Friday, September 25, 2015

To Be Hopeful, Absolutely So...

“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."
--Howard Zinn



"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.”
--Howard Zinn, American historian and social activist

“But I am here to say to you this morning that some things are right and some things are wrong. Eternally so, absolutely so. It's wrong to hate, its always been wrong and it always will be wrong.”
--Martin Luther King Jr. from speech, “Rediscovering Lost Values,” February, 1954)

"Light one candle..."

-- quoted by Peter Benenson,
English lawyer and founder of Amnesty International,
Human Rights Day ceremony on 10th December 1961


Why am I posting these famous quotes today?

Because consider the horrific tsunami roaring across human thinking and acting again now--

Follow the media and the erudite tomes being written and the various contrary leaders lecturing…

And so many of them claiming
There is no objective good or evil, no right or wrong, no just or unjust, no freedom…

According to millions of Christians whatever God commands (DCT) is what is good. PERIOD

So, if God commands genocide or slavery or theft (as he has repeatedly in the Bible and Christian history, then the acts are good.

According to millions of Muslims, God ordains every action even the most horrific, and has fated them all from before the universe was created.

According to some Atheists, there is nothing objectively wrong with murder or slavery or lying or any other unethical action either. There is no objective justice, no human rights, no ultimate good.

Only subjective preferences like the color red or one's favorite food…

Or one individual likes to go dining with a girlfriend while another likes to subjugate women and oppress same sexual persons, and physically cane writers or crucify or behead.

They say, "It’s all relative and subjective."

They say, "Who are we to judge the Crusaders or the Nazis or the Saudis?"

As so many secular leaders have emphasized, “When in Rome, Do as the Romans.”

They say, "See it’s all subjective."




Where are the Martin Luther King Jr.’s and Kurt Vonnegut’s and Howard Zinn’s of this generation?

Keep “reaching up for the eternal 'oughtness' that forever confronts” us. (Martin Luther King Jr.)

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Can Islam, Given Its Violent Past, Become a Religion of Peace?

Can Islam Be Reformed?

Yes, we know that some Muslims call Islam the religion of peace. And it is a fact that there are probably as many versions of Islam as Christianity, which has thousands of contrary varieties.

And (like its predecessors, Judaism and Christianity) some versions of Islam are more humanistic, but others are
horrifically destructive,
intolerant, and evil.
The latter at present having millions of adherents following the letter of the Qur'an and the Hadiths-- ISIS, HAMAS, Hezbollah, the Taliban, Al Quida, ad nauseum.

And back at the start, Muhammad (c.b.u.h.) ordered 500 to 800 hundred Jewish male prisoners beheaded and then sold their women and children into slavery. Not a good beginning for someone claiming to be the final prophet of God!

Then shortly after Muhammad's death the horrific persecution and bloodletting between Shia and Sunni began. Later in 680 CE occurred the terrible battle at Karbala (now in Iraq).

Then the Islamic jihad swept up through Byzantium into eastern Europe, and eastward all the way to India and westward across Africa and up into western Europe. Why didn't the two wings of this angel of death meet in modern day France?

(Yes, I know that many orthodox Muslims claim that Islam never was a colonizing/conquering religion. But if that is true, how did million of Muslim soldiers get from Medina to France and Austria? That's thousands of miles.)

Why didn't medieval Europe become Muslim?

Because jihad conquerors were finally stopped at Tours, France and Vienna, Austria by the equally vicious Christian forces, and so forth; history has gashed into the present. Millions of dead.

But—the cosmos help us!—let’s cut to the chase.

What about now, this moment, in time?

Can Islam be improved?

Can Islam--the Religion of so much killing for 1,300 years--can that worldview be reformed into a religion of peace?

And if it can, how? And what would be the first steps to do so?

Let's look at its older sister religion, Christianity. Has it been able to transition from the "Jesus Wars"* toward peace and justice?

Traditionally for 1,800 years, Christianity committed the bloodletting of millions of people, and committed nearly constant persecution and acts of intolerance. But then very gradually in some places hopeful changes occurred.

There was the pietistic movement in Germany in the 1700's, John Wesley’s God's love movement in Britain and America, the Brethren Anabaptists opposition to war, the Quakers' emphasis upon equality, and the Unitarian-Universalists rejection of Original Sin and predestinarian damnation of the 19th century.

From those groups and other new beginnings came peace societies, abolition against slavery, women’s rights, prison reform, etc. What great hope!

Is it not possible then, that Islam, despite its own immoral past, could also rethink itself into a hopeful movement of human rights, justice, and peace?

Because after all not all Christians were (or are now) fixated on creedal Christianity's horrific beliefs like the famous American Christian Th.D who wrote that infants at conception are "sinners from conception, guilty and vile worms" and another who wrote, infants at conception are "in essence, evil" and "devil worshipers." Not all Christians think that God ordains every evil and has foreordained most humans to Hell.

Can Muslims reject one of their 6 central tenets: that of Fate/Predestination, too?

from Declaration of Faith (Shahadah)
"Belief in Fate – Everything that happens is the will of Allah and is preordained. Acceptance of fate is an essential element in submitting to the will of Allah"

According to the famous Muslim scholar Al-Ghazali,

"Love is to sense a need of the is therefore impossible that Allah should love."

What do you think?

Can active Muslims reject this central tenet of Islam?

In the past Christianity tried to change, to get rid of such determinism. But then about 30-40 years ago or so, the huge doctrinal theology returned with a vengeance turning mild ethically-centered Christianity back to the intolerant fatalistic religion of Augustinian-Calvinism.

Since Islam and creedal Christianity are almost identical on fate/determinism/predestination, and so many other similar beliefs and behaviors as Augustinian-Calvinism, such as war, intolerance, injustice, and inequality, and since so many Muslims are turning back to the past's fundamentalistic Islam...

Can this all be reversed?

What do you think?

Here we are.

(My own background experience with Islam: I've traveled through Palestine, stayed with a Muslim family in Nablus, dialogued with Muslims from various contrary branches of the religion for almost 50 years; my wife and I have supported reconciliation, development, and interaction in the Middle East amongst Muslims and others, etc.

Ever since I first engaged Muslims who were demonstrating against Israel, way back in late 1967 at Long Beach State College, I have pondered the nature of Islam read plenty of tomes about the religion (pro and con), read carefully through the Qur'an (in various translations) 1 1/2 times, and read 4 biographies on Muhammad, etc.)

So I am interested in everyone's view, thinking, questions, observations, and judgments on this, (especially practicing Muslims' perspectives).

Can Islam Become a Religion of Peace?

What do you think?

Leave a thoughtful comment, recommend a book, share an experience from your perspective.

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

*Jesus Wars by Phillip Jenkins, a must read for anyone who wants to understand the nature of Christian history

Monday, September 21, 2015

Part #2: Thoughts on Ernest Hemingway and King David

On Visiting Hemingway’s Mansion

Next to the mansion Pauline’s money bought
Where Hemingway wrote
Timeless stories
Of skill
And luck
And Nothing…

Next to this blocked hard beauty
Of coral rock,
Survivor of hurricanes
Their dissolute lives
Of lust and liquor
And divorce…

Next to the survivors, the 54 cats
Including the 6-toed ones
And a 150-year-old Banyan tree…

Stand the Key West lighthouse and the mortuary.

Light and death…
Suicide at 61
Hemingway spoke of writing one true sentence.
Why not live one true life?

by Daniel Wilcox

First pub. in The Rogue Review
Also in Leaf Garden and Psalms, Yawps, and Howls


Partially Found Poem Lost*
*Created from an old review by Anthony Burgess
of Ernest Hemingway and His World
by Jack Beatty in The New Republic October 7, 1978

The Bull-thrower Hemingway touches up
His life to match his legend’s ‘fancifications,’
Combining the charming with family tragic
Compulsive aficionado of the braggart
Early photo shot of an ample youth
Clutching a dead bird in one hand
And holding a large thick phallus
Of a gun with the other; later
He basked and boasted of past
Wives and bulls figured in
Most of the pictures filled
With nerves and muscles
Instead of head and heart
Growing gloom, failing
To be his own tall myth
Pressure without grace
Too godlike to cope
A reason to despair
Caught in a terrible
Repetition from
Key West to
Bad end

Gathered into poetic form by
Daniel Wilcox

First pub. in The Houston Literary Review,
also in Psalms, Yawps, and Howls

"And when [God] had removed [Saul], he raised up David to be their king, of whom he testified and said, ‘I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.’
Acts 13:22

After His Own Bloody Heart?

Like David when he killed for that Philistine king,
That former shepherd boy with his sling and stone,
Who had slaughtered and beheaded Goliath,

Now turned slaying brigand for Goliath’s nation;
So with a raider’s heart and savage sword,
God’s man assassinates 200 men fore- (their hidden) skin
Only so to wed into Saul’s royal line, loveless using,
Then abandoning his saving wife Michel for other women,
What a slew!

And this Godly marauder sallies forth from
Zitlag stringing a brazen deception,
Not a psalmed lyre; yes, a liar,
‘preying’ on others to execute,
Massacring every man, woman, and infant--

Hear the death ‘rattle’?

Palming other’s possessions, not psalming

Stripping the bleeding dead for precious loot,
Plundering towns, dark gashes of bandit smoke,
Oh the Hebrew off-angled gulag…
“Precious not is the over flow”

No truth shedding and bloody
Hellish, David living as Goliath—


*27 “David arose and went, along with his men, and killed two hundred of the Philistines. And David brought their foreskins, which were given in full number to the king, that he might become the king’s son-in-law. And Saul gave him his daughter Michal for a wife. 28 …Yahweh was with David, and that Michal, Saul’s daughter, loved him.
1 Samuel 18: 26-28

*Hymn ”Nothing But the Blood of Jesus”
* “Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” Hebrews 9:22 ESV

By Daniel Wilcox

But thank Goodness, there is good news to counter all of the horror, tragedy, sorrow, cruelty, and absurdity...

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Sunday, September 20, 2015

The Nature of Delusion and the B.S. Detector

“No man in the Bible ever received more approval from God than David. No man represents a better model for how we should live our lives. What more could you or I ever hope for than to be called a man after God’s own heart?”
Patrick Morley

Sentiments like this are broadcast, printed, and proclaimed by Christians daily, yet there is no truth in them.

How could well-educated, smart Christians (including me in the past; well maybe not so smart;-) believe in this considering that David actually acted much worse than leaders of ISIS and HAMAS?

When I reflect back on the many years from childhood to middle age that I thought David was a wonderful role model, a great human and man of God, I see so
clearly how we humans can be caught in religious, cultural, or political delusion, thinking the utterly false is the truth and the good.

David actively raided and massacred whole villages of people, slaughtering every single individual, so he could steal their many possessions, and lied about it in the process. (1 Samuel 27: 8-12) The word in 1 Samuel, "raided," in Hebrew means to strip corpses.:-(

David was ethically much worse before he ever committed adultery. His evil actions developed very early, first by abandoning his wife who had saved his life! Hardly, a man after God's own heart. How many people now days would look up to a husband who abandoned his wife? The Hebrew Bible speaks of how she loved him, but nary a word about him loving her. It appears that he only used her to get into King Saul's family.

Notice, he's not doing very good on the 10 Commandments, not at all, (and this is early on in his career). Lying, stealing, murdering, coveting...

After abandoning his wife, marrying other women, becoming a polygamist, he lives as a terrorist out in the desert. But all of this is seldom dwelt on by Christians, Jews, Muslims, and Baha'i. Instead, they focus on the fact that David doesn't assassinate King Saul when he has the opportunity to do so. We were repeatedly told about this growing up, how wonderful that David didn't take revenge on King Saul. What a cruel misrepresentation of the facts...

Finally, even worse, years later, when he has become king, he steals his former wife from her current-husband, but then even worse, treats her horribly.

And don’t forget, though David promised not to get revenge on on a man named Shimei, before he dies David orders that the Shimei be killed after his death! He also orders the killing of Joab. What a tragic immoral way to end your life, planning revenge.

And there's more. But all of this is so negative, despicable, and immoral.


How is it that we read over the texts in the Bible (or other literature) and don’t see the truth? I guess it is sort of like editing a book. One can go over your text with a fine-toothed study, watching for missing commas, misused prepositions, repeat words, etc., but still miss a minor error or three, because the human brain reads past the errors making the effort to read what is supposed to be there.

But a meticulous, very detailed oriented individual, like why my wife, can spot at least 3 or 4 errors in most published books, without even concentrating on the task, just catching them, while at the same time enjoying the story.

Hemingway allegedly rewrote some of his novels and stories 30 or more times, trying to get them exactly right (and no doubt also error free).
One of his most famous statements on writing applies here just as well to living, about ferreting out the bad:

INTERVIEWER: “…Graham Greene said that a ruling passion gives to a shelf of novels the unity of a system. You yourself have said, I believe, that great writing comes out of a sense of injustice. Do you consider it important that a novelist be dominated in this way—by some such compelling sense?

HEMINGWAY: “Mr. Greene has a facility for making statements that I do not possess. It would be impossible for me to make generalizations about a shelf of novels or a wisp of snipe or a gaggle of geese. I’ll try a generalization though. A writer without a sense of justice and of injustice would be better off editing the yearbook...

The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shockproof, shit detector. This is the writer’s radar and all great writers have had it.”
The Paris Review, Spring 1958

Of course, we know that Hemingway was in some ways a very unethical, destructive person, even committing adultery with the babysitter!

For whatever reasons, he usually had a very poor “built-in, shockproof, shit detector” when it came to living a true life, but his point is well taken even if he didn't use a moral detector in his life.

And in his writing, he did use such a detector very well, was a creative genius, usually getting prose so right.

But let's all of us try to do the same in our lives.

Let us examine all areas of philosophy, religion, worldviews, and politics and keep in constant use a manure/paddy/B.S. detector, to protect us from the sludge, sewer of wrong, and horrific evil that passes for good.

Terrible things get bandied about as true by Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Pagan, and Atheists.

If I had had a good B.S. meter, very early on, way back in the early 1960’s, I would have seen the horrific wrongs of religious falsehoods such as the model of David, and many other wrong beliefs.

At least, I did get upset at 11 years of age in Sunday school when our teacher taught us the story about how Elisha called down curses on a bunch of kids for making fun of him. According to the story, Yahweh sent out bears which mauled the children.

That shocked me and horrified my young conscience. Everything about the story rang false.

And there are so many other stories, I soon found as I read and re-read the Bible. The more I read and studied the more I became despairing. Finally, I did get a B.S. detector working.

But I wish I had learned to use my thinking ability much earlier and I could have avoided a lot of heartache, wrong choices"for the Lord," etc.

Use your own B.S. detector continually to avoid all sorts of bad religion, ideologies (which at first sound so good), and so many unwise beliefs and actions of humans.

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Friday, September 18, 2015

Throw Out the Laugh Line

Exhausted from living for justice and right? Feel like one would need to be Atlas to solve all of the trials, tribulations, and tragedies of current world conditions?

Grab hold of these belly-laughed country twines. Catch a line or three.

Then besides throwing out life lines* today, throw a few laugh lines.
Sometimes humor itself is a lifeline.

Do you know why there is the face of a Quaker on oats cereal in stores?

To remind you about honesty, to pay what you oat. But, remember, Quakers don't take oats, they only affirm in court.


Did you know many Friends are becoming vegetarians?

Yeah, I’ve herbivore.


After Martin Luther wrote another scatological attack against the Pope, troops from the Holy Roman Emperor, again, tried to arrest him.

But eye witnesses said, “Then ‘Luther ran.’"

And that’s how the denomination’s history began. It’s been running for almost 500 years.


"Are you sure my hunting dog went through your yard an hour ago?"

The Quaker pointed down at the prints in the muddy walkway and said, "I'm pawsitive."


When a secularist hiked past an old Quaker farmer standing by the lake holding a full sack,
the secularist decided to have a little fun, see if he could get the devout man upset.

“Tired? What’re you carrying in that bag, Friend, too many ears of corn?”

The Friend said not a word but glanced at his bag and took hold of two ears in it.

So the secularist added, “You Quakers are way too stuffy. You really need to let your hair down.”

Then the Quaker dropped the rabbit bag and smiled.

The secularist looked disappointed.

Finally, the Quaker spoke, “Thought you could get my goat didn’t you, but I don’t own one.”


Heard the joke about the Unitarian Universalist minister being confronted by an irate Southern Baptist leader:
"Your church is a joke! You reject all the creeds!" Then the Southern Baptist got so upset all he could shout and sputter was
"YOU, YOU...!"

And the Unitarian Universalist very politely said, "Yes?"


Here's a humorous adaption for the United Church of Christ:
A Calvinist theologian lectured a UCC minister standing at a conference.
"Your church doesn't preach the Reformed Gospel! Do you believe in the penal substitution?"

"No," said the UCC pastor.

YOU SEE! SEE what I mean!" demanded the Calvinist.


“You know, most of you modern Quakers don't look like Amish. What’s the deal with your new beard?”

“Oh, I don’t know,” responded the Quaker, “It sort of grew on me.”


In Kentucky one group of friars took care of the front of their chapel by planting beautiful flowers in profusion that grew all the way to the forest. After missionary work all day, two of them would take lighted lanterns and small cans of water to go out
and sprinkle their flowers because of the drought.

But one night, the first friar stumbled and broke his lamp; sparks landed on him and the other friar and in the woods
and started a terrible fire.

Fortunately, nearby lived a volunteer firefighter named Hugh.
He quickly turned on his garden hose and doused the flames on the friars and on the forest before too many trees had burned. This proves again that only Hugh can prevent florist friars.


An atheist student was complaining to the professor in class after lunch. “I hate all these Creeds of the Christian Church, in particular your Protestant ones.

They’re so horrific, so irrational, so immoral!”

Irritated the professor who was a Reformed theologian asked, “Such as?”

“Heard of the ‘Sin-odds’ of Dort?”

“Stop making fun of our beliefs!” Then because he was so upset, the professor belched.

The antagonist said, “I will, if you stop Belgicing.”


Many Friends admire Mahtma Gandhi, even though he wasn’t a Quaker. But he worked for peace and was a vegetarian. Of course his strict diet often gave him bad breath.
This made him a super calloused faragile mystic hexed by halitosis.


Okay, so I’ve given you more than ten puns. I’ve told them to others with the hope that at least one of the puns would make them laugh. No pun in ten did.

In the Lighthearted,

Daniel Wilcox

*Old Song: “Throw Out the Life Line”

Throw out the life line across the dark wave;
There is a brother whom someone should save;
Somebody’s brother! O who then will dare
To throw out the life line, his peril to share?


Throw out the life line! Throw out the life line!
Someone is drifting away;
Throw out the life line! Throw out the life line!
Someone is sinking today.

By E.S. Ufford

"The Parable of the Good Atheist" (from Randal Rouser)

As anyone knows who has read my articles and poetry, I am strongly opposed to atheism, especially the deterministic materialistic sort.

But Randal Rouser, a professor in Edmonton, Canada raises very important points on "Who Is My Neighbor?"

And he talks about individuals who happen to be atheists (or for that matter Muslims or Hindus or Jews). This video is a short introduction to his new book, Is the Atheist My Neighbor? Rethinking Christian Attitudes toward Atheism.

Visit his philosophical website and encounter complex issues, ethical concern, and the search for truth.

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Monday, September 14, 2015

The Ultimate Nature of Existence--We Think, Therefore It Might Be

A thinker needs to start with two moral values as presuppositions: Honesty comes first when one thinks about what is true, and humility is a close second.

The latter, humility, means keeping a constant awareness that even as a committed thinker, one is still only a brief finite being, a primate with limited reasoning ability, living within a relatively short specific culture within all of human history which itself is only a blip in the age of the earth, which is a very small planet
in a far corner of a minor galaxy
in the vast universe;
and there may be gigantic
universes outside of our universe,
the multiverse that some cosmologists
have speculated about.

And who knows if there is more existence outside of Space and Time as we know it?

Most of us seek to be meticulously honest when dealing with the nature of existence, but many of us often fail at the second beginning point--humility.

Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Pagans, Atheists, and so forth often talk as if they 'know’ or are at least fairly confident about the ultimate nature of existence.

Whenever I make a point, I will do so with IMHO—as the stated undertone. Each moment we live, we encounter choices; so we have to make decisions and in order to make those decisions, we have to assume that some things are scientifically, philosophically and ethically true.

But I am well aware that in many areas, indeed possibly in all areas, we may be in error or even worse very deluded. Look to the past; recall how many leaders and billions of humans in nations in history have chosen sincerely wrongly, and done so after much thought and discernment.

So let us constantly doubt and re-evaluate what we discern to be true and what we think might be the ultimate nature of reality.

All of this gets very speculative…

To paraphrase Descartes: We think therefore, it might be;-)

These are some of the main views of reality that humans have considered, speculated about, even fervently thought were true:

#1 All reality came about by cosmic chance.

#2 All reality came about by a cosmic determinism of meaningless matter and energy which is eternal.

#3 All reality came about by emergent possibilities in a quantum singularity vacuum or some unknown ultimate reality. But where did the quantum singularity vacuum come from? Here goes "turtles all the way down."

#4 All reality came about by an impersonal ultimate reality of cosmic beauty. Scientists such as Albert Einstein stated this was his view, that he thought the impersonal god of Spinoza was true. But this seems similar to #3. Unlike #2, the emergent possibility cosmos isn't meaningless and purposeless, but filled with meaning.

#5 All reality is coming about by the everlasting but limited Process God of thinkers such as philosopher and mathematician Alfred Lord Whitehead, philosopher Charles Hartshorne, theologian John Cobb, etc. This cosmic but limited God who is far beyond human understanding "woos" matter and energy and conscious life such as homo sapiens into increasing patterns and forms of beauty, meaning, and purpose. This is also the view of some Reform Jews.

But where is the evidence for this? Process thinkers explain that consciousness, reason, mathematics, natural law, creativity, aesthetics, etc. are the evidence.

#6 All reality came about as just one of an infinite number of universes of an infinite multi-verse, the view of some modern cosmologists. What is the ultimate of the multi-verse is unknown or maybe the multiverse itself is ultimate.

#7 All reality came about by the Omni-God of absolute sovereignty and meticulous control who does and plans and ordains everything only for his own glory, including all natural and all human evil. This is the view of Augustinians, Calvinists, some Lutherans, most Muslims, etc.

#8 All reality came about by the ultimately essentially all-loving God of Open Theism, Arminianisn, Quakerism, Universalism, and other forms of mystical, ethical religion, and so forth.

#9 All reality came about somehow by a temporary, finite, imperfect, even distorted, expression of the perfect eternal Ideal Forms of Platonism.

#10 All reality came about by the impersonal Brahma God of Hinduism and some modern New Age leaders such as Ken Wilber with his Integral Theory, and Deepak Chopra, etc. . The impersonal God Brahma is conducting a cosmic dance in which it forgets its self and dreams into billions of separated forms including in one minor edge of the universes, thinking humans.

But all is illusion. And all events both good and evil are produced by Brahman. That is why Ken Wilber and other such leaders claim that Brahman caused 9//11.

#11 All reality came about by unknowable factors. Everything beyond and before the Big Bang is such a complete unfathomable mystery that it will probably not ever be solved by finite humans.

Could a flea figure out the Theory of Relativity?

#12 All reality continually comes about by infinite impersonal reality which never had a beginning. No creator god exists. Some forms of Buddhism (though other forms are theistic).

Think deeply on all of this. Take your pick:-)

What do you think?

To be continued--

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Friday, September 11, 2015

A Last Loss


Seek the moral compass
Round the world ringed that
Bleeds directed compass-ion;
Don’t pass by on the other side;
Be passionate
And encompass
Love’s Sphere

First pub. in The Mississippi Crow


A Last

Alas, grieving sorrow, tribulating
Don’t ask from where—
Yes, selah; “Across the Euphrates;”

Welted eyes, shadowed tears,
Wind-cuffed face with ‘fulled’ lashings

Of more less and less,
Wiping away
With wept wetness
In a downward swirling wet sweep,
The torn sky in
A multiple series of weeping losses,

The fall of all welling reveries
In the wreck--aging.

How long, how many tomorrow’s tomorrow
This a las—ting loss lostness?

First pub. in The New Verse News,
also in selah river


Sign of the Loss

The big multicolored circus tent
Of the termite company
their vast church

and its vaulted bell tower;

Only the broken point of the cross


Apexed alone

While below on the green,

A large cloth sign of striking letters

Whipped in the wind,

C e l e b r a t e R e c o v e r y—

A 12-Step Program

First pub. in Rubber Lemon
in different form, United Kingdom

God’s Glory: Good News or Horror?

Usually, I emphasize how we humans, within the infinity of God, have finite creativity and choice, but today, I must admit, it seems Holly Spring Friends Meeting in North Carolina made me type this.

I would much rather write about hope and good news. It is with deep heartache, I proceed.

Here we go—
down to the

In the incredibly popular book, The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler, the author gives a brief introduction into hard Calvinism, of how every single infant at conception is “in essence, evil” how most humans were foreordained to eternal damnation, etc. (pages 64, 84, 107 as I showed briefly in my previous post).

Why did all of that happen? According to Calvinists/Augustinians, it was for God's glory.

"God's passion is for his own glory." (page 53)

But the word "glory" in human history has
a very negative, often horrific past.
Just a glance through almost any historic
tome, and one can see how the term led to
millions of humans being persecuted, tortured,
raped, and slaughtered for the "glory of God."

Chandler takes us into the explanation of Reformed/Augustinian theology--that God is entirely self-focused!

According to Chandler, the true God is the “…God who is ultimately most focused on his own glory will be about the business of restoring us, who are all broken images of him. His glory demands it. So we should be thankful for a self-sufficient God whose self-regard is glorious.” (page 32)

“If God is most concerned about his name’s sake, then hell
ultimately exists because of the belittlement of God’s name…
(pages 44-45)

“From beginning to end, the Scriptures reveal that the foremost desire of God’s heart is not our salvation
but rather the glory of His own name. God’s glory is what drives the universe; it is why everything exists.
God’s glory is what drives the universe;
it is why everything exists.”
(pages 33-34)

“The point of everything is God’s glory alone so that to God alone will be the glory.” (page 35)

“Most of have been told that God created…because he desired fellowship with man…this idea is almost blasphemous.” (page 32)

“John Piper puts it this way: ‘…God’s aim in creating the world was to display the value of his own glory.’ (page 35)

Such thinking is the basis for why most Reformed claim that evil was predestined/foreordained/willed (by God's hidden will), because God predestined every single evil, every rape, every murder, every molestation
so that God could vanquish it and show how glorious God is.

That is why, according to John Calvin, that God willed the sin of the first humans.

And Chandler writes, "God essentially says, 'No one can come near me without blood. Somebody's got to pay for all of mankind's belittling my name.'" (page 60)

"God's chief concern is for his own glory." (page 105)

Even totally ignoring all the horrific results in history of this view of God, does this picture of God sound anything like 1 Corinthians 13 or John 3:16 or 1 John,
or what any caring father and mother would describe
to their children?

Compare this egotistical view of God’s glory according to Reformed writers such as Chandler with this:

That of God is love:

1 Corinthians 13: 4-8
"4 God is patient and kind; God does not envy or boast; God is not arrogant 5 or rude.
God does not insist on God’s own way; God is not irritable or resentful;
6 God does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.
7 God always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 God never ends."

Glory looked at in a wonderful way like that could make sense--to think of God as glorious, as ultimate infinite love, ultimate infinite goodness (or, even, as impersonal cosmic beauty).

Consider the ancient Jewish writer: "The heavens declare the glory of God..." (Psalm 19). Anyone who has gone out in the wilderness on a brilliantly clear November night and stared up at the starry sky understands this deep emotional response.

Or stand at Bass Point in the Grand Canyon and stare out into the almost boundless natural wonder, into the seemingly endless cliffs, gorges, plateaus, colorful rock strata, some strands going back a few billion years.

Various thinkers throughout history have emphasized the glory of existence and humankind's conscious life in it: "philosophy begins in wonder" (Plato).

"My sense of god is my sense of wonder about the universe. The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious - the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science...

"To know that which is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their primitive forms-this knowledge, this feeling is at the center of true religiousness."
Albert Einstein

Chandler could have focused on the wonder of the cosmos, it's natural beauty.

And then written extensively about the wonder of ethics--compassion, justice, and kindness, of how transcendent ethics are the ultimate expression of glory.

That would have been glorious.

But Chandler rejects that as a false view.) For him, such an outlook "is almost blasphemous."

After 55 years of seeking and studying about the nature of God (Ultimate Reality), I admit I know very little, am only a very finite, often self-focused, voyager who wants to live for what is true, good, just, compassionate, and beautiful.

But I do know that the Reformed/Augustinian version of God is a dead end. Actually, very much worse than that--it's a hellish eternal never-end, the everlasting damnation for God's glory of billions of humans. No hope, no love, no goodness, only God's self-centered glory, endlessly.

Such a concept of God's glory is horrific, and is terrible news, is despairing for billions of humans including my family. We were all predestined to eternal damnation for God's glory:-(

What horrific news, nothing good in this "glorious" evil…

The strangest horror of all is, why are Quakers in North Carolina promoting this book, this theological outlook?

Don’t they realize the despair of Chandler's beliefs? In his claim that all infants are "in essence, evil"?

In his claim that no humans have a choice, and that most of us humans were foreordained to eternal torture?!

That God only does what glorifies himself?!

Besides, Friends from the very beginning in the 1640’s totally rejected this terrible, inglorious theology.

Daniel Wilcox

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Holly Spring Friends Meeting Teaches Book That Claims Infants Are "in essence, evil"!

Now, this morning, Quakers have descended to the lowest hell!

I've been following the disagreement between Holly Spring Friends Meeting and others within North Carolina Yearly Meeting. It's tragic, but it seemed to be about how to approach the issue of same sexual marriage, not about that God foreordained most humans to eternal damnation and creates every infant in the womb "in essence, evil." (p.64, 84, 107, etc.The Explicit Gospel)

Yet according to Holly Spring Friends Meeting's site, they are teaching The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler. Not only does Matt Chandler claim that all infants are "in essence, evil,"
he also claims that
God has two contrary wills, and that in God's hidden will, he doesn't want most humans to be rescued.

Yes, hard to believe, but this Friends Meeting is teaching a core hard Calvinist theological book filled with TULIP.

Nothing could get much worse than this...

How tragic, how despairing...

Daniel Wilcox

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Tragic Biography of Wade Hampton

Powerful biography by Rod Andrew of a paternalistic Southern plantation owner who actually opposed Secession, but when it came, even though not military-trained, fought as an officer for the Confederacy, winning many battles against the invading Northern armies of Lincoln.

And after the Civil War, Hampton sought to walk a paternalistic line between rabid racism and the new South of Republicanism. He eventually helped lead the racist Redeemer Movement, yet at the same time sometimes supported Negro involvement in government.

Strangely, while condemning violence, hatred, and racism, Hampton actually let (probably even supported) his followers and supporters--such as the Red Shirts--commit murder and mayhem in the name of white supremacy.

A complicated, contradictory man; more admirable than Abraham Lincoln, but seeming to aspire to a similar sort of pragmatic political cunning as the President.

The tragic biography of Wade Hampton is another example of the severe conundrum of how basically nice, generous, even kind, civilized humans when doing their duty end up aiding murderous thugs and causing countless slaughter of humans in the name of God, Country, and Civilization.

Another example of this horror is The English Civil War by Diane Purkiss

This is the unkind of history which is so necessary to know, but so despairing to read. And, despite, Purkiss’ ribald, almost at times flippant, style the tome is still a bit stodgy and confusing. But then the whole period of the 1600’s was extremely confusing and despairing with untold slaughter which made no sense, except in a senseless way.

Consider the political-infighting/war/rebellion/revolution as a carry-over, and somewhat less horrific version of the war on the Continent, the ruthless 30 Years War. At least the English one only lasted about 8 or 9 years.

But all claimed God on their side. And there were various sides--so many--all interacting, changing allegiances, politicking, doing what human leaders do worst. And the Cavaliers fought for the King and God, and the Roundheads—basically Calvinists--went about their slaughter singing Psalms and praising God. Another reason to reject the Christian religion.

It’s taken a long time, with many stops and avoidances for me to finally finish the depressing volume. It gives such glaring accounts of the insane slaughter, double-dealing, switching-sides, mutilations, persecution of suffering civilians to weird witch-burnings, and the bizarre actions of religious fanatics and visionaries.

What a brew of crazy despair.

But I did learn a lot.

But am so glad I am done.

Two powerful books every person needs to read, so as to oppose war and to seek a different future.

To allude to a famous poem by John Donne on wrong, when we think war is done, it's not done.

The current uncivil wars in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Nigeria, Afghanistan, and the sporadic one in Palestine/Israel attest again to how, even now, so many dutiful well-meaning humans cause evil to flourish.

Looking for Hope,

Daniel Wilcox

Friday, September 4, 2015

Rescue the Perishing, Care for the Dying...The Best Way to Help Syrian Refugees

Read the Vox article “The Best Way the US Could Help Syrians: Open the Borders”

By Dylan Matthews

“Bombing is rarely the best way to help people.”

“Morality in foreign policy isn't about bombing bad guys. It's about helping people. And usually, the best way to do that won't involve bombings at all.”

Here’s a brief excerpt:

“Ultimately, the choice was whether to commit tens of billions of dollars, and tens of thousands of US ground troops, to implement a strategy that might have toppled Assad and saved thousands of lives, but which also might have made the conflict even more brutal than it's been. The latter was probably more likely, in fact. The cost would have been considerable in any case, and the benefit very uncertain. Compared with the benefits of letting Syrian refugees into the US, which we know are great, and the costs, which we know are small, that's not a very attractive proposition.

The best humanitarian interventions don't involve the military.

Cash transfers are an extremely effective humanitarian intervention that doesn't involve the military at all.

But [military bombing] enables a strange hypocrisy. The humanitarian interventionists who would've attacked Syria, and now mourn our failure to do so, aren't [increasing our] foreign aid budget in general, perhaps to 1 percent of gross national income, like Sweden, from merely 0.2 percent.

They're not calling for reforms that make it easier for USAID and other aid agencies to spend on highly effective projects that reduce child and maternal mortality. They're not calling on the US to eliminate all quotas and tariffs on goods from poor countries, as well as farm subsidies that make it harder for poor farmers in sub-Saharan Africa to export their goods. They're certainly not calling for a massive expansion in levels of immigration to the US from...the world's absolute poorest countries.
Plenty of people in Washington like restricting immigration, especially low-skilled immigration from poor countries. Plenty of people in Washington like the idea of cutting the foreign aid budget, or perhaps eliminating it altogether.

But it's not too late to help refugees. The boats are still sailing, and sinking. Children are still dying. People are still suffering. It's not too late for the US to heed the International Rescue Committee's call for us to resettle 65,000 refugees, not the paltry 1,434 we've resettled so far. It's not too late to do the International Rescue Committee one better and let in 200,000, 500,000, 1 million even. It's not too late to make Syrian refugees' lives dramatically better.
Morality in foreign policy isn't about bombing bad guys. It's about helping people. And usually, the best way to do that won't involve bombings at all."

by Dylan Matthews

Yes, what if the U.S. and many other wealthy countries such as Saudi Arabia, Germany, Iran, and many others drastically reduced their weapons and bombs budgets and funneled that money into restoration, reconciliation, development, and in the short-term immigration and refugee rescue?

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Thursday, September 3, 2015


The beginning draft of the start of one of my new novels--

To the People of Palestine and Israel--
that they may share in peace

An Eye for the Beheading

By Daniel Wilcox

Historical Prologue

Give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.”…Immediately the king sent an executioner with orders to bring John's head. He went and beheaded him in the prison.
Mark 6:25b, 27 New Testament of Bible

Beheading enemies is a very ancient custom. The Hebrew Bible describes David cutting off the head of Goliath and carrying it to Saul. It also mentions that the Philistines cut off the head of Saul.
1 Samuel 17:51, 1 Samuel 31:9-10

And pursued Midian, and brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon on the other side Jordan.
Judges 7:25
Led away from the presence of [Caesar] Nero…[the Apostle] Paul was beheaded on the Ostesian road.
The Acts of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul
When you encounter the unbelievers on the battlefield, strike off their heads.
Holy Quran, Sura 47

“Your Lord inspired the angels with the message: ‘I will terrorize the unbelievers. Therefore smite them on their necks and every joint and incapacitate them. Strike off their heads and cut off each of their fingers and toes.”
Qur’an 8:12

Behead: to cut off the head: decapitate
Webster’s 9th New Collegiate Dictionary
Heads up: used as a warning to look out for danger…
Merriam-Webster Dictionary

An eye for an eye: “…eye for eye, tooth for tooth. Just as he inflicted an injury upon a person, so shall it be inflicted upon him.” Leviticus 24:19-21

Violate/Violence: late 13c., "physical force used to inflict injury or damage," from Anglo-French and Old French violence, from Latin violentia "vehemence, impetuosity," from violentus "vehement, forcible," probably related to violare
Online Etymological Dictionary

Chapter 1: Sea-Dog
Pacific Ocean off the coast of Baja Mexico, June, 2017

Smoking debris filled the horizon as the smudged sun set on another aeronautical disaster. Pawing through swirling water and small waves, a Labrador retriever didn't know anything of plane dynamics or Islamic terrorism, only that it was very thirsty and hungry. And Few-Leg who loved it was missing.

Momentarily, the dog raised its head and barked roughly, but got salty water in its jowls and lapped--odd tasting. Barked. And paddled on. No sounds and no smells, except acrid ones.

The yellow retriever swam around a large cabin section, past more burning objects, past broken flight chairs, discolored suitcases, and charred bodies, but didn't find his owner. He paddled and paddled in amongst the hundreds of yards of abandoned things. Finally, tiring, the dog spotted a large chunk of meshed baggage that floated up ahead, swaying on the waves.

He swam toward the bunched plateau and on his 3rd try succeeded in climbing out of the oily water up on to it. The large dog’s nose sensed eatables and, hurriedly, he chewed through black webbing and a synthetic cover, until he got a plastic packet in its teeth, bit through that, and ate dried salmon, scarfing up delicious morsels.

Then the retriever lay down by the empty packet, put his jowls onto his fore-paws and slept. In the night it rained and rained. He woke in the heavy shower, and lapped shallow water which had accumulated in broken food containers and dips in the baggage.

Suddenly, the dog spotted movement over to the right on a large odd-shaped orange float. As yet no scent had come to him of anything living, but now a wet-man smell filled his nostrils, a little like his owner’s when they played in the surf at home in Maryland. But this wasn't his owner’s smell.

Getting up, the retriever growled and then barked. Repeatedly. And paced back and forth, with defensive hostility but yet interested to meet this other life. He hesitated whether to swim over to this human on the orange object as it floated closer on low waves, indistinct in the soft rain. Or stay at this safe place where plenty of food lay beneath his paws.

His keen ears picked up sounds coming from the man’s mouth.

“Here boy, come over here and help me.”

The human sounded friendly. But there was something wrong. The man’s right leg looked twisted, and discolored. The dog smelt blood. So it still hesitated.

Then suddenly a rogue wave shoved through acres of debris, and the storm began to harshen, lightening spiked down, and then thunderclaps ached in the retriever’s ears, followed by drenching, torrential rain. Wreckage on the high sea shuffled back and forth, various objects jostling and smashing into each other, and the orange float rolled closer toward the dog’s baggage-island.

The survivor tied his open Swiss-army can-opener to long length of rope, and then anxiously swung it through the downpour, and pulled back trying to catch the hook on any ridge or strap of the baggage. But it slipped across the webbing of the bunched suitcases and whipped into the heaving waves.

Trying over 30 times, but failing, failing…. Exhausted and weak from blood loss, the man wrapped rope around his torso, tying himself to the large orange float, then lay down and slept through incessant lashing rain.

Across churning waves, the wet dog on the other island, hungry again, pawed deeper into its life raft, dug deep into luggage until it found a sack of strange tasting meat and wolfed it down, filling the emptiness within. Then the dog bit and pawed further until he could squirm into the cavity, escaping the chill wind and torrent.

Later when the retriever woke from a short nap, he saw the human, again; it was up and swinging its long rope. Images of play came to the Lab; he barked excitedly, dove into the shoving waves and caught the rope as it rolled back away. Maybe this man, like his owner, wanted to play keep away. So the sea-dog swam back to its island, scrambled up on to the baggage, turned toward the slumped man’s float, and gritting its teeth pulled back on the taut rope, and backed up across the flat area behind him, uttering a friendly growl.

Just after a thunderclap, the animal heard the man yelling, “Yes! Good dog!” whatever that meant, not what his owner always said, but the voice sounded positive; and seemed excited, maybe liked to play. So the retriever continued pulling backwards, while the man pulled back.

Gradually, the two floating islands moved closer, though at times the rope almost ripped from the dog’s mouth, as counter waves crashed them away from each other. The man also had his end knotted around his waist.

When the rope slackened due to the downward swoop of a wave, the dog chewed on the wet cording; not like his rawhide bone, but enjoyable.

Soon the storm sea grew even more violent, rising waves becoming 7 footers, then 11, rocking and rolling the two life rafts. The rope got yanked back and forth, and the dog pulled back, and the man held on till his hands bled.

Despite wind and wave, the two life-rafts came within about 3 feet of each other on a downs-wing of a huge wave. Ignoring stabs from his broken leg, the survivor shouted, “Now or never!” and, desperately, did a one-legged jump toward the dog’s island. But it wasn’t enough.

Throwing out his arms, he clawed at the side of the dog’s baggage clump, but fell into the raging sea. He caught one hand on mesh, and finally managed to pull himself up, and squirmed onto the top, just as another large wave swept over them. He rolled dangerously close to being heaved back over the side of the baggage island, but managed to hold on. And the large yellow Lab pulled back again.

Then the rope fell slack as the baggage-clump slumped down into a dark canyon of water. And the man lay, almost unconscious from pain, too groggy to do anything. Blood seeped from his compound fracture. And he didn’t care.

The retriever backed up and growled. This wasn’t his owner. Lying down, he chewed on the rope end, jawing at the knife’s plastic sides.

Suddenly, a 15-footer crashed, almost washed both man and dog overboard. The cascade of water gouged through the human’s mental fog, and he opened his eye and pulled on the rope, “Let go, boy. I’ve gotta secure us.”

At first the dog wouldn’t but then lost interest in their contest and sat on its haunches watching this stranger.

The human untied the knife and slipped it into his jacket pocket, then took the loose rope end and began threading it through handles of suitcases. The dog watched, but growled whenever the man pushed the rope his way.

“There, there, boy, no offense. Just securing our two habitats.” But then a sharp pain ripped up from his broken leg and he moaned again. “Now then, what if I attach this end to that leather collar around your neck?”

Tensing, the retriever growled and prepared to attack if this man tried to grab him.

“Okay, I get it. You’ll share your land, but we’re not friends. Got it.”

While the surf rose to 15-foot rollers. The man fell unconscious, and the rain plummeted; in the down swoops, the retriever paced back and forth, but then later as the storm worsened, he belly-crawled over to the crumpled sleeper, sniffed, and finally lay down next to the man like he always did every night with his owner.

Morning came bright and cool, shining its brilliant sunlight down on the floating graveyard and its two castaways.

Chapter 2: Sniper Attack

News Alert Exclusive! KNXTV LOS ANGELES:
“There’s been a shooting in Orange County. Our reporter Shelia Cameron was on location doing interviews near South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa when shots rang out. One Muslim young woman has been wounded. No assailant has yet been apprehended.”

“The shooting took place during a noisy demonstration by over 103 Muslim students from the University of California Irvine and Orange Coast College. They are protesting Israel’s renewed bombings in Gaza 3 days ago.”

“That seriously injured woman hasn’t been identified, but she was flown by Medevac helicopter to Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach. Her condition is unknown at this time. Police are investigating the attack.”

Here’s the disturbing video from earlier:

>>“Free Palestine! Allah Akbar! God is great!”

Chanting rows of Muslim protesters walk up and down in front of South Coast Plaza near the 405 Freeway; carrying signs and waving Palestinian flags; some of them yelling to passing motorists.

Suddenly, there’s the unmistakable retort of several gunshots and one young woman lets go of her protest sign, spasms, and crumples to the concrete. Swathed from head to foot in Islamic clothes, she lays silent, red blooding her robe in the stomach area.

Chaos erupts. Screams and shouts in Arabic and Urdu—a few in English: “Oh my Allah! Help her! Where's the shooter? Protect the others!”

Camera footage jitters as the KNX-TV news crew tries to get past male protesters. Several angry men shove their hands up in front of the lens and shout angrily. Protesters run out onto Bristol Avenue; cars shriek to grinding stops. The harsh crunch of metal—two vehicles collide, a BMW smashes into the back of a Lexus.

More deafening shouts, a cacophony of horns blare; screams in Arabic, Urdu, and English; protesters running back and forth; the reporter Sheila Cameron loudly speaks into her microphone over the yelling, and repeats what has happened, is happening.

The newsreel camera videos the chaos; students shoulder around a line of head-covered women, and hold their hands out like shields; they scan the area--the Plaza buildings near Bloomingdales, and southward toward the 405 Freeway overpass. Fearful; expecting more gunshots.

Then everyone pulls out cellphones, punching numbers while the reporter pushes closer, continues to summarize the events.

But two Muslim young men shove Cameron back, knocking her mike to the pavement, and she falls and cries out. The camera jitters and blanks.<<

Back in the news room a somber newsman speaks again: “There’s our disturbing news alert. Fortunately, reporter Cameron wasn’t injured, nor our cameraman, Don Abinami, though the front of his video camera was damaged by angry protesters.”

“There you have it. Not war-torn Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, or Gaza but South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, where a young Muslim woman was shot at a protest march this morning, right here in safe and balmy Southern California; the dangerous violence erupted today at 9:13 am. Fast News Exclusive, always first on KNX-TV!
More updates at 6 and 11 tonight. This is Damon Sansant reporting. Good day.”

"Walidy! Walidy! Daddy! Where are you? Walidy, I'm hurt! I can't get up." Affifah tried to rise, but fell back in jagged pain. Momentarily, she blacked out then woke in a vague haze, and gazed around her. A thing up above…a clear bag hanging down—oh, an IV. Pain medication? But my side hurts so! Why!?

She glanced at the medical stem in her right arm and then slowly felt of her body with limp fingers; I’m almost unclothed! Only wearing a short skimpy shift. She tried to pull the sheet and blanket up higher over her body. "Ohh!" she shrieked. “Walidy!”

After an urge to vomit, Affifah lay still, agonizing, lost…Where's my robe? I don't hear Zarafah, my goat...oh yeah, I'm in America, studying, but where is Dalia, my roommate? This isn't our apartment. Oh, yes, I got shot! At the demonstration…

Later some of the excruciating pain eased. She opened her eyes focused, and again tried to sit up, but pains stabbed violently. With her fingers she felt down to where heavy bandages covered her side and abdomen. I got shot, but how’d I get here? What hospital? She couldn't remember. Where’s my brothers? Mother? My father? Anxious she yelled, "Walidy!"

No answer. Only a quiet hum of shiny technical equipment above her. Affifah looked across the pastel-shaded room--another bed, but privacy curtains were pulled. The young Palestinian could see a window’s top part over on the other side. But her mind fogged…it was hard to think.

Her friend and she were hiding from the imam in the closet. No, that was in Nablus, back home, in Palestine...we had been chasing...who? Couldn’t remember…

She drifted off again…was walking in the souk with her oldest brother, Aadil; shopping for a special present for, I’m kneeling, praying the Muslim call... in the small basement room of the Nablus mosque where women and girls worshiped.

But she couldn't remember the words! It’s so hot. And ceiling fans kept blowing papers into her face...worshipers' shoes kept tumbling down upon her from many shelves lining the walls….

She could hear words from Imam Bukhari broadcast through a speaker from the men's floor above. Oh, how her side ached, but the women in rows near her ignored her suffering and crying.

Suddenly, she heard herself scream out, "Help me, oh women of Sunni...There is no God but Allah and Mohammad is his messenger." Then nothing.

The cut-pain seemed less, so groggy…she touched her forehead again to the thick blue carpet…but instead found there in her face the damp page of her American literature textbook…large blocky print so unlike Arabic flowing scroll…she had fallen asleep reading very late…before an exam…trying to understand that Puritan Jonathan, she was chanting next to her grandmother and ma…her sister and her feeding chickens…a sudden agony in her side…Affifah screamed again. Then fell into darkness.

In her nightmare, chaos reigned near her home, explosions erupting. Jewish soldiers shooting, trying to kill her…no, her cousin…Later awaking…an imam shouting…reading my Qur'an, reciting sura…serving Walidy his favorite dish of—can’t remember! …oh musakhan and taboon bread…him sitting before our glaring, red lights and being hoisted—agony—into a white van…loud siren or her own screaming?…Nothing made sense...she wanted to sleep...sensed someone near her but couldn’t get her eyes open…the pain lessened again…I'll figure it out later, inshallah, I...

Affifah woke startled and shrieked. She couldn’t breathe. Her whole side burned with daggered fire, like torn open and red hot knives shoved deep into her vitals. She couldn't move. Her mouth clogged with sand, parched; she tried to reach for a water glass she saw through bleary vision by her bedside…

Hiccuping, and then gasping for breath, she finally breathed deep and calmed down. Looked across the room toward the other patient’s bed; the privacy curtains had been pulled back. An older lady lay still, but snored loudly; had bandages swathing her head. How could the woman sleep after my loud shrieks? Medicated, of course.

But my side still hurts! Where’s my medication?! The bag above her looked slack. Afifah punched the call button over and over and wept. "Walidy! Oh Allah!” She trembled violently, a blinking light up above seemed to go on forever.

Then came the sound of movement. A heavyset nurse with a pug nose leaned above her and fiddled with the IV. Then left without speaking.

Gradually, her grievous pain softened. Through the large window beyond the other patient’s bed, sunshine shone through glistening on metal cabinets. No doubt if I could get up and walk over there, I would be able see white breakers in the Pacific. I wonder if I could see surfers.

How she loved the ocean here. Had never seen it until coming to California. Growing up in the country of Palestine, (falsely called the West Bank by Americans), she had never seen the sea. Even though its waves washed up on a sandy beach less than 20 miles away from her family’s small apartment in Nablus, it might as well been the moon; for visiting the coast was forbidden by the Israeli Government.

Few Muslims ever got permission to go through all the checkpoints and past the Israeli Wall, and then through Jewish-controlled land, before finally reaching the Mediterranean Ocean.

Affifah still heard, in her memory, her grandmother wailing for hours, crying repeatedly the loss of her ancestral home in A-Bassa, an Arab fishing village in northern Galilee. “The Zionists, on a cold bitter day, that was in December 1948, came and stole our land, took away my dear house! Grampa had the key! It’s up near the Lebanese border. We had wonderful olive trees and the most beautiful garden.”

Her grandmother continued, weeping, “Not too far from those beautiful grottos in high cliffs. But when our martyrs drive out the Jews soon, inshallah, dear Affifah, you will get to see those grottos—so beautiful! Oh, Allah, why did I lose my home?” And her black clad elderly gramma would wail some more.

Oh Gramma, I miss you! Suddenly Affifah felt uncomfortable again. Where’s the nurse?! I need to go to the bathroom. Memories of her gramma’s plight fragmented away like a broken plate. She punched the call button. Finally, yelled.

“There, there, dear! Do you want me to call the nurse for you?” It was the older lady in the other bed. She had risen part way up from her pillow, her face wrinkled in concern. Her bandaged head like a genie’s or a mummy’s.

Affifah managed to suppress an agonized moan, and responded, “No, but thanks. I’ve already pushed the button.”

“You must be hurt very bad to be in such severe pain.”

“Yes. But how about you, grandmother?” And pointed at the huge swath of bandages on the elder woman’s head.

“Yeah, well, I get wobbly here at 87, can’t take my daily walks like I’m used to; for over 80 years, I’ve been a real walking dynamo. Two days ago, dear, I was out by my garage feeding the neighborhood cats, had set my cane down to put a little water in a dish, and wouldn’t you know it, over I go!”

She managed to sit up as she talked. “And I had to bang my head on the side of the brick flower bed. Really irritating.”

“Thanks to Allah! That you didn’t get hurt worse”—

“Oh dearie, the elderly woman interrupted, “you must be that young lady who got shot yesterday. I’m Martha Barnes. What’s your name? I saw that on the news. You falling down…Right here in Orange County! Shot?! What’s the world coming to? Well I know other places ‘re bad to worse. I watch more news than’s good for me. All them ISIS and HAMAS. But we got to keep informed don’t we? I guess you must be Muslim, yes? What did you say your name was?”

Finally the older woman paused, and the wounded student was able to answer. “Yes, that’s me. I’m glad to meet you. My name is Affifah. Thanks to Allah, most gracious, I survived—

“Well, well, glad to meet you too, but not here, if you know what I mean. Hospitals are no place to meet people. Where’re you from? Probably over there where they fight all the time, right?”

“I’m Palestinian, a foreign student on a scholarship to Orange Coast College, with a transfer plan to UC Irvine. To be a doctor. I was able to come to America several months a--”

The pug-nosed nurse came in, swung the privacy curtain closed and helped Affifah use the urinal. Then administered more sedative to her and she drifted off…

Later, she woke again. It was dark in the room, except for colored lights out the window, maybe ships or buildings along the coast-front. The gramma, Martha, was snoring loudly.

Affifah touched her bandaged side. Wish I was home in Nablus with my family, inshallah...NO! That would be worse. Daily patrols of Israelis...Be thankful. Allah is watching, most compassionate, most merciful. He knows best. I mustn’t keep complaining; I know that. Be thankful. And she slept, a troubled dreaming, where Zionists were standing over her and laughing while she cried.

Morning came. In the other bed, Martha was watching CNN on the TV monitor that jutted out from the corner. A bubbly reporter was interviewing Miley Cyrus. That scandalous actress stood near a fancy restaurant table wearing an obscene dress, showing most of her chest. Revolting. And, of course, her cropped hair uncovered.

No wonder our immam cautioned me against coming to America--even though he congratulated me on winning a medical scholarship.

“Well, dearie, you’ve finally woken up!” The elderly lady had turned to her, a big smile wrinkling her chubby face. “Feel better?”

“Yes, thanks to Allah, most compassionate”—

‘Here, here, you must be a very devout Muslim. Me, I’m lapsed Episcopalian, but got enough religion to know faith is important, but not enough to cause trouble, if you know what I mean—er sorry, didn’t mean to say anything negative. But the last news alert said more rockets have been fired into Damascus by Sunni rebels. Then Assad’s dropped barrel bombs and killed civilians. Now that ISIS beheaded another poor Muslim. I don’t get it.”

“Oh, yes, I know you’re Muslim! But you got attacked here…Makes no sense…No offense dearie, just speakin’ my mind. Why can’t we get all along with each other? Never mind…Tell me about yourself, otherwise I’ll keep talkin’, if you know what I mean.” And the older woman laughed, the droning of the news program ignored.

Affifah hesitated, not knowing how to explain complicated things like faith and the false heresy of the Shia, and of infidels like Assad and the Jews.

Finally she spoke, “My father, Walidly, back in Palestine, in Nablus, works a small falafel stand so he can’t send me enough for rent money; and my scholarship’s minimal; so while I take pre-med classes at Orange Coast College, I work as a live-in nurse care provider at Orange Board and Care 3 evenings a week.” She paused. But I won’t be there tonight….Why not? Oh, yes, I got shot….What was I saying? To whom? She couldn’t remember. She heard talk but drifted away….

Terrifying moments came back from the previous morning, swooped down on her like last summer when Israeli ‘copters raided a house 4 buildings down from their apartment in her home town. Only here—yesterday, there were no thunderous rotor blades…no, we were chanting, me and Dalia and Ghina and our friends, but…then incredible pain spasmed my side, a loud gunshot, and I collapsed. Screaming; then chaos. Can’t remember anything else. What happened next?

…She had been walking, carrying a placard next to Ghina, demonstrating with other students, mostly friends from UCI against more awful bombing by Israeli jets in Gaza last weekend—the Jews had killed so many again, and, also, because an Israeli professor was scheduled to speak at Orange Coast College.

But, oh, the cramping pain! How bad that had been for hours. However, now it was more manageable. She opened her eyes, and looked over toward the other patient, Martha, suddenly remembering she had been talking with her, but evidently had zoned out.

Night had fallen. Outside, through the window, Affifah could see lights like tiny stars along the coastal road, and beyond, the darkness of the Pacific Ocean. At least my pain level is way down.

She looked up at her IV and thanked Allah. Never had she dreamed she would be wounded by gunfire, not here America. Her cousin Hassan in Ramallah had been hit by a rubber bullet in the neck from an Israeli soldier’s gun. Two years ago. Had almost died, just for heaving a stone at a military jeep! But that’s occupied Palestine, her country, not America.

Chapter #3...To be continued

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Please Write to Saudi Arabia to Free Dr. Zuhair Kutbi

"Prominent Saudi Arabian writer Dr. Zuhair Kutbi has been detained without charge since 15 July, 2015. He was beaten during arrest and is at risk of torture and other ill-treatment. He is in need of medical attention. He is a prisoner of conscience.

Dr. Zuhair Kutbi, a prominent Saudi Arabian writer, commentator and critic, was taken from his home in the city of Mecca on 15 July by members of the security forces...and then beat him with their rifle butts, forced him into a car and drove him away."

"He was finally moved to the Mecca General Prison. He has not yet been charged. He is in need of medical attention as he is recovering from an operation for cancer, and has diabetes and high blood pressure.

It is believed that he was arrested because of comments he made on 25 June on the TV show Fi al-Samim (To the Point), on the Rotana Khalijia satellite channel, in which he criticized political repression in Saudi Arabia and argued for reforms such as transforming the country’s political system into a constitutional monarchy."
Amnesty USA

Please send a courteous email today to the Government of Saudi Arabia.

Ask the government of Saudi Arabia to release Dr. Zuhair Kutbi because he is a prisoner of conscience, jailed solely for exercising his right to freedom of expression.
Urge them to ensure that he is protected from torture and other ill-treatment, given immediate access to medical help, and that he be allowed to see his family.


King and Prime Minister
Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud
The Custodian of the two Holy Mosques
Office of His Majesty the King
Royal Court, Riyadh
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Fax: (via Ministry of the Interior)
011 966 11 403 3125 (please keep trying)
Twitter: @KingSalman
Salutation: Your Majesty

Minister of Interior
His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Naif bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud
Minister of Interior
Ministry of the Interior, P.O. Box 2933, Airport Road, Riyadh 11134 Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Fax: 011 966 11 403 3125 (please keep trying)
Salutation: Your Excellency

President, Human Rights Commission
Bandar Mohammed ‘Abdullah al-Aiban
Human Rights Commission
PO Box 58889, Riyadh 11515
King Fahd Road
Building No. 3, Riyadh
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Fax: 011 966 11 418 5101


Ambassador Adel A. Al-Jubeir, Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia
601 New Hampshire Ave. NW, Washington DC 20037
Fax: 1 202 944 5983 I Phone: 1 202 342 3800 I


A question sometimes asked: But will writing AI letters actually make any difference:

Yes! There are many cases where prisoners were released, or at least treated better.

One individual letter to one government usually doesn't help, but thousands of letters from various countries of the world to a government committing abuse, slaughter, or denying a person human rights, does
make a difference.

AI doesn't usually claim that a prisoner's release is because of AI letters. That can't be proven, and besides, would sound prideful.

However, governments are concerned with publicity. When they start getting lots of negative letters, even if they are very bad rulers, they usually will try and change a few things to look better, maybe even release one of thousands of prisoners. Just a blip to them.

And, amazingly, sometimes, human rights letters actually influence a leader in a bad government. The leader sees what his government is doing from a different perspective, realizes it is wrong.
Or the leader--for various reasons--has a huge change of heart and conscience, and the AI letter was one factor.

Remember the quote: "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."

― Howard Zinn

Thank you.

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox