The Story Goes On… July 14, 2014

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Daniel in the lion's denI was having trouble dealing with the stories: Jonah and the whale, Daniel in the lion’s den–even Jesus walking on the water.Three little pigs

So when I was fifteen years old, for a season I embraced agnosticism.

It was pretty easy. For after all, I never believed in religion. Church was tolerable. I had a curiosity about God.

But overall, the religious system asked me to swallow things without question, never realizing how they might affect me.

It was just too much.

Now I know there are those who would like to believe that departing from the church leads to all sorts of depravity. But I did not become a drug addict. I did not start mistreating my dog. I didn’t develop a pornography addiction.

Moses and the Red SeaActually, I rather enjoyed sleeping in on Sunday mornings, and took the extra time to audition for a play, and won the lead role.Little Red Riding Hood

I was happy.

I made new friends, since my Christian ones turned their backs on me. I joined with these acquaintances to discuss intellectual matters and expound on the problems in our society. I felt like a budding genius. It was like I was on a Mt. Olympus of knowledge, looking down on the world around me, trying to find a way I could assist the mere mortals below.

It was intoxicating.

In a strange sense of speaking, it was a religious experience. Yes, there is a religiosity to atheism. It was the comforting sense that I was self-contained. I needed nothing else.

Everything seemed really positive except for one factor. As time went on, the conversations I had with my new comrades became more bitter and nasty. After a while, we judged those who were not part of our confluence to be inferior–ignorant, if you will.

So one day it occurred to me that this new “religion” I had taken on had the same viciousness and prejudice as the one I had walked away from. There was still a plan of salvation, in the sense that you had to reject anything that might even hint toward the supernatural. There were sermons, as we disemboweled the character of those individuals who dared to disagree with us.

So finally, one night lying on my bed, I realized that the true story was not confined to the sixty-six books of the holy scripture. The story is actually compacted into the message that we are to love our neighbor as ourselves.

For even though I hated religion, had grown weary of church and felt like I could do without God, I had no idea, in my agnosticism, what to do with people. They seemed cumbersome. They were in the way.

Because as noble as it may sound to give freedom to everyone, when you have eight billion freedom-headers crashing into one another, it’s quite a headache.

My new-found lack of faith caused me to be irritated with the very creatures with whom I shared a species.

We need the story.

Maybe we don’t need all the stories that have been collected and called divine within the volume, but we do need The story:

  • Love your neighbor as yourself.
  • Give and it shall be given unto you.
  • Go the second mile.
  • You are the salt of the earth
  • Love your enemies

Without this narrative, we learn to hate religion, disdain the church, ignore God, and unfortunately, also end up disliking one another.

I went back to church.

I don’t agree with everything that happens there, and when I don’t, I question it. I rail against religion because it is a man-made infestation, formed to cripple the creativity of humankind.

I maintain a curiosity about God, though none of us know what happens a hundred and twenty seconds after we die.

But I believe in people.

I consider it to be the sign of spiritual energy–when the love we have for one another becomes the symbol of our devotion to God.

The story goes on. The story needs to be told.

Because without the story… we become discouraged in our own lack of appreciation for one another.

 

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Six Words — September 25, 2011

12 23 OBOE THEME

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I have written and published eleven books.  That’s a lot of ideas and stories. As of today, I have written 1,280 essays for jonathots–hundreds of thousands of words. Don’t you think, in that entire collection and body of work, there are things that I have written that I either no longer believe in the same way, or maybe wish I could edit?  Especially when you consider that I started writing when I was eighteen years of age, and now I’m … well, I’m not.  Eighteen, that is.

Just think of yourself. Do you believe different things today than you did ten years ago?  Would you say them differently? So I imagine when you look at sixty-six books that were written for the Bible–by so many different authors–it isn’t difficult to comprehend that some of the things they thought in one moment might have matured as they got a little older, a little smarter or a little closer to God.

You know, it doesn’t take away from the inspiration of a work to admit that it is evolving towards greater understanding. So as I come before you today and I realize my time on earth is short, I would like to take my eleven books, 1,280 jonathots, and, if you don’t mind, sixty-six books from the Bible and break them down into a single sentence that you can take along on your journey that sums up everything important that needs to be said.

Sounds like a tall order, doesn’t it? Actually, it’s more like a short order–an abbreviation of the beauty of truth. Jesus broke down all the law and prophets into “love your neighbor as yourself.”  But now that sounds just like a good idea, or something we ask God to forgive us for–because we don’t accomplish it. Time marches on. We need new marching orders.

So taking that great summary that Jesus said of “loving your neighbor as yourself,” let me give you a new breakdown, a new simplification and a new way of saying what is closest to the heart of God. What do I believe God would say if He had one statement to make to all of us?  Here you go:

No one is better than anyone else.

The only time we really get ourselves in trouble is when we try to be superior to other people and end up just being human–and that sense of humanity makes us feel like we fail.  Isn’t that sad? It’s like a dog being ashamed because it barks or a frog apologizing for its croak–or a flower blushing over its blossom. We’re humans. We shouldn’t be ashamed of it–because God was not ashamed to either make us or save us.  But feeling superior is no way to be human.  Likewise, feeling inferior makes you sick in your body and your soul.

No, the only way to live is to know that no one is better than anyone else.

There are no chosen people because God is no respecter of persons. There isn’t a “super race” because color doesn’t matter. Gender is just pure foolishness and age just makes us older.  Here’s the message: no one is better than anyone else.  Just take one day of your life and allow yourself to believe this truth and see if the tension, pressure, stress, fear and hatred don’t just simply vanish from your existence.

If the church wants to make a difference, we cannot act like we’re better than the world.  The only way to be the light of the world is to enlighten people with the knowledge that no one is better than anyone else.

So summing up sixty-six books, let me use a mere six words to give you a truth that is much easier to live with: no one is better than anyone else.

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