Saturday, April 11, 2009

Loaning Money -- by Ruth E. Towle

I think that I
shall never see
that dollar that
I loaned to thee

A dollar that
I could have spent
In many forms
of merriment

The one I loaned
to thee so gladly
Is now the one
I need so badly

For whose return
I had great hope
Just like an optimistic

For dollars loaned
to folks like thee
Are not returned
to fools like me

Betty Boop Cartoon Banned For Drug Use 1934

Thursday, April 9, 2009

An Elegy For Grandma -- by Richard C. Speaks

Ruth Ellen Towle

Your pain is finally over
And now it’s time to let you go
We all know that’s how you wanted it
Because you told us so

You were love and strength to everyone
You fed the poor and helped the weak
You were the one that Christ referred to
When he said, “Blessed are the meek”

It’s hard to imagine life without you
You were always there for me
And if there really is a Heaven
I have no doubt that’s where you’ll be

Rest in peace. Your memory lives on.

Grandma & me

I read this poem at Grandma's memorial service in the Calvinist Meeting Hall of my youth. It went over like a wet fart on a pew. From the pulpit I could see all those true believers murmuring to each other, "What did he mean: 'IF?'" Talk about choking on a gnat! I'm so glad I'll never have to go back there again! It was a bad flashback I won't repete, no matter who kicks off next. I won't be attending. Write that in stone.

Many of the 65th street lambs remembered me, and were polite enough. They had little to say to me, except, "That was a nice poem, Richard." I knew they all hated it. Not that I really cared. I didn't want to read it to them anyway, but if I didn't read it some old fart was more than happy to read it aloud for me. I gave him the elegy that Grandma wrote in 1971. It was better received than mine. It was very uncomfortable for me.

A few familiar faces shunned me all-together. And made a point of demonstrating that they were doing this. In case I hadn't noticed. I was actually fine with that. Grateful even. They all knew about me from the wagging tongues of some of my less than loving family members. Even though I weighed my every word, seeking to avoid offence, my efforts were in vain. They were offended anyway. They all knew that I was an apostate. An infidel. They all knew why "IF" was as far as I can go without smirking, or rolling my eyes.

One of Grandpa's preacher pals actually tried to get me to pray with him for my grandmother's soul. As if she needed any praying over! I looked him straight in the eye and lied to him, saying: "I did, Mr. Adams. Earlier. Before I got here." He was shaking his head and trying to retort, but I pressed on. "Besides, didn't Jesus tell us to do our praying in the closet, and not publicly for peer approval? I prayed in my closet, before coming here. I've got to go. Got to get ready for work. Thanks for your concern." I was on bereavement leave at the time, but I needed to get away from him without causing a scene, and embarrassing my mom and sister's family. He just stared at me with a befuddled grin while I beat a hasty retreat.

Now that it's all over, I'm glad I was able to show my respect for my grandmother without offending anybody too much. At least they didn't pull an intervention on me this time. That's been tried before. I'll have to save that story for another time. I do run on.


Here's the elegy Grandma wrote for her mother-in-law, Great Grandma Lizzy Abagail Spooner.

GRANDMA'S GONE -- by Ruth E. Towle
(Sept. 7th 1972)

Is this a dream that I dreamed?
This rushing here and there
With many different things to do
attending Grandma's care

The many trips with plants and flowers
And letters, cards, and things
Have made the days of summer fly
on swift and silent wings

And now our Grandma's gone away
Up to her home above
To rest and praise her Saviour dear
for His eternal love

And I am glad that she's at rest
With loved ones gone before
And know that it will not be long
till we too reach that shore

But what an emptiness is left
That nothing can replace
Since we'll not hear her voice again
on earth, or see her face

But what is life? A testing place
And what of joy or sorrow?
We'll fill each moment as it comes
And trust Him for tomorrow


GRANDPA & ME -- by Richard C. Speaks

My Mother's dad
is wise with age
And he swears by every
Holy Page

His days are spent
lost in the past
He's ready for Gabriel's
trumpet blast

He's set his sights
on opal cloud
He sees death slowly
shrink his crowd

He preaches that the world
is plagued with sin
That Christian soldiers
must fight to win

With all my heart
I love the man
I just don't share
his pious plan

Blind faith through fear
I find insane
Still I bite my tongue
And hide my pain

He sees me as
a lamb astray
Doomed by pride

To him, I'm lost
in doubt's abyss
Unfit to share
in HEAVEN's bliss

My search for truth
is an uphill climb
To seek the reason
in the rhyme

To liberate my mind
from fear
And to learn that life
is brief, but dear

He loves me
though he finds me strange
For Grandpa's mind
will never change

My Mother's dad
is wise and kind
Perhaps, like faith
love must be blind

I miss you Grandpa.

R. I. P.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Were Jesus & John, The Baptist, Really Cousins? -- by Richard C. Speaks

Luke is the only gospel that claims John The Baptist (JTB) and JC (Jesus Christ) were cousins. Luke is also the only gospel to claim that JTB was born miraculously (1:5-25). The other Gospels did their best to downplay JTB, but Luke had done his homework. He had read every available history, so he knew that JTB was a big-deal to all of the historians, and JC wasn't. Each of the gospels make sure to hitch JC's ministry to JTB's, but JTB is merely a gateway prophet in each version. The opening act to a divine tragedy.

Luke decided to outdo the others by claiming that
JC and JTB were blood relatives. That's how Luke operated as a pseudo-biographer of JC and later of Paul. Where Matthew distorted OT prophecy to sell his story, Luke distorted history to add an authentic aroma to cover up that fishy odor. Fact and fiction are often combined that way even today. The Civil War was historic. Scarlet O'Hara wasn't. In a thousand years GONE WITH THE WIND might be thought to be a true story because of its authentic backdrop and references to historic persons. Just like the gospel of Luke and Acts are to believers. Luke was a historic novelist and didn't even know it!

When Mary went to tell her cousin, Elizabeth, about her own miraculous pregnancy according to Luke, the five month-old fetus of
leapt in her womb”, recognizing the hours-old fetus of JC within Mary (1:39-45). The funny thing is, they seemed to be unable to recognize each other afterwards in Luke's account. How novel of Luke! And nobody ever recognizes Superman when he puts on his specs and combs his hair back. Anything is possible in fiction. Even historic fiction.

Luke stated JTB was arrested (3:19,20) two verses before JC’s baptism (3:21,22)! Luke simply states that JC was baptized. There are no details given in the narrative. JC could have been dunked by one of JTB's acolytes according to Luke. No family reunion there.

Later, apparently from Herod’s dungeon, JTB learns about JC from his own disciples, and sends two of them to ask him if he was the Messiah (LUKE 7:18-30). JC sends them back to tell JTB that he was. I guess JTB forgot to ask, "S'up, cuz?"

JC goes on to talk to his disciples about how terrific JTB was. Not just a prophet. More than a prophet. Yet JTB had to send messengers. JC never mentions this alleged genetic link to JTB in Luke, or anyplace else. I think he would have brought it up at least once if Luke's claim was true. Wouldn't you?

The other three gospels show
JC and JTB meeting as strangers, and the gospel of John even used JTB’s own words to refute Luke's claim of a family tie between these holy men.

The next day he saw Jesus coming towards him and said, "Look, there is the lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. It was him that I said, ‘Behind me comes one who has passed ahead of me, because he existed before me,’ I did not know him myself, and yet my purpose in coming to baptize with water was so that he might be revealed to Israel.’ And John declared, ‘I saw the Spirit come down on him like a dove from heaven and rest on him. I did not know him myself, but he who sent me to baptize with water had said to me, "The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and rest is the one who is to baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that he is the Chosen One of God."
JOHN 1:29-34

Why did Luke make up such a lie? Was it because
JTB was historical and JC wasn't? Was it because they were both historical, but JTB used to be a much bigger draw in his time? JC had arrived on the scene at the end of JTB's career, much like Elisha had with Elijah. Was JC a JTB disciple before becoming the next Messianic hopeful? This possibility seemed to bother the gospel authors. That's why they put so many self-deprecating remarks about his own unworthiness into JTB's mouth; that he was there on earth at that time only to usher in the true Messiah. They were eager to get JTB out of the story as fast as they could. Except for Luke, who attempts to use JTB's fame to build up JC as JTB's equal pre-baptism, and his superior afterward.

Consider what Josephus had to say about the fallout after JTB's execution.

Now, some of the Jews thought that the destruction of Herod’s army came from God, and that very justly, as a punishment of what he did against John, that was called the Baptist; for Herod slew him, who was a good man, both as to righteousness towards one another, and piety towards God, and so to come to baptism; for that the washing (with water) would be acceptable to him, if they made use of it, not in order to the putting away, (or the remission) of some sins (only,) but for their purification of the body: supposing still that the soul was thoroughly purified beforehand by righteousness.

Now when (many) others came to crowd about him, for they were greatly moved (or pleased) by hearing his words, Herod, who feared lest the great influence John had over the people might put it into his power and inclination to raise a rebellion, (for they seemed ready to do anything he should advise,) thought it best, by putting him to death, to prevent any mischief he might cause, and not bring himself into difficulties, by sparing a man who might make him repent of it when it should be too late. Accordingly he was sent a prisoner, out of Herod’s suspicious temper, to Macherus, the castle I before mentioned, and was there put to death.

Now the Jews had an opinion that the destruction of this army was sent as a punishment upon Herod, and a mark of God’s displeasure against him.


Yes. JTB was very big news in his day. He wasn't a Christian, and had no desire to invent his own religion. He was a devout Jew. His followers came to him for purification, not conversion. 

The gospel writers needed to bring JC out from under JTB's shadow, but they couldn't omit him, so they reduced JTB to the role of a mere torch-passer. Kind'a like Obi Wan Kenobi was in Star Wars.

Just like Muhammad tried to do with JC about 600 years later. According to Muhammad, JC had only come to serve Allah, and to foretell the coming of a greater prophet (himself) and the real true faith (Islam, of course). At least until the coming of Joseph Smith, the Rev. Moon, Jim Jones, David Karesh, and a host of other false prophets and control freaks who continue to find lost sheep in search of somebody to tell them how to live their lives for them. Sheep aren't known for their smarts.

And (remember) when Isa (Jesus), the son of Maryam (Mary), said: “O Children of Israel! I am a messenger of Allah (sent) to you, reaffirming Taurat (the Torah, that came) before me, and giving the good news of a Messenger (reference to the Prophet Muhammad) to come after me, whose name shall be Ahmad.But when he (the Prophet) came to them with clear proofs, they said, “This is clearly magic (aimed at deception)!”
SURA 61:6

Don't bother looking for this "prophecy" of JC's outside the Quran. We're just gonna have to take Muhammad's word that JC actually said what he said he said. I guess we've got to have faith in the Prophet's truthfulness in order to buy this specious quotation attributed to the son of man by the founder of the rival faith. It's so easy to put your own words into the mouth of a dead man. Shakespeare did it all the time. At least he wasn't trying to deceive anybody into abandoning their families, giving away all they owned, and following him around like a bunch of lemmings!
It's just like Aesop's fable about the emperor's new clothes. He only appeared to be naked to those lacking in faith.
Lies beget more lies. And all lies are called the truth. Faith can fool you into believing practically anything, if you want it to bad enough. What's really the truth? Open your eyes, and your mind first. Think for yourself. Go figure.
 Happy April Fools Day, dear readers! The joke's on all of us!


5 Question Challenge to Muslims