Friday, March 27, 2009


I'm still thinking about the airplane incident to which I just referred. It says so much about certain types of religious belief, and about the god of the Bible. There's something really sinister about it.

To refresh: an article in some Christian news outlet suggests god had a hand in crashing a plane full of kids, including one yet unborn, into a Catholic cemetery. A celestial message pitch, as it were, to the patriarch of some of the victims, who runs women's health clinics, which include abortion services. Even though he happened not to be on the plane.

Well, it's not unprecedented, biblically. After all, god chose to slaughter a bunch of innocent Egyptian baby boys, rather than directly influencing the Pharaoh. I mean, geez, later he parted the damn Red Sea. Why couldn't he have parted the guy's scalp, or burned a Mogen David into his forehead?

But no. We're told he's the sort of guy who picks up an airplane full of innocents, flings it like a javelin into a cemetery, in what might be called an Olympian act. The thing is, other than to the lady writer and those who share her brand of "thought," it's sort of an ambiguous act; surely in an arena of such import, clarity is called for. A guy who can do that has limitless options. For example, there'd have been no mistaking the source and the intent, were god to have set all women's clinics ablaze, and let them crackle without being consumed, like the burning bush. In this, of all things, why speak in a code that only the already-converted will understand? Who, given unlimited options available to none but him, would choose to communicate by hurling innocents to their death? More important: who would consider one who'd do such a thing worthy of worship?

Whoever else it might be, it's NOT a loving person. Not, you'd think, a follower of Jesus.

The fact is, it's completely insane for people both to believe that their god did this (or the Egypt thing, for that matter) while claiming he's all-powerful, perfect, and loving. It's as if I were to punish my child by killing his puppies -- throwing them to their death and then setting them on fire. (In fact, we know there are people who've done such things. The kids are removed from the household, and the parents go to jail; witnesses are sick with revulsion.) Like the puppy-killer, a god who acts in this way is perverse and evil; there's no other proper description. Well, there's "mysterious," but given the context it seems a little lame. Would that doer of doggie deaths be let off on grounds of mystery?

What's appalling is that some people love the idea, rejoice in it. Take abiding and soulful pleasure in it, like the writer of the article. What should we call such pathology? Schadenfreude on cosmic levels? Oh yeah: it's called Christianity. (Well, no, not completely: I have Christian friends who think very differently, and I admire them.)

Well, some might respond, that lady isn't really a Christian. Nor does god act in that way. Really? Is the Bible true, or not? Is God all-powerful, or not? Does he ever intervene in our lives? Because if he does, it's ALL intervention. If he can pick and choose, then in every event, every outcome, he picked, he chose. He made it happen, or let it happen. Everything is intended by god, or nothing is. There's no sensible middle ground, unless you posit he doesn't always pay attention, in which case he is capricious and incompetent.

If I were to die and discover that the writer's version of the Christian god is in fact the way it is, I'd like to believe I'd have the moral courage to reject it, and opt for Hell. Because that view of god is unworthy of us. We should demand more of a god; and, most certainly, of ourselves. Maybe it takes a non-believer to see it.

The good news is that in my non-belief, I don't really worry about such a revelation. If there is a higher power -- an idea I find internally inconsistent, if for no other reason than that I can't figure out who created him/her/them/it -- I reject, for its obvious self-contradiction, that such a power lobs planes into cemeteries to send messages. The bad news is that the planet -- and most especially the USA -- is full of people who not only don't reject such belief, but want to make it the guiding principle of the world. That is not subject to speculation. That is undeniable. And that scares the crap out of me.

Left to their own, they'll be the death of the rest of us. And then, evidently, they'll dance on our graves.


  1. Bla Bla Bla, we get it, you've got a Big Philosophical Brain, and you'll never accept the existence of the Big Guy even when he hands you your own personalized Harp...
    Religion's boring anyway, I was born in 1963, how the heck do I know what happened 1963 years earlier???...You've made me think though...How the Heck did Noah get those 2 Ebola's on the Ark without killin everyone else...or the King Cobras???

  2. Sid,

    Very insightful, as you always are.

    Reading what you wrote just puts a fire in my belly.

    Now, I didn't read the article that you referenced, but I got a clear image of what it represents through your words.

    Those people, the ones who claim to be Christians while saying such things are merely hiding behind a veil of illusion. They're deluding themselves into thinking that's the way God, or whatever higher Power you believe in,

    And, he's not.

    I'd like to think I'm in pretty tight with the Holy Trinity (Father, son Holy Spirit)....with a whole lot of Archangel Micheal tossed in, to boot. So, yea....they've 'got my back'.

    What people, such as the woman writing the article fail to recognize or understand is that God just doesn't work that way. It's not all hellfire and brimstone. Follow a strict and rigid set of guidelines (the 10 Commandments, for one example) or we're all doomed to hell for all eternity.

    Nope. Not at all. What He (they) have given us is the ability to so the best we can with what we've got. He doesn't expect perfection, How could he? Adam and Eve messed that up for all of us.

    What he does, is give us the guidance and the tools, to be good people.

    He gives certain people, like yourself, the ability and desire to become a Physician. Or...and accountant, whatever the case may be. He steers you in the direction you're meant to go.

    With that, comes the ability to BE Him because he's doing his work THROUGH you.

    Let me offer you an example. When I worked at a mental health center, I had a consumer who thought that if she went to mass, confession, read and studied the Bible, that POOF! automatically, He would fix all her problems and make it better. A giant Band-aid, if you will. The simplest solution, in her view, to all her issues.

    I simply told her that that's not the way it works. She's not going to be laying in bed one night when her ceiling splits open, angels will descend and, magically, carry all her troubles away.

    That there were people, living, breathing human beings, who were there to help her. She just needed to recognize that and appreciate it for what it is.

    Myself, for example. I was helping her. The Doctors were helping.....heck..even the mailman is helping her. She just didn't realize that.

    Now, whether what I told her made any difference for her or not, I don't know. But, I can only hope that it did, even if only in a small way.

    And that's how I view Christianity and faith.

    It's not about showing up to Church on Sunday or 'showing' people that you are a Christian. It's about really understanding what it really means.

    And, as an aside? Jesus didn't go to Church, either. After all..He IS the Church. The rest is just real estate.

  3. Sorry, Sid. This is not allowed any longer. Your UN at work:

    Please fly to New York and surrender. You'll be treated fairly by the mullahs, I'm sure. Not like those harsh Americans treat their prisoners.

  4. We have the example of Abraham pleading and bargaining with God to spare lives, just and unjust, in the cities of the plain. In contrast to Abraham’s compassion, I hear my ‘Born Again’ relatives glibly reveling in the destruction of the people of Gaza. To them it is God’s will that Israel destroy the homes and lives of the Palestinian people for “His” glory; human suffering means nothing to them. They even claim, “There is no such thing as a Palestinian People.

    It is this vicious attitude of the ‘Born Again’ - Brethren of Christ Transmogrified – that leads me to believe that the ‘Born Again’ are the Lord’s case for abortion!

  5. I'm feeling light headed and ill right now. I live in Napa Valley and Dr. Jacobson was a respected, much loved member of the community here. He and his beautiful young family were killed in that plane crash. See for a family photo - how anyone could twist their tragic deaths into a sick interpretaton of god's punishment is beyond me. It's a struggle sometimes to keep believing in human goodness.

  6. Forcing principles such as belief in a certain religion (or democracy, for that matter) on those whose beliefs are different generally leads to misunderstanding at best, and often worse.

    Those who try to push their beliefs onto others and are surprised by the results are the kind of people who can't comprehend the adage, 'you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink'.

  7. tribulation periwinkleMarch 28, 2009 at 11:33 AM

    I just got around to reading the NYT Magazine story about Freeman Dyson calledTheCivil Heretic,and he strikes me as being very much like you.

    "Among Dyson’s gifts is interpretive clarity, a penetrating ability to grasp the method and significance of what many kinds of scientists do."

    This was the framework of how I was taught to use religion,and I surmise that the majority of non fundie/evangelical xtians would relate to this to some extent:

    "....that regarded religion as a guide to living rather than any system of belief. The emphasis [was] on tolerance, charity and community...."

    Heretics, unite!

  8. Oh Dr S...twice now...I have written 2 long comments..l-o-n-g comments and deleted them.

    I just don't know where to begin with the misinformation and erroneous judgments against good Christians.

    President Carter said he was a born again Christian.

    I love a good theological discussion. I don't know why.. but have just been too drained of late... and so haven't been getting in on it.

    There are SO MANY things I could discuss here and in your previous posts/comments.

    It sounds like hate for hate in reading some of these comments.

    Some of you say the Christians are hateful and yet with your very condemn yourselves.

    I feel both sad and frustrated when I here that Christians would revel in the demise of others and when I here how harsh, critical and cruel some of you are with your statements against Christians.

    Seems there is an awful lot of miscommunication, misunderstanding and willful ignorance.

    You can say what you want about *born again* Christians and I don't run around saying I am one.. but I am based on the definition of one. But born again Christian is a term that got popular when Jimmy Carter in his interview with playboy magazine said he was a born again Christian.

    It simply means that the person has acknowledged that they believe Jesus was the son of God, born of the virgin Mary, died and rose again 3 days later. They embrace the Christian message that Christ is the only way for salvation, they have a point in time where they ask God to forgive them for sins and ask him to live in their heart and be their Lord and Savior for ever. It is the second birth. Birth into the kingdom of God.

    Dr S.. one could pick just one of your comments or that of your commentators and expound on a point. There is so much to comment on.

    Theology is the deepest most inexhaustible subjects and to me fascinating.

    As far as going to church... I don't remember the last time I went..I think once or twice last year. I do think it is good to go.. but am in habit of not going.

    I believe ultimately it is Christ in your heart.

    Jesus went to Temple and he taught in the Temple. He also followed the Holy days and what he was raised to do in the Jewish faith. Help me here Dr S because my tired brain is forgetting what you call it. The feasts? Channukah, Passover? I apologize for not recalling more at the moment.

    When he was teaching with the disciples he said that he wished we would all be of one faith. he also told us not to forsake our assembling of ourselves together to worship God.

    I actually think he would probably celebrate the Jewish traditions along with go to church. he believed we should honor God.

    It is so that we will be strengthened in our blessed as well as be a blessing to others.

    Someone in one of your other posts comments said something to the effect that Christians think they have to be nice to people so they can go to heaven and someone also mentioned that Christians think nonbelievers think atheists/agnostics are incapable of doing good things, etc. That is not at all verbatim.. but the gist of it.

    One of the ED docs I worked with (atheist and 1 of my favorite docs of all time), told me that Christians proselytize so they can get into heaven.

    That is so wrong. Same with being nice or whatever. No one can work their way into heaven. Salvation is a gift because of Christ's dying for mankind on the cross.

    Anyone that thinks only Christians are good people is a psychwack. that is ludicrous.

    I am astounded at all the misguided information out there and then it seems so many people are willing to latch on to some erroneous statement(s) made by a few.

    Anyone who really wants to know what Jesus taught and who/what we are supposed to follow (for those that embrace the Christian message)...Go read the new testament... in modern day English.

    The chapter of John is good to start with then go back to Matthew and read forward.

    You can knock Christians because of a sad few... or you can find out for yourself what Jesus really taught.

    And do any of you really think Jesus would be rejoicing over that downed plane, lost lives or reveling in the destruction of the people in the Gaza.

    He loves us all so much..he died for all of us.

    Not trying too be preachy at all... but am attempting to point out the destructive, alienating inconsistency of these "Christians" you describe.

    As for me... I am a work in progress...lest any of you think I am a holier than thou type. If you read my blog (not a plug) or comments... in most places. (like WhiteCoat"s recent Time to Discharge the Patient post:), you'd know I am not the kind of Christians you describe.

  9. Seaspray, you do realize not every Christian embraces sola fide, right? Roman Catholics don't, for a pretty sizable start.


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