Category Archives: God

Skeeter Davis’s Letters to God

Skeeter DavisBack in 1963 I was in love with a pretty little blonde named Joe Anne Wade.  Joe Anne was a student at Wilcox High School in Santa Clara, California.  I was a freshman in college.  We loved a song by a singer named Skeeter Davis (pictured at right) who was big that year.  Skeeter sang a song called “The End of the World.”  It was about how someone feels when the one they love has departed their life.   When Joe Anne’s previous boyfriend got out of the army, she decided she liked him better than me.  Soon Skeeter’s song was more to me than pretty music:  it described exactly how I felt about losing Joe Anne.

The years have passed and I forgot about Skeeter Davis until tonight.  My wife and I were at the “Jazz Bash by the Bay,” a meeting of jazz bands  in Monterey, California.  In the last performance of the evening, the drummer of one group told a touching story.  His name is Danny Coots and he lives and records in Nashville. 

Danny said his wife had been a fan of Skeeter Davis.  Skeeter lived in Nashville and died there of breast cancer in 2004.   Mrs. Coots went to Skeeter’s estate sale and bought a bunch of things, including boxes.  Inside one of the boxes Danny found some letters that Skeeter had written to God in 1962 and 1963.  The letters were handwritten on hotel stationery and were written while Skeeter was touring.  They were her personal conversation with God, asking him why things had to happen the way they do, why she had to suffer the loss of someone’s love.  She spoke of touring as a popular singer and how lonely it was on the road.

Danny said that, in reading these letters, he felt that he was intruding on Skeeter’s privacy.  It was obvious that when she was pouring her heart out to God, she never intended that her writings would be read by anyone else.  Danny said that the content of Skeeter’s letters could best be summarized by the words to one of her most popular songs – “The End of the World.”

The Monterey jazz group ended their performance by playing and singing this song and by dedicating it to Skeeter Davis.  It was a touching thing to do.   The audience responded with a standing ovation.  Thank you, Danny Coots, for sharing this with all of us.

Following are two things:  the words to “The End of the World” and then a Youtube video of Skeeter singing the song.  Enjoy – then say a prayer for Skeeter Davis. 

THE END OF THE WORLD

Why does the sun go on shining
Why does the sea rush to shore
Don’t they know it’s the end of the world
‘Cause you don’t love me any more

Why do the birds go on singing
Why do the stars glow above
Don’t they know it’s the end of the world
It ended when I lost your love

I wake up in the morning and I wonder
Why everything’s the same as it was
I can’t understand, no, I can’t understand
How life goes on the way it does

Why does my heart go on beating
Why do these eyes of mine cry
Don’t they know it’s the end of the world
It ended when you said goodbye

Why does my heart go on beating
Why do these eyes of mine cry
Don’t they know it’s the end of the world
It ended when you said goodbye

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Neale Donald Walsch’s “Conversations With God” Book 1

ndwalsch.jpgAs promised in my last post, I did indeed read Book 1 of Neale Donald Walsch’s “Conversations With God.”  I had started it some months ago, decided it was boring and quit reading.  However, I became intrigued by the boiling anger the book generates in some Christians, so decided to give it another go. 

The book actually became interesting as I got more into the text.  I read some things that were almost profound; other things that were interesting; and some things that I thought were just plain dumb.  Nothing that I read was really earth-shaking.   In general, Walsch’s God (hereinafter referred to as “WG”) simply rehashed a lot of existing philosophy and religious beliefs.  Some of these beliefs come from Christianity or Judaism (the so-called “Abrahamic” faiths) and some came from Buddism, Hinduism or Taoism (the so-called “Brahmic” faiths).  The rest came from Walsch himself.

I will give Walsch a lot of credit for starting a new conversation, if not with God, about God and our concepts of the divine and the infinite.  The danger in this is that it will draw a lot of anger from devout religionists, who already have “the truth” and don’t want it messed with.  They see any new examination into the nature of God as blasphemy and the work of the devil.  I, however, have an open mind.  I think it is a healthy exercise to brush several millennia of dust from ancient religious texts and to reexamine their premises.  Man’s ideas about science, government, business, art and other aspects of culture have continued to evolve over the centuries.  It is only our concepts of the infinite that are fixed and static and not allowed to grow. 

I will largely paraphrase what WG says in the book, in order to save space.  Here are some of the things I found intriguing:

1.  WG is pantheistic.  That means that everything is God.  God is not separate from his creation; he is the universe and everything in it.  It means that human beings are part of God and not separate from him.  We are a finite expression of the infinite.  WG doesn’t always do a good job of explaining this, at one point stating that we humans are “Gods.”  That won’t sit well with many readers.  Personally, I don’t have the lightning bolt thing down pat yet.  

2.  You existed before this life.  When you took physical form in this world, you caused yourself to forget who you really are.  While in this world of form, your major spiritual quest is to remember and recreate who you really are. 

3.  Death is no big deal.  It is failure to doctors, tragedy to those left behind, but relief and release to the soul.  The soul is clear that there is no great tragedy about leaving the body.   We are all immortal right now; immortality is not something you have to earn by following a religious script; we never do die, we only change form.

4.  God is not the vengeful, punitive God that many Jews, Christians and Muslims believe.  There is no Hell.

5.  Souls can reincarnate many times, be born into this world many times.  The decision to do this is made by the soul itself, so it can continue to grow.  Karma is not an obligation of the soul, but an opportunity of the soul to continue to grow, looking at past events and experiences as a measure of that growth.  [This contradicts eastern beliefs that karma is a debt of the soul to be repaid by successive lives on earth.  I like the original concept better.]

6.  Don’t envy someone who is very fortunate nor overly pity someone less fortunate.  “Judge not, then, the karmic path walked by another.  Envy not success, nor pity failure, for you know not what is success or failure in the soul’s reckoning.”  [I found this an interesting concept – that one’s lot in life was chosen by his own soul for its own spiritual growth.]

7.  Killing is evil, killing for God is the highest blasphemy.  However, you are not to be either a victim or a martyr; war is sometimes necessary and you have a moral obligation to prevent aggression against others and yourself.

8.  The purpose of life is joy.  WG says “Life should be a joy, a celebration…Four fifths of the world’s people consider life a trial, a tribulation, a time of testing, a karmic debt that must be repaid, a school with harsh lessons that must be learned, and, in general, an experience to be endured while awaiting the real joy, which is after death.”  [I agree with this.  Anything that destroys joy, including various religious beliefs, should be excised and thrown out as rubbish.]

9.  Money is good, not evil, not “the root of all evil.”  Being rich is good – there is nothing spiritually advantageous about poverty and want.

10.  Sex is one of man’s highest joys.  It is not shameful or evil.  Being attracted to the opposite sex is not “committing adultery in your heart,” it is following the dictates of nature that were programmed into us to procreate the human race. 

These are some of the ideas I found interesting and worthy of futher study and discussion.  There are others but this will suffice for now.

Some of the ideas of WG that I didn’t like or accept are these:

1.  Man is the greatest source of harm to nature and the environment.  Nonsense; man is part of nature and man’s imprint on nature, for good or bad, is negligible.

2.  Man could immediately end world hunger and cure disease in an instant if he really wanted to.  Balderdash.  This is moon-battery of the worst order. 

3.  Man could end war if he really wanted to – all we have to do, all we have ever had to do, is to agree.  Ri-i-i-ght.  All we have to do is reconcile many different cultures, religions, political systems, philosophies and world-views and we can begin beating our swords into plowshares.  When did any two humans ever agree on anything?  This comment is just plain dumb. 

4.  There is no such thing as evil – even Hitler went to Heaven.  I have a lot of trouble with this one.  WG implies that there are no consequences for mass murder, tyranny, cruelty and oppression.  Although I do not believe in the vengeful and punitive God nor do I believe in Hell, I find it unjust that Hitler, or others like  him, can merely skate on into paradise at the end of their lives.  Here’s where the older version of karma makes sense – where Hitler may redeem himself through many more lives on earth, experiencing the same horrors he visited upon others, or mitigating such punishment through better deeds.

Conclusions:  Walsch’s book is worth a read.   It does reexamine some religious concepts that need reconsideration.  It should not be considered a religious text or a new religion, nor should it be viewed as a literal expression of God’s mind.  If it helps you along the path to enlightenment and spiritual growth, that’s a good thing, but don’t take it literally.  Reexamining one’s religious beliefs is not a bad thing – it is necessary for your own spiritual growth. 

Here’s a quote I found on the web.  I think it says a lot that is related to this post:

God builds his temple in the heart on the ruins of churches and religions.  -Ralph Waldo Emerson, writer and philosopher (1803-1882)

Here’s another relevant quote:

We must question the story logic of having an all-knowing all-powerful God, who creates faulty humans, and then blames them for his own
mistakes. – Gene Roddenberry

Inventing Your Own Religion

stan.jpgMany people go ballistic at the very mention of Neale Donald Walsch, the author of “Conversations With God.”   In 1995 Walsch wrote a book about his private conversations with God, i.e. Walsch asked God questions and God replied as a voice in Walsch’s mind.  Walsch wrote down both the questions and the answers as they were happening, or so he claims.  Through Walsch, “God” thereby explains the meaning and purpose of life and what God does and does not do in regard to humans.

I started reading this book some months ago, got through the first three chapters and gave up.  Although I agreed with a lot of it, I decided Walsch’s God was a bit too flaky for me.  Furthermore, he sounded like a Democrat.  No thanks.

However, I’ve decided to give the book another look.  A book that causes that much anger over one’s concept of God must be worth reading.  I have decided to read the book in its entirety, underline passages that I agree with and also those I do not agree with.  I will then write a comprehensive review of Walsch’s book.   It won’t be a hit job, but it won’t be a whitewash either.  Since I am not a member of any organized religion, I have no ax to grind.   Walsch is not the first by any means to invent his own religion and so it pays to be skeptical.  Many invented religions turn out to be weird cults or scams (or both). 

Why do people invent religions and why do others follow them?  L. Ron Hubbard, the creater of Scientology, was quoted as saying that “Writing for a penny a word is ridiculous. If a man really wants to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion.”  If you invent your own religion and convince others that you are a prophet, you reap the rewards of both power and money. 

Last night, desperate for something to watch on TV and finding little due to the writer’s strike, I tuned into an episode of South Park, “Trapped In The Closet.”  This is the cartoon show of grade school kids in Colorado, i.e. Kyle, Cartman, Kenny and Stan.  Stan takes a Scientology test and is identified by the Church of Scientology as “the reincarnation of L. Ron Hubbard.”  The show describes the beliefs of Scientologists as set down by the Prophet Hubbard, and those beliefs are pretty bizarre, to say the least.  In fairness, I would have to say that they are only slightly more weird than the beliefs of Mormons.  Before there was L. Ron Hubbard, there was Joseph Smith.  No matter what fantastic stories a “prophet” might create, there will always be some who will believe and follow.  

At the end of the show, Stan disavows his prophethood to an assembly of believers.  He says, “We all want so much to know who we are and where we come from that sometimes we’ll believe just about anything.”  Well said, Stan.  It’s a good point to remember as I begin Walsch’s book. 

Silence: The Voice of God?

solitude.jpgI read somewhere that “silence is the voice of God.” I believe it.

A year ago I was taking a walk through some fields filled with yellow grass stubble. It was Fall and there is something about Fall that I always notice but never verbalized before. Fall has a kind of quietness to it, as if all sound is somehow muted. It’s as if nature itself is listening for something, watching and waiting. This always brings a feeling of peace to my soul.

We all hear about the “still, small voice within.” In fact, many philosopers believe that this voice within is God’s usual means of communicating with us. I think we best hear the voice during moments of quietude, when we listen not just with our ears but with our hearts. I guess that’s why there is so much spiritual benefit in meditation. It is the process by which the active and noisy mind is quieted, allowing a higher voice to be heard.