Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Be Like the Wise Men and Bring Gifts to All in Need--Through Mennonite Central Committee or World Vision

Follow in the long journey of the Wise men and bring gifts to those in need...
a goat, a fishing kit, clean water.

And bring deliverance from
disease, poverty, human rights violations,
exploitation, the ravages of current conflicts...

Through the peace-spreading of Mennonite Central Committee
and the poverty-ending of World Vision, or some other reliable,
world-changing nonprofit,
give hope.

Yes, be a human 'profit' for good change in the world today.

Do how Eashoa, the Chosen, said to act in his parable of the Good Samaritan.

Herald the Good News for all to all from the God of All Comfort.

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Worst of Years and ONE again

The Worst of Years

Too long ago, back when we were hopeful teenagers, aspiring adolescents with the great world and the beckoning future before us all, and longed-for love in our hearts, a song came on the radio, one of impassioned reminisce, of missed regret, of measured pleasure, even past hope.

The popular tune wasn’t my style and the theme wasn’t Christ-like, but its haunting melody and a few lines did stick with many of us.

“When I was seventeen
It was a very good year
It was a very good year for small town girls…”*

Yes, I remember a few of my first dates, and a rural Nebraska girl:-).
Anyway the song’s chorus then says, “It was a very good year”
and the final lines end with “But now the days grow short in the autumn of the year…”

Not much like my life at all—not in its worldview, ethics, or ending.

But all in reverse…

This last year has been “It was a very sadistic year…” or “It was a very worst of years.”
Sometimes for most humans a year hurricanes in like that—a real lethal tsunami/tornado
or other natural disaster, a devastating death or grievous disease, a broken relationship,
lost communion, a descent into hades, tragic times where one reaches so low,
plummets to such an abyss, that an individual wishes he had never been born.*

George Fox experienced such a deep despair at one point of time in his life—called it the “ocean of darkness.”


We all (at least most of us, except the relentlessly ‘sunshine’ few) eventually face what Ecclesiastes says,
“…before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, “I have no pleasure in them”; 2 before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars are darkened and the clouds return after the rain,3 in the day when the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men are bent, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those who look through the windows are dimmed,

4 and the doors on the street are shut—when the sound of the grinding is low, and one rises up at the sound of a bird, and all the daughters of song are brought low— 5 they are afraid also of what is high, and terrors are in the way; the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper drags itself along, and desire fails, because man
is going to his eternal home,

and the mourners go about the streets— 6 before the silver cord is snapped, or the golden bowl is broken, or the pitcher is shattered at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern, 7 and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.

8 ‘Meaningless! Meaningless!’ says the Teacher. ‘Everything is meaningless!’"
Ecclesiastes 12

Not the most hopeful meditation is this during the Christmas season, is it?

No Yuletide cheer, that’s for sure.

But then the original Christmas was no summer picnic: A king slaughtering innocent infants, a baby being born
in an animal trough, living in an occupied country under ruthless soldiers, living below the poverty line…

Before we can consider any Good News, we do need to face the darkness of the ocean of existence.

Any thoughts on all that is wrong, tragic, senseless, meaningless, and damnable about this life?

--
Now that life’s been stated in all of its negativity, here is a poem on Jesus’ birth,
the hope in which many of us live to counter the overwhelming ocean of darkness:


One


So awe fulled the birthing
of God's presence, new cauled
in humble manger's destiny,

The base and apex of
a starred cave's presents
of all future festivals

Yet abandoned, forsaken to
the crowned world's nails,
every man's cursedness;

Farthest reach of faith
this Apocalypso dancer
crosses the Cosmos,

Morning us night-less;
he compassions Earth
ever peopling Heaven,

Emptying the pitiless bottom
zeroing Apollyon
into ever's Now

Beloved one, Isa, Eashoa, Jesus
child of the masses
point man for us all.


First published in The Green Silk Journal,
also in the book collections Psalms, Yawps, and Howls,
and selah river
--

*The American novelist John Steinbeck wrote he wished during all of his life that he “had never been born”!
Yes, really, he speaks of this in one of his writing notebooks.

When I first read his statement, at the age of about 47, I was flabbergasted. It’s true, by that time I had had some very bad tragic years, but I never ever wished I hadn’t ever been born. Later as I aged and went through the loss of all hope, I did at times “wish I had never been born.”
Very devastating hopeless outlook.

Thank God, for the hopefulness of some thinkers such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Howard Zinn.

*"It Was a Very Good Year" lyrics by songwriter Ervin Drake


In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Let Us 'Wrestle' with Scripture: Psalms 3:7-8 versus Matthew 5:38-39, 43-48


Psalm 3 sounds like a shocking contradiction to Jesus' ethical guidance in the Sermon on the Mount, or rather vice versa. Jesus seems to contradict the psalmist's call for violent revenge.

In verse 7, the psalmist calls God to attack his enemies: “Arise, O Yahweh, Save me, O my God! For you strike all my enemies on the cheek: You break the teeth of the ungodly.”

In drastic contrast in Matthew 5: 38-39, Jesus says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye in exchange for an eye, and a tooth in exchange for a tooth.’
“But I am saying to you, you shall not rise up against an evil person, but whoever strikes you on your right cheek, turn to him also the other."

And then Jesus says we are to "turn the other cheek...love our enemies" because that is how God loves, loving even the unjust! Jesus says that in so doing, we are to become perfect like 'our Father in Heaven!'

43 "You have heard that it was said, ‘Show kindness to your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies and bless the one who curses you, and do what is beautiful to the one who hates you, and pray over those who take you by force and persecute you. 45 So that you will become the children of your Father who is in Heaven, for his sun rises on the good and upon the evil and his rain descends on the just and on the unjust.

46 For if you love those who love you, what benefit is it to you? Behold, do not even the Tax Collectors the same thing? 47 And if you pray for the peace of your brethren only, what excellent thing are you doing? Behold, are not even the Tax Collectors doing the same thing? 48 Be therefore perfect, just as your Father who is in Heaven is perfect.”

What thinkest thou?

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Albion's Seed, an Historical Analysis of the Ways of Quakers, Cavaliers, and Puritans in the New World

Interested how early Friends (such as William Penn) lived out their spiritual, social, and cultural lives in the American colonies?

How the Quakers' lived-out faith differed drastically from other British immigrants--the Cavaliers and Puritans?

Then read Hackett's profound study, a very detailed analysis of daily life based in 4 contrary worldviews which immigrated to the colonies and brought drastic changes that we affect us today.


Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America by David Hackett Fischer
Published by Oxford University Press, New York, Oxford

David Hackett Fischer is currently University Professor and Earl Warren Professor of History at Brandeis University. He received a B.A. from Princeton University in 1958 and a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University in 1962.

Here is a book of the kind that comes once or twice in a generation, one that is a decisive, seminal work of historical scholarship! Besides breaking new ground in interpretation, Fischer has a prose style and “voice” that is intriguing, inviting, fascinating, and positive even when dealing with the negatives of history.

Never boring, (though a few of the sociological charts made my study eyes glaze over--glad I didn't have to assemble all those minute historical details on which Hackett based his historical conclusions:-)

Did I say this book is amazing?

There are so many new views and facts of American and British history, contrary interpretations of the Christian religion, and how all of those factors play out and shape culture and society, and how these influences carry over for generations, indeed for centuries up to and including our present day.

Read and gain new insight.

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

3 Sons Fight--Muslim, Jew, and Christian

Three Sons Fight

Disking the rock strewn
Objected earth near Bet Shean,
Underneath the Middle Eastern sky
Rows of mean earth riven by the blades,
We cut away our anger, hate, and pride,
Stopping to drink, not from the liquor
Of fanatic corruption but from
The precious water welling up,
Our oasis of Jacob'd sharing,
In this Hanukkah season
Of Christ's mass after
Ramadan.

Allah

We three sons of Abraham,
Muslim, Jew, and Christian,
Fight the true battle
Not each other but
To be found worthy
In compassion
Giving,
And purity--
The true
Submission
To God
Over
All.

Selah



First published in
Rubber Lemon,
Knot Middle Eastern Magazine,
and the book collection
selah river

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Thursday, December 5, 2013

4-Letter Praise

4-Letter Praise

While the high tech media, low-minded men
Cuss you out
In 4-letters,
Let us sing to you God of All Becoming
Personal
Beyond all temporary selfishness
Exalted
Higher above than the highest high
Lowliest
Born a despised infant in a barn trough
Rejected
A reviled criminal executed and buried
Abandoned
So many tragic events and centuries past
Everlasting
One now present in all beings and things
Indwelling
Finite, erring beings so ever inadequate yet
Ultimate
But not scientifically evident
Incomprehensible
Incarnated in men’s spiritual acts
Compassionate
Giving, peaceful, patient, joyous
True
4-letter
Word--
Love



In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox


First published in The Mindful Word,
and in the 3rd book collection
of published poetry selah river

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Part #5: Or Maybe Not...maybe there is no moral arc

Maybe nontheistic scientists and cosmologists are correct: There is no real moral arc, (like Martin Luther King Jr. and other
visionaries think),
but only a cosmic block of amber--lock, stock and barrel--one meaningless, purposeless cosmic time/space/matter/energy existence because of the Big Bang, and an eventual explosive blast of cosmic death...the Big Rip after us (or possibly the Big Return).


That's the end, not Life.

There's an important aphoristic saying" "Begin with the end in mind," when you make important decisions.

What is this end speculated by many brilliant thinkers?

"Most of us are aware of our own mortality, but few among us know what science, with insights yielded from groundbreaking new research, has to say about endings on a larger scale. Enter astronomer Chris Impey, who chronicles the death of the whole shebang: individual, species, bio- sphere, Earth, Sun, Milky Way, and, finally, the entire universe."

"With a healthy dose of humor, How It Ends illuminates everything from the technologies of human life extension and the evolutionary arms race between microbes and men to the inescapable dimming of the Sun and the ultimate “big rip,” giving us a rare glimpse into a universe without us."
How It Ends by Chris Impey, Amazon Website



Allegedly over 80% of modern philosophers think God--ultimate reality, the transcendent--is imaginary delusion,
and nearly ½ of all scientists are Atheists!

According to all of these brilliant thinkers, our goose is cooked—and it’s us. There are no golden eggs, never were.

The cosmos including us conscious, ethical humans won’t last forever.

No good news exists. Jesus and other moral leaders proclaimed no eternal truths; indeed according to some scholars, Jesus never existed.
The New Testament is a fake fictional adaption of Greek myths.

In fact, there are no moral truths, no human rights, no equality, no justice...All of those ideals are illusions, are only "subjective preferences," "relative," and came about via natural selection, probably "spandrels" (the term used by the evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould). Or they are "misfirings" of evolution (Richard Dawkins).

We won’t survive our own finite deaths, won’t become One with God, won’t experience everlasting bliss, won’t be transformed by the Divine into creative communion. Christian thinkers are deluded including the French Christian philosopher and paleontologist, Tellihard de Chardin who said that there was a glorious future
for the universe and humanity, a blessed hope, the Omega Point.

No, say the secular experts, theistic scientists such as Simon Conway Morris, George Mendel, and Theodosius Dobzhansky are dead wrong. Tellihard’s views were distorted by his Christian delusions.

Instead, everything is headed for a great Negation. Allegedly, first, the Milky Way Galaxy will crash out in 4 billion years. Our cosmic backyard will cease to exist because it will collide with the Andromeda Galaxy. In the sardonic phrase of the Terminator II: Judgment Day:
“Hasta la vista, baby!”


These 2 galaxies, right now as I write, are flashing toward each other at 250,000 miles per hour. But according to the cosmologists, this vast collision probably won’t cause the destruction of Terra, our planet Earth.

Terrific;-), no terror, for Terra.

Or maybe not...

The same scientists are fairly sure that by then Terra “will become too hot to be inhabited by humans” anyway.
(from CNN Light Years/Sari Zeidler)

Eventually our sun will become a red giant and our dead planet will be caught and pulled into the inferno.

"The drag caused by this low-density gas is enough to cause the Earth to drift inwards, and finally to be captured and vaporized by the sun."
(Scientist Robert Smith, University of Sussex)

This won’t happen for about 7.6 billion years, so don’t worry yet. Of course, our own death will come 6.6 billion years sooner than that because the expanding sun will already have fried the Earth to a cinder.

This depressing end-scenario brings out the corny in me. I just thought of another famous phrase which captures this dismal end: "Return to ‘sender’
address unknown..."

And there’s more about the abysmal end, about how the universe will keep expanding until everything becomes distantly dead and lightless, but we won’t be there to observe and wail.

So Sheol, (Hebrew: the pit, grave), is the ultimate end,
NOT
Heaven, not the Realm of God, not Cosmic Communion, not the Omega Point.

Welcome to the funeral wake, our eternal death.

OR MAYBE NOT...

Maybe the words of theistic scientists such Kevin Miller, Simon Conway Morris and Theodosius Dobzhansky and ethical visionaries get the last word. At least they do for those who choose to listen to statements
like this from Martin Luther King Jr.:
"I refuse to accept despair as the final response to the ambiguities of history. I refuse to accept the idea that the 'isness' of man's present nature makes him morally incapable of reaching up for the eternal 'oughtness' that forever confronts him."

"But I am here to say to you this morning that some things are right and some things are wrong. Eternally so, absolutely so. It's wrong to hate, Its always been wrong and it always will be wrong."
"Rediscovering Lost Values," Martin Luther King Jr., February 1954


So choose and choose wisely.

Even if we’re wrong, even if the God we trust doesn’t exist, never has, never will...

Even if there is No Meaning and No Purpose, none at all.

Even if the Atheist biologists Richard Dawkins and Francis Crick and the determinists Jerry Coyne and Sam Harris are factually correct...

I plan to live differently.

What do I have to lose living ethically in absurd meaningless matter and energy?

Nothing:-) as Albert Camus so well explained.

If the universe is absurd, I still plan to live my life with creative ethical purpose.
(If 'I' am an "illusion" as they claim, I won't ever know that.)

Through trust in reason and creativity and ethics, I choose to live as this brief life should be lived, to live as the universe OUGHT to be. What is real for humans is NOW! This present moment.

To live a life of compassion, honesty, fidelity, and goodness.

Yes, choose “ought” and trust, not despair or ultimate pessimism.

REJECT the hopelessness of Bertrand Russell" "Such, in outline, but even more purposeless, more void of meaning, is the world which Science presents for our belief. Amid such a world, if anywhere, our ideals henceforward must find a home. That Man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms;

that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the grave; that all the labours of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of Man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins
--all these things, if not quite beyond dispute,
are yet so nearly certain,
that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand."

"Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair,
can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built."
The Free Man's Worship, Bertrand Russell, 1903

CHOOSE INSTEAD:
“To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness...And if we do act, in however small a way, we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.”
Howard Zinn

Amen to that…

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Part #4: Saved to Slay? "The Immoral Arc of the Religious Universe"

No, this article isn’t going to end with one of those Christian appeals
where all will be solved if only everyone gets saved
or claims the mythical Rapture will happen in this generation
and solve all problems.

Every historian knows that often “getting saved” is the first awful step to evil, to later committing mass slaying and lying and stealing as the religious wars of the last 500 years horridly show. Consider what the other Martin Luther, the Protestant reformer, said after he “got saved”:

“When it is a case of only upholding some spiritual tenet, such as infant baptism…the stubborn sectaries must be put to death."
“Why do we not rather assault them with arms and wash our hands in their blood?"
Martin Luther, On the Pope as an Infallible Teacher, 25 June 1520


“Therefore let everyone who can, smite, slay, and stab, secretly or openly..”

And for Jewish people: “set fire to their synagogues or schools and to bury and cover with dirt whatever will not burn, so that no man will ever again see a stone or cinder of them. This is to be done in honor of our Lord and of Christendom, so that God might see that we are Christians…”

“I advise that their houses also be razed and destroyed.”
Martin Luther, On the Jews and Their Lies (1543)

And there are countless other examples from Cromwell, Calvin, Augustine, the Puritans, the Popes, etc.

Where is the moral arc of hope if not in Christianity, not in religion since those so often cause evil and despair?

We must be realistically pessimistic. Our own troubled lives are so finite, so brief, so very short. Like Scripture says, we are a “vapor,” then gone.

While God “has been our dwelling place in all generations,” we have to admit we don’t usually see the Good triumph NOW, and won’t in our whole lifetime, or the many future lifetimes of our great-grand kids and descendants after them, on into a thousand years, or a million.

Seldom, even when we do our very best and pray our hardest and finally cry out with Jesus to God,“My God, my God, why have you forsaken us?”

And the very worst fact is that Christians like the religious leaders of Jesus’ day are, too often, the very ones doing evil in the name of God.

As explained earlier in the article, Christians have imprisoned and killed many millions of humans.

Thousands of nonviolent Brethren and Quakers were persecuted and killed in the 1500 and 1600’s. Those followers of Jesus died young and largely forgotten by everyone. They never saw “the arc of the moral universe…bend toward justice.”

How many people have heard of the witness Michael Sattler? The Christian leaders of Austria wrote, “Michael Sattler shall be committed to the executioner. The latter shall take him to the square and there first cut out his tongue, and then forge him fast to a wagon and there with glowing iron tongs twice tear pieces from his body, then on the way to the site of execution five times more as above and then burn his body to powder as an arch-heretic."

Hutterite Large Chronicle, quoted in William Roscoe Estep, The Anabaptist Story 3rd ed., Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 19960, p. 57.

Or Mary Dyer, the Quaker evangelist, who was hanged in Boston by the Christian authorities?

“Yes, ‘the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.’


There is something in the universe which justifies William Cullen Bryant in saying, ‘Truth crushed to earth will rise again.’”
Martin Luther King, Jr. in The Gospel Messenger

Then he got murdered, shot down in a motel while he was seeking to bring justice to humans seeking better working conditions.

So, you see, there is no real slick answer, no easy fix-it, no doctrinal foundation that doesn’t shake when it comes to confronting evil and asking why God doesn’t act soon!

Rather, we have the never-ending job of Job—to wrestle with the God we seek, asking why He doesn’t act and why his followers so often are numbered among those who cause evil, rather than oppose it.

But we don’t lose hope, because we do have this impossible ultimate, future hope like Mary Dyer and Michael Sattler and Martin Luther King Jr. and Tom Fox and so many others, a great cloud of witnesses for truth, so many who refused to accept wrong, who were determined to bring in goodness, who trusted, against all doubt, that God is, despite all the evidence against that incredible hope.

No matter how many future centuries or many millenniums pass, no matter how much evil in all its forms—the petty and the ghastly—continues to destroy…

Good will keep rising,

evil
falling
and failing
until it will, eventually and completely, be defeated.

And then God’s eternal communion will come.

Peace will replace conflict.

Justice, truth, love and mercy will fill the Earth.

Let it become.

Choose to act for justice and mercy, love and kindness, truth and joy-- today, now, this very moment.

No matter how LONG it takes.

Yes, God, lover of all.

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Part #3: You Have Been Our Dwelling Place in All Generations—Long Moral Arc

We left off last week admitting…

What a great demonic ocean of darkness still holds sway in the world, in existence.

Where, indeed, is God in a world traumatized by natural disaster and disease and destruction? Where is Jesus’ delivering “moral arc” when millions of humans wreak havoc, harm, and slaughter?

Sure, sometimes in the midst of the suffering and the shame, a rainbow of justice, mercy, and truth does spangle the moral sky.

When Martin Luther King Jr. took up Theodore Parker’s statement for one of his anti-segregation articles in 1958 and later heralded out the prophecy in one of his famous speeches,
all heaven did begin to break loose in U.S.


And America has never been the same.

People, millions of individuals, were changed. Justice and mercy kissed, however briefly.

Yes, King’s witness for God’s love in Jesus, the Chosen, did help transform so much of how we thought and how we acted in the 1950s and 60s.

Except, of course,Wrong has lashed back since. While there is less overt racism now—thank Divine Love and human freedom and the great leaders of the Civil Rights Movement—YET so much other havoc and hell now
wrecks destruction upon many millions.

Almost 50 years after King’s ethical speeches, the condition, overall, of African-Americans is worse today. For instance, in 2013, 72% of African-American infants are born to single unwed mothers!

Where are the husbands? Where are the fathers?

WHERE?

As bad as life was back in 1965, only 24% of African-American babies were born outside of a marriage covenant then.
WHY the drastic change downward?

Currently, young African American men are nearly 6 times as likely to die from homicide as Caucasian young men. Why?
Since the start of the Afghan War, 2000 Americans have died in Afghanistan, but over 5,000 have died in Chicago!

Can’t we get a heart? Can’t God hear our cry? Doesn’t God weep?

How has Martin Luther King’s great moral dream turned into a frightful nightmare?

Even becoming religious or spiritual doesn’t necessarily seem to help. On the contrary, sometimes being a Christian appears to make matters worse. Consider that the Barna Research Group found “born-again Christians divorce more often than non-Christians,” and that Atheists have “the lowest divorce rate.”

So do we need to abandon faith to increase the moral arc?!

Let’s not even look at all the other worse destruction in the world and around the rest of the globe, especially not in the abysses of the East or Africa.

Indeed, why does the rough beast always slouch through humankind endlessly?

For the last 50,000 years at least, humans have been faced with ethical choice—with the spiritual battle between good and evil.

At this point, most readers will probably now expect this long article (in 4 parts) to give a quick spiritual and biblical fix to all this endless horror of many thousands of years. That’s how religious reflections usually end—with a sure confident answer to why God hasn’t brought the Good News to triumph, why the words of Revelation at the end of Scripture haven’t come to pass, why so often faith drastically fails, actually destroys, and utterly so.

Check out these words from the last chapter of the Bible: “These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord...

That was 2,000 years ago! Many horrendous bloodletting centuries ago. Billions of humans have suffered and died.

Too long.

Have You been our dwelling place in all generations?


To be continued

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Part #2: Not Soon...Why So Long?

Almost 2,000 years have passed since Jesus, the Son of Man, said, “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:48

What a wonderful ethical command, (though so seemingly impossible to live).


But since Jesus told us to become perfect, tragically, the opposite has happened! Down through history, many Christian leaders have so perverted and twisted what Jesus said and how he lived.

They act contrary to Jesus' words of compassion, mercy, and peacemaking, often even claim God calls them to slaughter, enslave, persecute, torture, lie and steal!

From the Crusades, through the wars of religion of the 16th century, to the “Christian” 30 Years War, and downward to this present day, Christians continue to go forth to war in Jesus' name.

In response to many Muslims claiming Allah is on their side, many American soldiers are claiming the Christian God is on our side; some Americans even use weapons engraved with Bible verses to kill Muslims in Afghanistan.

Is this praying or preying?!

Where is this so-called arc of the moral universe?! Where is the realm of God that Jesus promised?

Even if we manage to close out the human world’s dark night of destructive action, there’s always the suffering of natural evil everywhere and endless through the centuries--famine, natural disaster, and disease.

Thousands of little children die daily right now for want of nourishment and vaccination. These innocent children could easily be saved with only a tiny portion of the billion-dollar'd weapons budget of the United States alone!

Where is the arc of the moral universe?

But notice the quote again--the famous statement emphasizes that “the arc of the moral universe is LONG…”

Evil hasn't been defeated quickly. Its horrendous dominance has lasted for many thousands of years.

The great quote comes originally from a speech by the Christian leader Theodore Parker in the mid 19th century:

“I do not pretend to understand the moral universe, the arc is a long one, my eye reaches but little ways. I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by the experience of sight; I can divine it by conscience.”
Theodore Parker, 1853, “Of Justice and the Conscience”

Parker wrote this during the tragic time leading up to the horrific slaughter of the American War Between the States, where nearly a million humans died, and millions more suffered for a generation!

The arc of the moral universe is very LONG…

Tragically, the situation of most people, especially Negroes, was often worse after the American war than before!*
Think about that.

True, “legal slavery,” had ended, but the actual living conditions for most Negroes after the war grew worse during Reconstruction and on into the new century. Discrimination, oppression, persecution, even lynchings occurred regularly.

Don't forget so-called "sundown towns."

On the outskirts of Hawthorne, California in 1930s stood a sign:
"Nigger, Don't Let The Sun Set On YOU In Hawthorne.”

There were hundreds of such racist towns throughout the United States, both north and south.

And this only speaks of the evil of racial prejudice.
Think of all the other evils including the slaughter of over 10 million humans in the Great War, then over 50 million in World War 2, and the Holocaust.

What a great demonic ocean of darkness…

Where is God? Where is the Chosen One?

Where is this improving “moral arc”?


To Be Continued

Daniel Wilcox

Monday, October 28, 2013

"The Arc of the Moral Universe is LONG...."


Is there an arc to the moral universe like spiritual leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr. have stated*?

Growing up in the 1950’s and the early 1960’s, it seemed—
at least for us in a tiny Nebraska village—
that great hope lay in the future,
that we would all grow up to make
a strong moral and spiritual difference in the world.


Like our Sunday School teacher said and all the sermons we heard proclaimed,
God would use us to right the wrong in the world,
would guide us to give out the Good News
and see the lost saved,
the hungry fed,
and the destitute clothed.

We followers of Jesus would be a beacon
of light to the nations.

Unlike most of those religious delinquents and hypocrites of the past...

Of course, we “knew” also that evil was going to increase and wouldn’t be completely
defeated until Christ came again, but we held these 2 opposite truths in tension
(both that the future would get better and that it would get worse), believing both fervently.

Perhaps, we were more idealistic than your average kids. But since we were convinced of the infinite love of God in Jesus, we had great hope.

For instance, in my own family, nightly, my Baptist-pastor father and energetic mother, younger sister and I saw Blacks and Whites on our black and white TV, repeatedly marching nonviolently for integration in the segregated South and--despite millions opposing them--those idealist Blacks won!


God through his followers was moving against racism, against evil, against oppression.
We watched these brave witnesses—we were so starry-eyed--
bring very strong change, real moral development
for the good and the right,
the true and the brave!

We saw freedom win and justice move forward.

True, evil still rampaged--there were the horrific murders of 4 young girls in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing. And then just 2 months later, President Kennedy was assassinated.

And the next summer, racists murdered 3 civil rights workers in Philadelphia, Mississippi
(Isn’t that town's name—“brotherly love”--a gross misnomer?)

But even these very evil actions helped lead to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. And, eventually, even an African-American was elected mayor of Philadelphia, Mississippi!

But then quickly after the dramatic changes for good through the Civil Right Movement,
injustice and destruction, suddenly got worse, much worse...

Many Blacks turned from non-violence to gun play, intimidation, and riots.
Stokely Carmichael leader of SNCC (the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee)
changed to violent rhetoric and made inflamatory statements such as,
"I have never admired a white man,
but the greatest of them, to my mind, was Hitler."

And he admired ruthless revolutionaries including Che Guevara. Of the latter,
Carmichael said in 1967,
"The death of Che Guevara places a responsibility on all revolutionaries
of the World to redouble their decision to fight on to the final defeat
of Imperialism.
That is why in essence Che Guevara is not dead, his ideas are with us."

Then he was recognized as the Honorary Prime Minister of the violent Black Panthers.

And around the world wars roared forth in destruction including Arabs against Jews in
the Middle East.

And other evils never slowed, but worsened.

The increasing slaughter of Vietnam burst onto the TV screen with nightly body counts;
at least 2 million Vietnamese were killed and 58,000 Americans.

Then leaders Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy were assassinated,
and Nixon and other government leaders were caught in criminal actions;
Nixon was impeached,
and the social activist movement turned violent and deadly.

The Students for a Democratic Society
(of which I was an early member at the University of Nebraska),
changed into a negative revolutionary movement, some of its members
even advocating attacks and bombings!


After Roe versus Wade, over 56 million pre-born infants were legally murdered.

Let's not even try and enumerate all the other ethical horrors taking place
around the whole world, the one which John 3:16 claims God loves.

Is there really hope for the future?

Is there really an "arc to the moral universe" like spiritual leaders have stated?

Does God truly care?

“Evil may so shape events that Caesar will occupy a palace and Christ a cross,
but that same Christ arose and split history into A.D. and B.C., so that even
the life of Caesar must be dated by his name. Yes,
‘the arc of the moral universe is long,
but it bends toward justice.’


There is something in the universe which justifies William Cullen Bryant in saying,
‘Truth crushed to earth will rise again.’”

Martin Luther King, Jr.
in The Gospel Messenger, 1958

TO BE CONTINUED




In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

How Many of Us in the West Are Robbing the Poor?

The Quaker William Penn wrote a striking line on social justice that reaches to the very depths of our conscience, does it not?

"If thou art clean and warm, it is sufficient, for more doth rob the poor."

William Penn, from Some Fruits of Solitude

Think of how many of our luxuries and our weapons and our expenses in the United States could totally eradicate all poverty.

Several years ago, one leader emphasized that only a small portion of what U.S. citizens spend on non-basic items could eliminate all the hunger in the world!

And consider that the many billions spent on weapons
could easily eradicate disease,
and hunger,
and inequality
in the
WHOLE
world.


In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Divine Right of Human Rights*

Human Rights? What are they?

Though Thomas Jefferson, (revolutionary, legislator, liberator, enslaver), lived a hypocritical, contradictory life, his clarion words still ring out and illuminate the nature of human rights.

“…All men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Those rights were the essence of the Enlightenment.


If human rights are truly grounded in the very Nature of Being and Becoming, in the Eternal Essence of Existence, then they are rights which can’t be taken away, except wrongly by force, deception, and intolerance.

Rights are the truism of objective ethics. Yes, humans rights are grounded in Right in the absolute sense. Where ever there are conscious, rational, ethical living species anywhere in the universe, rights will exist.

Listen to Martin Luther King Jr. on this topic: “The first is this—the first principle of value that we need to rediscover is this: that all reality hinges on moral foundations. In other words, that this is a moral universe, and that there are moral laws of the universe just as abiding as the physical laws…some things are right and some things are wrong.
(Yes)
Eternally so, absolutely so...Some things are right and some things are wrong, no matter if everybody is doing the contrary. Some things in this universe are absolute.”

But because of many factors, some leaders now, instead, try and base human rights on only finite sources. Shaky at best.

Grounding “human rights’ in anything finite whether evolutionary change, certain forms of government, various books, even good united statements such as the UN Declaration of Human Rights is wrong. That’s right. While all of these finite sources are understandable, they are all fraught with problems because they form very insecure foundations.

What human authority can give, it can take away. As it often does.

There’s always a “reason” to deny someone his or her rights. And according to millions of people, it’s always “we” who have the good reasons, and “them” who have the bad reasons.

As far back as Abraham Lincoln (with his denial of legal rights, etc. to pro- Southern legislators and citizens) and even further to John Adams (with the Alien and Sedition Acts), the U.S. government has, repeatedly, managed to justify the denial of human rights.

Indeed, try and think of any U.S. president who didn’t take away rights from citizens illegally and unfairly. I doubt one can find one!

Then think of how this denial of human rights has gone on through the centuries in all other countries as well, often to a very destructive degree. So unwell, so morally sick.

Hell (intentional double entendre), even grounding human rights in the Divine, doesn’t safeguard humans. Just look at some religious human rights defenders who often deny rights to “others.”

But at least starting with “human rights” as an irrevocable fact/ought/truth based in the very essential nature of ultimate reality is a start.

In the Light of Human Rights,

Daniel Wilcox

*Blog Action Day: “Every year since 2007, thousands of bloggers come together for one day to talk about one important issue.”

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Friends and Lovers: Part 2

What is our relationship to God ‘s Word, Jesus the Mashiach (“Anointed--Chosen”), who came to all of us with the Good News of God for every single human who will ever live and who has ever lived (john 3:16)?

Certainly not the horrific news we’ve heard declared by modern Evangelical leaders, tragic descriptions that leave most of humankind with NO hope:-(

To counter these false claims, let’s continue our look at comparisons and terms from Scripture, especially from Jesus himself (“Eashoa” in Aramaic).

In the first part of this reflection, I pointed out why the use of the “slave” analogy from Scripture grossly mis-communicates to most of us because “slave” is such a degrading, inherently evil term (though we glanced at why Peter used it in a hyperbolic sense).

In many ways the ideal word for us followers of Jesus
is the literal term he chose--
“friends.”

Let’s listen to his own words again: 12“This is my commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. 13 “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.” John 15: 14-15 NASB

“Friend” synonyms: companion, soul mate, intimate, confidant…

Think of the wonder of that—God, the Creator of the whole cosmos, desires to live in communion with all humans through an intimate friendship with Eashsoa! Yes, as incredible as it sounds, God’s ultimate will and desire is to be our friends! Even though we are sinners, brief finite beings, ones who often fail and act contrary to what is good, just, and loving, God still loves us with an infinite love.

Consider this other passage from Jesus: “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. John 14:23 ESV

And many of us do seek to keep his word, to live Christ-like lives. I’ve sought to be a friend of Jesus for almost 60 years.

But the glorious wonder of this—-is that God through his Word first loved all of us! Jesus, the Word of God, loves us, everyone of us, each one of us!

The words spoken by Jesus, the truths in the Good News Book of John, still astound and mystify. The incredible truth is beyond comprehension. Joy unspeakable!
__

However, other terms in the NT keep crowding in on this key understanding. Often very odd metaphors and strange allegories and mysterious spiritual explanations!

“…since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to the Chosen One.” II Corinthians 11:2b

The Apostle Paul is comparing us followers to a bride! I don’t know of any men who have ever thought of themselves as a “bride.”! Yet here is the biblical analogy of us men (and women) followers of the Messiah, as a group, being compared to a bride who is going to marry Chosen One!

But think on this; maybe the analogy isn’t as strange as it first sounds. Don’t you men consider your wife as your best friend? Aren't the words of most wedding ceremonies one of cherishing, communing, loving? Then the analogy works—if we are friends of the Chosen One, then in an ultimate sense—probably playing on an allusion to the Song of Songs in the Hebrew Bible as well as references in the HB prophets—we are his “virgin bride.”

God chooses Christ, and in him, we become the chosen.

The prophet Isaiah says, “Your maker is your husband.” (Isaiah 54:5) And “As the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.” (Isaiah 62:5)

Jesus, referring to himself as the Anointed One by God his father, says of his followers in Matthew 9:15, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.”

The Son of Man, a Hebraic idiom meaning both “an ordinary human” as well as the prophetic “Son of Man,” from the book of Daniel, chapter 7, is a leader who comes to God in Heaven and is given “dominion, glory, and a kingdom.”

And the writer of Revelation says of Jesus and his followers: "Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready. It was given her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and pure; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the ‘set apart’ ones." Revelation 19:7-8

And in Ephesians, the writer emphasizes this picture, going beyond metaphor and even allegory, seeming to be declaring a spiritual mystery: 5:22 “Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. 28 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies.

He who loves his own wife loves himself; 29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, 30 because we are members of His body. 31 FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH. 32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.”

This extended metaphor is very odd and confusing to most people in the 21st century. A Brethren church I used to be a member of back in the 1980’s was called Lamb’s Bride Fellowship. However, though we liked the name a lot especially the spiritual implications of "Lamb's Bride," we finally had to change our church sign, because most people had no idea what we were talking about—thought we were some kind of esoteric, twisted cult!

But the image would have resonated with people in the 1st century, the 50’s of our Common Era. In the case of Jewish people, they would have immediately remembered how their Hebrew Bible often compares them as the Chosen people to be married to God. In the case of non-Jewish people, they may have been aware of the negative, contrary image in Paganism where the gods allegedly descended and committed fornication with human females. In dynamic contrast, thankfully, the God of Eashoa isn't like that, not at all.

The One True God is a faithful husband, not a lecher.

There are problems though even with this glorious metaphor. Because of the patriarchal implications of the Ephesians passage, for 2000 years, tragically, these household code verses have been used to subjugate and oppress women. (More on this problem later.*)

But despite the literalized misuse of the analogy by so many church leaders and husbands, the extended metaphor/symbol/image is still very powerful if understood in a spiritual sense as referring to God’s love for every human.

Christ, the Chosen One of God, like a husband wants/wills/chooses to relate to us as his beloved bride—the ultimate friendship/communion/intimacy. Indeed like Genesis says, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”

Thus the meaning is that the Chosen One, the Word of God, left his Father, God, and chose us to become ONE with us (his bride, his dearest friends)—that we might have a “profound mysterious” relationship with him and thereby with the Infinite Creator of All.

Amazing, incomprehensible, wondrous!

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

*Paul’s literal endorsement of the unequal nature of human male and female is troubling, one where the husband is compared to the Lord, the Chosen One, while the wife is compared to a human follower! The husband is the “head”—meaning the mind, while a woman is the lowly “body” who must be controlled, redeemed, etc. Hint: Remember, this is also related to Paul’s view of slavery as the passage demonstrates a few verses later.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Being Friends and Followers of Jesus, the Chosen One

First, consider a discussion of terms, a few opening thoughts, and a beginning reflection on the mystery of human existence.

Some of the ancient idioms, metaphors, symbols, and analogies of the Bible appear strange to the modern mind.

And why not?


Think how much differently we now view so many issues of life and existence including the very nature of sickness,
the natural world, our evolutionary origins, etc.

Indeed, 2,000 years is a lot of swirled moments of time gone down/up that river of no return.
(I can’t resist a ridiculous analogy: We are like salmon jumping the historical falls;-)

The mystery of homo sapiens, especially why we exist, is at the very heart of philosophy and ethics.







So about biblical terms, especially negative ones such as slave---

It is understandable why some of the NT writers such as Peter described themselves as “slaves” of Jesus the Messiah,
(in Aramaic, Eashoa, the Chosen One).

The analogy of “slave” is to emphasize how devoted one is to the Truth—
totally sold to the Good, not a mere observer or nominal participant.

Some followers of Jesus since, including the Roman Catholic women’s order, Slaves of the Sacred Heart,
have done this—compared themselves to "sold ones"--sold to love, to compassion, to mercy.




But there is always a danger that metaphoric language will be severely misunderstood, that it will be literalized and idolized.
“Slave” may be a vivid analogy but what a horrid one, since we know slavery is inherently evil,
a terrible destruction even in the most "kindly" of enslavements.

Slavery is the turning of a human being into a thing, an object, a tool--it's a denial that a human being is created in the image of God!

Too often slaves have been used, abused, and then discarded, or killed. See the terrible verses in Exodus 21:20-21 “If a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod and he dies at his hand, he shall be punished. 21 “If, however, he survives a day or two, no vengeance shall be taken; for he is his property." NASB

A human being is "property"? No way!

However slavery at the time of the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament was an accepted and valued institution by nearly all humans—Jews, Greeks, Romans, Pagans, even Christ’s followers, etc.—and had been an accepted institution for thousands of years.

At that period in history, slaves made up a huge number of the population in most, if not all, large cities. Slavery wasn’t known to be evil. The Apostle Paul justifies enslavement, warns Christian slaves to obey their masters like their masters must obey the Master, God.

How horrifically wrong, Paul was!

Even worse, the Apostle Peter gives not only strict orders for slaves to obey their masters, but that they should obey masters who are abusive! “Household slaves, submit with all fear to your masters, not only to the good and gentle but also to the cruel.” I Peter 2:18

As an historian and thinker, I understand what Peter was focusing on, trying to emphasize, but that statement and other ones like it in Scripture and Christian history have caused an obscene level of evil--led to persecution, abuse, and destruction to so many millions of humans through out history.

If in doubt, read a few scholarly tomes about the many Christians who owned slaves in the past. Consider that R. L. Dabney the famous Calvinist theologian, who many admire at present, wrote a book AFTER the American Civil War that still defended slavery as a Christ-like institution,
based on the pro-slavery passages in the New Testament!

After 2,000 years of horrendous enslavement, and our historically recent discovery of how inherently evil slavery is, it surely is clear that we followers of the Jewish son of man shouldn’t use such a negative metaphor.

For God has condemned slavery from Eternity.

No, slavery shouldn't even any longer be used as a metaphor. It's too ethically confusing.

In contrast, consider the word “friend.” It is a very powerful positive term, one that all humans can relate to and understand. Probably, that is one reason, besides the theological and experiential ones, why George Fox and the early Quakers referred to themselves as Friends of God.

According to the author of the book of John in the NT, Jesus said “friend” best describes how he feels toward us.
"No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing;
but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.
John 15:15 NASB

TO BE CONTINUED

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Monday, October 7, 2013

Who Is Jesus?


[Someone might look at] “scholarly research and say, ‘That’s all very interesting about Jesus’ itinerancy, his challenge to conventional lifestyle, his open meals…but nothing I want to organize my life around.’"

"It’s possible to accept the historical facts but to conclude that Jesus was utopian, or mistaken, or flaky, or whatever."

John Dominic Crossan, biblical scholar

And, historically, there are about as many interpretations of "who Jesus is" as there are versions of what a human is.

Many have dismissed Jesus as wrong even though they knew historical facts about Jesus. Consider Marxist revolutionary Che Guevera's infamous statement: "I am all the contrary of a Christ...I fight for the things I believe in, with all the weapons at my disposal and try to leave the other man dead so that I don't get nailed to a cross...In fact, if Christ himself stood in my way, I like Nietzche, would not hesitate to squish him like a worm."

In contrast to many such modern views, Crossan continues:
"So faith goes beyond the historical facts to wrestle with their meanings. But faith cannot ignore or bypass the historical facts. What we believe in by faith is the ultimate meaning of what we know by history."

"Christian faith means finding in the picture of the historical Jesus the power and wisdom of God—and then getting serious about its implications for our lives, now.”

John Dominic Crossan & Richard G. Watts, from Crossan’s short book Who Is Jesus?

Crossan, a brilliant scholar, has been considered controversial because of some of his more speculative statements regarding the origins of the Bible.

But Crossan's quotes about the historical Jesus and Jesus' relationship to us are gold. They get so clearly to the heart of what being a follower of Jesus means. One's life depends on whom one sets one's focus and goal toward.

Who or what do you follow?

In the words of Scripture: Jesus asked them, "But who do you say that I am?"

Peter answered, "You are the Mashiah!" Mashiah is a Jewish term meaning "the anointed," a reference in the Hebrew Bible referring to one who is chosen as a leader, an expected deliverer, a liberator.

Who is Jesus according to you?


In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Corny Quaker Humor

Today, let’s take a break from all the spiritual reflection, historical commentary, and theological analysis, and instead tell a few jokes.

But I can’t until the Spirit moves me;-) Besides we haven’t formed at least 7 committees to discuss it. Then give us a ‘minute’ to write it all out and pass it on? Whatever happened to “Be still and know”?)

Yes, I do have my corny side. In junior high, joking was my first name. You see, I’m from Nebraska—“Shucks, yah, I’m a cornhusker from way back. Lots of corn…

--

‘Herd about’ the Quaker cowgirl, Patty, who got caught and surrounded in a stampede?

--

Or what about that young Quaker girl who didn’t want to move from Philadelphia to Erie, Pennsylvania on Halloween.

She started crying and blubbering, “But, Dad, it will be too eerie!”


--

Consider the case of the Quaker student about to take a test on William Penn. He turned around in his desk and asked the girl behind him, “Got a ‘pencil, Vania’?”
--

This is a long one like so many teachers' lectures;-):

Or how about the 2 college freshmen? Their professor was lecturing, “When William Penn founded a colony in America, he chose the name Sylvania (forest or woods in Latin). But King Charles II chose otherwise and named it Pennsylvania for William’s father.”

“Even though Penn was of British aristocratic heritage, his conversion to faith in Christ, led him to seek to live a humble, altruistic life. Because of his honesty and respect toward the Indians, there was peace in Pennsylvania between the Indians and European immigrants for about 50 years!”

“But then came the next generation of Quakers. They didn’t live in the Light of God, but instead focused on themselves and cheated the Indians of much land. Then they worried about the various tribes attacking.”

Finally, the professor asked the class, “Do you see how the colony changed for the worse when the colonists turned from the Way of God?”

“Yes,” piped up a freshman, the later Quakers were “pensive-vain--

Yah” butted in another student.
--

Did you hear the one about the Quaker who raised ducks but didn’t like how they kept saying “Quack, quack.”

So he gave them crackers each time he got them to stop saying “quack, quack.” But then they started padding about his yard squawking, “Quacker, Quacker!”

Finally, he switched to feeding them with oats but wouldn't you know it, they squawked, “‘Quacker’ Oats!”
--

There is an old Quaker joke about a stranger who came into a Quaker meeting. Nothing was happening, so the man leaned over and asked one of the Friends, "When is the service going to start?"

The Friend whispered back, "The service will start outside after the end of worship."
--

What are the only 2 musical instruments that Quakers disapprove of? ‘Sax and violins.’
--

Heard about the Friendly little kitty who came into meeting, but got stepped on, and screeched, “Me-Owie”?

"Shhh," said the clerk. "This isn't a Pentecostal meeting!"

--

There was this elderly Quaker man who had constipation troubles. When he took his young pup out for a walk in the neighborhood, the puppy suddenly squatted, then turned and looked and barked, “Bow-el, wow!”

--


Lastly, there’s the Quaker store manager who refused to sell liquor, at least he said, not until he was in the “Spirits.”

Instead, he sold tea—and sold so much of that he loved totaling up his earnings!

Because you see, he was a ‘tea-totaler.’


Lightsomely,

Daniel Wilcox

Friday, September 13, 2013

DROWNING US ALL


Giving equal weight to every verse in the Bible drowns us all. Treating the Bible like a flat legal book leads to death for others and for oneself.

Doing so is to become like the condemned man cast overboard with heavy weights on his ankles, destined to asphyxiate in the depths of the raging sea. A raging sea which has created despair and intolerance and killed millions in human history. Christians wielding the sword and the whip and the torture chamber.

Drawing of the 30 Years War (between Roman Catholic and Reformed Christians)


For instance, which of these verses is true?

Psalms 137:9 “How blessed will be the one who grabs your babies and smashes them on a rock!”
VERSUS
Matthew 19:14 But Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me and do not try to stop them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."


Current Christian leaders often base their despairing/twisted/aberrant theology on relatively obscure/minor verses in the Hebrew Bible and a few confusing verses in the New Testament.

The writer of 2nd Peter could have been referring to such baffling verses when he wrote,
“There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist…”
2 Peter 3:16b

The leaders then proceed to misinterpret key biblical verses like John 3:16 because the latter contradict their own version of Christianity.

Then even worse, the Christians leaders claim that all human infants at conception and birth are "sinful," "in essence, evil," and "totally depraved."

That’s the bad news.

Here’s the Good News:

“We need to read the Bible over the whole of its range, and exercise judgment and discrimination to discover what teachings are sublated, and why...the Bible resolves none of our perplexities...What it does is to challenge our thinking about these matters, leading us to see matters from different perspectives, and to explore them ourselves.

This generates an important insight into the nature of Biblical revelation.
The Bible gives no systematic doctrine...
What then does the Bible DO?”

“[The Bible] upsets our preconceived ideas, puts in question our over-neat systems of doctrine, presents paradoxes and conflicting viewpoints (compare the stark pessimism of Ecclesiastes with the easy optimism of some of the Psalms).”

“But above all, it turns our mind to God, in reverence and praise rather than in comprehension and explanation. What it reveals is mystery beyond human comprehension…”

“[The Bible] is more like a great work of art, opening the human mind to transcendence, than like a textbook…”

Dr. Keith Ward, philosophy professor, retired Regius Professor of Divinity, Oxford U.,
From his book, What the Bible Really Teaches
Also has written many other books of philosophy, ethics, and the relationship
between spirituality, transcendence, theism, and science including God: A Guide for the Perplexed.

I’ll say an "Amen" to that.

When we read the Bible, if understood through loving concern
like Jesus displayed/lived/taught, we have the opportunity to ask the BIG Questions,

To step 'beyond' our brief selves...

To step outside our limited finite ego, our twisted culture and society,
and encounter the Divine.

BUT tragically, we can also, if wrongly understanding
the words of Scripture,
meet the ethically demonic--

like Christian Nazi Germany did
as 17th century Christian France and Germany did...

like the 19th century U.S. Civil War, where millions
of Christians persecuted, slaughtered, and destroyed
in the name of Christ and God,
etc..


Millions of Christians have done so, descending into twisted thinking and horrific actions--persecutions, attacks, and crusades.

Much of Christian history is a deathful bloody sea because Christians wrongly interpreted Scripture!




Instead, seek the Good, the True, and the Loving.












In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Contact Your Congress Members! Vote "No" on War Attack on Syria.

Dear Congress Members and Senators:

Please vote "no" on the request for an attack on Syria.

This isn't meant as a blanket "no," because later a defensive action might be necessary. But first the Administration needs to think out a 30 year strategy and figure out the logistics of how to work for a democratic, non-Sharia-Law Syria. For all sides in the current conflict in Syria are bad. Assad has murdered many, many people. The Rebels have murdered many, many people.

Furthermore, many of the Rebels are already imposing Sharia Law and persecuting Christians and other Muslims who disagree with them. At least Assad's secular regime protected everyone in Syria from Islamic killers.

We ought to consider whether the attack should instead be conducted by Islamic countries near Syria such as Turkey and Saudi Arabia, rather than a non-Islamic country such as the U.S.

Lesser points to consider are whether with our current debt crisis, our failed involvement in Afghanistan, the crisis in Egypt, etc., Muslim distrust, we shouldn't delay.

I've lived for a short time in the Middle East. The situation is very complicated! A quick attack, especially by a non-Islamic government now seems like a very unwise choice.

Lastly, isn't it sort of ironic that we have basically ignored the death of over 100,000 people, killed in many horrendous ways, but now with the death of 1,500, we suddenly think we ought to act quickly?

I suggest rather that you vote "no" and instead seek to form a long range U.S. policy toward the Islamic world. For Nigeria is getting worse and elsewhere. And so much right now needs to be done to help Americans suffering loss of their homes, etc.

Thanks for all the great work you've done as our senator.

Sincerely,

Daniel Wilcox

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Remember, Syrians Aren't Our Enemies. Evil Is. Fight the Spiritual Battle Now.


Remember, Syrians aren't our enemies! Not even the killer Assad and his henchmen or the Sunni jihadist murderers (including the one who cut out the heart of a Syrian soldier and ate it!:-(

They are like the evil Romans soldiers who tortured and crucified Jesus--the ones that Jesus prayed for from his cross, "Father forgive them for they know not what they do."

They all have been duped and led into evil by Satan. Satan is the evil one we work against by the power of the Spirit of God....

Fight evil, deliver those in subjection to it, protect the innocent, and spread Jesus' Good News, God's Love for Everyone, for every single human being.

"Keep Your Guard Up"
by Michael Shamblin and the Praise Band

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_cZvQnBypT8

To download this song in iTunes, click here - http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/keep-your-guard-up/id522372850?i=522372866&uo=4 Keep Your Guard Up Music & Lyr...
Like · · Share · Promote · about a minute ago near Santa Maria ·


In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Syria, the Romans, General Douglas Macarthur, and a Peacemaker

Politicians are stridently arguing for various responses to Syria’s use of chemical weapons which slaughtered 1,500 people. What a tragedy! But where were all of these voices for the last several years when over 100,000 Syrians got slaughtered by guns and bombs?

There are at least 3 ways to respond to the horrific killing:

#1 The Way of Half Measures: This nearly always fails. Look at any historical war effort, especially American foreign policy of the last 50 years. Consider Afghanistan where many, many thousands of innocent Afghans have been slaughtered by Islamic militants, several thousand American servicemen and women have died for nothing, Afghan women are oppressed, Christians killed or banned--- because the Muslim leaders we support are corrupt and/or advocate a form of Sharia Law and they (and we) let Afghan farmers still flood the world market with heroin! Furthermore, many Afghans we are trying to help actually oppose “our ways” and instead empower the Taliban even now!

And all of this horror continues after we Americans have been there for over 11 years trying to bring change and have spent billions of dollars in the process! We even executed Ben Laden (and Saddam Hussein in Iraq). But notice Islamic fundamentalism has gotten worse not better. Islamic schools and mullahs continue to inspire millions of followers.

Half measures almost never work when it comes to changing people and eliminating evil governments and evil societies.

#2 The Way of the Juggernaut (or the Roman Way): This where you roll in like a steam-roller and stay in the enemy country for hundreds of years. The British only stayed in Islamic lands for one hundred years. It didn’t work. The Russians were harsher but only stayed 25 years. It didn’t work.

But try the Roman way of the juggernaut. It works. Of course it is ruthless and cruel and millions of innocent suffer, but it often works if you stay for many years. Consider that after the slaughter of the Jewish zealots by the Roman legions, no Jewish military attack happened for 900 years!

But at what a cost:-( to millions of people.

Or consider the Islamic juggernaut. It conquered more land than the Roman Empire and lasted in various forms for about 1,000 years! From 700 C.E. to 1917 C.E.—the end of WW1. With a few exceptions such as the violent Crusaders, all Christians were overwhelmed and subjugated in Muslim held countries for centuries.

This is the way, too, of America and General Douglas Macarthur at the end of WW2. It’s the approach to conquering another country which says as he did to the Japanese, “You’ll do it our way!” There is little in the way of half measures. The enemy society isn’t allowed to continue promulgating its evils like we have done in Afghanistan. No. People are forced to change to the ways of the conqueror. Of course half a million civilians were killed, but the juggernaut always does that—kill many. But it does bring change.

So should the United States invade the Middle East again, only this time take the Roman way, the Roman road? That means spending billions, locking down the country, eliminating Islam, telling the Syrians, “You’ll do it our way.”

However the Middle East isn’t Japan, not by any stretch of the imagination an ordered somewhat homogenous society like Japan. I lived in the Middle East for the most part of a year. All the people I knew who believed in God, hated each other and wanted to kill each other. On the Jewish kibbutz farm where I worked, everyone was an Atheist, but they, too, were willing to kill their enemies in the name of no god.

Places in the Middle East like Syria are volatile cauldrons of intense religious intolerance that have been only held in check by secular dictators, for decades through murder and intimidation. But at least if you didn’t cross the Assad family (or Saddam, Kaddafi) and his political/ethnic minority, you were somewhat protected. That is why, as bad as Assad is, most Christians have not opposed him. Notice now with the rise of Islamic rebels, how Christians are suffering and being driven out and killed by these Muslim jihadists.

In the case of Syria, if we Americans want to go the route of the juggernaut, we will need to think of hundreds of years of controlling and killing people in Syria. It might even take 1,000 years to get rid of the Sharia-Law-form-of-Islam consciousness out of the populace!

And at what cost in humans lives and Life.

OR

#3 The Way of the Cross: Jesus’ way isn’t popular, not even with most Christians who would rather kill their political enemies than love them.

But if you have doubts about #1 or #2, please check out this 3rd way.

This is the way of Jesus-followers such as Elie Chacour and Martin Luther King Jr.

One way to get started is to read the true story of Elie Chacour’s Palestinian family—how they followed Jesus in the midst of war and suffering. Read Blood Brothers.

http://www.amazon.com/Blood-Brothers-Dramatic-Palestinian-Christian/dp/0801015731/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1378260503&sr=1-2-fkmr0&keywords=blood+brothers+by+elie+chacour

And how it has made all the difference for thousands of Palestinian Christians, Jews, and Muslims ever since.

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Monday, July 1, 2013

Part 2: When Jesus is a Hard Atheist

“The almighty God of vengeance has chosen you to be the instrument of his wrath against his enemies.”

Gregory XV


“When it is a case of only upholding some spiritual tenet, such as infant baptism, original sin…we conclude the stubborn sectaries must be put to death.”

“If I had all the Franciscan friars in one house, I would set fire to it…To the fire with them!”
…Why do we not rather assault these monsters of perdition, these cardinals, these popes, and the whole swarm of the Roman Sodom, who corrupt youth and the Church of God? Why do we not rather assault them with arms and wash our hands in their blood?"

First to set fire to their [Jews’] synagogues or schools and to bury and cover with dirt whatever will not burn, so that no man will ever again see a stone or cinder of them. This is to be done in honor of our Lord…Second, I advise that their houses also be razed and destroyed…I advise that their rabbis be forbidden to teach henceforth on pain of loss of life and limb.”

Martin Luther


Preaching for the start of the 2nd Crusade:
“Fly then to arms; let a holy rage animate you in the fight, and let the Christian world resound with these words of the prophet, “Cursed be he who does not stain his sword with blood!”
“If the Lord calls you to the defense of His heritage think not that His hand has lost its power. …His goodness has caused to dawn for you a day of safety by calling on you to avenge His glory and His name."

“Christian warriors, He who gave His life for you, to-day demands yours in return. These are combats worthy of you, combats in which it is glorious to conquer and advantageous to die. Illustrious knights, generous defenders of the Cross, remember the example of your fathers who conquered Jerusalem, and whose names are inscribed in Heaven; abandon then the things that perish, to gather unfading palms, and conquer a Kingdom which has no end.”

But Christ's knights can fight their Lord's fight in safety, fearless of sin in slaughter of their adversaries and fearless of danger at their own deaths, since death suffered or dealt out on Christ's behalf holds no crime and merits great glory. Hence one gains for Christ, and then gains Christ Himself, who most willingly accepts the death of an adversary for the ends of vengeance and then even more willingly offers Himself to a knight for the end of consolation. Christ's knight deals out death in safety, as I said, and suffers death in even greater safety. He benefits himself when he suffers death, and benefits Christ when he deals out death.”

“The Christian glories in a pagan's death, because Christ is glorified;”

Bernard of Claurvaux


“I hope the Portuguese will forswear fratricidal strife with the Spaniards and bathe their swords in the blood of heretics in Europe, in the blood of Moslems, the blood of the heathen in Asia and America…conquering and subjugating all regions under one Crown and under the feet of the successor of blessed Peter…”

Antonio Vieira SJ, a sermon in Lisbon, 1642

“There is no better way of preaching than with the sword and the rod of iron…”

Anchieta, first Jesuit Provincial of Brazil


“To keep ourselves right in all things we ought to hold this point: what I see as white I would believe black if the hierarchical Church determined it so.”

Ignatius Loyola


Claiming that the Civil War slaughter was God’s will: “The Almighty has His own purposes. "Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh." If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him?”

Abraham Lincoln


On fighting the American revolutionaries: “…I trust I shall stand acquitted in the eyes of God and men in denouncing and executing the vengeance of the state against the willful outcasts—the messengers of justice and of wrath await them in the field; and devastation, famine and every concomitant horror that a reluctant but indispensable prosecution of military duty must occasion, will bar the way to their return.”

British General Burgoyne


“Jesus was saying was not that you will build my Kingdom, but you will build my Church with the sword….
“What I believe that He was saying was in ‘building My Kingdom, you will be attacked you will have to fight physical battles at times’. And remember, eleven of those disciples were martyred for their faith."

American General Boykin, 2010


These Christian leaders, and many others have claimed God is calling us to go to war and kill others,
BUT
in contrast
Jesus said,
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God… You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Matthew 5: 9, 43-48

In the Light,
Daniel Wilcox

Saturday, June 22, 2013

When Jesus Is a Hard Atheist...

…when “God” has “decreed sin should enter this world through the disobedience of our first parents” that this “was a secret hid in His own breast.” (A.W. Pink, Christian author of the popular book, The Sovereignty of God sold at Calvary Chapels and many other Christian churches:-(

*“…the holocaust of World War II, suicide bombers etc. Indeed every sin against God's commandments, God ordains to His greatest glory…God has ordained it to come to pass, so we must conclude that this is because His greatest glory can only be served by its presence…God ordained this [Adam’s sin], as He knew it would be to His greatest glory in the end. (Presbyterian Website)

What a false god!

Jesus is a hard Atheist of A.W. Pink’s and the Presbyterians’ god.

For Jesus said, “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5: 48 ESV

The only true GOD is perfect and would NEVER “ordain/order/appoint/decree/establish/foreordain” sin, evil,

NOR

does GOD ever do anything for himself! God IS love (I Corinthians 13).

The GOD of Jesus is perfect love, perfect goodness, perfect truth, perfect justice, perfect mercy, perfect holiness, perfect glory—perfection infinitely.

As the New Testament emphasizes, GOD does, in response to us humans’ free choice to choose contrary to His perfect will, bring goodness out of evil.

But GOD is never the original “ordainer” of sin and evil, never.

Jesus is a hard Atheist toward A.W. Pink’s god.

To be continued...

In the Light of the ONLY TRUE GOD,

Daniel Wilcox

Friday, June 14, 2013

Living Toward the Garden: Part 2

Back before my recent battles against the hellish dragons of modern Christian theology and politics, I was ruminating on my ‘fishy’ eating habits ;-):

Hear about the ugly friar at the monastery, who visitors said looked like a chipmunk? He got kicked out of the monastery because he preferred fish and chips instead of meat, not just during Lent, but year round, and would often sneak fish and chips into his room at night.

He was known as a “’finished’ ‘chip monk’ who got ‘cod’ eating.” Groan…

Photo by Joachim Muller

My fairly recent move toward vegetarianism (in the last 10-15 years, since turning 50) isn’t intellectually driven, but more of an emotional/ethical intuition, an inclination toward the ideal world of Creation before death and decay, before tooth and claw, before kill or/and be killed. The move is toward the perfect world of the future in the Chosen One.

And on the levels of commitment, my choice is only an educated opinion, not doctrine or conviction. When I began the move, I didn't even tell anyone of my change--just stopped eating pork, then beef, and finally cut back on chicken and turkey. Only when family members asked did I briefly mention I was focusing on fish, but didn’t explain.

I still do eat some ‘foul’ food sometimes with my family and relatives. In harkening toward Heaven in the field of cuisine, I’m not a legalist at all; it's more about heavenly and healthful eating. And if medical professionals—not likely—came out with a scientific study proving that humans should eat chicken or sausage or even steak, I probably would.

I don’t inhabit health food stores, don’t try and find “organic” food, but often buy my eats at Wal-Mart:-)

Though I am amazed by and sometimes buy from Whole Foods Market.

Another feeling and reason why I’ve made the move down the food levels toward non-sentient life is I empathize with conscious animal life. I suppose so, more than many humans.

However, I'm not an animal rights activist, or nearly as concerned with animals as the biologist Richard Dawkins is (on the valuable worth of monkeys), or as much as C.S. Lewis was against animal vivisection. Though in the case of both I do think animals are of worth and that vivisection ought to be stopped.

Also, our insurance provider and our doctor have emphasized that I need to fill up on anti-inflammatory food, medicine, etc.

So I do.

Now where’s that salmon I want to smoke with the nonalcoholic mixed drink of Mountain Dew/Strawberry-Lemonade and wedge-fries from BJ’s?

I’m not in the least famished by what I choose not to eat, but am now fin-ished;-).

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Why I Don't Call Myself Quaker or Christian Any Longer

NOW:
"As a Quaker Pagan, I'm often accused…of being a closet Christian. Nope.
I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of the Jesus Club…
and being Quaker myself has taught me how to approach Christian messages by "listening in tongues," I have yet to feel a call to Jesus."

And “We didn’t need Jesus.”

Quaker Writer Cat Chapin-Bishop

VERSUS

THEN:
“When all my hopes in them and in all men were gone, so that I had nothing upwardly to help me, nor could I tell what to do, then, oh, then, I heard a voice which said,
‘There is one, even Christ Jesus, that can speak to thy condition’; and when I heard it, my heart did leap for joy.”

George Fox
__


NOW:

“The world for whom Christ died cannot mean the entire human family."

R.C. Sproul

“Christ died for….some men…he died for the unbelief of the elect so that God's punitive wrath is appeased toward them.”
…the death of Christ was designed for the salvation of God's people, not for every individual."

Christian John Piper

“What does this famous verse [John 3:16] teach about fallen man’s ability to choose Christ? The answer, simply, is nothing. The argument used by non-Reformed people is that the text teaches that everybody in the world has it in their power to accept or reject Christ. A careful look at the text reveals, however, that it teaches nothing of the kind.”

Christian R.C. Sproul


VERSUS

THEN:

“For God so loved the world [in Greek: Cosmos], that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

John 3:16

To be continued,

In the Light of God’s love through Jesus the “Chosen One” for every single person!

Daniel Wilcox

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Time for a Romantic Interlude:-)

Getting tired of the seemingly endless tragedy and horror and absurdity of religion and politics...?

How about a time's timely romantic interlude...

Canoe on over the stream of love to vox poetica where my new romantic poem, "two hands" has just been published.
http://poemblog.voxpoetica.com/

Share the lyric with your sweetheart.

Then, get to the heart of sweet romance with other love poems at these urls:

"Summer of Love in Philadephia"
http://www.wildviolet.net/blue_moon/summer_love.html


"A Song of Songs into Olding"
http://outwardlink.net/features/danielwilcox/song_of_songs_into_olding.html



Later if you are still in the need of commentary on theology and philosophy and politics and science and nature by all means check out my main websites:-)

http://www.psalmsyawpshowls.com/

http://www.selahriver.com/

http://lightwaveseeker.weebly.com/

http://buddingzin.weebly.com/

http://lastthings.weebly.com/


In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox