Ahh, genocide.

I also don’t see how it is beneficial to believe in a god who tells Israel to kill every man woman and child in Canaan and take their land (I am not sure why evangelicals are under the impression that God is pro-life). That’s what’s wrong with the world and the traditional Christian God is all about getting in on that. Deities made in the image of petty tribal dictators bent on world conquest are unneeded. Because we become what we worship.

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One-world government, Isaiah style (wake up, don’t believe the parts about God’s enemies)

Isaiah 9:1-7

For Isaiah, Christmas is all about one-world government:

“For a child has been born for us,
a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore.”

How is this to happen? Not by conquest, but by making war irrelevant. War itself is overthrown. But how? Isaiah’s answer – people finally wake up and see the light:

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness–on them light has shined. You have multiplied the nation, you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as people exult when dividing plunder. For the yoke of their burden, and the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian. For all the boots of the tramping warriors and all the garments rolled in blood shall be burned as fuel for the fire.”

Isaiah believed that the world could have a happy ending after all, simply as a result of everyone waking up and seeing the light. And I don’t believe that means everyone will convert to Christianity. It means everyone realizes that God already loves them; we don’t have a deity problem anymore. We never did. God is pro-Earth and all its inhabitants. Put it to rest. Forget about the verses that say people are God’s enemies. Re-interpret them. Look at them from a sociological perspective, or reject them outright but whatever you do, don’t believe them. Wake up and see the light, and let’s get governing.

 

The real war on Christmas (in which Christmas won)

The real War on Christmas happened a long time ago, at the first Christmas:

“When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned from the wise men.” (Matthew 2:16)

You can tell a lot about a person’s mental state by what they fear. King Herod was evidently very intimidated by the thought of thousands of peacefully dreaming children warm in their beds. So that first Christmas, countless dreams were snuffed out; voices were silenced before anyone had a chance to listen, collateral damage in King Herod’s expedient fight for the status quo.

It did not have the effect that King Herod intended.

Herod, if you can hear my voice, know that billions of dreaming children across the planet squeal with delight each year in celebration of what you tried to kill.

The Herods of this world understand that each generation is a threat to the current power structure. All it takes is for one generation to rise up together and say we’re no longer going to run the world through force and violence and lies. And that is a very intimidating and unsettling idea to those who make their living that way. Well, Christmas won. I say let them tremble.

And to the Holy Innocents who we honor today: Though we had to say goodbye too soon, we hear your voice in the joyful cries of every child on the face of Earth who wakes in hope each Christmas morning. May this generation honor you by building a world where children are no longer pursued to their deaths simply for being born in the wrong place and time, and where indiscriminate violence is replaced with indiscriminate love.

 

Theocratic times: Advent edition (alternate ending)

2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16

For all its benefits, the trouble with theocracy is that you never know what God is going to do next. It makes it hard to plan and budget. It just becomes so inconvenient to start making plans for God only to have him ask you where you came up with that crazy idea. Acting on God’s behalf is notoriously tricky, even for God’s hand picked aces.

But let’s not be too hard on King David for wanting to build God a house. After all, God had been painstakingly delivering all of David’s enemies and even some enemies’ wives into his hands. It only seemed fitting that God’s house should be at least as nice as David’s (Who better than David to identify with the need to come home, kick back and put your feet up after a long day of sword whetting on Philistine skulls?). And really, it’s kind of embarrassing when your house has more bling than your deities’:

“See now, I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of God stays in a tent.” That’s cute David, but the “tent” was God’s idea, the heavens are his footstool and he’s the one building you an eternal kingdom. Yahweh is not high-maintenance.

It’s a good thing kings always eventually figure out how to do God’s will most of the time, otherwise we’d have a litany of tragic monarchies to show for it.

 

Theocratic times: Advent edition

2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16

For all its benefits, the trouble with theocracy is that you never know what God is going to do next. It makes it hard to plan and budget. It just becomes so inconvenient to start making plans for God only to have him ask you where you came up with that crazy idea. Acting on God’s behalf is notoriously tricky, even for God’s hand picked aces.

But let’s not be too hard on King David for wanting to build God a house. After all, God had been painstakingly delivering all of David’s enemies and even some enemies’ wives into his hands. It only seemed fitting that God’s house should be at least as nice as David’s (Who better than David to identify with the need to come home, kick back and put your feet up after a long day of sword whetting on Philistine skulls). And really, it’s kind of embarrassing when your house has more bling than your deities’:

“See now, I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of God stays in a tent.” That’s cute David, but the “tent” was God’s idea, the heavens are his footstool and he’s the one building you an eternal kingdom. Yahweh is not high-maintenance.

It’s a good thing kings always eventually figure out how to do God’s will most of the time, otherwise we’d be really fucked.

Advent with Uncle Paul

1 Thessalonians 5:16-24 [one act play version]

Uncle Paul [Robed, wizened, jovial, affectionate, lots of white light on him]– Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Earthlings [enough characters to stage an attempted human variety pack. It is recommended that the director choose individual Earthlings for the speaking parts] – That’s what we’re going for down here. It’s just so damn hard with all these effin’ circumstances.

Uncle Paul – Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise the words of prophets, but test everything; hold fast to what is good; abstain from every form of evil.

Earthlings – Dammit Uncle Paul, that’s just what many of us have been trying so hard to do and get others to do. It’s just that there’s these other people with their other prophets and different definitions of what’s good and evil. Not enough people will get on board.

Uncle Paul [inclining his head to the Earthlings and gesturing to them in blessing]- May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Earthlings – Are we to understand you correctly that the care and flourishing of every spirit and soul and body is of infinite value?

Uncle Paul – Did I not just name him the God of peace himself? The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.

[Uncle Paul slowly bows his head and gradually vanishes]

Earthlings [staring desperately at the rapidly vanishing form of Uncle Paul, shouting urgently, looking around at each other and Uncle Paul] – But how will the God of peace himself do this? TELL US HOW THE GOD OF PEACE WILL DO THIS!?

[Scene ends in silence, Earthlings all staring around at each other in bewilderment, palms up. A brief moment passes, curtains close]

Restore the fortunes (Make it great again)

All claims to greatness must pass the Psalm 126 test. There must be more than one witness. The other witness is the consensus of the rest of the planet. Do the Nations also agree that the Lord has done great things for us? If not, our greatness isn’t Psalm 126 greatness:

When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, then were we like those who dream. 2 Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy. 3 Then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” 4 The Lord has done great things for us, and we are glad indeed.

With Psalm 126 greatness, us and them agree about what’s great. Since we all share the same round habitat, no one really wins unless everyone wins. That’s because winning at others’ expense is actually losing, kind of like winning a dart game on your own sheetrock. Instead, Psalm 126 pushes us to imagine a dreamlike scenario complete with eruptions of incredulous laughter and blurry-eyed shouts of joy, where the winnings spill over to everyone else.

It does seem like a dream considering the past and present. Now it seems the watercourses of the Negev are flowing with tears. But the exiles had their dream come true and it was a win/win with the known world.

I believe each generation is asked anew to dream of a future that acts more like an upward spiral for the known world than a pyramid scheme for kings. To make dreams come true in a Psalm 126 sort of way. Our Earth has certainly been sown with tears. When do we get to harvest the joy?