Friday, December 14, 2018

Part #3: Wrestling....In the Beginning


(Hebrew name for first book of Jewish Bible) In the Beginning

1:1 --In beginning, Elohim created/creating, the heavens and the earth

A number of questions can be asked about this short sentence, and the next several. There are disagreements among Hebrew scholars, too, on a number of issues.

#1 Was this the beginning of the whole cosmos or, specifically, the beginning only of the earth and sky?

#2 Why is God called Elohim (which means God,‘in a generic sense’ in Hebrew because the word is also used for other gods than that of the Hebrews, and even refers to messengers and rulers, too)
rather than YHWH as in In the Beginning , chapter 2?

#3 Why was the earth “unformed and void” in the beginning?
Why would God create it in what seems to be a negative state of being?
And were the heavens also "unformed and void"?

#4 Why was there “darkness on the face of the deep”?

#5 Why did the spirit of God hover “over the face of the waters”, the “face of the deep”?

#6 What was the light that God said, “Let there be…” since the earth’s sun wasn't created until the 4th day?

#7 Why did God see the light, “that it was good”?

#8 What does it mean to say that “God divided the light from the darkness”?

#9 Is the “darkness” the same as “unformed and void”? Did God create the “darkness” or oppose it by creating light?

#10 Why did God call the light Day, and the darkness Night since there wouldn’t be turnings of the earth to meet the sun until the 4th day?

#11 Likewise, what does it mean when it says, “there was evening and there was morning, one day”?

#12 Why do modern translators use words such as Genesis instead of translating the Hebrew word-for-word?

I actually prefer the Hebrew literal translations of the first 5 books instead of the traditional English names:

In the Beginning
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The Names
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And He Called
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In the Desert
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Things or Words


TO BE CONTINUED--


In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Part #2: Wrestling with Religious Texts: Misinterpretation--Reading Modern into Ancient


How NOT to Explicate the Text

1. Don’t read into the ancient text modern scientific discoveries. That is eisegesis, not exegesis.

Sarah Salviander, a brilliant astrophysicist, misreads the basic text of Genesis:
https://sixdayscience.com/genesis-1-modern-science/
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[Gen. 1:14] God said, ‘There shall be lights in the heavenly sky to divide between day and night.’
"Plants changed the atmosphere of the Earth so that it became transparent."
[Gen. 1:15] ‘They shall be lights in the heavenly sky, to shine on the earth.’
"Enough (unscattered) light was eventually able to reach the surface of the Earth to allow the Sun, Moon, and stars to become visible."
--

What?!

The Bible's text says nothing about the “light was eventually able to reach the surface of the Earth to allow the Sun, Moon, and stars to become
visible” or that the “atmosphere of the Earth…became transparent.”

On the contrary, what the text says is this:
Genesis 1:14 And it was evening and it was morning, third day. And God made two two great lights, the great light for dominion of the day and the small light for dominion of night, and the stars. And God placed them in the vault of the heavens to light up the earth and to have dominion over day and night and to divide the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. Ans it was evening and it was morning, fourth day.
The Five Books of Moses, translated by Robert Alter

The actual text doesn't mention the cosmos gradually coming to be visible! It says nothing about plants changing the atmosphere so that it "became transparent."

What it states is that God said, There shall be lights...

And notice that this takes place in the evening and morning of one day!!

NOT billions of years.

God makes the sun and the moon on the 4th day.

How Salviander gets around the incredible disparity is that she says that the first few verses of Genesis are from God's point of view while the last ones are from the Earth's point of view. BUT such a claim--that part of Genesis chapter one is from God's point of view, not our view isn't in the text itself.

I do admit her understanding about astrophysics appears to be marvelous. Her explanations are way over my head--I only had high school physics. Indeed, her PhD explanations arguing for God's point of view sound very impressive.

However, how does she know God's point of view?!

Besides, why would God need a "day" with an evening and a morning?

Salviander wrote she is referencing the views of another famous astrophysicist, Gerald Schroeder.

But there are plenty of other scientists who strongly disagree with this combining of cosmology and religion. For instance, read counter views of another physicist, Mark Perakh:
http://www.talkreason.org/articles/schroeder.cfm

Furthermore, the earth's moon isn't a "great light." Even grade school students know for a fact that the moon isn’t a light at all, but that it reflects light from the sun.

If misinterpreters such as Salviander claim that the text doesn't mean to give an accurate understanding of reflection in the case of the moon, then the text isn't scientific, and their whole central thesis that Genesis is accurate to modern cosmology is defeated.

Also, it's strange that Genesis only mentions the stars last! If Genesis was meant to be scientifically accurate, it ought to have spoken of trillions of stars, multiple galaxies. And that many of those stars are millions of times larger than our relatively small sun in a rather minor solar system on the edge of one galaxy, the Milky Way, and that there are billions of galaxies beyond ours.

YET according to Salviander, her website is named after the ancient biblical scholar Nahmanides who wrote that "that the six days of creation (Genesis 1) contain “all the secrets and ages of the universe.” In other words, Nahmanides was claiming Genesis 1 as a work of scientific literature. “SixDay Science” is a reference to how developments in modern scientific fields like relativity, cosmology, and particle physics are supporting this claim."

From my perspective as a literature teacher, and former Bible teacher, and avid reader of modern cosmology books, this claim seems extremely untrue.

Here’s another translation of Genesis, considered one of the most literal word-by-word translations:
14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons,6 and for days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. 16 And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. 17 And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 to lrule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.
ESV

Note that none of Sarah Salviander’s points are true, none of the text has anything to do with modern scientific facts.

Lastly, if Genesis was meant to be scientifically accurate, the HUGE question is why didn't the text warn early humans of germs and viruses. That would have been far more important than giving ancients correct knowledge of modern cosmology? It would have saved billions of humans throughout history from horrific illnesses, gruesome deaths, such as in the Black Plague.


In the Light of literary interpretation,

Daniel Wilcox
retired literature teacher

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Wrestling with Religious Texts


THAT, I’ve done all of my life!

#1 As a young sincerely intense Baptist fundamentalist, ages 8 to about 11ish

#2 As a questioning, doubting ethically focused teen, ages 14-18

#3 As a skeptical, cast-a-about searcher, social peace and rights activist ages 19-27

#4 As a quasi-evangelical liberal Baptist/Quaker/Anabaptist leader, ages 28-37

#5 As a disheartened, confused, questioning, despairing seeker/leader, ages 39-44

#6 As a seeking, despairing, stand-the-faith-ground-against-creedal-C. father full of honest doubt but trying to the heart to raise his kids right, good, and correct, ages 45-47

#7 As a disillusioned, despairing idealist Quaker/Anabaptist/generic who tries to hang on against all the theological, philosophical, ethical defeaters, ages 48—61

#8 As a skeptical, disillusioned, realistic, hope-seeking, orphaned ex-Christian, yet still deep moral realist Process-theist, ages 62-72

In ALL of those phases of my life, I’ve wrestled with the Bible, the Old Testament (Jewish Bible) and the Christian New Testament.

The earliest encounter/doubt-creator/troubling text was when I was 11 and in Sunday School one morning at Adams Baptist Church, and our teacher told us (and read to us) that God had sent bears to maul Elisha for making fun of him.
2nd Kings 2:23-25

Very upset from a moral standpoint, I spouted out that God would NEVER do such an immoral, unjust act!

SO here we go, wrestling with those thousands of texts in the Bible that have been the basis of horrific acts, amazing causes of human flourishing, puzzling confusion, and baffling defenses.

Side Note:
All of this article is true and as accurate and historically factual as I can make it, HOWEVER, one also needs to realize that for most of my life, I’ve always been able to step outside of my limited self and worldview, have been overwhelmed by honest doubt, at least since encountering severe critical doubt at about 16, largely because of the trapdoor-to-abyss of Augustinian-Calvinistic-creedal Christian horror lectured to us dedicated teens by that Christian youth leader to us at a Bible study. And the worst of that, the leader claiming to us that God will sometimes command us to do what is immoral! And he proceeded to prove this with texts from the Old Testament. And then told me directly that I ought to go and kill for God.

And then later the wide-shock of secular university-education including atheism and so many other contrary philosophies, worldviews, especially Existentialism and Absurdism and other life-stances that at 18, I became so aware that I as a rather average intellect, finite human may be wrong.
AND THUS, I have said, repeatedly out loud to others in print or vocally, or silently to myself, that “on Thursday’s I am an existentialist.”;_)

NOW, let us explicate, study, reflect, and chew the cud of the Bible.

To be continued—

In the LIGHT,
Daniel Wilcox

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Guest Post: "Vote...with Your Life" by a doctor to the impoverished, Sarah Thebardge


FROM SARAH THEBARGE:
"A while ago, a horrible thing happened to me. Someone I trusted used, abused and violated my personhood, while I was undergoing chemo in a life-threatening fight with breast cancer.

"It took me years to get over it. Years of tears. Countless questions. And hours upon hours of quality therapy.

"I kept asking my therapist how I could get past it. How I could move forward when it was impossible to go back and change the past. How I could live with a terrible stain that could never be erased. How I could live in a world where such injustice was possible...tolerated, even.
“You live your life well,” my therapist said. “Because the way you live your life is your way of voting how the world should be.”

"And in those words I found the peace, the forgiveness, the strength I needed to move forward.

"I forgave because I think the world needs more forgiveness.

"I befriended a refugee family because I think that marginalized, invisible people need to be seen with love and dignity.

"I started a college fund for these five little Somali sisters, and I’ve willed my house to them, because I think the world needs more engaged, intelligent, powerful women to lead it...

"I practice medicine in the U.S. and in developing countries around the world because I think the world needs as many compassionate healers as it can get...

"I don’t do it perfectly, but I try to do it well: I try to vote with my life for the way I think the world should be.

"With every single thing we do, every single day, we can cast a vote for the way the world should be.

"We can vote for Love.

"We can vote for Compassion.

"We can vote for Forgiveness.

"We can vote for everyone’s voice to be heard.

"We can vote for women who have been discriminated against.

"We can vote for people of color who have been oppressed.

"We can vote for refugees and immigrants to be welcomed as our guests.

"We can vote for justice to be served...

Read the rest of Sarah Thebardge's inspiring, encouraging article at:
https://www.patheos.com/blogs/sarahthebarge/2018/11/vote-with-your-ballot-then-vote-with-your-life/

"She studied Medical Science at Yale School of Medicine, and Journalism at Columbia School of Journalism.

"Sarah has practiced international medicine extensively, volunteering in Togo, West Africa, Kenya and the Dominican Republic. Her next book, WELL, about three months she practiced medicine in Togo, launched in November 2017.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Sermon on the Mount by the American Jesus

Matthew 5:
Jesus with little children:
"Truly I say unto you who ever welcomes one of these little ones in my name might be welcoming a murderer or a drug. Let us get her to a detention center..."

"If a man strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him and shoot him..."

"Do unto others as you suspect they might want to do unto you."

Matthew 9: 20-22
A woman comes for healing to Jesus:
"My child of course I could, but who would pay for it? Yes, it is a sad story, but it does not make me responsible."




GOP Jesus from Friend Dog Studios

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Muhammad was NO Prophet of God


1. No prophet of God would invade a town and behead 500 Jewish men who opposed him and then sell their wives and children into slavery.

Muhammad did.

2. No prophet of God would rob caravans.

Muhammad did.

3. No prophet of God would marry a 6-year-old when he is 50 years old!!

Muhammad did.

4. No prophet of God would marry his adopted son's wife as soon as she divorced his son!

Muhammad did.

5. No prophet of God would own slaves.

Muhammad did.

6. No prophet of God would call for people of other religions to be beheaded.

Muhammad did in the Quran.

7. No prophet of God would commit polygamy, marrying many women.

Muhammad did.


Maybe there are no prophets of God.

However there are human leaders who, unlike Muhammad, do stand up for compassion, justice, equality, human rights, women's rights, freedom to reject your religion, freedom of speech, etc.

* Drawing of Muhammad from Wikipedia

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Monday, November 5, 2018

Help Asylum-Seeking Mother Separated from her 7-year-old Son at U.S. Border


from Amnesty International:

"In March, Valquiria and her seven-year-old son Abel* fled Brazil and requested asylum in the US after death threats from drug traffickers. US border authorities forcibly separated them and continue to detain Valquiria...US immigration authorities must immediately free Valquiria while she pursues her asylum claim.

"...she received repeated death threats from drug traffickers who said they would kill her and her son no matter where they fled to in Brazil. On 17 March, after one night together in detention, US border authorities forcibly separated them without giving any reason, and transferred Valquiria to a detention facility called El Paso Processing Center.

"On 27 March, a US asylum officer found that Valquiria’s story was credible and justified her fear that she and her son could be killed if they returned to Brazil, allowing her to continue her asylum claim. There was no explanation as to why Valquiria was separated from her son, even though she had their identifying documents and her asylum case file recognized their family relation.

"On 10 May and 26 October, Amnesty International interviewed Valquiria in detention, where she repeatedly wept as she recounted the moment that US authorities separated her from Abel. In deep despair, Valquiria told Amnesty International of how the separation from her son had lessened her will to live.

"On 10 September, Valquiria’s asylum claim was rejected and she began the appeal process, still in immigration detention and separated from Abel. Abel is now staying with his father, who is free in the US as he pursues a separate asylum claim. Seven months after their separation and still traumatized, Abel stares at the door waiting for his mother to come home, and still cannot understand why his mother does not come home. He will turn eight-years-old on 24 November and he dreams of seeing his mother before then.

"Asylum-seekers’ right to personal liberty should be fully respected. Detention or other measures short of detention, such as restrictions on the right to freedom of movement, should only be used when necessary and proportionate and should be justified on a case-by-case basis.

"1) TAKE ACTION
Write a letter, send an email, call, fax or tweet:
Urging them to immediately grant Valquiria humanitarian parole while she awaits the decision on her asylum claim appeal, as parole should be granted for humanitarian reasons where the person does not pose a threat to public safety and presents no flight risk;

"Calling on them to provide psychosocial support to Valquiria and her son, to help them recover from the trauma experienced from their unlawful family separation;

"Calling on them to ensure asylum seekers are only detained when necessary and proportionate in the individual case, and to grant humanitarian parole to all asylum seekers whenever possible.

Contact this official by 5 December 2018:

ICE Field Office Director
Marc Moore
Ice Enforcement & Removal Operations, El Paso Field Office
11541 Montana Ave Suite E
El Paso, TX, 79936, USA
Email: Marc.J.Moore@ice.dhs.gov
Salutation: Mr. Moore

"The cases of Valquiria and her son Abel were profiled in the October 2018 Amnesty International report, “You Don’t Have Any Rights Here”: Illegal Pushbacks, Arbitrary Detention, and Ill-treatment of Asylum-Seekers in the United States.

Read the rest of the Urgent Action request at:
https://www.amnestyusa.org/urgent-actions/urgent-action-mother-and-son-separated-by-border-authorities-usa-ua-185-18/


In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Lite Photos: Quirks and Slotes














Took this photo on a visit to my father when he was a patient at a hospital before his death.
Notice that before dusk, fading sunshine lights only the fins of dolphins except one.


What a beautiful bas-relief sculpture, Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach, California.
[Please identify the artist if you have read about him/her.]

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Nature's beauty, my photo in forest on Maui

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White Whale rock on California beach by Daniel


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Explosive halo off the coast of Kauai.
I shot it a few years ago.

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Beauty briefly lands in the dross.
Betsy Wilcox's photo on central California coast at Monarch Butterfly Grove,
Pismo Beach




















Sometimes the bizarre shows up in a summer parking lot. Maine coast, 2014





















On Gulf coast of northeast Texas, a technological diamond ring
near huge chemical industry
I took the photo on my cross-country trek in May, 2017.

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Fog overwhelms us.

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Bigfoot tree,
on my walk in Newport Beach

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Succulence and 2 leaving
























Fingerpaint trees,
such unusual bark; I'm still
fascinated.

































Gone with the jungle,
my photo from Olympia National Park, Washington


























Near Long Beach, Washington,
Sign showing my age;-)
while I engage in planking


In the light of unusual sights,

Daniel Wilcox

Monday, October 29, 2018

Review of THE STORYTELLER by Jodi Picoult


Note:
It's highly ironic/tragic/weird that in the midst of reading novelist Picoult's modern thematic revisiting of the Holocaust and the nature of human evil that the massacre of Jewish people at the Tree of Life in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania occurred.

As William Faulkner wrote, "The past is never dead. It's not even past."

THE STORYTELLER
by Jodi Picoult

I don’t like the novel's ending at all; don’t agree with it thematically, morally, or as a fitting climatic plot conclusion. Not at all.

But then I didn’t like the very slow-stalebreadish, unbelievable beginning of the book either!

But the beginning and ending are bad for exactly opposite reasons.

The beginning is bad because Picoult’s character of the atheist Jewish baker who is guilt ridden, scarred from an accident, and selfishly insecure isn’t convincing. Seems artificial and implausible.

Even though Picoult is seeking to root the story of good and evil, right and wrong, truth and deception, guilt and forgiveness in the present by having this weak, surfacey current Jewish narrative begin her long, deep, troubling revisiting of the German-caused Holocaust, I don't think it works, at least not at the start. By the end of the novel, a reader may change his mind, but more on that later.

If I hadn’t been assigned this book for the new club I joined last month, I might have quit by page 100. Too weak of characterization, too many unconvincing plot steps, too many overly detailed long-boring descriptions of Jewish bread-making (all of which seem like Picoult going overboard on trying to show how diligently and thoroughly she studied Jewish baking in order to be accurate).

In contrast, the long horrific retelling of the 20th century horror is all too to vivid, all to real, and the book's shocking ending is too convincing, too disturbing and, too unfinishing!

SPOILER ALERT:

I understand why Sage doesn’t forgive Joseph, and why she rejects Mary’s advice, and maybe even why she decides to kill Joseph:

1. She thinks Joseph’s massacres of Jews can’t be forgiven, and she is extremely angry at him for killing her grandmother’s best friend, and intending to kill grandmother.

2. Sage isn’t a Christian like Mary, not at all. To forgive would be to belittle, excuse, and end the horror of her grandmother’s horrific lived-story. Besides, Sage wants to keep the bitterness within her against Joseph, because it is one vital link to her grandmother that she would lose if she forgave him.

3. She deeply wants revenge and justice. If Joseph is taken by the U.S. Criminal Justice System and deported, he may get away with his life-long deception of his mass murder, since Leo has already stated that often European governments don’t execute those deported.
And she wants to personally feel and see her revenge carried out. She is closing the book, ending the horrific story now.

4. BUT why does Sage—who seems to care for Leo—lie and deceive him in the end?!
Is she reverting to her past immoral self-centered behavior?

--Is seeking to honor her grandmother’s deep wish that no one know her story since it is beyond words to describe? Leo in contrast says he is going to broadcast the whole horrific account far and wide. And Sage doesn’t want that.

--Does she have doubts about how she really feels about Leo. She says Leo said he loved her, but I don’t recall her ever saying she loves him. He loves her deeply, but maybe she, like with Adam, is only lusting with Leo?

There seem to be hints of that when she balks at his idea of her moving to D.C. to be with him instead of jumping into his arms with joy.

Also, by the downturn in the last paragraph, Picoult continues the plot and theme of unfinished story, continues the personality of Sage as a sometimes self-defeating person, avoids the happily-ever-after plot (that Picoult has been dismissive of as when she had her narrator put down Disney-ish fairy tales instead of the far more ‘grimm’ tales of the past).

And there are probably other unexplored points I’ve not yet considered.

This novel is a feast to chew the cud on, a great one not only of story-telling, but for literary reflection and analysis.

Reflective Questions:

#1 Why does Picoult have Sage get the poison from Mary’s Roman Catholic shrine garden?!!

#2 Why does Picoult bring in the whole “Jesus-loaf” spoof other than as a satire against Christianity and a way to lighten a dark novel? (When the plot step happened I was really turned off by it because it was such a parody of such real news stories, such a stark contrast with the very real Holocaust news.

#3 Why is the odd assistant baker in the store even there with such his weird talking style, in clipped haikus?

#4 Why is the store called the Our Daily Bread?
#5 Why does Sage murder Joseph with poisoned bread?

#6 Why do the blue-black petals of the monkshood “in the pale palm of Mary’s glove” after Sage cuts them look like “stigmata”?!
And all the other blood images in the narrative such as when she cuts herself to become blood sisters with Diarga?

#7 Why is Sage called Sage, especially since she is one?
And Pepper and Saffron?

#8 Why does Picoult make Sage’s fornication a situation of adultery?

#9 Why is Sage made to be so isolated, even from her sisters who don’t seem to be bad individuals?

#10 Is Joseph’s actual German name “Hartmann” a characteronym of theme and meaning?

#11 Why does the novel end with a large number of contradictory possible endings that Joseph (actually Franz) has written for her grandmother Minka’s unfinished story?

So many questions, so little time;-)

Also, I didn’t like Minka's vampire story interweaving through out the book, but then I don't like vampire stories, or any fantasy for that matter. At first I found it to be, while intriguing, often too distracting.

But now looking back I realize that besides being a strong plot step (having Sage's grandmother write a dark horror novel in the real horror of actual evil of German Concentration Camps) it does emphasize many questions as to the nature of humanity and many other themes—
1.good versus evil

2.innocence versus guilt
3.immoral versus moral

4.compassion versus cruelty
5.beauty versus ugliness

6.community versus isolation
7.truth versus deception and lies

8.private versus public
etc.

And, let us not forget, Picoult's powerful prose which included a few aphoristic gems.

Evaluation: A+/C

--
A few of the Zingers:
Sage: “If you end your story, it’s a static work of art, a finite circle. But if you don’t, it belongs to anyone’s imagination. It stays alive forever.” (page 459)
“That’s why we read fiction, isn’t it? To remind us that whatever we suffer, we’re not the only ones?” (page 220)

Leo: ”To be forgiven, the person has to be sorry. In Judaism, that’s called tesbuvah. It means ‘turning away from evil.’ It’s not a one-time deal, either. It’s a course of action. A single act of repentance is something that makes the person who committed the evil feel better, but not the person against whom evil was committed…That’s why Jews don’t just go to Confession, and say the rosary.” (page 188)

Sage: “It’s the question mark that comes with death that we can’t face, not the period.” (page 131)
--

Picoult's book is a deep abyss of story, horrific narrative, and philosophical reflection.

Don't miss The Storyteller.

In the Light of History, Truth, and Fiction,

Daniel Wilcox






Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Please Move Away from Killing Sentient Animals


Please consider moving away from meat consumption for getting your necessary daily protein.

Take a look at this informative video on the cruelty of humankind's current high level of animal killing for food:







Tuesday, October 16, 2018

What is HUMAN?



HUMANNESS:

1. Ethics--Morality, OUGHT, Good versus Evil, Justice, Human Rights

2. Reasoning

3. Creative Choice--limited 'free will,' ability and moral responsibility

4. Sense of Awe, Ultimate

5. 4th Dimensional Being--
Self Awareness
Historical Awareness
Futuristic Awareness
Transcendent Awareness

6. Sense of Beauty--Aesthetics

7. Mathematics

8. Scientific Method

9. Invention

10. Exchange of Things by Symbolic Means--Economics

11. Story-Making--Literature, Media

11. Pattern-Seeking

12. Becoming--Evolving


REFLECT:

"Those who forget the past are condemned to fulfill it" (repeat, repeat...).
--Philosopher George Santayana

"Those who remember the past are condemned to fulfill it" (repeat, repeat...).
Also,shown in history and current events to be true.

"The past is never dead; it isn't even past."
--Nobel-Winning novelist William Faulkner

"Stories are at the center of the human condition. Everybody dreams. Try and dream in nonfiction."
Journalist Jim Trelease

"I've always tried to be aware of what I say in my films because all of us who make movies are teachers--teachers with loud voices."
--Film director and writer George Lucas, Star Wars Trilogy

"Films are the parables of our time. Ideas underline every film produced and ideas have consequences."
--Terry Lindwall, movie producer

"To read without reflecting is like eating without digesting."
--Edmund Blake




CONTRADICTORY PHILOSOPHICAL VIEWS OF EXISTENCE:



The novelist John Steinbeck wrote that all of his life he wished he had never been born!
--

Even if one had to stand on a narrow ledge with his face against a cliff for 70 years, it would be better than not to have been born.
--statement by Fyodor Dostoevsky, the Russian writer
--

"People are froth on the molten mass."
the main character in The Sea Wolf
by Jack London, highest paid writer in the world at the start of the 20th century

All humans have no more worth than a speck of gravel on the bottom of a shoe...
from Online discussion
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"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."
Humanist Manifesto III
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Every human is a "biochemical puppet."
"The Marionette's Lament" and Free Will by Sam Harris

"Murderers and rapists aren't morally responsible."
Biologist Jerry Coyne
--

In contrast, according to South African astrophysicist George Ellis, when asked if all humans have free will:

George Ellis: "Yes.
Einstein is perpetuating the belief that all causation is bottom up. This simply is not the case, as I can demonstrate with many examples from sociology, neuroscience, physiology, epigenetics, engineering, and physics. Furthermore if Einstein did not have free will in some meaningful sense, then he could not have been responsible for the theory of relativity – it would have been a product of lower level processes but not of an intelligent mind choosing between possible options.
--Retired astrophysicist professor George Ellis is a Quaker. He also co-wrote The Large-Scale Structure of Space-Time with Stephen Hawking
--

BUT one leading current non-religious historian claims that Liberty, equality, human rights, free will etc. are all "myths."
Historian Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens

--
In positive contrast to such stark negativity:
Many other thinkers emphasize All humans do have real inherent worth. Liberty, equality, human rights, free will are real. For instance consider the following statements:
"...recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,
whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts...
UN Declaration of Human Rights

"One of the deeply held beliefs of Friends (Quakers) is that there is inherent worth in every human being. Peace, therefore, is not just the absence of war, but requires a just society that recognizes this inherent worth. Friends actively engage in the politics of their society to bring a voice of conscience – there is no separation between beliefs and deeds."

"Friends were among the founders of many prominent social justice organizations, including Greenpeace, American Friends Service Committee, and Amnesty International, and served as leaders in the abolitionist, women’s rights and civil rights movements."
http://www.fclca.org/about-us/quakers-and-fclca.html

And the 7 Principles of Unitarian-Universalists:

"The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part."
https://www.uua.org/beliefs/what-we-believe/principles


TO BE CONTINUED...


In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

My Response: a 'tail' of 2 Divergent Christianities, 2 Different Spiritual Flights to the Good Flock, Friends


From Chuck Fager's intriguing--shocking, probably to most non-Catholics--account of his visit as a senior to a Catholic University in Denver, Colorado, 1959:
"To this end, it was announced one day that we would soon be treated to a field trip, all the way to Denver, to visit the nearest Catholic colleges: Regis, for men, run by the Jesuits...

"I enjoyed the trip, though I was already clear that, as a budding atheist, wherever I went to college, it would be at a secular school. This resolve was greatly strengthened when we visited, of all places, the Regis library.

"I had long had fond feelings for libraries, and at first glance, the one at Regis seemed a fine specimen: well-lighted, relatively new, with many long open shelves. Open shelves of books to me embodied freedom of thought and learning, and its liberating possibilities. But something didn’t jibe with this appealing tableau. Behind the reference desk, my eye was caught by a large area enclosed by heavy mesh metal partitions, like chain link fencing but thicker, with a locked gate. Inside were more books; I could see the shelves through the mesh.
Were they antiquities? Precious manuscripts of historic value? They didn’t look like that.

"No. My question to a cheerful librarian got a straightforward answer: the enclosure was for books on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum: the Catholic Index of Forbidden Books.

"I stared at it in fascinated horror: of course I had heard of the Index. It was hundreds of years old. Where the Church was part of or protected by governments, it went hand in hand with censorship.
--
"A statue marks the place in Rome where Giordano Bruno was burned in 1600. He was held prisoner for six years before execution, but refused to recant his “heretical” views...But in 1959, there were more philosophers (Kant, Spinoza, and Sartre) on it than racy novelists, or for that matter, astronomers."

READ the rest of Chuck Fager's Friendly blog article at: http://afriendlyletter.com/a-tale-of-two-nightmares-one-asleep-one-wide-awake/

MY RESPONSE:
Chuck Fager's experience in Christianity as a teen (Roman Catholic) is so utterly different from my own (free-will Baptist), it shows, again as so often, that there isn't and never was just one Christianity, but many contradictory ones.

It's beyond my understanding that a Catholic university in 1959 would still have a jailed section of its library for some philosophy books!
Whew...Incomprehensible to a free-wheeling moderate fundamentalist boy as myself.

Of course, we Baptists had our own no-no's--no movies, no dances, no cards, no wine, no rock n' roll, etc. BUT I could read anything that I wanted, spent many an hour at the town library, school library, etc. During my senior year, I was into reading zen (Alan Watts), Kerouac, Aldous Huxley, etc.

I'm also shocked that Regis was run by the Jesuits! About the only fact I used to know about that Catholic movement was that it was very liberal, probably far more liberal than us Baptists.

What's intriguing is that while Chuck Fager and I grew up in such completely different religious backgrounds, like many other spiritual seekers, both he and I finally found our brood in the Friends.

What was that disjointed aphorism? Friends from very different brooded feathers flock together;-)

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Jordan Peterson - The Existence of Free Will--meaning conscious moral responsibility













A very thoughtful reflection from Jordan Peterson, Canadian clinical psychologist, professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, Ph.D. in clinical psychology, McGill University.

Don't be confused by the contrary claims of various thinkers who state that all humans are only helpless "puppets," incapable of moral responsibility and creative choice, etc.


Seek the Good, the True, the Just, the Altruistic, the Kind, the Equal,

Daniel Wilcox

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

STEPPING BACK FROM CERTAINTY: remembering we are finite, seeking what is true


Have you noticed that most of the voices currently shouting for their side (which ever one it is) seem to think they know for sure and that the other side is completely wrong?

As has happened endlessly in history past, leaders of today are forgetting that they are finite humans seeking what is true, but instead claim to know and that anyone who disagrees with them is________ (fill in the demeaned name-calling).

A few words from a brilliant character in Michael Crichton's book, Timeline, would seem good to reflect about and muse on by everyone today:

"The present is like a coral island that sticks above the water, but is built upon millions of dead corals under the surface...in the same way, our everyday world is built upon millions and millions of events and decisions that occurred in the past."

This is why confirmation bias and hostility are so present often in Republicans versus Democrats, Theists versus Atheists, Capitalists versus Socialists, and so on. Each opposing human's view of reality is partially shaped by his/her perceptional view from his/her particular coral reef.

Of course the Timeline quote is hyperbole, overstatement. Our Pasts--whether liberal or conservative, religious or non-religious don't define us completely.

We rational primates have the ability to advance, to make creative new choices, to advance closer to reality.

Most humans can choose to step back and question their presuppositions, their own understandings based upon their own worldview and life-stance which came about in the past,
BUT
it ain't easy.

If in doubt, look at how few of us are doing so.

So, let us PAUSE, and study again what we are stating, promoting, in all of these current philosophical and political conflagrations.

1. Are we aware how much of our past is leading us to hold to one position, rather than engaging in careful rational thought about it?

2. Are we remembering to be civil and courteous with those with whom we strongly disagree?

3. Are we open to new thoughts, new perspectives on these contentious arguments?

4. Do we seek to view the best arguments of our enemies with careful consideration?

5. Are we always seeking to be aware of our own confirmation bias?

6. Do we demonstrate benevolence toward those whose views we strongly, rightly, oppose?


Seek what is true,

Daniel Wilcox




Wednesday, September 26, 2018

The strange unethical world of Christianity and Atheism: SITUATION ETHICS

Here is a somewhat positive response to situation ethics by a leading Christian ethicist, based upon Augustine and Luthers' views--

FROM Baptist theologian Roger E. Olson's blog:
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/rogereolson/
What Is “Situation Ethics?” What Should Be a Christian’s Response?
SEPTEMBER 26, 2018

"It was also the year that Episcopal theologian-ethicist Joseph Fletcher’s little book Situation Ethics: The New Morality was published."
"Later...I remember thinking that it was not actually as bad as I had been told. Its essence...the principle laid down by Saint Augustine “Love and do as you please.” (“Sermon on 1 John 4:4-12”)

"What I am suggesting is that there is some common ground between them and Fletcher’s proposal...As I recall, Fletcher portrayed all rules as flexible, able rightly to be violated in the name of love depending on the circumstances. I do not think Augustine or Luther would go along with that...Both treated love—as they defined it—as the sole absolute for Christian ethics. (Both tended to view justice as a form of love.)"

MY OPPOSING RESPONSE TO ROGER E. OLSON'S BLOG ARTICLE:
Wow, Fletcher's book! I read it in the late 1960's and was morally horrified. And all these years later, I still think that it is the worst book, ethically, of all the thousands of theological books I've read.
But let's get to your two Christian leaders (Augustine and Luther) who claimed to base their ethical decisions on love.

Augustine and Luther made many horrific immoral, unjust decisions based upon their Christian situational ethics.

If one judges their immoral, unjust actions based upon the concept of love as defined by 1 Corinthians 13, they didn't actually practice loving action at all, but the complete opposite. Check any history book for the many very immoral actions they justified with their ethical stances.

Their immoral statements and actions show the extreme danger of centrally basing one's ethical decisions on love and adjustable rules as they did.

BACK TO ANOTHER QUOTE FROM OLSON'S BLOG:
"As a Christian ethicist I am sometimes asked...what I think about “situation ethics.” I always insist on first discussing what is meant by “situation ethics” and explaining that if and insofar as it means discarding all ethical rules and norms except “love,” I am opposed to it. However, if and insofar as it means love reigns supreme over all rules, I have to admit it and say that I have Augustine and Luther on my side."

"Luther married Prince Philipp of Hesse to a woman while he was still married to another woman. He by default justified bigamy which was technically illegal (within the Holy Roman Empire) and almost universally considered immoral by Christians—both Catholic and Protestant."

MY SECOND RESPONSE TO ROGER E. OLSON'S BLOG ARTICLE:

HUH?! What a horrific example! Luther married a woman to a prince who already was married to another woman. That's a form of polygamy, bigamy.

Based upon Luther's justification of bigamy, I wonder if Roger E. Olson has an opinion of the recent adoptions of polyamory by some creedal Christians?*
It appears that some modern creedal Christians are basing their views in a similar way that Luther did in the case of his choosing bigamy for the prince.

However, what also troubles me about Luther's action is that he did this secretly.

As much as I strongly oppose the adoption of plural marriage by humans, I do appreciate that the creedal Christians who have done so have been public about it, not hidden it as Luther did in the case of Prince Philipp.

*I don't know what Roger E. Olson thinks on my response because he has deleted my comments from his website, like Atheist Neil Carter did in the past when I courteously disagreed with his unethical outlook, which also involves loving situational ethics.

Don't give into this blind, wrong dead-end path of situation ethics. Certainly NOT in the sense that Augustine and Luther did.

Seek the LIGHT. Live ethically.

Daniel Wilcox

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Regarding the Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh


Clean out the cesspool of American politics: The current debacle, regarding the Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

1. For Brett Kavanaugh’s biographical details and the formal accusations, see below.

2. A. Opening statement: An individual—unless convicted of rape, molestation, armed robbery and other such heinous crimes—ought not to be judged by wrong moral choices when he was an adolescent but by his moral and ethical choices of over 35 years.

B. Second, a counter statement: Women seldom lie about sexual assault, rape, molestation. Indeed, for most of history, even in the recent past, women have been intimidated, (in some nations and religio-ideological groups still are), if they come out and state they have been sexually attacked, so they often stay mute.

SO
Christine Blasey Ford, who has come out and stated that the Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her while drunk at a prep school party, needs to be listened to rationally and empathetically.

Also, Ford isn’t a questionable person of doubtful morals but a psychology professor in Palo Alto, California. And she has taken a lie detector test and passed.

SO Republicans, the Reverend Franklin Graham, and other right-wing leaders ought not to dismiss Ford’s accusations before all the facts are in.

3. HOWEVER, an individual is presumed innocent until convicted of a charge.
SO, since Kavanaugh has declared Ford’s accusation is untrue, that he never did what Ford accused him of doing, and that he never did what another woman has accused him of doing to her in college, either, then Kavanaugh ought to be listened to and not found guilty in the popular press or by national Democrats.

4. WHAT NEEDS TO STOP IMMEDIATELY IS THE REALITY SHOW BEING CONDUCTED BY BOTH WINGS OF CONGRESS AND BY BOTH SIDES OF THE MEDIA.

We Americans need calm, rational analysis,
NOT propaganda,
grand-standing,
political posturing,
extremism,
character attacks,
name-calling,
and all of the other distorted Orwellian statements being made at this time.

Thankfully, I am neither a Republican nor a Democrat.
Instead, I’m way out in the left-leaning Independent-Libertarian wing of political discourse. We’ve got problems, too. But, hopefully, most of the time we try and view controversies and life-stances with rational judgment, care, and civility.

We as Americans need to change from our political in-fighting, and change to truth-seeking.

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox
--

END NOTE: From Wikipedia:
“Brett Michael Kavanaugh…born February 12, 1965 is an American attorney and jurist who serves as a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

“Kavanaugh graduated from Yale College cum laude, with a degree in American history…After graduating from Yale Law School, Kavanaugh began his career as a law clerkunder Judge Ken Starr. After Starr left the D.C. Circuit to take the position as head of the Office of Independent Counsel, Kavanaugh…assisted Starr with his various investigations concerning President Bill Clinton. Kavanaugh played a lead role in drafting the Starr Report, which urged the impeachment of President Bill Clinton.

“After the 2000 U.S. presidential election (in which Kavanaugh worked for the George W. Bush campaign in the Florida recount), Kavanaugh joined the administration as White House Staff Secretary…

“Kavanaugh was first nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit by President Bush in 2003. His confirmation hearings were contentious; they stalled for three years over charges of partisanship. Kavanaugh was ultimately confirmed to the D.C. Circuit in May 2006 after a series of negotiations between Democratic and Republican U.S. Senators…Kavanaugh had the most or second-most conservative voting record on the D.C. Court in every policy area.

“To fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, President Donald Trump nominated Kavanaugh on July 9, 2018, to serve as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.

“On September 16, 2018, Christine Blasey Ford, a professor at Palo Alto University, said Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her when she was 15 and he was a 17-year old high school student. Specifically, Ford stated that in the early 1980s, when she and Kavanaugh were teenagers, Kavanaugh and his friend, Mark Judge, corralled her in a bedroom at a house party in Maryland. According to Ford, Kavanaugh pinned her to the bed, groped her, ground against her, tried to pull off her clothes, and covered her mouth with his hand when she tried to scream.

“Ford said that she was afraid Kavanaugh "might inadvertently kill [her]" during the attack. Ford stated that she got away when Judge, one of Kavanaugh's friends from Georgetown Prep School, jumped on the bed, knocking them all over. Ford's attorney, Debra Katz, has stated that Ford considers the assault to have been an attempted rape.

“Ford also took a polygraph test, administered by a former FBI agent. The test concluded she was being truthful when she said a statement summarizing her allegations was accurate.

“The Senate Judiciary Committee released a letter on September 14, 2018 in which 65 women signatories who stated that they had known Kavanaugh "for more than 35 years" asserted that during the time they had known him, Kavanaugh had "behaved honorably and treated women with respect."

“Twenty-four women who attended the Holton-Arms School along with Ford sent a letter to Congress expressing support for her.

“Over 1,000 alumnae of the school signed a letter stating that Ford's accusation was “all too consistent with stories we heard and lived” while attending the school.

“Kavanaugh has "categorically and unequivocally" denied that the event occurred.

“On September 23, 2018, The New Yorker reported that another woman had accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct during his college years and had requested an FBI investigation.”
--From Wikipedia

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

You Can't Teach an Old Dogma New Traits


"You can't teach an old dogma new traits."

That is my adaption of American writer Dorothy Parker's incisive punning aphorism against religionists who seek to revitalize their ancient beliefs by revising their old dogmas and then claiming the dogmas to be current with modern knowledge and achievements.

Parker's actual words were: "You can't teach an old dogma new tricks."


Whether tricks or traits, the satirical insight does seem to be true. (Side Note: I think my adaption more accurately reflects the nature of her point, and is less caustic in its view of religion).

Either way, consider the way that many conservative Christians and Muslims attempt to show that their scriptures--especially the Old Testament and the Quran--are accurate when it comes the beginning of the universe and other modern scientific discoveries. Or the religious leaders, instead, use other modern knowledge to claim that modern scientists are misled, (or deceiving), about the true nature of the cosmos and life.

But which ever, many Christian and Muslim scholars read into their scriptures modern concepts and views that actually don't exist in the ancient texts. They are guilty of unscholarly eisegesis, when what they ought to be doing is describing their scriptural texts as they actually were, exegesis.

As clearly obvious in her caustic comments, Parker had a very negative view of religion, especially the Roman Catholic faith, though she did attend a RC elementary school at Convent if the Blessed Sacrament. According to Wikipedia, she "once joked that she was asked to leave following her characterization of the Immaculate Conception as "spontaneous combustion."

Evidently her father, though Jewish, sent her to the elementary school because he thought it would give her a better education than public school.

Though negative toward religious doctrines, Parker was a strong supporter of human rights and the Civil Rights Movement. In her will, she gave all of her estate to Martin Luther king Jr.
--

Here's another satirical aphorism:

"Look at the dog, Ma, no paws."

--

"The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are wrong because of the broken places."

This adaption emphasizes that when tragedy strikes, some humans choose to do right and good despite the bad circumstances, while other humans choose to lash out and blame/harm others for the bad circumstances.

The actual famous quote is from Earnest Hemingway:
"The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places."

The irony of Hemingway's aphorism is that he himself wasn't strong after bad times, but often instead did much harm to others. And that he drank so heavily that it was a major factor in his serious ill health in his late 50's. He often drank a bottle before breakfast and drank 17 drinks once at the Cuban bar, El Floridita!
--

Related to that is another aphorism:
"I've taken way more out of alcohol than its taken out of others," the infamous self-deception of heavy drinkers.

Adapted from:
"I've taken way more out of alcohol than its taken out of me."
-Winston Churchill
--

"In war time, political lying is so specious, that it needs to be attended by a bodyguard of truth."

The actual quote by Churchill is horrifically dangerous, as shown by many historical wars of the past.
"In wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies."
-Winston Churchill

And, of course, don't forget all of the red ball-caps on Americans at present which state, "Make America Hate, Again."
--

Do you have any satirical aphorisms to share?


Please, lighten the load of b.s. (bad snark;-) that all of us seem to be getting buried under by the current U.S. Evangelical-Christian-Political Debacle.
And the diametrically opposite nonreligious-political debacle.

We need to defangle it all.


Daniel Wilcox

Monday, September 17, 2018

Support free speech: Request that Indonesia release Meliana for false charge of blasphemy


from Amnesty International:

"URGENT ACTION: 18 MONTHS IN PRISON FOR MOSQUE NOISE COMPLAINT (INDONESIA: UA 161.18)
Meliana, an ethnic Chinese Buddhist woman, has been convicted of blasphemy and sentenced to 18 months in prison for complaining about the loudspeaker volume at a local mosque.

Amnesty International considers her a prisoner of conscience who must be immediately and unconditionally released.

Meliana, an ethnic Chinese Buddhist woman, has been convicted of blasphemy and sentenced to 18 months in prison for complaining about the loudspeaker volume at a local mosque.

1) TAKE ACTION
Write a letter, send an email, call, fax or tweet:

Immediately and unconditionally release Meliana and all other individuals who have been convicted of blasphemy;
Ensure that Meliana and her family are given effective protection from violence or threats of violence;
Repeal or amend all blasphemy provisions set out in laws and regulations which violate the rights to freedom of expression and of thought, conscience and religion.
Contact these two officials by 10 October, 2018:
Ministry of Law and Human Rights
Minister Yasonna Laoly
Jalan H.R. Rasuna Said Kav 6-7
Jakarta Selatan, DKI
Jakarta, Indonesia 12940
Fax: +62 (0)21 525 3004
Email: rohumas@kemenkumham.go.id
Salutation: Dear Minister

Ambassador Budi Bowoleksono
Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia
2020 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington DC 20036
Phone: 202 775 5200
Twitter: @KBRIWashDC @b_bowoleksono
Salutation: Dear Ambassador

--
Read the rest of this urgent action at AI:
https://www.amnestyusa.org/urgent-actions/urgent-action-18-months-in-prison-for-mosque-noise-complaint-indonesia-ua-161-18/

--

MORE INFORMATION from THE STRAITS TIMES about the basis for the blasphemy charge:

"Criticism mounts in Indonesia against jailing of woman for complaining about volume of mosque speaker

"Wahyudi SoeriaatmadjaIndonesia Correspondent
JAKARTA - Criticism has mounted, even among Muslims, against the jailing of an Indonesian woman of Chinese descent for complaining to a neighbour about the volume of the azan (call to prayer) from the speaker of the community mosque.

"Civil society groups and lawyers denounced the verdict as excessive and silly while the two biggest Muslim organisations in the country, Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah, questioned the use of the blasphemy clause against the woman.

"I do not see how saying 'azan is too loud' is an expression of hatred or hostility towards a particular group or religion," Mr Robikin Emhas, head of the legal, human rights and legislation department at Nahdlatul Ulama, Indonesia's largest Muslim organisation with more than 80 million members, was quoted as saying in a statement.

"The blasphemy clause should not be used to "bulldoze" anyone's right to express opinions and Muslims should consider such opinions as "constructive criticism in a plural society", he said...

"Meliana, 44, a Buddhist, was found guilty on Tuesday (Aug 21) of blasphemy by the Medan district court in North Sumatra and sentenced to 1½ years in prison. The mother of four is a resident of Tanjung Balai sub-district in the eastern part of the province. Her husband, a labourer at a local swallow's nest farm which supplies bird's nests to restaurants, lost his job because of her trial.

"On July 22, 2016, Meliana was speaking with the owner of a small convenience store, who was her neighbour, when she referred to the volume of the speaker at the nearby mosque, saying that it had become louder than previously...This quickly spread on social media, which then triggered riots as Muslims, offended by the remarks, went on the rampage. Several Buddhist temples were burnt in what was believed to be the worst bout of anti-Chinese violence in the country since 1998...Meliana became a victim of a mob who descended on her house...who then vandalised and burned her house...

"Dozens of people, including former Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, have been sent to prison under Indonesia's controversial blasphemy laws, the Jakarta Post reported."

Read the rest of the news on Meliana at:
https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/criticism-mounts-in-indonesia-against-jailing-of-woman-for-complaining-about-volume-of

Shine the light of goodness, justice, and compassion,

Daniel Wilcox

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Mused Moments in Nature


side of the road

gray shadowed mail box
overwhelmed green, red-purple
bloomed jungle wonder


--








california dazing

summer

ground mists, chilly gloom
living on west’s ground-fogged coast--
wearing my snow coat

fall

palm branches flutter
while other trees’ leaves wind-fall
despite bright warm days

winter

rain-jade bluffs, 6 leaves
unfallen on our elm tree--
wait! wrens flit from branch

spring

weeping tree saps down
drips red glop on our van’s roof--
and splats of bird poop

--




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





dripping rain drizzles
against our foggy window—
blowing my wet nose




snail tracks, morning sun
translucent trail on red brick--
why in wet dashes?




wind and fire

green vines wind up fences
bursting with succulent grapes--
but covered in ash



too busy

red peaches, bird pecked,
rot under our laden tree
weighed down by sweetness




near ferndale

huge white marshmallows
checker the mowed brown hay field—
plastic-covered bales





trembled, jittering
feather caught to the dust splat
on our van's windshield




lines, no white clothes but
birds black in a row, clothespinned
to telephone wires




horse trailer rattles
by curved eucalyptus leaves
that skit in gutters




huntington beach dusk wind

pruned date palm
feather-dusts its crimson sky--
left by a worker




late afternoon

our black van tires roll
over dark elm trees stretched long,
but where are the bumps?






rain water on oil
red and blue swirls on blacktop--
a peacock's feather






up early

in the gray-hazed dawn
pale light blossoms
softly explode from a violet tree
rising by a jade-green hedge--
birdsong morning

--



In the beauty of our scenic natural world,

Daniel Wilcox

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Please Stand Against Israel, Again, Stealing Palestinian Land


FROM AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL:

ISRAELI COURT APPROVES A WAR CRIME BY RULING IN FAVOR OF DEMOLISHING THE ENTIRE VILLAGE OF KHAN AL-AHMAR


Khan al-Ahmar was established in the 1950's by Palestinians from the Negev desert

AI: "Responding to the Israeli Supreme Court’s decision, the second one in less than two months, to approve the demolition of Khan al-Ahmar, by rejecting the desperate last resort petitions from residents of the West Bank village, Saleh Higazi, Head of Office in Jerusalem for Amnesty International, said:

“With this shameful and manifestly unlawful ruling the Supreme Court has confirmed a pattern of complicity in the crime of forcible transfer of Palestinian communities for the expansion Jewish-only settlements. The court has not only completely denied the petitioners the protection provided to them by International Humanitarian Law, it has also validated the discriminatory policies of the Israeli authorities.”

“If the international community does not immediately take the necessary action to stop this crime from taking place, thousands of other Palestinians surrounding Jerusalem and in the Jordan Valley will now face an imminent risk of forced displacement...”

"Forcible transfer of people under occupation is a serious breach of the IV Geneva Convention. The deportation or transfer of all or parts of the population of the occupied territory within or outside this territory constitutes a war crime under Article 8 of the Rome Statute."

Read the rest at:
https://www.amnestyusa.org/press-releases/israeli-court-approves-a-war-crime-by-ruling-in-favor-of-demolishing-the-entire-village-of-khan-al-ahmar/

FROM BBC WORLD NEWS:

"Israel's Supreme Court has rejected appeals against the demolition of a Bedouin village in the occupied West Bank whose fate has been a subject of international concern.

Judges upheld an order to raze Khan al-Ahmar, where about 180 people live in shacks between two Jewish settlements.

Israel's government says the structures were built illegally, but Palestinians say permits are impossible to obtain.

An injunction against the demolition will expire within seven days.

The United Nations has called on Israel to allow the Bedouin to remain on the land, saying such demolitions are against international law."

Read the whole article at:
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-45420915
--

CAUTION NOTE:

Palestinians AND THEIR LEADERS have no moral ground either becaise they reward families of terrorists, and praise the murderers, including the Muslim jihadist who executed a 17-year-old girl in her own bedroom!

HOWEVER, that doesn't justify Israelis invading Palestine, destroying structures including a school, and stealing Palestinian water and land!

PLEASE STAND UP AND WRITE OPPOSING THESE IMMORAL, UNJUST ACTIONS.

In the LIGHT,

Daniel Wilcox

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Thankfulness in the Midst of So Much Torrential Darkness


Of late, with so many destructive, intolerant, oppressive movements, leaders, events--and the lying nature of it all--humans are reacting (understandably, but wrongly).

We as humans need to stand up in the torrential storm of now--and ACT, not react.

BEGIN WITH THANKFULNESS

1. Begin this new journey through hell, in the midst of torrential hurricanes, by starting with choosing despite all that is horrific.

Choose to find the little positives even in the midst of so much bad.

Choose thankfulness, not negativity.

Various others ways of rising up, include:

2. Act in nonviolence in thought and speech, as well as behavior.

3. Care by active, compassionate listening to others, especially our enemies, trying to see and understand their views and feelings.

4. Be meticulously honest in all that we say and do.

5. Give to those who suffer, who are oppressed, who feel hopeless.

6.

BUT HOW IN THE WORLD CAN ONE BECOME THANKFUL WHEN SUFFERING SO?!

By remembering what the famous psychologist Victor Frankyl (neurologist and psychiatrist, a Holocaust survivor) said:

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
― Viktor E. Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning


Focus on CHOOSING in the midst of trauma.

And by seeking to help others who are suffering even worse.

To paraphrase the famous poet, Maya Angelou:
Act as a caring rainbow--a guiding light--in the midst of others' torrential storms.



Create through hope. Start by sharing thankfulness.

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Faves of One Shrimpatarian


Introductory Note: As mentioned before, this is my second movement toward vegetarianism. The first one occurred in 1967, but then I jumped from an American diet to veganism, lost 45 pounds, and became malnourished. This time I am taking the very slow, balanced approach. First, about 20 years ago, I stopped eating all beef. Then, 10 years ago, pork.


Since pigs are smarter than dogs and cats, it’s unclear to me why I didn’t stop eating ham, etc. long ago. Seeking the truth, living the truth is very difficult. But it seems obvious that no humans ought to eat conscious, aware, intelligent animals such as pigs.
At present, I seldom have fish, though for years, salmon, cod, catfish, and halibut were favorites.
I’m working my way down the food chain until, I will stop eating anything that has a face, certainly not sentient creatures.

FAVES of Food

Vegetables:
1. Potatoes--French fries, fried potatoes, baked, hashbrowns
2. Celery
3. Cucumbers
4. Mushrooms
5. European blend salad
6. Jalapeno peppers
7. Broccoli
--

Fruits:
1. Bananas
2. Blackberries
3. Oranges
4. Kiwis
5. Tomatoes
6. Figs
7. Dates
--

Meals:
1. Cajun shrimp, especially large shrimp
2. Baseball-sized Hushpuppy with its insides of crab and in the center with sauce, a large shrimp, at Cajun Tex restaurant in Marshall, Texas

3. Delicious Shrimp and Grits, The Conch House in St. Augustine, Florida




4. Crab chowder, best at The Conch House










5. Gourmet Shrimp Taco at Rubios, Huntington Beach, California
5. Jalapeno string cheese, such as Great Value brand
5. Cheese and potato Chalupa at Taco Bell
6. Quesadilla, especially Del Taco’s Spicy Jack Quesadilla
7. Cheese Enchilada
8. 10-grain bread
9. Millet
10.Clam Chowder


Drinks:
1. Mountain Dew Types: LiveWire, Ice (Lennon-Lime), Regular, PitchBlack, Code Red
2. Hurricanes at Joe's Crab Shack
3. Margaritas at Flanigans, Pompano Beach, Florida
4. Siesta Key Spiced Rum, Sarasota, Florida
5. Eggnog
6. Milk and shakes

Favorite Restaurants and Cafes:
1. The Conch House, St. Augustine Florida
2. Flanigan's Seafood Bar & Grill, Pompano Beach Florida
3. Cajun Tex, Marshall Texas
4. Jonahs Fish & Grits, Thomasville Georgia
5. Rubio's Coastal Grill, Huntington Beach California


Enjoy the gusto and deliciousness of good non-meat food and drink in moderation,

Daniel Wilcox

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Now If That Isn't an Irony!


All through my Christian life—for 55 years—so many Christians emphasized that the only way for all humans to have peace is for humans to accept Jesus as their Savior, to become a Christian.

Then they will change, peace will come in their lives, and they will act in peace, and eventually—at least by the time Jesus returns—peace will come to all of the world.

Here’s one famous phrase—“The Prince of Peace is the only one who can change it [stop war, stop hatred, stop injustice, etc.] by changing one heart at a time.”

BUT the EXACT opposite has happened. For generations.

In every generation, the vast majority of those ‘changed-one-heart-at-a-time,’ born-again-devout Christians are the very humans who are most pro-war, even strongly supporting the slaughter of civilians, and often emphasizing nationalism!

They even now are claiming that everyone ought to put “America First”!

Arrest a 12-year-old disabled girl at the hospital where she just had surgery because she isn't a native citizen, even though she has lived in the U.S. since she was 3 months old.

Send her to a border station internment place by herself.

Forcibly separate thousands of children, including over 100 under 5, from their refugee parents, and move them to facilities far away from their parents in other states!

Utter selfishness, injustice, and no peace.

Now if that isn’t an irony.




Instead,

Seek the Light of justice, reconciliation, compassion, human rights, equality, and so much more.

Act today for those who are impoverished, those who are suffering, those who are oppressed.

Daniel Wilcox

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Write for Amal Fathy, an Egyptian Woman Arrested for Writing Against Sexual Harassment


FROM AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL:
"On 21 June, Egyptian authorities upheld the decision to release woman human rights defender Amal Fathy on bail in one of the two cases against her. However, she remains detained in the second case for 15 more days. The prosecutor has two weeks to decide whether to renew Amal’s detention on the second case or release her.

"1) TAKE ACTION
Write a letter, send an email, call, fax or tweet:

"Immediately and unconditionally release Amal Fathy as she is a prisoner of conscience, detained solely for peacefully expressing her opinions;
Recognize the legitimacy of the work of human rights defenders, like Amal Fathy, and in particular the right to carry out their activities without any restrictions or fear of reprisals, as set out in the 1998 UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.
Contact these two officials by 7 August, 2018:

President
Abdel Fattah el-Sisi
Office of the President
Al Ittihadia Palace
Cairo, Arab Republic of Egypt
Fax +202 2391 1441
Email: p.spokesman@op.gov.eg
Twitter: @AlsisiOfficial
Salutation: Dear President

Ambassador Yasser Reda, Embassy of Egypt
3521 International Ct NW, Washington DC 20008
Phone: 202 895 5400
Fax: 202 244 4319 -OR- 202 244 5131
Email: embassy@egyptembassy.net
Contact Form: http://www.egyptembassy.net/the-embassy/ambassadors-corner/
Salutation: Dear Ambassador

FOR MORE INFORMATION:
https://www.amnestyusa.org/urgent-actions/urgent-action-amal-fathy-remains-in-jail-for-charges-in-one-case-egypt-ua-98-18/
--


In the Light of the Enlightenment, stand up for the oppressed, the suffering, the impoverished,

Daniel Wilcox

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Look at Facts versus Truth, AGAIN


From an Introduction to Literature book [with my own responding commentary and reflections in brackets]:
"Water boils at 212° F." True or false? It depends. In Denver, a mile high, the statement is false; at sea level, it is true, provided we all agree what F stands for, what the superscript means, and what the rest of the words in the statement denote.

“But facts - a kind of truth-are slippery. The fact that water flows downhill can be verified to most people's satisfaction by pouring water down a number of hills, but what practical test is there to verify that the square root of nine is three?
--

[Or that induction is to be trusted?
The philosopher David Hume stated that there is no proof for induction.

Or perception is real?

Or that all of existence is real, not illusion as Asian religions and some philosophers claim?]
--

“All this is by way of suggesting that fact and truth are not always identical. Nor should we assume that the only kind of truth we can rely on is the truth embodied in cold, hard fact. Consider the following for a moment.

“It is a truth about human life -has been and no doubt always will be - that a young man [or young woman] of great gifts must sooner or later make a choice, and in doing so he [she] closes the door on alternative choices.

“He may devote all his talent to becoming, say, a great soldier, and with diligence he may enjoy success. Or he may devote his talent to becoming a politician, and assuming he is willing to make the necessary sacrifices of time and energy, he may very well succeed there.

“Or he may concentrate all his gifts on becoming a playboy and bon vivant, and no doubt he will have success there too, always of course at the cost of realizing his potential in other areas of endeavor. Most of us can do only so much in one lifetime, and to do anything extremely well takes something close to total commitment.

“Insight into this truth is expressed in one of the great myths of classical antiquity. At a feast of the gods on Mount Olympus, the uninvited goddess of discord, Eris, mischievously threw onto the table an apple labeled "For the Fairest."

“Three feminine hands reached for it...To decide, the handsomest of mortals, Paris, was brought to the feast, where each of the three goddesses promised rewards to him if he would give the apple to her.

“...Paris...gave the apple to Aphrodite, and from that choice reaped the reward of Helen, most beautiful of women, with all the consequences-including the fall of Troy and the destruction of his family...

“Whether or not there was ever a man named Paris, there is truth in the myth that is as valid as fact, and more affecting.

“Myth, then, collects the diverse experience of the race of man and fashions it into memorable and enduring form.
--

[But is the literature textbook correct, that non-factual stories are as valid as facts?

Since the term, myth, has come to almost always mean falsehood, delusion, etc., a better word would be “life-stance story.” In such stories, there may be ethical truth, philosophical observation, even a lucid understanding of one aspect of Life or the Cosmos.

BUT on the other hand, there may be only illusion and dysfunction.

Consider for instance President Abraham Lincoln’s belief in fate—he was raised Calvinist but rejected the Christian religion yet kept its fixated belief in determinism!

Because of his deep sense of fate, and his belief in the belief of an inseparable Union, Lincoln caused the death of almost 1 million humans, untold wounding of millions more, the destruction of cities and farms, and an ambivalent legacy that is still with us, etc.]
--

“...Is it not true that men often do evil with the best of intentions?”
--

[For Lincoln’s nemesis—strangely the very military leader who before Lincoln’s war attack into the Confederacy, he had asked to lead all Union troops!--
Robert E. Lee, also, had life-changing beliefs, a strong Christian belief in predestination (not significantly different from Lincoln’s belief in fate), but which led to a completely opposite response in life—which also was involved in causing much of the death and destruction that President Lincoln instituted.

Strangely, Lee as a dedicated Christian said that we ought to love our enemies, but that didn't stop him from causing the death of hundreds of thousands of humans, some of whom he used to work with! Lee killed them in duty, honor, and justice:-(

Indeed, most of the 20th century, and now the 21st century has seen political and religious leaders, with the “best of intentions”
cause more untold evil—the slaughter of millions of civilians, hundreds of millions of humans--beginning with the Great War down to the current slaughters in the Middle East and invasion by the United States who currently fights in at least 7 separate wars among the many on-going Islamic fratricides.]
--

Or consider the famous life-stance story of Jews, Christians, and Muslims:
“the Garden of Eden and the events we are told took place there...

“Some people read the account in Genesis as factual truth, but it is hardly necessary to insist on literal accuracy to appreciate the profound…truths of the story told simply in Genesis…

“The temptation to rise above one's place in the universe…is a universal human experience...their effort to convince themselves that what they have done is right despite all evidence to the contrary. We can recognize these and other truths in the story, although we have never known a world literally like that of Adam and Eve.

“Perhaps the most profound aspect of the story lies in God's commandment that man not eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge and man's breaking of that commandment. We assume the value of knowledge, but many of the most able observers of man's progress wonder, as they ponder the future, whether what lies before us is ultimately good or evil.”
--

[The famous psychologist and professor Steven Pinker has written 2 lucid, heavily fact-based books, Better Angels of Our Nature and Enlightenment Now, showing that despite nearly constant gloomy media news, tremendous moral and flourishing life progress has actually been made by humans in the last 50 years.]
--

Contrarily,
“Has our knowledge outgrown our ability to use it wisely? As we learn how to destroy the inhabitants of the earth, and as we hover on the brink of discovering how to create life itself, we might find more significance in the ancient story of the fall of man than we had realized.”
--

[Many nations, currently, are turning to ‘strongmen’ to lead their nations. The U.S.—which already has many thousands of nuclear bombs, enough to destroy the world many times—is committed to building new ones and the current president, too, now wants to militarize Space!

Plus, President Trump has taken thousands of children away from refugee parents and claims that Americans ought to be “first” yet at the same time is strongly supported by over 81% of conservative Christians who claim he is “pro-life"!]
--

"I only have time for facts," the innocent often say. "No time for make-believe." But fiction-the best of it-isn't make-believe.

It is often the more enduring reality, and because it contains truth, it goes beyond personal and national boundaries. Thus, one need not be a Greek to recognize truth in Oedipus the King, or a Roman Catholic to be astonished by the accuracy of vision in The Divine Comedy.

“Nor does one have to insist on a literal interpretation of Christian doctrine in order to find profound truths about man and his fate in, Paradise Lost.

“1. Although facts are not the only form of truth, they are extremely important.

What is a fact?

What is the importance of facts in your everyday life?

What is the relationship between facts and ideas?

Between facts and opinions?

"2. Is man essentially good?

“Or is he essentially evil?
--from a literature textbook
--

[OR is the human primate not capable of good or evil?

IS the human species ONLY--
“You, your joys and your sorrow, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules.”
-Francis Crick, the famous Scientist and Atheistic Naturalist

OR HOW can any of the life-stance stories possibly be true in the sense that the literary author means (ethically and philosophically, not factually)
since so many contradict each other.

To be continued—


In the Light,

Daniel Eugene Wilcox