Doomed to a continued existence of fighting and killing each other

Opinion

Rebel Yell by S.C. GwynneI have always been fascinated by history, particularly the history of wars. Right now I am reading Rebel Yell by S. C. Gwynne, subtitled “The Violence, Passion, and Redemption of Stonewall Jackson.” It’s a serious tome—575 pages of reading, 45 pages of notes, and 13 pages of bibliography. The copy I have is an “Advance Reader’s Edition.” Sadly, I seem never to read these privileged editions until well after the book has been published, in this case October 2014. Nonetheless….

Mighty Stonewall by Frank VandiverStonewall Jackson was one of the Confederacy’s greatest generals during the Civil War. The first book I ever read that was dedicated solely to Stonewall Jackson was Mighty Stonewall by Frank E. Vandiver (1925-2005), published in 1957. Dr. Vandiver was president of Texas A&M University from 1981 to 1988.

When I heard that a history professor had been named president of my alma mater, I was fascinated and immediately turned to finding out more about him. That was when I discovered his Mighty Stonewall book. Dr. Vandiver was a foremost authority on the Civil War, and he is mentioned several times in the notes and bibliography of Gwynne’s book.

I am barely halfway through Gwynne’s book, but it is obvious what the “violence” and “passion” in the subtitle mean. Jackson was extraordinarily violent, even going so far as to shoot his own men when he deemed it necessary. The passion comes from his dedication to “Providence.” He had a firm belief that he was fighting for God. Since I haven’t finished the book, and Jackson died two years before the end of the war, I don’t know where “redemption” comes from.

Jackson died on May 10, 1863, of complications from pneumonia which set in after he had been wounded at the Battle of Chancellorsville. I would have liked to have heard how he reconciled losing the war if God was on his side and the side of the Confederacy.

Therein, though, lies part of the problem that still exists in the world, a problem that has existed forever and probably will exist forevermore: a belief in a magical guy in the sky who wants humans to fight for him. If only everyone could believe in the same magical guy, no one would have to fight. Of course, we could also ask, “If that magical guy is so all-knowing and all-powerful, why can’t he fight his own wars?”

religion was our first attempt stampReligion was humanity’s first attempt at explaining the world and universe. Mankind’s first attempts at doing anything are bad, some of them notoriously bad. Religion was not very good at explaining things, relying on myth, superstition, magic, mind control, etc. It’s not religion’s fault. Humanity and science simply had not evolved to the point where the universe could be better understood without making up things. It is religion’s fault for not getting with the times.

science and religionAs long as there are people willing to believe religious dogmas written thousands of years ago instead of using logic, reasoning, science, facts, etc., to understand the universe, and to kill in the name of that religion, humanity is doomed to a continued existence of fighting and killing each other.

A few more of my favorite memes collected from the Internet, and I make no apology to my Christian friends. That’s what’s wonderful about America—people are free to believe what they want, or not to believe at all, and to criticize each other for their beliefs, or lack thereof.

witches

the dark ages

superstition

salvation

left-handed sin

imaginary friend

fabricate supreme being

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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21 thoughts on “Doomed to a continued existence of fighting and killing each other

  1. Hack Chef

    So true, Russel – of course, you know they’re coming in their black sedans to take you away, as we speak! I’m not a religious person (yet, spiritual – if that makes any sense) but I find that any of the ‘books’ are actually great guides to living a peaceful, moral, harmonious life, no matter which god(s) playing the starring role(s) – yet, they are most often used to justify blowing the crap out of someone. In my country, Canada, our government has secretly gone from a ‘peacekeeping nation’ to a ‘warring nation’ – with religion always the underlying justification…

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  2. renxkyoko

    The “left-handed ” thing is mind-boggling. I didn’t know that was in the Bible. But then there’s so much in the Bible that I find horrific, like God telling Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac, as proof of his loyalty and obedience to God.

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    1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

      When the Bible was first digitized and put online, a friend and I took it and deleted all the negative reinforcement and horror stories, as well as the magic stuff, which condensed it to a whopping 36 pages, 8½x11, single-spaced, Times font, 11 pt on 12 pt leading. That was an eye opener.

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  3. insearchofitall

    I’m going to tell you a story one day. I’m trying to find the courage to tell it in a way that can be understood. I’m in complete agreement with you. There is no Santa Claus in the sky that doles out good and bad. Religion separates, spirituality unites. The judgement doesn’t come from what we call God, it comes from us. We do it to ourselves and each other. The bible was written by men. Some may have had good intentions, but most had an agenda. There is an extreme lack of acceptance in the world for what is different. It comes from fear. Everything that is not love, is fear. Fear breeds hate, Will it ever end? I doubt it. It’s like having only sunshine with no rain. I ask everyday for peace and tolerance in myself first. It has to grow from there.. It’s what I’m in search of…ultimately. By the way, I LOVE ALL YOUR SIGNS. I want to pin them but will save them for myself.

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  4. colonialist

    If only it were that simple. People seem to have a genetic urge to worship something. If it isn’t a god, it is a celebrity, or a dictator.
    Then, at least religion makes some (usually absurd) attempt to explain the purpose and direction of life, the universe, and everything. Science explains more and more minutely how things work, and dodges with ever-increasing delicacy round the question of why.

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    1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

      The very nature of science is why it dodges around the question of why. I have never found a great need to know why. I don’t care. I am what I am. I am here, and doing good and helping people makes me feel good. That’s all I need.

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      1. colonialist

        That is typical of the rather blinkered scientific outlook. If one sees something moving, it is not enough to figure out what enables it to do so. One should also want to know where it is intended to be going and why. The scientific approach is not incompatible with following up such investigation.

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        1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

          I’ll heartily disagree with you. I have no need to know where it is going and why. How, where, and why are three completely different things. I’m not interested in the where and why. However, if YOU want to know where it is going and why, by all means, find out! That’s what freedom is all about.

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