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MAY 2002

Parallel Universes And God

By Jim Scanlon

A woman whose husband died in the World Trade Center conflagration and collapse was asked to comment on the bin Laden video tape found in Afghanistan earlier this year. Her answer was calm and reflective. She said she found it very difficult to understand how anyone could find joy in something that had caused her so much pain and suffering. It was as if they are living in some kind of parallel universe. And so they are! But it is always a problem to know whose universe you are living in! Sometimes it is easy, other times not.

Bin Laden referred to the "martyr operation" as a "blessed attack," which took place "thanks to God." He seemed in the best of humor and quite satisfied with himself, even though he admitted that even he never hoped for the amount of damage that actually occurred. God, or at least the God of that particular universe, was with the monomaniac monotheistic hijackers.

A translator for Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman who is imprisoned for bombing the Trade Center in 1993, is accused of transmitting coded messages from the Sheik: "By God's help, may God multiply these weddings. It has been a long time we have not had a wedding." "Wedding" allegedly means "terrorist attack."

As to taking joy in another's misfortunes, one has only to have listened to the cheers that went up during any war, presidential war, or police action, whenever an enemy airplane was filmed blowing up or crashing-or images of deadly explosive and fire bombs spewing out of the bellies of bombers falling on inhabited homes and buildings. It is a well established custom to write personal messages on bomb casings, like, "to Adolph," "to Tojo" and "to Saddam."

Shortly after the WTC attack, a televangelist declared that Jesus was with the people on the top floors of the Trade Center as the blazing inferno roared up floor by floor. He didn't say how he knew, but it would appear to follow logically that Jesus was with them as they desperately jumped out into empty space through torn steel to momentarily escape the flames. It was reminiscent of Eli Wiesel's odd declaration that "God was with the people at Auschwitz."

Pat Robertson, a multi-millionaire televangelist, and the well known Reverend Jerry Fallwell declared, seemingly placing themselves in bin Laden's universe, said that " ... [In allowing the attack]... God had removed his protective covering from America" because of things like [legal] abortion and homosexuality.

A few months after the attack, the New York Times quoted an obviously sincere NYC Police officer, to the effect that the cleanup of Ground Zero had gone so well because of God's personal intervention. That is, the unusually warm winter weather, which many see as something called "global warming," was due instead to the personal intervention of the Lord. (The "good" weather persists and now the East Coast is facing an unprecedented water shortage.) So, in all the universes of God, He is responsible for "good," but not "bad," or "really bad" (also known as "evil"). It is not so much that, in this case, the universes of 9/11, are "parallel," but opposed. They clash. Two similar, but opposite concepts of God.

Not very much has been heard from bin Laden since bombs and warheads of every conceivable size started falling around him, his followers, and everyone else in Afghanistan. It seems highly unlikely that he or his followers and friends might have reflected that God might be involved, and was trying to tell them something, like, at a very minimum, "Don't talk so much!" or "Don't allow your image to be engraved on videotape!"

Those who survive great danger and injury often ascribe their salvation to God. Those who don't obviously don't have anything to say. It seems unfair to imply that God might have had something against those who didn't make it, and their loved ones, and therefore it is understandable that this subject is seldom mentioned.

A few days ago, the Times reported on a 17 year old girl being blown off her feet by a Palestinian suicide bomber --- for the fifth time she narrowly escaped death! Her brother wasn't so lucky: he had been severely paralyzed and uses a respirator to breath. When asked if she felt fortunate she responded, "Lucky. I think God loves me." It would , of course, be cruel and inhuman to ask her if she thought God loved her brother.

Victorious professional football players, often thank God for winning a game by giving them strength, and while this may seem absurd to non football fans, it doesn't seem any more absurd to think that God might help, say the Washington Redskins over the Dallas Cowboys, than to think He favored Constantine the Great in his victory, in one of the many Roman civil wars, in 305 AD. This victory is believed to have let to Constantine's accepting one of the versions of the Christian God, the exact nature and number of which was being worked out at that time. If God is involved in saving the life of a 17 year old Jewish girl, why not in getting Janet Jackson an MTV award?

The vain and pompous Hugo Chavez, an ex paratrooper, the democratically elected president of Venezuela, was recently deposed in a 48 hour coup which was welcomed by the Bush administration and US financial circles. Venezuela is the forth largest oil exporter and the largest exporter of oil to the US. But unexpectedly Chavez regained power. In a speech delivered in the early hours of the morning, he said, unmodestly, "This is one of the greatest days in history. I say, 'Thank you God'" Exactly the kind of utterance rock stars make, in stunning example of life imitating bad art.

The patriarchal, monotheistic hijackers, the 19 Arabs who destroyed the World Trade Center and damaged the Pentagon, have unnerved western governments and delegitimized the Palestinian slum dwellers who have been regularly strapping home made bombs around their waists and killing mostly Israeli civilians-although they do occasionally kill military personnel on leave. The bias of the US government and media towards whatever Israel does is clear and consistent, as it has been since Israel conquered Trans Jordan and morphed from a secular collectivist socialist state into its present form. .

The suicide situation has changed so much so that even Velupillai Prabhakaran, the leader of the Tamil (Hindu) minority in Sri Lanka, whose followers have been regularly blowing themselves up and everyone nearby, for the past 18 years, is proposing peace with the Buddhist who control the island off the southern coast of India. He held a press conference and said, " ...there had been a lot of confusion of the [Tamil] Tigers position on the peace process ...[and]... we stand for peace" There are a few obstacles to this "peace process" however, like the relatives of the dead and assassination of Rajiv Gandhi when he was Prime Minister of neighboring India.

But the changing attitude toward suicide hasn't affected the kamikaze Palestinians, at least not yet. They go on and on. Recently, a man detonated a primitive bomb he was carrying and killed six ultra orthodox Jews inside Israel proper. An orthodox survivor said the killings were a message from God that her community was not sufficiently pious. No connection seems to have been made with 4 million people living under harsh military occupation. They remain remote and invisible. Everything is you, your community and your God: a the narrow universe of the pious.

In early March a Palestinian man with a gun attacked a Jewish colonist settlement in what one universe considers "The West Bank," another, "The Occupied Territories," another "Palestine," and yet another, "Judea and Samaria" - in reality, the same place. The reader should be able to chose the words that determine the universe.

In another attack, a Palestinian gunman was reported in the NY Times to have killed six Jewish boys, students studying the Torah in a religious school in a settlement. The religious boarding school, is part of a military program which is highly regarded because all of it's graduates go to Army combat units and a very high proportion become officers. In reality the "boys" were cadets in a military academy and the "gunman" who killed them before being himself killed, was a teenager.

There are now some 200,000 Jewish "settlers' or "colonists" on land that was conquered and occupied by the Israeli Defense Force in 1967. In describing one settlement, Beit El, a southern California like, suburban enclave high on a hill overlooking the Arab city of Ramallah, a NY Times reporter quoted one Jewish settler, "This place we took from nobody ... how can we take from somebody something that was already ours?"

The Times also reported, seemingly "sotto voce," that alongside the settlement, the Israeli Air Force has an early warning system, and, "... a large military base, which includes an active garrison and pre positioned weapons and equipment for reservists to activate in case of regional war. In the simplest sense, a string of settlements on high ridges in the Palestinian territories..."

What is so frightening is that Israel leaders, with a large army of 172,500 active troops and 591,000 reservists, fielding 3,900 modern tanks, 435 fighter planes, 275 combat helicopters and 9,600 self propelled artillery, not to mention hundreds of atomic bombs and other weapons of mass destruction, feels so threatened by armed fanatical opponents with home made bombs packed with nails and screws that they attack and destroy Palestinian refugee slums. The Prime Minister stated that the existence of Israel and of the Jewish people is at stake. "What is ____ to do?" and "We have no choice." (an Israeli and a Palestinian said one the preceding)

Thousands of "wanted" men have been rounded up and are being held prisoner. For how long and why one supposes, only God knows. One wonders why there is no discussion of why God is doing all this? We don't need to know that tanks and bulldozers can blast and flatten a city and light arms are useless against armor and artillery.

President Bush and Secretary of State Powell seem to sincerely want peace-so they can go to war with Iraq. Bush, acting like a tough riding Texas hombre, ordered the Israelis to clear out of the territories pronto and when they didn't he said he was glad that they had a timetable. He even called Ariel Sharon "A man of peace." Chairman Arafat, surrounded by troops and tanks with 120 millimeter canons pointed at his wrecked headquarters, with his police killed on sight and his administrative buildings and records destroyed or stolen, obviously wants peace and maybe a glass of water and a crust of bread and a quiet night's sleep.

One Saudi diplomat was quoted saying, "...the entire Middle East will be heading for the brink, and only the Almighty will know how to move away from it," which presumes that the "Almighty" would wish to go away from the brink.

It is time to consider the delusional effects of reading ancient texts and living in a mental world of Bronze Age societies who had twisted, incomplete understanding of geography, disease, and weather.

It seems past time for God to pull the plug on Earth and turn it into a quiet place like the rest of the planets in parallel orbits in this solar system.

 

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