Wednesday, March 30, 2016

How Writers 'Father' You

There is a story of an orphan who never knew his father. The latter had abandoned the family before he was born.
Then his mother died of cancer when he was 6.

When he reached young adulthood, the fatherless son searched and searched for years looking for any trace of his absentee father.

Finally, years later after diligent effort, a detective he had hired located the man who was now living in Portland, Oregon, married to another woman with 3 offspring who he was ignoring, too.

The fatherless son flew United, "the Friendly Skies," to Portland, anxious to meet his unknown father, but when he got to downtown, near the docks, he felt ambivalent and sat down on a quay, wondering whether he really wanted to meet.

Huge container ships and tankers moved through the rough dark waters of the Columbia River. In a way, he felt like Ismael.

Following directions that the investigator had given him, the orphan took a taxi to the posh address at shortly after sunrise, and walked up and down a wide winding sidewalk out in front of the ultra-mansion, until its owner, his father, came out the front door, and hailed the waiting taxi, got in and drove away.

The man's build was all wrong, stocky and compact; and he had walked with a lunge, as if about to attack some invisible enemy. His face was sharp with a large nose. Not at all like my skinny frame but prominent cheeks; must have gotten my body from my mother's side.

Suddenly, it hit him deeply that this stranger was of no interest to him, that he didn't know this rich man from Adam. At that he laughed, since by profession he, himself, was an evolutionary biologist and knew there had never been only one original father of the human race.

I may have gotten my genetic heritage from this stranger, but my real fathers (and my mothers besides my dying one) were the writers I read growing up, the thinkers that guided me when I had no father and had lost my mother.*


Well, of course, unlike this orphan, I did have a very dear father, one who used to take me fishing, hunting, and traveling, and guided me as to what was right and helped me later with major decisions. A man who stood by me, a real friend. And a warm idealistic mother who gave me and my sister a deep sense of equality and justice and diligence.

But in another sense, some of the authors I have read over the years have ‘fathered’ and 'mothered' me, too. Maybe even more deeply than my father and mother who gave me birth and guided me when I was young.

Our modern technology achieves what our human philosophy and literature set its goals on to do in the past. For instance, think of how many scientists got their start because of love of and inspiration from science fiction and speculative literature.

And think of famous humanitarians and social justice advocates who were first inspired by idealistic heroes in stories as kids.

For good or for ill, for joy and zest or sadness and Albert Einstein insisted, imagination is the creator of our future, not mere facts. Those are only the building blocks. Our creativity and goals are the schematics.

Where would we be without Verne, Wells, Kant, Descartes, Plato, Aristotle, Sophocles, Voltaire, Jefferson, Paine, Shakespeare, Eliot, Huxley, Orwell, Dickens, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Hugo, Basho, Blake, Whitman, Owen, Twain, Melville, Conrad, Kafka, Bradbury, Gandhi, Hegel, Marx, Hume, James, Locke, Darwin, Sagan, Gould, King, Farmer, etc.?

Where would I be without Thoreau, Bonhoeffer, Hawthorne, C. Bronte, F. O'Connor, Lewis, Nouwen, Merton, Tillich, Wiesel, Camus, Poe, Vonnegut, Thich Nhat Hanh,
even Millay, Kerouac, Hemingway, Steinbeck, Dennett, and Simmons?

What authors have 'fathered' and 'mothered' you in your life?

*Idea for story from educator Jim Burke

To be continued--


And while you are contemplating on and reflecting about your 'fathers' of the mind, consider reaching out to so many millions of orphans who need help and guidance and hope.

Contact World Vision or Oxfam, or another outreach organization that meets the needs of the young.
Don't listen to the negative siren song of skeptics who claim that all ethics are relative and subjective.

"Right the wrongs of poverty, hunger, and injustice." Oxfam

Sponsor a child with World Vision:

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

"Why Did You Come to Iraq to Kill?" asked the Muslim of the American.

A true story from Iraq of a dialog between a Muslim jihadist and an American soldier:

"...a young U.S. soldier and evangelical
Christian, Joshua Casteel, was sent to the prison to work
as an Arab language interrogator.

One day, during his interrogation of a self-described
jihadist from Saudi Arabia, the contradictions became all
too glaring.

Eager to trip up this composed and confident
young Saudi, Joshua asked him, "Why did you come to
Iraq to kill?"

The young Saudi quickly turned the question
back on Joshua, asking, “Why did you come here to

A lengthy discussion ensued in which both Joshua
and the young Saudi talked about their duty to their
people and their country...

Joshua noting his Christian
faith and the Saudi referencing his Muslim faith.

Finally, the young Saudi looked at Joshua and said,
“You claim to be a Christian, but you are not following
the teachings of Christ to love your enemies, to pray for
those that persecute you, and to turn the other cheek.”

Joshua immediately felt the irony of being schooled on
the Sermon on the Mount by a self-declared jihadist.

Joshua soon realized that he had lost all objectivity in the
interrogation and could no longer continue....

“We were both idealistic kids devoted to our people, and
devoted to our religions, willing to kill and to sacrifice...

"Wouldn’t it be great if we were both able to put down our
weapons and find a different path?”

This experience became the energizing catalyst leading
Joshua out of the military with a conscientious objector

Joshua’s vibrant voice for peace,
sparked in the dark cauldron of war,
blessed many until his death
from cancer in 2012."

from "Returning Veterans, Returning Hope"
The Peace and Justice Support Network

What a heart-breaker and healer of a true story!

Do you know of a another story that could be included with ones like these?

Live for Peace and Justice in the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Saturday, March 19, 2016

"I Dislike Red..." Versus The Case for Human Rights

Sounds good doesn't it? Human rights Justice, Equality, Honesty...

But almost every day in public, on the Internet, in books, in conversations, many human thinkers declare that ethics aren't objectively true,
have no basis in reality but are only subjective opinions,
temporary personal feelings,
and are only constructed by the human brain. No brain, no ethics.

Some claim that ethics are subjective and descriptive, not "ought" at all, because all existence is determinism from the Big Bang, so humans have no alternative choice.

Such smart thinkers have made these sorts of claims:

--I think coffee is tasty, and I think the Holocaust was wrong.

--Slavery is no more wrong than my dislike of the color red.

--Rape is a personal preference.

--The Nazis weren't absolutely wrong to execute others in the Holocaust.

--Morality is subjective.

--Murder and torture aren't always wrong.

--Ethics are only subjective likes and dislikes.

--Raping, molesting, and killing aren't wrong, but only "unpleasant."

--You are being an asshole if you think morality is objectively true.

--Objective moral truths don't exist.

--Altruism is a "misfiring" of evolution, "Darwinian mistakes."

--It is necessary to kill hundreds of thousands of civilians now in order to save our soldiers later.

What grossly immoral and irrational statements, such as comparing one's like or dislike of a drink with the torture and execution of 10 million innocent human beings:-(!

And claiming there are no human rights or no real justice.

I hope such relativistic individuals never serve on a jury where I live.

Contrary to what they are claiming, in a criminal trial, humans seek to be as objective as possible, to eliminate all personal preference and subjectivity, all "likes" and "dislikes," and to find out the truth and administer justice.

One time when I was in a jury selection process, another teacher and I were dismissed by the defense attorney, maybe because he thought we would be too hard on an older teen accused of abuse.

Ideally, he and the prosecuting attorney and the judge and the rest of the jury were there to achieve the most real and most fair justice possible.

Where does this increasing belief by atheists and others, that ethics aren't based in reality come from?

I'm not sure, but it is bafflingly incorrect.

Imagine trying to send a probe to Pluto like NASA did if everyone thought that math is a "self-construct," or "subjective," or a "personal preference," or only a only a group feeling or agreement!

Even more strangely, some of these thinkers who claim that ethics have no basis in reality also claim that math is a construct of the brain and will disappear when humans go extinct.


Long after we humans have ceased to exist, the cosmos will still continue to function by math.

Indeed, some mathematicians even think that reality is essentially math!

Even if all conscious life ceased the good, the just, the true, would still exist in the same way that mathematics would still exist even if there was no one to compute.

And where ever there is again somewhere in the cosmos, conscious self-aware rational creatures, they will consider reason, honesty, justice, courage, equality, generosity, fidelity, etc. as good and true,
irrationalism, dishonesty,injustice, cowardice, racism, greed, adultery, and disloyalty as bad and false.

As Martin Luther King Jr. stated strongly in his "Rediscovering Lost Values" speech, "The first is this-the first principle of value that we need to rediscover is
this-that all reality hinges on moral foundations."

"In other words, that this is a moral universe, and that there are moral laws of the universe, just as abiding as the physical laws."

"...some things are right and some things are wrong. (Yes) Eternally so, absolutely so. It’s wrong to hate..."

But, in contrast to this moral realism and related ethical truths based in the Enlightenment, many atheists and materialists, Divine Command Christians and Muslim leaders
claim that given a different situation and time,
slavery, slaughter, dishonesty could be what is good!

No wonder so few humans and governments actually practice human rights at present.

For at least 250 years, since the time of Thomas Paine and other rational thinkers, many humans have held that equality and human rights are true, and that inequality and the mistreatment and killing of others is wrong.

And the UN Declaration of Human Rights came out nearly 70 years ago, yet now most governments still don't practice human rights and so many American thinkers are denying their reality.

Consider this dialog:

Daniel:I don't live in Saudi Arabia, but it is wrong for every parent there and everywhere to mutilate female girls.

I don't live in Palestine/Israel, but it wrong for every human everywhere to slaughter innocent civilians such as the Palestinian young man who attacked a 70-year-old Jewish woman.

I don't live in Iran, but it is wrong for every society everywhere to deny freedom of speech and freedom of religion like the Iranian Government is doing.

Relativist: If ethics are objective, then why are they NOT wrong there in those countries?

Daniel: Because ethics are "ought," not what "is."

That's like asking why didn't people in the 14 century do calculus or launch space shuttles or cure malaria! Or for that matter why don't all humans do trigonometry?

The reason that millions of Muslims in Saudi Arabia and Egypt, Palestine, etc. still mutilate little female girls is for the same reason that many Americans still justify torture if it is done by us or are prejudiced--BECAUSE
they aren't living up to the reality of true ethics, but are still following some false immoral beliefs.

It's like asking why didn't humans stop the Black Plague? Because they followed false beliefs, and instead blamed Jews and witches and others for the millions of horrific deaths.

Only in the case of ethics, it's more complicated because a medical doctor can recognize germs and stop them, but that doesn't mean that every doctor will do what he ought!

Case in point: brilliant German doctors used their expertise to do immoral experiments on thousands of Jewish individuals. Russian scientists sent sane people to mental institutions and injected them with drugs.

Objective morality and human rights mean that genital mutilation is never right. In the here and now, everywhere. And if there is a conscious, reasoning, ethical alien race somewhere in a far off galaxy, it is wrong there, too.

Ethics and human rights are a constant challenge of what "ought" to be done. Ethics are transcendent, not instinctive.

Another example which shows that ethics aren't subjective:

Recently, a few famous journalists faked their reports, used plagiarism, and gave false information intentionally.

Notice, journalism authorities, newspapers, and the courts didn't say, "Well, ethics are subjective personal preferences, so no problem. Do your own thing."

No, the journalists were penalized, because dishonesty isn't a "subjective personal preference."

Not at all.

Another increasing problem in colleges and schools--cheating!

Is the cheating seen as a "personal preference" by the university, like it's only a student's favorite drink or favorite color?

No way. Students are often expelled for such immoral actions.

Honesty, human rights, justice, peace, kindness, compassion, etc. are objectively true--what "ought to be."


From Philosophy Basics:
"Moral Realism (or Moral Objectivism) is the meta-ethical view (see the section on Ethics) that there exist such things as moral facts and moral values, and that these are objective and independent of our perception of them or our beliefs, feelings or other attitudes towards them. Therefore, moral judgments describe moral facts, which are as certain in their own way as mathematical facts.

It is a cognitivist view in that it holds that ethical sentences express valid propositions (and are therefore "truth-apt" i.e. they are able to be true or false), and that they describe the state of the real world. It contrasts with various types of Moral Anti-Realism, including non-cognitivist or expressivist theories of moral judgment, error theories, fictionalist theories and constructivist or relativist theories.

Moral Realism has the advantage of purportedly allowing the ordinary rules of logic to be applied straightforwardly to moral statements, (so that we can say, for example, that a moral belief is false or unjustified or contradictory in the same way we would about a factual belief). It also allows for the resolution of moral disagreements, because if two moral beliefs contradict one another, Moral Realism (unlike some other meta-ethical systems) says that they cannot both be right and so there should be some way of resolving the situation.

Critics have argued that, while Moral Realism may be able to explain how to resolve moral conflicts, it cannot explain how these conflicts arose in the first place. Others have argued Moral Realism posits a kind of "moral fact" which is non-material and unobservable (in the way as objective material facts are observable), and therefore not accessible to the scientific method.

Plato and (arguably) Immanuel Kant and Karl Marx were moral realists, as well as more contemporary philosophers such as G. E. Moore and Ayn Rand..."


Consciousness, ethics, aesthetics, math, reason, human rights, justice, altruism, etc. are 'inherent' and 'transcendent.'

They are objectively true.

Reason, the Good, the True, the Just, the Beautiful are eternal.

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Deleting Empty-Bucket Words: God, Spirit, Love

For a long time, I and many others have been frustrated with 3 words: God, Spirit, and Love.

So much miscommunication with only 3 terms!

Because each of those words has so many different contrary meanings--so many contradictory fillings, that in articles, books, debates, group conversations, and dialogues, they almost mean
both nothing and everything.

Each is an empty bucket.

God, for instance, is a series of squiggles and a sound that various groups of humans pour/dump/force opposite stuff into whether it’s gold, pyrite, sludge, or manure.

And this has been going on for thousands of years among billions of humans in various diverse societies and social groups.

Repeatedly, when I’ve stated why I think God is real, atheists have belittled and denied the term as fallacious, while all sorts of religionists have strongly agreed and affirmed the Supreme Being.

But then confused chaos--semantic hell hurricanes up.

What the atheists and the religionists mean by the term is totally contrary to everything I think.

Indeed, often their negative or positive definitions of "God" are so horrific, they exceed all of my worst nightmares.

In the last couple of years, I have documented many detailed examples of this semantic confusion, this empty-bucket-ness. And it only seems to be getting worse.

While the basic definition in the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary:
"God: 1 capitalized : the supreme or ultimate reality,"
is denotative and open enough for myself, it doesn't work for many others.

Since, there is plenty of evidence already given on the confusions, I am going to jump right to suggestions for new terms.

Transcendent Reality, (or Ultimate or Essential) with an emphasis upon the concept that T.U.E.R. is “beyond” matter and energy.

Of course, already a few atheists have responded with the question what is “ultimate”?

That’s why I also mention “transcendent” and “essential,” and then recommend such questioners to the dictionary.

At least “ultimate reality” dispenses with the caricature that most atheists insist

the word “god” means—an “invisible super-omni-man in the sky.”

Where they got this simplistic, anthropomorphic view of God, I’m not sure,
but most theists don't think that is what God means.

I never thought God was an invisible powerful man in the sky,
not even when I was 8 years old, and a devout fundamentalist Baptist.

My new term will also, hopefully, unsettle religionists, and help them realize that I don’t believe in the God of creedal Christianity, Islam, Judaism, or Hinduism.

Love: Compassion, empathy, kindness, benevolence, altruism.

When I say that all humans ought to focus on ultimate reality and be compassionate and empathetic to all others, hopefully, that will be more clear than the old words and phrases.

Wish me luck;-).

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Shimmering Pebbles in the Light Stream

wind shimmer

dying leaves fluttering
oaks and aspen into glory

-Daniel Wilcox

Lapping Ideas

Backstroking across the ceiling
white gulls of light arching
wing refraction

from high intensity bulbs above
that shekel-flash on blue body waves of the pool
bright incandescent--transcendent--lights

swimming in this liquid marble
strikes of 'lightening' broken
and broken on the waves
like archetypes that shimmer in this cavern...

First pub. in The Centrifugal Eye,
also in Front Porch Review

red ruin

red canyon
below a forrest rim
beneath that arch of power
in the monolith of rock,

a sheer cliff
and beyond,
breaking down
in the abyss
of history


walking the night

saplings blacken along
the sidewalk against the misted night,

a refracted light sky over
wrought iron candelabras on stands
in the coasted evening

First pub. in Writer’s Ink


surreal morning

bulky morro rock f l o a t s
heavy on the narrow gray
ocean fog strata, sedimentary air

while the ocean's soapy crashing
churns combustible froth
and advances up the shore;

the sun, orange
in the fogged foam below

the floating ghost ship

First pub. in Erbacce,
United Kingdom


Human Imitation

North of Duluth
I muse, mentally drooling
Over lake-shrouded woods,

Jotting scribble notes and
Fumbling with my camera lens,

Then I spot the enormous moose.

First pub. in Bigger Stones


Cambria in Gray

Down the fogged
June of ocean
Road gloom,
Smog of a coastal fire,
Sparked mistake;

Black and white flakes
Confetti ash down,
Cover our hood and roof
Gray ‘mourning’--
Dust to dust,
Ash to ash

First pub. in
The Houston Literary


sunset beach

on the beach street,
date palms stood up
in the crimson sky
feather dusting
the dusky night


A purple jacaranda
van-goghed our clay yard
violet-peppering into paint,


Rock Life

White-capped wind roars around
Huge volcanic buttes swimming north
Off the Oregon Coast

Like asymmetrical gray whales
Leaving splashing trails of white water
Behind in the slate green ocean

Yes, waves churning around
The behemoths, frothing

First pub. The Houston
Literary Review


after the loss

all my nerves torn loose
in the streets dancing jangles
staccatoed electric wires
ripped loose from our telephone
souled dangerous lightning night

First pub. in Mad Swirl


her strands

lighter than hair plain
her cascade of sunned strands--
his flight of calloused hands

First pub. in Writer's Ink


our ranch bed

icebergs in puddles
by her wet cowboy boots--
our global warming


shadowed garden

in the long backlawn,
ansel-adam shadows

grow in the late afternoon
extending across the grass,
shading the steel dog dish.

the hula hoop, and wagon--
a one-dimensional garden
slowly tended
by the leaving sun
only to be hoed under by the dusk

First pub. in
The Green Silk Journal


Southern Utah

eye-widening rock,
brilliant sheened sharp
pastels bold in this sun-lighted reign
of million'd wonder,

this rock garden
sandstone temple of
Absolute Being


Live Branch Reach

Writhing twists of growing
Corded effort stretched
Out westward

From the knotted
Shadow dark
Bright sunlight
On the contorted
Slow-year braided flow,

Dry boulders,
On the sand-creeked

Stretched wooden waves

Intertwined effort
Live branch reach

Flowing west with new green growth
Behind and above
The under shadows
On that barred river sand,

Living driftwood river

First published in
Western Friend Magazine,
also in Willows Wept Review and
selah river poetry collection

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

from Beyond 5: Ask Questions about Syria

Ask your Syria Questions
from Beyond 5

"Beyond 5 is a community of everyday advocates...who refuse to accept that 16,000 children should die daily of preventable causes before reaching their fifth birthday. We are committed to working together through 2015 and beyond to help dramatically lower that number."

March 14, 2016

"Stephanie Hammond, World Vision policy adviser for global conflicts and natural disasters, recently returned from Serbia where she visited World Vision relief programs along the Balkan refugee migration route.

"Walking down the row of buses in Šid, I noticed a refugee mother and her young child getting water at a pump attached to the back of a truck. As I began to talk with her, she told me more about her 6-year-old daughter."

Majida’s daughter holds her mother’s hand. ©2015 World Vision/Stephanie Hammond

"She pointed to her daughter’s left leg and said she had broken it when they were taken by smugglers through Turkey. Majida’s hands rolled up and down as she told me about the mountainous journey through Turkey."

“I dream about my daughter’s future in Europe and the person she will grow up to be,” Majida told me. As she said these words, I looked down at her daughter, who was smiling back and me and making her two hands into a heart. When our eyes met, she blushed and hid her head against her mother’s side.

"Let us not forget these refugees: they have endured year after year of war, lost loved ones, and have had their homes destroyed. Now they simply want to regain for themselves and their children a hope for the future they once had and a place to call home."

"This week Beyond 5 will be in Washington, D.C., to mark the five year anniversary of the war in Syria – a war that has forced more than 4.8 million people to flee their homeland, including an estimated half of these people being Syrian refugee children.

What are your questions about the refugee crisis?

What do you want to know?

What would you like to tell Congress?

Email your question to

Share your question on Twitter with @WVUSadvocacy and #MySyriaQuestion

...our panel of experts who will convene in Washington, D.C. In addition to answering your questions, our experts will testify in front of members of Congress and meet with the State Department to talk about the impact Syria’s war and the refugee crisis is having on children.

Frances the Advocacy Director for World Vision International’s Syria Crisis Response. Frances oversees policy development and humanitarian advocacy programs across Turkey, Northern Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan.

Frances is a conflict policy specialist with over seven years of experience in research and practice across Africa and the Middle East. She has been based in Senegal, Mali, eastern DRC and now in Amman, Jordan. Frances holds a Masters of Science from University College London, specializing in international public policy...

Wynn currently World Vision’s Syria Crisis Response Director based in Amman, Jordan. In this role he oversees World Vision’s work related in North Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and the Kurdish Region of Iraq related to the crisis.

Stephanie L. Hammond serves as the World Vision policy advisor for global conflicts and natural disasters. In this role, Stephanie focuses on the global refugee crisis and humanitarian emergencies and response.

Stephanie previously was a foreign policy advisor in the U.S. Congress for over five years and focused on human rights, religious persecution, global health, religious freedom, and refugee issues....Stephanie graduated summa cum laude from Washington University in St. Louis where she completed a thesis on the early history of the British eugenics movement with the history and biology departments.

Mark C. Smith works as World Vision’s senior director for humanitarian emergencies. Prior to joining World Vision’s team in Washington, D.C., Mark was the senior development and fundraising specialist for the American Red Cross. He has also worked with World Relief as the disaster response director..."

Rescue the perishing!

Live in the Light.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Quakerism and the Rejection of the Arts

Quakerism was one of many wild flowers of an egalitarian revolution and spiritual seeking movement that sprouted and bloomed in England during the late 1640's.

It was part of the vast social, political and spiritual upheaval known as the English Civil War and the 30 Years War (on the European Continent). So much of the great change was very uncivil and drastically unspiritual, but amidst all of the bloodletting and destroying, many people also turned to the spiritual.

The vast conflagration killed millions and devastated the landscape. The main opposing movements of the Reformed/Puritans versus the Roman Catholics slaughtered many hundreds of thousands of European and English people.

Their beliefs led the soldiers to claim the predestination of billions of humans to eternal torture; they ravaged cities and countrysides, lied, stole, and destroyed thousands of works of art, sculpture, etc.

Historians write that almost a 1/3 of eastern Europe was destroyed. In England, Scotland, and Ireland so many were killed, harmed, and suffered, it changed a whole generation.

And all of them did this in tne name of Jesus giving God the thanks:-( The Puritans even marched into killing singing Bible verses.

Thankfully, most of leaders of the early Quaker movement, (at first termed the “Children of Light), turned away from all that endless savagery, slaughter, and mayhem.

Other Puritan influences on early Quakers were also negative, but most Quakers didn't go around slaughtering others as did the Puritans against the Roman Catholic Augustinians.

Quakers did adopt the rejection of artistic expression that characterized most of the Puritan/Reformed movement. They were all trying to "reform" and “purify” the Christian Church.

Fortunately, Quakers didn’t destroy thousands of works of art and beauty like the Puritan armies (which were much worse in this than the modern day Islamic State and Taliban who have blown up and bulldozed art treasures).

However, artistic expression was considered immoral. The brilliant musician and Quaker Solomon Eccles destroyed his own musical instruments:-(.

With this turning from aesthetics, drama, poetry, however, there was one wonderful counter result, early Friends turned inward to seek only the mystical beauty of the Light there.

So for a very long time Quakerism prohibited or took a dim view of artistic and literary creations, particularly dancing, drama, painting, sculpture, fiction, poetry, and architecture.

This led to a deep impoverishment toward creativity in the arts.

Even a century later, John Woolman, while so in ethics that he early on experienced from God the truth of the evil of slavery, yet he believed that poetry should be opposed.

It wasn’t until in the 1800’s that a little art in painting and in poetry bloomed in the Society’s austere desert.

Of course not all Friends or religious historians think this rejection of the arts was bad like I do.

I do need to show my cards (bad analogy since card-playing and other games were also banned by Friends).

I am an biased against all this prohibition and dismissal, because I am an artist and writer. Being an art major for 2 years at university, an oil acrylic, tempra painter, and earning my B.A. in Creative Writing gives me a very different perspective.

So, yes, I admit I am strongly against the early Friends opposition to aesthetics, and all the other bad influences from the Puritan/Reformed for that matter.

However, it is important to point out that part of Puritan reaction against aesthetics came about because of the gross immorality in Protestant and Roman Catholic culture and society, especially among aristocrats and the rich (the ones who could afford to pay for art, painting, sculpture, drama, and fancy clothes).

Look at modern western culture now. Media is often used to glorify what is base, vulgar, and even evil. Huge amounts of money--billions of dollars--are spent and made today by Hollywood and Internet for salacious and pornographic ‘art.’

Consider the amazingly creative and technically brilliant TV show, Sense8, by the Wachowskis siblings who gave the public, The Matrix.

Without a doubt, that show is one of the most creative, thoughtful, reflective, at times very compassionate, and artistic achievements in modern cinema.

But the show is also a modern paean to gross immorality, deep praise of the superficial, the untrue, the impure and the evil.

How is that possible?

Humans so often turn the very best to glorify the very worst.

On the other hand, other creative humans use the arts to bring the Good, the True, the Just, and the Beautiful to Light for all to experience.

Without the arts, we humans would be greatly impoverished.

Consider this:

Many modern Quakers emphasize silence, and most modern day Puritans (Reformed/Calvinists/Muslims) emphasize lecture.

But many, probably most, humans aren’t silent or lecture learners, but DO grow spiritually through artistic expression.

Which would most of the humans in your city or town prefer to go to a 2-hour sermon?

A 2-hour time of mostly silence?

Or a 2-hour movie?


I've spent many hours in silent meditation, prayer, open unprogrammed worship, and reflection...

and am an aficinado of long lectures on history and religion and spirituality...

but my first love is the artistic, the poetic, the visual, the creative!

Brief history of Quakers and their later responses to the artistic rejection:

In the early 1800's, Bernard Barton, later called "the Quaker poet", wrote an aesthetic article justifying the arts. His main poem, "The Convict's Appeal," protested against the harsh British system of criminal justice, especially its use of the Death Penalty for many offenses.

Keep in mind however, that even on ethical issues, Quakers were often uncreative and almost passive. Partially because of such intense persecution, Friends had rejected and turned away from their very early expressive, revolutionary vision and became traditional, conservative, and often rigid.

In the modern era, many look back and credit the Quakers with abolition, but that is only seeing a few Quaker peaks. Actually most Quakers until the late 18th century owned slaves or supported slavery. Many of the ships which transported slaves were Quaker owned!

Even worse, a Massachusetts Yearly Meeting of the Society of Friends "in 1837 voted not to permit anti-slavery lectures at Quaker Meeting Houses...!"

The rising poet, John Greenleef Whittier said "he could never again be the representative to the Yearly Meeting...Although he did not believe Quakers should sing in Meetings, he wrote over 100 hymns, mostly for other denominations, many of which are still sung in Protestant churches today."
North Shore Community College

"George Fox had a very definite 'puritan' view of the arts. To him these 'jests and toys' were nothing but a distraction from God and Truth and as such were to be entirely avoided by Friends. The only purpose of sports, games, poetry, plays and music as far as he and other early Quakers were concerned was to while away time that should be dedicated to a higher and more serious end."

"Another objection to the arts was that they were not true. Plays were particular offenders here as not only was the story being told not real but actors dressed up and pretended to be someone else!"

Some serious religious poetry was allowed for private personal devotion.

In 1799, Elizabeth Fry, the Quaker prison reformer, wrote,
"How much my natural heart does love to sing: but if I give way to the ecstasy singing sometimes produces in my mind, it carries me far beyond the centre; it increases all the wild passions, and works on enthusiasm."

"Many say and think it leads to religion, but true religion appears to me to be in a deeper recess of the heart..."

However later she did write,
"My observation of human nature and the different things that affect it frequently leads me to regret that we as a Society so wholly give up delighting the ear by sound."

"Surely He who formed the ear and the heart would not have given these tastes and powers without some purpose for them."

"Paintings were seen as superfluous decoration and portraits were particularly frowned on as leading to personal vanity. This is the reason why there are so few contemporary representations of Quakers in the 17th and early 18th centuries."

"In 1846 for example London Yearly Meeting minuted 'We believe [music] to be both in its acquisition and its practice, unfavorable to the health of the soul. . . .'"
Quaker and retired librarian, Gil S.

Some Quaker thinking showed the anti-humanistic influence of the Reformed and the Augustinian views (even though all Friends rejected those horrific theologies). In regards to paintings of families and portraits:

"Sorrowful it is...Shallow indeed must be the religion of him who knows not that in himself, as a man, dwelleth no good thing."
from The Friend, Philadelphia

Such an extremely negative view of humanity and the arts started to gradually change. Consider the beautiful painting, The Peaceable Kingdom , by Edward Hicks, 1830:

And by 1895 Quaker leader William Charles Braithwaite wrote,
"It needs to be recognized that our Society has not escaped the tendency to narrow down spiritual action to certain prescribed ways as a substitute for the reality of the spiritual life."

"For example, while Friends have been among the pioneers of modern science they have, until recent years, repressed all taste for the fine arts."

"These, at their greatest, always contain some revelation of the Spirit of God, which is in the fullest harmony with our spiritual faith."

"In the fields of music, art, and literature, as in others, Friends may witness to the glory of God and advance that glory by their service."

At present, we have fine Quaker organizations who support the arts such as the Fellowship of Quakers in the Arts and the Quaker Arts Network.

Also some contemporary Friends leaders such as Jan de Hartog and Chuck Fager have written fiction.

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Compassionate Listening and the Parliament of the World’s Religions

From a news clipping in my files concerning the Parliament of World Religions:

Allegedly, “it was a celebration of religious unity, but last week’s Parliament of the World’s Religions at times resembled a controlled brawl lurching from argument to argument with almost embarrassing regularity. Police had to break up a shouting and shoving match among Sikh, Hindu, and Muslim delegates.”

"The presence of pagans so offended Orthodox Christians that they left the gathering. Later four Jewish organizations followed them out of Chicago, objecting to the presence of...the Nation of Islam. Evangelical Christians boycotted.”
Chuck Lindell, Cox News Service

Hopefully, there was less rancor and more compassionate listening at this year's meeting.

However, “religious disagreement is inevitable...I think what most often blocks friendly disagreement is that we don’t know people of other religions, and we misunderstand them.”
Terry Muck

On the contrary, more often than not, the problem isn’t that we don’t "know people of other religions" and that we don't understand other religions or other ideologies, but that we, oh so tragically,

As the old saying goes, the devil is in the details.

Outwardly, on first glance, looking at their forward advertising, most religions and ideologies smile and pronounce the usual platitudes--follow the Golden Rule,
be nice,
and don’t step on others’ blue suede shoes;-)

Repeat--but the devil is in the details!

The horrors are in the very real twisted philosophy and theology of these various belief systems that cause and or lead to so much suffering and harm and destruction of others in our world.

Yes, there are distorted cliches. Once upon a time, before the hurricane of adulthood, most of us were children of hope and innocence, well, naivety.

But even then, there were the generic labeled bad guys--from the communists to the Catholics.

Raised in moderate Baptist fundamentalism, my parents and church taught my sister and I the usual Nebraska 1950 prejudices--that Catholics weren’t Christians, liberals were awful, hard fundamentalists mean, and Pentecostals (which included our dear uncle and aunt) confused.

But as kids my sister and I didn’t know the details. Later as we grew and encountered these enemies, we learned that other worldviews were sometimes much better than the bad descriptions but, too often, actually much worse.

The demon was in the details of the religions' central beliefs and destructive actions.

Real Examples:

God will call you to sometimes commit immoral actions because God is sovereign will and so decides what is good and what is evil.

God created evil.

Malaria and cancer aren’t wrong.

Those humans who criticize our God and our holy book, and our leaders ought to be arrested, jailed, and executed.

God planned the Jewish Holocaust and 9/11.

God is sovereign and before creation planned for the eternal damnation of most human beings. He creates every infant at conception, “in essence, evil.”

Murder and rape and molestation can easily be forgiven but not failure to believe in our creed.

Husbands can beat their wives and women must submit to men.

Women must wear coverings over all of their body and hair.

Little girls should have their private parts mutilated.

Every human is born totally depraved because of what Adam did.

The atom bomb is "God's gift to America."

There are many Gods; there are no Gods.

Killing others for God is good and makes us heroes and "martyrs."

God is both good and evil.

God is only concerned with his own glory and planned all evil to give him glory and "good pleasure."

All other religions are of the Devil.


It is difficult to listen with compassionate and empathetic listening, when the person opposite from you spouts horrific beliefs and supports unjust actions which are leading to great suffering, harm, and tragedy for others.

Even seemingly caring religious leaders can disconcert and confuse. Consider this caring quote: “Compassionate Listening is a process rather than a product. It is healing precisely because it does not pretend to ‘have the answers.’ Rather, it engages the participants in processes that have each side seeing the humanity of the other, even when they disagree.”
Rabbi David Zaslow, Ashland Oregon

Sounds so good. But then consider what the Rabbi also wrote! In his book, Jesus, First Century Rabbi, he states that God created evil and is also the opposite of love and the opposite of light!

Then Zaslow quotes “God says, ‘I form the light, and create darkness. I make peace, and create evil. I the LORD do all these things” (Isaiah 45:7 in the Jewish Bible). According to him, “...and always the satan is sent by God for us to overcome.”

Now, Zaslow does backtrack and contradict himself in later pages, but such initial statements are still troubling and confusing—definitely not helpful toward compassion or good listening.

Evidently, he emphasizes the extreme statements to shock the reader, but he also really believes them!

How so unlike other modern American Jewish leaders such as the endearing, caring Rabbi Albert L. Lewis, in Have a Little Faith by Mitch Albom or the Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, who focused on the positive and abhorred what is wrong.

Declaring God started evil and sends evil! That is very troubling.


“Do not be too quick to assume your enemy is a savage just because he is your enemy. Perhaps he is your enemy because he thinks you are a savage. Or perhaps he is afraid of you because he feels that you are afraid of him. And perhaps if he believed you are capable of loving him he would no longer be your enemy.”
Thomas Merton, Seeds of Contemplation


A January 2002 Interview with Gene Knudsen Hoffman
Gene Knudsen Hoffman, founder of Compassionate Listening, after being influenced by Thich Nhat Hanh, the Buddhist monk who was nominated for the Nobel Prize for his work with opposite sides in the Vietnam War.

Interviewer: "What is the nature of nonviolence?"

Hoffoman: "I don't like the term nonviolence any more. I feel closer to Gandhi when he says truth force, God. I'm a Quaker and I've been involved with peace for fifty years."

Interviewer: "What makes peacemaking so slow a process?"

"First of all, people don't believe in peace, in my opinion. We have never known peace. We don't even admit that we have been in many wars, so why should we make peace? We have talked about ourselves, at least Americans, as being a peaceful people until we believe it no matter what we do. It's a shocking thing. It's a practice of denial."

"Just not facing the reality. We are always calling other people war criminals, yet we're the ones who dropped the first atom bomb."

"We don't live with that reality. It is always the other person, like an untutored child who is always blaming someone else. We're in great denial about it."

"I discovered something in 1985 as I was going around the world looking for new peace initiatives and touring peace centers. I went to a Quaker meeting in London and outside the meeting was a huge sign, 'Meeting For Worship For The Torturers And The Tortured.'"

"I'd never heard of anything like that; I mean, listen to the torturers? Then I decided that I was going to listen to everyone and everything. I started listening to both sides. We can never make peace until we can listen to both sides. No matter who is the enemy."

Interviewer: "If then peacemaking is such slow work because it is the continual struggle to face reality, and also a continual struggle with self-interest, how do you get opposing people to listen to each other?"

Hoffman: "I maintain that we must listen to the oppressor as a human being. The oppressor has grievances, suffering, and we have to listen to both sides. An enemy is a person whose story we have not heard."

"In the beginning you have them listen separately. They get their anger out. They get out everything they feel. They talk about it for a year before they do anything."

"What happens is that as you listen, you change. It's a transformation. People are never listened to as much as they need to be, [especially] children and certain criminal types. It doesn't mean the oppressors are right."

"It doesn't mean you agree with them, and the people have to know this before you go in. It doesn't mean you agree with them, but you look for the truth. You have to discern the truth. It's a process of discernment and intuition and listening."

So am I willing to listen to those who claim God wills evil, who predestines most humans to eternal torture, who consider little infants, "in essence, evil," who are prejudiced against women, minorities, and other humans as inferior, who advocate that nuclear weapons are good, that life is meaningless and purposeless, that ethics are only "personal preference," etc.?

I try. But it's difficult!

Because I've lived where Muslim jihadists shot up innocent people, personally known many individuals who tragically suffer and are allegedly eternally damned by others, have seen the destructive results of prejudice, injustice, and human rights violations and saw the destructive results of determinism and of the denial of objective ethics by various religious and ideological groups.

But we do need to listen, or we become in our own way, like our enemies.

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Review of Primitivism, Radicalism, and the Lamb's War

For those interested in early Quakerism versus creedal Christianity, this scholarly volume on "The Baptist-Quaker Conflict in 17th Century England" will bring historical light to the subject. The book is by T.L. Underwood, published in the Oxford Studies in Historical Theology by Oxford University Press.

The study shows the striking contrast between Calvinistic Baptists and the the early Friends Movement on issues such as the Light, the Holy Spirit, the nature and purpose of Scripture, etc.

Also, the book shows how the Quaker emphasis on God's love for everyone, and everyone being capable of ethical choice
is totally contrary
to the horrific views of Reformed/Calvinism
(that billions of us including Quakers are predestined to Hell).

A few quotes:

"The most telling arguments that Friends used...were based on their concept of the nature of God, who because of love and mercy was unwilling that people should live and die in sin."

"Here the Quakers reacted strongly against the Calvinist doctrine of predestination. How could a God of love condemn the major portion of humankind to destruction?"

In response to the Friends' universalistic views--that God loves everyone,
the Calvinist John "Tombes reportedly concluded, 'When I mean to Go to Hell, I will go among the Quakers.'"

Much of the book's historical background and analysis is taken up with the Quaker's view of the Light and the Holy Spirit versus the Calvinists' contrary theology with a focus on a fundamentalistic interpretation of the Bible.

"Friends strongly disagreed. The Bible, they argued, had been inspired by the Spirit...surely therefore , the Spirit, not the Bible, ought to be the rule of Christians."

The Calvinist John Tombes met and contended against George Fox. And he wrote an anti-Quaker tract called "The Old Light Exalted Above the Pretended New Light," against "the Quaker, Arminian, and other Assertors of Universal Grace."

I am very thankful for the witness of George Fox and other Friends for the "ocean of light" and against the horrific religion of the Reformed.

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Paradoxical Truths to Live By

Why Are These Behaviors Immoral? Yet Many Claim They Are Good?

#1 Polyamory

#2 Polygamy

#3 Promiscuity

#5 Pornography

Prostitution--selling sex (now called "sex worker") for money; what is meant to be an expression of intimacy between two committed individuals in romantic passion becomes the use of humans as objects for commerce

#6 Profanity-Obscenity

#7 Purity Culture--obsession with women as objects related to men's "honor"--in Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, etc.

#8 Pride “Patriotism”--Nationalism; "God Bless US"

#9 Propaganda--Merriam-Webster Dictionary: "ideas or statements that are often false or exaggerated and that are spread in order to help a cause, a political leader, a government...;"

Almost all government officials and political leaders of all countries incessantly use propaganda.

Tragic historical example of propaganda: The U.S. government falsely reported in the late summer of 1964 that Vietnam had attacked U.S. ships. Quickly, the so-called Gulf of Tonkin Resolution was passed which dramatically increased the U.S. war attacks there.

Millions suffered and died because of lying by the American Government. Not that the Government of Vietnam was any more truthful. It also filled the airways with lies.

Another example: Justification by the U.S. for invasion of Iraq in both Gulf Wars; even though Saddam Hussein was a ruthless killer, the U.S had previously supported him in his other invasion, that of Iran!

Even more strangely, the U.S. has for many years supported Saudi Arabia, even though that government/country is much worse in human rights violations, persecution, and injustice than Iraq!

Furthermore, Saudi Arabia has set up repressive Islamic schools and mosques around the world with billions of their petrol dollars, and supported, funded, and sent out Islamic terrorists for years.

Political Elections: Consider all the propagandistic statements being made daily by the various presidential candidates at the present--one-liners, personal attacks, exaggerations, false information, ad hominem, spam, even slanderous statements...

Or consider the ridiculous false charges thrown at President Barrak Obama in the last 10 years--that he is a "radical Muslim," that he is a "communist," etc.

Many of these political claims actually go beyond mere propaganda; they are outright lies, yet millions of Americans believe them.

It would be tragic if it wasn't so absurd. The unethical spam reminds me of Winston's Churchill's infamous statement in support of lying for the government:
"In wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies."

In war, (besides the slaughter of humans), lying and stealing are always the first unethical actions to be committed repeatedly by all sides.

#10 Prejudice--prejudging other individuals, especially leaders, even though one doesn't have the facts

#11 Plundering--stealing land, material, wealth, water for one's government and country; for instance, see this happening daily in Palestine/Israel, where the Israeli Government and Israeli settlers confiscate Palestinian land, bulldoze or burn orchards, destroy homes and this week even destroyed a school!

#12 Perfidy--infidelity, disloyalty, double-dealing

#13 Philandery--Alan Watts, the famous writer and Buddhist scholar, wrote in his autobiography, In My Own Way, about the joys of adultery that he experienced with various lady friends.

“…Deep down inside, almost everyone has a vague sense of eternity. Few dare admit this because it would amount to believing that you are God…My own sexual mores...I do not believe that I should be passionately in love with my partner...and still less, married."

"For there is a special and humanizing delight in erotic friendships with no strings attached...My life would be much, much poorer were it not for certain particular women with whom I have most happily and congenially committed adultery...”
Alan Watts

One gets a sense of Watt's attitude with his comment about the Christian Eucharist: "Holy Communion?" he was heard to remark. "Why, it's like
fucking a plastic woman!"

A PhD. anthropologist explained that the reason he regularly womanized is that it was his nature to need sex with many women.

#14 Pedophilia--Child Brides in Islam, etc; at 50 years of age, Muhammad "marrying" a child of 6, allegedly consummating the relationship when the child was 9.

Photo by Stephanie Sinclair

Many Roman Catholics priests have illicit sex with older children; then even worse, Roman Catholic Church leaders allow such priests to continue supervising children!

Furthermore, the RC. hierarchy didn't report such evil actions to the criminal justice system. And later the Church covered up the many cases of pedophilia when they were discovered by others.

When families of abused children sued the Church it seemed far more concerned with defending itself from loss of money than in the suffering and abuse it had caused and hidden!

Also, some secular leaders are overly lenient toward mild immoral actions. For instance, the famous evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins reported that he didn't think the "mild pedophilia of his teacher in elementary school was harmful!

"One day — I must have been about 11 — there was a master in the gallery with me. He pulled me onto his knee and put his hand inside my shorts."

"He did no more than have a little feel, but it was extremely disagreeable (the cremasteric reflex is not painful, but in a skin-crawling, creepy way it is almost worse than painful) as well as embarrassing."

"As soon as I could wriggle off his lap, I ran to tell my friends, many of whom had had the same experience with him."

"I don’t think he did any of us any lasting damage, but some years later he killed himself."
An Appetite for Wonder by Richard Dawkins

#15 Perversion—such as sadomasochism

#16 Pollution

#17 Predestination--the foreordination of most human beings to eternal damnation/torture by God in the religions of Islam, Christianity, etc.

#18 Pontification

#19 Pretension

#20 Politics (just kidding;-)

What is most weird about this list is that many of these immoral actions are being promoted and accepted in public, in the media, and on the Internet as good! Pro-articles for such actions as polyamory have appeared in The Atlantic and Scientific-American!

Brilliant individuals, some with PhD's, actually claim that there is nothing immoral or unethical about such behaviors. On the contrary, these thinker claim, it's monogamy and fidelity that are limiting, keeping humans from becoming all that they want to be.

Some spokespersons even go further, stating all ethics are “subjective,” only “personal preferences,” and social constructs, not grounded in reality. Being against prostitution is analogous to disliking the color red! It's only a subjective preference.

What a despairing darkness has overtaken modern culture and society. We need not speak of the horrific actions of the historic past; there are so many violations at present.

In the midst of my positive posts, I will try and tackle some of these devious beliefs and actions in future posts. Wish me luck.

I will need all the help I can get. For the last few years, especially, various thinkers in books and in person and online have been defending most of these evil behaviors as fine for any human to do if he/she chooses to live them.

Live in the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Friday, March 4, 2016

George Orwell Made this Happen in the Presidential Debates

'Erroric's the Arthur, Blairing';-)...
George (the old Fox or Orwell? definitely not the Fox Channel)
stood up in the debate meeting and interrupted the pontificating, deluded leaders--

after last night's TV debacle...

Spring down

Another fox slitter
of sly sniveling,
sneering ‘sludge’-hammering,
champaigned driveling...
or sparkled whining;

this political smatter
a propped (take) a gander--
that’s a great car, son, said the ad,

and the
mad hatted rubik cube or rubio-cruz,
all these 'publicans and demoncrats--
all these trumpets and hilariousites

d a n c e d across the historical stage;

yes, more gaffes
got staged;

don’t take such bait;
feel the burn.

No jangle in all this jingoism;
fall down, chrusteites,
huckersterbeites, bushed and appalled...

Instead spring up!

forget voted offerings to the god malware

in this mad alice’d animal farm

-Daniel Wilcox

Rejected by the NVN magazine, not published last week:-)


Oh, Has-Been-No-Be, what did you start?!

Lost in the 'maize';-)

Daniel Wilcox

Wednesday, March 2, 2016



bite my teeth on famous lines
a hole lot of fragmented shells;
hunger hollows within--
deepening abyss
of lost longing
lone-ranging, reigning the distance
of a round heartless night

of a round heart-last light
lane-ranging, raining the day-stance
of last longing
steepening a-bless
wonder hallows within--
a whole lot of fragranced shalls;
bide my heart on famous lines

--Daniel Wilcox

First pub. in Dead Snakes


The Road to Elsewhere

The highway to ‘hail,
Hail Afghans all here,’

(“Give me your ears…”)

Is paved with good intentions and ‘IUO’s.’
On that yellow ‘book’ road, tell tales-where-banned

Men of lairs acclaim executive offense…
Come out of your pious lores, you liars.
But we’re all so right, we over weird, of the west wind…

Our shocked awe amazes
(“You, too …’brutal’?”)

We’re not in Kansas
Anymore, nor never were. Was?

A last ‘stand’ stammering
In that season--the dogs of Mars and a sheep’s head,

She slumps to the bleeding ground.*
Shot for All...
Can't we get a heart?

*Another woman executed by the Taliban

--Daniel Wilcox

First pub. in Fish Food Magazine, November 2014


The Last Libation

Jim Town, across the county line
Where many a poor Cheyenne
Emptied his dim future
In the short, sotted glass;

Nothing new of this watery fire,
The forked-tongue libation
Passed from the pallid men
Down to generations of the lost,

To those hunched at the rail-
Descendants of red men who
Counted coup with shining valor-
But these instead pour out their soul'd

Lives to Chief Bacchus of the bottle;
Restricted to behind the dark bars,
They shuffle the time worn cards,
Then slump, no longer ruling the plains.

But the Rez’s young girl, his cousin,
Only 12, copper-templed and kind,
With glorious raven hair, now
In the gathering Montana dusk

Tips on the dirt walk, sour breathed,
Staggers on the ‘warn’ path
Through Lame Deer town,
And passes down, then gone.

Says another tribe’s brave,
A leader in translation,
My heart is sick…

I will drink no more forever.

Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce, Native Americans
Hinmatóowyalahtq̓it ("Thunder traveling to higher areas")

--Daniel Wilcox

First pub. in Sentinel Poetry Online, United Kingdom



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

You know where decks and bingo
"Was a dog..." chips or
Define the tokened measures of your life--

Or where
Reclining and breathing entertain you.

No, I’m bound for that promised land...

--Daniel Wilcox

First pub. in Poetry Pacific, Canada

Brief Bio: Daniel's wandering lines have appeared in many magazines in the United States, Canada, and overseas including Contemporary American Voices, Write Room, Static Movement, Word Riot, Poetry Pacific, Counterexample Poetics, and Unlikely Stories IV.

Before that Daniel hiked through the University of Nebraska, Cal State University, Long Beach (Creative Writing), Montana, Pennsylvania, Europe, Arizona, and Palestine/Israel. He now lives on the central coast of California with his quilting wife.

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Reflecting on Chuck Fager's "Some Quaker Faqs"


Here's the latest fax from the eternal realms;-)

This short article deals with Friend Chuck Fager's intriguing new series at his Internet blog, A Friendly Letter, where he is contrasting one version of creedal religion (New Covenant Temple) with the Society of Friends (of the progressive sort).

He shows in startling detail why seldom if ever shall the twain meet, participate, or agree. These two contrasting worldviews have very different perceptions, many different ethical values, even different halos;-). Furthermore, alien creeds such as NCT do harp on and on about very strange doctrines.

Don't miss these very lucid contrasts by writer and thinker Chuck Fager.

For even deeper analyses check out the excellent Friends journal of discussion and study, Quaker Theology, of which Chuck is the editor, Stephen Angell and Ann K. Riggs, associate editors. The latest issue, #27, is online for free at
The volume contains insightful articles such as "Thunder in Carolina, Part Two: NCYM-FUM and "Unity" vs. Uniformity by Chuck Fager.

But now on to chewing on "Some Quaker FAQS," reflecting on the points of Fager's A Friendly Letter:

#1 "So one other way some important theologians have thought about him [Jesus] is, not a sacrifice, but a kind of model for humans to ponder, of how a non-wrathful God might want others to live, or at least learn about life." Chuck Fager

Why would a "non-wrathful God" allow, let alone cause/will/ordain, that billions of humans over the time of the last few hundred thousand years be persecuted, oppressed, harmed, and slaughtered by others, often in the name of God?

And, probably even worse, why would such a loving God allow billions of humans to endure severe suffering and excruciating deaths from various forms of natural evil and disasters from the Black Death, malaria, small pox and cancer to tsunamis, hurricanes, floods, and earthquakes?

I should caution that Fager already acknowledges this conundrum only a paragraph later when he writes, "much of life still has a tragic character."

#2 When questioning Evangelical Christianity's belief in a "personal relationship" with Jesus, Chuck uses the analogy, "But many of us have read or heard about Harry Potter, seen him in movies. How does any of this add up to a 'personal relationship'?"

This analogy by Fager doesn't work well except for the few mythicists who claim that the historical leader, Jesus, never existed but was a completely fictional character. The vast majority of historical scholars think Jesus existed.

Closer to the point would be to say this spiritual "personal relationship" with Jesus is like having one with another real and admired historical leader such as Martin Luther King Jr. or C.S. Lewis or George Fox.

Strangely, in fact, religious people often do speak of just such occurrences, not with Jesus only. The famous Christian writer J.B. Phillips, actually claimed that he did have a spiritual relationship/encounter with C.S.Lewis after the latter's death.

Phillips wrote that Lewis came to him in a vivid vision, stood in front of him in his locked house, and spoke words of comfort which helped Phillips overcome a deep depression!

In addition, C.S. Lewis himself and other famous religious thinkers have also written of their own supernatural encounters with dead humans.

So if one is willing to accept the view that the essentially true is the spiritual and eternal, then a relationship with a dead person (who is only dead on the level of matter and energy) isn't nearly as bizarre as it first sounds. Heck, these same humans, also, believe in angelic visitors from the supernatural realm.

Chuck Fager may be showing his hand (sorry to make an analogy between poker and spiritual philosophy;-)
that he is a modern--
one who isn't superstitious in the supernatural sense of the term.

I agree with him. I'm an Enlightenment modern. Besides, I've never believed in angels hovering in the air, didn't think, (even in my most devout years as a Christian), that there is a supernatural realm where dead people in Heaven are observing us, can communicate with us, etc.

To be continued--

In the Light,