Conservatives and the Tree of Knowledge

While reading about Neil Gorsuch confirmation hearings for the Supreme Court, I started thinking about the Genesis story of man’s fall from grace.  Mr. Gorsuch defended  a Christian family business’s right to refuse to comply with Obamacare’s contraception mandate as this impinged on their freedom of religion. And I started thinking, do conservatives think they are better than their God.

In the Book of Genesis, God tells Adam and Eve that they may eat from everything in the garden, except for the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge.  Notice, how God did not keep the tree away from them.  He just merely warned them against it.  If he truly wanted to control the lives of his creations, he wouldn’t have put the tree there.  After all this is the only way to make sure that Adam and Eve  would not partake in it.  But He didn’t do that.  He didn’t do that because He, according to those who believe in Him, gave us free will.  The same way, we as parents tell our children not to do something, and then they do it anyway.  Those children took their parents admonition and then decided whether they should follow it or not:  Free Will.

I’m sure, if there’s an equivalent of a God’s conscience, that having humans partake in the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, was against His.  However, He did not remove this option from his creation.  He simply admonished them to stay away.

Yet, religious conservatives do not follow this simple example from God.  If something goes against their conscience, they want to impose that view on everyone, denying  people the first right that their God gave to His creation:  Free Will.

So the lesson from the Tree of Knowledge, it’s not that it was bad or evil, but rather, that we as humans have choices.  Some good, some not so good.  God let us know by planting the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden, that we were free.  Free to make our decisions; free to live there forever without ever tasting the fruit; or taste the fruit and suffer for it.  But it’s up to us individually to make those choices and deal with the consequences from those choices.  If God did not keep the “bad” away from me, why should Father O’Rourke, or Pastor Campbell, or Sister Perez.

These religious leaders have it all wrong.  Their job is to guide their flock, not prohibit, or mandate their lives.

 

We Forgive You Lord

Pope Francis recently made a statement that the Church and all Christians should  “… apologize to the person who is gay whom it has offended,” and added  that they also need to “…. apologize to the poor, to exploited women, to children exploited for labor; it has to ask forgiveness for having blessed many weapons.”

Considering that most of the basis for the Church and Christian behavior toward this group comes from commands as given by God through the “divinely” inspired Bible (see   2 Timothy  3:16-17), then I believe it is the Judeo-Christian God who needs our forgiveness.

Missing You

There are days when I don’t know how to feel. Every other pain in my life I’ve gotten over. Breaking up with a boyfriend, a friend, a husband; losing jobs, unrequited love, feelings of inadequacy, etc. Those feelings were fleeting. I knew that they would be replaced with a new joy: a new boyfriend, friend, husband, job, requited love. But how does one get over the loss of one’s 24 year old child? Death is not reversible. A child can never be replaced. Death is permanent, unchangeable, the only true thing in this life. The only thing we all have in common; the only guarantee in this life. For the first 27 years of my life I did not know Nick. I felt no void then. But now that I had the joy and privilege to have him in my life for 24 short years, I could never ever feel the same again. That’s why I never understood the whole concept of the story of Job: after losing all ten of his children, God blessed him with more. A million children more in my life could not fill the hole in my heart left by Nick’s passing.

I remember when my sister told me about her sister-in-law not being able to get over the death of her 16 year old son. At the time, I felt bad, but could not understand exactly why she couldn’t just pick up and move on. You see, the idea of losing a child was foreign to me and subconsciously so far removed from me, that I didn’t even dare imagine what she was feeling.

And now here I am. And I have no clue how to feel. Most days, people would think that I’m ok. Most have called me strong. I get up; I go to work. I joke; I smile, even laugh. I search the internet and post everything I can find that would help in the fight against addiction. I try to get anyone who would listen to me to change laws in how we deal with drugs and addiction. I tell people that I know that Nick is in a better place. The truth is I don’t know. I have no clue where Nick is. And not knowing where your child is horrifying. All I know is that on February 11, 2014, my son Nick was at my house, kissed me goodnight and told me he loved me. The next morning I woke up to find his lifeless body, blue and cold to the touch. In front of me was just an empty body. And I don’t know where Nick is.

I know the body is at Maplewood Cemetery. I imagine that it is slowly rotting away. Notice how the body of the dead is referred to as “it”. It is no longer human. It is no longer Nick. So where is Nick? He was Christian, so I’m supposed to believe that he is with God, or Jesus.  But the truth is I’m like Thomas. I need to see to believe.

What I know is that I’ll never see his body moving again, that his lips will never again kiss my cheek. That there will be no more hopes that maybe next Mother’s Day, we will go out for lunch. No more hopes that he will get his life together, beat this disease, get married have children. There are no more daydreaming of him surrounded by a loving family in a backyard firing up a grill, watching a Yankee game. No daydreaming that he would come to my house and take care of me in my old age, as he had promised.

My mom always says that hope is the last thing you lose, but she didn’t tell me what do to do when you lose that hope. Sure, I hope to see him again when I’m no longer walking on this Earth. I guess that is the only hope I have left. But forgive me if I’m bit skeptical. Now I know that hope can be lost, how can I be certain that I’m hoping for naught?

Am I an Atheist

In my 53 years I’ve gone from being ambivalent about God, to believing in a god, astrology, new age, Buddhism and even almost becoming a fundamentalist Christian, to finally realizing that there is no god.  Now to come to this conclusion, I had to do a lot of soul searching if you will, a lot of questioning and thinking.

First I had to ask the right questions: i.e., do I not believe in the existence of any god or god-like thing, or do I not believe in the Judeo-Christian-Muslim God.  Well, the latter was easy to answer:  No, I do not believe in the “existence” of the Judeo-Christian-Muslim God.  So by this I mean, I do not believe he’s real.  I think he is a mythological character concocted by the Israeli people and adopted by Christians and Muslims just like the Greeks had Zeus and the Romans had Apollo.  Yahweh, Jehovah is as real as those two.  And although Christ may have been a real character, he was definitely not born of a holy spirit and a virgin.  Nor do I believe that he died and resurrected on the 3rd day and rose to heaven.

But does this make me an atheist?  The  American Atheist organization defines atheism as a lack of belief in gods, which is no the same as disbelief in gods or a denial of gods. Agnostic, on the other hand, is defined as a person who claims neither faith nor disbelief in God.  So an agnostic does not necessarily claim to believe that there’s no god, rather, they don’t claim to believe god is as it’s defined by the different religions; i.e., if there’s a god, an agnostic does not necessarily believe that this god answers prayers or does miracles.  They’re on the fence.  Maybe God is real, maybe he’s not.  Who knows, and basically, who cares?

So based on this I’m not an agnostic.  I can emphatically state that I don’t have a religious faith.  I don’t pray and I don’t believe in divine intervention.  And I believe that the gods of all religions are nothing but mythological characters.  But just because it is my belief that these gods are not real, does it mean that there’s no possibility for the existence of something greater than ourselves.  After all, no one (not a scientist, an atheist, a Buddhist, Christian/Muslim/Jewish knows with certainty what happens when a human being dies.  No one!  We know the body dies.  But does the mind die too?  We know the theories and we know the religious beliefs.  But the theory has not been proven, nor have the religious beliefs.  There’s all these quantum theories, which I cannot explain, much less claim to understand.  But a lot of those theories are as mind-boggling as believing in a celestial heaven.  It’s hard to grasp the concept; to wrap your mind around it.

Now, my belief in the possibility of an after-life, or the possibility of the existence of something greater than ourselves does not mean that were these to be true that they are necessarily better than what we have here on Earth or that this power is something that is there for us to summon for its help or comfort.  I just believe in the possibility that there could be something more beyond this Earthly life.  There’s so much that we humans yet don’t know or understand about life, our universe, our cosmos that to discount the possibility of some kind of existence beyond human death is disingenuous.  Now I know this could be my wishful thinking because the idea of going into nothingness is something that our human instinct of survival refuses to accept.  But at the very least, I want to  believe in something, cling to the hope that we do continue somehow.  Were this to be just a fantasy, well, no harm done.  If we die and become non-existent, I won’t feel the disappointment that there was nothing there after all.  And non-existence after life is better than the alternative.   I hope the atheists are right and indeed there is no god and no after life.  Imagine the horror were we to find out that Yahweh, Jehovah, Zeus, Apollo and the like are real.  We would all be at the mercy of fanatical, totalitarian, blood-thirsty, racist, sexists dictators.  And I’m talking about heaven.

So am I an atheist?  Maybe I’m a pseudo atheist.  I believe that there is no god as such, but cling to the hope that something better than this exists beyond this life, this earth, this world.  And that somehow that something is within our reach.  Is not faith..it’s hope.