With a Friend’s Permission

A friend sent an e-mail telling me that a relative had posted online a strongly worded internet article by an atheist decrying the hypocrisy of supposed “tolerant” Christians for their true intolerance of those who think and believe differently than they do and giving reasons why atheism is a fact based, empirically proven belief system unlike systems of superstition.

The relative was promoting the article and my friend wondered how to communicate with this relative, if necessary, and what effect the post might have on my friend’s daughter who will surely read the post. The daughter is a recent college graduate.

The following was my response with some editing:

Well, in a democratic society with first amendment guarantees, the author certainly is free to express her opinion and that she certainly has done. And that freedom goes for your relative, also.

I might quibble with some of the writer’s assumptions and have a nice discussion with her about the scientific unprovability of faith, either religious or atheistic faith (atheism is a faith); I might wonder about the intensity of and anger beneath her words and I might feel sorry that she was insulted by angry, hostile debaters.

Definitely, I would agree wholeheartedly that horrific harm has been done in the name of the world’s major religions the caveat to that being that horrific harm has been done in the world by atheists, also — millions upon millions killed by Lenin, Stalin and Mao  to mention only the 20th Century.

No one is innocent.

The purpose of Christianity, it seems to me, is not to convince anyone of anything (although apologetics certainly is a valid enterprise) but rather to live the life of selfless love guided by the teachings of Jesus and empowered to do so by the Spirit of Christ, the universally present Christ of the Jesus who lived the love shown to him by the God in whom he believed and with whom he believed he was one as that love.

I write the above on faith not on scientific fact (although science can trace and document the behavior of self-sacrificial love along with the other forms of love), because I believe that there are “truths” alongside and deeper even than “demonstrable, empirically verifiable data.”

For instance, there is the truth found in fiction and poetry, in visual art, in music, in theater, in dance, in opera, etc.

There is the truth revealed in nature.

And there is the truth in the conviction that love is the source of all life and that that love transforms death into life and that death is not the last word and that love is the first and last word, the Alpha and Omega.

And there is the truth found in the following four sentences:
The four sentences that matter most according to Dr. Ira Byock:
Please forgive me.
I forgive you.
Thank you.
I love you.

Your daughter has a really good head and heart and she will discern these things for herself. Perhaps, she will assume positions and try them out for a while to see how they fit. Good for her. I would expect that of someone raised in a liberated household such as yours.

She may even decide to become an atheist. And, in your heart, regardless of whatever belief system she might adopt, she will always be your beautiful girl and God’s precious child and all you need to do is love her and affirm her as God loves her.

All the best, always,

Bob

The Multiple Benefits of Naps

He and his wife have
Different responses
To disagreements.
She works herself
To the bone; he
Takes naps. His
Last nap lasted
Twelve hours.
When he awoke
Feeling fine
For some exercise
He did pine.
As he readied to
Go for a fun run,
He discovered
That in the house
And in the yard,
All The spring
Cleaning Had been
Done.

The Kindness of the Coroner

The coroner at the inquest
was kind for reasons not
given – perhaps the lack
of a note, perhaps he knew
that the widow would be im-
poverished with a different
verdict and so accidental
death was declared, even
after the shaken witnesses
testified that the man put
his car in park, got out
and ran around the railroad
crossing arm as the train came
around the curve. This wasn’t
Superman waiting stiff-armed
to stop the train nor Batman
ready to fly over the train
nor Spiderman ready to climb
the train. This was a seven-
teen-year-old’s god — a father
who couldn’t take anymore pain
or the Scandinavian shame so
he took the blame just to be
out and the boy, knowing the
truth, sat and shook with
sorrow and sadness, which he
would recall and relive for
years in a strange way, not
completely unlike the
anamnesis of his Lord
experienced in the Supper.

Species

With Earth Day arriving
They saw a documentary
On our vanishing plant
Seed species and the
Nutrition depletion and
The poison infusion of
More and more of fewer
And fewer species of
Seeds. Then they saw
A documentary of the
Incredible Audubon
And his artistically
Beautiful, accurate
Representation of the
Species of birds of
America many of which
Have vanished into ex-
Tinction. And they saw
A documentary of the
Challenges to the Great
Lakes to save species
Of relatively new species
After so many former
Species of fish have dis-
Appeared and then they
Just sat and looked at
Each other and wondered….

Choosing Baal, a poem by Tom Eggebeen

This is not a happy note.
It speaks of God’s abandonment.
When God turns her back to all.
And walks away in sorrow.

Only for a time, of course.
But time enough to undo God’s blessings.
And give the nation what it truly wants:
Money, power, prestige and wantonness.

And in getting what it wants, it dies.
And the good, the bad and the ugly die right along with it.
There is no choice in all the dying.
Once the wheels of divine abandonment are set in motion.

No choice at all, once the choosing-time passes us by.
And then the course of history.
The slow grind of time.
When all is lost, and tears flow hard and hot.

And people wonder where their god has gone.
And why now all of this horror.
Because the choosing-time is gone.
You had your chance, but Baal you choose, and so the story goes.

This is not a happy note.
It speaks of God’s abandonment.
When God turns her back to all.
And walks away in sorrow.

If They Are To Stay

If they are to stay in this
glorious land along the
inland sea, they, who long
for the out-of-doors and
love the forests and waters,
must sit and listen and
run along the trails and
hear the voices of the past
and voices of the land
before the indigenous,
original peoples and
then the original peoples
and transcend those who
came from Europe and
conquered and dominated
and subjugated and eviscer-
ated the wild land so much
so that the indigenous
people fled and the wild,
swamps went silent under
all the deep, dark, black
dirt brought in to fill
felled forests and suffocate
swamps and silence the cries
of the wild, in the name of
decency and order and control,
which resulted in neat rows
after rows after rows and
pollution of the wonderful
waters. They only want to
breathe in and breathe out
all that was before and what
could be after what is and
unite with all that was
and once again will be
when empire ceases to be
and hear once again the
Eastern Massasauga’s rattle
and the haunting beat
of a drum.

Rating the Clowns

“Performance Artist” may be
Too generous of a term for
“The Man With No Core.”

So, while the world may not know
At any moment what is in store,

The best that can be said
Of him is that he is no bore,

At least not yet,
But, on this, you can bet —

While his base
Will believe absolutely anything
That comes out of his
Orange-topped, buffoonish, clown face,

Ultimately, Clarabelle the Clown
And Bozo will be in a tie for first
Leaving Buffoon Face

In a distant third place.

Breaking the Mood

She sat next to him as he stared
at the computer screen occasional-
ly glancing her way. She had just
read a sad story and shared it
while trying to hold back the tears;
He then read her a sad poem, when
in the upper-right-hand-corner of
the screen a notice popped up of
a new e-mail: Love Pill for Pickup
Artists.

He Looked At the Photo

He looked at the photo of
the two of them when they
were about five, six or seven.

Early in the marriage, they
put the photos in a frame and
hung it on a wall. Now it

stands on a table in their
daughter’s home, her mother
having died twenty-four years

before. He joked about how
much hair he had then, Dutch
and Swedish little, boy blond,

too yet. As the little boy
in the photo, he had secrets
as did she, but his came

bursting out along the years
unlike hers. The little tow-
head in the photo held her

cards close to her chest
and then she died without
showing them. “You will

really never know me,” she
once told him. The only
secret he kept was the

lump in his throat as he
made a joke.

The Sultan’s Oligarchy, Plutocracy, Anti-Democracy and the Juxtaposition of Jesus

As Americans are lulled
into dulled acquiescence
by corporate commercials

and Casper Milquetoast TV
journalism, owned by the
corporations, they, for

reasonable reason in this
lopsided culture, can be
wiped off the face of the

earth by one fell swoop
of the one percent of
one percent at anytime

they might wish to land
that knockout blow. This
isn’t just about red, black,

yellow, brown and white;
this is about muddle-head-
ed, middle class folk who

think they are really safe
in Sultan land or assume
they are powerful enough

and strong enough to pro-
test against all things
unjust unaware that they

are just one swipe away
from oblivion just as
Jesus was and we know how

that worked out for the
Sanhedrin and Romans and
will for the Sultans in

spite of their oligarchic,
plutocratic, anti-democratic
empires — juxtapositional

joke.