Thursday, June 29, 2006




As I watch the war in Iraq and survey man’s inhumanity to man, an ironic reality reaches out to me.  That is, every drop of blood being spilled in Iraq is being spilled in the name of God—the very same God.  And what’s even more ironic is that both sides have so-called “men of God” praying that God help them to kill the sons and daughters of the people on the other side. Do they really believe that a loving God is going to help one of his children kill another?  I don’t think so. So their prayers shouldn’t be “God, please help our troops to persevere”, but rather, “God, please help our leaders to see past their ignorance and greed.”  That, is the only prayer that will help our troops.

The problem is, man has become so arrogant and self-centered that he’s used his religion to re-create God in the image of man, rather than in the reverse.  I learned that early in life, and for primarily that reason, I chose to worship God in my own way. So generally, I make it a point to keep man out of my religion.  What I believe is between me and God--but just this once, I’m going to make an exception.
I was raised to be a devote Christian, and I’m very proud to say that I still have many Christian values.  But as early as I can remember, I had a problem with my religion, because I was raised to be “God fearing”, rather than God loving.  I was taught to believe that God was a stern taskmaster, poised to chastise me severely for any transgression. But now I see him as a friend and a mentor--one who walks with me through life, and takes a father’s pride in revealing to me the wonders of his creation.  I also see him as a friend with a highly developed sense of humor—after all, he did create humor, didn’t he?  So I imagine him in Heaven saying, “Come here y’all.  You want to trip?  Check this out.”  Then he put me and my late wife together—a love affair between oil and water.  And when she passed, he said, “Well, you know she’s a real handful, but she should be all right—I called in both Johnnie Cochran and the Pope.”  Then I said, “But Lord, she’s not a Catholic.  She likes T.D. Jakes.”  And he responded, “Don’t push it, Homeboy—you’re gonna need a little help yourself.”
But when I was a kid I didn’t have that type of relationship with God, where I felt free to speak my mind.  I was so scared of God that I thought everything I did was a sin, and I was convinced that I was going to be condemned to Hell for all eternity.  I’d be walking around bumping into trees while I was praying for forgiveness over some “unpure” thought that I might have had toward one of my female schoolmates.  And if that was bad, going to church was agony, because I just couldn’t keep my eyes off the beautiful bodies of those pretty Black women sitting in the pews next to me. I felt that God had no tolerance for human nature.  So finally, I said a prayer, asking God to free me from this burden, and he did.  But he was much wiser than I.  He didn’t free me from loving the sight of a beautiful woman—unlike man, he didn’t see that as a burden (Thank you, Lord).  He freed me from the burden of worrying about it.  And while he was at it, he decided to make me truly free, by freeing me from the folly of buying into the belief that man could save my soul, rendering me completely immune to the game that George Bush is running on many conservative Christians across this land.

He helped me to understand that man has lost sight of the true meaning of religion.  And that man is so intent on controlling the minds of other men, that he dwells on the dogma of religion, rather than its essence--how we treat our fellow man.  He taught me that while the Bible, the Koran, and all of the other religious texts are a monument to his existence, he doesn’t need an intermediary—he speaks to every man, woman, and child directly. When he created man he provided his word as part of the package. One only needs to listen, to hear the voice of God, loud and clear.  I don’t need any text to tell me not to steal, or not to kill, or not to covet my neighbor’s wife.  Whenever I’ve leaned towards any of those transgressions—and I have—all I had to do was listen to my heart to hear his words: “Eric, what you’re about to do is not right.”  He also helped me to understand that pursuing what is right simply to save my own soul was, in itself, an ugly act of selfishness. I was missing the point—I should pursue what is right, simply because it is right.  In that way, I don’t have to wait to get to Heaven--I bring Heaven to me.  
These are the things that the Christian Right has lost sight of.  They’re not interested in promoting the word of God, they’re only interest is controlling our minds--and the only way that they can do that, is by forcing us to embrace their values.  Why shouldn’t gays be allowed to get married?  The Christian Right would say, because it violates the rules--but whose rules?  A newly released scientific study indicates that homosexuality is biological in nature, rather than simply behavioral.  So if God made gays to love one another, what right do a handful of flawed men have to make rules for either those who are gay, or, for God?  And the irony is, those very same men who are such sticklers for “the rules” when it comes to love, have absolutely no problem with, and indeed promote, the slaughter of thousands of men, women, and children in Iraq; and their progenitors were thumping that very same Bible that they themselves thump today, as they chained, beat, and lynched thousands of innocent Black people, and all but wiped out every true American across this land.  Now, that’s the kind of behavior that needs to be prevented with some kind of rule, but somehow, they missed that part of the Gospel.
So, whenever you hear Bush or one of his cohorts start talking about God, you can just standby, because they’re about to either charge you an arm and a leg for admission into Heaven, or ask you to help them kill somebody—and the horrible thing about that is, there are millions of people across this land who have been brainwashed into believing that these people are acting in the name of God.  Therefore, when any of these demagogues come to you and ask are you a believer, don’t be confused—they’re not asking you if you believe in God, they’re asking you if you believe in what they are telling you about God.  And in my case, the answer is always, absolutely not!
Now, I realize I sound very cynical here, but don’t get me wrong, I recognize there are many Godly people still left in this world. But you can never mistake the truly Godly, because they’re never mean-spirited, they’re always humble, and they won’t just preach you a sermon, they’ll live you one, as well.

Eric L. Wattree

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