Wednesday, October 26, 2011

#44- The Investigator is Born 2

1.  Why Did Jews Reject Jesus?

I read this book to find answers
After I brought up that there are serious problems in the Bible that should be examined I found out that there is a nonchalant attitude towards investigation in the church.  What made it more frustrating was that I was far more familiar with the Bible than my peers and I knew that it would take time to catch them up.

It was under these conditions that I approached the head pastor of the church to ask him a question that is rarely discussed.  I asked the pastor "Why did the Jews reject Jesus?".  He answered "Because they were sinners" dismissively.  I felt that my manhood and intellect were insulted.  He did not take me serious.  He did not take the question serious.  He did not take the gravity of the question serious.

In the post 9/11 world, I realized that people's beliefs had real life consequences.  The answer to my question would help me understand Jewish-Christian and maybe Muslim relations.  After my pastor dismissed me I had another epiphany:  I can talk to Jews and find out myself.

This was not hard to do.  There are a lot of Jews living in South Florida.  But since I saw religion as a private matter I could not bring myself to ask a random Jew about Jesus.  I suspected that this was a taboo subject for them.  Luckily I found a website that was dedicated to answering questions like mine.

I spoke to and corresponded with a kind lady from the group Jews For Judaism.  She explained that there were Christians who were posing as Jews who were trying to get Jews to become Christians.  I asked her why Jews did not believe in Jesus and she told me it was because he did not meet the requirements of what Jews and the Bible were looking for in a messiah.  I was shocked.  I asked her for proof and she provided it.  When I read the article I asked her why Jews had not shared this with more Christians and she said that they tried that in the Middle Ages and were killed and persecuted for it.

She sent me a letter with the Jewish interpretation of famous Isaiah passages used by Christians to justify their belief that Jesus was the messiah and I sided with them.  I was dismayed yet excited to share this discovery.

I took what I learned to church in order to get the information cross-referenced but this time much more quietly.  I asked select individuals for their opinions and I was dismissed again.  I asked my Sunday School teacher who looked at me with glazed eyes.  He looked at me exasperated, as if I was an annoying rabble-rouser.

The gentleman who helped run the Sunday School was a pastor himself.  He visited my class from time to time and caught wind of my inquisitive nature.  He and some other older guys offered to give some answers to the Jewish problem but usually offline in order not to distract from the predetermined Sunday School lesson.

I didn't see the point of teaching about a man who wasn't what was being advertised.  I tuned out and was very disagreeable.  I thought that I could do a better job of teaching the class and started to ask tougher questions to the teachers.  I asked questions that were provocative and rhetorical in nature.   I asked questions to see if my teachers knew there stuff.  Looking back I now see that I could have handle things better but I was very sad and angry that the church members did not take the faith seriously.  In fact I began to see the goals and the culture of the church to be contrary to my values.

#43- The Investigator Is Born.

My meeting with my pastor did not have the desired result.  I waited months to get some answers about slavery, genocide, and other foul things and he did not really have much to say because those things were in the Old Testament.  This made me realize that I would have to research myself.

I didn't know what an "apologist" was but that's what I was training myself to be.  I was active in Sunday School challenging my teachers and helping them with the lessons.  I found learning the Bible exciting and wanted to share my passion and knowledge with the students in the class.  I had exposure to philosophy and debate around that time and I knew that not everyone the students meet would be ignorant about the troublesome passages in the Bible so I wanted to learn the answers to the hard questions.  This was especially important during the times that people were talking about going out to preach to strangers.  I always had a problem with telling strangers about religion.

I started my search on the internet.  I stumbled upon an Islamic website with a list of Bible contradictions.  I thought that this was very peculiar as I had never seen such a comprehensive list before.  I set about reading and examining each claim and see it I could answer each contradiction.  I understood context and had a good grasp of logical rules so I felt confident that I could clear up any misunderstandings.  What struck me most was that should there be any contradictions it would be easy to fix should the Bible editors become aware of them after all these years.

After going through the list it was apparent that the author had a good case.  When I brought this to the attention of my Sunday School teachers they dismissed it because I had gotten the list from the internet and from a Muslim site.  I told them that I cross-checked the material and that they were worth checking out and got nothing.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

#42- The Vatican

The Vatican is a wonderful and opulent state.  My first impression of it came when I and my companions tried to entry its museum.  It was a long line to get in there and I was surprised to find nuns working there for profit.  I had a certain image of nuns and Catholics and my biases were either going to be confirmed or denied by this trip.

I didn't like the fact that they were charging people to get in the museum.  I thought it was sacrilegious.  Once inside there were artifact upon artifact, art upon art, wonders upon wonders.  The grandeur of that place can not be described in words.  Pictures and video my help a bit but even that falls short.  Being there live is the main way to appreciate that place but to truly understand what I was experiencing one had to have a good grasp of its history.

I felt like the Catholics were competing with other holy relics in a celestial beauty contest dedicated to God.  There were scores of unique and priceless art in every corner of the place.  I saw giant frescoes done by renown art masters like Michelangelo.

The stones we stood on were precious.  The gold, silver, ivory, and rubies were everywhere.  I was not Catholic but I was impressed and intimidated by the place.  I constantly wondered at the total value of the place.  I wondered if the architects and tenants of the Vatican were interested in keeping with the teachings and lifestyle of Jesus.

The Vatican has mined precious stones into extinction.  I contemplated the amount of people that the valuables could feed if there was an auction of the treasures of the place.  It was then that I decided that  the Catholics didn't do enough for humanity.  I didn't understand the fascination with the Pope or the art though it was beautiful.  I thought often of the suffering children all around the world.  I wondered about the Catholic's work in Haiti, their demonizing of Vodou, and other dubious historical facts that made the church look bad.

All this was overwhelming for a tour that lasted only a few hours.

#41- The Meeting with Pastor Ron

Eventually things settled down for me.  I had a routine and I had gotten enough of the war experience out of me to me social again.  My pastor finally had the time to meet with me.

Pastor Ron is a good man.  He grew up in a Catholic home like me.  He served as an altar boy at one time in a Catholic church.  Somewhere in his journey he decided that Catholicism was not for him and became a baptist.  Eventually he became ordained and led the younger side of my church.

He was old enough to be respected and revered for his wisdom but young enough to have experienced American from the perspective of a young Haitian man.  He was very kind and passionate and busy.  Thus to get an audience with him was a privileged of sorts.

I wanted to be efficient and succinct during the meeting.  I brought my notes but I made an outline of my concerns and questions in order to get at the big things.  I asked about the genocides, slavery, and evil zeal of Yahweh.  I remember the look on his face as it seems like he was getting some of this information for the first time.

He confessed that he was more familiar with the New Testament and the deeds of Jesus then he was with the Old Testament. That took me by surprised because I thought that a pastor was a doctor in his field.  In my past I never thought of challenging a religious leader and always thought that any problems I had with the religion were of my mind.  It was at that time that learned that we are all able to learn equally and think equally.  I learned not to be enamored by titles but investigate a matter full and as judiciously as possible.

I left the meeting satisfied with Pastor Ron's honesty and humility but I was disappointed with the answers that I received.  I had to keep digging and looking around.  My thirst for knowledge grew and I was on my own to satiate it.

Friday, October 21, 2011

#40- My return to the US

Combat Infantry Badge
I returned to the U.S. in early 2004.  I had been changed forever.  I experienced things that could not be conveyed easily in words or images.  I experienced a few different cultures, tremendous fear, camaraderie, discrimination, patriotism, and had started to read the Bible from Genesis.

Church service in Iraq
I was pretty religious at that point.  I wrote a poem to God and everything.  I started to learn of Yahweh from the Bible and slowly started to see how he did not match my understanding of what God was or does.

Upon my return home religion was one of the last things on my mind.  My first impression was how different things seemed to be.  The US seemed so surreal; as if I had entered The Matrix.  America was full of bright lights and advertisements for a myriad of things.  America was all about money.

After going through the formalities my unit was eventually dismissed from active duty and we returned home.  Obviously we were happy to be back but there was a sense of sadness as well.  My comrades and I became close by a trial by fire and we had a new sense of the world that was unique to us.  Our old families could never fully grasp this.

My old Sunday School class
Our second group's welcome rally
I had some readjusting to do.  I was full of rage which was normal.  Many people wanted to see me and there were people I wanted to see as well.  Some people gave God credit for keeping me safe.  My aunt wanted me to get baptized.  I was repulsed by the idea that my aunt felt privileged to my religious affairs and was making deals and promises to God on my behalf.  I remembered a meeting that we had in Iraq when it was relayed that a soldier had gotten killed a few days after arriving in country.  He was a new father and now he was gone.  I wondered why my family should be thankful for me being safe and meanwhile that soldier's family was grieving.  But events were done under the watch of the same God.

Sometime after my return, I went to church in my desert uniform.  I walked in there fully expecting a hero's welcome.  There was no such fanfare.  I was utterly shocked.  I kept telling myself that I was fighting for these people and received no such ovation when I actually was among them.  I may have gotten an introduction but I think that it was due to me standing out in my uniform.

I decided to treat myself to a vacation.  I returned to Haiti for 2 weeks first.  I was glad to see my family but was saddened to see the condition that they were living in.  I had been gone for about 15 years and a lot of things have changed.  Things had gotten worst and hope was at a premium.  The future looked bleak for my fellow countrymen.

I came back to the US saddened by what I had seen.  It takes trips like going to Haiti to appreciate what you have and to re-evaluate one's perspective on things.

A few days later I was on a plane to London, England.  I was on my way to a tour of Europe.  That was another life-changing event.  I saw great and wondrous things.  I met people from different backgrounds.  My American arrogance and bias was exposed.  I saw other people living a different kind of life that did not center around money.  Religion did not really come up except when we visited the Vatican.

View from my aunt's house in Port-au-Prince, Haiti

P-a-P, Haiti

Jacmel, Haiti

Bus station in Jacmel, Haiti

Map of my European tour

Nice, France
Me in Rome, Italy

The wealth of the Vatican can be described in one word: Grotesque
I returned home with a fresh new outlook on the world.  My mind was a lot more opened.  I was now settled and ready to share my new discoveries and adventures with my friends.  But first I was granted an audience with my Pastor.  This was my chance to get some overdue answers.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

#39- Reading the Bible and its effect

Adam and Eve
I set out to read my Student Bible after setting aside what I've heard about it growing up.  I wanted to read it from beginning to end because I was at war and had the time to do so.  I also had good reason to think that I was going to die and wanted to know what would happen after I arrived in heaven.

I had a notepad that I wrote every question that came to my mind no matter how off-the-wall it was.  The questions soon piled up and I decided to read on thinking that the answers were in the pages ahead.

I read about Adam and Eve, The Tower of Babel, Lot and his daughters, Noah, Abraham, and much more.  I knew of these characters in passing but it was exciting to learn the full story behind what I've been told for so long.

I liked the Student Bible version because it had annotations and notes that gave insight or alternate meanings or names to words and stories.  It was obvious that the publishers were targeting a younger audience and attempted in directing their perspective on the book.

Noah's Ark
I underlined and highlighted much in my Bible.  I couldn't wait to have an intelligent conversation with any Bible literate person especially my Pastor.  However, the more I read the more it became obvious to me that the story was a narrow account of a few people from one general tribe.  It was not an account of world affairs.  I thought that the story of how Egypt became so great was included.  I knew little of the migration and achievements of the Chinese and expected some mention of that in there but I was disappointed.

Abraham about to murder his (second) son Isaac for God
There were boring and dry parts to get through but I found the reading fairly easy.  I wondered why I or other people have always assumed that we needed the help of chaperons to read the book.  As I got into the story of Exodus things got disturbing.

Exodus had special meaning for several reasons.  I flew over the Nile River and the Sinai peninsula on my way to Jordan.  I spent some time near the Euphrates River which is one of the four rivers mentioned in the Creation story.  Some soldiers took advantage of the situation and either got baptized or circumcised because Iraq was a historically rich land with strong Bible roots and references.

After Moses received his mandate he went to rescue the Hebrews from the Egyptian pharaoh.  This was supposed to be a classic good-versus-evil showdown.  The problem is that I read that it was God who caused the problem that he was sending Moses to solve.  This was not mentioned in church.  I also learned of God wanting to kill Moses for no reason.  Moses was rescued by his wife who he would later dismiss as if she had not ensured his survival.

Most alarming of all was the killings Moses ordered which were either condoned, endorsed, or outright praised by God.  Moses also institutes slavery and a host of other bizarre or outright wrong practices and statues among the Hebrews.

Crossing The Nile River of Exodus
Things went from bad to worst when Moses was replaced by Joshua son of Nun.  Joshua went on a terror campaign to kill all native Canaanite men, women, and children.  I was shocked and speechless.  Here I was in a land at war with rules of engagement that restricted our activities and I was reading of slavery and genocide by God or the people of God.

I knew that I could not have gotten away with the actions of Joshua and his soldiers today.  The earmarks and tell-tale signs of the flaws of the Bible vibrated within me.  The Hebrew soldiers were ordered to kill not too long after the famous "Do Not Kill/Murder" law was established.  This was a clear double-standard.

My background was tailor-made to be opposed to Exodus.  I was Haitian and thus was sensitive to slavery.  I migrated to the United States and knew that America was formed by strangers who essentially murdered and took land from the indigenous people.  I was a soldier who knew enough of the Nuremberg trials and the current rules of engagement to behave like the Hebrews.   I was a tolerant liberal who believed in peace and an omnibenevolent God who would never behave like the God of the Hebrews.

I pushed on through the book and learned a lot more information.  I learned of the famous Old Testament stories that are sanitized for contemporary consumption.  The Bible is a hodgepodge of stories that were mixed in their benevolence, barbarity, usefulness, evil, and poetry.  I finally stalled in Isaiah by the time I was to return to the United States.  I looked forward to getting the chance to speak to my Pastor at long last.  Maybe I was mistaken about a few things.  Maybe he could shed light and justify the things that I read.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

#38- Survival

After our mission in Jordan we were sent to Iraq. That is were I learned of the "Rules of Engagement". These were rules of behavior during war. I thought that nothing could be more ridiculous than rules of the most inhumane and ungodly act possible.

It was unbearably hot. We moved constantly. At one stop we had to guard Iraqis that we were told were persons of interest.  We inherited this assignment from some special forces guys.

This was my first time dealing with Iraqis.  They had bags on their heads and were smelly.  I felt bad about the assignment and wondered whether or not the operation would be seen as inhumane if a news crew was there filming.

I focused on my duties when it was my turn.  I didn't know if these people were guilty so I just followed orders.  When we had down time me and others pondered our roles in this war, the causes of the war, and our treatments of the Iraqis.

We moved around until we found our permanent home and mission in a town called Ar-Ramadi.  It was there that we endured attacks, Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), firefights, and suicide bombers.

We did a lot of patrolling.  We did what can be called humanitarian missions.  We raided homes.  We set up traffic control points and searched cars for suspects, explosives, and weapons.  We did what we had to do to survive.

It was in Ar-Ramadi that I experienced an unparallel level of fear.  I felt that I was probable going to die there and what was worst was that I had no control of it.  Having recently discovered my poetic skills I felt ashamed that I had never written a poem for God.  I wrote one of my best pieces called "Praise God" there.

In my past I had completed 60% of Richard Wright's "Native Son".  I started to read "The Hiram Key" but gave it away as a gift to a guy in another platoon.  I read "The DaVinci Code" in record fashion.  It occurred to me that I had never read the Bible.  It was then that I decided that I should read the Bible from the beginning to end.  I didn't even think such a thing was possible.  I only heard of Jason Taylor of the Miami Dolphins who read the whole thing.  At that time I joked to myself that I would take and use any amulet or good luck charm that would keep me safe because war was no joke.  I carried my Student Bible as a good luck charm and decided to give it a try.  Before I read the Bible I told myself that I would "format" my brain and erase all that I was told of the Bible and start afresh.  This was a key moment in my life.

I told myself that I was going probably going  to die and wanted to find out what happened when I got to heaven.  I grabbed a notepad and said that I would ask any questions that came to mind and look for the answers within the book or ask my pastor at home should I survive.  That seemed like a fair, sensible, and admiral thing to do.

What I did was open Pandora's box.

Friday, October 7, 2011

#37- Jordan

We landed in the kingdom of Jordan in March of 2003.  Everything was different.  The sun, the elevation, the people, and the toilets.  Our new how was expanding at a dizzying pace and had an army of locals and semi-local workers working 24 hours a day to meet the demand.

All of the sudden there was a silence.  It was time for prayer.  It was a magnificent sight to see all these men stop and submit to God.  I was impressed and moved by their unity and commitment to put God first no matter what the circumstances.

After the prayer it was back to a symphony of saws, hammers, and strange languages.  The Jordanians looked at us like I looked at them; as aliens from a different planet.

We were eventually assigned to an air defense unit from Texas.  We had to endure dust storms and the severe lack of women.  We were in the middle of nowhere.  I gave up hope of going home in order to cope better.

We had 12 shifts in guard towers.  It was there that I did all manners of thinking.  I wondered about the root causes of the war and why it was that the actors could not see that peace is better than war.  Who was the aggressor?  What was the other side of the story?  What would cause a man to commit acts of violence so terrible?

I did not buy into the whole virgin thing nor the idea that the enemy hates us because we had freedom. There must be something else.  If religion was the cause I wanted to learn the how and why of it.  It was during one of these guard shifts that I finally pulled out the Qur'an that was given to me in Georgia. I was away from prying eyes and felt safe to read.

The first few pages were delightful.  I learned of Muhammad and his relationship with Khadijah.  I thought it was beautiful and poetic.  I couldn't understand how such and innocent sounding story could have led to massacres but I was motivated to be a religious ambassador to the Muslim world.  By learning Islam I felt that I would be more accepted than previous Americans.

Islam's roots are the same with Judaism and Christianity.  Most of the characters in the book were familiar to me:  Moses, Jesus, Adam, and Eve.  The book was enchanting and lovely.  I felt guilty for having these feelings and had to remind myself that I was a soldier on guard and could not fall for the book.  I was simply doing research.  Nothing more and nothing less.
As nice as the book was I couldn't give it the time it deserved because I had to watch my sector and didn't want to get compromised.  I knew that it would arouse suspicion to read it in the tent at my leisure as well.  I eventually gave the Army Qur'an to a Jordanian soldier as a good will gift.  He gave me a "kufi" in return.


#36- Going to War

Oversimplified family tree of a crazy religious family
The word came down in December of 2002 that my unit was activated to go to war.  I was devastated.  Not only was I leaving home for the unknown but I had only 7 days to pack and leave for training.

I had to get my financial affairs in order as well as say goodbye to friends and family.  It was very tough to leave behind all that I have known.  I felt helpless as my nightmare of going to war was coming true.

We trained in Fort Stewart, Georgia.  I remember the frenzied pace of our training in order to get us prepared to be shipped to the middle east if needed.

The world was in an uneasy state as we all wondered what would happen to the push to investigate Saddam Hussein's nuclear cache of weapons.  There were protests from California to New York and even Australia to prevent the US from going to war.  I was hoping that this would persuade the decision makers not to send us but it did not work.  I was under the assumption that this was a democracy but I was wrong.  From what I recall, Congress agreed to go to war along with President Bush citing that weapons of mass destruction were in the possession of the Iraqis.

Hasan Akbar.  The soldier convicted of throwing a grenade in a tent.

People were very wary of Islam and Muslims at the time.  It didn't help that news of a Muslim soldier throwing a grenade into a tent and killing other service members popped up.  Although I felt that I knew Islam from Malcolm X's movie I realized I didn't know what would cause people to fly planes into buildings and throw grenades into tents.

We eventually got the confirmed word that we were headed "down range".  I was stunned.

When it came to Arab Muslims I realized that the knowledge that I had of them were secondhand at best. It was a popular rumor to say that "those people have been fighting for 1000s of years and will continue to do so".  The people who advanced such thoughts often cite the Bible as a historical reference and proof of divine prophecy when talking of Arabs.  They were referring to the squabble between Abraham's sons Ishmael and Isaac.  At that time that was all the historical knowledge I had to work with in dealing with how all this animosity came to build up to 9/11.

White Abraham being an ass to his Baby Momma Hagar and Ishmael
I wanted to know more about the religion of Islam in order to get an idea of what about the religion could inspire terrorism and thus give me insight into the minds of Arab Muslims.  I thought that this was a very sensible idea because I figured that when visiting a new country it was wise to learn as much about the language and customs of the people as possible in order to make the visit as productive as possible.

It was in this mindset that I asked a Christian chaplain to give me a Qur'an.  The man promised to look into it and days later I got my wish.  Please understand that in the US Army Christian Bibles are easily accessible while other holy texts were harder to come by.

Looking back I didn't understand how my request would have been accepted and the change in percection that it caused.  The chaplain found an Army Qur'an and gave it to my platoon leader.  As we packed our gear in our barracks the young second lieutenant came in and said: "Hey Specialist, here is the Qur'an that you asked for" and tossed it onto my bunk.

I still remember how the room stood still when the word "Qur'an" was said.  I also remember how it felt like slow motion when the book was tossed into the air and landed on my bed. I felt that everyone  assumed that I was going to read the Qur'an and convert to Islam.  That would make everyone uneasy because they wouldn't be able to tell what side I was on.

I looked back at my fellow soldiers and quickly stuffed the book in my ruck sack.  I knew that I had done something that I didn't quite understand.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

#35- Juan and Jericho 2

Juan and I were having one of our fascinating conversations about religion when I caught the ear of my platoon sergeant.

I must have been talking about how guilty I felt about being part of an army when God was obviously all into groovy love.

"What about the Battle of Jericho?" interjected Staff Sergeant North.  "Joshua went to battle for the Lord"

I stood there confused and intimidated at the same time.  This was my platoon sergeant, an authority figure, who was speaking.  I remember the look of absolute certainty on his face.  He looked at me as if I was missing something.  I was looking at him as if he was misguided as well.

SSG North was the picture of an All-American soldier.  He had just came out of the regular army where he did some very high speed missions.  He was a seasoned warrior and my direct supervisor.  He exuded patriotism and a sense that we Americans did things for the correct reasons at all times.

There was no way I was going to contradict my platoon sergeant and tell him about all the sermons dealing with loving your neighbor, forgiving your enemy, and that Jesus was the King of Peace and not war.  Surely, he was mistaken but I had to pick my battles, so-to-speak.

It was at that time that I felt the instinctual pressure of not talking about religion and/or politics while on duty.  I had to keep my thoughts to myself and had to be careful of who I shared them with.

I had never heard of Jericho and Joshua.  There was a good reason for this.

#34- Juan and Jericho

I dreaded doing my annual training every summer.  It was an obligation of mine and I had to fulfill it.  Being a thinking man is hard in that environment at the time.  I was a pawn that was to obey and move when needed.  This is why I was particular pleased to meet a young man who just happened to be teamed up with me in my squad named Juan.

Juan went to school at Florida State University and we talked about his experience there.  He told me of the wild parties, the girls, of smoking weed.  He was such a free spirit and seemed out of place in our unit kind of like me.  To the casual observer we were but young twenty something kids but we talked about all manners of deep things whenever time permitted.

2 student bodies at FSU.  Yee Haw!!!
I was still troubled by my choice to serve in the Army especially in the infantry being that it compromised my worldview that followers of Jesus were peace-loving hippy like folks.  I hope I wouldn't have to use my training for real in a war situation and be put in a position to kill.  I thought then as I do now that war was man's confession of failure to God.

At the time I had experiences that I attributed to my faith in God.  I prayed and thought that I communicated with God like one does with a friend.  All the services that I'd been too dealt with the good stuff of peace and love and forgiveness.  Of course there was your occasional talk of sin here and there but since we were already believers that was for the "unsaved".  When it came to war my conviction was that we were like children who want to be from our loving Parent but end up fighting over preventable things thus always needed God to keep an eye on us.  That kept God gainfully employed because humans were always fighting and that, to me, was proof we needed God to mind our affairs.
Hindu Avatar art

Juan was very mature for his age just like me.  The talk of girls and weed was entertaining but he wasn't afraid or inept when talking of spiritual things.  To my surprise he knew a great deal about the Bible, Christianity, and Jesus.  But what he had to say really had a profound on me.

Juan told me that there is a faction of people, mostly in the East that see Jesus as an avatar of Brahman.  They said that Jesus' behavior where in lined with what they know to be true.  If fact it is believed that Jesus made pilgrimages to the East; India to be more exact to learn from gurus and master different truths and spiritual techniques.  Juan hinted that all the clues are in the Bible but you have to know what to look for to see them.

Then he asked me "How do you account for the 18 years missing in Jesus' life?"

"18 missing years?"  I had never heard of such things.  Surely the Biblical account was complete about Jesus.  He was just about the most important and popular person that had ever lived.

"Yep.  Dude probably went around learning stuff and came back and applied it in Israel.  That's why they where scared of him and thought he did miracles.  He did no miracles he just knew science that no one else knew at the time."

On the subject of the Virgin Birth Juan said:  "That's a popular myth.  A lot of semi-gods were born of virgins. They know who Jesus' father is.  It is a Roman soldier named Pantera."

Those things blew my mind.  I had nothing to discount him other than saying the usual "but the Bible says..." or "how can this be possible or true and no one knows about it".

The Ohm

Monday, October 3, 2011

#33- South Florida Church of Christ

My best friend's older brother Steve met some folks and started going to their church.  That was no big deal with me because their local church was beyond boring.  I've visited St. Paul Episcopal, their home church, and it was beyond boring so I understood why he would want to test some different waters.

He ended up converting to the religion of the church he was attending and that caused a big commotion.  For some reason Steve's church became a hot topic on the streets.  The church's name was South Florida Church of Christ and it was building massive momentum.  It seemed like everybody knew somebody that knew somebody who attended that church.  They started calling it a cult because it was growing fast and taking other church's members.

Yahweh Ben Yahweh
Steve became very conservative.  We found him to be too prudish and altered our conversations to make him feel more comfortable.  Eventually he dealt exclusively with members of his own denomination.  His mother was not happy with the radical change in his behavior.  She even tore a Bible of his and left it in the bathroom sink.

I wondered what could have made her so upset?  I know that he became more holy but I thought that was supposed to be a good thing.  What intrigued me was this accusation of him being in a "cult".

In my mind cults were spooky clubs where white people in damp dungeons to do all sorts of weird things.  Steve didn't match that stereotype.  I wanted to see what the hype was but I was also scared that I might get sucked into a situation that I couldn't get out of.  I was afraid of the very thought of being accused of visiting a cult much less being in one.

Jim Jones

David Koresh

Eventually I asked to go to church with Steve and he accepted.  I was greatly impressed by the size and organization of the church.  I found nothing out the ordinary except that males and females were separated.  When people met me they hugged me while making sure that our genital area was well separated.  People seem to know that I was new and were constantly asking me if I wanted to study the Bible with them.  I didn't like the pressure so I said "no".  Steve stayed with the group and the family just had to accept his wish.

This was the first time that I saw what religion can do to a family up close and personal.

#32- The Seeds of Doubt 2

2.  Big Brother

I began to see signs that the plan to subjugate society was in full effect.  While training at a telemarketing company, we used real people's social security numbers in our practice sessions.  I learned that companies sold our personal information by collecting data from sweepstakes etc.  I reasoned that the mark of the beast had already happened because we could not function openly and freely in the society without a social security number.

I saw commercials pushing for the use of debit cards over cash as a sign that the powers that be are getting the people passive and used to a speed system in order to make them more susceptible to the upcoming mark of the Beast.  I felt the same way about the Sun Pass system of our highways.

This was the only way that I felt that the enemy could rise among the people even though the people had the warning signs in the Bible.  They were going to make it so that the people actually WANT the mark.

Some of the Hip Hop artists that I listen too were already all to aware of this situation and made not-so veiled references to them.  I felt like I was on to something.

While at a Barnes and Noble I noticed a book called "The Hiram Key" on the discount shelf. It was about Freemasonry and I decided to buy it.  I used my debit card to get it.  Within days I had advertisements that essentially solicited my business because they were sold my info from my Barnes and Nobles transaction.

I became highly suspicious of everything and wanted to learn as much as I can and share as much as I could with who would listen.  Very few people listened because they did not have the information handy or some knew but didn't care.  Others were discouraged about doing anything and felt outnumbered.

#31- The Seeds of Doubt

1.  Lilith

Depiction of Lilith
While digging a foxhole with my squad leader he told me of two concepts that I have never forgotten:

1.  "The one-eyed man is king in a blind world"

2.  "Lilith was the first woman..."

I took the first to mean that Freemasons (which he was) knew more than the average man because they have taken the time to learn, understand, and apply esoteric knowledge.  I had the image of the eye above the pyramid of the US dollar in my mind.

The second statement threw me off.  "Everyone knows the Eve was the first woman" I thought in my head.  I just stayed quiet, absorbing all that he could offer.  I didn't want to ask questions that would cause him to close his spigot of Masonic knowledge.

I was in my 1102 English class when my teacher, she was Jewish, assigned writing assignments to us.  For some reason the name Lilith came out the discussion.   It piqued my interest and I told her that my sergeant mentioned that Lilith was the first woman.  I expected a laugh from her and she confirmed it.

"But everyone knows that Eve came first" I protested.

"The story of Lilith is part of my culture.  I'm Jewish" she said.  I was stunned.  I realized that I knew next to nothing about Jews outside the Holocaust, what I read in "Night" by Elie Wiesel, and hearsay from Christians.  I had never read the Bible so I had nothing to offer back.

A great book about the Holocaust

"Come to my office after class and I'll show you something".

I followed her to her office and that's when she typed in something into her computer.  She used something called "Google" that led her to verses in the Bible citing the story of Lilith.

"I'm not a practicing Jew but I'm familiar with the topic" she said in her New York accent.  "But I'm more of a Secular Humanist".  I had never heard of the term Secular Humanist before.  When I looked it up I thought it was wonderful.  I identified with it.  I also began to see differences between secular humanism and Christianity.