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“The Devil Made Me Do It”

“The Devil Made Me Do It”

Hello, everyone.

Back in the early 70s, Black comedian Flip Wilson made the phrase “the devil made me do it” a byword in this country.  If anyone needed an alibi for something he said or something he did, he had the perfect one in Wilson’s phrase.  Only God knows how much and for what the devil received the blame.

This phrase crossed my mind the other day, thanks to a Facebook comment I received.  Here is the last sentence of the e-mail:  “With this message I am unfriending you on FaceBook and hope to never hear another word from you again.”

What prompted this outburst?  Did I say anything unkind to him?  Did I smear his family or his reputation?  Did I try to start a flame war with him?  No.  My sin was that in a couple of comments and statuses, I expressed unhappiness with Amtrak and a dissatisfaction with Barak Obama and the job he was doing.

Or consider this.  Back from February, 1972, until June, 1974, I taught at a private Christian boarding high school in Iowa.  Around 2 ½ years ago, I got reconnected with a former student of mine on Facebook.  I liked this girl very much and we were fairly close at the school.  She seemed quite happy that we got reconnected, and we used to do long back-and-forths on Facebook.  But now she has nothing to do with me.  My sin?  I am not a Barak Obama worshiper.  Indeed, we had a rather acrimonious exchange on FB the other day.

This has really eaten at me for the past few days.  No one wants to lose a friend or family member?  What happened to these people?

The answer is not all that difficult.  In September of last year, I took a month-long trip on Amtrak around the country.  I had experiences and saw things that changed my life and my thinking completely.   And I no longer bought the Liberal bill of goods.

I will contrast this with a couple of my cousins.  They are both fine women with fine families.  And they are all Conservatives.  Before my epiphany last September, I was a firebrand Liberal.  I devoured the Crooks & Liars and Daily Kos websites and flooded Facebook with statuses where I posted articles from the sites.  While I was enjoying the friendship of my former student, I was hurting a lot of people who were dear to me.  But my trip saved those relationships, and now I have a relationship with a dear cousin in Texas that I would never allow anything to harm.

Consider both situations – the people who want nothing to do with me because I am not an Obama worshiper, and the people whom I hurt deeply, but still love and accept me because I am family.  Were they acts of free will?  Or to quote Flip Wilson, did “the devil make them do it”?  I would say yes.

To be sure, there are reactions that we have no control over.  Someone who has been in combat will react to sounds like a balloon popping, a car backfiring, or Fourth of July fireworks.  He is reacting out of his experiences.  Some reactions are inborn and we cannot control them.  While some boys carry insects and worms in their pockets, I loathed and detested them and wanted nothing to do with them, and I still feel that way.  People hate alcohol because they know of the harm that it can do to people and families.  And still others hate loud noises and react accordingly.  I was that way as a child, and I still am.

But there are other reactions that we CAN control.  Those are the ones that “the devil makes us do.”  My cousins could have disowned me, and now I wouldn’t have blamed them if they had.  But my cousin Nikki in particular has been most gracious.  She has never held all of my “before” actions against me, so far as I know, and she has welcomed me into her home, and even introduced me to some wonderful people who accept me, warts and all.  This was an act of will on her part and “the devil” – in her case, God – “made” her do it.

As for the Obama worshipers who no longer want anything to do with me, that also is an act of will, and “the devil” is making them do it.  One of the lubricants that make the machine of human relationships run smoothly is that of agreeing to disagree.  This concept does not declare that someone is right and the other person is wrong; it simply means that two people can disagree on a particular point, but that that disagreement is not great enough to rupture the relationship.  Or it means that the relationship is so important to the two people involved that no disagreement or anything else is going to be allowed to destroy that relationship.

In my exchange with my former student yesterday, a couple of times I made the statement that Barak Obama is not worth destroying a friendship over.  She never responded to that, either time.  Thus, I am beginning to deal with the fact that the relationship and friendship are both gone.  If so, that is an act of will on her part, and she is to be pitied because her world does not allow any dissention from the party line.  All of us are like that, to a degree, but most of us think that there are other things that matter more, and we are able to exercise our will to not let something that is important to us be damaged or destroyed by inconsequentials.

So yes, “the devil made me do it.”  And that can work for both good and bad.

Have yourselves a great day today.

Bill

 

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July 23, 2015 Posted by | Life, Miscellaneous, Politics, Religion | | Leave a comment

I Have Returned

I Have Returned

Hello, everyone.

In the course of my statuses on Facebook, I have shared about my attempts to have dialog with atheists, only to discover that they were incapable of sensible, rational, civil discourse.  I thought that I could throw out my belief in a supreme God and be just like them.  I found out just how wrong I was.

This morning, I read a tremendous article on my FB wall that was so tremendous, and described me so fully, that I archived that article and felt moved to do this diary.  Here is the URL to the article:

https://jamesbishopblog.wordpress.com/2015/05/30/former-atheist-a-n-wilson-returns-to-christianity/

Reading that article brought back to mind a song that I heard Kenneth Copeland sing many times.  It was the song “I Have Returned” by Marijohn Wilkin back in the early 70s.  Here is the URL for the song:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i4H4AL2NHVU

I have no idea what inspired Marijohn to write the song, but I think that it is possible that she passed through some dark night of the soul when she lost faith in everything, including faith itself.  But in any event, she recovered her faith and felt led to share her experience through her song.  Thank you VERY MUCH, Marijohn Wilkin.  More people have traveled your road than you realize.

This was actually my second such trip.  Back in the 80s, I made my first trip down this road when my first wife died.  At the time, I was filling my brain with stuff from Trinity Broadcasting Network, and that network drove me from my belief in God.  I was angry with God for taking my first wife, at the very same time that TBN was teaching me that I could have whatever I wanted, thanks to “Jesus.”  They quoted “Jesus’s” promises to give us whatever we ask for, with no conditions, no qualifiers, no if’s, and’s, or but’s.  I could not reconcile those verses, or TBN’s teachings, with my life experiences and my loss of my beloved wife.  That stupid network was destroying me.

But one night, on “The John Ankerberg Show,” I watched a man named Dave Hunt explaining how many Charismatic ministries had become corrupt through what was known at that time as “the New Age Movement, and he mentioned TBN specifically.  He had just written a book titled “The Seduction of Christianity,” and Ankenberg had him on to discuss his research.  Not long after that, Jimmy Swaggart had Hunt on a daily Bible study program that he had on TBN.  I of course ordered the book and marked it up royally with underlines and notes.  As a result, Dave Hunt showed me that I was blaming the wrong person.  God wasn’t at fault; the REAL problem was with TBN and the preposterous stuff that they were broadcasting.

My heart was so deeply touched and renewed, that I recalled Kenneth Copeland singing Marijohn’s song and saw how my experience paralleled that of Marijohn’s, and I typed up the lyrics the best that I could recall.  I went back home every year to visit my mother.  She attended the local Open Bible Church, and I would visit and play the piano for them.  One time, I sang “I Have Returned” for them, and ever since, I had to sing the song whenever I visited them when I was home.

That was then.  What about now?  Back in February, for no known reason other than cussed cockiness, I decided that I would try to engage atheists in discussion.  But they were incapable of intelligent, logical, civil discussion.  All they were capable of was beating up on and bullying me.  I pondered this behavior for several weeks, and then I came to the conclusion that they were not capable of civil behavior or friendly discussion because they had no belief in a Supreme Being.  They believed, and acted like, they were above obeying any set of rules.  I made this statement in a forum, and I won’t begin to describe the behavior that then ensued.  That was when I returned to being an unabashed worshiper of God.  I do not believe in “Jesus hrist” for a variety of reasons, but I DO believe in God, which makes me either a Deist, a Unitarian, or possibly both.

As I said, I pondered the uncivilized behaviors of the atheists, and I became totally convinced that it is impossible to behave in a civil manner, or to think in a logical manner, without a belief in a Supreme Being.  This Being, or “God,” if you will, gives us rules by which we are expected to conduct ourselves in thought, word, and deed.  When I joined the Masonic Lodge 50 years ago, I learned as an Entered apprentice and as a Fellowcraft how to conduct myself as a Mason and as a man.  Conducting ourselves in due form was demanded in the lodge, and thus it became a philosophy that I applied to my life – and is still a philosophy that I follow.

So do I regret my attempts of February and March?  Not in the least!  My efforts helped me to regain my sanity.  They also helped me to love and appreciate the good people I have in my life.  Would I do it again?  No, I wouldn’t, knowing what I know now.  I would far rather spend my time in conversation with my good people.  They all have functioning brains.

I have returned!  Thank God!!!

You all have a great day today.

Bill

 

 

July 7, 2015 Posted by | Life, Miscellaneous, Religion | , , , , , | Leave a comment