Four Ways to Make Your Good Friday Better

Annual rituals invite us to do the same things the same way, every time. How else can we maintain the traditions? Holy Week is no exception. Perhaps it should be.

This year, I invite us to do several things differently. With little effort, we can make this our best Good Friday yet—because this time, we could move closer to God than we’ve ever been. Here are four ways we can do that:

1. Render unto God only things that are godly.

God is good all the time--except Good Friday?What images do the words “God” and “godly” evoke for you? Do you see a gigantic male who lives in the farthest reaches of outer space, and sees every living being and blade of grass? Are His judgements harsh and His punishments extreme? Have you ever wished his angry vengeance upon someone who’s done something really horrible? Are certain acts unforgivable for Him? Does He favor some of us over others? Does He not love some humans?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, you probably are God-fearing.

But do you also trust God in times of need? Does He occasionally grant your prayer requests and shower you with blessings? Do you believe that today, what has come to be known as Good Friday, is God’s greatest blessing of all? Do you celebrate the day “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life”?

In plain-speak, this well-known verse means this: God loved His sinful children so much that He gave His only sinless son to the barbaric Roman soldiers as a scapegoat to be slowly tortured to death so that sinners are saved from God’s sadistic punishment for their own wrongdoing.

For most of our lives, we have clung to the belief that God behaves like a demon. But we also declare that God is good all the time. It is either one or the other. We have choices to make, Sweet Souls. May I offer some options:

We can consider the possibility that what we fear about God is based on “alternative facts.”

We can proclaim that injustice is not godly. It is not fair to shift the responsibility for Adam’s hapless mistake to every living human at their birth, or to shift the responsibility for every living human’s mistakes to Jesus upon his death.

We can defend God’s divine essence, instead of defending ourselves against what we believe is God’s wrath-filled violence.

We can stop cowering in fear at the thought of being in God’s presence, and start cuddling.

We have rendered unto God things that are wholly ungodly, and indisputably unholy. We fervently believe that a savior must protect us from God’s crimes against humanity, and we want others to believe it, too. We have relentlessly demonized God and we can make it right this Good Friday.

2. Do unto Jesus what you’d want done to you.

We play word games to obfuscate the heinous nature of Jesus’s death and exonerate ourselves from any responsibility for it. We love to say Jesus “died” for our sins. Let’s be clear: According to three gospel authors, Jesus was crucified—slowly and sadistically tortured to death as a criminal—even though he had done nothing wrong. For that, we thank God.

Really? We wouldn’t be grateful if any other loved one was murdered for something we did. We wouldn’t wear a symbol of the killer’s murder weapon around our necks, hang it in our homes, places of worship or from our rear view mirrors. Why do we make an exception for Jesus?

Are we so tone deaf that we can’t hear ourselves shout, “Better thee than me, Jesus!” We loudly and proudly thank God for washing us in Jesus’s blood, seemingly oblivious that this bloodbath is part of a satanic ritual.

Every open eye can see that the entire crucifixion drama is based on one premise: The appropriate and divine response to human error is heartless banishment, genocide by flood or sadistic torture. 

Why on Earth do we want to believe God is so brutally unforgiving? And why do we believe Jesus is mentally ill? Let’s face it, if anyone else volunteered to be slowly tortured to death for crimes others committed, we’d call him a masochist. But if it’s Jesus, we call him our “savior.”

We must own our beliefs. No one can force us to believe anything we against our will. We choose our beliefs and values. We choose whether it is good to be angry and vengeful. We choose whether it is fair for someone to suffer for the wrongs of others. We choose whether it is right or wrong for someone we love to be brutally tortured to death—and whether Jesus’s murder or the murder of any member of the human family warrants praise and thanksgiving. We also choose what kind of god to worship.

Conceivably, the primary reason we have such a distant and strained relationship with God is because we don’t know God. We don’t want to believe God is divine—and as God’s offspring, so are we.

We choose to believe implausible and horrific tales about what God is and what God does. It’s because we believe before thinking. As a result, not only do our beliefs disparage God, they force us to do nonsensical things: We run to a genocidal maniac to ask for a blessing, a healing, a lover. Or a lottery number.

Holding God in higher regard could significantly improve our relationship with the Divine. If we want to know God more intimately, we can start this Good Friday by treating Jesus the way we’d want to be treated. We could resist demands to be grateful he was allegedly murdered for something we did.

3. Learn a little ancient history.

Intellectual curiosity is often discouraged in religious circles. Sometimes we are even threatened when we question beliefs that others cram into our heads and ram down our throats. We’re told to just “have faith,” as if doing so will miraculously transform the implausible into the actual. If we don’t have faith, they say, we offend God. We are not believers; we are heathens.

Contrary to what some command us to believe, knowledge is not a sin. And neither is reading. They prefer to read to us what they want us to know. In our ignorance, many of us believe Jesus not only was Christian, he founded the Christian Church. If we read for ourselves, we’d know he was born Jewish, and remained so until he was crowned “King of the Jews” by the Roman soldiers who crucified him. We’d also know the Church wasn’t established until more than 300 years after his murder.

Reading also reveals that the cross was not created as a symbol of Christianity; it harkens back to the Bronze Age, thousands of years before Jesus was born. We’d also discover that Jesus’s life story precedes his time on Earth by many centuries. Wait. What?

Ancient mythology has told and retold this narrative many times. At least five sons of gods predated Jesus by centuries. Each had a father who was a god, their mothers were human virgins, they healed the sick and raised the dead, they were murdered by the establishment and all rose on the third day. In order of appearance: Horus of Egypt (c. 3000 BC), Mithra of Persia (c. 1200 BC), Attis of Greece (c. 1200 BC), Krishna of India (c. 900 BC) and Dionysus of Greece (c. 500 BC).

Don’t take my word for it. Read. What better day than today?

4. Forgive yourself this Good Friday.

Alexander Pope famously wrote, “To err is human, to forgive divine.” He apparently believed God is forgiving. Yea!

Perhaps humans don’t forgive freely because we believe God doesn’t. Our belief that God opted to banish Adam and Eve, drown almost every living thing on Earth—even the animals and plants—and brutalize Jesus rather than forgive wrongdoing has a powerful influence over our willingness to forgive.

Forgiveness is powerful, transformative and liberating. It is an exercise we need this day, perhaps more than any other. Instead of modeling our behavior after that of an angry vengeful God, we could mirror the father in Jesus’s Prodigal Son parable. Jesus portrayed God as an unconditionally forgiving father who enthusiastically showers his wayward and disrespectful offspring with love and care, upon his awkward return home.

Who are we going to forgive first? How about starting with ourselves? We made a conscious decision to believe that God planned Jesus’s horrific murder, and that Jesus thought that was a splendid idea. We set aside the implausibility of any soul wanting to come to Earth to be sadistically tortured to death, and refused to ask even one common sense question:

If Jesus agreed to come to Earth to be slowly tortured to death for the wrongs of others, why would he say of his murderers, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing”? 

Because we didn’t ask that simple question, naturally the follow-ups were never asked:

1. If Jesus was nailed to the cross solely because God wouldn’t forgive, wouldn’t he know his plea of forgiveness would fall on deaf ears?

2. Since the Roman soldiers were fulfilling God’s and Jesus’s plan, why would the soldiers need to be forgiven?

3. If Jesus was knowingly fulfilling his destiny, why did he reportedly cry out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”

We blindly believe that Good Friday is part of human history—and that it is a holy day. Perhaps it is time to exonerate God and fully pardon ourselves for the criminal accusations we’ve made and evangelized, based on the claim that God solves problems by killing His children, one at a time or en masse.

In 325 AD, when the Emperor Constantine and a gathering of clergy selected the books to included the Judeo-Christian Bible, it is clear how they wanted God’s image to be embedded into the human consciousness. It is just as clear what they didn’t want us to believe.

The chosen Gospel of Mark contains the initial birth and death narratives that were later mirrored in the chosen gospels of Matthew and Luke. They neither knew Jesus nor were his contemporaries. Curiously, the Gospel of Thomas, written by one of Jesus’s disciples, was not selected for inclusion.

Thomas’s book makes no mention of a crucifixion or resurrection—and he was there. Instead, his book focuses on what is really important about Jesus’s life: His wisdom and his lessons. Among Jesus’s sayings:

“If those who lead you say to you, ‘look, the Kingdom is in the sky,’ then the birds will get there first. If they say ‘it’s in the ocean,’ then the fish will get there first. But the Kingdom of God is within you and outside of you. Once you come to know yourselves, you will become known. And you will know that it is you who are the children of the living father.”

This Good Friday offers an opportunity for us to think evolutionary and enlightening thoughts about who we are, and who God is. It is a chance to forgive ourselves for perceiving God as somewhere rather than everywhere, and demonic rather than divine.

It’s the perfect occasion to grab a hefty supply of free Forgiveness Coupons. They’ve been in popular demand on the site since 2006. Stock up, share freely. Spread the love. Change a life.

May your decision to believe that you are a child of the divine and life-affirming God make this your best Good Friday yet.

I love you!

Christians reject Jesus's teachings

At the Most-Attended March, Christians Broke Free from Jesus’s Teachings

We’ve been bombarded with coverage of the unprecedented worldwide protests following the inauguration of Donald J. Trump. But the largest march—the one primarily responsible for that ceremony—has received little mention: Millions of Evangelical Christians defiantly declared their independence from Jesus’s teachings, and it’s as if no one noticed.

Christians reject Jesus's teachingsMaybe it wasn’t newsworthy. After all, Christians haven’t been followers of Jesus for centuries. However, they do like being seen carrying a Bible to church, prominently displaying images of a non-Semitic Jesus, and they have a macabre practice of adorning their homes, churches and necks with the weapon that murdered him.

But like grinning all the time, it was inauthentic and exhausting; so they stopped. Throughout campaign season, they openly embraced values that are the antithesis of Jesus’s: hatred, misogyny, racism and xenophobia. They opted to build a wall around themselves. And rejected Jesus’s directive to care for “the least of these.”

According to Pew Research, 80 percent of self-identified white, born-again/evangelical Christians who voted and 52% of Catholics who voted say they cast their ballot for Trump—the proudly vindictive, misogynistic serial adulterer and KKK-supported cyberbully who urged violence against members of Jesus’s human family at his rallies. Their affinity for him reveals six things about Christians.

1.  Christians don’t ask, “What Would Jesus Do?” 

Our assumptions about Christians defy actual facts. Not only do they reject Jesus’s teachings, they are outright hostile toward them. In elementary school, these Christians would not have voted a think-skinned, petulant kid who reveled in name-calling and poked fun at other kids’ physical appearance as their eighth-grade class president. He’d be considered unsuitable to represent the class. As adult Christians, he is their ideal representative.

2.  Christians don’t have to be followers of Jesus

For years, I have made a distinction between Christlike and Christian: The former describes how a person behaves; the latter merely describes what a person believes. You don’t have to respect, obey or follow Jesus’s teachings to be a Christian. You simply have to hold some core beliefs:

  1. A human being can be conceived without human sperm fertilizing a human egg.
  2. God will not forgive the guilty unless an innocent son is heinously tortured to death; i.e., God is not the unconditionally forgiving father portrayed in Jesus’s “Prodigal Son” parable.
  3. Jesus’s purpose for coming to Earth was to be brutally murdered for sins committed by others—before, during and after his lifetime here.
  4. God will sadistically torture us throughout all eternity if we do not acknowledge that Jesus was murdered for what we did, express gratitude for his murder, and proclaim that Jesus saved us from God’s demonic, unending punishment.
  5. Jesus’s body ascended into outer space without the aid of a projectile, pressurized aircraft or spacesuit.

3.  Jesus’s followers don’t have to be Christians 

Jesus’s followers don’t have to share these beliefs. Punctuating that, I was given a palm card at the Women’s March in Chicago that read, “Love Trumps Fear.” It was distributed by Jews for Jesus—and reminds us that Jesus was born Jewish and dubbed “King of the Jews” by his Roman murderers.

Love Trumps Hate, Love your neighbors as yourself
Jesus’s teachings are at the core of his followers’ beliefs:

  • Love one another, be kind to one another, forgive others as God has forgiven you (John 15:12); i.e. God is the unconditionally forgiving father portrayed in Jesus’s Prodigal Son parable.
  • Love your enemies. Live peaceably with all. Do not be vengeful. (Luke 6:27, Romans 12:17)
  • Treat others as you’d want to be treated. (Luke 6:31, Matthew 7:12, Philippians 2:4)
  • Show compassion for all and help them: the poor, despised, and outcasts. (Matt. 4:24-25)
  • “Be sincere, not a hypocrite” (Matt. 6:1-6)

Followers of Jesus consciously strive to live by these tenets, as evidenced in the massive protest marches in various parts of the world. But for Christians, treating others equitably—or only saying and doing thing to others that you would want said or done to you—is scornfully dismissed as “politically correctness.”

4.  Christians hate political correctness

Political correctness definitionChristians want to say whatever, insult whomever and do whatever they desire to those who don’t look like, act like or think like them and, of course, those who are less privileged. They don’t care that Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40) because they are not followers of Jesus.

5. Christians disrespect or distort Jesus’s lessons on karma

In Luke 6:37 and Matthew 7:1-3, Jesus reportedly admonished us against creating bad karma: “Judge not, lest ye be judged,” he said. “Condemn not, lest ye be condemned.” Translated: Whatever you do will be done to you.

Christians often quoted that admonition to excuse themselves from acknowledging facts about Donald Trump. “The Bible says that we shouldn’t judge!” they proclaimed.

But facts are not judgments: Trump is a serial adulterer. Fact. He has been sued by dozens of small business owners for not paying their invoices. Fact. He was sued by a woman who claimed he raped her when she was a teen. Fact. His foundation admitted to spending $20,000 on a portrait of Trump and $250,000 to settle private legal disputes, in violation of IRS rules. Fact. He’s taken six corporate bankruptcies. Fact. He boasted of grabbing women’s genitals. Fact. He settled a civil fraud claim brought by 6,000 alleged victims for $25 million. Fact.

These are facts, not judgments. But none of these facts cost him Evangelical Christians’ support.

6. God giveth free will; Christians taketh away

Contrasted to Followers of Jesus, Christians want to be the boss of every body, particularly women’s. Evangelical Christians and Catholics, in particular, are obsessed with forcing women to give birth to unwanted children. Many cited this as the reason they voted for Trump, who was pro-choice until it was politically expedient to be pro-birth.

This is not a pro-life issue. Notably, once fetuses breathe on their own, faith leaders and their flocks are not interested in their lives. Perhaps they should stick around to witness the results of their strong-arm tactics:

At least they’re consistent. These are the same folks who willingly endangered the lives and freedoms of God’s Jewish, Muslim, LGBTQ, Native American, Mexican and African-American children with their votes—further proving they are not “pro-life,” simply pro-mandatory birth. If you already have a body, they could not care less.

Cameron Harris's fake news story about Clinton was shared by six million readers

Winners never cheat; cheaters never win

Take young Cameron Harris, a recent college grad who, according to this New York Times story, parlayed the $5 he paid for the “Christian Times Newspaper” domain into $22,000, by unscrupulously publishing fake news stories that supported Donald Trump’s narrative.

After Trump claimed during a campaign stop in Ohio that the election was rigged against him, Harris diabolically wrote and published a story claiming that an electrical worker had stumbled upon “tens of thousands” of fraudulent Clinton votes in a Columbus, Ohio warehouse.

Compounding his deceit, Harris added a photo of a guy behind stacks of bins marked “ballot box.” But he didn’t mention that the man and the ballots were in Great Britain. The story was eventually shared by six million people, worldwide.

After Harris was unmasked, he was fired by Maryland lawmaker David Vogt. Chances are, he will be welcomed into another political camp that appreciates his diabolical immorality.

Christians have shown us that the simply want to win. Even if they have to cheat. Whether by concocting fake news or drastically gerrymandering legislative districts to favor their party. When intelligence officials revealed that Russia had manipulated the outcome of the election, Christians weren’t alarmed that America is now a pawn for the Kremlin. They followed their leader beyond disrespecting U.S. intelligence community, and straight into denial.

And finally, the elephant in the room

Christians mouth the words that we are all children of God; but they voluntarily joined the same voting bloc as the KKK. They also knew Trump was being counseled by a reputed white supremacist, and had attracted the enthusiastic support of white nationalists. They’d heard Trump’s blatantly racist challenge to the legitimacy of Barack Obama’s presidency, falsely claiming that Obama was not born in America—another insult to the intelligence officers who vetted him. The government had access to Obama’s late mother’s passport records, which revealed where she was on his birth date.

Beyond normalizing hatred, Trump’s candidacy and electoral victory turned up the volume on hate speech and unleashed hate crimes against other Americans. Apparently, it was simply waiting for a golden calf to set it free. And it fled into Christians’ open arms.

Jesus’s teachings can be our guide

I know many of us have called ourselves Christians all our lives. But if we still share Jesus’s values, we’re Followers of Jesus who choose to stay on the path.

Let’s bid a fond farewell to our Christian comrades, as they march into the Siberian wilderness, following a leader with a gyrating moral compass. May they find what they are looking for—and may we respect their choice, while making every effort to protect our rights and our freedom.

Thanks to them, millions of Americans fear for their safety because of the occupant of the White House. As these Christians march off into the dark side of history,  consciously trampling Jesus’s teachings, immorally attacking humans’ God-given sexual orientation, usurping a woman’s control over her own body and eradicating Christlike democracy, they will have nothing to show for it but calloused feet and bulging karmic debt.

They won their battle, but not their war. Love will forever trump hate.

How you will leave Earth alive, when nobody does

Death-is-birthMuhammad Ali is among more than 110 celebrities who have exited Earth’s stage since New Year’s Eve 2015. Each gave us a fresh opportunity not only to embrace the reality of death, but to actually understand it.

This is important. And as Ali demonstrated, if we don’t understand Death, we will not successfully navigate Life.

Ali understood both extraordinarily well, so well that he started planning his home-going services ten years ago. It was a beautiful, inclusive and meaningful production that mirrored the spirit of his time on Earth’s stage: powerful, entertaining, uplifting and unconditionally loving.

In her eloquent and poignant eulogy at Ali’s memorial service in his native Louisville on Friday afternoon, his wife Lonnie shared an insight from one of the planning sessions:

When the end came for him, he wanted us to use his life—and his death—as a teaching moment for young people, for his country, and for the world.

Throughout his time here, The Champ taught us by example…

  1. Fearlessly discard anything that no longer serves you—even if it’s your birth identity and the beliefs of your childhood.
  2. Embrace beliefs that resonate with your soul.
  3. Love unconditionally.
  4. Honor Self, honor All.
  5. Don’t let your story end with a defeat.

And with wisdom, he also taught us five additional lessons, in no particular order…

1. Do not fear Death. Plan for it.everyone-leaves-earth-alive

Most of us don’t want to discuss death. It frightens us. When a loved one is near the exit door, we pray—and we ask everyone we know—to pray for them to stay on this side. We do this because we don’t understand what God is. We do it because we don’t understand death. And we do it because we don’t understand that we are asking for God to obey our will and to disrespect the will of a soul who is ready to evolve to another experience.

Every soul who ever visited here has had an exit strategy. Though exceptional, the soul who came here to be Muhammad Ali was no exception to this truth. And he was wise enough to know that Earth is not Home. Not one immortal soul who came here has stayed. That was never any soul’s plan. So, he and his wife Lonnie, along with his closest advisors, began planning every detail of his final services a decade ago. It was two years in the making.

But the actual preparation for his last scene took more than six decades, because he focused on this dynamic Life principle…

2. Protect your soul.

[Ali] awoke every morning thinking about his own salvation. And he would often say, “I just want to get to heaven. And I’ve gotta do a lot of good deeds to get there,” Lonnie Ali

Many believe that heaven is a physical place beyond the 100-200 billion galaxies in the known physical universe, and that we must be saved from the inhumane and unending torture threatened by a wrath-filled, sadistic god who has zero tolerance for human error in those whom He created as sinful.

Why do you think the Divine would even become directly involved with such negative energy?

I ask you to think a higher thought about God. Consider the possibility that God is Love, and that this is not the way Love treats its beloved. Love is fair and just. Life is fair and just. God would not have created it any other way.

Consider the possibility that there is a mechanism in place that enables God to enjoy Life without huffing and puffing, and acting like Satan. That mechanism is karma.

when-curtain-fallsWith karma, God needs to do nothing, yet no one gets away with anything. With karma, whatever you do will be done to you. Karma is why Drama Queen Workshop Principle #1 is: Life is always fair.

With karma, we are not excessively punished for our negative, hurtful behaviors, we are equitably punished by them. We are not blessed for our good deeds, but blessed by them. With karma, the only thing we need to be saved from is the heavy, negative energy that attaches to the immortal soul, the True Self.

This gooey blob of energy attaches to us whenever we do not act with love, and every time we do things to others that we would not want done to ourselves. Its negative energies attract matching negative energies to us. We receive exactly what we’ve given—not more or less.

Ali vigilantly protected his soul. He understood, better than most, that the acts performed on Earth’s stage become the blessings or the burdens of the immortal soul, not the body costume that soul is temporarily wearing. He wanted heaven.

I imagine that he has now discovered that heaven is not a place, but a peace that results from treating others the way you want to be treated. I am thrilled that this peace is now known by the immortal soul who temporarily played the role of Muhammad Ali, a human who saw others through the deeper, wiser eyes of the soul. He urged us to call forth that ability when he said…

3. Don’t count the days; make the days count.

ALI-DAYS1

Each and every day, Muhammad Ali was consciously aware of his outcomes, the consequences of his actions. He was consistently on alert for any negative energy his temporary physical self would attract to his Immortal Self.

According to his wife, Ali apparently wanted to leave here a more evolved version of the soul who arrived 74 human years earlier. He wanted to exit the stage door of Earth’s theater, head high, shoulders back, arms raised in victory and immensely proud of the role he’d played here.

And he wanted the audience on to its feet, screaming for more—because, after all, he was the Greatest of All Time.

 

4. Don’t take yourself seriously.

If you have all eternity to live, and a tremendous grasp on how Life works, why not seize every opportunity available to have some fun? Anyone who observed Muhammed Ali would agree that he was as quick-witted as he was light-footed. He was as much a champ of practical jokes outside of the ring as he was with the knock-out punch inside it. He was braggadocious, outrageously funny, and totally lovable because of it.

wake-up-apologize-dqw

And let’s not forget, he was “pretty.” No one captured Ali’s keen sense of humor better than comedian Billy Crystal, whose ingenious impersonations of The Champ allowed Ali to laugh, perhaps howl, at himself.

As Crystal shared in his hilarious salute at Ali’s memorial service, the first time Ali saw Crystal mimic him, Ali adopted him as his “little brother.” For 42 years, they remained family, and loved each other as brothers. It mattered not that one was Muslim and the other Jewish.

Part of Ali’s greatness was his ability to see past the physical costume to the soul that was animating that costume, the soul that breathed life into those human nostrils. How much joy would he have missed if his Jewish little brother had not been in his life?

How much joy do we miss by shutting out others due to superficialities such as race, religion, gender-orientation or even income? Ali wanted more for us, and so he advised…

5. See the presence of God and the good soul in every man.

Onto the stage at his final service, Ali summoned eight leaders from different faiths whom he loved and who loved him, as evidenced in the rousing tribute from Rabbi Michael Lerner. It dramatically symbolized Ali’s belief in the Oneness of the human family and his embrace of all God’s people.

Ali didn’t have to share the same religious beliefs as his friends; his friends didn’t have to share his. Beliefs can trip us up. They can separate us, limit our vision, prevent us from living our soul purpose, and they can stunt our evolutionary growth.

Beliefs can make us fear death, so I’d like to advance this discussion.

Your Desktop Workshop on… Death

In Drama Queen Workshops, we discuss death as an important and necessary exit strategy. Souls cannot grow if we do not leave. So why does it scare us?

If we were taught to seek our own answers, instead of pressured to blindly accepting others’, we would quickly discover the reason we’re afraid of death: ancient myths that have survived for millennia. Perhaps the best known is Greek mythology’s “Pandora’s Box.”

The mythical Pandora was the first female human on Earth, created by the gods with earth and water. In modern parlance, Pandora was your garden variety mudpie. (Don’t snicker that any ancient Greeks believed humans can be formed from dirt. We all know 21st century folks who not only believe this, but insist that God holds them responsible for what the mudpie did.)

Eve and Pandora comparisons

©2015-2016 DarthCrotalus

As the story goes, Pandora was given a container and told not to open it. Of course, you know what happens when you tell a child, especially a mudpie child, not to open something: Pandora’s curiosity won the day.

When she lifted the lid, Death and other evils burst forth into the world. When she quickly slammed it shut, Hope—which, oddly enough, had coexisted in the dark with evil—was trapped inside. One would think that hope would have pushed everyone else aside at the first chance to break free.  But no. Poor dear.

On that cheery note, we have a riff on that tale: the story of another disobedient woman’s curiosity. Eve also had mudpie DNA, since she was created by extracting a rib from a male who’d been formed with earth and water. In this fantastical story, when Eve defied the Lord God’s order not to eat the Fruit of Knowledge, Death and other evils were introduced into the world.

Aside from the obvious misogyny and the implausible claim that dirt and water are gestational components of human life, the common denominator in these stories is that:

  • God cruelly and unfairly makes the entire world suffer for the mistakes of one person.
  • Death is a punishment imposed by an angry, vengeful God.
  • Death is an evil.

But what if it is not?

Everyone wants to go to heaven; no one wants to die

Everything physical changes, ages and dies. That is by design. Physical life is not eternal, folks. Physical is merely a form of life. Earth is not Home. It is simply the only home our human body costumes know.

people-gone-too-soonWe have merely forgotten that we’re not our costumes. Consequently, we mourn when a character exits Earth’s stage. We cry that they left too soon or were too young to die. We deny the possibility that life and death are purposeful, that every soul who visits Earth comes here for a reason, and that each soul has given itself a timetable for fulfilling its purpose.

Now hear this: Not one soul stays on Earth’s stage too long or leaves too soon. Everyone has an exit strategy.

Death is indisputably inevitable for every physical body. I might add that death is obviously desirable, because not one soul has ever visited Earth with the intention of wearing a human body costume forever.

Remember what The Champ said, and make each day here count.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Silhouettes of Three Crosses

Why is the sadistic murder of Jesus “Good”?

With no thought at all, we unflinchingly hurl the most damning insults at God. “Good” Friday may be our most consistent and most unconscionable slap at the Divine. It’s the day we annually reaffirm that a sadistic murder not only is good, it’s an act of God.

I was delighted to see that others are looking at this day through a different lens. A Reuters News Service story this week also explored this tradition. The satirical article imagined an effort by religious leaders to make “Good” Friday better by redirecting the focus from Jesus’s murder to his message of love. Is religion brave enough to make that leap?

Christianity calls sadistic murder an act of love

Bible Belt family entertainment: The sadistic murder of other humans

Sadistic murder was once family entertainment

Evidence abounds that humans have a conflicted value system. Here in America, a so-called “Christian nation,” we unhesitatingly do things to others that we would not want done to us. From the brutalization of the original inhabitants of America to the behavior of current presidential candidates, we fervently support leaders who loudly and proudly reject this core tenet of Jesus’s teachings. Another message, we are one: Whatever you do to the least of my brothers, you also do to me (Matthew 25:40).

Despite that, for 245 years, based on other Biblical passages—among them, Genesis 9:25-27, Ephesians 6:5 and Titus 2:9—those who called themselves Christians enslaved and brutalized select members of the one human family. After slavery was abolished, lynchings were commonplace, especially in the Deep South. This sadistic murder of other human beings was considered sport in the Bible Belt. It was perceived as normal, wholesome family entertainment.

They excused kids from school to watch. Moms prepared a picnic basket. Dads beamed proudly at the rotting remains. Murdering another member of the human family was gratifying, and it was godly.

These macabre rituals of hatred defined our nation, our humanity, and they defined the god we worship. But they were never defined as acts of love—then or now.

Good Friday is probably the only day in human history that sadistic torture is universally embraced as an act of love.

Is it an insult to claim that God

Is it an insult to claim that God “gave” Jesus to be brutally murdered?

“Good” Friday marks the only time that those who desire a close relationship with God express gratitude for the sadistic murder of a someone who reportedly had an extremely close relationship with God.

These good people say they are grateful to God for sending Jesus to “die” for their sins. These same people also claim that they would never want anyone to suffer or be slowly tortured to death for a crime they committed—especially someone they loved. However, they make an exception for the beloved Jesus. As I said, humans have a conflicted value system.

Why do we say that Jesus “died”?

Another human curiosity: We’ve reclassified Jesus’s murder as a mere death, as if he climbed onto the cross, closed his eyes and stopped breathing. But he didn’t simply “die.” He reportedly was brutalized for sins committed by millions of souls who were wearing human body costumes during his incarnation and for billions, including you, who hadn’t yet arrived on the planet and hadn’t committed one sin.

We make sense of that by claiming that God’s ways are mysterious. But only our insulting portrayals of what God is and what God does are mysterious. We play mind games because if we said what we really mean, we’d be horrified.

Consequently, instead of saying what we really mean, “Jesus was brutally murdered for something I did,” we say, “Jesus died for my sins. Hallelujah!” But if we called this act by its real name—a murder—we might question both our own humanity and the veracity of any claim that God solves problems by killing people.

Why do we adorn ourselves with the murder weapon?

hulk-hogan-nyt-crucifix

Photo: New York Times

We say that God is Love, then contradict ourselves by claiming that God does things Love would not do. We characterize God as sadistic, and we glorify this murder (and ourselves) by wearing replicas of the indisputable murder weapon—the crucifix—as a badge of honor.

We have forgotten what this symbol really represents. We proudly wear crucifixes around our necks. We dangle them from our ears and rear view mirrors. They prominently adorn our places of worship.

We legitimize and worship a murder so heinous that it has to be sugar-coated by saying he merely died. We have become complicit in the sadistic crucifixion of an undeniably innocent person who, according to our beliefs, was performing uplifting work on Earth.

We claim that Jesus agreed to come here and be brutally tortured to death. And we assert this act of barbarism was actually an act of God’s mercy.

Why is the sadistic murder of Jesus attributed to God?

On occasion, often in a Drama Queen Workshop, I will ask why someone believes that God wouldn’t forgive the guilty unless an innocent son was brutally tortured to death. First, they’re startled by the question. Invariably, someone will defend this murder as “God’s sacrifice.” There’s always a person who claims that God didn’t have Jesus killed (although John 3:16 says otherwise); “He” simply didn’t stop the Roman soldiers from heinously murdering “His” only begotten son.

But the lightbulb generally illuminates for most when they hear this story properly described as God’s refusal to forgive the guilty unless an innocent son was brutally tortured to death. They instantly recoil and they do the most remarkable thing: They defend God’s goodness. They insist that God wouldn’t do something like that to anyone, especially Jesus.

I concur with those who disconnect God from the crucifixion because the rationale for this barbarism is wholly ungodly. Why would God do something so unproductive, not to mention inhumane? Jesus’s murder didn’t stop sin and it wasn’t enough of a sacrifice to convince God to forgive our sins. In fact, God allegedly added another caveat: Our sins won’t be forgiven unless we believe that Jesus’s murder personally saved us from an even more sadistic fate.

So what was the “good” outcome here? Jesus’s savage murder didn’t stop sin and it didn’t warrant forgiveness of our sins. It clearly didn’t change the way we treat each other. We still don’t love others as ourselves or as Jesus loved us.

We don’t have to look as far as Paris, Brussels or Nigeria for proof of that. Any random Donald “Two Corinthians” Trump rally will do. So what did this legendary act of sadism actually accomplish—and why are we grateful for it?

The “Good” Friday message: God is unfair, unreasonable and inhumane

The overriding message of the “Good” Friday story is that there is no difference between God’s behavior and the legendary Satan’s. It teaches us that God loves gratuitous violence and is perversely pleasured by unnecessary human pain. And we believe it.

Beliefs are a choice, and it’s easier to believe than to think about what our beliefs actually mean. Instead of thinking, we choose to believe that God sent Jesus to minister to the minds, bodies and spirits of everyone within walking distance or a donkey ride. His healing message was simple: We are one, God is within, God is the unconditionally loving father of prodigals, we should love everyone and that we should do nothing to someone else that we would not want done to us.

Powerful stuff. But we choose to believe that after three short years of spreading this good news, God abruptly halted Jesus’s ministry and gave him to the barbaric Romans to be sadistically crucified. We choose to worship someone who would do this to Jesus because we absolutely positively believe that God is full of wrath, vengeful, judgmental and solves problems by hurting and killing people. Consequently, we conclude that we need to be “saved” from the despicable and diabolical things that God does.

Our cognitive faculties are impaired when we are frightened. We fail to ask the important and common sense questions. That is by design.

God did not give us the spirit of fear. But someone did, someone who doesn’t want us to ask, “If God is Love, would Love do THAT?

We have chosen to ignore the dark energies on Earth that have successfully made us worship a god who does evil, hurtful things. We have chosen to believe that a sadistic, barbaric act such as crucifixion serves some good purpose. And we have agreed to joyfully embrace and vigorously defend this evil in the holiest of places.

At any time, we can choose to rethink “good”—and rethink God. At any time, we can choose to see the Light—and discover how that changes our lives.