullah al-Sheikh (uh, hmm) told the government not to worry.  It’s not THEIR fault.

“You are not responsible for what happened,” the grand mufti said.

“As for the things that humans cannot control, you are not blamed for them. Fate and destiny are inevitable.”

But wait a minute!  Millions of pilgrims were on their way to Throw Stones at the Devil.  Billions have tossed rocks at the pillars in Mina for a very long time.  So what about the most Obvious Explanation for Tragedy?

The Devil–Satan Himself–should be pretty pissed off by now!  Wouldn’t YOU, if people travelled across the world every year to throw rocks at You!?

My simple question is this:  Why not simply blame the Devil for the tragedy?  And then, in the same breath, excuse Satan for just protecting himself?

Wouldn’t that be the logical Religious Explanation?

Sometimes, I feel bad for the Bad Guy, don’t you?  He gets such little respect

. . .and just look at that FACE!

Lord, Teach Us NOT to Pray


The Pope’s on the move. . .

A New Saint (Serra) is on the way. . .

Faith is on the march all over. . .

along with

Wars and refugees, fires and floods and suffering and death all around. . .

There must be Something we can do!

Millions close their eyes, fold their hands or raise their arms to the sky.

Millions put their heads to the floor or dance in circles or stare at a wall.

Millions go into dark places and sit, or sing, or speak to Someone who may be listening. . .at least they hope there is an ear to hear, to hear their words, their concerns, their hopes.

Millions want more “Prayer in the Public Square” and like to draw attention to themselves as great “Prayer Warriors” who stand proud in their self-righteousness closeness to God.

I spent many years of my life doing just that.  Praying, pleading, hoping for Someone to do Something for me, for those I love, for my world.

After I stopped praying, “my eyes were opened and I recognized him”–I recognized Me–all that praying was really about Me.  I saw myself and my world much clearer.

This isn’t to say taking a little time out for reflection, for serious thought and contemplation, isn’t important.  I think that can be very helpful, especially for those of us who are way too busy with. . .busy-ness.

But what if we began to hear more people say a new kind of prayer, a prayer beyond prayer, a prayer to stop praying?!

“Lord, teach me NOT to pray.

Teach me that asking and pleading and begging and praising and worshipping and repeating the same words and verses over and over, week after week, year after year. . .are not helping–not really helping me or my world.

Teach me that prayer really focuses attention on ME–that I’m a child begging for attention and that’s doing nobody any good.

Lord, teach me to be silent more and listen–to listen to those in my world who are asking ME for help; who are looking to me for support and healthcare and homes and respect.

You don’t need my incessant words anyway, Lord.  Why don’t You do what You do, and I’ll do what I can, to make the world better?

Bye now, Lord.”

Wouldn’t that be something!  Maybe it would be a “Last Prayer.”

I don’t remember what MY last prayer was, but I suppose it was this kind of “signing off,” hanging up, letting go of needing, always needing an Ear in the Sky, an Eye to see Me and always be My personal Helper out there, up there.

Is it time for a New Call to Prayer?  A bell-ringing that calls to the End of Prayer?

We Can’t Escape “God”


A bit of wisdom today from naturalist John Burroughs (friend of John Muir,  Walt Whitman, Teddy Roosevelt and Thomas Edison):

“If a person can live without God in this world, there is not the slightest doubt but that he can live without him in the next, and the next, and have just as good a time.  How childish this talk is, that we can be nearer God, nearer heaven, in some other world, than we are here!  What irreligion and atheism it is!  The child in its mother’s womb is no nearer its mother than you and I and all people are at all times near God.  Does not the Book say, ‘In him we live, and move, and have our being’?  This is the literal truth, whoever says it, or denies it.  The great embosoming Power and Life of the Universe–call it God, or call it what you will–we can no more escape from, or live independent of, than we can escape from the air.  Out of this mountain races and sects carve their gods, make them in their own images, and set them up on various pedestals, far or near.”

{Journals, March 2, 1883}

Do You Live in This State?

Homer fear

I’ve travelled around a lot of states, and I’ve lived in a couple of states in these “united” states.  Now it seems there are many who want us to live in One Central State:

The State of Fear.

On NEWS sites:  “THEY” are coming!  (Hurricanes, Fires, Earthquakes, Immigrants, Terrorists, Sharks, Sharks with Guns. . .endless scary things)

Today on FAUX (Fox) “News”:  Headlines of “Monster Germs,” or “The Government” (the biggest Monster for them), “Terror,” with a photo of a gun pointing at me.  Worst of all:  shots of Naked Celebri-tease!

The Prez Candidates:  “THEM. . .the OTHER Guys are Coming!”  “THEY aren’t as ‘Merican as I am!”  “Their ideas are Dangerous!”  “I be Very Smart–I know Siance,” and “God wants ME to be a Leeder” (you know the shrill-drill)

Then, there’s Religion.  Afraid we’re not pleasing our God; afraid God will be angry with us; afraid we don’t read the bible or go to church enough; afraid we’ll be caught on Ashley Madison; afraid of HELL!  Especially afraid of THEM A-T-ESTS!

Mix these all together and we have a State of Neverending Emergency. . .a State of Loud Fire Alarms and Clanking Bells. . .

It’s hard for them, and for all of us, to relax and de-stress, to have some time to see the Beauty of Life and do some good, especially when we’re told over and over to be afraid by people who want every one of us to believe we live in a Burning House always under threat.  They desperately want us to agree with them when they scream it or preach it:

Live in a Perpetual State of Fear!

Be Afraid. . .be Very Afraid!

Or not. . .

It’s your choice. . .and mine. . .what State we Live in.

“True” Story. . .I Went to Hell!

Tomorrow in Hell

With a burning desire to speak out and a (very thirsty) tongue-in-cheek. . .

The following is a “true” story (feel free to ignore the quotations).

So many people are writing “true” stories of going to Heaven.

Well, I may be the first to tell this incredible, truer than “true” story. . .

I went to Hell!  And came back to tell the world about it (and hopefully write a bestseller and have a blockbuster movie made!).

I might have been dreaming but one mid-afternoon, as a lay on my lawnchair (haven’t had one for years, but it appeared and I had to use it) looking up into the sun coming through the trees, a black and white bird landed on the branch above me and something dropped.  When I opened my eyes. . .

I was in HELL.

I didn’t know what else to call it.  It was just so. . .hellish.

I stood on the edge of a burning lake and looked down at my melted sandals.  It was hot, but “hot” can’t describe the heat.  It was like standing on the surface of the SUN, but since I’ve never done that–you just have to believe me when I say it was HOT.

This is a short “true” story, so let me describe what I saw:

All around this lake were people (and a lot of dogs), and thousands, millions, maybe billions, were swimming too.  They almost looked like they were having fun, diving in, catching some rays and getting great exercise, but their screams gave it away:  this was Suffering Central–the anti-paradise.  I couldn’t tell if the the howls were louder from the people or the dogs.

Then something truly awful happened.  I started to recognize people (and a dog that once bit me).  I saw children I used to play with in school; I saw some of my cousins; I saw my dear, sweet grandmother and my cigar-chewing grandfather.  Then, Oh Hell, I saw some of my beloved teachers and. . .then the worst:  My Parents!  This can’t be!  My parents were good churchgoing people.  Among the kindest, most loving people I’ve ever known.  Dad mowed the church lawn every week, gave generously to the offering plate, said grace before Every meal, and had a very deep faith (I thought!).  Mom was my great inspiration!  Why were these good folks here in Hell?

Oh, it gets worse!

I waded into the firey lake (the sand was getting hot. . .oddly, the lake fire was slightly cooler), and I was startled to see Neanderthals and African peoples I’d read about in National Geographic.  There were Vikings and Goths and Mongols, Romans and, as far as I could see, every Religion was represented (I could tell from the symbols on their bathing suits).  I saw endless faces of people of all colors and languages from all lands, screaming out in their own tongues.  It was almost beautiful. . .a Choir. . .almost.

This couldn’t be!  Suddenly swimming up to me:  Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Emperor Marcus Aurelius, then, George Washington!  What!?  Then Jefferson and Lincoln and John Muir!  John Muir??

Ok, I had to ASK someone what was going on here?

Just at that moment, a white-robed figure glowing brighter than all the fire appeared beside me and put his hand on my shoulder.  I recognized him–or maybe it was Her–:  it was GOD!  Well, I guessed it was God and can’t say I’d seen him before, but I KNEW it must be The One.

A calm voice spoke:  “My child.  I know you’re confused.  This is a pretty bad scene.  Don’t be afraid.  You see you’re not alone.  You are here to suffer with good company.  And don’t worry, all you see and feel is a part of my divine plan of Love.”

I stared at this bright, smiling face with a skeptical expression.

The voice continued:  “I know it must be hard to believe, but everyone you see here deserves to be burned alive–well, actually, burned dead–for the rest of their lives–that is, the rest of their restless death.  Sorry, even I get a little confused sometimes about this.

You see, I created this place, what you call HELL, because I love you all so very, very much!  I know that’s hard to swallow (oh, here, have a scalding cup of tea to sooth your scorching throat–[I think I saw a slight grin]).  Everyone you see here, from the beginning of time, will be tortured here in this exquisitely-designed pit of punishment because of one thing:

They just didn’t believe in Me. . .the REAL Me. . .the ONLY ME that matters. . .the correct Me that the world needs to believe in to be saved from this eternal execution.

If they’d only believed in Me–the LORD of LOVE. . . .”  He seemed to get choked up a little at that.

Looking around, I could see something that looked like a tear coming down his face, but it quickly evaporated in the heat.

I couldn’t cry.  I couldn’t speak.  This made absolutely no sense, but I knew it would be futile to argue with the Creator of the Universe, especially the Creator of a place so awful and terrible and murderously monstrous.

He continued to try to explain this amazing sight before me. . .but I quietly waded deeper into the lake.  He seemed lost in thought and mumbling on about his “abiding love” and “compassionate justice” and “true faith.”  As the burning waters closed over my head I saw Ben Franklin swimming by with Thomas Paine, Walt Whitman was floating on his back beside Abraham Lincoln, pointing up to what looked like shooting stars and comets on the ceiling of the sooty chamber.  I caught a glimpse of a team led by Susan B. Anthony playing a hot game of flaming volleyball with the Planned Parenthood team.

I woke up in my lawnchair.  The sun was hot on my face.  I was so relieved to breathe the cool air and touch a hand to my head.

I knew it was all “true.”

I was REALLY there!  Really in HELL!  It’s REAL!

This is the truest “true” story you will ever hear.  And I know exactly what it MEANS!  It’s now my mission to spread the Word.

Listen close.  This may be the most important message you EVER hear!  The greatest question you’ll ever ask!

Are you ready for it?

WHO would make such a place as Hell?

{private note to publishers and film producers:  I’m available.  Oh, and I need a new lawnchair, please}

People of Good Faith

After a meeting on aging issues today, I was walking back to my car with a kindly Catholic Deacon friend.  He was particularly troubled by the fact that “There are still people who are homeless on our streets!”  He knows I used to be the street chaplain and knows I continue to work with “housing challenged” people.

I smiled at his passion to do right.  He’s actually a very active, compassionate worker through his church and other community organizations.

Then I gently told him this issue was one that drove me to leave the Church.  “I just didn’t see that what needed to be done was being done.”  He seemed sad, but gently responded, “All people of Good Faith–like you–know what is right to do.”

Together, this good man of faith, and (I hope) a person of “good faith” myself, we can see what’s going on.  And it isn’t encouraging.  Except. . .our walk together!

Maybe we all just need to learn how to better become People of Good Faith.

I wonder.