August 21, 2016

Can We Connect With a Personal God?

For educated 21st century Christians, the image of God as a nice old man with a long flowing white beard is charming mythology. We believe this cannot possibly be true. But then, this raises a question: how should we characterize God?  What does he look like? If he doesn’t sit upon a cloud high above us, then where is he?

And perhaps the most important question of all: are we able –each one of us – to have a personal God?

Unfortunately, our human concept of a Christian God has not changed much in almost 2000 years. Jesus wisely framed our understanding of God in terms we could understand circa 2030 AD. Jesus clearly believed in a personal connection with the God He knew and loved. He encourages us to embrace our own personal relationship with God, either though Him or through sincere prayer and sensitive states of consciousness. But how do we make this connection?

Fortunately, 21st century scientific knowledge, philosophical concepts, and enlightened theology do give us the clues we seek. We need to sort through all the available information in order to develop a consistent and logical answer to the questions raise in the first paragraph of this essay.

As I proposed in Summa 21, God the Holy Spirit (the spiritual force that is consciousness) exists in another dimension of our universe. That means God is everywhere, surrounding us at all times with compassion, love, and the energy of life. The more open we are to God, the closer we get to the moral life-force that exists throughout the Cosmos.

All over our planet there are persons who use meditation as a means of connecting with the universal consciousness of the Cosmos. They become aware of a higher level of spiritual being. However it may be expressed, Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist, and Christian theology all support the reality of this connection. For some, a connection with a higher consciousness (or higher plane) is a sufficiently rewarding spiritual experience. But for many of us, we yearn for a one on one connection with God.

And we can. Does it not seem logical that if God is powerful enough to create heaven, earth and living creatures, then God is also able to manifest Himself in the form of a familiar person? Universal consciousness becomes human by linking with our core consciousness (or inner being) though the process of quantum entanglement. We are usually unaware of any activity within the core of our conscious self because these processes occur within the neuron (rather than between cells). For some observers, quantum theory suggests we may have a profound spiritual connection with the universe at this level of consciousness. If so, it is the link to our most powerful sense of the beautiful, the majestic, and the noble.

The separation between the dimensions of our familiar universe, and the dimension within which The Holy Spirit dwells, is but a very thin veil in the space time continuum. If we are willing to look, The Holy Trinity (or God, if you prefer) can be discovered through introspection and communication with God as the Holy Spirit. If we make an honest, sincere and humble attempt to seek God, He will listen and counsel. We will discover God is love, as He has taught us through the words of Jesus Christ, and is ready to engage with us on a very personal level. As taught by Jesus, we are able to connect with The Holy Trinity (God), through sincere prayer and sensitive states of consciousness.

Ron

July 30, 2016

Reality

Let’s start with a fundamental concept. Reality is (sometimes) unpopular. We may not like the reality of our existence. We may choose to ignore reality because it does not support our self-image or beliefs. Our perception of reality is likely to be influenced by multiple factors including – among other things - the physical condition of our five senses, our psychological state at the time of our observation, how past experience manipulates our interpretation of the present.

Reality, it would seem, is subject to interpretation.

We thus have a subjective reality that is perceived as a true representation of our personal physical universe. In addition, there are degrees of reality. There is anything we can imagine; there is everything we can observe; and there is the immediate environment which demands our attention. These realities are all simultaneously present in our personal consciousness.

If you and I exist in the same space time reality, then our perception of reality is framed by the same laws of physics. If however, we do not share the same space time reality, then your observations will be different from mine. If we are in the same universe, our experiences will be bound by the same laws of physics. If however, you move into another universe, then your experiences will be governed by the laws of physics of that exist in your new universe. Those laws may, or may not, be the same as those of the universe you left.

Let us look at this from a different perspective. What it is like to be a dog cannot be fully understood by a human because a dog’s experience can only be fully understood from a dog’s point of view. In like fashion, what I experience can only be understood from my point of view, and even though you are near me in space-time, your experience can only be understood from your point of view.

Reality is relative – and it is subject to personal interpretation.
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July 23, 2016

Abraham

Judaism, Christianity and Islam are called Abrahamic faiths because all three religions trace their roots back to Abraham (a father of many nations).  The story of Abraham includes his two sons Ishmael and Isaac, who also play important roles in the founding of these faiths. It is likely Abraham’s narrative is a literary construct that does not relate to any period in actual history.

In Jewish tradition, Abraham (Abram) was born about 1800 BC and is regarded as the patriarch who established the Covenant (contract) between the Jewish people and God.  He is regarded as both the biological progenitor of the Jews (the first Jew), and the father of Judaism.

Abraham is often mentioned in the Qur’an. He is called a monotheist (believes there is only one God), a Muslim (one who submits to God), a patriarch, and a prophet. Mohamed depicts Abraham as the perfect Muslim. In Islamic tradition, Isaac is revered as a prophet of Islam, and the father of the Israelite's. Abraham’s oldest son Ishmael is regarded as the ancestor of the Arabs. Abraham and Ishmael journeyed to Mecca to build Islam’s Holy shrine the Kaaba, and Ishmael, along with his mother Hagar are thought to be buried next to the shrine. The Qur'an commands Muslims to believe in the revelations given to "Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob and the Patriarchs".

For Christians, Jesus is the Messiah who brings God’s message to humanity. Abraham is recognized as the first person to believe in a single powerful God (monotheism), and his son Isaac links Abraham to Christian tradition. The divinity of Jesus is a key construct of Christian theology that separates Judaism and Islam from Christianity. In Judaism and Islam, Jesus is not regarded as being divine and is only seen as one of many prophets.  

Judaism holds that one becomes a descendant of Abraham through birth. Christians theoretically believe one becomes a descendant of Abraham through faith. Islam holds that one becomes a descendant of Abraham through both birth and faith. Because Islam draws much of its tradition from the Old Testament, many of its beliefs are similar to those found in Jewish literature.
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June 30, 2016

Abortion is Now a Form of Birth Control

Democrats have gotten what they wanted. Thanks to the Supreme Court, abortions are now classified as a legal procedure, any time, any place, and by anyone who wants to play doctor.

Is this really about woman’s health? What the Supreme Court has done is to permit abortions to take place in a facility that is unsupervised by public health, may not be sterile, may not have the equipment necessary to complete a difficult procedure, may not have trained staff, and may not understand emergency procedures: (forget dialing 911, that would look bad for the “clinic” and hurt business).

Anyone with a rusty coat hanger can play doctor. Good luck with that.....

Democrats say this is about “women’s rights”. Nonsense, this is about killing a baby because birthing is just too darn inconvenient. Liberal women want the right to kill a baby, but they do not want to be responsible for getting pregnant. Women’s rights now include wanton sexual freedom without any constraint on irresponsible behavior.

With Hillary Clinton’s full support, the democrats have included abortion as a form of birth control in the 2016 democratic party platform. For them, it is just as moral as removing a wart, trimming nose hair, or filing a nail. A baby, after all, is just a collection of unwanted tissue. The DNC platform calls for the removal of ALL restrictions on abortion, including the gruesome procedure of late term abortion - slicing up a baby so its parts can be removed from the womb. One bloody piece at a time. (Reference)

Of course we want abortion to be available for medically risky pregnancies, or where birthing would endanger a woman’s life. Local cultural preferences may also encourage abortion where the woman is a victim of incest or rape. These are tough moral choices which should be made on a case by case basis. 

And most women understand “a woman’s right to choose” must necessarily include being responsible for each choice a woman makes. Right infers personal responsibility. We frequently hear that inference from women who value Christianity and women who take pride in their independence.

But the democrats intend to encourage unfettered use of abortion as a form of birth control. They apparently believe human life has no value until it is able to walk.
...

Reference 1:
The proposed Democratic platform completely ignores the rights of a fetus. Under this statement of intent, abortion can be performed at any time during a pregnancy, even during birth. 

From the Democratic Platform:

***DRAFT

DELIBERATIVE AND PREDECISIONAL***
Version July 1, 2016

Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice

Democrats are committed to protecting and advancing reproductive health, rights, and justice. We believe unequivocally that every woman should have access to quality reproductive health care services, including safe and legal abortion—regardless of where she lives, how much money she makes, or how she is insured. (Anytime, anywhere, by anyone who is “legally entitled” to perform “safe” abortions.)

We believe that reproductive health is core to women’s, men’s, and young people’s health and well-being. We will continue to stand up to Republican efforts to defund Planned Parenthood health centers, which provide critical health services to millions of people. We will continue to oppose—and seek to overturn—federal and state laws and policies that impede a woman’s access to abortion, including by repealing the Hyde Amendment. (It is unclear when a baby, even after it has been born, receives the protection of law. Given what some democrats have previously expressed, this omission is deliberate. It gives a mother the right to murder (sorry: abort) her baby if she decides she doesn’t like it at any time - even after it has been born. This raises a question: if the democrats have no intention of protecting a baby from harm, at what age does a child receive the protection of law?)  

We need to defend the ACA, which extends affordable preventive health care to women, including no-cost contraception, and prohibits discrimination in health care based on gender.

We will address the barriers that inhibit meaningful access to reproductive health care services, including those based on gender, sexuality, race, income, and other factors. We recognize that quality, affordable comprehensive health care, evidence based sex education, and a full range of family planning services help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and thereby also reduce the need for abortions.

And we strongly and unequivocally support a woman’s decision to have a child, including by ensuring a safe and healthy pregnancy and childbirth, and by providing services during pregnancy and after the birth of a child, including adoption and social support services. (Nice afterthought.)

Reference 2: 
For example: Kermit Gosnell’s abortion “clinic” is described by Conor Friedersdorf in The Atlantic (April 2013). (Paraphrase) “It was a house of horrors: blood, urine, trash and filth everywhere, unsterilized equipment, untrained personnel administering anesthesia. At least two patients died. Gosnell repeatedly violated Pennsylvania's laws against aborting babies after they were medically viable. Gosnell often made sure they were dead by cutting their spinal cords with scissors. Bloody remains were stored "in bags, milk jugs, orange juice cartons, and even in cat-food containers."

Reference 3:
As for our courts: “admitting-privileges and ... surgical-center requirements place a substantial obstacle in the path of women seeking ... abortion, constitute an undue burden on abortion access, and thus violate the Constitution.” - Justice Breyer
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April 24, 2016

Stephen Hawking, Black Holes, Another Universe, and Creation

Many years ago I concluded the “Big Bang” theory of creation never happened because it was illogical. The idea our universe with all its matter, anti-matter, energy, dark matter, and dark energy came from a singularity (sometimes described as a highly dense ball of “stuff”) just does not appear to be plausible. While doing the cosmology research for Summa 21, it also became apparent there is a conflict between the theories of Quantum Science and the Standard Model of physics. The theories of Quantum Science suggest the existence of multiple universes, the nature of which we do not understand. In addition, although there is a divergence between western and eastern interpretations of spiritual reality, both eastern and western theologies assume the existence of alternative states of being, perhaps in “another place”, without giving much thought as to where they are located.

It would appear all of these phenomena are interrelated. Although we need to leave the Quantum Science versus Standard Model challenges to further scientific investigation, a sudden inspiration answered the question of creation. Our universe came from another universe. My conclusions are discussed in Summa 21.

For the purposes of this article it is sufficient to recognize there are - apparently - many theologians, scientists, and philosophers who are headed in the same direction. Although a consensus is several years away (and may never happen because we humans are habitually contentious), the role of Black Holes in the formation of multiple universes is an intriguing area of study.

Enter Physicist Stephen Hawking.

Physicist Stephen Hawking says black holes do not conserve physical information. Only their mass, angular momentum and electrical charge are retained. “Apart from these three properties, the black hole preserves no other details of the object that collapsed...  For example, the final black hole state is independent of whether the body that collapsed was composed of matter or antimatter, or whether it was spherical or highly irregular.”

Black holes discharge particles, gradually lose mass, reduce in size and disappear. “What happens to all the particles that fell into the black hole?” Hawking asked. “They can’t just emerge when the black hole disappears. The particles that come out of a black hole seem to be completely random and bear no relation to what fell in. It appears that the information about what fell in is lost, apart from the total amount of mass and the amount of rotation. “Hawking said it’s possible that black holes could be as massive as the distance from the sun to Jupiter (about a billion miles) or any size down to the mass of a mountain.

“It might seem that it wouldn’t matter very much if we couldn’t predict what comes out of black holes...  but it’s a matter of principle. If determinism — the predictability of the universe — breaks down in black holes....”

Thus black holes remain an enigma. Black holes are thought to form when a massive star exhausts its nuclear fuel and collapses under its own gravity. Though light and matter can’t escape from them into our known physical universe, there may be a portal into another universe. “Black holes aren’t the eternal prisons they were once thought,” Hawking said. “Things can get out of a black hole, both from the outside and possibly though another universe.” He no longer believes that the contents of that matter are destroyed.
....
Stephen William Hawking CH, CBE, FRS, FRSA is a highly respected English theoretical physicist, cosmologist, author and Director of Research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology within the University of Cambridge.

......
The Black Hole Creation Hypothesis

Theories of multiple universes, multiple dimensions, and energy in forms we have yet to recognize (let alone understand) pose an interesting challenge. Can they be linked to explain the origins of our perceived physical universe? The answer is yes. Quantum theory and the Multiverse Hypothesis suggest there is more than one universe in our Cosmos. We need only add one more observed phenomenon:

- Black holes.

Our black hole creation hypothesis starts with the probability there are multiple universes in the Cosmos. Each one is unique in time and space. Then we add contemporary astronomical observation.

Cosmologists have observed “Black Holes” in the universe whose gravitational pull is so strong that even light cannot escape being pulled down into a seemingly limitless vortex. But where do the black holes go? Do they eject the accumulated energy, light, and matter back into our universe? Or do they create a new singularity in another universe? Is it possible there are “white” holes at the opposite end of (some) black holes? Could they be the physical counterpart of (some) black holes? Does the stuff of a universe travel through the vortex of a black hole and reemerge into a different universe? If white holes exist as opposite ends of some black holes, then more than one physical universe is possible.

Will science reject the possibility our universe was created when an incredibly large black hole developed in another universe? Did all the original source material for our universe come from another universe? A white hole that expels into a different universe would need a huge source of “stuff” from the parent universe, and the transfer would take millions of years. In addition, a source black hole may be unstable. Is it not logical the white hole from whence our universe came eventually collapsed and disappeared? Or is it out there, waiting to be discovered?

It would appear this is a better explanation of the sequence of subsequent events and the huge volume of “material” that constitutes our perceived universe. It would also appear current scientific theories about gravity and light, the fundamental building blocks of matter, and the characteristics of energy we have developed would not need “drastic” alteration. Only the source of the “big bang” is different. Furthermore, in another dimension, the speed of light may not be a limitation of distance traveled per unit of time, and the laws that govern how things work may also be different. That means the “genetic” makeup of the original flow from another universe could have been quite different from its evolved current state in our perceived universe.

The creation, expansion, function, and collapse of black and white holes appear to be a natural and continuing process of our Cosmos. These cosmological events may occur in many different universes.

As difficult as it is for western intellectual philosophy to understand,
this process of creation and destruction also suggests time has no beginning or end.

There was no “beginning” in the sense the “stuff” of our universe never existed before creation. It was simply located in another universe. Our universe was created by a black hole “event” which transferred matter and energy into our universe from a different universe. We may not understand all the mechanics, but the process of discovery promises to be exciting.

Is it possible that during this century, science will confirm the existence of multiple universes? In order to discuss the beginning of our universe, do we need a theory which combines General Relativity with quantum theory? Will the role of black holes in the process of creation and destruction of individual universes become a challenge for future scientific study?

This hypothesis is certain to be the genesis of many thoughtful discussions (and occasionally rancorous debates).

Ron
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April 12, 2016

I Was in Heaven

The frosty chill of a New England Winter stung my cheeks as I left the drug store and turned right to walk up Central Avenue toward the railroad tracks. The last rays of the afternoon sun struggled to brighten a disappearing blue sky. At street level, it was already night. My way was guided by the dancing lights of store signs, show case windows, and street lamps.

The delightful aroma of the precious paper package so carefully snuggled in my mittens promised moments of savory delight. As I approached the tracks, the railroad crossing alarm bell sounded and the gates slowly came down. A train was coming! I walked quickly to the gates and looked south past the station. And there it was, the headlamp of a steam locomotive pierced the darkness, coming right at me, the glare of its powerful beam seemed ominous as it rumbled closer and closer. Puffs of smoke and clouds of steam filled the air. I quickly crossed Central Avenue and looked down the tracks from the gate keeper’s little shack. The noisy clang, clang, clang of the locomotive’s bell combined with the hiss of steam as the train drew closer, and closer. Billows of steam blew out across the tracks as the brakes were applied. Then, with a moan of steel on steel, the big steam locomotive came to a stop, not more than 10 feet away.

It was a thrilling experience. Steam locomotives have always fascinated me. One wonders how all those pieces of iron and steel somehow work together. The gate man raised the crossing gates so traffic could proceed on Central Avenue. After a few more puffs of steam the great engine settled down. It appeared to be taking a rest, quietly sending little jets of steam into the air, and occasionally making gentle chung, chung sounds. The 2-6 Mogul steam locomotive was pulling 6 baggage and passenger cars. I slowly walked from the front of the locomotive to its tender, carefully examining every inch; running gear, steam pump, compressors, cylinders, rods, drivers, pipes, valves, boiler; the works. The six big driving wheels were taller than I could stand, even on my tiptoes. I took off a mitten and began to unroll the top of the warm bag I was carrying. The sweet buttery aroma .....

But wait. I am way ahead of myself. This story actually began some 24 hours earlier when a snow storm swept over New England. It left maybe 5 inches of light powder on our town. That meant opportunity. The lady on the next block would want me to clear her front walk and back porch steps. For real money. It was a simple job. No big deal. But I was glad to have the work. When I turned 12, my father made it very clear: if I wanted any spending money, I would have to earn it. And so by 8 o’clock in the morning I was busy clearing off the snow. When she came to the door to pay me, I had a sudden inspiration. Instead of paying me in cash, could I come down to her Rexall Drug store and receive my reward in nuts? Not just any nuts, mind you. These were hot, roasted, buttery, salted beauties: pecans, cashews, walnuts, almonds, and even the big Brazil nuts. My mouth watered at the thought of having a delicious treat. Taken back with surprise at first, she smiled and agreed. She would be minding the store late that afternoon. Could I come then?

Sure thing.

Just as dusk was descending I entered the store - and there it was, right in front of me; the hot glass display case with its rows of nuts, popcorn and other goodies. The smell of hot buttery nuts swirled around me, tempting my senses with delicious promise. I saw nothing else. All of the other display cases in the store were nothing but a blur. I agonized for the woman to see me. After what seemed an eternity, she came to the case and opened the rear door. She smiled as she ladled a few choice nuts from each bin into a small paper bag. When she handed the bag to me, I peered into it. Which treat would I eat first? I thanked her for being so nice, and turned to leave the store.

The station porter had pulled and pushed a rumbling station wagon to the baggage car door. There was much scurrying about as the bags were sorted and loaded. Sounds of sorrow could be heard from people who were saying goodbye to departing loved ones. Sounds of excitement filled the air as friends and relatives greeted arriving passengers. One little girl squealed in delight: “grandma, look at what we got in Boston!”

Carefully opening the bag, I took out my first warm buttery treat. I would slowly eat each nut, one at a time, extending my happiness for as long as possible. Then a steam safety valve at the top of the engine blew open with an incredibly loud hissing sound. It was more than I could stand, so I backed away from the engine to the gatekeeper’s shack. He grinned at me, and then motioned for me to stand away from the gate. To my surprise, he began to lower the crossing gates again. Puzzled, I walked around the shack so I could see down the tracks. And there it was. Another bright light pierced the darkness, more puffs of smoke and steam, and another ominous rumble of steel on steel as a second steam engine pulled into the station. It pulled up exactly side by side with the first engine. After it stopped, the gatekeeper raised the gates and I crossed the tracks to look at the front of second steam engine. It was obviously larger, much shinier even in the faint light of the station lamps, and appeared more important. The gatekeeper called out to me: “That’s the express. Passengers from the local going on to Portland will transfer to the express and passengers from the express going to a local stop between here and Portland will get on the local”.

And so it was. I positioned myself between the two locomotives (not very safe - please don’t tell my father) to watch the activity. Conductors laid steel ramps down to connect the doorways of both trains. Passengers began to scurry from one train to the other. The baggage porters tossed or carried bags from the local’s baggage car to the express baggage car, and then vice versa. It was all very hurried, but also very efficient. I stood in amazement, looking at these two steam locomotives, mesmerized by all the activity, and thrilled by being so close to two steam locomotives at the same time.

Cold night air nipped at my fingers, chilled my skinny legs, and frosted my face. But as for my thin torso... my sweater and heavy coat were so warm I was actually steamy damp with sweat from my neck to my hips. So there I was, standing between these two big steam locomotives, half freezing cold and half steamy warm, savoring my warm buttery nuts one by one as I watched the activity.

I was in heaven.

The conductors called out for any stragglers, picked up the steel plates that linked the doorways of the two trains, and closed the passenger car doors. The gatekeeper called out for me to come back to the gatehouse. He brought the gates down again, but neither train moved. The shrill whistle of another steam locomotive filled the air. Looking north, a third passenger train thundered across Central Avenue and into the station. It slowed to a stop, leaving just enough room behind the last car so that people could use the sidewalk. Three trains in the station at the same time! My joy was unconstrained. Then steam hissed out of the cylinders of the express locomotive and it began to ease forward.  It was a powerful 4-6-2 Pacific class steam locomotive which quickly picked up speed, effortlessly pulling seven cars by me. The train soon disappeared around the bend, accompanied by the fading clickity clak of the passenger car wheels passing over track joints. Again the gates went up. The friendly gateman called out to me: “The local will leave as soon as the block clears.”

We waited for maybe four minutes for the red block lamp to change to yellow. With that the local’s conductor called out the familiar “all aboard” and the engineer opened the throttle. The local eased out of the station blowing steam from the cylinders and black smoke from the stack. It was equally effortless, but somehow the local seemed to have less authority than the express. After it chuffed its way down the track and around the bend, the station seemed to be eerily quiet. The gatekeeper raised the gates and traffic again began to flow on Central Avenue. Standing there for a brief moment; cold feet, legs, face, and ears; warm moist body; I took one last delicious buttery nut from the bag.

Wistfully, I looked at the south bound passenger train. I could have walked down the station platform to look at the steam locomotive, but it was time to head home. I reluctantly began the long cold walk up Central Avenue, my shoes making a crunch crunch sound as I carefully picked my way over treacherous gray ice and snow covered sidewalks, and past piles of snow covered with soot.

The thrill of seeing these three steam locomotives circulated in my imagination over and over again. 

For this skinny kid, it had been a supreme event of absolute joy. For a few brief moments, I had lived in heaven.


Ron

PS: As this story suggests, our experience of heaven is less likely to be physical, and more likely to be spiritual. Although I was aware of physical reality, it was the emotional content of a conscious experience that captivated my awareness.
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March 27, 2016

And What is the Result?


Suicide bomber targeting Christians kills 72
3/27/2016

A suicide bomber killed at least 72 people, mostly women and children, at a park in Lahore on Easter Sunday.  More than 300 other people were wounded. The explosion occurred in the parking area of Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park close to children's swings. The park is a popular site for members of Lahore's Christian community, many of whom had gone there to celebrate the Easter weekend holiday. "When the blast occurred, the flames were so high they reached above the trees and I saw bodies flying in the air," said Hasan Imran, 30, a resident who had gone to the park for a walk. Body parts were strewn across the parking lot. 

“We were just here to have a nice evening and enjoy the weather," Nasreen Bibi said at the Hospital, crying as she waited for doctors to determine the condition of her two-year-old injured daughter. What kind of people target little children in a park?"

The Pakistani Taliban Muslim faction Jamaat-ul-Ahrar claimed responsibility. "The target was Christians," a spokesman for the faction, Ehsanullah Ehsan, said.

...........

Why do some of our political leaders make up excuses for Muslim violence? There were 452 suicide terror attacks in the world last year and 450 were committed by Muslims. Immediately some clueless elected official insults our intelligence by stating this latest evil act is not representative of all Muslims. Lost in this reasoning is the fact that no one has been murdering innocent women and children in the name of “Jesus” or “Moses” or “Buddha.” Muslim attacks are frequently accompanied by a screaming testament “Allah Akbar”; the last words of a person who is committing a murderous act in the name of Islam.

It has become fashionable among liberal elites to claim only a small minority of Muslims commit acts of violence. Why are they defending people who think women’s rights, democracy and freedom are garbage? Why do they defend the murder of women and children? And why do they refuse to defend Christians?

Lost in this cacophony of ignorance is a simple truth: Christianity teaches us to love; Islam encourages us to hate.

And what is the result?


TCE

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March 01, 2016

Cheyenne

People send me the greatest stories....

Ron


"Watch out! You nearly broad sided that car!" My father yelled at me.  "Can't you do anything right?" Those words hurt worse than blows. I turned my head toward the elderly man in the seat beside me, daring me to challenge him. A lump rose in my throat as I averted my eyes. I wasn't prepared for another battle.  

"I saw the car, ... Dad. Please don't yell at me when I'm driving."  

My voice was measured and steady, sounding far calmer than I really felt.  

Dad glared at me, then turned away and settled back. At home I left Dad in front of the television and went outside to collect my thoughts.... dark, heavy clouds hung in the air with a promise of rain. The rumble of distant thunder seemed to echo my inner turmoil.

What could I do about him?  

Dad had been a lumberjack in Washington and Oregon.. He had enjoyed being outdoors and had reveled in pitting his strength against the forces of nature. He had entered grueling lumberjack competitions, and had placed often.  The shelves in his house were filled with trophies that attested to his   prowess.  

But the years marched on ... relentlessly. The first time he couldn't lift a heavy log, he joked about it; but later that same day I saw him outside alone, straining to lift it.  He became irritable whenever anyone teased him about his advancing age, or when he couldn't do something he had done as a younger man.  

Four days after his sixty-seventh birthday, he had a heart attack. An ambulance sped him to the hospital while a paramedic administered CPR to keep blood and oxygen flowing.  

At the hospital, Dad was rushed into an operating room. He was lucky; he survived. But something inside Dad died. His zest for life was gone. He obstinately refused to follow doctor's orders. Suggestions and offers of help were turned aside with sarcasm and insults. The number of visitors thinned, and then finally stopped altogether. Dad was left alone.  

My husband, Dick, and I asked Dad to come live with us on our small farm.  We hoped the fresh air and rustic atmosphere would help him adjust.  

Within a week after he moved in, I regretted the invitation. It seemed nothing was satisfactory. He criticized everything. I became frustrated and moody.  Soon I was taking my pent-up anger out on Dick. We began to bicker and argue.  

Alarmed, Dick sought out our pastor and explained the situation. The clergyman set up weekly counseling appointments for us. At the close of each session he prayed, asking God to soothe Dad's troubled mind.  

But the months wore on and God was silent. Something had to be done and it was up to me to do it.  

The next day I sat down with the phone book and methodically called each of the mental health clinics listed in the Yellow Pages. I explained my problem to each of the sympathetic voices that answered in vain.  

Just when I was giving up hope, one of the voices suddenly exclaimed, "I just read something that might help you! Let me go get the article..."  

I listened as she read. The article described a remarkable study done at a nursing home.  All of the patients were under treatment for chronic depression. Yet their attitudes had improved dramatically when they were given responsibility for a dog.  

I drove to the animal shelter that afternoon. After I filled out a questionnaire, a uniformed officer led me to the kennels. The odor of disinfectant stung my nostrils as I moved down the row of pens. Each contained five to seven dogs. Long-haired dogs, curly-haired dogs, black dogs, and spotted dogs... They all jumped up, pleading eyes, paws on the fence that separated us.  

I studied each one but rejected one after the other for various reasons:  too big, too small, too much hair. As I neared the last pen a dog in the shadows of the far corner struggled to his feet, walked to the front of the run and sat down. It was a pointer, one of the dog world's aristocrats. But this was a caricature of the breed.  

Years had etched his face and muzzle with shades of gray. His hip bones jutted out in lopsided triangles. But it was his eyes that caught and held my attention. Calm and clear, they beheld me unwaveringly.  

I pointed to the dog. "Can you tell me about him?" The officer looked at the dog, and then shook his head in puzzlement. "He's a funny one. Appeared out of nowhere and sat in front of the gate. We brought him in, figuring someone would be right down to claim him.  That was two weeks ago and we've heard nothing.  His time is up tomorrow." He gestured helplessly.  

As the words sank in I turned to the man in horror. "You mean you're going to kill him?"  

"Ma'am," he said gently, "that's our policy. We don't have room for every unclaimed dog."  

I looked at the pointer again. The calm brown eyes awaited my decision.  "I'll take him," I said. 

I drove home with the dog on the front seat beside  me. When I reached the house I honked the horn twice. I was helping my prize out of the car when Dad shuffled onto the front porch. "Ta-da! Look what I got for you, Dad!" I said excitedly.  

Dad looked; then wrinkled his face in disgust. "If I had wanted a dog I would have gotten one. And I would have picked out a better specimen than that bag of bones. it! I don't want it" Dad waved his arm scornfully and turned back toward the house.  

Anger rose inside me. It squeezed together my throat muscles and pounded into my temples. "You'd better get used to him, Dad. He's staying!"  

Dad ignored me. "Did you hear me, Dad?" I screamed.

At those words Dad whirled angrily, his hands clenched at his sides, his eyes narrowed and blazing with disgust. We stood glaring at each other like duelists, when suddenly the pointer pulled free from my grasp. He walked toward my dad and sat down in front of him. Then slowly, cautiously, he raised his paw and looked my Dad ...  

Dad's lower jaw trembled as he stared at the uplifted paw. Confusion replaced the anger in his eyes. The pointer waited patiently. Then Dad was on his knees hugging the dog with an emotional embrace.  

It was the beginning of a warm and intimate friendship. Dad named the pointer Cheyenne.  Together he and Cheyenne explored the community. They spent long hours walking down dusty lanes. They spent reflective moments on the banks of streams, angling for tasty trout. They even started to attend Sunday services together, Dad sitting in a pew and Cheyenne lying quietly at his feet.  

Dad and Cheyenne were inseparable throughout the next three years. As Dad’s bitterness faded, he and Cheyenne began to make many friends. Then late night I was startled to feel Cheyenne’s cold nose burrowing through our bed covers. He had never come into our bedroom at night. I woke Dick, put on my robe and ran into my father's room. Dad lay in his bed, his face serene. But his spirit had left quietly sometime during the night.  

Two days later my shock and grief deepened when I discovered Cheyenne lying dead beside Dad's bed.  I wrapped his still form in the rag rug he had slept on. As Dick and I buried him near a favorite fishing hole, I silently thanked the dog for the help he had given me in restoring Dad's peace of mind.  

The morning of Dad's funeral dawned overcast and dreary. This day looks like the way I feel, I thought, as I walked down the aisle to the pews reserved for family. I was surprised to see the many friends Dad and Cheyenne had made filling the church.  The pastor began his eulogy. It was a tribute to both Dad and the dog that had changed his life.  

And then the pastor turned to Hebrews 13:2. "Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it."  

"I've often thanked God for sending that angel," he said.  

For me, everything dropped into place, completing a puzzle that I had not seen before:  the sympathetic voice that had just read the right article.  Cheyenne’s unexpected appearance at the animal shelter... his calm acceptance and complete devotion to my father... and the proximity of their deaths.   

Overcome with emotion, I suddenly realized what had happened. God had answered my prayers after all.