An allegory of conclusion

The Man in the Room

I don’t recall exactly when I learned a man was in the room. I’m sure someone told me.

For years, I watched as other people behaved as if they knew he was there. This was serious business. People (called martyrs) died because of this man. As a child, I never doubted what I was told about the man in the room. I not only believed he was there, I also knew a lot about him. He was old with a long gray beard, but handsome. He was quite distinguished and grandfatherly.

The man in the room was more important than anyone, even more than the President or the Pope. The President, and especially the Pope, also believed there was a man in the room. The Pope even had secrets that the man had entrusted to him. The man in the room was even more important than I was, or my parents, or any king.

Everything was about this man.

People wanted me to devote my life to the man in the room. We gave up things and made sacrifices either for him or to him. We did good things, like give money and stuff to the poor and needy because the man in the room wanted us to. The more we showed that we cared about the man, the better we were treated by our teachers, preachers, and parents.

The man in the room made the rules for everybody. He picked special adults and told them what the rules were for all of us. Everyone I knew agreed that there was a man in the room, and he was in charge forever. He was super powerful. He could do anything. He was in total control of everything. He could be invisible and even bring dead people to life.

He had always existed and always would.

Eventually, I learned that the man in the room made everything; even me, and you, and the Pope. I learned that he made me for a reason. I was to love and serve him and to do his will outside of the room. Everyone was. Even people who didn’t know it were supposed to serve him. That was my first world view, my purpose for being, but I didn’t fully realize it.

People would talk to the man in the room. Sometimes, they would ask for something. I was taught how to talk to him. I did this for a long time, but the man never talked back to me. Apparently, he only talked to certain people using his thoughts. That made sense. I sometimes asked the man for things. I was told he was always watching me, so I assumed that was why he never gave me anything I requested.

I knew people went into the room to see the man. One day, I decided to follow some people, hoping to see him. When I opened the door and stepped in, I saw no one, not even the people I had followed. It was an empty room and there was no man or any person to be seen. I wondered why I had seen no one else and why he apparently left the room as I entered. I had been assured that he always remained in the room.

I decided to find out why I had seen no one, especially not the man I was searching for. Since everyone was so positive about the man, I was sure that I had made some mistake.

After leaving the room by the only door, I decided to ask my mother why I had not seen the man. Mom got nervous and seemed upset. She told me to ask my father. I did. That was a mistake. Dad became angry and sent me to my room. He told me that next time he might beat some sense into me.

I decided to try a more neutral person.

I asked one of my teachers who I could trust if there was a reason that I couldn’t see the man. I could see her irritation, but she kindly explained to me that if I could not see the man, it meant that I did not believe strongly enough. I needed to have more faith. If I believed strongly enough, I would see the man.

As I asked others and I talked with friends, I realized that some people did not see the man either. A few of them never went into the room, or they denied any room existed. But they never told me that there was not a man to be seen. Most others told me that they did see the man. I was told that those of us who did not see the man were at fault. The issue was our lack of faith. And my lack of faith was evidenced by the fact that I asked too many questions and talked about it.

I thought the problem was clearly with me. I could see the room, but never saw the man. Others did. I needed more faith. I simply had to try harder.

If others could see him, why not me?

Years passed. I lived my life and almost forgot about the man. However, the man in the room issue never went away. I noticed that people began to assume I could see the man, just as they claimed. I stopped talking about him as though I could not see him. In a way, I lied by pretending.

For a while, I returned to the room often. I decided to ask a ‘man in the room’ expert if there was reason for my failure and if there was anything I could do. Again, the blindness was my doing. If I would believe more, I would see him. That still made sense to me.

I wondered how to have more faith.

Since I was certain that there was a man in the room, that it was my lack of faith that prevented me from seeing him, I decided to take even more drastic action.

I became a man in the room fanatic. I joined organizations. I took all the classes and attended all the learning groups I could find. My expertise allowed me to teach classes to both children and adults regarding the man in the room and the things they should do to be better followers. Eventually, I became a man in the room leader in a large and important relevant group.

I held firmly to the belief that there was a man in that room. Finally, one day I saw the room again. No one could have done more than I to be a true-blue follower, believer, and expert. I had not seen the room in years, but then one day there it was.

That was my moment, my time, my life-long goal of seeing the man was to be that day.

I proudly opened the door and triumphantly marched into the room, and there sitting in the chair in the corner was me as a child.

The child looked up and said, “I have been sitting here your entire life. I wanted nothing more than to meet the man in the room. For over 50 years, I have waited and searched, while you have worked and prayed and believed. But, look around. There is no man in this room and there never has been. I have gone to other rooms with the same discovery.”

I felt broken and deceived. I had wasted so much of my life hoping to see a man who never existed. Again, I walked out through the only door. When I looked back, the room was gone. I thought, and I wondered, and read and studied all the possibilities. I felt myself changing. I began to say negative things to people regarding what may be in the room.

I had lived most of my life with almost constant thought about the man in the room. Over many months I slowly became a person who openly expressed doubts.

Then one day a friend asked if I still believed that there was a man in the room.

I looked at my friend and said, “For more years than you have been on the earth I have searched for the man in the room. I did more than enough. I have decided that I was deceived. After a lifetime of trying to find a man, it is my conclusion that he does not exist and never has. The man is a myth and has always been.” I was relieved to know that I had finally found a truth that escapes so many.

One day, someone asked, “What is the point of you saying that there is no man in the room?”

I responded, “There is no room, only one told in stories. There is no man, invisible or otherwise. Too much life is wasted over nothing. Either there is man, or there isn’t. Faith is irrelevant. Belief does not make it so anymore than failure to believe makes it not so. It is reality based upon evidence.”

Another man overheard that comment. He approached me and said that I may not make such a statement if I have no proof that there is no man in the room. He said that I was asserting a fact that I could not prove. He wanted me to say that I believed that there is no man in the room.

I objected by claiming that I was asked a question (what is the point?) to which I provided my best answer. I postulated nothing. My answer to the question is not an affirmation that there is a man, but a admission that there is no evidence that there ever was a man in the room. Since he was not in the room when I looked, that was all the proof I needed. The fact that others believe there is a man in the room because someone told them has no bearing on reality. It only supports what they already believe.

My conclusion is different than their belief. No one ever told me that there was not a man, only that there was. When I tried to find the man, or to ask why I could not see him, no one said he was not there. They only told me that my inability to find him was my fault. I no longer believe what people told me. But since I did everything I could, and I did what they told me I must do, and I still did not find any evidence of the man, I concluded he does not exist.

One of the things that helped me with my conclusion is the story, and the resulting idiom, of The Emperor Has No Clothes. I should have known from the beginning that there was no man to see because I could not see him. That should have ended it. But I did not want to accept that people were telling me the same lies they had been told.

Almost everyone I knew insisted that I was wrong. When I realized that the Emperor was naked, I knew why I wanted there to be a man in the room. I wanted there to be a man, and I wanted him to be as I was told he was. I wanted to be like most people. I’m not.

Now, I know the truth. I need no proof of what does not exist.

©Bill Reynolds, 11/12/2018

Look both ways. Look again, and again, and ….
Mind the gaps dearly, they may hide truth.


The Emperor Believed.

(pingback: https://grabaspine.wordpress.com/)

 

Essay: Grace Before Rant (and why I care)

So many things about other people are none of my business. It is not the same with everyone because my relationship with each person is different. It begins with me, then my immediate family (in my case), then my friends, professional relationships, then people who want something from me like money or my vote. It may include strangers with whom I share driving on roads, rooms (the sign said ‘employees must wash hands’), grocery stores, air, or transportation systems.

Ambivalence, freedom, and self-preservation

If the man sitting across from me on the bus wants to pray, I don’t care. If he puts down a prayer rug that blocks my exit, I do care. If he jumps up and yells something that sounds like god is great in Arabic, I care a lot about his intention. As the behavior of others moves closer to interfering in my life, the more what is not my business is made to be. Not by me. I begin to care.

Pray, pay, and obey

When I lived at home with my parents, I was the youngest child in an Irish Catholic family. For nine years (1950s), I attended a Catholic elementary school (K-8), as did my older siblings. I was taught all traditional things catholic kids were supposed to learn. I memorized the Catechism. I learned about the religion as it was taught to us, about the saints, and some bible history for eight of those nine years. We had to pray. We had to go to confession and to Mass. We had no choice, but I also recall none of us resisting. We saw it as normal.

Millions of children around the world grew up in similar circumstances (and some have spent a lifetime recovering). It was brain washing, of sorts. We prefer to call it religious education and indoctrination, to be more politically correct.

We prayed to start each school day. We memorized new prayers as part of the curriculum, some in Latin if you were gunna be an altar boy. There were no altar girls then (now both sexes are altar servers), but the Latin has been scrapped in most cases. Before and after recess, we prayed. Before lunch, we prayed Grace Before Meals. When we returned after lunch, we stood next to our desks and prayed the Grace After Meals. Before we left for the day, we prayed. We were expected to pray at home.

When old enough, every Friday, or the day before a Holy Day of Obligation, we went to confession as part of the school day. More prayers; and the assigned penance was to say more prayers (five Hail Mary’s, five Our Father’s, and an Act Of Contrition). Think about that for a minute: prayer as punishment? We did that in anticipation of receiving Holy Communion (the body and blood of Christ) at Mass. You’d have thought we were Trappist monks in training (they pray seven times a day).

Reciprocal respect (do your thing)

I am not going to repeat what I’ve said about prayer (mine or other’s) in past posts. But I want to express a concern (PC for pointed rant). I only know what a few other non-believers do in these circumstances, but I want to briefly whine over how I feel about it.

Maybe I’m being picky or over-simplistic about this, but I strongly believe that no gods exist or ever have. Consequently, communication with something non-existent is pointless, if not weird. I do not include mediation, talking with others (including animals), or talking to self in the same way because in each of those situations, the self or other being exists and meditative relaxation is probably healthy. I have talked to my pets my entire life and in many cases I am sure there was some degree and form of understanding me and what my intention was, even if the language was not understood. They never talked back (at least not in a language like English).

My wife (not atheist) and I occasionally have meals with religious friends (Evangelical Protestant, Lutheran of some kind, Catholic of Roman blend, whatever). In most cases, it goes like this. We meet up, we talk, we sit, read menus, we talk more, order drinks, talk more, order food, they talk even more, and then the food comes. That’s usually when the religious people decide to pray.

Now, if we can pray at religious school before we go home or down stairs for lunch; couldn’t they get the prayer part done a lot sooner? Furthermore, praying, especially while holding hands with convinced atheist, is not a social experience. It is a religious one.

Sometimes, they do pray early. If you go to their home for an outdoor barbeque or buffet style meal, they pray in one of those large group things. Usually, the protestants, and often Catholics, still want to hold hands, bow heads, close eyes, and mumble incoherently. Anyway, I will usually hold hands and watch as someone mumbles a long thanksgiving kind of prayer, often as the food cools. Early prayer is possible.

Truth is, these are my wife’s friends much more than mine (she and they may disagree). If I do not feign cooperation, it could affect her relationship with her friends. I don’t want to do that.

In most of these situations I feel awkward (and maybe a bit hypocritical) because of my beliefs. If they did not pray, or would pray on their own, it would be fine. The problems come with the showing off. That’s when I feel like I am socially being made (as in forced) part of the prayer, prayer group, or blessing process. Maybe I should say something like,

“You go on ahead and pray. I don’t do that. I’ll wait, but if you take too long, I’ll start without you. I’m here to interact with you socially and to eat. Not to pray.”

But I won’t do that.

Is my conclusion equally valid?

While I’m willing to speak openly about my atheism with almost anyone (there are limits), I don’t want to cause problems. I’m often demonstrative when arguing or debating religion (or anything). That’s not good.

Moreover, I don’t want to be the cause of my wife’s friends shunning her or pretending out of sympathy. I don’t care what they think about me. (I’m atheist, I know what many think). But there is irony in that. I do care how the world treats my family, especially when I may be the reason for it. (Your father, grandfather, husband, friend, what-evah).

What do you think?

If you have an opinion or experience with this, I would like to hear it. If you pray, how do you feel about a non-believer excusing themselves or feigning participation? If you are not a believer, how do you handle such situations? Please comment, even if it is that you don’t care either way.

If you watch this show, you know that they seldom hold hands: Catholic.

Bill Reynolds, 5/11/2018

Look both ways when crossing to the other side.
Mind the gap of our differences.

Essay: Ya’ Know What?

My morning means coffee. As I listen to the Keurig groan to push water through that little plastic cup, I ponder the cosmos. Then, I’m off to my room where, with the help of Lappy the laptop, I investigate the inworld of cyberspace and contemplate the secrets of the vast physical universe. I wouldn’t want to have some cosmic detail wrong.

I sit at my desk and prowl through blogs and respond to comments before flipping to Facebook. After typing a few comments, and some likes or loves, I click to email. And behold: there is the prompt for this week’s essay.

Galileo was put on trial and spent the last years of his life in prison for suggesting that the earth revolved around the sun. We think we have a pretty good idea of how the universe works now, but what if we don’t? What if we’re wrong? What if…??

(Good grief!)

Galileo was on house arrest and ordered to deny the heliocentric heresy, which he did before recanting his denial. The sun-center working of the solar system had been around, but the question for him was whether he agreed with it. This was during the reign of Pope Urban the 8th and when the phrase, don’t piss off the pope became popular. It was bad for Galileo. It was worse for others. In the 400 years since, there has been no Urban the 9th.

The rest of the prompt is figuring out the universe and what if we are (or I am) wrong. The universe is one of my favorite topics and being wrong is something with which I am quite familiar. Just ask my wife or kids. The last part asks, what if?

I like to quote phrases that make me feel smart when they affirm what I have supposed. This phrase is credited to Zen:

‘If you understand, things are just as they are; if you do not understand, things are just as they are.’

Galileo and Pope Urban lived under the same sun and stars within the same solar system. One was right, and one was powerful. But another phrase is might makes right. It did in this case, but not in the long run.

The universe did whatever it did without the help or knowledge of either man. To navigate by celestial means, one assumes that the sun, moon, stars, and planets move across the sky. To the observer, that is what appears to happen, but things are not as they appear.

If we’re wrong, nothing changes. For now, we know what we know, and we look for more answers or corrections.

In time, we’ll correct our errors. Learning is endless, and science has gaps everywhere. Even if we had the cosmos accurately mapped out and understood all the chaos, the potential for more knowledge exceeds the spatial vastness of the universe itself.

And as for the we part; some of ‘we’ think the earth is flat, some of ‘we’ believe some of us are alien creatures; some of ‘we’ deny lunar landings. Too many ‘we’ think Hubble telescope scenes and Voyager photos are fake. Far too many of ‘we’ think science is nonsense, and that it was all created by one supreme deity. Regardless of the signs and clear evidence, some of us will always go the wrong way.

What if is the wrong question. Let’s try what if not? Consider some possibilities.

First, try to imagine this world without science. It is easier to envision a world without humans or any intelligent life. Now, with a twist of the cranium, imagine what John Lennon suggested.

Imagine a world without religion. It’s easier than it was to extract science and learning from history. We’ll always have both, but now we can ask the what if question.

For over 65 years, no one asked me to explain the universe or how it came to be. People were willing to explain it to me in terms of what they thought. Then, a few years ago, about the time I started mumbling the word atheist with personal pronouns, I was suddenly cast into the academic role of Carl Sagan, Bill Nye, and Neil deGrasse Tyson all rolled into one. I was charged with explaining not only how the universe works, but how it came to be. I was also challenged to explain the source of all life on earth, the details of evolution, and to fill-in any scientific gaps. Perhaps the inquisitors thought I would be enlightened.

I not only don’t have all the answers to such questions, I don’t need to have them. Nor do you. None of the seven billion people alive today, nor any of the 100-billion who have ever lived had all the answers or needed to know them.

If the question is what if we are wrong; the answer is of course we are. We do not have all the right answers and that is exactly what all the excitement should be about. Are we willing to learn? It’s why we are here: to always wonder. As Galileo said,

I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.

***Bill Reynolds***

As you wander, look both ways.
Remember to look up.
Mind the gaps. As you learn, fill in where you can.

In Defense of Atheists (Part II)

What believers need to know about Atheists

While many people rightfully argue about (or discuss) belief and religion, I’m sure many don’t know what atheists think or believe. However, I encourage people to learn the truth about atheism to understand atheists better. It’s very simple but it may require more unlearning of past prejudices than assimilating new information. That is partly why I decided to become open about my atheism and to write about it.

My take on life’s meaning

I ended Part I with mention of an article that accuses atheists of being nihilists. Indeed, nihilists do not usually follow a god belief. There are multiple forms of nihilism because it is a basic philosophical position that applies to different things differently. So there are many types of nihilists, but that discussion is well beyond my intent here. As with most posts of that nature, it was full of assumptions about atheists that are either wrong or stereotyping. That should be enough, but the article was also replete with reasoning fallacies; a common problem with theistic arguments of virtually any type.

One claim the author made regards life having meaning. Life being meaningless would be a nihilist philosophical premise, but it is not atheist even if some atheists may see life like that. Few atheists are nihilist of any kind, but this is about me. So, this guy claims my life is void of meaning and must be so because it includes no gods. Specifically his. Many people may need a god to give meaning or purpose to their life. Fine – that’s them. I don’t! (And, frankly, neither do they.)

I contend that since this life is all I have (reincarnation notwithstanding), every day of it is filled with purpose and reason. What I will never accept is that life is some sort of test given by a god to determine if I, or my eternal soul, must spend eternity either incredibly bored (or however you see that state) or suffering (aka eternal damnation). I say this life is all we get, and I hope it is wonderful for everyone. If someone thinks it is a blessing from god, I’m ok with that. That’s them. If they follow a religion, I am sure there is more to it.

I think the purpose of each life is simply to live it. My reason for existence is the reason I give it, just as each person gives reason and purpose to their life, with or without the assistance of a deity or the promise of an afterlife. That’s my opinion, and it’s not nihilist. I find people telling me that such thoughts are not what I truly think to be incredibly annoying.

I don’t believe that I was created by a god. It is not the purpose of my life to serve anything or anybody outside of nature – I respect reality and nature. I believe in living my life as implied in parts of much wisdom literature to the fullest (eat, drink, and be merry), to find happiness and pleasure (e.g., The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam), to limit my suffering and that of other people and creatures. Certainly, to love.

I am here to be part of nature. And then, as is the highest law all life must follow, to return my borrowed physical essence back to the natural universe, allowing my mind to pass on to whatever respite awaits in death, if anything of the kind follows, which I doubt. That is the natural cycle of life. We cannot change it. I can think of no reason to change it. It seems to be working, provided we don’t fuck things up too badly.

I couldn’t have said it better myself

A Catholic priest once said (I’m paraphrasing), if there is no god, we have all been involved in a horrible deception and charade. I heard those words at a critical time: true, serious, tragic. I consider most people I know to be good, be they atheist or Christian or other religion. I assume that believers who post anti-atheist things are also good people being controlled by religious fear and the dark side of human nature. People can be stubborn. I prefer to say that I’m persistent.

But these folks who write such tripe are just plain wrong about me and other atheists, wrong about the conclusion that is atheism, and are often offensive. I hope that’s because they don’t know that atheists are as good as any believer. But, as Neil Carter implied, the on-line us is often not the best side of the person.

Neil Carter

This youtube video is among the best explanations I’ve seen. It is respectfully well-done by Neil Carter, who blogs as Godless in Dixie. It is an abbreviated version of a longer talk given by Neil. So, while it is about 15 minutes, it’s only part of the talk. The point here is the 11 items and his explanations. This was made in a Christian Church for Christians, so it is worth viewing be you theist, atheist, or anywhere in between.

Look both ways because “a hair divides what is false and true.
And mind the gaps because “
We shall perish along the path of love.”
(quotes by Omar Khayyam)

In Defense of Atheists (Part I)

 

Most Christians are wrong about Atheists

About me

I’m atheist. I do not identify as humanist or nihilist. I’m expert in neither, but I agree with some views of both philosophies even though they often conflict. That sometimes makes me of two minds, or maybe three. Click this link for my story if you need to know it, but, ya probably don’t.

Why I am writing this

I decided to post this in two parts to keep them of reasonable length. In this part, I talk about things that believers (I say Christians, because that’s what most Americans are) are wrong about regarding atheists. It’s been said a lot, but not enough. Part II will address some things I think people should know (particularly Christians, but anyone) about atheists. Some atheists read my blog and I hope they will correct my errors or clarify my confusion.

I’ve often read long, esoteric, philosophical explanations about why atheists are bad people. I’m a sensitive man, and they hurt what feelings I still have. Since being atheist is simple (we believe in no gods; done.), those rants are virtually always wrong. They are not attempts to convince me to repent or to believe in god. They simply judge atheists, or atheism, as bad.

Believe to be good

Belief in god makes no one better, and vice versa. But, most believers seem to think it does make them better. Otherwise, why bother with religion? That is to be expected. Conversely, they further seem to think that not believing makes me worse. A lot worse, apparently. Since these folks have no specific atheist behavior to point to, they go off on long, broad-brush, baseless philosophical tirades that can only be explained as being essential to their own personal and spiritual well-being. We all know people who put others down to make themselves feel good.

Atheists are bad

I fully understand the morality issue for some folks. But atheists are as moral as anyone. Yet, these rants are not as simple as holier than thou. Each is judging other people they do not know as evil for having a harmless opinion. Conversely, those who do evil things and repent (or maybe not) are judged to be better than those who simply don’t think gods exist. How is that logical?

Bad to the bone

However, leading the pack of obnoxious nonsensical know-it-alls are the clueless people who seem to know exactly what atheism is, what atheists are up to, and why. They claim to know our thoughts. Yet, for all the animus it generates, atheism is simple. But these self-appointed detractors are not atheist and don’t seem to want to get it right. What they seem to want is to preserve something that disbelief threatens simply by being a conclusion in someone’s mind – a conclusion that can change (as in reverse) in a New York minute, but rarely does.

These holy souls swing at the low-hanging-fruit to bash people for what they believe. This is partly because of what they think (not know) about atheists and atheism. Such assaults are unnecessary, insulting, and vulgar. One Orthodox Christian priest has said that embracing atheism is worse than committing murderer. People believe this crap, especially when it’s said from the pulpit by a “man of god.” That annoys me.

I have my limited personal experience, but surveys I’ve read indicated that people trust atheists (I assume ones they don’t know) about the same as convicted rapists and murderers. In some states, it is illegal for an atheist to hold public office, even if democratically elected. While such laws are not enforceable, they remain on the books. Very few outspoken atheists hold elected office – none nationally. So, why the need to pile-on with the endless “they are bad, bad, bad?”

The essay

Recently, I read a post by someone who insisted that all atheists are nihilist. Following several of my objecting comments, he stood firm with his accusation. In the essay he further insinuated that any social justice work done by atheists is a ruse, insincere, and as doomed as a “utopia” (his word). Now, that shit hurts. I can’t imagine how he connected nihilism to utopia (dystopia perhaps?). This, they will say they’re not, but they are argument is worthless. Do all Christians play with snakes or drink poison to prove the strength of their faith? Of course not. Nor do all atheists agree with nihilist philosophies. It’s difficult enough without someone making stuff up.

Look both ways: either there is a god or there are not gods.
Consider all the gaps and mind them well.

God’s Plan

 

Just one of many books similarly titled

Recently, I saw a book for sale in the local library. The title was God’s Plan for Church Leadership. I don’t recall the author’s name, nor did I think any more about it until the title came back to me while driving home. I haven’t read the book, but apparently the author was sharing this information about God’s Plan in a book.

All I needed to do was buy the book and read it. Then, I too would have the wisdom and insight of this plan, whatever benefit that would have. I suppose part of the plan was for the book’s author to get the messages telepathically, or however that works, so that the book could be written, published, and sold. It must follow that I would see the book, not buy it, and write about it. It’s all part of the big plan.

It strikes me as special when people say things like “God’s Plan” because it stakes the claim that they have factual inside-information from a deity. In this case, it’s specifically Christian, but that concept is by no means unique to the 75% of Americans who claim membership in that group.

The other two groups of the Abrahamic tradition (Jewish and Muslim) have similar claimants. But this author was Christian. I have always been baffled by folks who can tell me precisely what the plan is, other than what may be specifically spelled-out in scripture. I don’t agree with much scripture, but at least I know it to be the source.

If there is a plan for us, it is coded in our blood, bones, and brain – our DNA – what capabilities and limitations we have are pretty much set from day one. We are all the same in many aspects, yet very different in many observable ways. I’m not saying there is any plan, but the blueprint for my life was of my own making, given certain realities, realizations, limitations, and abilities. There are also coincidences.

I’ve seen no other evidence of planning. We are quite on our own. We can make the best of it. Conversely, we may under-perform to phenomenally low, yet undiscovered, levels. Failure in life is an option, even when disguised as success.

I find it frighteningly bizarre that since Armageddon is apparently a religious end times prophesy (I’m not looking it up, but I think it’s in Revelation) of God’s plan, many Christian people work hard to rush that event to fruition, thus ending human life on earth. And in their mind, sending people like me straight to Hell to their everlasting joy. An eternity of “I told you so.” For Muslims, it’s Al-Malhama Al-Kubra – but it’s all the same to me.

You can buy these and give them to your heathen friends.

Now, for the person who claims personal and privileged information regarding the specifics of a deific plan for church leadership. I would cheerfully bet a six-pack of any brewery’s finest amber ale that the same preacher/follower-man or woman (it was guy, but I’m feeling inclusive) would call down fire and brimstone into the after-death fortunes of anyone who would aspire to fortune-telling – as either practitioner or consumer. Yet, that is exactly what this self-proclaimed, religiously acceptable prophet is claiming to do.

It seems that in this case, and in so many others, God apparently needs this human’s help to pull-off the Big Plan. God is omnipotent but likes to entice His or Her enslaved underlings to do this bidding, just because.

I can say from experience that God’s plan is very clear to some of us, until others of us start asking questions. The brand of answer for the prior ilk is too often a version of God works in mysterious ways. The honest answer might sound like I don’t know.

I am not picking on all believers (at least not here). I know many religiously devout people who do not claim to know the plan (thus, so many books for them to buy), and do not believe this mumbo-jumbo any more than I do. They may even proffer that making such a claim would be heresy.

Waiving my bullshit flag has brought trouble into my life. It would be fair to wonder why I don’t stop. I can assure you that I will continue objecting to such ludicrous nonsense until the day the king puts on his clothes.

My plan and wish for us both is to have a wonderful day. Allahu akbar (not to me).

Always look both ways.
You don’t know what Allah’s plan is, or if she will protect you.
So, mind the gaps like you mean it.

Postscript: I returned to the library but could not find the book again anywhere, nor could I locate anything like it in the catalogue system (likewise in cyberspace). During my search, I did notice several similar titles. There are many people who seem to know God’s plan. As I searched graphics for this post, I noticed more literature about God’s Plan.

A2Z Challenge: W is for Witches

There are big differences between witches and the other 25 folklore creatures I am writing about. The first is, minus a few mythical ones which may not be, witches are human. The second difference is that I am certain some people who declare themselves witches (including friends of mine) will read this blog. Thus, I may well be brought to correction about what I write. Another difference is, along with elves, I think witches are cool. I like them.

The amount of information available, much of it provided by self-identified living witches, is plethoric. Any library could dedicate and fill an entire section to witch-related topics (I bet some do). All this I say both as an excuse for my brief driveling twaddle, and to encourage the curious toward continued exploratory adventure into the worldly subjects of witches and witchcraft and nature and other witch-related things, such as Wicca.

This link will take you to a list of famous witches from various eras. That page will also provide a link (interesting) to related belief systems (religions). And this link will take you a Wiccan page that will explain 15 different types of witches (I didn’t know).

I have written about witches before (this poem, for example), but only fictionally as I battle my own cognitive dissonance with reality, stereotyping, and fiction.

That said, one category of witchery includes mythology and folklore, which is the category for this blog, according to the A-to-Z Challenge list of categories. To keep between the lines of myth and lore, I present five witches for you from mythology and folklore.

From Homer’s Odyssey, a witch named Circe drugged sailors and then turned them into animals, wolves and lions mostly. For me, that explains a lot. Odysseus worked with Circe on the problem and after a year, he and his sailors were free to go back to Ithaca.

The Witch of Endor used the ghost of Samuel to tell King Saul that he would be defeated and killed by the Philistines in battle. However, he was only wounded in the battle, but then he killed himself anyway. He must have been bewitched. Go figure!

Vampires with toe thing.

The Chedipe is a witch who got pissed at men. She rides a tiger into their homes unnoticed. She then sucks the life out of men through their toes. I have no explanation for her sucking toes to death fetish. The guy dies, and she moves on to the next victim. Have a good night and keep your toes covered. Can a witch also be a vampire? I noticed some talk of prostitution in my research.

The witches from Macbeth remind me of a high school skit I was in. These Sisters of Fate were the agents of destruction for Macbeth and all of Scotland. Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble.

Hecate is the Greek goddess of witchcraft, witches, sorcery, poisonous plants, and other hocus-pocus stuff. She is still worshipped by some groups and is the source for the concept of a jinx.

Ignorance then. Now?
I cannot imagine this.

Look both ways for witches from the east and the west, the north and south.
Mind the gaps and the pointed hats.