We are in this together

There is this image of earth from space, it is not the first image of the earth from space but it was the first color good image of earth from space. It looks like the earth is rising much like the sun looks while we are standing on the earth. Carl Sagan goes on about the pale blue dot in his book titled pale blue dot. Sagan mentions how everyone that we have ever known and currently know are there on that tiny mote. Sagan’s words are quite poetic.

I grew up in a Baptist church with some evangelical leanings. A big part of the evangelical movement in the United States involves cultivating an us vs them mentality. Evangelical Christians are not the first or only tribe / culture to indoctrinate their participants and believers in an us versus them mentality I only mention them because I have experience with this tribe. I am also a United States citizen and live in a home.

When the first operation Iraqi freedom war started and the United States military invaded Iraq in search of weapons of mass destruction some citizens of the United States took on a patriotic us versus them mentality. I see in the newspaper that the unhoused population is an ever growing issue. Almost every day I pass by a soup kitchen and the lines for people seeking help do not seem to shrink.

The Christian bible speaks a lot about good and evil. he Christian bible separates people into just two categories those who are in Christ and those who are not. I would like to point out that the demarcation line may not be what many believe it to be and that is a big thing to keep in mind when dealing with our relationships.

The Us vs them mentality can do us physical and emotional damage. This mentality puts us on the defense, and makes us unconsciously develop basis against others who are not exactly like us. It is damaging to the body and mind but is it a tenet of the Christian religion? Should it be a tenet of any religion? Let me answer the latter first. No this should not be a tenet of any religion, political affiliation, tribe or culture. Inclusivity not exclusivity, tolerance and acceptance not intolerance and repudiation should be the guiding tenants of your world view and religion.

So is the Us versus them mentality a tenet of the Christian faith? It seems on the surface that the us versus them mentality has become a tenet of the Christian faith. I see a whole market for Christian material and content but where does this idea come from? Many believers who adhere to this mentality will point to scripture like

  • Amos 3:3 – “Can two walk together except they be agreed?”
  • Ephesians 5:11 – “Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness…”
  • II Corinthians 6:14 “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers…”
  • John 17:13–16 “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.”

The scripture on its face seems to support an us versus them mentality but if you look at the scripture in context it becomes clear that it is less about us versus them than intentions and love versus apathy or hatred.

All the people of the world are on the same side there is not an us or them there is just us. The world, the universe for that matter is all one, and when one part of the body is sick (without love) the whole suffers and should help (not hurt), the others.

The us versus them mentality is toxic and needs to be dropped right now. I have done it many times. As a joke I will ask my friends and loved ones “who do I hate this week? A boyfriend that broke a sisters heart? I hate them they are not in, a driver who cut you off in traffic I hate them.”

If you read John 17:13-16 you will see that in Jesus prayer for his apostles he does not ask that God take the apostles out of the world but that they are protected. Why not just take them away or isolate them from the world? because the world needs everyone working together figuring out life.

Notice in this scripture:

“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee was standing and praying like this about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I’m not like other people—greedy, unrighteous, adulterers, or even like this tax collector . . . ”

“But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even raise his eyes to heaven but kept striking his chest and saying, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this one went down to his house justified rather than the other; because everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:10–11, 13–14 csb)

The Pharisee thought that they had all the answers but he did not and neither do you or I. The most dangerous person in the world is the one who thinks they have all the answers. Humility and learning and growing will not exist in a religion culture or tribe that believes that they know everything. Let’s all just love each other and learn together and lift each other up as much as we can.

At the end of the day all we are is this tiny blue dot in what seems to be infinite space

Why do we trick or treat

Here in the United States Halloween will be at the end of next month. All the kids and adults will dress up as some type of ghost goblin or monster. The ghosts, goblins and monsters will march down the neighborhood knocking on doors. As the door opens the ghosts, goblins, and monsters will shout trick or treat and then be rewarded with candy from the house. My niece asked about how the tradition got started. I told her that a long time ago kids would dress up as ghosts and go to the farmers house and if the farmer would give the ghost a treat so that they would have a good crop. It was a guess and only half right. It seems that the children dressed as ghosts would knock on the doors and offer to pray for the dead for a treat. Trick or treating had very little to do with the crops. I will have to let my niece know that.

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I still think that IU made a pretty good guess. Crops were and still are a pretty big deal. I mean they keep us alive. Religion was also a pretty big deal and is also arguably a pretty big deal. However with crop domestication and organized religion. Crops and religion are often afterthoughts in modern society. I no longer need to know where my food comes from or what happens to a soul after a person dies. There is the grocery store and church’s for that.

I am all for progress of humanity but I often wonder about the price we pay for the progress. With plant domestication our cities grew and people could focus on other things. There was no longer the need to forage and gather for food. However plant domestication tends to ruin the plants microbiome and the environment where the plant is grown. It can be well argued that plant domestication has peaked and the progress that has been brought through plant domestication is negated by the negative affects of the process. Religion has moved from temples and looking to the stars with questions to studying of texts. I fear that the lack of questions and abundance of “answers” in modern religion has lead to a stale, unforgiving religion that maybe doing more harm to society than help.

I am in no means advocating for a return to the old ways I am however ready to say that we must change and adapt if we plan on surviving as a species. Change is a process and it is part of growth. Just because something was done a certain way does not mean it was the best way. Never stop questioning learning or growing.

Only the wisest and stupidest of men never change


The future of Motherhood

There was a book I read and it was made into a series on Hulu. The book is The Handmaids tale. If you enjoy dystopian books about the future with just a hint of hope sprinkled in I suggest reading it. I liked the book and so did my daughter. My sister watched the Hulu series and loved it. The Handmaids tale is the diary of a handmaid in the city of Gilead in the distant kind of near distant future. Of course there was a war and the side that won is ultra religious draconian and a twist most of the women are infertile. So what does the ruling class do? The take the few fertile women and make them handmaids. The handmaids job is to bear the children for the ruling class.

The book was published in 1985 and the Hulu adaptation happened in 2017 and the fifth season is coming soon. The book left a lot to the imagination at the end and I have never seen the show (it is on my to watch list though). As soon as the show premiered it seemed like parallels were made between women’s reproductive health rights (access to safe abortions) and the show.

Abortion has a long and weird history in the United States. There is a book about it’s history named “When Abortion was a crime”. I cannot dedicate enough time to go through the history of abortion in the United States but of course I will try….

Lets see up until about 1880 abortions were legal in most of the United States and not considered a sin by the Catholic church, if they were performed before the quickening, the Baptists in the United States did not consider abortion a sin until about 1979. Abortion was made illegal in the United States because of how dangerous it was in 1880 for the woman. In 1973 Abortion was decriminalized in the United States. Currently states are finding ways to restrict women from having abortions and seem to be working to once again criminalize abortion. The reason for the criminalization of abortion is not to protect the women’s health but to protect the right of the unborn or the fetus to become born or alive.

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What does it mean to be alive? That is a question that religious scholars have and are still arguing over now. Is it as black and white as someone is alive when they are born? The people arguing against women’s rights do not think so.

I was a young child and me and my sisters had a hamster 2 hamsters. The hamsters were male and female and had a litter of pups. There were four kids in the house the hamster family and I think we had a cat and a dog too. (not sure about the cat) The mother hamster ate all her pups! I was traumatized and for the longest time never understood what happened. Hamsters do not always eat their young but when they do it is usually because they are either stressed, under feed, feel that there young are unsafe, or the scent of the young has changed.

If you have a hamster and it has pups.. Be sure to increase the hamsters diet remove any stress to the animal, keep its habitat clean, and avoid handling the cute little pups, otherwise your child could be traumatized.

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I was born because my mother choose to bare me. Yeah I feel a little sick thinking about it but its true. If my mother choose not to be a mom I would not be here. No matter what we think a woman should have the right to decide if she is a mother or not full stop.

Women’ s rights are human rights and no matter what your or my religious leaders tell me this year about when life begins it will always be wrong to tell a woman whether she should be a mother or not.

Instead of working to limit women’s rights this March why not help women who are mothers? Donate time and money to charities that are working to keep women safe, clean, and healthy. Dedicate your time to protecting the living.

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We have that too

Rob Bell wrote a few books, One book in particular received some mixed reviews. Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived, that is the books name. Let me see the book addresses the question ” would a loving God send people to eternal torment forever?” It’s a great read and is one of those books I like to buy and give away.

There is a line in the book where Rob Bell mentions how young believers in the Christian religion will move to a foreign country in a missionary capacity and introduce the religion of Christianity to people only to be greeted with “Oh we have that here too, only we call it___”. Many religions throughout the world and time share the same stories.

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My wife is right at the end of a history course she is taking for her degree, and I have been helping her with some of her assignments. She really doesn’t need my help I think she asks for it so I will not feel so useless. Reading history I cannot help but see how religious disagreements on many (shared) stories, has generated violence even war and genocide.

It seems that many religions have common ground as do most people and that meeting on this common ground can be a beautiful thing however we do not need to look far if we want to find divisive elements either. Dr. Seuss wrote a book called the Butter Battle . The book outlines how two sets of people differed on what side to butter their bread and the difference created divisions and military build ups.

I plan on challenging myself today to look for common ground with everyone I meet, I know that I will find it and I challenge you to do the same.

Why do they do that

I grew up going to public schools in Cleveland Ohio. I was always one of the smallest kids in every class through my academic career. I joined he army at the age of 18 and grew at least 8 inches in one year.

My size made me a target for bullies throughout my academic career. I have never understood bullies but have meet many of them and watched them conduct themselves. Bullies do not disappear when you become an adult either. (I watched the United States elect a bully to be president of the United States).

I have always been curious about what it is that makes a bully act as a bully. I know there is often a lot of pain within the bully but I do not think that is the only thing that makes a bully act as they do.

Most bullies belief that they are right.

The bully and the bullies defenders will tell others that the bully is not harming others but defending themselves, they are not a bully but a bold protector. Anyone that acts from a position of power to do harm to others is a bully. Anyone even if the other person “deserves” harm.

We should only work to help others. Harming someone will never help them. Some people will say that hurting someone is the only way that they will learn, this is a bad philosophy that causes generational harm and bullies.

If you can, help others; if you cannot do that, at least do not harm them.

– Dalai Lama

Bullies do what they know

A bully has been taught that harm can be help and this is false, harm is not good and will be harmful not helpful. It can be tempting to act harmfully towards others however when we do this we are affecting generations of people in a negative way. That one act of harm will cause ripples. On the flip side being helpful will also cause ripples. It is never to late to make positive change.

The time is always right to do what is right.”

–MLK Jr.

This post has been heavy on quotes and I am sure that is because of how important the subject is. The damage from doing harm and believing we are right has caused wide scale genocide that is being taught to children as wholesome accomplishment. Christopher Columbus did not discover the United States of America, The pioneers did not settle the western front of the United States of America.

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…These people are very simple as regards the u.se of arms, as your Highnesses will .sec from the seven that I caused to be taken, to bring home and learn our language and return; unless your Highnesses should order them all to be brought to Castile, or to be kept as captives on the same island; for with fifty men they can all be subjugated and made to do what is required of them…

— excerpt from the diary of Christopher Columbus

The removal of the tribes from the territory which they now inhabit . . . would not only
shield them from impending ruin, but promote their welfare and happiness. Experience
has clearly demonstrated that in their present state it is impossible to incorporate them
in such masses, in any form whatever, into our system. It has also been demonstrated
with equal certainty that without a timely anticipation of an provision against the
dangers to which they are exposed, under causes which it will be difficult, if not
impossible to control, their degradation and extermination will be inevitable.

— President James Monroe

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Bullies have done far too much harm and the progress they brought the world is bloody and unstable. Nothing earned through harm will last. Harm always causes more harm violence will always end in violence if humanity is ever to suffer it will not be through harm it will be through love. If you believe that love is the answer and suggest anyone harm another from a place of power or you yourself harms another from a place of power you are not acting out your belief you are lying to yourself.

Any belief that makes us harm others is a bad belief.