Saturday, December 15, 2007

We Reap What We Sow

Received by e-mail. The text is attributed to Ben Stein but it appears that the original commentary might have been mixed with a few anonymous messages that circulate on the Internet. I published the text the way I had received it, but I removed Ben Stein's name from the title and the signature once I found out that some of the text has been added anonymously by other emailers, under the pretense of being by Ben Stein.
Herewith at this happy time of year, a few confessions from my beating heart:
I have no freaking clue who Nick and Jessica are. I see them on the cover of People and Us constantly when I am buying my dog biscuits and kitty litter. I often ask the checkers at the grocery stores. They never know who Nick and Jessica are either. Who are they? Will it change my life if I know who they are and why they have broken up? Why are they so important?

I don't know who Lindsay Lohan is either, and I do not care at all about Tom Cruise's wife. Am I going to be called before a Senate committee and asked if I am a subversive? Maybe, but I just have no clue who Nick and Jessica are. If this is what it means to be no longer young. It's not so bad.

Next confession:
I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejewelled trees Christmas trees. I don't feel threatened. I don't feel discriminated against. That's what they are: Christmas trees.

It doesn't bother me a bit when people say, "Merry Christmas" to me. I don't think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it. It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn't bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu. If people want a crèche, it's just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away.

I don't like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don't think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the concept came from that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can't find it in the Constitution, and I don't like it being shoved down my throat. Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from that we should worship Nick and Jessica and we aren't allowed to worship God as we understand Him? I guess that's a sign that I'm getting old, too. But there are a lot of us who are wondering where Nick and Jessica came from and where the America we knew went to.
Original Ben Stein’s commentary ends here (?)

In light of the many jokes we send to one another for a laugh, this is a little different: This is not intended to be a joke; it's not funny, it's intended to get you thinking.

Billy Graham's daughter was interviewed on the Early Show and Jane Clayson asked her "How could God let something like this Happen?" (regarding Katrina) Anne Graham gave an extremely profound and insightful response. She said, "I believe God is deeply saddened by this, just as we are, but for years we've been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of our government and to get out of our lives. And being the gentleman He is, I believe He has calmly backed out. How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand He leave us alone?"

In light of recent events...terrorists attack, school shootings, etc. I think it started when Madeleine Murray O'Hare (she was murdered, her body found recently) complained she didn't want prayer in our schools, and we said OK. Then someone said you better not read the Bible in school, the Bible says thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, and love your neighbour as yourself. And we said OK.

Then Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn't spank our children when they misbehave because their little personalities would be warped and we might damage their self-esteem (Dr. Spock's son committed suicide). We said an expert should know what he's talking about. And we said OK. Now we're asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don't know right from wrong, and why it doesn't bother them to kill strangers, their classmates, and themselves. Probably, if we think about it long and hard enough, we can figure it out. I think it has a great deal to do with "WE REAP WHAT WE SOW." Funny how simple it is for people to trash God and then wonder why the world's going to hell. Funny how we believe what the newspapers say, but question what the Bible says. Funny how you can send 'jokes' through e-mail and they spread like wildfire but when you start sending messages regarding the Lord, people think twice about sharing. Funny how lewd, crude, vulgar and obscene articles pass freely through; cyberspace, but public discussion of God is suppressed in the school and workplace.

Are you laughing?

Funny how when you forward this message, you will not send it to many on your address list because you're not sure what they believe, or what they will think of you for sending it. Pass it on if you think it has merit. If not then just discard it...no one will know you did. But, if you discard this thought process, don't sit back and complain about what bad shape the world is in.

2 comments:

Cindy said...

I would like to respond this email forward that I’ve seen floating around the internet recently. It is a propaganda piece which purports to be by Ben Stein. In truth, the majority of the piece is not by Stein (His piece ends after the comment about Nick and Jessica. The rest was cobbled together from anonymous messages circulating on the Internet since late 2001. You can read the original on his Web site). However, since the email is being mass forwarded as is, I am going to respond to it in its entirety.

The Stein commentary begins with an acquiescent anecdote about Christians and Jews, giving the illusion that the message will be one of harmony and goodwill. When I first started reading the email, I thought, ‘It’s about time. What a beautiful, non-discriminatory email encouraging peace and acceptance among humanity.’ However, after the initial two paragraphs, the email quickly turned divisive.

The email was in fact not about unity, but was in fact a poorly veiled attempt to convert readers to religious adherence and to promote the mergence of church and state. After the initial anecdote, the email itself was quite segregatory. It was quick to create a divide between religious and non-religious. Then, proceeded to blame everything from terrorist attacks to Hurricane Katrina on those who do not worship God.

To those of you who have forwarded this email to me, let me first say I am sure you have sent this with the best of intentions, believing you were doing your part to create world peace. But harmony arrives in the form of human kindness, acceptance and compassion, not through segregation or attempts at forced conversion. Stein’s comments about being free to interpret God as we understand him have merit, but the distortion that follows needs to be challenged.

I would ask that anyone receiving this email to deeply reflect on the statements made in this message and consider whether they are truly in the spirit of harmony and peace.

I mean no disrespect. But I believe it our responsibility to challenge harmful thinking, especially when it arrives under the guise of Godliness. I have added my comments below.
_______
My confession:
I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejeweled trees Christmas trees. I don't feel threatened. I don't feel discriminated against. That's what they are: Christmas trees.
It doesn't bother me a bit when people say, "Merry Christmas" to me. I don't think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it. It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn't bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu. If people want a creche, it's just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away.
I don't like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don't think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the concept came from that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can't find it in the Constitution and I don't like it being shoved down my throat.

>>America is not an atheist country; however, it does have a secular government. The constitution is very clear about that. The First Amendment explicitly prohibits the government from establishing or controlling religion. This means the government is not allowed to coerce adherence to religion, or to compel the support of religion against an individual's will. The effect of this arrangement is that Americans are free to worship, believe, and support religion as they see fit. Secular government allow Christians and Jews to co-exist. Before secularism, it was not such a safe thing to be a Jew in a Christian-majority nation.

Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from that we should worship Nick and Jessica and we aren't allowed to worship God as we understand Him? I guess that's a sign that I'm getting old, too. But there are a lot of us who are wondering where Nick and Jessica came from and where the America we knew went to.

>>This is an illogical correlation. You do not need to be religious to reject corporate media culture.

>>Note: This is when Stein’s commentary ends. The rest has been added anonymously by other emailers, under the pretence of being by Ben Stein. ****

In light of the many jokes we send to one another for a laugh, this is a little different: This is not intended to be a joke; it's not funny, it's intended to get you thinking.

Billy Graham's daughter was interviewed on the Early Show and Jane Clayson asked her "How could God let something like this happen?" (regarding Katrina). Anne Graham gave an extremely profound and insightful response. She said, "I believe God is deeply saddened by this, just as we are, but for years we've been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of our government and to get out of our lives. And being the gentleman He is, I believe He has calmly backed out. How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand He leave us alone?"

>>How can one even consider attributing hurricane Katrina to a lack of allegiance to God. Anyone who believes in the New Testament should be horribly offended by such insinuation. Do we liken the flu pandemic of 1918 as message sent by God? More than 20 million people died from that flu. At best, this is thinly-veiled fear mongering. (By the way, the last time I received this email, Graham’s comments were in reference to 9/11).

In light of recent events...terrorists attack, school shootings, etc. I think it started when Madeleine Murray O'Hare (she was murdered, her body found recently) complained she didn't want prayer in our schools, and we said OK. Then someone said you better not read the Bible in school.

>>First of all, terrorist attacks are not caused by lack of religion. In fact, they almost always carried out by religious extremists. Second of all, referencing O'Hair’s murder as some sort of backhanded way of condemning atheists is appalling. O'Hair and her children were murdered callously by a man she had exposed for stealing money --not because the United States Supreme Court agreed with her that it was non-constitutional to force bible readings in public schools.
Though while we’re on the topic of O’Hair, it is perhaps insightful to note that while O’Hair worked to defend non-Christian children from violence and persecution, those who were adamant about keeping religion in schools responded with aggression (Her son's kitten was strangled, her home was stoned, and she received several profane letters in the mail, including photos smeared with feces and another that threatened her life: "You will be killed before too long. Or maybe your pretty little baby boy”).

The Bible says thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, and love your neighbor as yourself. And we said OK.

>>Scholars have found little if any original moral thinking in the Bible - the Ten Commandments were laid down by Hammurabi before Moses. Also, while commandments 5-10 do address morality (1-4 do not), admonishments of this kind are found in virtually every culture throughout recorded history.

>>“Do unto others…” is a wonderfully moral precept; however, numerous teachers have preached the same message centuries before Jesus (Zoraster, Buddha, Confucius, Epictetus). And, it is scientific fact that moral emotions (like a sense of fair play and an abhorrence of cruelty) precede humanity itself!
All of our primate cousins are partial to their own kin and generally intolerant of murder and theft. They tend not to like deception or sexual betrayal much either. Chimpanzees, especially, display many of these complex social concerns. There are obvious reasons why children treat their parents well and think badly of murderers, adulterers, and thieves.

>>Morality was not created by the bible. We, as human beings, use our own moral intuitions to decide what it is ethically right. That is why most religious moderates would never stone a non-virgin bride to death on her father’s doorstep (Deuteronomy 22:13-21), or beat the child with a rod (Proverbs 13:24), or murder someone because they are homosexual (Leviticus 20:13), or kill a child who talks back (Leviticus 20:9; Mark 7:9-13; Matthew 15: 4-7), or keep slaves (Leviticus 25:44-46; 1 Timothy 6:1-4), or sell their daughter into sexual slavery (Exodus 21:7-11) or kill their first born as a sacrifice to God (Exodus 22:29-31).

>>It is our responsibility as humans, to hold ourselves morally accountable and question those convictions which are harmful to our fellow neighbour.

Then Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn't spank our children when they misbehave because their little personalities would be warped and we might damage their self-esteem (Dr. Spock's son committed suicide). We said an expert should know what he's talking about. And we said OK.

>>I very much doubt that Spock’s ideas about child care (being loving and affectionate towards children rather than refusing to pick them up, kiss them, or hug them because "that would not prepare them to be strong and independent individuals in a harsh world") were the cause of terrorist attacks. Nor do I think believe that Spock’s recommendations against infant circumcisions because he “could find no convincing reasons for it other than religious rite" were the cause of school shootings. (The rite of circumcision emerges as a surrogate for child sacrifice Exodus 4:24-26).

>>Furthermore, Spock's son did not commit suicide. Spock had two children, both of whom are still alive today. The fact that thousands of people have forwarded this email without questioning its legitimacy is reprehensible. And even if this had been true, referencing such an awful event is just as appalling as referencing O’Hair’s murder. Get the facts here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benjamin_Spock

Now we're asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don't know right from wrong, and why it doesn't bother them to kill strangers, their classmates, and themselves.

Probably, if we think about it long and hard enough, we can figure it out. I think it has a great deal to do with "WE REAP WHAT WE SOW." This is very true. The basic tenet of morality is about not doing harm to others. We need to apply this universal law to our every action.

Funny how simple it is for people to trash God and then wonder why the world's going to hell. Funny how we believe what the newspapers say, but question what the Bible says. Funny how you can send 'jokes' through e-mail and they spread like wildfire but when you start sending messages regarding the Lord, people think twice about sharing.

>>One of these things is harmless, the other is the cause of countless wars and needless persecution.

Funny how lewd, crude, vulgar and obscene articles pass freely through cyberspace, but public discussion of God is suppressed in the school and workplace. Are you laughing? Funny how when you forward this message, you will not send it to many on your address list because you're not sure what they believe, or what they will think of you for sending it. Funny how we can be more worried about what other people think of us than what God thinks of us.

>>There is no question in my mind that any deeply religious person receiving this email has forwarded it on without a second thought in hopes of cohercing adherance to religion. It is much more likely that a non-religious person will hesitate to respond, for fear of persecution.

Pass it on if you think it has merit. If not then just discard it... no one will know you did. But, if you discard this thought process, don't sit back and complain about what bad shape the world is in. My Best Regards.

>>Simply copying and pasting or hitting the forward button is not engaging in the thought process.

Honestly and respectfully,
Ben Stein

>>This is a forgery. Stein’s words ended above where I noted.

Eastwood on the coast said...

I would like to respond to Cindy's comments. Nice job, nicely articulated, and to the point. My guess is you are college educated, and have taken a course in philosophy, logic, and perhaps comparative religion or mythology.

I did many of those same things back in the seventies at one of the big state schools back east. I had left the catholic church (glad I did), got my secular education, and continued with my life. However, now I view things differently. Yes, there are antecedents to moral behavior found in early cultures. Yes, there are huge flaws in the worlds great religions. I don't endorse any of them, for many of the same reasons that you apparently don't. But, I would encourage you to read the bible and let god's word speak to you (especially if you are skeptical). Many of the greatest believers started exactly that way. Look at Saul of Taursus (apostle Paul), he was a Jew who persecuted Christians, and later became one of the greatest proponents of Christianity. It is still happening today, especially among Moslems. Sixty-six books, and forty authors, written over a period of about two thousand years. And all done many centuries before printing presses.

I encourage you to devote the time and energy to the task. Decide for yourself if it is the inspired word of god. God's word will not come back void, and Cindy will see our world in a new way.

Bob