Yet Another Brief Treatise on God

FB_IMG_1595675295084

* * * *

For whatever reason, I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about God. It’s possibly a Christian thing — I’m sure some of my very Christian friends also do this. Unlike them, I don’t ponder deeply on God so I can serve Him better.

There are only two things God wants from us: worship and obedience. That’s it. I have only two problems with those two things: I seem to be incapable of trusting God completely, and I’m really bad at obeying His commandments.

If I had to give a reason for why I do something for no discernible gain, I’d probably say it’s because I’m trying to understand who and what God really is. Based on what I’ve read and what I’ve been told I’m supposed to think, there isn’t much about God that makes much sense to me.

In the Bible it says that God does not change. Certain Christians believe this without question simply because it says so in the Bible, and everything in the Bible is true. But from where I sit, God changes every time He appears in the Bible. And that’s what I’m planning on exploring in this installment.

* * * *

In the Book of Genesis, we are introduced to God the Creator. He rolled up His sleeves, labored mightily for six days creating the entire universe and everything in it, and then He rested, being well-pleased with all that He had done.

It is written that God created mankind in His image. We are God’s magnum opus,  His masterpiece. That’s what every priest and pastor I’ve ever known has said. And way back in beginning, the pinnacle of human life were two people named Adam and Eve.

* * * *

Scholars that aren’t Christian Fundamentalists tend to view the story of Adam and Eve as an allegory, not actual history. Unlike all of the other humans roaming the earth, God formed Adam with His own hands. Then God planted a pretty and cutey little garden, and put the man in it.

Eden. It was a darling place. And in this garden of beauty and fruit trees, God planted two special trees: the Tree of Life, and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. And God told Adam, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”

* * * *

I don’t know if the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil actually exists, but I have no doubt that the Tree of Life is real. If you eat of the Tree of Life, you become immortal. Angels are immortal. And now you know how that got happened.

That’s the only reason Adam and Eve were evicted from the garden. God didn’t want them to have access to the Tree of Life. An angel with a flaming sword guards the approach to the tree to this day, just in cases someone stumbles across it, somehow.

* * * *

Everything was hunky-dory in the garden. God and Adam spent long hours hanging out together shooting the breeze, drinking beer, and God answered all of Adam’s questions about, well, everything.

Why is the sky blue? How many stars are there in the sky? What are those two animals doing? What is sex?

So God had the Birds and Bees talk with His favorite human. And who knows what happened next. God caught Adam masturbating…  Maybe he was having sex with a sheep…  At any rate, God said to Himself, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

According to the story, God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, God took one of the man’s ribs, and from the rib He made a woman, and He brought her to the man.

* * * *

Afterwards, God and Adam were hanging out in the garden, drinking a beer. And God said, “So, Adam, how was your honeymoon?”

“Oh, it was okay, I guess. 

“Dude! I’m your best buddy! If you can’t tell Me about your honeymoon, who can you trust? C’mon man, I want to hear every juicy detail!”

“Well, we had dinner, a couple of drinks, did a little dancing…  Then we went to the bedroom. And just between you and me — I’m pretty sure I could’ve fucked her!”

images (1)

* * * *

If you don’t know how this story ends, things do not remain all tickety-boo in the garden. Eve ate the fruit of Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and Adam took a bite, too.

Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked…

* * * *

Okay. There are three main reasons why this story is an allegory to me. Adam and Eve realized they were naked. Big deal! These were the two most perfectly sculpted people that ever lived. They were the epitome of natural beauty. They were young, they got plenty of exercise, and they ate an all organic diet.

images

See? I told you

They had no reason to be ashamed just because they were naked. Au contraire, Pierre! They should have have taken one look at each other, realized they were both totally hot and naked, then boinked their fucking brains out like lions in heat. And then boinked some more.

The second reason is this: there’s no description of what God looked like. God hung out with Adam and Eve in the garden on a frequent basis.. He dropped in to talk with them all the time. As far as I can tell, they are the only two people that God ever appeared to in person. 

We know God has a physical form — presumably something very much like unto ours because we are created in the image of God, are we not? And there’s this: Adam and Eve hid from God after their fall from grace when they heard Him walking in the garden.

The story of their unique relationship with God — there’s no way they wouldn’t have passed that tale on to their children, and their grandchildren. Hell, they would’ve told it to complete strangers because it’s such a cool story! It’s a story that would’ve been told over and over again by every generation until someone finally wrote it down. And it would surely would have been included in the Bible.

But that story doesn’t exist. So neither did Adam and Eve.

And finally, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. God told Adam not to eat from it upon pain of death. When the serpent tricked Eve into eating its fruit, the serpent said, “You will not certainly die, for God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

There’s no evidence in the Bible that God actually knows the difference between good and evil. There is a preponderance of Biblical evidence that even if God knows the difference, He doesn’t appear to care. God does whatever He wants because He’s God, and if you don’t like it, that’s your problem.

* * * *

After Adam and Eve, God’s behavior becomes increasingly harder to understand. And evidence of a loving God who truly cares for all of His children…  Well, you’ll have to decide that for yourself.

My very Christian friends believe that all of God’s plans are perfect, and the proof is He is able to work through imperfect tools, namely humans. That might be true, but if there’s no such thing as a perfect person, well, God hasn’t had a hell of a lots of options to choose from, has He?

* * * *

The next time God appears in the Bible is Noah and the Great Flood. I’ve written about this allegorical story already (Apocalypse Now). You can check it out if you don’t have anything better to do.

When God next appears, it’s to Abram. Somewhat Mildly Interesting Sidenote About Noah and Abram: according to the Bible, they are both descendants of Adam and Eve.

God first appeared to Abram when Abram was seventy-five years old. Again, there’s no description of what God looked like, so it can be assumed that God didn’t appear to him looking like a human. On at least one occasion God appeared to Abram in a vision — it’s possible that’s how God appeared to him every time.

images

I’ve often wondered if God looks like the Great Gazoo…

Initially, God seems to have been Abram’s travel/real estate agent. A couple of decades and a few geographic relocations later, God changed Abram’s name to Abraham, and promised that he, Abraham, would become the father of nations.

That made Abraham laugh. Yeah, he thought God was a comedian! Abraham was ninety-nine years old, and he and his ninety year old wife didn’t have any children. God wasn’t joking, and they named their son Isaac. Several years later, when Isaac was a young boy, God told Abraham to take his beloved son into the wilderness and sacrifice him to the Lord.

Abraham didn’t laugh this time. He had learned that his God didn’t have a sense of humor. Unlike me, Abraham trusted in the Lord, and did as he was told.

* * * *

Imagine you hear a disembodied voice, or voices, talking to you. Go ahead, give it a try. If you want to imagine it’s me talking to you, I sound like Ben Stein. On Quaaludes.

When you’re a psych nurse, you meet people who experience auditory hallucinations every day. They’re a symptom of schizophrenia, and they have got to be hell to live with. Even worse are command auditory hallucinations. They’re pretty much what they sound like, invisible voices telling you what to do.

These commands can range from innocuous to life-threatening, and they can be incredibly difficult to resist, no matter what it is the voices are telling you to do.

One of my patients at the Minneapolis VAMC was a young man named Lorenzo. He was admitted to my unit after he sliced his abdomen open from his sternum to his umbilicus with a butcher knife in his kitchen.

His brother found him laying on the floor three days later and brought him to the hospital. Lorenzo spent at least one month on my unit, maybe more. His wound had to heal by granulation, and I spent many hours packing his wound with iodaform gauze every day to help prevent infection and promote healing.

And we talked.

I think Lorenzo had run out of meds, and the voices inside his head had worsened. Then they started telling him to slice open his belly, as if he were a samurai committing seppuku.

I fought them as long as I could, but you wouldn’t believe the power they have! After awhile, their compulsion over me became irresistible. So, I walked into the kitchen…  And I grabbed a knife…

* * * *

Personally, I have experienced a disembodied voice talking to me only once. I was ten years old at the time, so I know it wasn’t drugs or alcohol. I don’t know what it was, but it was real.

And it freaked me the fuck out.

* * * *

I don’t know who God chronologically appeared to after Abraham. If you’re curious, you can look it up. I’m going to jump to Moses.

* * * *

Moses isn’t a Hebrew name, it’s an Egyptian name. It means: son of in ancient Egyptian. Ra-meses: son of Ra, the god of the sun. Moses no doubt was originally named for one of the many Egyptian gods, but that name has been lost forever.

Moses was raised as an Egyptian prince. He and Rameses II were brothers. They probably competed against each other when they were growing up. As adults, they faced off against each other in the most serious game of Chicken ever played. It was a game Moses would win, thanks in large part to the Ten Plagues that devastated the land of Egypt, and humbled one of the greatest Pharaohs in history.

God became the Redeemer and Savior of His People. He broke the bondage of slavery and led the Israelites to freedom in a new land.

* * * *

There’s one thing about the God of Abraham and Moses that was unique. He was the only God at that time that traveled. Prior to this, gods were associated with a specific location or region. And they stayed there.

God appeared to Moses in the form of a burning bush. And in the form of a thick cloud. He had become the God of mystical majesty we’ve all come to kind of know.

images (1)

* * * *

After Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, Joshua led them into the promised land. Remember when I said God’s behavior was difficult to understand? When the Israelites crossed over into the Promised Land, they knew they would be going to war. But their mighty God was with them, and He had a simple battle plan.

Kill everything you see. Man, woman, and child. Even the livestock. Leave nothing standing, no one and nothing still breathing.

There’s a name for this battle tactic: Genocide.

There was only one flaw with God’s plan. Because the Israelites weren’t completely amoral, cold-blooded murderers — they refused to go along with it.

* * * *

When Joshua and his generation died, so did the Israelites’ knowledge of God. They began worshipping other gods. Thus began the Age of Judges. God spoke to them and led them to military victories against their enemies. God was the Protector of His People.

After the Judges, God spoke to the Kings, but only two of them: David, and his son, Solomon. Aside from Saul, they’re probably the only Kings of Israel that anyone knows, including me. I’ve read about these guys numerous times. I can’t remember any of them.

* * * *

According to the Bible, David was the beloved of God. And Solomon was the wisest man that ever lived. According to me, David was mostly a pretty cool guy. And Solomon — he was just about the biggest idiot that ever lived.

There are 613 Laws of Moses in the Jewish faith. Three of those laws are specific to the king. Solomon ignored all three of them, and God only knows how many of the others. There’s nothing wise about that. But who am I to talk? By my own admission, I suck at obeying God, too.

* * * *

God remained the Protector of His People, but His People were a wayward collection of tribes and clans, frequently forgetting they had an awesome, and easily-angered God.

IMG_20200801_084050

These are modern depictions of some of the ancient Semitic goddesses in the Middle East. Now I understand why the Israelites constantly strayed away from their God…

Because the kings of Israel were essentially a bunch of losers, God started talking to the prophets. There are four major prophets and twelve minor prophets in the Old Testament of the Bible. These guys, both major and minor, were respected as holy men back in the day, but their messages of doom and destruction largely went unheeded. And the results were catastrophic for the people of Israel.

God performed numerous works of wondrous power and what can only be called magic through the prophets. They may have been respected, but were otherwise scorned by the people they were trying to save.

By this time, God wasn’t just the Redeemer and Protector of His People. He was also the chief source of misery for them. God had also become The Punisher.

* * * *

Satan the devil is much more of a Christian concept than a Jewish one. However, when it comes to the forces of Goodness and Light vs. the forces of Darkness and Evil, the Jews didn’t need an avatar of malice to torment them.

Their God assumed both roles.

* * * *

Elisha was the disciple of the prophet Elijah the Tishbite. I have no idea what a Tishbite is. If you do, leave a comment. After Elijah rode off into the sky on a chariot of fire, Elisha became the most prominent prophet in the land.

images

On that fateful day, a group of street urchin boys decided to make fun of him, and they started calling him names.

Elisha left and headed toward Bethel. Along the way some boys started making fun of him by shouting, “Go away, baldy! Get out of here!” Elisha turned around and stared at the boys. Then he cursed them in the name of the Lord. Right away two bears ran out of the woods and ripped to pieces forty-two of the boys.

And now you might understand why I think there’s no evidence that God knows the difference between Good and Evil. Or why finding evidence that He’s a loving God can be so hard to come by.

* * * *

The ancient prophets have always intrigued me, so much so that ever since May 10, 1978, I’ve wanted to become one. I’m sure the details of how that happened are stored away in some dusty corner of my mind. I know I was sitting on the grass under a tree on the campus of St. Cloud State University. And I was really high.

That might have had something to do with it…

A lots of time has elapsed since that day. As far as I know, I’ve never come close to being considered for this position, let alone selected. What I probably have is a delusion.

A delusion is a fixed, false belief. And when I say fixed, I mean glued, screwed nailed, stapled, and welded into someone’s head. Other symptoms of mental illness may come and go, but delusions never die. They might fade into the background, but they are always there.

* * * *

In the New Testament, God stopped talking to everybody. In His stead, He sent a man from Galilee named Jesus Christ, who claimed he was the Son of God. Jesus said he was one with God the Father, and when he spoke, so did God.

You can think whatever you want about Jesus, but for my money, he’s the prototype for what all humans need to become.

* * * *

Religion is the opiate of masses.Karl Marx

* * * *

I’m no longer sure religion is a good thing, mostly because so many people have done so many stupid things in its name. Religion will endure as long as people believe in gods, so I don’t see it disappearing any time soon.

Most people believe God exists and works because He wants to make our lives better, and He wants to create a perfect world. I’m pretty sure that’s what I was taught to think about God.

* * * *

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Jeremiah 29:11

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and He will dwell with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”  Revelation 21:1-4

* * * *

Perfect worlds sound cool and stuff, but there has to be one helluva steep price to pay to achieve perfection, even for God. Remember this: Many are called, but few are chosen. If you’re one of the Chosen, you’ve got it made. If you’re not, you’re basically fucked, and nothing is going to change that.

Most of us are never going to see that world.

There’s another thing: I don’t know if this will be a world that’s perfect for God’s Chosen People, or for God. It’s possible it could be perfect for both, but then again…

When it comes to achieving what He wants, God will do anything He has to in order to achieve His goal. Floods. Plagues. Genocides. Man-eating bears. God has already admitted that He killed goddamn near everybody on the planet at least once before. If you think He wouldn’t do it again, you haven’t been paying attention.

God may actually be everything He has claimed to be so far: Omniscient. Omnipotent. Undying. Everlasting and Eternal. I have no idea how any, let alone all of those things can be true…  My guess is God is both more and less than what He says He is.

I am that I am.

What the fuck is that supposed mean?!? God might be many things, but humble isn’t one of them. Again, who am I to talk? I’m the least humblest person I know.

And as far as His purpose goes, a perfect world with perfect people is God’s sales pitch. But much like unto Himself, God hasn’t told us the entire truth about what He’s really up to.

Despite all of my many reservations and mistrust of God, despite the fact that I’d probably flirt with Anat and Semiramis if I ran into them on the street, and despite the fact that I’ve been far better at breaking God’s commandments than I’ve ever been at obeying them — if God offered me the job I’ve dreamed about having for more than five decades — I’d accept it in a heartbeat, even though I’m retired and living in paradise in a gringo mansion with a supermodel wife and and two darlingpreshadorbs kit-tens.

There’s a reason for that.

We, as a race, have proven time and time again that we are incapable of governing ourselves wisely. We have depleted a great portion of our planet’s natural resources. We have turned the world around us into a pig sty. We have all but destroyed the only home we have in a ridiculously short amount of time.

I would give up everything I have to work for an alien life force from another world for one reason, and one reason only.

We apparently need someone who isn’t like us to save us from ourselves.

tenor

Wampeters, Foma & Granfalloons

Wampeters, Foma & Granfalloons is a collection of essays, reviews, short travel accounts, and human interest stories written by Kurt Vonnegut. He was one of my favorite authors back in the day. He had a wicked sharp sense of what is called black humor in the Biz.

He’s one of the few authors that made me laugh out loud when I was reading his work.

Just in cases you were wondering, a wampeter is an object around which the lives of many otherwise unrelated people may revolve. Foma are harmless untruths, intended to comfort simple souls. A granfalloon is a proud and meaningless association of human beings.

I’m not sure if any of those things are going to end up being in this post. I haven’t been writing much lately. I haven’t even been trying to write. At this point in time, I’m not sure I’m ever going to finish this post. And, of course, there’s a reason for that.

* * * *

I bruised my coccyx on the golf course on May 17th. I could try to explain what happened, but it was a tricksy mishap that involved one golf cart, one wrong turn, and something like unto a ski jump.

LimitedWarpedHuman-size_restricted

It was like unto this, except I ended up with a golf cart halfway up my ass

Ever since that happened, I sit down as carefully as a hen incubating a nest full of vials of nitroglycerin. I try to plan every set of moves I make, hoping I won’t put any undue pressure on my coccyx. It’s been surprising to me how many movements do. It’s also made writing this post all but impossible.

Have you ever tried writing anything of substance when you’re not sitting down?

* * * *

Another reason that I’ve taken a break from writing is I’ve been writing way too much about American politics in general, and Donald Trump in specific. And that’s pretty much the last thing I wanted to do when I decided to start writing my blog four years ago.

Unlike The Donald, I fact check everything I write when I make disparaging comments about him, or any other politician for that matter. Being an investigative reporter looks like a lots of fun on TV, but the reality of it is much less glamorous.

Research, like unto cunnilingus, is dark and lonely work. And it’s a lots less fun.

And in the case of Donald Trump, it’s probably pointless. His supporters won’t believe anything negative about their awesome leader because their faith in him is absolute. And his detractors will believe anything that puts The Donald in an unfavorable light because their contempt for him is equally absolute.

Nothing really changes. I’m wasting my time, and I know it. But one of the things that doesn’t change is the fact that Donald Trump is the most corrupt President in the history of the United States, and he needs to be held accountable for all of his crimes.

And I cannot stop myself from protesting his presence in the Oval Office. I will continue to voice my opposition to him until he is no longer the President. So I really hope that happens this November.

That said, here I go again…

* * * *

I know I’ve said this before: I don’t understand how anyone can support Donald Trump — unless you’re a rich white man — then, it’s understandable. You can say what you want about The Donald, but he has gone out of his way to take care of that demographic. But the above stated qualifier eliminates probably 95% of the people who hang on his every lying-ass word. Maybe more.

Additionally, if you are a Trump supporter, there’s no sin you can commit that’s too egregious for The Donald to pardon. You can look it up if you’re interested.

But the most confusing group of all the non-rich Trump supporters are women, and the even more most confusing group of Trump-supporting women are white, Christian Evangelicals. These women are not known for their laid-back attitudes about, well, pretty much anything.

Forgive and forget? Forget that! Live and let live? Only if you’re a God-fearing member of the Antioch Baptist Church. All the rest of you goddamn sinners can go straight to Hell where you belong!!

And yet, despite their well documented hatred for everything not Biblically endorsed, they love misogynistic Donald Trump like they love Jesus, their grandchildren, and apple pie.

FB_IMG_1590512294346

It’s too bad she didn’t actually say this. I’d take back some of the things I’ve said about her

By a nearly 2-to-1 margin, white evangelicals are more likely than other Americans to say the term morally upstanding adequately describes Donald Trump despite his numerous marital infidelities and his even more numerous allegations of sexual impropriety.

They see Donald Trump as honest, even though several reputable news organizations estimate that President Trump has made close to 20,000 incorrect statements and outright lies during his time in office. Compare that to Barack Obama who averaged a little more than two falsehoods a year while he was President.

Almost two-thirds of white evangelicals see Trump as at least somewhat religious, despite his use of profanity, his sporadic church attendance, and his evident unfamiliarity with the Bible.

giphy

This is beyond mind boggling, it’s nothing short of mind blowing

* * * *

One of my very Christian female friends posted something on Facebook about the Democrats being absolutely giddy because: the American economy has tanked, unemployment numbers are somewhere out in the stratosphere, and Trump’s popularity ratings have plummeted. All because of the Coronavirus lockdown.

Oh, and we all need to pray for President Trump because he’s God’s anointed — the greatest leader of the greatest country since David was the King of Israel. And Donald Trump has to lead America out of the hazards created by this…plague. So the Democrats don’t end up in the Oval Office again, or something…

* * * *

Evidently Little Known Fact About King David and Biblical Plagues: There are approximately 120 times the term plague is used in the Bible. David was mentioned 971 times, the second most for any person.

Every time God decided to unleash a plague, He did so because He was almighty angry about something and/or someone. Therefore, every time He sent a plague, He sent it as a punishment.

David was Israel’s greatest king, and was known as a man after God’s own heart. He was beloved by God, and this is how many plagues God sent to punish David: Zero. None. Zilch. Nada.

As noted earlier, Evangelicals are capable of ignoring facts whenever it’s convenient for them, so it’s not inconceivable that they could also ignore this Biblical certainty.

* * * *

I doubt that God was paying any attention to the election in 2016, but if the Coronavirus pandemic was sent by him, He’s clearly not pleased with much of anything going on down here right now. And that would include everyone’s favorite President and part-time golfer, Donald Trump. Oh wait, I forgot. The Donald doesn’t take any responsibility for this mess. This is all Obama’s fault!

Let’s reverse engineer the above mentioned Democratic gleefest: the Republicans wouldn’t be giddy if this had happened to President Obama? Yeah, right. I’m going to buy that when American politics has essentially become a partisan team sport. The Elephants vs. The Donkeys. The winner gets the White House and the losing team tries to steal the winning team’s signs so they can get an advantage in the next election.

One of my female friends is not a devout Christian, but she is a devout Republican. She hates all things and persons of the Democratic persuasion. Her comments on my political posts on my Facebook page have been scathing. And, well, stupid.  How we’ve managed to stay friends is beyond me. She said she was planning on coming down for a visit, but now I hope she was just talking out of her ass and never shows up here.

The bottom line is this: the partisan divide is going to be the thing that destroys America. Not the Coronavirus. Not the Great Quarantine. Not Rock and Roll music. Not the hippies. Not the Russians. Or the Chinese. Or even the Mexicans.

FB_IMG_1590605622182

Americans are going to destroy America

It’s so fucking stupid I lack the words to describe the idiocy of it all.

* * * *

Can anyone explain the Folgers® commercial to me? I don’t know which commercial is showing in the States, but here in Mexico we’ve been seeing the one with the woman walking to the shower on Canadian TV.

You’ve got something up your sleeve  Seriously, her expression indicates that she’s planning on doing something in the shower that would make a pornstar blush.

What you didn’t know was you were surprising your father-in-law, Steve  Who just happens to look like he’s in an ambulatory coma. If her husband takes after his father, that would help to explain what she might have had up her sleeve…

So much for Plan A. Thank God that choir of people popped up in her bathroom and poured her a cup of coffee.

Folgers-Coffee-Father-In-Law-Steve

If seeing this doesn’t make you want to buy Folgers®, I don’t know what will

I’ve seen a lots of stupid commercials in my lifetime, but this one just might be the best of the worst.

* * * *

I don’t know what you’ve been doing to occupy your time during the lockdown, but when I haven’t been injuring what’s left of my spinal column, I’ve been randomly watching videos on the YouTube®.

One of them was an educational video about a large breasted woman buying a bra. I know, right! I didn’t know I’d be interested in that kind of stuff either!! Somewhat Interesting Note: women don’t call their breasts tits. That appears to be more of a guy term. Women call them boobs, or boobies.

And there’s another thing I didn’t know: If you have regular sized boobs, bras are beautiful, lacey, gossamer creations with adorable names: The Penelope. The Cassandra. And The Cherub’s Kiss.

IMG_20200526_213445

See? I told you

If you have an epic set of tits, bras are utilitarian, steel-belted, substantial contraptions, and the adorable names are gone: The Iron Curtain. The Grand Coulee. And The Arnold.

And a well made bra is not cheap. Given the amount of material needed, they are ridiculously expensive. It just goes to show you never know what you’re going to learn on the Interweb. 

* * * *

Another thing I’ve started watching is automobile restoration shows on TV, which is ironic. I became a nurse because I had no interest in becoming a mechanic. I know nothing about fixing cars. I don’t even know how to check the blinker fluid. But much like home renovation shows, which is another skill I don’t possess, I’m fascinated by every aspect of car restoration.

images (2)

🎼Baby, you🎶 can fix🎶my car🎶

Wheeler Dealers. All Girls Garage. FantomWorks. The Guild Garage. I love them all. They almost make me want to buy a whole lots of Snap-on® tools, a couple of welding goldarn things, and build a garage.

Maybe I’ll be an auto restoring/home renovating/rockstar/psych nurse in my next life. I have no idea how reincarnation really works, but it probably doesn’t hurt to do a little planning for the future.

I’ve been really lucky considering that I didn’t make many plans for much of anything in my current life. But you should never rely on being lucky all of the time.

Luck has a way of running out on you, just when you need it most.

Divine Intervention

Hola, amigos.

I’d apologize for not writing more often, but I have no regrets about not writing, so I won’t. I hate receiving insincere apologies, so I hate giving them, too. I’ve been busy working on my golf swing with my golf wife. Judging by our scores, we’ll both be busy refining that aspect of our games for awhile.

If you thought this story was going to be about the miraculous hole in one I shot the last time I played, you’re going to be disappointed. Not as disappointed as I was, but still…

I’m not sure why I love doing something I’m so mediocre at, but life is full of mysteries. Golf is but one of them. I might feel the same way about bowling, but there aren’t any bowling alleys here, so I can’t fall in love with bowling.

I broke down and joined the Chapala Country Club a couple of weeks ago. I was spending roughly the amount of my monthly dues there anyhow, so it seemed like the thing to do.

I hear membership has its privileges, but I have no idea what they might be. I got a membership packet when I joined, but I haven’t read it. I figure if there’s something important, Phyllis will tell me. Phyllis is my golf wife, and she reads instructions.

And there’s our Spanish lessons. I think I’m picking up Spanish about as quickly as I’m improving in golf.

There are basically three types of gringos here. The ones who spoke Spanish before they got here. The ones who have no intention of learning Spanish, and act like fools when they go to the Telmex® office. And then there’s the ones like us who feel they have an obligation to learn the language of their new home.

We’re probably the minority of those three.

Poco y pinche poco. It’s a slow process, and frustrating at times. But it’s not like I have all that much on my schedule anymore. And the money we pay to learn Spanish is donated to help pay medical expenses for needy children.

As Lea says, at least someone is getting something out it.

* * * *

How’s everyone doing?

Life is still pretty sweet down here south of the border. It’s been chilly enough for us to use the fireplace, but seeing how someone who reads this might have actually frozen their ass off this winter, I’m not going to make too big a deal about the weather.

I’m still not sure how we ended up here when we did, so I tend to attribute wondrous things I can’t understand to God. If I didn’t believe in God I might attribute them to our cat, but I’ve never seen her do anything I could remotely call miraculous, so that’s too much of a stretch even for me.

I’m not sure I’ve ever outlined the chain of events that led us here in my blog. I’ve told the story a lots of times, and I’m too lazy to go back and read through my previous posts to find out…

I’m pretty sure all of this started when we moved from Minnesota to Arizona in 2007. My lovely supermodel wife became Phyllis’ boss. Phyllis, as in my current golf wife, Phyllis. Lea and Phyllis worked together for several years and eventually became good friends. In 2012, Phyllis and her husband, Max, were getting ready to retire. They were thinking about North or South Carolina because they were big NASCAR fans, and there’s a lots of race tracks in that part of the country.

Max has a brother, Rick. Rick was living in Ajijic, and he suggested Max and Phyllis come check the place out before they moved to either of the Carolinas. And that was the end of that plan. Max fell in love with Mexico. When Phyllis returned to work, she put in her notice, and my wife just about had a heart attack. Six weeks later, Max and Phyllis jumped in their car, and their retirement days began.

And that was almost the end of this story, except Phyllis sent Lea an email at work long after she moved away, I think it was 2014. A lots had happened in a couple years. Max had died. Phyllis missed her friend, and really wanted Lea to come visit her. After multiple invitations, we decided to check the place out in September of 2015, and flew to Guadalajara.

Phyllis had a little party for us while we were visiting. We met all of her best friends, and we listened to the promotional speeches they gave about why we should move to Mexico. We liked the Lakeside area. It was as pretty as a picture. However, at that time, neither of us were thinking about retiring, not for several years at least. And neither of us had even remotely considered retiring in Mexico. But it was certainly something to consider.

And then a whole lots of kooky things happened in rapid succession. In February of 2016, Lea’s company went through a major reorganization, and Lea found out she was going to be reorganized out of her job.

Just. Like. That.

Thanks for all your hard work and dedication. Please clear out all of your personal belongings by the end of business today.

Lea called her daughter, Gwen, who just happens to be our financial planner, and Gwen crunched some numbers. Gwen told her mother based on our savings and our Social Security income, Lea didn’t need to work anymore if she didn’t want to. And by virtue of that fact, neither did I. That memory still makes me smile.

It was at that precise moment that moving to Mexico started looking like a very real possibility.

Lea called Phyllis and they would have a lots of conversations over the next several months. Phyllis was instrumental in helping us navigate the obstacles of moving to a foreign country. Additionally, our landlord, Planet Janet, and all of Phyllis’ friends have been a great resource in assisting us in our transition. We haven’t had to face most of the pitfalls many expats run into when they move here.

Getting back to my story, we put our dream house in Surprise on the market and sold it in seven days.

Lea flew to Mexico and found a very spacious rental house three doors down from Casa del Phyllis. And she met Janet, who has become one of my favorite people.

The Mexican Moving Company came and packed up all our stuff, and headed south.

We rented a condo about five miles from the hospital I worked at and stayed there for three months until I retired at the end of September. Our furniture was waiting for us in our house when we arrived.

Everything that happened in this process fell into place so neatly. If we had planned it for years, it still wouldn’t have happened so perfectly. It was that slick.

Some might say it was nothing more than a series of coincidences. But I tend not to believe in coincidence. I’m more of an everything happens for a reason kind of guy. Besides, it’s more romantic when there’s a reason.

And that’s how we ended up in Mexico. I had a vague feeling something devastating was going to happen, you know, like unto a natural disaster. The Yellowstone Supervolcano was going to explode. That’s why we needed to get out of the US as quickly as we did.

Yeah, that didn’t happen. See? Still not a prophet…

Also, the fact that nothing terrible happened has left me wondering why we needed to get here so quickly. Well, Trump was elected President…  And however tragic I might view his election, it still wouldn’t have added up to anything equalling imminent danger to myself or Lea.

I’m not complaining about being here. I’m merely curious about the why.

Lea says that God is blessing us with this time together because we worked hard and we’ve been granted some peace and relaxation time.

It makes more sense than the volcano thing…

* * * *

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that almost everyone that believes in God has a Divine intervention story, and if it weren’t for God, they wouldn’t be here right now. We have, all of us believers, certainly prayed for divine intervention for any number of reasons.

Health. Illness. Love. Relationships. Life. Death.

The Bible is full of stories about God interceding for his people. There’s a lots of stories about prayers being answered by God and lives being changed for generations. I might write more about those someday. I spend more time thinking about that kind of stuff than anything else.

Lea’s not a big fan of my spiritual/ religious ramblings. She thinks it makes me appear, you know, crazy.

When I was a nurse, I used to pray for my patients. I used to pray for personal patience, understanding, and wisdom. When I was drunk I used to pray for a life changing intervention. Or death. And then I realized that’s one prayer that will always be granted, eventually.

It just never happens at the moment that you’re praying for it.

I see a lots of divine intervention in my sobriety. I doubt it’s an achievement I could have done on my own. Something greater than myself or my addiction came into play, and without that, I shudder to think what my life would be like now.

You can think what you like. For me, God saved my life, though I often wonder why He chose to do so.

* * * *

If you know me personally, or follow me on Facebook, you know my lovely supermodel wife and I are Minnesota Vikings fans. The Vikings had a very good season and are in the playoffs this year.

If you know anything about the Vikings history, you know the Vikings haven’t had the best results in playoffs. I have drowned many gridiron sorrows back in my drinking days, and celebrated scores of regular season wins. The Vikings have been to the NFC Championship game ten times. They’ve been NFC Champions four times. In their four Super Bowl appearances, they’ve come away with exactly zero Lombardi Trophies.

Divine intervention hasn’t been on the Vikings side in the playoffs. Miraculous plays always happened to the other team. But all that changed last Sunday night when the Vikings came from behind to beat the New Orleans Saints by scoring a 61 yard touchdown with ten seconds left on the clock.

The Vikings played a perfect first half, scoring seventeen points and shutting out the Saints. The Vikings defense was stellar, intercepting Drew Brees twice and keeping two of the best running backs in the game out of the end zone.

The second half was another story. The Saints scored twenty four points. The Vikings only six, and with twenty five seconds left in the game, the Vikings were down by one, and their season was about to end.

Lea and I were devastated. I was trying to figure out if we had enough medications to successfully overdose.

And then came the Minneapolis Miracle.

images (1)

For once, God decided to favor the Vikings. For a brief moment, Jesus wore a Vikings uniform, and as Stefon Diggs trotted into the end zone, there was surprise and disbelief, then jubilation! Even the players couldn’t believe what happened. You can Google® it if you haven’t seen it. It really was incredible. And beautiful.

On Sunday, the Vikings play the Eagles for the NFC Championship. The winner goes to the Super Bowl, which will be played in Minneapolis this year. The Vikings might be the first NFL team to play a Super Bowl in their own stadium.

It could happen. Hopefully, they won’t need any miracles to beat the Eagles because there were at least three miracles involved in the winning touchdown play last Sunday. It was kind of an Angels in the Outfield thing. Seriously.

I’m not sure how much more miracles they have left.

I don’t know how much God has to do with the outcomes of football games. Personally, I’d think he’d have bigger fish to fry. But if God truly orchestrated a miracle or three to beat the Saints, then please keep the miracles coming for two more games.

I’ve never prayed for something as trivial as a football victory before. Like I said, I think God has better things to do, but I’m going to pray for not one, but two more wins for the Vikings this season. Let there be any number of miracles, and let the Vikings win just one Super Bowl, before I die.

Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed to any of us. Just because the Vikings had a great season this year doesn’t mean they’ll have an equally impressive season next year.

I’m not getting any younger, so they might as well do it now.

The Kingdom of Heaven

It would appear God has my Muse by the short hairs. Maybe that means something. That would be nice. It’s not the most comfortable position for my Muse to be in, for sure. But, as in all things, it could be far worse, she could have a bad back…  On the bright side, once I get this out of my system, I’ll be freed to write about other things, unless God starts speaking to me.

Now that I think about that prospect, I’m not sure if I’m excited or terrified. I guess it would depend on what He has to say.

* * * *

Back when I was a psych nurse, I would occasionally engage my co-workers in religious discussions. As I said, I spent a lots of time thinking about the subject, and it was probably safer than talking about their tits.

Except with my ex-work wife, former Wonder Twin, Tara Grant Molden. She could talk about either subject with the same amount of ease. What a gal!

But one of my colleagues said something like unto this one day, “I go to church, but it’s a bunch of Biblical stuff, and who can understand that?” I know, right! And she was smart! Nice tits too, by the way. And one of the most confusing Biblical things was the Kingdom of Heaven.

When Jesus started his ministry, he did so by announcing, “The Kingdom of Heaven is upon you.” That’s what the Good News was. I guess it’s still the Good News.

Okay, class. What do you need to have a kingdom?

A king!

Yes. And what else?

A queen?

Maybe. What else?

A castle, with a throne?

Sure, why not. What else?

Um, subjects?

And that’s pretty much it. A kingdom is a group of people united under, and ruled by, a king. And that, was the purpose of Jesus’ ministry. Jesus was sent by God to create a divine government.

Somehow, that message has been diluted down over the years, and I think we can thank the Romans for that. The early Christians certainly had to be careful not to step on the toes of the Romans, or Rome would have stomped back, with both feet.

The Roman emperors were, well, jealous of anyone trying to usurp their status and power. Some of them were actually paranoid about it. The last thing the emperor wanted was a rival to his throne, even if that rival was a dead guy who became a god.

So, Jesus the King, was replaced by Jesus the Savior, and only a few-ish early Christians became martyrs, instead of all of them. And even though Christianity no longer has to worry about getting exterminated the Roman Empire, that message persists to this day. Jesus is mostly viewed as a savior first, and a king second, if at all.

But let’s review God’s purpose–what does God want? As near as I’ve been able to tell, what God wants, He tends to get.

“I have sworn by my own name; I have spoken the truth, and I will never go back on my word: Every knee will bend to me, and every tongue will confess allegiance to me.”

That is the Book of Isaiah. This phrase is repeated and reaffirmed in the New Testament in Romans 14: 11. It is repeated again in Philippians, Chapter 2. 9, but this time, the focus is on Jesus. “Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Think of any novel or movie that has a king in it. Whenever any of his subjects are brought before the king, they drop to one knee in respect/allegiance and say, “My Lord.”  

Let’s go back to the vision of John in the Book of Revelation. Jesus Christ is about to return. He rides a white horse. On his head are many crowns. On his robe is written King of all kings and Lord of all Lords. It doesn’t say Savior of all saviors or Redeemer of all redeemers or Deliverer of all deliverers.

King of all kings. Lord of all lords.

When he returns, he comes to reclaim his kingdom.

This, I think, is the message the Holy Spirit will deliver. This is why you must listen to him. The King is coming. Everyone knee shall bow, every tongue proclaim; Jesus Christ is my sovereign lord.

There’s a word for failure to obey a king. It’s called treason. And treason is punishable by death.

* * * *

Most of the pastors I knew back in Arizona loved to talk about God, and Jesus, and faith, and stuff. After all, it was their job. But there was one topic none of them were wild about discussing, and that was the End of Times.

The end of the world has been predicted countless times down through the centuries, and there’s one thing that all of the predictions have in common.

They’ve all been wrong.

So, my questions to the pastors about the end were mostly deflected or ignored, and that was probably a pretty smart thing for them to do. I sent several pastors copies of my theory about the Holy Spirit and his role at the End of Times. The most complementary thing I heard back from them was my ideas appeared to have a strong Biblical and Scriptural foundation, but none of them had ever seen or heard anything like my idea before.

“Yes, I know. I’ve looked. I can’t find anything like it either.” was my response. And because it was something not seen or heard before, it was impossible for them to accept it as something that could be true.

I don’t choose to feel disappointed in them. I don’t know if my idea is correct. If I knew I was right about this, my reaction would probably be different.

So, I pray, and I think, and pray some more. And all I hear is a ringing noise in my left ear. Not exactly a ringing endorsement from God in my mind. And even if God did speak to me, that would hardly make my idea more acceptable to anyone else, even a pastor. Actually, especially a pastor.

They think they know more God than anyone.

* * * *

Jesus said, “Work hard to enter the narrow door to God’s Kingdom, for many will try to enter but will fail.”

So, how does one get into the Kingdom of Heaven? How else? You have to work for it. Jesus explained it like this: “Suppose you went to a friend’s house at midnight, wanting to borrow three loaves of bread. You say to him,  ‘A friend of mine has just arrived for a visit, and I have nothing for him to eat.’

“And suppose he calls out from his bedroom, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is locked for the night, and my family and I are all in bed. I can’t help you.’

“But I tell you this—though he won’t do it for friendship’s sake, if you keep knocking long enough, he will get up and give you whatever you need because of your shameless persistence. 

“And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.”

If I am nothing else, I am persistent. I’m not sure where it’s gotten me…

The most obvious question is, What am I supposed to ask for? Ask to be shown the Way. What am I supposed to seek? Seek the Truth. Well, why do I have to look? Because the Way and the Truth are hidden.

Jesus explained it this way: “O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you for hiding these things from those who think themselves wise and clever, and for revealing them to the childlike. Yes, Father, it pleased you to do it this way.”

I’m not sure about the childlike part, but I have been described as ladylike. Maybe that will suffice.

“For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.”

“Blessed are the eyes that see what you have seen. I tell you, many prophets and kings longed to see what you see, but they didn’t see it. And they longed to hear what you hear, but they didn’t hear it.”

And what did they hear? They heard his voice.

“I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep. I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd.”

The most beautiful illustration of this comes from the Gospel of John, of course.

Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.

They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”

Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

And that was the precise moment she realized who he was. It was the way he said her name. I love that story.

* * * *

Jesus knows his sheep, and his sheep know him. And sometime prior to the end, Jesus will send the Holy Spirit to gather the sheep that can hear his call. This idea came to me back in 2010. I was convinced at the time that the Holy Spirit would appear any minute! And, then he didn’t.

See? Not a prophet.

Nonetheless, I’m convinced he’ll show up someday. I hope I’ll be around to see it. And when he comes, he will gather together all of the sheep that hear the voice of the Good Shepherd, and they will come to him when he calls. And those people will be the first subjects in the Kingdom of Heaven.

So, how does one get into the Kingdom of Heaven? For that, I think you have to be able to hear the invitation.

Jesus used the parable of the Great Feast to explain: “The Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a king who prepared a great wedding feast for his son. When the banquet was ready, he sent his servants to notify those who were invited.

“But they all refused to come. So he sent other servants to tell them, ‘The feast has been prepared. The bulls and fattened cattle have been killed, and everything is ready. Come to the banquet!’ But the guests he had invited ignored them and went their own way, one to his farm, another to his business.”

When the Holy Spirit comes, I think he will invite those with ears to hear to the mother of all wedding feasts—the marriage of Jesus Christ to his Church. You may be invited to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Clearly, you can choose not to attend. But not only will you be invited to the great feast that has been so long in preparing, you will have a seat of honor at the groom’s table.

You will be seated right next to the King. From where he sits, Jesus Christ can lean over, take you by the hand, look you in the eye and say, “Thank you for coming. It means a lot to me that you are here.”

Pretty cool, huh?

* * * *

Jesus warned us repeatedly, “I will come as unexpectedly as a thief.” I’ve talked to many people about this passage, including several pastors. Most people assume Jesus means he will come when we least expect it. That is true, but Jesus almost always has multiple meanings whenever he speaks. So let’s break this down.

What does a thief do?

Well, thieves steal stuff, is that it?

If everything on earth already belongs to God, why would he need to steal his own possessions? What do we own, what quality do we possess that God does not already have in abundance? Jesus probably didn’t mean this.

So, what does a thief look like?

Who knows? Don’t they wear a disguise?

Now you’re on to something.

Keep your eyes, and your mind, open. Listen. And try to be ready.

Truth in Advertising

It’s Day Two, post-therapeutic pummeling at the magic hands of Diamond Dave. Other than the stiffness and soreness associated with my therapy, I’m actually feeling better. It appears that the captain’s chair in the living room has been ruled in as the primary suspect for my back problem.

I’m feeling cautiously optimistic that this chapter is coming to a close, and they lived happily ever after…  That’s how a fairy tale ends, isn’t it?

* * * *

My lovely supermodel wife thinks I need to stop writing about God and my delusions of becoming his prophet someday. There’s a part of me that would like to do that, too. I have a lots of stories that are ricocheting around inside of my head, clamoring to be written.

But I am a writer driven by my Muse; she more or less dictates what I write. And she wants this. We’ll see what she wants tomorrow…

I should preface my remarks by stating I am not a Biblical scholar. I’m a guy that has done an inordinate amount of reading about religions and gods and Popes and saints, mostly while I was busy sinning. I find the subject interesting, and while I read about many gods, my primary focus was on the Christian God. He’s the one I believe in.

I probably think more about this subject than I do anything else, including tits. Or food. I’ll probably have to turn in my Man Card. And my Guy Card. I probably wouldn’t be allowed into the He-man Woman Haters Club if the Little Rascals found out…

I claim to be a Christian, yet I doubt many things that other Christians hold to be the undisputed truth. And you might be tempted to ask this question:

Why do you suppose that is, Mark?

And that, is a very good question.

I know I’m not the only Christian that questions some of the things written in the Bible. A lots of Christians do. And religion, if nothing else, is mostly a matter of what one is willing to believe, and the amount of faith one is willing to invest into any given belief system.

What separates me from most Christians is this: When confronted by something in the Bible that is difficult to explain, my Christian friends will say, This demonstrates the awesome power of our God. And I say, Yeah, I don’t think that’s how God works. I see God as more of a scientist than a magician. Faith without science is, well, superstition. Science without faith is…statistics.

I have no doubt that God speaks through the writings in the Bible. There’s a powerful message inside of those pages. God clearly had a lots to say at one point in time. I choose to feel more than a little disappointed that He hasn’t had anything new to say for a couple thousand years.

From my point of view, if there was ever a time for God to step up and say something/anything, that time was last year. Maybe the year before…  And yet, He remains silent. To the best of my knowledge, we humans do not possess the ability to compel God to do anything.

I know a lots of people of much greater faith than I will probably ever possess. And they are very good people. I admire most of them. They read the Bible every day, and practice their faith, except when their football team is playing. Then all bets are off. Just win, baby. I used to be like that, but I’m a Vikings fan. There wasn’t much to cheer for after the first five games of the season.

The Bible is the best-selling book of all time. It is said to be inspired by God, and I don’t doubt that at all. But it was written, and rewritten by men, and that is most likely where my doubts arise.

The ancient group of peoples that eventually identified themselves as the Hebrews didn’t have a written language when God first started interacting with them, and they didn’t write anything down for a very long time. They had an oral tradition, stories were told and passed down from generation to generation.

I am a storyteller. My friends and I used to share stories about our exploits, and those events rarely happened in a vacuum. So when Gary did something stupid, there were usually witnesses. Gary’s version of the story would differ from my brother Tom’s version of events. Or when Shorty did something stupid, Dan would have his version of Shorty’s escapade. So we would drink beer and smoke a joint, and listen to the various versions, but there was one common thread at the end. The best version always won.

And that’s probably how things worked back then, too. No, we don’t want to hear Uncle Shlomo’s version of the Great Flood. We want to hear Uncle Joel’s! His has all the animals, two by two!

So when the Hebrews started writing stuff down, they took the best versions available, and those were the stories that ended up in the Old Testament of the Bible. The first Bible wasn’t compiled until the 4th Century. There were a lots of religious writings floating around back then, but a group of men got together and decided what would be in the first Bible, and what wouldn’t.

There’s a truckload of apocryphal writings that didn’t make it into the Bible for a multitude of reasons, and some of that stuff is interesting as all get out. The Book of Amos is in the Bible, so is the Song of Solomon for that matter, whereas the Book of Enoch is not. Many of those rejected documents were burned by the Church, and we may never know what secrets or insights were destroyed for all time.

* * * *

The New Testament is the most recent addition to the Bible, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we have better documentation of the books in it. Take, for instance, the Gospels. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. No one knows who actually wrote the Gospels, but most experts would agree that the guys who they’re named for probably didn’t write them. Matthew and John were followers of Jesus, so they would have first-hand knowledge of Jesus and the things he said and did. Therefore, anything with their name on it would have more credibility than say, the Gospel of Bob.

Mark and Luke would have had to have gotten their knowledge secondhand at best. At worst, they made stuff up. And Luke appears to have had a real talent for the dramatic. Well, so does Matthew for that matter.

Mark’s Gospel was the first gospel written, probably about the time the Romans destroyed the Great Temple of God in Jerusalem in 70 AD. And that would mean it was published roughly two years after his death.

In addition, the earliest gospels were written in Greek. Any following versions in other languages would have to be translated, and then you have to consider the skill of the translator. Have you ever heard the term lost in translation? If not, you should probably get out more.

Jesus is commonly depicted as the son of a carpenter, right? But Judea during the time of Jesus was more or less a desert, and so, there weren’t a lots of trees to work with. The Greek word that was translated as carpenter, tekton, roughly means one who works with his hands.

There’s no doubt Jesus was a teacher, but a teacher, any teacher, can only teach what he or she knows. Jesus told a lots of parables when he was teaching, but none of them are about carpentry. You can check for yourself. A lots of them are about guys working in the fields. Jesus was more likely a day laborer in the fields and vineyards of the wealthy farm owners in Galilee.

I’ll admit it’s a small thing, and it may not be important. But if small details can be missed, so can others. And the Gospels are just about our only source of information about Jesus. Their significance cannot be overstated.

Aside from possible translation issues, Mark’s Gospel was edited at least twice, mostly because the original author didn’t say and they all lived happily ever after at the end. The original gospel ends with the women followers of Jesus finding the empty tomb, but they told no one what they discovered because they were too terrified. The End. Not exactly the ending you’re hoping for if someone is telling you a story about a guy that rose from the dead.

All of Mark’s Gospel is included in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. Those two gospels would embellish the story of Mark, and added a version Jesus’ divine birth, and more stories about his parables and healings. And that thing about his birth, well, Jesus was a king. Right?

In short, they are much better stories. And as a storyteller, I can assure you that’s all that matters. But as much as the more better gooder stories of Matthew and Luke are than Mark, they all pale in comparison to the Gospel of John.

You almost have to wonder if the other guys were in the same classroom as John after you read his story. It’s like comparing Dr Seuss or Nancy Drew to James Joyce.

John’s Gospel is believed to be the last of the gospels written, probably twenty or thirty years after the Gospel of Mark. All of the gospel writers had one similar objective–they wanted to convince their readers Jesus was the Son of God, and he was the Messiah. But the Jesus presented in Mark is vastly different than the Jesus presented in John.

Take a look at this scene when Jesus is arrested from Mark.

Jesus is in the garden of Gethsemane on his knees, desperately praying to God for his life. He is deeply troubled and distressed. Judas shows up with a bunch of nameless guys holding swords and clubs. Judas kisses Jesus, Peter draws a sword, and chops off the ear of the high priest’s slave. Jesus performs his last miracle, then rebukes the men sent to arrest him, and is arrested.

Thirty years later, John writes this:

Jesus is in the garden of Gethsemane, but he is not on his knees. He’s standing up, calmly. He is waiting. And it was night. Judas shows up with a contingent of Roman soldiers and Temple guards. Jesus confonts the men sent to arrest him, and they fall to their knees. Peter chops off the ear of the high priest’s slave,  whose name is Malchus, and Jesus rebukes Peter for interfering in the job he was sent to do, and then he’s arrested.

When I was trying to become a rich and famous author, one of the questions I was most asked was, What sort of audience are you trying to target? And my response was, Um, I don’t know. The kind that would like to read my book, I guess…

But I’m going to guess the gospel writers had a better idea of who they were trying to target. The gospels were mostly written to convert Gentiles to the new religion, particularly Romans, because Rome controlled pretty much the entire area around the Mediterranean, which was the center of the Western World.

They weren’t written specifically to convert the Jews to this new religion, though no Christian would mind if that happened, but for the most part, the Jews didn’t want anything to do with this radical off shoot/sect of their religion. After his death at the hands of the Romans, the followers of Jesus, the Messiah tried to gain supremacy of the Jewish faith, but were ultimately rejected by the Jews because of a difference between reality and expectation.

The Messiah the majority of the Jews were looking for was a warrior that would free them from the oppressive rule of the Romans. They wanted a Jewish Alexander the Great, not the son of day laborer who talked about loving your fucking enemies, and giving away your earthly treasures. What kind of messiah did that?

Each successive version of the gospels made this new religion, Christianity, more and more separated from the religion that spawned it.

When Jesus is on trial, is it Pontius Pilate that wanted to kill him? No way! Pilate doesn’t want to have anything to do with this innocent man. In Matthew, Mark and Luke, it’s the high priests and a crowd of people that call for the death of Jesus. By the time of John’s Gospel, it’s the Jewish high priests and the Jews that are doing it.

In a previous post, I stated my position that Jesus committed a form of suicide by cop, and forced the Jews and Romans to execute him because that’s what God wanted him to do. And in doing so he served God perfectly, and man became God.

Jesus died his bloody death, but not to save us from our sins. He did so because it was what he had to do to become the King of Heaven and Earth.