Category Archives: Sermon

Happy Easter!

I used to be Christian (good little Southern Baptist boy, saved and dunked) so I know a thing or two about the Christian Liturgical Year. Christmas gets all the press attention, but the real meat and potatoes of Christianity is not that Yeshua ben Yosef was born, not that he died, but that he rose again on the third day. Everybody gets born, eventually everybody dies, some of us come back, but hardly any of us come back. And by my count Jesus was out for about 36 hours, getting buried just before sundown on Friday and leaving the tomb around sunrise on Sunday morning. That’s 35:58 (+/-) longer than I was dead. And I call that a genuine miracle.

Why the bunnies and chocolate? During the Middle Ages (AKA The Dark Ages) Christianity was not as warmly as some would like us to believe, so aspects of the liturgy were “adapted” from whatever local faith was dominant in the area. Since Easter comes between two Pagan festivals, one minor (Spring Equinox, aka Ostara) and one major (the cross quarter between Spring and Mid-Summer aka Beltane) bits and pieces were stolen from both and incorporated into the cultural celebration of the holiday. Thus the bunny, eggs and chicks as representations of Spring and renewed life. Candy came much, much later. One particular English aspect, Morris Dancing, was lifted whole and (almost) unchanged. The name Morris is a corruption of Mary’s, the dancers were trying to entice a local goddess also named Mary to bring forth the Spring. And by outright lying that the Anglo goddess Mary was the mother of Jesus Christianity established a beachhead in the British Isles.

And now I’m going to enjoy my chocolate and hard-boiled eggs. You do what you want, within reason.

Today is a day that will live in infamy

Remembering Pearl Harbor Day is mixed for this Navy brat. I used to live on Oahu, and used to go to dirt track races just down the road from the bay, used to go to school at Schofield Barracks. I was there in the mid-’60s when it was easy to find people who were there as adults or kids, so I heard many first-hand accounts of the attack as a young child.

But I’m also a student of history, and know it wasn’t supposed to be a sneak attack, that the Japanese Embassy in DC had fired their American typist in anticipation of the war and the Ambassador himself hunted and pecked the declaration of war to be delivered to FDR an hour before the attack that ended up not getting completed until after the attack was finished. So, many mixed feelings

In Remembrance, Opus the Unkillable Badass

Valentine’s Day service (not sermon)

Standard opening. See boilerplate page.

Quarter call from center.
Earth, Air, Fire, and Water! lend us you stability, communication, passion, and emotion as we explore the facets of love in our service. Welcome!

(ask Janice to invoke Grandmother Spider)

(chalice lighting) Three things will last forever–faith, hope, and love–and the greatest of these is love.

This is the day that is widely held as the most romantic day of the year. The truth is every day is the most romantic of the year if you let it be.

As a Boomer my early ideas of what love was about came from popular music, specifically the Beatles.

(play “She loves you”)

Then it seemed like love was about food.

(“Yummy, Yummy, Yummy”)

Then it was about developing Type 2 Diabetes.

(“Sugar, Sugar”)

(“Goody, Goody Gumdrops”)

Then it was something I grew far too familiar with, loss and separation.

(“She’s Not There”)

And sometimes reunions.

(“Some Velvet Morning”)

But in the final equations, all you really need is love. It’s got lyrics, sing along, it’s bad karaoke service Sunday.

(“All You Need Is Love”)

Some people do this outside of sacred space, but I think this is part of Holy Work. To keep on doing this we have to maintain the physical part of this sacred space, and to do that requires money. So for those of us who don’t keep their money on plastic may contribute their filthy lucre.(pass basket) We also have a Square reader for debit and credit cards, PayPal, and Patreon for those who wish to pay online.

And one final thing before taking down the service, Barbara Clary would you please stand up?
(kneel and present Reese’s Cup) Barbara, will you be my Valentine?

(extinguish chalice) We extinguish the flame in this chalice, but not the light of truth, the warmth of community, or the fire of commitment. These we carry in our hearts until we are together again.

We thank our patron for the year Grandmother Spider for the lessons she has taught, things she will teach, and things she will let us learn on our own.

(Dismiss Quarters)
Water, Fire, Air and Earth we thank you for your presence at our little ritual, stay if you will, go if you must.

Our circle is open but unbroken, merry meet, to merry part, to merry meet again. Turn on your cell phones.

Sermon on being human

welcoming statements and ask for phones to be turned off or to vibrate.

Chalice lighting:
J.K. Rowling
“To hurt is as human as to breathe.”

Opening music ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-rFW2Df5iRs )

Today I’m going to talk about what it means to be human, from several different perspectives.

The opening music selection was from an anime about people who have developed prosthetics to the point that bodies can be replaced with replacement powered units that look like human bodies but only have a human brain as their sole biologic component, and that brain can be augmented by additional electronic add-ons that can bypass damaged bits to the point that very little of the original human brain remains. The question arises then at what point does the cybernetic body and augmented brain cease to be a human being and become something else? The question is never answered in the show although it might be in the manga that I haven’t had a chance to read. I may do so at some time in the future. But anyway as an anime it is mostly an action sci-fi cyberpunk thriller, but all 3 of the versions I have seen devote significant time to the question of what it means to be human when everything biologic in you can be replaced.

Another pop culture maybe-human is the pop culture zombie (which is not really a zombie but a ghoul, but semantics…) As a formerly-dead person myself I get highly offended at the portrayal of those of us who have died but walk again. We don’t all shuffle along looking for braaaaiinnnnsss [cough] brains.

There are actually several different flavors of the “undead” with different levels of sentience from the mindless shambling corpses of the “Night of the Living Dead” to the cooperative swarms of speedy formerly-dead of “World War Z”, and the photosensitive angry night-walkers of “I Am Legend”. Somewhere along the spectrum they are still human. My call is the “I Am Legend” version who don’t actually die before changing to whatever they are, as they retain language and the ability to plan ahead and work together.

And there I think is the dividing line on that end of the spectrum, retaining the use of language and the ability to plan ahead. We have a lot of people that don’t have that any more that we still call human.

Of course there is another flavor of not-dead in popular culture we haven’t dealt with yet, the blood-drinking undead. Vampires, nosferatu and the like, who live forever as long as they drink the blood of the living. I’m not sure how they fall under the human/not-human spectrum. On the one hand, they’re sentient, use language, and plan ahead. On the other hand they kinda see not-vampire humans as a food supply more than as companions or someone to talk to on a bad day.

You might ask at this point, where is this going? Why is this important?

Among the seven principles of UUism is the inherent worth and dignity of every human being. Well what does that really mean? Where is the cut off for inherent worth and dignity? Are we going far enough down the line in worth and dignity or is our justice “just us”? When does a person cease to be a person and become a thing that no longer has inherent worth and dignity? Where, short of a corpse, does it end? Was Terri Schiavo still inherently worth dignity after her brain death or deserving of the media circus that surrounded her still breathing corpse? Is inherent worth and dignity reserved for those who can ask for it, or everyone who walks or has walked, or could walk some time in the future?

Offeratory music ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BsiepGvjjTM )

The church is not this building, but it sure is nice to have heat in the winter, AC in the summer, and a roof over our heads when it rains.

(announcements)

Closing music ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ovHnkKvYZ74 )

Please turn on your phones so other humans can get in touch with you.

7/12/2015 Service, Hephaestus

Altar: Hammer and anvil front center, UU Chalice center, god and goddess candles left and right center, Lunation deity jar candle and Aphrodite jar candle left and right rear.

Music intro: Devo, Working in a Coal Mine

Standard church welcome

Quarters

Earth: We dig the ores from the ground that are refined into the metals we use at the forge

Air: Blow inspiration through our minds as you fan the flames of the forge.

Fire: The power of transformation made physical in the forge.

Water: Quench and harden our works as they come from the forge.

Chalice: The stability of the earth, the inspiration of air, the transformation of fire, the emotions of water, all combined with the spark of spirit. Join with me as we read our affirmation. (read affirmation from the wall poster)

God candle: Welcome Hephaestus, from whom we draw inspirations and instruction for today’s service in your honor.

Goddess candle: Welcome Ghisallo, who guards us and guides us on our travels.

Lunation candle: Welcome Zeus as we learn from you this lunation. You whose very thunderbolts are created in Hephaestus’ forge know well the value of a good smith.

Aphrodite candle: Welcome our patroness for the year, and wife of Hephaestus, Aphrodite, whose marriage proves that love does not require possession, nor a leash, but merely the thought in the heart of those who love you. Let us take your love with us as we learn today.

Greetings and welcome again to the July 12th service at SJF UU. Today’s service is on Hephaestus, the greek god of the forge and one of my personal deities.

First a little about Heph. Heph is the son of Zeus and Hera, but unlike his brothers and sisters came out looking like five miles of bad road. We are talking a baby that even his mother couldn’t love he was so ugly, so they grabbed him by the leg and threw him from the heavens to the earth, which besides not doing anything to improve his looks caused him to have a lame and withered leg. Naturally this did nothing to dispose him towards the rest of the Olympian gods, and after residing on the earth for a while as he grew up he created a golden throne for Hera with invisible bindings. When Hera sat upon this throne (because it was very beautiful and very finely crafted) she was unable to rise from it. After determining that this was Heph’s work and only he could release Hera the other gods came and begged him to release his mother, to which Heph replied, “I have no mother.” Harsh, but to be honest if your mom had ordered that you be cast out of the house and it was done in such a way as to cripple you forever, would you be kind to her? anyway after Dionysus got him drunk and dragged Heph and his tools back to Olympus where they built him a palace with a workshop, he cut Hera loose from the throne. This was not to be his last temper tantrum, but that is a tale for another sermon.

“Hephaestus crafted much of the magnificent equipment of the gods, and almost any finely-wrought metalwork imbued with powers that appears in Greek myth is said to have been forged by Hephaestus. He designed Hermes’ winged helmet and sandals, the Aegis breastplate, Aphrodite’s famed girdle, Agamemnon’s staff of office, Achilles’ armor, Heracles’ bronze clappers, Helios’ chariot, the shoulder of Pelops, and Eros’ bow and arrows. In later accounts, Hephaestus worked with the help of the chthonic Cyclopes—among them his assistants in the forge, Brontes, Steropes and Pyracmon.” And that is a direct quote from Wikipedia.

But as fine as all the works of Hephaestus are there is something they all share and something we can all lend. All of them started as… an idea.

Yes, before the first fire was lighted in his forge to heat the metal, he first had the spark of an idea in his mind, blown alight by the breath of inspiration. And that is something we can all do, is create an idea.

One of the followers of Hephaestus greatest rules is to make things that help other people, because if you make something that isn’t any help to anyone, have you really made anything aside from a lump to look at? So today, we are going to make an idea of something to help the church. What can be built that would help the people of the church both now and in the future? This idea will be presented to the Facilities committee this evening as something the congregation thinks would be a good thing to do.

[15 minute brainstorming session]

Write down the idea agreed upon to present to the Facilities committee. or if more than one idea was awesome, present all the awesome ideas to the committee.

In place of cakes and ale, present each person with a nail, and do this story.

Before man had nails all he had was wooden pegs to hold things together. Since each peg had to be carved by hand to fit the holes made in whatever they were building, this took a while and things were built slowly as a result. The someone discovered that you could drive a heavy piece of wire into wood and it would stay in there and hold things together better than hand-carved pegs in drilled holes, and things could be made much faster because nails could be made much more quickly than carving wooden pegs and could be made ahead of time instead of stopping and carving the pegs after drilling the holes and finding out how big the pegs needed to be. While people built things with nails other people could make nails without ever needing to know what kind of thing was being built. I give this to you so that you can carry the idea with you that you don’t have to know the whole of a thing to make an awesome part of it.

Closing song: Anvil Chorus ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c3x-pwJGsgU )

Dismissal: Water, fire, air, and earth, you have all contributed to this service, and we thank you for that. Go now in peace with our gratitude.

Lunation (Zeus): Mighty Zeus, hurler of thunderbolts crafted by Hephaestus and ruler of the gods of Olympus, we thank you for your presence and lessons you may have taught us while you were her. Go now in peace.

Aphrodite: You are the boss’s wife and we thank you for your presence in our circle today and for whatever lessons you may have left with us today. Go now in peace.

Ghisallo: You who protect travellers and who was so revered by your followers that your shrines continued to be built and honored even as another god ruled your lands, we thank you for your presence and any lessons you may have left while you were here. Go now in peace.

Hephaestus: You were the boilerplate for the unfairly dismissed family member, and the inspiration for hundred if not thousands of stories and inventions. We thank you for your inspiration in our service today. Go now in peace.

Chalice: We extinguish this flame, but not the warmth of community, the light of truth, or the spark of commitment. These we hold in our heart until we meet again. Merry meet, to merry part, to merry meet again.

Pass basket and do announcements.

Turn on your mobile devices.

April Fool’s service 3/29

Standard welcome.

This is our annual April Fools chaos service. This is as much an homage to the weather in Texas as it is to anything else. About the only thing we haven’t had for this service has been snow. And I think an actual tornado because we hold the service too early in the day for one of those, but we have had watches in effect for later in the day. So we have weather chaos, congregation chaos, outsider chaos, just about any kind of non-destructive chaos you can imagine. Today we have “No toilets” chaos. And somehow we have managed to control and somewhat harness that chaos for the benefit of the church and the larger community.

Now join with me as we call the quarters in the traditional April Fool’s fashion.

East: Yo! Air! Here, quarter quarter quarter! We wanna breathe here, and think. Y’all come!

South: Yo! Fire! Here quarter quarter quarter! Let’s warm things up with some passion. Y’all come!

West: Yo! Water! Here quarter quarter quarter! Let’s splash around and feel things emotionally. Y’all come!

North: Yo! Earth! Here quarter quarter quarter! It’s time to get down and dirty and be stable. Y’all come!

Center: Yo! Center! The gods might be crazy, so send them here to party! We light a beacon so we can enjoy their company. Y’all play nice now. Open beer and place on altar

Aphrodite: Your contributions to chaos are many and varied, most notable your son/daughter Hermaphroditus. We love you, just like you love us, so everybody love everybody as you join our party and ritual.

Lunation deity

Play “Duck Amuck” Video

Yes, who is responsible for this? I demand to know. My life seems like a series of short stories or at most novellas written by different writers intent on different things, including changing the name of the main character in the middle of the story. And such starkly unbelievable stuff as surviving getting hit by a truck doing 60 MPH and only spending 13 days in hospital before sorta walking out. I mean who does that outside of a work of fiction? That is literally a million to one shot. And that’s not the only unbelievable thing that has happened in my life, just the most recent. I demand script approval and rewrite privileges. Or I would if I could find the freaking writer.

Sometimes we bring the chaos on all by ourselves, which I have also done. For instance the lovely bride who graces my life was somewhat forced there by a combination of stupid mistakes, mine, hers, and ours. But somehow we survived it anyway and we have been together for almost 40 years. I’m sure the rest of you can tell similar tales of preventable mistakes that had life-altering consequences for you and yours. It happens to everybody. But we survive, and sometimes prosper, in spite of and sometimes because of our mistakes. We live through it, and we move on.

Candles of “Why did I do that?” To share how this works, light a candle while sharing a mistake that ended up helping your life in the long run.

While this is going on blow bubbles from the altar.

Pass basket while sharing announcements.

Announce that there will be no pot luck this evening

Dismiss Aphrodite with gratitude for controlling the various guest deities with her expansive love.

Center: We thank all the various deities who have graced today’s circle. Go in peace, at least until you get past the property line. Then you become somebody else’s problem.

North: Thank you for lending your stability in these times of chaos. You may leave with our gratitude.

West: Thank you for lending your calming emotions to these times of chaos. You may leave with our gratitude.

South: Thank you for lending your passion and transformation to these times of chaos. You may leave with our gratitude.

East: Thank you for lending your intellect and communication in these times of chaos. You may leave with our gratitude.

The circle is open, but unbroken. Merry meet, to merry part, to merry meet again! Blessed be, and don’t forget to turn your phones back on.

PSA, Opus

Sermon, 2015-02-15

Quarters

West- Enter Water and deliver to us the outpouring of emotions that come with Love

North- Enter Earth and give us the stability to love fully and wholly

East- Enter Air and let us celebrate the ideas and inspirations of Love

South- Enter Fire and give us the passion and transformation that Love may consume us and yet leave us standing

Center (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_bY0fdgpISc start at 0:45 and stop at 0:56)

Every year Sacred Journey Fellowship selects a patron. This year we have selected Aphrodite and we give her tribute in music. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uIfEkCZgny0) But the ancients could not settle on her name, thus creating the saying that a pagan tradition is one where everyone agrees to mispronounce the deities’ names the same. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aPEhQugz-Ew)

As you may have noticed the subject of today’s service is Love. Love is such an imprecise word in the English language, it means so many things in just four little letters. Is this why we have the saying about four-letter words being curses in English? But I digress. I was asked to do this service because I love everybody, I am poly-amourous. But that does not mean I love everybody the same way, oh! no far from it. There is no way I could love Greg Abbott the same was as I love Barbara. I mean besides the fact that I don’t swing that way, Greg Abbott is a vile, evil character who actively plots the destruction of the poor and female of the state, and this is just from his public writings and statements. But that does not mean that Greg Abbott does not deserve my love, but the love I have for Abbott is far different than the love I have for my wife, or even the love I have for my fellow congregants. I still love Greg Abbott, I just wish to love him from a distant state where he has no power to hurt other people I also love. And I think that is the thing that defines my love, a strong desire that other people not get hurt.

Kahlil Gibran made a famous statement on the subject of love (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jNtZLPsu9hs)

Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

Love each other but respect them as separate people. They are not parts of you even though you keep them in your heart, and you in theirs.

We should share love just like we share food. Unfortunately for some people this is true but not in the way we desire, they don’t give food to anybody, and the same with their love. They don’t share ANYTHING! food, water, shelter, love and especially anything that costs money. They horde their money like Smaug, sitting atop figurative mountains of money while others have nothing. And they also horde their love like keeping it to themselves somehow increases its value. But what value does love have if it isn’t shared, shared freely and without recourse? Because without being shared with other people love is useless, as useless as food sealed inside blocks of molten glass where it will never spoil and can never be eaten. Even self-love can only go so far before it curls back upon itself like a snake. Sorry, folks but if you want your love to grow, you have to give most of it away.

That does not mean that giving away your love is without negative consequence. Love long enough and you will be covered in scars. That does not mean it is not worth it to love and give love. It just means you will be counting a few scars after you live long enough. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VqrBsMFRaLA)

But sharing your love with others will let you live as long as others remember you, and what you did. Just make sure that you are remembered for good things, some of us need to work a little harder at the good things to be remembered by. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FOjdXSrtUxA)

A long-held tradition of the UU church in general, and this church in specific, is the sharing of Candles of Joy and Concern. Sometimes love creates Joy, sometimes Concern. Please share with us what or who you love, but keep it brief.

Really though all you really need is love. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ydfH7iuLR0I)

And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1AN7S7n8VdM)

(After announcements and collection https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HTusGhSSzg4)

Dismissals

Center- I extinguish this flame, but not the light of knowledge or the warmth of community it represents.

South- Thank you Fire for showing us the burning passions we can hold within our hearts, and how they can transform the world. Go and take our blessings

East- Thank you Air for giving us the idea of love and the inspirations to share our love with others. Go and take our blessings.

North- Thank you Earth for giving us the stability to learn about love, for without a stable place to work there can be no way to share love. Go and take our blessings.

West- Thank you Water for giving us the emotions that let us love ourselves and others like a flowing stream, and let that love come down like a cool rain as it covers everything and everybody.

The circle is open, but unbroken, go now in peace. Merry meet, merry part, and merry meet again!

PSA, Opus

Call for speakers, March 31 2013

Assuming the Mayans were wrong and the world does not end 12/21/2012, a spot will be open for a speaker at my church for evening service the last Sunday in March, our traditional “April Fools” service. In the past we have done a service where children called in the elements as Yakko, Wakko, and Dot with Hello Nurse called in North by an adult, grandmotherly type. Other times previous we have had a full Coffee Service where the goddess Caffeina was invoked and various aspects of coffee represented the quarters. We have also invited artists from web comics to speak at one of these services, including Randall Millholland, Jennie Breeden, Thomas Overbeck, and an artist that does not wish to be named as having been to our church because we were boring and didn’t sacrifice a baby. I don’t know what he was expecting we may be Pagan but we’re also UU (one of the first Institutional Members of CUUPS the Covenant of Universalist Unitarian Pagans). Our church has a history that extends back to the late 1960s.

But what I’m trying to say is that we have a history of inviting outside speakers who are not religious speakers, and offer them a chance to speak on their take on the First Principle Of UU, The inherent worth and dignity of all men people. Randy went at it from a wildly obtuse angle as anyone who has read his comic knows, and Overbeck hit it out of the park with his speech. I still rank that as one of the best outside services we have ever had, even counting the professional religious speakers. The bar has been set very high, but there is no need to use that to measure yourself because we are measuring from the First Principle, the inherent worth and dignity of all people. Even the guy that got mad because we didn’t kill babies managed to get a piece of the ball with his speech.

And the suggested topic isn’t even a hard and fast requirement, Jenny Breeden spoke about growing up as a UU and becoming an artist because of that. Her speech was only tangentially connected to the First Principle, that because she had Inherent Worth and Dignity she was able to make bad awwrrt while learning to make good art and become an internationally famous web comic artist.

So, the requirements are the ability to get yourself to the Beautiful Suburbs of Hell in time for a 1930 Sunday service (there may be a 1100 service made available if that’s all you can make, and we have morning services again by then) and we need to know if you have any food restrictions because there will be a potluck dinner. We used to have our speakers come at A-kon, but we stopped that because it was interfering with their merchandising and costing them money (sorry Jennie) so now we are extending the invitation for the AF service.

More history from the first service in April, back when the time change to Daylight Savings was the first Sunday in April, we did a Reverse Service. At the time we had a set Welcoming Song, and a Dismissal Song that started and ended every service, well on the time change day we did those songs on the opposite ends of the service and deliberately let the service run long… so the Welcoming Song went off a few minutes earlier than “normal” except because of the time change it was almost an hour later. Yes I planned that service. We have had Cartoon Services on several first Sunday in April or last Sunday in March services, my favorite one was a showing of the Lum’s Springtime Special Urusei Yatsura, in Japanese. Trying to explain why there was a girl wearing a bikini flying around shooting lightning at one particular male character was worthy of a separate article all by itself. Not to mention why it was a tiger striped bikini and the girl had nubs of horns sticking out of her head. Another one of my services. In fact I have done most of the first Sunday in April or last Sunday in March services since the turn of the century for our church, it’s one of the few “traditions” we have. I didn’t present last year, but I wrote and coordinated the service. This year the brain damage has gotten worse, hence why I’m calling for outside assistance this year. If you would like you can provide a theme for calling the elements and deities (and even specify the deities, if you provide a wiki link) I will write the quarter calls and invocation of the deities.

If you want to be in the program you can contact me through this blog or via my e-mail, it’s on the blog somewhere.

PSA, Opus

April 1 Service

Church introduction and announcements We are a green church yadda yadda… end with “Now turn up your cell phone really loud, because we need lots of random in service today.”

Traditional 4/1 quarter calls

Air: Here quarter, quarter, quarter! (sound of heavy breathing) Helloooo air!

Fire: Here quarter, quarter, quarter! [Beavis voice] Fire, fire, fire, hehhehhehhehheh…[/Beavis voice] Helloooo Fire!

Water: Here quarter, quarter, quarter! (sound of toilet flushing) Helloooo Water!

Earth: Here quarter, quarter, quarter! (sound of dump truck backing up then dumping load) Helloooo Earth!

Center: Here quarter, quarter, quarter! (everybody go “Om”) Helloooo Center!

Presenter: One day God and Satan were in what passes for a bar in that realm having what passes for tasty beverages to relax after a hard eon’s work.

This sounds like another invocation of Hotei, but it is actually the introduction to the Book of Job in a rather funky 1970s translation of the Bible that came and went like many things in the ’70s and left barely a ripple on the consciousness of the world. You see at one point Satan was not God’s enemy but a trusted employee and confidant, number 3 in the chain of command after God himself, then God’s Son, then good old reliable Satan, the adversary of all that was not keeping to the commandments, God’s prosecuting attorney, the one that held open the gate as Adam and Eve were driven from the Garden of Eden.

Anyway the rest of that passage went kinda like God saying all these great things about Job, about how good he was in keeping the commandments and teaching his children to keep them, and tending his flocks and vines and olive trees and keeping them in perfect order so that proper sacrifice could be made at the appropriate times of the year, to which Satan replied, “Yes, but you treat him pretty good, almost anyone could be good at keeping the commandments in his situation, and do a great job of praising You. What would happen if things got bad?” and thus began the tribulations of Job.

Play “Duck Amuck” on big screen.

Well after a few years of ever worse conditions, Satan said, “Hey, this Job cat is really down with it for you. He has absolutely nothing, but he still keeps the commandments even at the detriment of his own health, and never questions why this is happening to him, He really loves You.”

And so God restored Job’s lands, healed him of his lesions, gave him a new wife who bore him strong children to replace the wife and children that died during his tribulations, and generally made his aged years as comfortable as they could be. And Satan paid up on the wager they had made about Job.

Play “Rainy day Women #12 and #39” by Bob Dylan (1st verse)

And now we will share our joys and tribulations with stones, After you state what’s bothering you or what is joyful in your life the congregation will join with you and say “May you find your peace”, as Job found his peace.

So what happened to Satan? Even at the beginning of the New Testament he was in charge of determining if Jesus was true to his Father, claiming the ability to give Him control of all the Earth to test his ability to remember who He was and who his Father was/is (which tense should we use? past, or present to acknowledge his followers who think that Jesus is living in Heaven?) Jesus passed that test and others, and was pronounced to be whole by Satan. The after the Resurrection Satan’s story was changed, he was retconned in comic book parlance, his past was changed and he was made into Lucifer the Fallen Angel, God’s sworn enemy and out to destroy Heaven and Earth. The comic book reference was not accidental, Satan became the perfect comic book villain, the benchmark by which all subsequent villains were measured and mostly found wanting. And I suspect that was the reason for the change. In order to have perfect good in an imperfect world, there has to be a reason why imperfections and “bad stuff” exists. Every “Good Guy” needs a “Bad Guy” to fight or else has a meaningless existence, or at best a very boring story.

Early Christians also needed a reason why they were being persecuted to the point of death when they were so good. Retconning Satan into the Evil to end all Evils gave them that reason. Adding the name of one of the most revered Pre-Roman gods to his title made their hatred of the Romans (who were prosecuting them for failure to pay their taxes at the temples) complete. Even during the first century AD Christians thought they were above the laws and taxes…

Extinguish quarters, wave bye-bye as quarter candles are blown out.

As you go out into the world to do what good you can, remember what happened to Satan, God’s drinking buddy to God’s Official Enemy. I think they still meet in that bar once an eon to share a tasty beverage and talk about the silly humans and make a few bets on who does what to whom, which God wins naturally (never bet against an omniscient deity).

Amoeba

Now, go forth and do good.

The Mother Ride of Silence, 2011

I just got back from the Dallas Ride of Silence, 2011. This is the Mother Ride, the Ride from which an international movement sprung, and while it was slightly smaller than previous years, it was still awesome. I estimate the number of riders higher than 1000 but less than 1500, I didn’t count, so sue me. it was still enough that while I was near the back of the ride I didn’t see the front except when the ride looped back to the right at Mockingbird and East Lawther at the north end of White Rock Lake. That’s still a lot of bicycles (and a few tricycles) on the road. We still had issues with speed at the back of the peloton as we went from 3 to over 20 MPH trying to stay with the lead group. The good news was that the idiot with the pickup truck throwing beer bottles at the ride stayed away from the lake this year. I’m not sure that he was actually free to come to the lake. With the idiots out of the way, the respect shown the ride was also awesome. Riders on the other direction stopped and removed their helmets while the ride passed. Cars pulled over in the opposite direction, and generally acted like the Ride was a funeral procession.

Being in the Ride is still one of the most moving experiences I have ever had. No voices, just bicycle noises and the sounds of the city for almost an hour, and then a Ghost Bike is walked from the back of the parking lot to the head of the Ride as a piper plays “Amazing Grace”. It still raises goosebumps even as many times as I have been there… The city of Dallas is still not supporting the Ride, as volunteers from DPD provided security on their own dime, and a parade permit was required for the event.

PSA, Opus