I was a sincere Christian preacher 45 years ago. I had majored in Bible in college. I pastored an Illinois Mennonite church from 1966 to 1968. I had not yet learned or dared to question deeply. Now as a humble agnostic, I belong to no religion. I am indebted to many people who have loved me, taught me and inspired me!
Did Jesus of Nazareth actually live in human history? If he did, the writers of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in the Bible accurately tell Jesus' teachings and actions? In centuries since, did the those people who copied and translated the original writings do a good job and make no important mistakes? Huge questions! Who knows the answers for sure?
Jesus grew up in one of many bloody, cruel religions. For hundreds of years, people killed thousands of animals and burned them on altars. They believed their gods demanded animal slaughter in order to forgive people's sins and to get back on good terms with their gods.
Jesus believed he had to be executed so that his father, God, could forgive the sins of all humanity. He believed his self-sacrifice on the cross had to happen.
Would a loving God require Jesus to suffer the horrendous agony of crucifixion in order to forgive all our sins and to become our friend?
Deeply disturbing questions arise about Jesus, far more serious than his alleged virgin birth, miracles or bodily resurrection. Did Jesus suffer severe religious delusion and a martyr complex? Did Jesus suffer from a "divine" compulsion to be rejected, tortured and executed by religious and political authorities—far worse than any death wish? Jesus was determined to go to Jerusalem, the political and religious capital. He was sure he would be executed there. He glorified his final rejection, torture and execution. Jesus sternly rebuked Peter for urging him (wisely!) not to go to Jerusalem.
If Jesus' crucifixion were not necessary for humanity's sins to be forgiven and for people's lives to change for the better, what good reason would Jesus have to go to Jerusalem, firmly convinced he would be crucified.
When he had earlier sent out his disciples to preach his message, he told them, "If people reject your message in one place, move on to another place." So why did he insist on going to Jerusalem when he could have stayed away and gone to other towns and nations?
If you love your enemies, will you deliberately incite them to murder you? Did Jesus knowingly choose to make his enemies his killers? Could Judas in his final hours forgive Jesus for going to Jerusalem, knowing that Judas would betray Jesus there to his enemies and then kill himself in strong remorse.
Consider the many thousands of Jesus' followers from then to now who have suffered torture, prison and execution, convinced that God was pleased with their obedience, suffering as Jesus suffered and believed Heaven's joys awaited them after death. Many of Jesus' followers through the ages have had love affairs while suffering persecution for Jesus.
Jesus and his 12 apostles were Jews. Did Jesus realize that his execution by the Jewish authorities would become an evil excuse for the inquisition and the Nazis to kill Jews.
Any faith worth having is worth examining. Many people fear if they knew more, they would believe less.
Rest in Peace Mike Kitts
Thank you for remembering Mike Kitts. He was my next door neighbor for many years when he lived in Alvarado. He used to call me his "cat in law" because we shared so many felines. When my cat died on my porch, he came over to console my son and me, as the three of us watched him dying. I could always rely on his winning smile and famous Thanksgiving dinners. I wish there were more like him on this miserable planet. He will be missed greatly, not only by me, but half the musicians in Albuquerque.
Rest in Peace Angel Gonzales
Dear Bob Frank
I'd like to thank you and the University of New Mexico for raising the salaries of teachers and staff, something that hasn't happened for four years. I'd also like to thank you for the 15 percent raise in tuition and fees I will see next year, because it has really illuminated for me what a fine education I have received at your school. Typically, my initial response would have been to worry and spend sleepless nights staring at my ceiling, but now with the large amounts of intellect that have been drilled into my previously lacking mind, my reaction is to create, create, create! My first order of business will be to take some fancy business classes at Anderson and learn how to run a successful cartel. Once that's done, I will become a new, cuter Walter White and build a business empire selling drugs. The University's motto, Lux Hominum Vita, translates to "Life, the Light of Men” and in launching my business I will be cognizant of this and aim to assist my fellow students by offering them positions within said empire. My actions then will not only cover my tuition, but that of many others as well. While the business is established, I suppose I can ask my Uncle Sam to loan me some tuition funds, even though he’s not doing so well these days and will want all the money back some day—with interest. Small matter though, and to pay special homage to the University, my signature product will be cherry red and silver, rather than Walter White’s boring blue. Thank you again for this opportunity to not only envision, but create something of such magnitude—without you, none of this would have been possible.
Best, Rosanna Cordova, UNM student
Where Can Solar Take Us?
New Mexico’s dependence on non-renewable energy sources like coal and oil is wasteful, unclean and unnecessary. As an international student in New Mexico, I was struck by the bounteous space and sunlight from which this state benefit daily, a welcome alternative to the British rain! This state has the second-highest potential for solar-generated energy in the whole United States—and yet absurdly we only gather a mere 2 percent of our energy from this environmentally friendly alternative.
Environmental organizations are working tirelessly on realistic and simple solutions, that with widespread support from New Mexico citizens could bring lasting and positive change to our entire population for many years. These environmentally friendly policies would bring 100,000 solar roofs to New Mexico within seven years, a sustainable and clean alternative to our continuing wasteful and expensive dependence on fossil fuels. Not only would this renewable alternative help keep our air and water supplies clean, but also its economical and financial viability is extensive—having the potential to create 16,000 jobs by 2016. [Source: Environment New Mexico.]
So let’s have our state set a precedent for clean and renewable energy that the whole nation can follow. In my short time here, I would love to see us take those few key steps that could help preserve our planet for future generations. Solar can take us so far!
Maddie Soper, UNM Junior and New Mexico Resident
Freedom of Bumperstickers
A short time ago, I pulled into the visitor's lane at Kirtland Air Force Base to air an informal complaint. I'll keep it brief. I was headed southbound on Louisiana when a large silver truck screamed up behind me. The truck swerved into the middle lane, honked his horn, rolled down his window and proceeded to flip me off. (I'm embarrassed to say that I returned the favor.) I'm sure it had to do with my many bumper stickers. A few years ago, I was almost forced off Tramway for the same reason. I might have let it go, but lately I've just had it with bullies. I continued southbound on Louisiana to see where this truck was headed. It turned left, straight to the gates of Kirtland Air Force Base. I followed, I complained.
I will not be type-cast (someone even "corrected" me on this honest self-critique), and like Mary Poppins, I don't need to explain a thing. I don't have to coat my rear fender with all that paraphernalia "unbecoming of a woman of my standing," but I do it for a few simple reasons: First and foremost, I have that right. It's called "freedom of speech,” and anyone who doesn't understand this has never read the Bill of Rights. Second, worldwide (so it seems), this is a man's world and probably always will be. I've been lectured by a few "well-intended" souls that I don't need to let everyone out there know what I stand for. My obvious response to this is "How else am I going to be heard?" and "What have I got to be ashamed of? The fact that I actually care about something other than myself?" Finally, the powers that be—whether a police station, the mayor's office, or the White House—don't seem very interested in the concerns of an average "unimportant" American woman, so what recourse do I have? Oh, yes, I can write a letter to the editor. ... and I vote; anymore, I only remove or "plaster over" bumper stickers that are either worn out or no longer serve my beliefs. The rest? They're going nowhere.
Letters should be sent with the writer’s name, address and daytime phone number via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. They can also be faxed to (505) 256-9651. Letters may be edited for length and clarity, and may be published in any medium; we regret that owing to the volume of correspondence we cannot reply to every letter. Word count limit for letters is 300 words.