Monday, September 25, 2017

The Debacle of Empty-Bucket Words

Like in the old days of English literature when books had really long phrased OR titles:

The Debacle of Empty-Bucket Words
How I Learned to Love Humpty-Dumpty
by Shoving the Egg-Head of a “God” off the Wall
How I Learned to Stop Using the Vacuous, Empty-Headed Term, “Love”

“Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. 'Of course you don't — till I tell you. I meant "there's a nice knock-down argument for you!"'
'But "glory" doesn't mean "a nice knock-down argument",' Alice objected.
'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.'

First, the last. I suppose for centuries, “love” has been empty-headed, empty-bucketed, meaning whatever any one in changing centuries applied to the term. Like all words, “love” that chameleon’d-squiggled-word changes in time and place and comes to mean whatever any particular human means it to mean.

Need I give many examples from history, literature, and media, especially movies, to show how ambiguous, contradictory, and empty-bucketed, “love” has been?

Heck, even Christian leaders can’t agree. Millions of them disagree about what “God is love” means. And some leaders get etymological, scholarly, and cite Greek, speaking of the over-inflated word, “agape.” But even in Greek, they don’t agree! (It's Greek to me;-)
Because even then they often mean something entirely different from other Christians.

For instance, Augustinian-Reformed Christians claim that God both loves and predetermines billions of humans to eternal damnation. What?! How could God lovingly torture billions of humans for ever?

And God "loves" some humans so much, he wills for them to get cancer, die in car accidents, drown, burn to death, and so forth!

OR take a look at how the Anabaptist leader Chuck McKnight claims that multiple sexual partner relationships—polyamory--are based in “love,” in “agape-love”!

According to McKnight, and others, the only rule of Christianity is “love.”

We've heard this before!

Paul Tillich, the famous Protestant theologian claimed, "Love is the ultimate law” while himself committing adultery, etc.
Tillich, Systematic Theology, v. 1, p. 152

And Christian ethicist Joseph Fletcher wrote an infamous, controversial book, Situation Ethics, in 1966.

It closed with this view:
“When the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, the plane crew were silent. Captain Lewis uttered six words, "My God, what have we done?" Three days later another one fell on Nagasaki. About 152,000 were killed, many times more were wounded and burned, to die later. The next day Japan sued for peace. When deciding whether to use "the most terrible weapon ever known" the US President appointed an Interim Committee made up of distinguished and responsible people in the government. Most but not all of its military advisors favoured using it. Top-level scientists said they could find no acceptable alternative to using it, but they were opposed by equally able scientists. After lengthy discussions, the committee decided that the lives saved by ending the war swiftly by using this weapon outweighed the lives destroyed by using it and thought that the best course of action.”

Supposedly, the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of civilians was more loving in the long run and therefore more justified!

Whew…Talk about Orwellian…yes, war is peace, hate is love, slaughter is kindness…

"This book is a transcript of the February 11, 1971 dialogue between Montgomery and Joseph Fletcher (who wrote Situation Ethics: The New Morality). Here are a few examples of their exchanges:

FLETCHER: "I think there are no normative moral principles whatsoever which are intrinsically valid or universally obliging.... If we are, as I would want to reason, obliged in conscience sometimes to tell white lies, as we often call them, then in conscience we might be obliged sometimes to engage in
white thefts
and white fornications
and white killings
and white breakings of promises
and the like." (pg. 15)

FLETCHER: “I want to suggest that methodologically there are basically only three alternatives strategies… the three options open to conscience at work are to be simply labeled as legalism, antinomianism, and situationism… In between these [first] two extremes lies situationism… and a mediating position in the spectrum. The situationist enters into troubling moral situations armed… [with] some reflective generalizations about what is ordinarily and typically the right thing to do. But unlike the legalist he refuses to absolutize … any normative principle… he is prepared to depart from a usually applicable generalization if in the particular case the consequence of following the rule is to minimize rather than to optimize … the first-order value to which he’s committed.” (Pg. 19, 23-24)

MONTGOMERY: “The insurmountable difficulty is simply this: there is no way… of knowing when the situationist is actually endeavoring to set forth genuine facts and true opinions, and when he is lying… Why? Because deception is allowed on principle … .as long as the ultimate aim is love. Consider: if Professor Fletcher acts consistently with his premises… he can to this end introduce any degree of factual misinformation, rhetorical pettifogging, or direct prevarication into the discussion… Our restatement goes: ‘If a situation ethicist … tells you that he is not lying, can you believe him?’… [This leaves] the audience entirely incapable of ever being sure that Professor Fletcher means what he says.” (Pg. 31-32)

MONTGOMERY: “This is precisely the claim of the historical Christian faith: that biblical revelation constitutes a transcendent word from God establishing ethical values once for all… Absolute moral principles are explicitly set forth; these inform love and guide its exercise.” (Pg. 44)

FLETCHER: “Are you saying, sir, that we must in conscience always tell the truth? And if there are exceptions, when might we prevaricate and why?... are you saying that tyrannicide is never justifiable? If it might be, when and why?... were you or weren’t you saying that interruptions of pregnancy are always wrong? But if there are times when it might be done, why would it be?... Christian ethics … have never allowed that human rights are anything but… relative and contingent.” (Pg. 49)

MONTGOMERY: “the greatest difficulty in situation ethics is revealed exactly at this point. The situation ethicist properly recognizes the ambiguity of situations and the extreme difficulty, often, in knowing what ought to be done; but he endeavors, in these situations, to JUSTIFY HIMSELF. In terms of the ethical approach that I outlined, one CANNOT so justify oneself. If, concretely, I were put in the position that you described of either informing a killer as to where a child was hidden or lying about it, it's conceivable that I would have to lie. But if I did so, I would be unable to justify this ethically; in short, I would be unable to get off the hook. In Christian terminology, I would have committed a sin which should drive me to the cross for forgiveness. This is what I find almost totally lacking in your writings: no one is driven to the Cross.” (Pg. 51)

FLETCHER: “you have said in reply to my question ‘Is it always wrong to have an abortion?’---‘Yes, it always is.’ It seems to me absolutely unbelievable that anybody could say that… Since the tragic complexities of life sometimes call us to do what we might call the ‘lesser evil,’ you WOULD be an instrument because the alternative to the abortion would be greater evil than the evil of the abortion.” (Pg. 52-53)

FLETCHER: “It is ethically foolish to say we ‘ought’ to do what is wrong! What I want to argue philosophically… is that the rightness or the wrongness of anything we do is extrinsic, relative, and dependent upon the circumstances, so that to have an abortion out of loving concern for everybody’s best interests involve, is not an excusably evil thing to do, but a good thing to do.” (Pg. 53-54)

FLETCHER: “And I have to say in all candor that when I examine the Gospel account of Jesus’ teaching in light of our question… he said nothing directly or even implicitly about it one way or another. Jesus was a simple Jewish peasant.
He had no more philosophical sophistication
than a guinea pig,
and I don’t turn to Jesus
for philosophical sophistication.” (Pg. 55)

MONTGOMERY: “Well, sir, I think that’s your trouble.” [Laughter and applause from the audience.] (Pg. 55)

FLETCHER: “Aren’t you in effect telling us that in your ethics we are sometimes morally obliged to do what is wrong, and does that make any sense in terms of ethical analysis?” [Applause from the audience.]
MONTGOMERY: “No, obviously it does not make any sense in terms of YOUR ethical analysis, but that’s what we are trying to determine---whether that ethical analysis is right… What I’m saying is that it may be necessary to choose a lesser of evils. But such a choice still remains an evil.” (Pg. 69-70) Situation ethics; true or false?: A dialogue between Joseph Fletcher and John Warwick Montgomery (Dimension books)
Quoted by reviewer Steven H. Propp on Amazon

Even the word "LIGHT" means various contradictory things to different humans, including different Friends.

No, we can't escape semantics, so it behooves us to very carefully define words when we use them. And give very lucid examples.

Daniel Wilcox

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Ensaf Haidar pleads with Saudi Arabia at the UN

Ensaf Haidar holds a picture of her husband Raif Badawi

Seek the release of prisoner of conscience Raif Badawi who was sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in prison for writing a blog for freedom in Saudi Arabia.

Urge the U.S. to suspend all treaties and contracts with the Saudi government until it honors freedom of conscience, freedom of religion, and freedom of speech.

Ask the UN to remove Saudi Arabia from the Human Rights Council immediately!

Speak up for human rights, justice, and freedom of speech.

Work for the freedom of all prisoners of conscience.

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Friday, September 15, 2017

"History...a Nightmare" vs. " Hope"?

"History is a nightmare we are trying to wake up from."
-James Joyce
"It is history that teaches us to hope."
-Civil War Talk website

"In wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies."
-Winston Churchill

“If the people really knew [the truth] the war would be stopped tomorrow. But of course they don’t know and can’t know.”
-British Prime Minister Lloyd George, on Great War

"“It is necessary to know how to conceal...and to be a great pretender and dissembler...those princes who have done great things have considered keeping their word of little account, and have known how to beguile men’s minds by shrewdness and cunning. In the end these princes have overcome those who have relied on keeping their word.” “Occasionally words must serve to veil the facts. But let this happen in such a way that no one become aware of it..."
"The first casualty when war comes is truth, and whenever an individual nation seeks to coerce by force of arms another, it always acts, and insists that it acts in self-defense."
-American senator Hiram Johnson, on Great War

“.... more deliberate lies were told than in any other period of history, and the whole apparatus of the state went into action to suppress the truth”.
-War Journalist Phillip Knightley, on Great War

"When war is declared, Truth is the first casualty."
-Member of Parliament Arthur Ponson, Falsehood in War-time, Containing an Assortment of Lies Circulated Throughout the Nations During the Great War

from Wikipedia:
Historian Anne Morelli's explanation of "Ponsonby's classic in "ten commandments of propaganda":

"We do not want war.

The opposite party alone is guilty of war.

The enemy is the face of the devil.

We defend a noble cause, not our own interest.

The enemy systematically commits cruelties; our mishaps are involuntary.

The enemy uses forbidden weapons.

We suffer small losses, those of the enemy are enormous.

Artists and intellectuals back our cause.

Our cause is sacred.

All who doubt our propaganda, are traitors."

Notice how ALL--or at least most--of those characterize nearly all wars in history, and include present-day conflicts, especially the 7 ones that the U.S. and other countries are currently engaging in!

See also, Jesus Wars and The Great and Holy War by Historian Phillip Jenkins

At this juncture in my aged life--
after at least 57 years of reading history tomes--it would seem that history is
neither "a Nightmare"
nor a "Hope,
rather our past life, and so we ought to study it for dear life, hoping that we can ferret out what is true from all the myths, all the intentional lies and semi-lies, and all the misunderstandings, confusions, and distortions that comprise the FOG of HISTORY.

Seeking the Truth,

Daniel Wilcox

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Stepping to Art

Stepping to William Wordsworth

I call to you
Out of the sandpaper scuff of my boots on the sidewalk
Where I come to its cantered edge,
I step down the curb side and walk across the width of that coastal street,
Munching construction gravel under foot
And stare down into the aqua wash of low lands of a California
Briskly brushed over raptap cottages and electric-blinking monoliths,
And the worth of words to describe this wonder does not yet appear—
Even you would have been wordless.


Fall Impression

In that loud shout drenching our senses,
Sun-jaded trees ungreened and thundered color

Reverberating the world--to 'Gogh' over the limit;
They left tremoring rainbows burst earthbound, and shingled

In that wind--melted yellow, orange, and maroon,
Fingerpaints jagged, leaved in black wrought branches;

Then wild strokes of northerly gusts rogued down,
Zagged etchings counterwheeled in swirling emotion--

Hacking our senses, hueing our minds until glazed--
And so reeled sideways down in that kaleidoscoping

-Daniel Wilcox
First pub. in The Write Side Up



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

-Daniel Wilcox
First pub. in Mad Swirl


walking night

saplings blacken along
our sidewalk against the misted night
a refracted light sky over
wrought iron candelabras on stands
lamping the coasted evening

-Daniel Wilcox
First pub. in Writer's Ink


In the Light of Beauty,

Daniel Wilcox

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Guest Post from Neil Carter on Fallacious Beliefs

This is a lucidly powerful article by Neil Carter showing the fallacious nature of many religious people's beliefs when tragedy strikes, especially horrendous natural disasters.

Note: While I agree with Carter's in depth analysis of what is wrong--that the major religions' answers are false and delusional, I strongly disagree with his own alternative answer. He promotes "Godless" as the alternative answer to the ultimate nature of reality.

BUT I think that the real answer is more a matter of God-MORE and Divine-LIGHT:-)

We humans--aware, ethical, rational primates, very finite in an incredibly complex cosmos, don't "know" the ultimate nature of existence, but we can agree that there are good hints toward what that transcendent reality includes inherent within it--life, conscious, finite awareness, math, reason, ethics, the awesome structure of the universe itself (often termed "natural law").

What Praising God in the Storm Reveals About Faith

by Neil Carter

"Nothing puts the cognitive dissonance of faith on display like a destructive storm system ripping through a religious community. “Does disaster come to a city, unless the Lord has done it?” –Amos 3:6 “I form light and create darkness; I make well-being and create calamity; I am the LORD, who does all these things.” –Isaiah 45:7

This week people all over the southeastern United States are bracing themselves for another potentially disastrous storm, thanks to a significant uptick in oceanic temperatures the world over. People in southeast Texas have already suffered massive damages and now the nation turns again to prepare for Hurricane Irma, whose path we have yet to sufficiently predict.


Separating from fallacious concepts and beliefs, seeking the truth about Reality,


Friday, September 8, 2017

Guest Post by Professor Randal Rauser: "Could God be punishing Texas?"

“I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth…” Could God be punishing Texas?
Randal Rauser

In addition, there is a more in depth article, too. Randal Rauser: "Ten days ago I posted an article titled “‘I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth…’ Could God be punishing Texas?” Since then I rewrote and expanded the article and this morning it was posted at Strange Notions as “Does God Punish People Through Natural Weather Events?“

The answer is NO!

Reject the false and often horrific views of God that so many Christian and Muslim leaders are claiming.

Instead, seek the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Thursday, September 7, 2017

the god of infinite evil and hurricane harvey, irma...

Christian spokesperson and actor Kirk Cameron's god is totally opposite from the God that my parents thought existed. We grew up in Nebraska thinking that any God who intentionally slaughtered millions of humans via disease, war, and natural disasters is NO God at all.
Cameron makes God look like, not only an abusing father, but a mass-murdering parent, infinitely evil.


"In video taken this morning at an airport in Orlando (Florida), Cameron explained how the natural disasters were obviously signs from God."

"One thing we know about hurricanes — and all weather — is that...This is a spectacular display of God’s immense power."

"And when He puts His power on display, it’s never without reason. There’s a purpose. And we may not always understand what that purpose is, but we know it’s not random. And we know that weather is sent to cause us to respond to God in humility, awe, and repentance."

"God wanted us to be humble, so he killed dozens of people in Houston, decimated an entire island, and is still creating chaos in the Caribbean."
--Kirk Cameron


On the contrary...

In the Light of Compassion, Equality, and Goodness,

Daniel Wilcox

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Save the Dreamers!

"Meet Larissa Martinez. She was the 2016 valedictorian of McKinney Boyd High School, and is on full scholarship to Yale. She is bright, hardworking, and is a credit to her family and community."

"She is also in danger of being deported at any moment. She was brought to America with her mother, who was fleeing an abusive alcoholic husband."

DACA is Literally the LEAST we can do: Here's Why Ending it is Stupid

"Dreamers are an economic boom"

"Dreamers have passed background checks, paid fees, stayed in school, obeyed the law, attended college, paid taxes, and served in the military. Dreamers and their families pay taxes just like everyone else, but in most cases they are not eligible for many of the benefits and services that citizens receive especially when it comes to education. Most are not eligible for federal or state aid."

"Extending hospitality to the dreamers costs America exactly nothing. In fact it’s a huge net gain to the economy."
by Tim Suttle

In the Light of Compassion and Hope and Dreaming,

Daniel Wilcox

Israel Evicts Elderly Palestinian Family--Who Owns the Land?

Tragic how humans only think of themselves--in this case Jewish settlers:-(, focused on their own lives, not caring that they have forced an elderly Arab family out of their home of many years.

At other times, Palestinian haters do the same, and much worse as when they praise Palestinian murderers as "heroes."

Have both sides forgotten each other's histories, all the suffering, injustice, etc.?

Yes, the problems of land ownership are incredibly difficult.

Why didn't the Arab family buy the house if they have lived there for 53 years?

Since they have lived there for so long, why didn't the Jewish owners of the property--who sold it to Jewish settlers--help this elderly Arab family to stay?
(It's true that the Israeli owners allowed the Palestinians to stay while the case was legally fought through in the courts. BUT why not help the elderly Arab family keep it?)

Why go back now and change things from back in 1948, punishing this elderly Arab family now, who probably had nothing personally to do with the loss of the house in the 40's?

And why, if this is necessary, WHY has NOTHING been done for all the Arab lands lost, stolen back then by Jewish soldiers?

Look at the maps, study the histories. Jewish people confiscated millions of acres of Palestinian land.

Of course, everything is unfair in war.

And why is the Israeli government also still trying to take away land owned by a Palestinian family near Bethlehem, who have a Turkish legal deed from about 1906?!

All of this smacks of nationalistic and religious selfishness, prejudice, inequality, injustice, and inhumanity.

Based on Israeli reasoning, here in California in the U.S., I ought to lose my home that my family has lived in for 26 years.

And it ought to be given back to Mexicans who used to own this land before it was stolen.

Of course, the Mexicans also stole it from the Chumash native Americans.

So utterly sad.

Two wrongs don't make any right.

(Note: I lived for most of a year on an Israeli kibbutz near Bet Shean, have seen and studied the Israeli-Palestinian chasm for many years. Have also been a guest of a Palestinian family in the city of Nablus, Palestine.)

Troubled in the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Quilters' Heaven: Starred Night

STARRED NIGHT is another beautiful, creative quilt by Betsy Wilcox

Here is another one of her incredible quilts: PSYCHEDELIC COLORBURST.

My sweetheart created this sunburst quilt of color for me last year. What if I had gotten this quilt from her back when I drove my Chevy van, "The Mystical Hippopotamus," across country in September 1967?:-)

At university, Long Beach State, I was a painting and drawing major for a couple of years--especially liked working in oil and acrylic, so am an avid follower of my wife's quilting heavenly pursuits.

Betsy is an amazing artist, good at math, structure, and has a degree in French and Linguistics from the University of California at Irvine.

In the Light of BEAUTY,

Daniel Wilcox