Saturday, June 17, 2017

What is True, Not "Politically Correct"

Part #2: What is True?

Honesty, Justice, Commitment, Reason, Goodness, Human Rights, Compassion, Duty, Kindness, Equality, Helpfulness, Peacemaking, Fairness, Patience, Fidelity, Generosity, Sharing, and so on...


What is False?

Dishonesty, Lying, Cheating, Injustice, Irrationalism, Fickleness, Cruelty, Torture, Rape, Enslavement, Abuse, Slaughter, infanticide, Violence, Theft, Racism, Promiscuity, Prostitution, Selfishness, and so on...

Many of these ethical truths, (and their contrary immoral actions) have been discovered by humans through experience, reasoning, and intuition and have been held up as ideals for thousands of years. Some of the ideals have taken much longer to become accepted by most humans than others.

But even way back in 250 B.C. one human leader in Western Asia banned slavery. And many of the virtues and ethical rights were emphasized even before then.

The POINT?

We humans, contrary to what many present leaders claim, don't need to reinvent the moral wheel of civilization over in every generation.

Instead, we reflect on the achievements of past moral leaders, sift and look for ways to improve on their lives and ideals. We finite individuals get to add in our insight and thinking, seeking greater and greater understanding of ethical truth. For instance, one topic that has come up in the last 50 years or so is the question of "animal rights." A deep topic to think about for the future.

CONTRARY to the many naysayers and negaters of the present, who claim that all ethics are "relative" and "subjective," and that no human has inherent value, and that there are no human rights,
we humans can live for
what is true,
what is good,
what is of inherent value.

NOW TO the "politically correct:"

So much of modern media has been touting catch phrases and words that many people adopt in mass, rather than test with previous ethical truths.

For instance:

Everyone is equal and that therefore those humans who have an orientation toward same sexuality ought to have the same right to commit to one other person to become his/her lover, spouse, and life-long partner.

Here's the 'socially and politically incorrect" part:

Terms and descriptions such as "GLBTQI" ought to be abandoned.

Why?

Because not only are such terms politically-charged catch phrases, they often aren't accurate.


#1 Same sexual is a more denotative term than the connotative terms such "gay" and lesbian."

#2 "Same sexual" explains how an individual human is orientated, but it doesn't define him/her in all of his/her complexity as do such popular sexual words such as "gay."

Opposite sexual individuals aren't defined by one term! There are many different sorts of opposite sexual individuals with widely different worldviews, life-stances, and perspectives.

That seems to be true for same sexual individuals, too.

#3 B stands for "bisexual," BUT this ambivalence in some humans ought not to be a defining description of them. If an individual feels emotionally and physically drawn to both sexes, that person needs to reflect deeply to which type of human he/she is most drawn. If it is 50-50, then he/she needs to make a definitive choice to go one way or the other.

If the person does choose, and then lives celibate until meeting his/her true love, and makes a commitment for life with that special person, then that is his/her chosen path.

He/she may still feel ambivalent, like a young adult might still feel torn some years later after choosing his/her career but usually continues with his commitment.

And he/she usually doesn't call themselves in an identifying term, such as I am a "bi-career";-) as if they feel so ambivalent about choosing to be a doctor or an engineer that they need to emphasize it to everybody!

#4 Transgendered is a very new field of study in human nature and ethics. Why do a few humans feel that they are caught in the wrong body? Sometimes the case is that when born, an infant is in the "middle" in his/her private parts and the obstetrician made a misdiagnosis.

This is tragic because it makes it so hard for the child as he/she grows up. However, transgendered individuals are of equal worth and inherent value as opposite and same sexual humans.

Again, why identify themselves centrally by their particular orientation?!

There is so much more to being human than sexuality, as important as that is to everyone of us.

#5 Lastly, another reason to stop using these catchy terms and "politically correct" phrases is that human sexuality ought to NEVER have been the political football it has become, where strident voices on all different sides of the issue yell at each other.

We need to focus on HUMANISM--the ideals, truths, and values that we all share.

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox








Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Whole Human Versus the One-Angled Human


#1 Usually orthodox Christians, Muslims, Jews, and other religionists say they live only by faith (usually narrowly defined)-- belief in the divine, eternal truth of only their own ancient literature by which all other human values must be judged, that all other views are "made-up" or "demonic" or based in "human pride" and "selfishness."




According to them, each human has no “inherent” worth, value, and meaning. Every human and everything else is “worthless” except for whom and what God has given value to in his foreordination, sovereignty and hidden will.

All events in existence including natural disasters, disease, war, famine, crime, and evil etc. are the result of the sovereign will of God.

VERSUS

#2 Usually hard Atheists say they live only by science and reason (usually narrowly defined)--that all other human values are subjective, relative, “made-up,” “constructed,” only “ personal opinion” or “cultural preference” that there are no inherent ethics, no human “rights,” no “justice,” no valid aesthetics, no “better” culture or social framework.

According to them, each human has no “inherent” worth, value, and meaning. Every human and everything else is “worthless” because there is no essential or ultimate reality. Nothing but matter and energy moving eternally.



All events in existence including natural disasters, disease, war, famine, crime, and “so-called evil” are the result of a meaningless, purposeless rigid determinism. All humans are "puppets" and have no choice.

Do you see the irony of this double-mirror, each worldview, perspective negating the other yet almost exactly the mirrored reflection of the other in many significant ways?

FURTHERMORE:

Of course, most religionists don’t only live by “faith.”
They regularly live by “science and reason” when it comes to illness, mechanical failure, running their business, etc.

Most of them don’t live “only by faith.” When they are sick, they consult a doctor, go in for an operation, when their vehicle breaks down, they use tools or take it to a mechanic, when they start a business, they employ an accountant, etc.

And, of course, most atheists don’t live “only by science and reason.”
They regularly support the police and serve on juries which are allegedly based in justice, not subjectivity, that if criminals break into their house or assault their children, it’s not just “subjective,” “relative,” or “made up.”

And they usually send their kids to formal schools be educated in the humanities and aesthetics as well as science.
They don’t assume that the latest scam, National Inquirer news, or scrawl on the side of a building are “equal” to an historical study, meticulously honest fair news or the classics in the library.


Essential or Inherent Humanism seeks to counter both of these ‘one-angled’ extremes which distort reality.




But the explanation of that is for the next post:-)

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Please Write for Iranian Human Rights Activist

"Elderly human rights defender Dr Mohammad Maleki, 84, is being prevented
from leaving Iran to visit his children in the Netherlands and Canada.

The authorities have placed him on a travel ban
since 2011, in reprisal for his peaceful human rights activism."


Dr. Mohammad Maleki: “I have not
committed theft, fraud or any other criminal offence. I have been deprived of my civil rights solely for my
beliefs...and human rights activities...I wish to visit my son after seven years...

This is the obvious right and the
deep wish of every father.”

"In July 2015, he began a weekly sit-in protest outside a state-affiliated building. He
maintained the protest until November 2015 when his health declined and he could no longer continue. He suffers from several serious health problems and wants to be reunited with his family."

"Dr Mohammad Maleki is one of the founders of the Campaign for Step by Step Abolition of the Death Penalty, known by its Persian acronym, Legam. He regularly participates in gatherings held in solidarity with victims of human rights violations, and maintains contact with other human rights defenders as well as families of political prisoners."


from Amnesty International:

1) TAKE ACTION

"Write a letter, send an email, call, fax or tweet:

Lift the travel ban imposed on Dr Mohammad Maleki immediately and unconditionally, as he is being solely punished for the peaceful exercise of his human rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly;

Respect the right of everyone to leave their country, as guaranteed under Article 12 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a state party;

Explicitly recognize the legitimate work of human rights defenders, and end the criminalization of peaceful activities that promote and defend human rights, including communication with UN human rights mechanisms."

Contact...by 14 July, 2017:

Head of the Judiciary
Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani
c/o Public Relations Office
Number 4, Deadend of 1 Azizi
Above Pasteur Intersection
Vali Asr Street, Tehran, Iran
Salutation: Your Excellency

Office of the Supreme Leader
Permanent Mission to the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations
Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei
622 Third Avenue, 34th Floor, New York, NY 10017
Fax: (212) 867-7086 I Phone: (212) 687-2020
Email: iran@un.int
Salutation: Your Excellency

https://www.amnestyusa.org/urgent-actions/urgent-action-sick-elderly-iranian-activist-travel-ban-iran-ua-120-17/
--


In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Monday, May 29, 2017

SHILOH by Melville, a Memorial Day Poem


Shiloh: A Requiem (April, 1862)

Skimming lightly, wheeling still,
The swallows fly low
Over the field in clouded days,

The forest-field of Shiloh—
Over the field where April rain
Solaced the parched ones stretched in pain

Through the pause of night
That followed the Sunday fight
Around the church of Shiloh—

The church so lone, the log-built one,
That echoed to many a parting groan
And natural prayer

Of dying foemen mingled there—
Foemen at morn, but friends at eve—

Fame or country least their care:
(What like a bullet can undeceive!)

But now they lie low,
While over them the swallows skim,
And all is hushed at Shiloh.

--Herman Melville


the lone church:


scenes after the horrific battle:









Grieving for so many today,
such needless slaughter,
so much destruction,

Daniel Wilcox

The Lowest of the Low--Denial of the Reality of Ethics


It would seem that Divine Command Theory of conservative Christianity which claims that an action is only wrong or right if God declares it so is the worst form of ethics.

How much lower can one get than to proclaim that ethnic cleansing, the slaughter and rape of enemies, the abuse and torture of others, the enslavement of humans is good or justified because the Almighty says so?

For a long time, it appeared that DCT was the worst of the worst.

Thankfully most secular human leaders (in the U.S. at least)—regardless of their particular worldview--emphasized human rights, justice, equality, fairness, generosity, tolerance, the Bill of Rights including free speech, freedom to change and criticize religions and ideologies, etc. (to one degree or another).
BUT all that has changed.

Now many secular leaders are claiming there are no human rights, no objective ethics, that all ethics, even opposition to rape and enslavement are only "subjective" constructs"!

When did the abhorrent tilt to relativism come about?

(It’s enough to scare the living daylights out of any human rights worker, any Civil Rights leader, any one involved in law enforcement, any normal citizen who is concerned with real ethics.)

Look at this strange exchange this week on the Internet:

Atheist blogger Neil Carter wrote, "our moral systems of guidance are no more objective than the compass Jack Sparrow carries around with him on his many misadventures.2 And that furthermore, that is perfectly okay."
--

Human Rights Daniel Wilcox: This is completely untrue. Rape, slaughter, slavery, molestation, abuse are ALWAYS WRONG. Human rights, justice, goodness, equality, etc. are always right.


For instance, the Humanist Manifesto III states, (like the Enlightenment, and human right organizations now such as Amnesty International) that "We are committed to treating each person as having inherent worth and dignity, and to making informed choices in a context of freedom consonant with responsibility.”

Note emphasis in the Manifesto on words such as
"Inherent worth"
"freedom"
"responsibility".

Humans don't make up ethics; they aren't "constructs" as Neil Carter claims.

On the contrary, ethics are discovered, are "inherent" in reality.
--

Neil Carter also wrote, "...humanists of every stripe can agree that human beings should never be treated as someone else’s property."
--

Note the danger of Carter's words:
"can agree"

But agreement has nothing to do with whether some action is good or bad!

And true ethics aren't based in any "can."

They are always "ought."

Besides, various humanists have justified not only enslavement, but the slaughter of civilians, torture, inequality,
and even claimed that infants aren’t “persons”!

And that, therefore, an infant, since it isn't a "person," it may be killed up to one year old!!

And that some animals have more value than some human infants!

Tragic. How confused and downright wrong such thinking is.

Even if humans changed their minds and declared various immoral actions no longer immoral and okay, they wouldn't be moral.

This sort of relativistic thinking is the extreme danger of nonobjective ethics.
Lots of humans in the past and now declare terrible actions good.

That has nothing to do with whether or not they really are good.
--

An Atheist:
“That we find near universal agreement about moral statements does not in any way refute their subjectivity.”
--

Human Rights Daniel
Humans don't make up ethics; they aren't "constructs."
--

An Atheist:
“They most certainly are. Ethics are abstractions that comprise many different factors. How we were raised, natural empathy, selfish desires, how importantly we value fairness, thoughtful consideration... all of these and more are used to develop what we would call "ethics."
--

2nd Atheist:
The legal definition of rape has changed during my lifetime. It wasn't until 1993 that marital rape was made illegal in all 50 states. So before then was marital rape moral or immoral?"
--

3rd Atheist:
"What any given culture puts into the bucket of "wrong" is inherently relativistic."
--

Human Rights Daniel:
No.

Ask Enlightenment leaders such as Thomas Paine, ask the UN Declaration of Human Rights, ask The Human Manifest III, ask Amnesty International, ask Martin Luther King Jr. and other Civil Rights workers, etc.
--

4th Atheist
"Appeal to authority. FAIL.

As you have been told here for years by many people much smarter than me:
There is no such thing as "objective ethics" or "objective morality". There is only ethics that most of us like or accept as part of our current social structure, just like every other society that exists or has existed."

"Have you stumbled upon a set of ethical observations equivalent to Newton's laws of motion, or the laws of thermodynamics in physics? Then your objective morality doesn't exist, and you should really stop embarrassing yourself by insisting it does simply because you're frightened of the idea of it not existing.

You like the ideals espoused in the Humanist Manifesto? That's nice. But don't pretend this is somehow an objective document. The fact that you (and most other people) might like the ideas within it does not make it objective."
--

5th Atheist:
"If you could devise an objective moral framework, i.e. one that objectively answers all moral questions under any circumstances, then you could have objective morals, on equal footing with mathematical truths. Of course, nobody has ever succeeded in creating such a framework.

Moreover, if these objective morals in certain cases would differ from your own subjective morals you would most probably reject the objective framework and go with your own subjective morals anyway. So, an objective moral framework (if even possible) is only useful if all people (inter)subjectively agree to the moral outcomes of the framework."
--

Atheist Blogger Neil Carter:
"My point is that all morals systems are constructs, even the ones we can agree on. And I'm pretty sure all humanists will agree that rape is bad."
--

H. R. Daniel Wilcox:
Whether humanists "agree" that they are subjectively against rape, has nothing to do with whether or not rape is really wrong.

Morals aren’t “constructs.”

Consider that the vast majority of orthodox Muslims believe in inequality for women, and think that ex-Muslims ought to be punished.

That isn't okay.

Those humans are objectively wrong, are immoral in their beliefs and actions.

Most Americans think that if the U.S. government tortures and slaughters civilians that is justified.

But that doesn't make it okay.

Many American Christians think that human rights ought to be denied same sexual couples!

But that doesn't make it okay.

Amnesty International has worked for human rights for many years. AI thinks every human has human rights. That human rights are real,
not "subjective" "likes."

Human rights aren’t “constructs” but are inherent in reality. Every human is born with rights which are “inherent” and “unalienable.”

No way are ethics "subjective" and made up by humans.

Even if every human on the face of the earth said that in some cases slavery, rape, slaughter, racism are okay, those actions still wouldn't be moral.
--

6th Atheist:
"Rape is bad" is not actually a moral statement without defining what "rape" means. And when it comes to the definition of rape there is no consensus, not even among humanists. Does rape require penetration, or could it include other sexual acts? Can it be rape if the perpetrator was convinced that it was consensual?

Can it be rape if there was no violence involved? Does rape within marriage require stronger evidence? Can the behavior of the victim be a mitigating factor? Etcetera.

ETA: I would (subjectively) answer these questions with yes, yes, yes, no, almost never. Others would (subjectively) come up with other answers.”
--

Look at the central statement again by the 4th Atheist:
“As you have been told here for years by many people much smarter than me:
There is no such thing as "objective ethics" or "objective morality". There is only ethics that most of us like or accept as part of our current social structure, just like every other society that exists or has existed.

Have you stumbled upon a set of ethical observations equivalent to Newton's laws of motion, or the laws of thermodynamics in physics? Then your objective morality doesn't exist, and you should really stop embarrassing yourself by insisting it does simply because you're frightened of the idea of it not existing.

You like the ideals espoused in the Humanist Manifesto? That's nice. But don't pretend this is somehow an objective document. The fact that you (and most other people) might like the ideas within it does not make it objective.”
--

And this is the view of many modern thinkers at present. Consider the views of the Israeli historian Yuval Noah Harari in his famous book, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind.

He states that "equality," "liberty," and human rights are "myths."

--
:-(

When did so many modern thinkers turn against the Enlightenment, and start claiming that ethics are “relative,” “subjective,” only human “constructs,” and rejecting the view that human rights are “inherent” and “unalienable”?

When did such humans begin to think that even rape and slavery are only subjective preferences or “dislikes” or “likes,” not really inherently evil actions?!

Deeply Troubled,

Daniel Wilcox



Sunday, May 28, 2017

On Justice and Poverty














Ruminate on those wise words while this blogger recovers from 5 weeks of driving:-)

The lone ranger/long distance driver/historical site sojourner has returned from his cross-country van exploration, after he and his wife visited with his son, daughter-in-law, and 3 grandkids on a Florida cruise. This was my first cross-country adventure since 1967. Then I had been drafted and drove all the way to Trevose, Pennsylvania in my Mystical Hippotamus Chevy van to begin alternative service at Eastern State School and Hospital, a medical facility for the treatment of emotionally disturbed children and teenagers.

Older, wiser (a little:-), and far more tired, here I go again, writing blogs:-)

Below is a picture of the ol' backpacker hiking down the Tanner Trail in the Grand Canyon several days ago. Triple play...it was my third time down into the Canyon via that seldom used trail. I was the only one on the trail, except for a guy from Pennsylvania who I told about it.

You can vaguely see the continuing trail in the middle of the picture in the side of the central greenish bluff. I didn't go that far. Last time I walked the whole way carrying 2 gallons of water in my backpack (as there is no water on the trail until you get to the bottom at the Colorado, and the Tanner Rapids).

It's over 8 miles long. And back then I spent the night in my Eureka tent, and watched a few boats run the rapids the next day. BUT I'm not up to that any more. Still, despite my bad back, lack of energy, etc., I was able to go for about an hour down the trail this time and made it back up:-)


Here I am paused part way down into the grandeur earlier this week.



The first time I backpacked down the Tanner was in the winter and I had to post-hole through knee-deep snow, often couldn't even find the trail, just descended gullies at times. On that freezing, snowy trip, I didn't make to the bottom either. Finally gave up after I camped on the Tonto Plateau, and another snow storm was moving in, and I decided to pack up my tent, and come again when it was warmer:-)
Long live the Grand Canyon:-)

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Review of Quaker Leader Becky Ankeny's new ebook, ...Accept Gay Marriage



I wish Becky Ankeny had achieved her goal in her new ebook,
A Leisurely Introduction to How a Bible-Believing Christian Can Accept Gay Marriage in the Church.


Because:
I support equality in marriage for everyone, both same sexual couples and opposite sexual couples. And not only is marriage a human right, it is very important for ethical truth.

Too often in the past, and especially in contemporary culture and society, millions of humans choose promiscuity, polygamy, prostitution, pornography, loneliness and lack of intimacy, etc.

A chosen intimate, permanent covenant between two individuals in contrast delivers humans from the vagaries of immoral and unjust behavior. Even more importantly, is the deep sharing, communing, companionship, and the far-reaching goals two committed to each other
can achieve.

But it goes beyond that, too. A covenant is a transcendent experience which enhances humans' lives in other ways as well.

And, lastly (or firstly) a covenant is a witness to wonder, goodness, truth, justice--to the ultimate nature of reality.

Furthermore:
Becky Ankeny raises so many good points, and puts forward appealing positives in her short booklet. (It is well worth the dollar through Amazon!) She reminds readers of the differences between the "universal" versus the "cultural," the goodness but limited worth of analogies, and that caring is far more important than rules.


And the shocking fact, that she as a conservative Evangelical Quaker has published this pro-gay marriage book at the height/depth of the current debacle going on in North West Yearly Meeting, and that she is a former superintendent of that yearly meeting--ALL of that speaks volumes for her and her effort to give hope to same sexual individuals.

She is working for constructive change, going against the current rejection of gay marriage in NWYM which has been so harmful, divisive, and fragmenting in North West Yearly Meeting.*


Similar divisive arguments are taking place in North Carolina Yearly Meeting (also, breaking up), and several years back in Indiana Yearly Meeting, as well as in other denominations beyond the small circle of Friends.

So I admire Becky Ankeny, standing up and speaking truth to friends, their meetings, yearly meetings, and all others concerned with ethics, equality, compassion, intimacy, and hope.

Brief Bio: "Becky Ankeny is a former general superintendent of the Northwest Yearly Meeting of Friends...a member of Newberg Friends Church. Her parents were Friends missionaries in Burundi, Africa...and she spent much of her first 15 years there. She graduated from George Fox College in 1977 and received an MBA (2009) and PhD in English (1986) from the University of Oregon. Her PhD work was on the fiction of George MacDonald, a Victorian preacher and writer who influenced C.S. Lewis."

"She taught at Westmont College from 1986 to 1988 before returning to her alma mater, George Fox, to work as a professor of English and as an administrator from 1988 to 2011. Becky and her husband, Mark, are the parents of two daughters, Davida and Elizabeth, who with their respective husbands, Richard Brown and Jesse Dillow, all graduated from George Fox University. Becky and Mark rejoice in four grandchildren."
http://digitalcommons.georgefox.edu/noteable_individuals/65/


HOWEVER, Becky Ankeny's given explications of the biblical texts are very weak, swallowing a whole herd of camels.

But before I explain why I think she (and the scholars she quotes) have deeply erred in their understanding of the Bible's view of same sexual relations, please consider reading her booklet first. It is a brief version of much longer tomes which I have also read, a good introduction into the whole controversy.

And thank Becky Ankeny for standing up and sharing her own perspective, which she thinks is true.

*For an extensive explanation, details, and view of the controversy in NWYM, read Chuck Fager's
Quaker Theology, Issue #27, and more recent updates.
http://afriendlyletter.com/shattering-quakerism-in-the-northwest-continued/






In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Here's HOPE: COMBATANTS FOR PEACE in Palestine-Israel

Here's hope for now and in the future in Palestine-Israel!

Former violent foes are reconciling, forgiving, sharing, communing, demonstrating that enemies can change,
can leave behind revenge, nationalism, hatred, self-centered ideologies and religions, and so many other factors creating death and destruction in the Middle East.

Check out Combatants for Peace:


"The Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day Ceremony comes to remind us that war is not an act of fate but one of human choice.

On this particularly difficult day, Israelis and Palestinians acknowledge the pain and the aspirations of those living on the “other side” and strive to prevent the next wave of violence."

https://youtu.be/97nIn9NT2G0





"Nonviolence is the greatest force
at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier
than the mightiest weapon of destruction
devised by the ingenuity of man.
Destruction is not the law of the humans."
-M.K.Gandhi

“Peace does not happen by itself; It requires commitment, perseverance and continuing efforts. The more we increase the circle of people involved in activities, the more we will increase our ability to influence the reality in which we live.”

“CFP is a volunteer based movement.
Supporting CFP helps us continue all these activities:

"In-house events – group meetings with a Palestinian and an Israeli member of the Movement who present the personal stories and hold open discussions with the participants."

"Learning Peace" – a series of lectures open to the public."

"Field trips – Tours of the Bethlehem and Nablus areas, where participants get a first-hand look at the actual situation in the occupied territories and meet with Palestinian members of the Movement."

"Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day Ceremony – in memory of victims of the conflict.
Theatre on the Ground – political theater performances promoting non-violent resistance."

"Combatants for peace" (CFP) is a bi-national movement working throughout Palestine and Israel.























In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Friday, April 7, 2017

Stand Against This: U.S. Is Bombing Again, and Supporting Saudi Arabian Bombing


The U.S. is bombing again. Now we are bombing in 7 different countries,
and supporting oppressive regimes such as Saudi Arabia which is also bombing civilians in Yemen!

Yet notice we haven't bombed Saudi Arabia!!!!


Plus, we are supporting Muslim jihadists who have killed many civilians, and we are trying to overthrow another government.

Remember we overthrew the governments of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, etc.

BUT WE HAD NO MAJOR PLAN OF HOW TO CHANGE THEM.

So we let Muslim extremists wreck havoc in these countries for years, and more and more civilians suffer!

Millions are wounded and hundreds of thousands die.

Where is our plan?

Where is our commitment to human rights?

When is the U.S. going to learn?

When we overthrew the Nazis we didn't let them continue to rule and to oppress.

Why are we letting Muslims continue to rule and oppress in Afghanistan, Iraq, etc.?

Does this make any sense?

No.

Is it morally right?

No.


Stand up against this slaughter by the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iran, HAMAS, Fatah, and most Muslims in other countries.

Stand for the LIGHT, in this "ocean of darkness."

Daniel Wilcox

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Guest Post: Our Biggest Mistake by Neil Carter, former Calvinist Christian


http://www.patheos.com/blogs/godlessindixie/2017/04/04/our-biggest-mistake/

from OUR BIGGEST MISTAKE...

by Neil Carter, former Calvinist Christian leader

"1. We took the Bible seriously. We read the Bible.
This was a big mistake.

2. We prayed for the things the Bible told us to pray for.

3. We shared our faith with others. Boy was that a mistake.


4. We believed God was a person who wants to be known through an intimate, personal relationship.
What this miscalculation did for me was it set up an expectation that I should be able to sense, perceive, hear, and know this Person through direct, immediate contact, spirit to spirit.

5. We believed them when they said the Bible doesn’t contradict itself.

Related: “The Absurdity of Inerrancy.”

6. We landed in leadership positions and got to see how the sausage was made, so to speak.

7. We loved people the way our faith told us to, but soon found ourselves “on the outside,” kicked off the reservation for doing so.

Related: “Five Times When Jesus Sounded Like a Humanist“

It’s one of the great ironies of the Christian faith that if you really try to live the way Jesus taught us to live, you may very well find yourself put “outside the camp” just like he was, hung metaphorically on a cross of your own just as he said you’d be.*

Some of the honorable mentions I could have included:
We studied apologetics and defended our faith against its natural enemies until we realized we were on the losing side.
We tried to be “New Testament” in the way we did church and then discovered that doesn’t work.
We attended creation science conventions. That should pretty much do it.
We were told to follow the evidence wherever it led, and it led us right out the front door."

By Neil Carter, former Calvinist leader

-----

MY RESPONSE:
Neil, you make so many powerful points. And most of them are very similar to my own experiences of how my very serious efforts to be Christ-like is what led me to choose to leave the Christian religion.

While, I completely disagree with your choice to embrace atheism, I understand how that seemed like a strong possibility after your rejecting Calvinistic Christianity.

Instead, I chose the Enlightenment and the Society of Friends, Quakers.

There are a few other differences between us:
#1 You wrote, "We hear that we weren’t authentic enough, or we weren’t fully surrendered to the will of God, or we had some unconfessed sin in our lives, or whatever."


You and many former Christians get tagged with those accusations, but I don't remember hearing them much.

Rather, it was claimed that I was NEVER a Christian to begin with, not when
I was a Baptist youth minister, not when I was an elder, etc.

I wonder if you have been accused of "never having been a Christian," too?


#2 Then you wrote, "I felt God. I heard God. I knew God, in personal experience.

There’s just one problem. If you take this relationship too seriously, if you come to it with too much expectation that reality will match what you were told to expect, you will one day fall hard upon the cold ground of self-honesty whereupon you realize you have been conjuring this relationship through your own imagination your entire life."

That didn't happen to me.

I never could feel God, never heard God, never felt I knew God:-( On the contrary, I spent a whole lifetime wondering why I wasn't experiencing what our leaders, theologians, and most other Christians claimed was happening for them.

I still wonder why I felt like an outsider who doesn't experience what everyone else is talking about.

Sometimes at revival meetings, when the call came to come forward and be saved, I wanted to get up and go forward and experience this wonderful relationship,
BUT reminded myself, that I was already saved!

The very troubling question was then why didn't I feel all of the stuff the evangelist had just preached?

So I lived by faith, but my doubts were severe, sometime much worse than other times. I once even gave my testimony at our church in central California, admitting that I didn't "feel" God. The text I chose was the one from Isaiah, where the prophet says that God will give us "beauty for ashes,"
but
that what I had experienced all of my life (I was 38) was God had given me "ashes instead of beauty.":-(

I thought I might get a lot of counseling, and probably negative feedback from the other members, but it didn't happen. I don't know why. Maybe some of them also were talking the talk, but didn't really experience the Christian God either.

#3 I didn't have to deal with Calvinism, like you did, since I never believed in that god. In fact when I first encountered Calvinism, it was a new leader who claimed Divine Command Theory--that whatever "God" commands becomes moral.

The leader told everyone, and me specifically, especially that God was commanding me to go and kill people! Then he proceeded to "prove" this with the Old Testament.


That horrific experience was the death-knell, however it took me years because I thought I could disprove him and his claim. I still thought that there was a 'true christianity' different from Luther, Calvin, and Augustine.

But the more I studied church history, etc. the more I realized Christianity was on his side.

So I finally left.

Lastly, you wrote, "It’s one of the great ironies of the Christian faith that if you really try to live the way Jesus taught us to live, you may very well find yourself put “outside the camp."

That is your strongest, most convincing point!

Most of the other things you mentioned happened to me, also.

But this was a clincher. The more I worked and worked to be like Jesus, the less and less I fit in the churches my wife and I were members of.


In fact, most of the church members in their beliefs and actions were extremely NOT like Jesus.

Yet I met individuals who weren't part of "born again" creedal Christianity who did think and often act according to Jesus' ethic.

For a long time this confused me to no end! Why were "born again" Christians (like Trumpers now) so self-and-nation centered, so intolerant, so unjust, so for war, even nuclear war!??

Yet, people I knew personally who weren't "born again" worked for human rights, opposed war, were compassionate, emphasized honesty, etc.
And many of these "born again" Christians claimed that Martin Luther King Jr. wasn't a Christian, etc.
--
I don't agree with Neil's conclusion that atheism is true.

On the contrary, I am more intellectually convinced of theism now than sometimes when I was "born again" Christian.

But his article is honest, heart-searching, and lucid.

In the LIGHT, seeking for the GOOD, and the Truth,

Daniel Wilcox

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Advancing in My Receding



Cast your lines out

upon the turbulent waters;


then they splash and widen;


watch the rounded ripple of worded motion,


form waving

back

to you


lapping at your toed

self

that temporary ego


and out to others,


then fading...



Do you ‘sea fair’?





-Daniel Wilcox

First pub. in The Write Room,
also in the published poetry
collection, Psalms, Yawps, and Howls



The Ocean of Light overcomes the ocean of darkness.


From SeaQuaker, a writing website of Daniel Eugene Wilcox a poet and fiction writer:


Poetry is creative play in the imagination--
a way of seeing, a way of feeling, a way of being; re-envisioning our perception,
to experience images and moods and truths via the deep structure of far-reaching words. 

Travel within toward the truth and find meaning in this cacophony called Life.

Three collections of Daniel's published poetry are in print--
Dark Energy,
Psalms, Yawps, and Howls,
and selah river.

Browse through his poems, short stories, one speculative novel
and his philosophical musings to see the world, life, and the cosmos from a different perspective.

Daniel earned his degree in Creative Writing from Cal State University, Long Beach. He is a former activist, American and world literature teacher, roving wanderer and explorer--
from Montana to the Middle East, casting lines out upon the turbulent waters and far shores of this troubled world. 

Journey through the wide swim of human consciousness and its many tributaries. 
Yes, travel rivers of the world
and rivers of the soul
and rivers of the mind. 

Check out a haiku, low-cool short poem on the Central California's damp gloom summer at vox poetica:
http://voxpoetica.com/dripping-rain-drizzles/

Reflect on the loss of loved ones and the nature of being human and death--
"Poem for My Dad " and "Deaf to Death" at Lightwaveseeker:
http://infiniteoceanoflightandlove.blogspot.com/2015/12/personal-two-poems-for-my-dad.html

Consider  mirror images in reverse of how we can face Life, dealing with trials, tragedies, and difficulties--"bidingTimeabiding"
http://deadsnakes.blogspot.com/2015/12/daniel-wilcox-three-poems.html

Delve into the joy of romance in "Moon River" published at Poetry Pacific.
http://poetrypacific.blogspot.com/2015/02/2-poems-by-daniel-wilcox.html
_
Encounter the world of Afghanistan in the poem "The Road to Elsewhere"
at Fish Food Magazine.
http://www.fishfoodmagazine.com/poetry/2014/11/22/the-road-to-elsewhere

Need a good laugh in the midst of so much current human tragedy and political chaos?
Try "The Pullout Coyote"
my true but funny poetic story of our encounter
with a wild critter in Yosemite last year.
http://voxpoetica.com/pull-out-coyote/

Experience the speculative alternate history and future narrative of 3 alienologists who travel from across the galaxy to study Earth and its humans, but instead get caught up in alien
joys, trials, and tribulations--
from the Oregon Trail and the  American War Between the States to the Great Depression
and the future high-tech of 2074.
Experience The Feeling of the Earth.
Available now in Kindle e-book or paperback at Amazon, Barnes & Noble,
local book stores, and libraries across the United States.

And get ready for 2 more books coming your way late in 2017, the 4th collection of Daniel's published poetry, Last Things,
and a tense present-day suspense thriller, An Eye for the Beheading.

Our perceptions so decisively affect how we think and make our ethical choices.
Deal with the moving film over your eyes. 
It's easier for a camel to go through the eye of a poem...
http://deadsnakes.blogspot.com/2015/07/daniel-wilcox-three-poems.html

Growing older, starting to consider retirement, caring for your elderly loved ones, contemplating the wonder
of our brief lives?

Then head north to Canada's Poetry Pacific Magazine and ruminate on the poem "Retreaded."  
http://poetrypacific.blogspot.com/2013/08/1-poem-by-daniel-wilcox.html

Find a way to bring goodness out of your problems and trials and tragedies. Read "Nail Holes" at Enhance Literary Magazine.
http://enhancemag.onimpression.com/post/54731422579/the-amazing-enhance-no-12

Ready for the joy of romantic love. Read "Roll Ever Columbia" and "Northeast Night" at cavalcadeofstars. 
https://cavalcadeofstars.wordpress.com/2013/06/17/daniel-wilcox-debuts/

Hold hands again! Check out "two hands" a romancing of romance at vox poetica. Share the lyric with your sweetheart. 
http://voxpoetica.com/two-hands/

Looking for  insightful poems on life, social issues, and history:
"The Last Libation,
" Midnight Voyager,"
" The Revolution,"
and "Ah, Bird Poop Van."

What a travail is politics and nationalism!
Look at Palestine versus Israel, Afghanistan versus the U.N., Syria and Russia versus the U.S., Saudi Arabia, and 30 or more Islamic jihadists groups.etc. Read of the tragic senseless nature of war at The Write Room:
"After the Battle" 
http://thewritemag.com/poetry/after-the-battle/

Doesn't religion sometimes want to make you gag? 

When natural disasters slaughter thousands of humans, and destroy, many Christian and Muslim leaders claim it is the "finger of God!"

Several years ago a major Christian leader claimed that 90 tornadoes which slaughtered humans were commanded by God,
that the winds were from Jesus!!!
Consider a different perspective:
"Let's Do the 'Twister'"
http://newversenews.blogspot.com/2012/03/lets-do-twister.html

Weep for the innocent in "Caught in the Act in Iraq."
Or be shocked into action by his Christmas poem, "To Whom It Does Not Concern," on the website, protestpoems.org and a reflection on time and history in "Of Things Past and Present" at Static Movement. Daniel has a deep passion for peacemaking, ethics, and human rights.

Read other poems of ethics and passion by Daniel Wilcox
at these fine magazines:
vox poetica, Poetry Pacific, Contemporary American Voices, Dead Snakes, Camel Saloon, Ascent Aspirations, Mad Swirl,  Knot Middle Eastern Literary Journal,  Mouse Tales Press,  The Paradise Review,  Ancient Paths Literary Magazine, The Mindful Review, Greensilk Journal, vox poetica, Front Porch Review, Unlikely Stories, Eunoia Review, Enhance Literary and Art Magazine, hotmetalpress.net, Bigger Stones, Decades Review, Lyrical Passion Poetry, Widowmoon Press, amphibi.us, Midwest Literary Magazine, The New Verse News,
Poetry Super Highway, Three Line Poetry, Media Virus Magazine, Western Friend Magazine, A Handful of Stones, Widowmoon Press, Liturgical Credo, Yes, Poetry, Four and Twenty, Gloom Cupboard, The Clockwise Cat, Rubber Lemon, The Medulla Review, Structo, vox poetica, Willows Wept Review,  Haiku Journal, Lyrical Passion Poetry, Moria,, The Centrifulgal Eye,, Lunarosity,, Hanging Moss Journal, The New Verse News,, ocean diamond,, The Writer's Eye, Mad Swirl, Abandoned Towers, The Scruffy Dog Review, Oak Bend Review, Crossing Rivers Into Twilight, Tipton Poetry Journal, The Cherry Blossom Review,, The Houston Literary Review,, Lucid Rhythms, Word Riot,
and
Identity Theory,, Halfway Down the Stairs,, Right Hand Pointing, Frame Lines, The  Externalist,,The Driftwood Review,, Flutter Poetry Journal,, Frostwriting,, Words-Myth, Ink Sweat & Tears, Erbacce Print Journal, Sentinel Poetry Online, The November 3rd Club, Word Catalyst, the poetry warrior, Mississippi Crow Magazine,, The Cerebral Catalyst, Anthrozine, Ink, Sweat, & Tears, Stylus Poetry Journal, Idlewheel Literary Friction, The Indite Circle, The Rogue Poetry Journal, The WriteSideUp, La Fenetre International Literary Magazine, The Other Side Magazine,  The Bicycle Review, A Handful of Stones, The Copperfield Review, Unfettered Verse,  Leaf Garden, Calliope Nerve, Static Movement, Counterexample Poetics,  outwardlink.net, protestpoems.org, Writer's Ink, The Recusant, Full of Crow, The Shine Journal, Danse Macabre, Clutching at Straws, etc.

Daniel resides on the central coast of California with his wife and former homeless feline, Smoke. Besides creative writing, he reads a lot, shoots photography, and finds time to swim.

He's an old backpacker who in the past hiked up the two tallest peaks in Arizona and California, (to the top of Mount Whitney in the Sierra Nevadas), and down into the bottom of the Grand Canyon on many of its South Rim trails the old Bass Trail is the best). But now he hikes into his computer room each day
in the fall of his years:-).

Well, it's not quite that bad; Daniel has hiked with his wife in the wild red rock country of the Southwest, in Florida, Maine, Kauai, up in Oregon, and in Olympia National Park in Washington State.

He ages but doesn't petrify, because he takes walks with his wife on the Central Coast, and swims lots of laps.

*Reference of the Site Logo:

I saw, also, that there was an ocean of darkness and death; but an infinite ocean of light and love, which flowed over the ocean of darkness. In that also, I saw the infinite love of God, and I had great openings...
George Fox

Also, check out Daniel's newer writing websites at  http://www.selahriver.com/ 
http://buddingzin.weebly.com/,
http://lastthings.weebly.com/,
http://www.psalmsyawpshowls.com,
and a bit of jabbwocky whimsy at http://planktonpelican.weebly.com/

​Experience a few of his poems and stories 
at Lightwaveseeker:  http://lightwaveseeker.weebly.com/


In the Light,

Daniel Eugene Wilcox

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Help Free a Human Rights Worker Imprisoned in Saudi Arabia


Please help free Issa al-Hamid who has been sentenced to 11 years in prison
for leading a human rights group in Saudi Arabia.


an urgent message from Amnesty International:

http://www.amnestyusa.org/get-involved/take-action-now/urgent-action-update-human-rights-defender-s-prison-sentence-upheld-saudi-arabia-ua-8616


"The Specialized Criminal Court in Riyadh has upheld Saudi Arabian human rights defender Issa al-Hamid’s 11-year prison sentence."

Call on the Saudi Arabian government to overturn Issa al-Hamid’s conviction...as he has been sentenced solely for the peaceful exercise of his rights to freedom of expression and association.

Ask Saudi Arabian leaders to stop arresting and imprisoning human rights defenders.

Contact these two officials by 17 April, 2017:
King and Prime Minister
His Majesty Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud
The Custodian of the two Holy Mosques
Office of His Majesty the King
Royal Court, Riyadh
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Fax: (via Ministry of the Interior)
+966 11 403 3125 (please keep trying)
Twitter: @KingSalman
Salutation: Your Majesty

Ambassador Abdullah bin Fisal
Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia
601 New Hampshire Ave. NW
Washington DC 20037
Fax: 1 202 944 5983
Phone: 1 202 342 3800
Email: info@saudiembassy.net
Salutation: Dear Ambassador

--

It's tragic that more and more governments are violating human rights. Even worse, as difficult as it is to comprehend, more and more secularists in the United States and else where are claiming that human rights don't exist, aren't real!

For instance, the Israeli historian,
Yuval Noah Harari,
wrote "the only place where such universal principles exist is in the fertile imagination...
and in the myths they invent and tell one another.
These principles have no objectively validity...that all humans are equal is also a myth"!

He also proclaims that "liberty...exists only in their imagination."
According to Harri, the views of the Enlightenment founders and the opening preamble of the Declaration of Independence are all wrong.
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
by Yuval Noah Harari, Harper Collins, 2015

Add that to the many religious leaders worldwide who oppose human rights, and the future looks mighty dim.

We Friends need to launch a new abolition movement worldwide to free not only the millions still enslaved in human trafficking, but to give new life to the transcendent truths of equality and human rights and objective ethics.

We don't look to the obvious, and the temporary,
but to the eternal and the truly ethical.

We need to remember Martin Luther King's powerful words:
"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

In the LIGHT,

Daniel Wilcox

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Part #2: From Baptist Warrior to Friendly Conscientious Objector

My Life Journey TimeLine--
Lifestance, Philosophies, and Spiritual Seeking

Age 17, 1964 Drastic Change #2

(For ages 4? to 17, see Part #1)

Gung-ho for Goldwater for president, promoting the U.S. bombing of North Vietnam, Christian warrior-to-be. God and Country.


BUT then the conservative Baptist edifice of ethical and political understanding came crashing down one Saturday evening at Youth for Christ when an avid Christian girl strongly disagreed with my militant support of the war including the bombing of Hai Phong, Vietnam.

I don’t think I had ever considered enemy civilians as real live people like you and me. They were all our communist enemies who needed to be destroyed for God, for Christ.

She demanded, politely, that I face what I was really saying.

She asked, Would Jesus gun down other humans? Would Jesus push the button that dropped napalm and other heavy bombs?


(In Vietnam War, the U.S. would drop more bombs than all of WWII!! At least 1,450,000 (maybe 2 million) civilians would die in the war, and millions more would be wounded. About 1,250,000 Vietnamese soldiers would die, and over 58,000 American soldiers. Also, remember many people died in Laos and Cambodia, too.)

Stunned, I kept dialoguing with her, while she emphasized for me to go back and study the Sermon on the Mount more thoroughly.

Up to age 17, it had been my understanding that in the Matthew text, Jesus was talking about personal enemies, such as a grumpy relative or the malicious next-door neighbor.

But I soon discovered, that on the contrary, Jesus was saying we ought to love the Roman soldiers (or any other enemy soldiers) who’ve invaded our country, abused us, oppressed us, killed us!

Whew! NO one else, not a single other Christian was saying ethical stuff like this. I studied the Sermon on the Mount intensely. Read various opposing views.


And I struggled immensely for months. I had already invited the Navy, Army, and Air Force recruiters out months previously to decide which military branch to join after high school; probably, the Navy like my dad and 2 of my uncles, but wanted to make a wise choice.

Now all of that was shot-to-heaven;-) by the Sermon on the Mount.

Finally at 18, contrary to everyone I knew except this one Christian family, and one former missionary (who seemed to view war similar to Desmond Doss),
I registered for the Draft as a Conscientious Objector.

I was going against my parents, my relatives, our Baptist church, nearly everyone I knew. And I lost my best friend because of my anti-war stance.
Yet, I really did think this was the way of Jesus.

Then I had to go before my draft board and answer their difficult questions about my commitment to Jesus’ ethics, etc.

Before C-O service, I worked one summer as a mission volunteer on the Cheyenne Reservation in southern Montana, near the Little Bighorn Battlefield (Custer's Last Stand).

I did youth work for Mennonite Missions and talked with a new friend, a Friend, one of a Quaker family doing reconciliation work on the reservation.

The town hall, Brent Barksdale Community Center in Lame Deer, had been built years earlier by a young adult Quaker Work-Team.

After I was drafted in the spring of 1967, I got assigned to serve at mental hospital if I continued to refuse military service.

I did the C-O service at Eastern State School and Hospital in Pennsylvania, just a hop and jump of history from Washington’s infamous crossing, escaping from the British.

And also living for weeks in Haight-Asbury as a spiritual hippie who didn’t do drugs, had never tasted alcohol--but will skip all of that--
this is a philosophical timeline, not an autobiography:-)

Age 20, 1967 Here come the Quakers

Working at a mental hospital with schizophrenic, autistic, and sociopathic children and teens, (after driving my van—the Mystical Hippopotamus—across the nation to near Philadelphia).

When I visited a Baptist church there, it was shocking, and disconcerting to hear the minister claim that the King James Bible was the only Bible, etc.!

Having already long ago—when I was about 13—ceased to believe in inerrancy, and knowing that the KJB wasn’t even the most accurate Bible in translation from the Greek and Hebrew, I left early, may have even skipped out before the sermon finished. Delusionary.

Also, most Baptists were very pro-Vietnam War, and Mennonites while against the war, tended to be as literalistic as Baptists when it came to the Bible.
Where could I find liberal theists?

About then, I remembered the Quaker option, the Society of Friends came into view, me remembering the good times I had spent dialoguing with the Quakers on the Cheyenne Reservation a year earlier.

And from my first introduction to Quakerism back in 1960, at about 13, when I saw them on the TV news opposing nuclear weapons. Who were they?
They mystified me, that some Christians weren’t in favor of the atom bomb. But why? How idealistic.

Now I had the opportunity to find out more, maybe become a Friend.


One Sunday, I visited the local Friends Meetinghouse in Newtown, PA. This first experience was incredibly disappointing.

In a huge plain church, there was almost nobody there, maybe a several oldsters, and only one other young adult. I got acquainted with her by walking her part way home (coming back for my van later).

The Baptist church had been packed. Why so few Quakers?

Later I took the L-train into downtown Philly to Backbench Friends Meeting, a young adult gathering (on some of my weekends off; at the mental hospital, we worked a 10-days-on-4 days off schedule).

Then I was kicked out of my apartment because of the anti-war poster on the back window of my van, so I lived during the summer in it on a small island in a campground near Newtown, fording over
the concrete ramp, through the shallow stream morning and evening.

To be continued
ISRAELI KIBBUTZNIK
YOUTH MINISTER
HITCH-HIKER
TEACHER
AI MEMBER
ETC.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Quaker Speak's Engaging Interviews


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QnABqiDoIlc

Kudos to Jon Watt, Quaker Speak, and Friends Journal for putting out these engaging, inspirational videos.

"QuakerSpeak is a project of Friends Journal, in collaboration with New England Yearly Meeting, Quaker House, the American Friends Service Committee, and Friends World Committee for Consultation, Section of the Americas. The project is directed by Jon Watts."


With all the fragmenting, disagreements, even conflicts going on amongst Quakers, in contrast, these spiritually enriching interviews with individual Friends are very encouraging.
http://quakerspeak.com/


In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Outside the Limit: a meditation



Outside the Limit

Working through the Thursday graveyard shift
At 7-11, I stock cold shelves of ‘cours’
Then write a college essay on dreiser’s
Claim, ‘life is thin surface, all negation;’

But alert in that night, I muse in the stillness
While beyond store glass, the parking lot lies
Vacant, lit by neon signs and street lights–
When so unexpected my mind transports.

I rise outside of self, see far beyondness,
Perceive myself sitting between store rows,
Observe my little ego, skin, and skull
My bodied self--finite with staid cans and jars.

Suddenly drowned in awe, awash in fire here
Luminous presence, aware beyond words, vivid bliss
Blessed all-encompassing exalted surpassing
Great transcendent limitless awareness.



--Daniel Wilcox
First pub. In different form in
Flutter Poetry Journal,
then The Mindful Word,
and second published poetry
collection, Psalms, Yawps, and Howls

PLEASE HELP! Yemen Crisis and South Sudan



Read about the crises:
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-39238808?post_id=10153919399215794_10154418489180794

"...more than 20 million people faced the threat of starvation and famine in Yemen, Somalia, South Sudan and Nigeria."
--UN humanitarian chief Stephen O'Brien

"Unicef has already warned 1.4m children could starve to death this year."

"Mr O'Brien said $4.4bn (£3.6bn) was needed by July to avert disaster."

"We stand at a critical point in history," Mr O'Brien told the Security Council on Friday. "Already at the beginning of the year we are facing the largest humanitarian crisis since the creation of the United Nations."

"It is thought a child dies every 10 minutes in Yemen from a preventable disease, while half-a-million children under five are suffering from severe acute malnutrition."


"The UN estimates some 19 million people - or two thirds of Yemen's population - is in need of some sort of humanitarian help following two years of war between Houthi insurgents and the government, which is backed by a Saudi-led coalition."

Please stand up by sending help via World Vision, Mennonite Central Committee, Oxfam, Doctors Without Borders, American Friends Service Committee, etc.

Continue to witness against the current wars and inequalities and injustices which are the primary cause of these crises.


In this heartbreaking disaster, please open your heart.


In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Scientific Name-Dropping: Why a Quaker?


Albert Einstein stated in the last year of his life:
"If I were not a Jew I would be a Quaker."*


Intriguing!

The question is why did he identify with the Friends?

It is difficult to answer. There has been a lot written about Einstein’s views on ultimate reality.

Much of it contradictory. Some thinkers claim he was an atheist, others that he wasn't.


Einstein emphasized that he wasn't an atheist,
that atheists had no sense of the "music of the sphere," that they lacked appreciation for the amazing order and beauty and awe of the cosmos. (Photo: A Friends Meetinghouse--by James Turrell, Skyspace Philadelphia)

Einstein said, “...the serious scientific workers are the only profoundly religious people.”

"...rapturous amazement at the harmony of natural law which reveals an intelligence of such superiority that, compared with it, all the systematic thinking and acting of human beings is an utterly insignificant reflection."

“In the struggle for ethical good teachers of religion must have the stature to give up the doctrine of a personal God, that is give up the source of fear and hope which in the past placed such vast powers in the hands of priests."

At times, Einstein identified as a pantheist, at other times as an agnostic.
"I believe in Spinoza’s God, who reveals himself in the harmony of all being, not in a God who concerns himself with the fate and actions of men."

"I’m not an atheist and I don’t think I can call myself a pantheist. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many different languages...The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn’t know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God."

"A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, our perceptions of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty, which only in their most primitive forms are accessible to our minds—it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute true religiosity; in this sense and in this sense alone, I am a deeply religious man."

But he explicitly rejected organized religion, especially, opposed orthodox Judaism and creedal Christianity, the anthropomorphism of a “personal god,” life after death, etc.

Sometimes Einstein spoke of ethics and meaning, at others insisted that everything--including humans--is determined.

Lastly, came his striking comment, “If I were not a Jew I would be a Quaker.”

Did he identify with Quakerism because of its strong sense of wonder?

He often said that he was "religious" in a noncreedal sense,
making statements such as:

"The religion of the future will be cosmic religion. It will transcend personal God and avoid dogma and theology."

"...if I could ask God one question...I would want to know why he started the universe. For once I knew that answer, then I would know the purpose of my own life."



"“Though religion may be that which determines the goal, it has, nevertheless, learned from science, in the broadest sense, what means will contribute to the attainment of the goals it has set up."

"But science can only be created by those who are thoroughly imbued with the aspiration toward truth and understanding. This source of feeling, however, springs from the sphere of religion."

"To this there also belongs the faith in the possibility that the regulations valid for the world of existence are rational, that is, comprehensible to reason."

"I cannot conceive of a genuine scientist without that profound faith. The situation may be expressed by an image: science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind."

“It would not be difficult to come to an agreement as to what we understand by science. Science is the century-old endeavor to bring together by means of systematic thought the perceptible phenomena of this world into as thoroughgoing an association as possible. To put it boldly, it is the attempt at the posterior reconstruction of existence by the process of conceptualization..."

"Accordingly, a religious person is devout in the sense that he has no doubt of the significance and loftiness of those superpersonal objects and goals which neither require nor are capable of rational foundation. They exist with the same necessity and matter-of-factness as he himself. In this sense religion is the age-old endeavor of mankind to become clearly and completely conscious of these values and goals and constantly to strengthen and extend their effect. If one conceives of religion and science according to these definitions then a conflict between them appears impossible."

"For science can only ascertain what is, but not what should be, and outside of its domain value judgments of all kinds remain necessary. Religion, on the other hand, deals only with evaluations of human thought and action: it cannot justifiably speak of facts and relationships between facts. According to this interpretation the well-known conflicts between religion and science in the past must all be ascribed to a misapprehension of the situation which has been described."

"For example, a conflict arises when a religious community insists on the absolute truthfulness of all statements recorded in the Bible. This means an intervention on the part of religion into the sphere of science; this is where the struggle of the Church against the doctrines of Galileo and Darwin belongs."

"On the other hand, representatives of science have often made an attempt to arrive at fundamental judgments with respect to values and ends on the basis of scientific method, and in this way have set themselves in opposition to religion. These conflicts have all sprung from fatal errors."

"The further the spiritual evolution of mankind advances, the more certain it seems to me that the path to genuine religiosity does not lie through the fear of life, and the fear of death, and blind faith, but through striving after rational knowledge. In this sense I believe that the priest must become a teacher if he wishes to do justice to his lofty educational mission."

...the "eternal mystery of the world is its comprehensibility."


Because Friends philosophy and theology are less anthropomorphic?

Because some Quaker leaders have been brilliant scientists?

Because of his admiration for Quaker work for peace,
reconciliation, civil rights, and justice?

For Einstein did state, "If one purges the Judaism of the Prophets and Christianity as Jesus Christ taught it of all subsequent additions, especially those of the priests, one is left with a teaching which is capable of curing all the social ills of humanity."



Also, why did he say he was a “Jew” since he strongly rejected Orthodox Judaism?

Since he wasn’t a believing orthodox Jew, but only one culturally,
was his Quaker statement more of a cultural outlook, too, that he liked the culture and social nature of the Friends?

What do you think?

Fairly recently, out here in California, we read 2 biographies on Einstein in our thinkers’ bookclub. I was, again, amazed by Einstein’s wonder, awe,
and appreciation of cosmic order and beauty,
what he called the "music of the spheres."

What appealed to Albert Einstein in Quakerism,
contrary to his very negative views of all other religions?

--
*Quotes are from various sources on the Internet, from books including
Einstein: The Life and Times by Ronald Clark
Einstein: His Life and His Universe by Walter Isaacson,
The World As I See it,
Albert Einstein: Ideas and Opinions
Einstein and Religion
etc.

*This isn’t an appeal to authority—except in a bit of questioning. Besides, what his philosophical views of reality aren’t necessarily more valid (and to be followed) just because he was a brilliant physicist. Views outside of one's profession aren't valid or invalid just because one has said them.


Questions in the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

A Cosmic View


Don't miss this mind-expanding science documentary,
Journey to the Edge of the Universe.

Journey is a powerful documentary on the nature of the cosmos,
vividly rendered and narrated.


Despite having read a fair number of science, astronomy, and cosmology books in my brief time, including one I am still reading, The Elegant Universe by astronomer Brian Greene, I was still wowed by this excellent documentary.

The film is user-friendly, but not basic. It stretches the mind. And one feels awe and admiration, and a sense of infinity.

Thanks to National Geographic for creating the film, and for ever-rewarding Netflix making it available.

And the movie was a welcome vacation from the daily news. In the midst of so much wrong, sorrow, angst, despair, and human debacle, it was a very good time to step back and take a cosmic view through a science video.

Viewing and hearing about the limitless, intellectually beautiful structure of the universe, and it's cosmic journey creating time and space as it advances into an ever expanding reality, was exhilarating and helped me keep the current bad religious and political scene in perspective.


In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox