Photograph by Ray (A. K. A.) Troutbirder
A religious dialogue between an evangelical Baptist, my beautiful loving daughter-in-law Deanne and myself Troutbirder who is perhaps a skeptic or even a secular humanist. The dialogue that follows stems from my noting to Deanne some of my favorite parts of the New Testament. Well, I have some issues with the Old as with that eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth stuff. Each part of the dialogue begins with my comments some favorite passages and Deanne’s take on those comments. Enjoy or comment on them in the comments section yourself. :-) Remember however this is not red state versus blue state stuff, nor zero sum debates but between two people who love and care for each other.
I'm presently at my 2nd of 3 jobs I have. My client was born with a rare chromosomal handicap. . He spent the first 5 months of his life at Children's hospital. I was blessed to start working with him when he finally came home--a little "peanut" of a boy, with a sweet smile and pretty auburn hair. He's my dear "Billy" I just love him to pieces and am truly blessed to know him and his family.
Speaking of "blessed," the Sermon on the Mount is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible (Matthew 5). It truly makes sense that you love that chapter, as well, Ray. From your insight on each verse, backed up by the way you have lived, one can easily see you have a deep passion (from God, I believe) to help and advocate for the less fortunate--the ones who suffer...the lost...the lonely...the disabled...the weak...the poor...the unprotected...the vulnerable...the overlooked...the forgotten. I have ALWAYS seen Jesus in you, Ray--but reading your take on the Beatitudes, definitely added another dimension to the beauty of your soul.
Not that my opinion matters, but since you asked me to comment on your take on the Beatitudes, I will do so now, for you...
"Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for justice, for they shall be satisfied." Another core value for me and it should as well be for our country and many others. But as a country we have failed that many times because of many things including prejudice racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. etc. I completely agree. And I would also add in there that this country has failed because of greed, selfishness, and disrespect for God and for our neighbor.
"Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy." Yes indeed, the good Samaritan. I love that story of the Good Samaritan. Did you know that in Jesus' day, the Samaritans were looked down upon because they weren't purebred? (That goes back to when the Assyrians conquered the northern tribes of Israel and many of the areas of those regions--AKA, Samaria became "mixed" then). Yet, it was the "unclean" and "mixed" person from Samaria who helped the half-dead traveler on the road. We ALL need to be good Samaritans! The world would definitely become a better place if we did!
"Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God." The very best people in the world who follow the teachings of Jesus, and knowing what I know now, would not have volunteered to fight in Vietnam nor any of our subsequent wars. Word war II yes--it was a fight against an evil man in system, including the Holocaust, likely the worst kind ever. Trying to exterminate one religion by another tribe on the basis of race and religion. I really don't think I have the right to comment on this one because I don't know much about ANY war except World War II, and I was never deeply rooted in a military family. My dad was in the National Guard and so was Troy, but otherwise, I really don't take a side on anything with the wars (mainly because I'm ignorant--unlike you, who knows a lot). I DO respect your opinion, though, on this matter. But back to the verse, Jesus says that any who try to make peace shall be called children of God. I don't know about anyone else, but I certainly want to be a child of God so I will do all I can to be at peace with everyone. The writer of Hebrews reiterated the statement, when he wrote, "14Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the LORD." (Hebrews 12:14). And you're more than right about the Holocaust (of the Jews or ANY other group of people) being BRUTAL, inhumane, and EVIL. Hitler and his wicked cohorts are definitely reaping now what they sowed during their time on earth. They were NOT children of God--and because of that, they are in a place where God IS NOT.
"Blessed are they who suffer persecution for justice's sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Well, justice and mercy have somewhat been covered so I will mention heaven. I mostly believe that heaven and hell are here on earth as God gave us the ability to make choices; thus heaven is here on earth and is made by mankind's choice of love or hate. My take on the verse is that Jesus for-warned us that anyone who follows Him WILL be persecuted-- It's a given. And as the end draws closer, evil will continue to ramp up and will try to snuff out Jesus' commands of "Love God first" and "Love your neighbor as yourself," and also His Great Commission to spread the Good News about Him. But we WILL be rewarded in the end for following Him, believing in Him, and for receiving Him as our Lord and Savior. In my beloved mother's obituary it was stated that all her suffering (which can be synonymous with persecution) had been replaced with the crown of righteousness. (2 Timothy 4:7-8).
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in Me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with Me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going'
5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. 7
So how did I do on my commentary?? Yes, I admit I'm opinionated, but hey--I DO have a mind, a heart, and a will of my own! God made each of us uniquely--made in His image, but still UNIQUE. I'm glad I'm unique. And I'm glad YOU'RE unique, too, Ray.
Blessed are the... blessed is ME!! --To have a Savior, to have life, to have love, and to have BEAUTIFUL people in my life like you, Barb, and Ted. I hope you feel blessed, too, Ray!!
I love you!