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!

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?


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.

How we innocently support terrorism and tyranny

At some point, most of us have innocently supported terrorism and tyrannical behavior. We have literally worshipped at its feet. We simply didn’t know it.

By definition, tyranny is “the cruel, unreasonable, or arbitrary use of power or control”. For centuries, and with the best of intentions, we good people have taught our children to worship acts that are inhumane and tyrannical. We’ve done that by teaching them to worship a god whose behavior is inhumane and tyrannical. To top it off, we’ve told them that God has far exceeded the most extreme tyrant by threatening to torture them throughout all eternity if they don’t worship Him, and do everything He has commanded.

When did tyranny become godly behavior?

Mythological Greek god Zeus often ruled by tyranny and thunderbolt.

We worship an angry punitive god, modeled after the ancient mythological Greek god Zeus.

Before humans settled into the idea that there was only one god, they worshipped many mythological ones. Supreme among them was Zeus, king of gods and the universe. He is closely associated with the sky, lightning, thunder, law, order and justice.

According to myth, Zeus threw lightning bolts to Earth when he was angry with humans. Sound familiar? You’ve never heard a violent storm referred to as “an act of God”? You’ve never heard someone declare that God’s “going to strike you dead”?

This image of an angry, destructive God has pervaded most cultures since man began to theorize about the cause of things that were outside of his control. Even today, this belief in a tyrannical God whose punishment exceeds any crime is a belief that unifies us, no matter what we call our deity.

So is it any wonder that terrorist groups in other parts of the world, who also worship a brutal god, are heinously beheading innocent people and making threatening gestures toward the rest of us? They’ve told us that they are doing this to honor their god. As far as they are concerned, they are merely being obedient to their god.

We good people are horrified by the thought that anyone would worship a god who is violent, vengeful, and solves problems by causing physical harm to humans. We characterize them and their holy book as demonic. Guess what: Our scriptures repeatedly tell us to do grotesque, inhumane things to each other, too. Why don’t we know that?

Repeating the bad and making it bigger

God depicted as expelling Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden

A Brussels cathedral window depicts a winged God expelling Adam and Eve.

We have magnified the message that God is cruel by spreading stories of His brutal behavior far and wide. One of those “God’s gonna getcha” stories claims that He was so furious with disobedient Adam and Eve that He banished them to an unknown land.

We don’t put children on the street when they’ve done wrong. In fact, as good people, we probably would call the authorities if we knew someone else had done that, especially to children who probably be classified today as learning disabled.

After all, if we believe this horrific story, we have to remember that they were essentially infants in adult bodies. We also forget that Adam and Eve were the ancestors of Neanderthals. What was their mental capacity?

If someone we knew to be a good person was falsely accused of such cruelty, we’d staunchly defend them against such preposterous charges. But we don’t say a word when we read that God has done it. What’s that about?

Should we defend God or a book?

We have made it our mission to spread these sadistic stories throughout the planet so that good people everywhere can come together as a community to affirm our belief that God is angry, vengeful and tyrannical. As we have for thousands of years, we repeat these stories, despite what they imply about the nature of God.

Scriptures demanding that we do heinous things to each other—from enslavement to murder—are rarely read to us from pulpits, where the claim is made that these are the words of God. Of course, there are exceptions.

These brutal scriptures were preached to slaves to justify the cruelty that was being heaped upon them. The message: God demanded slavery, and He demanded that slaves obey their masters. Or else.

It’s the godly threats that were so much a part of these Bible lessons that prompted slaves to share these stories with great conviction. It was important that they protect their children from harm by instilling the fear of God in them.

Even today, most black people I know, even those with high levels of literacy and formal education, insist that the Bible is the word of God. As a people, we are adamant that the book is inerrant and will condescend to those who believe otherwise. We’re convinced that they won’t be “saved” from God’s eternal punishment. We don’t realize that we’re characterizing God as sadistically unforgiving and satanic.

We simply don’t think it through because thinking is discouraged where faith is involved. As a consequence, when good people hear about acts such as genocide and deadly torture in other parts of the world, we judge them to be unacceptable and inhumane.

But if it’s God is committing the acts, we embrace genocide (the Great Flood), conditional forgiveness and sadistic torture (crucifixion) as acceptable and divine. We paint a good face on bad behavior because, as god-fearing people, we are afraid to do otherwise.

If God is Love, why should we be god-fearing?

We embrace the “Good Book” to our bosom. All we can see are its “good” parts. We staunchly defend this book with great passion even though it tramples on God’s goodness, even though it says that God won’t forgive the guilty unless an innocent one is tortured to death. And we never stop to ask: If God is Love, why should I be god-fearing?

If a preacher tells us that the book is a “love story”—without mentioning that it orders us to murder each other for a variety of reasons—we parrot the words and insist that the book is a love story. If a preacher tells us to say that we are what the book says we are—without mentioning that it says that we are evil by nature (and worse)—we repeat his words without reservation.

If a preacher says that the entire book is the Word of God, we agree that every word is true. Because that’s what good people do. After all, we don’t simply want to be perceived by everyone as good people. We want to be good people.We might even post on Facebook that the Bible is the word of God, because we want others to see that we are on board with the rest of the good people.

The nature of God: Divine or demonic?

Intentionally killing humans en masse could be considered an act of tyranny.

Genocide. Is it divine or demonic?

There are rules. Good people obey them. We don’t kill everyone who works on Saturdays, as God allegedly instructed in Exodus 31:15. We know that we can’t successfully use the “God told me to do it” defense if we murder our children for being disrespectful, as commanded in Leviticus 20:9.

We don’t shut the door on those in life-threatening situations. And we good people don’t stone women to death if are not virgins when they marry. We certainly don’t murder anyone we know who cheats on a spouse.

These are acts that the Bible—a book written during ancient, less civilized and more barbaric times—commands us to commit. We place our hands on it in court, as proof that we’re telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth before God. But that same court will not rule in our favor if we commit some of the violent acts that the same Bible demands.

Worshiping a violent god is worshiping violence itself

We good people must understand that it is impossible to worship a violent god without worshipping violence itself. For those of us from the Judeo-Christian tradition, we must ask ourselves if we are in any position to characterize scriptures in the Koran as demonic and members of the human family in the Middle East as “bad people.” What is our basis of comparison: The “Good Book”?

Hear me well: It’s not exclusively terrorists’ beliefs that have created this hell on Earth. We good people have innocently, yet actively supported tyranny for thousands of years. We have worshipped it; so we share responsibility for all the terrorism in the world, on our streets, in our homes, beds and hotel elevators.

We are being brutalized by our own beliefs. Is it too late to loose ourselves from their deadly clutch?

Awaking from the nightmare we created

Make no mistake: We are not helpless. Good people created this hell and we can create something more heavenly.

Good people everywhere can merely rethink what God is and what God does. We can stop telling everyone we care about that God solves problems by killing and torturing His children. We can spread stories that reflect God’s divine nature. Then, we can choose to model that behavior.

There couldn’t possibly be a more urgent moment in human history for us to consider the possibly that what God has really commanded us to do is to love one another. We can do that now—or after tyranny (theirs and ours) destroys the world.

Much love to you, Sweet Soul.

Silhouettes of Three Crosses

Does Holy Week celebrate the divine or the diabolical?

I realize that everyone is not attuned to the jaw-dropping ways that humans have perpetually demonized God. But it seems to me that the demonization is so over-the-top during Holy Week that at some point in our history as thinking beings, it should have caught our collective attention.

An online search turned up results about the demonization of America, the Queen of Sheba and others. But not one word about the demonization of God. Fascinating.

Not only are we oblivious to the fact that we daily demonize God, we seem to be completely unaware that Holy Week’s underlying message is that Yeshua (Jesus) didn’t understand God at all.

Consider what we’re called to worship this week, and ask yourself: Am I celebrating divine or demonic behavior?

1. God sent Yeshua on a worldwide “good news” tour that was doomed from the start.

As the story goes, God sent Yeshua to Earth to set the record straight on a few things:

  • God is not the angry, vindictive brute described in scripture;
  • God does not solve human problem through murder, as described in Genesis;
  • God is within us;
  • God loves us unconditionally, and we should love each other the same way;
  • God forgives with no strings attached;
  • God welcomes home even the prodigals among us;
  • All we really need to do is treat others the way we’d want to be treated;

To make sure that this good news was spread, God entrusted “His only begotten son” with the task. I’m not going to address claims that Yeshua was half god and half human. At a later time, we’ll discuss the intersection where mythical gods who impregnated human virgins without semen and Old Testament midrash met.

If midrash is an unfamiliar term, I’d suggest insightful articles such as this one by theologian Robert M. Price. There also are a number of fascinating resources about the long history of virgin births that might interest you. These legends preceded Yeshua’s birth by many centuries, as outlined in this article by theologian John Keyser. They all were born on December 25, healed the sick, raised the dead, were executed by the establishment and rose from the grave in three days. But I’ve digressed from Holy Week’s demonization of God:

As we all know, there was no Internet, radio, television or even a printing press in Yeshua’s day. My goodness, there wasn’t even a public address system for him to speak to thousands of people at a time. (Yes, I took a swipe at that fish story, too.) But God allegedly had charged Yeshua with this task, and he was compelled to do it to the best of his ability. Unquestionably, it was his life purpose and passion.

So Yeshua set out on foot, donkey and the occasional non-motorized boat to share his good news. Three short years later, after he’d only reached a small fraction of the humans on earth, he was sadistically tortured to death.

Why? Well, according to scripture…

2. God planned all along to have Yeshua murdered.

To recap: God sent Jesus to Earth to tell as many people as he could, without electronic or social media to amplify his message, that God was not a tyrannical hypocrite who solved problems by killing humans. I suspect that part of the good news was that we should ignore the 50+ circumstances outlined in scripture, in which God allegedly mandated us to kill each other.

God gave Yeshua only three years to accomplish this mass communication campaign. Yeshua recruited and trained others to help him spread the message. Most of their time, however, was spent with him.

When the clock ran out on the campaign, God simply solved the sinful-human problem by having “His” messenger sadistically tortured to death. The murder didn’t put an end to sin. But of course, the Omniscient would know that.

After all, in Genesis, God had boasted that “He” was killing every living thing and starting over. Then, after surveying the mess made by the Great Flood, “He” lamented that it was all a mistake because man was naturally sinful. What that story alleges is that God not only makes mistakes that “He” regrets, “He” is not omniscient and has no clue about the outcome and effectiveness of “His” actions.

So, in a way, it almost makes sense that this God would rectify that by killing one person instead of everyone. Again: Is God’s behavior scripturally depicted as divine or demonic?

3.  Yeshua knew all along that God planned for him be a live sacrifice.

Live sacrifice was a sacred ritual of ancient people who believed that they had to kill something (or someone) to please God. You’ll recall that after the deadly flood killed everything from animals and infant humans to plants, trees and the elderly, Noah grilled one of the surviving animals and God was pleased with the smell. (So much for repopulating that species.)

This a barbaric practice was widespread because then, as now, people believed in a quid pro quo God. They worshiped a God who required an offering in exchange for granting their wishes.

Live sacrifices have been abandoned in most cultures today, but not all. Today’s headlines bear witness to the lingering barbarism of people who worship a violent god who requires mercy killings, even of loved ones.

What we are to believe here is that Yeshua knew from the beginning that God’s forgiveness was conditioned upon his excruciatingly painful live sacrifice. Despite that we are told that he taught that God was unconditionally forgiving. If you do not find that to be contradictory, I invite you to explain it to me.

4. God would forgive “His” bad kids on one condition: “His” only good kid was brutally tortured to death.

Suffice it to say that Holy Week teaches us that Yeshua and his lovely Prodigal Son parable got it wrong: God is not that father; “He” does not forgive unconditionally.

The natural question is: If God was going to solve “His” human-sin problem by having Yeshua heinously tortured to death, what was the point of sending him on that impossible worldwide journey to teach that God is not the Old Testament brute? Clearly, “He” is, according to the New Testament passages we celebrate this week.

Like the God portrayed in Genesis, “He” is not omniscient. “He” didn’t even know that murdering “His” only good kid was not going to make “His” bad kids walk the straight and narrow.

So the question remains: Was God’s plan for Yeshua, as outlined in scripture and celebrated during Holy Week, divine or diabolical?

5. God views the murder of an innocent child as an act of love.

To that, I have two questions:

  1. Under what circumstances is it an act of love to have one’s child tortured to death?
  2. Would the Divine or the Devil have an innocent child murdered so that guilty children can go free?

6. God’s plan is to brutalize all of us, unless we believe that Yeshua was heinously murdered instead of us

The Bible, the billboards, the placards, posters, magnets and Internet posts proclaim: “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) In other words, God loved “His” bad kids so much that “He” gave his only good kid to the sadistic Roman soldiers so that they could subject him to a long and painful death.

The message here is that those who don’t believe that God ordered this inhumane deed will be severely punished. Rumor has it that this time, the torture will last throughout all eternity.

Does this align with the good news that Yeshua taught, including his Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32)? The behavior of the God that Jesus described during his much-too-brief good news ministry appears to be dramatically contradicted by his gruesome murder. Yet we are encouraged to celebrate this inhumane act of God. We even wear replicas of the murder weapon around our necks, in our ears and hang it in our homes, and places of business and worship.

Ironically, we call Satan the “enemy,” yet we worship behaviors that are nothing short of satanic. We have absolutely no awareness of the horrific things we are saying about God or how our worship of evil has perpetuated a world in which problems are solved by killing people. The reason probably lies in the fact that we are threatened that if we don’t believe what others want us to believe, God’s gonna get us.

Why do we believe that God behaves this way? Is that the kind of behavior we choose to worship?

Forgive us, for we know not what we do

Forgive us, Father, for we know not what we do.

Each Palm Sunday, I am even more sensitive to the fact that for the next week, millions will unknowingly demonize God and believe that they will be mightily blessed for doing so. I’m sure you’re wondering: How in the world can someone demonize God and not know it?

As simply as I can explain it, we can be fully aware that we’re doing something (walking, driving or standing somewhere) without giving it a conscious thought. We frequently do things without thinking about why we’re doing them—or the meaning and implications of our actions.

For example: All of us have found ourselves in a room and wondered, “Why did I come in here?” Or while in the process of doing something, we suddenly ask, “Why am I doing this?”

On rare occasions, we ask, “What does it mean that I am doing this?”

Death by torture: Divine or demonic?

This week we will frequently hear the phrase, “Christ died so that we might live,” as if he lay down on a slab, closed his eyes and stopped breathing. No one ever says, “God gave Jesus to the Romans to be sadistically tortured to death for sins he didn’t commit.” If they did, would it change our perception of God?

God-so-loved the worldWe unconsciously declare, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

Have you thought about the meaning of this Bible verse and others that proclaim that Jesus “died for our sins”? Would you like to? Let’s do a Drama Queen Workshops-style thinking exercise:


Front door of a beautiful suburban home. A business executive and single father, who has returned home a day early from a business trip, hears loud music and raucous chatter coming from his basement as he opens the door. He walks past beautifully appointed living and dining rooms, then into the huge kitchen, and down to the basement.

As he gets to the foot of the basement stairs and his eyes adjust to the darkness, he surveys the room. It looks like a scene from Sodom and Gomorrah:

Teenagers are drinking alcohol and dancing wildly. A few have passed out on the floor and on the sofas. Four guys are gambling at a table in the corner.

Near the laundry room, two boys are raping a drunk girl in the shadows. One kid, who was severely beaten after vomiting on a classmate, is lying in a pool of his own blood, lifeless.

The father is outraged! “What the hell is going on here? Mandy! Mandy, where are you?”

Screaming kids start scrambling, trying to escape up the stairs. He blocks their exit.

His daughter stumbles over friends to turn off the music and runs to him, stammering, trying to explain. Dad doesn’t want to hear it.

Mandy begs for his forgiveness; but forgiveness is out of the question. She falls to her knees, head bowed, in tears.

Dad is so angry, he can barely look at her. He asks, “Where’s your brother?”

“He left for that spiritual retreat today, remember?” Mandy murmurs, sobbing.

Dad raises an eyebrow. “It looks as if you are the one who should have gone!”

“I’m sorry, Dad. I don’t know what I was thinking. Please forgive me. Please forgive all of us,” she says, making a sweeping gesture across the room.

Her friends are now too afraid to move.

Dad thinks for a moment. Looking into the faces of the frightened teens, his tone softens.

“Because I love you so much, I will forgive you—but only on one condition: When John returns, I’m going to have him arrested and slowly tortured to death. His murder will wash away all your crimes. Everyone who believes that I have done this as an act of love will be forgiven of their misdeeds. In fact, they will live forever. So go tell everyone you know.”

That’s our drama. Now, ask yourself:

How would you respond to the father’s forgiveness offer if you were one of those teens in the basement: Would you accept it? Would you be grateful?

Is it an act of love or sadism to have an innocent child sadistically tortured to death so that the guilty children can escape punishment for their own misdeeds?

Why do we believe it is an act of love if God does it?

If a parent loves his guilty children so much that he would protect them by having his innocent child tortured to death, how does he feel about his innocent child?

If we insist to others that God had His innocent child tortured to death, are we proclaiming that God is good or evil?

If we believe that torturing an innocent person to death—for any reason—is a good thing, what does it say about us?

Needless to say, I’ve given this matter considerable thought, and I have concluded that declaring that God does something that Love would not do actually demonizes God. So during Holy Week or any week, I will repeat only one verse from the Bible’s crucifixion narrative: “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:24)

Does Good Friday highlight a double standard?

We Christians call this Friday “Good;” but it’s the most heartbreaking day on my calendar. It marks the day when we refresh the accusation that God loved His guilty kids so much that He had His only innocent child brutally tortured to death, effectively letting the others off the hook.

Of course, ancient scribes painted a more rosy picture: They claim that God so loved the world that He “gave” His only begotten son. If we believe this, they say, God won’t torture us throughout eternity. Fear is a great control mechanism. Always has been.

Now we know what giving is—and what it’s not. Or maybe we don’t, so let’s check the dictionary, shall we: Give means to make a present of, to place in the hands of, or to endure the loss of; sacrifice. Giving does not mean handing over your child to sadists, knowing that they are going to nail him to a cross and subject him to a very slow and excruciatingly painful death.

How many loving parents would do this? More pertinent, who among us would be glad that our brother was murdered for a crime that we committed? Is gratitude the appropriate response?

I know that this is dangerous turf on which I’m treading. I’ve been told repeatedly that I cannot call myself a Christian if I do not believe that God sent Jesus here to be slaughtered so that I might live. In other words, if I were a real Christian, I would know that torturing an innocent man to death is not sadistic, if it is an act of God.

Let me be clear: I am not questioning any act of God. I’m questioning whether this particular act is God’s. Is there the slightest bit of the Divine tucked inside live sacrifice?

If we believe scriptures that say that God is Love, isn’t it incumbent upon us to ask: Does Love solve problems by killing any of Its children for any reason?

We Christians clearly have a double standard of behavior—and the standard is considerably lower for God. Fascinating stuff. It reminds me of a post I saw on Facebook several months ago. A minister shared a hypothetical scenario that went something like this:

There were two brothers. The older one, who’d previously served a couple of jail terms, had just been arrested again. If convicted, he faced a minimum of 30 years in prison.

His younger brother was studious, college bound and had never been in trouble. The minister said that the young men’s parents had asked if they should ask the younger brother take the rap for his brother. Since he had a clean record, he’d probably only serve 18 months. Afterward, he could resume his studies and go on with his life, while giving his brother a chance to clean up his act.

The overwhelming consensus was that the older brother should take responsibility for his own actions. It would be unfair for the innocent brother to sacrifice 18 months of his life for a crime he didn’t commit. Some even noted that the older brother seemed to be a habitual criminal and probably would be arrested again anyway, making a mockery of the younger brother’s sacrifice.

Where have we heard that story before? I was fascinated that these  Christians—folks who do not object to Jesus taking the rap for crimes he didn’t commit—didn’t see the parallel.

His sacrifice far outweighed an 18-month prison term. And guess what? Neither his death nor resurrection ended sin on Earth. But of course, the All-Knowing God probably predicted that.

So, if sadistically slaughtering Jesus wasn’t going to change the world’s behavior, why would God snuff him out a mere three years into his good news ministry? Isn’t it more likely that the Romans mentioned in the scriptures actually committed the crime?

We all know that this isn’t the first time in history that God has been blamed for acts of inhumanity. Just a few years ago, a world leader justified violence against God’s children in Iraq by insisting that God told him to do it.

Such outrageous declarations vilify God. But we so love the words written and repeatedly mistranslated by man that we have given our only begotten brains to the trash heap so that we can blindly believe that God would be so demonic.

We have a double standard: If a blood-thirsty posse approached the home of a guilty man, and his father pushed his innocent brother onto the porch, we’d declare that this father was pure evil. Why can’t we see the parallel when we read that God has done the same thing—and why aren’t we challenging such an implausible accusation?

This really would be a Good Friday, if we took time out to ponder whether we really believe that God is Love. It is impossible to believe that if we also believe that God does things that Love simply would not do.

Let’s exonerate Pope Benedict XVI

Wednesday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that hateful, hurtful, homophobic speech by a church that oddly enough calls itself “Christian” is protected as a First Amendment right seems to have eclipsed other really big church news: Pope Benedict XVI has exonerated Jews for Jesus’s death.

Pope Benedict's new bookAccording to the Associated Press, the revelation was unveiled in excerpts from Benedict’s upcoming book, “Jesus of Nazareth-Part II.” If this declaration had been reported by The Onion, rather than the AP, I would be able to wrap my head around it. But this was not satire; it was just…well, sad.

Reportedly, the Pope’s new book explains biblically and theologically why there is no basis for “claims that the Jewish people as a whole were responsible for Jesus’ death.” Wait a minute!

As a whole? Hmmm, is that like: Saudis, “as a whole,” were not responsible for the September 11 terrorist attacks? (Fifteen of the 19 suicide terrorists were Saudis.) Or is more akin to: Iraqis, “as a whole,” were not responsible for 9/11? (Not even one terrorist was Iraqi.)  There’s a big difference.

Methinks the Pope hath forgiven too much; he has actually perpetuated the un-Christlike myth that the Jewish people killed Jesus. Anyone who’s read the New Testament or has seen a movie about the crucifixion knows that the Jews did not commit the crime, just as the Iraqis had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11. By dismissing the facts, the Pope’s grandiose forgiveness of the Jews is as much an attack on an innocent people as America’s violent invasion of Iraq to “free” its people.

Centuries before Benedict put pen to paper, it was an indisputable fact that the rabbi we know as Jesus was tried in a Roman court and suffered an inhumane execution at the hands of Roman military torturers because the declaration that he was the King of the Jews was a threat to the Roman empire.

So why isn’t the Pope forgiving, oh I don’t know, the Romans who conveniently live in the city surrounding his walled compound? That loving gesture would be such a warm and fuzzy highlight to this year’s Lenten season. Forgiving the innocent, not so much.

But here’s the beauty of his declaration of forgiveness: What Benedict unwittingly has highlighted are the impossible-to-connect dots that form the foundation of our beliefs as Christians—and the gaps that simply cannot support us, except through blind unquestioning faith:Connect the Dots puzzle

Dot #1: Jesus’s life purpose. For centuries, the Church has taught that God sent Jesus to Earth to do a couple of really important things. One was to spread the good news that God is Love, and does not do things that Love would not do—i.e., is not intolerant, violent, punitive, unforgiving, condemning and judgmental. Jesus also taught that the kingdom of God is within. We don’t have to go anywhere to find God, and we are not an abomination, filthy rags or unacceptable to be in God’s presence. Wherever we are, God is—truly good news.

Dot #2: Jesus’s fulfillment of his mission. What theologians tell us is that Jesus’s Good News ministry lasted all of three years. With today’s technology and air travel, the good rabbi could have spread the word to everyone in the entire world in that time. But he didn’t get very far on foot and donkey before it was time to complete his other important task: Be brutally slaughtered for crimes that he didn’t commit.

Dot #3: Barbaric live sacrifice demonstrates God’s love. This is a critical dot. The premise here is that God loved us, His guilty children, so much that He sadistically forced our innocent brother to die a protracted and excruciatingly painful death so that we wouldn’t have to. Christians generally protest unfairness, particularly an innocent person being executed; but we’re glad as hell that it happened to Jesus because…

Dot #4: Jesus died to save us from eternal damnation. We Christians rejoice that we are “washed in the blood of Jesus,” a satanic concept, to be sure. But more damning, we believe that contrary to Jesus’s famous parable in which a faithful father excitedly rolled out the red carpet upon his sinning child’s return, God’s forgiveness has strings attached: Only sinners who believe that God inhumanely subjected Jesus to a slow and tortuous death will be spared worse treatment throughout all eternity.

Those who believe that God is Love—and believe that Love would not do something so barbaric and satanic—will regret that mistake throughout a God-awfully painful eternity. Which brings us to…

Dot #5: God’s orders should be obeyed. So many dots, so little time. Let me simply cut to the chase: If the Pope believes what Scripture tells us to believe, exonerating the Jews is utterly oxymoronic. What is he forgiving them for exactly: Following God’s orders?

And that, dear Thinkers, is the question of the day: If the Pope believes that God ordered Jesus to be brutally tortured to death, and he believes that the Jews obeyed, I’m wondering if Benedict couldn’t have exerted his authority as a spiritual leader more effectively by forgiving Christians for reviling the Jews for centuries.

In the interim, why don’t we simply exonerate the Pope?