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The Gospel of Stephen
In the year of someone’s lord, two thousand and something, thus saith the words of – ME! I’m writing a gospel . . .
My gospel – the good news of Stephen!
I did not say Saint Stephen, as I am not.
To those reading these words years, decades, millennia later, it’s important you know who is doing this writing. I spent the greater part of my life in guilt and anguish because of living by accounts that I later discovered were written anonymously – the title names attached to the manuscripts were not the actual authors and were, in fact, added several centuries later.
Would you commit your life’s principle and practice to a set of documents without knowing who wrote them? How would you vouch for their authenticity, credibility, or accuracy?
Is it important to know this gospel is written by me, Stephen, born in the year Frank Sinatra won his first Grammy and Dwight D. Eisenhower ruled the oval office, in a midwest city known for brewing beer and stuffing bratwurst, raised to believe a fundamentalist doctrine, having lived a life, bore children, married, committed plenty of mistakes, but also hoped to have imparted a measure of value to those who crossed my path, having found ourselves hurling together thru the Milky Way?
I believe it’s important to know who wrote something, especially if its written in the form of an eye-witness account, to better understand their view of the world, to be cautious of biases and agendas, give insight to the logic and backstory of their observations and summaries.
What I wouldn’t do is take their words so literally that I base my entire life’s principles, judgements and suppositions on them. Entertainment, enlightenment, amusement, education – sure!
Strap on a suicide vest, “going clear” on a confessional cruise, or beating a child for wishing to play football after prayer service to demonstrate my faithful (obsessive) devotion – No!
Which has brought me to the conclusion, extremism of any kind – religion, health, politics, lifestyle – is a destructive, arrogant set of tenets and beliefs, that universally declare; “I am right – you are wrong.”
Extremists don’t care about getting it right . . . they only care about being right.
“What is objectionable, what is dangerous, about extremists is not that they are extreme, but that they are intolerant. The evil is not what they say about their cause, but what they say about their opponents.”
John F. Kennedy
The Gospel of Stephen declares, by experience, observation, and instruction, the following is true for me and possibly others.
If the following is not true based on your personal history and enterprise, then read for mirth and amusement only, enjoy life in your distinctive, exceptional way.
Believing or rejecting any of the following will not result in attaining crowns of glory or enduring the requisite fires of hell. This is not exhaustive.
I don’t believe there is an end to life’s lessons.
It’s meant to generate deliberation and yearning towards creating your own gospel . . . bring your own sense of purpose and joy to others. Answer the question, “What do I know for sure?”
The Gospel of Stephen
Vs. 1 Offering to help others is rarely rejected and more often appreciated.
Vs. 2 It is equally generous to accept the help of others. If not needed, it still brings joy to those giving.
Vs. 3 They who are not aware of others needing help are generally more self centered and more concerned with getting what they want.
Vs. 4 Those who need to control are the least in control, thus they need to exert control.
Vs. 5 Those who strive to be most in control are usually the least happy, fulfilled, or at peace.
Vs. 6 Better to acknowledge a slight within ones self and then reject it, than to outwardly acknowledge it and start a meaningless argument.
Vs. 7 Happy wife – happy life.
Vs. 8 You have value and worth. Period.
Vs. 9 Anyone who adds conditions to your value and worth are themselves devoid of the value and worth they don’t recognize in others.
Vs. 10 Question authority. Question yourself. Test Ideas. Follow the evidence, wherever it leads.
Vs. 11 And remember, you could be wrong.
Vs. 12 If anyone says, “I know the truth and it is the only truth” – Run. Run fast. Run far.
Vs. 13 It is more enlightening, enriching, and revealing to consume wine with conversation, than to believe a single word of a sober person who wants to save you from something.
Vs. 14 Wine consumed will reveal what is hidden – good and bad.
Vs. 15 Truth, after wine, is more reliable than sober, edited, confessions.
Vs. 16 Don’t wish your life away – accept this moment, this time, these circumstances for what they are.
Vs. 17 Regret and guilt are a waste, if they don’t produce change with positive results. Minus this, reject both as meaningless.
Vs. 18 No one likes to work. Do it anyway.
Vs. 19 If anyone tempts you to do sloppy work with “no one will know,” remember – YOU will always know, and thats enough to do it right.
Vs. 20 We all make mistakes, just don’t make the fatal one.
Vs. 21 Choose five people outside your immediate family. Choose to spend inconvenient time with them, stay engaged with their lives, expend your resources for their benefit.
Vs. 22 These are your real friends.