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Monday, November 23, 2009


Written by: Rick Staggenborg, MD on Oct 10, 2009 7:32 AM PDT

This essay is dedicated to Saint Thomas Moore, who died defending his beliefs in defiance of civil authority.

All moral decisions require us to consider the implications of each possible choice of actions in the given situation. For the most cautious among us, that requires the careful examination of our motives in choosing a particular course of action. It is very easy to fall into the trap of picking the option that benefits us as well as others, even when another course of action clearly benefits more of our fellow creatures.

To see this, consider the authoritarian leader of a conservative church. He may truly feel that he is saving souls by threatening Hellfire and damnation for imagined sins, but in effect he is driving some away from the essence of Christ’s message of love, while driving the fearful who remain to a choice of either false hope or despair. This hypothetical “man of God” compounds his error when he tries to apply his personal beliefs to influence the political views of his flock of sheep.

With the best of intentions, he works to destroy the wall of separation between church and state built to protect both. The bewildered sheep of his flock are directed to bleat at Americans who see their duty as citizens more clearly, think for themselves and act according to consistent moral principles to change what is wrong in America through the democratic process.

Churches that do more harm than good are those where the leaders practice exclusivity toward those who do not ascribe to the tenets of their philosophy. In a democratic society, the free exchange of ideas should be encouraged. If we cannot recognize our common values, then how are we to work together to face and solve the ills threatening human existence? Instead, the rich leaders of Mega churches, the counter-Revolutionaries who perverted the Constitution of the Southern Baptist convention and others of this ilk sow the seeds of our self-destruction through their preaching of Hell for their chosen enemies and any of their flock who might be tempted to think for themselves.

The essence of the problem is that it seems to be in the nature of most of us to look out for our own interests first, even while trying to consider the effects of our actions on others. The bigger the immediate reward for choosing one action over another, the easier it seems to be for some to justify all manner of selfishness through a process of rationalization and outright denial of facts and logic. This is a symptom of America’s psychosis. The treatment is to not ignore the possibility that some sort of God exists and that it might speak to us in some way, if we open our hearts and minds to this hopeful possibility.

Buddha teaches us that we must let go of our ego if we are to be truly free. To the extent that we are able, we are to give up our lust for material things if we are to learn to appreciate the beauty and power of living in a logically consistent reality. When this becomes the implicit assumption in the Hive Mind that is our collective consciousness, then subjective and objective reality will become one. At that point, who knows what dreams may come true?

In the words of Joan Osbourne:

If God had a name, what would it be
and would you call it to his face?
If you were faced with him in all his glory,
what would you ask if you had just one question?

And yeah, yeah, God is great, yeah, yeah, God is good.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

What if God was one of us,
just a slob like one of us?
Just a stranger on the bus
trying to make his way home?

If God had a face, what would it look like?
And would you want to see
if seeing meant that you would have to believe
in things like heaven and in Jesus and the saints and all the prophets?

And yeah, yeah, God is great, yeah, yeah, God is good.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

What if God was one of us,
just a slob like one of us?
Just a stranger on the bus,
trying to make his way home?

He's trying to make his way home,
back up to heaven all alone,
nobody calling on the phone,
except maybe for the Pope in Rome.

Rick Staggenborg, MD

At peace in Zion


  1. This essay speaks for itself. In a time where the survival of democracy itself is threatened and human civilization is threatened as a result, it is absolutely immoral to give up fighting, a point I made in an earlier essay.

    In the same way, it is immoral to give in to anger and quit trying to understand how to solve problems so serious that our children will live without hope if we do not intervene.

    To remain ignorant of the facts and instead to defend a system that treats some as slaves and others as princes is to dishonor those who sacrificed for us so that someday we might live free. More importantly, it is a betrayal of our children and all who follow us.


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