Paul's Passing Thoughts

God, Nursing, Individualism, Law, Love, Dementia, Hope, Suspicions About Hell, Salvation, and a Beagle

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on December 20, 2021

Nursing school settles one issue in the mind of any reasonable person: there is a God. Now, only one question remains, “Who is He and what is He really like?” The best source for answering such things is the Bible. Though the gospel is simplistic on its face, the Bible confirms itself through a complex continuity of covenants and eschatology. Furthermore, wisdom can be found in the Bible about things most religions don’t care about. That’s because God cares about every detail of His creation. And God is love.

Jesus instructed people this way: “Seek and you will find.” Note, “YOU.” God appeals to the individual. God appeals to the individual. God appeals to the induvial. That can’t be said enough. Mark it well: any religion that insists on the seeking out of authoritative experts to stay on a road to salvation is a lie. And that is all of them. When the day comes to stand before God, you stand there alone. However, you alone will be responsible for your actions that resulted from listening to others. Fact is, you alone, or if you will, the individual, is the lone discerner of truth. There is no gospel of authority. Who you obey will not get you into heaven. In fact, obeying God will not even get you into heaven. There is a huge problem regarding those who claim God granted them authority over salvation on earth, which, again, is all religion: Jesus never showed up at any church counsel and stated such. This is why they can all make the same claim. And by the way, commonsense is not a sin. Choosing from a smorgasbord of religious “authorities” will not get you into heaven. Please note, it is your choice alone to pick an authority who does the best job of threatening an eternal hell, and then you get to heaven by submitting to that authority’s orthodoxy. Freewill gets you on the right road, but then you abandon freewill to stay on the “right” road to heaven. How much sense does that make? Not much. And, by the way, they all claim you chose them because the Holy Spirit compelled you to. Religion, in and of itself, has no objective conclusions other than authority; ie., it’s true because they say its true. They all claim a substitution for individual responsibility. That is obviously untrue. We should all, at least, know that about God. Is substitution for individual responsibility the reason for church being a hot mess? Absolutely. “Not our church!” Oh please, shut the hell up, you financially support an institution that has a history of atrocities in the name of authority.

Mourning is a part of life. Sadness is a part of life. Tragedy is a part of life. Pain is a part of life. However, when these come into our lives, we do well to pay attention to it. We do well to ponder it. We all have a purpose for being here, and pain cannot stop us from finishing our mission. The best nurses are experienced nurses who learn from their experiences; the same is true for those who are good at living life. And by the way, seeking advice about life from those who want to control you is generally a bad idea. I will also point out that likable people can have control issues. The Bible states that sin is not just about law-breaking, but the essence of sin is a desire to control others. According to the Bible, sin, presented as a personification in the Bible, just uses the law as a means to control people. It goes like this: the demands of a law make a case for your failures, which lead to self-condemnation, which makes you easy to control. “You are a loser, obviously, because of all of these laws that reveal your shortcomings. Hence, you need an expert to control your life to save yourself from your self.” And in many cases regarding those who want to control you, the laws you break are mere opinions. So, you might think, “It’s not like the one’s who say this do not break the law, even their own laws.” Exactly, and that is the authority class distinction the Bible condemns. According to the Bible, the world is dominated by an “under-law” mentality. Be wary of criticism in general. Is it mostly grounded in a desire for control? Yes. Almost ALL criticism has a control agenda behind it.

Love is different. It is a contrary worldview altogether. Love in not merely an emotion or kind act, it is a philosophy of life. It sees people for what they bring to the table. Biblically, it is the antithesis of condemnation. Much can be said about love, but it primarily focuses on what builds others up. Condemnation never made anyone better, and always makes the perpetrators of it worse.

As a former agency aide, I took an assignment at a large AL facility. I was doing wellness checks on the hall I was assigned to. Consequently, I met an elderly man that I hit it off with. We talked about football and other guy things, and I envisioned a wonderful friendship. Sometime later in the day, maybe a couple of hours later, I enthusiastically decided that I would stop by and check on him. When I entered the room, it immediately became apparent that he didn’t remember me. My heart sank. The friendship I envisioned went down in flames. That is, as I said, the friendship I envisioned. Learning to be his new friend several times a day would be an adjustment, but one I had seen before. In other facilities, in instances where a resident didn’t remember family members, the family members filled the role of friend. That’s a difficult adjustment, but really the only option that is left; to enter into their world as it is and meet them where they are. That’s what God does, and in many instances commonsense applied for God’s sake is a truer religion than church because commonsense and control-lust are never found enjoying a beer together.

Seeing life accurately is important to maneuvering through this life we have been called to. Mourning, disappointments, and pain, will be part of it, but this is where the Bible uses another word to describe love in general and God’s love in particular: hope. Love and hope are closely related. Sinners who want to control people also want to strip them of hope. Hopeless people are easy to control. This dynamic applies to everything happening on the schoolyard playground to international statecraft; condemnation is the waters that we swim in. Condemnation robs hope. The Bible warns us to not “mourn as those who have no hope.” Something that possesses no element of hope is likely untrue. Hope is an acid test for truth.

In 2007 I began a journey that has resulted in learning some real truth about life in general and the Bible in particular, but of course, I still have much to learn. My list of former presuppositions to be challenged is long. One of those is the issue of hell. As a biblical grammarian, I assert that hell is in the Bible, but I am suspicious of the generally accepted concept of it. Obviously, in a world inclined towards using condemnation to control people, the whole, “If you don’t obey us God is going to send you to hell” thing is extremely suspect. Furthermore, religions propaganda and the traditions of men has buried the rudimentary foundations of truth needed to have a semblance of metaphysical understanding. Truth is power, and empowering the individual is not something sin is vested in. Propaganda is always the ply of sin. Here is my point: many in our culture are in heaven because of some intuitive change that came about in seeking God. To think that people are in heaven because of correct theological understanding is not only a classic example of under-law thinking, but utterly absurd. To begin with, which theological assessment? What is your argument? Your celebrity pastor is more righter than mine? Not to condemn you, but you are probably a well-meaning idiot. The sinful world has done its job well, few really understand justification by new birth. But most understand a sole hope in God like the thief on the cross. We have hope that many we loved are in heaven with God and made eternally whole. Only under-law thinking condemns people to eternal suffering for being theologically confused when anyone in their right mind would be confused about American religion. Besides, being interpreted, you are threatened with eternal hell for disagreeing with their theological opinions based on what someone else told them. Pardon my skepticism laced with numerous suspicions.

By now, you must be wondering what all of this has to do with a Beagle. Much. Recently, we lost our beloved “Fletcher,” our family Beagle that we adopted when my brother died of ALS six years ago. Fletcher was a very docile hound that loved everyone. Fletcher had many humorous idiosyncrasies, one being his uncanny ability to get loose despite being uber docile. He was probably old when we took him in. Looking back now, along with recent research, I would say he had dementia when we took him in. If we would have ever stopped to think about it long enough, he showed signs of not knowing people in the short-term and long-term. Fletcher was my brother’s close friend, but thinking back, when I took him in to say final goodbyes to my brother, I don’t think Fletcher acted in a way that indicated he knew my brother. It was one of those things that seemed strange in the back of my mind, but I never put two and two together. Fletcher was a huge blessing to everyone, and was endeared to everyone who met him, but these endearments were moment by moment.

Recently, Fletcher stopped eating dog food and would only eat cat food, and then stopped eating cat food as well (cat food has a much stronger smell than dog food). Then, he stopped drinking water. He would also freeze in a position, indicating that he was forgetting things that were formally instinct and involuntary CNS activities. Other CNS failures soon followed. Unfortunately, the veterinarians were unable to give us any definitive answers and dementia was never brought up. I put this all together after we made the decision to put him down as he was having convulsions etc. They thought it might have been a brain tumor that surgery could correct, but I am pretty sure dementia was taking him. This is what dementia and Parkinson’s disease does in humans as well; the brain stops telling the body what to do and the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous system becomes imbalanced. Fletcher’s brain stopped telling him he was hungry, thirsty, and how to walk. But, he remembered his walks on the bike path that he loved so much. I took him for his last one, but had to carry him back to the house.

If I had only figured this out earlier, medications could have kept Fletcher with us longer. There are medications like carbidopa/levodopa and Namenda available for dogs. There are also recommended diet supplements as well. Is all of that worth it for a dog? Yes, as we will soon understand.

Fletcher’s passing, as well as another pet I lost about the time Fletcher came into our lives, begs the question: why do we take the passing of our pets so hard? This goes back to what we have previously discussed in this article: pets are not under condemnation, right? They are not under law. In other words, harsh judgments do not temper our love for them. Their ill behavior is written off as, “well, it’s a dog, and dogs will be dogs.” One friend put it this way, “They are so innocent.” And in fact, God doesn’t have any laws for pets or animals in the Bible. Well, not exactly. Under the auspices of “law,” in the Bible, we do have “covenants.” What we fail to recognize follows: major covenants God made with humanity in the Bible also include animals. Consider: “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.” “Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.” “In that day I will make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, the birds in the sky, and the creatures that move along the ground. Bow and sword and battle will abolish from the land, so that all may lie down in safety. ” “In his hand is the life of every creature.”

Christ said that we humans are “much more valuable than sparrows,” but yet, some denominations like Protestantism teach that God preselects some people for eternal hell. Meanwhile, we know that ALL animals go to heaven because they are not under law, viz, condemnation. This kind of logic is indicative of how church rolls. One does better to learn about salvation from our pets. But at any rate, I don’t want to diminish the paramount priority of life for every person to seek after God and put all of their hope in Him. And, you don’t need church or a religious expert to do that. In fact, that will do more to derail your efforts than not. Christ came to make a way for you to be part of God’s literal family. A way to die with Christ, and thereby, die to the law and its condemnation. A dead person cannot be indicted under the law. Those resurrected with Christ are only obligated to love. That’s the focus. It’s not a goal to not sin or to be abscessed with sin-sniffing, but a forward look dominated by love. You can’t sin when you are loving anyway. You live for a reward in edifying yourself and others, not an endeavor to stay out of hell by appeasing control-lust. You must be born again.

I believe the following. My younger brother, like most Americans, didn’t have a prayer of wading through all of the theology created by celebrity pastors who own five different vacation properties. I know, that in the end of his life he put all of his hope in Christ to the best of his ability. Yes, the motives of the person do matter. In addition, the Bible states that every individual is born with the “works of the law” written on our hearts with the conscience accusing or excusing actions resulting in humanity being “without excuse.” This is saying that a lot of our knowledge about God is intuitive to the individual. Hence, all are without excuse. Submitting to a smorgasbord of religious authorities will not save you. You are without excuse. You are responsible as an individual to find God, “seek, and you will find.” That’s the promise.

In all of this we should have hope and embrace the goodness of God’s life and creation. In the case of a Beagle and my brother, I know they are together again, and Fletcher will remember him forever. We well embrace all of the goodness of life because we would never give up having the memories to prevent the pain; the pain will all pass soon enough while life is forever.

I will remember this every time I see a rainbow. And you should too.

paul

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