Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Reflecting on the Awe and Wonder of Reality

If we as humans reject the horrific unethical beliefs of many Muslims, Christians, and Hindus such as their claims that a god plans all evils, natural disasters, plagues, famines, murders, rapes, and human slaughters...
And we already have rejected delusions and fanciful mythological stories of religions in general as various thoughtful theists have done since Plato...

HOW
do we limited human primates go about thinking about “Ultimate Reality”
(usually and traditionally termed “God”)?

Ah, the God question.

WHY?

Nothing like trying to solve the nature of existence, multi-billions of years of cosmic history, why the Big Bang happened, and why is it possible (to paraphrase Einstein) that mere primates came to self-aware consciousness
and the ability for creativity, reason,
science, technology, aesthetics, music,
moral realism including justics, human rights, and compassion.

The how is often answered by cosmologists speculating about multi-verses and quantum events. Fascinating stuff. As for humanity’s sometime actions of altruism, evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins speculates that ethical ideals might have come about by a “misfiring” of evolution.

However open agnostics such as the astronomer Chris Impey of the University of Arizona-Tucson raise very good questions about the unusual anomaly of Homo
sapiens in the midst of what appears to be an unconscious, thoughtless, amoral cosmos.

Astronomer Impey: “If the universe contained nothing more than forces operating on inanimate matter, it would not
be very interesting."

"The presence of sentient life-forms like us
(and perhaps unlike us) is the zest, or
the special ingredient, that gives cosmic
history dramatic tension."

"We’re made
of tiny subatomic particles and are part
of a vast space-time arena, yet
we hold both extremes
in our heads.”
How It Began By Chris Impey

Yes, the amazing ability of conscious primates to hold the concept of the macrocosm to the microcosm within each of our heads, to create new things which never existed, to have a sense of ought which often thwarts what is biologically advantageous...

So, if we humans want to move beyond our personal feelings and inner intuition in regard to Ultimate Reality, we need to look to brilliant scientists and philosophical thinkers.

While atheist thinkers have posited that everything is due to cosmic
Chance (Jacques Monad, Stephen Jay Gould)
or
Necessity/Determinism (Sam Harris, Jerry Coyne),
in striking contrast
astrophysicists such as George Ellis,
thinkers such as mathematician/philosopher
Alfred Lord Whitehead
and philosopher Charles Hartshorne
think that Meaning and Creativity and the Good
are at the center
and beginning of
everything.

Consciousness, creativity, reason, morality, aesthetics are somehow inherent
in the essential essence of the cosmos,
not meaningless anomalies like atheists claim.

Since Charles Hartshorne comes from a Quaker background, attended Haverford Quaker College
and is the most recent brilliant theistic thinker,
let’s first take a look at him
and his concepts and philosophy
which he terms,
panentheism.

Earliest Spiral Galaxy

For Hartshorne, the future is OPEN. Creativity, possibility are there. God and all conscious life have real alternative choices to create.

"A hallmark of Hartshorne’s neoclassical theism is that the universe is a joint creative product of (a) the lesser creators that are the creatures, localized in space and time, and (b) the eminent creator which is God whose influence extends to every creature that ever has or that ever will exist."
--Donald Wayne Viney, Pittsburg State University
http://www.iep.utm.edu/hart-d-t/

"Charles Hartshorne, (born June 5, 1897, Kittanning, Pennsylvania, U.S.—died October 10, 2000, Austin, Texas), American philosopher, theologian, and educator known as the most influential proponent of a “process philosophy,” which considers God a participant in cosmic evolution."

"The descendant of Quakers and son of an Episcopalian minister, Hartshorne attended Haverford College before serving as a medical orderly in World War I. He completed his undergraduate education at Harvard University...earned a doctorate in philosophy in 1923. Hartshorne studied in Germany (1923–25), where he met Martin Heidegger and Edmund Husserl."

"He returned to lecture at Harvard (1925–28), after which he taught philosophy at the University of Chicago (1928–55) and at Emory University in Atlanta,
Georgia (1955–62). He then taught...philosophy at the University of Texas--Austin...He also served as president of the American Philosophical Association and the Metaphysical Society of America."
http://www.britannica.com/biography/Charles-Hartshorne

In the LIGHT,

Dan Wilcox

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

JOHN BARLEYCORN or Alcoholic Memoirs by Jack London

What an unexpected find! The very powerful, suspenseful memoir by Jack London. When checking out all of my shelf section of London books in the garage in preparation to take a few with me for a Jack London study an Alaskan Cruise, especially when we get to the '98 Gold Rush pass up at Skagway to B.C., I came across Barleycorn.

Side note: I had evidently picked the memoir up somewhere some years ago but never got around to reading it. There are--as I’ve discovered reading an extensive London bibliography online, at least 7 or 8(!) books by London I’ve never read! So odd, since I thought I had read all but a couple.

Not only is Barleycorn a fascinating memoir, riveting with London's excellent ability at writing suspense, the book gives personal, private details and reflective musings about his youthful times and some deep complex philosophical thoughts. All of this, he expresses in his amazingly powerful poetic prose.


London wrote his memoir against heavy drinking, against getting drunk, promoted Prohibition and did so while also supporting women's suffrage! Tragically, despite his opposition to heavy drinking, getting drunk, and his keen awareness of how alcohol contributed immensely to his tragic life problems, London never quit drinking.

It was his constant abuse of alcohol, too, (besides tropical diseases), which led to his extremely early death at only 40 years of age. That and his negative life stance based in an almost suicidal nihilistic materialism.

The book is an intriguing analysis, with vivid stories, of his own introduction to drinking when very young and the social reasons why he engaged in life-long drinking even though he didn’t like the taste of beer!

He reflects upon the historical fact that drinking alcohol is primarily men’s social way, how they find friends, express themselves emotionally after hard work, party, share, let their macho image down and commune—all around Ethyl. How sometimes alcohol-imbibing even took the place of women!

Only about 20-30 pages in the third 4th of the novel are weak. They are too abstract, miss the intense storied details of the rest of the memoir, and seem sort of thrown together.

Especially fascinating about his memoir, is the story of his unlikely rise to becoming the world's most well-paid writer. When one considers how London's had a spotty unfinished formal education, how he missed most of high school yet got accepted into college after cramming on his own in prep for the entrance exam but then dropped out after only one semester, his accomplishments are amazing. His prose is lucid, complex, poetic at times, incredibly good.

Barleycorn is well worth the read.

Another result of reading this is that I am much more strongly inclined to stop drinking in general, except when I have a little with Betsy for supper or out for a social event.

This book helps me see the horrific result that drinking has caused for multi-millions of humans, especially working men. I understand, again, why my mom so strongly opposed alcohol and why and how my two uncles were so deceived by drink and how it led to tragedy and wreck in their lives and their family’s lives.

In the last 5 years, I had forgotten all of that being too caught up in the fun side of having a glass once-in-a-while, after unexpectedly starting with that Category 5 Hurricane at Joe’s Crab Shack 8 years ago at Pacific Beach, California.


In the Light of Truth, Goodness, and Justice,

Dan Wilcox

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

After the Yellow Warning Light

At the stop before the exit
I hunch, feathered, on my late day perch
Above the overhead red light
Next to this enameled quick cam,

Black next to white,
I glance at the human tech
Then down its lens,
Wide the aperture
To the hectic-busy stopped cars
Beneath

Gazing down through time
To their future deaths
These preoccupants
Too busy for this Present,
Way too many,
So it goes--
Evermore.



In the Light,

Dan Wilcox

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

What Fiction books have you read more than once, novels that inspired, even changed you?

HERE’S my CURRENT LIST of
BEST NOVELS:
Ones I’ve read (most at least 3 times) that have incredibly real characters, suspense, setting, and theme—novels that take you into another life,
where for 2 hours or more,
you live a different life in a different time and place,
totally forget your own life!
Novels that have such deep meaning that you reflect on their themes repeatedly,
novels that inspire or warn,
that leave you changed!


THE TIME MACHINE by H.G. Wells

EXODUS by Leon Uris

WATCHERS by Dean Koontz

ONE DAY AWAY FROM HEAVEN by Dean Koontz


THE PEACEABLE KINGDON by Jan De Hartog

THE HOST by Stephanie Meyer

THE ORIGIN by Irving Stone

THE BONESETTER’S DAUGHTER by Amy Tan

THE SHORT STORIES OF JACK LONDON

11/22/63 by Stephen King

THE COVENANT by James Michener

IN DUBIOUS BATTLE by John Steinbeck

FLOWERS FOR ALGERON by Daniel Keys

BIRTHRIGHT by Nora Roberts

JANE EYRE by Currer Bell (Charlotte Bronte)

ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN by Mark Twain (Samuel L. Clemens)


In the LIGHT of Truth and Goodness,

Dan Wilcox


Thursday, April 7, 2022

What are 10 nonfiction books that have had a major impact on your life-stance?

Ones that are the best you’ve read in your life?


GAMES PEOPLE PLAY
Basis for the keen insights of human behavior in T.A. psychology by Dr. Eric Berne

THE WHYS OF A PHILOSOPHICAL SCRIVENER
Amazing life-stance views by famous philosopher and thinker Martin Gardner

SOPHIE’S WORLD
Humorous, suspenseful intellectual travel through the history of human thought by Norwegian writer and educator Jostein Gaarder

ALIBION’S SEED,
Social-cultural history of America, how 4 British life-stances impacted most of us by historian David Hackett Fischer





HOW IT BEGAN
An amazing time-space journey from the beginning at the Big Bang to the Present by famous astronomer Chris Impey

THE TRUE BELIEVER
Explanations why multimillions of smart educated humans, in history and at present can so easily be misled, even to commit immoral and unjust
actions by the working-class thinker Eric Hoffer

NIGHT
Memoir of writer's Elie Wiesel’s tragic life in the Nazi Concentration Camps, including Aushwitz

THE ARTIST WAY
Best how-to create book by artist Julie Cameron

MORAL MAN AND IMMORAL SOCIETY
Why are human societies so guilty of slaughter, injustice, abuse, etc. when individual humans are often kind and considerate of others by Reinhold Niebuhr

FRIENDS FOR 300 YEARS
Powerful history and commentary on the Society of Friends by Howard Brinton, that emphasizes 4 centering ways of truthful living: mystical, evangelical, rational, and social.

CONTEMPLATIVE PRAYER
Deep, introspective understandings of what it means to pray, not for things, but for truth by Thomas Merton

THE COST OF DISCIPLESHIP
Deep insights into what it means follow Jesus by the German thinker Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Note: I couldn’t get it down to 10. And, of course, there are many other deep nonfiction books that have had great influence on my life. But here’s the ones I came up with today:-)
Some I’ve read 2-7 times!


In the LIGHT of the GOOD, the TRUE,

Dan Wilcox



Sunday, April 3, 2022

Retreaded, not yet board and carded

Retreaded

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

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

Or where, too
Reclining and breathing entertain you/us.

Or tipped-wobbly with 4-wheels and unfeeling-ed feet
I walker about at Morro Strand beach-coast
Staggering in wonder...
Here
Until my brief spark of awed experience embers out

Gone...

Yet
This cosmos Ultimately
Transcendent



In the LIGHT,
Dan Wilcox
4/3/22

Saturday, March 19, 2022

The Good and Letting Go of Temporaries

For Goodness Sake

Throwing away clogged chests of keepsakes,
Raking out cluttered drawers of dead objects
Including a plastic modeled ’57 Cadillac
In a faded blue hobby shop box,
Wondering why I hoarded all this lifeless stuff

Childhood items, once precious, without memory,
Forsaking cobwebbed, dusty dead things
A colorful but broken beaded neck chain
From where—my mission on the Cheyenne Reservation
Or maybe a childhood week at Nemaha Baptist Camp?

Folders of impersonal letters and receipts
Depleting musty cabinets of shrouded sheets
Showing our past giving to outreach and missions
A gray-scaled photo of World Vision’s child,
Srongkeit who grew to manhood far long ago;

Cleaning out grubby shelves of faded news magazines,
Endless bookcases dead full for too many years;
I thunk-drop foldered objects into the recycle bin
They clutter down to a grayed bottom
Falling from our noisy lessening lives,
Me no longer trying to save our past.

Last, but certainly vaguest of gagged all,
Reluctantly letting go of deceased beliefs
Tightly held doctrines so for wanted shelter
But now proven wrong, my impacted mind
I break open; beliefs slip-slide down, sinking to oblivion;
From my upturned minded tumbler, mental mug.

And finally, too, my senses, gut, left leg, skin and joints
Cycle down unwilling objects soon to be forsaken
Yet trying to hold identity from its final demise
The inevitable forsaken descending into the cosmic ‘has bin’
Of former living; billions gone; nothing ever lasts—

Except for
Goodness
Sake



--Dan Wilcox

First published in Word Catalyst Magazine