Nature’s Great Open Sanctuary was delightfully full of sound and shadow, silence and light, as we took a six-mile hike along winter’s streams.
I’m completely against the banning of books. Free thought and free speech are “secular sacreds” for me.
However. . .If ANY books are banned, or we are greatly discouraged from reading them, maybe the Bible should be at the top of the list.
(I’ve also been thinking of this after watching President Trumpery “swear” on TWO copies of the Bible. . .this is a Real Time issue!)
I don’t say this lightly. I spent many years of my life “living and breathing” Holy Scripture, God’s Divine Word, the Bible. I carried it, studied it, taught it, preached it, prayed it, gave it away. My years in ministry and chaplaincy were, in great part, guided by biblical instruction.
But what was the Bible I tried to live by? The “Heart” of the Book. What’s that?
Love others; do justice; love kindness; show compassion; treat others as I wish to be treated.
Things like that.
Yes, “loving God” was a part of that, but my study and practice showed me that to love God was to DO those things! It wasn’t about “belief” but about how you live.
(this of course has been forgotten, neglected or conveniently hidden by the vast majority of Christendom, and, as I often say, it’s one reason we should speak the truth: Jesus was no Christian and would not be welcomed in churches).
The problem is, many sacred and secular sources and teachers say we should live like that. So, what’s so special about one book among many?
In 19th Century America some politicians tried to ban certain books and materials from being sent through the mail (“Comstock laws”). People were put in jail just for sending things deemed “obscene” by a small group of powerful people. Secular organizations pushed back and said if any books are censored or banned and considered obscene, the BIBLE should be included! The Bible is full of very offensive stories and images that would be shameful to read in public.
They had a point.
The Bible condones, in various places, slavery, the subservience of women, polygamy, rape, incest, murder, torture, genocide, invasions and much more–all part of the “master plan” of an angry, vengeful God.
btw, I know well the “progressive” argument: “But that’s the “OLD testament” God, not the God of the NEW! Sorry folks, that same deity appears all the way through, Genesis to The Revelation.
But that’s not the worst of it–look at the Big Picture. The Whole Bible could be summarized as the story of. . .
A Parent Kills His Child (because His other children made Him angry).
I’d never really thought of it this way, but this is the Grand Design of the Almighty Lord of the Universe!
A Parent (God) Kills His Child (Jesus) so He won’t have to torture all His other children for not loving Him in return.
Those of us who were raised in the church and taught to “believe the Bible” need to admit that the God of the Bible is not an ethical person.
As a father, I can’t imagine creating children and then planning history so that I would kill one of my children if all the rest of them didn’t love and serve me.
Maybe it’s time to consider banning this book. . .or greatly discourage others from reading it?
My friend Thomas lives in Ethiopia. He sends me photos now and then of that beautiful African country. When my wife and I recently watched the film “Lamb,” filmed in Ethiopia with indigenous actors, we thought of Thomas. The landscape was incredible; the struggle of the people living close to the land was an education.
Thomas, a graduate of Addis Ababa University, connected with me through my writings and our mutual love of the natural world as our teacher. At his request, I sent him my book on John Muir and a pair of binoculars since he enjoys studying birds.
For Thomas, his country, Ethiopia, is his homeland. . .Ethiopia is “First” for him, as America may be “First” for many here.
But what really makes a country, a nation, even a people, “great”?
As a reminder, here’s a bit of wisdom from Robert Green Ingersoll.
“It has been a favorite idea with me that our forefathers were educated by Nature, that they grew grand as the continent upon which they landed; that the great rivers–the wide plains–the splendid lakes–the lonely forests–the sublime mountains–that all these things stole into and became a part of their being, and they grew great as the country in which they lived.” (Centennial Oration, Peoria, Illinois, July 4, 1876)
Well, it IS fake news, but it’s just too real to ignore.
Terrible Un-American Atheists Make Small Town Get Rid of Cross Honoring Soldiers! (not the real title of the article, but the real message)
The Mayor says, “It’s another attack on small town America — our freedoms.”
Veterans (at least Christian veterans) are now “guarding the cross” and townsfolk are sticking crosses all over town.
Good for them. But, sad for them.
We see this over and over again in communities across the nation who have forgotten what the soldiers have fought and died for: Freedom from political OR religious tyranny.
And, it’s very disappointing.
Here’s the breakdown. . .
-a town wants to honor those who have served their country (fine and good)
-the town erects a monument, on public land, to honor their soldiers (fine and good)
-the monument is a Christian cross (mistake)
Maybe people are well-meaning. Maybe they just didn’t think that not ALL of those service members were Christian. Maybe they really think that a Christian cross honors Everyone. Maybe. Or, they simply don’t care (watch the reactions).
Is this a big deal?
Think about it. What if YOUR family member died. And what if your family member was not a Christian. Would you feel “honored” to have a town put up a Christian symbol for them?
And, would you support a Muslim community placing a soldier kneeling to a crescent moon on public land that is maintained by taxpayers like you?
When people assume that everyone is Christian and that a Cross is just a “tradition” and a “symbol” of death or sacrifice, they overlook some important things:
-Not all people are Christians (and even if there’s a Christian majority, “public” means every citizen, not just one dominant religion)
-There is a “Separation of Church and State” in this free country for a reason (this protects us all, and yes, those despised Atheists and their supporters are speaking up for everyone, including you and me)
-What ever happened to “Treat others as you want to be treated”?
FAUX News makes this all about Atheists attacking a small town and that the city had to “get rid of” the cross (we can bet it’s on someone’s lawn down the street–which is, of course, just fine, and legal).
Reasonable, thoughtful people (also called the “politically correct”) will see right through this fake outrage and yet another Claim for Christian Privilege.
Think of others, not just yourself.
Keep that in mind when even our highest leaders demand “(Christian) America First.”
We all grow up. But maybe we grow up too fast. . . or too much?
“I go for a stroll and bump into a girl who is two or maybe a little older, that age when we’re all pagans.
The girl is skipping along, greeting all the greenery she sees:
‘Hello, grass!’ ‘Good morning, grass!’
Then she stops to listen to the birds singing in the tops of the trees.
And she applauds.”
~Eduardo Galeano, Children of the Days
Since we are now apparently living in a Theocracy where the Almighty–specifically Jesus– and the prayers of millions have anointed a Great Leader to make the country and the world Great again, where the inauguration ceremonies made it clear America is indeed an Evangelical nation, where we are finally able to admit there is no “wall of separation” between church and state (Jefferson was an infidel anyway). . .the following thought may be helpful.
Conversion: accepting the only real God–Jesus–in his American incarnation
Deconversion: making a conscious and courageous choice to leave the dominant faith
Reconversion: to return to our natural state of reason and ethical responsibility, releasing the distraction of super-natural beliefs, re-discovering the innate goodness of human life
What icicles are melting?
The Walden Walker, Henry David Thoreau, would be 200 years old this year (1817-2017) but his voice still rings young.
At this restless time in American history, when the nation sees its most unfit and unqualified President sworn in (in the name of God), it seems best to be reminded of the great wisdom from great minds, such as Thoreau.
In his immensely influential essay on Civil Disobedience (1849), he boldly states his resistance to the Slave State, irrationally stumbling toward civil war. He’s standing up and speaking out against injustice and the madness of power. It might be very good for us to read, to listen and to consider what each of us can do to obey Truth, Reason and Good faced with so much of the faith-based fakery that has seized the highest offices in the land. In our day, we could think of “Slavery” as slavery to ignorance, selfishness and self-righteousness.
“A very few–as heroes, patriots, martyrs, reformers in the great sense, and [human beings]–serve the state with their consciences also, and so necessarily resist it for the most part; and they are commonly treated as enemies by it. . . . He who gives himself entirely to his fellow men appears to them useless and selfish. . . .
How does it become a [person] to behave toward this American government today?. . I cannot for an instant recognize that political organization as my government which is the slave’s government also.”
“A minority is powerless while it conforms to the majority.”
And, perhaps, my favorite passage in Civil Disobedience, on the higher search for truth:
“They who know of no purer sources of truth, who have traced up its stream no higher, stand, and wisely stand, by the Bible and the Constitution, and drink at it there with reverence and humility; but they who behold where it comes trickling into this lake or that pool, gird up their loins once more, and continue their pilgrimage toward its fountainhead.”
In the next four years, while UnReason has its day, I will be looking more to Nature seeking natural, reasonable truths, trying to climb up to the sources and springs, doing what I can to help others in these dark and uncertain times.
Thank you for the courage, the wisdom and the hope, Henry.
“It’s not really a new religion. Thomas Paine preached it way back in the 1790’s. Ingersoll preached it all over America. Now, Ken Burns preaches it. What’s the message of this wild experience? Ask the scientists, the explorers. Ask the bison, the beetle and the bird. Search for it in your own brain.”
In a mountain cabin on a rainy day, I read this passage from Edward Abbey. The acerbic naturalist offers something we need to hear as more and more voices call us to be distracted to other worlds, beyond this strange and wonderful home.
“How strange and wonderful is our home, our earth, with its swirling vaporous atmosphere, its flowing and frozen liquids, its trembling plants, its creeping, crawling, climbing creatures, the croaking things with wings that hang on rocks and soar through fog, the furry grass, the scaly seas. . .
Yet, some among us have the nerve, the insolence, the brass, the gall to whine about the limitations of our earthbound fate and yearn for some more perfect world beyond the sky. We are none of us good enough for the sweet earth we have, and yet we dream of heaven.”
-from Appalachian Explorations, quoted in George Ellison, High Vistas, Vol II