A LETTER FROM GOD
by David Sisler
In recent days, Paul Harvey has read two very different pieces, two very powerful documents (each is reproduced following the end of this column), on his national radio program. One is called "If I Were The Devil." The other is "A Letter From God."
I re-read each this week. I was interested to see if there were any areas of correlation. I was curious to learn if the same subjects were discussed from opposing points of view. Several obvious congruities stood out.
From the "Letter from God": I hate to break it to you but I don't write! My longhand is awful and I've always been more of a doer anyway so all of your books including those bibles were written by men and women. They were inspired men and women. But, they also made mistakes here and there, and I made sure of that, so you would never trust a written word.
The "God" of this letter blatantly tells us that we cannot trust Sacred Scripture, because he caused its authors to make deliberate mistakes. He made certain that there were errors so that we would trust ourselves our own hearts rather than the book which claims to be divine directions for our lives.
"Trust your own hearts," the letter says. The Bible says, "Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies." The Bible says, "The heart is deceitfully wicked, who can know it?"
But, if you cannot trust the Bible, then perhaps I'm okay, and you're okay.
Follow this conclusion to its logical end, however.
The Bible tells us to love one another and the "Letter from God" agrees. But if the Bible cannot be trusted, if deliberate errors were written into the manuscript, maybe that is not true. Maybe we should not love each other. Maybe we should hate each other. If you cannot trust the Bible, maybe we should take guns to school and randomly kill our classmates. Or take guns to work and murder our former co-workers because the boss fired us. Maybe we should be content to allow criminal behavior to set our national standards.
Maybe we should fight each other in the name of religion which the "Letter from God" says, "Do not do!" The good folks in the Middle East have been doing a great job of that for centuries. Maybe they were right to kill each other over reasons of faith. Maybe the people in Ireland should repudiate their recent vote and go back to car bombs and Molotov cocktails.
Love one another, you see, could be a hoax perpetrated on us by "God."
The Bible says that redemption is possible, but maybe that was one of the deliberate errors which the "God" of the Letter foisted on his "dear children" (that is what he calls us, in his letter). There is no eternal reward. There is no eternal dwelling place. This is all there is. If you can't trust the Bible, who knows?
If I were the Prince of Darkness, I would want to engulf the whole world in darkness. To the youth I would whisper, "The Bible is a myth."
Score round one to the devil.
The "Letter from God" states: You act like I need you and your religion to stick up for me or win souls for my sake. Please don't do me any favors. I can stand up on my own, thank you.
Is Christianity the only religion practiced in the world? Obviously not. Is Christianity the faith proclaimed by the Bible's New Testament, with its roots deep in the Old Testament? Absolutely. Does the Christianity of the Bible hold itself out as the only way to God. You bet your eternal life it does.
Interestingly, the "Letter from God" closes with the words, "I am indeed, I swear, with you always." Check the reference for that quote. Jesus said that after he told his disciples to evangelize, to make converts to his name.
If I were the Prince of Darkness, I'd subvert the churches first. I'd begin with a campaign of whispers. In [God's] own churches, I would substitute psychology for religion and deify science.
Score round two to the devil.
When Paul Harvey originally read the "Letter from God" he said he was reluctant to do so. He mentioned that he consulted with family members, some of whom disagreed with his plan to read it on the air. He should have listened to their counsel. From these two brief points of comparison, it appears that the strategy which Paul Harvey imagines the devil might use, sounds remarkably like the letter which claims to be from God. Some say the devil must be given "his due." If that is true, we would do well to remember that Satan is "the god of this world."
Published in the Augusta Chronicle 5/30/98
Copyright 1998 by David Sisler. All Rights Reserved.
AN OPEN LETTER FROM GOD READ BY PAUL HARVEY
My Dear Children .. believe me, that is all of you. I consider myself a pretty patient guy. I mean, look at the Grand Canyon. It took millions of years to get it right. And about evolution boy, nothing is slower than designing that whole Darwinian thing to take place cell by cell and gene by gene.
And I have been patient through your fashions your civilizations wars and schemes and the countless ways that you take me for granted until you get yourselves into big trouble again and again.
But on the recent Christmas occasion of my son's birthday I want to let you know about some of the things that started ticking me off!
First of all, your religious rivalries are driving me up a wall. Enough already!
Let's get one thing straight: these are your religions not mine! I'm the whole enchilada! I'm beyond 'em all!
Every one of your religions claims that there's only one of me which, by the way, is absolutely true but in the very next breath, each religion claims that it's my favorite one and each claims that it's bible was written personally by me that all the other bibles are man made.
Oh, me! How do I ever begin to put a stop to such utter nonsense. All right, listen up now! I am your father and mother. And I don't play favorites among my children. Also, I hate to break it to you but I don't write! My longhand is awful and I've always been more of a doer anyway so all of your books including those bibles were written by men and women. They were inspired men and women. They were remarkable people. But, they also made mistakes here and there and I made sure of that so that you would never trust a written word rather than your own living heart!
You see, one human being, to me, even a bum on the street is worth more than all of the Holy books in the world. That's just the kind of a guy I am.
My spirit is not an historical thing. It's alive right now right now! As fresh as your next breath!
Holy books and religious rites are sacred and powerful but they are not more so than the least of you. They were only meant to steer you in right direction not keep you arguing with each other .. and certainly not to keep you from trusting your own personal connection with me.
Which brings me to my next point about your nonsense. You act like I need you and your religion to stick up for me or win souls for my sake. Please don't do me any favors. I can stand on my own, thank you. I don't need constant credit. I just want you to be good to each other.
And another thing: I don't get all worked up over money or politics. So stop dragging my name into your dramas. For example: I swear to me that I never threatened Oral Roberts. I never rode in any of Rosnishia's Rolls Royces AND, I NEVER told Pat Robertson to run for President. And I have never, ever had a conversation with Jim Baker, or Jerry Falwell, or Jimmy Swaggart. 'Course, come judgment day, I certainly intend to.
Now, the thing is I want you to stop thinking of religion as some sort of a loyalty pledge to me. The true purpose of your religion is so that you can become more aware of me not the other way around.
Believe me, I know you already. I know what is in each of your hearts. And I love you anyway with no strings attached. So, lighten up, and enjoy me. That's what religions are for.
What you seem to forget is how mysterious I am. You look at the petty differences in your scripture and you say, "WELL, it this is the truth, then that can't be!" But instead of trying to figure out my paradoxes and unfathomable naivetι which, by the way, you never will why not open your hearts to the simple common threads of every religion.
You know what I'm talking about play nice with each other. Love and respect everyone. Be kind. Even when life is scary or confusing, take courage and be of good cheer for I'm always with you. And learn how to be quiet so that you can hear my still small voice. I don't like to shout.
Leave the world a better place, by living your life with dignity and gracefulness, for you are my own child. Hold back nothing from life, for the parts of you that can die, surely will. And the parts that can't won't. So don't worry, be happy. (I stole that last line from Bobby McFerrin) but who gave it to him in the first place?
Simple stuff now - why do you keep making it more complicated? It's like you're always looking for an excuse to be upset.
And, I am very tired of your main excuse. Do you think I care whether you call me God, or Jaway, or Jehovah, or Allah, Wakatonka, Branda, Father, Mother, even the Void of Nirvana. Do you think I care which of my special children you feel closest to: Jesus, Mary, Buddha, Krishna, Muhammad, or any of the others?
You can call me and my special ones any name you choose if only you will go about my business of loving one another as I love you. How can you keep neglecting something so simple?
No, I am not telling you to abandon your religions. Enjoy your religions. Honor them. Learn from them. Just as you should enjoy, honor, and learn from your parents. But, do you walk around telling everyone that your parents are better than theirs?
Your religion like your parents may always have the most special place in your heart. I don't mind that at all and I don't want you to combine all of the great traditions into one great big mess. Each religion is unique for a reason. Each has a unique style so that people can find the best path for themselves.
But my special children the ones your religions revolve around all live in the same place in my heart. And they get along perfectly I assure you. The clergy must stop creating a myth of sibling rivalry where there is none.
My blessed children of Earth the world has grown too small for your pervasive religious bigotry and confusions. The whole planet is now connected by air travel, satellite dishes, telephones, fax machines, rock concerts, diseases, and mutual needs and concerns.
Get with the program! If you really want to help me celebrate the birthday of my son Jesus then commit yourself to figuring our how to feed your hungry, and clothe your naked, and protect you abused, and shelter your poor and just as important: make your own everyday life a shining example of kindness and good humor.
I've given you all the resources you need if only you abandon your fear of each other and begin living and loving and laughing together.
Finally, my children everywhere remember who's birthday you honor on what you call Christmas Day, December 25th. And the fearlessness with which he chose to live and die. As I love him, so do I love each of you.
Now I am not really ticked off. Not really! I just wanted to grab your attention because I hate to see you suffer. But I gave you free will, so what can I do now other than try to influence you through reason persuasion a little old fashioned guilt and manipulation. After all, you know, I am the original Jewish mother. I just want you to be happy. And I'll sit in the dark.
I really am, indeed, I swear, with you always always that in me.
Your one and only,
"IF I WERE THE DEVIL..."
by Paul Harvey
If I were the Prince of Darkness,
I would want to engulf the whole world in darkness. And I would have one-third of the real estate and four-fifths of the population , but I wouldn't be happy until I had the ripest apple on the tree. So I'd set about, however necessary, to take over the United States.
I'd subvert the churches first; I'd begin with a campaign of whispers. With the wisdom of a serpent I would whisper to you as I whispered to Eve: "Do as you please."
To the youth I would whisper, "The Bible is a myth."
I would convince them that man made God instead of the other way around.
I would confide that what's bad is good and what's good is "square."
In the ears of the young married I would whisper that work is debasing, that cocktail parties are good for you.
And to the old I would teach to pray after me: "Our Father, who art in Washington..."
And then I'd get organized; I'd educate authors in how to make lurid literature exciting, so that everything else would appear dull and uninteresting.
I'd threaten television with dirtier movies and vice versa.
I'd peddle narcotics to whom I could; I'd sell alcohol to ladies and gentlemen of distinction; I'd tranquilize the rest with pills.
If I were the Devil I'd soon have families at war with themselves, churches at war with themselves, and nations at war with themselves; until each in its turn was consumed. And with promises of higher ratings I'd have mesmerizing media fanning the flames.
If I were the Devil I'd encourage schools to refine young intellects but neglect to discipline emotions: let those run wild. Before you know it, you'd have to have drug-sniffing dogs and metal detectors at every school house door. Within a decade I'd have prisons overflowing.
With flattery and promises of power I would get the courts to do what I construe as against God and in favor of pornography.
I'd designate an atheist to front for me before the highest courts and I'd get the preachers to say, "She's right." Thus, I could evict God from the courthouse, then from the schoolhouse, and then from the Houses of Congress.
And in His own churches I would substitute psychology for religion and deify science. I would lure priests and pastors into misusing boys, girls, and church money.
If I were the Devil I would make the symbol of Easter an egg and the symbol of Christmas a bottle.
If I were the Devil I'd take from those who have and give it to those who want it, until I had killed the incentive of the ambitious.
What'll you bet that I couldn't get whole States to promote gambling as the way to get rich?
I would caution against extremes: in hard work, in patriotism, and in moral conduct.
I would convince the youth that marriage is old-fashioned, but swinging is more fun; that what you see on television is the way to be; and thus I could undress you in public and I could lure you into bed where there are diseases for which there is no cure.
Then I would separate families, putting children in uniform, women in coal mines and objectors in slave-labor camps.
In other words, if I were the Devil, I'd just keep doing what he's doing.
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