9/26/2003                                                                                       View Comments

Super Pope

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9/21/2003                                                                                       View Comments

Unconditional Love...

I have heard it so many times that it is indelibly etched into the very fabric of my subconscious. Usually the rhetoric goes something like this:

"God's love is not like human love. There are conditions placed on the fragile affections between people, but God's love is greater than that. He loves us just as we are and accepts us unconditionally."

Is Bible-God's love really unconditional? There is at least one Christian who understands that God's Love is not in any way, shape or form "unconditional".

Let me quote a small part of this Christian author's perspective on the issue:
"A Critical Review of a Pop Religious Truism
Scripture clearly teaches that God's love (phileo, agape, aheb, ahabah, etc.) is unfailing, undeserved, and unilateral (completely one-sided in initiation). But is God's love without condition--I.E.: UN-conditional?

On this we should consider three things.

1) Where did this idea come from?

2) Is it consistent with Scripture? and

3) Is it false prophecy?

On 1), you will not have to look back very far, as this is uniquely an American, 'modern' doctrine. It is never once mentioned in Scripture, nor do any of the church fathers use the phrase."
The rest of the article can be found HERE

The main premise of this Christian's disertation is that without real repentance followed by willing obedience to the commands of the Triune-God of the Bible, no love is granted. The writer makes a very good case for his position, fully supported by solid passages in THE BOOK. This very concept is one of the realizations I came to while still a Christian and one of the issues that helped me understand what an unloving tyrannical parent that "our Father which art in heaven" really is.

Unless a person becomes a Universalist, there is no alternative for the Christian but to believe and accept that untold millions/billions of people are being relegated to an unloving, unforgiving, eternity, in the flames of of the Lake of Fire. Hell is not corrective discipline; hell is eternal punishment. Hell is not a merciful punishment of separating miscreant spirits from the rest of the harmless heavenly universe; hell is mind-boggling torture and pain for all eternity. Hell is the full measure of an offended angry Parent poured out unceasingly on all those who for one reason or another either never heard the gospel or found it to be simply unbelievable.

Is there any love in hell? Absolutely not.

Since God is love, hell is the absence of God. Hell is supposedly the total and complete separation of mankind from God and therefore a complete separation from love. The descriptions of hell picture it as a sadistic place of insanity, violence, and unfulfilled lust. It may have been created for the devil and his angels as the good book says, but the loving Father in heaven imagined it, created it, and commands those who don't accept Jesus in their hearts to "Depart from me ye cursed into..."

Imagine, if you will, a family who follows the example of this loving father. The Father of the family would require the children to turn from their own ways and endeavor to follow his commands without question. Stumbling but repentant children would be forgiven and accepted, but rebellious children who refused to tow the line, after a limited number of opportunities to get with the program, would be tortured unmercifully in the basement for the rest of their lives. Children, rather than being loved unconditionally, would have at least a few rules that they must adhere to in order to reap the rewards of Dad's favor. If they refused to adhere to the Dad's arbitrary, even if minimal, requirements, then the Dad would he justified at some point to pour out the full measure of his wrath until his sadistic offended heart was satisfied.

Obviously such a father would be prosecuted and placed under a doctor's care for mental instability. Such a parent might be justifiably called a monster. It is simply unnatural for a parent to stop loving their own children. Parents are often disappointed, angry, fed up, and emotionally hurt by their children, but no parent wants to see their children dead or in horrific painful torture. This is even evident of parents of the criminal or criminally insane. The parents often realize that their children must be locked up for society's and their own good, but the parent who wants their child to suffer painfully forever is pretty rare, if such a parent even exists at all.

Bible God's personality and view of justice is rooted in a primitive patriarchal time that was often cruel and inhuman by today's standards. Modern Christianity understands this at some level, so attempts in many ways to give their chosen deity a better more palatable image. God is made in our image so Christians today demand a nicer, gentler god that they can love and respect. That is not the God of the Bible. He is cruel, demanding, and jealous. He will not stand for disobedience and dominates his insect-like creations by HIs ever present threat of eternal retribution for failing to get on board with His “loving” program.

Unconditional? No way!

9/17/2003                                                                                       View Comments

Spell Check?

Thinking about the demonstrated spelling abilities of some of the more emotional detractors who have posted lately, I wonder how long it took before anyone at this convention even noticed a problem?

It seems to me that someone who does not even make the effort to check their own spelling, probably does not make much effort with many things. That would especially come across if the person were trying to show why it is a good idea to be a Christian. If they gloss over simple English usage, they are quite likely guilty of glossing over a whole lot more.

The sign would be funny, if it weren't so sad.

What do you think about people who are too lazy to even attempt to spell things correctly?

9/16/2003                                                                                       View Comments

The Greatest Story Ever Told...

Is about to get a little more interesting.

It's been two thousand years, and somehow things have gone from bad to worse...

Jesus Freakin - coming soon


God is jealous, and the LORD revengeth; the LORD revengeth, and is furious; the LORD will take vengeance on His adversaries, and He reserveth wrath for His enemies. Nahum 1:2

It's time for the Good Lord to do a bit of house cleaning.

Heaten Cam viewWith the Almighty Power of God, along with a 21st century arsenal, you - Jesus Christ - are sent back to earth to kick some ass and take names (resulting in a list that St. Peter would likely kill to get his hands on).

They've ignored Your warnings since the beginning of time. They've forsaken You, twisted Your message, rejected Your gifts and turned away from Your church at every opportunity.

No more chances.

No more excuses.

The End is at hand.


Through the wrath of the LORD of hosts is the land darkened, and the people shall be as the fuel of the fire. Isaiah 9:19

If this sounds like a joke, it's not. I emailed the contact for the website and he assures me that the site is for real and so is the game. Although it is not quite ready for release, it will be soon enough.

What do you think? Would you buy it? JesusFreakin.Com

9/14/2003                                                                                       View Comments

Love the SInner - Hate the Sin

This is one of my favorite Christo-speakese phrases. It demonstrates yet another example of the ignorance Christians have about their own rule book, the Bible, as well as an attempt by modern believers to make their God nicer than he really is. A quick search on GOOGLE will reveal that this phrase, or a variation of it, is found in numerous online sermons. I know that I myself heard that quaint concept repeated uncountable times in the many churches I frequented during my long tenure as a true believer.

On the face if it, the phrase seems like a nice idea. Basically I take this to be an admonition to be nice to everyone, regardless of ideology, but lovingly stand against their non-Christian lifestyles, behaviors, etc. I would agree with the "be nice to everyone" attitude, and commend those who try to adopt the policy. To debate the value of this simple philosophy is not my issue here, but to demonstrate that although such thinking may be a nice fluffy Evangelical ideal, it is not in the vocabulary of Bible God and it is certainly not part of Christianity. In the style of how I approached things in the past as a Christian, I ask now, "What saith the Scriptures?"

1) God is angry with the wicked every day. Psalms 7:11

Notice He is not angry with the sin, while loving the sinner. He is angry with the wicked themselves, the person, the individual, the human being.

2) God distributeth sorrows (to sinners) in his anger. Job 21:17

3) The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil. Proverbs 16:4

Sounds like God's displeasure is with the person again, not with the sin as if it existed outside the person. He even says he made the wicked for a certain reason, the day of evil. Here it doesn't come close to sounding like HE loves them.

There are absolutely dozens and dozens of verses in the Old Testament that I could use to prove my point, but there are too many modern Dispensationally hampered Christians who retreat from the hard theology of the OT to hide their minds behind a shield of, "that was the old covenant, so it doesn't count anymore." "We are in the new and better covenant of love, mercy and forgiveness." So, rather than get on a rabbit trail and belabor the fallacy of dividing the hokey word (err, holy word), I will only use the NT from here on out.

3) A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh. Luke 6:45

The sin and the sinner are tied together. They are absolutely one and the same in the mind of the Bible writers.

4) These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; Jude 1:12

Love the sinner and hate the sin? I don't see it here.

5) But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption; 2 Peter 2:12

Still no love for the sinner while hating the sin.

6) If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema (aka: CURSED). 1 Corinthians 16:22

Love the sinner but hate the sin? I think not.

7) If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: 2 John 1:10

Love him? Hell no...... Don't even invite him into your house!

8) But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. Revelation 21:8

It is not the sin that is finally confined to the bowels of hell in God's loving plan, it is the people themselves.

It's sad, but the harsh, arrogant, condemning, angry Christians who try to rebut the articles on this site, and who send in the harsh judgmental letters, are actually closer to following the plain teachings of their deity than the more reasonable Christian commentators. Nowhere does the B-I-B-L-E teach that sin should be hated while sinners should be loved. A sinner is one who sins, pure and simple and the only way a sinner is ever given the possiblity of being loved is if he turns from his unbelief and sin. Up until then, there is no real offer of love. The love of GOD has huge strings attached, and the formula for getting in on that love has no alternatives. The sin that really puts that sinner in the Christian hell is rejection of Jesus as "personal savior." (Where in the bible the concept of "personal savior" comes from could be the topic of another rant, but for now I'll let that one alone.) If for any reason a person on the planet does not submit themselves to the requirements for receiving that "LOVE." then that person is totally rejected, condemned and eternally tortured without mercy.

It is commendable that many who have swallowed the blue pill of oblivion sending them into the fantasy world of Christianity are unwilling to adopt the horrific world view of Bible God. It is humanistically commendable, but it is not historic Christianity. One reason so much of Christian history is drenched in bloodshed, promulgated by "Christians" is because the religion does not teach tolerance of other lifestyle, or religious choices in any way shape or form. The only people that Christians are commanded to tolerate, are other believers. Those outside the fold are goats and chaff destined for the burning flames of hell, pure and simple. You can call your God love if you want, but the only ones he really loves are HIS own people. In the O.T. it was the Hebrews HE cares about and in the N.T. it is the Christians. Everyone else only exists as a tool to demonstrate HIS nefarious attributes of wrath, anger, ect.

Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created. Revelation 4:11

"All things" includes sinners and the hell they are condemned to inhabit for all eternity.

I present the plain words of these verses as a challenge to modern Christianity's idea that loving sinners while hating the sin is supported or taught by their mythical J.C., or his equally nonexistent Sky Daddy or any of their self appointed mouth pieces from their holey book.

Christianity is not about love, it is about closing your mind and doing what you are told.

9/13/2003                                                                                       View Comments

Bible Teaching and Religious Practice

by Mark Twain
from Europe and Elsewhere & A Pen Warmed Up In Hell

Religion had its share in the changes of civilization and national character, of course. What share? The lion's. In the history of the human race this has always been the case, will always be the case, to the end of time, no doubt; or at least until man by the slow processes of evolution shall develop into something really fine and high -- some billions of years hence, say.

The Christian Bible is a drug store. Its contents remain the same; but the medical practice changes. For eighteen hundred years these changes were slight -- scarcely noticeable. The practice was allopathic -- allopathic in its rudest and crudest form. The dull and ignorant physician day and night, and all the days and all the nights, drenched his patient with vast and hideous doses of the most repulsive drugs to be found in the store's stock; he bled him, cupped him, purged him, puked him, salivated him, never gave his system a chance to rally, nor nature a chance to help. He kept him religion sick for eighteen centuries, and allowed him not a well day during all that time. The stock in the store was made up of about equal portions of baleful and debilitating poisons, and healing and comforting medicines; but the practice of the time confined the physician to the use of the former; by consequence, he could only damage his patient, and that is what he did.

Not until far within our century was any considerable change in the practice introduced; and then mainly, or in effect only, in Great Britain and the United States. In the other countries to-day, the patient either still takes the ancient treatment or does not call the physician at all. In the English-speaking countries the changes observable in our century were forced by that very thing just referred to -- the revolt of the patient against the system; they were not projected by the physician. The patient fell to doctoring himself, and the physician's practice began to fall off. He modified his method to get back his trade. He did it gradually, reluctantly; and never yielded more at a time than the pressure compelled. At first he relinquished the daily dose of hell and damnation, and administered it every other day only; next he allowed another day to pass; then another and presently another; when he had restricted it at last to Sundays, and imagined that now there would surely be a truce, the homeopath arrived on the field and made him abandon hell and damnation altogether, and administered Christ's love, and comfort, and charity and compassion in its stead. These had been in the drug store all the time, gold labeled and conspicuous among the long shelfloads of repulsive purges and vomits and poisons, and so the practice was to blame that they had remained unused, not the pharmacy. To the ecclesiastical physician of fifty years ago, his predecessor for eighteen centuries was a quack; to the ecclesiastical physician of to-day, his predecessor of fifty years ago was a quack. To the every-man-his-own-ecclesiastical-doctor of -- when? -- what will the ecclesiastical physician of to-day be? Unless evolution, which has been a truth ever since the globes, suns, and planets of the solar system were but wandering films of meteor dust, shall reach a limit and become a lie, there is but one fate in store for him.

The methods of the priest and the parson have been very curious, their history is very entertaining. In all the ages the Roman Church has owned slaves, bought and sold slaves, authorized and encouraged her children to trade in them. Long after some Christian peoples had freed their slaves the Church still held on to hers. If any could know, to absolute certainty, that all this was right, and according to God's will and desire, surely it was she, since she was God's specially appointed representative in the earth and sole authorized and infallible expounder of his Bible. There were the texts; there was no mistaking their meaning; she was right, she was doing in this thing what the Bible had mapped out for her to do. So unassailable was her position that in all the centuries she had no word to say against human slavery. Yet now at last, in our immediate day, we hear a Pope saying slave trading is wrong, and we see him sending an expedition to Africa to stop it. The texts remain: it is the practice that has changed. Why? Because the world has corrected the Bible. The Church never corrects it; and also never fails to drop in at the tail of the procession -- and take the credit of the correction. As she will presently do in this instance.

Christian England supported slavery and encouraged it for two hundred and fifty years, and her church's consecrated ministers looked on, sometimes taking an active hand, the rest of the time indifferent. England's interest in the business may be called a Christian interest, a Christian industry. She had her full share in its revival after a long period of inactivity, and his revival was a Christian monopoly; that is to say, it was in the hands of Christian countries exclusively. English parliaments aided the slave traffic and protected it; two English kings held stock in slave-catching companies. The first regular English slave hunter -- John Hawkins, of still revered memory -- made such successful havoc, on his second voyage, in the matter of surprising and burning villages, and maiming, slaughtering, capturing, and selling their unoffending inhabitants, that his delighted queen conferred the chivalric honor of knighthood on him -- a rank which had acquired its chief esteem and distinction in other and earlier fields of Christian effort. The new knight, with characteristic English frankness and brusque simplicity, chose as his device the figure of a negro slave, kneeling and in chains. Sir John's work was the invention of Christians, was to remain a bloody and awful monopoly in the hands of Christians for a quarter of a millennium, was to destroy homes, separate families, enslave friendless men and women, and break a myriad of human hearts, to the end that Christian nations might be prosperous and comfortable, Christian churches be built, and the gospel of the meek and merciful Redeemer be spread abroad in the earth; and so in the name of his ship, unsuspected but eloquent and clear, lay hidden prophecy. She was called The Jesus.

But at last in England, an illegitimate Christian rose against slavery. It is curious that when a Christian rises against a rooted wrong at all, he is usually an illegitimate Christian, member of some despised and bastard sect. There was a bitter struggle, but in the end the slave trade had to go -- and went. The Biblical authorization remained, but the practice changed.

Then -- the usual thing happened; the visiting English critic among us began straightway to hold up his pious hands in horror at our slavery. His distress was unappeasable, his words full of bitterness and contempt. It is true we had not so many as fifteen hundred thousand slaves for him to worry about, while his England still owned twelve millions, in her foreign possessions; but that fact did not modify his wail any, or stay his tears, or soften his censure. The fact that every time we had tried to get rid of our slavery in previous generations, but had always been obstructed, balked, and defeated by England, was a matter of no consequence to him; it was ancient history, and not worth the telling.

Our own conversion came at last. We began to stir against slavery. Hearts grew soft, here, there, and yonder. There was no place in the land where the seeker could not find some small budding sign of pity for the slave. No place in all the land but one -- the pulpit. It yielded at last; it always does. It fought a strong and stubborn fight, and then did what it always does, joined the procession -- at the tail end. Slavery fell. The slavery text remained; the practice changed, that was all.

During many ages there were witches. The Bible said so. The Bible commanded that they should not be allowed to live. Therefore the Church, after doing its duty in but a lazy and indolent way for eight hundred years, gathered up its halters, thumbscrews, and firebrands, and set about its holy work in earnest. She worked hard at it night and day during nine centuries and imprisoned, tortured, hanged, and burned whole hordes and armies of witches, and washed the Christian world clean with their foul blood.

Then it was discovered that there was no such thing as witches, and never had been. One does not know whether to laugh or to cry. Who discovered that there was no such thing as a witch -- the priest, the parson? No, these never discover anything. At Salem, the parson clung pathetically to his witch text after the laity had abandoned it in remorse and tears for the crimes and cruelties it has persuaded them to do. The parson wanted more blood, more shame, more brutalities; it was the unconsecrated laity that stayed his hand. In Scotland the parson killed the witch after the magistrate had pronounced her innocent; and when the merciful legislature proposed to sweep the hideous laws against witches from the statute book, it was the parson who came imploring, with tears and imprecations, that they be suffered to stand.

There are no witches. The witch text remains; only the practice has changed. Hell fire is gone, but the text remains. Infant damnation is gone, but the text remains. More than two hundred death penalties are gone from the law books, but the texts that authorized them remain.

It is not well worthy of note that of all the multitude of texts through which man has driven his annihilating pen he has never once made the mistake of obliterating a good and useful one? It does certainly seem to suggest that if man continues in the direction of enlightenment, his religious practice may, in the end, attain some semblance of human decency.

9/12/2003                                                                                       View Comments

George Carlin on Religion

I would never want to be a member of a group whose symbol was a guy nailed to two pieces of wood. [George Carlin, from the album "A Place For My Stuff"]

We created god in our own image and likeness! [George Carlin]

I credit that eight years of grammar school with nourishing me in a direction where I could trust myself and trust my instincts. They gave me the tools to reject my faith. They taught me to question and think for myself and to believe in my instincts to such an extent that I just said, 'This is a wonderful fairy tale they have going here, but it's not for me.' [George Carlin, in the _New York Times_ 20 August 1995, pg. 17. He attended Cardinal Hayes High School in the Bronx, but left during his sophomore year in 1952 and never went back to school. Before that he attended a Catholic grammar school, Corpus Christi, which he called an experimental school.]

If churches want to play the game of politics, let them pay admission like everyone else [George Carlin, from the album "What Am I Doing In New Jersey?"]

This is a lttle prayer dedicated to the separation of church and state. I guess if they are going to force those kids to pray in schools they might as well have a nice prayer like this: Our Father who art in heaven, and to the republic for which it stands, thy kingdom come, one nation indivisible as in heaven, give us this day as we forgive those who so proudly we hail. Crown thy good into temptation but deliver us from the twilight's last gleaming. Amen and Awomen. [George Carlin, on Saturday Night Live]

I'm completely in favor of the separation of Church and State. My idea is that these two institutions screw us up enough on their own, so both of them together is certain death. [George Carlin]

Religion convinced the world that there's an invisible man in the sky who watches everything you do. And there's 10 things he doesn't want you to do or else you'll to to a burning place with a lake of fire until the end of eternity. But he loves you! ...And he needs money! He's all powerful, but he can't handle money! [George Carlin, fromalbum "You Are All Diseased" (it can also be found in the book "Napalm and Silly Putty".]

The only good thing ever to come out of religion was the music. [George Carlin, Brain Droppings]

I've begun worshipping the sun for a number of reasons. First of all, unlike some other gods I could mention, I can see the sun. It's there for me every day. And the things it brings me are quite apparent all the time: heat, light, food, a lovely day. There's no mystery, no one asks for money, I don't have to dress up, and there's no boring pageantry. And interestingly enough, I have found that the prayers I offer to the sun and the prayers I formerly offered to God are all answered at about the same 50-percent rate. [George Carlin, from "You Are All Diseased".]

A man came up to me on the street and said I used to be messed up out of my mind on drugs but now I'm messed up out of my mind on Jeeesus Chriiist. [George Carlin]

I have as much authority as the pope, I just don't have as many people who believe it. [George Carlin, Brain Droppings]

Jesus was a cross dresser [George Carlin, Brain Droppings]

I finally accepted Jesus. not as my personal savior, but as a man I intend to borrow money from. [George Carlin, Brain Droppings]

Instead of school busing and prayer in schools, which are both controversial, why not a joint solution? Prayer in buses. Just drive these kids around all day and let them pray their fuckn' empty little heads off. [George Carlin, Brain Droppings]

When it comes to BULLSHIT...BIG-TIME, MAJOR LEAGUE BULLSHIT... you have to stand IN AWE, IN AWE of the all time champion of false promises and exaggerated claims, religion. [George Carlin, from "You Are All Diseased".]

Religion easily has the greatest bullshit story ever told. Think about it, religion has actually convinced people that there's an INVISIBLE MAN...LIVING IN THE SKY...who watches every thing you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a list of ten special things that he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish where he will send to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry for ever and ever 'til the end of time...but he loves you. [George Carlin, from "You Are All Diseased"]

I want you to know, when it comes to believing in god- I really tried. I really really tried. I tried to believe that there is a god who created each one of us in his own image and likeness, loves us very much and keeps a close eye on things. I really tried to believe that, but I gotta tell you, the longer you live, the more you look around, the more you realize...something is FUCKED-UP. Something is WRONG here. War, disease, death, destruction, hunger, filth, poverty, torture, crime, corruption and the Ice Capades. Something is definitely wrong. This is NOT good work. If this is the best god can do, I am NOT impressed. Results like these do not belong on the resume of a supreme being. This is the kind of shit you'd expect from an office temp with a bad attitude. And just between you and me, in any decently run universe, this guy would have been out on his all-powerful-ass a long time ago. [George Carlin, from "You Are All Diseased".]

Trillions and trillions of prayers every day asking and begging and pleading for favors. 'Do this' 'Gimme that' 'I want a new car' 'I want a better job'. And most of this praying takes place on Sunday. And I say fine, pray for anything you want. Pray for anything. But...what about the divine plan? Remember that? The divine plan. Long time ago god made a divine plan. Gave it a lot of thought. Decided it was a good plan. Put it into practice. And for billion and billions of years the divine plan has been doing just fine. Now you come along and pray for something. Well, suppose the thing you want isn't in god's divine plan. What do you want him to do? Change his plan? Just for you? Doesn't it seem a little arrogant? It's a divine plan. What's the use of being god if every run-down schmuck with a two dollar prayer book can come along and fuck up your plan? And here's something else, another problem you might have; suppose your prayers aren't answered. What do you say? 'Well it's god's will. God's will be done.' Fine, but if it gods will and he's going to do whatever he wants to anyway; why the fuck bother praying in the first place? Seems like a big waste of time to me. Couldn't you just skip the praying part and get right to his will? [George Carlin, from "You Are All Diseased".]

You know who I pray to? Joe Pesci. Joe Pesci. Two reasons; first of all, I think he's a good actor. Ok. To me, that counts. Second; he looks like a guy who can get things done. Joe Pesci doesn't fuck around. Doesn't fuck around. In fact, Joe Pesci came through on a couple of things that god was having trouble with. For years I asked god to do something about my noisy neighbor with the barking dog. Joe Pesci straightened that cock-sucker out with one visit. [George Carlin, from "You Are All Diseased".]

I noticed that of all the prayers I used to offer to god, and all the prayers that I now offer to Joe Pesci, are being answer at about the same 50% rate. Half the time I get what I want. Half the time I don't. Same as god 50/50. Same as the four leaf clover, the horse shoe, the rabbit's foot, and the wishing well. Same as the mojo man. Same as the voodoo lady who tells your fortune by squeezing the goat's testicles. It's all the same; 50/50. So just pick your superstitions, sit back, make a wish and enjoy yourself. And for those of you that look to the Bible for it's literary qualities and moral lessons; I got a couple other stories I might like to recommend for you. You might enjoy The Three Little Pigs. That's a good one. It has a nice happy ending. Then there's Little Red Riding Hood. Although it does have that one x-rated part where the Big-Bad-Wolf actually eats the grandmother. Which I didn't care for, by the way. And finally, I've always drawn a great deal of moral comfort from Humpty Dumpty. The part I liked best: ...and all the king's horses, and all the king's men couldn't put Humpty together again. That's because there is no Humpty Dumpty, and there is no god. None. Not one. Never was. No god. [George Carlin, from "You Are All Diseased".]

Religion is sort of like a lift in your shoes. If it makes you feel better, fine. Just don't ask me to wear your shoes. [George Carlin]

Here's another question I've been pondering- What is all this shit about Angels? Have you herd this? 3 out of 4 people belive in Angels. Are you FUCKING STUPID? Has everybody lost their mind? You know what I think it is? I think it's a massive, collective, psychotic chemical flashback for all the drugs smoked, swallowed, shot, and obsorbed rectally by all Americans from 1960 to 1990. 30 years of street drugs will get you some fucking Angels my friend! [George Carlin, from "You Are All Diseased".]

What about Goblins, huh? Doesn't anybody belive in Goblins? You never hear about this.. Except on Halloween and then it's all negative shit. And what about Zombies? You never hear from Zombies! That's the trouble with Zombies, they're unreliable! I say if you're going to go for the Angel bullshit you might as well go for the Zombie package as well.. [George Carlin, from "You Are All Diseased".]

9/05/2003                                                                                       View Comments

"IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL"

Those of you who have read some of my personal site know that I spent a good portion of my life as a musician, both in the service of the US Military as well as in the service of various church groups. I understand the power of music, and I understand that some of the best music is written when motivated by strong emotion.

There are some Christian hymns that still stir my soul. I no longer believe the message of the songs, but when a song is good, it is good, regardless of the message. One of those that has come to my attention again recently is "It is Well with my Soul" by Horatio Spafford. For those not familiar with the old song, or who may have forgotten it, I uploaded a windows media audio file which can be heard here:





Mr. Spafford wrote his song inspired by tragedy.

Born in New York State on October 30, 1828, Horatio G. Spafford became a lawyer, practicing law and teaching jurisprudence in Chicago. By the time he was in his early 40s he was quite successful and invested heavily in downtown Chicago real estate along the shores of Lake Michigan. The infamous Chicago fire of 1871 destroyed all his land holdings. His material losses were exceptional.

Always a religious family, Horatio decided to take a holiday in England to assist the famous Dwight L Moody as he traveled about England on one of his evangelistic crusades. Horatio and Anna his wife planned to join Moody in late 1873. The Spaffords traveled to New York in November, from where they were to catch the French steamer 'Ville de Havre' across the Atlantic. Yet just before they set sail, a last-minute business development forced Horatio to delay. Spafford encouraged his family to go as planned, so as not to ruin their holiday. He planned to follow later. Anna and her four daughters sailed East to Europe while Spafford returned West to Chicago. Nine days later, Spafford received a telegram from his wife who was now in Wales. It read: "Saved alone."

On November 2nd 1873, the 'Ville de Havre' had collided with 'The Lochearn', an English vessel. It sank in only 12 minutes, claiming the lives of 226 people. Anna Spafford had stood bravely on the deck, with her daughters Annie, Maggie, Bessie and Tanetta clinging desperately to her. Her last memory had been of her baby being torn violently from her arms by the force of the waters. Anna was only saved from the fate of her daughters by a plank which floated beneath her unconscious body and propped her up. When the survivors of the wreck had been rescued, Mrs. Spafford's first reaction was one of complete despair. Then she heard a voice speak to her, "You were spared for a purpose."

Upon hearing the terrible news, Horatio Spafford boarded the next ship out of New York to join his bereaved wife. Bertha Spafford (the fifth daughter of Horatio and Anna born later) explained that during her father's voyage, the captain of the ship had called him to the bridge. "A careful reckoning has been made", he said, "and I believe we are now passing the place where the de Havre was wrecked. The water is three miles deep." Horatio then returned to his cabin and penned the lyrics of his great hymn.

This is usually where the story ends when told in Church, followed inevitably by the singing of the hymn, and then a heart wrenching invitation to come to the altar to lay any burdens at the foot of the cross or something along those lines.

The following is the rest of the story:

Later a son, Horatio, and a daughter, Bertha, were born to them. When little Horatio died of scarlet fever at the age of three, it was a crushing blow, as deeply felt as the shipwreck.

Before these terrible incidents overtook their lives, the Spaffords had become interested in the Holy Land. A friend, Dr. Piazza Smith, went to Giza and when he came back, he told Horatio that he believed the pyramids were made by divine inspiration. The visit with Dr. Smith made Horatio and Anna take an active interest in the prophecies of the Old Testament and the Holy Land. After the horrific events that seemed to be haunting their lives, Anna needed a change and Horatio understood this. He felt the Holy Land was a good place to go to witness prophecy and refresh the body and soul. Horatio and his wife, Anna, became quite religious after the shipwreck. Horatio said, "Jerusalem is where my Lord lived, suffered and conquered and I wish to learn how to live, suffer and especially to conquer".

Their only surviving child, Bertha Spafford (Vester) in later life wrote about her experiences in "Our Jerusalem," which documents how she came to Jerusalem with her heart-broken parents in 1881. They brought with them their family and a small group of Protestant followers. They were called the "Spaffordites" or the "Overcomers" because they wanted to overcome the tragedy that they had experienced. They built what would be known as the "American Colony" with a sacrificial sense of purpose, acting on what they considered divine commands. The colony provided education, religious education, nursing to the sick and fed many people. The colony was used a Red Cross facility during World War I. The American colonists also set up medical facilities, orphanages, soup kitchens, schools, and a pediatric hospital. The good works of the colony live on today with hospitals and the Spaffords Children Centre in Jerusalem.

But there is more:

Upon their arrival in Jerusalem, the Spaffordites decided to live a communal life, with property held in common by the group. They did not send their children to school, but they educated them themselves. The community also practiced complete sexual abstinence. Husbands and wives lived in separate quarters and marriage was forbidden in the group. All was not peaches and cream for the American Colony as their religious dedication bordered closer to fanaticism.

The biggest problems began after Horatio's death in 1881.

Anna, Bertha's mother, took over the group. She abandoned her husband's D.L Moody influenced convictions and adopted an understanding of living a perfect life in line with holiness teachings. The colonists interpreted certain of Jesus' commands literally for those destined to enter Heaven: “and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of Heavens sake “(Matthew 19:12); “and "They which shall be accounted worthy, to obtain that world, and the resurrection for the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage “(Luke 20:34-36). Children were separated from their parents and Anna Spafford became Mother of the whole community turned cult.

The Colony also had problems with the American Consul in Jerusalem. Sean Merrill was the American Consul from 1882-1885 under President Chester A. Arthur, 1891-1893 under President Benjamin Harrison, and 1898-1907 under Presidents McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt. Merrill was a Congregationalist minister and a scholar of the Holy Land. As such he did not care for the Colony's religious practices and agreed with others in the British and American Protestant communities who believed that people in the Colony were dangerous. While Merrill did not deal with the people who left the Colony, he noted that such people were not reimbursed for their contribution to the community, nor for property they had entrusted to the Colony.

The biggest thing about the Colony Merrill hated was the Colony's Messianic fervor and informal prayer meetings. He also did not care for the requirement of celibacy, and was appalled by the communal lifestyle. Merrill warned tourists against visiting the colony and described it in very negative terms.

By the early 20th Century many young people in the Colony had reached marriageable age, including Anna's daughter Bertha. Anna, in 1904 began to allow marriage and Bertha married Fredrick Vester. As a dowry to the Colony Fredrick gave them his family store, renamed The American Colony Store, which became the Colony's main source of income.

After Anna's death in 1923, Bertha took over the Colony. The religious rules were then relaxed greatly. Bertha did not have revelations like her mother and was not a fanatical religious leader. The people of the colony were now busy with raising their families, and were not as interested in Jewish immigration and settlement in the Holy Land. Without these intense religious principles to adhere to, the colony ceased to be a religious sect in 1930.

Conclusion:

I personally know another lawyer turned minister who suffered a terrible loss a few years ago. The family was on vacation in another state when another driver ran a stop sign colliding with the vacationing family's van. Their 17-year old son was driving the van when it was hit. Although he came out of the accident with only some bruises, his younger sister in the back was killed. The family is very religious, very fundamental and nice people. Even so, the terrible mourning of losing their child has never left them and every time I see the bereaved mother, I hope she is getting help to cope with her loss. Her behavior and conversation betrays her fixation and inability to accept her loss.

I believe that the Spafford family were never able to recover from the overwhelming grief forced on them by circumstances. I don't blame them. I think they did remarkably well, all things considered. Something that speaks in support of my allegation is the route taken by the travelers when they finally left for Jerusalem. From Chicago, the Spaffords went to Quebec. The Spaffords delegation took the St. Lawrence River out of the North American continent to get to Jerusalem. The reason they took this route, instead of going through NY, was to take the long way around and avoid sailing over the wreck that claimed their four daughters. It just hurt too much.

What I take issue with is not that tragedy strikes people and leaves them changed by it. What I take issue with is the disingenuous use of anyone's tragedy by Christianity to falsely support their claim of a comforting and loving god. It may be argued that the faith the Spafford's enjoyed helped them as they tried to cope with the harsh reality of chance and mortality, but that certanily does not prove that faith to be well placed or true. It appears to me that neither the Spaffords nor my friends were genuinely comforted by the idea that their children were seated at the right hand of their own personal savior. The belief that they were in a better place did little to rub salve into the wounds of their grief. Nothing, it seems, could assuage their pain.

The Spaffords descended into a mild form of insanity and fanaticism. That does not speak well of the so-often-touted supernatural healing powers of the "Great Physician." The next time you hear "It is Well with My Soul" played somewhere, just remember the rest of the story.