“Revising the Ten Commandments – Part 3 – Additions and Final Copy” – The Rabyd Skald

Happy Mani’s Day

Now for the part of this where I ask the question about ‘is there something else that could be added?’ What stands outside the commandments as edited by myself that should also be on par with the other ten.  In this regard, most people don’t realize the original ten commandments does the same thing. In one place after the ten, more are listed and it has a lot to do with additions or other ideas that need to be addressed. I think that there is a call for me to do this as well.  Some other things should be emphasized.

Additions:

#11 – Until a child can make decisions for themselves, they should not have parts of their body removed, be abused or otherwise manipulated to further the agenda of adults. 

Sorry, I think children should be protected and make such decisions about circumcision, sexuality, and other religious and political matters when they are old enough themselves.  Adults should respect it is their body and their choices and until they can make informed decisions they should be protected until they can do so themselves.

#12 – In case it wasn’t already clear, the following activities should not be done as they are morally bankrupt: rape, genocide, and slavery.

I don’t really need to say anything here do I.  Other than I have just contradicted many of the commands of the Law of Moses and the ‘history’ of the Biblical Story of god’s people to say so.  Christopher Hitchens is right.  The reason these are not in the original ten is that God’s people will be asked to commit genocide and will later both enslave and rape the survivors.

#13 – Don’t do to others, what you would not want to be done to you.

Kind of a catch-all and a negative version of the golden rule.  This is because the negative so it actually prevents bad behavior in this case.

Final Copy: The Grey Wayfarer’s 13 Commandments:

#1 – You were born free.  People will try to enslave you through many means; Don’t let them. Respect the freedom of others; Don’t enslave them. 

#2 – Be an artistic human.  Express yourself and enjoy the expression of others.

#3 – Uphold the truth and be truthful with your words.  When you’re wrong – admit it. 

#4 – Take one day a week off and do what you want to do.  Life is too short not to enjoy it.

#5 – If you have children, remember that was your decision, not theirs; so be responsible parents, earn their respect, and teach them to be good human beings.

#6 – Don’t Murder

# 7 – Engage in responsible and consensual sexual activity.

# 8 – Don’t Steal

# 9 – Don’t lie to convict or harm the innocent.

#10 – Think Freely.  Never accept any tyranny, especially that of the mind.

#11 – Until a child can make decisions for themselves, they should not have parts of their body removed, be abused or otherwise manipulated to further the agenda of adults. 

#12 – In case it wasn’t already clear, the following activities should not be done as they are morally bankrupt: rape, genocide, and slavery.

#13 – Don’t do to others, what you would not want to be done to you.

They still need refining, but a definite improvement.  In the end, I think I have demonstrated that it does not require religion to come up with a solid moral code.  Rather, it seems that one simply being human can actually come up with something better than the supposed ten commandments of God through Moses.

I remain,

The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard, and Philosopher. The Grey Wayfarer.

Skaal!!!

“Revising the Ten Commandments – Part 2 – Positive Replacements” – The Rabyd Skald

Happy Sol’s Day

I have decided that the best way to proceed in replacing the existing commands and improving the ones that are left is to follow two principles: 1) Be Positive and 2) Provide a counter in each position of the spirit of the original commandment. In the first what I am trying to do is be more of an encouragement to people to be good human beings rather than a tyrannical dictator. In the second, I am trying to provide a counter to the original commandment negative aspects.  So, here is my revised version:

#1 – You were born free.  People will try to enslave you through many means; Don’t let them. Respect the freedom of others; Don’t enslave them. 

Unlike the original, I am not going to tell you to live in bondage to some authoritative figure just because.  Rather, allow me to tell you that you were born free and others will try to enslave you.  Don’t let them and don’t do it to others.  Live as sovereign over your own life alone and protect that.

#2 – Be an artistic human.  Express yourself and enjoy the expression of others.

Make images, music, words, or whatever your heart desires.  Every human being should find some artistic outlet for themselves to remain creative and freethinking. Learning to enjoy doing something artistic and creative, and enjoying when others do it as well, is the spice of life.  Creative activity should be celebrated not forbidden.

#3 – Uphold the truth and be truthful with your words.  When you’re wrong – admit it. 

True, the truth can be difficult at times, but it is far better to be amendable to it than defy it. Speak it or don’t be afraid to say ‘I don’t know’ or ‘I was wrong’.

#4 – Take one day a week off and do what you want to do.  Life is too short not to enjoy it.

The opposite of the biblical forth command which seems to tell you to live in a totalitarian state even on your day off, I am going to say to do what you want. Do that which helps you to get enjoyment out of life. A day off a week to do what the fuck you want to do is only being fair to yourself.

#5 – If you have children, remember that was your decision, not theirs; so be responsible parents, earn their respect, and teach them to be good human beings.

I think people have it backward.  Parents owe their kids not the other way around.  You chose to have them, they didn’t choose you to be their parents. It seems like from a standpoint of repsonsiiblity it falls on the parents to be responsible, to earn their kids respect, and teach them to be good human beings by word and deed.  Expecting your children to just be good little servants or else is kind fo training them to be slaves in a dictatorship.

#6 – Don’t Murder

Duh, No shit.  Yeah, self-evident to any human with basic moral capacity.

# 7 – Engage in responsible and consensual sexual activity.

I know there are social and cultural things that inject into the subject of sex but in truth, the only thing I see in truth is being responsible in that you understand there are consequences to sex that need to be mediated and that you shouldn’t be having sex with someone against their will.  It might be helpful if they knew what it was beforehand and had a choice about it.  So forcing an eleven-year-old to marry you is out.

# 8 – Don’t Steal

Duh.  No Shit.

# 9 – Don’t lie to convict or harm the innocent.

Duh. No Shit.

#10 – Think Freely.  Never accept any tyranny, especially that of the mind.

There should be no thought crime or even crimes that prevent certain words or language from being used. All tyrannies are bad, but a tyranny over thoughts and ideas is the worst form of tyranny.

I remain,

The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard, and Philosopher. The Grey Wayfarer.

Skaal!!!

“Revising the Ten Commandments – Part 1 – What Needs to Go” – The Rabyd Skald

Happy Sif’s Day

Well, we are coming to the end of the first year of The Grey Wayfarer and I thought I would do some things that are special for the final few days.  One thing I have been doing in my spare time is looking at videos of people revising the ten commandments from George Carlin to Atheists like Christopher Hitchens.  I have been thinking as my last public hurrah with being critical of Christianity (I am writing a book for publication on this, so from now on when I am a critic of my former faith, I expect to get paid for it), I should do the same. This will be in three parts:

Part 1 – What Needs to Go

Part 2 –  Positive Replacements

Part 3 –  Further Additions and Final Copy

The Ten Commandments are found in several places.  But I like Deuteronomy 5 the best:

# 1 – ‘I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. ‘You shall have no other gods before Me.

Well except this would have been a perfect time to abolish slavery in the whole of Israel as a testimony to its evil. It would have been symbolic of deliverance for the whole nation to be entirely free with no slavery at all. That does not happen as later commandments basically reaffirm slavery as legit and God’s people over and over to be slaves and bondslaves.  Bondslavery being condoned as a form of slavery where a person has Stockholm Syndrome so bad they wilfully become a lifelong slave.

In addition, this seems to be god trying to make people worship him instead of showing he is the only god and worthy of respect. It seems egotistical on god’s part and it is. More likely was written by a man who wanted his reign not to be questioned so he basically creates a God that is unassailable then says his reign it divinely appointed.  Yeah. goodbye.

#2 – You shall not make for yourself an idol or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, and on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

  1. This pretty much the most ignored command in all of the ten.  I mean go to any Catholic church.  But it goes much further than that – no creativity is allowed here which pretty much gets rid of creative thinkers.  Great way to keep people dumb and compliant.
  2. God is jealous but later calls jealousy a sin. No contradiction there.  Yeah, right.
  3. How is it just to punish children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren for crimes their parents committed. Talk about being a bully.  No standard of justice that is just would do this.  There is also no reverse promise that if one generation is faithful, then the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren would be blessed.

Goodbye.

#3 – ‘You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not [j]leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.

I have literally heard hundreds of interpretations of what this means. and none of them makes sense.  Of the commandments, it is the most nonsensical and controversial as far as meaning. Goodbye.

#4 – ‘Observe the sabbath day to keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter or your male servant or your female servant or your ox or your donkey or any of your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you, so that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you. You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out of there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God commanded you to observe the sabbath day.

Sounds good on the surface until you read the whole of all the sabbath laws and realize this is more about draconian totalitarian control than rest. One guy is literally killed for gathering sticks on the Sabbath. How is that eye for an eye? More like a scratch being punished by a stick to the eye. Interestingly enough Jesus does contradict this command and it is the only one the disciples and Jesus break even though he tells everyone that not one jot or tittle will pass from the law. Due to conflicting observation and overkill in punishment – Goodbye

#5 – ‘Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, that your days may be prolonged and that it may go well with you on the land which the Lord your God gives you.

You have to ask yourself if the man who wrote this had an ironic tone as the punishment, for being a rebellious kid, was death, and it would be your parents that killed you  ‘Days might be prolonged’ indeed. Talk about training for someone to be an abject slave to their rulers, you don’t get better than this.  The potential for abuse is strong in this one as I have seen it firsthand.

If a parent wants honor they should earn it by being a good parent and quite frankly not demand it because of position but earn it by their character. You chose to have children so you are responsible for them.  You shouldn’t have them simply to have servants.  Goodbye.

#6 – ‘You shall not murder. 

Finally, one we can keep. But every law code has this idea and quite frankly it seems to be what we would call – ‘Duh’. I am glad it doesn’t stop all killing as perhaps someday a just war will be fought and self-defense should have killing allowed.

#7 – ‘You shall not commit adultery.

I am going to say what a lot of other commentators say on this one.  There wasn’t something you could have put here that was a more significant issue?  Like, say you should not have a slave or another bigger issue.

The punishment is pretty severe here too – death.  From painful experience, I can say adultery has its own consequences that are quite sufficient. Another case of “How is this eye for an eye?”  Goodbye.

# 8 – ‘You shall not steal.

Another one that is quite frankly – Duh and no real revelation. Law codes older than this one has this in it.  Plagiarism at its finest.

# 9 – You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

Somewhat ahead of its time but not completely as it seems we have another ‘duh’ command here.  Lying to get an innocent person in trouble seems to be self evidently wrong.  Funny how the three I have kept either don’t require a divine entity to tell you them because it is obvious they are good, or that they seem to be in other law codes before this one already.

#10 – ‘You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, and you shall not desire your neighbor’s house, his field or his male servant or his female servant, his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.’

What could be more Orwellian and totalitarian than thought crimes?  The second commandment makes you give up creative thought and this one makes you give up thoughts of any kind of desire.  Making you content with your lot in life even though it sucks.

It is also misogynist as fuck.  ‘Wives as possessions’ is so hot in the bible and the Law of Moses in particular. Property, not people – women equal to cattle is implied.  Goodbye.

We have THREE Survivors:

‘You shall not murder.

‘You shall not steal.

‘You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

So the ones with the moral equivalent of ” Duh, No Shit.” made it.

Hmm.  Need to replace seven of these bad boys. In Part Two we will do that.

I remain,

The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard, and Philosopher. The Grey Wayfarer.

Skaal!!!

“Objections to Christianity – Part 1 – The Bible’s Inspiration by God” (Revised August 2019) – Odin’s Eye – Theological Objections to Christianity.

Happy Thor’s Day

August 2019 Revision Notes:

It has been almost a year since I wrote these originally starting in November of 2018.  When I got to the rotation in Odin’s Eye the last time where I was going to deal with these objections again, I saw no need for revision but rather simply laid it out there that no one had responded to them to that date and moved on into the rest of the Rotation for Odin’s Eye. 

This time though I feel that I need to spend four weeks of Odin’s Eye doing some revisions that will either clarify my position, add some other thoughts or edit for other issues.  Such edits will be marked by italics.  When archived, they will appear under the original post on this Page: My Four Theological Objections to Christianity

 Mostly though this is a cut and paste with some revisions. As the series goes on there will be more revisions as I can see the need for things to change a bit in the other three objections.  In this one, however, the objective remains pretty much the same. 

Introduction:

I want to state upfront, this is a long post. I want to be complete as possible in stating this objection and the ones that follow.  Mostly as I will state later that I for a long time wanted answers; I still do.  It was hard leaving my faith because I wanted so desperately to believe. Reason itself eventually prevailed and I will stand by that decision.   The reason I am putting a lot of words into this is that I still would accept answers: if they could be proven rationally that Christianity is the true religion.

I have written on my crisis of faith a couple of times. Despite some people’s assertion that this was due to personal events, it actually started in 2015 with my second objection which is that I think ‘sin’ is a man-made up concept.  It started when I preached a message about sin and I had heard a quote that week from a critic of Christianity that basically said sin was made up and that because of it Christianity solves a problem of its own making.

I will get into this moment in more detail in my second objection post, but it got me rethinking everything in the light of skepticism and I began to form four theological objections for which I still have no satisfactory answers. While the sin question got my original thinking going, it is this first question involving the Bible and divine inspiration that forms the foundation of the other three.

Now, I want to state for the record that I am no amateur when it comes to the Bible or Theology.  1) I have degrees in both Biblical Studies (BA) and Theological Studies (MA).  2) I am a ‘professional’ theologian and have been since 1996.  3) I was a Christian from the time I was eight and as I approach my 50th birthday that would have been close it forty-two years. 4) I was a pastor (now retired) for twenty years and have spent many years since school studying the Bible and engaging theological questions.  5) I have had several crisis moments in my theology and up until two to three years ago I could answer them all or found ways to explain them.  Not anymore.

I will also say I am not hostile to Christians, I get it.  It took me a long time to face the facts of the objections I will present in this series. I still am open to anything that answers them.  My largest problem when I discuss this is people sometimes get offended because I seem to be very aggressive, but I am not really doing that, just being as honest as I can.  People don’t always like it when you ask questions that are hard about what they believe. Cognitive dissonance is a real thing, so I get.  Understand I am not being hostile to your faith if you have it.  I am just being hostile to mine or what mine used to be. That’s because I take as a central core idea that if the God of the Bible is the real god and the Bible is inspired by him, then it should make sense and have rational proof this is so.

Faith:

Bottom Line, faith is trusting in something that you have no evidence for and that is the problem.  You hope it is true and you believe it is true, but you don’t know it is true. This is particularly true for many church doctrines and one of the most notable is the divine inspiration of scripture.  The reason I can say this is no matter what school of thought you follow in looking at inspiration, there is no evidence that God came down and inspired the Bible.  You simply have to believe the simple statement “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God.”  There is no attempt to prove this, just a statement of fact that the reader must simply accept.

An example is probably in order:

“The Rabyd Skald’s writings are inspired by the god Odin.  Everything he writes comes straight from the mouth of the god Odin.” 

You say ridiculous.  I ask why?  You say because I simply have made an assertion and have offered no proof that what I say is true. I want to tell you the Bible does the exact same thing with the exact same level of proof that God came down and directly inspired the writers of the Bible – none. It’s pure faith, no evidence even from the Bible itself.  The Bible writers simply assert this; they never prove it.

Religion:

Looking at the doctrine of inspiration historically, once again we have no proof of the inspiration of Scripture by God, just the creation of the doctrine of inspiration and various councils of men deciding which books are inspired.  There is no record of God coming down and saying – “these books are my inspired word.” Just groups of men doing that.  That is what you actually see.

It stands to reason that religions do this.  In the end, you need a common core of beliefs and authority and it is far easier to make a group of writings do that because it has a greater chance of standing the test of time.  Especially if you inject a tradition of copying and transcribing these books from one generation to the next. Even in this though, two problems develop. 1) People abuse the authority of said books and can twist their meaning and 2) the transcription of said books can be flawed.

The second brings up an additional inspiration question which is: ‘Is the Bible still inspired even though people have put mistakes into it and changed it from one language to the next where meaning is going to get changed?’  The human factors are definitely present in the Bible.  Does that undermine inspiration or simply point to the fact that the Bible is a wholly human book? Because we don’t really have proof God is involved, are we just making up the whole divine inspiration thing in order to make this human book have more significance?

Theology:

I spent a great deal of time and digital ink pouring over this question of inspiration.  On my blog All Things Rabyd (which is still there although no longer active)  I spent nine posts looking at the various theories of divine inspiration.  You can find the link to all of them here. I eventually settled on Dynamic Inspiration as the best possible explanation to handle the human element of the bible.  That much like the doctrines of Christ state Jesus was 100% God and 100% Man, so was the bible the same way.  It satisfied me for a while but there was a fatal flaw in the whole thing.

The flaw? I still had no proof positive that the 100% divine inspiration part was real.  There is no photograph of God reaching into the head of Paul or Moses inspiring them to write things.  I mean you could say God is the inspiration for the Bible like a person might be inspired to write about nature from being outside. There is however no proof that God took an active hand in telling the authors what to write or how to write it.  That is purely a matter of whether you believe that or not.  It really is blind faith when you consider that particular question.

Spirituality: 

I will probably handle other objections involving scripture at a later date.  My purpose today is to get the main parts of my first objection to Christianity out there.  The question always comes – do I still read the Bible and what value do I place on it?  Well, yes I do.  I value it in that it contains a lot of ‘truth’ small ‘t’.  I just don’t think it’s the Truth with a capital ‘T‘.  Rather a lot of men wrote about their sincere belief in God.  God inspired them in that way and they wrote but in the end, it was human inspiration ABOUT the divine.  It was not God coming down and whispering in their ear what to write, no matter what their claims.

It also, because it is a human book and not divine to me, contains a lot of Bull Shit and spiritual opinion by ancient authors which may or may not be valid.  You still have to use a lot of judgment in looking at the Bible because if some of it is objectively true then the god of the Bible becomes at times both inconsistent and a sadistic tyrant.   

For me, I still draw a lot of inspiration from the Bible.  Some of its stories are great.  It has men wrestling with the question about God.  Some of the teachings of Christ are some of the best on human relationships you will ever see.  That said, it is only one avenue of being inspired, not the only one and it is a very human book.  In short, it has its flaws, and I think some of the morality it promotes could be questioned as to whether it actually does good or not.

Conclusion:

When the doctrine of inspiration goes, then you can look at the Bible objectively.  This caused me to really realize the god of the Bible has a few problems.  1) Sin seems to be made up as a concept and used to control the behavior of people 2) The plan of salvation God comes up with does not speak well of supreme being because it makes God both sadistic and masochistic. 3) God’s justice seems a little suspect especially when you consider final judgment.

The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard, and Philosopher. The Grey Wayfarer.

Skaal!!!

“The Virgin Birth of Jesus” – Odin’s Eye – Bible Problems

Happy Thor’s Day

Discussion:

What I am about to do here is give at sample or teaser of what I am doing for my non-fiction book.  What I am doing is taking my expertise gained from a biblical studies degree, a theological studies degree and twenty years experience of being a pastor and doing a class I did many times – Life of Christ.  I am however this time doing it from a skeptics point of view.  I am doing it as a non-believer and a critic of Christianity and The Bible.

Today I am going to give a brief synopsis about why I think the virgin birth story is a tall tale concocted by many people who had personal and political reasons to do so.  The theory I am running with here is my own which is that there was a man named Jesus of Nazareth and that he did indeed have disciples.  That those disciples watched Jesus as he fought the religious establishment.  That establishment then did perhaps have him crucified by the Romans because they came to hate him and the threat he posed to their political and religious power.

This is where those disciples create mythology surrounding the man known as Jesus of Nazareth.  They knew the Messianic prophecies and began to retroactively go back to his life and spin things to fulfill them.  One of those things involved the fact that there was a prophecy where the Messiah had to be born of a virgin.

Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel. – Isaiah 7:14

One of the things that may have very well have been true about Jesus is that his origin may have had a little scandal attached to it.  That is there was a question as to who his father was or that it was clear he was conceived out of wedlock.  As a political scientist, I can see how scandal can be turned to opportunity if it is spun right.  So, no Jesus wasn’t the product of an illicit affair or the fact that Joseph and Mary had sex before the wedding day, let’s write it this way to turn him into the Messiah.

Now in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was very perplexed at this statement and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. “And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. “For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.  Luke 1:26-38 – NASB

Suddenly the scandal becomes an opportunity to tell the story in a different way and Jesus fulfills the prophecy of being born of a virgin.  So what is the actual evidence?

Time to Look Through the Eye:

Faith:

In order to believe in the virgin birth, you have to believe that God can make a woman pregnant which is not a stretch if you accept an omnipotent god. That Joseph was not involved and that he suddenly became cool with the fact that another man has sex with his bride to be and knocked her up.  He has to buy the story himself.

Mostly though you have to believe that Mary herself is not lying about the angel.  Because the only witness of that event is Mary herself.  Understand that even if I take the account as true, the only witness even in the gospels of the event is Mary and the only gospel that records it is Luke.  Luke is probably the last synoptic gospel to write.  One could theorize that Luke is reacting then to the fact that Mark says nothing about a virgin birth and Matthew only deals with Joseph’s reaction and no one has addressed Isaiah’s prophecy to that point.  If you believe in the virgin birth, you simply taking the word of one witness – Mary.  A girl of fifteen who finds herself pregnant in a culture that stones women who commit adultery or at the best puts away women privately to live out their days in silence.  Which is more likely at this point – God impregnated her or that she came up with a story to cover her pregnancy out of fear of reprisal?  Or she made it up later to vindicate herself after the fact when people are starting to believe her son is the Messiah.

Religion:

Let’s understand something. the virgin birth in the Bible does not stand alone as the only one.  Religions around the world have tons of virgin birth stories and Mary was not unaware of them. This is something that is well known and well published. Just look it up for yourself.

The thing is though for Christianity a lot of theology regarding sin and the biblical god is wrapped up in this story being true; so of course, they defend it regardless of how common such a story is in mythology around the world and how little testimony there is to support the actual story.

But understand that even under the Bible’s own standard of establishing every fact the virgin birth story fails.  It only has one witness Mary herself and she certainly has plenty of cultural and personal motivation to make it up.  Luke is the only direct record of it but it is still her story alone, he just records it. This fails the two or three witnesses required even by Biblical Standards, particularly the Law of Moses.

Matthew records Joseph’s response but even his response might have had a personal motivation if he either loved Mary or he was the cause of her pregnancy.  How he reacted really has only one witness – Joseph himself.  He may have simply been a man who took responsibility for his actions and we are assuming he was even around for Matthew to interview as he might have been dead.  It is easy to see how Matthew who was writing with the goal of persuading Jews to become Christians might make up Joseph’s story based on stories of others. But that makes is second-hand hearsay, not reliable evidence.

Theology:

This story absolutely is essential for doctrines such as original sin and the incarnation of Christ.  For the early Christians, they needed a story that fulfilled some of the prophecies so going back a retroactively recounting things with their own spin on it became essential for the accusation that the Jewish leaders had killed the Messiah.

The motivation for this is that Jesus may very well have been a man who successfully created a movement of reform and the Jewish leaders, by killing him, had created a martyr.  It is not hard to see how the disciples, motivated by a desire for the resurrection to be true and to create Jesus as the Messiah, would stretch the truth and follow rumors and ‘urban legends’ of Jesus of Nazareth to do so. For later Christians, these become the basis for theology that allows Jesus to be the answer to the sin question and how Jesus was both God and Man.

Spirituality:

While a great many Christians, particularly women, draw a lot of spiritual strength from Mary’s Story, I look at it more as identification with a character caught in a bad situation that has a great story to get herself out of it and go from being a immoral unwed mother, to the mother of the Messiah.  I can see where a lot of women would love that idea and emotionally and spiritually resonate with it. Even those who might think it is not true fully understand given Mary’s Culture why she would do it. In the movie Saved! – the character Mary remarks in one scene how she could understand, being pregnant herself in the movie, why a girl would make up such a story.

Conclusion:

My thoughts are this, I think Jesus of Nazareth was a real person but I think after thirty years before the first writing on his life a lot of mythology and what we would term ‘urban legend’ became built around him that also got into the story.  One of the examples is the virgin birth story which appears late in the accounts like it was a reaction to criticism of Jewish leaders that the prophecy in Isaiah is not fulfilled by Jesus of Nazareth.  So Matthew records the story of Joseph with his reaction to her being pregnant and later on a little bit after that Luke does the same from Mary’s point of view.  Except this does not even meet the Bible’s own criteria of ‘two or three witnesses” as each account is only one person’s perspective and with no other witnesses.

What really happened?  Most likely Joseph and Mary had sex before they were married.  A common tale even back then.  Joseph may very well have simply decided to marry her because it was his child; which oddly enough the Law of Moses would have accepted provided he gives up is right to divorce her later. Joseph and Mary would have lived with a cultural stigma after that which would have cast her in particular as an immoral woman.

Fast forward some decades and their son actually becomes a great Rabbi and critic of the religious leadership.  He gets killed and becomes a martyr.  Mary finds herself with the opportunity presented by the new but fanatical Christians to vindicate herself and be the mother of the Messiah, to no longer be considered an immoral woman.

So that is what she did.  The story gets changed so that she is a virgin and both she and Joseph have visits by angels no one else sees and they decide to get married after all. She was a virgin until after Jesus was born and the prophecy fulfilled.  Of course, there are no witnesses to this other than Mary herself and so we must take her word for it. No physical exam, no other witnesses of the angels in question, nothing but her word.

I think the more simple explanation is she made it up to vindicate herself.  It is not something Christians want to hear but it seems to be very likely given her culture and her desire to clear her name would have been very strong.  It is just unfortunate how far people have taken this legend. I mean people actually pray to this woman now and she is probably nothing more than a woman who either told the story to save her ass or vindicate herself as an older woman who had lived with the stigma of being immoral all her life. She definitely improved her status in retrospect so the story worked.

So there it is a sample page from my non-fiction book although it will be much more extensive and much more complete and referenced. Hope you enjoyed it.

I remain,

The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard, and Philosopher. The Grey Wayfarer.

Skaal!!!

“Asatru” – Of Wolves and Ravens – The Nine Noble Virtues

 

Happy Tyr’s Day

Discussion:

I started following the Nine Noble Virtues of Asatru simply because they were a good list of virtues I wanted in my life.  In large part, it was my constant meditation on the Virtue of Fidelity that eventually brought me back to my wife. These nine virtues are now a very essential part of my own spiritual practice using my understanding of what it means to be a pagan.  What it means to be an honorable human being for that matter.

What I began to discover is that Asatru is a whole very new and modern form of neo-paganism. It attempts to recapture the pagan root of the Germanic and Scandinavian world before Christianity took over. The video below is a very good overview of what Asatru is as a religion by a man taking a very informative view on it.  He recommends a book that is on the way to my house at the time of this writing. I want to learn more out of curiosity sake if nothing else.

My own practice has very little to do with the religious aspects of Asatru.  I follow the virtues.  I find the stories of Norse Mythology and the various practices of Asatru inspiring and fascinating but ritual and religion are not a central thing to me.  My issue is living a good life following after virtue.  I must say though if I was ever going to be ‘religious’ again – I would pick this one.  More practical than most of them.

I center most of my personal paganism on following a life philosophy that leads to prosperity of life. Whether it is the prosperity is foundational, business or for myself. If there is a god, or gods or whatever, I am fairly sure they expect me to handle my own issues.  There is no real wrong or right way to a pagan after all so perhaps my paganism is as much about my philosophy of life as spirituality. This actually fits well with Asatru so there is a lot of common ground between me and those who practice the more religious aspect of Asatru.  Both of us find the simplicity and challenge of the Nine Noble Virtues to be central to achieving personal peace and prosperity.

To the Wolves and Ravens:

Needs (Geri):

If you have ever lost your faith in something or left behind an old religion, you will know the need for finding something that grounds you and gives you ethical and moral focus. In my case, I found the Nine Noble Virtues fairly quickly to be a value centering philosophy that didn’t require the religious element.  There was a hole in my moral and ethical philosophy, a real need, and the NNV filled it quite nicely.

Wants (Freki):

I wanted something solid and simple as a philosophy to live by.  I got sick of the multitude of interpretive points one could give to Christian scripture and you could pretty much make the Bible say whatever you wanted with very few limitations. I also wanted to dump the whole appeal to authority issue and while the NNV are solid virtues, they can not be looked at authority so much as a guide.  The only authority I have for my moral philosophy and ethics is myself and so finding something solid to both meditate on and provide a basic framework for that was a big want.  The Nine Noble Virtues have performed well in this role.

Reason (Huginn):

The Nine Noble Virtues all have the reason element I was looking for.  There are very good solid rational reasons to embrace each virtue.  They have good results that lead to peace and prosperity.  They are rationally practical That said it still takes a lot of thinking to employ them and implement them.  They are not easy always in application but they work.

Wisdom (Muninn):

See the source image

I come back to the wisdom of this quote by Markus Aurelius all the time.  Virtue is its own reward in this life to be sure.  It creates solid memories for your loved ones and for yourself leads to prosperity and a good life. The afterlife, if there is one, simply becomes a matter of whether there is a good or evil judge on the throne.  The good judge should see ones’ virtue and reward it, the evil judge needs human defiance.

Conclusion:

Over the next nine weeks, I will be returning to the Nine Noble Virtues one at a time.  Every time I do this there is a spiritual awakening of a sort.  I may not be a religious follower of Asatru, but I respect the virtues that all of those who follow it try to live up to.  It is something I will continue for much of the foreseeable future.

I remain,

The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard, and Philosopher. The Grey Wayfarer.

Skaal!!!

Odin’s Eye – Religion Problems: The Growing Unaffiliated ‘Religion’ in the USA

Happy Thor’s Day

Discussion:

In the United States where I live, the number of religiously ‘unaffiliated’ is growing. What is shrinking is White Protestantism and Catholicism particularly with Generation X and the millennials.  Below is a good statistical graph of what is happening.

https://www.statista.com/statistics/245453/religious-affiliation-in-the-united-states-by-age/

In short, older people are clinging to what they know and were taught, but younger people saying ‘fuck that shit.” It also true that as people age death and what follows it becomes more of a thing to them.  But that does not account for the fact that a change is strongly evident. That Protestantism, particularly among whites but truly across the board, is shrinking in the United States and Catholicism as well.  What is happening?

There are a lot of things that one could say here, but for me, I understand one thing for certain – that information is far more available and then there is no way to prevent people from getting alternative opinions. If one has an internet connection, you can find alternatives opinions and arguments against any religion and faith with ease. The two generations that have enjoyed this state of affairs the most are the Millenials and Generation X.  Both of these groups have had the luxury of when any opinion is offered of being able to find a counter opinion in seconds and not just one counter opinion but many.

Of course, Christians fear what means. But in truth, this country was not founded as a Christian one but a secular one based on reason. It could be argued that we are simply returning to where we came from. I question whether this is a bad thing at all.  As we look through the eye today I can only tell my personal story of becoming one of the Unaffiliated. I don’t know if it is typical, but I think it might be the pattern for most.

Time to Look Through the Eye:

Faith:

In the case of Christianity, faith rests on the story of Jesus Christ being true. Not just parts of it but all of it.  Without this, faith is simply not possible.  Paul’s argument in the 1 Corinthians 15 is true in that regard that without the historical resurrection, Christianity is founded on nothing. The problem is that the gospels are problematic as I pointed out in this post: Odin’s Eye – Bible Problems: The Four Gospels. Because of this, the real Jesus of Nazareth is obscured by disciples who created what amounts to a tall tale with no historical verification. In many cases, stories are told alone without even the other gospels to back them up. Once the truth of this was apparent to me, I realized my faith in Christianity was based in large part on nothing but unverified stories that were no better or worse than the stories of any other mythology.

Religion:

My religion was no help here in preserving my faith.  Nor was my experience or education in Christianity a bolster to my sagging faith.  In fact, my traditions repeatedly informed me it was dangerous to ask such questions.  My response was: ‘if my religion cannot handle questions and the god they proclaim cannot stand the scrutiny of logic, then both are weak and not worth serving’. Religion as a general rule doesn’t like questions and would rather have people blindly follow than analyze the doctrines and theology.  My problem was I have always been a rebel in that regard; and when it comes to theology, I am a guy with a degree in theology and that journey actually drove me to realize that all ideas about the divine are strictly opinion based on man’s thoughts about god.

Theology:

As a theologian, I thought a lot about God.  Mostly the problem was how to get the god of the Protestant Bible to make sense. The best I could do was to abandon the idea that god controlled everything; because if he did, then he was an evil fuck.  No matter how you shake and dance, the god of scripture seems very human. Being jealous and acting in ways that would make tyrants look benevolent. He creates man knowing he is going to suffer and do evil things and then yet punishes them for the way he created them. The god of the bible promotes a certain morality, commands it even, and then breaks it himself.  Over time, this and my other Four Major Objections to Christianity formed out of my theological struggles and I simply could not reconcile them.  In the end, I found myself a pastor without any faith.

Spirituality:

The hard cold truth is that our spirituality is chosen.  It cannot be imposed and the reason I was a Christian all those years was not that Christianity as faith, religion or theology could prove itself true.  It was because it was how I chose to engage the spiritual reality that I perceived around me.  Once this truth dawned on me, I left Christianity to follow a more spiritual path without religion imposing on me the thoughts of others. I find a lot more peace about it these days.

Conclusion:

I don’t know how typical I am here but I do know one thing.  All of this journey was possible because my access to information and counter-arguments was right at my fingertips. Books, articles and web pages in abundance offered up alternatives to the arguments Christians used to defend themselves and their beliefs and in the end, they prevailed to the point I could not accept Christianity anymore. I think this is basically what is happening in American as a whole.  It just took longer for me to join the religion known as “Unaffiliated” than others.  It is a new path for me, but one I new cheerfully embrace.  I consider it an honor to be a part of a time where religion is in retreat and perhaps there is a new chance for Reason to reign instead. Or at the very least where people can be Unaffiliated and free from religion’s control.

Continuing to Walk the Path,

The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard, and Philosopher. The Grey Wayfarer.

Skaal!!!

Odin’s Eye – Christianity Problems – The Resurrection and Eyewitness Reliability

Happy Thor’s Day

Discussion:

I suppose a disclaimer is in order.  I am writing this post as test pilot of the kind of things I could probably put in a book as an ex-believer, former pastor, bible scholar and theologian.  The kind of things that would cause many Christians to say: “That’s sad, I will pray for you.”  Spare me, I have a better plan for you. Read this post and tell me where I am wrong.  The point is I could write a book (and may do so) about the problems with the life of Jesus Nazareth, this would only represent what would probably be one section of a chapter. There is definitely many more things I could say.

Nobody likes death or the idea of ceasing to exist. Nobody.  In large part I think this is why every major religion has an afterlife story. In Christianity an eschatology of where people go after they die. We want to believe that we go on and so we create religions to say when, how and why we would go on. None of this has any real verification as no one has really come back from the dead to tell us the reality of what is after death. Well, unless you can prove Jesus of Nazareth actually did so.

For four decades I believed he had.  It is this central belief on which all of Christianity lives or dies.  Even the Bible understands this as in 1 Corinthians 15 it is very boldly stated that if Jesus did not rise from the dead, then the Christian faith is vain. Everything in Christianity hinges on the resurrection being true.

For years I was therefore a faithful apologist of the resurrection.  I understood the stakes. Without this event, my faith was nonsense.  Today; when it comes down to it, I have more doubts now than belief. For a long time I hinged my faith that the eyewitnesses were telling the truth. They may well have thought they were telling the truth, but were they actually reliable witnesses or subject to the same problems that plague all eyewitness accounts?

Here is the problem – everything that we know about the resurrection is based on eyewitness testimony, and it has been proven that eyewitness testimony is unreliable at best. Then you have the fact that such testimony was not solicited for being permanently written down for many years after the fact. Even by conservative christian scholarship there is a gap of twenty years between the events and the first gospel. That’s a long time for the eyewitnesses to get their story straight and they still don’t pull it off.

Eyewitness testimony has the following problems: https://www.simplypsychology.org/eyewitness-testimony.html

  1. Stress / Anxiety – Stress level can have a negative impact on memory.  Depending on the nature of the stress.  While people can remember aspects of events involving weapons very well, they forget others more readily if experiencing personal stress because their personal stress level is very highly distracting to their focus.
  2. Reconstructive Memory.  In memory recall we DO NOT remember things like a video tape.  In reality there is a lot of interpretive action in memory and we remember the gist of the event to the value judgment we placed on it more than the events. We store the information in the way that makes most sense to us. Because this is very cultural and societal it can be full of prejudice and bias. This is reflected in the fact that as people change their values, the memories change in how they are recalled. We reconstruct memories in a way that reflects our belief in the nature of the world.
  3. Weapon Focus – The funny thing about having a weapon pointed at you is that you remember the weapon and nothing else around it.  You might ask how this applies, well when you get focused on one thing you are seeing the other things tend to get blurry.  So the question comes – was the sight of an open tomb an object focus?
  4. Leading Questions – this is normally an issue with legal matters in testimony, but in the case of the gospels the claim is made that the writers of the gospels were interviewing eyewitnesses – did they during such interviews ask leading questions?

So, the question then becomes how accurate is any account, even four of them, when all those accounts are based entirely of eyewitness testimony many years after the fact?  There is a high probability that a large amount of the second problem entered into the accounts as the disciples interpreted the events according to their values and beliefs in the world.  The believed in miracles and they wanted Jesus to be alive.

I could argue that the whole thing might be made up.  But let’s for the sake of this argument say that on resurrection morning the disciples did indeed see something and the interpreted that as Jesus of Nazareth risen from the dead. Let’s assume that their gospels are the eyewitness testimony they claim to be and see what problems could be there.  Let’s assume thy are not being deliberately deceptive, but perhaps misjudged what they saw.

  1. Stress /Anxiety – the disciples would have been under a great deal of stress that would have affected their memory. They were mourning and were by their own accounts in fear of the religious leaders. In the case of the women who first went to the tomb grieving and distraught.  When they arrive at the tomb, it is empty, the guards are gone and there is no body.  Interpretation, because they wanted it to be true – so badly to be true – Jesus rose from the dead.
  2. Reconstructive Memory – this is the big problem. The gospels themselves when it comes to the resurrection accounts are varied and quite frankly at times contradictory.  I am not saying there was a conspiracy to defraud but an atmosphere of want the story to be true to the point that accounts of seeing Jesus alive were probably everywhere. The gospels themselves provide evidence for reconstructive memory.  Mark stops after saying the resurrection took place, the longer version being a clear addition.  No events are actually recorded so you are left with the oral stories floating around.  Matthew and Luke record the events but they don’t agree on some details.  Like who saw Jesus first as far as who was in the group of women. Both of them record Peter being the first to reach the tomb with no second witness.  John says ‘no the way it happened was I was there and I outran Peter to the tomb.’  This lack of continuity in the accounts is a direct refection of not only that memories of the resurrection are being reconstructed, but the stories are told differently to reflect each gospels writer’s own interpretations of those memories; whether their own or the testimony of others.  Worse yet, if we follow even conservative scholarship on the dates of the gospels – we get a gap of time of at least two to three decades where interpretation of bias have influenced those memories over time.  Cementing the values with the memories and altering those memories.
  3. Weapon/Object Focus: If the disciples find the tomb empty, that tomb would become the object focus of the discussion. They would focus on it and try to explain it.  They many to choose from, but their founder Jesus of Nazareth told them he was going to rise from the dead.  They wanted that to be true very badly so the empty tomb becomes – Jesus rose from the dead like he said.  Later when the accounts are being written, ‘angels’ make that statement, and memories reconstructed with additions and changes.
  4. Leading Questions: The problem here is that when the gospel writers are doing their research; they being believers talking to believers would have the high possibility of doing two things.  1) Asking questions that basically assume the story is true looking for confirmation, not honest inquiry and 2) asking softball questions that are leading to get the story they want.  No author of the gospels is a skeptic but rather they assume the story is true and there is no other account but theirs anywhere.

Time to Look Through the Eye:

Faith:

Was this eyewitness thing  the death nail to my faith.  No, but it has raised more doubt than faith that Jesus of Nazareth rose from the dead,  Why?  Because it is highly feasible that with the high expectations or need for comfort, that people made the story up because of wanting something to have faith in. My best example of this is Mary Magdalene seeing Christ after the other ladies leave. She is very distraught (Stress), she is focused on the empty tomb (object focus) and she sees what she perceives is the gardener and then ‘discovers’ it is Jesus (reconstructive memory?). When you add the problem of that no one but Mary experienced this with no other witnesses, it is highly like people who see aliens when they are alone.  With no collaboration, you really have to dismiss the story.  I have more doubts than faith anymore because most stories of seeing the resurrected Christ have these problems.

Religion:

In the end it was my religion and profession that kept me at it, but the doubts kept getting bigger.  This issue of eyewitness testimony actually came up in my Easter sermons because I was wrestling with it.  The more I wrestled with it and looked at the gospel accounts, the more I realize these problems were very possible and that either many of the stories either had no collaboration, no outside collaboration or the witnesses were not named and thus could not be followed up on.

Theology:

If there is any part of the theology I wrestle with it is life after death and its relationship to giving life meaning. Paul’s argument in 1 Corinthians 15 is that the only meaning to life would be ‘eat and drink for tomorrow we die.  But I would argue that philosophers have taken on that point and have done so somewhat successfully.  Don’t get me wrong, their answers aren’t perfect, but they are there to be considered.

Spirituality:

I think most of us deists still cling a little to the possibility of life after death. The possibility that the universe has a grand purpose created by a designer.  That said we are very interested in spirituality that reflects reality.  We want something deeper that is real not the result of flaws in human reasoning and observation.  For me this basically means I place more emphasis on enjoying and living a good life now, because life after death is a true unknown and not something I want to focus my spiritual life on, especially if it turns out that it doesn’t exist.

Conclusion:

Well, I hope you enjoyed this little test pilot of what kinds of things I could write if I was so inclined.  The real issue I wrestle with is truth, how much more important is truth to the value I place on fidelity and respect of others.  I have to think on it more, Because the Life of Christ would be a great topic for me given my education and experience, the problem would be most of my family and friends might disown me or at the very least find it awkward to invite me to family gatherings at Christmas and Easter.  I will have to meditate on it more.

Continuing to Walk the Path,

The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard and Philosopher. The Grey Wayfarer.

Skaal!!!

The Rabyd Skald – The Grey and The Wayfarer – Part 9 – Avoiding vs. Facing (Plus Some Writing Notes)

Happy Wooden’s (Odin) Day

I haven’t given a family warning for a while, but the rest of this post probably has one.  I am simply going to be very real for a bit with my feeling about what was going on last year and how it affects me now. If you want to know simply what my writing plans are then you can scroll down to that and start reading there. I will give it a headline.

I wouldn’t give you a nickel for how I felt this past weekend..  I knew memories of last year at this same time were going to be rough, but this is downright painful at times.  Like pins under your fingernails painful.  Then to protect myself from said pain, I go Grey. That feeling of nothing being preferable to the pain and sadness. I hate when people say – “Get over it” or “Move on”.  I think to myself when I hear this: “Yes, this is where I want to be.  To have a choice between sorrow and nothing,  Yeah, this is fun.”  People who say such things, don’t have a fucking clue, and they should probably just learn some shit about depression and then shut up and be thankful you don’t fight this particular battle.

I am conflicted at times as to what strategy to employ as far as dealing with memories. There are simply times; I note, there is no way not to be triggered. So avoiding the memory is not an option.  But then how to confront and face them then?  The real problem of course is not all my memories are bad ones.  There was some good things taking place through a certain relationship last year, it is just the relationship that was doing some of those good things was ‘toxic’ or ‘wrong’.  I don’t know how else to express it, but there were some good things happening for me but other people might say it wasn’t good how it was happening.

I wasn’t moping around in April of 2018, I was actually feeling quite confident and good.  My female friend at the time was helping me deal with things that were a bummer and I was loving her for it. She was keeping the Grey at bay for me or maybe my love for her was, I don’t know. I still miss that friendship, and it hurts that it is gone.  Probably always will.

Unfortunately, we both took things too far.  We let our friendship grow into something else. Something far more intimate emotionally than was probably safe for both of us.  But I think given the state of my marriage at the time; I probably didn’t care as much then as I would now.  Our counselor said my affair was actually pretty typical. Marriage sucked, you didn’t feel loved, you hurt.  Someone else expresses love for you in some way and you are drawn to them like a moth to flame. Nothing special, happens all the time.  Sounds common and base; something I dislike, but there it is.

This weekend was rough because I was; as I often do, sifting through my Facebook memories and there was her name.  Something I had tagged her in.  Fuck it but if it didn’t trigger an immediate emotional response.  A mix of sadness, loss, grief and who knows what else. It is the kind of emotions you get when something good has turned bad or died. The whole thing hurt again and I wanted to crawl up inside and die.  But I didn’t, I kept going. I have to.  It’s all I know. I turned on the Grey and went forward choosing to feel nothing and not all that. Weird thing this time I couldn’t keep it on all the time.  I kept alternating between nothing and sadness. It sucked. I actually cried once.

Despite this, I have concluded avoid things is not an option.  I will not do that.  Let Facebook and other memories come. I need to learn to deal with this.  Let it make me stronger. Let it make me handle The Grey better. I just know this is really the small shower before the storm that will be later this spring and then this summer. It is the warm up and if I can’t learn how to handle this now, the time between now and the end of August is going to seriously suck. Well, it’s going to suck regardless, but I need to learn how to face it so I keep going and that it sucks less.  That’s all for now.

Time to talk about writing.

Writing Notes:

I have a struggle with the non-Fiction book that I am trying to resolve.  Here is the thing, I could be one helluva critic of Religion in general and The Bible and Christianity in particular.  I could write books that would seriously challenge both and possibly make a shit ton of money doing it. It would make all the past learning and experiences as a minister not feel like such a waste of time, if I could use them to build a new future with writing books.  The flip side is I still have a lot of friends who are religious and Christians, including my wife. This would seriously put some shit out there between us.  At the same time I feel what they believe is a fraud and their lives would be better without it.  Shit.

My novel is a little easier. But at the same time genre is important. I have written every fiction genre at one time or another.  Even ones I didn’t really care for and by writing them I found out that I didn’t really care for them.  My best bet would probably be to create a fantasy setting and go with that.  The reason is you can do anything with that.  But my passion is modern fantasy.  What to choose?  I also should note I won’t be writing this novel for a children’s or young adult audience – definitely adult stuff.  So yep – adult situations, sex, and violence.

As far as the blog goes, I am going to try to get out two installments of Rogue Wizard.  One for Thursday and one for Friday.  It’s time for them.  The timeline shift is going to cause the character based on me to have a major life change so that nothing in his life will relate to what is going on in my real life. The purpose of this is to change the nature of the story into something that is pure fiction.  Or mostly pure as the kind of decisions my alter ego would make will still be based on what I would really do in that situation.

Walking The Grey,

The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard and Philosopher. The Grey Wayfarer.

Skaal!!!

The Book of Rabyd 2:2 – “I am Free Because I Know that I Am Morally Responsible for Everything I Do.”

Happy Sun’s Day

Text:

“I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for what I do. I am free no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for what I do.” – The Book Of Rabyd 2:2

Thoughts and Exposition:

I am diverging from the original Book of Rabyd at this point. Much of the old one was the same author and while I respect that author, there are many other true points of wisdom quotes that deserve a place at the table. I could quote Robert Heinlein all day too and he may get one or two but there other author’s whose wisdom I find top-notch and so they will also be included.

There are all sorts of schools of thought about why people do what they do.  About ethics and morality in general.  The most common I have heard is that we do things out of respect or fear. God, the law or basically some authority in general.  I would now maintain is not a very high sense of ethics or morality that you have if you only do things out of some outward focus, or because some outward force compels you to be ethical or moral. It basically is an admission that you are not very ethical or moral and you need someone or something to make you so.

This quote cuts through that bullshit, and drives home the point that the only real thing that is responsible for our choices is us.  We alone bear the moral responsibility for our actions.  Not our fear of the divine (whom ever they may be), respect or fear of the law, or just plain fear.  At the end of the day, it is each one of us that is morally responsible for our actions. We alone bear the responsibility for our choices.

Part of this quote is more truth than choice. We tolerate the rules we find tolerable and we break the rules we find obnoxious.  I saw this all the time in Christianity. I would laugh inside when people would decry people with tattoos because of an old testament passage about it, knowing full well that same passage had rules like no blended fabrics and other such rules. If those same people were forced to engage all the rules that would have  made them upset.  No matter how much a person claims to live fully their code, they make exceptions.  Then most of them lie that they don’t. Neither Heinlein or myself will do that any more. Rules either are tolerable to my freedom of choice or they are obnoxious to the point of being worthy of being broken.  I simply state and live that reality while others will deny it.

I think people play this game of fear and respect because it allows them to look down on someone morally and be in their ivory tower.  To think of themselves as better because they ‘follow’ some moral code and others don’t or do it imperfectly.  The problem with such codes, is when you get right down to it people follow the parts they like or make them feel morally superior, and ignore the parts they don’t and try to hide it so their moral judgment doesn’t come back on their own head.Quite frankly I am sick of this fear/respect dichotomy. In my mind it just leads to more ‘evil’.

Heinlein and the Book of Rabyd offer you an alternative.  Better is to live like this – I am free because I am completely responsible for my own actions. No one else, nothing else compels me to be ethical or moral – only myself. I live free and take full responsibility. Period.  Stop.  Nothing else.

The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard and Philosopher. The Grey Wayfarer.

Skaal!!!