Sunday, October 15, 2006

Busy day

Today was a busy day for me. It began with a gathering of the Music Care-ring at Church of the Restoration. There are four of us in this Care-ring: Ken Ackley, Gwen Ransom, Mary Rounds, and myself. I play the piano, Ken plays the guitar and sings, Gwen and Mary sing. We start making music at 9:30am and continue until the service starts at 11:00am. During this time we work up one or two songs to perform during the service. Today we did "Pennies from Heaven" during the offering. Our "special music" was "The Best is Yet to Come." The message today was "The Difference Between Religion and Spirituality." It was delivered byDeborah Hunter.

Barbara Frey called me at the church to see if I could give her a ride to the humanist meeting. After church I went by her apartment and gave her a ride to the humanist meeting at Hardesty Library. You can read about that meeting at the HAT blog found at

Friday, September 01, 2006

Where have I been?

It is has been a few months since I have posted something new to my own blog. I have made a few posts to the HAT and TAR blogs.

I had a back problem, specifically, a herniated disk in my lumbar. I say "had," hoping the problem is now gone. The disk was pushing against nerves in my spinal column, which gave me the sensation of pain in my left leg and left foot. At times it felt as though someone were standing on my left foot. I have had two epidural steroid injections in my back which relieved ninety percent or more of the pain. During this period I had to curtail many of my regular activities.

Also, beginning in July, we have had our two grandchildren staying with us much of the time. Their mother had brain surgery in July and is still recovering from that.

Give me another month and my life might be back to normal. You never know.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Not Ready to Make Nice

The Dixie Chicks have a new album. The title song is "Not Ready to Make Nice." You may recall that the group took a lot of flak for their criticism of George Bush. The group seems to be standing their ground, if the title of their new album is any indication. You can listen to the song at

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Comment found while surfing

Comment I found while surfing the blogs.

Watch and wait… China is playing us like a fiddle. They are not the worlds oldest civilization for nothing. In the game of chess, patience, forethought and cunning is everything… Only a few more moves until the US is in check (seen this coming for about 10 years

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Charles Templeton

Charles Templeton was at one time the Billy Graham of Canada. In fact, he was and still is a friend of Graham's. But the evangelist Templeton began to question some of the essential teachings of Christianity. He undertook a critical study of his faith, and discovered "I could stay in the ministry and live a lie or I could make the break." Templeton made the break. In the 45 chapters of Farewell to God, Templeton catalogues numerous problems with the Christian story that brought about his break with Christianity. The following is one chapter from the book.

The Prayer in Gethsemane

(A chapter from Farewell to God: My Reasons for Rejecting the Christian Faith by Charles Templeton)

As his final hour approached and the forces opposed to Jesus moved to silence him, it is reported that he gathered the disciples in an upper room in Jerusalem and, after what has been called the Last Supper, spoke to them at length about what lay in store for them and for himself. It is a deeply moving scene and leaves little doubt in the reader’s mind that this, in its essence, is an accurate reflection of the authentic Jesus – compassionate, wise, dedicated, and profoundly troubled as he realizes that the end is near. He was, remember, a young man in his thirties.

It is a painful read – especially the prayer in the seventeenth chapter of John’s Gospel – because Jesus seems to be aware that, within hours, he will be dead and his followers scattered and persecuted, even driven, as Peter and Judas were, to betray him.

It is evident, however, that Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane is an imagined reconstruction of the event by the authors. Although the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke present what purport to be eyewitness accounts of what Jesus said and did in the garden, the text makes it obvious that their accounts differ and cannot be factual.

All three state that, having gone with the disciples to the garden, Jesus went off by himself. “sit here,” he told them, “while I go and pray yonder.” He then “parted from them a stone’s throw,” and, therefore, beyond earshot. Yet, despite the apparent impossibility of his having been overheard – much less his words inscribed – Matthew’s Gospel quotes verbatim the words of his prayer: “My father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me. . . . Nevertheless, not as I will but as thou wilt.”

Moreover, although it was dark and they were in a treed area and Jesus was a stone’s throw distance away, the apostles report seeing “his sweat, like great drops of blood, falling on the ground.”

That they could not have overheard his prayer is made further evident by the statement that “when [Jesus] rose up from his prayer, he came unto the disciples and found them asleep.” Three times, the records state, he withdrew to pray, and three times he returned to find the disciples asleep. The third time he said to them, “Sleep on. Take your rest.”

It would seem that Jesus did not want his prayer overheard. If he had, would he have distanced himself from the apostles after specifically instructing them to stand watch where they were?

There are further problems with this story. Christian teaching asserts that Jesus is the Son of god, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, Very God of Very God, and that the reason for his coming to the world was to purchase the redemption if humankind by the sacrifice of his life.

But the reported prayer in Gethsemane is at odds with this.

In his prayer Jesus pleads with the Father to abort the divine plan, saying again and again, “If it be possible, remove this cup from me.” This would be a reasonable reaction in a human being, but Jesus is presented as much more than that.; he is the manifestation in human flesh of the Godhead. Moreover, the stated reason for his coming earth as a human being was that he might die for the sins of humankind. Why then would he now want to abandon his reason for being?

But there is a larger, theological reason for questioning the story. Why would an all-wise, loving, and compassionate Father require the agonizing death of his Son as the means to achieve the forgiveness of the sins of mortal men? It was done, theologicans tell us, to satisty divine law. But is not God the Father the originator of the law? The concept reduces Jesus’ death to no more than the extension of the primitive “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a life for a life” principle. In early history justice was seen to be done only if a penalty equal to the infraction was wxacted. Having murdered, the murderer is himself slain.

A life for a life, a death for a death. Scales balanced.

The Christian plan of salvation is predicated on this primitive notion of justice. “The wages of sin is death,” says the apostle Paul, therefore the sinner must die. But, the argument goes, Jesus the man – who was himself without sin – died in our stead, and if we “accept him as Savior and Lord” we pass from condemnation to eternal life for he has paid our debt.

A life for a life, a death for a death. Scales balanced.

But the equation won’t bear examination. If Jesus was truly a man (and the incarnation was no more than a charade if he wasn’t) then his substitutionary sacrifice, his individual death, would be efficacious for only one individual – certainly not for all humankind!

Moreover, if one accepts the fact that Jesus actually did take to himself our sins, he died a sinner and would, as a consequent, himself be damned: “The wages of sin is death.”

But the intrinsic problems in the story go beyond this: If “the wages of sin is death,” and if “there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby you must be saved,” then the preponderance of the men and women who have lived and died since the dawn of time are in hell. Throughout history only a small portion of the world’s population has been Christian or has so much as heard the Christian message. Of the approximately 5.6 billion people now alive only a small portion call themselves Christian, which means that billions now living are on their way to hell – not to mention the billions throughout history who have lived and died without having so much as heard of Jesus!

The Christian concept of the universal need for divine forgiveness (and, failing that, the eternal punishment of the sinner) is not only illogical, it is nonsensical. And if Jesus’ mission on earth was to reconcile humankind to God, any objective judgement would have to conclude that is was a failure.

Indeed, God’s plan of salvation, as it is called, has been a series of disasters from Day One. In the beginning the deity entrusted his truth solely to a small Middle Eastern nomadic people, the Jews. But, instead of sharing the words of life, they jealously husbanded them. It was only after the passage of thousands of years that gentiles began to be accepted. Under the New Testament part of the plan, Jesus commanded his followers to “go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature,” but centuries passed before the influence of Christianity on the world was at all significant. Even today, Christianity is only one of the major religions of the world.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

The first of seven activities for freethinkers this month happens this Sunday starting around 1pm. We will gather at Randy’s house, 6705 E. 54 St. and talk about geocaching and what we are about to do. Then we will see if we can find six caches hidden within a two-mile radius of Randy’s house.

I will have a sheet on each hidden cache, but if you would like to have an advance look at what we will be searching for, go to In the box for the ZIP code type in Randy’s ZIP code of 74145. There are 54 caches within a three-mile radius of the 74145 post office. (There are now hundreds of caches in the Tulsa area, with new caches being placed each week.) By clicking on any of the listed caches, the page for that cache is displayed. (If you have an account with (it’s free) then a small map pinpointing to location of the cache is displayed on the cache page.)

The six caches I have selected for us to find are:

Lunchtime Cache #8
Micro Mania #9
Hidden Park
Twisted Sisters
Asphalt Jungle – SP4
Nest Egg

You will notice that the terrain difficulty for all these is low. We should be able to walk right up to them. Finding them is another matter. Some caches are very cleverly hidden. Once I was caching with Dan Cagle in Norman, and we searched for twenty minutes (at least), and then Dan spotted the cache. We were within 20 feet of it all the time we were searching. With a group of us searching, we should be able to locate each cache within 10 minutes. (I hope.)

I have a travel bug I need to drop off in one of the caches, but I won’t go into that now.

Two caches we will be looking for are at LaFortune Park, and another one or two are in parks, also. If you see a cache on the geocaching web site that interests you, print the cache sheet and bring it with you.

Perhaps we could go to the Mazzio’s near Randy’s afterwards for some pizza?

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Disappointing film

Yesterday I saw the film Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World. What a disappointment. I knew it was supposed to be a comedy, but I was hoping it might have something insightful to say about the Muslim world and its relations with the West. Instead it was just insipid boredom. A few, very few, funny gags here and there, but mostly is was just droll inanity. Don't waste your time and money on this one.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Geocaching adventure

Yesterday Jan and I went geocaching. The first one we found right away. After that we went looking for "White Water Welcome." Jan decided to stay in the car and let me look for this one on my own. I got to within about 160 feet of the cache, but the rest of the way was all uphill. I walked around some seeking an approach with a grade not as steep as where I parked the car.

I must have taken the wrong approach. I was soon bogged down in briars and getting nowhere fast. Meanwhile, Jan was in the car parked at the edge of the eagle sanctuary. A park ranger came up and asked her what she was doing there. Jan told her that I was out searching for a geocache and gave her a brief explanation of geocaching. The ranger said she had never heard of geocaching. Had I talked to the ranger I might have said I was on an eagle hunt, and as soon as I bagged one I was going to barbecue it over an open flame fire -- burn ban or no burn ban. That's my sense of humor. It's gonna get me shot some day.

After struggling against the briars for twenty minutes or so, I decided to try again another day. When I come back I will have a pair of clippers or snippers to free myself when I get entangled in briars. I would wear a pair of chaps if I had any. But mostly I will look for a better route to the summit.