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Likely the most controversial individual in the history of the world is Jesus, known by many to be The Christ. And no doubt everyone, young and old, rich or poor, liberals, conservatives, those who are religious, atheists, agnostics; nearly everyone is likely to have an opinion of Jesus. One poll, celebrating the beginning of the second millennium, pointed out that Jesus Christ, more than anyone else, is responsible for how people in the Western World think. Without a doubt this fellow from the city of Nazareth in an area known as Galilee has provided us with much to think about. Although the man is regarded to be a prophet by each and every one of the great religions of the world, we appear to be on the verge of killing each other for no other reason than our inability to agree on who this man is, what he stood for, and how it is that he would like for us to conduct our lives!

Quite obviously, just as yours, my first concern has always been that of trying to figure out just exactly who Jesus is. And, believe me, if I knew for sure, I would tell you, but like so many who have gone before, I am left with questions. Is Jesus Christ the Son of God…… a God of judgment and wrath or one of mercy and forgiveness? What was Jesus’ mission, to show us how to live a good life and/or to save us from eternal damnation? Did he die only to rise from the grave? Is Jesus the one and only Savior of the world, the one in whom every human being must believe or spend an eternity of agonizing pain in the fiery flames of Hell? Alas, even though I have spent at least five decades trying to figure out who this man is, I am sorry to report that I am yet confused……. but, not to give up, I plan to spend the remaining years of my life interrogating God, all in order to better understand who Jesus is.

On the other hand, there seems to be little question as to what Jesus taught. In order to clear away the vast amount of deadwood, the utter complexity of the Jewish faith, Jesus reduced religion to its most essential elements, that we love God, our neighbor, as well as that of our enemy. Assuming that this was Jesus’ mission on Earth, to show us how to live such a life, allow me to share with you what such means to me within the context of the world in which we live.

Now, within the context of those with whom I have lived my life, I have found the teachings of Jesus to be my best guide. I have discovered that when I chose to violate such teaching by treating others in an unkind manner, nothing but harm has come to me. Believe me, it has been so terribly easy for me to love those of my friends, but so horribly difficult to learn how to forgive those who have harmed me. But in aging, I am convinced that love is a far better thing than hate. As I look back upon my life, often have I deplored that which I have done while angry, but never once have I regretted having made amends, having forgiven, having made an effort to love my enemy.

But what about the church, Christians who claim to know the truth of God, those who claim to know everything about this man they call the Son of God, those who claim to know exactly how Jesus would deal with the critical issues of our day; homosexuality, capital punishment, abortion, cloning, poverty, and war? However, as a psychologist, I am quite sure that such pronouncements are often nothing more than rather well rehearsed attempts to justify, that is, to rationalize, the apparent correctness of their views, unconscious maneuvers, permitting them to believe that God has spoken, revealed his truth, to them. One might wish that church doctrine was, in fact, a spiritual matter, but alas such may be nothing more than canonical attempts to appease the appetite of those who happen to pay the bills of the church. Add to this the rather mean spirited history of the church (the Spanish Inquisition, the rape of the Indian culture during the westward expansion, the brutalization of black slaves, the New England torture of witches, and the church’s longstanding support of America’s military-industrial complex) and you have a misguided church that apparently has very little to offer the world. As James Hillman wrote in his book, A Terrible Love of War: “Western Christianity’s god comes front and center when war is in the air. War brings its god to life.” Consequently, I can no longer, in good conscience, claim to be a Christian. Rather, I have chosen to accept the teachings of Jesus as well as those of other religions that tend to support the categorical imperative of Jesus’ command that we love God, our neighbor, and that of our enemy.

And then there is the mess of our own country. I have often wondered how Jesus might feel about this so-called “land of the free.” However, since we will likely never know, the best I can do is to suggest what appears to have taken hold of the American mind. The verdict: sex, money, an avaricious appetite to acquire more and more things, power, prestige, a jingoistic attachment to that of “the fatherland,” and civil religion, and, in all probability, in that particular order. Added to this there is the undeniable reality of our country’s longstanding desire to dominate the world, and all of such supported by a people who have, with no fight whatsoever, allowed themselves to have been brainwashed into believing that our country has been assigned the divine responsibility of carrying out the righteous will of God. All of such leading to a ridiculously wicked claim that our country can do no wrong!

And finally…… this thing about war. There can be no misunderstanding that Jesus’ mandate to love is uncompromisingly opposed to the mass slaughter that defines the character of war. However, because so many have successfully distorted the teachings of Jesus, our country has been allowed to launch a decades-long campaign of death and destruction formulated to destroy all who refuse to play “the game” according to our rules (vis-à-vis the upcoming invasion of Iran). As William Blum in his book, Killing Hope, so tellingly describes, “It's not that [the leaders of our nation] take pleasure in causing so much death and suffering. It's that they just don't [seem to care]……As long as death and suffering advance the agenda of the empire, as long as the right people and the right corporations gain wealth and power and privilege and prestige, as long as death and suffering aren't happening to them or people close to them .….. they just don't [seem to care].” As a result of such actions millions of people have been killed, the rest having been condemned to a life of poverty, misery and despair. And of course, all of such through the rather loosely coordinated efforts of the government, the corporate community, mass media, the church, and that of our own public schools who have collectively decided that it would be in our best interests if we, the people, remained uniformly uninformed in regards to the ugly realities of our nation’s rather sordid past.

Accordingly, I must admit that I am terribly ashamed to have become associated with so much of what so many Americans have claimed to be so very proud. And I am convinced that if our country is to once again become a beacon of light for the rest of the world to see, a strong and resilient democracy capable of standing up for that which is right and good, then the citizenry of our nation must reverse what has become a slow yet determined decline into a morass of ignorance and sloth, an abject unwillingness to face the fact that our country is under attack (not from without, but rather from within) by that of a rising tide of fascism threatening to consume everything that we, as a nation, once held dear, a neoconservative campaign eerily similar to that which occurred in Germany as Adolph Hitler rose to power.

In the meantime however, I ask but one thing……. that God bestow upon us the wisdom to realize that time may be short, and that if we are to reclaim our nation, we have no choice but to recognize our constitutional right, our responsibility, and most importantly our duty, to throw aside, even to abolish, any body politic that might threaten to destroy a government created of the people, by the people, and thank God , for every one of the people of our country, the United States of America.

G. Doug Soderstrom, Ph.D.

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The following comments are for "Some Thoughts about Jesus, The Church, My Country, and The War"
by dougsoderstrom

I cannot agree more, your government has lied, used psychological word games, fear, supiriority,
and abused thier roles as leaders so much during all of this, the propaganda, though not as obvious (apperantly) as most might think is startling. to sit back here in canada and watch all of this is frightening. to see other governments taking note of how far the u.s. has gotten with all of this is even more so...

( Posted by: wally 5 [Member] On: March 17, 2006 )

Dear Doug.

Yet another one of your extremely well written pieces that hopefully should induce much soul searching in decent right thinking folk.

I've always felt that , deep down, there is really no difference between Germans cheering Hitler's marching them off to war - and the collective hurrahs throughout the West as their estabishments led them into conflict after conflict :the Korean War, the Vietnam War , various scattered brush fires , all culminating in this.

One can perhaps ascribe it to collective testosterone , rampant and raging out of control.

A while back I'd made two posts here : one called "Thoughts on Virginia Woolf " and the other "Le tonnere lointain "that talk about such collective insanity.

( Posted by: RJKT [Member] On: March 19, 2006 )

RJKT &Tap & Wally
Wally/Yes so much propaganda.

Tap/Yes The USA and The British Empire are in cahoots together. Both up to no damn good!

RJKT/Yes Maybe we should begin to call Bush "The Big Dick.... Tetosterone Man!"

( Posted by: dougsoderstrom [Member] On: March 19, 2006 )

Sez Falkner: "It shames me when I read and hear of weak-willed Americans who have fallen down and bought into this kind of self-hating propaganda."

Chances are many similarly brainwashed National Socialists felt the same way you do about the misguided liberal Germans who spoke out against the Fuhrer. Couldn't they see the "deep truth" inherent in the thousand-year Reich?

Why can't they just be proud Germans, accepting their pap uncritically, beating their chests with patriotic pride?

Don't they know it's unpatriotic to think critically?

Those sad, misguided, liberal fools.

I'm with you, Falkner. Real Americans let Fox do their thinking for them.

( Posted by: Viper9 [Member] On: March 22, 2006 )

Laughing so Hard
I'm laughing so hard it hurts. Perhaps its because I studied politics for four years I don't know but this is should make the National Enquirer!!

Not many people know about the Queen being Head of State to over 60 nations!!??? Oh no, thats why we call it the Commonwealth which has 71 member States and who are currently represented in the Commonwealth Games in Australia.

tap5000 you idiot, the Commonwealth is a volountary organisation in which member States cna decide for themselves if the Queen is head of state, nobody is forced, and the countries that do consider it an important part of their national identity.

Please can some education start at home.

Posted by Doug:
'Tap/Yes The USA and The British Empire are in cahoots together. Both up to no damn good!'

Why are Americans so jittery about the Commonwealth? Are you jealous or is just plain ignorance of how it works?

Do some proper homework bunch of idjits.

( Posted by: londongrey [Member] On: March 23, 2006 )

Falkner/Viper 9
My comment to Falkner: "I agree with Viper9 100%!

( Posted by: dougsoderstrom [Member] On: March 23, 2006 )

I have nothing against the Commonwealth...... my concern lies with Tony "lap dog" Blair..... what an idiot.... much the same as George Walker Bush..... And yes, you are correct, in my earlier remarks, I should have been more specific.

( Posted by: dougsoderstrom [Member] On: March 23, 2006 )

Some Thoughts on.......
I read your President v.s Amish article, and this less recent article you wrote on the Christian church. I'm a mainstream Episcopalian with liberal leanings who is in the midst of discussing the many issue addressed in your article. I've read a book by Greg Palast entitled, "Armed Madhouse" and seen the video entitled, "Loose Change". These materials as well as my discussions with like-minded friends fuel my conviction that if we don't repent by turning in the opposite direction our nation is doomed. Thanks for your willingness to express your views openly. I emailed 5 friends your artitle on our President v.s. Amish views. Stephanie Millican

( Posted by: EchoMarm [Member] On: November 4, 2006 )

Stephanie Millican
Dear Stephanie,

Thank you so very much for your kind words and for your appreciaton for my articles...... Also for sharing my piece with your friends.

Your friend,

( Posted by: dougsoderstrom [Member] On: November 5, 2006 )

Lots here I missed. Time does not permit now. Much here from peeps I want to hear peeps from. Back atcha sooon,


( Posted by: drsoos [Member] On: November 5, 2006 )

hmmm... again
I've done sufficient harm for now. I'll stick with hmmm...

( Posted by: drsoos [Member] On: November 8, 2006 )

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