Wednesday, October 11, 2023

The Root

Could it be, given God’s penchant for mass murder and genocide, having wiped all of humanity except for one family on one occasion and, later, all the first-born sons of Egyptian mothers, citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot’s wife, etc., that the horrifying bloodbath happening, yet again, in the Middle East, is going according to His plan? In any case, going back far enough, it began with religious hatred.

If the inevitability of death had caused people to realize what a rare gift life is and how its brevity calls us to make the most of it, charitably, empathetically, with open hearts, there’d have been no need for religion. Instead, imperfectly as we’ve evolved, or, if you prefer, were created, we’re wasting this incalculable wonder, mostly in the name of one religion or another.

My Jewish heritage probably follows a straight line back to Adam and Eve, who can’t have existed. And although I always considered Bible stories purposefully allegorical, raised in a semi-religious family and having gone to Sunday school for a dozen or so years, I was taught to believe in God. Said my bedtime sh’mas and God-blesses for Gammy and Grandpa, Mommy and Daddy, my brother and sister, and Dougie McCarty.

As I grew up, though, it became increasingly difficult to reconcile the misery we see in the world with an all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-loving God. Childhood cancers, starvation, floods and earthquakes, hemorrhoids and autoimmune diseases. Nor did it make sense to blame it on Uncle Adam and Aunt Eve taking advice from a snake. Only a child abuser would punish all future generations for the equivalent of reading a naughty book. If a creator exists he/she/it/they can’t be as described in the Bible. Were the thoughts. In my (God-given) brain.

With hundreds of religions in the world invoking thousands of gods, believers in whom are as certain of the supremacy of theirs as are the believers in all the others, how can any claim exclusivity? Especially those who commit mass murder and genocides in the name of whoever it is they pray to. When I lost two nieces, each in their twenties, each beautiful in form and spirit, brilliant and loving, the kind that everyone considered their best friend, one in a tragic accident, the other from a sudden illness, I saw no godly plan. If it was, it was of someone I wouldn’t invite to dinner.

Currently watching a relative in their nineties fading into non-existence, requiring help to do literally everything from toileting to eating, unaware of who or where they are, I see anything but loving, wise, perfect creation. I do, though, see a healthcare system failing because, say the God-fearing, to provide more would be godless communism.

Oh, but Stalin and Pol Pot were atheists, you say. And religions and religious people have done many good things. True. But I’d bet believers who do good because it’s right, rather than for promise of heavenly reward or fear of eternal punishment do so because it’s who they are, regardless of which texts or traditions they hold holy. It’s true of my religious friends. And of atheists I know, who employ useful skepticism, who understand science, vote for decent people, give time and money to causes that help the needy, call out lies and liars, love their families.

Atheists aren’t the ones who put into office the most ungodly man ever called “president” and see in him the handiwork of their God; a man who lived his entire life in direct opposition to the teachings of Christ and still does. No, that would be people who consider themselves the best Christians, the most deserving and put-upon of all Americans, who’d force their beliefs on all others and who love to imagine other-believers burning in Hell for all eternity, if not longer. They’re also the ones spreading lies about six billion dollars of taxpayer money President Biden sent to Iran, who’s spending it to fund Hamas. It isn’t. He didn’t. They’re not. Because not a penny has gone anywhere. The party of God is the party of liars. 

The horrors in Israel and Gaza have escaped all attempts at resolution. Though Trump and his idolators blame it on President Biden, and others blame Trump’s failure when he went to Jared, at the heart of this latest, ghastly Middle East bloodshed is religion, bastardized through centuries into self-righteous hate. Likewise the Holocaust, the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Salem (actual) witch trials, slavery, forcing birth and refusing to succor the born. As if a god worth honoring would allow any of that.
How nice if all believers would accept theirs as their own choice and respect the choices of others as equally valid. Because they are.

The sunsets are spectacular around here; the mountains and old-growth forests; the waters, and, when visible, the night sky. Also, my grandchildren are a delight.


  1. Amen Dr. Schwab! I am also Jewish and about the same religious background as yours. So much hate and bullshit in the name of religion. And in my experience, some of the very worst people I've ever encountered are the ones who are the most "religious" of all religions. Don't have to look any further than today's republican party.

  2. If God was an employee he'd have been fired a long time ago and eventually can't hold down a job.

  3. Well, I can reconcile the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God with a "fallen" human race. The key is in our unique capacity to exercise free will. Once exercised to deny God's sovereignty over us, we earned our mortality. And, to a person, even those of us redeemed by grace, we display broken ethics, morals and even distain for rules-based society with it's punishments for high crimes and misdemeanors. It's the height of hubris to believe we have the right to question the "why" of God's posture towards human depravity. First of all, our entire history is a microsecond in celestial time. There is no "long" history of suffering from the perspective of the almighty. Second, grace is there for the taking. And it, in fact, is transformative. You'll never experience it unless you accept it. There are many who proclaim themselves to be "Godly" and behave precisely as you point out. They just aren't what they claim to be, simple as that. No different than me claiming to be Greek, when I'm not. "By their fruits you shall know them"'s not rocket science. I like referring to those people as "Christoid". They put on the cloak, but it fails to disguise them. That's the eternal rub; in this life you can behave anyhow you can get away with. You ought to be prepared for what lies beyond, however, because all choices have consequences.

    1. A meaty comment. Why not identify yourself? It encourages conversation.


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