Archive for March, 2007

Less Mistakes

Friday, March 30th, 2007

I’m often accused of being overly pedantic when it comes to the use of language. Words are our primary means of taking things from one brain and inserting them in another. Even the best of wordsmiths find this a frustrating and imprecise process. There is no means to actually know that what I mean when I say red is what you mean when you say red. There are hundreds of words for colors in the English language; one man’s hot pink is another man’s fuschia, but for a yet another the two have clear differences.

I was complaining to God today about the seeming disappearance of the word “fewer.” There’s always been people that use the word “less” when they should be using the word “fewer,” but with the rise of the web it seems like “fewer” has become destined for the history books. This only bothered me a little when it was confined to amateur blogs and forum posts, but several times over the last few months I’ve seen “less” used where “fewer” was the right word in several theoretically professionally written and edited articles. I was particularly alarmed to hear the misuse of “less” in a television news report just the other day.

Let me explain the difference between this particular hot pink and fuschia. The word “less” is used when describing a quantity that is some sort of mass or volume. The word “fewer” is used when there is a number of individually recognizable items. So, for example, you would say that when you have less water, you can pour fewer glasses. I hear all the time people say things like “There were less people at the party than I expected,” when they should say there were fewer.

God was fairly succinct in his reply. He told me that language evolves, he said if I don’t like that I should learn Latin.

Pray for Inspiration

Wednesday, March 28th, 2007

Here’s something interesting that God told me. Sometimes when we pray for inspiration, when we ask God to show us the way, we get an answer that comes from neither God nor the Devil.

Apparently a lot of times prayer works like a form of self-hypnosis. We program our subconscious to work on the problem and, given that God prefers us to work things out without his help, sometimes that’s a lot more effective. So should we skip putting our requests in the form of prayer? He told me that’s up to us. If we’ve spent a lifetime training our brains to know that we want it to work on something by putting that something in the form of a prayer there’s no particular reason to spend time retraining.

So go ahead and program yourself, and if you go to church, listen for good advice but be careful about letting someone else program you for their own reasons.

End Games

Monday, March 26th, 2007

Live each day as if it will be your last. That’s a maxim that a lot of people like to cite to encourage us to live life to its fullest, to help us to avoid looking back with regret.

God tells me though, that many people just use it to justify their own selfishness. She says they ignore what should be the second part, that we should live each day as if we’ll have a million more.

This tied in to the discussion we had Friday about the Rapture. The evangelical types that think the Rapture will happen any day now, are the ones who are, in a sense, telling us we don’t have to live for tomorrow, or at least not for the day after tomorrow. But it’s like we’re playing a board game that could end at any time. In games that are won by having captured the most of something when the game ends, you play very differently if you know it’s the last turn than if it might go on for a long time more. So the message God gave me is to always play for the long game, because she just might not count what we do when we can see the end coming.

Anyway, the idea of the Rapture and the idea of living each day as if it will be your last, seem like two great tastes that taste great together, but don’t make the mistake of thinking that anything you use as an excuse to be selfish and shortsighted is going to win you points with God.

Are We There Yet?

Friday, March 23rd, 2007

Many Christians believe in the Rapture, an event that involves the simultaneous bodily ascension into Heaven of all those who believe in Jesus Christ as their savior. This happens at the end of the Earth, or I suppose, of the universe, as we know it. After the Rapture, give or take a few years and depending on who you listen to, we’ll all be in either Heaven or Hell. I don’t know what this means for Purgatory, since I’m not sure if it’s been covered in any of the End Times literature and besides, I hear the Catholics may be getting rid of it anyway.

I talked about this with God, but she wouldn’t commit to the idea of the Rapture one way or another. She said it was an interesting idea, but wasn’t particularly old. In fact, in the form that it’s known as today, it’s a little younger than Mormonism. I think the point about it’s age goes two ways. The first is that as a young belief it comes from a time when God had mostly stopped messing directly in the affairs of man. But the second is that it hasn’t had as much time to be reinterpreted and misinterpreted by generation after generation of religious control freaks with their own agendas. So I’m not really sure why God pointed out how young it was and she wouldn’t explain it any further. I don’t want to say that she can be less than helpful sometimes, but, well, just look around.

Anyway, what she did have to say about the Rapture is that what she really hates is people using it as an excuse to not plan for the future. See, a lot of Christians are convinced that the Rapture will happen in their lifetimes. If that’s what you think, then why worry about saving endangered species? Why worry about preserving natural parks for future generations if there aren’t going to be any future generations? Why do any worrying about the future?

In fact, it’s worse than that. There are so-called Christians out there that think we should actively make certain things worse because some of the prophecies that have been interpreted to be about the rapture suggests that things get pretty bad right before it happens.

One of the things God has been pretty clear on is that she made us the shepherds of the Earth. We’re supposed to take care of things. So if the Rapture comes, we’ll be judged not just on how we treated each other but on how we treated the whole universe, and in particular, our little corner of it.

She didn’t come right out and say it, but she hinted to me that if she were planning on something like the Rapture, our deliberately trying to bring it about would just make her want to postpone it even longer, or maybe cancel it altogether. It’s like she was saying that if we don’t settle down back here she’ll turn this car around right now and just go back home.

Born Again

Wednesday, March 21st, 2007

I asked God how he feels about people being born again. He reminded me that being born again has a different meaning depending on what religion one subscribes to. The term mainly refers to the Christian evangelical concept of renouncing your life prior to “accepting” Jesus Christ as your personal savior and giving over the rest of your life to being a good Christian, but it can also be used to describe the belief by Buddhists and others in reincarnation. The Dalai Llama, for instance has been born again quite a few times.

So not wanting to miss an opportunity, I asked God to give me his take on both cases.

On reincarnation, he refused to either confirm or deny it. He went on, though, to explain that it’s also been postulated that purgatory is nothing more than being reincarnated into a life that gives the soul a chance to make up for the mistakes they’ve made in the past. It’s even been suggested that hell may just be being born again and again into lives that are destined to be lived in misery.

On the evangelical side of things, God pointed out that part of the point of being born again is to return to a state of innocence. It’s not that much different, he told me, to returning to the state of complete gullibility that we are originally born in. If you think about it that way, you have to wonder if maybe the gullibility comes first, since that may be needed to buy into the evangelical religion in the first place.

Separation Anxiety

Monday, March 19th, 2007

God tells me that most parents miss what should be one of their proudest moments. Somewhere along the way, most children reach a point where they make a decision to do the right thing not because they fear either punishment or disapproval from their parents, but because they genuinely understand that it’s the right thing to do.

In a lot of ways, the human race as a whole is God’s child. She tells me that she got to see such a moment not all that long ago, as she measures things. It was at the founding of the United States of America and in particular, the First Amendment of the Constitution. The first amendment starts with the phrase, “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of a religion.” This phrase is the legal basis for the famous separation of church and state in the U.S.

At first I couldn’t understand why God thought this such a good thing. Wouldn’t she prefer that they had supported religion in the government, since with just a little prodding she could have made sure they picked the right one? But she explained to me that using religion as the basis for law, is just an appeal to authority. It’s running to Daddy and Mommy to find out the right thing to do, rather than working it out for ourselves.

Besides, she went on, what made me think that any of the current religions was the “right” religion?

Big Bells

Friday, March 16th, 2007

There seems to be a continuum of holiness. To me it seems to go from bad to good something like this: Devil, demon, damned, sinner, saint, prophet, disciple, angel, messiah, God. In that taxonomy the Devil and God are the end points, singular superlatives. Everything else, with the possible exception of messiah, is plural, so even holiness seems to be distributed on a bell curve.

I asked God if that’s why churches have big bells.

He told me, no, that they had bells so they wouldn’t have to tell people they built the steeples so that angels would have someplace to perch.

I asked why they didn’t want to talk about that. God just said that sometimes I can be too gullible.


Wednesday, March 14th, 2007

One of the things that all religions seem to have in common is lots of rituals. Christians have their masses. Catholics have the Rosary. Buddhists meditate. It seems that everybody has some sort of formal prayers. The Muslims have to turn and face Mecca several times a day. The lists just go on.

I asked God why we’re so caught up in ritual, why we’re so drawn to it.

He told me that he put it into us so that we’d be sure to find the scientific method. In the scientific method, we carefully repeat experiments, changing usually one thing at a time so that we can isolate what the effects of that one thing are. It’s the basis of most of the advances that humanity has made since we left behind hunting and gathering as our primary means of survival. Applying the scientific method is a very ritualistic process and it developed partially out of our need for ritual and partially out of our need for variety.

Religions just capitalized on our need for ritual. They took advantage of the fact that we seem to want it whether or not it produces any results.

Magical Thinking

Monday, March 12th, 2007

I got to thinking about “magical thinking” today. Most people engage in magical thinking periodically, some people can carry it to extremes but for most of us I think it’s just a bit of fun. Just so were on the same page, here’s what I mean when I say magical thinking. I mean the type of thinking where we try and will something to happen, where we try to make something happen just by the force of our thinking.

For people with obsessive compulsive disorder this can go to extremes. They might decide in their minds that turning the doorknob three times before locking their door keeps burglars from entering their house and then obsess all day over whether or not they turned it three times that morning.

For less obsessive types, we might just try our long distance telekinesis to get the right balls to blow into the Powerball chute. Or we might have a button in our car that doesn’t do anything that we press when we need to find a parking space.

I asked God what she thought about all of this. I thought she might relate it to a form of prayer, but instead she just told me that she thought people could be pretty weird at times.

Really Young Earth

Friday, March 9th, 2007

There’s a notion out there that the Earth is only six thousand years old. The people that believe this are called Young Earth Creationists. The logic behind this comes from a detailed and literalist interpretation of the Bible, along with the notion that in the Biblical listings of lineage that no one was left out. Not to mention a rather exacting interpretation of life spans.

Geological science on the other hand has discovered plenty of evidence that the Earth is billions of years old.

I asked God which was right, but since he’s already told me not to believe everything in the Bible it was kind of a rigged question. Still, I thought it might be interesting to see what he might say.

Apparently he felt that since I was asking leading questions, he might as well ask one back. He asked me what I thought about the fossil record. So I played along, I told him that he had obviously planted it, as a test of our faith.

So then he told me that it was worse than I thought. He told me the Earth is actually only a few days old. He not only planted the fossils as mocked up evidence of the Earth’s past, but he planted our memories of having grown up, and of everything.

Oh, and it’s not very well made either. We can expect the universe to pretty much fall apart by next Tuesday.


Wednesday, March 7th, 2007

Does God ever get high? Maybe not the most interesting thing to ask her, but today I did.

She pointed out that artistic portrayals and avatarian illusions aside, she doesn’t have a physiology in any sense that makes sense to the question. That having been said, though, she did admit to occasionally playing around with different states of consciousness.

I asked her how that worked out for her. She told me to take a look at Yellowstone National Park sometime.

See or Seem

Monday, March 5th, 2007

One of the ways we define people as crazy is that they hallucinate. They see things that aren’t there, they talk to people that don’t exist, they live in their own little worlds. Now I’m not talking clinical definitions here, just things that the ordinary man on the street can see and call crazy.

I got to wondering if maybe I’m crazy. After all I talk with God. And look at the ground rules he’s set up. He only comes around when I’m alone. I can’t record him or take any pictures. He won’t make any verifiable predictions about the future. It’s got to look pretty suspicious to any of you reading this. I thought, what is there to convince anybody that I’m not just imagining all of this?

Then I thought, most of the people reading these posts haven’t even met me, how do they even know that I’m not some made up character?

There didn’t seem to be any good answers to these questions, so I’ve decided to just share them here and otherwise ignore them. I’m mean after all if I’m the one talking to God and I’m not even real, what would that say about God?

Thor’s Day

Friday, March 2nd, 2007

Perhaps I’ve gotten too used to just hanging out with God. Yesterday he showed up in the form of Thor, the Norse God of Thunder and just by walking into the room nearly scared me to death. There’s something about seeing an old world God in all his magnificence that lets you know just how wimpy the image of Christ can be.

After I got over the initial shock we got along fine. Before long we were singing the old folk song, “If I had a Hammer,” and having a grand old time.

Before he left, Thor offered to help me hang some pictures, but it was all too easy to imagine his massive hammer punching the nail in one side of my wall and right on out the other, so I politely turned him down.