Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Sun Stood Still

My breakfast companions remain staunchly convinced that evolution is some cockeyed theory that Darwin thought up without any evidence.  The Bible says that God created man on one day a few thousand years ago, so it must be so.  Over our scrambled eggs, the three of them continue to try to convert me to their way of thinking.

Von mentioned the story in the Bible which tells how the sun stopped moving for two hours so that Joshua could win a battle..  Von said, “Don’t you believe the sun stood still?”  

I said, “I believe that Joshua thought the sun stopped moving.  He did not have a watch or a clock.  (They had not been invented.)  You know yourself that there are times when you are busy and time passes quickly.  Then other times – like sitting in the doctor’s waiting room – when time passes slowly.  You look at your watch and can’t believe it has been only three minutes since you last looked.

“God can do anything,” said Von.  “I believe the sun stood still.”

What difference does it make if Texans cling to these absurd ideas?

School children are taught to accept the Bible as the authority for everything.  Science is something devised by atheists.  Refusal to accept facts causes “true Christians” to reject everything that leads to progress.

“True Christians” give abject acceptance of everything their preacher says. Since their minister was “called” to his vocation, they blindly follow him, even when the lessons he gives are the opposite of what Jesus taught. 

 If a preacher finds a verse in The Bible to support a certain point of view – “The sun stood still” – then it must be true.”   Passages in the Old Testament condemn homosexuality.  Educated people now recognize that people are born with a sexual preference. They are not seduced into choosing that lifestyle.  Jesus accepted everyone – the tax collector, the woman at the well, the thief on the cross.  He never rejected anyone.

When I was a child taken by my parents to College Avenue Baptist Church, I listened to many sermons on the evils of dancing and card playing.  “A deck of cards is the Devil’s prayer book.”  Then I saw the preacher come to our house and join other men in lively games of dominos. The man never realized that he was not preaching from the Bible but from a narrow-minded distortion of Scripture.  As a teenager I learned the joy of dancing.  In college I became an avid bridge player. And did not feel a bit guilty.

At the retirement home where I live now, we have a couple, devout Christians, who have never danced or played cards.  They will not go to anyplace where alcohol is served.  To celebrate the Lord’s Supper their church serves grape juice in tiny little shot glasses.  Jesus went to a wedding, changed water into wine, and said, “Let’s have a party.”  If Jesus had invited them to the Last Supper, they would have refused his invitation.

The television evangelist, Joel Osteen,.preaches, “Get rich through Jesus.”    Jesus told the rich man to sell all his goods and give to the poor. 

Which leads me to the ridiculous politics we have in Texas.  All a politician has to do is say he is “protecting our religion.”  Texans hear catch phrases like “lower taxes, less government” and do not question what this really means.  Rich Republicans demand Congress cut programs that help people in order to get lower taxes so that they can increase their wealth and build McMansions.

If the sun stood still, our Earth would spin off into Outer Space.  Instead of Jesus coming back, maybe we would bump into Him floating around on some cloud.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Foolish Me

Every morning I go down to breakfast and sit with three charming old ladies.   On Sunday one of my companions urged me to come with them to Sunday School in our living room.  The other two joined in praising the man from the New Life Methodist Church who gave “such wonderful messages.”  

Four years ago I sat across the table from that man.  Something was said about evolution, and this Christian minister said, “You mean the theory of evolution.”

Remembering, I said, “Anyone who does not believe in evolution is a fool.”

All three of my friends were shocked.  One said, “Perhaps you are the fool.”

A second said, “You are entitled to your opinion.”

These are good people.  They are devote Christians who have been taught that the Bible is “The Word of God.”  Every word in the Bible was dictated by the Holy Spirit.  It is all factual.  They believe the World was created by God in six days in 6,000 B.C.  And God created the animals one by one. 
And Jesus is floating around some place up in the sky, waiting for the Rapture when He will fly in on a rocket ship to carry all the “good” people off to Paradise right away. .

Jean says, “Ilene, you will be surprised when Jesus comes.”

“Yes, Jean,” I say.  “I will be surprised.”

Meanwhile, these old ladies do not worry about dying.  Their faith assures them that they will go to Heaven. They can not accept the possibility that the Bible might be a compilation of myths and legends written by a primitive people over many centuries.  For them Galileo never looked through his telescope and saw moons orbiting Jupiter. 

Foolish me, I should not say anything to upset them.  They are kind and indulge my rants.  Yet sometimes one of them will say something so ridiculous that I can not help myself.  I say things that they refuse to believe. 

Like how the discovery of DNA has affirmed all the ideas that Darwin developed over many years simply by observation.  No, he did not say we are descended from monkeys, but scientists have discovered that our DNA is 95% the same as that of a chimpanzee.  That is not my opinion.  That is fact.

With people refusing to believe scientific evidence, but accept as fact that the Earth was once covered by a single great flood, it is not surprising that they also believe all the nonsense put out by the Far Right.

An editorial from the New York Times titled “The GOP’s war on evolution” said:

“The debate over evolution was settled a century ago – but not for Republicans. . . . with 48 percent now insisting that God created humans just as they are today.  This isn’t only sad, it’s embarrassing.  Why, with most Americans now accepting the overwhelming evidence of evolution, would more Republicans be retreating into a 19th Century world view?  It’s a result of a prolonged ploy by Republican leaders . . . to play on the most base convictions of conservative voters. . . . So climate change, the Big Bang, and evolution must be categorically rejected as threats to religious faith (which they are not) . . . . at a cost of keeping them, and our nation, trapped in deliberate ignorance.”

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Snow in Texas

Yesterday Boston was paralyzed, buried in 12 inches of snow and ice.  In Chicago my daughter did not get home from work until after 9 p.m. her commuter train stalled by frozen switches.  train.

Outside my window snowflakes swirl through the air.  Through the dancing snowflakes, I look down from my third floor apartment and see the roofs of the houses across the alley covered with a light blanket of white.  How deep will it be before it ends?

Not something I usually see in this Garland, Texas, retirement home.

At breakfast Sue said, “I know it is worse somewhere else, but I don’t like it being so cold right here.”  

I dread having to bundle up in heavy jacket and mittens to go downstairs for lunch.  When the cold hits my legs, pain grabs my calves, making every step torture.  I don’t think of my daughter in her heavy coat walking from the train station to her office with Chicago’s icy wind stinging her face.

We all see things from the perception on our own place in the World. 

The other day I saw a young woman on television say she became a Republican because they “cared about people.”  She said she opposed big government because she did not want Obama telling her what to do.   

She was serious.  She was also mixed up in her thinking, her mind buried as in a snowbank by the Republican propaganda machine. . 

Yes, the Republicans are big on “individual rights.”  They make a lot of money, and they want to keep all of it.  The Koch brothers have convinced people that government regulations are bad because they want to keep polluting the air with their oil refineries.  Big corporations talk about “right to work” because without unions individuals are helpless in negotiating for higher pay, and the bosses make more money by employing cheap labor.  (C.E.O.’s take home 200 times as much as the average worker.)  Walmart opposes raising the minimum wage.  Drug companies give millions to Congressional elections to make sure the government does not curb their profits. 

Republicans want “individual rights” – for themselves.  They do not care about anyone else.  

The old lady with enough income to live in a comfortable retirement home does not worry about the unemployed.  Unless she has a son who lost his job a year ago. 

Snow is falling over much of the U.S., even in Texas.  Blizzards happen.  So do hurricanes and tornadoes.  We can not do anything to prevent natural disasters.  The economy is a mess right now.  As individuals we can not do much about that either.  But our government is big enough to help -- if it were not controlled by the 1% of billionaires who own Big Business.