“Am I committed to any ‘truth’ so deeply that I am willing to die for it, and willing to live moment-by-moment,
hour-by-hour, year-by-year for that truth, until my death?
How does one find what is the Good, the True, the Just, the Beautiful?
How does any individual discover whether a philosophical, moral, or political claim is genuine, is true,
is an accurate reality
mass delusion, or
At 72 years of age, now, I look back…
Tuesday, May 14, 2019
Friday, May 10, 2019
At this contentious time of physical and verbal harm,
this reflection is surely needed:
3 Ought Not Fight
Disking the rock strewn
Objected earth near Jerusalem,
Underneath the Middle Eastern sky
Rows of mean earth riven by the blades,
We cut away our anger, hate, and pride,
Stopping to drink, not from the liquor
Of fanatic corruption but from
The precious water welling up,
Our oasis of Jacob'd sharing,
In this Ramadan season
Months before Christ's birth
We three sons of Abraham,
Muslim, Jew, and Christian,
Ought to fight the true battle
Not each other,
Not with weapons of harm
To be found worthy
First pub. in
Saturday, May 4, 2019
“The sense of spiritual relief which comes from rejecting the idea of God as a
superhuman being is enormous.”
Julian Huxley, Religion Without Revelation
THAT'S one story.
HERE'S several others: The human species is "chemical scum;"
all humans are "biochemical puppets;"
all humans are "in essence, evil,"
all humans' sense of themselves is an illusion, etc.
And contrary ones such as: The human species is amazing in its abilities, achievements, and wonder--
that this one form of primate has become rationally, scientifically,
morally, and transcendentally aware,
is capable of creative choice and
has decoded the human genome, sent probes to the edge of our solar system,
has become aware or human rights, justice, and altruism
and creates aesthetics and music, and so many other positive, emotionally
and rationally new creations!
Astrophysicist Joel R. Primack and Nancy Ellen Abrams wrote in their humanistic astrophysics and meaning book, The View from the Center of the Universe that human thinkers need to come up with a new meta-story for the human species that is neither superstitious (old religious myth) nor nihilistic (some philosophers' and scientists' claims--see examples above).
WHAT IS THE TRUE NATURE OF REALITY?
Andrew Greeley, an American sociologist, writer, and liberal Roman Catholic wrote:
Anthropologist Clifford Geertz "...thinks of religion as a set of symbols which provide man a “meaning system” that can answer his fundamental problems about the interpretability of the universe. The “templates” which guide the behavior of animals are for the most part provided by innate instincts, but man has rather few instincts
and is capable of surviving in the world not because he is endowed with an elaborate system of instincts but because he is able to evolve culture; that is to say, a series of meaning systems with which he can interpret and organize his life."
"Man’s religion is the most fundamental of his meaning systems because it is one which provides answer to the most puzzling and basic questions about the meaning of existence itself...
Most of us need, at least implicitly, some sort of rough and ready answers to questions of whether
life has meaning,
of whether good triumphs over evil; or evil, good;
of how the good man lives;
of whether the really real is malign or gracious;
and of whether man is capable of establishing relationships with the real.
Our religious symbols contain, frequently in highly poetic form, the ultimate meaning system or interpretive scheme
which we use to cope with these questions."
And in another book by science and meaning, writer Nancy Ellen Abrams explains:
"The clear goal of my book, stated from the start, is to present a scientifically impeccable yet personally empowering way to think about God in the modern age.
"An emergent phenomenon is not the sum-total of a collective – it’s something radically and unpredictably new that arises from the collective by the laws of nature. Each of us, for example, is made of trillions of cells, but we are not just the sum-total of those cells, or we would be a large and slobbering mass of unconsciousness."
Yes, we exist only because of our cells, but what has over the course of evolution emerged from the complexity of those cells’ interactions is a human being – a complicated, self-conscious, feeling, acting, intellectually curious, potentially spiritual being that far outlasts all its individual cells and is in no sense in the image of a cell."
[Negative secular thinkers] "are out there giving popular talks where they cynically condemn our universe as “the worst of all possible universes” simply because of something that may (or may not) happen in billions of years; or they describe the heavy atoms cooked up in stars, which we and Earth are made of, as the “waste products of supernovae” when they could just as accurately and certainly more inspirationally call those atoms “stardust.”
So true. Abrams shows that the facts of the existence are the same, but how one understands the facts makes a huge difference. Some human thinkers view them very negatively from an anti-humanistic life stance, while others do the opposite.
Contrast the positive life outlook of science writer Carl Sagan when he wrote that humans are made of "star dust," to those naysayers, nihilistic thinkers who claim that all humans are "chemical scum,"
"waste products," "biochemical puppets," etc.
Abrams gives an example:
"There is nothing uncomfortable about dark energy but thinking makes it so. Once we accept that dark matter and dark energy account for 95% of our one-and-only universe, our spiritual challenge is to discover the comfort in them – and there’s plenty, because we owe them everything.
Without dark matter and dark energy we would never have existed. For billions of years dark matter has been pulling atoms together while dark energy flings space apart. Their interaction with each other has spun the galaxies into being, thus creating the only possible homes for the evolution of planets and life."
"The way our species as a whole is behaving today is unsustainable and even self-destructive in the long term. Bronze Age ideas about God are a big part of the problem, not only for believers but for atheists...who still see their job as opposing those old ideas rather than transcending them."
"But [creedal religious] belief and atheism are no longer the only options.
We are living in an amazing time when the new cosmology is teaching us not only what kind of universe we live in but how to open our minds to the cosmic deep time
from which we emerged and the cosmically long term future our descendants could have."
"Atheism is a reasonable reaction to the many impossible notions of God, but it cannot be the final stage of our understanding if we humans want to rise to our full potential and cooperatively confront the global problems that threaten us all."
A God That Could Be Real by Nancy Ellen Abrams
SEEK WHAT IS TRUE. CREATE HUMAN STORIES THAT ALIGN WITH SCIENCE, ONES WHICH CAN INSPIRE US TO NEW DEPTHS OF PURPOSE.
Tuesday, April 23, 2019
“God and King,” “The Sun Never Sets on the British Empire,” “Gott mi tuns” (on every German soldier' belt buckle-“God with us”)
“Holy Mother Russia,”
“God bless U.S.”
“Make America Great Again,”
“Change We Can Believe In”
"Allahu Akbar!" (“Allah is Greater!”)
“In this Sign, Conquer.”
So many idolatrous mottoes by human nations bent upon imposing their particular society on all others, declaring their particular nation is the only numero uno!
And endless subgroups of religion, politics, and ideology
Republican vs. Democrat
Capitalist vs. Marxist
Christian vs. Muslim
Hindu vs. Buddhist....
Notice, they all tend toward egocentric identities!
Power, Money, War, and In-Groupness.
According to the American theologian and social critic, Reinhold Niebuhr, all of us humans
have the tendency individually to behave less moral than each of us ought to do.
But more importantly, the central key focus and thesis of his book, Moral Man and Immoral Society
that generally every nation-society of humans will act even more immoral than individuals within each nation.
(He later wrote that his book ought to have been, 'immoral men, and even more immoral nations'.)
This tragedy happens because of of all human nations have group-egos.
History does seem to show that any given human society will tend to be more immoral and more unjust than some of its citizens.
The analogy would be like a bit of dye dropped into a glass of water. It quickly stains-discolors the whole glass of water even if only a very tiny bit of dye has been added.
Possibly, a nation could be morally better than its individual citizens, but it’s not likely. And it hasn’t happened in known history.
Here are a few more examples of the tendency toward ethnocentrism in history:
“Nobiscum Deus in Latin, Μεθ᾽ἡμων ὁ Θεός (Meth himon o theos) in Greek, was a battle cry of the late Roman Empire and of the Eastern Roman Empire. It is also a popular hymn of the Eastern Orthodox Church, sung during the service of Great Compline (Μεγα Αποδειπνον). The Church Slavonic translation is Съ Hами Богъ (S Nami Bog).”
“It was used for the first time in Germany by the Teutonic Order. In the 17th century, the phrase Gott mit uns was used as a 'field word', a means of recognition akin to a password, by the army of Gustavus Adolphus at the battles of Breitenfeld (1631), Lützen (1632) and Wittstock (1636) in the Thirty Years' War."
“In 1701, Frederick I of Prussia changed his coat of arms as Prince-Elector of Brandenburg. The electoral scepter had its own shield under the electoral cap. Below, the motto Gott mit uns appeared on the pedestal.”
It is shocking that in the 21st century, many nations are now turning back to autocratic, egocentric forms of governments.
Nationalism like what caused the cataclysm of the Great War at the beginning of the 20th century is back!
Let us work to counter this dire change for the worse.
Saturday, April 20, 2019
The following points appear to be the sort of reasonings for gay marriage that individuals such as Peter and Chasten hold toward marriage versus the contrary views of "the Mike Pences of the world" (Peter's phrase):
#1 While it isn't wise to abandon or jettison one of the central moral codes of the last 4,000 years, when new information,
new insights, new intuitions, new experiences call into question one of the tenets,
it is very important that we listen, think, dialog and if warranted,
CHANGE our minds.
According to statistics, about 5% to 11% of Americans aren't exclusively heterosexual. The numbers vary according to how one deals with the issues. For instance, about 8 million, 3.5% "identify as LGBT." But about 11% "acknowledge at least some same-sexual attraction."
When all of the numbers are crunched, at least 19 million to 25.6 million aren't only opposite sexual in orientation.
Those millions of same sexual human beings are equal to other humans, have the same inherent worth, have the same human rights, are just as precious as those humans who judge them as morally wrong.
WHY SHOULD THEY BE EXCLUDED FROM MARRIAGE because of the dominant ancient moral code?
Of course, Christians, Muslims, and Jews answer that the reason is the same as why robbers, molesters, polygamists, etc. ought to be excluded from various rights: same sexual relations, like the other moral violations, is contrary to what is true and same sexuality is harmful, degenerate, and an abomination similar to other 'gross' actions.
NOW NOTICE HERE: THIS IS WHERE THE CONTROVERSY GETS COMPLICATED!
Most conservative Christian-Jewish-Muslim leaders are equating identity with action.
ERROR? They generally reject the view held by many modern secular thinkers that same sexual individuals are born, (or born-nurtured), gay/transgender, etc.
IN CONTRAST, these religious leaders believe that all alternative sexual identities are CHOSEN. Many think that this is an immoral choice by each individual human and that all of them are actually born heterosexual. They think that the idea of "sexual orientation" is a falsehood like "evolution," "socialism," etc.
Other conservative leaders think that while homosexuality isn't self-chosen by some humans, homosexuality itself is part of the FALL, part of ORIGINAL SIN that infects all humans and must be resisted.
They emphasize that all humans are "totally depraved," that all of us are born "in essence, evil" but that this particular depravity, homosexuality, only shows in some of us humans, while other humans commit incest, molestation, robbery, lying, and so forth.
IN CONTRAST, same sexual leaders such as Peter Buttigieg, emphasize that they didn't choose their nature, nor is their nature bad, but on the contrary, “That’s the thing that I wish the Mike Pences of the world would understand that if you have a problem with who I am, your problem is not with me. Your quarrel, sir, is with my creator.”
The traditional moral rule against same sexuality doesn't apply to him as self-chosen. On the contrary, Peter says that for a long time his identity deeply grieved and troubled him: “It’s hard to face the truth that there were times in my life when, if you had shown me exactly what it was inside me that made me gay, I would have cut it out with a knife.”
"If you had offered me a pill to make me straight, I would’ve swallowed it before you had time to give me a sip of water."
The KEY point of Peter is that sexual orientation is from God, but that how we express our orientation is a question of right and wrong, good and bad that we humans choose.
For instance, in regards to President Trump's immoral actions, Peter said, "“I can’t believe that somebody that was caught writing hush money checks to adult film actresses is somebody they should be lifting up as the kind of person they want to be leading this nation.” (Meet the Press)
AGAIN, REASON #1, ACCORDING TO LEADERS LIKE PETER AND CHASTEN, TONY CAMPOLO, ETC. IS THAT ALL HUMANS NEED TO USE THEIR SEXUAL NATURE AND IDENTITY (WHETHER GAY OR STRAIGHT) IN THE LIFE-ENHANCING, MORAL WAY OF MARRIAGE.
What is wrong isn't sexual orientation, but immoral choices of promiscuity, infidelity, and so forth.
DENYING GAY HUMANS THE RIGHT TO MARRY is WRONG FOR THAT NOT ONLY DENIES THEIR ESSENTIAL WORTH AND VALUE, BUT LEAVES THEM LIVING THEIR SEXUALITY OUTSIDE OF SOCIAL COMMITMENT.
This seems to be a very strong point for the goodness of gay marriage.
How very different might famous Civil Rights leader Bayard Rustin's life have been if he had been able to marry in the 1940's, have that public social commitment help him to overcome his tendency--temptations--to engage in gay promiscuous one-night stands.
His non-married sexual choices then hurt him, his close friends, harmed the image of Civil Rights, and kept Bayar hidden in the background of the Movement because of the immoral violation of engaging in sex in a car in Pasadena with a stranger, caught by California police.
It is tragic that a large number of gay men still make promiscuous choices because they have been taught by Western society and culture that their identity is morally wrong.
Gay marriage--its emphasis that gay humans are equal in worth and rights to heterosexuals--is surely an important reason why gay marriage is true.
Past generations of human leaders (the human authors of the MORAL CODE), didn't know about orientation so they misunderstood thinking that same sexuality in itself was immoral. They confused essence with particular immoral actions.
What do you think?
#1 One of the most important statements—which has proven tragically to be true-- made by religious people 20 years ago was that recognizing gay marriage wouldn’t create new ideals of moral realism but would become a slippery slope to the demand for more immoral behavior.
At the time, back then, I thought that the Christian spokesmen who were claiming that this would happen were fear-mongering and using scare tactics to hurt sincere humans who were gay.
HOWEVER, strangely, this odd contradiction has begun to happen. Some same sexual leaders instead of continuing to support monogamy, now that gay marriage has become legal in the United States, are, instead, supporting promiscuity,
‘polyamory’ a form of group marriage, where 3 or 4 or more individuals engage in temporary sexual relations.
After reading a bunch of articles and defenses of ‘polyamory,’ it does seem that the religious leaders’ warnings of the past have come true.
Heck, even some fairly orthodox Christian leaders have come out in support of 'polyamory' as good!
But ‘polyamory’ isn’t even the sometimes mild immoral practice of polygamy or concubinage but appears to be a western nation version of acceptable short-term (as short as 3 days or 3 months!) sexual relations like in 12er Shia Islam.
As a former hippie who lived in Haight-Asbury in the spring of 1966 before receiving my draft notice, I remember all of the glowing talk about “Make Love, Not War,”
but generally what this amounted to was lust for a night or a week or a month.
‘Polyamory” seems to just be a regress to those empty-user phrases made by young people who wanted sex without care,
sex without commitment,
sex without intimacy.
When I lived there near Haight street, that was still a somewhat idealistic time. However very soon the Haight lust and 'highs' descended into hate, violence, drug pushing and abuse, and other forms of unethical behavior.
So much for ‘love.’
Let us hope that more same sexual individuals will choose monogamous commitment in marriage like Pete and Chasten.
To be continued--
In the Light of the Good and the True,
Friday, April 19, 2019
Section #2: Peter & Chasten Buttigieg vs. Vice President Mike & Karen Pence, The Question of Gay Marriage
In the first section of this long article I explained why life-long monogamous marriage is the human ideal, what every individual ought to seek.*
The HUGE question of the last 40 years or so is whether or not those human couples who aren’t heterosexual have the right to monogamous marriage.
Of course, legally, this was decided in the U.S. by the Supreme Court on June 26, 2015 in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges.
The question we are dealing with here is whether or not the decision of the Supreme Court was morally true or not.
Leaders such as Vice President Mike Pence and his spouse, Karen Pence have stated that same sexual relations are morally wrong, so they oppose gay marriage as sin.
The new candidate for President in 2020, former South Bend Mayor Peter Buttigieg and his spouse, Chasten Buttigieg, in contrast, think that same sexuality is normal, not wrong, and that every human has a right to marry.
Intriguingly, both couples allege that they are devout Christians. Mike and Karen are Evangelicals; she teaches at a Baptist elementary school that prohibits same sexuality and gay marriage.
Peter and Chasten are Episcopalians.
BUT that isn’t the key difference between Peter and Chasten, because President George H. Bush opposed gay marriage when he was president, and he, too, is Episcopalian. (Intriguingly, though, at the time, Barbara Bush, supported gay individuals, thought that sexuality was a private matter, and that the Republican Party ought to not ban gay marriage.)
Also, while Mike and Karen oppose same sexuality and gay marriage, allegedly because they are “born-again” Evangelicals, there are even a minority of Evangelical Christian leaders who support gay marriage.(Strangely, Mike and Karen couldn't have been good "born-again Evangelicals back in my early youth, late-50's early 60's, because in Evangelical Christianity at the time, dancing was considered immoral. Dancing was an action that no good Christian would ever do. My own father, a Baptist minister and teacher helped lead the effort to ban the prom at Adams High School because no one ought to dance. YET notice Mike and Karen are dancing, and she is wearing an off-the-shoulder gown!)
Keep in mind that being a member of a Christian denomination doesn’t necessarily mean anything when it comes to morals and ethics.
Heck, former Vice President Dick Cheney was a Methodist, but his political views and many of his actions were immoral and unjust, completely contrary to the social ethics of Wesleyan beliefs. And President Richard Nixon belonged to a pacifist denomination! So much for the True Scotsman.
So, we are going to have to go deeper than the terms secular vs sacred,
or non-Christian vs. Christian,
or Episcopal vs. Evangelical, etc.
The Episcopal Church to which Peter and Chasten belong didn't even recognize gay marriage until about 2012! In that year, the Episcopal Diocese of New York began to hold same sex weddings.
However, the General Convention of 1976 did state, "homosexual persons are children of God who have a full and equal claim with all other persons upon the love, acceptance, and pastoral concern and care of the Church."
Let’s first briefly look at the history of Christianity in regards to same sexuality.
#1 The Bible (viewed as inspired by Jews, Muslims, and Christians)
Leviticus 18, 20
I Corinthians 6:9-11
2 Peter 2:4-10
#2 Traditional Theology and Ethics of Christianity,Judaism, and Islam
In the Quran, same sexual relations are prohibited and are to be punished.
In the Hadith, same sexuality is to be punished with the death penalty.
In Islam, gays are often charged with "debauchery" and are punished with flogging or execution. On the other hand, in the past in some forms of Islam, same sexuality was hinted at positively in poetry and wasn't severely punished; sometimes was ignored.
Besides verses in the Jewish Bible such as Leviticus, traditionally rabbinic leaders expanded the prohibition to include lesbian relations and any same sexual behavior.
Even, today, Orthodox Jewish rabbis condemn same sexual relations and oppose gay marriage.
(Though keep in mind the fact, there may be exceptions such as gay Orthodox Rabbi Steven Greenberg, just like there are exceptions in conservative and Evangelical Christianity including famous leader Tony Campolo.)
From the Church Fathers until recent times, creedal Christianity has opposed same sexuality. Roman Catholic leader John Chrysostom, in the 4th century, claimed that same sexual relations are worse than murder.
Over the centuries, some Christian governments ordered the death penalty for gays, sometimes burning them or using torture, castration, and banishment. Pope Nicholas V in 1451 had the Inquisition arrest same sexual men. They, like in the past, were burned to death.
Martin Luther stated that same sexuality comes from the devil.
The Eastern Orthodox Church condemns same sexual relations as sin and opposes gay marriage.
WHEN DID THE CHANGE TOWARD SAME SEXUALITY HAPPEN FOR SOME CHRISTIAN LEADERS?
According to Encyclopedia Britannica, in 1989 Denmark became the first nation to legally establish a form of non-religious marriage for same sexual couples. However, many leaders of the Lutheran Church of Denmark still opposed gay marriage in 2004.
The earliest acceptance of gay relationships by a few creedal Christian leaders seems to have occurred in the early 1970's.
So the weight of Christian history and tradition appears to be on Mike and Karen Pence's side--that same sexuality is sin, morally wrong.
Arguing from Christian history and tradition is VERY DANGEROUS! For in 16th century Europe, Mike and Karen could have been burned at the stake or tortured and drowned during that time by the Christian leaders including Roman Catholics, Calvinists and others. Beliefs of Evangelical Christians were considered heretical and evil.
Far more 'Evangelical' Christians were executed for being evil than same sexual individuals!
Even one of the heroes of Evangelicals today, Martin Luther, strongly condemned, not only homosexuals but the 'evangelicals' of his time. And Lutheran and Reformed leaders banished them and supported their executions in some cases.
#1 WHAT ARE THE REASONS TO SUPPORT A CHANGE FROM THE CONDEMNATION OF SAME SEXUALITY BY ORTHODOX CHRISTIANITY, ISLAM, AND JUDAISM?
In other words, why ought we to agree with Peter and Chasten (and other such leaders) about gay marriage being good?
#2 WHAT ARE THE REASONS TO SUPPORT OPPOSITION TO SAME SEXUALITY AND GAY MARRIAGE, THE VIEW OF CREEDAL CHRISTIANS SUCH AS MIKE AND KAREN PENCE?
To be continued
In the Light of the Good, the True, the Just, the Caring,
Friday, April 12, 2019
This week controversy erupted, again, between Democrats and Republicans on questions of the meaning of sexuality and marriage. Let's short-step back from the political fracas and reflect on sexuality-marriage itself.
The meaning of human sexuality is deep, transcendent, complicated and controversial. Then there is the related question of marriage or not. It appears that no one can get away from the intense subject.
A few quotes to show the inexplicable contrariness and contradictory outlook of various human beings toward this incessantly fascinating topic of sexuality and marriage:
In some early Buddhism, such as the Theradvada writings, it was not possible for a woman to become a bodhisativa; a human is born a woman because of bad karma!
And most Buddhists chose celibacy.
Then there is the infamous verse by Paul in the New Testament:
“It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.”
1 Corinthians 7:1
And Orthodox Judaism' men's prayer thanking God for not making them a woman or a slave. And how women are unclean and have to take ritual baths.
On the other hand, some religious texts seem to glory in sexuality:
"Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! For your love is better than wine:"
-Song of Songs, Chapter 1:2, Jewish Bible
"And God created the human in his image,
in the image of God...male and female...
And God blessed them, and God said to them,
Be fruitful and multiply
...and, look, it was very good."
"The [marriage] vows should be written like a dog's license that has to be renewed every year...I think vows should be changed because they've been in existence for 600 years when people used to live until they were only 35. So they only had to be with each other for 12 years, then they would die anyway. But now it's a big commitment because you're going to be with someone for 50 years. It's impossible...It's such a rarity for people to stay together that 68% of marriages fail. I don't want to urinate on the party, but one must consider that before getting married.
His rock anthem to romantic commitment:
"You're in my heart, you're in my soul
You'll be my breath should I grow old
You are my lover, you're my best friend
You're in my soul
My love for you is immeasurable
My respect for you immense
You're ageless, timeless, lace and fineness
You're beauty and elegance
You're a rhapsody, a comedy
You're a symphony and a play
You're every love song ever written...
You are my lover, you're my best friend
You're in my soul"
--Rock Musician Rod Stewart
“Sex is like pissing. People take it much too seriously."
--Famous Muralist and Painter Diego Rivera
“If I ever loved a woman, the more I loved her, the more I wanted to hurt her. Frida was only the most obvious victim of this disgusting trait.”
“Haven’t you read that at the beginning the Creator made them male and female and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’?”
Yeshua, Jewish prophet
“Chastity: The most unnatural of the sexual perversions."
"I think I could fall madly in bed with you."
“Vanity, revenge, loneliness, boredom, all apply: lust is one of the least of the reasons for promiscuity."
"How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right...
I love thee with the passion...I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life..."
-Elizabeth Barrett Browning
“To me heaven would be...two lovely houses in the town; one where I would have my wife and children and be monogamous and love them truly and well and the other where I would have my nine beautiful mistresses on nine different floors.”
“The sweetest joy, the wildest woe is love.”
-Philip James Bailey
“Now concerning the things about which you wrote, it is good for a man not to touch a woman.”
I Corinthians 7:1, New Testament
"Love is the word used to label the sexual excitement of the young, the habituation of the middle-aged, and the mutual dependence of the old."
"My own sexual mores...I do not believe that I should be passionately in love with my partner...and still less, married.
For there is a special and humanizing delight in erotic friendships with no strings attached..."
"My life would be much, much poorer were it not for certain
particular women with whom I have most happily and congenially committed adultery...”
-Philosopher Alan Watts
"I never knew how to worship until I knew how to love."
-Henry Ward Beecher
Roman and Grace are a married Spokane Indian couple. He is standing close to her with his basketball between them, as if the ball represents the expectant infant they will soon create…
“Michael Jordan is coming back again,” he said.
“You can’t fool me,” said Grace. “I heard it. That was just a replay.”
“Yeah, but I wish he was coming back again. He should always come back.”
“Don’t let it give you any crazy ideas.”
Roman pulled the basketball away and leaned even closer to Grace. He loved her, of course, but better than that, he chose her, day after day. Choice: that was the thing. Other people claimed that you can't choose who you love—it just happens!—but Grace and Roman knew that was a bunch of happy horseshit. Of course you chose who you loved...Damn, marriage was hard work, was manual labor, and unpaid manual labor at that. Yet, year after year, Grace and Roman had pressed their shoulders against the stone and rolled it up the hill together.
In their marriage bed, Roman chose Grace once more and brushed his lips against her ear.
Monogamous love and marriage
-From “Saint Junior” by Sherman Alexie
"In all, 10 women spoke to NPR about Alexie, who is a married man...but a clear pattern emerged: The women reported behavior ranging from inappropriate comments...unwanted sexual advances and consensual sexual relations that ended abruptly. The women said Alexie had traded on his literary celebrity to lure them into uncomfortable sexual situations.
WHY DO SO MANY HUMANS, ESPECIALLY LEADERS, (EVEN THOSE WHO AFFIRM MARRIAGE AND "LOVE") LEAD IMMORAL, HARMFUL LIVES?
Since sex only has 3 letters, how did it become a 4-letter word (to "plow" or "care" or "love")?
How does an instinctive procreative act characteristic of all humans
(and most forms of life down to fish and below) come to mean everything
from the degrading and sadistically obscene to the uplifting and creatively intimate?
From the violently aggressive to the joyfully receptive?
From one-sided selfishness to intimate communion of two lives?
Regardless of one’s worldview, most humans think humankind has reached a state in evolution
wherein individuals of our species can creatively use human innate characteristics,
adapting them for many different purposes and in very different ways.
This “plasticity” of human abilities enable billions of individuals to use their physical and brain skills, not only for time-immemorial practical acts such as plowing a field or constructing a building,
for transcendent goals or self-focused wants.
Humans can use their brains' consciousness and muscles to do acts that have no practicality at all such as play suspenseful sports in the Olympics or dance in complex moves across theater stages or construct beautiful poetic songs.
This “plasticity”—for good or ill--is, especially, true for human sexuality as shown by the wide variety of statements about sex by famous individuals as already shared.
Most of us aren’t too surprised by the sludge coming out in the media or by so-called red-necked vulgarity.
The guttural view of sex has probably been around since cavemen first spoke;-), but when brilliant well-educated humans glorify promiscuous sex, it is troubling and tragic.
So often in the news now, human sexuality
is very ambiguous with many strange variations,
and many of them destructive,
and so contrary to the Truth,
and the Beautiful.
We’re all sexual, and in different ways, but, hopefully, we don't major in being unfaithful, disloyal, and promiscuous and, even worse, declare our harmful dysfunctional behavior with pride to the world.
The Vietnamese Buddhist nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize, Thich Nhat Hanh, emphasized that humans seeking to become enlightened live their sexuality in enhancing ethical ways.
Yes, sexuality is a very powerful force/drive within humanity which has been shaped like soft plastic into countlessly different configurations by humans and their worldviews.
The earlier modern quote about the basketball player and his wife catches the true spirit of human sexuality, as God intends sexuality to be—a joyous monogamous life-long daily choice by two equals.
Let's say it again, sexuality is a whole life response by a couple committed to a life-long relationship, neither temporary glandular instinct nor a restricted negative necessity.
Here’s another fine explanation: “...Your understanding of love will change as you get older...I remember my second date...I totally lost my cool and told her I loved her. On our SECOND date!!"
"You know what? I recently told that very same girl how much I love her, and how glad I am that I married her...But what I meant when I really meant it 23 years ago is a lot different from what I mean when I really mean it today!"
"In 23 years, I’ve learned to put aside my selfishness more often, and I’ve learned more ways to love and cherish her...the heart of genuine love [in human sexuality] is an immovable decision to put your lover’s joy and welfare ahead of your own."
"Usually, you don’t fall into that kind of love; you climb into it. It’s not just something you feel [nor an instinctive urge]. It’s a decision you make.”
Duffy in Breakaway
Sexual love is a monogamous life-long commitment, a unique “ultimate” relationship—where two individuals give themselves to each other emotionally, mentally, and physically.
That’s true love.
True love (in the marriage sense) is unlike any other human relationship, except in some sacred writing where God is often spoken of as every individual human’s lover.
Indeed, romantic sexual imagery is often used in literature to describe the ecstasy of “knowing” God intimately. Makes sense doesn’t it?
YET now--in the midst of all of the sexual harassment, "Me, Too" bad news, there is the controversy of moral leader Peter Buttigieg versus moral leader Mile Pence, both even of the same religion, Christianity, who, while agreeing that sexual relations ought to be part of a monogamous, loving commitment for life,
YET they completely disagree about the nature of marriage!
Is marriage to only happen between a man and a woman (as held by traditional Christianity, Islam, and Judaism claims)
is marriage also right for a same sexual couple?
What do you think?
Please share your perspective.
To Be Continued:
In the Light,
Sunday, April 7, 2019
Tuesday, April 2, 2019
FROM Amnesty International:
"...recent reports of torture and ill-treatment of Jehovah’s Witnesses while in custody of [Russian]law enforcement officials. At least 40 people, including minors, were arrested during raids of Jehovah’s Witnesses’ homes in Surgut on 15 February."
"Amnesty International has examined evidence and carried out interviews with several persons who claim they were subjected to torture and other ill-treatment while in custody to extract “confessions” of participation in an “extremist organization”. Some victims reported threats of rape."
"Jehovah’s Witnesses Sergei Loginov, Artur Severinchik and Yevgeniy Fedin remain remanded in custody and are at serious risk of further torture and other ill-treatment. They are prisoners of conscience, detained solely for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of religion."
"Write a letter in your own words...to a Russian Government official.
You can also email, fax, call or Tweet them.
Yuriy Yakovlevich Chaika
Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation
Prosecutor General’s Office
ul. B. Dmitrovka, d.15a
125993 Moscow GSP- 3
Fax: +7 495 987 58 41; +7 495 692 17 25
Electronic form in Russian: https://bit.ly/2HxUenq
Twitter: @GenprocAmbassador Anatoly Antonov
Embassy of the Russian Federation
2650 Wisconsin Ave. NW, Washington DC 20007
Phone: 1 202 298 5700 I Fax: 1 202 298 5735
EXAMPLE OF EMAIL OR LETTER:
"Salutation: Dear Ambassador
"Dear Chairman of the Investigative Committee,
I am writing to express my utmost concern following recent reports of torture and ill-treatment of Jehovah’s Witnesses while in custody of law enforcement officials. At least 40 people, including minors, were arrested during raids of Jehovah’s Witnesses’ homes in Surgut on 15 February.
Amnesty International has examined evidence and carried out interviews with several persons who claim they were subjected to torture and other ill-treatment while in custody to extract “confessions” of participation in an “extremist organization”. Some victims reported threats of rape.
Jehovah’s Witnesses Sergei Loginov, Artur Severinchik and Yevgeniy Fedin remain remanded in custody and are at serious risk of further torture and other ill-treatment. They are prisoners of conscience, detained solely for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of religion.
I therefore urge you to immediately and unconditionally release Sergei Loginov, Artur Severinchik and Yevgeniy Fedin; and ensure that they are protected from torture and other ill-treatment, that allegations of torture and other ill-treatment against Sergei Loginov, Artur Severinchik and Yevgeniy Fedin, and other Jehovah’s Witnesses, are promptly, effectively and impartially investigated, and all responsible brought to justice.
READ THE FULL URGENT ACTION: Word or PDF
GET INSPIRED: Read about the people you have helped
READ TIPS for writing effective letters and emails
CONTACT US: email@example.com
See more at https://www.amnestyusa.org/take-action/urgent-action-network/
Stand up for the oppressed, imprisoned,abused, and impoverished,
Monday, April 1, 2019
Roger Williams ‘Rhode to Island and DIGG’D GEORGE FOX OUT OF HIS BURROUGH, OR SPIRIT OF HAT, QUAKERS' NECK BROKEN...
Yes, if you guessed, that is a twist of Roger Williams’ book against George Fox with the usual sort of 17th century jabberwock'd, long-winded odd title with alternative title, the usual 'tittle and jot' of unfriendly, theologically controversial religious argumentative pamphlets.
I do this in honour of the first day of April, to jog modern minds, and be excused for quackery punctionariness, today and not one jot or 'title' more.
But let me not jattle or jabber on (or slobber)...
So burrowing into the past...
Who was Burrough and why did Williams state he was going to get the first Quaker, George Fox foundering?
BURROUGH, EDWARD (1634–1663), Burrough, among the earliest Friends, wrote and street-spoke against notions of false Christian denominations. "...as a lad he was dissatisfied with the religious teaching of the Anglican church, and restlessly tried all the various forms...He decided to become a Friend, and, although only seventeen, offered himself as a minister, and was accepted. On account of this step he was disowned by his family, who declined his offer to remain with them as a hired servant. Burrough at once began to travel as a quaker minister...In 1653 he was imprisoned..."
Let's Lighten up...
On to that fox hunt...
Why did Roger Williams claim that he was going to dig Fox out of his Burrough?
Because, contrary to Quaker witness, Williams said that in Quakerism there is darkness, no inner light.
Why did George Fox marry Margret?
Margaret Fell for him.
Did you see the dog kennel in Quakertown, Pennsylvania?
The large sign outside proclaims, “There is that of dog in everyone.”
Hear of the Quaker store manager who refused to sell liquor, at least he said, not until he was in the spirits.
Instead, he sold tea—and sold so much of that he loved, totaling up his earnings!
Because you see, he was a ‘tea-totaler.’
Why do Friends still focus on over 365 years ago?
Because they are still sitting waiting for spiritual agreement!
And they keep splitting 'heirs' over various points
Like in the cases of Northwest, Indiana, North Carolina Yearly Meeting breakdowns
which cause them to do the splits and perform twisting 'gymnastical' unfriendly actions.
Why did Friends insist on wearing their hats?
They had a hatful attitude toward false, hypocritical religious and social customs.
Why are Friends like earth disasters?
Because they quake when found to be at fault by bad judges.
Why were Quakers considered strong?
Because on their Nantucket Island ships there were plenty of mussels.
Why do American Friends quake in embarrassment?
Because their most famous Quaker was Richard Nixon.
and other oldies...
"If you don't listen to or play gangsta rap or hip hop, what music do you Friends listen to, then?' asked a teen, tapping time to his I-Pod."
A humorous student from Friends School in North Carolina said, “Oh, Quake and Roll, Quaky Tonk, Quakeabilly, Quakem and Blues,
"Stupid! But I get yer lame jokes, even 'rapt' for 'rap,' except what does group'rapt' have to do with Quakers?"
"You need to visit Quaker meeting, and read The Journal of George Fox or John Woolman and listen to the spiritual songs of Jon Watts! We're talking spiritual rapture, man."
"Like the dictionary says, 'transported by spiritual feeling'."
Did you hear the one about the Quaker who raised ducks but didn’t like how they kept saying “Quack, quack.”
So he gave them crackers each time he got them to stop saying “quack, quack.” But then they started padding about his yard squawking, “Quacker, Quacker!”
Finally, he switched to feeding them with oats but wouldn't you know it, they squawked, “Quacker Oats!”
Heard about the Oregonian Quaker who didn't go to meeting for worship after all, but instead--hurrying through heavy fog--prayed before he walked into a bar on the way home?
He hadn't even had any spirits yet, but sure got a headache from that bar.
A man asked, "Why don't Friends take communion?"
The young adult Friend doing the welcoming, responded, "Well, see, since our coming into existence during the religious English Civil War in about 1646, we've felt it best to stay away from all theological 'feud.'"
A little confused, the middle-aged visitor stared blankly until his wife poked him and he, suddenly, got the double meaning and grinned.
Continuing, the Quaker said, "Just kidding. George Fox, when he had his mystical vision...came to realize holy communion is a group inward spiritual experience, not an outward supernatural ritual. God is within us, not in bread and wine."
"Hmm..." the visitor responded, "no vestments, no priest, no Eucharist? As an economist by career, I would say that's putting a lot of 'investment' into a bunch of people sitting silently, waiting for spiritual insight.
What 'prophet' is there in that? Are you sure this George Fox knew what he was talking about? Rejecting 1,500 years of church doctrine?"
The Quaker answered, "We Friends hope so. Many rituals have 'mass' appeal, but that doesn't mean they are good food or spirits."
A Quaker business leader and his wife were visiting old Friends meeting houses in North Carolina. They were from the largest Friends Church in the West, Newport Beach, California Yearly Meeting, an Evangelical branch of the Friends.
He stopped his new BMW on the edge of an old cemetery and a stone Quaker meeting house near the tiny rural settlement of Elias, North Carolina. Then stared with disappointment at the old plain building.
"Look, Margaret, it doesn't even have a cross on top. What a 'hick' site!
It shows what happens when some country Friends adopted liberalism."
An 'Aesop' Quaker
When Margaret heaved
That large rock sideways off
of 10,000 lakes,
All those 50ish sky blue-bear-dancing waters,
(Not in Fox's Lake District of England)
Where her paddling retriever
Not by that rock...
Bellowing and shouting,
her father pulled her out from
where Margaret fell
(not Adam's or Eve's because that
is Augustinian jottle)
She got lectured as she shivered
There on the lake pier--
(Her pooch commiserating),
A sopping imbalance
Thursday, March 28, 2019
From Network movie on media: “I don't know what to do about…the Russians and [Syria, Afghanistan, illegal aliens, etc.]
“All I know is that first you've got to get mad. [shouting] You've got to say: 'I'm a human being…
But first, get up out of your chairs,
open the window,
stick your head out,
AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE
For the last few years, especially in politics and religion, life has become so troubling, with even more wrong and unethical speeches, actions, and behavior by conservatives and liberals.
I’ve alternated between a sense of hopelessness and my commitment to the Good no matter what, but this last few weeks,
with the reality show of the American government getting much worse, even its defending freedom-denying Saudi Arabia's persecutions, ruthless murder and bombings, all the constant uncivilly by Republicans and Democrats, the endless falsehoods....
I feel like—without the name-calling, demeaning, bullying and lying—going to my window here on the central coast of California and YELLING, "I'm as mad as hell...
HOWEVER, while that scream might relieve some of my angst, anger against injustice and selfishness of Americans, and anger against horrific religious and non-religious beliefs, etc., it wouldn't solve any of the seemingly endless wrongs being committed.
What solutions do you have to overcome this many headed-hydra debacle of the 21st century?
HERE'S MY PLAN OF ACTION (after I rant and rave against all the WRONGS, ALL THE INJUSTICE, ALL THE ARROGANCE, SELFISHNESS...)
1. Write another email for Amnesty International for a prisoner of conscience.
2. Vote for CIVIL political leaders to replace the mess.
3. Offer LIFE-STANCE alternatives to the horrors of creedal Christianity, Islam, etc.
4. Continue to support outreach organizations such as World Vision, MCC, Habitat for Humanity, etc.
which make practical real-life differences to individual humans suffering from impoverishment, injustice,
inequality, lack of clean water, and so forth.
5. Urge more people to read Enlightenment Now by psychologist Steven Pinker, and other books supporting reason, compassion moral realism, altruism, equality, human rights, and justice.
6. Write more articles, poems, and fiction for Goodness' sake.
7. Continue to search for a local group which works for human flourishing and the wonder of God.
8. Seek new ways to live a true life.
9. Keep in mind the wise words of Howard Zinn (and others) when we continue to face immorality and injustice year after year:
"TO BE HOPEFUL in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness.
"What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives…If we remember those times and places…where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.
"And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.
"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.
"True religion consisted in an inward life, wherein the heart does love and reverence God the Creator, and learns to exercise true justice and goodness...I found no narrowness respecting sects and opinions, but believed that sincere, upright-hearted people, in every society, who truly love God, were accepted of him.
In the Light of Truth, Goodness, and Civility,
Sunday, March 24, 2019
Reading is "our consciousness in someone else's mind,"* whether in the literary sense of being within a fictional character or an actual biographical individual, or in the seemingly unending raveling mind of a book's writer.
-verbal image by journalist and novelist Anna Quindlen
“Books are love letters (or apologies) passed between us, adding a layer of conversation beyond our spoken words.”
-Donalyn Miller, The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader...
"In books, I have traveled not only to other worlds, but into my own. I learned who I was and who I wanted to be, what I might aspire to...the difference between good and evil, right and wrong."
“Part of the great wonder of reading is that it has the ability to make human beings feel more connected to one another, which is a great good...”
-Anna Quindlen, How Reading Changed My Life
Of course, it can have the opposite effect, depending upon who is doing the reading. Some of the most evil-acting humans in history have been avid readers. Napoleon was a voracious reader, as was Ioseb Besarionis dze Jughashvili (birth name of the Georgian leader who adopted the noms de guerre of Stalin)
The latter amassed a library of 25,000 books! And he was a poet.
(Side Note: And that's another humanistic fallacy--that poets are somehow more sensitive and more humane than the average human, than business leaders and engineers, and other non-literary types. Yet not only was Soso a published poet, so was the murderous Ho Chi Minh, etc.)
Since, I mentioned Stalin and Napoleon, maybe that is a strong place to start listing powerful books which have dynamically affected me:
NAPOLEON by Alan Schom
YOUNG STALIN by Simon Sebag Montefiore
LOST PROPHET: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF BAYARD RUSTIN by John D'Emilio
THE OUTPOST: JOHN MCLOUGHLIN AND THE FAR NORTHWEST by Dorothy Nafus Morrison
STEPHEN F. AUSTIN by Gregg Cantrell
THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS by Rebecca Skloot
THE PASSION OF AYN RAND by Barbara Branden
WADE HAMILTON by Rod Andrew Jr.
FOUNDING BROTHERS by Joseph J. Ellis
FOOLS GOLD: CAPTAIN JOHN SUTTER by Richard Dillion
THOMAS PAINE: APOSTLE OF FREEDOM by Jack Fruchtman
CITIZEN THOMAS PAINE by Howard Fast
NO ONE GETS OUTSIDE by Jerry Hopkins and Danny Sugerman
STEVEN JOBS AND EINSTEIN by Walter Isaacson
THOMAS JEFFERSON by Fawn Brodie
THE FIRST MUSLIM by Lesley Hazelton
MACHIAVELLI by Ross King
ONCE UPON A COUNTRY by Sari Nusseibeh
FREEDOM AT MIDNIGHT by Larry and Dominique Lapierre
FRANCO by Paul Preston
CARL SAGAN: A LIFE IN THE COSMOS by William Poundstone
SUBTERRANEAN KEROUAC by Ellis Amburn
ERASMUS OF CHRISTENDOM by Roland Bainton
MICHAEL COLLINS by James Mackay
THE BONESETTER'S DAUGHTER by Amy Tan
ALASKA by James Michener
11/22/63 by Stephen King
DARK MATTER by Blake Crouch
SPEAKER FOR THE DEAD by Orson Scott Card
THE FOUNTAINHEAD by Ayn Rand
OPEN SEASON by C.J. Box
THE COLONIALISTS: HISTORICAL NOVEL OF AUSTRALIA by William Stuart Long
ST-NG: GHOST SHIP by Diane Carey
THE CHILDREN OF HAMLIN by Carmen Carter
THE ALTAR OF EDEN by James Rollins
FACE TO FACE by Karleen Koen
THE ORIGIN by Irving Stone
BLUEHEART by Alison Sinclair
WEST OF EDEN by Harry Harrison
FAILURE TO APPEAR by J.A. Jance
BIRTHRIGHT by Nora Roberts
ILL WIND by Nevada Barr
MIST by Miguel de Unamuno
GONE WITH THE WIND by Margaret Mitchell
FLOWERS FOR ALGERNON by Daniel Keyes
FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS by Ernest Hemingway
LISTENING WOMAN by Tony Hillerman
HYPERION by Dan Simmons
MIDNIGHT by Dean Koontz
ALBION'S SEED by David Hackett Fischer
BEAR FLAG RISING by Dale L. Walker
GOD'S ALMOST CHOSEN PEOPLES by George C. Rable
THE PRINCE OF THE MARSHES by Rory Stewart
JESUS WARS by Philip Jenkins
TEXAS AND TEXANS IN THE CIVIL WAR by Ralph A. Wooster
AMERICAN NATIONS by Colin Woodward
A HISTORY OF KANE COUNTY by Martha Sonntag Bradley
POLK by Walter R. Borneman
ZEPHANIAH KINGSLEY JR. AND THE ATLANTIC WORLD by Daniel L. Schafer
A GLORIOUS DEFEAT: MEXICO IN AND ITS WAR WITH THE U.S. by Timothy J. Henderson
RINGSIDE SEAT TO A REVOLUTION by David Dorado Romo
TO END ALL WARS by Adam Hochschild
THE FIRST WORLD WAR by John Keating
LONDON: A HISTORY by A.N. Wilson
TEAM OF RIVALS by Doris Kearns Goodwin
THE ISLAND AT THE CENTER OF THE WORLD by Russell Shorto
MAYFLOWER by Nathaniel Philbrick
THE LIVES OF THE KINGS AND QUEENS OF ENGLAND by Antonia Frazer
HEAVENLY SERBIA: FROM MYTH TO GENOCIDE by Branimir Anzulovic
PHILOSOPHY, RELIGION and ETHICS:
AMONG THE DEAD CITIES by A.C. Grayling
GOD AND THE REACH OF REASON by Erik J. Wielenberg
INVENTING HUMAN RIGHTS by Lynn Hunt
50 VOICES OF DISBELIEF Edited by Blackford and Schuklenk
HOW JESUS BECAME GOD by Bart Ehrman
UNDERSTANDING THE APOCALYPSE by Wilfrid J. Harrington
A SHORT HISTORY OF MYTH by Karen Armstrong
WHEN GOD TALKS BACK by T.M. Luhrmann
ADAM, EVE, AND THE SERPENT by Elaine Pagels
FEELING GOOD by David Burns
SCALING THE SECULAR CITY by J.P. Moreland
A REFUTATION OF MORAL RELATIVISM by Peter Kreeft
SOPHIE'S WORLD by Justein Gaarder
WHAT THE BUDDHA TAUGHT ME by Walpola Rahula
THE MIND'S I by Douglas Hofstadter and Daniel C. Dennett
WHY PEOPLE BELIEVE WEIRD THINGS by Michael Shermer
LEAVING THE FOLD by Edward Babinski
THE TRUE BELIEVER by Eric Hoffer
PROTESTANT CHRISTIANITY by John Dillenberger and Claude Welch
THE HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE by Stephen R. Covey
DYNAMICS OF FAITH by Paul Tillich
HOW IT BEGAN and HOW IT ENDS by Chris Impey
THE ANCESTOR'S TALE by Richard Dawkins
FAITH VERSUS FACT by Jerry A. Coyne
WHY EVOLUTION IS TRUE by Jerry A. Coyne
FINDING DARWIN'S GOD by Kenneth R. Miller
THE BIG QUESTIONS IN SCIENCE AND RELIGION by Keith Ward
THE ROCKS DON'T LIE by David R. Montgomery
DARWIN'S DANGEROUS IDEA by Daniel C. Dennett
In the Light,
Tuesday, March 12, 2019
I age into olding years, and my mind forgets what I did yesterday or--smoke!
--already forgot I turned on the broiler 10 minutes ago.
Even the name of my favorite poet won’t show up in my mind, and I have to go over
to one of our many bookshelves and run my fingers down until a biography of her shows up.
Yet in the middle of the many a sleepless night, my brain harps on mistakes, also-ran diligent efforts, regrets, tragedies of 30, 40, 50 years ago...
So it was serendipitous that recently I came across an old Walt Whitman poem—“O Living always...”
O LIVING always—Always dying!
O the burials of me past and present,
O me while I stride ahead, material, visible, imperious as ever;
O me, what I was for years, now dead, (I lament not, I am
O to disengage myself from those corpses of me, which I turn
and look at where I cast them,
To pass on, (O living! always living!) and leave the corpses
I’m not imperious, and am confused why Whitman would still be wielding such a corpse-creating wrong.
BUT I do find myself dragging untold numbers of heavy former corpses—chained to me now, dragging me down and backward—
as I struggle up life’s sisyphusian mountain crag.
And dragging dead 'me’s' is far more difficult than rolling a large rock like the Greek did.
So, in this new year of 2019, every day, I resolved and am working each day to cut loose more past 'me’s'
the dead ashed lapses of the past,
and cast them backward into
the before n’ gone chasm.
Rejoicing in growing Redwood sprouts I planted in the past, here and now, I am--
LIVING THE A’S
To become new in the present moment, not be a corpse’d has been—regressing, regretting, reverting…
As the wise teacher Thich Nhat Hanh wrote:
In the Light,
Thursday, March 7, 2019
FROM World Vision, written by 15-year-old Samia, a Bangladeshi member of World Vision’s Young Leaders Network, a program designed to empower young people ages 12 to 17 to make their voices heard in the global campaign to end violence against children.
"I am a Young Leader and a member of the Child Forum Ashar Alo, which means “Hope of Light.” I am from Bangladesh, a place of natural beauty; it’s full of rivers and has the largest mangrove forest in the world. I believe that many of you have heard about it.
"However, apart from all the wonderful things, we have many problems such as poverty, child marriage, child labor, and both physical and emotional violence against children. For this reason, many girls in my country cannot get their rights and suffer every day.
"In our Child Forum, we come together to help those children, especially girls, because in our society girls are still left behind, and they are vulnerable to superstition and many forms of abuse.
"Many girls are unable to enjoy their rights as human beings. For example, in my country the rate of child marriage is 52.3 percent, and 72.6 percent of women who have ever been married have experienced some type of partner violence. These numbers are very high and terrible for any country and society.
"If we give people knowledge, they will understand what is right and what is wrong, and hopefully they will end all forms of violence.
Samia, 15-year-old Bangladeshi advocate to end child marriage
"These are big problems in our country, but for me, the main issue is the lack of protection because of illiteracy and the cultural beliefs that maintain and accept violence against girls as a regular thing. However, besides old traditions that support violence and child marriage, many parents feel they have to marry off their children due to poverty.
"Cultural beliefs, illiteracy, and lack of knowledge cannot be an excuse anymore to justify violence. If we give people knowledge, they will understand what is right and what is wrong, and hopefully they will end all forms of violence. Luckily, my parents are conscious that violence against girls and child marriage is a problem because they have learned that these things have a negative impact on children’s lives. I shared my learning with them, and they understood.
"But many parents do not understand this problem. They think girls are born to do household work and if they get married early, they can be happy in life. Many parents of my friends believe in that way.
Samia speaks out against child marriage and violence against children
"Here I want to say that everyone is equal; girls and boys are the same. I firmly believe that we, the girls, can equally contribute to society and, together with boys, we can end violence against children. But we need encouragement from the people around us.
"Sadly, all over the world, girls are prevented and discouraged from talking and making their voices heard. In our community, people think that girls are a burden. This is not right!
"We, girls, can do many things to change the world and change the attitudes of society, and this is what we are doing today in our Child Forum. This is the reason why I am here today writing this blog.
"I am here to show my determination to work together in ending child marriage and all forms of violence against girls. My dream is to see our world free from child marriage, free from child labor, and free from all forms of violence against children."
In the Light of Human Rights,
Wednesday, March 6, 2019
Conservatives versus Liberals,
Republicans versus Democrats,
Muslims versus Christians
Atheists versus Theists,
AND AROUND THE WORLD:
Russia versus Ukraine,
Palestine versus Israel,
Spain versus Catalonia,
India versus Pakistan,
Syria versus Sunni Fundamentalists,
HOW CAN HOPE AND PEACE TAKE PLACE?
The beginning for peace-activist Gene Knudsen Hoffman of a transforming, life-changing experience hope came about this way:
FROM a powerful article at
After seeing a huge sign in front of a Quaker Meeting: "MEETING FOR WORSHIP FOR THE TORTURERS AND THE TORTURED"
GENE KNUDSEN HOFFMAN: “I was on a world tour of peace centers...
I’d long known I should listen to the tortured
but listen to
“I’d never thought of that.
“I began wrestling with the idea that I should listen to both sides of any conflict and when I arrived in Israel I began listening to Israelis and Palestinians. I found it changed my perspectives on each. I began to practice it everywhere I went.
“Reconciliation is the most difficult of peace processes because it requires the resumption of relationship between those in conflict. It means the coming together in harmony of those who have been sundered.
“My sense is that if we would reconcile, we must make radically new responses to the radically new situation in a world where violence is mindless, hopeless, meaningless and so many nations have nuclear weapons…
“We peace people have always listened to the oppressed and disenfranchised. That’s very important. One of the new steps I think we should take is to listen to those we consider ‘the enemy’ with the same openness, non-judgment, and compassion we bring to those with whom our sympathies lie.
“In 1989 my work-focus became the Middle East, and in that year a small group of us from the Fellowship of Reconciliation went to Libya to listen to the Libyans after we’d bombed Libya twice, first to kill Khadaffi and second after we’d downed two Libyan planes over Libya. We knew our governments’ side and we wanted to hear the other. We did.
“After ten days in Tripoli, as guests of the Libyan government, we learned a lot. We met with Libyan leaders, professors, government members, religious representatives.
“Our government wouldn’t listen to us, since we’d gone there illegally. So we wrote our articles, spoke publicly where we could and were considered ‘dangerous.’
“My next efforts were on my own. Between 1989 and 1996, I went to Israel and Palestine some seven times to listen to both sides. I listened to Israeli psychiatrists, Settlers, government members, peace people, writers, publishers and plain people.
"In the West Bank, since I stayed in Palestinian homes, I had more opportunity to listen to the people: refugees, families, parents whose sons had been killed, some of their sons who hadn’t, academics, peace leaders, and twice I met with Yassir Arafat. Out of those experiences came Pax Christi’s Just World book of 1991 called Pieces of the Mideast Puzzle.
“Now we are preparing for our first formal Compassionate Listening delegation, which will bring Rabbis and Jewish community leaders to listen deeply to Israelis and Palestinians representing all sides of the conflict.
"Compassionate Listening is adaptable to any conflict. The listening requires a particular attitude. It is non-judgmental, non-adversarial, and seeks the truth of the person questioned. It also seeks to see through any masks of hostility and fear to the sacredness of the individual and to discern the wounds suffered by all parties.
“Listeners do not defend themselves, but accept what others say as their perceptions. By listening they validate the others’ right to those perceptions.
“I’m not talking about listening with the ‘human ear.’ I am talking about discerning. To discern means to perceive some thing hidden or obscure. We must listen with our ‘spiritual ear.’ This is very different from deciding in advance who is right and who is wrong, and then seeking to rectify it. And, it’s very hard to listen to people whom I feel are misleading, if not lying. Hard to listen to such different memories of the same event – hard!
“Here are two definitions of reconciliation we use. Thich Nhat Hanh, the Vietnamese teacher, peace-maker, and poet, describes it as “understanding both sides.”
“Adam Curie, senior Quaker mediator from England, says “We must work for harmony wherever we are, to bring together what is sundered by fear, hatred, resentment, injustice, or any other conditions which divide us.
“…Thich Nhat Hanh asks this of us: “In South Africa the black people suffer enormously, but the white people also suffer. If we take one side, we cannot fulfill our task of reconciliation. Can you be in touch with both sides, understanding the suffering and fears of each, telling each side about the other? Can you understand deeply the suffering of both sides?”
Thich Nhat Hanh, Being Peace, Parallax Press, 1988
"Deep listening is the kind of listening that can help relieve the suffering of another person. You can call it compassionate listening. You listen with only one purpose: to help him or her to empty his heart...
"Because you know that listening like that, you give that person a chance to suffer less. If you want to help him to correct his perception, you wait for another time...You just listen with compassion and help him to suffer less. One hour like that can bring transformation and healing."
Thich Nhat Hanh, Being Peace
“Finally, I treasure this quotation from the poet Longfellow: “If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each person’s life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.”6
Gene Knudsen Hoffman
Gene Knudsen Hoffman expands on this theme in her 1995 Pendle Hill Pamphlet: No Royal Road to Reconciliation. (Pendle Hill, Wallingford, Pa.)
READ the rest at https://newconversations.net/…/compassionate-listening-fir…/
Also, check out her site at
“Compassionate Listening is
A personal practice – to cultivate inner strength, self awareness, self regulation and wisdom
A skill set – to enhance interpersonal relations and navigate challenging conversation
A process – to bring individuals or groups together to bridge their differences and transform conflict
A healing gift – to offer a compassionate listening session to a person who feels marginalized or in pain”
In the Light of Listening, Caring, and Working for the True and Good,
Saturday, March 2, 2019
(and odd ugly ones, too) on my nature hikes--
on gravel roads and creeks outside of our small village, and elsewhere--
would put the heavy things in my pockets or carry them home in my hands
and add them to my growing collection.
A real rock dog.
(I guess I could say ‘stoner’ but that might mislead readers;-)
And later found others non-precious gems in the Black Hills, Rockies and Sierras,
and a small chunk of copper from a mine in Arizona, animal bones from Montana,
besides lots of pebbles, quartz, feldspar, granite, agates, mica, who-knows rocks, fool’s gold, sea-glass,
and many sorts of shells and other sea life from 3 coasts.
I became a beachcomber of beauty,
a voyager through the washed-up-and-down of life.
A drifter and sea stroller who walks along sand dunes and shores
looking for unique things, even riff-raff...
Now here on my computer desk and various shelves--rocks, pebbles, and shells
lay still waiting for another
that aesthetic depth which sometimes
Which reminds me of another key pebble of beauty for living--
that we humans get washed up
on this shore of existence,
surrounded and crowded
we didn't choose.
But the wonder of our human brain’s neural plasticity
is that we each get to choose
how we respond to life's circumstances
and we get to create anew,
contribute a line,
as Walt Whitman
Beauty and, hopefully, wisdom created by choice
And, then, there are the more folksy versions of that point:
There once was an oyster tale to tell,
Of beach sand that got into his shell;
'Unjust' a grain; it gave him great pain.
Oysters got feelings though they're so plain.
Did he curse...go mum and clam, or claim
The lively sea shouldn't so maim?
'No,' said he laying in his shell,
'Since I can't remove, improve it, I shall.'
Thus, a mean grain of sand that hurt so
Became a beautiful pearl aglow.
--Adapted, Author Unknown
What has washed up on your shore today?
What beautiful pebbled moments of wonder?
Or what irritant, ache, troubling circumstance, or tragedy
has gotten lodged in your
oyster mind and heart?
What creative choices can you make to turn this problem into a precious pebble/stone/moment/agate?
In the Light,
Thursday, February 21, 2019
FROM AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL:
"URGENT ACTION: SAUDI ACTIVIST HELD IN SOLITARY CONFINEMENT (SAUDI ARABIA: UA 21.19)
Woman human rights defender, Nassima al-Sada, was placed in solitary confinement since early February 2019, in al-Mabahith Prison in Dammam.
Nassima has been detained since July 2018 without charge or trial. Nassima’s detention was part of a recent wave of arrests that targeted Saudi human rights activists. Since May 2018, at least 15 human rights activists, including several women human rights defenders have been detained without charge in Saudi Arabia. Amnesty International calls on the Saudi authorities to release Nassima al-Sada and all other human rights activists immediately and unconditionally.
Write a letter in your own words or using the sample below as a guide to one or both government officials listed. You can also email, fax, call or Tweet them.
His Majesty King 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: +966 11 403 3125Ambassador Prince Khalid bin Salman bin Abdulaziz
Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia
601 New Hampshire Ave. NW, Washington DC 20037
Phone: 202 342 3800
Contact Form: https://bit.ly/2KScqag
Salutation: Your Royal Highness
Dear King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud,
Nassima al-Sada is a woman human rights defender who has been arbitrarily detained since July 2018. According to trusted sources, Nassima al-Sada has been placed in solitary confinement since early February 2019 in al-Mabahith prison in Dammam. Nassima has been detained without charge or trial since July 2018.
Nassima has been campaigning for civil and political rights, the rights of the Shi’a community in the eastern province, and women’s rights, in particular, the right of women to drive and for the end of the repressive male guardianship system. Prior to her arrest, Nassima al-Sada had been repeatedly targeted, harassed, and placed under travel bans for her human rights activism.
I urge you to release Nassima al-Sada and all other activists, including all women detained without charge, immediately and unconditionally, as she is a prisoner of conscience, solely detained for peacefully exercising her right to freedom of expression, assembly and association."
Read more details about this prisoner of conscience at
"Human rights are rights that are inherent to all human beings, whatever ones nationality, place of residence, sex, ethnic origin, religion, language, or any other status. Everyone is equally entitled to human rights without discrimination.
These rights are all interrelated, interdependent and indivisible. All human rights are based on the notion of human dignity. These rights are often guaranteed to us by law in the form on international treaties, customary international law, general principles and other sources of law.
International Human Rights Law places obligations on governments to act in a particular manner and to refrain from certain acts, in order to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms, not only for individuals but also for groups."
In the Light,