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The Village Idiot

"Merry Christmas"

Jack Deatherage, Jr.

(12/2015) Every time I think Iíve settled on some philosophy, or Way, some godlet sends a "kick in the head" to disturb what little peace Iíve found. Often the kick is delivered by some Jew; either a friend, or one Iíve encountered online, or the author of a book Iíve stupidly begun reading

The latest Jew to overturn my uncomfortable hammock is Rabbi Jonathan Sacks with his accursed book "The Great Partnership: Science, Religion and the Search for Meaning". BAH! Why do I constantly fall into these Hebrew traps? I suppose I get caught because Iíve found brilliance among the Jews Iíve read? Such as the one who couldnít understand hating people because of their color, race, creed or whatever. He had found getting to know an individual on a personal level, and finding real reasons to hate them, infinitely more satisfying. (The idea appeals to me, maturing curmudgeon that I am.)

Sacks hooks me with the first line in his introduction. Hell, I didnít make it to the first chapter before I was netted and landed.

"If the new atheists are right, you would have to be sad, mad or bad to believe in God and practice a religious faith."

Iíve eagerly looked into atheism hoping to find some proof of no god, but the arguments always fall short of convincing me no matter how desperately I want them to be true. Knowing the atheists are wrong I canít help but read on.

"Ö Religion has inspired individuals to moral greatness, consecrated their love and helped them build communities where individuals are cherished and great works of loving kindness are preformed."

How did I miss this when growing up Roman Catholic? Was I not paying attention, or were the teachers of that religion more focused on telling me what I could and couldnít do, male beast that I was/am?

Having had what little understanding of the RC religion Iíd managed gain torn away from me by Vatican II, I decided the best thing for me to believe was Iíd have another beer. Beer, and the occasional fifth of whiskey, and the rare hit or two from a pot pipe filled the hole for a decade or so before I clued in on the drugs killing me, but not quickly enough. Onto something else.

The Pagans were an enlightenment. Yet standing outside their sacred circles and struggling to understand them I realized they were lacking something I needed. Evidently more than one of the coupla hundred I sat among saw that I wasnít getting it, whatever it was.

"You need to go back to the RCs." Several Pagans gently told me.

"Youíre joking?" I was more than a little surprised. Iíd met some Pagans with serious hostility for the RC church, though not as serious as the hatred Iíve found among other Xians who view RCs as worse than Satanists. (God, save me from your "true" believers.)

"No. You need to understand what you left and deal with the why of your leaving. Weíll be here if what you need is among us. And you and yours are always welcome to feast with us whether you return to the RCs or not."

Arrogant, ignorant ass that I am, I decided Iíd be a Pagan of my own making. One who does not recognize, let alone worship the godlet of the Jews, the Xians or the Mohammedans. Iíd settle for the gods I could prove with my limited thinking abilities and get on with my life. Except this Rabbi Sacks happened along.

To my delight, the rabbi makes a connection with me, though I doubt he was aiming at such when he wrote the book. Much of what I feel is wrong with The Holy Bible, and the churches spawned from it, he confirms and provides proofs for me to grasp and consider. Primarily, the bibles I have access to are translations from Hebrew into Greek and Greek into English. The Greeks got it wrong and the English compounds the mistakes. (If nothing else, I owe the rabbi the price of his book for saving me the misery of reading a bible I knew was flawed to begin with.)

Beyond that, his god does NOT require my acknowledgement of itself. Iíll be used as the god wills, not unlike the habits of my own gods. Gods I now have to rethink.

For a brief moment the rabbi had me considering learning to read Hebrew so I could read the books of the Jews and better grasp what they believe. Two things occurred to me, I havenít learned English so Iíd never learn Hebrew, and the old joke among Jews, "Two Jews, three opinions." If the Jews canít agree on what their book says, what chance would I have of puzzling it out? Iíll take the lazy way and follow the rabbiís interpretations.

Halfway through "The Great Partnership" I learn that Rabbi Sacks has a newer book, "Not in Godís Name, confronting religious violence". Idiot that I am, I get hold of a copy of that one and begin reading before I finish the first one. The rabbi opens with a quote from Blaise Pascal, whoever he is. (Another freaking thinker Iím going to have to read I guess.) "Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction." Amen brother.

The rabbi begins, "When religion turns men into murders, God weeps."

Ga! I feel another hook sink deep. Iím caught, and searching online bookstores so I can purchase both books and read them while pondering each paragraph, probably each sentence, Ha! each word, at my slow pace (much slower than the library copies I have will allow.)

The rabbi writes soís I stand a slim chance of understanding what points he tries to make. At last, a teacher able to dumb it down for the likes of me! He does toss in the occasional Latin phrase, as if the average ape still knows any Latin. Luckily, I got Google "search" handy as I read so I can usually follow the "once upon a time" educatedís tongue.

Having foolishly peeked behind the Judean curtain I no longer have the excuse of ignorance to shield me from thinking about the godlet the Jews, Xians and Mohammedans claim to follow. It puzzles me that as much as some of them study their godlet they fail to understand his will and their purpose in it. The rabbi addresses that, though Iíve only begun to ponder his or his godís reasons for it.

In spite of my being dragged closer to acknowledging the rabbiís god, I refuse to walk about at Xmas time wishing people a merry Christmas. There are things a self-deluding curmudgeon cannot do. Amazingly, according to the rabbi, his god allows me that option, holding it against me not at all. Sadly, the people claiming to follow said god tend to get hostile when I grumble a "bah" in response to their "Merry Christmas".

Maybe someday the Xians and Mohammedans will learn to read Hebrew and discover what their shared god actually wants them to do? Now that I could get into the spirit of!

Read other articles by Jack Deatherage, Jr.