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Posts posted by Dianna

  1. Introductory philosophy was a nice over-view, but the main takeaway is to realize that, not only are there other sides to a point of view, but some of those other points of view can be just as well thought out and have as much evidence for their argument.


    You can listen to one side and hear the different philosophers and empiric evidence, and nod and think, I can agree with that, then hear out the other side with other philosophers and their reasoning and find yourself thinking, I can agree with some of that too. To me, philosophy is a chance to challenge what you think you already know. It's about being open-minded enough to really listen to other ways of looking at things. 


    If you can stick it out past the names and dates and memorizing for tests, the deeper you go, the more interesting it can become. Not in general, but when you find a subject or subjects of interest, such as religion, social issues, education etc. where you can learn different, sometimes nearly opposite historical schools of thought and how they evolved and affect what we have today.


    I think some philosophical way of thinking should be introduced in school curriculum, not with lists of philosophers but in fun activities leading to discussions of good citizenship and personal integrity. The public school system knows well that if you teach a child how to think they will likely follow that pattern of thought as they get older. Unfortunately, they do not want children to overly question what might be in the revisionist history books or a teacher's point of view.


    This past year I've seen a lot of riots in big cities, supposedly for free speech and people wanting to be heard, yet shutting down other people's points of view and right to express themselves. Imo, this is what can happen when you have a generation of kids who have grown up being protected from "bad" or "other" thoughts and always praised that they were right and infallible -- we see people who can not even actively listen to well reasoned out other points of view they don't think they can ever agree with, without needing to seek out some "safe space" to protect them from "trigger words".  It's not just the youth, it's  also the adult world lately. We see this in politics, which has become so concrete and inflexible, Democrats and Republicans can't even agree when they agree, bipartisan has become a bad thing. Because the general media loathe the president, they can not ever allow themselves to report on anything positive. We live in an era where we have access to so much information, yet seem to becoming more closed minded. 


    The bigger picture of philosophy is starting with what you think you know, be willing to learn other points of view, be able to defend what you believe against widening arguments, and quite probably, finding your own understanding has broadened. When all the dust settles from those old philosophy books, it boils down to being able to know what you believe, be able to effectively argue your case, and an ability to listen and respond to other points of view, which is the exact opposite of what is going on in schools, politics and media today, so in my opinion, I think philosophy would be useful for children to learn, just as they did in other societies throughout history.

  2. I've done gratitude journals off and on over the years, usually during a hard period in my life.  Sometimes there doesn't seem to be any good thing on what seems to be an endlessly terrible day, but it does help when done regularly. 


    There can be so many negative things that stress us or cause real problems in life; politics, medical and financial stress, work, retirement, buying things ... and we can sometimes focus so much on that elusive future where we envision everything will be better, then when we finally get there, sometimes it wasn't the great happy thing we'd hoped for.

    We can get so caught up in the future or stress now, we might not appreciate what we have and who we have in our lives now. 


    I'm also a little bit lazy, so once I get over the bad patches of life, I usually stop the gratitude journal, but it does help retrain your mind's way of thinking and perspective in looking for the good things, those little incidents that happen, or the people who, maybe just by a smile or word of encouragement, brought a moment of reprieve and brightness in what seemed like a bad day. A gratitude journal collects those good moments, and when you can start flipping back through pages and see those good things, it teaches you the optimism to look for those few good things that happen or be thankful for those people right now, during every day. 


    You can't change the past, and though it seems like there is so much we always have to worry about the future - later today, tomorrow, next week, in the next few years - what we do have is now, today, and find the good, today.


    I like the idea of husband, wife and kids all sharing their gratitude for each other, I'd never heard of that as a process of keeping a gratitude journal.

    In Rational Hedonism we have a mini-Thanksgiving the 20th of every month where we remind friends and family how important they are.

    Kids and spouses so often hear only griping about each other, so the idea to share with kids or grand kids what positive things they do might be especially important nowadays to inoculate them against a world of cyber bullying and peer pressure that causes so many teen suicides. 


    Do you still keep one?




  3. Not sure if they are the best methods, but I can suggest what works for me. 

    Nowadays, never underestimate web presence.  There are free, simple-to-use website builders like weebly.com to set up at least a page with the name of your ministry, a pic of you with a email and/or business phone, as well as the services you provide. As you get business, make sure you include photos as samples. Now you have a place to point people to. Websites have become the new business card and include as a link when you list yourself with area pages of wedding search sites. Be sure to include the search words in your site you want to be "findable" in search engines, such as "wedding", "hospital visitation" or specifics you want to stand out for, and the city/state you are in, so locals can find you.  You don't absolutely need a private domain name at first until you get going, and the longer your site is online, the more you are "findable" by search engines.

    If you want to do hospital or some other type of ministry or visitation, nothing beats going to area hospitals. convalescent and retirement homes and either talking to their social services or clergy offices, they may be able to connect you to people who would benefit. I've found most places don't mind you visiting with residents.

    There are wedding officiant listing sites you can be listed for free by area location, and they are good if someone specifically clicks you, but the free account listings don't usually help promote you, although it's good to be listed and include your website link for someone searching. If you are going to do weddings, it helps to research the local area floral shops, sometimes you include their ad on your page, they may mention you on theirs.

    Facebook is only good if you have things to say, such as hospital visitation, wedding, and other ministerial things to show photos and people leave positive feedback for things you did, and it's best to be tied in with other groups where you post or that are relevant so people can follow your comments back to your fb page, where again, you will have the trusty link to your website. Otherwise, if you aren't a big fb poster, it's not worth it.

    There are usually four major bridal shows in larger areas a year, each season promotes the upcoming season. Most of the professional people will have booths and attention-getting advertising and promotions displayed, and it can be hard to compete at first with what they offer. It's best to find some specialty niche or appeal to the smaller, intimate one-on-one situations and ... figure out who your target is. If parents are paying, your down-to-earth, common sense and empathy may win over overwhelmed fathers or mothers. Most people at big bridal shows aren't in the market for wedding clergy at that time, but a business card with your ministry website information can easily be tucked in their sacks where they're collecting all the other promotional things, to be looked over once at home.

    If you want business cards, I've gone through Vistaprint, but their cheapest cards used to have their logo on the back of your card, you pay extra either to have that taken off or for your own printing on the back. I've also use a cheap flip-top Trak phone for a business-only number I use for weddings, funerals, etc. That is the number I post publicly so my real life and family life isn't interrupted by crank calls. 

    Take time to snoop over other people's websites (who are doing similar things) and see what they include and how they lay things out, you may get ideas. Also, take the time to learn the answers to questions people may ask you, in order to be a better help. You'll make yourself the expert they depend on.

    Not sure if this is the type of information you were looking for, but hope it helps in getting started when it seems like there is so much to know and not sure what to do.



  4. How did the world begin?

    What happens after we die?

    What is true freedom?

    Do we have free will?

    Are our decisions made by free will?

    Is there such thing as absolute truth?

    What is true happiness?

    Do the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few (or one? --sorry Star Trek meander)

    What is my purpose in life?


  5. According to that chart, I fall into the Agnostic Atheist.

    I believe we are all, as Carl Sagan said, “star stuff”.  We are composed of the materials of this planet, so in that sense, we are a part of nature and can become more in tune with its natural rhythms. While I do believe the earth is “living”, I don't believe that it can be “appeased” as some cultures have tried through religion. I believe the early gods were attempts to explain natural phenomena.

    I also do not believe specifically in the god of the Hebrew/Christian Bible or any of the “known” gods, and I do not have a need to attribute the good and beautiful or bad things that exist or happen from a god.

    I am Epicurean in the sense of believing even if there are higher beings that would seem to be as gods to us, they would either be so different than us, or be so evolved and involved in their own thing, they chose not to be involved or interact with us at this time. I think as humans, we ultimately share the same experience upon death. We certainly don't have to worry about them sending us to eternal torture upon death.

    So yes, Atheist in that I don't believe the “gods” of religions but “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, then are dreamed of in your philosophy”- Hamlet (1.5.167-8)

    What I do know, is that we do not know, see, hear, the whole enormous picture, we don't have the senses even “lesser” animals and insects use (for example, can color-blind animals see a rainbow? How many spectrums do we miss?) If they exist, are they gods? Or just different or advanced and godlike to us?

    So the Agnostic is also there because I know that I don't know, and if there is are gods/spirits there, they may be totally different then our legends have created them.


  6. This was actually the main quote I was looking for, instead of the above. Still Justin Martyr, since I wasn't able to add this excerpt above in time:

    Chapter 21. Analogies to the history of Christ

    And when we say also that the Word, who is the first-birth of God, was produced without sexual union, and that He, Jesus Christ, our Teacher, was crucified and died, and rose again, and ascended into heaven, we propound nothing different from what you believe regarding those whom you esteem sons of Jupiter. For you know how many sons your esteemed writers ascribed to Jupiter: Mercury, the interpreting word and teacher of all; Æsculapius, who, though he was a great physician, was struck by a thunderbolt, and so ascended to heaven; and Bacchus too, after he had been torn limb from limb; and Hercules, when he had committed himself to the flames to escape his toils; and the sons of Leda, and Dioscuri; and Perseus, son of Danae; and Bellerophon, who, though sprung from mortals, rose to heaven on the horse Pegasus. For what shall I say of Ariadne, and those who, like her, have been declared to be set among the stars? And what of the emperors who die among yourselves, whom you deem worthy of deification, and in whose behalf you produce some one who swears he has seen the burning Cæsar rise to heaven from the funeral pyre? And what kind of deeds are recorded of each of these reputed sons of Jupiter, it is needless to tell to those who already know. This only shall be said, that they are written for the advantage and encouragement of youthful scholars; for all reckon it an honourable thing to imitate the gods.

    (Justin Martyrs First Apology: Chapter 21 -- Analogies to the History of Christ : http://www.newadvent...athers/0126.htm)

    Again, to me, this seems to explain to me the beginnings of the Christian church - in order to get away from Jewish connections - were originally taken from pagan Roman beliefs, before eventually growing and developing into its own religion.

  7. . . . It leads one to wonder where early Christians got these ideas considering they are not Jewish. †?†

    With all due respect to the religion Christianity, in my opinion a possible reason it has managed to twist a perfectly-fine-religion-on-its-own and created a different one where salvation must only come through belief of Jesus as the son of God whose blood "sacrifice" was for the sins of the world.

    My opinion is partly based on the writings of Justin Martyr, a respected Christian (who was later martyred) who is telling the Roman (pagans) that what the Christians believe is no different than what they believed.

    . . . And if we assert that the Word of God was born of God in a peculiar manner, different from ordinary generation, let this, as said above, be no extraordinary thing to you, who say that Mercury is the angelic word of God. But if any one objects that He was crucified, in this also He is on a par with those reputed sons of Jupiter of yours, who suffered as we have now enumerated. For their sufferings at death are recorded to have been not all alike, but diverse; so that not even by the peculiarity of His sufferings does He seem to be inferior to them; but, on the contrary, as we promised in the preceding part of this discourse, we will now prove Him superior— or rather have already proved Him to be so— for the superior is revealed by His actions. And if we even affirm that He was born of a virgin, accept this in common with what you accept of Perseus. And in that we say that He made whole the lame, the paralytic, and those born blind, we seem to say what is very similar to the deeds said to have been done by Æsculapius.

    (Justin Martyrs First Apology: Chapter 22 -- Analogies to the History of Christ : http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0126.htm)

    As the Jewish believers were squeezed out and the "church" became increasingly Roman/non-Jewish, it seems pretty obvious (to me) that to better relate to the people of the Roman empire, they started drawing in these popular ideas that differed from any former Jewish concepts.

    Again, just my opinion.

  8. The funerals I usually conduct are for non-religious, unaffiliated families who don't want to bring in some pastor from an unknown church.

    That doesn't necessarily mean they don't want some sort of spiritual service, so here are a few I've used over the years :

    We’ll Meet Again - Vera Lynn

    If We Ever Meet Again This Side Of Heaven - Johnny Cash

    O Love That Will Not Let Me Go - Indelible Grace Music

    One Sweet Day – Mariah Carey & Boyz II Men

    When I Get Where I’m Going – Brad Paisley & Dolly Parton

    And one of my personal favorites:

    Circle of Life – Elton John

    They are all "You-Tube-able" :mda: with lyrics.


    Btw, Al, I've added your violin solo to my already extensive list - that haunting tune has stuck in my head for days!

  9. My own response was in regard to VonNoble's :

    Do you find that perhaps that there is not quite as much originality in each as some believe? Particularly those who have only read one?

    For example, there are those who do not realize that there are overlaps between the Bible, Torah and Quran (Koran) for example.

    Over lap of characters and stories in the three documents. There are many faiths including ancient, tribal ones - of virgin births etc.........and overlaps regarding similar creation stories. The Book of Mormon has large tracts of the Bible embedded into it...and the Bible as you know - borrowed much of the old Testament from the Torah - then added a new "rest of the story" - via the New Testament

    The more I've learned and studied other religions over the years, the more I've seen these overlapping teachings. Maybe those who strongly adhere to one religion don't see it (the forest for the trees), but when you are secure enough to step back and compare your religion to others, you can sometimes catch a glimpse of the "bigger picture". It's not meant to make less of what you believe, but instead make it . . . more . . . That what you believe and thought was the picture is actually an intricate part of the bigger picture.

    And I could just totally be explaining this awkwardly. :wacko:

    Thanks for the link, Dan! :)


    I read the refutations as I have on other Christian apologetics sites before. It was kind of what I expected from a Christian site for Christians :P but it was interesting reading.

    I can understand the difficulties potential refuters run into trying to disprove the similarities of Horus and Jesus since most of the primary resources are from pre-Christian era scrolls and texts. The types destroyed in that horrible fire at the famous Library at Alexandria.

    A wealth of known (at the time) ancient knowledge and information was destroyed then and over the centuries during the Dark Ages by religious zealots who wanted to destroy "pagan" teachings, as well as deliberate censorship from Biblical scholars who didn't want to deal with legitimate questions when Christianity was trying to distance itself and define itself separately (they do it this way, so we'll do it this way) from some of its pagan influences. The only reason some of this "alternative" knowledge survived was it had been copied by scribes and taken to study in the Indian and Arab countries.

    I won't hijack a thread for Horus and Jesus as that is not the topic. but I'd enjoy a friendly discussion about it in PM with you Dan. I have solid, historic documentations/reasons for my beliefs, not just bytes copied and pasted from Wikipedia or some conspiracy or quack website.

    And yes, I totally agree. Other historical records and myths indicate a great flood and the Biblical account is but one of them. There are flood stories on every continent.

    There's a lot of real information out there - it's not all contained in any one holy book.

    To me, the bigger picture is so much more awesome.

  10. I’m a Rational Hedonist and a Skeptic, but I’ve studied Christian scriptures in a state university by a great Baptist man, and had a year of Bible College. I’ve studied Hebrew Scriptures for ten years in Hebrew in Israel. I’ve read the Koran, Bhagavad Gita, Book of Mormon, and read and own the Satanic Bible. Even Anton LaVey got a lot of his ideas he put forth in the Satanic Bible from the lineage of Rational Hedonists.

    I’ve known Christians who love to let in Seventh Day Adventists and Mormons when they come knocking at the door, because it’s a kind of “sport” to get them to use the “Christian” Bible in order to “prove” their arguments. They didn't go to church, and the only time they apparently came to (religious) life was when those folks knocked on the door.

    But these same Christians will argue into the ground with Messianic Jews about cutting off their Jewish roots of the Bible regarding Holidays and lifestyle.

    Chassidic Jews stay cloistered, won't read anything non-religious and won’t listen to anyone beside their own Rav.

    The Muslims, who came waaaaay after Judaism and Christianity, apparently have forgotten and not read about Muhammad’s original affinity with Judaism and respect for “People of the Book” (Christians and Jews). They seem to be following charismatic men with personal political agendas and not reading for themselves what the Koran says.

    I’ve found over the years that I know more than a lot of people about their self-proclaimed religion and that may simply be because I’m curious about them all and not prone to pick and choose.

    I do think Jewish and Christian leadership tend not to want their flock to explore Zoroastrianism, Babylonian, Sumerian or Egyptian writings, as if their religion will lose something.

    I know some of you will know where I'm going here, but I can't resist:

    If I were to say, “I’m thinking about someone who ….

    1. Was born of a virgin.

    2. Had a foster father.

    3. Was of royal descent.

    4. Birth accompanied by star gazers who followed by bearing gifts.

    5. Birth announced by angels.

    6. Someone tried to murder him as an infant.

    7. Baptized at age 30 at a river.

    8. Resists temptation by “the evil one”.

    9. Had 12 followers.

    10. Performed miracles like healing the sick and walking on water.

    11. Raised someone from the grave.

    12. Killed by crucifixion.

    13. Accompanied by two thieves at the crucifixion.

    14. Buried in a tomb.

    15. Resurrected after 3 days.

    16. Resurrection was announced by three women.

    17. Was given the title, “anointed one”.

    Most Christians would answer, “Jesus”.

    But . . . the original answer is . . . the Egyptian god, Horus.

    If you're a Christian, would knowing that "take away" from the wonders and "truth" of Jesus?

    What’s wrong with being able to admit that the Hebrews probably picked up the flood story from the Babylonians (Epic of Gilgamesh) while in Babylonian exile?

    I don’t know, for me, I’d think it would give me more awe and respect to understand the roots and ancient origins of that religion.

    Reading and learning new things sometimes takes people out of their religions’ comfort zones - but we were given curiosity. Isn't it better to grow ... beyond, then to settle for the mud pie on our side of the fence? There's so much out there. I don't think questioning is bad.

  11. I wish I could find the article or a link to it, but there was a piece in Reader's Digest years ago titled "I wish you enough". The gist of the piece is that it is something that the writer's parents used to say to her that she learned the value of those words and her final words to her father were those.

    Essentially it is saying may you never be in need, but may you never have such excess that others may be in need. Better still, may you have so much that you can share with those who need.

    Was it this?

    I Wish You Enough

    --posted by brighteyes on May 10, 2007

    At an airport I overheard a father and daughter in their last moments together. They had announced her plane's departure and standing near the door, he said to his daughter, "I love you, I wish you enough."

    She said, "Daddy, our life together has been more than enough. Your love is all I ever needed. I wish you enough, too, Daddy." They kissed good-bye and she left.

    He walked over toward the window where I was seated. Standing there I could see he wanted and needed to cry. I tried not to intrude on his privacy, but he welcomed me in by asking, "Did you ever say good-bye to someone knowing it would be forever?" "Yes, I have," I replied.

    Saying that brought back memories I had of expressing my love and appreciation for all my Dad had done for me. Recognizing that his days were limited, I took the time to tell him face to face how much he meant to me. So I knew what this man was experiencing.

    "Forgive me for asking, but why is this a forever good-bye?" I asked.

    "I am old and she lives much too far away. I have challenges ahead and the reality is, her next trip back will be for my funeral, " he said.

    "When you were saying good-bye I heard you say, 'I wish you enough.' May I ask what that means?"

    He began to smile. "That's a wish that has been handed down from other generations. My parents used to say it to everyone." He paused for a moment and looking up as if trying to remember it in detail, he smiled even more.

    "When we said 'I wish you enough,' we were wanting the other person to have a life filled with enough good things to sustain them," he continued and then turning toward me he shared the following as if he were reciting it from memory.

    "I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright. I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun more. I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive. I wish you enough pain so that the smallest joys in life appear much bigger. I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting. I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess. I wish enough "Hello's" to get you through the final "Good-bye."

    He then began to sob and walked away.

    Found here

    [ Original story by Bob Perks, in Chicken Soup For the Grieving Soul ]

    I also found this other version of it.

    I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright no matter how grey the day may appear.

    I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun even more.

    I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive and everlasting.

    I wish you enough pain so that even the smallest of joys in life may appear bigger.

    I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.

    I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.

    (Author Unknown)

    That version is here.

    It is a very nice blessing.

    • Like 1
  12. ... we can remember the good that a person brought to this life, we will miss the person, but truly, as long as we remember someone, we have not truly lost him or her.

    I agree. When it all is said and done, funerals are to help those left behind to cope and move on in a positive way. According to my mom, that candle ceremony was used at my great-grandmother's funeral. I enjoy hearing of other people's special ceremonies and adding to my repertoire.

    . . . I do not want to be mourned. If I had any positive effect on someone's life, I want them to celebrate that good. I don't want to be missed. I would love it if I left a mindset of good that someone wished to "pay it forward."

    Imagine if that was the effect of this entire generation on the next generation. But I think you've affected many. You may not ever know all of them.

  13. grateful

    wow! that's big. well done. it's so hard to watch people be so mis-guided. so full of their own agenda and ways that they can't see that their ways lack meaning for so many. and your friend's memory waiting.

    Oh the end result was so different than that first meeting. These people came in so angry and blaming and cold. In the first half hour I heard the word "demonic", "Illuminati", and "brain-washed". I was actually beginning to think the deceased was right, it was better they didn't come, and they weren't really showing signs of loss or grief or that they loved him. Usually people put their differences aside.

    They wanted certain hymns sung, and the notes of the speech they wanted read looked more like, "Sinners in the Hand of an Angry God". My duty was to the deceased, He'd taken the time to select the music, he had personal letters he wanted handed out to certain people, and for me to read certain things to others and the list of what foods he would like served - even with notes because someone was allergic to nuts and another lactose intolerant!

    I didn't want to put his family's views down, just get them to realize who he was, what was important to him, and that his views were as valid to him as theirs were to them.

    to your original post, what you wrote in red was terribly spot on - it illustrates the particular reasons that I can't/won't worship this loving god of theirs. because I just don't see it..

    The bit in red was written after that first meeting. I'd listened to two speeches of their justification for believing their son was in hell suffering eternal torment. I'm a Skeptic, and logical and it was hard to follow the reasoning for their son to be in hell because of a legend of Adam and Eve. No one was there. There was no witnesses who wrote about it. Just words from someone who wrote down a story that had been passed down. Somehow they got to the end result and somehow felt God's love through Jesus. I came to an entirely different conclusion based on the history of the battle cry, "In the name of God!"

    Believe me, it was very hard to sit politely and answer tactfully and diplomatically. That's why I later wrote what I did (the red bit).

    maybe it's a funeral thing but I heard the same things. between giving the universe the middle finger and being with my family, I was inundated with religion when I went back east to bury my friend. so there was the service, then my dad's birthday, so I went to mass with my sister, then I went to a novena with her, oh, then I sat shiva for three nights. this righteous god was front and center..

    and I.just.didn't. get.it.

    I'm sorry you went through the rounds. That's quite the diversity of mourning styles!

    I sat shiva for my husband when I lived in Israel, but because of Sukkot that started in the evening, the mourning time was cut off, down from days to about three hours. I think he got ripped off.

    I'm just grateful his family listened to their son's beliefs (unfortunately not while he was alive), and decided against going through with their own church memorial service at the same time. Almost like a competition. Nothing like further dividing things. I think after we shared a laugh then two, and started opening up and weren't so defensive, and listened to what and why their son believed and wanted certain things included in his own service, his sister told me she didn't think he was in hell either, because he was such a good person.

    It was a beautiful service, mostly because of the memories his large group of friends, but also his family offered up, and a learning situation for both sides. I know I did. That will be my final memories of a special person.

  14. As I was reading Dan's post about who controls the weather, and one of Fawzo's responses, it mirrored something I'd written down in a super-rough draft just days ago while reading something in preparation for a funeral.

    This was something I wrote just days ago, in response to what I'd wanted to say to some Christians who had ticked me off, but I knew it'd turn into an argument . . .

    In this particular situation I was preparing the funeral of someone who was a R.H. but most of his surviving family is Christian-types who loudly, forthrightly believe this person went to the opposite place of heaven. They wanted to use his funeral as an opportunity to speak about salvation. This wonderful person had given me specific things he wanted said and done and had warned me there was a “chance” his family might come, but doubted it.

    After he was gone, it was very apparent they were not only going to come, but wanted to use his last memorial and send-off of his for their own platform. The memorial service was going to consist of family (Christians) and his “adopted family” (friends) For a while it looked like the makings of a disaster.

    The first meeting with his family didn’t start well. Both sides thought the other was in the wrong and stubborn (I’m including myself). Then a tiny hole in the armor. We found something in common and shared a laugh.

    Once the ice was broken, it happened again. Suddenly they didn’t seem so “harsh” and “hard”. At first, grudgingly, personal recollections started. Family memories turned to tears, and then they started to really want to understand their son and why he wouldn’t believe what they did, when they had done “everything right”.

    It can be very hard for me in that situation. The person they needed so much to have this conversation with is gone, the time for changing things said and done is past. Sometimes so much damage is done; people are hurt, then turn around and hurt back.

    The second meeting was like meeting with different people. We still weren’t on the same page, but they wanted me to share their son’s beliefs and reasons for believing that way. Slowly the funeral arrangements got back to what he wanted.

    The funeral was held on Wednesday. It was a wonderful Rational Hedonist service. They had opted not to have their own “religious” service and agreed to come to the one he’d wanted which included his variety of friends. They may not have agreed with it, but at least they’d gotten to the point where they respected his wishes and understood what was going on.

    Rational Hedonists don’t believe the soul survives death or in an afterlife. To symbolize that the candles at the memorial are snuffed out one by one as one after another names what they will miss most about the person. At the end, the room is dark except for one candle, symbolizing the emptiness the person left behind. But there’s that one candle, representing as long as they are remembered, they aren’t gone. One by one now, someone tells of a special memory of something the deceased said or did. One by one the candles are relit. As long as we remember, he isn’t gone. The family was touched at the things people said of him and hadn’t realized how many lives he’d touched. There were tears on both sides. He was buried on private land in a wicker coffin, with an oak tree to be planted over him.

    His mother came up to me as I was leaving and flat-out gave me a big hug. We talked, and her basic words were, she still didn’t understand why we believed what we did, but it certainly wasn’t “of the devil”. Believe me, this was a big change and was a complement compared to our original meeting.

    What I'd written in red at the beginning of this thread was me muddling through trying to figure out their reasoning, trying to pull off a funeral according to the last wishes of someone but trying to keep peace with a family that loved him, but treated him badly because there seemed to be no place in their hearts for someone who went "against" them. I’d only heard his point of view when it came to his family, he didn’t even think his own family would show up.

    The saddest part was when they joined in with the candle service – I think he’d have smiled to hear their fond memories.

    If only both sides could have communicated those things to each other. It’s sad that death had to bring it out, when it’s too late.

    Anyway, that was the conclusion to what triggered this thread, it was a sad, difficult week, but it ended with a certain amount of satisfaction and reminded me why I do what I do.

    Thank you to everyone who added their point of view to this thread.

  15. Dan56

    How do you know if Jesus was actually a wise, caring and kind person, who did love God? Or that Christ ever existed at all? If the gospels are true, then the authors didn't adopt the Hebrew scriptures to prove Christ was the Messiah, but the scriptures themselves substantiated it. Remember that Christ himself often referred to the scriptures, he first quoted Isaiah 61:1 in Luke 4:18 proclaiming who he was. My point is that the gospels are either true or false, if a person can't believe Christ was the Messiah, then it would seem illogical to believe he was a kind person. Otherwise your trusting part of what's written while denying other parts.

    I can believe Jesus existed for the same reason I believe Buddha, Bahá'u'lláh and others existed. I don't have trouble believing any of them were kind persons. I have no way of knowing if he quoted Scripture. The books of the New Testament were written nearly 50 years after his death - again, it could have been attributed to him, to "prove" to encourage and convince his growing number of followers that he had been the Messiah. and used specific Scripture to make the point. I don't know, I admit that, that's why the questions. But I do know that if you'd ask my mom or dad to tell me everything they could about someone they'd known 50 years ago, the details and exact words and deeds would be summed up and refined and told from the context of the knowledge of now, looking back, "I always knew Joe would make it in politics - you should have heard what he told the mayor back in high school ..."

    The Romans were horrible to the early Christians. You literally risked your life by becoming a believer. I do believe the writers of the gospels all those years later, felt a huge need and responsibility to encourage new followers that Jesus was worth the threat of torture and grisly death.

  16. I come from a religious background that encourages questioning, even your own beliefs are open to scrutiny by yourself or others, so I’m really not trying to be attacking here. Some things may seem obvious to folks who grew up around churches, but I’m looking at the Bible’s words from an outsider’s view, which isn’t saying I’m naïve when it comes to what it says, only in hearing hundreds of preacher’s sermons on it.

    So, maybe I was asking this backwards. Instead of asking, “from the beginning”, I’ll come at it from the other side.

    In my opinion, without Christianity, the Jewish Bible would have stayed the Holy Scriptures of the Jews, and not been relegated to the status of, “Old” Testament, with the feeling that something better came along, and glommed onto its coattails: the “New” Testament. The Jews were looking for a Messiah, they thought Hezekiah might have fit the bill, but whoever they were looking for, Jesus didn’t turn out to be him either (for them). I used to wonder why there was a “new” testament, why didn’t the new Christian movement have their own Bible. A Christian told me it was because they used the “Old” to prove the “New”.

    And of course that got my brain thinking, because I’d recently read someone’s theory that maybe the god of the “old” testament” was not the same as the “new”, certainly the style, attitude and gods seemed different when you switch from one testament to the other.

    So looking back, at the “old” testament from the point of view of the earliest beginnings of the formation of the church, after Jesus’ death and people were meeting in secret, teaching to others who’d never seen witnessed Jesus’ speeches or works: somewhere in there (and I think it had to be the new Jewish believers because they would be the only ones who knew the Hebrew Scriptures – it wasn’t the old testament yet because the new one hadn’t been written) – but anyway, somewhere in there, in answer to people asking, “why did Jesus…?”, “how do we know that …?” these early teachers, maybe the disciples themselves, began looking in the Scriptures and began pulling out excerpts of passages as answers.

    And to make a short story long, that’s what I think happened with how Jesus became the answer of sin and the blood atonement for that first “sin”.

    I’m just trying to figure out if this has something to do with relatively “new” religions like Christianity and Islam, this, don’t think, don’t question, put blinders on and it’s my way or the hellfire highway.

    I don’t think, and I hope others will correct me if I’m wrong, that Hinduism, Buddhism, or the Pagan religions have those beliefs. During my travels, I’ve interacted and shared interesting discussions with people of so many different religions, and I have to say, none has ever been in my face adamantly (read that, rudely and sometimes angrily) except the Christians (I’m NOT lumping those on this forum with them) .

    It seems to me, somewhere in the earliest of church days, before they had all the writings collected yet, the Hebrew Scriptures started being used to “prove” Jesus was the Jewish Messiah they’d all been looking for, plucking verses from out-of-context here and there to make their point, and as time went on, it was most effective on the Greeks, Romans and other non-Jews (the Jews familiar all their life with Scripture would certainly have realized they were out of context or not talking about the Messiah) who never would have read the Hebrew Scriptures and quickly outnumbered the few Jews who also believed.

    In my opinion, much later, because the Christians were using the Hebrew Scriptures to “prove” and connect Jesus, it was added to the growing collection of Christian writings which made them the New Testament and Old Testament (which was relegated to finding prophecy verses, teaching the history of the Bible, and Bible-lesson stories).

    That would explain why, in that beginning, following the progression from the Garden and exile, all through the Old Testament to the end, one (meaning me in this case) doesn’t see Jesus at all.

    It’s only when starting with the New Testament and using it to find the out-of-context passages scattered in the Old, can one (meaning, me) piece together the Christian version of Jesus, on whom EVERYONE must kneel and confess or suffer eternal burning in hell if you don’t go to paradise/heaven.


    “I know that there's no torment or punishment for me because I've accepted him, as anyone can. But 'love' is a 2-way street, those that hate everything that Christ lived and taught also reject the salvation he promised.”


    “I would assert that Christ demonstrated and taught the 'love' that you seem to find evasive or absent from the gospels. . . . “

    I agree with this. Because I do think the real Jesus who shows up amidst the New Testament’s agenda was a wise, caring and kind person, who did love God and people. That’s why I think if the Christians hadn’t adopted the Hebrew Scriptures to “prove” Jesus was Messiah, Son of God, and on whom everyone must be saved, and only gone by their own collected writings, the Hebrew Scriptures would be relatively unknown except to the Jews, who would have been happily left alone, and Jesus would have been accepted more as a Buddha-type philosopher.

    Again, this is just the cogwheels of my mind trying to work these things out, my opinions which could be wrong. Thank you all who have contributed to the ideas and concepts.

  17. Burning heretics, torturing people of other viewpoints and religions, Crusading off to mass slaughter not only Muslims but also the Cathars throughout Europe, Setting up the Spanish inquisition, Killing Witches and Pagans, repressing people because of their sexuality, justifying the enslavement of Africans etc etc

    I am not attacking the faith as a whole but I feel I have to recognize the way things have occurred and it fills me with horror and sadness.

    Rational Hedonists observe a Day of Mourning on the last Saturday of July in memory of all those gifted physicians, creators, artists and free-thinkers destroyed in the name of god. Apparently the tradition started in the Dark Ages, and has undergone different stages.

    It involves setting smooth stones in a brazier of fire, representing that even fire did not destroy their ideas and works, which live on.

  18. Thank you Dan, for your response!

    If I was going to believe one story over another, it'd have to be the one I learned when I was a child:

    In classical Greek mythology, Pandora was the first woman on Earth. Zeus ordered Hephaestus, the god of craftsmanship, to create her, so he did—using water and earth. The gods endowed her with many gifts: Athena clothed her, Aphrodite gave her beauty, and Hermes gave her speech.

    When Prometheus stole fire from heaven, Zeus took vengeance by presenting Pandora to Epimetheus, Prometheus' brother. With her, Pandora was given a beautiful container – with instructions not to open it under any circumstance. Impelled by her curiosity (given to her by the gods), Pandora opened it, and all evil contained therein escaped and spread over the earth. Pandora had unleashed all the evils now known to man. No longer could man loll about all day, but he would have to work and would succumb to illnesses. She hastened to close the container, but the whole contents had escaped, except for one thing that lay at the bottom – the Spirit of Hope named Elpis. Pandora, deeply saddened by what she had done, feared she would have to face Zeus' wrath, since she had failed her duty; however, Zeus did not punish Pandora, because he knew this would happen.

    Wikipedia and About.com

    If you notice, the story above has a few things in common with the Bible's account. The first woman created, was told whatever you do, don't open this! And as a result of it, bad things entered the world. The main difference was the message of Hope, and not being punished with death, because Zeus had created her with curiosity.

    What chair does the cat or dog try to jump on every time you aren’t around? The only one in the house he’s not allowed. Tell a bunch of kids, don’t go into that creepy house down the street – they’ll be snooping around in no time.

    Do you think that If God 'squashed' A&E and started over, that the next 2 people would have remained sinless

    If god created man with free will, intelligence and curiosity, then you might expect your creation to do its own thing. I may have trouble with the "sin" aspect, but I do understand moral laws, so if god had said, you can have everything but don't steal fruit from MY tree, that would have involved personal theft and yes, a crime. And Cain murdering Abel, I also understand as breaking a moral law. Crimes yes, worthy of death? O.K. But only for the one who committed the crime, as you said, "The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son".

    Again, thank you for taking the time it took to pull up these quotes and answer.

  19. Thank you very much for your responses, cuchulain, BrDevon and Pete!

    I have a tremendous amount of respect for both you, BrDevon and Pete, and if there was a sense I was trying to attack beliefs on a personal level, I assure you, it wasn’t intentional.

    Maybe it’s just my own mind trying to wrap around huge concepts, and as I read what I wrote over again, I don’t even know if it’s about God, maybe more about what mankind has done with the understanding of God.

    No one knows what really happened “in the beginning”. The people who passed down oral history and wrote it down later weren’t there. Every culture, every religion has its own belief of “in the beginning” including those who believe humans were “planted” here by extraterrestrials and our whole concept of gods came from those beings we couldn’t understand. I can deal with all of those theories, to me it’s man trying to explain answers to things we can’t know.

    I think what I was wrestling with was the concept of what was called sin.

    To be given all paradise and a rational mind, free will, and then be punished (not just you or your grandkids) but everyone, everywhere. Forever. This was thousands of years before the Ten Commandments were even given.

    I believe man of every race and culture has moral laws, things we all know to be right and inherently wrong, with some cultural differences. We screw up. We learn and adapt. Hopefully we learn from mistakes.

    If every religion believed in eternal damnation and hellfire, I might consider it, but to me, Christianity is just “a way”, just as Islam (which didn’t even exist until way after Christianity) is “a way”. I’m using those two religions as examples only because they are the only two I know of that marched forward in a militaristic manor in “holy wars” and killed thousands who didn’t believe as they did.

    I can't help but follow the trail of thought that, this concept of original sin whose only resolution was believed in and eventually provided by the death of Jesus, in whose Name was used so that countries and indigenous peoples and their riches could be run over with the idea of manifest destiny of the church and god’s kingdom on earth by greedy profiteering men who tried to sell the idea they were doing those people good, cleansing their souls even if it meant torturing them.

    When I look at all the great thinkers and inventors we do know of, it boggles my mind and I hate to imagine all the other potentially great people and minds (ideas/art/inventions) destroyed before they could make their mark, by power/riches/property hungry warriors “in Jesus’ name” This wasn't just a one-time thing, this was on continental scale levels - Africa, the Americas, Europe, the Middle East ... all of this, because of the actions of two individuals.

    Again, I apologize if I’ve offended. It’s not meant to be a personal attack, just my attempt to understand better.

  20. I've been trying to come here more often and I enjoy reading the different posts and points of view. As I've said before, I truly value being able to question something that seems illogical (especially when I realize I'm not the only one) in order to get feedback and input from people from all walks, without being branded as threatening or insightful.

    As I was reading Dan's post about who controls the weather, and one of Fawzo's responses, it mirrored something I'd written down in a super-rough draft just days ago while reading something in preparation for a funeral.

    I could have responded to Fawzo on Dan's thread, but out of respect, I really don't want to take things off-topic, so as a refresher:


    Isn't that the whole basis of Christianity though. God made the whole world suffer for the actions of two individuals. All the suffering of every generation past, present and future because of the actions of two people and somehow people think that this Christian God is a just God. It friggin amazes me.

    It is like I stole a cookie fom Dan and he justly rewards me by making all my future generations suffer terribly because of my theft and people applaud him for his justness. FRIGGIN AMAZING!!

    Pete, on 06 Jun 2013 - 6:00 PM, said:

    I guess it depends on the Christianity. I have always said that some are more verbal than others but it does not mean that they are the only ones.


    and even this list is not all inclusive.


    I think they all include the fall of man starting with Adam and Eve though and the curse that was inflicted upon those naive beings by their loving God.

    This was something I wrote just days ago, in response to what I'd wanted to say to some Christians who had ticked me off, but I knew it'd turn into an argument, and as long as what they believe doesn't interfere with what I do, I stay out of other people's beliefs. Although I make a living doing public speaking and teaching Rational Hedonism, this isn't even well thought out and sloppily written. So, I'm apologizing in advance, it was really just the way my mind was trying to work out the things they had said and never was meant to be seen unless it had been worked out better.

    Anyway, after my super long intro, this was what I wrote before the topic was raised here and I'm glad I'm not the only one who has trouble with it.

    I’m having trouble with sin.

    Even the Bible says, after god created the world and all that was in it, it was good. When he finished creating man, he said it was very good. He was happy with it. Even with man and woman.

    So just because he said, all this I give you, but whatever you do, don’t eat from that pomegranate tree. And the bottom line was, they did. Not sure if the whole sin was because they’d used their free, independent nature he’d given them to do something he said not to, or that they’d eaten to have their eyes opened and become like him. So he curses them – not only just them, that did the “bad thing”, not just their children and grandchildren.



    Why didn’t he just squash the two of them like bugs right then and start over?

    There is also the story that Adam had another woman before Eve, and she hadn’t worked out, so if that was true, he didn’t have trouble reworking things. Squash them like bus and start over.

    Why punish their descendants thousands of years later?

    It’s not like it’s a punishment anymore – we’re too far removed, and many don’t even connect with an Adam and Eve story anyway.

    And then, he “floods the earth” and kills everyone (supposedly), including all of the animals that weren’t on his ship – which was a good 99.99% of them – because the people had gotten so bad, so wicked that … he kills them.

    Now why didn’t he do that when they first screwed up? Why wait until so many years later when kids’ kids have great grandkids? If you know the future, know Adam and Eve messed it up, that you were going to have to destroy the world with a flood, and now, kill thousands and more instead of just two?

    All of that, based on the “sin” of two people. People who’d just been popped into existence, and easy to unpop. Just next time when you put Adam to sleep, instead of removing a rib, keep him asleep. It wouldn’t have had to be painful.

    So if there hadn’t been that sin, if there WAS that sin, there’d be no need for a Savior, a Redeemer from sins and the never-ending punishment no one even remembers from what. What if Jesus had come with all his wisdom and heavenly understanding and kindness, and not had the expectation of a Messiah, had not become the whole sun/son which all the religions that followed orbited, had not been the reason for conquering in his name and the name of his church, had not seen thousands martyred or slaughtered in holy wars, pogroms, holocausts, Inquisitions because of his name.

    What if he’d just been a nice guy like Buddha or Baha’i, Gandhi or the Dalai Lama?

    Think of all the dead who’d never been killed, their descendants who lived.

    The Peace.

  21. I think I dream primarily in English but I can speak and understand Hebrew and English about the same, it's just a shifting of gears. I know people in my dreams often speak and argue in Hebrew, but I think I speak in English because in the U.S. it's become my only spoken language, so I know the two flip-flop back and forth when I'm sleeping.

    I know the Israeli's who never spoke English, don't speak English in my dreams, but Americans are suddenly bilingual - speaking a mixture of English and Hebrew in my dreams, even though they've never spoken a word of Hebrew in real life.

    I think I prefer dreaming in Hebrew because the less I do, the more I feel like I'm losing my connection with my kids and country, and there are concepts, experiences and things that don't have an English word or take a sentence or two to try to explain. It's also a more specific language. I feel sorry for the translators. But I do feel like when I deal with subconscious issues in my dreams, there's more clarity in Hebrew, then as I wake up, I find myself quickly trying to switch over what I learned and took with me before I forget.