God has a Sense of Humour – a Personal Non-inspirational Appraisal.
‘His’ unconventional relationship with Jehovah jelled during the Christmas Season of 1952:
At this time, ‘he’ was serving His Brittanic Majesty as a sergeant of the sovereign’s Middle East Land Forces guarding the Suez Canal against potential Egyptian Nationalistic interference. Whilst ‘he’ was in the area, ‘he’ decided to take local leave for a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. ‘His’ tent-mate, of Jewish extraction, decided to accompany ‘him’ – The ‘Wailing Wall’ was as much an attraction as the ‘Via Dolorosa’.
However …Two days before ‘their’ intended departure, the Royal Army Intelligence Corps reported that there was ‘severe unrest’ in the partitioned City of Peace – the Israelis were lobbing mortar-shells into the Old City, and the Palestinians were firing machine guns into the New City, all on a nightly basis.
Such an announcement sounds familiar even fifty years later; and this was and still is ‘The Holy Land.
That’s not thunder you’re hearing, it’s the rumble of laughter emanating from ‘somewhere or other’.
Anyway, tent-mate Paul, or maybe Saul, made the following declaration:
“Twenty odd years ago, without my consent, some Rabbi, in the name of religion, and armed with a sharp knife, removed a portion of my body. I’m damned if I’ll risk another slice off my sanctified anatomy in 1952!”
The other tent-mate, who was me: ‘22596176 Sergeant Oldham Gerald M. of the Royal Army Education Corps, sir,’ decided to stay the course, and headed towards Port Suez en route to Aqaba, Maan, Amaan, Jericho and Jerusalem.
Paul, or maybe Saul, made a ‘bee-sting’ line for the flesh-pots of Cyprus.
When the tent-mates were reunited on a medical line-up in Fayid, Canal Zone, Egypt about a month later, I was suffering from blisters on my feet. Paul, or maybe Saul, was, afflicted with blisters on quite a different part of his careless carcass. As had ‘Old Testament Job’, Paul, or maybe Saul, had to suffer many debilitating and humiliating tribulations: painful penicillin injections: and ‘military charges’ concerning ‘self-inflicted wounds’.
It was a classical case of ‘protesting too much’, and only a very powerful prankster could have ‘rigged’ that game. Later, when I awoke one dream-filled night, I found that I was laughing my socks off, and sounds of deep, patriarchal-type, mirth were also echoing around the tent..
Thus began my comedic relationship with Jehovah – I give him the Judaic title in remembrance of Paul, or maybe Saul. I have already mentioned that the rapport established in 1953 was a ‘jelling’ process resulting from the pilgrimage to Jerusalem ‘Pilgrimage’. Well, the ‘blisters’ incident was only the last ‘stand-up’ event of that memorable journey:
I had crossed over Jordan and saw … nothing!
I had seen Roman Catholic priests and Greek Orthodox Priests ‘fisting it out’ in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, as they have continued to do into the 21st Century
I had found that ‘Gehenna’ or ‘Hell’ was the Jerusalem City Dump, and that heaps of refuse were continuously smouldering, ready to burst into flame in preparation to receive you … or you … or even you!
I had wondered who would be the ‘Winner’ in the Quiz Show to identify Christ’s Tomb. Would it be ‘The Traditionalists’ or ‘The Archaeologists’?
It was, and is, a moot point, because Christ survived the grave.
I had also learned that at sometime in the past, Christians had blocked up the entrance to the Church of the Nativity to stop Moslems riding their defecating horses inside the building. Nonetheless, the ‘Divine Comedy’ continued to play as it does today, with or without the guiding commentary of Dante or Virgil.
At this point, Jehovah and I started laughing for real, and we have been laughing ever since. The beginning of our ‘beautiful relationship’ was not in Casablanca but in Jerusalem, deep in the heart of the Muddle (sorry) Middle East, where a varied assortment of ‘religions’ play out their scenarios!
Please don’t get me wrong, some previous remarks may be classed as facetious, but, they were not designed to be either atheistic or even agnostic. My straight-faced declaration is, as follows:
I believe in One God, Creator of this Universe; and, in particular, the Creator of Me, formed in His own image. I’m too conceited to consider myself to be a freakish mishap of a man-named entity called ‘Nature’.
The only rational and positive proof of God’s existence that has any meaning to me is contained in the ‘honest’ answer to the following question:
How can anyone capable of logical reasoning consider that a complex order of auto-reproductive, auto-repairing biological, machines, who inhabit a suitably designed planet and conform to a multitude of scientific ‘laws’, ‘just happen’, like a tribe of Topsies?
In addition, I also believe that God sent a ‘wake-up call’ to this world about two thousand years ago in the form of Jesus the Christ, and to emphasize His message He ‘allowed’ His ‘Messenger/Son’ to be executed. Then, to further underline His Power of Creation, He raised His Son from the Dead. All good teachers undertake revisionary exercises, especially for ‘dumb’ students; and all ‘passing-grade-disciples’ become ‘Sons of God.
‘Religions’ are what I don’t believe in. They are organizations of men trying to create God in Man’s own image.
In other words: I am Christian. Period.
I never checked with my Mother, but I’m sure that I wasn’t born twice; and although I respect the Pope, the Archbishop of Canterbury and John Wesley, I don’t consider them to be infallible. The Sabbath can be any day of the week, as far as I am concerned; and I won’t even confess to my wife – it’s against my philosophy, and, in addition, the aftermath could be detrimental to my health. Jesus Christ never visited South America – ‘vanishing’ golden tablets cannot compete with the gospels of Mathew, Mark, Luke and John.
There are many more ‘religions’ literally ‘knocking about’: Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Bahai, Zoroastrianism, Chinese Traditional and Tribal Traditional. Each of them, at some time in their history has been moved to forcefully convert other humans to its way of identifying a Deity and worshipping that Deity.
In fact, ‘religion’ and ‘worship’ parade themselves ‘hand-in-hand’, something like ‘Heavenly Twins’:
Within Christianity, Islam and Judaism there are a bunch of different sects; and the adherents of each dominant group have been burning, crucifying and stoning any Christian, Moslem and Jew, who does not conform to their way of thinking.– Crusades, jihads, pogroms and holocausts have punished heretics, past, present and undoubtedly into the future .
Christianity is mainly composed of Roman Catholics and Protestants i.e. those ‘protesting’ against the rule of Rome. In turn, each faction has treated the other with exceeding cruelty– Inquisitions, burning at the stake, etc.
Islamic Shiites are not too fond of Islamic Sunnis – in Iraq, they are now fighting each other over electing a Government.
Orthodox and Non-Orthodox Jews abhor inter-marriage between the young people of their communities, never mind Christians or Moslems.
Nevertheless, the vast majority of human worshippers, no matter their religious or devotional affiliations, believe that there is only ‘one, true God’, and that each of them has the ‘inside track’ to this ‘one, true God’.
This world is in a mess, and you have to either cry or laugh …
Okay, so let’s get back to the ‘laughing’; I’m not trying to run a comparative study of religions. This morning, CNN started me off on my humour harangue:
The News Channel reported that a Moslem Lady Recruiter for Al-Qaeda was calling herself ‘Jihad Jane’. I could have written that she had ‘christened’ herself ‘Jihad Jane’, but that would have been stretching things a bit too far. Hey Lord?
Despite some earlier protestations, I admit to a leaning towards the Anglican/Church of England/ Episcopalian form of Christianity. My explanation for this condition is two-fold:
One: The power of indoctrination, i.e. my Mother made me go to Church, and ‘convinced’ me to become a choir-boy and later an acolyte.
Let’s face it, who can resist the persuasive power of a Mother? Obviously, the ‘friendly persuasion’ didn’t stick too well – as soon as I left home, my thinking ‘freed up’. Although, in the long-run, my sub-conscious betrayed me, and in my latter years I have partially returned to a Christian Flock – physically, if not philosophically:
Two: There is the magnetic power of feeling ‘comfortable’ inside an Anglican Church; i.e. on occasion, I can occupy a Family Pew in an Episcopalian Church of Eleuthera, a lush tropical Island of the Bahamas and smell the incense – I love incense.
I can look through a picture-window at the ‘Cathedral’ of Rock Sound Bay, and have a quiet chat with Jehovah, whilst the familiar, fond ritual of the Mass and Father’s Sermon wash over me. The Lord and I can even have a quiet laugh, because Father always includes a little vernacular joke in each weekly edition of the Parish Magazine.
Let me tell you:
“A couple of weeks ago, at the beginning of Sunday Mass, Satan marched into Saint Luke’s Church.
He swaggered down the aisle, a-swishing his tail, breathing fire and brimstone left, right and centre and roaring fit to bust. Sunday hats went flying through the windows, and the congregation plus the catechist, vanished through the sacristy and out onto the Green Castle Road, heading for Bannerman Town.
Only one little old man was left. He was sitting nice, quiet and minding his own business, in the middle of the front pew.
When the Devil saw such unconcern, he was kinda peeved. He plonked himself down by the side of the little old man, yanked him round with one vicious, wicked claw, looked him straight in the eye and yelled in a nasty screechy voice:
The little old man took a lot of no notice, and just stared back.
After a couple of minutes of eye-balling each other, the little old man spoke up:
‘Get thee behind me, Mister Satan! If you think you’re putting a scare in me, you’ve got another think coming!
You an’ your rig-up ‘re nothing to write home about. Let me tell you, Bro’ ..
I been married to your big sister for the last fifty years!’ “
It was at about this time that Jehovah and I decided:
“Father just might be ‘one of we’ “.
I go to Church on Feast Days and on one Sunday out of five. It pleases my wife, and keeps my sons, their spouses and the grand-children in line. I have tried to explain myself to others, as I have been doing here in the last few hundred words or so; but only Jehovah can appreciate that I could just as easily be an avant-garde Jew, Moslem, Hindu or Buddhist, as I am a ‘before-my-time’ Christian.
I hold my ‘real’ Church out in the back-yard; where I talk, not grovel, to Jehovah. I can’t see Him, but sometimes, I can feel a ‘hand’ giving me some extra power, as I slash the bush or push the lawn-mower.
I’m sure he’s with me right now, as I tap the key-board of my PC.
Yesterday, I went a little further into the bush than I usually do. I stretched off under a shady tree, took a small swig of home-made guava rum to keep arthritis away, and maybe, I even had a little snooze. When I emerged from the wilderness, my wife asked me if I’d heard the cackling of two gaulen-birds. I pretended to be deaf, because I knew those two ‘gaulen-birds’ were me and Jehovah cracking a couple of jokes.
God is omnipotent; God is omniscient; God is omnipresent; and my God also has a sense of humour to deal with us humans. It was no accident that Hollywood cast that ‘dry’ comedian, George Burns to play His part; and then for the actor to live a very full century of life, as a reward.
I know; He told me so.