Friday, December 31, 2010

George Fox's conversion and the New Year for You

God is Ultimate Reality; the essence of ethical religion is real and true, though religion itself is not literally factual. The way to Truth is relational not propositional, though speculating about philosophical and theological abstractions is productive and creative if such theorizing leads to enhanced ethical action.

On the other hand, much in the way of theology and ritual—that which divides, causes intolerance, ethnocentrism, suffering, and war—is wrong, not divine at all.

This was so creatively experienced by George Fox, the founder of the Friends. Though he often acted in un-Christlike ways including seeking judgment against his enemies, God’s love was powerfully manifest in his life when he lost all hope in formal religion and reached the end of his own human efforts.

At that dark point, Fox experienced God’s eternal love and care. Out of that transforming experience, he preached the Good News of Jesus all over Britain, Ireland, the Caribbean, and in colonial America.

Here is his own account of his spiritual/mystical encounter with Christ Jesus:

“But as I had forsaken the priests, so I left the separate preachers, also and those esteemed the most experienced people; for I saw there was none among them all that could speak to my condition. When all my hopes in them and in all men were gone, so that I had nothing upwardly to help me, nor could I tell what to do, then, oh, then, I heard a voice which said,

"There is one, even Christ Jesus, that can speak to thy condition"; and when I heard it, my heart did leap for joy.”

Have you, too, found that so often the secular side of life, politics, and especially religion--in particular Christian churches--have let you down, and haven’t provided the mercy, peace, and compassion and communion that you and all human individuals so long for?

If so, turn (metanoia in biblical Greek) to Christ, and be transformed in this New Year.

In the Light of God,

Daniel Wilcox

Monday, December 20, 2010



So awe fulled the birthing
of God’s presents, new cauled
in humble manger’s destiny,

The base and apex of
a starred cave’s presence
of all future festivals

Yet abandoned, forsaken to
the crowned world’s nails,
every man’s cursedness;

Farthest reach of faith
this Apocalypso dancer
crosses the Cosmos,

Morning us night-less;
he compassions Earth
ever peopling Heaven,

Emptying the pitiless bottom
zeroing Apollyon
into ever’s Now

Beloved one, Yeshua
child of the masses
point man for us all.

Have a blessed Christmas.

Daniel Wilcox

Previsously published in The Greensilk Journal

Sunday, December 12, 2010

To Us a Baby Is Given

Toward an Understanding of Childhood...

What is an infant?

Don't ask theologians or become entangled in illusions and delusions, long-winded metaphysical splits/spit;-) of religious thinking.

What if we didn't focus on abstract philosophical doctrine, but viewed each baby as a gift from God, just as Christmas does?

Instead, most traditional churches claim the doctrine of original sin-- that all babies are born guilty sinners. In contrast, New Thought religion declares all babies are born divine. What a philosophical split!

What does either doctrinal extreme have to do with the real living being who is birthed from her mother?

Human beings at birth are neither divine nor depraved. A baby is a natural offspring of a primate species. But uniquely (probably unlike any other species of life, even dolphins and chimps) a human being has the potential to grow spiritually--to relate to her Creator, and to create, bring newness and improvements into existence since she has been created in the image of God.

What a wonder a baby is! I recently held my first grandchild. Experientially, the moment was blessed. How perfect her tiny living body. What a true gift from the Divine.

But a little later, when she got hungry, wow, what lungs and what a puckered face she suddenly developed!

I must admit, I don't think something called a "soul" enters a baby at conception, or for that matter anytime later.

At conception a new life begins with amazing characteristics from the genes of her/his ancestors. At conception, the life appears to have no awareness. But brain wave activity begins early in the womb.

Even after birth, however, a baby is sort of an eating and pooping blob;-) She has awareness, but probably not much except she wants to be fed, and fed now!

Then gradually her awareness grows month after month. Finally she becomes self-conscious. Then later her sense of conscience develops.

Finally, an awareness of her finiteness and the mystery of existence comes into her consciousness.

No, a baby doesn’t come into the world a walking, talking, mentally active philosopher/theologian/moralist/saint.

On the contrary she is a living breathing consciousness at the most simple level.

As she grows in the next 6 to 7 years in her consciousness, self-awareness, and her ethical conscience develops with a sense of ought, then she will become a moral and spiritual individual who acts. Sometimes she will fail, sometimes "miss the mark."

But even then she is still an innocent child struggling to function and to understand and to fulfill needs and desires and hopes, and the demands of the big people in her life.

Is not this the stage that Jesus referred to when he said those who enter the Kingdom of God must do so as a little child? And where he said to people to let little children come to him for of such is the Kingdom?

And this was my own personal experience—when so young. I don’t remember being a sinful-driven child that fundamentalist Christians claim all babies and small children are.

Instead, as far back as I can remember, I had very deep desires to do good, to be good, to know God and to love him. And I had a lot of childlike wonder questions about God, life, others…always asking why about everything:-)

Of course the slither of wrong thought, wrong action, wrong living does come to us all, but not yet.

A child's awareness will grow if she is introduced to God and is shown her responsibility to share, to think of others and their needs, even though she still doesn’t voluntarily give outwardly if it is to her own privation.

Finally, the ethical consciousness kicks in mid-childhood. At each given moment, there will be a tussle between her babyhood past (all spontaneous need and desire) and her adulthood future (potentially all give and bliss).

At that moment by moment juncture—that possibility moment--she must make continual ethical, spiritual decisions. She is finite and so will make mistakes and fail. She is learning in her emotions, her mind, her conscience, and her body as she moves through time. Her choices are a much more complicated version of the way she learned to walk and to talk three years earlier--by trial and error.

But now a new possibility rears its ugly or saintly head. If she doesn’t continue to develop holistically, widening outwardly her care, her helpfulness, her compassion, then she slows, stalls, or even regresses backward to a total need/want level. However, since she isn’t an infant but has the outer body and will and growing mental ability of a 6 or 7 year old, her regression hurts herself and other persons.

To try and fulfill life as a growing child, by returning to the barely conscious self-focused life of an infant actually distorts life and will bring harm to others to varying degrees.

Continued growing, in contrast, takes her through new stages of human development and new challenges. Each developmental advance brings new ethical and spiritual choices—either good or bad, advancing or regressing or a combination of both.

As anyone knows, when climbing a mountain, the higher one goes the more dangerous the climb becomes—not because the action of climbing mountains is evil, or because individuals who climb mountains are depraved sinful beings, but because the very nature of going "higher" also offers more options of choosing. Some of the ways are wrong, even could cause one to plummet to the bottom. Some of the ways are right, and lead toward the peak.

If a baby cries when she hungry that doesn’t show she is sinning.

On the contrary that is how God designed an infant, to get the attention she needs to survive. If a 4-year-old child throws a tantrum and takes her little brother’s bottle because she thinks she isn’t getting enough attention from her parents, while her action is wrong and to be corrected, it isn’t wrong yet because she hasn’t developed enough in her conscious awareness and ethical conscience to make altruistic decisions.

However, if at 8, she hides her little brother’s medicine, because she wants all the attention instead, this is wrong because by then her mental, moral conscience has developed enough to know that her action isn't the right way to get attention. And, besides, by this point she should be widening her compassion and care for others out beyond her own needs and desires.

If at 18, she steals her younger sister’s boyfriend to build up her own ego, deep wrong has occurred. By 22 if she joins with her countrymen and demonizes some other country and lies, steals, and kills the enemies, we do have actions of evil,
just as if in contrast,
she joins an outreach organization such as Habitat for Humanity or World Vision and sacrifices her time, talent, and money and inspires her younger sister to do so as well, we have actions of goodness.

Then the two sisters think of a way to get other people in their neighborhood, school, and city to get involved. One such inspired girl, about 13 years of age, raised thousands of dollars for starving, hurting people in a far off country.

See how the ethical growth of human beings happens. A human being is in process from simple surviving to becoming the acting being of ethical truth.

Now that is the beginning of Good News. Reminds me of several of Jesus’ ethical parables…

Go and do thou likewise...please stop talking about babies being guilty sinners…
Think instead of Christmas’ joy—

“Holy infant so tender and mild*,” except when she cries at 3 a.m. and the parents haven’t slept through the night for weeks;-)

Have a Blessed Christmas,

Daniel Wilcox

*”Silent Night” Christmas Carol

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Leaving Death Boat Ethics

At times, doesn’t much of religion and politics seem like a lot of crock? Yes, and so it did at the time of Jesus’ birth. And, even now, not much has changed.

Consider the modern views of the popular religious thinker Ken Wilber and his infamous system of Integral Theory, which is a modern re-envisioning of "death boat ethics."

He, himself, takes a rather dim view of some forms of religion: “Worse, their [fundamentalist and evangelical Christians] real or authentic state of experience of love will actually reinforce their ethnocentrism. Only those who accept Jesus as their personal savior can find salvation; everybody else is consigned to eternal damnation and hellfire by an all-loving and all-forgiving God. Does that intense contradiction make any sense?"

Finally Wilber states, "Well, it does if you use the W-C Lattice...
Begin using IOS and suddenly it all starts to make sense, at least enough to climb out of the nightmare of fundamentalism…”
from The Integral Vision by philosopher Ken Wilber (pages 147 and 155)

But first, let’s start out with a positive point about Wilber’s own religious worldview of Eastern thought—yes, we’ll light a candle first, before cursing the ocean of darkness;-)

A number of Ken Wilber’s key ideas and concepts are powerful and demonstrably practical. For instance, his “Four Quadrants” map (page 71) shows how modern atheists leave out much of reality by confining the real to what is scientifically testable.

And Wilber makes plenty of other insightful points in the Vision and his other books. He shows the fusion of a vast amount of learning and much creativity, and has a light-hearted sense of humor as well. His Integral Theory seeks to combine modern psychology, spirituality, and science into an integrated whole. No small undertaking!

BUT...there is a definite downside to his philosophy/spirituality-- sharkish worms, dare we say maggots, lie deep in this shiny-appled vision.

The devil in the “Integral Vision” is hidden in the ethical details. Wilber’s worldview turns out to be much worse than the fundamentalist Christianity he thinks is a “nightmare.” His own philosophical dream makes even less compassionate sense.

How can such a brilliant, knowledgeable, insightful individual be so deceived?

Some ethical issues are so difficult, so ambiguous that morally concerned individuals may disagree.
For example, I could agree to disagree with Wilber’s strong support for execution.

His adamant support for capital punishment doesn’t seem to square with his own spiritual philosophy, but every ethical system has its conundrums. And, besides, capital punishment is a tough, ambiguous issue.

However, Wilber’s attitude/tone is very troubling. When asked if he thought that criminals guilty of murder should be helped to turn from their actions, to change ethically, he said that he didn’t think it was worth society’s effort to help them.

And besides, with reincarnation, the criminals would be reincarnated anyway, so it’s time to “recycle” them. (Ken Wilber’s answer in Kosmic Consciousness tapes)

Again, here is displayed a tragic, uncaring attitude that has often clung like dung to the belief of reincarnation in the past, where the doctrine contributes to the problem of human evil rather than encourages humans to try and solve and deliver sinners.

Why help the low class, low caste? Why help criminals? Why help the poor? They are all paying for bad karma!

Those humans did something wrong in their past lives. Or since ‘they’ do evil now; why help them? They’ll be back soon with another life.

That’s definitely not the way of the Light. Jesus showed compassion for all the lost, even for criminals and terrorists. While no one should be excused for murder, (like often happens in U.S. courts today, where intentional murderers sometimes get off with only serving as little as 4 years in prison), mercy to help is vital.

All of us need to keep in mind that something like 80% of criminals in prison were abused as children. As Thich Nhat Hanh so wisely pointed out, how do we know that we wouldn't be like the individuals we condemn if we had grown up in their abusive environment?

Though their evil actions as adults are inexcusable, and they do need to be separated from society to prevent harm to others, surely these morally deformed individuals (some of whom had their arms burned by their mother’s cigarettes or were bashed in the face, or sexually abused, etc.), surely they do deserve to be rescued.

Hopefully, they will choose to change. At least that is the philosophy of such organizations as Prison Fellowship and 12 Step Recovery Programs.

Ken Wilber does show thoughtful discernment in his nuanced support of early abortion but opposition to late term abortion.

What of stopping massacres? It is necessary, as he says, that the nations of the world stop tyrants if they are killing unarmed civilians. But keep in mind that the United States in just two years killed almost ½ million unarmed civilians far more than any Islamic Jihadists have done.

And we did so in the name of the Christian God. So we need to be sure to take the beam out of our own eye before we attack others preemptively and self-righteously.

But Wilber’s own ethical system takes a bizarre turn downward. He begins to argue for “Life Boat ethics.” According to him, not all humans can live on this earth; we higher ones must decide which lesser humans—people of less value-- to cast over the sides to their deaths.

How tragic is Wilber’s strong support of war (based in part according to him in the Hindu idea that it is our duty to kill others, even our relatives, because Krishna says so).

This is according to his “depth and span” ethical system. We should/must throw out lesser people from the Life Boat to their deaths! (Kosmic Consciousness Interview tapes)

Here we have the fallacious view that the “end justifies the means.” It is from just such ethical systems that so much of the horrific tragedies and mass slaughters of the 19th and 20th centuries came about.

Haven’t you noticed that when the “end justifies the means," it is to our own advantage.

If other countries torture, that is horribly wrong, but if we do it, well, it’s not really torture, and besides the end justifies the means for us.

If someone else lies, how wrong, but, of course, if we lie, it was necessary. Yes, Wilber defends some forms of lying!

And then, his views get really weird and morally sick: Wilber says that it’s okay for husbands and wives to have sex with individual outside of their marriage in an "open marriage!
(Ken Wilber website)

Furthermore, he seems to agree (?) with another author that Jesus may have had sex with Mary Magdalene.
(“The Meaning of Mary Magdalene” by Cynthia Bourgeault and Ken Wiber,

These “Life Boat” ethics are really anti-life. They go against the moral views of Jesus and Gandhi and Thich Nhat Hanh and Abdul Ghaffar Khan.

It’s time to realize that all such “Life Boat” ethical systems are really a moral death boat.

Of course, according to Wilber many of the humans who oppose his system are lowly “oranges” on his rating scale of human development. What is an “orange”? Don’t ask; it’s not good; a large number of stages down below Wilber’s own advanced spiritual trans-human stage.

Well, at least it’s better for us to be “orange” rather than being “red”. They are even worse. Wilber points out that we do need to include the lesser valued humans, up to a point, unless we have already bombed/executed them, of course. And besides, they will be reincarnated (my sarcasm intentional).

Doesn’t this sound a bit like the designations of humans in the highly satiric novel Brave New World by Aldous Huxley? Or George Orwell's very bitter fable, Animal Farm?

What about Jesus’ statement to “to turn the other cheek” and love your enemies? No, Wilber emphasizes the opposite. He thinks even in a thousand years that humankind probably won't overcome the need to use violence.

In his novel, he has one character say “turning the other cheek is exactly what you don’t want to do with pre-orange memes.”

But Jesus, in contrast, reached out to the marginalized “less integral” humans, to his political enemies, to the ruthless Romans, to criminals, even to terrorists, etc.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus even said that we should show love [benevolence, altruism] to ruthless enemy soldiers.

But as mentioned above, Wilber emphasizes that it our duty to kill. Like in the Hindu religious classic, the Bhagavad Gita, where Arjuna doesn’t want to kill his relatives in war,but the God Krishna tells him it is his duty to go into battle and kill his relatives.

So the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and Syria are justified and so are other wars which our particular nation thinks we should fight out of duty.

Again, the end justifies the means.

Are we to forget about the nonviolent ethics of Jesus, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Cesar Chavez, Eli Chacour?

Jesus dealt with the powerful immoral Roman Empire, with ruthless Roman soldiers who crucified thousands of Jewish individuals, yet Jesus didn't become a zealot and slit their throats saying they hadn’t reached his level of spiritual development.

Instead, he emphasized the way of the cross. He even forgave the soldiers who executed him!

So have many other spiritual leaders down through history, going against the dominant human way of killing one's enemies.

In contrast, Ken Wilber’s view (as expressed by his characters at and in an extended interview in Kosmic Consciousness by Sounds True) is that nonviolence only works when your nation’s enemies are, basically, nice people.

Also, Wilber emphasizes that humans can’t/shouldn’t live by nonviolence because, not only does peace-living not work, but “your death doesn’t even buy you good karma, but the karma of the coward”!!! (

What? By implication Jesus is a coward?!

Wilber claims if we don’t kill in war, we are responsible for what the enemy does! So were the disciples and early followers of Jesus guilty for what Emperor Nero did? The Jewish people of Europe responsible for what the Nazis did? Etc.?

And what makes this all the more confusing is that Wilber has one of his characters later say that God is actually ‘behind’ all such human evil (after talking about the necessity of killing humans in war, etc.):

"Precisely because I am not this, not that, I am fully this, fully that. Beyond nature, I am nature; beyond God, I am God; beyond the Kosmos altogether, I am the Kosmos in its every gesture. Where there is pain, I am there; where there is love, I am present; where there is death, I breath easily; where there is suffering, I move unconstrained."

"On September 11, 2001, I attacked me in a distant part of the galaxy on an unremarkable planet in a speck of dust in the corner of manifestation, all of which are wrinkles in the fold of what I am. And none of which affects me in the slightest, and therefore I am totally undone, I cry endlessly, the sadness is infinite, the despair dwarfs galaxies, my heart weeps monsoons, I can't breath in this torture."

"Totally insignificant, infinitely significant--no difference, truly. Atoms and Gods are all the same, here in the world of One Taste; the smallest insult is equal to the greatest; I am happy beyond description with every act of torture, I am sad beyond compare with every act of goodness."

"I delight in seeing pain, I despise seeing love. Do those words confuse you? Are you still caught in those opposites? Must I believe the dualistic nonsense that the world takes as real? Victims and murderers, good and evil, innocence and guilt, love and hatred? What dream walkers we all are!”
(Ken Wilber Website)

So Wilber’s God is the One behind all the evil (as well as the good)!

Yet Ken Wilber thinks the “God” of Fundamentalism is a “nightmare”!
(Page 155)


Think about it: Somehow in Wilber’s philosophy humans need to be executed and bombed, but
behind all those horrendous evil actions is really Ultimate Reality playing:-(!

“until I decided to play this round of hide and seek, and get lost in the objects of my own creation.” (Page 204)

I am without words...other than I want to emotionally and spiritually puke, gag and vomit.

Instead, I will pray that Ken Wilber, Deepak Chopra, and all such other millions of deluded "death boat" thinkers will come to their moral sense and find the Light of the Real Truth.

Daniel Wilcox