God is our Creator. We are all as God created us. We are the products of the natural system of life on earth that, since its creation, has evolved as God intended it to evolve. No religious organization is better than any other religious organization. The people of one religion are not better than the people of any other religion. Christ taught us tolerance for others, as they are equally as worthy as we are and they are the congregation of God just as we may be. John 10:16 and 14:2. All religions have as their fundamental common truth that salvation is ours when we serve the human community according to our best capabilities. We are not condemned for our imperfections as we are limited and can only strive to improve. Newborn babies are not afflicted with “original sin” as they are innocent per se and “original sin” is a fraud perpetrated by corrupt priests to frighten people into compliance with priestly agendas, usually associated with money. God does not condemn innocents. Only people condemn innocents. We must try to put aside the nonsense of religiosity. Ritual observance is not a substitute for seeking and providing justice.
If I believe that I am writing this for the benefit of human kind, then I am simply an arrogant ass. I am not a recognized writer of anything, and certainly not a recognized expert on any questions or issues religious. Since I deem it sufficient if I recognize myself as an authority on what is meaningful to me, I can honestly put the motive for writing this upon my own desire to put into written words how it has been that I have come to the understandings, competences and beliefs I now enjoy. I think the only honest expression of my motivation is that I want to record this as my gift to myself. Should anyone else ever think of this as useful to themselves, then I have exceeded my wildest dreams.
I have lived life at full speed. I would not now go back and change anything. I could posit that my even being here today is some ersatz sign of divine intent, but I know that God is not my babysitter and that I remain here simply as a matter of the convolution of genetic capabilities. I am, so I honestly know and believe, half Irish and half Russian. The combination of that genetic code made me indestructible from any terminal cause other than a bullet or a bomb. I only half joke when I describe myself as large, often very stupid, loud, musical, somewhat poetic, sarcastic, cynical, madly in love with wine and assorted other liquid expressions of fruit (mainly grapes) and vegetables (mainly grains) and totally delusional about my being attractive to the opposite gender. I may once have been attractive to women, but now I am 73 years old. No woman wants a 73 year old man who (1) has not already had many years of mutually committed love with him and enjoyed the younger years; (2) is not believed to be wealthy and able to provide for her at a level of relative luxury. Women see men my age as just looking for someone to take care of them and be their maid or nurse. I enjoy life with someone with whom I have been in love for more than 22 years. If she tires of me, I may revise my thinking about this.
In any material sense I have inherited absolutely nothing. My being able to underwrite a life of excessive behavior, an obvious anomaly, is the product of certain gifts and talents. These will become more obvious (I hope) as this story unfolds. A former spouse, demonstrating one of the many reasons why we are no longer together, once asked, “Looking back on it all, don’t you wish you had been less profligate? Think of the money you would have now.” To which my response was, “Absolutely not. Had I been more circumspect, you would be far wealthier now, but not me. I have no regrets at all.”
In the beginning
Male child Valinsky, December 14, 1937, Brooklyn, New York. This in itself is perhaps the greatest legacy I could possibly have received upon birth. To be sure, it was not a virgin birth. My parents, whom I never met, were teenage impoverished unmarried immigrants in New York City during the great depression. Dear old dad took off, so I have been informed, upon hearing of my entry into an embryonic state. Mom took off soon after I was born.
I was provided with a compensatory insecurity because of that which translated itself into intense hostility for having been a throwaway. Accordingly, I was the child from hell. I was eventually adopted by a totally dysfunctional and uneducated couple to whom no one who knew them would ever entrust a child. They, like me, came from ignorance, poverty, and brought to those attributes the further blessings of narrow mindedness and an “old world” view of parent-child relationships based upon natural (not adopted) children enjoined to be obedient to the pater familias at about the same level of subservience that women were (are in some circles even today) expected to accept.
Fortunately for me, they had no traditions or beliefs to impart. What passed for tradition amongst them was utter nonsense, and their appreciation of their “tradition” was even less competent than that. I was, essentially, a self raising child. But I was well equipped to be a self raising child, because I had the resilience to survive all the mistakes that self raising children experience.
There ensued a parent-child relationship that never achieved even the slightest equilibrium. They were unbelievably short changed vis-à-vis their expectations of the psychic revenues anticipated by people who adopted orphans. I am certain that I made them equally as miserable as they made me. None of us possessed the slightest insight into overcoming this lacuna. Eventually I was carted off to Dr. Kleckly, a local shrink, who decided that there was no psychiatric remedy for any relationship this far out of kilter for that many years, and remanded me to their tender mercies, shaking his head in frustration. Quantitatively, I was not expected to do as well on his “tests” as I did. According to those tests, I might not have been quite as bad as everyone believed. At the beginning of the 1950s in Charleston, South Carolina, psychiatry was probably confined to the truly delusional who were older and simply “committed” to some snake pit institution for eternal warehousing, and to expert testimony regarding the Mc Naughton Rule in criminal law – did the defendant, at the time he committed the crime, have the capacity to know right from wrong and to know that what he did was wrong? As I write this I am spontaneously chuckling that today, in 2010, the same level of insight is being used by so many in dealing with the social and political issues of America.
The central issue was disobedience. I questioned everything, partly from my own ignorance and partly from a visceral reaction of incredulity to so much of what I was told or taught. Very little of what I observed made any sense to my ignorant but reptilian analytical sense of how everything was supposed to parse in order to be useful. Of course I didn’t appreciate logical parsing of notional influences or the reptilian level of my mind at the time, but, in retrospect, that was what I believe was at work.
This confusion was greatly assisted by the fact that my adoptive parents were of eastern European Jewish extraction with no more than a fifth grade education, from families that never had sufficient financial or intellectual cushion to enable them to try to appreciate anything beyond putting a meal on the table at day’s end. They spoke Yiddish all the time. They did that because it was their lingua franca and because it enabled them to say anything in anyone’s presence without the bystander knowing what they were saying. They were hiding in plain sight so to speak, but had no sense that doing that might be rude or insensitive. I was one of those bystanders, so it was quite a while before I came to a competent mastery of what they said to each other. When they spoke to me it was always in English, but that was confined to telling me what to do or not do and reprimanding me for my constant shortcomings in the realm of compliance.
The “family” into which I was adopted consisted of their siblings and their children who were, according to what my parents said, cousins, aunts and uncles. According to these extended “relations”, however, I was not a true member of their family worthy of acceptance because I was not one of their natural offspring. To them I was merely exhibit two in their case that my father’s marriage to my mother was a terrible mistake. The Solomon’s, in any meritocracy, would be at the bottom of anyone’s list of worthwhile people, and they deemed me unworthy of any affiliation with them. They also deemed my mother’s family to be infra dignitatem, and there ensued an air of unending hostility. Thankfully, they never socialized with each other. However, I was required to be in attendance at “family” gatherings at which my parents pretended that I was a member of the group. As I was not in any sense acceptable to anyone there, the charade was never effective.
I quickly became convinced that they were “off”. No one could be that mean spirited amongst themselves and toward me and be “right”. Therefore, in my mind, I was right and it was they who were a bloody mess, to put it nicely. There was, therefore, no reason, no consideration for, my ever having any interest in being like them in any way. And thus began my identity search.
There are many macabre stories about them that I am tempted to recite, but that would not serve any useful purpose. It would only be mean and spiteful. As they very quickly became of zero value in my personal scheme of things, my ridiculing them could only be deemed spiteful on my part. But many of those stories would be funny as hell (in retrospect) if I did tell them.
The central theme of their perception of the world was that they were wonderful and everyone else was trash. This is precisely the attitude of so many cultures. The Romans deemed everyone else to be barbarians. To the Greeks, others are simply strangers (Xenon). Catholics believe – often say they believe – that everyone who is not a Catholic is ineligible for salvation. Jews are taught that they are the Chosen People and consider all others to be “goyim”. Goy is the Hebrew word for People. To them they are ha goy kadosh (the holy people) in the same context – chosen or elect of God. While I now know all of that to be utter rubbish, it seemed very quickly to me that there was no difference between Catholic and Jewish religious attitudes.
I would like to set one thing straight here and now. This will be discussed later, but I sense I may be interpreted early on here of having animosity toward Jews and the Jewish religion. That is simply incorrect. I see all the religions of the world as basically identical in their fundamental core. They are aware of God and of our relationship to our Creator. In every instance their adherents seek salvation. They all proclaim that there is a road to salvation and that the road is a series of evolutionary transformative enlightenment stages through which we improve ourselves in merit. That is it. Everything else is the product of religious institutions, and it is with these institutions that I take serious issue. Jews, Catholics, Protestants, Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists and all other followers of the world’s core religions are equally entitled to earn salvation, and the road for each of them is essentially the same. I bear no malice whatsoever to any of them. They are, if they wish to be, my brothers and sisters in our relationship to God.
As I was not born to any station from which I had any right to look down on anyone on this earth, it made no sense to me early on that my parents thought themselves superior to others who were not Jewish. Moreover, their “rationale” for that position simply made no sense, even to my very immature and “blank slate” mind. Later, of course, it would become clear to me that the marketing message of organized religions is the same as the marketing message of any breakfast cereal or automobile – mine is better than everyone else’s. More on this later.
As the child from hell, I had no social skills. I also had no sense of the significance of getting along with anyone else. My attitude was that it would probably – as in the instance of my supposed relatives – be useless to try to ingratiate myself for purposes of social acceptance. At my level of reptilian capability, I was not about to try to conform to anyone else’s norms. I expected that to do so would frustrate me further for having tried only to receive rejection and rebuke. Inferiority complex, you say? Hell yes. So often that is what hostility and aggression are really made of – insecurity, low self esteem. People like me make great assassins. We do not bond. We have no inherent sense of social or cultural obligation. There is nothing within our psyches that would be a brake to our willingness to subscribe to any agenda favorably presented. We also make extremely successful serial killers. Moral compunction, if it ever comes at all, comes very late to us.
If you are going to be alone, you have to have escape hatches in order to remain sane. I would hang out with kids in school who were similarly configured, alienated, angry, doing things just because they were outrageous and made everyone around us angry. Like me, they hated everybody. But we had a lot of really stupid fun. Contemporaneously, however, I was interested in music, poetry, reading, bizarre pseudo science, especially if it involved explosives, girls, and drinking. I had many friends with similar interests. The disaffected are the molecules of revolt.
I dropped out of the Boy Scouts because the scoutmaster of the Jewish troop in Charleston called my father in rage over his daughter and I being found playing juvenile naked, touching games (doctor and nurse and beyond). My father then pronounced me a monster for humiliating him in the Jewish community like that. A high school fraternity came to an even more abrupt end because it was a Jewish only group that required one to pass an examination regarding “knowledge” of material so absurd that even I could see through it. Beside which, my personal friends were almost never Jewish. Accordingly, I had at least as much exposure to non Jewish sentiments in the company of kids who liked to do what I liked to do – go camping,fishing, hunting, drink beer, and do all sorts of other things that Jewish teens in Charleston found utterly unappealing.
Somewhere I read about a group called the Civil Air Patrol. These were kids who were interested in aviation and in Air Force stuff. I joined. It cost almost nothing, as almost everything was subsidized by the USAF and there were no kids in it from other than blue collar families. This was seen as a disgrace to my parents, who quickly realized that military and aviation interests were inconsistent with Charleston Jewish values and culture. Moreover, I had been smoking since I was eight years old, and the CAP cadets would go out and smoke and drink beer after the “squadron” meetings. Coming home reeking of tobacco and beer, throwing up some vile vomitus reeking of stomach contents and beer and being belligerent as hell about it somehow were not well received by my already frustrated parents. However, I managed successfully to disobey the order to drop out of the CAP. I sometimes think it was because it cost practically nothing that I got away with it.
When I was bar mitzvah on my 13th birthday weekend, I received a grand total of $ 600 from everyone in the family, which I was required to deposit into a savings account in a bank owned by my hated Uncle Walter. My more qualified “cousins” each received the entire cost of his college education when he was bar mitzvah. At a CAP meeting when I was 16, an operator of a fix based business with grass runway and a tool shed, who was also a Methodist minister, spoke to a squadron meeting about how fix base businesses work and their place in civil aviation, including providing flying lessons. This really interested me, and when he later told me that for $ 600 I could qualify for my private pilot license, I was hooked. I managed to get the $ 600 out of Uncle Walter’s bank and paid him for the flight school. From doing odd jobs, winning some billiard games and mooching off my parents, I could pay plane rent and gas, then about $ 7.50 an hour, wet.
When I turned 17 I received my private pilot license and celebrated by buzzing my parent’s home, almost giving my mom and some of her friends heart attacks. Someone got the number off the underside of the wing, and the police were waiting for me when I got back to the field. I was dragged before my parents and identified as the pilot of the offending light airplane, which my parents said could not be possible because I did not know how to fly an airplane. Surprise!
When the CAP used my being the first South Carolina CAP cadet to get a private pilot license as a public relations vehicle, and it was in all the Sunday papers with pictures, I was forgiven – somewhat. I was also the first Jewish pilot in Charleston. Forgiveness didn’t last very long. I took the daughter of a prominent Jew on a flight down the coast and landed on the beach at low tide. We had a picnic, went skinny dipping and fooled around a bit. She negligently let something slip about going flying with me, which unleashed a firestorm of outrage. Her father called my father. Once more I had besmirched the future prospects of some supposed Jewish virgin, to the utter disgrace of my “family”.
Smoking, drinking, flying, going on long camping trips and hikes, and doodling Jewish girls were not what the nice Jewish boys of Charleston were all about. I was an obvious goy. Later it would seem to me that my being a goy could well be why the Jewish girls would take their clothes off with me. The Jewish boys thought that it was a girl’s obligation to do that because the boy had bought her dinner or taken her to a dance. The girls failed to become excited in response to that kind of whining. I was just happy to be around a girl. Besides that, I dated primarily non Jewish girls, which caused the Jewish girls to think that I was rather accustomed to sexual intimacy. They were taught that non Jewish girls were less moral than they. Jews believed at that time that non Jewish girls are just wantonly promiscuous. Many still do. That chemistry somehow worked well for me, and I sensed the need to be gentle and patient with an inexperienced young girl. No one ever went home in discomfort or feeling that she had been used or abused. By age 15 I was well into oral sex with girls. That is a real game changer. The 18 year old girl who taught me to do that will always remain in my prayers.
On November 2, 2010, CNN ran an article about a “study” (where else but in California) that found that teen oral sex leads to actual intercourse. Some fool probably got a big grant for that. Damn! I learned that in 1952, and the girl who taught me that learned it before that from someone who also knew it even earlier.
Music was my other great love. This too angered my parents. To them anything from which I could not realistically expect to make a good living was a waste of time. But I had a really good singing voice, and used that to finagle voice lessons. There were musicians in my mother’s family, which was one of the reasons that the Solomons had a low opinion of my mothers’ family. I became really good at it. Between that and oral sex, I never had any trouble getting dates.
Joining the high school glee club was a fight because they sang music that included church music. So the Solomon kid was singing songs about Jesus in public with a bunch of non Jewish people, further humiliating my parents. My voice teacher invited me to join the Charleston Choral Society, which performed Handel’s “Messiah” every spring in the Citadel Square Baptist Church. That went over rather badly also. As a sop to the hostility, I agreed to join a synagogue choir. There was one near the house – not my parents’ congregation – but it worked out. The problem turned out to be that the men in the choir – the only Jewish choir with Jewish men in it – were European immigrants who had been musicians in the old country. They taught me to appreciate variations on musical themes, as they could take traditional Jewish liturgical music and sing it in the style of different musical traditions. Ironically, think of some Hebrew hymn sung in the mode of the Don River Cossack Choir. After choir practice theyand I would go to the home of one of them and smoke cigarettes and drink beer, and I would listen to their stories of the old country. I would return home late, reeking of cigarettes and beer, and rather drunk but extremely happy. Those were wonderful people and wonderful evenings. It was almost never about religion. They had fled Europe. Many of them left after spending years in concentration and death camps. These evenings were about their shared experiences and their love of music. Music was redemptive of their souls from the horrors they had experienced. The music was its own religion. It seemed to my parents that wherever I went, my non Jewish inclinations were corrupting the morals of anyone in my company. They didn’t know Jews who were musical or who drank a lot when enjoying an evening of music. I was, in their minds, destroying the fabric of the Charleston Jewish community. In their synagogue the choir consisted of hired non Jewish musicians. Jews in their congregation not waste their time on music.
Thus did I waste my high school years, an adolescent and teen period that was “supposed” to produce a “nice Jewish boy” who would go to a “nice” college and study something conducive to leading a rather secular, if Xenophobic, Jewish life, or maybe go on to a professional school education, and marry a “nice” Jewish girl. Not a chance! I didn’t feel that I had wasted anything at all. I had spent a rather delightful, considering the circumstances,adolescent period full of outdoor fun, music, one hell of a lot of recreational reading, drinking and sex. When I graduated from high school I was ready for the next step.
I would be remiss were I to continue without stopping to thank those teachers and parents of friends who had insights into my inner struggles and provided friendship and guidance from time to time. My music teacher, Mr. Vernon Weston, may God blesshis wonderful soul, taught me how to fish. Those high school glee club trips to glee club singing competitions were filled with happy music and warm girls. I think that glee club members get more and better sex in high school than football players. Music, violence, sex and alcohol are the ingredients of wonderful teen age years. Well, at least for me they were. I never liked the violence, and I stayed away from it as much as I could. But it was and is an inevitable part of everyone’s life. Those who manage to avoid violence entirely have been given that privilege by others who have been willing to do violence to protect the rest of us from our enemies. If our violent people had not defeated other violent people, the pacifists would never have been able to survive.
Outside influences were almost my only positive influences. For my adopted father I must say that he was a scrupulously honest man. Learning honesty from someone with whom you have nothing in common and with whom you never positively communicate has to mean that his honesty was a signal and obvious attribute. I know that whenever some Jewish person moved to Charleston in dire straits, he loaned them money and guaranteed promissory notes for business loans in starting them in some small business. Oddly, most of them succeeded, repaid the loans and spent the rest of their lived being grateful to him for the help. His reputation in town was the highest for ethics and charity, notwithstanding his otherwise totally intolerant attitudes about everything. I have to be grateful to him for that example. I have tried, I think successfully, to follow that in my own life, and my reputation for integrity comes in large measure from his example.
Despite the immensity of that example, everything else I learned about life was influenced and affirmatively guided by outsiders. Some of my teachers believed they could provide emotional support and encouragement to push me onto less hostile and aggressive paths. They would do things with me and for me that they sensed I would be grateful for, and then use that gratitude to provide me with “lessons” I might not have been receptive to in the absence of the obvious loving and generous spirit in which they did for me what they did.
In high school these were mainly older Catholic spinsters for whom teaching in public school was considered a respectable if underpaid life. They were mainly Irish, and they were tough but potentially kind if they saw in you some semblance of positive movement. One such used to tell me often that if she knew who my friends were, then she knew who I was. She was making the point that I was known to hang out with the toughest crown in school and that I should consider expanding my horizons. When I got seriously into music, joined the glee club and the Charleston Choral Society, they showered me with kindness. I met one girl who was a dog fancier, and she talked me into joining the Charleston Kennel Club. There were no Jews in that organization either. There I learned to be a dog handler in sanctioned dog shows and made a few dollars handling other people’s dogs. Some of them won prizes, which produced incentive compensation in small amounts. There were tons of girls in the Charleston Kennel Club, and they had animals and supervised their breeding habits, as these were all pure bred animals. From this they were well aware of sex, and they were far more readily tumescent than the girls of the glee club. My teachers started to feel that I was headed in a positive direction, and I doubt they ever figured out how much sex fueled that fire.
Someone taught me that if I was patient and gave a girl time to get comfortable with me, not groping and aggressive, the girl would rather early on be reacting to the fact that apprehension was not part of our relationship and would herself take initiatives she might not even have thought herself capable of. The progression from strangers to burgeoning sensuality was rewarding. Sensuality is not sexuality. Sensuality is the letting down of apprehensive guards and the coming of trust that you may be comfortable with someone without apprehension of imposition or injury. Sexuality follows sensuality. It doesn’t really begin before that. That is a way in which girls are unlike boys unless the girl has decided to use sex transactionally. But the best sex is when the girl has become so comfortable with you that she has no apprehension about overt expressions of desire. There are exceptions, girls who self discovered their sexual potential touching themselves in private when they found out how pleasant that could be. Those girls are treasures that any considerate boy would be incredibly rewarded to find himself in company with.
What a pity that it is not socially acceptable for parents to teach that to boys. They fear that this level of instruction would lead to promiscuity, so they would rather kids not learn about best practice intimacy. Two people who have not learned these lessons are supposed to find their way to intimacy by groping around in ignorance. In many states, sex education as it is called is little more than telling kids to say no until they are married. And is it any wonder that boys marry for sex as an entitlement and that their girlfriends, wives ever get to intimacy as something they really enjoy. Some do. Many more don’t. Whenever I hear men publicly lamenting the lack of sex at home – which is very frequent – I know that is really the product of failing to educate boys about how to be best friends first and let that lead of its own initiative to more intimate potentialities at the pace at which a girl is comfortable.
While you are waiting there is always sex for one, which is what they end up doing anyway because strange sex costs money and carries risks of being caught and of becoming a disease victim. In Texas it was recently reported that high school boys are having serious throat infections from oral sex with promiscuous high school girls with herpes or Chlamydia. So much for the value of restricted sex ed. Furthermore, Texas, with its religion restricted high school agendas, has the highest rate of teenage pregnancies in the nation. Religious insistence upon ignorance is the main cause of all these problems. People’s natural inclinations need to be dealt with in a health promoting curriculum. Ignorant kids get into more trouble than informed kids. That is one of the terrible dividends of preachers and religious wing nuts being allowed on school boards.
College and law school
College and law school represent rather empty periods of life for me. At The Citadel I lacked the maturity to accept the conformity required in any organization, especially a military organization. Accordingly I spent the entire time “on report” and to this day hold the punishment record for any cadet who actually graduated rather than being cashiered. The academic load plus the punishment load left little energy for serious soul searching. Religious attendance was mandatory, and on every Sunday morning, before punishment detail, the Jewish cadets were frog marched down a small road behind barracks row to the old gym for a small “service” understood by no one in attendance except the poor “cantor” who showed up to conduct the service.
The status of cantor is somewhat akin
to the clown in a small circus. It is jokingly said that rabbis pray to
God while cantors put on a show for the audience, a musical distraction
from the unrelenting boredom of a tedious repetition of words supposedly
in praise of God but in reality a nagging, whining request/demand for
divine recognition, the bestowing of benefices, the imposition of
afflictions upon those of other beliefs (all of whom at one time or
another are seen to have slaughtered Jews).
According to Jewish lore (as I think I understand it). Jews are the elect of God – The Chosen People. However Jews go astray rather frequently, protracted states of non compliance with the 613 mandates that God is said by the orthodox to have imposed upon them. Only pedestrians think of Ten Commandments. There are, supposedly 613 of the things. No morning service is complete without thanking God for not making you (1) a goy and (2) a woman. Since women are not counted in the congregation, offending them is not a consideration. Their prophets are constantly ranting about their wandering from the path of righteousness and predicting calamities as the consequence. Calamities occur from time to time, almost always in the form of some military defeat followed by exile and abuse, providing another group of goyim upon whom prayerful curses may subsequently be heaped in the daily liturgy.
There is a secular explanation for the many calamities that have been experienced by the Jewish people. In the time of Christ it was customary for the ruling Romans to tolerate no resistance. While Jews might offend God and get away with it, the Romans were more pragmatic. During the period following the destruction of the second temple and throughout the diaspora, it was the custom of local rulers to tolerate Jews in their midst because they provided a banking resource shunned by Christians who saw the charging of interest as sinful. Eventually the local ruler would be so mired in debt to the local Jews that their being whacked in some pogrom was the most expedient way to strike a line through the indebtedness. Dead Jews were usually not in a position to seek redress. During any period of hard times – crop failure, epidemic, etc – it was expedient for the local ruler, in concert with the local priests, to blame the calamity on the local Jews. This was the outward, formally stated reason for sending the local Christian population to annihilate the Jews in some pogrom. It would have been unseemly to state publicly that the local ruler just wanted to square certain indebtedness accounts.
Come the great depression of the twentieth century, the economic displacements that facilitated Germany going to war also facilitated the last great pogrom of which we are constantly reminded even today – The Holocaust.
Catholics have a similar theme in which the contentions are that only Catholics are eligible for salvation, all others being consigned to some rather inconvenient hell. Since Catholicism became associated with military power in the fourth century, courtesy of Emperor Constantine, Catholics are spared the recurring lamentations about military defeats. Various Catholic constituencies may defeat one another from time to time, but there is never a total eclipse.
None of this interested me in the slightest during college and law school. The period was not one in which I gave any thought at all to the relationship I might have had with my Creator.
Life after law school
Following law school, the continuing dissatisfaction in the relationship between me and my parents caused me to try to find out what it was about Judaism that seemed to justify their insistence about the value of being different. I spent several years in serious study about it. Judaism simply does not parse for me. I am unable to attribute to God any preference for any religion over any other. Moreover, I cannot conceive of any being as competent as God is said to be allowing an association with inherent injustice. Ultimately there is no God without justice. There is no ultimate intelligence without justice. Arbitrary infliction of deprivation, assault, exclusion, and the use of God as justification for Jews inflicting harm on others – all of which are rife in the Old Testament – makes no sense whatsoever. Gang rape of the women of a tribe as the fulfillment of a divine intent to further the genetic future of the victims as some kind of ravished community is not God’s way. It might be the way of some lunatic bunch of assholes, but there can be no exoneration of that kind of conduct.
Evil is an equal opportunity resource. Whatever the predations of the Israelites, they are more than matched by the institutions of Christianity and Islam. The difference seems to be the press coverage. The Jewish assaults made it into the Bible, while the Christian rampages occurred for a long period while there were no facilities of mass communication – no printing presses, no newspapers, no radio and no television. Nor was it exclusively Christian versus Jew. Christians slaughtered each other in the names of their religious institutions over a spread of many centuries. The ebb and flow of slaughter over Protestantism, royal lust in England, Papal estates in what is now Italy, competing Papal constituencies centered in Rome and in Avignon, you name it. Vows have forever been honored in the breach, and the biggest offenders are always the first and the loudest in condemning the errant conduct of lesser folk. Stealing empires is honorable. Stealing a loaf of bread has frequently been a capital offense. When I note the absence of essential differences between Jews, Catholics and Protestants it is not just an idle glimpse.
What is critical is that all religions – as opposed to religious institutions – share the common essential core belief that positive striving – the engine of evolution – is the only road to the cosmic Christ and salvation. To me, that is a totally positive inherent imperative and all else is simply contrapuntal rhythm.
The last straw for me was Deuteronomy 23:2 which was used as the basis to deny any of “irregular” unions – bastards – ever having standing to become a member of the community, to marry (except to another bastard), or ever to attain salvation (according to that tradition). It is in that instance that the starkest of comparisons between what Judaism mandates and what Christ provides is made in my mind. As the product myself of just such an irregular union, I could never become a person worthy of salvation. But, regardless of the circumstances of my birth I can attain salvation through positive striving, recognition of my failings, and the positive amendment of my life.
I knew then, more than at any other instant in time, that Christ provided an opportunity for justice rather than mere membership. Maybe the religious institutions claiming to be the true messengers of Christ fall more to the side of exclusion, but Christ Himself is never claimed to have said any such thing. Moreover, Christ is never said to have spoken against people due to their other life circumstances. The anti feminist campaigns of the various “Christian” clergy are falsely said to be in furtherance of the teaching of Christ. But in reality there is no anti feminist agenda in what Christ taught – neither that nor in the instance of any other essentially innocent circumstance of life. Christ is the ultimate source of equal justice, the insight into the ultimate divine intelligence.
Recognition of that leaves no option for me but to accept Christianity – brown bag generic Christianity – as the way to salvation. All people of faith seek salvation. Salvation is the imprimatur of the worthiness of a life properly lived – the vindication of striving to be better than we are, to understand a very real purpose for our existence. The creative forces within us are not limited to making babies with someone to whom we are “married”. The forbidden fruit in Genesis, the fruit from the tree of life that opens the eyes to secular knowledge and one’s mind to intellectual growth carries with it exposure to the vicissitudes to life and all that humanity experiences. It also carries with it the incentive to seek to overcome the vicissitudes – necessity being as it is the mother of invention. Humanity could not survive in some baby sat, Garden of Eden existence. It would never develop, improve or evolve without having to strive. Every species in nature has to strive in order to survive. That is how God created nature to work as an engine of development, and humanity is part of that nature along with every other life form on earth. Suddenly everything makes sense. I no longer have to accept anything “on faith” or as a child. It is real in itself. Seen in that configuration, everything works as it was intended to work. The universal solvent is learning. Everything required for learning was put here for us. We have not created or invented anything. We have rather learned how to use what was put here for us. Every scientific development in history involves the way to use things that have always been here. God has indeed provided, and we gradually learn to use it. As we have free will, we don’t always use it properly, but we do learn to use it and we do eventually use it properly.
Now I have in my own mind a real reason to be thankful and real reasons to strive. I am not entitled to anything, but I can achieve many things within the limits of what God has given me to work with. God is the ultimate logic of the universe. As such, God does not take up trivia or commit injustice or punish innocents. Only people do such things. The light always gets brighter.
The long path
I have trod the path of life for 73 years. I have more to be grateful for than I can count. My miseries have been largely of my own making. My blessings have arrived, not as gratuitous encomia, but as the product of work and insights. It is true that God helps those who help themselves. You cannot effectively pray for anything you have not earned. You won’t get it. When you ask God for something, the answer is always that God is ready to help whenever you start doing your part. There is no free lunch with God!
Punishment for underachievement – hell if you will – is that you remain ignorant, mean spirited due to lack of insights, and lead an unhappy and unfulfilling life.
We know that we have genetic recollection. Within our DNA there is a force for continuation of knowledge. Perhaps that is the best evidence there is for the recycling of souls – reincarnation. We know things our ancestors learnt and we know then instinctively.
My path has been a difficult one, but the acquiring of insights into how the relationship between Christ and humanity work has made it a pure joy. I live in a loving relationship with the loveliest, kindest, most generous and intelligent of women. I would not have had a chance for that without personal growth from what I was. She would never ever consider spending her life with the person I used to be. I believe she is the gift in celebration of my coming of age as a human being. Thank you, Jesus.
By Seamus Muldoon, Himself
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