Thursday, December 31, 2015

Pebbles and Shooting Stars

a meteor shower of words on this eve...


Up Early

In the gray-hazed dawn
Pale light blossoms
Softly explode from a violet tree
Rising by a jade-green hedge
Birdsong morning

--

Night Watch Psalm

Walled granite
Moonlight
One mile
Down
Below the rocked rim
In the rusted Canyon
Rushing Colorado
River russet copper;
Nearby in the evened dusk
I lay ‘stilled,’ a silent psalm
In the shine
Of that lighted granite
Eyes wide in the dawn
Of that Night


--


Misplaced?

Lost?
Seek the moral compass
Round the world ringed
Compassioned--
Don't pass by on the other side;
Be passionate
And encompass
Love's Sphere
Found

--

starlight
when one doesn't
see the dark

---

seashore

under seagulls kiting,
molten froth waves roll in--
we hotfoot it across sand

--

Outside the Limit

Working the Thursday graveyard shift
But alert in the night, I pray in stillness
Awash drowned in awe, the Personal
Luminousness, aware beyond words vivid bliss
Blessed all-encompassing exalting surpassing
Great parabled One Pearl of Being


--

Morning

a trail of dashes
translucent on our red brick--
night's telltale caller

--

Cape May Light

Back then
Her young wedding eyes glistened
More than the prism'd Fresnel lens
That centered our lives
On the Jersey shore;

She's a Keeper.

--

horse trailer
by curved eucalyptus leaves
that skit in the gutter

--

dark cliff walls
except in the narrows of our canyon--
that moon


--


Retreaded

I’m retreaded but road-tired,
Rolling across cantankerous land
Though, thank heavens—knock around
On pavement
And redwood,
Not yet sent off to a ‘board and card’ mansion,
Rehearsing…

You know where decks and bingo
“Was a dog…” chips or
Markers
Define the tokened measures of your life--

Or where
Reclining and breathing entertain you.

No, I’m bound for that promised land…

--

rain puddle on oil
red and blue swirls on blacktop--
a peacock feather

--


In fall's leaved trees
Melted rainbows dripping
Among the branches
Colorful collages
Assaulting our senses

--

manta ray
sting
of the hoe blade

--

warped fence boards in sand
lean askew toward green windbreak
old gnarled cypress

--

lines, no white shirts but
birds black in a row clothes-pinned
to the telephone wires

--

harvest

ogre marshmallows
under the blue oz of sky--
white plastic...hay bales


--

Imprisoned

A black barred window
Locking out the evened sky
Or rungs to the stars

--

date palms stood up
in the crimson sky
feather dusting
the night

--

snow falls to crystal
path deep white over my knees
light inside my head


Happy New Year!


Daniel Wilcox


Short Poems pub.
by
Willows Wept Review,
4 and 20 Poetry,
Full of Crow,
hotmetalpress.net,
lyrical passion poetry,
Poetry Pacific,
Liturgical Credo,
Flutter Poetry Journal,
The Mindful Word,
a handful of stones,
The Cherry Blossom Review
Stylus Poetry Journal,
Three Line Poetry,
Idlewheel literary friction,
The Mississippi Crow

Howard H. Brinton's Insights and Warnings: the Modern World/Quaker Movement 64 Years Later

"Unless man [humanity:-*] can develop his[her] interior dimensions in such a way as to form a dyke against the floods from the world without, he will become engulfed in the world of nature and sink back to the subhuman level whence he long ago emerged."
Howard H. Brinton, Friends for 300 Years, 1952


How true this warning has become. In his brilliant book in 1952,
Friends for 300 Years, Brinton demonstrated not only insight
but prophetic foresight as to the future dangers of lopsided and
even delusionary philosophy/religion/ethics.

Surely, I need not document in detail more than I already have
(in the past few months of commentaries and reflections on this
blog) how modern American society--despite a few advances
including upholding rights for all humans--has seeped tragically
into relativism and subjectivism in ethics,
how so many smart educated humans
now claim that ethics are only
"personal preferences."

As bad as the 1950's were in many ways, most Americans including
Friends thought that there was objective good and evil, ultimate
truth, and that the Light is real, not a subjective experience.
Not so for many now in the darkening end of 2015.

Whew...that's the bad news.

But Brinton in the book offers
the complex answer of the Good News
as well.

According to Brinton, there are 4 key essentials in true religion:
"The best type of religion is one in which the mystical, the evangelical, the rational, and the social are so related that each exercises a restraint on the others.


--Too exclusive an emphasis on mysticism results in a religion which is individualistic, subjective, and vague;

--too dominant an evangelicalism results in a religion which is authoritarian, creedal, and external;

--too great an emphasis on rationalism results in a cold intellectual religion which appeals only to the few;

--too engrossing a devotion to the social gospel results in a religion which, in improving the outer environment, ignores defects in the inner life which cause the outer disorder.

In Quakerism the optimum is not equality in rank of the four elements. The mystical is basic. The Light Within occasions the acceptance or rejection of a particular authority, reason, or service." (pages 203-205, Friends for 300 Years by Howard H. Brinton, Pendle Hill)
--

While agreeing with Brinton so much in this book, I do disagree with his last statement--that "The mystical is basic. The Light Within..."

I'm not disagreeing with him or any other thinker in the sense that ultimate reality doesn't precede the rational but that for so many Quakers and other humans now, "mystical" has become another "empty-bucket" word which means a million different things. And has become primarily to mean something individualistic and postmodern.

If everyone were to use the term "mystical" in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary sense, then I would agree:
"Full Definition of mystical
1
a : having a spiritual meaning or reality that is neither apparent to the senses nor obvious to the intelligence...
b : involving or having the nature of an individual's direct subjective communion with God or ultimate reality..."


In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

--
*How dated 60-year-old books seem now with their un-egalitarianism language. It isn't surprising when one sees it in most books, but to see the old usage in a Friends' seminal work does shock, since Friends have emphasized equality to one degree or another for over 365 years. On the other hand, the "man," and "he's" were linguistic convention, probably something that Brinton didn't even notice.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The ‘Darlossness’ of Dawkins, Harris, and Coyne

One Last Caustic, Satiric Negation of the False Worldviews of this Ending Year--

The ‘Darlossness’ of Dawkins, Harris, and Coyne


It-less blasts energy to matter
less ness

Cosmic lockstep determinism

Or the lucky infinite accident upon accident

To accident—what a fluke!

Every non-act of ours caught like a termite in amber

To be repeateddddd a trillion times

If Time

Runs again and again and again...zarathustraing



Perpetually motioning life from non-life then careening astronomically

Speaking,

Through geologic time


Rock-wearing ever so slower

Than the heart-rending billion cries.

In its juggernaut,

This holo(gram)caustic negation--

Without purpose, no meaning--

This Selfish gene

Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrreplicating

Through
billions of generations;

Yes,
Descent
to
the
Lower
Realms of the ‘outer limits’

Through modification.

Reality’s indifferent tyrant--

Natural selection 'chooses' with its

Unconscious, unSmitherly

Hand

Of pitiless indifference

The 1% of species to survive;

Waste muchhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

Survival through sorrow

Not the Tree of Life--

But that random bush

of EXCESS.


Life is one eternal screammmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

Of total unreason

No One hears;

Huge mirages of hope delude

Brief “i”s

Harris claims to be illusions;

Breathe and think for naught


Worthless flesh for every temporal now;

But a few bones fossilize

While the cosmos verses and careens


continuing to blast out a c r o s s darkness

ever expanding,



Enlarging this petty matter which doesn’t matter

Until squished in the

Quantum’s flux--

Deeply
Vacuum
Cleaned.


Daniel Wilcox
First pub. in The Clockwise Cat


Lessen the darkness with more Light
in the New Year,

Daniel Wilcox

Part #2: Codes of Ethics for 2016

Continuing the 10 Commandments:

6. Don’t murder.

Such a long-standing ethical truth ought to be obvious,
but strangely many humans still disagree!

This morning's newspaper reports that two men sitting
in their sedan were shot to death in our neighborhood,
only 7 blocks from our house.

But in some ways even worse than the 11 murders here
this year, is that two secular writers, 2 weeks ago
on a web-blog, claimed that sometimes murder
isn't wrong!


One friendly poster even declared murder is only "unpleasant"!
All ethics are relative. There isn't any right or wrong,
good or evil for humans, only dislike.

What leads such former moral individuals to assert
there are no true ethics, that acts of murder
aren't wrong?

What goes on in their minds to argue such a horrendous
worldview?
And what occurs in the mind of a youth
and an adult when they murder?
What is the basis of their decision?
Instinct?
Twisted upbringing?
Wrong worldview?
Cold procedure?
Drugs
or alcohol?

However, most humans view murder as a horrendous crime, one of the worst evils. Opposition to murder has been a given in moral codes for thousands of years-- not
to murder individuals of your kin or group or nation.

But the last phrase is exactly where the moral code of the Jews, Muslims, and Christians needs to be revised.


It’s not enough to prohibit murder in one’s own society, because almost all societies and groups do that, even criminal gangs at least part of the time.

We humans need to expand/extend the prohibition against killing to go far beyond our kin and our society to include all of humanity.


NO KILLING of any humans!

No war.

No abortion-on-demand.

No capital punishment.

No euthanasia.

Caution note: "No euthanasia" doesn’t mean extraordinary
measures must be done to elderly individuals when they are
confined in hospital beds, barely coherent and near death.
This ethical guideline isn't advocating for a vegetative state,
but rather that no elderly person ought to be intentionally
killed with drugs.

Eventually humans could move toward
No killing of sentient animals.

Hopefully, more and more humans will include
not killing any animals. Good cases can be made
for non-meat diets.


5. Honor your parents.

What's wrong with that? Honor means to show respect to those who gave you birth and raised you, yet some secular critics even manage to disparage this good command. Sheesh.

4. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it special and separate.

Seems like good advice, to set aside at least one day a week for rest, reflection, and to focus on the transcendent; to look beyond one’s own self, interests, and obligations.

3. Don't curse and act profane.

Some things and concepts are of essential value and great worth. Respect is an important moral truth.
Caution note: This moral precept isn't opposed to strong satire or comedy,
but rather refers to the very present bad tendency in humans to disparage
what is good, what the famous Atheist psychiatrist Eric Berne called the "little fascist" in us all.

Yes, I revised the religious language to emphasize the ethical, not the dogmatic.

2. I must admit I don't see any good ethical points in this commandment. The law is even used by Muslims to justify persecuting and slaughtering anyone who criticizes Allah, or shows pictures of Muhammad the prophet.

This moral command is also used to justify the destruction of classic world architectural wonders and ancient sculptures such as when the Taliban blew up the gigantic stone Buddhas in Afghanistan.

The commandment seems the exact opposite of ethical and is especially horrific when it claims God is "a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation..."
Whew:-(.


How could intentionally punishing and harming little children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren for what their ancestors did possibly be just?!

Truly sick.

No wonder that many morally sensitive humans can't fathom some of the moral code of Jews, Christians, and Muslims.


1. Don't have any gods before God.

This an essential ethical command. If only humans had followed its real meaning, over a hundred million humans wouldn't have been slaughtered in the 20th century alone.



What the commandment is getting at is that we humans ought to never--NEVER--make what is finite, into our absolute center--
not our self, not our family, not our social group or race, not our nation, not our ideology, etc.



--
Then there are moral codes according to Buddhism:



The Ten Essential Precepts
1. …does not kill but rather cultivates and encourages life. ..work for the benefit of all beings.

2. …cultivates and encourages generosity… live from a generous heart rather than from an avaricious mind.

3. …does not misuse sexuality but rather cultivates and encourages open and honest relationships.

4. …does not lie but rather cultivates and encourages truthful communication. Lying to oneself, to another or to one's community obscures the nature of reality…

5. …does not intoxicate self or others but rather cultivates and encourages clarity.

6. …does not slander others but rather cultivates and encourages respectful speech.

7. …does not praise self at the expense of others but rather cultivates and encourages self and others to abide in their awakened nature… rejoicing in one's wholesome qualities and deeds is a time-honored Buddhist practice…

8. …is not possessive of anything but rather cultivates and encourages mutual support…should make decisions together in a cooperative and accountable manner, and with a wholehearted effort to consider all points of view.

9. …does not harbor ill-will but rather cultivates and encourages lovingkindness and understanding. Even more corrosive is the harboring of ideas of revenge…attempt to resolve them with anyone directly involved in a spirit of honesty, humility and lovingkindness.

10. …cultivates and encourages awakening, the path and teaching of awakening and the community that takes refuge in awakening.

http://www.sfzc.org/about-zen-center/principles-governance/ethics/ethical-principles/the-ten-essential-precepts
--

Here's the 10 Commandments revised with a modern interpretation based in the Enlightenment:

1. Love the Good, the Truth, and the Loving with all of your heart, all of your mind, and
all of your strength...

2. Love all other humans as much as yourself including those different from you, and
even your enemies.

3. Be sacred in your words and thoughts. Don’t ridicule or profane what is of worth.

4. Take at least one day and evening a week for recreation and reflection.

5. Show caring and concern for the elderly.

6. Protect and cherish others. Don’t do violence to them in thought, word, or deed.

7. Be faithful and loyal to your spouse– intellectual, emotional, and physical union.

8. Be generous. Don’t take the land or things of others without permission.

9. Speak the truth always in love. Be honest and forthright.

10. Simplify; be content with what is good and necessary; don’t be greedy for what others
have.
--

Next is Michael Shermer's ethical code
from his new book, The Moral Arc:


1. The Golden Rule Principle

2. The Ask-First Principle

3. The Happiness Principle ("always seek happiness
with someone else's happiness in mind"), and the
Rational Principle ("try to find rational reasons
for your moral actions that are not
self-justifications or rationalizations
by consulting others first")

4. The Liberty Principe

5. The Fairness Principle

6. The Reason Principle

7. The Responsibility and Forgiveness Principle

8. The Defend Others Principle

9. The Expanding Moral Category Principle

10 The Biophilia Principle


Shermer's Code in one sentence: "Try and expand the moral sphere and to push the arc of the moral universe just a bit farther toward truth, justice, and freedom for more sentient beings in more places more of the time."
Michael Shermer

And, of course, there are many more moral codes which purport to be the true one.
It's like the famous quote from
Oliver Twist

"You want MORE?!"

--



In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Monday, December 28, 2015

Seeking True Ethics in the New Year






Besides such a wonder-working miracle--finding true ethics--I will also explain the future of the multitverse in the billion-year'd future and what stone age men thought about women;-)

Seriously, seeking true ethics is one of the most difficult tasks any of us can choose. Given that so many non-religious leaders in 2015 (and before) have stated that ethics are only "subjective," "relative," "personal preferences," and not "real," is it any wonder that many humans are confused when it comes
to the questions of "ought"?

Or consider the strange anomaly of so many religious leaders in 2015 claiming that various immoral or unjust actions are only wrong because such actions contradict what God has commanded, Divine Command Theory. If God changes his commands (as the Deity often did in the past), then true ethics change.

And even worse, so many church leaders claim God will call you to commit immoral actions.

Worst of all many Christian, Muslim, and Hindu leaders, again, claimed God--before the universe began--pre-planned every murder, every rape, every molestation, every natural evil disaster for God's-self! And if you question such a gargantuan horror, they ask who do you think God is?!
God can do whatever he wills because God is God!

To Hell/Abyss/Sheol with all such terrible claims.

Eliminating those majority views at least narrows the multi-pronged choices staring at us at every moment when we need to choose.


Now for the New Year:-) Let's seek the Light, seek the Life, seek the Good, seek the Just.

But how does one do so? The difficulty is in the details.

On Christmas Eve one online commentator challenged me to provide a better method than the Christian religion has provided in the last 2,000 years.

First, it would appear to most people who study history that religion hasn't provided a good code of ethics. On the contrary it has done a horrific job supporting everything from slavery and slaughter to discrimination and persecution. No, Christianity hasn't provided a reliable ethical guide. Check out books such as Jesus Wars by Phillip Jenkins or some of the recent critical commentaries on Islam.

BUT
that doesn't mean anyone else has come up with a sure method of finding what is "oughtfully" true.

The human conscience (except in sociopaths) declares we are to do right, to do the good, but doesn't usually clarify what or how. In fact in history, the most evil actions were committed not by immoral choosers, but by conscientious, dutiful humans!

Let's get an eagle's overview of the mountainous region of ethics:

#1 Probably, the spiritual side of the Enlightenment has achieved the most ethically.

Most humans have come to at least give lip service to the ideals of human rights, equality, justice and to condemn the slaughter of innocent humans, poverty, prejudice, torture, slavery, and so forth. Reason has shown to be more true, more effective, more real than any religious dogma ever was.


However, even in reason and transcendent claims there are doubts and problems and dilemmas. Fortunately, most humans seldom have to deal with the extremes such as the trolley car dilemma and other difficult choices.

Indeed, I wonder why so many ethicists immediately jump to the most extreme difficult examples when the subject of morality is brought up.

In general, for instance, it would seem that honesty and justice are reliable goals, even if in a few severe situations, one might choose dishonesty and injustice in order to save human lives.

After all, if I moved back to the Middle East and soon was faced with a dire threat by HAMAS or Hezbollah, and chose to lie to protect innocent Jewish civilians,
my lie still wouldn't be true.

Later after human rights organizations got the innocent safely out of the clutches of "Godly" religious organizations, I ought to then print an acknowledgment of my dishonest statement.

Too often humans quickly jump to the immoral choice--declaring it good--when encountering a difficult trial. For example Americans constantly condemn Muslims in the Middle East for using torture and terrorism, but quickly defend the U.S. government when it tortures and slaughters.

Let's take non-religious leaders' most extreme example: Ought a good human--if there are no other possible options--murder or rape to defend innocent people?

No.


When making ethical choices, the means is part of the end. When you pick up the immoral ethical stick on one end you get the other, too, even if your intentions are good.


Just for the sake of illustration, what if a U.S. Seal coulc only save a young Iraqi girl in Ramadi from being tortured and murdered by raping her?

Such an undercover individual might choose to rape the girl because he thinks raping her isn't as evil as letting the Islamic State thugs behead or stone her.

HOWEVER, his act of rape--even though done with good intentions--still will harm the girl and is therefore wrong.

Cliche warning: One evil in response to another evil doesn't make a good. Never.



#2 Keep in mind that many ethical truisms from the ancient past don't need to be jettisoned, probably not even questioned.

Contrary to what various thinkers such as Michael Shermer and Valire Tarico state, the 10 Commandments of Jews, Christians, and Muslims are a very good start toward seeking true ethics, especially when updated with the new ethical insights of the Enlightenment.


10. Don't covet. Don't inordinately desire what belongs to another person.

Sounds like a good start toward community and well-balanced mental/emotional health for each individual.

9. Don't lie. Honesty is the basis of so many other ethical truths. Heck, Enlightenment actions such as scientific method and reason can't even work if adherents practice lying.

8. Don't steal. Think how many wars and conflicts would never occur if humans didn't steal. The tragic events in Palestine/Israel would never have happened if in the past (and at present) Jews, Muslims, and Christians hadn't stolen.

7. Don't commit adultery. In Shermer's new book, The Moral Arc, advocating good ethics based on reason, he writes that this commandment "doesn't take into account the wide variety of circumstances in which people find themselves."

What sort of weak reasoning is that?!

Ethical codes are meant to guide us, not to excuse us, and aren't to be controlled by circumstances in which we "find ourselves" but to CHANGE those circumstances and change us!

On the contrary, circumstances often lead humans to "lose themselves." Think of how many famous leaders in the last 30 years have "lost themselves" and caused all manner of harm to others because they committed adultery.

Consider how many families have been broken apart because one spouse was disloyal/betrayed the other.



Trailrunner iRunFar/Bryon Powell













To be continued--


In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

C.Q.H. #7: I Kid You Not; Go Ahead and Get My Goat!

Corny Quaker Humor #7



Did you hear about the Friendly city animal lover who kept goats in his garage, manger and all?

Angry Neighbor: “I keep hearing bleating noises coming from your garage. What gives?”

Quaker: “Let me ‘goat’ check. Moments later—“Oh that was just the little one wanting her nanny.”

A.N.: I’m calling the police, er, uh Animal Control on you!”

Quaker: "You can’t get my goats. I kid you not.

"We're sending them to the Middle East to help a refugee family. Mother and kid will bring some stableness to that angry place. You remember, don’t you, that goats calm others*. Maybe the Palestinians and Israelis need to raise them."

"Maybe, you would you like to borrow our goats for this Eve?"

"It won’t be a silent night though!"

A.N.: “Bleepbleep#$%X! What’re you talking about? You can’t keep animals in this neighborhood."

Quaker: Hmm…you almost sound like them;-) Just kidding:-)”

A.N.: “I’m warning you!”

Quaker: “Sorry. Did you ever see that old western, Have Goat, Will Travel?"

http://donate.worldvision.org/ways-to-give/by-category/animals

Idiomatic Expression: Get your goat."
*"The Phrase Finder concludes that the saying is distinctly American dating back to 1909 and sticks by the “commonly repeated story which purports to explain the phrase’s origin is that goats were placed with racehorses to keep them calm. When ne’er-do-wells who wanted the horse to race badly removed it, i.e. they ‘got someone’s goat’, the horse became unsettled and ran badly.” The site admits, though that there’s no evidence to support this etymological tale."

"...Ye Olde English Sayings discusses the origins of “getting your goat” with reference to “an old English (Welsh?) belief that keeping a goat in the barn would have a calming effect on the cows, hence producing more milk. When one wanted to antagonize/terrorize one’s enemy, you would abscond with their goat rendering their milk cows less- to non-productive.

Whether the phrase is English or American, the common thread is “goats as the great calmers of nature.”
http://goatberries.com/2011/03/the-origins-of-get-your-goat/



In the heavenly noise;-)


Daniel Wilcox

Bring Hope to a Child in the New Year







"It's not a handout;
It's a hand up! We come alongside children, families, and communities to provide tools, training, and hope so they can become self-sufficient."

"War in Syria has displaced 12 million people. Worldwide, nearly 60 million people have been driven from their homes by conflict."

"13.5 million people in Syria need humanitarian assistance."
World Vision
http://www.worldvision.org/


Sponsor a child in this season of celebration.

Bring hope to at least one in the New Year.



In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Monday, December 21, 2015

Door of Future Song

أغنية أبواب المستقبل



Lyrics:
"...With forgiveness and a big heart we eliminate darkness
no matter how long it lasts
Together we overcome hardships
and the hearts are comforted with love,
We light our ways with goodness,
it's within us and we are the torch."

"Inspired by the children at the Child Friendly Spaces in Gaza, the idea to compose a song and create a music video was put together in order to emphasize the importance of hope, peace and a better future for children in Palestine.

Forty children from the CFSs sponsored by the Government of Germany, with the help of seven staff members, worked together on writing the lyrics, composing the music and designing the choreography for the music video. This music video is a testament to the resilience of the children in Gaza and their love for life."
World Vision Jerusalem-West Bank-Gaza


In Gaza/Palestine:

"To date, 100,000 Palestinians remain displaced living in dire conditions in schools and poor condition shelters, and over 300,000 children are still in need of immediate psycho-social support.

Since the end of February, World Vision JWG has been providing early recovery interventions to approximately 90,000 people:

...rehabilitated a total of 1389 damaged agricultural properties.
2067 dunums of agricultural lands
250 green houses,
36140 meters of irrigation pipelines

In addition, 195 Households have benefited from installing and rehabilitating of water wells and 235 fishermen were provided with fishing kits to help resume their fishing livelihood.

On the other hand, the process is ongoing to support 70 youth entrepreneurs to reestablish their small business projects that have been damaged by the war.

World Vision has been working in the Holy Land since 1975 serving the poor and marginalized and is committed to advocating for the improved well-being of children as well as empowering Palestinian and Israeli voices that advocate for peace and justice. World Vision is currently working in Jerusalem, West Bank and Gaza areas."
http://www.wvi.org/jerusalem
--


Work for the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Friday, December 18, 2015

Still Missing Star and Cradle

Art by Banksy*

Bethlehem's still missing the star and cradle...the news is so tragic, more of the same--

like this poem concerning Christmas in Jerusalem and Bethlehem in 1974--


Missing Star and Cradle

Weird Christmas Eve 40 times past
With no holly, blinking red or green lights,

No 'holy' decorations, only the gaudy glare
Of cold Jerusalem's neon theater sign;

We watched Catch 22 with our kibbutz bunch
After being frisked for bombs at the entrance.

Years explode by while politicians yet pitch
Uncradled in the maze of their doctrinal hype;

The sacred cave's still dark and unstable,
For more unwise men, so starless, misrule.


Daniel Wilcox

First pub. in Danse Macabre
and in poetry collection,
Psalms, Yawps, and Howls





Palestinian attempts vehicular attack, is shot dead
Yoav Zitun 12.18.15, 17:19 http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4741130,00.html

"A Palestinian attempted to commit a vehicular terror attack on Friday afternoon during rioting in Silwad in the West Bank. He was shot dead by soldiers. No other people were wounded."


Palestinians in car attacks--run down Israelis and kill them.






--




"Violent clashes broke out between dozens of Palestinian youths and Israeli forces near the Bilal mosque in Bethlehem on Friday. Israeli forces fired tear gas and live bullets at youths."

"The Palestinian activists threw petrol bombs and stones using slingshots to protest against ongoing occupation and escalating violence. Thirty-six people were injured."
https://www.rt.com/in-motion/323842-palestine-israeli-forces-clashes/


"Towering walls and militarized fences now encircle Bethlehem, turning the 4,000-year-old city into a virtual prison for its Palestinian Christian and Muslim citizens. Bethlehem has only three gates to the outside world, all tightly controlled by Israeli occupation forces."
http://www.ifamericansknew.org/history/bethlehem.html

"Israel has confiscated almost all the agricultural land in the area for illegal settlements, making it impossible for many Palestinian farmers to continue tending their land. Outside the town, the fields where shepherds once watched their flocks are being filled by Israeli housing blocs and roads barred to the descendants of those shepherds."

Israeli Army bulldozed this Palestinian's orchard

*BETHLEHEM, West Bank (RNS) The Palestinian Authority has asked municipalities to tone down their public Christmas celebrations this year amid escalating violence between Palestinians and Israelis."

"Hanna Amireh, who heads a government committee on churches in the West Bank, confirmed the Palestinian Authority is requesting “a certain decrease” in festivities following the deaths of dozens of Palestinians since mid-September. The majority of them were killed during clashes with Israeli forces or carrying out terrorist attacks, according to the Israeli government."

"Amireh said the government has asked the municipality of Bethlehem, the town where Jesus was born and where official Palestinian celebrations of Christmas take place, not to set off holiday fireworks this year and to limit the festive lights and decorations that traditionally adorn the town to two main streets."
November 30, 2015
http://www.religionnews.com/2015/11/30/palestinian-authority-limits-christmas-celebrations-west-bank/
--

"Several stabbing attacks against Israelis occurred in and around Jerusalem Monday. In one instance, two Palestinian girls with scissors wounded a 70-year-old Palestinian man, thinking he was Israeli. One of the girls was killed by police.
The two girls, aged 14 and 16, stabbed the man with two pairs of scissors on Jaffa Road, a main thoroughfare between East and West Jerusalem. The attack caused wounds to the victim's head and back."

"The 16-year-old attacker was shot and killed by an Israeli police officer, while her 14-year-old accomplice was shot and wounded. Police said the two girls were related."
https://www.rt.com/news/323141-palestinian-israeli-stabbings-jerusalem/

*Art By Banksy
http://ifamericansknew.org/about_us/bethlehem06.html


Oh unholy night, where is the starred light?

Daniel Wilcox

Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Confused Semantics of Atheism and Theism

Here We Go Again...

Ever see any of those 17th century book titles that consisted of many words, a long, convoluted paragraph?
(If not, check back to my last post on the book George Fox dug out of his burrows...)


I was tempted to do that for this title to emphasize the absurdity of so much dialog between Atheists and Theists:

Here we go again, the wiley coyote of semantics continuing, the slimy snake, Sneed, the slippery pig, Pout, the undulating salmon, Fesh
OR
how human language interaction is so complex and complicated that two humans can dialog for hours talking philosophy and cosmology and religion and completely misunderstand each other
totally…


Point #1: Years ago, the famous Christian theologian Paul Tillich claimed that most people who think they are Atheists, aren't really Atheists but actually believe in God!

Then Martin Gardner, the co-founder of the modern skeptic movement, wrote that Tillich was actually an Atheist!

Back and forth go thinkers labeling others, often contrary to the others' clear affirmations.


What is an Atheist?

Merriam-Webster Dictionary:
Atheism--
a disbelief in the existence of deity
b : the doctrine that there is no deity
--
1570s, from French athéiste (16c.), from Greek atheos "without god, denying the gods; abandoned of the gods; godless, ungodly," from a- "without" + theos "a god" (see theo-).
http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=atheist


Read the famous atheistic quote on the poster again.

Huh?

I realize that George Santayana is a famous philosopher, but in this statement
he seems to have forgotten semantics, or he is trying--
like in football--to do a quarterback reverse;-)

Point #2: Baruch Spinoza wasn’t an Atheist,
but probably some sort of Pantheist according to most scholars
(or possibly advocating one form of panentheism according
to the French philosopher Martial Gueroult ).

“There are, Spinoza insists, two sides of Nature. First, there is the active, productive aspect of the universe—God and his attributes, from which all else follows. This is what Spinoza, employing the same terms he used in the Short Treatise, calls Natura naturans, “naturing Nature”.

Strictly speaking, this is identical with God. The other aspect of the universe is that which is produced and sustained by the active aspect, Natura naturata, “natured Nature”.”

Spinoza: “By Natura naturata I understand whatever follows from the necessity of God's nature, or from any of God's attributes, i.e., all the modes of God's attributes insofar as they are considered as things that are in God, and can neither be nor be conceived without God. (Ip29s).”
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/spinoza/


Point #3: According to Santayana’s definition, Theists such as Plato, Alfred Lord Whitehead, Charles Hartshorne, Immanuel Kant, Keith Ward, the skeptic Martin Gardner, (and, yes, even the Roman Catholic theologian Hans Kung) would all be Atheists!


After all, Plato very clearly wasn't committed to worshiping the Roman and Greek mythological gods. So was Plato an Atheist?


No. Plato essentially held to the eternal perfect reality of the Good.

Not atheistic at all. Not by any stretch of the imagination.


Point #4: It seems that in these anti-theistic statements, Atheists such as Santayana are spreading a very world-wide net of what they consider non-theism to be,
but in contrast, they
highly restrict Theism to a very narrow ledge
--which amounts to only creedal Christianity,
and maybe includes orthodox
Judaism and Islam.

Atheists even assert that Deism isn’t theistic!

Try telling that to Enlightenment figures such as Jefferson, Paine, etc.who strongly believed in God and lived for God.

Point #5: Also atheistic leaders argue that Panentheism and Pantheism are actually not theistic!

Hello!
Panentheism means all is in God or God is the mind--the PROCESS--while the cosmos is the body, physical matter and energy.


Panentheism is very transcendent, the exact opposite extreme from Atheism's naturalism.




And Pantheism means that all is God, that God is the Universe. Albert Einstein, (as noted previously on this blog) emphasized that he didn’t believe in a personal god, but that he believed in Spinoza’s God.

All such theistic philosophical views are contrary to the definition of Atheism: “no god.”


Point #6: Then Santayana declares that he has “true piety towards the universe.”

But how can he or any human live "true piety," if the universe is only matter and energy?


Point #7: All of this semantic confusion gets lost in the cosmos.

Though I am a very strongly convinced Theist, someone might consider me to be an Atheist since I agree with Santayana and Plato who both deny “only gods fashioned by men in their own image, to be servants of their human interests.”

Well, it goes even further than that. Even when I was a committed Christian for 55 years, I didn’t believe in Santayana’s explanation of God.


Point #8: These semantic troubles never end. They started at least 2,000 years ago. Even Christians sometimes have been called Atheists! Romans used to call monotheists, “Atheists”! Because they didn’t believe in the Gods of Greece or Rome.


Point #9: And in the present time, some Atheists have claimed Voltaire, Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, etc. to be Atheists even though the very words of those theistic thinkers claim the exact opposite.

Voltaire and Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson were strong Theists and opposed to Atheism.

Such a stretch of semantics.

What a chaos we weave.

I bet Alice is laughing her head off. Wait a minute, it was the Queen of Hearts
in Wonderland who shouted, “Off with their heads.”

Not so funny now that some Muslims are following the Qur'anic verse to behead people.

Point #10: Maybe we do need Atheists now to oppose Muslims and Christians who always find
justifications for killing for their God.





“No wise fish would go anywhere without a porpoise.”
Alice in Wonderland




Let’s live in the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

"Fox digged out of his Burrows" and other C.Q.H.;-) Fractured As Usual




A city Quaker from an Evangelical Friends church was talking with a Quaker from a Friends meeting in the country. "You are in violation of our Faith and Practice!"

"On the contrary, dear Friend, maybe it would be good if you re-read the words of the son of man. It's in Luke 12:14, "But he said to him, 'Man, who appointed me a judge or arbitrator over you? Beware, and be on your guard against every form of creed;
for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his propositions.'”

"What?! I don't remember Jesus saying anything like that in Matthew." The Evangelical grabbed up his Bible and began leafing through the pages.

"Look it up, City Friend. You may think we liberals are country heretics, a bunch of Hicks, but we seek the Light." Then the Friendly farmer walked away smiling.

--

At the Underground Railroad history museum, the guide, a descendant of Levi Coffin, held up a wooden bowl and spoke to a junior high group of teenagers, “This is the very bowl that Levi Coffin’s wife used to feed runaway slaves hidden in a secret compartment in their house.”

Several students, murmured, “Wow,” a few looked bored, and someone loudly whispered, “If only I had my cell phone! I wish--”

“To uh-bowl-ish slavery with that very dish!” interrupted a bright kid in the back.

Some of the teens broke into laughter, and so did the guide.

--

Do you know why the Quaker sailors on Nantucket Island could get their ships cleaned up fast?

They had plenty of mussels.

--

One Quaker student to another:

“Consider how many women among Friends worked for women’s rights based on spiritual truth. For instance, do you remember reading about Susan B. ‘At-the-knee’?" asked the girl in a North Face hiking vest, smiling.


"Sure," said the petite girl next to her, missing the friendly pun.

"She must have kneeled to pray all the time," the North Face girl added, snickering. “Furthermore, think how far we women have progressed since. Why we even have a ‘Hillary’ who is seeking the ‘ever-most’ peak of her career, trying to set a new ‘precedent.’”

“Wait a minute, Hilary’s not a Quaker; she’s a Methodist!”

“Ah, there is madness in my method-dist thee not see;-)?” and the first girl broke out laughing.

--

Did you see the dog kennel in Quakertown, Pennsylvania? The large sign outside proclaims, “There is that of dog in everyone.”

--

"If you don't listen to or play gangsta rap or hip hop, what music do you Friends listen to, then?' asked the skinny teen, tapping time to his I-Pod."

The student from Friends School in North Carolina said, “Oh, Quake and Roll, Quaky Tonk, Quakeabilly, Quakem and Blues, Rapt.”

"Stupid! But I get yer lame jokes, even 'rapt' for 'rap,' except what does 'rapt' have to do with Quakers?

"You need to read The Journal of George Fox or John Woolman and listen to the spiritual songs of Jon Watts! We're talking spiritual rapture, man. Like the dictionary says, 'transported by spiritual feeling'."

--


But sometimes word-play humor in history became mean-spirited. There was a long-titled book ridiculing Quakers by punning their leaders’ names, George Fox and Edward Burroughs.

George Fox digged out of his Burrowes… published in 1676 by Roger Williams

“The old Fox thought it best to run for it, and leave the work to his…” page 5

Burroughs had already died in prison at the age of 29 in 1663. He had been jailed for holding a Quaker meeting. Such religious events were banned by the British government in 1662.

Then the Quakers responded with this long-titled book against Roger Williams:

“A New-England-fire-brand quenched being something in answer unto a lying, slanderous book, entituled, George Fox digged out of his burrows, &c. printed at Boston in the year 1676, of one Roger Williams of Providence in New-England ... : of a dispute upon XIV, of his proposals held and debated betwixt him, the said Roger Williams, on the one part, and John Stubs, William Edmundson, and John Burnyeat on the other at Providence and Newport in Rode-Island, in the year 1672 where his proposals are turn'd upon his own head, and there and here he was and is sufficiently confuted : in two parts : as also, something in answer to R.W.'s Appendix, &c. with a post-script confuting his blasphemous assertions ... : also, the letters of W. Coddington of Rode-Island, and R. Scot of Providence in New-England concerning R.W. and lastly, some testimonies of ancient & modern authors concerning the light, Scriptures, rule & the soul of men / by George Fox and John Burnyeat. [London: s.n.] 1678.”
http://quod.lib.umich.edu/e/eebo/A40216.0001.001/1:4?rgn=div1;view=toc
--



In the 'Lightening' Flash of Punness,

Daniel Wilcox

Monday, December 14, 2015

To Act Truly Human



Part #1: To Act Truly Human, Be Generous—Freely Give to Those in Need

Part #2: To Act Truly Human, Treat All Others as Equal—View All Humans as Inherently of Worth and Value

Part #3: To Act Truly Human, Focus on the Transcendent—Live for the Good, Beyond the Temporal and Transient and Any Action that Is Wrong

Part #4: To Act Truly Human, Do LovingKind Acts—Live with Empathy, Compassion, and Caring for All; Cherish Others

Part #5: To Act Truly Human, Seek Justice—Work for Human Rights, Fairness, Impartiality

Part #6: To Act Truly Human, Live in Fidelity--If Possible Commit to One Other Person in a Covenanted Relationship;
Reject and Resist the Wiles of Adultery, Promiscuity, Polyamory, Polygamy, Pornography

Part #7: To Act Truly Human, Speak the Truth in Love to Everyone--Be Honest; Oppose Lies, Deceptions, Manipulations,
Obscene Cursings, and All Forms of Propaganda

Part #8: To Act Truly Human, Cultivate and cherish community. Commune with Ultimate Reality (whatever you want to term it--God, the Divine, the Good, etc.) and commune with other humans. Share deeply

Part #9: To Act Truly Human, Live in wonder; take joy in beauty and the mysteries of the universe
(For instance, Albert Einstein
explained that he wasn't an Atheist
because, unlike them, he was enthralled
with the beautiful structure of the cosmos.)

Part #10: To Act Truly Human, "Live simply and in harmony with all of creation."* Care for nature and all of its creatures
(This ethical goal is a good alternative against
the wrong extremes--
that of Paganism and Hinduism which claim that
natural evils such as malaria are somehow "holy"
and okay!
versus
that of Secularism which too often sees
the natural world as only a thing to use,
even exploit.)




I'm working on the central concept of what it means to be truly human, not in the basic evolutionary sense, but in the ethical one, toward the transcendent goal for which we seek.

(Most of us know that we are homo sapiens, one branch of primates resulting from over 3 billion years of evolutionary history.
For a biological explanation of our species, check out my last post.)


"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."
Martin Luther King Jr.


What ethical truths should I add to the beginning list of 10?













[* Thanks to Bill for 3 more suggestions. William C. Guerrant Jr.
is a Virginia farmer and author of a book and video series,
Organic Wesley, based on his master's thesis "about
environmental ethics in the writing and teaching of John Wesley"
and on Wesley's "subject of food and ethical eating."
https://practicingresurrection.wordpress.com/]









In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Doubtful about Creation versus Atheism?

Have you heard the joke about the Quaker philosopher, Atheistic biologist, and Theistic scientist who met and all disagreed at the same time;-)?

From a life-time of studying the issues of science and cosmology versus religion and philosophy, here’s my short list of some of the best books to study in our search for what is true:

#1: The Ancestor’s Tale by Richard Dawkins

Dawkins’ mastery of biology and evolutionary history
is amazing. This is one of the very best 10 books
published in science. It’s sad, however, that such
a brilliant thinker has a limited and skewed
understanding of philosophy, cosmology, and religion.

Most tragic is that Dawkins thinks ethics are
relative and subjective. In an interview,
he even stated that rape is only
a subjective preference!


#2: Finding Darwin's God: A Scientist's Search for Common
Ground Between God and Evolution
by Kenneth R. Miller

Miller is an award-winning evolutionary cell biologist
and professor at Brown University who has defended
the science of evolution against creationism in
U.S. courts.

In this lucidly written book on evolution,
Miller disproves creationism. But then contrary to
the views of Dawkins, Dennett, and other scientists
who are Atheists, Miller goes onto
to argue for Theism!

















#3 Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings
of Life
by Daniel C. Dennett

This magisterial work would probably have been better
titled how Darwinian evolution shows that Life has no
meaning. Don't miss reading this tome.

No matter what your philosophical view, you will never
be the same upon finishing and reflecting on its key
ideas and evidence.







#4: Rock of Ages by Stephen Jay Gould
(Or any of his other many books)

Read any of Stephen Jay Gould's pity studies in science
and the history of science. His infamous view of the
relationship of science and religion called NOMA
(Non-overlapping magistereria) emphasizes that there
is no conflict between the two contrary fields.

According to this brilliant evolutionist, this is
because science and religion deal with very different
issues--biology with the natural world,
but religion with the world of values and ethics.

NOMA has led to all sorts of strong reactions by thinkers
on all sides of the whole controversy. Gould's important
thinking is not to be missed even if you disagree. See
especially "Non-Overlapping Magisteria" in
Natural History Magazine, beside his book,
(with its a play on words of religion, science
and history), Rock of Ages.





#5: Tower of Babel: The Evidence Against the New Creationism
by Robert T. Pennock


In this case, we hear from Pennock who is a philosopher
of science at Michigan State University rather than from
scientists.

Pennock is a Quaker and a theist, but one who
strongly supports evolutionary views against both young
earth creationism and Intelligent Design scientists. A vey
intriguing book, which surely will get your hackles up no
matter what you think:-)


What books, articles, or documentaries do you think ought to be added to the list?


In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Friday, December 11, 2015

Scientific Jingle Bells!

Get in the spirit of Christmas with a little help from scientificsong.com:

"Oh Single Cells...";-)




http://scientificsong.com/videos
Natalie Windsor, Vocalist
Tariq Abdulla, Lyricist

---














And then for all the snow birds heading south with snow flurries chasing them;-):