Chapel of Optimal Life

A traditional Bible-based Christian church
A Bible-based Christian church for the modern age
A church based on the teachings of all the great thinkers
A new age church for the inquiring mind

EDITORIAL: Taking the War out of Religion

The bible is full of wars, killing, destruction, often without mercy, but that all ends with the coming of Jesus.

When Jesus arrives, he arrives with a message: peace, turn the other cheek, thou shalt not kill. He never asked for armies to rise up and fight in His name. He never asked for vengeance. He never asked for forced conversions.

Plenty of popes, popinjays, and politicians, did this, over and over, but not blessed Jesus.

Why do parsons, padres, pagans, pashas, paisanos, paladins, paleontologists and palookas all call for armies to rise up in Christ's name when the man for whom Christianity is named never ever hinted at such action being taken, let alone, in his hallowed name?

God may have inspired the creation of religion, with the intention that it stand for peace, but He is not responsible for what it becomes under the influence of our hand.

The God of the Old Testament is pretty violent and vengeful but the God of Jesus is none of that.

Man taught God some lessons about how hateful and evil humans can be so when He sent Jesus to earth it was with a new message. Peace.

And for over two thousand years mankind has ignored God and his messenger Christ and continued to behave hatefully and cruelly and unchristianly.

Not only can we not stop warring; we can't stop warring in God's and Jesus' names.

Why must humans fight wars over religion. Fighting for God is an oxymoron. God is the great peace-maker, the great arbiter; religion should be an antidote for war, not a stimulus for it. Haven't the saints and prophets made this clear? Haven't they explained that God's will is for us to love each other, to forgive others, and to refrain from retaliating against those who wrong us?

Remember Peter's question to Jesus: "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him?" Christ's answer: "I do NOT say to you seven times, but seventy times seven." (Matthew 18:21-22).

And it is written in the Quran: "Those who, when they are angry, even then forgive, and make reconciliation, [their] reward is due from God." (Xlii 37-40).

Perhaps we should not be so surprised at the way things are actually unfolding. Alas, religion-like everything else-is not immune to the influence of evil. God may have inspired the creation of religion, with the intention that it stand for peace, but He is not responsible for what it becomes under the influence of our hand.

And, indeed, religion today has become something of a dubious blessing to humanity. Fanaticism, and religious zealotry, are guiding political movements and spawning violence all over the globe. You know the story: in the Middle East, we have a burgeoning radical Islamist movement bent on eradicating the "infidels from the West," and nations have Prime Ministers whose admitted goal is to "wipe Israel and the Great Satan off the face of the earth."

In the United States, too, exists a very potent brand of religious fundamentalism, replete with its justifications for violence against "evil doers." It all threatens to be a bit overwhelming. Even ten years ago, few would have guessed that, in this year, the world would be held hostage to the extent that it is by such primitive religious thinking. We appear to be the victims of a "Clash of Fundamentalisms" (to quote author Tariq Ali), and we are quite sure that God can be counted among the victims, and not the perpetrators.

We have a question in response to all of this: Where are the great spiritual leaders of our day? Where are the modern-day Martin Luther Kings, and Mohandas K. Ghandis, to help us correctly interpret the spiritual and secular intentions of God above? Leaders such as these, we hope, are coming, because we need them. We need leaders with real spiritual gravitas to assume positions of political influence and to appear on global television to encourage these violent religious people to rearrange their thinking.

The good news, of course, is that every new generation brings its own batch of saints. And, we are looking forward to the day when the spiritual leaders of our younger generation make their appearance on the global stage. In the meantime, we folk-of-faith have no choice but to remain steadfast and to continue working for a better, more religiously honest future, each in his/her own way.

And to pray, of course.



Such Strange And Wondrous Creatures!


Women have strengths that amaze men.
They bear hardships and they carry burdens,
but they hold happiness, love and joy.

They smile when they want to scream.
They sing when they want to cry.
They cry when they are happy and laugh when they are nervous.
They fight for what they believe in.
They stand up to injustice.
They don't take 'no' for an answer when they believe there is a better solution.

They go without so their family can have.
They go to the doctor with a frightened friend.
They love unconditionally.
They cry when their children excel and cheer when their friends get awards.
They are happy when they hear about a birth or a wedding.

Their hearts break when a friend dies.
They grieve at the loss of a family member, yet they are strong when they think there is no strength left.
They know that a hug and a kiss can heal a broken heart.

Women come in all shapes, sizes and colors.
They'll drive, fly, walk, run or e-mail you to show how much they care about you.
The heart of a woman is what makes the world keep turning.
They bring joy, hope and love.
They have compassion and ideals.
They give moral support to their family and friends.

Women have vital things to say and everything to give.

As We Said, Such Strange And Wondrous Creatures!

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Henri Nouwen

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