Saturday, August 12, 2006

Despicable human traits

Then what?

OK, one more piece about how people stink, politics stinks even more, and religion stinks most of all, yet they all taught me about God, love, truth and other things I cherish. Then I’m going to try to be more positive. I think it was Daffy Duck who taught me the word “despicable” as he directed it at Bugs Bunny. Daffy was right. It doesn’t matter what a good guy Bugs was most of the time or what Daffy did to deserve being treated despicably. Yet Bugs could be despicable and never suffer the consequences. Who says TV is a waste?

Some environmentalists root against human beings, hoping that nature will someday reclaim the Earth and drive us back into a state where we can’t do so much damage. That’s always seemed doubtful to me. People are so adaptable. Nor do I generally feel that human beings are so despicable as to have me rooting against us in our conflicts with nature or some sci-fi challenge from outer space.

Yet we do have some despicable traits. I have triads for a lot of things, and for some time I expressed our evil as a triad: hatred, indifference and falseness, simply the opposites of love and truth. I’ve thought about this recently. There are at least two types of hatred that deserve special attention, so it’s time I change this to four. So now my take on what is despicable about human beings are these four things: judgment/scapegoats, oneupsmanship, falseness and indifference. I think indifference is actually the worst, so I put it last. Now what do I say? I started to explain these, maybe one each day, but it’s too ugly. You either already have your own examples or you’re a perpetrator of such evil, so I’ll skip almost all the explanation.

I do mention both judgment and scapegoats. The former is more intellectual and rationally defensible, even while being evil, while the later is more emotional and especially oversimplified, overgeneralized or both, such as dumping on liberal politics or liberal religion with whatever attack one pleases. There’s a fine line between dumping on some class of people as scapegoats and oneupsmanship. Hey it is all hate, after all. It’s just a matter of how much pride goes along with it as to its purpose.

That level of analysis depresses me, but I can always get to some question that intrigues the student in me. Do the politically and/or religiously conservative really not think that someone will judge their words and actions someday? Not God, not history, it never will matter? Maybe some people really do get caught up with being validated by the next election or just by one’s own peers that they never think about how vulnerable they are to judgment. What a wonderful shield traditional Christianity is to ever fearing God’s judgment. Of course there is that problem of whether God really promised not to hold one’s life against one who has orthodox beliefs or if that was just human beings promising this. Evangelicals never seem to worry about that, as if atheism is the only alternative to their faith. What if God is a liberal? I leave that for the enemies of liberalism to ignore. God tells me He understand the situation perfectly. He’s the one who told me they’re all dead men walking.

My interest has been what I should do about it. I don’t like fighting fire with fire, though I feel my nature going that way at times. I do like putting water on the fire by pointing out the truth as I see it, but that is such a limited amount of water for most fires. Most fires are blazing way beyond being controlled by facts.

Instead I do what anyone who has read what I’ve written here recently knows. I try to see this as human and move on, forgive that this makes the politics around me and religion around me such turmoil that I will not find a church in my lifetime that isn’t wrapped up either in fulfilling the conservative agenda or denying it, instead of focusing on whoever and whatever God is. God and I focus on that, but we both know no one cares. People are too busy with their own ideas, their own concerns. People only do what they know how to do. All shortcomings in our society stem from that.

I wish I could write a page that would describe the better way of following only God in words that people would believe, but I can’t say I know how to do that. I don’t even know enough about how to do that for God to help me do it. Since people only do what they know how to do, including me, that won’t get done. God says He could give a demonstration, but He has to get into someone’s mind enough to do that, and He can’t do that involuntarily.

I look on the net at those who want to end poverty. What a diffuse effort, some focusing on Africa, others focusing on attacking corporations and greed. I can’t say I cared about ending poverty until God brought me to care about that. Now I live to end poverty, not that I can do that much nor do I know how people in general can do that. It takes God to balance one’s life toward that end. So many are instead trying to do this themselves. Likewise for ending conflict.

Then there are the wise guys on the other side with their hatred, indifference, and falseness. Their evil is natural. Paul wrote that the enemy is not flesh and blood, but evil spirits (Ephesians 6: 12). I think he was wrong. The enemy isn’t the flesh and blood that has become a pawn of evil, but the evil is natural, not supernatural. Anyone can see the pattern eventually. People are so proud, all of us.

I know of one good solution, but people won’t take it. God says He would like to see people learn sooner rather than later that what they’re doing now isn’t working. He says all hatred burns out eventually. There’s no good alternative to waiting for that to happen, as ugly as it is to watch. The question is what to do while waiting. There’s more than one thing. There are private things and public things. As in twelve steps it’s important to be honest, open-minded and willing. Sometimes that’s contradictory, such as in being honest about why I am utterly closed to some idea, but it’s a guide. The real direction is in drawing close to God, learning to say that yes, evil is evil, but it won’t last forever, nor does it usually help to fight evil with evil.

People can be despicable. It’s in our nature. It’s also in our nature to reach beyond that. There is something there beyond our nature, something better. There is help and love. You’d think people would jump for those things, but so many think they know something even better, some fantastic simplicity and perfection that becomes the enemy of what is real, whether it’s New Age fantasy, the fantasy that there is no God or that traditional theology has it just right.

God is whoever and whatever God is. People don’t like that. The alternative is fantasy, and that can turn evil. Anyone can see this, maybe with taking a step back. It’s as obvious as the fact of evolution. You have to want to see everything, not just the parts you like. Then what? Then God can come live in you, and you can learn why that matters. It’s a lesson lost on so many people who think their words say it all. No words matter that much. Life matters, and it is a different life to give up the despicable qualities of our nature for what God can do, as crazy as that may seem along the way.


elbogz said...

I wrote this a while ago in my babbling blog

I think some of the skepticism I feel today has to do with the big lies I was told along the path of life. Among them I include:

The apocalypse as revealed in the book of Revelations is going to occur in 1978*stike that* 1983*strike that* 2000 this time for sure!) …….(I'll have to get back to you on that)

Global Cooling is occurring (remember the 70’s?)

Global Warming is occurring

I would actually use some of the 5 semesters of Calculus I had to take in Engineering College.

In my youth, many sermons and youth groups were spent preparing ourselves for God’s second coming. Preachers spent sermon after sermon pointing out all the signs of the apocalypse revealed each day on the nightly news. Look here! Look there! Would be the sermon they preached. But 1978 came and went, and no apocalypse. They seemed to miss the 25 chapter of the book of Mathew

Mat 25:13 Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour

I read the books of the time like 666 and went to see the Omen at the theaters. When the prophecy of 1978 came and went, it really effected my beliefs and I had to questions all the “other’” things I was told about God. Even to this day I don’t do well hearing someone talk about the book of Revelations without looking though a very skeptical pair of reading glasses.

Some historians point out that even the Church of Corinth, as talked about in the book of Corinthians, believed the Second coming should have occurred within one generation of the death of Jesus. When it did not occur it caused great turmoil within the Church.

Jehovah’s Witness preached that the end of time would be in 1914. Pat Robertson has preached the anti-Christ is alive in Israel today. Jesus was asked a number of time when the end of time would be. He answered, “Only the father knows” and, “it will come like a thief in the night”


Onto the subject of Global Warming, and the Global cooling. After reading all the debate on the subject I’ve summarized my scientific findings to one paragraph.

The dinosaurs didn’t smoke, didn’t have nuclear power or drive SUV’s, and they died. Mankind is no more in control of Global warming than he is about how fast the earth turns on its axis. More carbon monoxide gas came out of Mount St Helens than all the vehicles on earth produced that year. Sure, localized pollution will kill you. Bad drinking water, bad air and you will die. But it’s effect on the Global environment is less than one volcano.

And, Finally (thank goodness)

I’m still holding out on Calculus. I’m sure it has value,

DavidD said...

I'm glad I don't have to decide what the world should do about global warming. Yet while admitting the uncertainty, it still is clear when someone is being irresponsibly simplistic or even telling what is outright arrogance or lying to call it a hoax.

I wish eschatology were that simple. For me it almost is. There are certainly reasons to believe that Revelation was written with symbols at hand to express a desire for vengeance in the face of powerlessness. So is gospel eschatology. Is there reason to believe more than that? Only that God might want vengeance, too, I suppose. I don't know why He'd wait though. The idea that the wait is to get a set number of believers saved doesn't make sense to me. Then there's the problem that God doesn't seem to intervene physically at all in this world, just mentally, and how little there is about any prophecy that has been helpful.

Eschatology could be more than powerless ranting, but it sure doesn't seem to be.

Yet some people embrace these stories, as does everyone they know. One can have discussions about which verse of Revelation we are in right now. I vote, "none", and I'm happy with that. I've asked God to tell me if He prefers a different answer. He says He's with me on this.

I still use calculus when I picture how to integrate various non-mathematical things, like parts of me, parts of a community. It's a good illustration once you've experienced adding up all these boxes under a curve. I can't say I've used the math since I left physics, though.

Anonymous said...

I'm just curious as to which God you are talking about as there are so many?

DavidD said...

On June 16 I posted about God being whoever and whatever God is. I go into what I mean by that there.

I don't find that there is more than one God. That people have many different ideas about God is something else, as it is that people would define "God" differently from one another.