#129 Imagine This (2005)

All Rights Reserved © 2005 Thomas W. Day

This strange . . .  parable(?) was sent to me several months ago by a Kansas family member.  I hung on to it for weeks, considering sending a "reply to all" as a correction to the many logical flaws in this irrational rant, but decided that the Rat is a better place to "publish" my response.  The "letter" is highlighted by lines beginning with ">" and my response is found in the bits without that weird punctuation.
  • Imagine this happening to you...
  • One Sunday morning during service, a 2,000 member congregation was
  • surprised to see two men enter, both covered from head to toe in black
  • and carrying submachine guns.  One of the men proclaimed,
  • "Anyone willing to take a bullet for Christ remain where you are."
  • Immediately, the choir fled...
  • the deacons fled...
  • and most of the congregation fled....
  • out of the 2,000 there only remained around 20.
  • The man who had spoken took off his hood...
  • He then looked at the preacher and said "Okay Pastor, I got rid of all
  • the hypocrites... Now you may begin your service. Have a nice
  • day!"
  • And the two men turned and walked out.
This foolishness was described as heavy" by the sender.  Heavy was once a hip term that described an idea requiring considerable contemplation for understanding.  This message is considerably below the hip standard.  Usually, my email filters catch this crap and auto-deletes it.  When that fails, I figure it out pretty quickly and delete it, manually.  That day, it just tripped a trigger and I couldn't let it pass without comment.  This whacked-out author asks us to believe in the judgment of the 20 dimwitted, terrified, or petrified folks who were convinced that two jerks with machine guns would represent God.  Why would anyone expect holy inspiration from any one who OWNS an automatic weapon, let alone hauls one to church?  Is there something that conveys sanctity when gun-toting clowns add black masks to their costume?  If that's true, I wonder why we all aren't bowing and scraping when Islamic women parade by in their black tent suits?
  • Funny how simple it is for people to trash God ...
  • and then wonder why the world is in the condition it is today....

Funny how a powerful majority religion can be so paranoid about its status in a country that it clearly rules with fear and repression.  Even non-believers are afraid to express disagreement in the current climate.  Like Islamic fundamentalists in Iran or Saudi Arabia, neo-con Christians continue to push their agenda on everyone who thinks like or unlike them.  When anyone questions their ethics, honesty, fantasies, or superstitions, they cry "persecution!" and act like "freedom from religion" is the worst crime Jefferson perpetrated against humanity. 

Even worse than owning slaves. A psychologist might diagnose this as either paranoia or megalomania.  From my perspective, it seems more like the kind of insecurity that has driven religious despots since the beginning of human communities.  Vicious historic actions like witch hunts, the Inquisition, England's purge of all churches other than the Church of England (not long before the American Revolution attempted to separate politics from such oppression), and Hitler's purge of Jews and other non-white, non-Christian citizens in 1945 are examples of this insecurity in action. I'm unconvinced that a significant number of people in any culture "trash God."  However, it's obvious that all people do not believe in the same gods.  Or the same ideals from a shared God.  If that's trashing God, I guess my last paragraph explains this statement.  If the writer hopes to create a unified human mind, she's living a drug-addled superstitious fantasy.
  • Funny how we believe what the newspapers say...but question what the Bible says...
Again, it's not like Christianity is a consistent source of information.  There are almost as many bibles as there are countries.  Counting the versions of the bibles from the variations of religions, there might be as many bibles as there are newspapers.  From about 800AD we've been blessed with the Wyclif Bible, Luther's German New Testament,  William Tyndale, Coverdale's, Matthew's, Taverner's, The Great Bible, the Geneva Bible, the Bishops' Bible, Douay-Rheims, King James, William Whiston's Primitive New Testament, John Wesley's New Testament, Griesbach's 2nd Greek New Testament, Griesbach's last Greek New Testament, the Apocryphal New Testament, Young's Literal Translation of the Bible, Tischendorf's 4th Greek New Testament, Tregelles' Greek New Testament, Alford's New Testament for English Readers, Rotherham's English translation of Tregelles' text, Eberhard Nestle's Greek New Testament, the American Standard Version, the First edition of Weymouth's New Testament, and the Twentieth Century New Testament which takes us to the beginning of the last century, when biblical editions really exploded.  From then on, a version of the Bible appeared practically every two years for the next 100 years.  This site lists 100+ versions of the Bible (http://www.tyndale.cam.ac.uk/Scriptures/), pick one that makes you happy. 

 The history of this often-edited book is anything but clear and unambiguous.  Which makes it easy to pick and choose what you want from the version that most suits the crime you want to commit.  Depending on the section and the edition it's not difficult to find arguments for "loving your neighbor" or "killing the heretics."  The argument you choose probably says more about you than it says about your faith.  Aside from Christianity, we have the Book of Mormon, the Koran, the Torah, the sacred documents of 60-some Indian (not Native Americans, India Indians, you dolt) religions, the Buddhist Bible, and only the gods know how many other religious documents exist. 

There is no shortage of gods to celebrate and everyone seems to think the believers of other gods are heretics.  Personally, I don't have time to sort out who's right.  Living in the here and now is tough enough without inventing and justifying the "next life."  People of faith have used the Bible and other famous religious books to justify slavery, genocide, infanticide, homicide and assassinations, war, theft, greed, selfishness, and every other human fault.  How, exactly, do you know when a person is acting in good faith or in self-interest? 

 Obviously, Christians are not particularly good at making that determination, since they picked a marginally recovered drunk and drug addict who swindled his home city for his share of the $7.5 million dollar debt for a publicly financed baseball stadium.  Choosing a man who executed 250+ people, while claiming to be "pro-life" is equally inconsistent.  Bush's list of un-Christian acts would go on for pages and pages, but he's just one piece of evidence that life is, apparently, more complex than defining the hereafter.  As for the claim that "we believe what the newspapers say," most people rarely believe much that newspapers say.  The press has a credibility rating that is considerably beneath used car salespeople.  Maybe that's because so much of the press is dominated and owned by the same folks who want us all to bow to the same religion?  Rupert Murdoch and Sun Myung Moon own right wing newspapers that are regularly quoted as "unbiased Christian sources."  Right.  If the Klan is unbiased, so are those sources.
  • Funny how everyone wants to go to heaven...
  • provided they do not have to believe, think, say, or do anything the Bible says.
That word "everyone" is overused by almost everyone.  Some of us, hundreds of millions of Buddhists for example, would be satisfied with not having to return to life.  Believe it or not, everyone has a different concept of what heaven might be.  The male Islamic heaven, with its 27 virgin slaves, sounds hellish to many women, for example.  Everyone would not be interested in the heaven imagined by everyone else.  I, for example, would rather go almost anywhere than be where a chorus of shrieking Midwestern protestants are howling their out-of-key, rhythm-less "praise."  Heaven is not a universal concept and it's absolutely not a universal vision. 

 Having read a good bit of the Christian Bible, I think it's impossible to not "do anything the Bible says."  The Bible can give justification to just about any act, if you look for a specific justification.  Murder ("an eye for an eye"), genocide, incest, it's all there.  The Old Testament, in particular, is specially ruthless and wide open for interpretation.
  • Funny how someone can say "I believe in God"...
  • but still follow Satan (who, by the way, also "believes" in God).
Having watched the results of the last Presidential election, I am amazed at how true that is.  How Pro-Life Christians can vote for a man who executed more than 250 people and, by his own words, has a clear conscious, is amazing.  But not funny, it's scary.
  • Funny how you can send a thousand 'jokes' through e-mail and they
  • spread like wildfire... but when you start sending messages regarding
  • the Lord, you think twice about sharing. 
Apparently not.  I have received no shortage of this kind of message.  To trap and dispose of internet preachers, cheap Viagra sources, and body organ enlargement systems, I have constructed a half-dozen email filters and, still, most of the junk slithers its way into my mailbox.  I only wish this last erroneous statement were true.  Jokes and porno are much easier to filter than superstitious claptrap.
  • Funny how the lewd, crude, vulgar and obscene pass freely through
  • cyberspace... but the public discussion of Jesus is suppressed in the
  • school and work place.
If by "suppressed" the author means that fellow workers, especially management, are not allowed to forcibly harangue other employees about their "faith," I suppose this is true.  If she means that public schools, paid for by all of our taxes, are not allowed to promote a national religion? Again she's right.  But you're living in a fantasy world if you believe that "public discussion of Jesus" does not happen in schools or at work.  It's practically impossible to escape from cubicle evangelists pushing their special perversion of religion.  But, I guess, if they can't force it on us by power of law and gun, religion is being repressed.  So much for Christians being fed to the lions: Christians are the lions.
  • Funny, isn't it? Funny how someone can be so fired up for Christ on
  • Sunday... but be an invisible Christian the rest of the week.
Again, look to the White House for a wonderful example of Sunday Christians.  Drop bombs Monday thru Saturday, worship the Lord (and drop bombs) on Sunday.  Steal from the needy, the uneducated, the disabled, and the dying Monday thru Saturday,  and ask forgiveness on Sunday.  Why would ordinary citizens behave differently if the folks at the top get away with murder and still, apparently, float into Heaven?
  • Are you laughing?
  • Funny how when you go to forward this message...
  • You will not send it to many on your address list because you're not
  • sure what they believe...
Less funny, you who do send it on won't care what others believe.  They believe that their particular take on their specific offshoot of Catholicism should be universal and all other versions of "the truth" should be suppressed.  They don't worry about offending people with different views because they believe the law should pick our position and force it on us.  Possibly, like Rev. Jimmy Swaggert, they believe god is so dumb and unobservant that He wouldn't even notice their murdering another human, as long as he lied, convincingly, to Him.  With that kind of arrogance, no wonder shipping religious propaganda to everyone they know seems inconsequential.  They might even imagine that they are doing the rest of us a favor.  
  • or what they will think of you for sending it to them. *Funny how I
  • can be more worried about what other people think of me...... than what God thinks of me.
Strange use of repetitive periods, wonder if there is some underlying Satanic meaning to six periods separating a statement?  This six period thing occurred several times in this message.  Care to interpret? Inspirational messages are universal and they are always welcome.  Religious propaganda is less welcome, regardless of the source or the motivation.  Considering the feelings of friends and relatives is not immoral or heresy.  Forwarding a poorly written, irrationally considered, irritating cant that is as likely, or more likely, to offend as it is to inspire is not a religious act; it is a political act.  It used to be that religion, politics, and sex were off limits for general discussion in polite company.  America is not a polite society, maybe it never was, but we're so divided today that we may be on the verge of a second Civil War.  Like the first Civil War and the Revolutionary War, this will be parent against child, brother against brother, friend against friend, and it will be a waste of time and energy because nothing will change when it's done.
  • Are you thinking?
  • Will you share this with people you care about?
  • Or not?
Normally, no.  I'd just let it go as another of the thousands of attempts to mind-control.  This election and the radical right wing that controlled it has ruined my civility.  The less quiet the radical right is about it's dream for a "New Christian America," a return to the theocracy we escape during the American Revolution, a government similar to that suffered in Iran, today, the less inclined I am to quietly suffer the disrespect intended in this kind of message. 

 January 2005

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