Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Who Owns the Land? Jew or Arab? Neither!

Who Owns the Land? Jew or Arab? Neither!

Again recently, Jews destroyed animals and olive trees, vandalized mosques and cars, attacked Arabs, stole much more land, and dropped many more lethal bombs, etc.

Again recently, Arabs attacked Jewish families, lobbed hundreds of missiles into Israel trying to kill as many unarmed civilians as possible, etc.

In the last 12 years at least 6,700 Palestinians have been killed and at least 2,000 Jews.

What in HELL for? That’s right, that’s where the New Testament says destroying actions come from, from Hell.

All because of their selfish land claims—both by Arab and by Jew.


How do Arabs feel when they have lived on land for many years, (some families for over a 1,000 years!), but their land is confiscated by the Israeli army and given to immigrants from New York or Russia?!

How would you feel if your Arab family owned the deed to your own land but now the Israeli government is trying to take it away because they want it and claim the land is theirs because their ancestors lived on it over 2,000 years ago?

True story! You can read about it at World Vision’s website: http://blog.worldvision.org/stories/we-refuse-to-be-enemies/

On the other side…

How would you feel if your Jewish family can trace its ancestry on the land back to Bible times, but terrorist groups like HAMAS want to exterminate them, and keep launching deadly rockets to slaughter all, and then take over their land?

Plus, you need to keep history in your sites…

In 1880 there were 24,000 Jews living in the area of the Ottoman Empire called Palestine; there were 450,000 Arabs.

Only 5.3% of Palestine was Jewish!

Where then did all the Jewish people come from? From elsewhere...

But, of course, many people think since Jews once dominated in Palestine before 70 A.D., they have a right to return, as many, many thousands have from all over the world, especially from Europe and America.

Let’s assume so, but does that give them the right to intimidate and persecute Arabs and take away their land?

Please read what Amos has to say about injustice in the Jewish Bible.

We live on the Central Coast of California on what used to be Indian land. Because Indians used to live on this land (but were driven off long ago by the Spanish and Americans, like the Romans drove off the Jews), does this give Indians the right, now, to come back onto our property, kill my family, and confiscate our land?

Even if the Indians have historic right to the land, it certainly doesn’t justify their confiscating it by force of arms, and by killing people who now live on the land and then giving the land to their cousins from Florida.

Both Jew and Arab are violating their own religious scriptures, and are basically being selfish, because they won’t share.

<< James 4 >>
American King James Version
"From where come wars and fights among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? 2You lust, and have not: you kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: you fight and war, yet you have not, because you ask not."

TO BE CONTINUED

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Friday, October 19, 2012

Legalized Group Murder by Christians


Devout Christians slaughtering devout Christians, good people slaughtering good people, and, yes, bad people slaughtering good people and bad people...on and on and on...

This moral obscenity has gone on for 1,700 years, from the Jesus Wars of the early centuries beginning at the Battle of Milvian Bridge in 312 C.E. when Constantine fought under the standard of Christ's name.

"...mark the heavenly sign of God on the shields of his soldiers ... by means of a slanted letter X with the top of its head bent round, he marked Christ on their shields."


Eusebius describes another version, where, while marching at midday, "he saw with his own eyes in the heavens a trophy of the cross arising from the light of the sun, carrying the message,
In Hoc Signo Vinces or
"with this sign, you will conquer."
Wikipedia

For historical details of the killing and persecution by Christians, read Jesus Wars by the historian Philip Jenkins.

Christians went on to slaughter Jews, Pagans, and other Christians in the 300's to 600's CE.

Then jump hundreds of years, past the millions slaughtered in the Christian Crusades, wars of the Reformation, the French Religious Wars, the 30 Years War, and so forth.

And 'God's warriors' attacked, again, Christians-fighting-Christians in the American War Between the States (often incorrectly called a 'civil' war).


Over half a million soldiers died in 4 years, and as many were wounded; hundreds of thousands of civilians suffered and died.

A whole generation was destroyed, the land ravaged...

Some places in the American South didn’t recover until the 20th century!

And even before Americans did start to recover--within 5 to 10 years after the war, 1870-75--all of the Southern states were taken over by racist leaders who instituted severe Negro codes/segregation. Often, Negroes were worse off after the war, than when they had been enslaved.

These racist methods were called “Redemption" by the Southern Christians.

What a perversion of Jesus' life and teaching.

Treatment of Negroes amounted to de facto slavery, though, of course, at least the institution of slavery was no longer technically legal. But Negroes were restricted, often confined to plantations. Churches were segregated.

Negroes who protested, tried to vote, or sought to become involved in the government were intimidated, abused, and often murdered by former Confederate soldiers and other Southern leaders.

Even stranger, however, is that in in the Northern States, many Americans, also, instituted Negro codes. They had attacked the Confederacy, and many had opposed slavery, but they didn't want Negros to live among them in the North.

Think of this: When Union soldiers earlier invaded South Carolina, some of the Northern soldiers actually stole shoes and clothes from Negro slaves!!

Many Union soldiers despised Negroes.

After the war, racism reigned thourgh out the U.S., as if no war had been fought.

Side Note: We've just returned from an in-depth tour of Virginian, Maryland, and Pennsylvanian Civil War battlefields on this the Sesquicentennial memorial of that horrific slaughter. We missed the 150th anniversary of the Sharpsburg/Antietam killing field by one week, not that it matters at all.

There are so many horrific facts about the occasion of these American Christian battles, that when reading and viewing each memorial site, one wants to weep. Maybe not shed outward tears, but drown in sorrow within.



It’s a strange fact of human nature and academic life, how endless books have been written on these tragic war battles, yet each generation participates in more wars.













Right now, Christians are supporting 4 American wars--Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria.



However this time around in the slaughter-roulette, Muslims are slaughtering Muslims, as well as Christians and Atheists.

And Christians are fighting, shooting and bombing back.

Why didn't Christians learn their moral lesson, that war is wrong, is inherently evil, in the American 'Civil' War?








Even though I’ve read many thousands of pages on the War Between the States, and taught literature of that war for years, each time I read another historical tome (and now visit the actual battle sites and museums), and read in detail of the endless slaughter, it all seems so incredibly insane.

Where is there any evidence in the life and teachings of Jesus for any of this?!

Yet many commanders, generals, and political leaders on both sides were devout Christians. Soldiers prayed and got "saved" on both sides, but then immediately, still shot, bayoneted, and killed each other in the name of God and Christ, their Savior.





Read history books which describe this in detail such as God's Almost Chosen Peoples by George C. Rable.

And then there's the brazen thefts—many soldiers stealing things off the dead--real living individuals only moments before. They stripped their bodies for clothes, took their letters, mementos, and pictures.














Doing this to their enemies even though most of them had the same religion and similar values--those of honor, duty, and God and country.



In some places, such as at Cold Harbor battlefield, the bodies of the slain soldiers weren’t buried for several years.

All the civilians had run away and all the soldiers of both sides had rushed onto other killing fields; so the only companions of the abandoned dead were wild hogs who ate at the corpses.

Remember, too, military dogtags hadn't been invented yet, so about half of the 600,000 dead soldiers were never identified. And don’t forget that at least 400,000 civilians, probably many more, also died because of the war.

And, as mentioned above, there was so much thievery--the brazen stealing of things from the dead, from homes and farmhouses. A Union soldier even stole a Bible from a Southern church and took it home to New England!

And the landscape was trashed, over 2 million trees destroyed, fences torn up, bridges, factories, railways destroyed. Northerners destroyed art, sculpture, and used fire to heat train rails and twist them around trees--calling them "Sherman's neckties."

Notice how whenever there is a war, invariably, all of the Ten Commandments, and every other moral code are violated daily by soldiers and, indirectly, by supporting civilians!

And don’t forget all the lying and spying, incessant cursing and obscenities, and, for many, the whoring, the drunkenness, etc..

Why aren't we more shocked and devastated that any humans, certainly any Christians, could avidly participate in such hellish actions?

Because, even yet, most Christians strongly support the slaughter of their enemies.

How utterly senseless and evil it all was.
But Americans on both sides committed the evils for righteousness...in the name of the same God.

Both sides even declared that the War was God’s war, his plan, not theirs!

Yet so many of the leaders, but for minor situations or reasons could have ended up on the other side, killing for the opposing government. Christians killing Christians, brothers fighting brothers, friends against friends…

As no doubt most of you readers know, Christian Robert E. Lee was offered command of all Federal forces but turned the offer down, because President Lincoln was beginning to marshal 75,000 Northern troops to invade Virginia.

Lee said he would never attack his own state and home.

Instead, Lee joined the Confederacy to defend his family and home. Little good it did him, because the Federals stole his home, and he never got it back. By the end of the war Lee was directly responsible for over one hundred thousand killings.

Not that Lee did the slaughter alone; there were many thousands of other devoted Christians on both sides who actively and avidly participated in the slaughter and thanked God for their victories.

Others, the less religious leaders in the U.S. sometimes didn't even care about the theological and political conflagration. Yet they, too, got involved. General Edward Porter Alexander, according to his own memoir, was too busy enjoying fishing and hunting in Seattle, where he was posted by the U.S. Army, to really pay any attention to all the political wrangling and ideological conflict. He didn't seem to care about all that.

But when he heard of the Abraham Lincoln's invasion plans, though he, Porter, had been assigned by his commander to build Alcatraz in San Francisco Bay, Porter resigned his commission and went home to fight for his home state of Georgia. Who wouldn't?



Not that it did any good. Later General Sherman of the Union would devastate a 40-mile wide swath of Georgia in his infamous terroristic March to the Sea, seeking to destroy all of the civilian backing for the Confederacy.

Devout Christian Stonewall Jackson, who ordered the slaughter of many thousands of others, carried a special table just for his prayer time.

One can see the small varnished stand at his command post in Winchester, Virginia, a town which allegedly changed opposing armies 70 times!



“He [Stonewall] would never mail a letter that would be in transit on Sunday. He was a strict observer of the Sabbath.
And yet so many of his battles were fought on Sundays that the soldiers began to believe that he would fight on Sunday because the Lord would be even more with him..."



While he supported slavery, he at the same time taught the Bible to Negro children. A strange contradiction, like so many other Christian leaders.




"Jackson is an eerie character; an Old Testament warrior who believed in smiting them hip and thigh.”

[“And Samson said to them, ‘If this is what you do, I swear I will be avenged on you, and after that I will quit.' And he struck them hip and thigh with a great blow, and he went down and stayed in the cleft of the rock of Etam... 'As they did to me, so have I done to them.’ Judges 15: 7-8, 11b]



“After the bloody fighting at Sharpsburg..Jackson was sitting on his horse eating a peach...and he looked out over this field where were dead of both sides littered all over the place."

"And as he was eating the peach he [Stonewall] said, ‘God has been very kind to us this day.’”
---Shelby Foote, an American historian

So very tragic, so contrary to the way of the son of man.

Jesus weeps...

Other strange facts in American history repeatedly show the insanity of the war—many Northerners were as racist, or sometimes more racist, than Southerners.

Not that any of this was new...

12 American presidents in their lives had been slave owners! When the British invaded the colonies in the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812, they actually freed slaves, while Americans, including the American president kept Negroes enslaved!

So very hypocritical, so contrary to the Light.

But the actions of God followers never seem to change—not then, not even now.





Consider this, think on it: American snipers have been using rifles in the war in Afghanistan


made by a Christian company which puts Bible verses on the rifle sights!!






When Muslims fight Americans, they do so in the name of God (Allah in Arabic). It never ends...





Hopefully, followers of Jesus, in the future will change and resist the evil of war.































In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Going to Prison for Others?

Going to Prison for Others...

“I was struck most of all by the purity, sincerity and strength of their faith. They, like myself, were not involved in searches for theological doctrines, but in striving to live in keeping with the spirit of Christ-to live in truth and kindness, in continual oneness with Him, to live in light and love..."


"One hundred sixty-seven Quakers petitioned Parliament to be sent to prison in the place of 167 other Friends who had been suffering in prisons for a long time already, and who were tired and sick, and missed their families."


"That level of sacrifice simply amazed me. The history of our country is full of imprisonment and mass repression, but I had never heard of people voluntarily asking to be sent to prison in order to free their friends.”*
--Tatiana Pavlova





When reading this, a question burst out of my deepest inner self:
How many followers of Jesus, now, would offer to trade places with innocent persons
who are currently imprisoned around the world?


Asia Bibi, a 42-year-old Pakistani woman from the village of Ittanwali, is the wife of Ashiq Masih, and their family is one of only three Christian families in a village of 1,500 families. She has been in prison for three years, separated from her husband and two young daughters.


Her crime? Witnessing of her faith in Jesus, in contrast to Muhammad and Islam. She was convicted of violating subsection C of Pakistan’s 295 blasphemy law and was sentenced to death.

Asia’s conviction and death sentence have brought international attention to the country’s blasphemy laws.*

Will anyone step forward and take her place—literally, or even figuratively, by being a witness to Jesus as early Friends did, as did followers of Jesus in the Book of Acts?

Behnam Irani, a 42-year-old pastor from Karaj, Iran. Officers from the Ministry of Intelligence and National Security (MOIS) raided Irani’s house church on April 14, 2010, and assaulted him before taking him into custody.

When Irani voluntarily began serving his sentence in May 2011, he was prepared to spend one year in prison. But he received a letter in October stating that he must now serve five years from his previous sentence.

For the first few months of his sentence, Behnam Irani was held in solitary confinement in a very small cell. Afterward, he was moved to another small cell with other prisoners.

The hot room was so full, the prisoners were not able to lie down to sleep, so they had to sit all day and night. Pastor Behnam is now in a normal cell, but authorities have asked for him to be beaten regularly. All his hair has turned white...

Behnam Transferred to Prison Hospital - July 2012
Within the last week, Behnam Irani became so sick that he lost consciousness. As a result, he was finally allowed to be transferred to the prison hospital.

Please pray for his wife and two children as they wait for him to return home.*

Will anyone step forward and take his place—literally, or even figuratively, by being a witness to Jesus as early Friends did, as did followers of Jesus in the Book of Acts?

"Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple...3 So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple."
Luke 14:26,33


For many years my wife and I have written letters to oppressive governments requesting the release of innocent individuals who have been wrongly imprisoned.


Millions of others work for human rights. Thank God for that.

But, I admit, I am not yet that committed to the Light that I would go in to prison to replace a prisoner of conscience, that I would petition the government of Pakistan or Iran to volunteer to replace Asia Bibi, Behnam Irani, or one of thousands of others who suffer in prison.

When will we modern followers of Jesus truly seek to be like him, to “empty” ourselves for the cause of Truth, Goodness, and Lovingkindness?

As did the early followers of the Way in the Book of Acts, as did the early Friends of Truth in 17th century Britain.

In the Light and Love of God,

Daniel Wilcox


*Tatiana Pavlova, a Russian academic on the Friends of Truth, a movement of Christ-followers in 17th century Britain
Interviewed by Johan Maurer about how she became a Friend.

Tatiana was born in Moscow. She studied in the history and literature department of the Moscow City Pedagogical University. In 1969, she defended her dissertation on the theme, The Second English Republic (1658-1660), Social-economic and Political Struggle.

Tatiana worked as a volunteer with alcoholics and drug addicts, and poor retirees, conducting Bible study classes. Before her death, Tatiana worked at the Institute of World History of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

--From Friends United Meeting, Quaker Life May 1999

* http://www.prisoneralert.com/pprofiles/vp_prisoner_218_profile.ht

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Friendly Good News

God Is One.


God is creative, invisible, transcendent, eternal, and ultimate.

God’s expression, his “Word,” his visible presence (the Incarnation) is in Jesus the Messiah, “The Word became flesh and set up his tent among us.” Jesus is the Image of God who is invisible. Jesus is our friend, ruler, leader, and deliverer.

The “Chosen One” came so we might experience and understand that God is ultimately and everlastingly love. “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” Scripture also says, “Mercy triumphs over judgment."

God’s immanent, creative presence and influence, his “Holy Spirit,” convicts all of us to change direction and seek God. God’s Spirit lives within our spirit, and guides, communes, and comforts us as believers.

God loves the whole world, every human who has been born and every human who will be born. God is not willing for any to perish.

God is leading all of creation toward and to final perfection.

The ultimate glory of God is love—creating, giving, sharing, communing…


In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Judas Kiss

The Evil of Religious Double-Talk

I really hate religious double-talk, especially the kind whose end results are horrific.

Gangsters and gang members who strut their malign beliefs are abhorrent, especially when they openly prey upon the innocent and the young, but they can be faced and dealt with.

They wear their intentions proudly blazoned in garish tattoos and brazen behavior. Police know where they are at and can deal with them.

But the really insidious and diabolical are the serial crooks and abusers who wear sheep’s clothing of respectability, who carry out their crimes under the appearance of goodness and light. Who often aren’t caught, or not until long after their actions have hurt and destroyed many innocent people.

Isn’t this why traitors and spies are so despised? Humans oppose their enemies, though sometimes respect them even despite great destruction and killing. The most famous example of this is the meeting between Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House.

However, in contrast, spies such as Civil War soldier, Will Talbot, got hanged.


Most people can’t stand foes who sneak around trying to appear as their friends. Benedict Arnold was one of the great heroes early in the American Revolution, but his name is not famous for his soldiering.

The Judas kiss isn’t a hateful allusion for nothing.

An obvious disease is treatable; a hidden cancer which destroys and is found too late leads to death. A really bizarre cult is at least “good” in the sense that its malignancy is so obvious.

What is very dangerous is the Christian message which appears so good, but has hidden horror and destruction within.

I must admit that is why, in a strange sort of way I do prefer hyper-theological determinists, the so-called ‘high’ supralapsarians of the Christian world. Not that, they are easy to face. I still remember the first speaker I encountered at a church Bible study on Philippians when I was in my late 20’s.

The spokesperson claimed every rape and murder is planned by God! That God actually has foreordained the eternal damnation of most of us humans. And later I learned that they believed God even planned the Jewish Holocaust for his “own pleasure and glory”!!

Whew! Needless to say, I was shocked and doubly horrified, having been raised in the loving Good News of Evangelical Christianity as preached by leaders like Billy Graham and Charles Finney and John Wesley and Menno Simons and St. Francis and Justin Martyr and Polycarp; and in fact all of the early Church Fathers!

When I became aware of my own sins and guilt, I accepted Jesus as my Savior because of the overwhelming love of God for us--for all the billions of us, every last one of us, and that God forgives us in Christ, that God is like a father who dearly loves every single human he has ever created, even those of us who have made so many wrong ethical choices.

“The wonder of it all” (to quote a famous revival hymn by George Beverly Shea) that God would have sent Jesus to lead the way to the Light for only one of us, even for me, even if I had been the only wrong-doer in the whole world! Joy unspeakable and praise to the glory of our wondrous God of love.

So I did fight against the horrific theological determinism of a rape-and-murder-planning God with all of my heart, with all my soul, and with all my mind. This was overt brazen, twisted Christianity I could fight and did.

But then much later I discovered other great leaders of Christianity, who I admired, actually, also, believed in this same horrific vision of God, but they hid their religious betrayal within religious double-talk.

For example consider some of these very good statements: "I say every man who comes to Christ shall be saved."

"Every man that comes shall find the door of Christ’s house opened—and the door of his heart too. Every man that comes—I say it in the broadest sense—shall find that Christ has mercy for him...every man who believes shall be saved—that every man who comes shall find mercy.

...I tell you all that come—aye, if they were as bad as devils, Christ would receive them; if they had all sin and filthiness running into their hearts as into a common sewer for the whole world, Christ would receive them…good news from God for sinners is like cold waters to a thirsty soul."

"The first piece of good news that I have to give you is, that God has not forgotten you. You are a lost sheep, and you have almost forgotten your Shepherd; perhaps, you have altogether forgotten him; but your Shepherd has been counting over the number of his sheep, and he finds that there is one missing, for there are only ninety and nine where there should be a hundred, and he is deeply concerned about the one that has gone astray."

"God has not only remembered that there is such a person as you but he remembers you with pity."

"You have nothing to do, sinner, but to give yourself up to the leading, guiding, directing, assisting, quickening of the blessed Spirit of God."

Aren’t these words of wondrous Good News?

Don’t they sound like the glad tidings of the Gospel?

Aren’t they blessings of joy, showing the great love of God for everyone?

No, they are the Judas Kiss!

For this famous Christian leader, Charles Spurgeon, (like so many other famous leaders) actually means the exact opposite of his direct statements.


Spurgeon doesn't think any sinner "can give yourself up to" the Spirit of God. On the contrary, elsewhere he states (like all real theological determinists) that a human must first be regenerated against his will.

No one has any choice; every infant is born totally depraved, evil.

And Spurgeon declares that God has predestined only a limited number of humans to be rescued.

To hell with all of the billions of us other humans.

His book on salvation and a number of his sermons, his “Gospel” is nothing of the sort.

No "good news" at all.

It's obscenely horrific news.

Spurgeon's speeches are a Judas kiss, are a horror to behold, nothing more nor less than
the worst of the worst covered over by double-talk.

The Judas kiss.

Let Spurgeon clarify his real meaning with his own words:

“Another says, ‘I want to know about the rest of the people. May I go out and tell them—Jesus Christ died for every one of you? May I say—there is righteousness for every one of you, there is life for every one of you?’ No; you may not.”

What?!!

But then this famous preacher of so-called good news speaks of the “Doctrine of Grace”: “There is no soul living who holds more firmly to the doctrine of grace than do I.”

Well, isn’t that good? Grace is wonderful, right?

Isn’t that another word for God’s love for everyone—that we can’t do enough good to be acceptable to God, but “God was in Christ reconciling the world until himself” (2 Corinthians 5:19 and John 3:16)?

No.

The famous preacher doesn’t mean “grace” in that sense at all. Instead, what he later clarifies is that he means this: TULIP—a systematic acronym for John Calvin’s statement:

"They again object, Were not men predestinated by the ordination of God to that corruption which is now held forth as the cause of condemnation?
If so, when they perish in their corruptions they do nothing else than suffer punishment for that calamity, into which, by the predestination of God, Adam fell, and dragged all his posterity headlong with him. Is not he, therefore, unjust in thus cruelly mocking his creatures?"

"I admit that by the will of God all the sons of Adam fell into that state of wretchedness in which they are now involved; and this is just what I said at the first, that we must always return to the mere pleasure of the divine will, the cause of which is hidden in himself."
Chapter 23, 4 Institutes of Chirstian Religion
John Calvin

Then Charles Spurgeon goes on to say:
“There is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified, unless we preach what nowadays is called Calvinism. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else."

The twisted tulip of Calvinism

When Spurgeon says, “I say every man who comes to Christ shall be saved. I can say that as a Calvinist, or as a hyper-Calvinist, as plainly as you can say it"
one has to decipher his double talk because according to his Calvinism, the vast majority of humankind was foreordained to eternal damnation by God before the beginning of Creation.

Double-talk, how hateful and destructive it is. How insidious!

According to Calvinism, God has willed for most of us to be lost forever, eternally pre-damned from before time began, for the “mere pleasure of the divine will.”

Lest we missed this hidden point, Spurgeon adds: “I do not serve the god of the Arminians [John Wesley, Charles Finney, George Fox, Menno Simons, Arminius, etc.] at all; I have nothing to do with him, and I do not bow down before the Baal they have set up; he is not my God, nor shall he ever be; I fear him not, nor tremble at his presence...”

Finally, no more double-talk like his earlier fake evangelistic words.

Just the horror of no hope for most of us humans because we were foreordained to eternal damnation, created at conception by God as evil sinners and incapable of repenting. God didn’t send Jesus for us and doesn’t send his Holy Spirit to change us...

So much for the “good news” of the Judas Kiss!


Next time the really GOOD NEWS of Jesus…

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Saturday, July 21, 2012

My Last Philosophical Will and Testament

No, I haven’t died physically yet. Though I sure feel my age, of late, as my body parts fragment earlier than expected.

Rather, this article deals with the crisis I’ve experienced mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. The substance-- lines and examples came to me a couple hours ago as I swam laps at the health club pool, and I wrestled with the modern torrential waves of theological and Atheistic determinism.

Or viewed alternately, what occurred was a crisis meeting, somber party of Albert Camus and George Fox;-) and others, laying a game plan to defy the wiles and brilliant horrors of determinists of all sorts.

And then, suddenly, the breakthrough answer came to me…

But let me back up, and provide a bit of perspective before shouting out my Will and Testament.

It’s been a tough spring and summer. The evangelical minister and theologian John Piper started it off by claiming that 90 tornadoes that wreaked havoc and killed at least 40 people in the American Midwest in early March 2012 were actually God raking his fingers across the landscape. And that Jesus ruled these winds, the tornadoes were his.

Really comforting to the grieving families! who lost loved ones including a baby infant throw hundreds of yard into a corn field, left to suffer in agony until it finally died after being rescued. How wonderful of Jesus. (sarcasm a few hundred millions miles long)

I would still like to punch Piper in the nose for his words. (emotional hyperbole, not literal for those who wonder if I’ve given up my dedication to nonviolence).

Then nearly at the same time out came Sam Harris’ shocking essay that humans have no free will, that we are only an effect of previous natural causes, that we can’t reflect and make creative decisions but are only acted upon by causes within our unconscious and previous forces of past existence.

I still can’t believe he wrote such an essay and a book of the same name, Free Will, which came out mid-March. Several years ago, when I read a couple of his books for Atheism, I thought he was a voice of moderation compared to the other New Atheists. Guess not.

Anyway, let’s cut the words. What came to me as I swam--in the midst of a mental, spiritual, and emotional crisis--was a defiant insight!

I remembered reading Atheist Albert Camus’ tragic existential novel The Plague years ago. In the powerful book an individual fights against a decimating disease killing thousands (it could be millions); he has no hope of possible victory but defiantly fights against the plague and for individual humans anyway. And Camus, emphasizes that even though, according to his understanding, there is no meaning or purpose to Existence, no hope—yet he still acts to fight against destruction, and for the good as he understands the good to be.

And a world away, 300 years earlier, of an opposite life view, George Fox, a spiritual seeker, totally disillusioned with the Christian churches of his time and the materialists too, feeling drowned in an ocean of darkness, finally experienced an ocean of light. And said, “When all my hopes in them and in all men were gone, so that I had nothing outwardly to help me, nor could tell what to do, then, oh, then, I heard a voice which said, ‘There is one, even Christ Jesus, that can speak to thy condition’; and when I heard it my heart did leap for joy.

Well, I can’t say I am leaping for joy…

But by the time I finished swimming I did realize I don’t care, ultimately, whether Sam Harris and his kind can show materialistic determinism is true or Christian theologian John Piper (or Thomas Aquinas or Sunni Muslims or Spinoza, etc., fill in the blank with your favorite fatalist)
can show theological determinism is true…

Ultimately, even if it were proven we humans are incapable of decisions (of free will), I choose (like Camus and Fox) to defy “the stars.”

Even if there are no ethical truths, there should be.

Even if humans matter not at all, they should matter.

Even if there is no free choice, there should be.

So maybe we will go our ordained way as chained galley slaves of the indifferent cosmos or some sadistic sovereign god. Maybe our lives are condemned by fate.

But let us go defiantly contrary, refusing, opposing, against that destiny.
Let us choose the Light no matter what.

Let us follow Jesus all the way to death. Let us rescue the perishing no matter what.

In the Light,

Daniel

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The World Perspective versus the World Picture

Recently, I’ve read more tomes of scholarly disputation on the Christian religion and the Bible. Like many of the debates and dialogues on the Internet and at universities, there seems to be so many beliefs and views on which Christians disagree and on which they write endless books arguing their own doctrine and denomination are the only true one.

Do Christians ever agree on anything, even the nature of God? Apparently not. There are over 200 different denominations of Baptists in the world alone. Even the tiny Society of the Friends can’t agree, even, whether God really exists!!

In my frustration with all this, a point raised by a professor years ago came back to me—of the climatic difference between a “world perspective” versus a “world picture.”

Immediately, I saw the deep insight of these two very different ways of living Christian faith, for the latter one is where so much of current (and historical) conflict in Christianity comes from.

“World Perspective” is a term emphasizing the over-all themes of Christian faith and Scripture.
For instance:

God is. God creates. God created humankind in God’s image. Jesus in his words and deeds represents God, is the image of the invisible God—God is love, goodness, truth. Humans are responsible to seek God and to live good lives through relationship with God. Sin is a reality we humans struggle with and we reap the result of our choices.

In contrast, “World Picture” deals with all the details and knowledge of the first century view of life versus the 21st century and our current knowledge of the world.

So I can trust in Existence as having Ultimate Meaning, as being personal, as ethics being of supreme importance
BUT
as a Christian I don’t have to take an ancient picture of the world as true—that the cosmos was literally created in 6 days (“and there was evening and there was morning the 1th day”) or that the cosmos is only 6,000 years old, especially when all scientific evidence shows it to be billions of years old.

OR

I can trust and hope Existence is going (however slowly) forward toward perfection. God calls all humans into this movement away from our instinctive wants and egoistic choices and nationalistic goals.
BUT
as a Christian I don’t have to think in literal 1st century apocalyptic terms of millions of soldiers meeting soon in the near future in a valley in northern Israel to slaughter each other or that the European Common Market probably is of the Anti-Christ.

OR

I can think government as a form was instituted by the Creator to limit the evil inclinations of humans,
BUT
I don’t have to agree with the Apostle Paul when he says all governments have been established by God. Other passages of Scripture offer different views.

OR

I can believe the ultimate purpose of existence is ethical and spiritual—egalitarian relationships of love in relationship with God who is Love
INSTEAD
Of thinking many of the specifics (often eternally false) of the Old and New Testament are to be followed. There are so many but here are a few controversies which have caused so much evil and confusion in the name of Christ over many centuries--the institution of slavery is to be obeyed, women are to be subservient, people should slaughter their enemies, and are “blessed” if they bash their enemies’ infants to death on the rocks, the 4th Commandment is to be taken literally, doing no work on Friday night and Saturday, we are to give others a holy kissing in greeting, false religious teachers are to be executed, clothing worn by religious leaders if it is used to touch sick persons will heal them, God hates some people and creates them for evil, women must wear veils because of the angels, etc.

If some people complain that such a thematic perspective instead of a literal perspective is “picking and choosing”—cafeteria-style religion, we need to remember Jesus was accused of this as well and guilty as charged. For he chose the great truths of God and held them against other specific parts of Scripture which were not to be followed. The most famous case, of course, was when he disagreed with the literalists concerning divorce, explaining to everyone not to follow the Law of Moses!

To be continued

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Sunday, April 29, 2012

My Faith at 65

Faith in God, the transcendent, ultimate Reality

That despite all the chaos, evil, suffering, and pain observed, the ultimate nature of existence, God, is essentially Love—relational, giving, kind, good, patient, forgiving, humble, truthful, trusting, hopeful, meek, generous, peaceful, faithful, protecting, rejoicing, unselfish, honorful, courteous, enduring…

Jesus, the Chosen One, came to proclaim the Realm/Reign/Way of God and when rejected, endured the cross of excruciating pain and suffering for the joy set before him, in order for humans to see/experience how much God loves all of us, every last one of us, and loves his creation. (The pronoun is used in the generic sense and is not asserting God is male. For God created Human, male and female he created them in his image.)

*I suppose in a starkly objective sense this view of ultimate reality is an impossible dream--to think Love is essential, is ultimately true, when millions of years of natural and human historical fact claim/show the contrary, and often the major religions deny by theory or their contrary behavior.

But great minds from Plato to Whitehead, from Paul to Henri Nouwen/Martin Luther King Jr. have looked at the brute facts and still rationally averred that ultimate truth is greater than cruel fact, love greater than hate, creativity greater than destruction, good greater than evil, mercy greater than judgment, eternity greater than temporality.

Existence, the Cosmos, nature, the visible world is in creative process. God is wooing the visible to become the eternal in a relational dance of love. Evil, chaos, suffering, and pain...are the demonic, the Satan (Hebrew: “adversary”) over/through which Goodness and Truth and Love must suffer to vanquish.

To live the Good News, to participate in the “Kingdom of God” is to long for, to change, to create toward becoming…eventually to perfection. This is a cosmically long process, not understood in depth by the NT writers who thought Christ would return within their life-times, how the writer of Hebrews understood prophetic truth that the “end of the ages” had come then. “But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” Hebrews 9:26 ESV

Yet 2,000 years later we seem only a little bit closer (and sometimes not when one sees the horrific world news). But we don’t look to this present age, not at its tragic evil. No matter how many thousands or millions of years last, we look to the future, to God’s realm “..we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:18 ASV

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Friday, April 13, 2012

Plugging the Spiritual Sieve

Growing up in fundamentalism and evangelicalism of the Christian religion, we were continually warned about the “slippery slope of doubt and liberalism.”

My subsequent trials and steep learning curve of a university education at the University of Nebraska and Cal State Long Beach, and the many 'travailed'-roads of a spiritual journey
through lots of theological and scientific tomes and evangelicalism’s too many ‘easy-isms’—all that, has brought me too close to the dangerous cliff of a faith'd demise.

Which shows the question of the truth of that fundamental “truism” is both yes and no.

Slip and slide...










However, this short blog reflection is based not so much in the slippery slope metaphor,

but more in other striking images,
that of the “spiritual sieve” of Christianity--


How so much of religious faith is drizzling down through millions of small holes.




Or that of a wide funnel
and the eventual swirling down
at a hectic rush of all that used to provide
security and hope.





Or it's like an individual who runs around in his upward-bound basket of faith,
trying to patch the balloon above to keep the helium of his beliefs from leaking out
all the puncture wounds caused by secular learning.

















Or like the boy in Holland who stuck his finger in a hole in the dike to keep out the flood of the sea.

But here in the bulwark of Christianity, tragically, there are thousands of holes to be plugged in order to keep the flood waters of fact and rogue waves of speculation--yes, the ocean of doubt, evil, and nothingness from drowning everyone.

And every thinking believer needs to run around constantly sticking his faith fingers in those endless holes, trying to stop dark gushing seawater from washing in and drowning us all.

A few of the Jagged Holes of the "Unholy" from the perspective of my childhood--

Evolution:
We were never "young earth creationists" in our family. My dad was a history major in college, and eventually earned 3 degrees. He considered Neanderthal and other ancient primates related to homo sapiens to be real, not the nefarious lies of atheistic scientists. So we accepted some form
theistic evolution.

But we strongly opposed natural selection. When I grew up, I constantly fought against Darwin's ‘unholy’ inundation; this ‘evilution.’


We Christians learned over and over again that Atheists held to this false ‘theory’ because of their sinful ways, that anyone could see there was no factual basis for Darwin’s concept, and it contradicted Genesis and the New Testament.

But in my first science class--Geology at the University of Nebraska, I quickly discovered, the whole issue was much more complicated and the evidence for secular science very overwhelming.

And I was totally turned off by the lame arguments that creationists used against evolution and for a world-wide Flood. After I completed my term paper on the latter, I was never the same, indeed, had moved into a modern scientific outlook.

Then came classes in anthropology, books on biology and many discussions. After years of intense struggle and a constant study of religion and science, I finally bowed the knee to objective fact, to the overwhelming evidence of geology, biology, chemistry, and physics.

So much for religious dogma, Christian illusion.

I did so finally because I could no longer deny hard evidence. I wanted to find out the real truth, did think that all truth is God's evidence. I no longer wanted to hang onto the security of questionable religious doctrine.

But believe me, I came kicking and screaming (to reverse a phrase from C. S. Lewis) into an acceptance of modern Darwinian evolutionary theory with its emphasis on "survival of the fittest" and random mutations.

It's very hard for religious humans to give up, essentially, their whole understanding of the nature of life.

But, especially, after Francis Collins (a Christian evolutionist) and other scientists finished the Human Genome Project which again showed the high probability of common descent of humankind from primates, I realized I had lived in a delusion based on faulty, and at times, ludicrous arguments.


Better late than never, though I wish I could have gotten there years earlier.

Many anti-evolution Christian books were so weakly reasoned and so missing in substantive factual evidence. Some even put forth ridiculous views such as claiming God had hidden dinosaur bones in the earth to mislead modern scientists! At least my parents had never believed in that!

If I hadn't seen horrific ethics displayed by non-religious individuals at university, I probably would have changed sooner (but that's another article to be explained later).

Inerrancy:
It was at 11 years of age that I first encountered severe doubts about part of the Bible. The story of Elisha and the 3 Bears;-) Well, it was only 2, and it wasn't cute or funny--because on order of God, the bears mauled 42 kids (2 Kings 2:23-25)!

We were taught this story in Sunday School. I remember becoming very upset, and telling our teacher and the other elementary students so.

How cruel and unjust! All that the boys had done was only make fun of Elisha's bald head.

And the fact that the Bible repeatedly defended and condoned slavery also troubled my mind as I entered the teen years.

Still, I remember saying (when I was about 13 or 14), I would quit believing in the Bible if one comma was missing from the text. But then I discovered to my chagrin that punctuation was only inserted into Scripture in the late Middle Ages.

Later textural study opened huge wide holes in my spirit and mind.

And I learned scriptural transmission, literary interpretation, history, etc. until my balloon of faith in the Bible became one droopy stretch of plastic in a pig sty of natural slime.

In so many portions, there are horrific immoral, unethical, unjust stories like in Judges, Joshua, Samuel and Kings.

Theological Determinism:
Denial of the Good News for most humans by Augustinian-Reformed theology. Original Sin, Evil Infants, Predestination, Hell...

The first time I encountered a Calvinist was at a high school Bible study when the adult leader claimed that sometimes God would order us to commit immoral actions! And he told me personally that I should be willing to do what is immoral for God. Whew!


Then there was a famous Bible leader's almost obscene claim. That happened, when as a young adult, my friend and I visited a Presbyterian church.

The leader lectured the assembly that “every murder and every rape are planned by God” and that God only wills/predestines for a limited number of humans to be saved.

I became extremely upset and utterly confused! That was the first death knell for me of secure, simple Christian faith and the beginning of a death battle that has lasted through many years. I’ve survived, but at times I actually no longer wanted to live.

Obviously my faith changed drastically as I studied Christian history and learned that most Christians believed in determinism and that God had created most humans to be foreordained to eternal damnation for his own glory!

And that the Good News I had heard and loved and admired as a kid was a heretical aberration of orthodox Christianity!

When I read a large volume on the creeds of the Christian religions, I was horrified by their immoral ethics, and totally skeptical of their theological abstractions.


What did any of these complex, convoluted, despairing statements have to do with the Good News?





But after having already checked out Hinduism, Buddhism, and various forms of Atheism, and found them worse, I stayed with a form of liberal Christianity associated with Anabaptism, Quakerism, and the Enlightenment.

And I still experientially had inner trust in Jesus like when I had met him as a young person, the night I “asked Jesus into my heart.” Back then we were taught God loves everyone and Christ died for everyone.

But not a day passes now but which I need to do battle against the despairing determinism which is being promoted by famous Christian leaders of “limited atonement, unconditional election," and other such ilk which inundates modern Christianity.

This horrific hole is as vast as a galaxy.

A cosmic sieve into the abyss...


More unholy holes next time...

But for now, the wholly:-) Good News…

Despite the countless punctures which have emptied Christian doctrine and theology,
my experience of Jesus,
my trust in God, the Ultimate Reality,
my faith in ethical truth
my hope in human rights, justice, equality, compassion, honesty, fidelity, and so forth
are alive and well.

It’s not the holes in human religious constructions which count, but the whole Truth.


Thanks to life struggles and extensive learning I've gained a deeper, more complex faith in God.

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Friday, March 16, 2012

The “Fingers of God,” the Jesus of the “Twisted" Winds




"Jesus rules the wind. The tornadoes were his."
John Piper

News from a famous, highly praised, Christian leader
after the tragic tornadoes this past month:
“Why would God reach down his hand and drag his fierce fingers
across rural America killing
at least 38 people with 90 tornadoes in 12 states, and leaving some small towns
with scarcely a building standing, including churches?"

"..God alone has the last say in where and how the wind blows.
If a tornado twists at 175 miles an hour and stays on the ground
like a massive lawnmower for 50 miles,
God gave the command..."

"Jesus rules the wind. The tornadoes were his.”
John Piper








Whew! No wonder there are more and more outspoken atheists.

Piper does go on to say that “before Jesus took any life in rural American, he gave how own on the rugged cross.” Of course, as Piper has made starkly clear in the past, Jesus gave his life only for a limited number of humans. All other humans throughout history were foreordained to eternal torture.

As one blogger, pointed out, such Christianity is “twisted.” (http://loveradically.com/2012/03/05/john-piper-twisted-theology-on-twisters/

No wonder that many people are saying that Christianity’s god is a moral monster.

Though this "twisted" theology isn’t near as evil as other horrific claims by current Christian leaders which include the assertions that the Holocaust, and every rape and murder and molestation, happen for "God’s glory" and "good pleasure"!

"God not merely carries all of the universe’s objects and events to their appointed ends, but he actually brings about all things in accordance with his will."

"In other words, it isn’t just that God manages to turn the evil aspects of our world to good for those who love him;
it is rather
that he himself brings about these evil aspects for his glory..."

"This includes—as incredible and as unacceptable as it may
currently seem—God’s having even brought about the Nazis’ brutality at Birkenau."
John Piper, Suffering and the Sovereignty of God


The theologian William Barclay’s response
to such Christian views was “Your God is my devil."

"Your God is the God I don’t believe in.”

Oh Father, please help us to persevere in this hellish time of complete theological darkness!

Daniel Wilcox

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Who Do You Say that I Am?

27 Yeshua and his disciples went out to the villages of Caesarea Philippi, and he was asking his disciples in the road and he said to them, “What is it the people are saying about me as to who I am?” 28 Some said, “Yohannan the Baptizer”, and others “Elijah” and others, “One of The Prophets.” 29 And Yeshua said to them, “But what is it you are saying about me as to who I am?” Shimeon answered and he said to him, “You are the Messiah, The Son of the Living God.” 30 And he admonished them that they should not speak about him to anyone.
Mark 8::27-30 Aramaic Bible in Plain English C2010

Sometimes, of late, I feel (not think) that maybe we modern Christians need to do just that—not “speak about him to anyone”!

Why?

Because the word/image Jesus has become such an ‘empty bucket’ that means almost anything!

Here I am not dealing with millions of humans who use the name as a curse word, meaning nothing, but am speaking of the millions who speak seriously of Jesus.

Yet there is such an endless modern babel of voices disagreeing about who Jesus is. In this I am, also, not speaking about the new atheists or the new agers or any-and-all-kind of secularists or any adherents of various other religions.

It’s many Christians who claim, seemingly, almost ‘diabolical’ differences about who Jesus is!

Such babel-mania must be abysmally confusing for most people who come in contact with various Christians groups who claim opposing, even contradictory, images/descriptions/qualities/essences for Jesus.

I am tempted to give a few of the more unusual examples, but as the book of James says to do, I will resist temptation. Giving examples will surely side track us down endless theological rat holes (to vary the allusion to Alice In ‘Wanderland’)

In fact, at this aged point in my life as I said above, I’m even wondering—Heaven do help—us if we need to stop using the words “Jesus” and “Christ” because they mean so many different descriptions and different ideas and different concepts that like the words “Christian” and “God,” they basically mean nothing or anything.

What do YOU think?

Who is Jesus?

Would you share your view?

Do the very many contrary views of “Christians” bother you, or is this only my own particular theological packrat problem? (My wife thinks I think theology too much;-)

In the Light,
Daniel Wilcox

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Good, the Bad, and the Baleful

Starting in reverse with the baleful and the bad, saving the best, the Good until after: We’ve already discussed how humans (men are the focus since I am a man) use their Brains, Beliefs, Brawn, and Boasting to enlarge their own ethnocentric lives, destroy other nation’s men, women, and children, and how they see women as booty either in the sense of possession or sexual conquest and subservience.

“Equal but subservient” isn’t equal, as we learned during the past era of Segregation and the Civil Right Movement in the United States.

And anyone can understand this--except orthodox Muslims--by observing Sharia Law and how it is implemented in Islamic countries like Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Somalia.

Whenever men, whether for secular or religious reasons subjugate women, no matter how much they claim they are honoring women, we know otherwise and can see the discrimination and the harm and the cruelty.


A very bad example is 1 Timothy 2:9-15. Think of the millions of women over 2,000 years who have suffered from the infliction of these verses.


Here's one horrific example from conservative Christianity:
"Alford draws our attention to the fact that in Genesis 3:16, after the Fall, when God was appointing the devil and woman and man to their distinctive experiences of the curse, “bearing children” was the very point where God’s curse lands on the woman. “To the woman he said, ‘I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children.’”

"Pause and feel the weight of this for women in the centuries before modern medicine. No hygiene, no spinal blocks, no episiotomies, no sutures, no caesarians, no antibiotics, no pain killers, and often, no recovery. Untold numbers of women died in childbirth and countless more suffered the rest of their lives from wounds that prevented childbirth, or any kind of normal sexual life."
from Christian Theologian John Piper

So according to such conservative Christian leaders, millions of women through the ages had to suffer and die excruciating deaths because of a curse by God against one woman, Eve, in the Garden!

Again, one can see why so many humans rightly reject this abusive version of Christianity which follows the literal and worst verses in Scripture. Very baleful!

Next on the bad list comes Betting.

But since this is an unethical action I’ve not been tempted with, my comments will be short and to the point. Only once, many years ago when I was about 10, was I ever attracted to the “quick money” grasping of betting. And that occasion was more likely peer pressure, since I don’t remember really wanting to take marbles from my friends. It was they who wanted me to bet my own marbles. Somehow my parent found out and showed me betting wasn’t the way to follow Jesus.

As an adult, I've stopped a number of times in Las Vegas and other gambling towns. Once for about an hour I watched men and women gambling.


What's strange is that they didn't look happy at all, not like the advertisements showing young people laughing and rejoicing--not at all. These were older individuals, smoking constantly, and drinking, were hunched over with worry or tension or depression etched in their faces.

So here’s it plain and simple: Betting is wrong because if one wins one takes money or valuables from others—those who ought to be using their funds for their family or the lost and hurting and malnourished of the world.


If one loses, there is the temptation to keep gambling to win, but everyone else in your family loses.

If one simply can’t really enjoy gaming without the costly risk of valuables being exchanged, maybe, consider some form of charity gambling where no one loses except to benefit the needy and the lost and the suffering.

All bets are on, on that kind of betting. It’s like taking all of your money to buy the field where the buried treasure (the Realm of God) is.

Bet-gambling's the bad of it.

--


Now for the baleful—the Boozing: “Wine is a mocker and strong drink is a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.”
Proverbs 20:1 ESV

Scripture doesn’t say you can’t have a glass of wine with supper or a beer with your buddies. Jesus even made gallons of wine for a wedding celebration at Cana, after many at the festival had already had plenty to drink!

What is unwise, what leads one astray is when wine is a mocker and strong drink is a brawler—i.e. when one’s drinking leads to wrong-doing, to fighting, to abusing, to carousing, to immoral actions. And we know when that happens, unless our conscience has been seared.


In my time I have seen in my own extended family, and in some friends, and in the families of students much destruction come from the use and abuse of alcohol.
How tragic and destructive alcohol, nicotine, and other drugs are.

Besides, think of all the men who have harmed their bodies and been caught in the endless cycle of alcoholism. Of famous humans, the list seems very long--Earnest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner, Jack Kerouac, etc.







Better is the way of praise in the Spirit of holiness, not the spirit of intoxication. “Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit.”
Ephesians 5:18 ESV

I am of the opinion (though more devout followers of Jesus than me disagree) that followers of the Good, disciples of the Way, seekers of the Truth should not use controlled substances.

Instead live filled up in the Ocean of Light.

Consider this true narrative in a poem from an actual experience:

The Last Libation

JimTown, across the county line
Where many a poor Cheyenne
Emptied his dim future
In the short, sotted glass;

Nothing new of this watery fire,
The forked-tongue libation
Passed from the pallid men
Down to generations of the lost,

To those hunched at the rail--
Descendants of red men who
Counted coup with shining valor--
But these instead pour out their ‘souled’

Lives to Chief Bacchus of the bottle;
Restricted to behind the dark bars,
They shuffle the time worn cards,
Then slump, no longer ruling the plains.

But the Rez's young girl, his cousin,
Only 12, copper-templed and kind,
With glorious raven hair, now
In the gathering Montana dusk

Tips on the dirt walk, sour breathed,
Staggers on the 'warn' path
Through Lame Deer town,
And passes down, then gone.

Says another tribe's brave,
A leader in translation,
My heart is sick…

I will drink no more forever.


In the Light of Divine Love,

Daniel Wilcox

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Bad of Boasting

Check out Hannity's America where the TV news commentator Sean Hannity claims "the U.S. is the greatest, best country God has ever given man on the face of the Earth.


President Barack Obama claims,
"The entire world is watching. So let's seize this moment to show why the United States of America is still the greatest nation on Earth."

And Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate for president, claims American is “the greatest nation in the history of the earth.”

Huh? What happened to moderation, humility, unselfishness, and focusing on others?

Group egotism is the worst form of pride, the very worst form of boasting, and all too often the most destructive.

Nationalism is rotten to the core.



What about focusing on asking God to bless others, to bless the needy, the impoverished, the persecuted, the lonely?

May God bless everyone!

A cautionary note: There is a huge difference between nationalism--"America is the best, the greatest...God bless US!
versus
genuine patriotism, moderate love of one's country.

Sometimes when a leader claims his country is great, he means 'I love my country in a widened extension of love for my ken, my family and my spouse.'

In its best expression, love of country is like love of one's wife, a husband loves his wife like no other human.

He means he and his sweetheart's love is special, but he isn't claiming that his wife is better than all other women in history! He's not claiming that she is better than other men's sweethearts. Each guy loves his beloved for herself, not because he compares her to others!

See how obnoxious and absurdly arrogant that sounds, if he claimed the latter. No, he is speaking of being a loving couple. When we see such love the result is uplifting and a blessing.

I felt such love for the United States when as a young teen I earned my God and Country Award for Boy Scouts. The award wasn't a negative comparison award where I was vaunting my country over all other countries, but a genuine love of our people and our government.

Our love of our country can be genuine while we are still fully aware that multi-millions of other people elsewhere love their countries, too.

Tragically, most human political speech usually means the opposite--that my country is 'better' than all other people's countries.

Senator Mark Hatfield of Oregon (one of the only two senators to vote at the start against the Vietnam War) warned against such boasting. He wrote two books about his time in American government, and in each one he warned against the insidious temptations of American politics (Crisis and Conscience and Between a Rock and Hard Place).

According to Senator Hatfield it is nigh impossible to escape from the pride which inhabits all political involvement in our government in Washington D.C.

Notice how Hannity, Obama, and many other political and religious leaders are continuing this tendency for human group pride. They claim the United States is better than all other nations, even all other nations in history!

This is an arrogant-spirited American IDOL, in the worst sense of the wor, where only one nation gets to claim its top dog--or is it 'top god?' (sarcasm intended!).

Of course, Americans aren't the only humans to get sucked into this virulent boasting. Try reading a few statements by the British leadership for more than two hundred years when the sun never sat on the British Empire, which was far larger and had a much greater control of the world than the U.S. ever has.

And don't forget the late 19th-early 20th century German belief that their nation, Deutschland, was uniquely called and indwelt by the World Spirit, called to lead the world.

Or consider the vast French claims during the Napoleonic Era, the Russian Empire, the Muslim Conquest, or the Roman Empire, the Persian...blah, blah...

There is seemingly no doubt that pride (boasting) is the worst human evil. What is baffling and tragic is how many modern Christians of a variety of stripes still seem to obsess on this temptation, to exalt THEIR nation as being better than all other people's nations.

And the true historic tragedy is that while individual pride constantly hurts a few humans, national pride and boasting has killed literally millions of people, and is the worst of worst when it comes to human evil.

Nationalistic boasting is the worst part of the ocean of darkness.

Let the OCEAN OF LIGHT overwhelm our tendency to pride.

In the Light

Daniel Wilcox

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Against 7 Bad B's: Part 2 The Battle Axe of the Heart

So what is The Battle Axe of the Heart?


It is the wonder of meaning-centered transcendence.

Awaking to the awareness that all humans have inherent value, that everyone is of worth, that human rights and justice and truth are real.


The wonder that we conflicted and ethically mixed-up humans with our 7 Bad B's, can find hope.

I used to greatly admire the famous evangelist Billy Graham of the Christian religion because he emphasized the inherent worth of every single human being.I didn't agree with some of Graham's social views in the 1950's, but Graham grew in his understanding of what the love of God meant for social and political situations. And thank God for his witness for integration and racial equality

Graham strongly insisted on the equality of all people even during the 1950's during Segregation in the U.S. Furthermore, when other religious leaders were supporting Apartheid in South Africa, he stood up strongly against that racism, too.

And he was willing to dialog with every one, including humans totally opposed to his views, even dictators such as the leaders of the Soviet Union.

In many of his famous speeches, Graham stated, "God loves you. You may be at the very gate of hell itself, but God loves you with an everlasting love."

He often quoted the good news verse of the Bible:
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."
John 3:16 NKJV

Of course the huge irony and tragedy now is that while Graham still walks such a talk, his huge religious organization denies his central message!

The leaders promote the exact opposite of what Graham preached for many years. According to the BGA, God only loves a limited number of humans; their leaders say Jesus came for only a "limited atonement"!

NO WAY!

Eliminate such horrific theology.

Cut it down with the heart of kindness toward all.

If you remember (and especially if you don't;-), last time, we discussed the fixated tendency of religious humans to treat women as things, one bad action of the Seven Bad B's.

Destroy sexism and abuse with the "battle axe of the heart."

What about the other Bad B's--brawn, brains, and belief?

How we men use their best--their best mind, best skills, best physical strength, best values--to commit the worst acts of war and other injustices.

For now, let's just say no, NO to 'unjust' wars and even 'just' wars.

Cut them down with the axe of compassion!

What country has ever gone to war that didn't think its own cause was 'just'?

Instead, let us commit to the Lamb's War where Christ's love is the only armament--

The ARMS OF HUGGING!


The "mouthed-sword" of the Good News the only weapon--

Sharing, giving, empathizing, helping, caring!

The battle axe of the heart--

That is the only destroying agent!

It seeks to destroy wrong-doing, selfishness, abuse, injustice and war.

By witnessing to the heart of ever person.

But what about police? What about defense?

Like Quakers of old in the government in Pennsylvania, I would separate the atrocity of war from the defensive and protective action of policing.

Good police officers (which on occasion include soldiers who are assigned to peacekeeping, not invasion killing) focus on protecting not attacking.

For instance, I knew an officer who worked in one of the major cities of the United States who in many years of law enforcement only needed to draw his gun several times!

Instead, in most criminal situations, he used commanding authority, persuasion, and non-lethal force to stop criminal actions and to protect the innocent.

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Seven Bad B's

For years now we’ve heard of the subjugation (and often abuse, mutilation, “honor” killings, etc.) of women by the Saudis, the Afghans, the Iranians, the Iraqis, the Egyptians, the Somalis, etc.—based on Islam.


Most of the subjugation, mistreatment, and inequality comes from Islam's Sharia Law.

Also, the Qur'an states a husband is allowed to beat his wife.

Because nearly all Muslims think that the Qur'an is eternal and perfect, most Muslims believe this. And many men thus feel justified in mistreating their wives.

Furthermore, Muhammad was a polygamist, even married a 6-year-old little girl when he was 50 (consummated the relationship when she was 9). And he married the recently divorced wife of his adopted son, etc.

Because of this, most Muslims believe in polygamy. And those wealthy enough practice the barbaric custom.

In many cases, like Muhammad, wealthy older men marry very young girls:-(.


Sometimes forgotten, however, are the negative views of women in Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, and Buddhism, indeed, in nearly all religions. For instance, according to most of Buddhism there can never be a woman Buddha.

In Buddhism, in order for a woman to advance to enlightenment, she must be reborn as a male!

Talk about negativity.

In early Judaism women were property. “In Jewish law a woman was considered property rather than a person. She either belonged to her father or husband."

"She was not allowed to study the Law."

"In the synagogue women were shut apart from the men so they could not be seen."

"Nor could a woman actively participate in the synagogue services; she had to passively sit and listen. Nor could she teach the children in any formal manner."

"One Jewish morning prayer said by free Jewish men was to thank God that they had not been born a Gentile, a slave, or a woman."

"One Rabbi is quoted as saying not to talk much with women because, 'Every one that talks much with a woman causes evil to himself, and desists from the works of the Law, and his end is that he inherits Gehenna.’"

"A strict Jewish Rabbi would not greet a woman on the street, not even his wife, daughter, mother, or sister."
(William Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, rev. ed. pp. 66-67)

Furthermore, read the verses in Numbers from the Jewish Bible. (See a few paragraphs below.) Very disturbing!

Even today, among some Jewish religious groups, women must be separated from the men by a partition in synagogue worship, etc.


When I lived in Israel and we visited the synagogue in Bet Shean, it was surprising and disconcerting to see the synagogue's main room filled with only men.

Women were restricted to a side room separated by a latticework wall. We could see them back behind that screen.

And other strong discrimination is happening right now in Israel:
"Taiseer and Lana Khatib will be forced to live apart under a ruling by the Israel high court, which upheld a 2003 law banning many Palestinians who marry Israelis from living in the Jewish state."

"..the husband, an Israeli citizen, will be forbidden legally from living with his Palestinian wife."
NBC News

Even when women win awards in science, there is discrimination:
"JERUSALEM — January 14, 2012 A few months ago, the Israeli Health Ministry awarded Channa Maayan, a pediatrics professor at Hebrew University, a prize for a book she had co-written on hereditary diseases common among Jews."

"For the ceremony, Maayan wore a long-sleeve top and a long skirt in deference to the acting health minister, Yakov Litzman, who is ultra-Orthodox, and the other religious people attending. But that was hardly enough."

"Not only did Maayan and her husband have to sit separately, because men and women were segregated at the event, but she was instructed that a male colleague would have to accept the award for her because women were not permitted on stage."

Then there are the abusive cases:
"...ultra-Orthodox men spit on an 8-year-old girl whom they deemed immodestly dressed;"

"the chief rabbi of the air force resigned his post because the army declined
to excuse ultra-Orthodox soldiers
from attending events where female singers perform."
Ethan Bronner, The New York Times

In orthodox Judaism and conservative Christianity, women are required to cover their hair.

In Christianity, while the situation for women was sometimes better than among other human groups, women still weren’t allowed to preach, to own property, to vote in government, to make decisions, and so forthl

In fact, even now many churches still don’t let women lead in church including the largest denominations—Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Southern Baptist.

What is the basis for this subjugation in religion in all its negative shades from ancient times to the present?

Why are we men so negative toward women, either secularly emphasizing the vulgar or religiously emphasizing their inferior status and imposing restrictions on them?

Much of the problem would seem to be because of men’s 7 Bad B’s:
Brawn, Brains, Boasting, Boozing, Bets, Bucks, Booty

Booty (from the Jewish Bible):
“The men of war had taken booty, every man for himself...61,000 donkeys and...of women who had not known man intimately...32,000.
Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known man intimately."

"But all the girls who have not known man intimately, spare for yourselves."

"You and Eleazar the priest and the heads of the fathers’ households of the congregation take a count of the booty that was captured

...and divide the booty between the warriors who went out to battle and all the congregation.’”
Numbers 31:17-35, 53 NASB

booty: plunder taken from an enemy in time of war
slang: buttocks, vagina, sexual intercourse
The Free Dictionary


Thank God, this ocean of men’s darkness isn’t the final statement in secularism or religion.

To be continued--

What is your perspective on this?

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox