What is your religion?

February 13, 2020

“When I do good, I feel good.  When I do bad, I feel bad.  That’s my religion.”  (A. Lincoln)

Those were the words of wisdom from today’s post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog. Jack went on to write that Lincoln was not a member of any organized religion, but he certainly did a lot more good in this world than many of his era that were church goers. Religion is sometimes defined as the practice of one’s faith, what one believes in. One would be hard presses to find a better example than Abe Lincoln of someone who practiced what they believed in.

So, the question, “What’s your religion”, really boils down to what do you believe and do you practice what you believe? Churches tend to build complex sets of rules and rituals for the practice of beliefs, turning them into dogma which cannot be challenged. Disagreements over that dogma has lead to the splintering of churches or religions, not matter what beliefs  they were originally based upon. That is why we have so many different faiths and denominations and sects within faiths. At their core, most are defined by a belief in a supreme being (God in whatever name is used). Once you get past that simple core belief, one begins to encounter the hand of man in the accepted practices of worshiping that God. Let the dogma begin. Most practitioners of religion eventually find a set of dogma that they can accept and settle into one of these groups, secure in their knowledge that they are practicing the one, true religion, while all others are doomed.

At least the religion that Abe Lincoln professed has very simple and straightforward rules – do good and feel good about it or do bad and feel bad about it. Jesus put it that we should love others as He has loved us and do unto others as we would have them do to us.  I suspect that you would end up doing good if you accepted that as your religion. Leave the dogma stuff to the people who are more concerned about perpetuating their institutions than about the faith that underpins their religions.

Perhaps you can reinforce your religion by saying a little prayer each morning asking God to help you practice what Jesus preached – love one another. Another of Jack’s posts came to mind as I am writing this. As much of a reach as it may be to see the connection here that quote from Emily Post was this –

“Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others.  If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use.” 

If you are sensitively aware of the feelings and needs of others and do something to help (do good) you have good religion, no matter what church (Sect/group/denomination/etc.) you worship in. Just keep the faith and all else will take care of itself.

What is your religion?

The devil made me do it…

December 9, 2015

That little phrase that is oft used in our society came to mind when I saw this quote from the Jack’s Winning Words Blog so time ago –

“Don’t allow yourself to be overcome by evil.   Take the offensive.  Overcome evil with good.”  (The Bible)

Sometimes we are overcome by evil or we do things that are evil and we look around for a scapegoat. If we find no one else to blame we may say – “The devil made me do it.”

How convenient and how illogical is that. You see; if you profess to believe in the Devil, that sort of means that you also buy into the other stuff that comes with the Devil – God, Jesus, salvation, etc. You really can’t just selectively say that you believe some of the stuff that is contained in religious beliefs. So that also means that you buy-in to the notion of God giving mankind free will – the ability to make choices on their own. So, if God gave us free will; where do you see anything in the Bible that says that He gave the Devil reign over that free will? It’s not there.

devilSo, the fact is that the Devil may have tempted you; the Devil may have enticed you; and the Devil may have somehow made it easier for you; but the Devil didn’t make you do it. You did it of your own free will. Rather than say that the Devil made you do it; admit it – “Oh crap, I did that and I’m sorry.” Then take the advice in today’s quote from the Bible and take the offensive to make sure that you do not allow yourself to be overcome or tempted by evil (The Devil). Do not choose to join the Dark Side. Take the offensive. Use the Force of your faith to overcome the temptations and allure of the wrong things. There is strength to be found in doing the right things.  There is only surrender and helplessness to be found in doing the wrong things. After all, who has ever feared being caught doing the right things?

The Devil may not be real for you, but evil exists in many forms and none of them lead to positive results that you will feel good about tomorrow. Evil is always a choice, never a foregone conclusion. Not only should you choose wisely, but there are real rewards in taking the proactive step of overcoming evil with the good that your actions show to the world. Do not allow yourself to be a disinterested by-stander to evil either.

Watching something wrong happening, especially to someone else, and dong nothing is as wrong as being a part of the act itself. If you see bullying, jump in and do something to stop it and to protect the personbully.png being bullied. If you witness domestic violence speak up and try to get help for eh person being abused. If you see someone being wronged because of a disability or other factor that should not be used to judge, speak up and try to help. Maybe the devil didn’t make you do those things; but maybe he’s the one holding you back from doing the right thing. The Devil didn’t make you do it; maybe he just made it attractive for you to do nothing. Take control and take your free will life back from the influence of the Devil. Do the right things!

Have a great and free-will week. Here’s hoping that you ignore the Devil and do the right things to overcome evil with good.

Feed the right wolf…

February 23, 2014

The Detroit Free Press today had an article by Josh Linkner titled “Feed the Right Wolf”. It was a fairly typical self-help article based upon an old Cherokee legend.

I Googled  the referenced legend and got the wording (as did Linkner, I imagine). The legend goes…

One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside all people.

He said, “My son, the battle is between two ‘wolves’ inside us all.

“One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”

“The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf wins?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

wolf eatingI like that story. It reinforces much of what I write about here. When I Googled it I noticed that there is a web site www.feedtherightwolf.org which I thought might also be an inspirational site. It is, sort of. It’s a porn addition self-help site. The site is devoted to trying to help those with sex or pornography additive behavior, I guess. I didn’t delve into it too deeply; but, it is the site from which I took the words of the story. I looked down the first page of Google results and 5 out of 7 entries are about porn and sex addition. Apparently, someone’s been feeding the wrong wolves.

The Cherokee legend follows the lines of every classical good vs evil in men story. From Wikipedia I found this information on that age old story –

The conflict between good and evil is one of the precepts of the Zoroastrian faith, first enshrined by Zarathustra over 3000 years ago. It is also one of the most common conventional themes in literature, and is sometimes considered to be a universal part of the human condition.[1] There are several variations on this conflict, one being the battle between individuals or ideologies, with one side Good, the other Evil. Another variation is the inner struggle in characters (and by extension, humans in reality) between good and evil.

There are lots of live links in that little paragraph, if you want to explore that further. Reading that seems to cast some doubt on the validity of the “old Cherokee legend.” Is it just coincidence that the old man in the Cherokee legend came up with this good vs. evil allegory, or has someone who was aware of the historical precept created the Cherokee legend? I guess it doesn’t really matter. The Cherokee legend story is a good device for illustrating the point.

Obviously our more modern religious movements have picked up on the same theme of the conflict in men of good vs. evil. There is even an explanation in the Christian Faith about why God allows that to happen – the whole “free will” argument. I don’t know enough about other religions to comment on them, but I’m pretty sure that somewhere in all of them the concepts of good vs evil in men’s lives is covered and some rationale for why men are allowed to do evil is covered somehow. All religions have what the Ronald Regan team coined as “plausible deniability” for the evil acts of man.

So, no matter your religious beliefs, we can agree upon the raging conflict in us all about whether to do good or evil at every turn. Do you do the so-called “right thing” or do you feed the other wolf and take the easy way out or the shortcut or cop a lie? Feed the right wolf.

I find it humorous (I have a weird sense of humor sometimes) that, as a modern society, we have developed our own variation on the two wolves’ story. You’ve all seen ads in print or on TV with the two little characters sitting on the shoulders of the person trying to make a decision. One is depicts as a little red devil (horns and tails and all) of evil and the other is usually robed in white and may have wings, but is surely the angel of good. That somehow meets our modern need to simplify everything down to the level of a cartoon. So, now, instead of the two wolves battling it out to get fed in us, we have two little characters sitting on our shoulders whispering in our ears. It’s not which wolf gets fed; now, it’s which little character do we listen to. The effect is the still the same. Feed the right wolf.

The real point of the story in the legend, and in a great many stories from various religions, is that we have the power within us to choose which wolf we feed and which character we listen to as we make life decisions. The images from the legends and the modern TV commercials are there just to help us stop and think before we decide or act. They also force one more question to be answered – do we know the difference between the two?  Feed the right wolf.

It turns out that evil does not always show itself clearly for what it is (that is part of its evil).wolf in sheeps clothing The wolf occasionally hides in sheep’s clothing to fool us. Evil can take on many forms. Evil does not always show us its horns and tail and is not always an easy to spot red color. Sometimes evil can be a seductive siren calling us to the racks of destruction. Sometimes evil can be found in a crowd all angrily going the wrong way. Sometimes evil is even more insidious and is something that we just have to forget to do or decide not to do. Feed the right wolf.

One thing that evil cannot do is to hide from the glare of the light of truth. Evil likes to lurk in the darkness and lure us to join it there. Shining the light of truth on evil makes the darkness drop away and exposes the ugly thing that was hiding there. Evil is based upon lies about others or lies told to us; it is about lies that cannot stand up to the truth. Feed the right Wolf.

deceptive wolfThere is no truth that you can find to justify saying bad things about another person or hating another person because of something that they said or did that you don’t agree with. There is no truth to be found in your decision to by-pass the needy or poor because evil tells you that you are too busy. There is no truth to looking the other way when you see something wrong or someone wronged, because evil tells you not to get involved. Evil hates the truth ad will try to keep you from seeing it. Feed the right wolf.

So, it all boils down to the decision that the old Cherokee was trying to get the young boy to understand in the legend. You have choices in life. Those choices will always involve two wolves vying for your attention – good and evil. The choices that you make will determine the course of your life and to a great extent the course of your life (your ability at any point in time to discern the difference between right and wrong) will determine which wolf gets fed. Oh; and did I mention – Feed the right wolf!