Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Nadine entered my life quickly and randomly. We shared intimate details about our lives. Then I stopped replying to her emails.

Monday, November 10, 2008

From Nadine to Jeff: Got a question

Jeff---I was wondering today about what your wife thinks of your opinions about God, or the lack of Him, in our world? You haven't told me much about her; she is working on another degree, did you say? I don't know if that's right/ I'm too sleepy to be asking any questions at all, but the small part of my brain that is still awake, is evidently on it's own here, and wondering about her opinions....that said, I'm going to hit the hay!!! Talk soon...Nadine

Forward from Nadine to Jeff

Jeff---this looked like a great thing for you to do on the plane Wednesday!! Have a great week!! Iowa Bud!!

----- Original Message -----
From: Joke-of-the-Day
To: Nadine
Sent: Sunday, November 09, 2008 9:54 AM
Subject: The Best of Late Night...

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Rex Barker here with with my thoughts on "Time to Focus"...

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During the past several weeks, I have found myself on a number of long flights between meetings. To some people this often means an uncomfortable ride squished between two people you have never met before, elbowing each other for the armrest. To others, it means being bored by the person next to you endlessly showing you their personal photos or discussing gossip. And to others, it means looking between the heads in the row in front of you watching the movies that you missed in the theaters over the past few months.

To me, however, I cherish these flights as great time to reflect. I love not being connected in the air (although this has already started changing as some airlines already have WIFI, and all will have it shortly) This gives me the time to take out a blank sheet on a notepad (or a blank page on my laptop) and review the priorities in my life and take stock of my progress. How am I doing? Am I moving forward, or (hopefully not) backwards? Are my priorities from the last time I checked the same as now, or have they been superseded by new priorities? And are these new goals truly more important that the old ones; or just superficial distractions.

All too often, we find ourselves muddling through day by day, week by week, and we find that we are not moving forward at all with our important goals in life; in whatever area they may be; professional, personal, physical, emotional, spiritual or other. So these constant sessions in the air are great friendly wake up calls reminding me of what I am trying to accomplish and giving me an update on life. Am I growing the way I hoped I would, or am I wasting time on foolish mind numbing activities?

So my challenge to you is that you don't have to get on a 6 to 10 hour flight to do this. All you need is a pad of paper, and a quiet reflective spot by yourself. I have even done it in crowded noisy cafes in Athens, Paris, Rome, Moscow and Jerusalem and of course at Starbucks in Manhattan. Sit down, get a cappuccino or latte, and ask yourself "what are my goals in life" in all aspects. Write them down no matter, how crazy or outlandish some of them may be. Then number them on the right 1, 2, 3 based on importance. If something is a requirement to something else; make it a higher priority.

Then, within each category, write down what is required to achieve this. By breaking down goal into smaller units, all of the sudden they can become achievable. Also be honest with yourself and ask yourself if you have the determination, skills and personality to achieve each of the goals. If no, then honestly accept that this particular goal was not divinely ordained for you to achieve. And then focus on the ones that are suited to you. You might want to win an Olympic gold metal, but if you are too lazy to go even to the gym, start focusing on other goals. And the more you do this, the more in tune you are with your inner self, your ultimate self; your God given soul.

This is Rex Barker reminding you that the best way to achieve your goals and mission in life if to constantly review. In this manner, you control your life more than it controls you.

Please KEEP SENDING us your lessons and type 'LESSON' in the subject line. Your last name will not be used unless you give us permission in your email. We get hundreds, but all are read!

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"During one touching moment during Barack Obama’s acceptance speech, Oprah was crying; Jesse Jackson was crying; Hillary was crying . . . in fact, she’s still crying."

-Jay Leno

"Right about now, John McCain is at home, saying, if only I didn't anger Dave, if only I didn't anger Dave. And Obama believes that the election results gave him a mandate. A mandate, that is what got that Senator Larry Craig in trouble, wasn't it?"

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"I get this feeling that the country's starting to come together. And actually, it was borne out today in the newspaper. Yesterday, apparently, First Lady Laura Bush called Michelle Obama and invited her and her young daughters to the White House. Isn't that nice? And Laura Bush told Mrs. Obama, 'While I give you a tour, the girls can watch 'Spongebob' with the president.'"

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Barack Obama spent his first day as president-elect putting together his transition team. And if you believe MSNBC, by tomorrow he will have chosen all 12 of his disciples."

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-Jimmy Kimmel

"And of course the big mantra was 'Yes, we can!' Unless you're a gay couple in California, then it's, 'No, you can't.'"

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From Nadine to Jeff

Jeff---I read with interest your "rebuttal," if you will, and once again, tell you that the problem is that you are making this decision to not believe in God or His creation of our Universe and people, way too complicated.....God made it all so simple, SIMPLY because HE IS: He calls Himself the Great "I AM!" That is very simple, to me, and explains it all....it is all about HIM because He IS the "I AM!!" He is everything, and everything is come from and ends up with Him. That is what I believe, and what gives me peace, knowing in my heart that He is there also, in my heart...........as far as other religions: the Bible says that Jesus will not come "Until the Gospel has been preached to every country in the world." And for those who STILL haven't heard? Jesus has that covered also; Muslims are reporting that Jesus is coming to many of them in their dreams, and they are accepting Him as their Saviour because of that.....He will NOT leave anyone out, without them being presented as their Saviour. The Gospel is certainly being presented to everyone, whether by another person, media, or by whatever means is necessary: Jesus will come to them Himself; the man, Balaam, in II Peter 2:16, wouldn't listen to the Lord, so his DONKEY spoke the words from God to him!! I have no doubt in my mind that God will find a way, (and is not limited in ANY way!) to speak to every single human being on the face of this earth to give them the choice. I have NO doubt about that.
And even tho I have not the impressive education you have, I most certainly have challenged the ability of God, or the INability of God, to make things right. Believe me, there aren't too many circumstances that are much more powerful to challenge your faith, that doesn't make you shake your fist at God, than the death of your own precious child, esp. after you have gone through 19 yrs. of raising him or her from birth to death!! Tanya had only just left our home a month before her death, because she had quit business school, and had come back to live here and work in the hospital office in Audubon. So here were all of her things; many of her clothes, with her smell and her words still hanging in the air, and her belongings everywhere, still in our home, with her only gone for 4 weeks from them. That caused me, and several others in our family, to question God's love, judgment, cruelty, even tho I never questioned His existence. I knew where our sweet daughter was, and that we would see her again, but it still hurt so badly that there was physical pain in our chests!! A "broken heart" isn't just a cliche'! I tell you that not for the purpose of generating your pity,(!!), but to tell you how strongly I challenged God to prove to me SOMETHING!! Two days after her death, He graciously gave me a vision (I was not sleeping), of Tanya in Heaven: she had long, brown hair; was a beautiful young woman, by everyone's opinion.....God showed her to me, on the other side of a river, but not so far across but what I could see every detail; she was running along that river, with the wind blowing in her beautiful hair, as it streamed out behind her; then she stopped and stood just in front of a VERY close friend of mine who had just died 11 mo. before; there was other family behind her, but vividly I saw her and "Donella," my friend, smiling with great joy and waving to me!! It was as clear to me as is my husband now sitting in the living room chair near me......it gave me such reassurance and hope and help to get through the funeral and the days to come that were unbearable otherwise. THEN, after telling Rich that, of course, he told me the night after the funeral that he wished God would show him something like that;I told him to just "ask" for that from God; it was late August, and the head of our bed was against an open window, with no headboard; Rich told me the next morning that altho he hadn't heard an owl all that summer yet, that night an owl sat in the tree outside our window and hooted all night long, and in the morning, he told me he felt such a peace and reassurance from his God that his little girl was fine!! That was what he needed then-- and in the months and years after, whenever we have gone through an especially tough, stressful, or challenging time, we have always heard at least one owl outside, and have felt reassured of God's Presence and nearness......we do live on a farm, and so it is very quiet at night except for sounds like that: owls, coyotes, crickets, and other "night sounds." So, when you hint that you might view God (if you believe there is one) as a mean, heartless, uncaring God that you wouldn't want to have anything to do with, I DO feel sad for you, because I know of Joy and Peace and Anticipation for what He is providing and will continue to provide.....and I certainly don't see Him as leaving anyone out....He leaves it entirely up to the individual to choose or reject Him. In referring to a child as not full of great intelligence and potential, I must not have explained myself well at all concerning that.........I just mean by their innocence that they will believe without the education that you have, they will believe with simple' Childlike faith.....and in that they are fortunate, because they don't have all the entanglements in their minds that we get in a few short years..........
Also, the judgment of God: in deciding whether someone is "good enough" for Heaven: there was a point I was trying to make that was so intrinsically important to this whole conversation: The point is that NONE of us can be "good enough" or do enough "good works" or live pure enough to be given admittance to Heaven. That was the WHOLE purpose in Jesus' coming, because they knew there would NEVER be anyone sinless, pure enough, perfect enough, generous enough, or whatever, to gain Heaven.....JESUS' death and resurrection gave that to ANY of us who CHOOSE (by our free will) to accept Him, to ask Him to be in our lives, to forgive us of our sins, and eventually welcome us into Heaven!! He gave everything for us so that we could be forgiven of our sins and accepted into eternal life with Him!!
I guess I'll quit now, but I just have to tell you what I believe and what I REST in.....not worrying about my death, or what is to come in the ages to come....I believe these things of which I speak with every fiber of my being.
God Bless, Jeff!! Nadine

From Jeff to Nadine, bcc: Sue, Cynthia

You needn't feel sad for me.

As I mentioned before I do envy your faith, I wish sometimes I could put aside my doubts and rest in the comfort of an established community such as you describe. However, even as a child I found the things I was being taught on one side didn’t mesh with things on the other. For instance, if it’s required for people to accept Jesus into their lives in order to make it into heaven, then what about all the people who never heard of Jesus or were brought up in different faiths.

By the Christian logic, tribesmen living in the Amazon who had led pure, child-like existences and who loved their families and their tribe, never hurting anyone and living in harmony with nature would be condemned to hell simply because no one ever told them about Jesus. That didn’t seem fair. Then there were all the Buddhists, Jews, Hindus and Muslims, they were brought up in their faiths, taught to them by their families and clerics with a rich tradition, are we supposed to be better than them because of where and when we were born? How would we feel, my parents, my church, what would we think if a Muslim came into our community and started telling us we were condemned to eternal damnation if we didn’t submit to Islam (a redundancy there as Islam means “submission”).

Then there was the problem of heaven and hell. The thought of living for eternity with all the “good” people didn’t sound like much fun. Then I started thinking somebody here on earth came up with the whole hell idea just to get people to behave according to their rules.

Look, Jesus and all his followers were Jews. They created a radical sect that broke away from Judaism and did a very good job of spreading it, this happened because Jesus challenged the existing world view and technological innovations of the day (Roman roads) allowed the easy flow of people and information. When Martin Luther came along and challenged Catholicism (in part because of the practice of selling indulgences to help people get to heaven, which is just silly), the spread of his 95 theses and the resulting cultural uproar was made possible in a large part by the printing press.

My point is throughout history, religions have evolved and they’ve evolved in part because of the way the world has changed around them. Why then would I clutch to an outdated form of worship that offered something so limiting in return. The whole scheme lacks imagination. Jesus on a throne, descending from heaven to rule for 1,000 years? No offense but that sounds like weak tea to me. An idea trapped in the form of what was viewed as awesome in its day.

Since then there have been major advancements in science, we know the earth has existed for eons and the concept of a god making two humans like he was playing with clay is a quaint concept, but rather unlikely. I became fascinated with physics after I graduated from college, I studied history at Berkeley (frankly, I did not study too hard), and did not really give myself a firm grounding in the natural sciences. Since then, though, I’ve pored through works on Einstein, cosmology, and the Big Bang. It’s been proven that all matter in the universe can be traced to that one event, this article is merely one example,
the new research being done to understand the fundamental essence of that matter is fascinating stuff: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Large_Hadron_Collider

I don’t say this to diminish your beliefs, Nadine, in fact I think cosmology and the way physicists are examining the universe results from the same human curiosity that inspired Jesus to challenge Judaism and Roman rule, and that motivated Luther to challenge Catholicism and the accepted norms of his day. There is always more to learn, and I have a hard time believing that due to the creativity and curiosity with which these scientists were born they lack the right religion and are somehow morally inferior and will therefore be punished by being left out of an exclusionary Rapture.

Faith is a very powerful emotion. To use your wind analogy, I see the result of wind, but I can’t “see” the wind, not with my eyes, but I might think there’s another way to see the wind, I might wonder what causes the wind, which leads me to the study of meteorology, which has advanced to the point where we can view hurricanes on TV bearing down on new Orleans, and we can wonder whether it’s the human population pumping greenhouse gases into the environment that’s contributing to more extreme weather, and we can wonder what it is about earth’s atmosphere that traps the gases, and we can wonder about the origins of the planet and the universe and people study all this and document it and prove it through the scientific method, they develop theories and then test them over and over again until they cannot be proven wrong. They might some day, but today they are true. So, this search for truth of which you speak seems unlike truth at all, it’s not tested, it’s based on believing something is true.

Again, I think the believing part is important, it is a fundamental part of what makes us human. However, if we’re born with the curiosity to test beliefs and challenge them, and eventually prove them lacking, then how is that supposed to be a bad thing. I read Mark’s words in a different way (it may not surprise you that I’m a bigger fan of John’s gospel, btw. John 1:1 – “In the beginning was the word” – the length of this email proves my point), Mark 10:15 is preceded by the words “It is just such as these that the kingdom of God belongs.” Children are naturally inquisitive. I do not think those words are simple at all, the moment you start talking about a child, you are talking about the infinite, there are infinite possibilities in the brain of a child, this is why we value life, because we have no idea what could come from our own brains, what we can think up is beyond limits. Consider the words in the context of the advance of the generations. We are born, we grow, we procreate, our children grow and procreate, on and on through time, but we’re all of the same matter.

The universe started from one point, we’re made of the same stuff as stars. Our children, our children’s children, advancing thus to the infinite inherit this universe, what could be more beautiful and all-inclusive than that. And why stop there, if each and everyone of us has through the stroke of some unknowable god-like entity been allowed to imagine, study and prove these points, then what’s to stop us from developing new theories that could be studied and proven. What if this ride on this expanding universe will eventually came to a halt, would there be a big crunch when gravity takes over and pulls all matter back into an immensely dense ball that could explode again in another big bang, and if that is possible is it not possible that such a thing could have happened hundreds or even millions of time. How great is the power of god? Are we to say that such a thing is not possible, that whatever came before the universe was not powerful enough to make something like this happen, if “He” were powerful enough to create humans who could think it?

So, you see how I look at your rapture with a bit of disdain. It’s not that I think it’s impossible, I think it lacks imagination.

Now the sun’s come up, it’s not raining anymore, so I’m going to go play some golf.


From Jeff to Rachel, cc: Cynthia, Sue, Steve

Here's the latest. I still need to post this, but I've got to run and worship the animals by eating some of them (I jest. [Although I am going to a meat eating fest]).

I'm growing to admire her faith. I think it's hard to believe, but then that's what makes me a skeptic. I'm going to lay the agnostic stuff on her, but Epicuris calls...

From Rachel to Jeff, Steve, Sue, Cynthia

Of course she brought out the rapture…christianity is all this woman has to offer, it’s what was drilled into her core and now that everything in her life has left her, she holds on to this one thing, the only thing she has left, death is next... I have to thank you for the attempt to school her on the history of christiantity. Thanks to Christianity, Paganism, is now considered “evil” ~ to worship the Sun, the Earth, and have respect for the very thing that gives us ALL life, has been shunned by the scare tactics of some roman marketing agency… and yet, christians continue to celebrate pagan traditions without being aware of it…(heaven forbid) christmas (the Solstice and return of the Sun, the great provider of FOOD and LIFE) and easter (Spring Equinox, the warming of the Earth, which brings forth new life…) Why does no one question the bunny/egg theme on easter or the tree/santa theme on christmas? Our education has been steeped in christianity, (even though there is a separation between church and state right?, “one nation, under god…) we have been taught not to question from the day we were born…

I am a pagan, I worship the Sun, the Earth, the creatures that roam, for I know (for a fact) they are what gives us life and I respect it ~ without it we are NOTHING…we will NOT exist…and as you can see, I am passionate about saving the planet by getting back to our roots…and in the end, (which has been written into all religions and cultures) and I feel, is upon us now, I would have to say of all that I have read, we can thank christianity for the total destruction of life…isn’t that ironic?

One of my favorite bumper stickers is “what would Jesus do?”

My answer to that question…“love thy neighbor” (regardless of his/her religion, sex, or sexual preference, age, or outfit they decided to wear today…)

Maybe you should send this to Nadine…although I am sure she will not be able to answer it without some scripture reference…
"If God is willing to prevent evil, but is not able to
Then He is not omnipotent.
If He is able, but not willing,
Then He is malevolent.
If He is both able and willing,
Then whence cometh evil?
If He is neither able nor willing,
Then why call Him God?" Epicurus

Off to enjoy my Sunday with a hearty breakfast of Eggs, Bacon and Toast and then a stroll in the park to give my respects to the Earth…