Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Real wrath of God type stuff

Wrath of god A few points before I start on this.

I know this might piss some people off. Since when has that stopped me writing about anything? This is just my opinion, merely something I've been pondering, and it is not intended to hurt or anger anyone. If it makes you do a little pondering, too, that would make me happy.

I've been thinking about this because of a Facebook conversation. If the person involved reads this, they will recognize the reference, and I want to assure them that I am not angry with them, and I know that their intentions were not hateful or meant to be unkind. This is a very sweet person and I realize that. I meant no ill will in my comment there, and I mean none here. I would hope that no one here would attack this person for their feelings.

I am also not trying to convince anyone to not believe. That is a very personal choice, and I don't try to force my lack of beliefs on others; I don't appreciate it when people try to force their beliefs on me, so I would never do that. Faith can be a source of great strength to some, and I respect others' desire to have that. I've seen it recently in some members of my family, and I would never try to take that away from them. Again, this is just something I've been thinking about, and perhaps some of you will leave comments that continue to make me think.

Now...let's get to it, shall we?

When the 7.2 earthquake in Baja California hit last night, a Facebook friend noted (and I won't go into specific detail) that it was a perfect reminder on Easter of God's sacrifice for us because it reminded them of the stone rolling back before the tomb. As I said above, I know this person is sweet and loving and doesn't have a mean bone in their body, so I know it wasn't intended in a bad way.

But it really struck me wrong. At that point, no one knew if there were deaths or injuries (we now know that so far there are two deaths, and about 150 injuries), and before too long I saw on Facebook that one of my nieces in San Diego was scared to the point of tears. I just feel that something is wrong with seeing signs of anything in a disaster that brings death and destruction to anyone, especially one that is an occurrence easily explained by science. I didn't react well, and although I tried to temper my remark, I know it seemed rather cutting...I suggested that perhaps those affected by the earthquake might not be quite so thrilled by it, or words to that effect.

A little more discussion ensued, nothing antagonistic, but there was more about seeing signs. I finally said (and it was my final comment there about it) that if God is trying to wake people up by causing death and destruction, then that is someone I want nothing to do with, and if that's his plan to bring people to him, well...that's a pretty crappy plan.

Church sign2I've pondered this before, and I think these are very legitimate questions. If God wants more people to believe in his love and compassion, why would killing hundreds of thousands in Haiti make me believe in that? Why would I believe that someone who rains down such misery upon my fellow human beings has my best interests at heart? If he wants to make his presence known, why not just give a press conference and say hey, it's me, I'm real. Why all this mysterious and, quite frankly, murderous behavior? I'd be a hell of a lot more impressed if I started seeing the absence of misery, starvation, and abject poverty, all topped off with a natural disaster to really twist the knife on people whose lives have already been a never-ending struggle to survive.

I find it akin to the assertions by fucktards like Pat Robertson that natural disasters are visited upon people because of their sins (and homosexuality seems to be the biggie there). Here's a newsflash for you, folks. We live on a planet that does shit. It moves. It shifts. Currents change. Weather patterns shift. We seem to have a penchant for doing things to it that accelerate these changes, like fucking with the wetlands and barrier islands on the Gulf Coast in such an egregious manner that the natural protections that evolved are all but wiped out. These are all things that are easily and readily explained by science, and they are well-documented.

Before we had this knowledge, we attributed weather and natural phenomena to angry gods. We appeased them by sacrificing animals (including the human kind) to them. We sacrificed to the earth goddess to save our crops; we sacrificed to the sun god in order that he would return each spring to drive away the cold; we sacrificed to the river god to stop the flooding; we tossed virgins into volcanoes to keep them from erupting. It has been a bloody and brutal litany of death and murder in the name of whatever deity we happened to be fixated on at the time. And in the end, the crops were affected by the rain and temperatures; the earth kept tilting on its axis so the summers got warm; the river flooded every so often, sometimes wiping out entire villages; and those damn volcanoes just kept going all splodey on us.

I reject the cult of death. Why on earth would I even consider being involved in such a thing? And how could I ever believe in a god that is visiting disaster upon other people in order that I might find peace and hope because he's sending me a secret message that he loves me? What makes me special--so special--that I gotta have such attention? That would be like I'm Jodie Foster, God is John Hinckley, Jr., and the people of Haiti are Ronald Reagan. John Hinckley, Jr. tried to off Reagan in order to impress Jodie Foster. That seems about as logical to me as thinking that natural disasters, in which thousands are killed, are a sign that God loves us and is coming for us. Well, except for all those people that he killed, anyway. Collateral damage. But other than them, he loves everybody. You know what they do with people like John Hinckley, Jr.? They lock them up as mentally deranged and medicate the hell out of them.

Again, I am not trying to convince anyone. But maybe stop and ask yourself some of these questions; I ask them myself all the time. I question. It's my nature. And the more I question, the less sense it all makes.


  1. I don't even have the words to tell you how much I agree with this. After the Haiti quake, when people were saying how blessed they were the God spared them. Do they not intriniscally realize that they are saying that God pretty much smited those other folks, then?

    And after your dad passed, one of your Facebook friends wrote that they were so grateful that their folks were still around, "praise God." The person meant it in a really sweet way, not at all mean, but think about it -- what does that say about your dad passing? Did Jebus smite him? Or you?

    It's disconcerting to think that so much in our lives is random, and that there really is no rhyme or reason so much of the time. I can see the comfort that some folks get in believing that things are guided by a higher power. But when it reaches the point of such willful ignorance, then that person is giving up too much reason for too little comfort.

    << getting off soapbox now >>

  2. Amen!!!! I agree with you, Beth. (I'm sure you're not surprised! lol) People saying things like that all the time is what caused me to start questioning my own belief's several years ago and it's been a very interesting journey indeed. I believe that one of the reasons people hold on to those beliefs is because they draw comfort from it for some reason or another. I think for many years I felt comforted by many of the teachings that I grew up with. At least I felt comforted until I realized that they were the complete opposite of the loving God that I was so desperately trying to find. As a very flawed human being I can only imagine God's love for us as even more perfect than the way I love my children. I know that I would never want my children to love me out of fear and I can't imagine that God would put much stock in that kind of love either. I choose to believe that natural disasters are just that, natural. But I do believe that within those disasters we have an opportunity to be God's loving hand to those affected by those disasters. Christians are supposed to live a Christ-like life. The Christ that I know would certainly not use a disaster to punish or use it as an opportunity to single out a certain population of people to punish. I imagine that it must make God very sad to see that.

    I believe that everyone on earth is on their own journey of belief. I believe that God talks to each of us in a different way. Sometimes we listen, sometimes we don't. God is there anyway. And when it's all said and done, I believe that God is going to take each and every one of us to our true Home and I think there are going to be a lot of Christians who are going to be very surprised when they see who they're sitting next to!! Frankly, I can't wait to see the looks on the faces of a few of those people who's names shall remain unsaid.;) Good post. I hope it's a very thought provoking thing for everyone.

  3. I agree with you completely, Beth. As I've said in the past I am a believer in God, just not his idiotic followers of organized religion.

    I cannot believe in an all-powerful being that spites people for being who they are...or a punishing God that has tantrums over every little snit.

    But then if God were like that, he'd have done away with the likes of Pat Robertson a long time ago.

  4. The earthquake reminded me that I live in an area prone to earthquakes and I don't have my preparedness kit completely ready. Although I do applaud myself on buying a second carrier last year for the cats. One step closer.

    Right now I'm more concerned about the freezing temperatures I heard on the news for tonight.

  5. Over and over, we see examples of how God, if it exists, behaves like a bad tempered adolescent, stamping on ants for the pleasure of killing them. There's nothing the slightest bit loving about it.

  6. I saw your comment on FB and I had to agree with your assessment. However, like you, I recognized that the person making the initial post is a very kind and sweet person and did not intend to be cruel in her comments. As you know, I believe that there is more to us than this corporeal existence. However, I'm not certain what there is beyond this plane and I'm not always certain of my own beliefs. I'm continually searching for something but I'm not certain what it is. One of the difficulties for me are the very issues that you raise. I can't accept a God who punishes and destroys and seeks retribution for alleged sins. The one thing that I am certain of is if thefre is a divine presence in the universe it is not the God of Pat Robertson.

    I think that my sense of belief lies in my sense that there is something divine in each of us. I see God in people when we help each other, when we are kind to each other. I see nothing Godly in judging one another or in a God bent on vengeance and smiting people. I totally respect that we differ on the existence of god but I think that we are on the same wavelength when it comes to the potential divinity in humankind. It doesn't matter whether the source is a God or nature. Perhaps nature is God and vice versa. I'll leave you with a line from a poet, Ntozake Shange, that sums up an image of God that appeals to me, "I found God in myself and I loved her fiercely."

    Btw, I found nothing offensive in your thoughtful philosophy.

  7. I don't know if I can even fault the believers for thinking this way. Just look at the Bible, which reveals what the Judeo-Christian God is all about.

    Whether he's banishing Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden for eating the fruit of a tree that he placed there knowing they would eat it anyway, his torture of Job for a bet, having Lot's wife turned into a pillar of salt just for turning around, slowly torturing and killing David and Bathsheba's baby, drowning everybody on the entire planet save for a few on a boat, and the multiple thousands that get killed in that book because God seemed to prefer one army over another (which might be why He still gets involved in sports to this day) and you have to wonder about the type of person that would worship this deity.

    For millennia, man has created Gods that have been appeased through violence and bloodshed (as you have pointed out). Whether it was Aztecs ripping out the beating hearts of men, Egyptians killing the consultants of the Pharaoh in order to be escorted into the afterlife, Indians practicing suttee or African chieftains gaining "supernatural powers" through ritual sacrifice. It continues today through religion with such things as "honor killings".

    These kinds of things give me a real lack of hope in humanity. Especially when people want to heap glory onto the written character of God, who is obviously a total prick.

  8. Great points that are consistent with what we see from the religious zealots on the far right. Unfortunately, these days the median seems to be moving in that direction. I look at it as a direct result of our(meaning American) lack of value for education. We are becoming a nation of idiots. And the teabagger movement suggests to me that we're already there.
    Millenia ago, the only way to control people was to make them fear. Anything unpredictable was a sign and portent of this or a sign and portent of that. It was a way for humans in power to maintain that power by keeping the undereducated masses under control by threatening retaliation for the non-compliant. Fast forward a few thousand years, and it is the same old song and dance.
    The real frightening thing for me is that these religious zealots seem to forget (I believe intentionally by the leaders and unintentionally, as a consequence of the leadership, by the followers, who don't know better) that the Jesus they claim to worship supposedly came to this planet to remove the fear/hate-based control and replace it with a love-based collaboration. Two thousand years ago, Jesus of Nazareth (a real person, regardless of whether the son of God part was actually reality) saw the hypocrisy and thought that we could do better. And he thought that education was the way. Jesus was a teacher. But I am digressing a little....
    These idiots who continue to believe that natural disasters are signs and portents that are retaliatory in nature miss the whole point of the religion they claim to follow.
    And it's because they failed to learn the lessons of the teacher, whether it be in the classrooms of their school days, or the two thousand year old teacher, who preached acceptance and love.
    If God exists, I don't believe he is a prick. It doesn't make any sense to be one. He doesn't have to be. People, on the other hand, are quite good at being pricks. And the really sad part of this whole mess is that they don't have to be that way either.
    "Is the dark side stronger?" the young Skywalker asks. No, but it easier and more seductive.

  9. Stan, your personal belief is that if God exists, he's not a prick.

    I'm pointing out what the Bible, the supposed revealed word of God, shows him to be. There's reams of evidence in that tome that shows him to be nothing but a petty, petulant child that demands worship from everyone (just look how four of the ten commandments are about that) and slays anyone that doesn't follow orders. Slavery was a-ok by him and, of course, death to disobedient children, "witches" and homosexuals was just ducky.

    It would be one thing if we could look back on this as all ancient history, a sad part of human affairs, but it still continues to this day in so many ways. Just a couple of days ago, Saudi Arabia planned to execute a man for prognostication. Where do you think that idea came from? Genital mutilation of children continues world-wide, suppression of science, death of kids from withholding medical treatment (whether praying for a cure or not getting blood transfusions, a la the JW cult) and so forth.

    To me, the Bible is a historical document. Not one of things that are true, but of how uneducated, superstitious and bigoted the people of that time were. For us to live by that book as "gospel" is to show that we haven't learned a damn thing in the last few thousand years. Are there some good things in it? Of course there are. But those are things that are evolved traits (another discussion entirely, which would also involve statistics showing that the least religious democratic societies of the world also have the highest standards of living).

  10. from my grasp of the bible if you have the vengeful old testament god you cant have the jesus.

    it makes no sense whatsoever to have people running around doing good in the name of jesus and at the same time thanking god for not smoting them or calling for god's wrath on unbelievers by smiting them.

    you cant have it both ways because believing in god out of fear first takes away the concept of free will and totally negates choice christians make when they accept that jesus died for their sins.

    so anyone that hates on an unbeliever or someone they consider 'fallen' has pretty much chosen to ignore the whole message of the new testament which is to forgive and accept people for who they are, which is ironic because it makes their message more jesus loves people i tell him to love than jesus loves you.


  11. Actually, Miss Alaineus, you can.

    In Matthew, it's written that Jesus came with a sword, and to turn family members and friends against each other that didn't see him as the path to God.

    Not to mention that the New Testament also brought hell into the equation. That quaint pit of fire in which the unbelievers are to roast for all eternity. Yes, it's all about the love.

  12. These people have a mental illness or a severe personality defect. I just can't sugarcoat it. Sorry.

  13. Don't forget, God DOESN'T love me - because I'm gay. Just ask any Southern Baptist...

    Great post.


  14. Beth thought provoking post.:)

    The truth is that we all have pinned up fear because none of us really have the "big" answers we want. Sure we can guess, suppose, have faith, perhaps even form a pretty good hypothesis, but none of us can truly know those answers. We just aren't there yet. Maybe it is supposed to be that way, maybe it is good it is that way. Hard to tell.

    What isn't good is the way human beings react to that fear. We have a tendency to push others away and link up with those like ourselves to find comfort, instead of pushing ourselves to grow. We reject others and their beliefs and use them as pawns in our own mind games. We use that power to hold ourselves up when we need it, or worse to pull others down when we feel they have an upper hand.

    We are all locked on this amazingly rare ball of life and we are all super afraid sometimes. None of us knows how it all began and none of us knows how it will all end. That only leaves the journey, the short span that is a life of anything in the universe, perhaps the universe itself.

    We waste too much time trying to find answers that don't really matter and all we create from that useless search is suffering. All life matters. Love and compassion matters. What we do now matters. To live any other way is to live in the past with seductive apparitions that tell you half truths or to be trapped in a future of ever changing illusion, constantly grabbing at something that will never be real. Either choice is easier than living and changing things now.

  15. To each their own, I guess. I can't say I personally see a harbinger of Easter in an Earthquake ... but at least we live in a country where people are allowed to share their views, however kooky they might seem.

  16. Chalk up one more in your column, Beth. I agree completely!

  17. Reminds me of the great conversation we had with T&D in their kitchen recently.

  18. People who call themselves Christian but say that it's "God's will" that someone dies, or that it was their "time", or that He has "called them to him" forget a bit of their Bible. James 1:13: "When under trial, let no one say,'I am being tried by God.' For with evil things God cannot be tried nor does He himself try anyone." Allowing something to happen and causing it to happen are two different things. Your questions are not only valid but beg to be reasoned on. Unfortunately there are many who consider themselves Christian who don't know how to reason on the things of God. When the Beroeans first learned of the Christ from Peter they "received the word with great eagerness of mind, carefully examining the Scriptures daily as to whether these things were so." (1 Peter 17:11) They didn't take anyone's word for it, but did their own research. When questions like that nag at you, I admire you for giving thought to them and even for opening them up for discussion. Sometimes there actually are answers to those types of questions, you just have to go to the right source. And sometimes the answers make sense, even when they aren't what you thought they'd be, or what the majority of "Christians" will tell you are the answer.

    I also very much admire the way you prefaced this entry. You were so very careful not to offend anyone, in particular the lady whose comment brought this issue to your mind. That says a lot about your character and your fair-mindedness. As always, it is a pleasure to read your blog.


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