Blowing up our violent god

I awoke this Sunday morning to a disturbing but not surprising newspaper story about a suburban Chicago teen, Adel Daoud, who tried to blow up a downtown bar full of patrons. His goal: To kill as many Americans as he could—and not just any Americans. He specifically targeted bar patrons with his car bomb because drinking alcohol is prohibited by Islam.

This was to be an act of jihad. The authoritative Dictionary of Islam defines jihad as: “A religious war with those who are unbelievers in the mission of Muhammad … enjoined especially for the purpose of advancing Islam and repelling evil from Muslims.”

The teen reportedly told undercover agents that he wanted to make it clear that his jihad was a terrorist attack. He didn’t want Americans to dismiss it as just another act of a mentally ill person, specifically referencing the recent Aurora, Colorado movie theater massacre.

According to the criminal charges filed against him, Daoud allegedly sent an email declaring: “I am trying to do something [an attack] here [in the United States] . . . pray to Allah for my safety and that I’m successful in this life and the hereafter.”

His message gets to the heart of this drama: There are those who believe that their god sanctions the use of weapons of mass destruction. In fact, Allah will protect them in this life and reward them in the afterlife, if they successfully murder their disobedient brothers and sisters.

Gun-shaped Holy BibleShocked? Appalled? Can’t understand why anyone would believe something so preposterous?

You shouldn’t be surprised at all. Most Americans worship a God who solves problems by murdering humans. This angry, vindictive god is at the core of Judaism, Christianity and Islamic faiths.

In the first chapter of the Judeo-Christian Bible, God kills “every living thing”—from pregnant women and newborns to plants, trees and wildlife.

The body count rises as the book progresses. By some accounts, the Bible records God killing more than two million of His own children. By contrast, Satan kills a whopping 10.

But that’s not all: God orders us to lay waste to each other, too. Using Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, I counted more than 50 circumstances under which the so-called “word of God” mandates us to murder a member of our human family for the strangest of reasons. (Good thing we’re disobedient heathens. We’d all be serving life sentences in state and federal prisons.)

Bible says God killed more people than Satan

For example, the Bible tells us that children who curse their parents “shall surely be put to death.” (Exodus 21:17) Women who are not virgins when they marry “shall be executed.” (Deut. 22:13-21).

Is this the word of God or merely insight into the controlling behaviors of ancient men, as recorded by scribes? Did God become less inhumane, as some would have us believe, when they contrast the God of the Old Testament with the God of the New Testament? Or is it more likely that humans gradually evolved beyond these particular barbaric behaviors?

If the Almighty can’t think of a more humane way to solve problems, how can mere mortals be expected to do so?

It’s a compelling question that attorney Eric Veith approached from a different angle in his March 2007 post on the Dangerous Intersection blog, “Does reading violent scripture make people violent?”  Veith cited a study that had recently been released in which researchers asked 500 students to read a violent Bible passage.

Half of the students were allowed to read through to the conclusion of the Old Testament story. Only those students knew that God had ordered members of select Israeli tribes to retaliate for a woman’s murder by completely destroying several cities. (Perhaps a precursor to the urban riots following the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination?)

Researchers then conducted an exercise to measure the students’ aggression after reading the violent passages. Here’s what they discovered:

Those who were told that God had sanctioned the violence . . . were more likely to act aggressively.

Let’s connect the dots: Our beliefs about God—what God is and what God does—informs, supports and sometimes even dictates our actions. The behavior of humans throughout recorded history reflects this. The results of this study merely punctuate it.

The violence we now experience on a daily basis, in the Middle East and America’s inner cities, reflects our thinking and our beliefs. And it reminds us why we have been told to let peace “begin with me”: As long as one of us worships a God who solves problems by murdering, torturing, crucifying, condemning, harshly judging and angrily retaliating against members of the human family, none of us will have peace.

What is it that you believe about God?

The politics of hate: What it means for us

From the balcony during this political season, I’ve noticed that most of the American actors on Earth’s stage are campaigning in their own heads, whether or not they’re running for office. Hatred, which many have cloaked for a few decades since it became politically incorrect, is once again basking in the light of day.

A village in Kenya is missing its idiot.


Hatred is uniquely human. It’s taught and perpetuated by those who have relinquished control of the greatest part of themselves to the weakest part: the ego. Like the ego, hate’s life blood is the illusion of separation. Like the ego, hate preaches that others are different, less than we are. Consequently, we are not obligated to respect them.

Haters are being played like a fiddle. The ego is strumming their laziness and gullibility, and chortling while they create more drama and karma debt than they can repay in a lifetime. No doubt, they’ll return as the hated.

Let’s not get it twisted: Haters are not “the other.” They’re like the rest of us: too lazy to find out who we really are beneath these human costumes and so gullible that we believe Ego’s claims: We’re merely human. We’re separate from each other and from the Divine. Life is hard, unfair and scary.

No wonder we needed a rabbi to save us! Lord knows, he tried.

But Ego got us so entangled in the bad storytelling about the rabbi’s birth and death that we overlooked the life-saving teachings he left behind. For example, he reportedly said: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”  

The “Law” to which he referred is karmic law, that immutable Universal Truth that declares: We reap what we sow.

“Rubbish!” We hear Ego screaming. “How many times have you seen people hurt others and get away with it?”

We have to admit, Ego’s got a point. Heck, we’ve even seen innocent people serve prison time after being wrongly convicted.

Life simply isn’t fair, we conclude. That’s precisely the conclusion that Ego wanted us to draw.

Here’s what Ego doesn’t want us to know: We’re not “people.” We’re currently cast as “people” on Earth’s stage, temporarily dressed in mortal costumes. In reality, we are souls, made in the invisible, invincible and immortal image of our Creator. We’ve been alive since The Beginning. And we’ll be alive forever. (It’ll take some of us that long to work off the karma we’ve created.)

As long as we believe that we’re mortal, we’re going to sow shortsighted behaviors such as hatred that we’re going to have to reap at some point in our eternal lives. You see, Dear Souls, everything we do while wearing a human body costume will return to us at the most perfect time, in the most perfect way.

Just because you don’t believe that Life is eternal or that karma isn’t a law doesn’t mean that it isn’t. If Life isn’t eternal and if karma isn’t real, the worst that can happen is that you treat others the way you’d want to be treated. But if it is true, and you treat others in ways that you would not want to be treated, speaking to them the ways you wouldn’t want them to speak to you, disrespecting them even though you would not want to be disrespected, hurting them even though you wouldn’t want to be hurt, hating them even thought you would not want to be hated, refusing to forgive them even though you would want to be forgiven, the worst that can happen to you is horrific.

You might not be able to see it from Earth’s stage. But from where we’re sitting, you’re always carrying the debit or credit card called karma. So go on and hate if you want to. Eventually, you’ll have to balance your karmic bank account. And sooner or later in your eternal life you’ll figure out that if you’re not factoring in the karmic consequences of all your actions, the only one you really hate is yourself.