Tag Archives: hate

Give Me That Old Time Religion!

10 Jan

This is a conversation about religion. Yikes!

Often, just the mere mention of the word religion will get people to unconsciously straighten their backs and tighten their guts, while waiting for whatever is coming next. For me, I’ve lost count of how many people, once they discover I am Jewish, who want to share with me the simple fact that as soon as I make Jesus Christ my lord and savior I would be welcomed into God’s Kingdom of Heaven. Since Judaism is considerably older than Christianity, by, oh what’s that number, 3,760 years, I’ve often thought of all my dead ancestors and where they wound up after leaving their earthly bodies.

But interestingly I do believe in Jesus. But more about the historical Jesus as described in Reza Aslan’s bestselling book, Zealot. I am also very drawn to the Gnostic Gospels found in Egypt in 1945. Gnosticism being more about humankind’s individual relationship with God than it is about having a strict organized religion, created by men, to control men and women, boys and girls, with fear and damnation.

Even as a little boy in Sunday school, learning bible stories out of the Old Testament, I could not reconcile a loving, creative and merciful God with one who would smote (here is a word you don’t run across too often) you if you by chance angered Him, or for that matter, Her. If this was what organized religion was about, than I didn’t want any part in it. Immediately after my Bar Mitzvah at the age of thirteen, organized religion and I parted ways.

Now does that mean that I am against organized religion for everyone? Of course not. Just because I chafe at the yoke of religious dogma does not mean that that very dogma, and the organization that exposes it, does not bring enormous comfort to those who believe in it. And religion does more than just comfort our souls, it brings structure to our lives. But in my life it is my relationship with God, and God alone, that brings me even more than just comfort and structure; it brings me enormous joy and happiness, unconditional love for ALL my brothers and sisters, and the knowing that God has asked me to fulfill a function while in this body, a purpose so-to-speak, that will benefit all of mankind. I am hoping it is through the words I write.

The opposite of Love is not Hate, it is Fear.

We are all at the beginning of a brand new year. We each have the power to make of this year what we desire. We do it through our thoughts, the choices we make, and how we face and overpower our fears. So please remember this: God gave each of us free choice. He will never interfere. But he does ask two things of us; that we make no decisions by ourselves — and that we always choose wisely. Have a wonderful year.

With Love,

Michael

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What Did You Learn at the Table?

5 Feb

All great change in America begins at the dinner table. ~Ronald Reagan

When my daughters were in grammar school I remember one particular dinner we had. I was in the bad habit of drinking sodas with dinner then. I went to the refrigerator to grab another one when I discovered that the six-pack of cans had been placed in there without being freed of the plastic bands that held them together. As was typical in those days I angrily pulled out the six-pack and freed each can from its plastic containment. Before I returned to the table with my new can of soda I placed the plastic bindings in the garbage. In unison both my daughters began yelling at me.

DAD!!! “You can’t do that.” Do what, I asked? “Throw the plastic binding in the trash without cutting open all of the little circles.” What? Why would I want to do that? “Because when the plastic goes into the landfill all the little animals will stick their heads in the holes and get stuck.” And? “They’ll die.” So, they’re only rats. “NO DAD YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND. There are other little animals there too and all those cute animals will die because of you.”

Not wanting to seem like the evil commandant of a concentration camp, I returned to the trash with a scissors and cut open every hole in the plastic binder. No little furry animals were ever going to die because of my negligence. That was over thirty years ago and to this day I have never thrown away another plastic six-pack binder without first cutting open the holes.

I learned not only how to recycle but how to save the lives of hundreds, if not thousands of my tiny friends in the animal world.

That was only one of the many things I learned from my children over the kitchen table. But what did they learn from me? I hope only good things, but knowing the man I was thirty years ago, I have my doubts.

One of the things I know to be true is that children learn so much from us on how to relate to people of other cultures, religions and races. I know that the majority of our fears and prejudices are given to us by those sitting around the dinner table. It was that way in my house growing up and in practically all of my friend’s homes as well.

Now, I’m not saying that if you are a bigot, racist or just a crotchety old man, that you’re not entitled to your beliefs. No. What I’m saying is when you’re around your children and grandchildren just keep your opinions about others to yourself. Let the kids make friends with everybody. Then when they get older they can make their own choices on who to hate. And I bet it will be no one. This is how change happens.

Love you,

Michael