ELVIS

Enjoyed a relaxing and interesting evening at the local cinema.

It was a movie filmed recently on the Gold Coast of Australia that powerfully depicts the spectacular life and sudden death of Elvis Presley.

45 years have passed since Elvis died, so he may not be on the radar of many younger Australians, but back in my more youthful days, he was a legend.

Neither his singing nor his acting ever impressed me at that time in my life, but he captured the hearts and minds of my generation in a hugely impressive fashion. Almost unbelievably, 500 million recordings of his music were sold and his movies were big box office attractions.

His style of singing was ultra physical, hurling and shaking his body in every direction and this caused far too many women to descend into a state of hysterical fantasy. Church leaders in America tried to have him banned from performing because he was ‘sexually provoking’. What particularly upset them was that, at every one of his performances, many women, both young and old, took off their panties and thew them on to the stage, right at the feet of Elvis.

Elvis had become a God and this upset Church leaders even more.

But we all have Gods because we have a very human need to worship heroes or believe in causes.

It is usually a singer, actor, sports champion, charismatic community leader or politician, or a football club or many similar obsessions. Gods can also be alcohol, gambling or sex.

In my life, my role model is Jesus of Nazareth.

There are other people whose lives have greatly inspired me too, such as Martin Luther King, St. Francis of Assisi, Winston Churchill and Mahatma Gandhi. In the sporting world, I am a huge fan of Roger Federer and I never miss plays or movies in which Judi Dench or Maggie Smith are acting.

What is sadly lacking in my life is a political leader to inspire me,

Just look at our current world leaders.

Putin (murderer) Biden (weak) Boris (irresponsible dill) Xi (utterly without personality), and until recently, Morrison (Australia’s worst ever Prime Minister).

But, I live in hope. This is an asset none of us must ever lose.

Nevertheless, back to Elvis. At the conclusion of the movie, I really did feel sorry for him.

His professional career was dominated by a retired Colonel who signed him up as a highly promising unknown with a contract that earned him half of whatever Elvis earned, plus endless expenses paid solely from Elvis share. This meant that Presley was constantly in a sparse financial situation.

It all got too much for him. He had to perform superbly every day or his fans would be stricken and, to keep going, he took huge number of pills daily, all washed down by lots of Coca Cola, a deadly combination. At the same time, his marriage broke up and his relationship with the Colonel became vitriolic.

Eventually, he just collapsed and died. Many say that his stage performance at Las Vegas the night before he died was his greatest.

Tom Hanks acts the fat old Colonel. Does it superbly. In the end, you hate his guts. This is not a trivial matter for any of us. We all tend to find people in our lives whom we hate and this, too often, sadly fuels our lives as much as our heroes do.

May, I make this trivial comment of personal fantasy in closing.

In my public life, I have made more than 10,000 public speeches in 26 nations in many settings that have occurred in my public life which has so far lasted for 70 of my 90 years, They were mostly about campaigns I have been organising or public issues in which I have been involved or sermons at Churches or talks at service clubs and conventions.

While, I was often able to stir up enthusiasm in the crowds of listeners, I did not ever cause women to rush forward and throw their panties on the stage. Elvis left me struggling far behind in the skills of human motivation. My life really has been a terrible failure in comparison.

However, I am absolutely certain that the world needs an Elvis from time to time.

Cheers

Everald

Keep on buying my books.

THE MAN ON THE TWENTY DOLLAR NOTES

DINNER WITH THE FOUNDING FATHERS

A BEAUTIFUL SUNSET

You can buy them online, in print or kindle, at Booktopia, Dymocks, Amazon, Book Depository etc

or from my website

EVERALD@LARGE

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KILLING IN GOD’S NAME

Every religion worships the same God.

We have different names for God and we worship Him (or Her) in different ways. Even within a particular religion, there are wide differences of opinion about how God should be worshipped and how the major book for that religion shall be interpreted.

All of these differences can be accommodated by reasonable people in a peaceful world, but there is one major issue that divides all religions.

Is God a symbol of hope, love and compassion or is God a dispenser of punishment for sins who appoints followers to be killers of sinners in His name. Continue reading “KILLING IN GOD’S NAME”

The Will of God – Impact of Religion on Peace, Prosperity and Justice

The earliest memory of my life is that of my mother taking me to the Methodist Sunday School in Linville, a small village nestled in the foothills of the Blackbutt Ranges of Queensland. For all but a few Sundays, I have been going to Church ever since, and recently I notched up my 53rd year as an Elder, firstly in the Presbyterian Church and then the Uniting Church.

In my earliest years, I was a rigid fundamentalist but, as the years passed, I peacefully and happily translated to becoming a very liberal one, while never ever diminishing the depth of my pilgrimage as a follower of Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified because he broke all the conservative traditions. I now proudly describe myself as a Progressive Christian, hungry to understand more of the mystery of it all.

Right now, I have three main goals in my life as a Christian.

One is to work persistently towards the achievement of a reduction in poverty across the planet, as no person can claim to be a follower of Jesus of Nazareth without doing something meaningful about this blot on humanity.

The second is to live in peace and understanding with those of other faiths. In seeking to participate in the task of bringing this to reality, I am a very active member of the North Brisbane Inter Faith Group, where Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, etc, share meals and dialogue together regularly and strive to find beliefs and ethics we can agree upon.

Number three, which should really be number one, is to foster the hope that religious people everywhere will refrain from declaring that their actions are the Will of God. Since the dawn of time, millions have been killed by those who claimed to have acted in God’s name, but the truth is that every single death has been the unjustifiable action of a violent person passionately and conveniently declaring that they had no option but to carry out a command they had received directly from God himself.

Nothing can be further from the truth. In reality, they were expressing their inbuilt bigotry and lack of intelligence, while bolstering their personal insecurity.

I am a very avid reader of books about religion, and I find that, when you cut away all the heavy theology that smothers any faith, you can get down to the very essence of them all. You discover the irrefutable fact that they are all religions of love and peace and justice.

The horror of violence has been added to doctrines down the centuries by people with tiny minds who had a need to gain or retain power that would sustain their permanent domination of the masses. Too many religious leaders, and political leaders who used religion to gain power, have been, and still are, manipulators and betrayers of the very basics of any faith.

Throughout my life, I have watched awful deeds that were based on the so-called ‘Will of God’. Catholics and Protestants murdering one another in Northern Ireland has been a shameful blot on Christianity. Shiite and Sunni Muslims killing one another in Iraq, Iran and Syria is a travesty that violates the basic tenets of a peaceful Islamic Faith. Buddhists killing Tamils in Sri Lanka has little resemblance to the peace that we have always attributed to Buddhism. Going back a couple of centuries, we find that slavery was carried out by Christians who declared themselves to be a superior race — God’s chosen people — honouring what they declared to be God’s stated intention that inferior people were destined to be servants. As a footnote, we can record that they made a lot of money carrying out “God’s will”.

Without trying to preach a sermon, can I make some personal observations that could contribute to a sensible discussion on the role of religion in life.

Much of the bloodshed has had its foundation in the belief that religion is based on personal salvation and a promise of life after death, but the reality is that these are thoughts that are capable of fostering selfishness and a distortion of spiritual power.

I hold the view that religions are predominantly about a love that unites humanity and seek to share the resources of the world equitably. Thus, I believe in a God who does not punish non-believers.

It has been a long time since I have believed that God decides who lives or dies. He (or she) gives us the spiritual power to handle whatever life throws at us, and this will always be composed of both good and bad. That power enables us to go to our death with a complete faith and with no expectation of reward.

In blunt words, happiness and prosperity can exist only in a world of peace, whereas religion today is the most common cause of oppression, whether it be physical or economic or social, and this is very sad.

It also spreads appalling inequality in the treatment of women, which is just as bad in Rome as it is in Mecca. It is not only unjust. It makes little sense as it means that half the economic and social power of the world is under-utilised. This is just plain dumb, as well as being manifestly unfair.

Where does this lead you and me?

We will move towards a better world if more and more of us can acknowledge that we are incomplete people who will enjoy life more if we harness a spiritual power beyond ourselves and then determine which religion relates best to our image of life, while respecting those who choose to walk another pathway to God.

Too many choose a God called Money, and they are really fragile people who cause more havoc for humanity that the most bigoted of religious killers. While I have a healthy respect of a good bank balance, it benefits me only if it is my servant, not the reverse.

There is a potentially beautiful and peaceful world out there. Too many bigots, who worship greed and a selfish brand of religion, stand in the way of it being enjoyed by most of humanity.

A step forward for all of us in creating peace and prosperity in a just society is to divest ourselves of every vestige of bigotry we carry around, as it is excess baggage that is a very heavy burden.

I am working personally and regularly on the divesting, but writing this article reminds me that I have a long way to go.

Implementing some changes of attitude during the goodwill of the Christmas season is a great idea, so long as we remember that only a minority of the world’s population will be celebrating it.

For the majority, their religious festivals happen at another date in the calendar — a reminder to us all that diversity is an interesting and important element of life.