I believe the following scriptures are more than just good advice, but a statement on how God runs His universe. It's like the Buddist notion of karma or "What goes around comes around."
- Leviticus 19:18 You shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.
You might discover that what you do to others AND TO GOD is done to you. As you age, your life might flash before your eyes as you see examples of things you did to others which were done to you. This can be scary as you ponder things which have not yet come back to bite you, but there is hope--if you show mercy, you can expect to receive mercy. Mercy can be shown by forgiving others as the Our Father prayer mentions (forgive us as we forgive others.) I believe God takes us at our word and does to us what we have done, perhaps less severely, to test us. Jesus did give the parable of the man who was forgiven a big debt, but failed to forgive a much smaller debt owed by someone else.
God rewards praise, perhaps by praising us, so I engage in praise more than repeating rote prayers. I praise God when I find justice in the universe because I find it beautiful. In fact, I'm more drawn to the aspects of God's creation relating to humans, than I am to nature. I'm not sure, but I suspect countries, peoples, corporations, etc. might be treated as entities subject to the karma principle. One of my past-times is reflecting on history looking for examples of divine justice. Perhaps, the United States helping liberate France could be traced to France helping in our American Revolution. Another example which is noteworthy is that Jews claimed to be the chosen people and suffered at the hands of the Germans who also claimed to be, more or less, a chosen people. I believe the Jews were the chosen people, but I'm not sure it's such a good idea if they believe that.
However, the "Love God" commandment might take precedence in the case of the Jews, since feeling like you have a special relationship with God leads to an element of exclusiveness that is typical of human love. I have a special relationship with God and it is probably stronger when I am led to believe not everyone has it. I guess ideally, everyone would delusionally believe they had a somewhat exclusive relationship.
My relationship with God is based on me devoting thought to spiritual topics and even other topics which involve God to produce a karma reaction involving God communicating with me. I have many ways I communicate with God, but the most satisfying is opening the bible randomly and, with some imagination, pulling a meaning out of the passage. Sometimes I substituting various people for the characters, often placing myself into the story. Other times, I tear the names apart to make words. Usually, by taking the story out of the biblical context, it will often fit the subject I had just been devoting thought to. I'm careful not to become a puppet of the passage, instead using it strictly for rational council.
Once you start noticing karma, you can begin to prophecise, but mercy and other factors can enter into it like what is in the heart of a person at the time of the first event. For example, in my heart, I supported the war in Iraq because I saw it as liberating Iraqis from a cruel tyrant. My countrymen, however, might have had different motives. The might of the U.S., though we show restraint, probably causes much of the world fear. For this reason, the WMD justification slightly bothers me, though I confess I rest easier knowing a threat has been removed.
I'm now going to stop and do a random bible pick:
Tobit 8:5- Blessed are you, O God of our fathers; praised be your name forever and ever. Let the heavens and all your creation praise you forever. 6 You made Adam and you gave him his wife Eve to be his help and support; and from these two the human race descended. You said, 'It is not good for the man to be alone; let us make him a partner like himself.' 7 Now, Lord, you know that I take this wife of mine not because of lust, but for a noble purpose. Call down your mercy on me and on her, and allow us to live together to a happy old age. 8 They said together, "Amen, amen,"
Divine Justice Theorem 2
A second major principle I suspect applies to the universe is some connection between the amount of pleasure and pain we experience. I suspect emotional highs and lows; and pleasures and pains somewhat balance-out. Christ's statement of the beatitudes suggests this as well as St. Paul's comment on rejoicing when you are afflicted. I happen to be a smoker and I have a nagging sense the pleasures I get from smoking are going to lead to pain down the road. I view this as a choice, however, which people should be allowed to make. I've been diagnosed as bipolar, though I wouldn't say mania and depression are my poles, but rather mania and anxiety/terror. I alternate between humility and pride, too. There are countless examples of unpleasantness balanced by pleasantness in the world. School can be unpleasant, but it often leads to a more pleasant job. In the military, you start following orders and often get to give them. Some, like Jehova Whitnesses and Mormons, lead disciplined lives attempting to minimize highs and lows. I tend to take the roller-coaster approach, perhaps, like St. Paul.
I heard a story about someone with an inherited painful condition that seemed to contradict my theory. Perhaps, pleasure or pain balances can be passed-on to children. The choice of marriage partners influences children and by working hard (painful) to have a good mate, one can improve the lot of children. The odds of having a more desirable mate are influenced by diet, exercise, schooling, work, courtship and many other factors. Wealth influences pleasure/pain and various forms of wealth can be inherited, representing forgone pleasures. Immigrants to the U.S. often struggle to give their children a better life.
As you can tell from my website name and title, I'm intrigued by language. I think the tongues phenomena can be explained in terms of same sounding words, but I suspect people might take different meanings. There are countless words and phrases that sound similar across languages. "Mercy" in English sounds like "Thanks" in French. I don't know other languages, but I find ways to produce double meanings in English and it's similar.
Names given to children intrigue me because people grow-up with them and they are affected by the feelings others have toward various names arising from famous people and other people they know with those names. I've pondered whether by naming someone, you inject the spirit of the name into them.
The main aspect of the natural world that intrigues me is evolution. I think evolution gets a bad name because most times it's presented in the rather unChristian "survival of the fittest" mentality. I've noticed the fastest goldfish over-eat and die when too much food is present. I think a diversity-preserving mechanism is in place to prevent gene pools from getting too uniform, too quickly. This sometimes might lead to fit individuals suffering attritian. You only need to look to abortion and birth control to see examples of fit individuals not reproducing. I actually think evolution favors individuals who do not sin by being selfishness or whatever. However, the New Testament clearly states that reproduction is not manditory.
The biblical creation story has merit with it's "original sin" idea because sin can be cyclic. When one gets sinned against and suffers being sinned against as a result, there is often a new sinner who needs punishing. This creates cycles.
I'm intrigued by the fact that baby boomers will have to work longer into retirement because they were too selfish to raise kids. I think this is classic divine justice at work.
It's not entirely erroneous to judge people by outward appearance, if for no other reason that they grew-up with it. I'm intrigued by the innocent appearance of children and ponder if appearance indicates anything about sinfulness. With discipline you can influence your appearance and, to some degree by working hard, finding an attractive mate. Then, you can pass-on good looks to children. I read a bible passage about the "glory" of Moses' appearance and that he wore a veil as his glory faded.
All of evolution, including the animal world, might be governed by divine justice. I'm intrigued by the fact that most baby animals look cute, or at least mammals do. Perhaps, perceptions of cuteness are uniform across the animal kingdom and influence the rate at which animals die before maturity. I think most scientists can't see the forest for the trees when it comes to evolutionary theory and miss many dynamics.
Many species have historic patterns of interaction such as preditors and prey that lead to coevolution. The pressure of one evolving pressures the other to evolve.
Slavery has existed, but this is not necessarily a mark of shame as even the Jews were slaves once. Harsh masters might have killed slaves who were not humble, perhaps improving character of enslaved peoples. God is a big fan of humility, so the experience might produce good results and earn good karma for descendence.
Even today, some peoples end-up in menial jobs. One possible way to avoid ending-up on the bottom rung is probably by being careful not to demean others. Examples of activities which might lead to bad karma are trashing public restrooms, taking advantage of stores or taking advantage of goods made by underpaid foreigners. Somewhere I heard that by the measure you measure-out to others, it will be measured-out to you. So, don't be afraid to show a little love to stores, now and then. Tithing and giving to charity are good ways to generate good karma.
I suspect your odds of getting robbed increase if you steal through dishonesty or directly from others. As a kid, I pirated lots of software. As an adult, I made a shareware program (www.simstructure.hare.com) and only one person paid me... I guess I deserved it. An obvious tip I can give to young musician wanna-bes is to pay for the music you listen to.
I suspect God rewards companies and politicians who are more focused on cooperation over competition. Stores in the same strip mall could offer cross-store promotions and might engage in cross-store employee swapping to balance loads during peak hours. Politicians might benefit by promoting same party candidates instead of attacking the other party. When all participants view competition as a game, as opposed to something more serious, it's probably right to compete as hard as you can, because winning in a game is not much fun when some weren't trying.