Who gets to go to heaven? The Christian Dilemma.

sundaybest

Growing up in a small southwestern town with a church on every corner circa 1950s leaves a lot of room for religious confusion. We had our First Baptists, our Calvary Baptists a block away,our Church of Christ, our Church of God, our Seventh Day Adventists, our Methodists, our Presbyterians, and our Mexican Church….Catholics. I’m reasonably sure there were others scattered around that I don’t remember.

I do recall something of a family crisis when my oldest sister went with a friend to a ‘holy roller’ church. Traumatized the hell out of her, and she got baptized all in one fell swoop. I’ve often thought that might have been a piece of what led her to being the goody-two-shoes tattletale teachers pet holier-than-thou hypocrite she was all the remainder of her life I knew her.

But I’ve digressed.

My mother and step-dad were married in 1948 in the Church of Christ. So as a pre-schooler I went to Vacation Bible School there. Then, for reasons I never knew, we changed to the Calvary Baptist Church a while. Then the First Baptist Church. I never felt comfortable in either of those Baptist churches. They’d pass around grape juice and crackers that made my mouth water, but I never got any. I wasn’t baptized.

Then there came a day when I was in the fourth grade when my parents decided they wanted to change again and become Presbyterians. There came a knock on the door and Brother Doyle, preacher for the Baptists asked if he could come in.

“No I don’t want to sit.” The veins were bulging out of his scarlet face. “What’s this about you leaving the church?”

My mom explained quietly, and Brother Doyle began to shout and pace around the living room. Eventually my mom asked him to leave, but he just got louder, waving his arms around. “I WON’T SEE you there! You and your family will burn in HELL!”

I was unsettled watching all this, but my mom got angry and demanded he leave. “I won’t be seeing you there!” He kept shouting.

So my mom picked up the phone and dialed my step-dad at work. Explained it all while Brother Doyle kept stomping around, pointing at me, waving is arms around, veins bulging out all over his face.

Until Charlie, my step-dad arrived and told him to get the hell out.

Presbyterians seemed fairly low-key by comparison. No fire in their bellies. When they baptized people they just sprinkled a little water on their heads quietly. But of course, deep down, I knew those Presbyterians weren’t ever getting into heaven with that sort of wimpy foolishness going on.

So you can see, I had a lot of exposure to religion in my life. But I never got Baptized, and eventually I came to know I was sure as hell not a Christian.

I’d rather spend eternity in hell than in heaven with Brother Doyle and his ilk.

But of course, I don’t happen to believe in hell. Though I count myself a spiritual and to the extent I’m able, a righteous man.

Maybe I’ll write some more about this sometime.

Old Jules

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Good solid evil just isn’t that easy to come by

chaos
This was a follow-up to the post about the old guy wearing a Vietnam Veteran cap so’s to try to get people to listen to him talk about his Satanist religion. This was posted October 1, 2013.

Hi readers.

The old Satanist wearing the Vietnam Veteran cap I wrote about a couple of weeks ago was at the coin laundry again. He was telling me the difference between Satanists and devil worshipers, which he isn’t one of, he says.

“Even the devil worshipers,” he explained, “Just aren’t all that evil. They try, but it’s mostly just waving a bloody shirt at it.”

“Devil worshipers try but can’t pull it off?” Me, thinking this over.

“That’s right. You’d think there’d be plenty of evil for them to get into, but the really evil people don’t want anything to do with them. Not even the somewhat evil people, Catholics, Jews, Baptists and Muslims. They find out a person’s a devil worshiper they think poorly of him. Even when they’re jumping the hurdles for award-winning evil.”

Shaking my head. “I never knew that. You’d think especially Catholics and Zionists and Muslims would open their arms and their hearts to honest-to-goodness no-shit devil worshipers. Why is that, do you think?”

He shook his head, too. “I don’t know why it is. I’m not a devil worshiper and I’m not any of those others. I’m just a Satanist trying to get through life as best I can. But if I wanted to be really evil I’d have one hell of a time managing to do it. I wouldn’t know where to start.”

Old Jules

Clean Laundry and Civil Discourse Satanist Style

If you can’t allow adventure to find you in a coin laundry you aren’t living right

 

Most of you probably won’t remember this post from August 10, 2013, back in Kerrville, Texas.    I’ve come to know a lot of veterans since then, but none with quite the flare of the satanist who wore a Vietnam Veteran cap to get people to listen to him talk about his religion.

I noticed a scrawny old guy wearing a Vietnam War Veteran cap watching me as I fed quarters into the machine.   So when I finished I took a chair as far from him as I could get but still see my machine.  Guy’s wearing Vietnam War Veteran caps aren’t part of my repertoire of wanna-get-acquainted.

I watched him out of the corner of my eye while I pretended to do the ‘bored-people scan’, opened my book, read a page, put it down.  Twigged to the fact nobody in the place would meet his eye, and he was trying to get eye contact.  I figured, “Oh jeeze, this guy’s been here enough so everyone wants to avoid the nuisance he makes of himself.”

But he was focusing more attention on me, working up to saying something, or coming over nearer where I was sitting.  I groaned and stood up, stretching, to go out to the RV, head off anything he was thinking.  Too late.

I turned to the door and he caught my eye.  “Hey!  You’re a lefty!”

Um.  Yeah.”  Hell.  How’d he happen to notice that?  Whoopteedoo conversation starter.  He got up and headed to the door with me.

It’s been a chore, hasn’t it?”  Two of us standing in the shade of the overhang.  Me fidgeting to break loose and sprint for the RV.

What has?”

Going through life left-handed.”

Not when I could find a woman willing to sleep on the right side.”  Figured I might as well clarify my sexual preferences in case that was what was coming down the pike.

A few minutes later it came out he was a supply clerk in DaNang during the Vietnam fracas.  Tough gig.  Whoopteedoo.  “So what the hell’s the hat all about?”

“It’s because of my religion.  People around here don’t like me because of it, so I try to put my best foot forward.  Vietnam Vet buys me an edge.”

I shook my head, remembered getting cornered by the guy preaching Urantia outside the library in Grants, New Mexico.  Wanted to be my new best friend.  Real pain in the ass I never broke free of as long as I lived in Grants, always encountering him.

I could either brush the guy off even though he was hungry for talk, or I could grit my teeth, be polite, and hear what he wanted to tell me.  Turned out he’s a Satanist.

Whaaa?  A Satan worshiper?”

No.  We don’t worship Satan.  That’s just something Christian preachers claim we do.”

At least I don’t have a dog in THAT fight.  “Well, hell.  Better than being an atheist, I reckons.”  I really didn’t want to hear this crap.  “Nice talking to you, but I need to take a nap.”

I left him standing in the shade, careful not to look back.

Old Jules

Making America Great Again – Circa 2050

duck and cover

I’ve wondered at times what it was about the 1950s and 1960s that allowed those two decades to dominate the nostalgia market during almost all the late 20th Century. In a lot of ways it just doesn’t make sense.

Sure, we had a better music, rhythm and blues, wailing ballads of quality country ad western, and all that new frontier of rock and roll at its birth. Songs we knew well enough to sing along, or alone as we rode down those roads before super-highways on used tires.

Old cars with personality, greasy hair, dandruff, acne and bad teeth. Parents and grandparents who went through the Great Depression and worked hard to assure we wouldn’t experience those kinds of difficult times.

Mostly at the time it was in the world around us and I don’t recall being all that happy about all the other crap that came with it. Constant brink of war sf a sort that it’s better not to remember. Knowing when you turned 18 you’d have the draft hanging over your head. And a lot of bullying everywhere you turned.

If you worked doing farm work the farmers and ranchers who hired you felt a moral obligation to shout and verbally abuse the workers anytime they got within earshot. Construction jobs? You’ve never seen bullying and abuse that could compete with a construction foreman. It was there on the school playgrounds, on the streets, anywhere people happened to be.

And mostly nobody much said a word. It just went with being alive.

Our little farm was just across the railroad tracks on the ‘Mexican’ side of town. When I was in the first and second grade I walked home from school the same way several ‘Mexican’ kids walked. I was smaller than them, anglo, and outnumbered. They started just by yelling insults, but gradually it worked up they’d chase me with sticks or throwing rocks at me.

There came a day I was running home just in front of them, arrived with my mother on the front porch. They gathered on the dirt road in front of the house, still shouting and throwing rocks.

“Get out of here you little Mescin bastards!” She ran down off the porch waving the broom. “I’ll twist your heads off and shove them up your butts!” She never got close to catching them, but they were off.

Then she came back where I was waiting on the porch and smacked me upside the head with the broom so hard it broke the handle. Grabbed me by the collar and proceeded to beat my backside with the handle fragment. “If I ever see you running away from a fight again you’d better not set foot in this house!”

When my step-dad got home she told him, and it was off to the back porch with his belt. But at least he followed that up a bit later by teaching me to fight.

I don’t know what these kids today are going to have to feel nostalgia about. Maybe some of them will have similar memories or they’ll just remember all the computer games and hum rap music to themselves and smile.

But you can almost bet when they reach 50 or so they’ll be rallying around the flag and trying to elect candidates who promise to make America great again. The way it is today.

Old Jules

Worth losing Medicare and Social Security to Make America Great?

the american way
I confess I don’t understand the logic, but around here eavesdropping on conversations between folks of SS pension age, they think losing their SS pension is going to be just ducky.

Not to say they’re mentioning Social Security, or Medicare, or Medicaid. But they’re obviously receiving it, and they’re tickled pea green with the politicians who have every intention of taking away that part of their livelihood.

They love this man in the White House now and considered the State of the Union message ‘inspirational’. Not one dissenting comment I’ve overheard yet.

Well, heck. As a man who relies on Social Security for my only source of income, and on Medicare for a substantial piece of my medications, I’d just like to say, I don’t think America is likely to become great by causing greater hardship for anyone at all in the population. And I’m a bit appalled to see so many people expressing their glee that a bunch of wealthy politicians of both parties are going forward with deliberate plans to do precisely that.

Fact is, if there was ever anything to admire about this country it was the claim that as a people we wanted to make life better for everyone among us.

And in my opinion only human scum would take any joy out of trying to make it worse for any of us.

Old Jules

Big old mean North Korea

north korean tanks

Sometimes we just need to back away and think for ourselves a moment, filter out the hue and cry. South Korea has the 11th strongest economy in the world. It has an arms industry of its own, exporting weaponry to lots of other countries. And the Republic of Korea [ROK], South Korea, has the 11th strongest military in the world. Far, far ahead of North Korea.

So what the hell is the US doing with its 25,000 troops in South Korea? ROK is perfectly able to defend itself, economically, militarily, diplomatically, every way. If they don’t feel strong enough to do it, they could form a mutual defense treaty with Japan, with whom they share the North Korean threat.

Ohh. Yeah. North Korea has nukes. Whoopteedoo.

Does anyone really suppose South Korea, Japan, hasn’t the capability of blowing those North Korean missiles and aircraft being launched a few hundred miles from them, doesn’t have, I was going to say the capability of knocking them out of the sky before they emerge outside North Korean boundaries?

Once we drop away from the WWIII rhetoric, the cries of nuclear winter and running around in increasingly smaller circles shouting increasingly shrill pronouncements, isn’t the greatest likelihood that, should North Korea attack anyone, it would be South Korea, or possibly Japan?

Because North Korea isn’t so crazy as to have attacked anyone at all in force since 1954. That’s right. There’s not a combat veteran, not one, in the North Korean military.

And where the hell do they get all that war material? Every round for those tanks is expensive, every rocket, every missile, every helicopter, every airplane, every bomb. North Korea is a poor country. Who the hell does anyone suppose is going to lend them money for leading edge weaponry, or send them 21st Century tanks, helicopters, airplanes?

I recall back before Nixon went to China there used to be frequent papers and articles with titles such as, Is China a Sleeping Giant, or a Paper Tiger?’. They were mainly concerned in those days about the Chinese military.

There’s probably a reason that today nobody asks the same question about North Korea. They’re too handy for waving around as s boogerman hiding in the dark closet or under the bed when Iran or some other scary place wears itself out as a war mongering distraction.

But sometimes we just need to stop and think.

Old Jules

How’s that work ethic coming along?

work ethic caption

Growing up in a family where everyone worked, was expected to work, some things are branded on the psyche and tend to remain there. When I was a pre-schooler and my mother was working in the cotton-patch pulling boles during harvest, my sisters and I had our own pillow-case sized sacks. And though we didn’t pull a lot of cotton, the experience established a niche in our thinking processes that never went away, for me.

[The Runaways – 1947, posted here July 9, 2013, tells a bit about that time]

It’s only as I had five-or-so decades of life behind me that I ever seriously examined the values concerning work I’d lived with and adhered to all my life.

I’d pursued a career almost twenty years, blindly believed my dedication to the job, and the job, itself, were a major piece of what made me valuable as a person. And a spinoff of that belief was that a person who didn’t hold that view and allow a job to measure his worth probably wasn’t worth much.

But toward the end of that career the realization began to creep in that I was devoted, pouring my heart into a job that probably didn’t need doing. That I was wasting my life and that I was actually having a negative influence on the lives of many other people by my single-minded pursuit of that career.

Tough wake-up call it was for me. Jangled my entire life.

So I left that career for another, and wasn’t long in realizing that I was not that job. The job was just a way of making a living. That I was actually in another job that probably didn’t need doing. And I looked around me and saw it was true for almost everything going on around me.

Yes, there are essential jobs out there. Jobs that really need doing. Running the municipal sewer plant, for instance. Driving the garbage truck. Making sure the crops farmers plant are nurtured and harvested. Delivering food essentials to the population. Placing food on the counters for sale to the public.

Now isn’t that interesting? The most fundamentally essential jobs in our ‘civilization’ are the least coveted? That the rewards for doing them are less than those for people selling something, or representing someone in a lawsuit, or working in a unionized factory as a piece of an assembly line? Or repairing automobiles?

I’m inclined to believe the entire issue of the work ethic in this country, and the people who embrace the notion it’s a measure of human worth, needs a lot more careful examination.

I hope I’ll be doing some more blog posts about it for a closer look. Which I expect will raise the hackles of some readers.

Old Jules