Was Jesus a Failure?

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It’s Christmas time again and everywhere we look we see violence and mayhem, greed and avarice, poverty and hunger.  Mankind’s inhumanity to others and a total disregard for the welfare of the earth dominate the news every day.  Watching the hearings concerning Trumps impeachment has been the low point of the year for me.  Rhetoric, obfuscation, innuendos and fabrications dominate instead of truth, logic and evidence.  Christmas is a cruel joke only made worse by the amount of crass commercialism that is exhorted in the name of Jesus Christ.

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Satan sat on his throne listening to my above missive and thinking “Ha, Christ was a failure and I have won another soul.  Do you hear me God?  You sent Moses with a message.  You sent Noah with a message.  You sent dozens of your prophets with a message.  You sent your only son to carry the same message and no one really gives a dam.  There is not one Christian on earth who loves everyone.  Every single Christian hates someone else.  Catholics hate Jews.  Protestants hate Catholics.  Evangelicals hate non-evangelicals.  The right wing hates the left.  The left hates the right.  Rural Americans despise urban Americans.  The rich hate the poor and the poor hate the rich.”

God heard Satan and simply said to him “You are wrong.  There is much love and compassion for others in the human race.”

“Yes”, said Satan, “for members of their own tribes.  For people who look like them, talk like them, live like them, think like them, but for others there is only hate.  I challenge you to find ten Christians who do not hate someone else.”

God replied: “Will you leave humans alone this Christmas if I can find ten good Christians?”

Satan_before_the_Lord

Satan confidently answered, “Of course, but only if you agree on a limit of ten days to find your ten good Christians.  That way, I will still have time to ruin Christmas for as many families as I can if you do not find them.”

“Agreed” said God

Two days went by and God could not find ten good Christians who did not hate anyone else.  Satan laughed, “I told you so.”  God then requested that he be allowed to find only five good Christians who did not hate anyone else.  So confident was Satan that he readily agreed to this change.

Two more days went by and God could not find five good Christians who did not hate anyone else.  God was getting desperate.  “What” he asked Satan, “if I could find just one good Christian who did not hate anyone else?  Would you concede that Jesus was not a failure?”

“Okay, I am so confident that there is not one good Christian on Earth who does not hate someone else that I will give you this last chance.  But on one condition” said Satan.  “My condition is that you will get two more days to find your good Christian but if you do, then I get four days to test your Christian to see if they really are a non-hater.”

God accepted Satan’s conditions and went in search of a single Christian somewhere on the face of the earth who did not hate someone else.  God had to expand his search beyond America but in less than two days, God thought he had found his loving non-hating Christian.  It was a young girl in India.  Her name was Aindrila.  Aindrila was eight years old.  She lived with her mother, father and her pet cat in a little village in Mizoram, India.

Every night when Aindrila went to bed she prayed for all the people in the world.  14159276-cute-little-indian-girl-in-a-greeting-pose-isolated-white-background

“Now I lay me down to sleep and pray the Lord my soul will keep.  Please watch over my mother and father, all the people in India and all the people in the world.  Please help everyone who needs help and keep everyone safe.  If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord, my soul he will take.  Amen.”

God presented his good non-hating Christian to Satan, but Satan only laughed. “We will see.  I have four days to test if your so-called good Christian really is so good.”

The next day, Satan sent two young teenagers to Aindrila’s house to torture and kill her cat.  When Aindrila found the dead body of her cat, she cried for several hours.  That night when she went to bed, she prayed much as before except she added a verse:

“Please God watch over the boys who did this to my cat and help them to see the error of their ways.  Amen.”

Satan was somewhat chagrined, but he decided to up the ante.  The next day, he put a hole in the path of Aindrila as she walked to school.  Aindrila fell in the hole and broke her leg.  It was a very bad break and Aindrila was taken to the local hospital.  They fixed the break but told Aindrila that she might have to walk with a limp because of the injury.  Again, that night, Aindrila went to bed and added the following verse to her nightly prayers.

“God, thank you for sending me such good health care and bless the people who fixed my leg the best they could.  Please watch over them and take good care of them.  Amen.”

Now Satan was very angry.  “OK God, you asked for this fight and you are going to get it. We will see if your good Christian is really good or not.”

The next day, Aindrila’s parents were going to work on their usual bus ride.  Satan saw to it that a drunk driver smashed into the bus killing only Aindrila’s parents.  No one else on the bus was injured.  Satan laughed and laughed.  “This should do it”, he thought.

god and satan

Somewhat later that day, the local constable along with a social worker came to find Aindrila at home.  When Aindrila answered the door, they told her that both her parents had been killed by a drunk driver that morning.  They were very sorry for her loss, but she would have to come with them.  Because she had no other relatives, they were going to take her to live at the local orphanage.  She would have to stay there until she was eighteen or someone wanted to adopt her.  They thought this would be rather unlikely though.

Aindrila was relocated at the orphanage where she seemed sad and despondent.  Nothing the kindly Sisters of Charity could say to her seemed to shake her out of her melancholy.  She cried until she went to bed that night.  Unlike previous nights, she went to sleep without saying any prayers.

A few hours after Aindrila went to bed, she awoke with a start.  She did not know where she was.  It took her some time to orient to her new surroundings but once she did, she turned over to go back to sleep.  Suddenly, she thought “I have not said any prayers tonight.”  She climbed out of bed and made the following prayer:

“Dear God, thank you for the wonderful parents you gave me.  I know you took them away today, but I am sure that you had a good reason for doing so.  Thank you for finding a new home for me with these nice nuns.  Oh, and please help the man who killed my parents find a good life.   I forgive him for what he did and I hope you will too.  Amen.”

Satan listened to the little girl saying her prayers and conceded.  “Dam you God, you win.”

And God said “If there is only one person on earth who is not a hater then it was worth sending my son Jesus and Jesus was not a failure.

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“Be the reason someone smiles.  Be the reason someone feels loved and believes in the goodness in people.”  ― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

Once Upon a Time Humans Created God in Their Image

Probably one of my least Christian blogs but one of my best in my opinion at dissecting this idea of a Christian god.

Aging Capriciously

god imageOnce upon a time, there was a group of creatures called humans.  They evolve and live out their lives on a place they call Earth.   Earth is basically a spheroidal rock that revolves around a Class 3 star (called a sun) in a galaxy named the Milky Way.  No humans know where they came from, how they developed or why.  This is a subject of endless debate and speculation that has led to a plethora of social organizations which humans call religions.

Humans have a limited capacity to think and a very short life span, given the eons that the universe has existed.  Most humans live less than 100 earth years.  A year is the length of time it takes the Earth to revolve around the sun.  Humans seem to have two major characteristics that are shared throughout all members, clans and tribes of the species.  The first is called

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A Simple Man Meets Faust:

In this world of juxtaposition and dialectical opposites, there does not seem to be any two individuals who could be further apart than Ricky Van Shelton’s Simple Man and Goethe’s Faust.  However, looks and paradigms can often be deceiving.

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A Simple Man (since we don’t know his actual name he will remain a “Simple Man”) is a good old country boy.  We presume he is a blue collar worker, never went to college and probably does some hard manual labor.  He loves to hunt, fish and drink with Bubba, Billy Joe and the other guys.  He is everyman’s down to earth guy.  He does not worry about the future but takes one day at a time.  His thoughts are more likely to meander around his next fishing hole than to try to plumb the meaning of the universe.

faust in study

Faust for all apparent purposes has not a thing in common with a Simple Man.  Faust is complex, morose, introverted, elderly and a true intellectual. No doubt Faust went to Oxford or some high class German Academy.  He ranked not only first in his class but first in every academic endeavor he ever undertook. He went on to become the most esteemed Doctor of Philosophy in German and European history.   He loves to read, write, compose and publish esoteric treatises on the nature of the universe and the meaning of reality.  Faust is first among thinkers and intellectuals.

Well, there you have it. Two diametrically opposed male personalities.  A Simple Man and his mirror image Faust.  But beware!  Appearances can be deceiving. Things may not always be as they seem.  Could it be that Faust and a Simple Man have more in common than you would think?  Follow me as we examine a dialogue between a Simple Man and his wife and a dialogue between Faust and Mephistopheles.  Note similarities.  Note differences.  A Simple Man wants to find peace of mind and his “baby” does not seem to understand his real needs.  Mephistopheles finds Faust also distraught and agitated.  Despite Faust’s soaring intellect, he is unhappy with his life and the success he has achieved.  He responds to Mephistopheles, the devil, who purports to be able to give Faust the happiness he desires.

country guy with woman

A Simple Man: (Lyrics and Music by Ricky Van Shelton)

I don’t know why you wanna start with me

I ain’t done nothin’ far as I can see

And I’m worn out from working too hard

Why don’t you give me a break.

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Faust:  (Music by Gounod, Lyrics by Goethe)

All to know, all in earth and heaven.

No light illumines the visions, ever

thronging my brain ; no peace is given,

And I linger, thus sad and weary,

Without power to sunder the chain

Binding my soul to life always dreary.

Nought do I see! Nought do I know

  • Both men are worn down and worn out.  Both are feeling hopeless.

 A Simple Man:

I know that lately things ain’t been so good

I’ll make it up just like I told you I would

But I’m tired and I wanna sit down

To ease a sore backache

Faust: 

Again the light of a new day !

O death ! when will thy dusky wings

Above me hover and give me rest?

  • Both men want peace and rest

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 A Simple Man:

You say you’re having trouble figuring me

I don’t believe I’m such a mystery

Baby what you get is what you see

I am a simple man

I wanna a job and a piece of land

Three squares in my frying pan

Don’t seem so hard to me to understand

Faust:

Cursed be all of man’s vile race !

Cursed be the chains which bind him in his place!

Cursed be visions false, deceiving!

Cursed the folly of believing!

Cursed be dreams of love or hate !

Cursed be souls with joy elate.

Cursed be science, prayer, and faith!

Cursed my fate in life and death!

Infernal king, arise!

  •  Science, prayer and faith cannot provide the peace each man requires.  Faust has given up on intellectual solutions while a Simple Man still believes in the joys of work, land and food.

 A Simple Man:

You say you got some things to talk about

A lot of problems that we need to work out

But we just end up fighting

Why don’t you give it a rest

I don’t know what else I can say to you

I’m doing everything I know to do

And I can’t give you anything more

When I’m giving my best

faust with woman

Faust:

I sigh for thy kisses,

Its love I demand!

With ardor unwonted

I long now to burn ;

I sigh for the rapture

Of heart and of sense.

  •  What both Faust and a Simple Man really want is love.

country boy in bed

 A Simple Man:

You say you’re having trouble figuring me

I don’t believe I’m such a mystery

Baby what you get is what you see

I am a simple man

I wanna place I can lay my head

Soft woman and a warm bed

A little time off before I’m dead

I’m just a simple man

Faust:

But implore in vain.

Let me thy hand take, and clasp it,

And behold but thy face once again,

Illum’d by that pale light,

From yonder moon that shines,

O’er thy beauteous features shedding

Its faint but golden ray.

  •  Faust is more eloquent but a Simple Man hits the nail on the head.  I just want a soft woman and a warm bed.

 A Simple Man:

You say you’re having trouble figuring me

I don’t believe I’m such a mystery

Baby what you get is what you see

I am a simple man

Faust:

Again the light of a new day !

O death ! when will thy dusky wings

Above me hover and give me rest?

  •  Both the opera and the song leave you with the impression that neither Faust nor a Simple Man obtains the life they want to live.  Something is out of kilter that cannot be set right.  Tragic expectations on the part of both a Simple Man and Faust are never fulfilled in the real world.  Neither books nor hunting, nor ideas nor actions enable either man to find what they are looking for. 

A Zen Master happens to be walking by and overhears the laments of both Faust and a Simple Man. He notes the apparent remorse and confusion of their musings.  He is struck by their sadness and attempts to offer some wisdom which he feels might be consoling.

Zen Master: 

Life cannot be lived through others.  The secret of happiness is to let go of your expectations for happiness and to realize that happiness is only obtained through inner wisdom and not through external ideas or things or people.

You Faust thought that ideas and your intellect could bring you happiness. When this mode failed, you gave your soul up for the immediate pleasures of the world.  You failed in both efforts.

You Simple Man thought that you could escape responsibility for your happiness.  You thought your wife would provide you the succor and tranquility which your lifestyle necessitated. You thought she would be the warm pillow and soft bed who would take care of your weary bones.  You have also failed to find the peace you desired.

Faust:  I am half a man.

Simple Man:  And I the other half!

Zen Master:  Perhaps two halves make a whole.

Time for Questions:

What similarities between a Simple Man and Faust did you find?  What differences did you find?  What if anything surprised you about their thoughts and needs?  Do we think focus more on the differences between people than the similarities?  Would it make a difference in how we view the world if we saw more similarities between people?  Do you think you are very different from most people or very similar?  Why?  How have your differences and similarities affected your life?

Life is Just Beginning.

A Conversation between Satan and God

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Satan and God were sitting on a rock one day having a discussion about the human race.

Satan said to “God, I need some more souls in hell.  I think we have played this game with humanity for long enough.  Let’s end it and start a new game.”

God said:  “Well, I could be talked into that.  How would you suggest we end it?

Satan:  “We can divide up the human race.  You take the good ones and I will take the bad ones.”

God:  “Who would you include among the ‘bad’ ones?”

Satan:  “I will take all the people who never promoted peace and who sowed the seeds of hate and bigotry among humanity.”

God:  “They are all you want?”

Satan:  “Well, I would also like all the greedy ones who never did anything to help anyone else but who collected as much wealth as they could and would not share it with anyone else.”

God:  “Does this include all the greedy people who were against taxes to help the poor and needy?”

Satan:  “Of course.”

God:  “That’s not fair.  There would hardly be anyone left for me.”

Satan:  “Do you remember a long time ago when you gave Lot the deal with finding ten good people and you would save the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah from your wrath.  Your angels could not find even ten people for you to spare.  That was a good day for me.”

God:  “You have had many good days since we started this game.  Do you think perhaps it’s all your fault?  You are constantly sowing greed and hate.”

Satan:  “Guilty as charged but do you remember the Parable of the Seeds?  Some fell on good soil and grew and some fell on bad soil and did not grow.  My efforts would be fruitless were not humans so ripe for plucking and beguiling.”

God:  “Still, sometimes, I think you have been overzealous.  I gave humans free will when I created them and this has come back to bias our game.”

Satan:  “Please, now is not the time for hindsight.  I warned you about this when you created them but you were ever the optimist.”

hell_lavapitSatan:  “Do you want to concede and I will just take them all down to Hell?”

God:  “Do you have no mercy and compassion in you someplace?

Satan:  “You created me and now you extol me to be compassionate and merciful.  Those are traits best left for you and your saints.  I have no heart or soul so how can I care about anything much less human beings.”

God:  “Would you like to start over.  I can always recreate you.”

Satan:  “Thanks, but I am fine.  I like myself just the way I am.  I see no need for pity, love, kindness, or any of the other traits that you gave to humans.  Much good it has done them.”

godGod:  “The interesting thing about humans is not their stupidity and evilness.  It’s the surprising amount of love that they can sometimes show for others.  I am ever the optimist.  That is my role, to be the Eternal Optimist.  I have had hopes since the first cave men and since Moses and Socrates and Jesus and Mohammed and Gandhi and King and Mandela that humans have a spark in them.  A spark that when ignited can change themselves and the world into something beautiful.  Something that is so beautiful, it is even beyond anything I might have created.”

Satan:  “Yes, and then they turn right around and burn it down again.”  Hardly a day goes by on earth, when there is not some riot or war or holocaust or massacre or murder.”

God:  “It seesaws back and forth.  For over 100,000 years now, we have played this game and just when I think, I might win, someone or something evil seems to possess humans that I would never have thought of.”

Satan:  “Right, and you would like to blame me for it, but you gave them free will.”

God:  “The game would have been too predictable without free will.”

Satan:  “You keep hoping they will believe in you someday.  How many times have we had this discussion and yet we keep playing this game.”

God:  “Would you deny me the chance to win.”

chess-for-humanity-1Satan:  “You know I don’t care one way or the other.  I have no feelings to be hurt.  I cannot gloat or feel any satisfaction.  Whenever, a new soul comes down to Hell, it is no sense of pride or satisfaction to me.  These humans seem to mistake my logic and justice for evil.  I am the parent who dispenses the discipline and they see me as the mean and cruel one.”

Satan:  “From a purely logical viewpoint, I do not know why you subject yourself to this.  I see your pain and heartache whenever you lose one to me.  Why go on like this?  It will never be any different.  I get them for a thousand or so years and then I send their cleansed souls back to earth and in a short time they are back down again to Hell.”

God:  “I have no limits to my forgiveness.  They pray to me regularly for forgiveness and I forgive them.”

Satan:  “Yes, but even before they ask for forgiveness, they ask for their daily bread.  It is the only thing they can think about, eating and drinking and sex.”

God:  “You forget the good ones.  The mothers that devote their lives to their children.  The soldiers that forfeit their lives on the battlefields.  The fathers that work two jobs to support their families.  The martyrs who give their lives for their faith.  The blessed who are humble.  The peacemakers who face scorn and ridicule to end war.  The charitable who give the shirt off their backs to help those in need.”

Satan:  “Yes, and for every good one, there are ten evil ones.  That is why I want to end this farce.  How many souls must I take down to Hell, before you concede that humans are hopeless?”

God:  “Perhaps if I send another prophet or messiah to spread my message, we could turn the game around?”

Satan:  “You have sent dozens of prophets and many messiahs and it has made no difference.  They end up scorning or murdering your prophets and messiahs.  They would not follow your message if they could find the tablets that you etched in stone and gave to Moses.”

God:  “I don’t want to win for my sake.  I fight for love and peace and justice and beauty.  These are the things that bring color to the universe.  Without these, you have a bland shade of grey.  You have a sterile meaningless bunch of rocks.  You have never understood this because you see everything through pure logic and no emotions.”

Satan:  “When you created me, you thought that such a being as I am would be superior to one that could be swayed by emotions and feelings.  Now you criticize me for doing my job?”

God:  “I did not realize how monotonous and tedious the universe would be without feelings.”

Satan:  “It does not seem like you can have it both ways.  You want to create a world without evil and based on compassion and love and yet you give humans the ingredients that foment hatred and bigotry.”

God:  “Do you not think we have made any progress since the first humans were created?  I have infinite patience.  We can play the game for eons but I will win someday.”

Satan:  “And is it worth it?  How much pain and misery and suffering must you endure dealing with these humans?”

God:  “True, they have tried my patience at times.  But just when I might be willing to concede to you, I see justice and love blossoming some place and it makes the battle worth winning.  As their creator, I cannot turn my back on these humans.  There is no limit to my forgiveness.  I am not driven by logic as you are.  I am the mother who cannot give up on her children regardless of how many times they make mistakes.”

satan-imageSatan:  “But they never learn. They are shortsighted, petty, vindictive and greedy.  Do you really think they care about your teachings or precious commitment to love and peace?  They would rather fight wars and dominate others.  They even fight wars in your name.  Their religions scream for violence over other religions.  Their leaders preach victory over other nations.  Their minion’s rape and pillage in the name of some esoteric ideology.  They all believe they are superior to each other.  They send their own children to die in wars of so called freedom and liberation.  They abuse and murder their own spouses at alarming rates.  They teach their offspring at an early age to be intolerant of other races.  And they pray in your name for the power to be successful in all of these efforts.  They invoke prayers to you before murdering millions.  How can you listen to these prayers and want to help these hypocrites.”

God:  “Being in charge of Hell does not help you to see any positives in the universe.  You have a very difficult job.”

Satan:  “We make a good team.  You, the everlasting optimist, full of hope and love.  Me, the ultimate logician, ever ready to exact justice for evil done.”

Satan:  “They will destroy themselves anyway and then what.  Did you know that the earth was warming up at an alarming rate?”

God:  “Of course.”

Satan:  “It is not your doing, right?”

God:  “No, I have nothing to do with it.”

Satan:  “And yet they blame you for it.  The last thing in the world they want to admit is that it might be their fault.  That all of their pollution, oil burning, fossil fuel burning and carbon emissions is changing their climate.  They deny any responsibility for it.  I thought they would destroy the world with nuclear weapons, but they somehow avoided doing that.  Now, they are working to destroy it by overheating it.  I don’t think it will be long before the game is over.”

gods-voice-vs-satans-voiceGod:  “You count them out too fast.  The clock was close to 12 with nuclear weapons but as you noted, they carefully avoided destroying themselves.  They are often very shortsighted and many of them will never be long-term thinkers.  However, there are enough who care and who are passionate enough about others to help save humanity.  I can’t help being filled with astonishment at the love that humans frequently have for each other.”

Satan:  “Yes, but it always seems to entail some crisis to bring it out.”

God:  “That is true.  But it shows that there is hope.  And even if there is only 1 human being still alive who cares about others, that is enough for me.  The game will go on.”

Satan:  “Well, how about a cap of another 10,000 years. I am tired of being the gatekeeper of Hell and punishing evil and wrongdoers.  I do not have your patience.”

God:  “Done, we will give humanity another 10,000 years and see how they are doing then.”

Satan:  “I have a feeling we will be having this same conversation in another 10,000 years.”

Time for Questions:

What would you like to tell God if you could?  Do you believe in God?  Why or why not?  Does the concept of God make a difference in the world?  Why? For better or worse?

Life is just beginning.

“Satan, on the contrary, is thin, ascetic and a fanatical devotee of logic.  He reads Machiavelli, Ignatius of Loyola, Marx and Hegel; he is cold and unmerciful to mankind, out of a kind of mathematical mercifulness.  He is damned always to do that which is most repugnant to him: to become a slaughterer, in order to abolish slaughtering, to sacrifice lambs so that no more lambs may be slaughtered, to whip people with knouts so that they may learn not to let themselves be whipped, to strip himself of every scruple in the name of a higher scrupulousness, and to challenge the hatred of mankind because of his love for it–an abstract and geometric love.”
― Arthur KoestlerDarkness at Noon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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