A Few Thoughts on Religion
Religion is a strange entity – mainly used to control the general population and manipulated by organisations and politicians it is, to many, a fundamental part of their lives. Wars have been fought more or less continuously since the early days of the book of Genesis in the Holy Bible and during wars, many fought in the name of one religion or another, belief in their religion has helped ordinary men face their enemy and face the prospect of dying rather more cheerfully than would have otherwise been the case.
In the recent major world wars, men of both sides were told that God was on their side and that they were the fighting for a righteous cause. The soldiers, sailors and airmen who fought courageously for whatever side they happened to be on weren't, in the main, evil people. They didn't even want to fight and risk dying, let alone die by the million as they did in these conflicts. They just wanted to stay at home and get on with their lives and look after their families. It is only the evil leaders of the world who bring about war – and they are usually well away from the conflict and have virtually no risk of dying or becoming injured. Of course, wars are good for their investments in companies that provide weapons, equipment and materials used in supporting the war. So they get richer and the poor just keep dying as the machine gun bullets and the shells from the massive guns blow their overstressed bodies into fragments. The USA (and its leaders) has become a major power largely because of the vast fortunes made as a result of wars. There is an expression that states something along the lines that religion and politics shouldn't be mixed. Unfortunately, those who say that don't seem to realise that religion IS politics and, like real politics, it's all about deceiving people (as one of my family brought to my attention). In fact the common theme throughout this document is 'deception' of which you will read numerous examples in the following text.
As Dr. David Livingston states in his text: 'Who Were the Sons of God in Genesis 6?' at URL: http://davelivingston.com/sonsofgod.htm The purpose of myths, epics and literature on clay tablets, papyrii, parchments, and monuments, have the fundamental purpose of establishing and maintaining the right-to-rule a certain area and people. Clever men (priest-nobles) manipulated the populace's religious instincts to cause them to follow and obey the local god's "son." He owned the people and land, in theory at least. And he acted either as god (in Egypt), or as his representative (in Mesopotamia and other cultures). When all the literature and monuments were used to glorify and exalt this man as the son, or representative, of god, religion became the opiate (binder and blinder) of the people! Manipulation of religion for political purposes began in Sumer, was picked up in Akkad (Old Babylon), revised with the same themes in Assyria and New Babylon, was enjoyed by Persian monarchs, captivated Alexander and his successors (Antiochus "Epiphanus" means "the revelation of god"), and was copied by Rome. (It is even found in Africa, the Far East, and the Americas.)
Another way of looking at this deception is to count how many religions there are in the world and then consider that all the followers of each of these religions really do believe that their religion is the only one that is the 'true' religion that will ensure they have a good life in the next world – the spirit world.
Of course, the western nations, and some other far-flung countries that are now mainly secular states with a few Christians thrown in for good measure and a bit of variety, are now at war with the Islamic religions of various sects. If you want evidence of this fact, have a look at URL: https://thereligionofpeace.com/ . Of course, the politicians haven't grasped this fact yet, even though people at street level have realised it for some years. Politicians and world leaders are so far removed from the reality of life that it takes them many years to have even an inkling as to what is going on in the real world.
Of course, much of the 'war against terrorism' wasn't initially a real war at all until more recently when it's escalated into more and more violence brought about by retaliation of the real wars that have occurred since 9/11 (Iraq / Afghanistan / Syria / Libya etc.). It was something invented to achieve the political aims (and financial gain) of our evil leaders. The real terrorists are our evil leaders – the same people who brought down the three buildings in the 9/11 tragedy, which, in reality had nothing much to do with Osama bin Laden and his bunch of brainwashed fanatics who flew planes into two of the buildings, which were built to withstand such impacts, and caused a few flashes of aviation spirit similar to kerosene to melt through massive steel beams (as though it could!). Anyone with more than half a brain could immediately see it was a well-planned professional demolition job that brought the (3) buildings down at a speed of 'free-fall' within their own footprint. As a matter of fact, no steel framed building has ever been brought down by fire, whatever the cause. And what could have caused Building Seven to fall down? No 'plane crash, no significant fire. Only a demolition job. As a matter of fact, Grace and I were chatting to a retired Fire Officer (with more than 30 years' service) recently and, without saying anything about my thoughts on the matter, I asked him what his take was on the buildings falling down on 9/11. He said that whatever it was that caused them to come down, it certainly wasn't fire. He completely agreed with me that it was a 'demolition job'. He was unaware that there was a third building that had also collapsed (Building 7) until I informed him. I'd like to add that in the USA there is a lot of support for an organisation named: Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth, that is campaigning for an independent investigation (and into the possible use of explosives) into the cause of why these three buildings collapsed (with close to 3000 architects and engineers as signatories).
However, it was a good (?) and new version of the 'Pearl Harbour'** the evil leaders needed to provoke the people of the USA to support their war(s) in the Middle East (as well as exerting even more control on their own people by way of the Department for Homeland Security – set up in record time as it was pre-planned and arranged and ready to go into action just as soon as the towers collapsed). You need to remember that the citizens of the USA were very anti-war after the debacle of the war in the Viet Nam region, as well as the Korean war, so the evil leaders needed public support and a good excuse in order to be able to get their people to fight yet another war and sacrifice even more American lives. The 9/11 tragedy was how they got it.
However, I digress somewhat. One of the main methods of being able to control the general population is by using the words written in ancient texts to further your own, your religion's or your country's aims. In the case of Islam, their Holy Koran are the words that direct and sustain their religion (and politics). In the west, for those who follow the Christian faith, the Holy Bible is their book of faith. Most Christians believe that the Holy Bible is the divine word of God and cannot be faulted or argued with. Of course, this is fundamentally incorrect as the Holy Bible (King James Version) is just a collection of translated (supposedly ancient) books compiled by some learned scholars during the reign of King James the First of England (King James was King of Scotland as James VI from 24 July 1567 and King of England and Ireland as James I from the union of the Scottish and English crowns on 24 March 1603 until his death in 1625). This Holy Bible has provided the basis of Christianity for only a few hundred years. In actual fact, for the past 250 years, all 'King James Version' Bibles published anywhere by any publisher are actually Blaney’s 1769 Revised Oxford Edition of the 1611 King James Bible. The KJV was largely (95 %) based on the 'Geneva' Bible (which was published about 50 years before the KJV) which contained about 90 % of William Tyndale's original English translation. Therefore the KJV was NOT a direct translation of the ancient texts. As far as I can tell, a direct translation from the ancient texts didn't occur until the publication of the New International Version in 1973 (with various updates since then).
Before these versions, John Wycliffe produced dozens of English language hand-written manuscript copies of the scriptures in the 1380s. They were translated out of the Latin Vulgate (which was NOT the language of the scriptures and which had become so corrupt that it no longer even preserved the message of the Gospel), which was the only source text available to Wycliffe. Wycliffe's idea was that people should be permitted to read the Bible in their own language, and they should oppose the tyranny of the Roman church that threatened anyone possessing a non-Latin Bible with execution. They were hand-written as the printing press wasn't invented until the 1450s. The Pope was, of course, infuriated by the Wycliffe translations as the Roman Catholic church which even now controls vast numbers of people throughout the world, is not a religion that forgives transgressors of its dogma or the tyranny of the Roman Catholic religion – it would rather burn them at the stake or torture and murder them as they did in the days of Spanish Inquisition. In fact, Foxe’s Book of Martyrs records that in 1517, seven people were burned at the stake by the Roman Catholic Church for the crime of teaching their children to say the Lord’s Prayer in English rather than Latin. It should also be recognised that the Church of England (The Anglican Church) continued to persecute Protestants throughout the 1600’s (including the famous John Bunyan!) many of whom fled to America taking their 'Geneva' Bibles with them. So much for Christianity!
The sheer hypocrisy of religion is staggering. The Ten Commandments state that "Thou shalt not kill" and elsewhere in the Bible it is written that "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself" and yet 'The Church' of various religions, denominations and sects has been responsible for the death of countless millions of what may be called innocent people and this continues to the present day in many places around the world.
Even today, here in England (and Wales), the highest in precedence following Her Majesty the Queen and the royal family is the Head of the Anglican Church: the Archbisop of Canterbury. Then come the Lord Chancellor, the Archbishop of York and the Archbishop of Wales. Next come the Prime Minister as the First Lord of the Treasury, the Lord President of the Privy Council, the Speaker of the House of Commons, the Lord Speaker of the House of Lords, the President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales and the Lord Privy Seal. This indicates the position of importance held by the established church within the country where even the Prime Minister and the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales are ranked below three Archbishops in the order of importance.
Like all religious books, the words translated from ancient manuscripts / texts are open to interpretation, ambiguity, misunderstanding and manipulation – as we have been seeing for many years. And what happened to all the other ancient books that weren't included in the Holy Bible. Did they contradict some of the stories told in the books that were included? Is that why they weren't included? Or did some of the 'facts' not stack up enough to support the stories that were published in the Holy Bible? Not being a theologian, linguist or historian I don't know the answer and no one has yet given me a definitive answer. Of course, the Holy Bible does, in many ways, provide a good code for living (and thereby controlling the general population). You may be surprised to learn that the original KJV of the Bible contained 80 books – not the 66 books there are now. The Protestant Church rejected 14 books about 120 years ago (for which, I understand, there has never been given a good reason) – it is just an example of how religion has been manipulated to suit various organisations or individuals at the time – and to ask the question “What are we left with now as a guide to our Christian faith?”. There is certainly no “Divine Word of God”.
All my life, I have been associated with the Christian faith and never really questioned it or examined it as closely as perhaps I should.
One of the reasons for the success of a particular religion is the 'blind faith' of many of the believers. One Christian person whom I questioned about something to do with Christianity is the head teacher of a Church of England primary school. Her response was along the lines of "I don't question; I just believe". What she really meant was that she had no answer to my question. How strange it is that a well-educated teacher fails to 'question' her religious beliefs when she is probably expecting her pupils to ask questions about every other topic than religion as part of their educational development.
This brings about the question "How does a religion manage to ensure so many of their followers just accept what they are told without question?". The answer is quite simple: "Start young". Consider these questions:
1) Why are there so many 'faith' schools – particularly primary and junior schools when compared to the number of secular schools?
The answer to these three questions is, of course, to brainwash the children and young people to accept their religion without question.
Now I'm an old man with many years of experience in life behind me and I understand that I too was 'brainwashed' from a very early age into the Christian faith / religion, not to ask difficult questions for which no one had an answer except 'blind faith' or 'acceptance'. Of course, it wasn't all bad - indeed there was a lot of good that came out of this teaching. It gave me a good code of life knowing the ten commandments and the teaching that went with that. It is good to understand the difference between right and wrong and that it is better to be honest than dishonest. Having been sheltered by these teachings and surrounded by Christian people it did come as something of a shock to be let loose in the outside world once I started work as a very naïve youngster just before my 16th birthday in 1965. The church had instructed me that this was wrong and that was wrong and once out in the big wide world I found that most people were doing these 'wrong' things as a matter of course. I might add that most of these 'wrong' things weren't at all 'wrong', as such – it was just that 'church' people wanted their opinions to be obeyed as sacrosanct – again, they wanted to control people in their religion. One of these 'wrongs' that brought about considerable debate in churches was the invention of, and watching, television! There were many opponents to this heathen device in the churches back in the 1950s and 1960s when televisions were becoming widespread. In fact, my parents bought a television (in 1963) but prohibited its use on Sunday. As for the invention of the contraceptive pill – oh dear, what debate and controversy that brought about.
I do in fact find it very sad that so many churches are struggling to survive and that many of these wonderful old pieces of amazing architecture are being sold off or falling into ruin purely and simply because people don't attend in sufficient number to maintain them. That said, the established church has brought this upon themselves by treating people badly and expecting them to blindly believe in the ceremony, pageantry and symbolism that often goes with this as though they are people from a different age – and people who ask questions aren't exactly made welcome any more than are any person or couple who might be considered to be somewhat 'odd' or 'controversial' – such as myself and Grace (we are of mixed race and with a wide age difference – one 'oddity' is bad enough, but two is just too much!).
It's not all failure of course. Grace frequently attends a church where there are several hundred members and which has a number of preachers and other full-time staff and which is very professionally managed. It also collects very considerable sums of money from amongst its members and attenders. It too has routine events for children and young people to attend where they can be brainwashed, and events for adults, as well as providing support to the community around where it is located. It's a considerable asset to the community, so I'm not trying to demean it at all.
As for me, I now keep well away from church services and only visit churches to take photographs of these wonderful buildings before they fall down through neglect. As far as I am concerned many 'church' people are those who are lovely to your face but take great delight in 'stabbing you in the back'. Many are certainly not true 'Christians'. In fact, the more I see of the behaviour of so-called 'Christians' the more I keep my distance from their religion. Perhaps it's a good job I don't go to church with Grace as most of the people in her church don't know anything about me and so don't associate Grace as being one half of an 'odd-couple'.
As an aside, albeit a significant one, many 'church' people become so entangled in their life in the church that they neglect their own family – and I don't mean materially. This is especially true of many preachers and those who hold high office in a particular church. The person's wife is left to deal with all the domestic and family issues alone and she, and the children, feel neglected by the absence of the husband / father who is engaged in church matters. I've seen examples of this myself as well as hearing about this sort of experience from others. The most famous name in Christian preaching is the late Dr. Billy Graham. From the reading that I've done on this, I understand that his family were badly neglected (not materially) by not having their father at home because he was away on preaching engagements around the world all the time his children were young – leaving his wife to deal with all the problems that arose while he was away. The vast majority of Christians would place him on a pedestal and say what a most amazing Christian man he was. The Holy Bible encourages such appalling behaviour as it is written in the New Testament that Jesus encouraged people to forsake all and follow him in spreading the gospel by going into all the world to preach – never mind the consequences to the poor folks at home who need you there. Of course, the church would have us believe that one must make sacrifices in order to 'spread the word' and do this in the name of a better cause than that of your family. How un-Christian is that?
I know from bitter experience the effects on the family that an absent father can have by being away from home and family for extended periods of time, as I was away working for anything up to four months at a time when I started having my (first) family – and this went on for more than seven years. I did this solely as a way of supporting us all financially (my then wife didn't work, but did everything she could to be mum and dad whilst I was away). Sadly, once I got a home-based job, life didn't work out as expected as my wife couldn't cope with me being home all the time. Remember that there is only room for one pair of legs in a pair of trousers! My experience was by no means uncommon amongst my colleagues.
Needless to say, I learned from that experience and now only work in another country where I can take my family with me. If a company wants to hire me to work overseas then they have to understand that I come with all my family too. This is why I left the second contract I held in Kuwait after 3.5 months. I was hired on the understanding that it was a family status contract but when I got there, I found that nothing was being done to process our visas, thereby preventing us from bringing our families into the country. I was only the first to leave – others followed. When I was asked to work in The Netherlands, we all moved there and made our home there. I believe I was the only non-local person who did that. The others used to travel home whenever they could or get their family to visit them.
When I was a youngster, the church I attended held missionary conventions from time to time, this being the age where missionaries were considered to be the heroes of Christianity. At that time there were large numbers of missionary societies that managed these brave souls who went all over the world to spread the word of God into places where no preacher had been before. Apart from spreading their bugs and germs and trying to 'civilise' the 'uncivilised' people whom they preached to, I later learned that these brave souls received little, if any, support from the missionary society that sent them to these distant places. Some of them were supported by their 'home' churches, but many had to scrounge their food and accommodation from the local people they had been sent to 'convert' to Christianity, many of whom were desperately poor themselves. One of the most notorious for this failure to support their missionaries was the China Inland Mission first started by (James) Hudson Taylor in 1865. This missionary society expected their missionaries to live by the text in the Holy Bible that states that "God will provide". It might have been better written if it had stated that "God helps those who help themselves". The effect on the local population, who were expected to be the providers, can only be imagined. Is it any wonder that missionaries weren't always made welcome? No wonder so many of them suffered hardship or even death in the course of their duties. So much for Christian behaviour being a good example to the (so called) heathen in how to conduct themselves.
Grace and I actually witnessed the dreadful behaviour of a part-time preacher who attached himself to a local church in Kuwait whilst we were there. He demanded (not asked) for whatever he wanted from the members of the church (many of whom were quite poor). For example, if he wanted to go somewhere, he would telephone someone from the church who had a car (probably a taxi) and demand that this person should drop everything and take him to wherever he wanted to go immediately – and at no cost to himself. In actual fact, he had a full-time job (which he had to have to be able to live in Kuwait) from which he was fired because he was lazy and incompetent, no doubt to the great relief of the people at the local church to which he had attached himself as it meant that he had to leave the country. No doubt they were delighted to see him go.
There have been a number of people I've known, over many years of attending churches, who are considered to be devout Christians (particularly by themselves!) who have actually been amongst the most unpleasant people I've ever known. I've also found that many people who would never consider themselves as being Christians are some of the best real Christians I've ever known. Many of the so called Christian people we know are in fact just 'service attenders'. There is no substance behind their righteous words. They spout the right words but there is nothing Christian about their actions. Isn't that sad? In fact, Grace and I have been treated in a very unkindly manner by some (even high-positioned) people in some of the churches we've attended. We've also been treated with massive amounts of love and kindness by many people 'outside' the church. In fact, Grace and I know a number of people who are very kind, devoted Christian people who have left the church entirely because of the unpleasant people whom they've met in the churches they've attended. What a sad indictment that is on the Christian Church – the people inside the church; its members.
One evening last summer, I was chatting to a very dear friend. This is a person who professes to have no religious beliefs but is far more of a 'Christian' (actions speak louder than words) than almost anyone we've ever known. We were talking about the loss of my dear little Annelise and how this had made me question so many aspects of my Christian faith and beliefs. I couldn't find the right word to describe how I felt, but my friend found it for me: She asked me if I felt 'lost'. “Yes”, I said. “That is exactly how I feel”. She couldn't have put it better.
During the time that Annelise was so seriously ill, I never lost faith that God would miraculously heal her. Grace and JP also felt the same way. Some of our friends felt the same way as we did too. The miracle Annelise needed didn't happen. Is it any wonder we all feel 'lost'? Two facts that I am now certain of is that God doesn't intervene in our lives at all and that the world is being controlled by the devil himself. I trust God will change these two beliefs of mine one day.
Some months ago (October 2016), I wrote (most of) the following text and sent it to a few people, most of whom professed to be Christians. As expected. no sensible answers were forthcoming as there are none. One person called me on the telephone as they were so aggrieved by what I'd written, threatening to strangle me (metaphorically) but they too couldn't give me any answers, so they left the conversation with my thoughts ringing in their ears – and gave me no sensible answer. Here it is:
Today, Thursday 6 October 2016, we should be celebrating Annelise’s 20th month ‘birthday’. As it is, we are still mourning her tragic death – and will continue to do so for the rest of our lives. Our little boy (now 11 years old) is still praying to God that He will somehow bring her back to us, fully healed, through a miracle.
Throughout the time that Annelise was unwell, we were full of hope for her healing even though we knew the possibility of that was almost zero. We’d done enough research to fully understand Annelise’s dire situation. Our hope came through our faith in God and from the many Christian friends and family who were praying for her healing – and giving us many messages of hope. Many of these folks were 100 % confident that Annelise would be restored to full health – some even saying, after her death, that she would ‘do a Lazarus’ and rise from her deathbed.
Sad to say, but none of this happened. Annelise died and there is no chance of her returning to us now, some years later.
All this brings into question just what the Bible is all about? There are so many references stating that if you have faith in God you can ask for healing and it will happen.
One instance of this is in The Gospel according to Mark, Chapter 16 (New International Version - NIV):
15 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.
16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.
17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues;
18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”
19 After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God.
20 Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.
Mark 16:18 (King James Version - KJV)
18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
Note: v18: They shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
The Epistle of James 5:15 states:
And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up.
Many devout Christians laid hands on Annelise and many more prayed for her to be healed – all to no effect. I too had total confidence that God could heal her. But she died.
This brings into question a number of aspects regarding religion.
Sad to say, but everyone has their own interpretation of the Bible and it is all pointless. Most people fit their own interpretation around what is happening in their lives or the lives of others to fit their religious belief. In other words, they make the Bible fit their own circumstances.
As we discovered, it's pointless relying on God for his healing or any other miracle as He doesn't intervene in our lives at all. In fact, I believe we are on largely preordained paths through our lives and there is nothing we can do to change that.
I might add at this stage that those Christians who gave us so much hope and were confident that Annelise would be healed have been remarkably quiet over the last 5 months since she died. We received one telephoned apology for ‘misinterpretation’ – and then the same person wrote a lengthy letter to me with one of the Psalms carefully copied into it - followed by another interpretation telling me what I should do with my life! How perverse can one get? A very few others admitted they didn't have any answers for us.
After Annelise had died, there were even a (very) few 'Christian' people saying that we were being punished for our wrong-doings. There is nothing in scripture to support this cruel statement. Grace took this very hard indeed. Not exactly a 'Christian' attitude to heap pain on people who are already suffering. Such is the attitude of some 'Christians'.
The Bible may be a good code for living by but it is mainly a history book with large chunks missing. Many ancient texts were left out when the Bible was compiled (and since!) and despite 400 years of wonderful archaeological and linguistic research and discovery since even the KJV was published, no one has added the missing books that would enable us to be able to read a more complete history. In fact, I sent an e-mail to Harper Collins some time ago on this very topic - they publish the New International Version - and also wrote to Dr. Kenneth L Barker, the former Editor in Chief of the NIV in the USA, asking him the same question - why haven't these books been included? Many of them are published on line but are not included in the Bible. I never received a reply from Dr. Barker or much more than an acknowledgement from Harper Collins.
When one reads about the history of the Christian church, as well as that of many other religions, as well as denominations within a particular religion, one realises that ‘the church’ is mainly there to control the population, to collect money and to enforce by any means possible the beliefs / dogma of whatever branch of religion is in favour in a particular location at the time. So many wars (and other conflicts) have been fought in the name of religion that it would be impossible to count the number of millions of people who have been killed in the name of God. In fact, the more one reads the Bible, particularly the Old Testament, the more one realises that religion was largely established so that powerful people (politicians) could motivate their people to go and kill other people who were considered to be their enemies. The ordinary ‘man in the street’ isn’t remotely interested in waging war – he just wants to get on with his life and survive as best he can. It is only the (evil) leaders in this world that want war and the best way of getting their people to go and fight (and be killed) is to invoke the creed that one is fighting for God and country. There are plenty of leaders written about in the Bible who are warmongering and make their people go and fight ‘for God’.
It must also be stated that even within religions, there are so many interpretations of the religion (and the Holy Bible and other religious documents) as to bring about a huge number of denominations and sects. For example, the Protestant Church includes the Church of England, Baptists, Methodists, Evangelicals, Pentecostals, United Reformed Church and many more. Even the Islamic religion has a number of sects, some of whom wage war on each other - killing each other over differences in their religious beliefs.
Religious wars have always existed, such as the many conflicts between the Roman Catholics and Protestants which have brought about death, suffering and hardship to many millions of people though the ages as well as tearing countries apart over their beliefs, such as during the Spanish Inquisition and the Religious War of France. How can all this death and destruction be right? If this is what religion is all about is it any wonder why most people want nothing more to do with religion.
Christians also like to preach about God being a god of love and mercy. Try telling that to the families of those who lost loved ones in the various conflicts around the world since the Bible was compiled into the KJV just over 400 years ago - and even before that time. Remember also all those who have been persecuted and murdered by 'the church' over the years. Just remember the story of poor Job in the Old Testament. Poor Job lost all his children (10 of them), his servants and his wealth all in a very short time. He lost all this because God and Satan were playing a silly game, one betting the other that Job would curse God (which he didn’t). How much love did God show to Job at that time? None. Okay, Job (later) had many more children and his wealth was restored – but that didn’t bring his first ten children back any more than Annelise is going to return to us.
Grace and I know only too well what it is like to lose one child. That is terrible enough, but to lose TEN children, plus your servants and hard earned wealth would drive most people to suicide.
There is a text in the Bible which states that, in effect, God will only allow a person to suffer what they can endure. What nonsense. If that was the case no one would commit suicide! Yet, thousands of people kill themselves every year because they can’t cope any more with what life has thrown at them. Grace and I know that feeling only too well.
Another key verse that Christians continually preach about is St. John chapter 3, verse 16 which reads: For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (New International Version). Christians have made this into what is probably the most well known verse in the whole Bible. When you look at it analytically and at the big picture surrounding this verse it loses the entire meaning that Christians place on it. The key word in this verse is 'gave'. When you consider that Jesus Christ was on this earth for not much longer than 30 years before being recalled back to Heaven, one can see that the word 'gave' is entirely incorrect. Jesus Christ was sent to earth on a mission for a few years after which he was 'killed', dead, in human terms (but presumably not in spirit), for a few days, and then rose again to return to where he'd come from - Heaven, having completed his mission. Where does the word 'gave' come into this? And what actually was 'given'? The cross of crucificion is the most popular symbol of religion the world has ever known. If this is the only thing that was given to the world it doesn't speak highly of the Christian religion in whatever form or denomination it takes. Of course, symbolism is a major part of religion, especially in the Christian denominations outside of Protestanism, such as the Roman Catholic, but it's a sad reflection on any religion if all they can produce is a symbol. It is also interesting to observe that some Christian denominations, particularly Protestant denominations, show the cross as being empty whereas others, such as Roman Catholics, show the cross as being occupied by an efigy of Jesus Christ. Of course, Christians would argue that it was Jesus Christ who gave us the option of eternal life if we believed in God. If we believe that part of our being is a 'spirit', then we're going to have some form of eternal life anyway - in spirit form. Of course, we have no real idea of how the spirit world functions any more than we have any real idea of what Heaven might be any more than the 'Hell' portrayed in the Bible. The threat of some form of 'Hell' being an important 'control' method used by all religions. Some folks would say their life on this earth has been 'hell on earth' and have taken the option of killing themselves rather than staying here to their natural end of life - the short life that we have before entering the spirit world.
On the topic of symbolism, the greatest example of this that I've experienced is the Festival of the Black Nazarene held every year on the 9th January in Quiapo, a district of Manila, the capital city of the Philippines. I attended this festival in 1996 where millions of Filipinos swarm into the area to observe an efigy being drawn along the streets on a wheeled trolley with hundreds of people pulling on ropes to drag it along. Just before the event really got going I was 'rescued' by a priest who took me into one of the nearby buildings and onto a balcony overlooking the main area. I don't think I'd have survived otherwise as the huge crowd built-up into an unimaginable volume, all squashed together in this quite small area - and beyond. I was astounded when my host commented about it being " all part of the game" . The sad fact is that it isn't a game for these millions of people who actually believe that touching or even having one of their articles of clothing (even just a cloth), brought into contact with this efigy will bring about all kinds of good things, miracles, for them and their family. Another common belief amongst the people is that if the trolley carrying the efigy comes to a stop, it is the hand of God that has brought it to a halt and no amount of pulling on the rope will get it moving again until God releases it (ignoring the fact that there might be a broken wheel!).
Of course, this festival is a big money-maker for the RC church which is, no-doubt, the reason for it, as millions of devoted, sometimes hysterical, believers throng into the church for the numerous services and other ceremonies attached to this festival which goes on for many hours - almost around the clock. The other big money-making racket with, once again, more symbolism by the RC church, is the Easter festivities. I attended one of these Easter services and was disgusted to see the collection box being passed around four times during a one-hour service. I would also add that the congregation is primarily composed of poor people who can ill afford to give their money away, pittance that it usually is.
More about this festival can be seen at URL: https://www.catholicsandcultures.org/philippines/feast-black-nazarene
Grace, who hasn't yet read any of the above, made a remarkable observation last evening that fits in extremely well with much of the text above. She was reading the story of Samson in the Bible. She said something along the lines of “Why is it that Samson (once his hair had grown back and he had recovered his strength after being betrayed by his wife!), who was on God's side, killed many people (the Philistines) when he brought down two of the pillars supporting the roof of the Temple of Dagon – when we are told in the Bible that, as a Christian, we are supposed to love our enemies and 'turn the other cheek' “? Where is our “God of Love” in all this? Why did God permit this to happen?
You may think, from reading the above, that I'm an atheist, however, nothing could be further from the truth. The fact is that I do believe there is a God of what may be loosely described as the Christian faith, but, like I believe Jesus Christ to have been, I am not against God at all, just very much against 'religion'.
However, the real question remains: What is the REAL truth about God?
We certainly won't find out whilst we live in our human form on this Earth.
You can read more about the history of the Bible at URL: http://www.greatsite.com/timeline-english-bible-history/
** Refer to REBUILDING AMERICA’S DEFENSES - Strategy, Forces and Resources For a New Century - A Report of The Project for the New American Century - September 2000. This states on page 51: A transformation strategy that solely pursued capabilities for projecting force from the United States, for example, and sacrificed forward basing and presence, would be at odds with larger American policy goals and would trouble American allies. Further, the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor.
Published approximately one year before the deliberately staged events of 9/11.
On 16 December 2002:
John Pilger reveals the American plan: a new Pearl Harbour
Two years ago a project set up by the men who now surround George W Bush said what America needed was a “catastrophic and catalysing event”.
Refer to URL: https://www.newstatesman.com/node/192545
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