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Does hell exist? I’ll report, you decide . . .

Recently various television news outlets discussed the existence of hell, noting that if heaven exists but hell does not, then everyone that dies must go to heaven. I submit that if a person believes in heaven, then that person must believe in hell. One cannot exist without the other. Heaven exists in the minds and beliefs of people, and hell exists in their minds and beliefs just as surely as does heaven. I am pleased with the way heaven is presented but I really dislike the current description of hell, and I believe I have a more acceptable vision of hell—if it exists!

Everything in our universe and everything outside our universe has its opposite. One cannot exist without the other. Form an image of a mountain in your thoughts, and you’ll find that a valley is included in the image. No mountain can exist, either in reality or in our thoughts, without the existence of a valley. Mountains and valleys must coexist if either is to exist, and while their existence can be verified, it cannot be falsified, and it is at this point their existence diverges from the discussion of whether heaven or hell exists.

I submit that heaven and hell also must coexist or not exist at all. We can cling to our belief that one or the other or both exist, but we can never know—we can only believe. True knowledge is reserved to those for whom life as we know it has ended, and they now exist in another world, either in heaven or hell if either exists. Their existence can neither be verified nor falsified by anyone living. Their existence depends on our beliefs, whether those beliefs are derived from the Scriptures or from our lifetime of living and observing humanity.

Just for discussion, let’s suppose that heaven is exactly as described in the Scriptures and that hell is not as described. Perhaps hell does not exist. Perhaps those not entitled to spend eternity in heaven do not go to hell when they die. Let’s suppose that the wicked have already been judged when they die—prejudged, so to speak—and they simply do not go anywhere. Their spirits do not go to heaven when they die—their spirit, their souls, that which gave them life simply cease to exist, and perhaps that is the hell foretold in the scriptures.

Let’s suppose that the spirit that exists in those of us who have been judged unacceptable in heaven dies when the body dies and remains dead through eternity. Our being barred from heaven therefore is our punishment for living our lives in such a manner that we did not qualify for heaven. Of course those of us that do not make the grade will never know that we failed, but we will have been spared an eternity doing the devil’s bidding while enveloped in flames and forced to shovel coal to keep the fires burning. Bummer!

Thus we have postulated a heaven and its antithesis, hell, without the necessity of describing hell as fire and brimstone ruled by a red devil with horns and a pitchfork tail. If the truth be known, had it not been for volcanic eruptions the ancients would never have developed the idea of hell, then invented the devil and located his kingdom at the center of the earth.

In all of recorded history only one person has returned to the earth after death, and the truth of that record resides in us as individuals. We can neither verify nor falsify that story of life after death, and can never know the truth of that return until we draw our final breath—until then we can only believe and hold to that belief in the hopes that heaven does exist and that our beliefs and our actions in this life will qualify us to spend eternity in heaven—not an easy task, that! And the beauty of my hypothesis is that even if we are denied entry into heaven, we will never know that we were denied because we would spend eternity in the nothingness of hell.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Postscript: This final image is my self-portrait from some five months ago, but as time has passed my anger has faded to the point that I no longer try to place blame on anyone or anything. I no longer fault God for not giving her doctors the power to lengthen her life, and I no longer curse the devil for the disease that took my wife away from me—even after 58 years of marriage I wanted more—I wanted our marriage to never end. If you like, you can click here for a posting that came from my heart and from the depths of my soul.

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Posted by on April 26, 2011 in death, Family, funeral, heaven, television, weddings

 

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From the mouths of babes . . .

Special note: This is not a Once Upon a Time story—this is a now story.

Somewhere near the approximate center of the Kingdom of Texas lies an area with beautiful lakes, open spaces and stately homes, and in that area there lives and loves a royal family that includes two of my royal grandchildren, a handsome prince and a beautiful princess, Prince Winnon and Princess Tracie. These children are young and bright, budding intellectuals following in the footsteps of their grandparents, both paternal and maternal, and their mother and father and their grandparents are very proud of them.

This posting revolves around the fact that the royal children are not wise in the ways of the world, particularly in the language of the realm but they are gaining in wisdom, in no small part because of their predilection for asking endless questions in their efforts to add to their accumulated knowledge—they want to know. Both are being schooled in fine public institutions and both are quick to learn. However, in their quest for knowledge they sometimes ask unanswerable questions, and tend to give memorable answers to others’ questions.

One shining example involves the Easter bunny, as told by Tracie’s mother. At the wizened old age of five years, Tracie had a question and answer session from the back seat while her mother was driving. She asked if the Easter bunny was real, and her mother allowed that he is as far as she knew. Tracie said that she believes the bunny is a girl, and asked how her mother knows that it is a boy.

The mother’s answer was that she just always thought it was a boy. Tracie then asked how he picks up the eggs, since he has no hands. With a weary sigh, her mother said that she had never been sure of that point either. Tracie closed the discussion by saying that she  thinks he just puts the eggs in the basket and runs around shaking them out on the ground so the humans can pick them up. I consider that explanation just as plausible as any I’ve heard or read.

Just a couple more Tracie-isms:

One day a prekindergarten Tracie entered into a conversation between her mother and the piano tuner. She appeared from her room with felt-tip marker colors all over her face, arms, hands and clothing and her mother asked, Tracie, who did this to you? Tracie, reluctant to admit that she had done it to herself but knowing instinctively that she couldn’t blame it on her mother or the piano tuner, confessed that her brother Winnon did it.

Her mother reminded her that Winnon was in school and couldn’t have done it. With wrinkled brow, Tracie took a long moment to consider that fact and finally responded with a crestfallen Oh, and returned to her room—that Oh said it all.

One morning while Tracie was helping me prepare breakfast by placing bacon strips in the frying pan, she told me that she wanted to be a vegenarian. Thinking that she meant vegetarian, but knowing that she liked bacon and other meats, I asked her why she wanted to be a vegenarian, and she replied, Because I want to work with all kinds of animals, and then I realized that she meant that she wanted to be a veterinarian.

Tracie’s brother Winnon asked her, while they were enjoying bacon with their breakfast, if she knew that bacon comes from pigs. Tracie considered that information thoughtfully for a long moment, then held up a strip of bacon and told her brother, forcefully, that it did not look like a pig.

And now for a few Winnon-isms:

In an English class, Winnon’s teacher asked him to construct a sentence containing three verbs. He submitted the following sentence, structurally and grammatically correct in every respect and in accordance with the teacher’s request:

A turtle eats, pees and poops in his cage.

One cool day Winnon emerged from the family’s backyard pool and entered the house to warm up, and exclaimed to his mother that his nuts were freezing. His shocked mother asked him where he had heard that word and Winnon, suspecting that he had committed a faux pas and expecting the worst, said that he didn’t remember. He probably heard the word at school but didn’t want to implicate one or more of his friends. His mother explained to him that the term nuts, although quite descriptive in nature, should not be used to describe those components of the male physique, at least not in conversations among genteel and well-educated people.

A pre-school Winnon and his mother were traveling in the car and his mother said they would have to stop at a station to fill the car’s gas tank, and Winnon asked why. She explained that if the car ran out of gas they would have to park it somewhere. Winnon said Oh, and then they passed an automobile dealer’s location that sported acres of new and used automobiles, and Winnon asked whether all those cars had run out of gas.

There are many more Tracie-isms and Winnon-isms lurking in the wings, and the count is growing steadily. I have implored their mother, my princess daughter that lives and loves in that land of beautiful lakes and open spaces, to document those –isms voiced in the past by her children and those –isms that will undoubtedly appear in the future. Many are classic, and all are well-worthy of documentation. Art Linkletter many years ago, and Bill Crosby more recently, were correct in saying on their television shows that Kids say the darndest things!

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

 
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Posted by on December 15, 2010 in Childhood, Family, Humor, Uncategorized

 

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On the question of gay marriage rights . . .

Let’s see if I correctly understand the problem:

Same-sex male couples and same-sex women couples want—no, they demand—the legal right to marry so they will have the same rights enjoyed by opposite-sex couples who are married, and opposite-sex couples do not want them to have those rights. Many are willing to allow them civil unions (which confer the same privileges), but few are willing to allow them rights conferred by legal marriage—that is, marriage between a man and a woman. And there are many unmarried non-gay (straight) persons who, although they may support civil unions, are opposed to rights being gained through legal marriages.

That’s a truncated analysis of one of the most divisive situations in our country, but really, isn’t that all there is to it?

Millions of opposite-sex couples live together (cohabit) without benefit of clergy—they choose to do so, and they have the legal right to do so. They also, if they choose, have the legal right to marry in every state, and their marriage is recognized in every state. Millions of same-sex couples also cohabit without benefit of clergy, some willingly but many, perhaps most, do so because they have no other choice. Simply stated the problem is that, in all states, opposite-sex couples who cohabit can marry if they choose. Same-sex couples who cohabit do not, in most states, have the same choice.

This I say to those who oppose legal marriages for same-sex couples:

Why not give them the right to marry? Let them have it. Make it legal throughout the nation. Make it legal in every state, in every county and city to include couples (of any sex or lack thereof) living in apartments and tenement housing (high rise or other wise), condos and communes, hotels and homeless shelters, in flophouses and under bridges, and in every house on every block in every subdivision, from Jim Walter homes to million-dollar mansions—give them the same rights which opposite-sex couples enjoy and have always enjoyed.

The most prevalent argument against same-sex marriages appears to be anticipation that such unions will promote homosexuality. I say, “Stuff and nonsense!” Just as mothers and fathers endeavor to raise their children according to each child’s demonstrated ability and proclivity (or at least this should be the guide for raising them), so will two-mother families and two-father families raise theirs (or at least this should be their guide for raising them). Much of my childhood (what there was of it) was spent exclusively in the company of women, one mother and three sisters. There was no father figure or older brother present, just one mother and three sisters. I managed to survive in that element, and more mothers and/or sisters would not have made any substantial difference.

Would anyone like to take a guess at my sexual preferences? Here’s a hint: For more than 56 years I’ve been married to a beautiful woman who has, however reluctantly, borne us three beautiful daughters, and I’m willing to submit to DNA testing on all three. I know—that doesn’t rule out homosexuality, but it is a good start in another direction.

So here it is—this is my proposal for future marriage ceremonies which are conducted to legally unite couples in a legally-sanctioned marriage, whether the couples are same-sex or opposite-sex:

I propose that, in every marriage ceremony, the customary question of “Do you take this . . .?” be modified as described below. This modification must be mandatory both for same-sex and opposite-sex marriage ceremonies—there must not be the slightest hint of discrimination in the ceremony. Require each party to respond to the modified question with a one-word answer (yes or no). Answers such as maybe, I guess so, I reckon, why not, whatever, etc., will not be accepted. If either party (or both parties) responds in the negative, regardless in the manner the negative is voiced, the ceremony must be terminated.

This is the modified ceremony:

Do you, John/Joan, take Tommy/Tammy, to be your lawful wedded husband/wife with the full realization and understanding that after you are married, should either of you or both of you decide to dissolve the marriage through divorce, you will each be subjected to all the provisions, frustrations, condemnations and woes which are inevitable in the divorce process. As a married couple you will inevitably be involved in financial, psychological and sometimes physical dogfights, and a lot of verbal and possibly physical abuse may occur—and also some bad things could happen—I mean, like, you know, some really bad things could happen!

Should either of you decide to dissolve this union and the other agrees to its dissolution, you will have to agree on the division of property, including land, buildings, automobiles, homes and home furnishings. You will have to agree on child custody and visitation rights for any minor child acquired while married, whether acquired through adoption or through childbirth. Property brought to the marriage by either of you, tangible or intangible, may be retained by the spouse who brought the property to the marriage. This provision will also apply to any minor child or minor children brought to the marriage by either spouse (unless adopted after the marriage).

You will have to decide who gets the children, the dog, the goldfish and the bird—in one way or another you both will get the bird. The divorce settlement will be final—it will be permanent—it cannot be changed unless you both agree to the change and that, statistically speaking, ain’t gonna happen.

Do you at this time acknowledge and proclaim full understanding of these provisions?

Please answer truthfully either yes, or no, with the knowledge that a truthful answer is required. An untruthful answer (to be determined by a polygraph test conducted under oath) will cause this ceremony to be declared invalid and it will be terminated. Appropriate monetary penalties will be applied and the ceremony will be rescheduled for a later date (if desired by both parties). Any subsequent marriage ceremony requested by either of you, with the same person or with a different person, will be conducted in the same manner.

In order to verify the truthfulness of their answers, the couple should be comfortably seated and connected to a polygraph machine, and the truthfulness test will be administered by a qualified operator. Their answers should be given under oath, with an appropriate monetary penalty applied in case lies are detected. This will, of course, add additional costs to the wedding, but should prove a boon to retired federal, state and local polygraph experts (the monetary penalty should be sufficient to cover the expert’s expenses plus adequate additional remuneration).

If both the bride and groom, or the bride and bride, or the groom and groom answer truthfully in the affirmative, let the marriage proceed to a successful union, with all the rights appurtenant thereto granted. If the answer is negative, put the ceremony on hold, to be resumed when each participant can, following diligent study of all applicable materials, truthfully affirm full understanding and acceptance of the ramifications involved in a marriage and the possibility—nay, in these times the probability—nay, the statistical actuality—of its subsequent dissolution.

And that’s it. That’s where I stand on the subject of gay marriage, and when the measure arrives in the state legislature in Austin, I will cast my kingly vote for it, and I will urge my subjects to do the same (my vote won’t count, of course, because my wife’s vote will effectively cancel mine).

In the interest of full disclosure I must reveal, for the edification of all my subjects and for viewers from other kingdoms, that my wife and I together constitute an opposite-sex couple and we have never been divorced—not even once. We took our marriage vows on December 13, 1952. On December 12, 2008 we completed our 56th continuous year of marriage. We are now underway to our 57th year, and we look forward to many more.

Also in the interests of full disclosure I must admit that, had we been administered the proposed question under oath, we would have answered with a resounding “Yes!” Our answers would have been judged truthful although neither of us had the slightest knowledge of the ramifications involved in divorce. Simply stated, we would have rejected the possibility that we would ever dissolve the marriage—on that day, in that age and in our thoughts, we would have believed that divorce could never be an option.

 
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Posted by on May 7, 2009 in Humor

 

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Why “The King of Texas?”

The Queen and I have three daughters, one of whom lives in Virginia. Some years ago one of her closest friends wrote a beautiful story about a “princess” who lives in the neighborhood and does kind, beneficial and beautiful things for her friends. The princess does all these things in a purely altruistic manner with no thought of recompense, asking only that those friends appreciate their mutual friendships and all things beautiful.

Her friend began the story by saying that the princess came from a “far-away kingdom” known as Texas, a beautiful and bountiful land ruled by her parents, the King and Queen of Texas, both dearly beloved by their subjects. I gratefully (and gleefully) accepted the mantle of Supreme Ruler—I felt fully qualified for the job, and it seemed to be the natural thing to do. The title stuck, and that’s why I chose it for my blog. So “now you know the rest of that story.” I solemnly promise that I will make every effort to avoid besmirching that mantle (and if I should happen to stray, please help me return to the proper path).

 
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Posted by on April 6, 2009 in Uncategorized

 

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