A lot of people are talking about this fellow over on CNN.com--
The man is something like 89 years old and I think I read someplace that he owns a radio station called FamilyRadio--
And he believes that the world is coming to an end Saturday at 6pm Eastern Time. This Saturday, which would be tomorrow (for me), and it's very likely that I will be at my granddaughter's birthday party at the time.
Does that mean the party's over?
I'm a little bit concerned about the "message" that this man is putting out there, because apparently, he put it out there once before (in 1994), and things kept on about their merry way--his response to that was that enough people must have prayed, and so God showed mercy. But the "good book" says that it's not for man to know the times or the seasons, but when you see these things come to pass, know that these are the birth pains of things to come, but the end is not yet....There will be wars and rumors of wars and earthquakes in different places (etc...I tend to paraphrase when I can't quote directly)...but it would seem that things are really bad before the end comes. Not that things aren't bad--this seems to have been a banner year for natural disasters in the United States and elsewhere--but there have been natural disasters in the past, and someone almost always survived.
So if the time comes, passes and there is nothing to show for it, you sort of wonder what excuse he's going to give. Or worse, if it DOES come to pass, is he planning to snub his nose at the rest of us and say
"Nya Nyah, Told ya so!"
Somehow, I wonder.
And there's been a lot of debate over what the Bible says and what it doesn't say, and frankly, you can tear the Bible down into a million little pieces and debate every letter until it's basically meaningless. People who do this make me feel quite sad, because they are throwing the baby out with the bathwater--can't see the forest for the trees. It's not surprising. To these folks, God is too small.
Imagine if you will, our galaxy, amid our universe, which is only one of millions of universes, which is only millions of millions more that we simply don't know about yet--the vast expanse of time and space, to infinity and beyond that--are all encompassed in the mind of God, which sort of makes you think that there might be a finite space that you could attribute to God, but even that is too small.
I like to call this Infinity Plus One, or IPO.
A mathematics/physics teacher told me that there was no IPO, that Infinity was just infinite, and Infinity plus one would still be infinity--but yet, that causes a rift in mathematics, doesn't it? Because we do tend to think in terms that are linear--Infinity plus one cannot equal infinity--because infinity plus 0 (based on the laws of linear mathematics) would be equal to infinity--therefore, Infinity plus one would be somehow greater than a "normal" infinity, again, based on the normal laws of linear mathematics.
My friend told me that there was no such thing as IPO. And I replied, I bet you don't believe in God either, huh? But you do believe that there is a chance that intelligent life is somewhere "out there", and has the intelligence and knowledge to build a ship that will traverse all that time and space just to come and visit us for a little while.
I see, said the blind man to his deaf wife, while he picked up his hammer and saw.
My thoughts on the matter of the Bible. I think that basically it attempts to lay down the law for the Jewish nations, while at the same time having a huge Islamic influence--that's mostly the first half--then there's a bit about the kings and the judges that handled the law, with a couple of common sense "warriors" that brought the people to task. A miracle here, (of course, perception is everything, right?) a miracle there. Then Christ is born and the whole venue takes a big turn--an about face, if you will. Things are really quiet for a long while, and then suddenly, Act 2, and new actors take the stage. Suddenly, it's not about the letter of the law anymore, but about how you treat others (including God, if you believe in him).
Jesus was asked once, which of the 10 commandments was the most important, and his reply was
1. Love God with all your heart, and all your mind, and all your strength.
2. The second is like it--love each other. Thereupon lays the groundwork of the entire law.
Again, I paraphrase....
But this means, that we really only have to follow 1/5--only 20% of the law, and we're on the "plus side" of the scales that we believe God maintains. That is, *IF* we could keep that law. Too often, we fail to cover that 20% even 20% of the time. Sad. So sad. It's why there is greed and jealousy. Pride and prejudice. Running around naked in front of the livingroom window.
Okay, maybe that last wasn't part of the plan...sorry.
The biggest deal, is that when we compare ourselves to the next guy, we con ourselves into thinking that we are somehow better than--that we're on the right track. That we're doing okay. And we may very well BE doing okay, as long as we con ourselves into thinking that it's the next guy we need to beat out to gain God's favor.
He knows about that time you passed that little old lady on the freeway and flipped her the bird as you blew past because she was going a little slower, since she doesn't have somebody to drive her to the doctor, and can barely see to begin with--and no, she probably shouldn't be on the road, but what else can she do?
And he knows about the time you took that dime in the bathroom stall that didn't belong to you.
And just because those are small things--and you probably think, "I could be much worse--I could have run that old bat off the road so that she wasn't a menace anymore...and cry out 'jeez, it's only a dime, for crying out loud--it's not like I robbed a bank!". But you know what? Doesn't matter how big or how small. Sin, or what I prefer to call "un-loving-ness" big or little, is still sin.
And God can't have sin. He wouldn't be God if he had sin. So He thought up this plan....
"I'll send my Son", saith He, "to stand in the place where YOU should be", to hang on a cross and die, and Jesus' shed blood will cover you (a throwback to when the Jews slapped blood on their door frames during Exodus--so that the Angel of Death would "pass-over" their house--he would see the blood, and not come knockin'.) and the Angel of Death (that's Satan, by the way) will be able to make your flesh rot, but will not be able to destroy your spirit.
Now right there's a hard thing to understand--your spirit. Some folks think they don't have one--that when they die, that's it--they're done, gone, buried (or burned) and returned to the dust and basically worm fodder. Which sounds really gruesome, actually, when you think about it. And if you believe that way, that's cool.
Personally, I am not much of a gambler. But if I must gamble, I hedge my bets as much as possible. Frankly, if you don't believe, okay. Maybe you're just a wiser gambler than I'll ever be--but honestly, *IF* there is a spirit, and I have one, and it's gonna go someplace when I die--I'd prefer it go to the nice, cushy hotel, than to the condemned, broken down, algae in the water one. THAT's what I call hedging my bets.
But there's an added benefit to having "faith", or believing in something that you can't see, can't prove and don't really so much care if you do. It's called "hope". Hope for a better tomorrow. It means you can wake up in the morning after a really horrible day at work, and say "things will be better today", and maybe they will, maybe they won't, but you have "hope" and accept that on "faith", even though you haven't been through it yet.
And because of those two, you can also share love--in little ways, here and there, random acts of kindness--not required, but sure makes someone else's day, and gives them a chance to really bless you (unless they beat you over the head with an umbrella, which could make your day a lot worse...first make sure the old lady WANTS help across the street, okay?). And because of those little random acts of kindness, you have begun a chain of events that can brighten an otherwise dull day in your little realm. You may never see where it led to--and it may never come back your way--which means it's still out there working.
And then, Act 3. Christ dies, rises, visits with his friends and relatives, and goes to heaven...then the chosen head out and spread the message--random acts of kindness--for a gazillion pages--and then...the finale.
Yes, the finale.
The culmination of the effort. The harvest is taken. The trees are pruned back. The bad trees are tossed into the fire, and the good trees are allowed to continue bearing fruit....You can almost see the moon, for me and my gal...(oh, sorry, waxing a memory there)...
There are a lot of "things" that happen, some that herald the end of time, some that are judgments, there's a fervent belief that God wouldn't make his "faithful" go through this horrible time, but you know what? God allows us to go through trials and difficulties on all sorts of matters, why would that change? I mean, sure...I hope that I can get the heck outta Dodge before the place blows up, you know, body and spirit and all of that, but it's not like I'm Billy Graham or something like that! I'm just ME--and there's nothing particularly spectacular about me.
(Just as a digression here, when I was at the pizza joint the other day, I asked for the Italian seasonings shaker, and the clerk said "yes! It turns the ordinary into something extraordinary!" I then countered "Oh, perhaps we should sprinkle you as well?" The next day, he took my order and I looked over at his boss and said "He sprinkled herb all over himself this morning, didn't he?")
Yes, I turn a mean knitting needle, and can joust with the best crocheters. My quilting is a thing to behold. And my spinning? I can turn out a bobbin of wool in a couple of hours. 100 yards of worsted yarn in a couple of days. When it comes to crafty stuff, I've got some of that stuff. I also play guitar, though not so much anymore, and I used to sing quite well, with a voice more akin to Janis Joplin than to Karen Carpenter, but I love to sing in both styles. All this means I'm pretty ordinary (no herb on me), at least to myself. Others claim differently, and it "tickles me", but beyond that, I know my own worth--in my eyes and in other's eyes, but my worth to God? Ah...well, in some ways, God thinks I've got all the herb I need (meaning that he thinks I'm spiffy, I guess. It's hard to know, and you can't just ASK about something like that.), but He says in other places that his creation (meaning us) is as grass (more herb?), here today, gone tomorrow, and that he is no respecter of persons...this means that as grand as Billy Graham is, when it comes to God's perception, Bill and I are pretty much the same.
You see, the measuring stick isn't "each other". The measuring stick is God. So if you don't believe in God, it makes things very convenient for you to think of yourself as better than anyone (or everyone) else, or disappointed in yourself--but at least you don't have to measure up to perfection, which none of us can do, no matter how hard we might try. And that makes it convenient for you, and you can go on living your life, working your magic, or playing mean little games, all your life.
Then you die and it's all over. The final act for you. Truly meaningless. Unless you leave millions of dollars to your heirs, who will use it to it's advantage or waste it, dependent on their ability. But you won't care, because you're dead. Nothing left.
But for those who have faith that God will keep his promise, the final act isn't really the final act. After the curtain call, there's a big cast party, with lots of food and wine, where everyone is glad that the show's all over, and while it was a good closing night, there's a nice, warm bed in a nice, comfortable hotel room, where the pool doesn't have algae...ever...and that's where I hope to be headed.
I'll keep the light on for you...just in case.
So don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. If the Bible is flawed, it's flawed because men wrote down things the way that they understood them, men being flawed and all that...the fact is that they TRIED. Maybe they failed. But you really have to read the book to determine one way or the other, and most folks who want to argue about the Bible want to debunk its claims in this or that section. I still feel that there is SOMETHING in there for everyone--something that they need to hear, something that their heart needs to hear--even if it's the smallest little thing--and if you don't look, you're sure to miss it. The Bible is a lot of things to a lot of people. For some, it's fiction. For some, it's Myth. For some, it's the very word of God. For some it's a literary masterpiece.
I'll remind you here, that Buck Rogers in the 21st century was thought to be ridiculous at one time.
I'll keep the light on for you...just in case.