Rabbi Will Berkovitz is chief executive officer of Jewish Family Service of Seattle, a 123-year-old agency that delivers essential human services.

Forgiving God on Yom Kippur (COMMENTARY)

 

Rabbi Will Berkovitz is the senior vice president of Repair the World, a national organization that seeks to make service a defining element of American Jewish life.

Rabbi Will Berkovitz is chief executive officer of Jewish Family Service of Seattle. The 122-year-old agency delivers essential human services -- from refugee resettlement to a food bank. Berkovitz’s prior service work includes his roles as senior vice president and rabbi in residence at Repair the World, as well as rabbi and executive director of Hillel at the University of Washington/Jconnect Seattle. He is a graduate of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies. Photo courtesy of Rabbi Will Berkovitz


 This image is available for web publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

(RNS) On the eve of the Day of Atonement, the story goes, when the house was quiet, the tailor went to the closet and took out a ledger.

"Master of the Universe," he said, “the time has come for You and me to reckon up our sins for this past year." He began by listing the sins he had committed. Then he went back to the closet, took out a thicker, heavier notebook and said, "Lord, first I listed my sins, and now I will list Yours."

When he was finished, he said, "To tell the truth, You owe me more than I owe You, but I'd just as soon not keep strict accounts. We are commanded to forgive the wrongs that have been done to us. Why don't I just forgive You and You forgive me?"

So much of what we do during Yom Kippur is a recount of our sins -- great and small. The tradition teaches: For transgressions between individuals and God, Yom Kippur atones. We ask God for forgiveness.

But increasingly, I am feeling like the tailor, that we are not the only ones who need forgiveness.

I have lost friends and family to cancer this year, and I feel outraged at God. I have been sickened by the images from mudslides, hurricanes and earthquakes, not to mention the suffering we humans bring upon each other in the name of religion, politics or just vengeance.

There are times when I feel like washing my hands of this abusive relationship. I want to scream into the whirlwind, into the void I was once sure God filled. I want to scream: “I don’t believe in you! We are alone in the universe. There is no master plan. There is no Power or Creator.”

God may not ask for my forgiveness, but yet I feel a need in my soul to struggle, like a drowning man, to forgive God for all God’s sins against humanity. If I do not forgive God, how can I believe in God? How can I stand and tell others to ask for God’s forgiveness?

When Ebola orphans thousands of children in Africa, I find it very difficult to stand, bow and recite the Barachu -- a praise of God. What brings a mother to stand and recite the Kaddish -- a declaration of God’s greatness -- over her deceased daughter? Yes, I believe in the great and small miracles that surround us every day. And I believe God is present everywhere if we only look.

But that does not absolve God. I am demanding God take responsibility. I demand an accounting.

After I have listed the places where I was not my highest self, the places where I fell, after I continue that hard uncompromising look into my soul, after I ask for forgiveness, I will leave a silence. And then, like the tailor, I will list God’s sins against humanity. The places where God has tested the limits of my faith, those crevasses filled with doubt, anger and disappointment. The vast wasteland of uncertainty and frustration.

My religious life feels like one epic struggle to believe there is some Higher Order in the universe. When I am standing in a place of prayer, I bring my confusion and my doubts. But I ultimately strive to believe God is El Elyon, God on High. I may at times feel like I am talking to myself, but I struggle to believe I am standing before Ha’ribono shel ha’olam -- the Master of the Universe. I want to believe there is a God to serve. And I believe that God needs forgiveness. If not for God’s sake, then for my own.

By forgiving God, I make God relevant in my life. By forgiving God, I can allow room for my doubts, my struggles, my confusion. By forgiving God, I maintain my relationship and a connection with God -- no matter how tenuous it may be at times.

It is not easy to forgive, but I will.

Because I do not want to write off the relationship.

Because there is too much to be lost by simply walking away.

Because I want my young children to develop their own relationships and come to their own conclusions.

Because despite the pain, sorrow and suffering, I want my universe full of miracles, not devoid of them.

Because I do not want to be one more angry, old cynic in the world.

I want to believe a voice still calls out from Sinai, from heaven.

I want to engage in the eternal conversations with the ancestors and sages. Despite it all, I want to live my life in praise -- and awe -- in wonder and hope. Even if I am wrong, even if at the end there is nothing but darkness. Despite my overwhelming desire to walk the other way, I will strive to forgive. Despite it all, I want to surround myself with the people of Jacob, of Israel, with those who struggle with God.

That is why I will forgive God.

And as the final shofar blasts and the gates of heaven close, I want to feel I am forgiven by God. I have faith in the power of that two-way forgiveness. When I forgive God, God becomes a force in the world, not some dusty ancient relic. When I forgive God, God reigns. And God regains some exalted place in the universe and in my life.

So, I will take the lead and forgive God. I will shout forgiveness into the whirlwind. And please God, forgive us. Please God, forgive me.

(Rabbi Will Berkovitz is chief executive officer of Jewish Family Service of Seattle, a 122-year-old agency that delivers essential human services.) 

KRE/MG END BERKOVITZ

Comments

  1. Thank you. This helped me in my own walk.

  2. ‘YOU’ “demand and accounting”???? WHO ARE YOU????? How DARE YOU! God’s will is perfect! The scriptures tell us that there is NO INJUSTICE. You’re as bad as the Pharisees at this point. You are rom your father the devil. How DARE you…..

    I SUGGEST, you read through the book of Job and humble yourself. Especially Job 38 through to 42.

    DISGUSTING.

  3. “I have lost friends and family to cancer this year, and I feel outraged at God. I have been sickened by the images from mudslides, hurricanes and earthquakes, not to mention the suffering we humans bring upon each other in the name of religion, politics or just vengeance.

    There are times when I feel like washing my hands of this abusive relationship. I want to scream into the whirlwind, into the void I was once sure God filled. I want to scream: “I don’t believe in you! We are alone in the universe. There is no master plan. There is no Power or Creator.”

    God may not ask for my forgiveness, but yet I feel a need in my soul to struggle, like a drowning man, to forgive God for all God’s sins against humanity. If I do not forgive God, how can I believe in God? How can I stand and tell others to ask for God’s forgiveness?”

    *****************

    Holding “God” accountable for the “actions” of mankind is an interesting take. I see why I believe God is Spirit, and not expecting Spirit to be responsible for what man chooses to do or not do, or even how people die. Why is there cancer? Why are there mudslides? Why earthquakes? WHY GLOBAL WARMING AND DESTRUCTION OF OUR NATURAL RESOURCES AND ABUSES OF LIFE, AS A WHOLE? Did God create these? Did God create ill will, disease, global warming, extinction of certain species of animals? I am not following your thinking on the forgiving God for “his crimes against humanity.”

    Are you saying, forgive man as God?

    Peace

  4. Thank you, Rabbi. Like you and Job, I think God has a lot of explaining to do. Sadly, Job never got his answer, just a lot of pompous nonsense. I do think it is well within the bounds of reason to expect God to be God and to hold God accountable when God fails.

  5. Well, Glyndon, how will you hold him accountable for crimes against humanity? There are laws in place for when one brother kills another brother, but I think you know that …

    Peace

  6. Old Testament God is a bit of a bastard (New Testament God makes promises he doesn’t deliver on in life). He demands fealty because he is the only God people really have. You don’t have a choice. The relationship between God and his faithful is that of an abusive parent for all that’s worth.

    Of course the reality is you have a choice. One does not have to accept any of it or that version of it. No version of religious belief is truer or more valid than the other beyond what you are willing to invest personally into it.

  7. God has done nothing to be forgiven of. If you think so you have an inaccurate picture of God.

  8. @Jay,

    “God’s will is perfect!”

    Thanks for the chuckle.
    If you have ever prayed for something in your life you have already asked God to change His Will and alter it for your personal benefit – so you already know God’s will cannot be perfect if you have asked him to change it.

    If God’s will is perfect why would you challenge it here today?
    The Rabbi here is doing exactly what God willed him to do
    and you should support the Rabbi for doing God’s will – it is God’s Will for the Rabbi to post this commentary.
    Otherwise it wouldn’t have happened!!!

    Thanks again for the laugh!
    People trapped in religious worldview have no idea how laughable their ‘logic’ really is 🙂

    I was once a believer, too. There is a safe exit: Atheism.

  9. So much of religious sermonizing is a continuation of the original mythology out of which religion evolved in the dark days of human ignorance about the universe. Religion is metaphor, such as God being a person in need of forgiveness. Religion is simile, God with the attributes of humans in spite of the fact that most people contradict that simile by imagining God as infinite, almighty, and all good.

    That is exactly how god was created by man, in man’s own image and likeness. That is why ancient writings, concerning the origins of which we are totally ignorant, by authors of whom we have no knowledge, can only be categorized as mythology.

    Religious writings are not history. Religious writings are not science. Religious writings betray a total ignorance or disregard of history and science–the latter of which extremely little was known when religion originated–because religion is mythological imaginings, not facts.

    Nice talk, but if God can be forgiven, if God should be forgiven, then God is nothing more than very imperfect mythology. In this day, it is safer to live with advanced wisdom gained from painful history and liberating science.

  10. How could any human have an “accurate picture of God?” Even given the fact that man created the many elaborate, human pictures of God.

    Let’s start at the very beginning. How good is a God who created humans in a perfect setting like Eden only to tease the very passions he created in them?

    Consider our evil. Consider our ignorance. A god created that!

  11. “God” created man in his own image and likeness!” If man can be wrong and evil, those attributes came from god. They need forgiveness in both god, their source, and man.

    Of course, man returned the favor and created god in his own image and likeness.

  12. Rabbi Will,

    “I am demanding God take responsibility.”

    I am very sorry for your difficult year of loss and pain. I have lost many friends this year also. Sometimes it is overwhelming.
    Thanks for sharing your feelings about it and the enormous pain as you also struggle with your religious outlook on it.

    But what about God? Really? Why bother?
    You say you don’t want to lose the relationship – but a battered wife is not healthier for staying with her batterer.

    And this much worse, because the batterer is only in your imagination. You are the victim of a self-inflicted assault.

    Isn’t life hard enough? Haven’t you summed it up very well how tough life is?
    Who needs to add an argument with Zeus about his handling of Earth’s orbit or argue about why Thor decided the tides should function as they do?

    The point is not that there are properties of nature we abhor – who needs Ebola? Why add to your misery by arguing with gravity?

    The inner drive to argue with a fictional spirit world adds to human misery.
    Can you see that you are caught in a self-made miserable loop?
    We need to grieve, cry, console and prepare for tomorrow. There is no use pretending otherwise.

  13. Therein lies the failure of god and proof that god is a human creation, not the other way round. A god needing to be held accountable is not infinite, all powerful, and not at all good.

  14. Meaning that religion originates from ancient mythology when humans were millennia less advanced than we consider ourselves to be today.

    When we look at the evil of humans today, we must consider the nature of any claimed advance.

  15. @Gilhan,

    As you say, “if God can be forgiven”.

    Naturally if God can be forgiven, he cannot be in a position to judge others for their ‘crimes’. The mistake JOB makes in the bible story is his decision to discuss these things with an imaginary dictator.

    Eliminating God from one’s life is a beautiful thing. These ancient superstitions add to human misery.

  16. (a) The Jewish religion as we know it today evolved from those early rabbis the New Testament mocks as “Pharisees.” Call us Pharisees all you want, it’s not inaccurate. It’s a source of pride for me.
    (b) The word “Israel” means “he who struggles with God.” This article is fully within Jewish tradition. The view that there is no injustice in the world and that’s the end of the story is not a Jewish view.

  17. I see what you are saying in this, Garson, and I challenge the author, as well as Glyndon, to share more in this thinking. The wrestling of the angel is not lost to the believer of Spirit.

    Peace

  18. Exactly.

    Also a major difference in how God is portrayed is due to the conditions when the books were written.

    Old Testament represents writings from a much harsher existence than the New Testament. Its God has little time for pleasantries with the hoi polloi. He barks the orders, people obey. He has a short temper for those who waver.

    What many Christians don’t quite get is the Jewish God is not worshiped because he is good, he is worshiped because he is God. Complaining about him, questioning him, analyzing him, wrestling with him (see Jacob) is expected because he is not transparent and knowable. He just is.

    Judea was more or less the doormat of regional empires constantly at war (and mostly on the losing side) with more advanced polytheistic societies. The clash with polytheism becoming a matter of survival for its people.

    When the New Testament came around Judea was the province of polytheistic Romans for centuries. Accommodation with polytheism in Judean society went from unthinkable to unavoidable. God’s image had to be softened for many reasons. Chief of which being trying to spread the faith to Gentiles (since Jews by and large rejected it).

  19. Your ignorance of proper theology is on display. Love always requires a choice.

  20. That’s true but that’s not God. That’s this rabbis invention of a god he feels comfortable with.

  21. Mitchell-Yes…help in our walk is needed and it’s good that people list their
    sins/are being convicted of their sin so they Repent which we must do and
    Jesus can forgive our sins if we Repent/let Him be our Lord. Psalm 22 and
    other Bible prophecy that came true prove that Jesus is the Messiah and
    Sid Roth on Tbn has a great testimony from the show It’s Supernatural on
    how he came to Christ and how many other Jewish men are now accepting
    Jesus as their Lord because they realize He is the Messiah because of all
    the Bible prophecy that points to Jesus Christ. The 144,000 in the book of
    Revelation are Jewish but many confuse the 144,000 as well as many other
    things in the Bible. The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel is a good book to
    read as well. We’re all on a journey/need help in our walk. We must Repent!

  22. Karla, do you realize how tasteless it is to discuss accepting Jesus Christ to people who spent a good amount of their history being treated badly (an understatement if ever there was one) by those professing such faith? 🙂

  23. It’s the only solution. Sorry you find the truth tasteless. It was predicted it would be.

  24. A final solution, if you will, to the Jewish question. 🙂

  25. Good point, Opheliart.

    You see, once a person buys into this “Forgiving God” mess, there is actually NO LIMIT on the amount of alleged evils that God can get accused of. “Forgiving God” is a doorway to LOSS of faith. Even the biblical guy Job, didn’t go there.

    You’ll wind up having to “forgive God” for every mega-death quake in China; every mega-death flood in Bangladesh/Pakistan; every massacre and atrocity in every regional war all over the world; every mega-death child-starvation in Africa; every epidemic and pandemic death.

    And that’s just for starters. Like I said, NO LIMIT. You can’t solve the problem of evil by disbelieving in God’s 24/7 goodness.

    So while I don’t want to minimize or downplay the serious life circumstances that he has experienced, the solid truth is that Rabbi Berkovitz is merely making things WORSE, not better. His “Forgiving God” gig is a curse, not a blessing.

    I’d rather listen to Larry and Max preach instead. Their constant slanders against God are straightforward and honest; you never have to wonder about what’s being plopped on your plate.

  26. @Frank,

    “Bring to me those enemies of mine who would not have me as their King…”

    Hint: The pharisees and other non-believers

    “…. and EXECUTE THEM IN FRONT OF ME.” – JESUS (LUKE 19:27)

    You perpetuate
    The evil of religion because
    it is so comfortable for you.

    But your children and their children will pay the price.
    Down the road, more innocents will be slaughtered because these evil preachments are perpetuated and continued mindlessly, comfortably and without restraint.

    Shame on the world for not speaking up against ‘faith’.

  27. @Doc,

    “You can’t solve the problem of evil by disbelieving in God’s 24/7 goodness.”

    I see plenty of goodness. None of it appears to come from a god.
    Would you please show me how you connect goodness to a god?

  28. Your last paragraph there effectively stated the problem with Rabbi Berkovitz’s article, Gilhcan.

    “Nice talk, but if God can be forgiven, if God should be forgiven, then God is nothing more than very imperfect mythology.”

    Good summary. You’re still in the same sinking worm-eaten boat with Larry and Max, but I really like the way you guys cut to the chase sometimes.

  29. @Frank,

    “That’s this rabbis invention of a god he feels comfortable with.”

    You did the same thing. Your God is comfortable to because you constructed him that way.

    Frank, here’s a hint: That is why ‘faith’ is transparent bogus.

  30. “Love always requires a choice.”

    So does the waiter standing at your table in the restaurant as you look over the menu. That doesn’t seem particularly informative.

  31. Sure, Max, here is the proof: Today I am still alive, despite a long history of filthy and stupid sins which I really regret, plus “near-misses”. That means God is truly a good God.

    I will always remember how the always-good, always-kind, always-powerful God refused to let a angry criminal with a fully loaded gun, have his way with me and my family.

    Without the great goodness of God, without the loving-kindness of The Lord Jesus Christ, I’d be DEAD LONG TIME AGO. You hear me? Literally dead. Bloody dead.

    The cops who snuck up silently and busted the crook with guns drawn, they even showed me the full clip of bullets from the crook’s gun. That evil clip was meant for me and my family, but GOD the Merciful, GOD the Gracious, GOD the Invincible, didn’t let it happen.

    So mark this well Max: I swear to you that I will NEVER become an atheist for as long as I live.

    I don’t care if I get hit by a truck whose wheels are covered in Ebola Virus next week, I don’t care if I die one organ at a time. I will NEVER stop believing and trusting the great God who showed me total goodness and mercy which I did NOT deserve at all.

  32. Thank you, Rabbi
    this was wonderful, profound and simple at the same time
    very insightful as I struggle wih the problem of evil
    –a catholic priest of 41 years

  33. Gilhcan,

    Yes, God created man in his own image, with man able to reflect such positive aspects of His personality such as love, justice and wisdom.

    God created man with no flaws whatsoever and provided Adam and Eve with a command that would test them as their faith in his right to rule. They disobeyed God and became imperfect and sinful, as well as their offspring, the rest of the human race. (Roman 5:12). That is why we sin, get sick, grow old and die.

    Our imperfections can thus be attributed to Satan, who deceived Eve, and our first parents, who disobeyed God, and definitely NOT to God!

    Satan was perfect when he was created but he allowed bad desires to grow and evidently sinned against God first by challenging God’s right to rule over them and telling Eve they would not die. Satan is the “father of the lie” and a manslayer who continues to deceive men in our day! (John 8:44).

    The Old Testament is replete with examples of the nation of Israel sinning against him, even to the point of worshiping other gods, such as Baal, and even sacrificing their children by throwing them into fire:

    “…. Here I am bringing a calamity upon this place, of which anyone hears, his ears will tingle, for the reason that they (nation of Israel) have left me and have made this place unrecognizable, and to make sacrificial smoke in it to other gods whom they had not known; they and their fathers and the kings of Judah; and they have filled this place with the blood of innocent ones.

    And they built the high places of the Baal in order to burn their sons in the fire as whole offerings to Baal, something that I had not commanded or spoken of, and that had not come into my heart .”
    (Jeremiah 19:3-5)

    God continually sent them prophets to correct them, but they continually rejected him, and they continue to reject God today since they have rejected Jesus as the son of God, the Messiah and the ruling King of God’s kingdom or heavenly government. Jesus told them:

    “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the killer of the prophets and stoner of those sent forth to her–how often I wanted to gather your children together in the manner that a hen gathers her brood of chicks under her wings, but you people did not want it!

    “Look! Your house is abandoned to you. I tell you, You will by no means see me until you say: “Blessed is he that comes in Jehovah’s name.”
    (Luke 13:34,35)

    Besides that, many people today serve other gods or idols, committing idolatry.

    But concerning the only true God, Yahweh or Jehovah, Job hits it right on the nail:

    “… For it is unthinkable for the true God to act wickedly, for the Almighty to do wrong!” (Job 34:10)

    And James added to that as follows:

    “When under trial, let no one say: “I am being tried by God. For with evil things, God cannot be tried, nor does he try anyone.” (James 1:13)

  34. @Doc,

    “I am still alive, despite a long history of filthy and stupid sins which I really regret, plus “near-misses”. That means God is truly a good God.”

    Okay.

    “I will always remember how the always-good, always-kind, always-powerful God refused to let a angry criminal with a fully loaded gun, have his way with me and my family.”

    Okay.

    “Without the great goodness of God, without the loving-kindness of The Lord Jesus Christ, I’d be DEAD LONG TIME AGO. You hear me? Literally dead. Bloody dead.”

    Okay.

    “The cops who snuck up silently and busted the crook with guns drawn, they even showed me the full clip of bullets from the crook’s gun. That evil clip was meant for me and my family, but GOD the Merciful, GOD the Gracious, GOD the Invincible, didn’t let it happen.”

    Okay.

    “So mark this well Max: I swear to you that I will NEVER become an atheist for as long as I live.”

    Okay.

    “I don’t care if I get hit by a truck whose wheels are covered in Ebola Virus next week, I don’t care if I die one organ at a time. I will NEVER stop believing and trusting the great God who showed me total goodness and mercy which I did NOT deserve at all.”

    Okay.

    I’m glad you made it. Glad you are alive. Glad your family survived.
    I’m even glad you think God did it. Good for you. I cannot disprove your belief in your answer. I already liked you, now I like you even more.
    Thanks for answering my question honestly.

    But I didn’t see proof of God in your story. I’m not saying God didn’t do it. Maybe he did. But the proof of connection isn’t there.
    The way I see it, you were very lucky. And you are darn glad you were lucky and you want to thank someone – god – that you were so fortunate.

    Similarly, I don’t deserve my beautiful wife and children – I think I was lucky that way. But I think the existence of my children does not prove God did it. It only proves that I had sex with their mother.

    I certainly feel ‘thankful’ but just like a man who wins a million dollars – I just say I was lucky. Because that is all I can prove.

  35. Glyndon,

    Job definitely got an answer from God along with a grand blessing.

    Satan appeared before God and wanted to test Job’s integrity to God. Satan claimed it was only for all the good things that God provided to him that Job worshiped him and that it was not out of love for God. Satan claimed if all these blessings were taken away, Job would curse God to his very face!! (Job
    1:7-11). Job’s wife even counseled him to “curse God and die.” (Job 2:10).

    In answer to his wife’s request, Job said: “As one of the senseless women speaks, you speak also. Shall we accept merely what is good from the true God and not also accept what is bad?” In all this, Job did not sin with his lips.” (Job 2:11)

    So God allowed Satan to test Job’s integrity, resulting in the loss of cattle, camels, sheep, his family, and suffering a malignant boil. All these were brought about by Satan, not God.

    Job eventually claimed a life of integrity and defended his generosity and uprightness and asked God to answer.

    Elihu was angry with Job because the three previous companions, Eliphaz, Bikdad, and Zophar, had pronounced God to be wicked and Job was declaring his own soul righteous, rather than God!

    Elihu reproved Job’s self- righteousness (Job 32:1-37:24), showing that Job was lacking in knowledge, and showing God’s greatness and balance in dealings.

    God then answered Job (Job 38:1-
    41:34, describing God’s wisdom of creation such as statutes of the heavens, constellations, beasts, and birds; Job humbled himself and God continued to question him.

    Job finally made a retraction and repented of his self-righteous attitude (Job 42:1-6). But how did God repay Job for his integrity and proving that Satan was a liar?

    God gave to Job in addition all that had been Job’s in double amount; and God blessed the end of Job afterward more than his beginning, with livestock and family!! (Job 42:10-17)

    Let us, therefore, follow the example of Job, prove our integrity to God because we love him, and prove Satan a liar!!

  36. Karla,

    The 144,000 who make up God’s kingdom or heavenly government, with Jesus as King, are “spiritual Israelites” who are spirit-anointed Christians who have been selected by God since Pentecost 33 C.E. to the present time.

    They are “born-again” Christians (John 3:5-6) who have a heavenly hope and include both Jews (many became believers in the book of Acts) and Gentiles. They are also referred to as the “bride of Christ” (Revelation 21:2, 9, 22:17).

    It included the Gentiles because the majority of Jews then and now reject Jesus as the son of God and Messiah, who is now King of God’s kingdom (Matthew 23:37,38; Acts 15:14).

    They will have a share with Jesus in ruling over mankind on earth during Jesus’ upcoming millennial rule (Revelation 14:1-5; 20:1-4).

  37. Doc Anthony: Unfortunately, there is nothing rational in your effort to discuss or argue. Therefore, it cannot be countered. It does include the mean spirit of the Old Testament and much of the New Testament, the second of which emanates from the first. It should not be surprising that the same mean spirit is so regularly displayed in the thinking, arguing, and behavior of those who hold these writings as divine. It is divine to be nasty. Like god, so like man.

  38. @ AM. “I was once a believer, too. There is a safe exit: Atheism.” Oh boy!
    I was once a Atheist, too. There is a safe exit: not religion, but a true personal friendship with the Creator. All due respect.

  39. @ The Rabbi…
    “By forgiving God, I make God relevant in my life. By forgiving God, I can allow room for my doubts, my struggles, my confusion. By forgiving God, I maintain my relationship and a connection with God”
    When encountering the true Creator; a little advice from Job may help.

    Job 42:5-6 I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you. Therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”
    Shalom; Rabbi.

  40. Jewish (and Muslim) Satan is not the same as the Christian one. Far from the source of all evil, Satan’s role is as a “dirty job” for God. That of the temptation and evil within us. The one who tests people’s resolve to ensure one is truly a good person. God’s prosecutor so to speak. The one who puts us through trials to determine if we are really innocent.

    A good example of how this plays out is Ray Wise’s portrayal of the Devil on the short lived show Reaper. Not a creator of evil, just someone who shows people that evil is a choice available to people.

    It completely changes the perspective of the story.

  41. The more things change, the more they remain the same. Arguments about the logic or illogic of different points of view; rationalism vs irrationalism; Hubris and certitude; how tiresome. It’s the sound of people who love their own voices (by and large) and equally the sound of one hand clapping. God has no need of our forgiveness, re: JOB; and His ready existence and sovereignty are clearly apparent to those with eyes to see. The Old Testament and New Testament are seamless revelations of the same God. The One and Only True God, by the way.
    I offer no proofs, because to the hardhearted unbeliever (Max & Larry), and the sophisticated enlightened humanist know it all (Gilhcan) proofs are less than useless. But I applaud Doc Anthony, Frank, Karla, Fran, et al. for their sincere efforts. Spare me your declarations of ‘nonsense’, ‘ignorance’, etc. Each one of us will eventually face God and be required to declare, ‘Jesus Christ is Lord.’ For many, however, such a declaration will be too late.

  42. Jay, Do you pray to your god for things for others, or yourself?

  43. You should give in to your feelings of doubt. It will all be okay and you’ll be free of your tyrannical imaginary overlord.

  44. I never understand how people so willing expose their ignorance so publicly. Well done guys!

  45. I try to see God as He is not how I want Him to be. It’s be much more comfortable to follow my own god.

  46. I am sorry you are either incapable or unwilling to understand love.

  47. How refreshing to read some common sense. Religious people do seem to have got themselves into a terrible knot. What is so shocking is the waste of the one life we know we have, in the “faith” that there is heaven in the afterlife.
    Praying for someone seems odd to me. God is obviously far too busy, bearing in mind that 800 women die in childbirth EVERY day, mostly preventable, and happening in the poorest societies who are generally the most religious. Not to mention the 9 million children under 5 who die every year from malnutrition, disease and war. Imagine the families praying and suffering over every child and God just letting it happen.Well, he doesn’t just let it happen because he doesn’t exist, but we, in spite of religion, just let it happen! Wake up people – it’s time to do some serious thinking.

  48. The world in which we live today is drastically different from the world God created. Utopian in its design where all our needs were met mankind lived in perfect homeostasis with nature and its creator. Humanity had one language, ethnicity, and lived without death and pain. As a result of our fall we lost connection to nature and God, this resulted in death, suffering and a struggling for our very survival. In the progression of time Mankind faced a more absolute destruction with a global flood with a handful of survivors. These survivors saw a new world in which they had to adjust to climate change, diseases, and drastically lowered life spans. Over thousands of years mankind has developed multiple ethnicities, mental, emotional, and psychical oddities. In short mankind is in a de-evolutional state of being.
    God is not the author of evil, the design of perfection was rejection of Him and our disobedience has affirmed His judgment. We as a species from Adam to present look for the scapegoat of blame. We also blindly ignore personal responsibility and blame everything from Eve to God. Man is responsible for evil, what we do to each other before God. Love your God with all your heart and mind then love your neighbor as yourself. This is core to overcoming the darkness of our hearts that control our lives.

  49. I like your logic. You might appreciate the logic of Epicuras 341 – 270 BC
    “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
    Then he is not omnipotent.
    Is he able, but not willing?
    Then he is malevolent.
    Is he both able and willing?
    Then whence cometh evil?
    Is he neither able nor willing?
    Then why call him God?

  50. Peter,

    He has toned it down considerably since our battle; prior—- doggedly following every person of faith and or belief and degrading them. Before, his mantra was: those who believe in God are …. (can you think of some really offensive and off color labeling, Peter? Well, that was the verbiage). Take a whirl through some of the other articles, especially a few of the older ones. Common Sense? You might find a very different mindset, one that lingered on hysteria. We feared for the safety of many.

    🙁

    Peace

  51. Oh, and if you two happen to know each other, Peter … oops.

    🙂

    Peace

  52. Yes, Satan is viewed differently by Jews, but I do not know the dogma/beliefs of Muslims so cannot confirm how they view Satan.

    Satan is definitely an enemy of God and even tempted Jesus, God’s son, on a number of occasions, even offering Jesus all the kingdoms of the world IF he would bow down and worship him. In all cases, Jesus referred to Scripture and told Satan that only God, and not Satan, was worthy of exclusive devotion and worship (Luke 4:1-12).

    The Jews have to view Satan as differently portrayed in the Bible, just as they view Jesus as NOT being the son of God, the Messiah, or the King of God’s kingdom.

    Their views are such a sad state of affairs; but they will have no choice but to acknowledge those facts when Jesus soon begins his millennial rule.

  53. The psalmist, David, was moved by his heart to say:

    “The law of Jehovah (Yahweh) is perfect, bringing back the soul. The reminder of Jehovah is trustworthy, making the inexperienced one wise.

    “The orders from Jehovah are upright, causing the heart to rejoice; the commandment of Jehovah is clean, making the eyes shine.

    “The fear of Jehovah is pure, standing forever. The judicial decisions of Jehovah are true; they have proved altogether righteous.” (Psalm 17:9)

    So the writer of this article (a Jewish rabbi) believes that a perfectly righteous and just God needs forgiveness from us puny, imperfect and sinful humans???

    The religious leaders in Jesus’ day (Scribes and Pharisees) claimed that Jesus had blasphemed because he claimed to be the Christ and the son of a God, as follows:

    “But Jesus kept quiet. So the high priest stood up and said to him: “By the living God, I put you under oath to tell us whether you are the Christ the son of God.

    “Jesus said to him: “You yourself said it. Yet, I say to you men, From henceforth, when you will see the Son of man sitting at the right hand of power and coming on the clouds of heaven.

    Then the high priest ripped his garments, saying: He had blasphemed! See! Now you have heard the blasphemy! What is your opinion?

    “They returned answer: “He is liable to death.” Then they spit in his face and hit him with their fists. Others slapped him in the face, saying: “Prophecy to us, you Christ. Who is it that struck you?”
    (Matthew 26:63-68)

    So not only was Jesus accused of blasphemy by the Jewish religious leaders and physically assaulted by them……… but now this Rabbi is blaspheming Almighty God, who is Jesus’ Father!!!

    As the prophet Isaiah declared to the Israelites about the only true God in his day:

    “For the thoughts of you people are NOT my thoughts, nor are my ways your ways,” is the utterance of Jehovah.

    “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)

    The only way I can end this comment is by saying what the apostle Paul told the Galatian congregations in his day:

    “Do not be misled. God is not one to be mocked. For whatever a man is sowing, this he will also reap.” (Galatians 6:7)

  54. The rabbi has done right and Karla has, too. Both are speaking from their hearts and souls. I believe Karla is absolutely right on Jesus being Lord and I also believe the rabbi is right to be honest about his struggles, which we all share and can understand.

  55. Sorry, Fran, but Karla is right on this. The 144000 are from the literal people of Israel. That’s why the writer bothers to list all of the relevant tribes of Israel. The first rule in biblical interpretation is to take words plainly and straightforwardly, which usually means literally.

  56. Jay, the man was speaking from his heart, and God is kind and merciful enough to understand. The rabbi knows deep down that his position is ultimately illogical, as does God, but he is speaking from his pain and God sees the heart behind the words. Anyone who does not understand the rabbi or cannot empathize hasn’t been asking the right questions. God is not finished with the rabbi nor is He finished with the rest of us. This is a process……let the process play out.

  57. The difference between you and the rabbi is that you are the hardened cynic he doesn’t ever want to be.

  58. Frank, you’re talking from your head alone. In the real world, when troubles come, head knowledge alone won’t cut it. Some people have to work things out from their emotions, too. Read Job.

  59. Haywood, you are no better, and in fact a lot worse, than those who are bashing the rabbi for blasphemy. God can help a man who shakes his fist at Him. God will not help a man who turns his back on Him in cold indifference.

  60. Ah but Karla thinks the rabbi is going to hell. Her heart and soul seeks to damn his.

  61. Garson, you’re talking from your head. The rabbi is talking from the deepest depths of his heart.

    And you’re incorrect about the New Testament. It does not blast all Pharisees or even most of them. Most Pharisees were dedicated teachers. But the ones centered in Roman-occupied Jerusalem were in cahoots with the corrupt priests and the oppressive Romans. Most Jews of that time despised those leaders.

    And among the Pharisees were two schools — Hillel and Shammai. Jesus was most like Hillel, who stressed the heart and meaning of the Law. He was least like Shammai, whose disciples were more legalistic…..and who ultimately led Israel into a disastrous rebellion against Rome, leading to a 20-century-long exile. Both Jesus’ followers and Hillel’s opposed this rebellion. And both groups lived on and live on to this very day.

  62. Larry, you’re talking nonsense. There are plenty of irreconcilable differences among the various religions. Thus it is logically impossible to believe, as you do, that “no version of religious belief is truer or more valid than the other.”

  63. “I offer no proofs, because to the hardhearted unbeliever (Max & Larry), and the sophisticated enlightened humanist know it all (Gilhcan) proofs are less than useless. ”

    When such things are impossible, they are always useless to support claims. 🙂

    “Spare me your declarations of ‘nonsense’, ‘ignorance’, etc.”

    Can we expect the same from you? That seems highly unlikely.

  64. Doc, you make excellent points, but I will take the rabbi over Larry and Max….although the rabbi himself admits that he could end up becoming a Larry or Max.

  65. The only nonsense is your own. Yes there are irreconcilable differences between various religions and NONE of them have any more credibility than the other beyond what you are willing to invest into them. Logic and religious belief are mutually exclusive terms.

    Your attempt at a cheap proof against disbelief is completely unsupported by anything resembling a logical idea or support. Differences between religions and the complete lack of evidence to support one religion over another make none of them credible on their own merits. Beyond personal preference.

    Only the ignorant, dogmatic, uncivil and unintelligent think anything beneficial has come from the notion of “My God is the true one and yours isn’t”.

  66. Neither the Jewish view nor the medieval Christian view of Satan is the same as the Biblical one. The Jewish view rightly sees that Satan can’t do anything without God giving him permission, but wrongly concludes that Satan is working for our benefit. The medieval Christian view wrongly elevates Satan to ridiculous heights — making him almost a god in his own right — but rightly understanding that Satan never intends our good.

    The Biblical view is the middle ground — Satan is bad and quite powerful, but is nothing compared to God and can do zip without His permission.

  67. Your ignorance of common courtesy is on display. You attacked the writer’s religious belief in a far more pernicious and uncivil manner than any of the atheists here,. This was on the eve of one his most important holidays.

    Whatever your religious belief is, you have shown it obviously does not make you a better person.

  68. @Jack Because you say so?

    You, Fran and Karla seem to have this compulsive need to insult the religious belief of the author because it does not conform to yours. I would strongly hesitate against claims that your view of the Bible is inherently superior to his.

    But that is because I am not arrogant enough to pretend that my opinions of scripture are the only real ones available. I can understand why you would want to think that way. It is very comforting to have such views. But it also shows a complete lack of courtesy towards fellow your religious believers.

  69. “and in fact a lot worse, than those who are bashing the rabbi for blasphemy. ”
    Because that is what you were doing and you want it to be considered acceptable. 🙂

  70. Atheism is the choice of people who care more about running their own show for a few decades even if it means committing intellectual suicide and being on the wrong side of Pascal’s wager.

  71. It was hardly meant to be a “proof against disbelief,” Larry. It was simply meant to show that your particular argument was nonsense, as I said. If you want a proof against your disbelief, try living life with eyes wide open, rather than shut tight.

  72. Larry, you could use a reading comprehension course.

    First, I wasn’t talking about the author. As I mentioned in prior posts, and as you well know, since you responded to at least one of them, I am very sympathetic to his pain and frustration and I don’t condemn him at all for the way he chose to express it.

    Second, I was simply comparing the Biblical view of Satan to the classical Jewish view and the medieval Christian view of him. As I said, the Biblical view seems to combine the best of the two views while avoiding the worst aspects of both. The Satan of the Bible is a paradox…..and theologians often don’t like paradoxes but want everything neat and tidy.

  73. You’re assuming God is “an imaginary dictator” as if it were settled fact. You think that just because you decree God is imaginary, that makes Him imaginary. You have no idea how silly that sounds.

    You’re obviously angry at God and think the best way to get back at Him is to carry on the way you do.

  74. And let me add that I have far more respect for a person who admits, as the author does, that he is angry with God, than to let God off the hook for all the evils of the world either by declaring He doesn’t exist (as you do) or by making lame excuses for those evils (as some of your detractors do).

  75. Doc Anthony is one of the most lucid people on this board, so what are you talking about?

  76. I have no idea what you’re talking about….and I don’t know that you do, either. I have been defending the rabbi fairly strongly. I know where he’s coming from and while ultimately I believe God is good, I don’t believe for a moment that it is wrong to wrestle with Him.

  77. Larry-You are twisting what my point was again because I don’t
    want anyone to go to hell and neither does God. Bible is clear
    what we must do to be saved and I want people to go to heaven!

  78. Jack,

    I do not see the article’s sentiment as blasphemy. I do not sense this at all, but what I did ask of the author and a poster supporting the author is that they SHARE MORE IN THIS THINKING. What I have learned through experience and exercise in what is called Prayer of the Heart (Philokalia-type prayer of the ancients: 4th through the 14th c / a seeking wisdom/ see hesychasm) is that the heart moves in compliance with the mind. It is an ascent, if you will, of the heart to the mind, where soulship begins its journey in awareness of Spirit/God. Here is where one finds the governance and beauty of a more ‘divine’ intellect—it’s Conscience not reacting to the failings and strife of worldly emissions, and not ‘blaming’ or ‘accusing’ the MANNER of God for these, but rather entering into the RELATIONSHIP necessary to combat what is causing the failings, and this Relationship is in allegiance with “loving neighbor as yourself.” But if neighbor is more forcefully patriarchal, living a system of partiality, and refuses the connectedness necessary for this Relationship, healing becomes a battle for a different purpose.

    I ‘understand’ the author’s voice here, but I challenge that he move forward in his person by engaging in this process. This is not a demand, but a challenge. If he lives too methodically in his system of rabbi (priest), thinking he must somehow explain the woes of the world, both for self and others, he misses the awareness of where (a place) Scripture says: And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven … (but again, I understand ‘his’ voice, and that he may not be interested in this). This is really a call to allow no one with titles or governance of other agenda (religion) to misdirect you from the need for growth. Not growing often causes the frustrations where you blame God, or if a nonbeliever, blaming those believing in God, mistaking it for religion, although, as you surely know, religion stakes ground and demands much of the people not in purity. It is of childish metaphor, but alas, we are all still children in our understanding of God, and have our struggles—each in his own time. So, we say, the author is not wrong, for it is not about right or wrong in this sharing. It is about movement. When the Lord asks Elijah, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He then tells him to go, RETURN the way you came (rebirth) the wilderness of Damascus …
    This is what we understand as Spiritual Growth within the movement of Relationship. Religion provides structure but should never exceed LOVE. If you believe that LOVE is “God” … It is not LOVE that fails, but man in his struggle to understand this, and may I add that struggle, and challenge, is what helps us to move heart to mind. This, all having to do with the Essence and Energy of Godhood. Vladimir Lossky wrote on this in The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church, but in my experience, it seems he got them reversed.

    Peace

  79. Only someone who has little or no understanding of God would ever write or post something like.

  80. I feel for the mans doubt but his conclusions are so fallacious it’s needs to be spoken out against.

  81. intellectually, spiritually and emotionally God has nothing to be forgiven of.

  82. Opheliart,
    This was my first sight of this website, and, of course my first post
    I certainly do not know Atheistmax. I enjoy a good debate and read your posts with interest. Offensive language, swearing and name calling are found too often on the internet. They can offend but add nothing to the argument.
    Thanks for your response.

  83. Peter, Your first readings here may seem an enlightenment to you, but the following statement :
    “Well, he doesn’t just let it happen because he doesn’t exist, but we, in spite of religion, just let it happen! Wake up people – it’s time to do some serious thinking.”

    To YOU, God does not exist; to others, God exists. How do you temper this with common sense?

    An Atheist telling the believer to stop believing because people are starving; there is war, disease and suffering is like telling an Atheist to start believing because people are starving; there is war, disease and suffering.

    Peace

  84. You either believe in God or you don’t.”God is or He is not” If you follow Pascal’s logic you are obliged to accept God without evidence and some how kid yourself (and god) that you believe he exists.. If god does exist, one would hope that he would welcome those who had read and reasoned and become atheists, as opposed to those who followed blindly and ingratiated themselves in the hope of redemption. How cynical to behave in a “good” way only because you fear the wrath of god.

  85. Opheliart
    To me (and yes I accept, not to everyone) common sense is born out of evidence and logic. All one can hope for is that people read more than one book and really try to understand the arguments. Religion, like Nationalism, tends to be based on fear, and usually leads to self righteous posturing.

  86. Peter, no way to click reply on your comment, anyhow, you say:

    “To me (and yes I accept, not to everyone) common sense is born out of evidence and logic. All one can hope for is that people read more than one book and really try to understand the arguments. Religion, like Nationalism, tends to be based on fear, and usually leads to self righteous posturing.”

    I believe in Spirit and this is not about fear. I experience Spirit, you don’t. It is really quite simple. I know of Atheists not having read just one book, had an experience (mystical, as we of Spirit call it), and have entered into a place of belief. Now, I am certainly not going to try to talk you into believing in God, nor will I try to explain what is meant by Mysticism. I believe Atheist are. Just as Spirit is … Atheists are. Peter, you can behave as if believers are without sense, and without reason, but you would be incorrect. Some behave in a partial, one-sided manner, but then so do some Atheists, and I could say to you, “prove to me that belief in God usually leads to self-righteous behavior?” You would then have to define self-righteous in a manner that satisfies both parties, and I do not think that you would be able to do that. Also, the fact that you think believers read only one book, and “believe” in something you cannot, or do not, could be thought of as self-righteous, for obviously, since you used the word, you believe it exists. Also, the very poor and hungry believing in God for many years can hardly be thought of as self-righteous.

    Now, if you are speaking of religion apart from Spirit, as I do not believe God is religion … then you might be able to use that one book you are referencing to prove what you wish … but you would then have to make sure you use the version of the book that the religious follows in his belief. Also, I think that if you decide that it is religion that is the problem with those that are starving, you would need to look at the government officials of those areas, for wouldn’t these be the ones partly, if not fully responsible?

    Peace

  87. @Jack,

    I’m not angry at God because I don’t believe God exists.
    I’m not angry at Mermaids because I don’t believe Mermaids exist either.

    When I discover there is no gasoline in my car, I don’t start “Hating gasoline”.
    Similarly when I discovered there was probably no god, I didn’t start ‘Hating God”

    You Christians must stop yammering about Atheists and Secularists.
    Instead, start explaining yours crazy claims about what god is and and what god isn’t.
    There is no evidence of any god of any kind.

  88. Opheliart,

    “Religion provides structure but should never exceed LOVE.”

    Wild, incoherent claim. What does it mean to ‘exceed love’?
    I mean, are you just making up this stuff? What do these absolutist (NEVER?) claims of yours mean? Do you even know?

    People who make claims they cannot support are asking to be challenged by the millions of people who have been conned before.
    It appears your religion is imaginary because your claims are unsupported by the slightest whiff of evidence.

  89. @Scott Dees,

    “God is not the author of evil”

    False claim – even by your own book.
    If you make false claims expect to be asked some questions.

    “I create evil: I the LORD do all these things.” – Yahweh (Isaiah 45:7)

    Don’t say God is not the author of evil unless you can prove that claim.

  90. Hi Opheliart
    If by spirit you mean awe, love, a sense of wonder, the joy and sadness of inspiring music and art, the overwhelming beauty of nature, the enormity and un-knowingness of the universe, and so on, then maybe I’m halfway to understanding or experiencing Spirituality – I thank writers such as Thomas Paine, Darwin and Dawkins and many, many others for enlightening me. I was brought up as a Catholic but began to doubt religious and biblical teachings in my thirties, clinging on though to believing there may be a Higher Power. It’s been 10 years since my evolution into becoming an Atheist and for me it has been a huge and uplifting relief that has improved my perspective of this one life that I know I have. I accept that when I die I will return to being what I was before I was born, ie, non existent .
    Thank you for responding in a helpful and non aggressive way- all points noted!

  91. Atheist Max, the religionist Atheist …

    CLAIMS:

    “Religion provides structure but should never exceed LOVE.”

    “Wild, incoherent claim. What does it mean to ‘exceed love’?
    I mean, are you just making up this stuff? What do these absolutist (NEVER?) claims of yours mean? Do you even know?

    People who make claims they cannot support are asking to be challenged by the millions of people who have been conned before.
    It appears your religion is imaginary because your claims are unsupported by the slightest whiff of evidence.

    ******

    Couldn’t hold to your promise, could you … the predator that you are. Just because you do not relate or understand a LANGUAGE does not make it wild and incoherent. WHO MADE YOU KING OF VERSE?

    I see that you FEAR what I share and this is why YOU behave as you do. What is agonizing within, Max, DRIVING YOU TO SUCH COMMENTARY? Is it fear? Hatred of something you do not understand? I would think that if you were truly concerned with the conditions of society, you would redirect your interests and energy to something you know something about.

    Peace to you agonizingly apostolic max.

  92. Ophelia,

    “should not exceed love”?
    That is a claim.
    I simply did not understand why or where you found this religious insight and I don’t know what it means.
    You don’t owe me a response – but I had the right to ask.

    I’m sure I am not the only one here
    who does not understand “should not exceed love.”

    Let’s call a truce, okay?
    I’ll stop asking you any questions
    and you can stop mentioning me in all your tirades against those of us who are hurt everyday by religious nonsense. I have every right to be angry about religion’s empty claims. And you have the right to keep pumping them out. But we’ll leave each other alone. Okay?

  93. The rabbi is wrestling with God, and dealing honestly with the realities of evil and suffering in this world. I am certain that intellectually and theologically, he knows the arguments backward and forward against his position that God has sinned.

    To point those out is to point to what’s blindingly obvious. What isn’t so obvious is the fact that God is drawing this man into a wrestling match with him, as He did with Jacob, the ancestor of the people of Israel. It is part of a process which will deepen the rabbi and cause him to hunger more for righteousness and truth. The risk is that the rabbi will end up in a final rebellion against God and reach a point of no return. But from a human perspective, it’s a risk that God is apparently willing to take.

    The rabbi’s words on this board are not the final word. They represent his working things through. This is a snapshot in time……God is not done yet with him.

  94. Peter-Read the book the Case for Christ by Lee Strobel and also you can
    read Romans 1:18-25. Look at the universe and the design of it and you
    can see that there must have been a creator. Bible prophecy accuracy is
    why you can trust the Bible. God is real and you are loved by Christ.

  95. Karla
    I will read “The case for Christ” if you will read ” The Greatest Show on Earth – the evidence for evolution” by Oxford Professor and emeritus fellow Richard Dawkins. A beautiful and factual book. Or,if you can take it on the chin, try “God is not great – how religion poisons everything” by Christopher Hitchens and “The God Delusion” by Richard Dawkins. I can only add that I have read the arguments on both sides extensively and, lovely as it would be to have an afterlife – Upstairs, not downstairs, I see this as fantasy. But, as they say, each to his/her own.

  96. Peter-God is real. I used to think just like you do so I know what
    Dawkins teaches so we can just agree to disagree. God bless.

  97. Jay,

    Your response here saddens me greatly. Like you I believe that the book of Job probably contains ‘the answer’ (one of the most profound and moving pieces of Jewish wisdom). But I would ask you to remember that it was Job, the one who wrestled with God, who was commended by God in the end, much more so than his friends who kept on coming up with the religiously ‘correct’ answers…

  98. (NB: The previous comment refers to a comment by Jay, but didn’t give a date: it was way back on Oct 3: I’m running way behind here…)

  99. Jay,

    Your response here (3 Oct) saddens me greatly. Like you I believe that the book of Job probably contains ‘the answer’ (one of the most profound and moving pieces of Jewish wisdom). But I would ask you to remember that it was Job, the one who wrestled with God, who was commended by God in the end, much more so than his friends who kept on coming up with the religiously ‘correct’ answers…

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