Offering Grace Before Eating

I was raised on a farm in Saskatchewan in a religious, Lutheran environment where it was Law One to offer grace before you even dared put any food or drink to your lips at mealtime.

 

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“Why do we have to thank God for our food?” I remember asking of my mother. After all, living on a small, mixed farm where we raised our own animals, grew our own grains that we consumed, why thank God for what we ate? In fact, I felt that if anyone deserved thanks for providing all the healthy and nutritious food, it should be my Dad, and my Mother for preparing it in a delicious manner that made it so fun to eat.

“Did Dad make the cow that offered her life so that you can enjoy roast beef you’re now eating?” my Mother asked as she poured a generous amount of beef gravy on my potatoes. “Who provides the rain that makes the potatoes and carrots grow? And even more important, who designed our earth with such perfection and beauty that makes it possible for us to live in abundance and health that we enjoy?”

“Hmm!” Well, that gave me something to think about … “But it was Dad—and, well—I—yes, even I helped in butchering the cow to prepare the meat, and I helped dig up the potatoes and carrots so that we’ll always have plenty to eat.” I countered. I still wasn’t fully satisfied with Mom’s answer as to why we should thank God when we, ourselves, did so much of the work in preparing our own food.

“Well, not all of the world is as beautiful as our farm is,” I thought I had her cornered on this one. “There are a lot of places on earth that are desert where nothing grows, and thousands of people have little or nothing to eat—some even starve to death! What about them? Should they thank God for having nothing?”

“O.k., time for some scripture study!” my Dad playfully poked his finger against my forehead. “Get your scriptures, and turn to Matthew, Chapter 25 and read, what’s called, The Parable of the Talents, and I want you to pay special attention to the servant who had been given the one talent.”

I started reading. “Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents—”

“Never mind that verse,” Dad interjected. “Read the next verse.”

“Why?” I protested. “Sounds to me it’s what an angry God would do to someone He didn’t like, like the guy with only one talent. Punish him!”

“Read the next verse,” Dad repeated, not making a comment on my thought. “and see why God took that one talent from the man.”

For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.” That verse didn’t make sense to me at all! I still say it sounds like what a mean God would do—”

“There’s a word missing in that verse. I want you to read—and remember from now on—to read that verse by including that one missing word.” Dad read this time, “For unto every one that hath Gratitude [it] shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not Gratitude,[it] shall be taken away even that which he hath.

In that light, I suddenly I understood!  “You mean, because we say Grace at every meal, God gives us even more than we need? And the people who are starving, because they never bothered to give thanks, have nothing?”

Dad skewed his face, as if he didn’t quite agree with me. “In a few cases, this may be true. “But, most often, when we see poverty, it’s God’s way of allowing us, who live in abundance, to develop compassion in our hearts. And, since we’ve been given more than we need, we share that abundance with those who have not. Therefore, we can usually  be assured of having lots.”

I sighed. I’ll sure be glad when I grow up so that I can be as smart as my Dad and Mom. I still don’t fully understand this thing about gratitude—but then, I guess, that’s why we have the old saying, “live and learn.” That sure applies to me.

“Besides, it’s a grateful heart that is willing to share without hesitance,” my Mother continued, removing the empty dinner plate from in front of me and replacing it with a slice of warm apple pie—by the way, I’d like to add, apples that I, myself, picked from  our own apple tree in our back yard.

“That’s what’s so wrong in the world today,” Mother finished.  “People are greedy and angry and give no forethought as to the many things we should be grateful for. And, far too often, the more they complain, the worse it gets for them.”

“Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.”   Zig Ziglar

 

 

A Sunday Chat with Myself—Satan Never Lies to You!”

“The truth is rarely pure and never simple.” —Oscar Wilde

I’ve often heard people make a comment, then close that comment with, “and that’s the truth.” I don’t doubt that what they’ve just said they believe to be the truth—for them! But is it universally true, and will their statement—their truth—stand the test of time?

There are over seven billion people living on earth at this time, each with our own particular beliefs, and an estimated 4,200 belief systems. I also maintain that the word, “religion” doesn’t necessarily mean belonging to a religious organization. Although there are those who will vigorously deny it, every person is religious, whether they belong to a ‘religious’ organization or not. You may believe that having lots of money is the single source of happiness. Fine! That’s your belief; your religion!

Personally, as a practicing Christian, I believe in certain principles and follow certain dogmas. On the other hand, Muslim’s beliefs, although similar in most areas to Christianity, has its differences from my religion, yet we both claim to believe in the same God who created both of us, and is our salvation.

Even in Christianity itself there are diverse beliefs and ‘authoritative’ interpreters of what Jesus claimed to have said, so my question is, who heard Jesus correctly, and who understood Jesus correctly—and is my interpretation and understanding the only right one?

I often envision Jesus tuning in on his diverse followers and shaking his head in disbelief: “how can some of my acclaimed followers misquote and misinterpret me so badly from what I had originally said? I taught love and forgiveness, not hate and war!

“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.” –Plato

Then there is the matter of faith. According to Wikibooks, “Faith is the basic ingredient to begin a relationship with God. Faith is the assurance that the things revealed and promised in the Word are true, even though unseen, and gives the believer a conviction that what he expects in faith, will come to pass.” Sounds so simple and beautiful, but it is exactly that element in our nature that also causes more wars and anguish than anything else.

I often envision an army, drummed into full, passionate hate, getting ready for battle against their assumed foe. In the last act before actually engaging the ‘enemy,’ they’re blessed by their ‘God-appointed’ Padres and assured that “God is on our side,” while at the same time, our assumed enemy’s Padres are also blessing their troops and told that “God is on their side.” Now they feel most energized to mercilessly slaughter one another, all in the name of the same loving God who created all humans! There’s something wrong with that scenario!

I can’t help but think that there is also something very wrong when I hear both our religious leaders and politicians excite crowds into states of separation, hate and violence against the ‘chosen foe.’ To me, these ‘rabble rousers’—politicians and preachers—are the real Satans—the Lucifers of the world mentioned in Scripture, who use religious texts, twist the contents ever so slightly, then have us believe that what they speak—the twisted truth, is actually the real truth!

This is another example of what I mean when I say we have accepted certain men and women in our lives to lead us, and often that truth gets twisted to suit their agenda, not Jesus’ agenda for us. In John 13:34 Jesus is reported to have said, “A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” Do you see any room here for isolation of a neighbor, separation of loved ones or hate because they didn’t follow our particular wish, or reason to hate someone enough to go to war with them and kill them? And remember, Jesus didn’t just wish that we would love one another: He gave us a commandment to love one another. That truth is direct and straight forward. Pretty hard to change facts and their meaning—or is it?

So, how would Lucifer twist Jesus’ command to love one another to suit his own purpose? Simple! Lucifer would stand on his podium and piously agree with the truth that Jesus spoke: “love one another,” but in a quieter moment, he’d simply add, “as long as people repent and do what I tell them to do!” And, in just that simple, innocent-sounding short addition, he’s completely turned love into hate, and given you your ‘righteous’ excuse to go to war with your neighbor!

Another example. I wake up one morning and find that my house has been broken into, and my money stolen. Immediately, in a great fanfare of emotion that an-injustice-has-been-committed-against-me,  I call the police—and the news media, eternally seeking for that dramatic moment in one’s life (especially if their cameras can capture a tear or two in my eye. That would help), is hard on the heals of the police, looking for that dramatic cry of ‘injustice’, and, I-need-to-be-avenged, while shaking my fist and declare in rightousness that the perpetrator be justly punished.

Lucifer, and his band of dedicated followers, feed on hate and intolerance of this kind. That’s their food! War is a banquet to them.

Back to my story. Instead of getting all hyper and vengeful, why not stop and ask—as Jesus would certainly do—why did that person go to all the trouble of breaking into my house and robbing me? Maybe he has been unemployed for some time and he and his family are having trouble meeting their bills. He needs money. Where can I help? Maybe he has an addiction problem and his sense of morals have been perverted. Again, where can I help? Or, could it be that the guy is simply a sociopath and doesn’t know any better, thus needs more than my help: he needs professional help.

Jail is a punishment invented by man, not The Christ! Jail is not compassion!

In either case, when the man is brought before the judge for trial, am I there to help decide a compassionate solution to his problem? Admittedly, the man does have a problem because a normal, balanced person is not going to deliberately commit a crime against his fellow man. And that is a truth!

Sometimes, when I look at the world and see all the cruelty, suffering and hate that we foist on each other, I have to wonder just how far—if at all—we have evolved from the primitive savage that our anthropologists and archaeologists tell us we supposedly came from.

I also look up at the stars and think, is there intelligent life out there? If there is, why haven’t they contacted us? Could it be that they are patiently waiting for us to grow up: to throw off our primitive habits and become kinder, and more honest with each other; to evolve to a point where we are intelligent and spiritual enough so that Satan no longer has the power to twist the truth to his morbid pleasure and our suffering?

I believe that only then, when we’ve outgrown our weakness to accept“twisted truth,” will we be formally visited by Extraterrestrials and invited to join the Cosmic Community!

A Sunday Chat with Myself—Our Nourishment Habits in the Spirit World

“When your life is filled with the desire to see the holiness in everyday life, something magical happens: ordinary life becomes extraordinary, and the very process of life begins to nourish your soul! ” Rabbi Harold Kushner

A few years back I experienced what is loosely termed—and greatly misunderstood, a Near-death Experience. During that experience I heard a voice very clearly say to me, “Man is not made to eat meat.” I’ve since become a vegetarian. My greatest triumph over having accepted that decision is, whenever a cattle liner loaded with animals headed to a slaughter house passes me—although I still can’t help but send a silent prayer of comfort to those poor animals in that liner—I have a lighter conscience that I am no longer a contributor to that form of indifference and brutality. There was much more to that NDE—in fact, I’ve had two additional NDEs since then, but they can be topics for later musings. This Sunday, I have a single thought. If vegetarianism is a primer leading to eventual higher standards of life, then, especially when I reach the spirit world, what will I  be eating? Or, do we even need nourishment in higher densities?

I’ve given some serious deliberation to this problem because, if life is continuous, and we keep evolving to higher planes—which, by the way, I also believe includes plants, insects, reptiles: in other words, all living things—in fact, including the very earth that we live on—how do we nourish ourselves? And, be you Christian, Buddhist, Atheist or Agnostic, eventually we must all … uh, “die” out of this third density plane! Therefore, eating flesh of any kind, or anything that has/had life in it, will not be a source for sustenance for us in higher dimensions.

“Big-heartedness is the most essential virtue on the spiritual journey.”  Matthew Fox

I know that the whole of the universe is made up of consciousness. In fact, the universe is consciousness. And it is consciousness (God?) that creates energy, which creates matter and form. But, since there will be no death, as we understand death in this third density, we won’t be in a position to “kill” some  other part of creation in order to eat it and sustain ourselves.

Thought (The Logos: The Word), which is the first creative force emanating from consciousness,  creates feelings … and the strongest and prime feeling created is Love!

I remember times when I felt “on top of the world”? I was full of energy; I felt like dancing; I could have kissed everyone that I met and wish them the same happy feeling that I was having. And oh,  how I wished that this”happy feeling” would live on forever!

That’s what I’ll be experiencing  in the planes—densities— beyond this one. Not only will I be sumptuously dining on this glorious feeling, I will also be radiating this feeling to all the created spirits in the universe!

It is this Happy Feeling, this Love that  will be mine to dine on when I graduate to higher realms.

Love—Eternal Bliss—is the Spirit-Food that we will quaff on, and freely share with our neighbors in our worlds to come.

Amazing Intelligence in Animals (some animal facts)

“Only if we understand can we care. Only if we care can we help. Only if we help can they be saved!” — Jane Goodall

Looking at the diversity of Nature, I wonder. Just because we have speech and animals don’t, does that make us superior to them? Vanity would like to think so! We may have speech, but other animals have far better–unique—communication skills that we can only dream of. For example, we need our cell phones to talk to someone more than a few hundred meters from us. Using sound signals, wales can communicate—remember, we’re talking about communication skills— with each other over a distance of many miles. Using these same sound skills, they can even identify objects in the water at great distances. We need binoculars to come even close to what they can do!

A cat’s field of vision is 200 degrees; human’s field of vision is only 180 degrees, plus a cat can see 6 to 8 times better at night than humans can.

A camel’s hump is mainly stored fat. During winter months in the Sahara Desert, camels can use that stored fat to go without water for up to six months! Humans can only go three to five days without water.

Bears can smell food from 29 kilometers away, while humans can only smell a strong odor, like skunk spray, for no more than 2.5 kilometres away (phew!).Bees are those tiny winged little insects I love to talk about and advocate for. Our overuse of pesticides is rapidly destroying their habitat, and governments are so reluctant to do anything about it, but did you know, that if our thoughtless greed eradicates that humble little bee, within a very few years, mankind would be in dire straights for a food source: bees pollinate the flowers that bear the fruit, berries, grains and vegetables that we eat. Also, did you know that bees can find the most efficient route between flowers and their home-hive faster than a supercomputer can.

Have you ever gone to your doctor and s/he told you, you need more sleep? If you have, be glad that you’re not a giraffe and can sleep more. A giraffe sleeps for only about 20 minutes a day. Humans need lots of sleep.

Makes me wonder. Do animals often feel themselves superior to humans?

It makes me sad when I see so many people abuse animals, and nature in general. As Theodor W. Adorno said, “Auschwitz begins wherever someone looks at a slaughterouse and thinks: they’re only animals.” 

A Sunday Chat with Myself (Experience)

“Experience is the teacher of all things.” –julius Caesar

It seems curious to me that, when we talk about what living the perfect life might be like, we think of life lived as we see in a Lotto 649 ad: exciting!–like diving off high cliffs into azure pools below, relaxing with invited friends on deck of our own personal luxury cruise yacht, laughing and partying with not a care in the world. Yet, when one hears years later about these lotto winners who’ve tried this type of life,  the majority of them–or anyone, for that matter, who tries to live the good life as advertised by these get-rich-quick companies as the perfect dream-life, we see total disaster.

From all this I gather that such an artificial life–unearned luxuries–isn’t what we came here on earth to experience. Yes, dreaming big is part of our purpose, and it’s a noble purpose, but dreaming big involves effort and personal involvement on our part in order to accomplish those dreams. Then we can say to the Universe, “I’ve earned my accomplishments!

I can clearly remember, many, many years ago when I was still a kid living my innocence on a farm in central Saskatchewan. It was the middle of the 1930s. The whole country was still agonizing itself through the Great Depression, and effects of that terrible time were present everywhere. But, still, we considered ourselves to be among the lucky ones: we lived on a farm where we raised chickens, ducks, geese, pigs, cows and had two teams of work horses that we used in working the grain fields, so if we had nothing else, we always had plenty to eat. Yes, our mother often had to sew patches over already worn out or torn patches on our clothes, but that was life in those days. Everyone was in the same boat.

Since we lived less than a quarter of a mile from the Canadian National Railway that linked Canada from east to west, we saw a lot of out-of-work Eastern “Railroad Bums”  riding the rails  to Alberta in search of a better chance at employment. Often thirsty and hungry, many would jump off the moving rail cars and stop at our farm to ask for a handout. Money, of course, was out of the question, since we never had any money ourselves, so we were unable to help anyone else, financially.

But mother always made sure that she had a pot of something on the stove so that our “temporary guests” didn’t leave on an empty stomach, and that usually included  packing a tick, double-sliced beef sandwich on fresh, homemade bread to take with them for their remaining journey to a better future.

It’s funny … not  like today, in those days, we never treated these “Railroad Bums” with suspicion: that they might want to rob us, or were perverts running from the law. We knew that they were someone’s husband, father, or son, who had the misfortune of being caught up in the Great Depression, and were looking for work–somewhere, anywhere, as long as it provided an income so that they could feed their families. It was our Christian duty to show compassion to those men who were less fortunate than we were.

It was exactly these hard, depressive times that taught our community compassion. But, it was a youthful experience during this depressive hard time that taught me, personally, the difference between showing compassion, and letting a person work out their own destiny in their own time, in their own way, without my interference.

As I said, we had chickens on our farm and it was usually us children’s job to go around to all the chicken’s hiding places around the yard and stables to collect the eggs for the day. Occasionally, the chickens were smarter than we were, and hid their laying nests so well that we didn’t always find them–that is, not until many days later when the hens had brooded their eggs to the point where they began to hatch, and we’d only spot the nests after little chicks were running everywhere.

I recall one particular incident when my younger brother and I were on an egg-gathering mission. We came across a hidden nest where some chicks were already hatched, but other chicks were still in various stages of breaking through their eggshells. My brother and I decided to give these partially hatched chicks a hand by breaking the shells for them, saving them the effort. Unfortunately, this proved a disaster! To our dismay, all the chicks that we tried to help, died while still in their shell! What went wrong? Weren’t we showing compassion?

It wasn’t until many, many years later, and weathering many of the bumps and bruises life has to offer , before I learned that God has a reason for giving us challenges: to break out of our own eggshells on our own, without outside help. He has a reason for making us apply effort to achieve anything worthwhile in life. We need challenges and setbacks in life in order for us to grow, spiritually!

I know of persons where, when everything is just handed to a person born with the proverbial silver spoon in their mouth, that person became lazy and self-centred. They often just frit away the business worth that their father had built through his hard work.  They often become selfish and uncaring, and before long, they’re spiritually dead, much like those chicks that we tried to help years ago, became physically dead because we tried to give them something for nothing.

There is a reason for trials and shortcomings. They are not punishments from a wrathful or uncaring God. They are there to help one grow: to learn to love: to show compassion, so that I can, eventually, become the god I am meant to become!

A Sunday Chat with Myself (charity)

A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.” — Luke 10:30

Many years ago our family had the  experience of having to request charity from our Church to survive the winter. This was, at the time, a very humbling experience, especially since, prior to our family moving to Cardston from Calgary, where I held a well-paying job with an oil company. However, when it was all over and I was back on my feet again, upon looking back at the experience, it was, in the truest sense, a positive, learning experience, and I’m thankful for it. It was a time when I experienced, to use the old movie title—”The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly:” the true nature of people. Let me explain.

Of course, it was no secret in town that we were on Church assistance, so—and this is where it becomes interesting—many Ward members did their small part in helping us. I classified our givers into three types. First, there were the “well-if-you-weren’t-so-lazy-and-get-off-your-ass-and-get-yourself-a-job-you-wouldn’t-be-in-this-mess” type. One lady that I put in this category, brought us a few oranges that were so old and dried up that we couldn’t even peel them, had we even tried to eat them. Furthermore, the lady emphasized the fact that she brought these oranges to us as a charitable donation, given out of the goodness of her heart, and that we (the lazy bum) had better appreciate her generous gift!

“And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.” — Luke 10:31

Then there was the second type. These I placed in the “political” category. You know, the politician always looking for a photo-op chance? The reason I say, political, it that they wanted everyone in the neighborhood to know that they were being charitable to us. They did no research to see that, what they brought to us was actually something that we might need: their point was that they were publicly demonstrating that they were charitable!

“And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.” — Luke 10:32

Then there were those that I placed into the third category. They were, in every definition of the word, charity—charitable. They made certain that what they  brought, or left on our doorstep for us to find, items that we could really use, and with almost without exception, items of superior quality. There are many of these wonderful donors who, to this day, I don’t know who they were. It was to remain their secret!

“But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him.” — Luke 10:33

Life has improved considerably for us since those early trying days, but they were impressive days that have given me many hours of serious thought. What is charity? When is it time to administer “tough love,” and when is it time to give physical aid: money, a helping hand in a project, or even just a kind, encouraging word?

In return for my humbling experiences, life has taught me that the most honourable job that I can aspire to is to be a compassionate altruist!

 

A Sunday Chat with Myself — 28 January, 2018

“Knowledge is the life of the mind”— Abu Bakr

One of my favorite poems is “Vestigia,” by Bliss Carman

“I took a day to search for God, and found Him not.  But as I trod by rocky ledge, through woods untamed , Just where one scarlet lily flamed, I saw His footprint in the sod …”

At present, I’m reading a very interesting book, “Children of a Living Universe,” by Paul Von  Ward. The author states, “A review of present conventional religious and scientific assumptions is necessary.” He continues, “most of what groups now label truth would have to be considered tentative, but not fact.” I tend to agree with the author;  creation is in a constant state of flux, assumed truths and mistruths. For example, according to Reference.com, there are a whopping 4,200 religions in the world today. Each one professes to “know the truth, to claim (know) their version of the word of God to be the only true word, and boldly claim that all other religions, except their own, have at least some wrong–mistruth–in them.”

So I ask, if I want to know God–the true God, which religion do I join?

Another burning question: countless wars have been fought over whether our universe came into being via the Big Bang, or whether God created the univers out of nothing–which, of course, begs another question, is there even a God?

Was the Garden of Eden really the birthplace of mankind, or was Zacharia Sitchin, in his book, “The 12th Planet,” more correct when he claimed, that “Life, scientist have concluded, evolved not upon the terrestrial planets … but in the outer fringes of the solar system.”?

If most of our history is written by the victor, what is mankind’s true history?

Heraclitus is credited with having said, “The only thing that is constant is change.” Is that the same as saying, the only truth in the universe is change?  Is  Heraclitus saying that change is God? If every creation in our universe boils down to that simple quote, I can see mankind’s destiny as utter madness. Is there no stability, no anchor that we can fix our hopes and dreams on?

I believe that, if I ever want to find truth–real, eternal truth–I have to look inside myself, for nowhere else can it be. Inside of me I see Love. Love always has been. Love always will be–as the old cliche goes, hiding in plain sight from my frivolous mind. Love is eternal. Love never changes, and can be depended upon to always fulfill.

Love, with its opposite quality, hate,  is, beyond question, the primary, the most stable, the most powerful truth upon which the entire universe is built, and is the foundation upon which all other truths are based. Love and hate are the cornerstones upon which all my other experiences are built. What hate destroys in me, love can heal and resuscitate.

I can therefore conclude that recorded history–or any point therein– is volatile. It’s not constant. What seemed true to a nation yesterday, is no longer true today. If I unravel that history’s  seemingly whole into parts–into separate acts, I see that many of its pieces have changed, but where love or hate played a part at the time, the same result is today as it was then.

Through my rage/hate–let’s say as a Roman soldier–I burnt a peasant’s home and killed its occupants. The rage was the same then as it would be today, and its manifestation the same as if I go, today, and raze a jungle village in the Amazon in order to make room for my oil rig. Politics, opinions, justifications change: therefore they can’t be classified as Eternal Truths. But manifested hate, or rage then, in Roman times, as it would today, or any other time in our history, can be classified as an eternal truth.

Another, positive example this time: let’s say I become aware of the plight of refugee children in some war-torn country today. I take my funds and build them an orphanage with all its amenities to help ease their suffering. In other words, I have come to love these children. The manifestation of that love is the same–a constant–today as it would have been for the compassionate person who built the first hostel to ease the discomfort of the weary travellers along the ancient Chinese Silk Trade Route. Love, like its opposite, hate, is a constant.

Love and hate aren’t the only constants in our universe. There’s charity, with its opposite, greed; compassion with its opposite, indifference; morality with its opposite, immorality; industrious with its opposite, sloth, and let’s not forget intelligence with its opposite, stupidity!

These are all constants throughout the universe: unchanging, eternal. Did I finally find God?

 

A Sunday (Christmas) Chat with Myself — 24 December, 2017

Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”  ― Dr. SeussHow the Grinch Stole Christmas!

The biggest iconic opposites polarity in humanity celebrating Christmas is between Jesus, or December 25th, the day we celebrate as Jesus’ birthday, and Santa Claus. To me, Santa Claus is little more than a sales gimmick created by Coca-Cola to increase their profits, and is an icon of the shopping frenzy that takes place during the pre Christmas season. Santa Claus is to the real meaning of Christmas what a plastic, ten cent diamond is to a real thousand dollar diamond: Artificial. It is the exact opposite of what the season is about.

Jesus’ birth–his gift to all earthly creation–is that there is hope, and that’s not what Santa Claus offers you! Jesus offers hope: a way to lift ourselves out of the hopeless misery that we are/were in, and the opportunity to turn hate into love, and be loved in turn; To replace wordly passion with compassion; To replace violence and war with understanding and compromise; To replace ignorance with true education; To replace selfishness with unselfish  deeds that  care for all creation, not just ourselves and friends; To replace punishment–prisons–with understanding and a helping hand.

A 2013 CBC  report states that Canadian prison population  has increased by 75% in the last decade. The report further states that, ten years ago, the number of inmates in federal Canadian prisons was nearly 12,000. It’s now over 15,00! Obviously, punishment doesn’t work! Until we start treating criminals as human beings that need help and not our contempt, our prison population  will never go down!

“Christmas, children, is not a date. It is a state of mind. ” 
― Mary Ellen Chase

There was a time, before the Great Depression of the 1930s, that social assistance was provided by religious charities and other private groups. Today, welfare is big business and  has migrated from the offices of Pastors in religious institutions to government, and a report by the National Council on Welfare indicates that there are 1.7 million Canadians on welfare–obviously a growing statistic! And the last “Ho ho ho” that I heard from Santa Claus, he wasn’t too concerned about feeding the hungry and clothing the sick as he flits to and fro between us and the North Pole!

In order to survive, primitive man had to think of himself first. As we to evolve, Jesus the Christ was born to us with a new message: it is better to give than to receive. Is the idea of Santa Claus’s popularity just an attempt from the Dark Side to keep us primitive, to think only about our own selfish wants?

Giving and receiving is fine. It’s a Christian tradition. But charitable giving and receiving is Christ-giving and receiving! That’s what Christmas is all about!

“Want to keep Christ in Christmas? Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, forgive the guilty, welcome the unwanted, care for the ill, love your enemies, and do unto others as you would have done unto you.” 
― Steve MaraboliUnapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience

A Sunday Chat with Myself – Sunday, December 3rd, 2017

“Men like that — when they know they won’t be found out — they will do anything.” 
― Michelle Paver

I’m the secretary of our Cardston Home Safe Animal Rescue Society and one of my tasks that I’ve undertaken is to create monthly posters advertising compassion to animals, and distribute them to the bulletin boards of select businesses in town.

After completing the poster, I couldn’t help but reflect on just how insensitive humans are when it comes to dealing with Nature,–not just lost and abandoned pets, but Nature in general. For example, now with the holiday season upon us, many a parent will consider getting a puppy or kitten as a Christmas gift for a family member.

“They’re so cute and adorable!” We hug the animal, maybe even kiss it. “We’re going to take such good care of you and you’re going to be part of our family!” we fondly chortle. At the moment, everything sounds so good and mushy. However, a week after Christmas, when faced with a cleanup job after the kitten or puppy accidently pooped on our beautiful rug, out the door goes the pet, and with the same intensity of passion in which the animal was adopted, it is now abandoned, left to face the cold elements on its own! Forgotten!

But pets and Nature in general aren’t the only things that suffer as a result of our indifference. We’re just as mean and cruel to each other!

I do believe in karma and, although karma can sometimes be delayed to manifest in our lives another day, I  believe that many of the calamities that happen in our lives are a result of our actions. If we are prone to gossip, should we expect people to trust us? If we are flighty and inconsistent in our thoughts and behavior, should we expect stability in our lives? If we frequently get angry at our children and call them stupid, should we expect our children to love us and care for us in our old age?

I listened to an interviewee this morning who was describing his life in Yugoslavia under the Nazi occupation. He was lamenting the fact that no one stood up to defend their neighbor, or each other, under the strict rules imposed on them by the Nazis. This is why Naziism was so successful for so long, because so few people in the occupied lands stood up against them, and I believe that this is the reason so many of us have to suffer because no one is prepared to stand up for justice for the weak, including our animals and Nature in general. In frustration, I often have to conclude that we deserve what we get!

“People speak sometimes about the “bestial” cruelty of man, but that is terribly unjust and offensive to beasts, no animal could ever be so cruel as a man, so artfully, so artistically cruel.”― Fyodor Dostoyevsky

If it hurts, learn from the experience!

Two days ago a scammer called me—I think he said he was from Microsoft, and said that he needed to get into my computer and clean out some corrupt files. It only took a minute’s conversation with him for me to realize that he was new at the game of scamming. In the scamming game, this guy was a “junior”–just learning the trade, the one who casts the bait by making a zillion random phone calls,  and as soon as he gets someone who will talk to him—a “sucker,” he would hand the phone over to the professional scammer to do the damage. I know the routine because I’ve had these guys call before, and I’ve come to understand their techniques. Now, most of the time I just hang up, or don’t even answer the phone,  but this time, decided to talk to him. Here’s roughly the conversation that we had:

Me: “You’re a scammer. Why would I let you into my computer?”

Scammer: “No, sir, you don’t understand. I’m from Microsoft and I need to get into your computer to clean out some bad files that are corrupting your hard drive and—”

Me, bluntly: “You’re a scammer. a parasite on society. Why don’t you get yourself a decent job and contribute to society, rather than scamming people out of their money?”

Scammer: “But, sir, I need to—”

Me, getting impatient: “You’re a scammer,” I repeated. “Get yourself a decent job!”

Scammer: “And how am I going to get a job, sir? Are you going to give me one?” (those were his exact words, and this is why I recognized him as a greenhorn at the scamming business). Professional scammers don’t ask dumb questions like that, so I admit, for the moment, his questions came as an unanticipated surprise.

Me, at this point, I completely lost my cool: “Now, why in hell am I responsible for  getting you a job?” Get your ass down to the employment office and see what’s available, like the rest of us have to do! Go back to school, if you have to! Get a trade . . .”

My  haranguing continued like that for a few more minutes. He listened in silence, then, finally, I hung up on him.

A bit later, after I calmed down to  a more human level of impiousness, I sort of felt sorry for the fellow. Life certainly had not been kind to him in order for him to have to resort to   scamming for a living, so I sent him a silent prayer, asking God to let someone come into his life and give him some proper guidance concerning the responsibilities of being human. Also, I needed him to forgive me for being so rude.

He obviously had some education—at least enough to know basic computer lingo, so,  at least to a point, he must have chosen, or easily been lead into the scammer’s way of life. Maybe, let’s assume he was raised in a good family that taught him right from wrong,  but he lacked moral principles.  Was his brain twisted enough to make him a sociopath, a person with an antisocial personality disorder who didn’t care whether he hurt another being? I’m not sure that he was a sociopath because, you will remember his question to me: “And how am I going to get a job, sir? Are you going to give me one?” A hard core sociopath—scammer, in this case, isn’t interested in your opinion nor how he can ‘improve’ himself.

On the other hand, if we—society are at least partially to blame for our “misfits,” where are we failing them? I’m a great fan of TVs Dr. Phil show. What I’ve observed so far by watching him is that, in many of his cases where people come to him for help, they’ve already been through at least one other professional source that failed them. Is there a factor in our attempted care to help the less fortunate that we’re leaving out of the equation? I think there is, and I’d like to turn our attention to our King James version of the Bible, Genesis 3:22, for a suggested answer: “And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil.” In other words,  Man can progress to eventual godhood, but, if he wants to continue his upward evolution, he had  best learn to benefit from the opposites in Creation!


The black nefarious agent and the white angel are both equally my teachers.


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