Sultan’s Story

God needed a sweet little kitten in Paradise. He looked down from heaven and saw Sultan, so full of love and sweetness, and decided to ask him if he would come with Him to Paradise.

“But my owner will be heart-broken if I go to live with You,” Sultan answered.

“Do not worry about your owner,” God replied, “when she knows that you have come to Paradise to be with Me, she will not be sad, for she knows that one day she will come to join you in My house. She will miss you, but she will know where you are, and she will be happy for you that you are with Me, for she will know that where you are, you are happy. She will know that you no longer feel any pain, and do not need to take pills anymore. I have heard her heart crying out to Me a thousand times to cure you of your illness so that you would no longer need to take pills, and she would no longer need to force you to.”

“I do not like taking pills, and I do not understand why I have to, but I know that if she makes me, there is a reason for it, and I still love her.”

“And that is why I need you in Paradise,” said God. “Because even though you do not understand the reason why you must experience unpleasantness, you trust and you continue to love where others might have become bitter. Your ability to love and to trust is much needed in Paradise. Your owner will understand that. This I promise you. And I promise you also that before long, you will be reunited with her in My house. This I also promise you.”

Sultan thought a bit and then asked, “Will I be able to come back to live with her if she misses me too much, or if I don’t like living in Paradise?”

“Alas no,” God replied sadly. “Once you are in Paradise, you cannot go back to the world of the living. But I also promise you that you will be happy in Paradise and that she will be happy for you. In time she will adjust to living without you around to cuddle and stroke, and the pain of your loss will fade.”

“But then she will forget me!!!” Sultan replied in alarm. “I have worked too hard to make her love me to go away and let her forget me!!”

God smiled at the little cat’s alarm.

“Do not worry little Sultan,” He said, “ she will never forget you. And she will never stop loving you. And while you may not come back to the world of the living, you will not be far from her. You see Paradise exists everywhere. It touches and surrounds the world of the living. It is only because they cannot see it that the living are not aware of it. For to see it, you need eyes of faith and a heart of love. And you need the trust of a child, or of a loving kitten. Your owner knows it is there, my sweet little Sultan. And she will know that you are still there, right beside her, even if she cannot see you with her physical eyes, for she will feel your presence with her heart. Do not worry little Sultan, she will not stop loving you.”

Sultan thought some more before asking, “Why not let her come with me? Then we would not have to be separated.”

God shook his head and said, “I still have things for her to do amongst the living, and your brother also still needs her there with him. And no, sweet Sultan, his day for Paradise has not come yet either. I need him to stay with her in the land of the living for a while longer. But you I need in Paradise today.”

“Then may I at least wait for her to come home before I leave, so that I may say good-bye?” Sultan asked God.

God shook his head again. “I am afraid that you must come now. The need for a kitten of your qualifications in Paradise is so great that it cannot be put off for even a few hours, and before you even ask, my dear little Sultan, no, there are no other kittens in the land of the living who can fill the spot in Paradise. Therefore you must come.”

“But I cannot leave her just like that,” Sultan protested.

“She will understand, my little one. And I will not leave her alone to face it. I will send someone she already knows to support and comfort her, and she will know that I have called you and that you have come with me. And he will remain with her as long as she needs him to. In fact, he will not leave her.”

Sultan thought it through thoroughly. On the one hand, he did not want to leave his owner, for he knew she needed him to love her. But on the other hand, God needed him desperately in Paradise. Then he remembered that his owner had always said that you must do what God asks of you, even if you didn’t really want to, because God had a plan and we were all part of it. What all of this meant, Sultan could not understand. He was after all only a little kitten with a heart full of love. He had never expected to find himself talking with God. But he knew that doing what God asked of him was the right thing, because his owner had said so many times. And he knew that when his owner got home and saw that he had done what God asked of him, she would be proud of him. And God had promised that they would not be separated from each other forever, after all. One day, they would all be reunited.

Sultan, the brave little cat that he was, made his decision.

He said to God, “I will die right now and come with you God, because you have need of me in Paradise.”

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The Mandela Effect and How it Does Not Apply to Nazi Internment Camps

I don’t ascribe to the Mandela Effect as a way of explaining why a memory may not match up with a current reality. We all have brain farts; those moments when, through distraction or something else, the brain doesn’t process information correctly. To me, the reason so many people probably believed Mandela died in jail was simply because, while he was in jail, they heard a rumor to that effect. Maybe, they even saw something about it on the news. Their brain responded by filing Nelson Mandela under ‘deceased’, and they didn’t bother thinking of it anymore. Later on, the rumors were proven false, but their brain still kept the folder labelled ‘Mandela – Deceased’ somewhere in its depths, and failed to update it. It happens all the time. Your brain remembers that you put your keys on the table, but forgets to update that information when you pick them up and put them in your pocket.

Even though the Mandela Effect affected thousands of people, it is explicable as a simple trick of the mind. A rumor imprinting itself in your brain as an actual fact. It happens all the time. I once worked with a young woman who, when she changed departments, changed her name, too. This was done in order to avoid confusion when taking customer calls, as there was already someone in that department with the same name. Well, to make it brief, my brain split her into two people, and it was not until the day that I actually had to think of her as single person, with a specific face and name, that I realized I’d done it.

All that said, I suddenly feel like I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole and come out in a weird version of Wonderland.

You see, when I was growing up, the idea of Nazi concentration camps was widely met with skepticism. Jewish organizations were lobbying governments and international organizations in the hopes of getting someone, somewhere, to recognize the fact that these places had actually existed. Practically the whole world responded with a ‘Pffft! Bullshit!’. As far as I knew, my mother and father were the only people who actually acknowledged that there had been such places, and that was because my grandfather had actually seen one while serving on the eastern front.

No, my grandfather had not seen mile-high smokestacks belching out greasy, black smoke. What he encountered was a man in an inmate’s uniform tending the flowers around the camp. My grandfather loved flowers, so he approached the man and asked him about the ones he was taking care of. The man, without displaying any overt signs that might betray the fact that my grandfather had actually spoken to him, said very quietly, ‘Don’t talk to me. If you do, you’ll end up in here, too.’

So we knew that labor camps had existed, and that they were not places filled with happy people. That simply could not be denied, and we, a German ex-pat family, were going against the social grain in acknowledging the fact.

Then something happened. I think it was the UN recognizing the reality of labor camps in Nazi Germany that did it. Suddenly, it was all about ‘death camps’, and six million Jewish people being slaughtered. Overnight, history was rewritten. I mean that both literally and figuratively. The facts in history books were changed, so that this was now the central focus of WWII history. Books that said otherwise, books that had been written before this change, started to become hard to find. William Shirer, one of the last western reporters to remain inside the Third Reich, and to report the news from within the country, had his reputation attacked and his famous book ‘The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich’ dissed and disparaged. New ‘historians’ began to crop up who used a thousand pages trying to find solid evidence that Hitler was Antisemitic, and ending up only being able to present what the author believed Hitler must have been secretly thinking to himself as he performed various actions.

An important digression: In the three decades immediately following the war, it was widely held by historians that Hitler was not Antisemitic. The evidence supports this. When someone pointed out that his favorite cook was Jewish, he simply declared that, as of that moment, the cook was no longer Jewish. Problem solved. There were also other Jewish people on his personal staff, and half-Jews served high up in the military and SS. Historians believed that Hitler’s Antisemitism was a political tool. Too many people have conveniently forgotten that in Europe between the two world wars, Antisemitism had become quite a fashionable ideological stance. Hitler had to tap into that in order to gain and keep support. End of digression.

The point is, instead of acknowledging labor camps, an entirely new narrative was formed in/around the mid 1970s. The old understanding was simply wiped out, as if it had never been. We now had to deal with the number of six million Jews dead, as if it were an indisputable fact.

My parents now went from ‘labor camps really DID exist’, to ‘there weren’t even that many Jews in Europe when the war broke out!’

This cannot be a simple case of the Mandela Effect, where a number of people, even a very large number of people, are remembering things incorrectly. There is still too much evidence proving the change in the narrative, and too many people still alive who remember how history has been literally changed. Even if I find myself doubting my own memories at times, I find other people who remember how it was, and who are equally concerned about how the original narrative is being written over by a new one. If the new one were the correct one, an updating would be in order. But to wipe out the original narrative and make it look as if it never existed? This is something to be concerned about. In fact, we should have raised the alarm bell a long time ago.

Yes, as Winston Churchill said, ‘History is written by the victors’. But when history is being rewritten yet again, decades after the fact, and countries imprison people who dare to point it out, there is something very, very wrong. A new cult is emerging, some people say. The cult of the Holocaust. And, guess what? I hate cults. I really do. Poking around into them and going ‘tsk, tsk’ is one of my stranger hobbies. So, ladies and gentlemen, I think I have an investigation here, and it will probably end badly for me, as things have a habit of doing.

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Image: pixabay.com // public domain

This was originally published on my other blog at steemit

The Day a Jewish Kid Played the Role of Kaiser Wilhelm – A High School Memory

The highlight of our high school’s academic year was always the elite World History class(es) ‘Who Started WWI’ debate.  The debate was a closed-door event, but we all waited breathlessly for daily updates and the final result.  It was a major event.  One could even say it was legendary.  Year after year, the World History class battled it out.

Finally, we were seniors, and it was our turn at the event.  Not everyone; just those of us who had the academic chops to be accepted into the World History class.  Some years that group was small, and there was only one class.  Other years, there could be two classes – but that was very, very rare.

When the day came to choose who would represent which country, the teacher read out the names of those students in his class whom he believed had the academic strength to lead teams into the debate.  My name was one of the ones read out.  The next step in the process was deciding who would represent which country.  I was determined to be the one who would take Germany, going into the debate.

“Germany is going to be a hard position to represent,” the teacher advised us.  He then continued, “I recommend a person like XYZ take it.”

XYZ was not me.  Still, it was not the end.  We were free to pick our countries, and I was going to defend Germany, come hell or high water.

Now we came the actual selections.  Despite the teacher’s recommendation, XYZ went the easy route, and choose Britain.  One by one, the countries were taken, and still no one picked Germany.  At last, my chance to choose came along.

“I want Germany,” I said.  The whole class broke into a sort of good-natured laughter.  I was, after all, the only student in the class who was of actual German parentage.  However, the issue still remained, was I strong enough to take a team in under the German flag?  A mini-debate broke out about it.  The teacher had recommended… but… who?… .  I parried them all.  One after another, I fielded the questions, and provided rebuttals.  At last it was over.  The matter was settled.

“If you can debate like,” said one of my classmates as they ceded the issue, “you really are the best one to represent Germany.”

I had won.  I would take Germany into the famous World History class ‘Who Started WWI’ debate.

But, there was one last country to be selected.  Russia had not yet found a champion.  There was one last captain available, and he gladly took it on.  He liked taking things nice and easy, and, well, had left his selection to fate.

The Next Hurdle

The next hurdle we faced was building our teams.  As you can imagine, some teams were easier to build than others.  When it came to building a team to represent Germany, it became almost impossible.  No one wanted to be on what was presumed would be the losing team.

‘So, who cares?’ I told myself.  ‘I will do all the work.  I just need some bodies to fill the seats beside me, and I know how to get them.’

Yes, I knew.  I would find out who had not yet been selected for one of the other teams, and offer them an enticing deal to come and join mine.  The deal?  ‘I’ll do all the work, you just have to sit there and play your role.’  So I started with the guy sitting next to me, a diminutive sort-of-once-upon-a-time-Jew.  Yes, in those days he was hard to categorize.  His mother had divorced and remarried a non-Jewish husband, and he had decided that this made him no longer Jewish.  Just like that.  From Jew to non-Jew overnight.  At that moment in time, he was identifying as a non-Jew.  His self-identification was still fluid in those days.  But… .

He wanted more.  What more could I offer?  In desperation, I told him, ‘You can take the role of Kaiser Wilhelm’.

I now had the first member of my team, courtesy of bribery.

I still needed two more people, though.  I approached another abandoned soul, another person of Jewish roots who had found herself without a ride for the debate, and added another member to the team.

There was still one spot, and I was determined to fill it.  I consulted with Kaiser Wilhelm about the individual I had in mind.  ‘Nah.  She’s just tits and ass, and no f*cking brain,’ he opined.  ‘Who cares?’ I advised, in my role as Chancellor Bismarck, ‘We just won’t let her do anything.’

The Kaiser acceded, and I recruited what I believe to be the third Jewish member of my team.

Now some of you may yelp about the fact that Chancellor Bismarck was part of the team representation.  It was a special arrangement, given the official okay by our teacher.  The lead debaters needed to assume the personas of actual historical figures, and even though Bismarck was no longer Chancellor at the end of World War 1, it was decided that he could rise once again in order to defend his nation’s honor.

The Debate

We went into battle, and it was a hard-fought one.  The other teams came at us with every accusation in the book, and we parried them all.  The use of poison gas?  Well, we weren’t the only ones.  You guys used it on us, too.  Invading Belgium?  Hey, we DID send a message asking for permission to cross before we did it.  We had the proof in the form of a copy of the wire-message that we sent.  I reached for it from the stack of documents on the desk in front of me, pulled it out, and found out I had the wrong document.  A search was quickly made for the missing message, but we could not find it!  The teacher, thankfully, interceded and acknowledged the existence of the missive.

Then came the big one.  The one that the Kaiser and I had discussed in our pre-debate meetings.  The one question we could never find a suitable answer for: Why did Germany have a military-based economy?

The Kaiser stood up.  He would field the question personally.

‘Sure Germany had a military-based economy; but that doesn’t mean it was meant for war,’ he stated boldly.

The class keeled over laughing.  They laughed until they practically peed themselves.  When they finished laughing, they’d all forgotten that we’d never answered the question.  Seizing the opportunity, we moved the debate on to the next question.  The Kaiser and I, in fact everyone on our team, patted each other on the back after class that day.  We’d survived the A-bomb of debate questions thank to the Kaiser!

The debate ended, and the judges went into seclusion in order to discuss their findings.  When they emerged, the results were read out: Britain was found to be the least responsible for starting the war.  German was the second least responsible for starting the war, and it was a close second – in fact it had been a tie, which the rules did not permit.  To declare a winner, they’d had to resort to the technicality of the missing telegram. Then, at the end of it came the country named as most responsible for starting the first world war: Russia!

The Russian team immediately stood up and bowed.  They had come in last and were damned proud of it.

It is one of my best memories of high school.  Who could forget the day when one German and three Jews cleared Germany of war-guilt!  At a high school reunion twenty years later, I found out that one person could: the Kaiser!

‘Really?  I don’t remember that,’ he said, ‘Hard to believe a Jewish kid like me would do that.’

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Photo: public domain /  Bain News Service – The Library of Congress – Kaiser Wilhelm (LOC) (pd).jpg

 

This is something that I uploaded to my Steemit (https://steemit.com/@ajdohmen) account today.  Since no one reads it there, I’m sharing it here.

Jesus Was a Peacenik and a Communist

Where to begin with this one?  How did it start?  Where did it start?  Why did it start? And, most importantly, why am I going there?

Well, it started with an image being tweeted out that was so awful, the mere sight of it nearly caused me to go blind, and I was not alone.  At least one other viewer had a WTF?! moment, while numerous others seemed to be experiencing their own form of visual confusion.  Words cannot do justice to the awfulness the thing we saw, so I have provided the image in question directly below (with the offender’s name blocked out).

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Now that you have experienced the joy of nearly going blind yourself, you can better understand just how misguided the theme actually is.  That is, unless you are a member of the religious right.  If that is the case, you probably can’t see what is so eye-hurtingly wrong here.  I will therefore explain it to you.

Jesus was a pacifist.  He did not advocate violence, even going so far as to heal the ear of the soldier Peter had injured during the scuffle that occurred during His arrest.  Jesus instructed His followers to love their enemies and pray for those who persecuted them.  At no time did He ever tell them to go out and slaughter people who believed in other gods, or belonged to a different religious system.  Violence was abhorrent to Him.  That alone should show up the notion of ‘Deus Vult’, and ‘it’s crusade o’clock’ for what it is: garbage that has no relation to Jesus’ teachings, and something that no true believer in His message would ever adorn their Twitter account with.

There is something else that is disturbing here, though.  That is the misplaced reference to Isaiah.  Isaiah 6:8 reads: ‘Then I heard a voice of the Lord saying,”Whom shall I send?  Who will go for us?” “Here I am” I said; “send me!”  But… God never said ‘Go launch a crusade, Isaiah!’  Isaiah used words.  Fiery words, but not words of hate and division.  Isaiah was a prophet, not a warrior.  His job was to turn the people back to their God, and in so doing, keep them from being booted out of the land that He had given to them by covenant.

What Little Missy with her anime-crusade cover-photo is missing out on, is exactly what an entire segment of the religious right is also missing out on: that covenant, the Old Covenant, was rendered null and void by the Jews’ own failure to adhere to its rules and regulations.  It was replaced by a New Covenant between Jesus and His followers, which has nothing to do with the land of Israel, or the physical descendants of Abraham.  There is no ‘Holy Land’ to retake, and no crusade to wage, because the inheritance of Jesus’ followers is not an earthly one.

There are so many things wrong with the religious right that it boggles the mind.  Jesus was not a traditionalist; he did not advocate traditional roles for women.  He broke all the rules when it came to a woman’s ‘place’.  He spoke to women who were strangers to him, which was a big taboo in those days.  He fraternized with women who were considered the dregs of society, and he had women among his followers.  In the early Christian church, women acted as deacons, as organizers, and helped spread the Gospel both alone, and side by side with their husbands.  St. Paul advised women who became widowed not to remarry, and those who were not yet married to remain single, so that they could more effectively devote themselves to the work of God.

The religious right would now have all women back in the kitchen, under the authority of a husband.

That is just a taste of how far from the Gospel, and the spirit of Jesus, the right has wandered.  They’ve also thrown away the concept of salvation through faith, and returned to one of attempting to attain salvation through works (I’ve recently heard this described as ‘the Hebrew Roots Movement’, which, as a movement, is not new at all).  They’ve thrown their support behind the nation of Israel, refusing to condemn that nation when it commits heinous acts that Jesus would never have approved of.  For the love of God, Jesus talked to Samaritans, and the Samaritans ended up believing in Him!  Worst of all, the religious right pride themselves on an ideology that only people with hearts of stone could ever espouse.

What ideology is that, you ask?  One that has no sympathy for the poor, the outcast, and the unfortunate.   An ideology that spits on the poor and calls them ‘lazy’.  An ideology that believes giving to the poor only ‘enables’ them.  One that doesn’t even believe in taking care of the sick and suffering.

What would Jesus have said about that ideology?  Let’s see.  Jesus told his followers to sell everything they had, and give it to the poor.  He fed the hungry, healed the sick, and refused to condemn a woman who had been brought to him for judgement.  In the ideology of the religious right, these are the actions of a horrible, anti-American communist!  He provided FREE HEALTH CARE!  He didn’t just give out food-stamps, he GAVE AWAY FREE FOOD!  Worse yet, he GAVE OUT FREE MONEY!

By today’s standards, at least those of the crusade-fostering religious right, Jesus was a communist, a feminist, and a filthy, traitorous peacenik!  Oh, yes, he was also an antisemitic Jew-hater who believed Jews worship Satan and advocated the destruction of Israel and Jerusalem.  In the words of John 8:44 “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (NIV)

Somebody hand these religious right-wingers an easy to read copy of the New Testament, please!

To Shill, Or Not To Shill…

It is a sad fact of life that most people wear at least two faces; while one face is carefully constructed and maintained for public consumption, there is another that is strictly a private matter.  Nobody is immune, but not everyone’s intention is evil.  Some people simply want to keep sensitive matters private, and are sincerely embarrassed by their own dirty laundry.  There are, however, those people who construct public images for profit, and profit alone.  In some cases, the profit might be social status, in others, it might be financial, but regardless of what the profit is, it is still profit.

The ‘person of many faces’ is not the topic of this entry, however.  What I am concerned about is the proliferation of talking heads who are heaping up Patreon profits by riding the storm of political right-left tensions.  Some of them, such as the university professor in the screen-shot below, fell into internet fortune almost by accident.  In this case, the individual got into trouble with his employer over the use of gender pronouns, and suddenly the radical right got wind of it and made him into an overnight sensation.  A Globe and Mail reporter did what could loosely be called a ‘hit piece‘ on his rise from obscure professor hawking a writing program, to internet heavy-weight, in which the reporter mentioned that he now makes $30k Canadian via his Patreon account.

This was his response:

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I will admit that I initially felt a degree of sympathy for the man.  That, however, was only in the early days of his crusade.  I am deadly opposed to being forced to use silly non-words in order to describe people.  While I accept the usage of the now common ‘Ms.’, I do remember when it was first invented, and I do remember how silly the whole thing was.  In other cultures, such as the German one, ‘Frauline’ is no longer used when addressing any adult woman, regardless of marital status.  Its usage has been relegated almost elusively to that of denoting an underage girl.  ‘Frau’ is now used for both married and unmarried women.  In the French culture, in Quebec at least, ‘Madam’ is used in exactly the same way as the German ‘Frau’, while ‘Mademoiselle’ has likewise been relegated to the underage crowd.  No fuss.  No commotion.  Just a simple solution to a modern problem.  Problem solved.

The English-speaking world would have done well to have followed  the German and French examples.  Unfortunately, the English-speaking world being what it is, the powers-that-be had to make things complicated in a big way.  We are now facing the same thing all over again, and it may not be long before such detestable words as ‘zhe’ find their way into common acceptance.  We can ignore it, we can go along with it, but in the end, only time will tell if this new scourge has any more staying power than the expression ‘I dig it’ had.

All of that is to say that, while I did sympathize with the man, I stopped sympathizing when I saw how he started working his followers in order to extend his fifteen minutes of fame into something more substantial.  That made me uneasy.  Something rang false.  Then came the article, with points galore that he could have fairly contested, and what did he choose to do?  He corrected the reporter on how much he is actually earning, which happens to be almost double the amount she quoted.

His mask slipped, albeit briefly, and revealed something ugly underneath.  The thing that it revealed was a man willing to ride the wave, and shill for a political stance, because suddenly he became someone special, and was making a lot of extra bucks, too boot.

Meanwhile, his ‘followers’ praise him bigly, and feed his ego largely.  For him, it is a win-win situation, and as long as he can keep whipping them up, he can continue growing his audience, his fame, and his fortune.

But, slap my ass and call me ‘Sally’, if he is still sincere in what he has to say.  I’d be willing to bet that he isn’t the quiet, soft-spoken professor he comes across as on YouTube.

I should add that I don’t know the man, and do not know anyone who does, so I can’t say what he really is like in his everyday life.  There is, however, another university professor – this one from Montreal – who is also stirring things up for the profit of his own ego, and possibly his pocketbook.  He choose anti-Muslim sentiment as his stepping-stone to internet adoration, and is now the darling of the anti-Muslim conservative Canadian and international right.  He comes across as a jolly bon-vivant, and his followers routinely post adoring comments, telling him what a wonderful person he is.

This gentleman, admittedly, has some grounds for his hostility, due to his background and life experiences.  Unfortunately, to package personal rage as political truth is quite a leap, and I cannot condone validating other people’s hysteria by feeding into it, which he does.

Yet, again, I got the niggling impression that the man was not what his YouTube persona made him out to be.  I wondered about this.  I thought it over.  I sent a text message.  The answer I got back was, ‘euwww’.  In fact,  ‘euwww’ was mentioned twice in the same text reply.  The second ‘euwww’ was a summation of the opinions of my contact’s colleagues who also know the man.

This theme continues wherever you go on the internet.  Pundits present one face, and gullible idiots fall for it.  I could come up with a long list of wanna-be philosophers, purveyors of ‘alternate’ new sites, supposed reporters and thinkers.  It’s all the same.  Adoring followers emptying their pocket-books into their idols Patreon accounts, while their idols feed into the fears and prejudices of their fan-bases in order to squeeze out more.  Then, when the hour-long rant against cholesterol and how mega-fast-food chains are killing us for profit is over, and the camera is finally turned off, the internet idol heads straight out to McDonalds for a big, greasy hamburger, with a side-order of super-sized fries and a milkshake.

The moral of this story is: you don’t know who these people are in real life, or what they are really like _ as one YouTuber, I believe it was T.J.Kirk (the Amazing Atheist) straightforwardly pointed out about himself.  But, unlike T.J. Kirk, many of these people want you to believe that they are exactly what and who they tell you they are.  They get off on your adulation, as well as your donations.  While they may have started out as sincere individuals, they have consciously made the choice to shill on behalf of a political or social agenda because it makes them important people on the internet.  Their ego and their wallets are what’s talking now.

Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabachthani

“My God, my God.  Why have you forsaken me?”  Jesus’ penultimate words on the cross.  But what do they mean, and why would God accuse Himself of forsaking Him?

Makes no sense when you look at it that way.  It is recorded in the New Testament that the people watching believed Jesus was calling on Elijah or Moses.  Theologians have been arguing about it for as long as there has been Christian theology.  No one understands it.

Well, maybe that is because they are looking at it from the wrong angle.   Jesus was being crucified in Jerusalem, by the people who claimed to be His chosen ones.  The people who called him ‘God’.  Bu they had rejected Him when he walked among them.  So now, there he was on the cross being crucified, and he says to them ‘You called me God.  So why have you now forsaken me?”

It was a lament and an accusation.  Think about it.

Cain and Abel

I have spent a lot of time wondering about the story of Cain and Abel.  The question that keeps gnawing away at me is why God would have acted in such a cruel and unfair manner by rejecting Cain’s sacrifice, while accepting Abel’s.  There is no reason given.  None at all.  Was God simply favoring Abel?  Was Cain’s sacrifice somehow flawed?

I don’t think that either was the case.  The problem with the biblical text is that it does not explain the reason sacrifice was being offered in the first place.  Sacrifices were not random things that people did for no reason at all.  Some offerings were tithes, some were thank-offerings, made after divine help was received, and others were pleas for divine assistance.  The mistake I made was in assuming that Cain and Abel were offering up tithe-type offerings, and that Cain had offered something of poor quality.

That is where I believe I was completely wrong.  Tithe-type offerings were not even required at that point in scripture.  In fact, Cain and Abel’s offerings were the very first mentioned in the bible.  So the question people should be asking first, is ‘what was the reason for their offerings?’.  Once we know why the offerings were made, we can better theorize as to what happened, and why God rejected one while accepting the other.

My theory is this: both brothers made their offerings as part of a request for God’s assistance in a matter.  Perhaps both brothers were vying for the same thing, perhaps they were requesting different things.  What happened was that God agreed to provide Abel with whatever he requested, while refusing to provide Cain with his request.  Cain then became angry, first because God had refused him, and then because Abel had gotten what he asked for, when he, Cain had been refused.  The seeming unfairness of it ate away at Cain’s heart until it turned into jealousy and rage.  The next thing he knew, he lost it and killed Abel, probably during an argument of some sort.

I somehow don’t think Cain lay in wait for Abel, then murdered him in cold blood.  God showed him mercy, which I don’t think would have been the case if Cain had turned completely evil.

The burning question that remains is why did God refuse Cain’s request?  It is possible that Cain asked for something that was not beneficial to himself.  It might have been something that would harm him in the long run, but Cain could not see that.  If he and Abel were asking for the same thing, and only one could have it, it may have been that Abel was the one more suited to it.  Again, in the long run, Cain would not have benefited from it.

So God turned down Cain’s request.  That is what a rejected offering signifies: God has heard the request, and decided not to grant it.  Nothing more, nothing less.

So, those are my thoughts on a rather vague, but important passage.  It also clarifies a lot of other mumbo-jumbo that we come across later on in the New Testament about why God does not always respond to our prayers.  It even touches on Jesus’ words about a father not giving his son a serpent when the child asks for bread.  If the request is beneficial to the individual, God hears and grants it.  But if it isn’t, He will reject it.  It is not about favoritism, or capriciousness on God’s part, it is about the well-being of the individual.  Like the child in Jesus’ parable, the seeker may not know that the food he is begging for is tainted with poison; but the Father knows, and refuses to give him what is not good for him.

The moral of the story is not to fall into the trap that Cain did, even though God warned him what would happen if he did not put his resentment aside.