Thursday, August 16, 2007

God's Indifference

Every day when I go to work, I park my car under an overhead rooftop overhang, constructed of sheet metal.
Down the way a bit, there is an area, about three feet square, that for some reason or other is left open. Exposed.
Pigeons find their way in there. Into the opening.
Other than my own balcony, it’s the perfect place to raise a pigeon family.
Out of the way. Quiet. Secure. Rain cannot even get in there.
From the amount of messages they leave on my car as they fly into The Hole, I would estimate that several HUNDRED pigeons are lodged in there.

The other day, I arrived at work to discover more than the usual clamor and racket up there, above my car.
I looked up.
The hole had been sealed over with a mesh of wire, the pigeons trapped.
Lately, temperatures around here have been horrendous. Well over 100 degrees in the shade.
So, I looked up and saw this place, where pigeons were roasting to death in a state of starvation.
I went into my workplace and tried to forget about it.
But I could not do so.
All morning long, it bothered me.

At about noon, I walked outside again and looked up. Pigeons were pacing back and forth. They wanted to get out, and could not do so. I could not take it any more.
I got out the phone book and called the local Humane Society, and reported this abuse.
Soon a van, complete with sirens and all, was at the door of my own workplace [I should explain that we lease our space from a Property Manager, whose actions have nothing to do with my own company]… and the officer assured me that something would be done.
And it was.
The next morning I looked up to see that at some point during the night, the mesh had been removed.
The previously trapped pigeons were allowed to freely pass in and out of the hole in the sheet metal roofing.
I saw it as a bit of a victory, the pigeons were freed from their Living Hell, their slow-roast crematorium.

My point in mentioning all of this though… well, it may seem silly, or even sacrilegious, but I am going to say it anyways. I am actually hoping that some Bright Young Theologians© out there can help me with this ethical conundrum.
For those of you who may not know, I myself was a Christian minister at one point in my life. I have a degree in Theology, and I am quite familiar with the Christian scriptures.
And so I know that we have always been taught that “God” not only personally cares for everyone, but also intervenes on our behalf, even down to the smallest sparrow.
I have been wondering… Would it have been too difficult for this “God” to have warned the pigeons in advance?
Maybe said to them…. “Hey listen, birdies. In a few minutes, some guys equipped with power drills and chicken-wire are going to raise themselves up here on a scissor-lift, and pretty much seal you in here so that you can die an agonizing death from heat and starvation. So…… fly out of the hole RIGHT NOW. Move along! Get the hell out of here!”

Apparently, God said no such thing to these birds.
Maybe he does not speak to birds?
That’s the part that bugged me.
See, because being an ex-minister and all, I know the Bible inside out, frontwards and backwards… and I recalled a familiar verse, which assures us:
“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”
The verse is found in Matthew 10:29.

That verse in Scripture may be many things, but one thing it is not, is true.
I mean, true in any sort of a real literal sense.
Why do I say that?
Because I myself cared more for those pigeons caught in the rooftop, than God did.
God could have told them to clear out, but he did not do so.

This is the part that may sound offensive to some readers, but yet I ask it… → When are people going to wake up from their slumber and realize that God does not do the things he claims to do in the Bible?

There are piles of people out there who would probably say that God “intended” for me to call the Humane Society, and that is the example of his intervention.
I don’t accept that as being worth consideration!
There are others that would say that God may have told the birds to leave, and they didn’t listen.
I don’t accept that, either! Mostly because it is utterly ridiculous.
There are others who may say that birds are not a concern for God. He’s got bigger fish [or, in this case, birds] to fry!
I don’t accept that. The Scripture would seem to suggest that he is aware of every single one of them. And if it, as it claims itself to be, is HIS Word, then we’ve got to take it along with its own incontrovertable inconsistenicies, intact!

Still others may be ludicrous enough to mention that the Scripture is talking about “sparrows” not “pigeons”.
Do you see how frustrating, not to mention asinine, such a conversation could get?

Let me tell you what I myself have come to believe.
[Some may not like this… please coverest thy children’s ears!]

If he is all-powerful and all-knowing, what else is one to conclude?
The truth is, my friends, I myself cared more about those birds than the God we are talking about, cared about them.
How do I know this?
I know it, because I did what was within my feeble-assed power to rescue them from their torment, and GOD DID NOT.

When I picked up that phone, and punched a few keys on the keypad, I was doing what God could not do.
This may sound harsh, but is it not valid to conclude that supposedly having the power to provide a different outcome, he would [essentially] have chosen to allow those birds to roast until they ate their own young, and then ate their own bodies, and then rotted, gasping for air in that rooftop…. in other words, he would have done ZERO for them.

Think about that, the next time you get yourself out of bed two hours before you really want to, to go to church.
Think about it as you put 10% of your wages in the offering plate.
What kind of a senseless board are we really banging our head against?
And for what?
So that God watches us hooked up to a respirator one day?

My own mother went into the hospital by ambulance this very afternoon.
She has leukemia, and I just got the phone message from my brother that her blood platelet count was at an all-time low. I have just spent the past hour talking with him about Mom’s current condition.
Ought I to pray for her?
I am asking a sincere question here. Really, now.

Look at that Scripture one more time.
“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

Was it God’s “will” that those poor birds should be sealed up in a foodless furnace?
I no more believe in the first portion of that scripture, than I believe in the second part, which suggests that Someone is tallying up the hairs that I washed down the drain this morning, in the shower.
Let’s start using our bloody noggin, here!



Isabella said...

I'm not the praying type, but I'll be thinking good thoughts your mother's way.

Poor pigeons. (I was going to make the sparrow/pigeons argument — like, obviously — but you headed me off; it wouldn't've been nearly as funny as I meant it to be.)

Anonymous said...

I think of this dialogue between two characters in Twain's The Mysterious Stranger. . .

"Ursula's eyes snapped with anger. . . "Not a
sparrow falls to the ground without His seeing it."

"But it falls, just the same. What good is seeing it fall?"

I will be thinking of you and your mother, Cipriano.
Thank you for rescuing the pigeons.

stefanie said...

Cip, what an impassioned post. If we are to believe that God sees all and allows all to happen, good and evil, when he could supposedly intervene, then we either have to make up all kinds of excuses for God (we puny humans cannot possibly know the mind of God, blah blah blah) or we have to say that God doesn't give a f***. Or there is another option, God simply does not exist.

I used to be Lutheran. That was long ago. Then I decided I was an atheist. Now I can't say what I am. I don't believe there is a being with a white beard keeping watch, I don't believe there is a being at all. I like Emerson's conception of God as a universal soul or a universal Mind. It is not a concsious creature but a sort of force that we can tap into that makes us better people.

And you Cip, saving those pigeons, are a better person.

I am sorry about your Mom. I don't believe in prayer, but you are in my thoughts.

Lorin said...


Sorry to hear about your Mom. Please let me know if there is anything I can do, seriously.

As for your story of which I have heard in "much greater detail", it amazes me that I once was one of those people who would try to come up with one of those arguments (probably the "gods will" one).

You said something interesting in your post;

" When I picked up that phone, and punched a few keys on the keypad, I was doing what God could not do. "

I believe what you are saying here is god could not because he:

a) only exist as we can not understand as a "ground of all being" or collective consciousness of people


b) he does not exist at all

I have wavered between the two more a couple of years now but am steadly leaning toward b.

However, it is mind-numbing to listen to christians go on about their god and how right they are over other faiths.

All the best

Dorothy W. said...

I hope everything is okay with your mom. This is a difficult but also a great post -- I totally agree with you. It makes me sad -- both that God is not there and doesn't care, and that many people believe he is. But it's the truth; he doesn't care.

Melanie said...

I'm so sorry to hear this about your mother. You'll all be in my thoughts.

I have to agree with you; 'god' does not care. I can't believe there is a benevolent individual looking after us,all evidence is to the contrary.
The world is what it is, and we have to do the caring. And you saving the pigeons is a very moving example of that caring.

cipriano said...

First, thank you all for expressing thoughts toward my mother. She received a gi-normous blood transfusion today, and is recovering in hospital, although much more slowly than in similar instances, in the past. She will probably be there for about four days or so, strengthening.
Then she will be cooking pots of borscht again!

Concerning my blog itself, I must say, I am a bit surprised that no one yet wants to burn me at the stake or anything. I know that stating viewpoints about one’s opinion concerning the nature of God, well, that can be touchy. It can trip land mines.
I am sort of where Stefanie is suggesting she is, regarding an exact placement as to my “belief” in God’s being. I don’t feel as though I am an atheist, but yet, like Stefanie “I don’t know what I am.”
However, I am convinced that this is a better way to “be” than its corollary, which would be someone who is absolutely convinced he or she knows something that they cannot possibly know.
Faith may involve “believing” yes, but it is very different from “knowing.”

My own favorite name for “God” is borrowed from theologian Paul Tillich (1886-1965). Tillich said that God was “The Ground Of All Being.”
That is what God is, to me. Another word might be “Existence.”
But this God, [Tillich’s and my own concept] is not a “personal” God.

One day I will write of what I mean by all of this rigamarole.

Given that “he” exists, not only is God NOT the God of any one religion, but neither is he the God of ALL religions, as some so generously [and foolishly] assert.

Thank you all for thoughtfully reading my blog.
It is very refreshing for me to see that people are thinking. Some people [you people]… are thinking.

-- Cip, the Pigeon-Savior

patricia said...

Oh Cip, I do hope your mom is going to be ok. I will be thinking of her and you.

This is a very interesting post. I honestly don't know what to say, because I know that I don't have the answers. I'm just really glad that you saved those pigeons, even though it drives you nuts that they crap on people.

Timeless-Sage said...

I agree if there is a god he doesn't give a damn about you or me. I too at one point wanted to be a minister, I went to a christian high school and once I got out of my mom's house(cliche I know but its my story)I saw the world for what it truly was a beautiful sphere inhabited by selfish "evil" animals. There are exceptions to this but to explain my opinions a little I am a Marine I was honorably discharged 2 years ago and to tell you the truth I've seen enough to last 100 life times. Men beating there wives and daughters children raped and murdered screaming for their parents. If there is a God hes no god of mine! Judge me ha I would spit in his face and turn 'my' back on him. I looked into evolution and natural selection trying to find the facts and what I found was so shockingly simple and the truths I uncovered made me feel like a fool. This is just a post so I wont go into everything I found but I will say read "The God Delusion" for starters but never just except what the herd believes. Find your own truths and seek out knowledge and facts. I could say that there was a entity called shashta and she created the universe on accident by rubbing two other universes together, throw in a few random miracles and phony eye witnesses get some gullible followers now give it a couple millenia....boom a new religion is born. All those times when someone told me there are just some questions that weren't meant to be I know why, because the illusion fails when peak behind the curtain.