Absurdity of Life

Scientists draw conclusions from evidence and facts, a posteriori, while religious teachers rely on faith and imagination, a priori.  Both believe they know the truth about life, but it is more likely than not that neither of them know the truth.  The truth is only known by the Creator, and He is not talking.  Thus, life is absurd because we cannot make sense of it.

Why do we live?  Why do we have free will?  Why do we have a conscience?  Why do we make choices if there are no consequences?  What happens after we die?

After admitting that life is absurd and still puzzling over it, we must logically conclude that life is quite absurd without something after life.  In other words if life were our only appearance in this play, then the play would have no denouement or ending.  This is because if life is to have any meaning at all, then all the choices made during our lives must be analyzed for a full accounting at the end.  Life, which is a test, is nonsensical without death and a grading of our work.  Of course, consequences complete the course.  This completes a design for life in our universe.

And life is absurd for all of us, whether atheists or Christians or agnostics.  We all are tested daily and we all fall short of making good grades.  Christians believe that they are making A’s and B’s, while atheists and agnostics are failing.  The truth is that all of us are failing.  However, the significant advantage for the Christians is that they may lead a better life by following the teachings of Christ.  Unfortunately, there are no guarantees for anybody.  The consequences for our poor choices during life may be dreadful, disastrous for all of us.

I have seen Christians acting as bad or worse than atheists.  There will be no religious shield to protect those who have made bad choices during life.  We must accept our failings and step up to take our punishment, whatever that might be.  By accepting Jesus as our savior, we are in a better position to make good decisions.  But if you read the Bible closely, you will find that there will be consequences for our sins.

I have seen Christians repent of their sins on Sunday and then return to the den of iniquity for the next six days.  Then they return to church on the Sabbath to repent again.  This type of activity shows no true remorse.  It is merely a hope that God will overlook all the misdeeds and erase them because of one hour on Sunday.  This doesn’t even make sense.  It is another absurd myth of Christianity.

So, if there are going to be severe consequences for all of us, what can we do?  Even as a Christian existentialist, I honestly don’t know.  I suppose we can start by doing our best every day that we have left to do the right thing.  Each of us should try to be a better person.  I don’t believe that our judgment day will have a scale with good deeds on one side and bad choices on the other.  I think it will be much more sophisticated and complex than that.

My imagination tells me that we will probably enter a darkness that eliminates our senses.  Our own minds will probably punish us for all the bad decisions we made during life.  The denial of entry into God’s third heaven (2 Corinthians 12:2) may be the worst penalty of all.  My guess is that those of us who have made a half-way decent attempt to make good decision will enter the first heaven.  But the subsequent heavens will be exponentially more difficult to reach.

And even though my musings may seem quite absurd, believe me it is much more absurd that we could live in a world of choices without any consequences.

 

 

Dream of Hell

Interestingly enough, some of my dreams are hazy and fragmented, but others are quite vivid and appear to be very real.  One of those that seemed like I was actually living it, including feeling pain with all of my senses intact, was a vision of hell itself.

I lived in a compound with thousands of others, who all wore the same drab, gray outfits.  Men and women looked alike, as there was no distinction made through cosmetics or clothing.  There were no children, at least, in our compound.  We all had rules to follow, and we were all punished equally for failure to comply or failure to submit.

It took me a while to familiarize myself with my surroundings.  The structure had three elevations with the basement containing the exercise area, two dining facilities, and public showers and restrooms.  There was no privacy.  The sleeping arrangements were similar to prisons with cells with bunk beds.  I slept in the upper bunk bed, while my roommate, who did not introduce himself, covered his head with a scratchy, brown blanket in the lower berth.  His loud snoring kept me up most of the night.

The meals were bland and tasteless.  I had hoped that if we still had to go to the bathroom in hell, we would receive decent food, but that was not the case.  People moved around in lines for meals, restroom visits, and recreation.  There was no room for individualism anywhere in the compound.  Freedom was defined as being allowed to exist.

All control was totalitarian.  Stoic guards who never talked were everywhere.  I suspected that they were robots.  Some of the older prisoners were called “trustees” and they made certain that you understood the rules and requirements to submit to whatever was asked of you.

I watched one prisoner attempt a breakout that ended in failure.  The gentleman zipped out of line and ran for a door, only to find it locked.  He bumped off guards like he was in a pin-ball machine.  The guards had expandable, black batons that thumped him into submission.  They carried him back to his cell where he died.

At that point, I wondered if dying in hell would be better than living in hell.  Hopefully, this poor soul was in a better place.  But fear of the unknown is sometimes worse than fear of the known.  His body was dumped into a well, but it seemed like a three-minute fall before I heard it hit the water.  Nobody seemed fazed by this activity as they continued to shuffle off to their next destination.

The trustees were constantly attempting to get the prisoners to do bad things… either convincing them to hurt somebody else or allowing the trustees to have sex with them.  The idea was to get everybody to submit, one way or the other, to evil within the compound.  You couldn’t get away from the incessant torment.  If you failed to submit, you were punished in a separate area of the compound, which had various instruments of torture.  The pain seemed very real.

Thank God, I woke up during my torture.  However, my body ached for the remainder of the day just as if I had actually been beaten.  The dream seemed too real to dismiss it lightly.  I wondered what would have happened if I had submitted to the demands of evil.  I was certain that I would be tested again and again and again… a hellish world without end, amen.

Part of hell is feeling like there is no advantage to resisting.  You want to just give in and face the consequences, which may be less painful than the torture you will receive for sticking to your moral code.  However, remember that morality is choosing to do the right thing when doing the wrong thing is easier.  Holding to your moral values is not for wimps.

Devilish Dream

I have had many strange dreams, but I want to record last night’s dream in this article so that I will remember it.  It was different from other dreams because it seemed very real.  In fact when I awakened, it didn’t feel like I had been dreaming, but it was like I had been transported from a strange location back to my bed. All I knew was that it was a devilish dream.

And that strange location was a classroom.  I was surrounded by thousands of people all sitting in metal folding chairs lined up in hundreds of rows, facing a podium with a speaker, who was addressing the class.  We were all sitting upright and offering the greatest degree of attention that we could muster.  The speaker was talking in a monotone voice that had a tendency to lull us to sleep, but we instinctively knew there would be consequences if we closed our eyes.

The topic of the presentation was the poor choices that many in the room had made during their lifetimes.  However, I was surprised when the speaker asked us to raise our hands if we felt like we had to suffer consequences for these poor decisions, that only a handful of us, including me, raised our hands.  The great majority obviously believed that there would be no punishment for their misdeeds.

I didn’t know the reasoning behind that belief, but I assumed that many of them thought that Jesus died for their sins and there would be no consequences because of that.  I am a Christian, but I have read the Bible enough to know that even though our sins are forgiven because of the sacrifices made by Jesus, the Bible clearly states that there still will be a Judgment Day for all of us.

There will be certain consequences for our actions even though we are forgiven by the death of Jesus.  The Bible is very clear on this, but ministers tend to overlook these passages in the good book so as not to alarm their congregations.  You can find passages all through the Bible that warn us that we will suffer consequences for our acts.

It might be more peaceful going into the afterlife, believing that there will be no punishment awaiting.  As an analogy, it’s probably better not knowing that a shot is going to be painful.  The wait before the shot could be more painful than the shot itself.  If you think too much about Judgment Day, you might have a tendency to unnecessarily worry about it.

I believe you must be realistic as you enter the afterlife or you may forget the most important thing:  you must unify with God.  If you are too peaceful, you may find yourself herded in the wrong direction.  Only unification with God will protect you from false prophets, guides, and leaders in the afterworld.

My guess is that God will administer different punishments for different souls.  It would be similar to our criminal law courts.  Somebody who was guilty of shoplifting may have to perform community service for 100 hours, while somebody guilty of murder may get a life sentence.  God will examine all of our sins on Judgment Day holding us all accountable.

But back to my dream.  As all the attendees were asked to raise their hands if they believed that they would be punished for their bad choices, a big search light came on behind us, so that we could see our shadows in front of us.  I noticed that my hand was raised while nobody else in my row or behind me had their hands raised.

However that was not the biggest surprise.  I was shocked when I noticed that all of us had horns on the top of our heads.  Not one soul in the meeting failed to have two horns positioned on the crown of their heads.  But when I looked at my neighbor straight on, there was no set of horns.  The horns could only be detected by the shadows when the light was behind us.

Those of us who understood that we would have consequences for our actions during our lifetimes were summarily whisked out of the room and were taken to a small room with no windows and only one door.  It reminded me of an interrogation room.  After a moment, a man with a long gray beard entered the room and told us that he was always surprised that only a handful out of each class knew that they would be punished in the afterlife.

Some hoped that they would not be punished and would not admit that it was even a possibility.  Some rationalized that they had not done anything wrong.  Others felt that they had been punished enough during their lives.  Others believed Jesus erased all consequences.  Others thought that there was nothing after death.  Others pretended not to care.

In the last part of my dream before I was transported back to my bed, I was informed that there were other tests ahead.  The small handful of us had passed only the first of many tests.  I assumed there were also consequences ahead for other tests, depending on how we did.

I remembered what Jesus said, “… narrow is the way, which leadeth into life, and few there be that find it.”  Matthew 7:14.  Jesus was saying that only a few of us will reach God’s kingdom.  In all my years of attending church, I have never heard a minister explain this statement.  And even though it will be difficult to reach Heaven even if you become one with God, it will be impossible if you do not unify with Him.

 

 

Dreamweaver

I have had many dreams over my 68 years.  Many of them seem like they are movies with me playing myself.  Some of them border on the strange side, but I had one the other day that was the biggest, baddest nightmare ever.  I don’t wish this dream on anybody.

It started like I was being enticed by third parties, most of whom were unknown to me, to do things that were out of character for me.  For example, I was asked to steal some items in a store, but I refused.  I was told that the storekeeper would not see me and there would be no consequences.  But I still refused.

After a series of attempts by others to get me to do certain things and after continuing refusals, I was told that I played a role in the attempted suicide of a NCIS agent that I worked with at the Navy Yard in Washington DC.  I visited the agent in an effort to find out what had happened, but I was not allowed to talk with him and was shuttled off to a dark room.  I saw a tunnel and I got in it.

Then the police came and told me to come out of the tunnel since I was under arrest.  I refused.  They came in and pulled me out.  Then they strapped me to a seat that was attached to a conveyor or train rail.  I started moving around like I was on an amusement ride at Disney World.  It took me to scenario after scenario, but they were hardly amusing.

In one scene, I was approached by a sinister figure who said that he would free me if I simply agreed to follow him.  I refused.  He hissed like a snake and told me I was a fool.  I would be tortured and would finally give in to him, so why not make it easy on myself and avoid the pain?  I refused.  He advised me that all I had to do was agree to follow him.  What harm was there in that?  I refused.

And then the pain started.  My back felt like it was breaking.  My arms and legs were stretched like a rubber band.  My eyes were burning like a hot poker was in them.  My skin was being burned off my body.  The nails were being pulled out one at a time.  The pain was excruciating.  I had never had pain like this in a dream.  It seemed so real.

Then I cried out for God.  I had attempted to fight this demon by myself and was losing the battle, so I realized that I had to bring God into my dream to save me.  It worked.  As soon as I called out for God to enter me, I woke up.  My wife was awake next to me since my calls for God woke her up.

The thing that really shook me up was the aches and pains that I continued to have all throughout my body.  It was like I had actually been tortured by some devilish creature.

I had never called on God before to help me in my dreams.  I suppose that was the lesson.  We cannot fight Satan and the powers of evil by ourselves.  We might believe that we can, but that is exactly why pride is a sin.  It is only by allowing God into your soul that you can fight the forces of darkness and chaos.

 

Walk a Month in Their Shoes

It might prove interesting to live another person’s life for a month.  I wonder what it would be like to move from your comfortable three-bedroom suburban home into a one-room apartment with a common bathroom that you share with three other tenants.  Would your new neighbors consider you an easy target for robbery or rape?  Would you be able to survive for a month?

With drugs and alcohol in widespread use, society’s protections are breaking down even in the suburbs.  But moving into a neighborhood with very high crime and drug use will raise red flags even higher than you could have imagined, coming from your middle-class background.

Now, liberals might say that this is exactly what you need to experience for empathy, while conservatives might say that this is exactly what you need to experience to throw these people in prison.  However, the truth is more likely that you need to experience this new type of living in order to understand why you are not liked.

We typically want to be liked, so we work hard to be kind and generous, expecting the same treatment in kind from those recipients.  But after living in the seedy side of town for several weeks, you will come to resent those who live better than you do.  And if they come into your neighborhood with free food and warm clothing, you will see some of them patronizing you.  Instead of liking them, you will despise them.  They will appear to act like they are better than you.  That does not leave a good taste in your mouth.

If you walk a mile in a poor person’s shoes, you will return home with blisters because your feet probably weren’t tough enough to use their cheaper shoes.  And if you see others walking with better shoes, you will not be happy for them.  You will dislike them and their shoes.

So, what does all this mean?  Well, perhaps it simply means that good people on earth should not expect those who continue to commit sins to like them.  Why should they?  The good people remind them that they are leading a bad lifestyle.  And since the bad people may have an ugly future ahead in the afterlife, they should at least have the best of times on earth during their lifetimes.  They should be able to sin as much as they want on earth, because if they are already sentenced to be punished after death, the consequences will not be that much different by continuing their sinning.

And sinners should be able to torture and make the good suffer on earth if the opposite applies after death.  Why should the good get the best of both worlds?  If the good go to Heaven and the bad go to Hell after death, then the bad should be able to experience Heaven during life and the good would experience Hell as long as they live.

And please understand:  I am not saying that is the way it should be.  But  I am saying that if the good stood inside the shoes of the sinners, they might have a completely different perspective of how bad people view good citizens.  They not only don’t like them, but they sometimes want to hurt them and make their lives miserable.  Walk a month in their shoes and you may find out why.

So, why should the sinners stop sinning?  If you have committed sins, it may even be easier for you to continue committing those same sins and even higher sins.  So, why stop?  Well, I suppose that the best answer is because none of us know what happens after death.  The best case for a hardened criminal is that nothing happens at death.  Everything just stops.  However, that is not likely in a recycling universe that has no end.

So, assuming that something happens when we die, what could it be?  Well, most likely we will still be aware of our surroundings.  It probably will be different than what we experience during life, but we may still be thinking.

And if we are still thinking, what will we be thinking about?  We probably will not be distracted by television, family problems, work issues, spousal demands, or whatever else fills your day.  We may be thinking about all the bad things we did during our lives.  Thus, if we had stopped sinning, we at least could feel good about ourselves.  And of course, if we believed that Jesus died for our sins, then we might not think about them at all.  Quite frankly, many Christians would still regret and recall their sins.  It is natural to carry remorse for your bad acts.  But you should still turn all your sins over to God and thank Jesus for His sacrifice.

Even if you gave all your sins to God and did not recall the bad choices you made during life, you would still have to appear before your Creator on Judgment Day.  Nobody knows how this judge-alone trial will proceed, but there most likely will be consequences.

So, the bottom line is that we all should examine ourselves and not our neighbors in order to prepare for both the rest of our life and our afterlife.  It is much more important for you to walk a month correctly in your shoes.  And however you walked in the past may have consequences, but you can minimize that punishment by the way you walk in the present and future.  And if you unify with God, you can walk with God.

 

 

 

 

May the Faith Be with You

One phrase in the Star Wars movies has resonated with many viewers and is perhaps the seminal phrase engendering the spirit of the series:  “May the force be with you.”  The phrase originated in “Star Wars: Episode IV, A New Hope” and has been a popular line used in those movies since then.

The force was an unseen power that Jedi Knights had over the Dark Side.  And it was a power that you had to allow inside you, trusting it so that it became part of you.  Instead of relying on your own powers, you let the force become intertwined within you, creating a new you.

It is interesting when we substitute faith for force.  “May the faith be with you.”  It carries the same significance.  Faith is an unseen power that you have over the evil within the world.  It is a power that you allow inside you, trusting it to be part of you.  Instead of relying on your own powers, you let faith become intertwined within you, creating a new you.

This simple substitution, however, does not have the same impact on individuals as do the Hollywood movies.  Very little has been written about Star Wars as having a religious foundation.  The majority of people enjoy the cinematic tour of life through the imagination of screenwriters, but they are less interested in the mundane life required by religious beliefs.  The “force” is exciting, but “faith” is not.

People may believe that they are more in control when they connect with the “force,” but think that they are giving up their powers and independence when they find a nexus with “faith.”  This is not true.  In reality, the two are interchangeable.

It does not matter what you call this inner power.  You can label it as “dark energy” or “quantum mechanics” or “Higgs boson.”  It simply does not matter.  The power, whatever it is, must be embraced by your inner being.  You must humbly turn over the controls to this power just like Luke Skywalker did in Star Wars.  Unfortunately, you will not have Yoda to assist you in this training, but you need to learn to be one with this force before you die.

Even though it is important to follow a moral code and lead a good life, the Dark Side will offer no consequences for your failures or poor decisions during life.  The unification with faith or whatever you call the force within our universe must occur in advance of death so that you can fight the opposing forces on the other side.  If you die and there are no opposing forces or consequences awaiting you, then that will be the most wonderful thing that could possibly happen to you.

But since our recycling universe is most likely a closed system, your thinking will probably continue into eternity with consequences on the other side awaiting.  Your only chance is if the faith or force is with you.  You must be one with the Creator in order to survive the chaos.

I look forward to the afterlife.  There are so many unknowns in the universe that it would be a fantastic journey for eternity.  All the diversity in the universe would take eons to explore.  I am eager to travel this path with God inside me.  May the faith be with us.

How Evil Are We?

How evil is homo sapiens sapiens?  If you have to ask that question, then the answer probably will not lead to a happy ending.  Of all the animal species, our species is most likely to make poor decisions based on lust, avarice, envy, anger, and other assorted motivational factors that we cannot seem to control.

Clearly, there are animal predators that attack and kill other animals for food or, in some cases, for sexual conquest; but man is a special predator who kills for revenge or for money or for hate.  As far as I know, no other animal reaches into the depths of evil like our species.  Other animals typically are busy with survival.

But man is a unique species who will even kill for no good reason at all.  Some people will kill just because they can.  They have absolutely no self control.  And there are many young adults who commit murders to prove themselves worthy of being gang members.  They also have no self control.  And there are others who kill because they are on drugs and out of control.  Again, there is no self control.

So, another question pops up on the screen:  how evil can we be?  Society generally has been able to impose punishments on renegade members who would not conform to laws that protect civilizations, but this is becoming problematic as we do not have sufficient police and prisons to accommodate the exponentially increasing numbers of society who have no self control.  Pride in being a good citizen has been eroded by drugs, alcohol, and illicit sex.  Pride in having a good job and being a model citizen has been eroded by a poor economy, poor education, poor parenting, and, of course, drugs, alcohol, and illicit sex.

In Charles Dickens, “A Christmas Carol,” the author reminded us to beware ignorance and want, but ignorance more than anything else.  All great civilizations should beware ignorance because that is what will destroy civilizations.  And, of course, poor economy, poor education, and poor parenting, along with drugs, alcohol, and sex have taken the entire world population down the path of ignorance.

Democracy and freedom will sink in a sea of ignorance.  Totalitarianism will replace governments throughout the world with an evil that cannot be imagined by most.  As bad as Hitler and Stalin were, they never reached world domination.  The next totalitarian government probably will control the world.

So, how evil can we be?  Well, we are going to find out.  And it will not be a pretty picture.