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Attention Educators!

20 Apr

Front Cover

Front Cover

We have a national epidemic on our hands!

http://www.amazon.com/Teacher-Student-Relationships-Crossing-Emotional-Physical/dp/1475802366/ref=tmm_hrd_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1366476640&sr=8-1″ title=”Teacher-Student Relationships: Crossing Into the Emotional, Physical, and Sexual Realms” target=”_blank”>

Interesting Times: 2013

17 Feb

These are interesting times.  Two-thousand-thirteen has been quite eventful, thus far.  Somewhere between the words “interesting” and “eventful” lies the reality that affects us all:  Nothing in this world stays the same.

Friends retire from their lifelong vocations and press into their permanent vacations.  Others have medical issues arise and leave work, and full-time ministry.  Personal and moral issues drive a certain number into involuntary retirement way too soon.  Still others switch jobs and look for additional excitement.  Whether work or ministry, such revelations seem the pointers that guide each sunrise during the early days of this current year.

The possibility exists that many of the changes I write about are age-related, and that this is the season for change for those in question.  However, most are changing by choice, and doing so for a variety of reasons.  For example, I have lost colleagues and co-workers, pastors and friends, and sports buddies to change.  Some of these changes are conscious and weighed, others compelled by circumstances.  Even sickness and death have reared their ugly heads in 2013.  In fact, far too many of my family and friends are now ill and battling with one dreadful thing, or another.

In the midst of all of this change, so many wonderful opportunities have emerged for so many–even for many of those I reference above.  We could easily find ourselves mired in the negative aspects of life’s shortcomings.  That would be understandable.  However, in so doing, we would miss the blessings of each moment we are granted.  I use the word “granted,” for none of us are guaranteed any breaths or heartbeats.

Focusing on despair means sometimes missing out on the joys emerging, from within whatever struggles we face.  We will have them, and most of us will endure.  Those of us who are older are realizing the blessings of new family members, grandchildren, job-changes, ministry opportunities, writing ventures, and the  joy of realizing we have affected many lives for good, along the way.  I thank God for the people in my life.  Specifically, for example, I am grateful for people who decide to overlook what I do, in favor of whom I am.  Aligning these two, indeed, takes more than a life time, and is accomplished best by the Almighty.  This year the losses might be great, but we are all dispensable in this world.

I was reflecting on this very truth this past week.  My wife and I arrive at work very early each morning.  One day this week I commented, “imagine putting a sign up on your classroom door that read, ‘Mrs. Z’s classes will not meet this week.  See you next week.'”  She smiled and then laughed.  We both understand that laugh.  I then said, “You know, within 24 hours of your last day on this job, the system will continue like you never existed.  Things will change and the new students and teachers will have no idea of your life’s work.”  In her wisdom, my wife replied, “I know.  But hopefully what I do will live on in the lives  I affected.”  She is absolutely correct!

I share this brief conversation to say that we are products of the many people who left us long ago.  We are also living proof of those who left us recently, as well as emerging souls by the efforts of our contemporaries, including family and friends.  In change, and in God, there are always remnants–seeds planted–that germinate and flower through the efforts of others, later in life.  We owe much to those who gave their lives–only to be left along the trail of dusty memories.  Soon we will all be in that class, as we are mere passengers on this planet, transients, and this is not our home.  

At the sunset of one phase of our lives, where will we stand?  In the words of John the Baptist, when asked about his followers, directed all of his affection toward the Lord:  “He must increase, I must decrease.”  Therein lies the beauty of a life-in-focus, and priorities-in-line.  Life is not about my presence.  Life is about His presence in me.

The tabulation of the bottom-line for 2013 has begun.  No one knows what lies out there for any one of us.  However, I can assure you that making choices to thwart the status quo, and comfort, is what drives my passion for life.  Care to join me in the possibilities?

Open the door, God, if only for a moment . . . Walking by faith and not by sight, should get easier with age and diminished eye sight.  [smile]

Help! I Smell Like An Old Person

26 May

HELP!  I SMELL LIKE AN OLD PERSON!

© 2009, Ernie Zarra

My sisters and I refer to the smell as “old person’s smell.”  The odor in the house of my slender, gray-haired 75-year-old grandmother never seems to disappear.  With the windows open, or with them closed, the smell is always there.  Some days the smell is so strong that I am able to taste it.

The “old person’s smell” in Grandma Maggie’s house is actually a combination of several strong scents–at least I think so.  It is so strong that my friends always make fun of me after I return home from visiting.  As a 12-year-old, I hate that.  But my friends and I all share the same problem:  our grandparents houses smell like old people.

           Grandma Maggie has the most wonderful crushed-velour sofa.  Every time I visit, I pounce on the left side with my bottom, and slid into a well-worn corner.  This is grandma’s favorite corner of the sofa.  I stand up in the center of the sofa, when grandma is not watching, and jump up and down, as if on a trampoline.  The springs are so lively that I hear their baritone “boi-yoing” sound, at times, when I jump really high. 

           The gross part of the sofa is that with each plop onto the sofa, my nose catches a scent that is forever part of the pillows.  Grandma’s pillows smell like an old person.   So, when my face touches any of them, I wrinkle my nose and try not to breathe too deeply.  The pillows smell like a combination of moth balls, lilac toilet water, chicken soup, and hand cold cream from the super market.  Old people have funny smells.

           Like her house, my Irish grandmother seems to have a scent that hovers over her all day long.  It is like an invisible cloud of scents.  Every time she walks by, or every time she grabs me for a kiss on the cheek, there is that smell—the old person’s smell!  Now, the smell is nothing terrible, and she is my grandmother.  But sometimes, I am afraid to let her kiss me.  Even her breath has a funny smell.

           Grandma Maggie washes clothes by hand in the large, black, stone wash-basin in her downstairs utility room.  In order to fill the basin, she must turn on the valves for the hot and cold water.  The water from her Artesian well always rumbles and screeches through the shaky, old metal old pipes as it fills the water heater.  The water heater makes popping and snapping sounds inside, as the water begins to heat.

After a few minutes, grandma squeaks and tweaks another valve, and then turns the old galvanized metallic faucet knobs to just where she wants them.  The hot and cold water faucets begin exhaling air.  The water begins to come out, mixed with air, first with a sputter.  Then, it is followed by a loud spurt or air and a forceful flow follows.  Eventually there is a steady stream. 

Sometimes the water looks brown and rusty, so grandma has to let the water run and run to become clear.  Rusty water tastes like metal and has a dirty smell all its own.  Ewww, more old people stuff.

           One late October weekend, while the fall leaves are quickly dropping from their trees, my parents drop me off for a weekend visit with Grandma Maggie.  She lives in the country, where the temperature is always cooler, and the air always fresher. 

Grandma is in the bathroom fixing her hair when I arrive, so I head to the sofa to make my presence known.  I have a routine to follow, you know!  So, I enjoy a few private minutes of sofa jumping.  While jumping, I can actually feel the gusty drafts coming from the window that is directly behind the sofa.

           Before Grandma comes out of the bathroom, I get bored and run outside to enjoy the wind and to play “catch the leaves.”  It’s fun to catch falling leaves and crinkle them into small pieces, by rubbing them between the palms of my hands.  As the wind gusts, leaves fall quickly to the ground, in large numbers. 

I enjoy standing under the large, twisted branches of a 30-foot tall oak tree, which is 50 yards from grandma’s house.  This tree is my favorite tree to climb in and pretend I am a bat, by hanging upside down by my legs.

           The branches of the oak tree are so long that they shade the ground for over 30 feet.  But its branches are also very creepy.  They are shaped like the arms of monsters, with long, gangly, claw-like features. 

           This oak tree is the kind of tree where the roots are like octopus tentacles, reaching out of the ground, searching for whom to latch onto.  At night I am afraid to go near this tree.  But during the day the tree is fun. 

While standing on several of its bulging roots, I try wrapping my arms around the tree trunk, but my arms are far too short.  My arms are always too short.  Old people don’t have this problem.

           The wind is now blowing strongly enough to shake the large branches.  Even three bushy-tailed, gray squirrels are bobbing their furry heads as they cling to the dark-brown, bark-covered branches with their tiny claws.  One gust of wind blows a smaller squirrel right off its branch and it falls several feet onto the ground.   Off it scampers, unhurt. 

           After playing with the falling oak leaves for a several minutes I am bored again.  So, off I run toward grandma’s house.  I decide to enter through the utility room screen door.  I grab the handle and quickly fling open the door.  I step into the soap-smell-filled utility room and immediately the wind slams the door closed, behind me.  I am afraid of that screen door.  I jump forward.  That door always seems to scare me. 

Grandma is leaning over the wash basin in the utility room when I enter.  Her feet are firmly planted on the freshly painted “battleship gray” color floor.  She shrieks and squeezes a bar of soap extra tightly in her hands.  The screen door always seems to scare Grandma Maggie too!

As she squeezes, the bar instantly fires across the room like a rocket, hits the nearest wall, and drops to the floor with a soapy thud.  But that does not matter. 

Grandma picks up the soap and giggles with a high-pitch sound, which almost sounds like her old tea kettle spout as it begins to release steam through its nozzle.  She just shakes her head.  I am watching as Grandma scrapes her dirt-covered overalls across the ribs of her well-worn washboard.  Brown lye soap is being brushed into the stains with a boars’-hair bristle brush.  The clothes are sloshing around in the basin, as grandma dips them in and out of the water. 

Grandma is forcefully rubbing each piece of clothing across the ribbing of the washboard.  I watch her arms move back-and-forth quickly.  Then my eyes open wide.  Grandma’s upper arms have lots of loose skin, and the skin flaps side-to-side, in unison with the back-and-forth strokes of the bristle brush.  Grandma switches hands and her arms really get a workout.  Grandma Maggie sure has old person’s arms and her hands smell like soap—brown, lye soap.

Wanting to get a closer look, I jump up onto a three-step stool and politely ask grandma if I could help her.  She smiles and nods her head.  When she nods, the wrinkles of her neck have a way of bunching up right under her chin.  When she smiles, the wrinkles seem to stretch and disappear.  Grandma Maggie has old person’s wrinkly neck.

           As I stand on the three-step stool, I lean over into the wash-basin to begin my work.  Grandma hands me the bar of slippery, smelly brown soap.  Then she hands me the washboard and her bristle brush.  I rub some soap into the firm bristles of the brush, dip the brush in the basin water and begin to brush away a stain on one of grandma’s kitchen towels. 

           I am so confident that I could easily handle this chore that I rise up onto my toes, grab the washboard with my left hand, and slap the towel onto the ribs with my right hand.

           I begin a rhythmic-like stroke, up-and-down, dragging the brush bristles over the washboard ribs, with only a towel separating the two.  I bear down and, as I do, slip my tongue out of my mouth, to wet my upper lip.  With one strong down-stroke of my right hand, my body weight shifts and I slide off the stool and land head-first into the half-filled wash basin.  I thought I was going to drown.  I was gurgling soapy water and it tasted awful.  I even hit my head on the bottom of the stone basin.  I am afraid of that stool.

           Grandma Maggie lifts me up by my shirt collar.  I am dripping wet and coughing very loudly.  I look over at grandma and she is laughing and smiling, which means the wrinkles on her neck are gone.

           Besides being wet, I quickly realize that I now smell like an old person.  I smell like Grandma Maggie’s house and hands more than ever.  I smell like her!  I am afraid at what my friends going to say about this?  Oh well!  I accomplish one thing by falling into the basin.  I won’t need for a bath at the end of the day. 

Grandma Maggie hugged me later that evening and said I smelled really good.  I asked myself, how can an “old person smell” be good?  Then it hit me.  I was busy wasting far too much time on what I did not want to smell like that I missed something very important.  If being old, and smelling like an old person, was good enough for “my” grandmother, then it was good enough for me.

I am trying to remember to ask Grandma Maggie one question before bedtime.  “What is Fels Naptha, anyway?

Oh Baby!

16 Dec

Babies have a way of finding crannies of love that we hide from others.  The alcoves of our souls hide things that only God, Himself, knows of and can pinpoint.  Yet, there are those little ones who open us wide to the world–even if guarded, as such.  Think about it.  One baby in a room of adults reduces most of us to mere functional illiterates by choice.  We become entranced by the bald-headed, toothless squirmers.   

I remember talking to my own children.  “You wan Dada to bwring your baba or bankie?”  I won’t go into all the baby-talk, or nicknames my wife and I had for our children.  Some of them are hilarious, that is for sure. If you are like we are, you might still find the urge to pop one of them from time-to-time, just for the sake of reaction. 

There aren’t too many of us that are able to hold back baby-talk when face-to-face with a little life in our presence.  We sing to our babies in the womb.  We talk to them, and we pray for them.  W teach them nursery rhymes, tell them stories of our childhood (maybe just a bit embellished), and instruct them in praying before bedtime.  Remember those fun days, before they sat on the sides of their beds and cried for no reasons at all, or got quiet when held accountable?  Recall the moments when we asked them “What’s wrong,” only to hear in return, “Nothin”?  I surely remember them!  In fact, there are times I’d like to sit on the side of my own bed and cry a little for myself, these days.  It is sometimes a good thing to feel sorry for ourselves, as adults, at least for fifteen minutes, before someone asks for money, or the cell phone rings. 

Why do babies bring out the best in us?  A giggle, two tiny dimples, a gummy smile, flailing hands and stumpy toes, their splashing arms and legs during baths–capped off by their pudgy, wrinkly feet, capping off the ends of their soft and supple smallness.  All of this serves to remind us of life’s simplicities and basic human needs.  Babies also remind us of the necessity of the protection they need.  The trust they place in adults is astounding.  But they learn quickly.  Once they figure out that we are not really perfect, all things begin to change.  If you are like me you are torn by those early years, sometimes longing for them again—but happy also not to have to repeat those long nights, illnesses, and the like.  Why can’t they stay little forever.  Have you ever wanted that?  Nah!  There are grandchildren for those reasons.  Right?

Babies are signals of life.  They are reminders that the future is the present.  They comprise the past through one’s DNA and heritage.  They consume the present and they portend the future.  Babies are the miracles that are united from one sperm and one egg–gestating over time–to become the “other” us.  With each birth of our children we are reminded that “WE” are with us.  We are connected and that’s that.

Here in this sophisticated new millennium we tend the place things which has the sense of the miraculous, such as child birth, in the realm of the ordinary.  Each conception brings into existence an absolutely unique entity, a person of the most distinct, individual “being.”  We are all unique and the mold is broken with each one of us.  However, we have this little nature thing, with which to contend.  Therein lies the problem!

Imagine for a moment that your teenage daughter came home one day and told you that she was impressed in her spirit about something incredibly unique.  What if she told you that an angel of God had told her that she was specially favored among all other young teenagers of the day?  Assume, then, that sometime later she informed you that she was pregnant, yet maintained that she was still a virgin–untouched by any man sexually.  To make matters more concerning, imagine your single, teenage daughter had been engaged to a man more than twice her age–and that the engagement was going to be broken by the man, once he discovered your daughter was pregnant.  I know, I know . . . I see your faces now.  Yet, I do think you know where I am going with this.  The philosopher Paul C. Vitz asks us to “Consider that Mary was pregnant with Jesus today.”  I also ask us to do the same.

What are the chances that the parents of this pregnant teenage girl would have shuffled her off to the local Planned Parenthood clinic?  What would her friends and contemporaries say?  Speaking as one who was conceived prior to marriage, I kind of identify with that last statement, in terms of its implications.  Know that I mean?  No, I am not claiming divinity, personally—but divinity as a delicacy–that stuff it freakin’ awesome!

The prophet Isaiah (ca 800 BC) stated:  “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign:  Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14)  A miracle baby son, a virgin, and the name translated to mean “God with us” (Immanuel)  Hmmmm.  Most interesting.

The disciple Matthew Levi (1st century AD), the tax gatherer wrote:  “And Joseph, her husband, being a righteous man, and not wanting to disgrace her, desired to put her away secretly.  But when he had considered this, behold an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for that which has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.  And she will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from their sins.’  Now all this took place that which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet shall be fulfilled . . .” (Matthew 1:19-24)

The Christmas holiday (derived from “holy-day”) is about the advent of Jesus, the baby, and the beginning of His earthly pilgrimage.  The birth occurred more than likely during the summer months and there was no snow.  That reminds me, what happens in Australia during December in the Northern Hemisphere?  I hope Santa’s varicosities aren’t too apparent with those pasty legs of his in those shorts.

John 1 speaks also to this event “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God . . . And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1; 1, 14).

This baby Jesus is the gift that keeps on reminding us of our flesh and mortality.  The baby reminds us of our beginning and the blessings we are to others.  But why do we keep Him in a manger?  Why is Christmas about jesus as a baby only? 

Is it because there is no room in the “inn of our hearts?”  Babies are no threat.  Babies do not challenge the way we live.  Babies are the miracle gifts in-and-of-themselves.  But babies do grow up into young adults and then enter adulthood.  Apparently King Herod had serious fears of the baby Jesus, for he had all male children slaughtered, age-two and under.  This infanticide occurred in Bethlehem and its surrounding environs (Matthew 2:16).  Herod feared all of this talk about the birth of a king, a messiah, would diminish his sovereignty over the land.  So the child Jesus and His parents went to Egypt until King Herod had died.  Afterwards, they returned to their homeland.

One interesting piece of trivia from the Hebrew language is quite telling.  The name “Beth-lehem,” actually means “House of Bread.”  Later Jesus was given the title “Bread of life,” and communion would be taken at “the Last Supper,” to symbolize His crucified and broken body.  Part of the communion remembrance today using crackers or bread illustrates the “broken bread” of life.  Who would have ever thought that the bread of life would have been born in a house of bread?  All of this is derived from the Christmas story?  Yes indeed! 

Another point of interest was that when the wise men came to visit Jesus, He was already a toddler.  The Magi were the ones who tipped off Herod, and this was the reason for the age-2 on down slaughter of the innocents.  So, we celebrate the baby Jesus, but we really should be celebrating the toddler, at least in my mind.  But no toddler I know would stay in a crib.  As far as my kids were concerned, they kept jumping out, or falling on their heads.  That might explain a few things.  Now my father’s statements to me in my youth ring clear.  He used to ask, “What is the matter with you?  Did you play too many football games without a helmet?”  I never figured out “how many” was too many. 

Some 2,000 years after the birth of Jesus, his infancy still impacts the world.  While some wanted to make Him an Excellency, believers see Him as their Sufficiency, beginning with infancy.  The commemoration of Jesus’ birth is the real reason we celebrate by giving “gifts” to each other.  He was the ultimate gift to the world.  The reason for the season is ultimately for His pleasin’.

A second gift was given to us by the resurrected Jesus, just prior to His ascension.  Luke, the physician, records in Acts 1:3:  “. . . He also presented Himself alive, after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days, and speaking of the things to come . . . He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised . . .”

Jesus told His followers: “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.  And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever” (John 14:15-16).  The Holy Spirit is the gift that keeps on giving. 

During this festive season of holidays, may we Christians celebrate like never before.  May we live and love like never before.  The baby has grown, lived, and He has changed the world.  He died, resurrected, and ascended.  Don’t you think it is time to be Christ-like in ways that show we’ve left our own “Christian cribs” (apologies to the hip-hop community)?  On Christmas, are we going to ask our families to pass the milk or pass the meat?

I dare say when we celebrate our own birthdays we do not present each other with kind notions of the time we spent in the crib.  We celebrate our birthdays as we are now.  I also know a little about this, having a birthday in the same month as the Christmas holiday.

Dear believer, let us celebrate the holiday as He is NOW in our lives.  May we look back to the past, while living in the present–knowing that we have a future with Him.   May our baby-talk grow into a mature contagious conversation, coupled with a powerful Christian walk.  May this walk evidence movement in the right direction, joined by the fruit of the Spirit.  No, I did not say fruitcake.  Unlike divinity, THAT stuff is so nasty, and is the evil twin of the yule log.

Thank you for reading!

OK, where’s my egg-nog? 

Feliz Navidad!

Rozhdyestvom Christovom

Buon Natale

Merry Christmas

Christian Ethics and Choices

30 Oct

The following survey questions were written with the Christian in mind, and are part of my larger lesson on “Christian Ethics and Choices.”  A fully informed choice is the responsibility of us all.  Ignorance can lead us into all sorts of choices that, at first, seem the only way to decide an issue.  However, the choice measured by “truth,” is the most informed choice.  But do we desire such choices?  Therein exists accountability morally, as well as spiritually and physically.  In a culture that seeks quick decisions and easy answers, I do not believe we always take the necessary time to find the best answers for our choices.  The question is out there . . . What is God’s role in our choices?

As Christians, we are called to live by different standards than those who are not believers.  Society glorifies individual “choice,” and the believer is called to glorify God.  There is serious biblical tension in trying to accomplish both. 

If truth is unchanging, and not subjective to relative changes in culture, then it is lasting beyond each generation, and serves as a measure for all generations.  There are “truths” that each of us live by.  But what are the ultimate principles that are unaffected by belief, or practice?  This remains to be seen.  Welcome to my lesson . . . [smiling].

Feel free to respond to any or all of the 13 questions that follow,  and let me know what you think.  I am not collecting data from this survey.  That is reserved for in-person activity.  Your answers are strictly for blog dialogue.

TRUE or FALSE

_____  1.  Life has value because society has added to its value.

_____  2.  It is morally wrong for a Christian to believe in abortion.

_____  3.  Human life begins at conception.

_____  4.  Being human implies personhood.

_____  5.  Human beings are eternal beings.

_____  6.  Abortion is always sin.

_____  7.  Personhood begins at conception.

_____  8.  There was a time when the Son was not God.

_____  9.  A Christian should have a choice over how he or she dies.

_____ 10.  If a Christian commits suicide he or she will still go to heaven.

_____ 11.  Physician-assisted aid in dying is sometimes the right thing to do.

_____ 12.  God has a plan for our lives and deaths.

_____ 13.  Abortion is murder.

What About Goodness?

16 Sep

Much has been said these days about a lot of things, complete with negative tones, rancor, and personal attack of character.  From the political to the theological, naysayers line up to cast the stones of judgment at one person or another, or one belief or another.  Beliefs also receive vicious attacks, and ad hominem statements are made to assassinate the character of persons–regardless their station in life.  Claims of “What are you a racist?,” or “You are intolerant!,” dot the media landscape.  But it is all a ploy to taunt and accuse.

It has been stated by more than a few people that “there cannot be a God, because of all the poor people in America and the world.”  We are given free will to elect people, then we blame God for our choices.  As evidence, naysayers use suffering, illness, and death as their justifications of non-belief.  What did God do to deserve these negatives?  It is actually the accusation through question as to what He did NOT do, that is at issue.  “Some God you have there.  Look what He allowed to happen.”  I’d rather look at what He did NOT allow happen . . . But I see their point. It’s easy to use negative things if a person is negatively predisposed.

Atheists are an interesting bunch.  They claim not to believe in an objective good or evil.  They claim that man makes his own good and evil, define it as such, and that the fittest win out.  The main argument atheists use is that if there is a God then He allows innocent people to suffer and die.  Assume that God does allow this.  Hasn’t the atheist then just made a value judgment that God is not good, and that life–the real good–has been snatched?  That sounds like a belief system to me. 

Let us examine the following arguments:

  • There is too much “evil” in the world for there to be a God.
  • Suffering and death of innocents proves there is no God.
  • There is no such thing as good or evil, outside of what humans define.

Evil in the World.  I was recently talking to a nontheist who argued that he did not believe in goodness or evil.  I asked him whether child molestation, or murder were evils.  He said they were crimes.  I responded, they are not crimes if a person is not caught.  What do you call them if a person is not caught, and still molesting?  If there is no evil, then not getting caught means WHAT?  I had many other questions to ask, but let him off the hook.

Another person, a supposed agnostic, stated his “disbelief” in good and evil.  I pointed out that a person first has to believe, so that he can disbelieve.  There was no response.  In fact, he and others do what is typical once the cozy belief system they claim does not exist is truly exposed for what is really is.  They distract by calling names and it is fun to watch them attack ad hominem.  They lose all credibility at that point.  Personal attacks are atheists’ white flags. 

There is evil in the world, for every generation has committed the same crimes in all lands, among all people groups, and collusion is not a possibility.  Who instructed all the so-called “criminals” throughout all the ages to commit such acts?  One’s belief that evil does not exist does not make it so.  Neither does one’s belief in evil make it a reality.  But the evidence of common sense and data from around the world and its history prove that either man is evil by nature, or that he is “good” by nature, and just commits actions defined as evil.  Either way, one or the other validates good or evil–by nature or by action, either contrary to, or in line with his nature.  Another option is that man is neutral, and only affected by social conditions.  What social conditions?  Human ARE the social creatures affecting others.  How can someone affect another in a neutral way, and have a neutrally murderous act committed?  If this was the case, we would not need places for society’s criminals.  John Locke, Jean Jacques Rousseau, Thomas Hobbes, Baron de Montesquieu–and even Alexis de Tocqueville realized the need for government to protect societies. 

Evil is as real as love is real.  Goodness is as real as longsuffering and persistence are real.  One can believe away love all he wants.  But disbelieving love’s existence does little to cease others’ love for us.  Just ask our parents why they still love us when we rebel.  Anger and hatred exist as much as forgiveness and restoration.  Abstracts become real in humans.  Absent action, love still does not cease to exist.

Suffering and Death.  Negatives validate negative statements and affirm disbelief.  Belief is placed in self-fulfilling negatives.  It is enough to counter this with the fact that healthy people, babies being born, surgeries and doctors, medicine, miraculously unexplained cures, and technology are positives.  Weighing them out, if there is one ounce of good over evil, by mankind’s definitions, then there is a God.  Validation of no God because of suffering and death?  Then one must be fair in validating the existence of God with obvious healing and life.   There cannot be God and NO God at the same time. 

If an atheist “believes in disbelieving” for negative reasons, then he should not decry the theist for “not believing in belief” of atheism, with positives for God’s existence.  Personally, I believe atheists do not exist.  None of them have proven that they are atheists, so they don’t exist. 

Is death a good thing, or a bad thing?  I’ve never seen an Atheist Medical Center, or the Agnostic Secular Surgery Lab, etc., etc.  Yet, atheists have no problem going to doctors who might have faith and strong belief that saving life is good.  The implicit reality in so doing is that the person’s life is intrinsically good, and that suffering and evil are to be avoided–whether he admits it or not.  Think about it.  The ultimate proof that God does NOT exist, to the atheist, is suffering,disease, and dying.  Yet, no one I know is willing to validate God’s nonexistence personally by dying to bolster the evidence for someone else to say the same thing about suffering and death. 

I find it interesting how an atheist has no problem being treated in a Catholic hospital, or Seventh Day Adventist hospital.  Enough said about that.  I am glad they receive treatment.  Based on that statement, I now ask, “Is life good?”  The only conclusion I can draw is that regardless the posture, an atheist has the “belief” that life is good and worth saving.

Neither Good Nor Evil.  Human definitions do not define away good or evil.  Belief does not do away with good or evil.  These have existed long before we have, and will be here long after we are gone.  Human intellect can become reprobate and the result is evil thoughts.  Beliefs can be evil.  White supremacy beliefs are evil.  Evil thoughts may lead to evil actions.  Yet, these do not place “goodness” in the realm of the non-existent.  Before we existed, humans were here.  After we die, humans will be here.  It’s only while we are here that we say this or that does not exist.  This proclamation is unable to prove or disprove anything, before us or after us.  For those areas, we need to look elsewhere, outside our own experiences. 

In order to state universally that good and evil do not exist, one would have to be both good and evil, then realize that “poof they no longer exist,” in order to know that absence means nonexistence.  One would have to know objectively for all humans, just exactly the same good and evil, in order to trust the knowledge and that he is not misreading what is claimed as nonexistent. 

It is honest to state one’s disbelief in good and evil.  But such disbelief is conjecture and opinion, and not proof–absent clear and decisive evidence that “belief” in and of itself is enough for proof.  This would be ludicrous, for all I would have to do is say that “I disbelieve that child molestation is evil,” and by my belief, any actions of such would become neutralized–neither good nor evil.  We all know better than that.

In the many years I have debated atheists, I have yet come across any evidence they have presented that proves God does not exist and that good and evil are only humanly defined.  It is not incumbent upon one that exists to prove so.  If an atheist could prove there was no god, and his options were only one–killing himself–I wonder how many would choose that action?

When it comes to the vast majority of atheists, accusations with questions marks are the weapon of choice.  For example, “You don’t believe in that fairy tale God-thing, do you?”  Negative statements with question-marked accusations are not questions. 

To sum up, (1) Any atheist who claims not to believe in good and evil is not to be “believed.”  (2) Goodness in the world is evidence that there is a God, if the atheists’ accusations of suffering and death prove His non-existence.  One cannot have it both ways. 

Just a few thoughts for the evening.  Thanks for reading.

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