Thursday, February 23, 2012

Part II: The Time They Met in Heaven

Greg was an old man. He was on his death bed, ready to go. 

His skin no longer seemed to fit his body, his mind couldn't keep up with the world and he felt out of place. He was ready to be done with this life- all he had left were scattered memories, mostly bad. He didn't have very good relationships with his kids, neither of whom were at his death bed. 

His eyes lids felt heavy.... He thought back to his sons. He loved them dearly, but had cast his eldest, Anthony, out of the house over religious differences when Anthony was 17. Greg had never spoken to him again and he regretted it. He felt so much pain in his stomach, he couldn't swallow the feelings anymore.

And without warning, he felt his heart pump it's last beat. Hands at his sides, he clenched the bed sheets with his brittle fingers and let go. All life was gone from him forever.

He opened his eyes. He was alive. He was somewhere he'd never been before....

It looked like an Apple store. It was very white and clean. There were a lot of people and yet no one was yelling. 

There were video screens everywhere, showing past and future lives. There were time tables that stretched stories high, alerting people of who was coming in and who was about to be depart.  Giant maps outlined the universe and all the planets in it. 

Greg found himself walking into the heart of this place. It seemed to be inside, but he couldn't see any walls. 

He looked at all the people there, so many faces. So many young faces. He looked down at his arms. He was shocked to see he was young again.

'Must be in my 20's,' he figured. He looked around, it seemed as if everyone was in their "prime." Greg stopped to watch the video on the monitors, watching other people's lives play out in the past, present, and what appeared to be a future. It was all very deja vu to Greg, he had to take a step back-

He accidentally bumped into someone. He turned around, ready to apologize, when he saw it was one of his sons, Anthony.

"Oh my god. Anthony."

Greg turned pale, color washing from his face while his son looked as if nothing out of the ordinary was happening.

"Hey dad," He said nonchalantly. 
"I...what...I-" Greg was very flustered.
"It's okay dad. It is."

Greg lunged forward, embracing his son.

"I'm so sorry. I'm so...sorry."

Anthony hugged him back, giving out a slight laugh.

"Ha, dad, it's okay. Really. It is. I forgave you a long time ago."

Greg took in his son, who looked more like his brother now that they were both in their 20's.

"What is this place?" Greg asked.
"It's Heaven."
"Well....It's the closest thing to what we'd call Heaven. It's the place we go when we die before going back to live."
"Going back? But what about the bible? And the preachers? All those people on Earth, they don't know...I- I didn't know. I'm so sorry Anthony." 
"Greg, it's fine, seriously. It wasn't just Christianity, there were A LOT of religions on Earth, so trust me, a lot of people didn't know. Besides, could anyone have predicted THIS? Any of those people alive on Earth, do you really think anyone of them is imagining this when they talk about the afterlife?"
"No, I suppose not. Looking back it seems so stupid. I never should've let a book get in the way of our love. I was a lousy father-"
"This isn't why I came to see you, you need to stop blaming and judging yourself. Just accept that it's in the past, it happened."
"I just want to go back and fix my mistakes- Wait, you said you came to see me, here?"
"Yeah, well, we've had about 400 lives together. In MOST of them I've been your father, but now we've switched and you're now my father. That's pretty normal, so don't worry. But... we just keep going in a similar pattern. I just wanted to come see you to say that the past is in the past, and it's okay. You talk about wanting to go back and fix mistakes, well that's the beauty of life, Greg, it just keeps moving forward, so if you want that chance, you'll get it. I wanted to tell you to just stop being a procrastinator. The relationships and things you want in Heaven...don't wait to die before allowing yourself to have them next time. Make them for yourself in THIS life. Don't keep pushing it off. You've used Heaven as an excuse before and guess what happens, we never get there. I just want to have a good relationship with you while we're alive."
"I don't know what to say."
"You don't need to say anything, when you feel like you're ready, we'll both know."

Greg reached out and hugged Anthony again. Without any notice, they both vanished.

Part I: The Last Time They Spoke

Danielle, in her early 50's, was in her living room watching a soap opera on TV. She heard a buzzing sound and noticed that her cell phone was vibrating across her coffee table. She leaned forward, holding her bathrobe against her chest, and looked at the caller ID. It was Jen, her daughter. She smiled and grabbed the phone.

Danielle: Jen, hi, how are you?
Jen: Hey mom, I'm doing good, how're you?
Danielle: I'm fine, just watching my shows.... So, what're you up to?
Jen: Nothing much. I was just thinking about you and wanted to call and see what you were up to?
Danielle: Oh thanks. Yeah, I'm just watching my shows. 
Jen: Cooool... 

There was a slight pause where neither of them spoke.

Jen: Well...the reason I called was I've been feeling bad lately. 

Danielle quietly tensed and sat up right, waiting to here what Jen would say. Meanwhile Jen tensed as she prepared to go into everything for the first time.

Jen: I've been changing a lot since I moved out here- changes for the better! I'm really starting to become the adult that I want to be. And I realized that I have been going on this journey alone and I haven't been talking to you about it. When I think about the conversations we DO have, I realize that I withhold a lot- I'm not saying that I'm not being myself, but just...well you don't get to see all of me....  And I used to think it was because of the world, I used to think society and my parents wouldn't want me to be a certain way. I had these voices in my head judging who I was and who I wanted to be.  And when I realized it was me who was letting those voices win, I dunno, I guess I realized I was the one judging me, not you, not society, not the world. And I just feel like a little kid because instead of just talking to you about what I was going through or what I felt, I just assumed you'd judge me and I never even gave you a chance. And like, I'm just feeling like it's about time I really did become an adult and give you that chance.... The past few years, I've been really getting to the core of who I am and what I believe. And it's been scary because in wanting to follow my heart...I guess I just get worried that you won't like where I follow it, that you might love me less depending on where it takes me.
Danielle: I love you, Jen, nothing will change that.
Jen (sighing with relief): I know. Ha, when I think about it now, I can't believe I was so worried about a label. It seems so silly to think you'd judge me for not wanting to call myself a Christian any more.

There was a long pause on the line.

Jen: That's silly, right? You wouldn't judge me?

Danille: I'm very sorry to hear that you're no longer a Christian.... Do you believe in Heaven?
Jen: Not really, not the bible's version at least.
Danielle: .....Do you believe in Hell?
Jen: No.
Danielle: That really disappoints me, it really makes me sad to know we won't be in Heaven together. 
Jen: Well I don't think that's what will happen-
Danielle: I know it will. It says so right in the bible.
Jen: Well I just think the bible's got a tone to it, and I just think it's not always accurate to what's really happening.
Danielle: It's God's word. It IS the truth. Jesus died for you, Jen. If you don't have him in your heart...
Jen: I love Jesus, I think he was way ahead of his time. 
Danielle: Do you think he was God.
Jen: No, I- I think he was a human, like all of us.
Daniellle: Do you think he rose from the dead.
Jen: Uh, no, maybe as a spirit or energy, but not as a body. 
Danielle: Then what's the point, why love him, why even care about him if he's just "like all of us"???
Jen: Mom, I just, I don't know what to say to you.
Danielle: Well you need to rethink whatever it is you think you know or whatever path you're on. You may think you're at a good place, but believe me, you aren't.

Jen was starting to tear up. Her voice was trembling slightly.
Jen: You're really hurting my feelings. I called you because I wanted to have a closer relationship with you. I thought that if I never told you this, I could never let you in all the way. I just wanted to love you more.
Danielle: I'd love to see you in Heaven, I'd love to spend the afterlife with you. But if you stay on this path, you will go to Hell.
Jen: How could you say that to me?
Danielle: It's true.

Now Jen was becoming indignant. In wanting to fight the hurt she became hostile.

Jen: Well I don't want to wait for a relationship after I die, I want to have a relationship with you in this life! 
Danielle: I pray for you every day.
Jen: Yeah, but I have no idea who you are! I don't know what you're really like! I feel like you've got this wall up, you try and hide things from me. That's probably where I learned to hide who I was! Why can't you be yourself around me, why can't you just talk to me about this stuff, why do you have to keep saying that I'm going to hell?!
Danielle: BECAUSE YOU ARE! ....I just- I failed you. Somewhere along the line I must've failed teaching you right from wrong. You are so lost right now and you don't even know. And just wait, just wait 'til it happens to you. 'Til someone gets taken from you! Then you'll really GET IT. You'll see just what's at stake. You- you- you're just such an ingrate! I gave you clothes, toys, bought your school books, paid for your college- You're father did none of that. And what do you do for me?!
Jen: I don't care about that stuff, I just want you! I just want a real relationship!
Danielle: I just don't know how that's possible anymore!

Danielle threw the phone down, not bothering to hang it up. She sat in her house, alone with her shows, and started to sob.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Zombie Life

Stuck in an endless cycle
Feel time slipping away
Look away from the problem,
just push it another day

Give my time up,
doing pointless tasks
Set to Auto Pilot,
I won't mind my life's a mess

No need to be present,
cause I just need to relax
No time to create,
when there's a show to catch

Come back to reality,
where did my time go
Feeling urged to create,
but won't let myself grow

See the messes I've made,
now's the time to clean
see all the clutter,
go back to where it should be

My life's together,
I'm ready to create
But too tired from the cleaning,
it'll have to wait

Stuck in a cycle,
where nothing has changed
I could lie to myself,
"I did a lot today"
Nothing new, nothing changes,
an endless cycle, for the ages

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

the Dream of Living

Blackness. He opened his eyes slowly, his eyelids felt heavy. Extreme white blinded him. As his eyes focused he made out a few faces, people standing over him. They looked sad with tears running down their face. He took one last breath before closing his eyes. The last thing he was aware of was the sound of a Pop.

Blackness. His eyes couldn't seem to open but he felt an extraordinary amount of pain. It passed quickly though and he noticed there was a hint of light far off in the distance. He realized that his eyes were open and that it was just dark here, the light was all that seemed to exist. It felt warm and comforting. He noticed he was floating. A thought that seemed a million miles away passed through him, "is this space?" He couldn't remember what space was but this did feel familiar. He realized he couldn't remember where he had been before he was here.

The light was growing brighter, it was a point moving towards him, but not in a straight line. It seemed to meander towards him, taking it's time. As it neared he felt anxious. He no longer felt safe and wanted to get away from the approaching light, but he was unable to move. All he could do was float there as he watched meandering it way towards him.

Soon he saw it, a terrible monster gliding towards him with it's mouth open. Sharp, jagged teeth were illuminated by the light, which was a bulb floating off the creatures head. Before he knew what was happening, the creature had him in it's mouth.

Blackness. He felt a lot of pain. Then the pain stopped and he was able to look around. He saw a light far away coming towards him. He felt no fear or anxiousness, he simply watched as the light came closer. He had no memory of anything previous to this. He was a blank canvas soaking in information.

The light was getting closer, it was illuminating everything around it. He could see tiny particles floating where the light touched.

He watched as the light, attached to creature, approached him. Without warning he disappeared inside it's mouth.

Blackness. She felt a lot of pain as she realized she'd fallen asleep on her arm. She slowly opened her eyes, massaging blood back into her limb. She sat up in her bed, looking around past all the movie posters, expecting to see something. But it was just her empty room. She could vaguely remember something. She saw images in her mind and felt something, it felt like a memory. Or maybe it was the memory of a dream she'd had long ago.

She laid her head back down on the pillow. In her mind, she began thinking about flying through outer space as she slowly drifted off into the ethos. Blackness.

The Great Debate

Outside the Town Hall, thousands of citizens gather at the "Kirk Robertson Vs. Stephen Dawkins" debate. 
Inside, well dressed and sitting behind a large oak table, is the commentator, Tom.
Tom: Welcome to tonight's main event, where we will see Kirk Robertson challenge Stephen Dawkins' more controversial ideas of what happens to us when we die.  Not sure why everyone is so interested to hear these 2 men speak, but let's just dive right in. Alright, Mr. Dawkins, what is it that you believe happens to us when we die?
Stephen Dawkins (who speaks through a machine): I believe that the human brain acts just as a computer does. As we've created computers and computer programs, we've gotten a better chance to see inside the human mind, to understand how our brains compute and manipulate data. Thousands of years of evolution, not just of our universe, but of our species, has led us to a point in time when we are able to create machines that mirror us....  Nature has developed into a creature that can now study the very nature of its being. With these machines, we're discovering how much of our world is subjective, how much is determined simply by our own perception....  And when that machine dies, it's gone. There is no heaven for a dead computer.
Tom: Wow, the way Mr. Dawkins so eloquently described the nature of our selves, machines and the universe sounded almost beautiful for a moment, save for the dire conclusion. Let's see how Kirk responds.
Kirk Robertson (Pointing a finger at Stephen): You can't say that!
Tom: Okay, and back to Stephen for a rebuttal.
Stephen says nothing. 
Tom: Back to Kirk.
Kirk: Thank you, Tom. What Mr. Dawkins just said shows the kind of ignorance I've been talking about. It's as if I can't even talk to him. He's just believing in crazy ideas. Mr. Dawkins is suggesting that everything came from nothing. To me, that sounds crazy. The bible accurately accounts for much of our history, and because it can give an answer to where everything came from, and it IS THE WORD OF GOD, then heaven must also exist!
Stephen: Heaven is a place people invented because they are afraid of the dark.
Kirk: You can't prove that! You can't prove that nothing happens when we die!
Stephen: You can't prove that Heaven or God exists.
Kirk: I can, it says so in the Bible.
Stephen: You're crazy.
Kirk: You're crazy if you think everything came from nothing. Oh, the odds of us being here are a batrillion to one, you think we're just some accident!
Tom: Gentleman, surely some middle ground can be found. I think you've both proven quite well that no one can prove or disprove either argument. Do you think either of you is willing to...perhaps discuss what the possibilities, in a reasonable sense, might be. 
Kirk: He's just crazy, Tom.
Stephen: Tom, you know me. I'm not crazy.
Tom: I can't believe how biased the two of you are- I can't believe people are actually listening to what you two have to say on the subject. You're like two little kids arguing over what's inside an unhatched Egg. Why are you both so quick to label the other as wrong? I mean, if you aren't going to be reasonable, why should any of these people listen to either of you?
Kirk's mouth drops open.
Tom: Kirk, you are a born again Christian, your faith is what you live for, it's your purpose. Because your purpose has you relying on a book called The Bible, I don't think you can coherently discuss possible alternatives to what our current ideas are on the big picture. And Stephen. You are a brilliant man, but listen to you. Is a machine alive, does it have feelings and emotions? Was it born of nature?
Stephen: No. I guess not.
Tom: You spoke beautifully of nature seeing itself. Of man getting  a glimpse, not only of this enormous world outside of us, but the even greater one within. You talk about touching on something that not only connects us to ourselves, but connects who we are to everything around us. Is it possible, that the real answers aren't as black and white as the 2 of you say they are?
Neither answer. Kirk looks down at his shoes. Stephen turns his chair around to face away from the audience.
Tom: Stephen, do you really think that all you are is a machine? Do you really think that when you die, absolutely nothing happens? What about the energy inside your body? What about the consciousness generated by your brain? If these energies can never be created or destroyed, do you think it's possible, just possible, that something besides a blank screen happens? And Kirk. Seriously, do you think that all of life's answers were come about in the same time that people thought the Earth was flat and the center of the universe? Do you think it's possible, just possible, that the bible isn't exactly right? That out of the 4 or 5 major religions, perhaps it only touches on a part of the truth about who we are? Maybe we are more like Adam than even we thought, perhaps we are not yet ready to comprehend where we really come from.  But if Death is something that happens to everything and is apart of the very nature of our design, is it something we need to worry about? To fight about? Maybe the real answer isn't as empty as Mr. Dawkins's, and maybe it isn't as magical as Mr. Robertson's. Maybe the real answer is somewhere in the middle. But if we are too stubborn to admit that our ideas are opinions, we will never find that middle ground.

Kirk: You're both going to Hell then!

Murder is wrong- and I'm going to kill you to prove it!

"I want justice...There's an old poster out West, as I recall, that said, 'Wanted: Dead or Alive,'"
- G.W. Bush, 9/17/01

The moon was full and it was a quiet night in the desert. Inside one of the small adobe flats, a young boy was just being put to bed by his parents.

Suddenly armed troops burst into his room, shouting in a language he couldn't understand. They grabbed his mother by her hair and knocked his father unconscious with one of their assault rifles. The boy watched, screaming from his bed, as both parents were taken from him. He ran out of his room, trying to stay with his parents. Out in the street, many watched from their homes, too afraid to go out and see what was happening. The boy's mother was loaded into a truck while the boy's father was shot dead in the street.

The next day, footage of the boy's father being shot was played on all the American TV stations, followed by footage of American men and woman cheering and dancing in the streets. They shouted things like "We got him!" and "Justice has been served." They smiled at images of the mans blood pooling around his body. For these American citizens, their enemy had been brought to justice.

Back in the small desert town, the boy was filled with rage at what he had witnessed. Men with guns charging into his room, taking his mother and killing his father. And for what cause, for what reason?  The more he thought about this the more he was unable to let go of the feeling, the hatred. He felt violated and vowed to himself that the men who did this would face justice. The boy vowed vengeance.

When he became old enough, he dropped out of school. He found a group of kids who were also being motivated by their hatred towards the troops who invaded their homes. It was with this group that he felt accepted and understood. Finally he was around others who could share his pain. 

This group of teens began to train and started to move from town to town, trying to gain more support. All they wanted was to strike back at the beast that had taken someone from them, to show their enemy that they would not simply be walked on and not defend themselves, that they would stand up for their human rights and fight back. To these teens, they were the underdogs about to pick a fight with an evil super-power.

Every town they went to welcomed them and they soon gained a large following. There were many who wanted to join in their fight, who felt they had a heroic cause. 
A few years later they flew 2 planes into a couple of buildings in New York City. Back in the small desert towns, when the TV's showed what was going on in America, the people cheered and danced in the streets. They shouted things like "We get them!" and "Justice has finally been done." They smiled at images of burning bodies. For these Arab Citizens, an evil corporate government was finally getting a reality check. One need only look at the faces of these people to see the joy and happiness knowing their enemy had been attacked.

And in that same instant, a small young boy in America watched this unfold on television. He knew his father was in one of the buildings, knew that his dad would never come back home because of some evil army men in another country. He didn't know why his father was taken from him, for what cause, what reason? He dwelled on these thoughts, letting his anger control his destiny. 

He joined the army when he was old enough. He wanted to be on the battlefield, he wanted to put a bullet into a camel Jockey. He wanted to avenge his dad, to feel a sense of justice for what had been done to him. He might not ever get his dad back, but he'd kill as many people as he needed to in order to feel better about it.
"An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind"

The Greatest Trick the Devil Ever Played

Thousands and thousands of years ago, there were no religions and no church's. The humans of this time thought there was nothing to the world beyond what they could see and touch. But over time they began to use their other senses to to help construct a fuller reality.

The humans began to see Patterns within their lives, patterns in the very world they lived in. They began to question if the world as they Saw it was the world as it actually existed. Some began to Believe that there was a force that connected all of them to one another. A force that they could not see or touch, but that they felt was all around them, perhaps even within them.

To these earliest humans, they could not understand what this super-power would be, and so they called it the Unknowable, the Unfathomable. They dare not label this Divine Presence for fear of tainting it's divinity with Human Interpretation. And during this time, you were either a Believer, or you weren't.

Soon, there was a growing number of believers. They were putting their differences aside and uniting over their faith in a deeper meaning to their lives. This species of Creators were special in their own way, and United, could create amazing things Together.

Meanwhile, the Devil was watching all of this with disgust. It sickened him to see the growing number of believers. Without ever being told what to pray to or that there was more to their world, these humans had Discovered this divine presence on their own and held their beliefs close to their hearts. The Devil wanted to strike at man, and knew exactly what to do.

He went from town to town, taking on a different form in each village he came to. He convinced the believers of each town that he was God, the Divine Presence flowing through all things, and then told them his will. His will usually involved his believers judging another group of people, often times trying to obliterate them from the planet.

And the Devil did this for many years, going through towns in a different appearance and calling himself by different names. Soon he was known throughout the Planet by many names, including God, Yahwey, Allah, Shiva, Shangdi, Anuak, and Baha to name just a few.

The Devil was finished with his work and sat back to watch. As humans traveled the planet, they brought with them their "Facts" about who God was and what his will was. The humans fought great battles with one another over who's God was real and who's was fake. Over who would die and go to Heaven and who would die and go to Hell. They were no longer aware of the force that joined all of them, it had been replaced by a hatred  for those who called their Faith by a Different Name.

The Devil smiled at his work, watching the humans needlessly compete with one another. He had taken a group of faithful, strong and loving people, a group connected by their belief and lead by their hearts, and in a matter of centuries, convinced them to kill and despise each other all in the name of the same Divine power.

And this was the greatest trick the Devil played on the world. He convinced everyone that believing in the Unknowable divine power was not about Love, Faith or following your Heart, but rather about Facts, being Right, and Converting as many people to Your way of thinking.