Holy, Holy Week!

How are you doing in having your happiest year ever?  Seems we might have picked the wrong year to make this resolution.  Or maybe it was the best if you like a challenge.  I sure do.

Each week I let a topic come to me.  It appears out of nowhere, usually with a catchy title.  This time it happened walking by a television which was tuned to a channel that plays old 1960-70’s era shows.  Batman was on and Robin exclaimed, Holy Pianola!  An evil piano player played by Liberace was feeding the dynamic duo into a machine that punched out the cards (pianolas) for player pianos.

Anyway, since this is Holy Week for us Christians I figured that is what I was supposed to write about.  Makes sense in terms of our happiness theme.  This week should be our happiest of times.  We are saved from our sins and given the hope of eternal life.  Plus the Easter Bunny brings us candy.  What could possibly be a happier time?!  Gee, I hope the bunny is not quarantined!

The term “Holy…!” followed by a descriptor is a common expression of surprise.  It was Robin’s catchphrase.  He used it in 359 different ways over the 120 episode run of the Batman television series.  The last one was, “Holy astringent plum-like fruit!”  The show was cancelled following that one, go figure.

Anyway, while I am not surprised that we have arrived at Holy Week, I am amazed at the state of the world.  We are in isolation, quarantine, lock-down.  The churches will be empty on Easter Sunday, always the most attended church service of the year.  Unbelievable!

This week has always been a time of reflection and renewal for me.  It’s my religious new year celebration.  A time to look back on how I’ve done and to resolve to do better going forward.  A time to remember what is important in life, and what is not.  Being in isolation, away from the usual distractions of life makes this a perfect time for us all to take a little time for introspection.

I refrain from doing this often, but this week I feel compelled to write about the topic of God.  I will give you my personal thoughts in hopes of encouraging you to give some thought to your own views.  Whether you a believer or not, and no matter your religious affiliation, I think it does us all good to contemplate the subject in some depth occasionally.  Right now seems to be a pertinent time to do just that.

Since my friends are a mix of faiths ranging from none to evangelical, I’ve had some very interesting and entertaining conversations since publishing my first book, sAint Me?!  Some thought is contained too much God, some too little, and many others to my surprise thought it was just the right mix.

I use the word saint with a lower-case “s” to denote a person who is striving to be their best in this world for the benefit of others.  The “A” is capitalized to indicate that I do not claim to be one of those people, thus an Aint.  Question mark, could I and should I strive to be a saint?  Exclamation point, yes I should!  Cute, huh?

The premise is that if we were all striving to be saints, to be our best and to give our best, this world would be a much better place to live.  The book helps you build your personal plan to do just that.

Since its publication, I’ve had the opportunity to answer a number of very common God questions such as, why do you believe, what do you believe, and what are you doing about it?

I’ll share my answers in summary form here.  Again, my hope is that they will get you thinking about your own personal beliefs.  I’ll do them in summary form to spare you the long monologue that typically accompanies them.  You’re welcome and here goes:-)

Why do you believe?

  1. Look around and try to explain the wonder of the universe in any other way.
  2. I can’t explain all of the natural talents we all possess in any other way.
  3. There have been too many “coincidences” in my life for it all to have been random.
  4. I’ve witnessed many prayers answered, some which seem to have been miracles.
  5. Christianity is backed up by significant historical facts and it makes sense to me as the best way to live a productive and happy life.
  6. It gives me hope that things can get better and that this is not all there is.
  7. Why not? There is an upside to believing and a downside to not.

Here’s my logic on that last point:

  • If you believe and you’re right, you will likely gain eternal life in heaven. You will also probably have led a happy life on earth through practicing your belief system.
  • If you believe and you’re wrong, you will never know it. You will die into nothingness.  There will be no “I told you so,” thus no embarrassment.
  • Alternatively, if you don’t believe and you’re right, you will never know it. You will die into nothingness with no opportunity to revel in your rightness.
  • But if you don’t believe and you’re wrong you will suffer the ultimate embarrassment, begging for mercy from eternal damnation. Most of the non-believers I know are very fine people, so hopefully they will get into heaven anyway.

Oh, I forgot the other growing category, agnostics: a person who believes that nothing is known or can be known of the existence or nature of God or of anything beyond material phenomena; a person who claims neither faith nor disbelief in God.

I’m reminded of a famous saying, “If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.”  Please pick a side my agnostic friends.  My advice, go with the low risk and high potential reward option, believe.  What do you have to lose?

What do you believe?

  • God is the creator of heaven and earth.
  • He gave us each life and natural talents.
  • He has a plan for each of us, it’s up to us to figure it out, and carry it out.
  • He gave us a few simple rules to follow.
  • He gave us a conscience to know right from wrong to help us follow the rules.
  • Obeying the rules will ensure our happiness on earth and prove us worthy of Heaven.
  • He gave us the gift of freedom to choose our own path and actions (free will).
  • We humans have proven to be incapable of consistently following the rules.
  • So He sent His son Jesus to show us the right way to live and to save us from our sins through His death and resurrection.
  • We can also rise from the dead and live for eternity in Heaven through our belief in Jesus and striving to live by His example.
  • Everyone who makes it to Heaven is considered a saint.
  • We can all be saints. We should all try.  If we did, this earth would be a much better and happier place in which to live.

Follow-up question.  If God is so great, why does he allow suffering.  My short answer is, He doesn’t, we do.  Through the exercise of our free will we have created all the problems in the world through our collective bad behavior.  But good news, we can solve them all by working together in the way He intended.  There is still time.

But why do bad things happen to good people?  I don’t know.  To test our faith?  To make the rest of us grateful?  To get the rest of us to help?  I have to assume there is a plan that is beyond my comprehension.

This life is short, eternity is forever.  Hopefully those who have suffered through no fault of their own will all enjoy the kingdom of heaven for an eternity.

Does God ever intervene to make things better or worse to suit His plan?  I don’t know.  Maybe often but we don’t realize it?  Maybe never.  It has got to be hard for Him to watch what is going on.  Like parents letting their kids learn everything the hard way.  Maybe He only gets involved when we ask or when it is absolutely necessary for our continued existence.  It would be nice to know for sure.

Maybe it’s best to assume He never gets involved.  That leaves it all up to us to do the best we can.  He already told us what to do through the greatest commandments, to love Him and Neighbors (everyone).  Everything will work out for the best if we do.

What is the best way to show our love for God?  I think it is to develop and use your God given talents to help others, and to behave morally.  That is the best way to show our love for neighbors too.

Intellectually seems so easy.  By striving to be my best and share my best with others, I am demonstrating my love for God and neighbors.  I will also be doing my small part to make this world a better place, and giving myself a chance to live for eternity in heaven.  Simple.  So…

What are you doing about it?

I’m striving to be a better and happier person.  Interestingly I’ve found that when I’m better, I’m happier.  And when I’m happier, I’m better.  Better and happier seem to compliment and build upon each other.

How about you?  What do you believe and what are you doing about it?  Please do yourself a favor and take some time during this Holy Week to examine your beliefs and think about what comes next.  Easter is a great time for us all to let those parts of us that are less than helpful die, and to resurrect that better and happier you that exists within.

Personally I am rededicating myself to striving to be the earthly saint I believe we are all capable of becoming.  I urge you join me.

Next week I will write about what specifically we can do.  Working together we can emerge from this temporary crisis as a better and happier people.  Lord knows we are going to need all the striving saints we can find to help those in need recover from this mess we are in.  Let’s be those people!

In the meantime, have a Healthy and Happy Easter everyone!  Scott

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