The Watcher behind your Forehead
October, Anno Domini 1998
Octbre 4, Par Christic
This issue will have a little less content to make space for two replies. Sorry.
So, a few days ago I tried to call the Norwegian consulate in Boston. They were entirely unhelpful. The woman who my questions were directed to, whom I was told would have all the information I might need, turned out not to know anything. She said her position had no qualifications and was mostly an "honorary" position. In fact, nobody at the consulate seems to have ever been to Norway or, in fact, know anything about it except the senior ambassador who probably knows that it's next to Sweden and Finland and not all that far from Denmark. I think, but I'm not sure, that it also shares a small border with Russia. So, anyway, I'm now angry at the Nords (that's what I've decided I'm going to call people from Norway; if swedes are from Sweden, Nords are from Norway). If I ever manage to secure a controlling world position, I'm going to see to it that falsely claiming to represent a Scandanavian country will be a crime punishable by public sodomization.
The only time I'll ever mention Clinton here: I forgive Clinton. To err is human. Nixon wasn't such a bad guy. What Clinton did was far more morally acceptable than what Nixon did. On the other hand, Nixon hand the good taste to resign, which I would understand if Clinton chose to do, but he won't and we all know it. Now watch the headlines tomorrow be "Clinton Steps Down; Millions fear the presidency of Gore". That's all I have to say about that.
Those who remember/read the watcher last issue should recall my opinions on hell and judgement. Well, I emailed my questions to an orthodox Christian youth forum and I await their answer. They seem to at least be thinking about it because it's going to be next months topic of discussion. I'll include their response if it comes before i send out this issue and I'll include it next time if I finish my newsletter before they do.
Cars and Horns
I've finally decided what I'd like changed about the automotive industry. First, and most possible, I'd like all horns to be replaced with really big bike horns (he kind that make a humorous squeaking kind of honk). Second, I'd like all cars to be made entirely out of plastic and rubber (no metal or anything you can't break with a normal hammer) and use metal only in the engine and drive shaft. Third, and this might be a side effect of two, I'd like more cars to be electric and go only 40 miles an hour.
Horns are now used mostly to express indignation or more often, anger at other drivers or pedestrians. This is not the correct use of a horn. A horn should be used to alert other drivers to your location and warn of possible dangers. After the other car has already cut you off, it does no good to beep at them. They already know you're there and have alread taken whatever risk it is that you feel they shoudln't have taken (cutting you off, for example). When and why did horns get so angry sounding? In old movies and I think real life back in the early half of the twentieth century (1890's to 1945ish) cars made a kind of an "Awooooooooga!" sound. This is a little bit funny when we hear it today, but probably better at fulfilling the intended purpose of a horn. If you beeped at someone of the road and your horn went "Awooooooooga!" at them, you'd probably feel a little odd and perhaps a bit foolish.
If everyone's car was a tiny thing made of plastic, we'd all be much more wary when driving. None of this crumple zone shit or steel passenger cage. If you got in an accident, you'd most likely be killed by the impact. This would be a good thing. People would drive more safely or be incapacitated/killed and unable to drive anymore. Cars would also be alot cheaper. And they'd be recyclable. They'd have one of those triangles with a number in it on the hood. When a car get's smashed up, you hose it down to get all the bits of driver out of it and then simply cart it away to the recycling plant.
Electric power is so superior to gasoline. Gasoline is about 6% efficient in that only 6% of the energy that goes into a gasoline engine actually goes into moving your car. The rest becomes noise, shaking, smoke, other pollutants and waste heat. Electric engines would be more on the order of 40% or so. Also, the main supposed drawback to electric engines is that they're less powerful, but I think that's a good thing. If the top speed of every car was 40 mph, accidents would be fatal less often (you might survive even if you were driving one of the above described plastic cars!) and people would be more inclined to bike or walk. The brown band on the horizon of Boston might shrink away to practically nothing and lung cancer rates might go down.
Anyway, I encourage you all to buy small, plastic, electric cars with happy or funny sounding horns.
Parable par Christic #2
A man fell in a big hole, as men often do. He was lucky enough to grab the edge of the hole and so prevented himself from falling to his death. Twomerchants walked by, discussing matters of finance. They both notice the man's plight at the same moment and rushed to the edge of the pit.
The first merchant appraised the situation and declared that if he attempted to pull the man out, there was a chance that he too might be pulled into the hole and so he would send for help, could could not offer his own services.
The second merchant thought he could safely pull the dangling man out of the hole. Perhaps this was because he thought himself stronger, or braver, or simply more willing to help his fellow man. And, wasting little time, the second merchant reached down and with great effort and straining of muscles, lifted the unfortunate man out of the hole and set him on the ground.
The man expressed his thanks to the second merchant and said to the first merchant that he wouldn't hold his inaction against him.
Some time later, the second merchant was in financial trouble and at his darkest hour, while he held a revolver and contemplated in silence, the man from the hole (who now ran a very succesful hole-filling-in business) knocked at his office door and offered to help him out of debt. They spent the night organizes the second merchants finances and by the next morning, they had gotten him back on him financial feet.
In the same depression that had the second merchant so upset, the first merchant lost all his holdings and was forced to live in the street.
A year later, a large rock happened to fall on all three men while they were standing in line to get snow cones. All three went before God and were comdemned/allowed/blessed to spend the rest of eternity doing what they enjoyed and living life in happiness forever.
Moral: It doesn't matter spiritually if you help others, but it's probably a good idea anyway, as they may be able to help you on the next day. Even if it seems unlikely, hey, you never know what can happen.
A side note: If you haven't already, you should read "Great Expectations" by Charles Dickens. The movie version from a year or two ago didn't do it justice at all.
I got a reply that actually asked to be published for the first time.Most replies either have little content or ask not to be preinted. Here it is, in response to the first parable para Christic...
Ok, what the hell
is this? What kind of pathetic judgement by god is that?
to go on doing whatever you've been doing, that's a god without a penis if
I've ever seen one. The way I look at it is that there's the almighty god
that should be feared, like the one in "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry
God" by a puritan writer (for those cultured), and there's the whimpy god
who's just nice and lets people get away with stuff as long as they say
they're sorry and even if they don't it's OK 'cus there's not punishment.
But to have an afterlife of doing whatever you enjoyed in real life, or
hated doing but did anyway is very poor. By that logic, I could go molest
little children and defecate on babies because I enjoyed it and experienced
great sexual pleasure from doing so and continue to do that for all of
eternity, what kind of incentive is that to lead a nice moral life? of
course I agree that the stupid ones being good and restricting themselve to
the pleasures of lives get the shaft and end up doing that forever but they
still think it's cool 'cus they've been brainwashed into thinking so. All
in all, it's just not very realistic to have an all accepting god. What
would be his point? God's job is either to give hope to people in their
times of need or to put the time honored "fear of god" into them and make
them lead nice boring quaint lives. Any other alternative is unacceptable
Okay. Cool. The idea is that you COULD in fact spend you life molesting and defectaing on little babies and blind nuns and puppies. You don't even have to apologize to God for it. Apologizing is just something I expect most people would feel compelled to do, fearing the wrath of an uncaring God. A wrath that will never come because God doesn't have any sense of morality and doesn't care what you do.
As for incentive to lead a nice and moral life, that's where I think most religions went wrong. Sure, it's good for society if we're all nice to eahc other, but that's altruism, not religion. Religion has to do with God and spiritual matters, which people like Paul, Peter, John and their like (all of them brilliant altruists) chose to manipulate to their own ends for the purposes of altruism. God and religion should have little or nothing to do with morality. Anyone who thinks there is an absolute morality hasn't really thought it through. Everything (especially in the realm of morality) is relative (with a few exceptions from the worlds of math and science).
It's not that he's an all accepting God (and why it is a he? who started using the maculine pronoun? I don't think God has or would want genitals of any kind) but that he doesn't get upset by anything or pleased by anything that we can do. You could erect a ten thousand foot tall statue of you sodomizing God and he wouldn't get the least bit upset.
As for the point of God, why does God have to have a point? Does gravity have a point? No, it just exists. It doesn't exist because of any reason or logic, but simply because it's one of the fundamental forces in our universe. The two possibilities for the point of God that you mentioned reflect too much acceptance of the Christian kind of God, which is inherently flawed by various contradictions.
On another note
I also got the next Orthodox newsletter with an answer to my question about hell, sort of. Here is what they had to say:
Whoa! Those are
some loaded questions, CH!
You may be surprised, though, to find out how common they are. Each
of us who takes our Faith even somewhat seriously, wrestles with the
concepts of heaven and hell, and God's mercy and justice.
We are bombarded with all kinds of incorrect ideas and images about
what the Bible and the Church have to say about all this. For one
example, check out the movie What Dreams May Come which we reviewed in
this issue. Either from movies, music, television, or conversations
with others, we hear everything from "heaven is sitting on clouds
strumming harps" to "being saved means earning your 'wings' and
becoming an angel." Hell, on the other hand, becomes either "spending
eternity separated from God in a place where He isn't present" (which
is impossible -- if God is God, then He is, by definition, everywhere)
or a place that doesn't exist at all.
At the core of many of the misconceptions that people have about
heaven and hell is the idea that they are two separate geographic
locations. In this understanding hell is like a jail or penal colony
where God sends those whom He doesn't like, or who have broken the
laws and rules that God wants us to follow, and heaven is a kind of
"fantasy island." The Church's teaching on heaven, hell and judgment
is actually clearer, more consistent, and just makes better sense.
The Church teaches that there will be a final judgment when Christ
comes again. Rather than a court-like judgment where people are
either directed to the "up or down escalators," however, the final
judgment is simply being in His presence. The Church teaches that
everyone - whether they believed or even heard about God and Jesus,
will have to face Him, the One who is love. While in this life we are
able to live as if there is no God, no Christ, no Spirit, no Church,
when Christ comes again and we face Him, we will not be able to
For some people, whose entire lives were based on love, both for
Him and their "neighbor," this will be paradise. For people who
lived their lives without any love for Him and their "neighbor,"
who were only concerned with themselves, this will be a torturous
hell were there will be "weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Mt 8:21).
This won't be because He withholds salvation from anyone or
because of anything He does, but because of Who He is and how we
react to being near Him.
To help understand this, think back to a time you had to be with
someone you really did not like, versus a time when you were with
someone you really liked. One was a painful experience that felt
as if it would never end, and the other was a fun time that flew
by and was over too quickly. Imagine how much more the joy and/or
torment will be when we face God Himself and are basked in His
glory and love forever.
Thus it is the Church's spiritual teaching that God does not
punish us by some material fire or physical torment. God simply
reveals Himself as the risen Lord Jesus in such a glorious way
that no man can fail to behold His glory. It is being in this
Presence that is either a person's heaven or hell.
This is what we should be considering when we prepare for
confession or reflect on our lives: have we lived a life of love,
or have we lived a life of hate, self-love, and indifference? We
also need to be careful about what we mean when we say "love."
God's love is not romance and nice feelings. Rather, it is
patience, perseverence, self-sacrifice, joy, humility, etc. For a
good definition, check out 1 Cor 13:4-8a.
[Many of the ideas in this answer were taken and rephrased from the
Spirituality volume of the Orthodox Faith Rainbow Book series (pages
196-197 in the paper version). If you want to check it out you can either
go to the OCA web site at www.oca.org and follow the Orthodox Faith link,
or obtain a copy from the Orthodox Christian Publications Center at
Hmmmm.... Well. for starters, I'll grant that that's alot better of an answer than most people can give. Apparently, Orthodoxy stands a step higher on the stairs on sanity than most religions. This is not to say that it doesn't have its flaws, but the fact that they even came up with that is pretty impressive, even if they had to look it up in their Orthodox Faith Rainbow Book series (pages196-197 in the paper version).
Firstly, to say that Heaven and Hell are the same place is a step in the right direction. It's always made sense to me. In fact, this even get's us out of the whole judgement issue. In fact, God doesn't judge you at all. You go to the same place whether you shat upon and sodomized babies all day or planted flowers and sang christmas carols with the local boy scout troop. Another step in the right direction.
Deep down though, they can't dodge my fundamental question forever. They still say that the sinners will be unhappy in the afterlife. This is not necesarily true, even by their logic. What about the bible thumping southern baptist who shoots up an abortion clinic because he thinks abortion is a crime punishable by death or religious fanatics that kill people for their faith but still love God? What of them? They'll be overjoyed to be united with God in the afterlife, and will recieve the same eternal reward as Norman, the conservative mailman who went to church every sunday and read at the local orphanage. So we see that God in fact doesn't care what you do, only whether you like being with him. This is the same as the second alternative I suggested last issue, the one in which morality becomes meaningless because everyone is rewarded equally. Thus, the Orthos have shown themselves to belong to the second of my two mistakes, which is admittedly alot more sensible than the first. But as long as the reward in the afterlife is not based on whether you were a nice person, why bother to pretend that morality matters at all? Seems hypocritical to me...
They should recognize such manipulative influences of the early christian fathers for what they are and throw off these pretenses at morality!
Stay tuned for next issue when I ask some more traditional Christians the same question!
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