Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Baptizing Cars and Us, (the Friendly Way)

A serendipity, an unplanned blessing, came one morning as I drove down Bradley Road. Very unexpectedly, as I had been struggling through a severe spiritual crisis, yet another pilgrim's regress.*

It's Saturday. I’ve run an errand, am headed for work. But then I see that hunched, elderly man, the one who stands on Bradley at a narrow crossroad, his thumb out, hitchhiking most days of the week.

I never stop because traffic here is bad, very heavy and there is no side lane, and, besides, there are miles to go before I rest. I haven't earned enough money, self-employed.

But today, incredibly, no cars are crowding my back-bumper, so I go with my alert conscience and concern, and stop for the oldster.

Swarthy, leather-skinned, in old wrinkled clothes, he almost looks homeless, and is hunched over as if someone has curled his spine; his one gnarled hand holds a small trash bag, maybe his lunch.

Gingerly, he climbs into my Sienna and thanks me.

But I can hardly understand what else he is saying because he speaks with a heavy Spanish accent and has a serious voice impediment. He sits there bent forward, his face weathered, like dark brown parchment.

But finally, I figure out he has 13 grandkids and his wife died from cancer 18 months ago and
that he works at a carwash
and is 82 years old!

We commune, even though it is hard to understand most of his rumpled words.

My heavy load of grief lightens.

I leave him off near his work where he baptizes cars with water Baptist-style.

But even though we speak no religious language and Friends don't practice rituals such as baptism and communion,
the hitchhiker and I live in a precious moment,
a present meeting,
a transcendent baptism
in the Light.

In the Light,
Daniel Wilcox

*(Does a person's spiritual journey ever reach the proverbial mountain top? Or at least a little peaceful oasis in the barren desert of ached spiritual longing?)

Friday, January 26, 2018

The Lady in Our Garden

The Lady in Our Garden

A picture-post-card date near the swirling
Serpentine sway of the wide Schuylkill River
Meandering through Central Philly's park garden,
Towered over by leaning elms, while 3 long canoes
Swift by to the paddling of Ivy League collegians.
Gazing at my dear companion in our garden

My Friendly girl, Karen, chestnut-caped round
In waist-length hair like a swaying black ephod,
Vivid in her red chambray shirt and blue jeans,
Is an aspiring concert violinist but converses
Passionately of King's March to D.C. in 3 months.
Listening to my dear companion in the garden

I, the principled drafted objector, work for Uncle Sam
With forsaken kids confined to sterile mental wards
Disturbed by parents' wrong living, but still am
So youthfully focused on my beautiful girlfriend’s
Figured shape than humanity’s ship of state.
Desiring my dear companion in our garden

We sit cross-legged on a wide lush parkway green,
Getting ready to eat our carefully bagged meal
Of 2 peanut butter and grape sandwiches
As we discuss war’s ravages in far-off Nam
And Bob Dylan's 'hard rained' croons.
Loving my dear companion in the garden

But then I inhale a fuming putrid odor;
Twist my neck and see this bagged lady in a filthy rag
Of a dress lunging slowly forward, hanging
Onto her ugly mesh of a shopping bag, her rancid
Stench to high heaven wafts and I pinch my nose.
Focusing instead on my companion in our garden

But lo and hold it! my violinist instead rises
And welcomes that old hag, “Hi Lady, will you join us
For our delicious Sunday snack here in the warm sun?”
The homeless alien sprawls haggardly on our grass,
Her wretched, spotted, shift wrinkling on her scraggly legs.
Karen gazes at this unknown companion in the garden

I am all upside-down in my face as this invader,
This illegal, reaches out a grubby, dirty hand,
Grabs one of our 2 sandwiches, and half crams
It in her narrow jaws, chews open-mouthed and teethed,
Me fuming at this chomping ugly interloper.
Separating my dear companion in our garden

But then awake, remembering almost too late,
The very old story about the least of these, turn,
And finally join my dear musician's psalm,
We a communing 3 of human kind,
Under those verdant swaying trees of compassion.
Sharing, so dear companions in our Garden

--Daniel Wilcox

First pub. in The Oak Bend Review
in different form;
in selah river, a collection of Daniel's
published poetry.

In the Light of Sharing,

Daniel Wilcox

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Pro-birth versus Pro-Life

"...your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born but not a child fed, not a child educated, not a child housed."

“And why would I think that you don’t? Because you don’t want any tax money to go there. That’s not pro-life. That’s pro-birth.
We need a much broader conversation on what the morality of pro-life is.”

“I do not believe that just because you’re opposed to abortion, that that makes you pro-life."

"In fact, I think in many cases, your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born but not a child fed, not a child educated, not a child housed."
--R.C. nun Joan Chittister

We need to be completely pro-life,

Daniel Wilcox

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Widening Our Circle of Concern: Vegetarianism

"Pigs by nature are every bit as loving, sensitive, and full of personality as the animals we call "family."

"Pigs dream, recognize their names, and are gregarious and affectionate being who form loyal bonds with each other and other species including humans."

If so, why do millions of American citizens sit down to fancy feasts of ham, pork, sausage, and bacon, especially at Thanksgiving and other holy days?

Sometimes these pork-barrel* times include their deeply loved pet dogs in attendance, waiting impatiently for any pig scraps to gobble up.
("Chester Collins Maxey in the National Municipal Review...
claimed that the phrase originated in a pre-Civil War practice of giving slaves a barrel of salt pork as a reward and requiring them to compete among themselves to get their share of the handout.")
from wikepedia

YET, "the curious and insightful pig is the smartest domestic animal in the world, with intelligence beyond that of a 3-year-old human child."

"In their natural setting, pigs spend hours playing, mother pigs sing to their piglets while nursing, and groups of pigs enjoy lying close together in the sun."
--from vegetarian poster

Consider these startling facts from scientists:
from "Pigheaded: How Smart are Swine?"
By Andy Wright
"Candace Croney is an Associate Professor of Animal Sciences at Purdue University and once taught pigs to play video games...
she participated in a study that set pigs to a task that previously only Rhesus monkeys and chimpanzees had been asked to perform."

"The pigs were provided with specially made joysticks that they could control with their mouths or snouts and then tasked with the job of moving a cursor around on the screen to make contact with different target walls that would shrink and move away."

"Croney did not think the pigs would be able to do it. But they could..."they’re really very fast learners... learn novel things quite quickly and quite well.”

"She soon set her pigs to other tasks...They were given odor quizzes, correctly picking out, say, spearmint, from an array of other smells that included mint and peppermint."

"Some studies have shown that scent is so important to a pig that if you cover up a part of a pigs’ cheek, they have trouble recognizing each other because that is where they emit a certain pheromone."

"Croney says the pigs were extremely clean, that they housebroke themselves and that at the end of a play session they put their own toys away in a big tub."

"Pigs are social, they remember locations well, they remember negative and positive experiences, can tell the difference between individual pigs and humans, recognize themselves in mirrors and learn from other pigs," says Dunipace.

"Kristina Horback, an ethologist (a person who observes animals in their natural habitat): “The social structure of pigs is just like elephants, they have the increased prefrontal cortex like primates and humans because they eat meat and they have the need to hunt and forage."
from "Pigheaded: How Smart are Swine?"
By Andy Wright
READ the whole insightful article at Modern Farmer:

Of course, for those of us who are moving toward vegetarianism, who have long ago quit pork and beef, but who still eat salmon, cod, and shrimp-- and sometimes fowl food at family meals to be courteous--for us in transition toward non-face food, there is this problem:
"Seth Dunipace, a veterinarian and post-doctoral fellow at University of Pennslyvania...thinks we should be asking ourselves why we care how smart a pig is. “I don’t think that’s necessarily fair because they’re using intelligence as a stand-in for suffering."

“And its this kind of thought that allows us to eat fish, and fish suffocate to death or bleed out over a course of thirty minutes, but a cow or pig must be rendered instantaneously insensible at slaughter. It’s a double standard."

"And fish do feel pain, fish do have memory. But we just don’t think of them as intelligent. And intelligence, I don’t think, should factor in to how greatly an animal can suffer.”

Hmm...we need to work toward a world of a widening circle of deep ethical concern, but keep in mind that we are all on this life voyage at different places.

Hopefully, we will live deeper and deeper into ethical truths,

Daniel Wilcox

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

How Do We Discern the True Nature of Reality--the LIGHT, from what's false: myth, illusion, and superstition?

As I still seek to advance more toward the Light,
despite my own aged physical receding,
(soon to be deader than a doorstopper), how do I and billions of other human
primates deal with the mysterious, conundrumed central questions of our existence?

1. What new ethical insights ought we to be seeking, and hopefully, finding, like our forebears
before us who discovered the truths of equality, human rights, peacemaking, and transcendence?

2. How do we counter the current false human narratives, life-stances, and worldviews which cause so much havoc, intolerance, anguish, suffering,
and destruction?

3. How do we discern what is true versus what is illusion and superstition in ultimate matters, when we can't prove "OUGHTs"?

For instance, how can we witness to human worth?

Hard secularists claim there is so much evidence from biology, neuroscience, and physics that
human choice,
moral responsibility,
even human consciousness are ALL illusions/delusions.

According to them only atoms locked-into-a-hard-fated cosmos exist. NOTHING else.

4. If every human truly has inherent value, why is it that so many billions of humans deny this in their reasoning, or their daily behavior?

5. How are Friends (and other transcendentalists and moral realists) different from humanists who appear to claim that all humans do have "inherent worth" YET at the same time claim that only matter and energy exist?

Human Manifesto III: "We are committed to treating each person as having inherent worth and dignity, and to making informed choices in a context of freedom consonant with responsibility."

Is this a semantic problem or are they being contradictory?

6. Do we ourselves have contradictions within our own life-stance?

7. This day are we moment by moment working in each relationship to truly relate as that the other person has "inherent value' within her/himself?

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

How Do We Speak Truth to Power Without Getting Caught in the Binary Wrangle?

"It ain't easy," to paraphrase Mark Twain.

For instance, take a look at the AFSC's stand which got it banned this week from entering Israel-Palestine, by the Netanyahu government.

What do truth-peace-and-justice seekers do when a nation-state such as Israel flouts International Law, continues to build thousands of houses on stolen Palestinian land, tears down orchards and destroys Palestinian buildings, etc.
while at the same time the leaders of Palestine such as Fatah and HAMAS continue to praise murderers as "martyrs" and heroes and deny human rights to people simply because they are Jewish?

"Specifically, AFSC affirms the right of both Israelis and Palestinians to live as sovereign peoples in their own homeland, a right that encompasses the possibility of choosing two separate states...Both parties should be guided by an ethic of reciprocity: what holds true for one side in a conflict should hold true for the other as well."

1. BUT there is the seemingly insurmountable difficulty. In this particular tragedy of injustice, it's not one of nonviolent King Blacks opposing violent KKK,
of Netanyahu violent settlers versus violent HAMAS-Fatah jihadists.

When both sides are led by KKK-Black Panther types, extreme true believers in the very bad sense of the Eric Hoffer term (from his powerful analysis, The True Believer), HOW DOES anyone concerned with truth and justice go about
being a witness to both warring sides?

"Specifically, AFSC affirms the right of both Israelis and Palestinians to live as sovereign peoples in their own homeland, a right that encompasses the possibility of choosing two separate states...Both parties should be guided by an ethic of reciprocity: what holds true for one side in a conflict should hold true for the other as well."

2. Besides AFSC's overt methods against the unjust government of Israel such as BDS: "AFSC spokesperson Kerri Kennedy: 'We answered the call for divestment from apartheid South Africa and we have done the same with the call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions from Palestinians who have faced decades of human rights violations.'"
-- what can concerned people do in the way of overt methods against the terror government of Palestine for supporting, arming, and praising the slaughter of innocent civilians?

3. Another way toward speaking truth to power is that of active listening to both wrong opposing sides. Consider the way of Quaker Gene Hoffman: "She has engaged in efforts to seek out the deep, psychological causes of violence and to help bring about healing and reconciliation through a process she calls “Compassionate Listening.”

Though, of course, "compassionate listening" is no quick fix. Gene went to Libya in 1989, yet Libya, if anything, is worse off now as a country even than 30 years ago:-(

Gene listened to both Palestinians and Israelis extensively and published books such as Pieces of the Mideast Puzzle (1991).

Gene has a "Masters in pastoral counseling from Goddard College and worked with Ben Weininger, a “Zen-Hasidic” Rogerian psychiatrist. With her background in counseling, Gene came to see all parties in a conflict as “wounded,” as having suffered psychological traumas that need healing."

“The call, as I see it, is for us to see that within all life is the mystery: God. It is within...the Israeli, the Palestinian, and the American. By compassionate listening we may awaken it and thus learn the partial truth the other is carrying, for another aspect of being human is that we each carry some portion of the truth. To reconcile, we must listen for, discern, and acknowledge this partial truth in everyone.”

YET, at present, Israelis and Palestinians seem much farther apart than ever, each claiming they have the whole truth, and the only truth.

When I lived in Palestine-Israel in 1974, I listened attentively to both sides of the conflict, amazed and disconcerted at how the people on each of the opposite sides could be so compassionate, sincere, kind, generous, and moral,
justify the injustice, intolerance, theft, and killing of those on the other side!

And it's only gotten much worse in the many years since! Despite endless efforts by well-meaning peace-workers to try and bridge the hostile chasm.

Only when both the Israeli settlers and the Palestinian jihadists are willing to widen their circle of care and concern beyond their own religions/ideologies
will there be hope.

4. AFSC wrote, "All people, including Palestinians, have a right to live in safety and peace and have their human rights respected. For 51 years, Israel has denied Palestinians in the occupied territories their fundamental human rights, in defiance of international law. While Israeli Jews enjoy full civil and political rights, prosperity, and relative security, Palestinians under Israeli control enjoy few or none of those rights or privileges.

It's true that at base, Israel is a reverse-racist society and government, BUT tragically, so is Palestine!

And some of the Israeli injustices such as the immoral wall that Israel has built came about because of horrific terror attacks by Palestinians funded and supported by the Palestinian leaders!

from the AFSC site:
"Quakers pioneered the use of boycotts when they helped lead the “Free Produce Movement,” a boycott of goods produced using slave labor during the 1800s. AFSC has a long history of supporting economic activism, which we view as an appeal to conscience, aimed at raising awareness among those complicit in harmful practices, and as an effective tactic for removing structural support for oppression."

"The AFSC, like the other organizations on Israel’s odious list, knows that peace can only come to this land when the essential injustice that occurred 70 years ago is justly addressed, and when the human rights of all are recognized and respected."
Brant Rosen
Brant Rosen is AFSC’s Midwest Regional Director and formerly "a congregational rabbi for over 20 years. He is the co-founder and co-chair of the Jewish Voice for Peace Rabbinical Council and the founder, with Rabbi Brian Walt, of the Jewish Fast for Gaza. Author of Wresting in the Daylight: A Rabbi’s Path to Palestinian Solidarity, Just World Books, 2012

"AFSC, in its support for peacemaking, has sought reconciliation between antagonists, endeavoring to help create the conditions of genuine peace that are based upon the preservation of basic human rights and the restoration of justice. In its role as peacemaker as well as peace builder, AFSC has operated from a nonviolent ethic of care that acknowledges and embraces the humanity on all sides of those in conflict."

"The Middle East policy of the United States and most of the rest of the Western world, as well as the policy of the Israelis and Palestinians, has for too long accepted the myth that only violence and the threat of violence can produce stability and create peace. The reality is that violence has not brought peace, and the threat of violence has only exacerbated the conflicts."

WHAT MORE THOUGH CAN WE DO without siding with either the unjust Israeli government or the terror-based Palestinian government?

In the difficult Light of working for the Good, the Just, and the True,

Daniel Wilcox

Saturday, January 13, 2018

More Songs Reflection

Highly recommended for those who like romantic lyrics with whimsy and creativity:
Thomas Rhett wrote a very romantic love song for his wife.


by Thomas Rhett / Sean Douglas / Jon London

Die a Happy Man

Baby, last night was hands down
One of the best nights
That I've had no doubt
Between the bottle of wine
And the look in your eyes and the Marvin Gaye
Then we danced in the dark under September stars in the pourin' rain

And I know that I can't ever tell you enough
That all I need in this life is your crazy love
If I never get to see the Northern lights
Or if I never get to see the Eiffel Tower at night
Oh, if all I got is your hand in my hand
Baby, I could die a happy man

Happy man, baby

Baby, that red dress brings me to my knees
Oh, but that black dress makes it hard to breathe
You're a saint, you're a Goddess,
The cutest, the hottest,
A masterpiece
It's too good to be true,
Nothing better than you
In my wildest dreams

And I know that I can't ever tell you enough
That all I need in this life is your crazy love

If I never get to see the Northern lights
Or if I never get to see the Eiffel Tower at night
Oh, if all I got is your hand in my hand
Baby, I could die a happy man, yeah

I don't need no vacation,
No fancy destination
Baby, you're my great escape
We could stay at home,
Listen to the radio
Or dance around the fireplace

And if I never get to build my mansion in Georgia
Or drive a sports car up the coast of California
Oh, if all I got is your hand in my hand
Baby, I could die a happy man

Baby, I could die a happy man
Oh, I could die a happy man
You know I could girl
I could die, I could die a happy man

I especially like the verses,
"If I never get to see the Northern lights
Or if I never get to see the Eiffel Tower at night
Oh, if all I got is your hand in my hand
Baby, I could die a happy man"

There are a few concerns such as calling his wife a 'girl." Yes, I know that is a traditional characteristic of popular music (like the never ending "baby,") but one wonders if songwriters will ever get around to writing about a "woman" instead of the ever-sung 'girl' as if every relationship is about junior high infatuation.

And, while my youthful inner self still personally likes vivid visual
images such as "Baby, that red dress brings me to my knees
Oh, but that black dress makes it hard to breathe
You're a saint, you're a Goddess...,"
it would be good to sometimes see references in song lyrics to a woman's personality, accomplishments, and spiritual-ethical concerns.

HOWEVER, several of the other songs Rhett sings lack in creativity and ethics. Sadly, like many popular ones, some of the lyrics are negligent, unethical, and almost gross:

from "Craving You"

When it comes to you, no, I ain't got no patience
There's something 'bout you girl I just can't fight
You're like that cigarette
That shot of 100 proof
No matter how much I get
I'm always craving
That feeling when we kiss
The way your body moves
No matter how much I get
I'm always craving you
Craving you...

A girl that the guy 'loves' is like a "cigarette," like nicotine....Good grief!

Well, at least Thomas Rhett didn't write those rather ethically sick lyrics. While he sang them--bad enough--it was the strange songwriters, Julian Bunetta / Dave Barnes, who wrote the cigarette simile.

Then there is "Get Me Some of That":

You're shakin' that money maker,
Like a heart breaker, like your college major was
Twistin' and tearin' up Friday nights
Love the way you're wearin' those jeans so tight (so tight)
I bet your kiss is a soul saver,
My favorite flavor, want it now and later
I never seen nothin' that I wanted so bad
Girl, I gotta get me, gotta get me some of that
I gotta get me some of that
Yeah, I gotta get me some of that
Oh girl, I gotta get me some of that

by Akins Rhett / Cole Swindell / Michael Carter who wrote--"gotta get me some of that" and "want it"--and compares her to a 'pay-cash-for-butt' stripper.

Back when I taught poetry for years, I let students bring in their favorite song lyrics on posters to put up on the walls of the classroom. Some of them were amazingly creative, at times deeply moral, even spiritual.

But like these last two losers, a few lyrics just crossed the line into the sewer. Tragic that so many young people and adults memorize such lyrics, singing them over and over.

For instance, one girl student said she loved this one rap song which crowed about the rapper hitting his girlfriend without regret!

Thankfully, there is plenty of contrary music which brings beauty, understanding, care, and joy to humans.

What song lyrics do you especially like and why?

Despite the Darkness, the Light Still Shines,

Daniel Wilcox

Part 3: Why Israel and Palestine Have Failed

As I explained in Part 1, there is no easy solution to this many-thousand'd-year-old dilemma. Surely, the folly and tragedy of inhumane history, especially, the last two hundred years of failed diplomacy, war, and genocidal hatred must caution us against quick or even slow solutions to very complex situations.

How does one even begin to deal with Israeli settlers or Palestinian HAMAS—both who claim the Ultimate Reality of the Universe is exclusively on their own side, that their opposing Gods call them to kill their enemies?

How does one get two diametrically opposed killing nationalities to reconcile?

What would we do if our enemies played soccer with the decapitated head of our son, as did Palestinians with an Israeli soldier’s head in 2004 in Gaza?”!

What would we do if we were caring doctors, but while we helped the women of our enemies, they dropped large shells on our house and killed 4 of our daughters as did an Israeli tank in 2008 (I Shall Not Hate: A Gaza’s Doctor on the Road to Peace and Human Dignity by Izzeldin Abuelaish)?

To be utterly honest, even given my ethical commitments, I don’t think I could handle such horrible actions by avowed enemies. How could I seek to care for the family of the Muslim “martyr” and “hero” who snuck into our 13-year-old daughter’s bedroom and knifed her to death?!!!

Only a minority of human leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Bayard Rustin seem capable of having such a deep centering in benevolence and nonviolence that they can show caring to killers. MLK did for KKK members and other Southern racists, even though they supported bombings which killed 4 young girls, even though they fired-bombed King’s house, endangering his own family.

At present, I find it difficult to deal with several people who lied about me. I’ve sought to forgive them, but these individuals’ actions deeply harmed myself and my family, and had very bad results for years.

I admit, though I am writing this article in hope it will be one tiny blossom for peace in the Middle East, I, myself, wouldn’t know how to handle what Israelis and Palestinians go through daily—the oppression, the lying, the stealing, the cruel actions, the killing, and worst of all, the justifications for the killings...

Also, keep in mind, very ironically, that many Palestinians and Israelis are actually closer to each other than they are to their own ethnic/national governments. Did anyone see the video of Palestinian Fatah members who had their kneecaps/legs shot off by their “brothers” of HAMAS when the latter attacked them in Gaza?

The wounded Fatah members got medical attention, strangely enough, in an Israeli hospital!

And don’t forget the tragic story of the Palestinian gynecologist who helped treat Israeli women for infertility but lost 3 of his daughters, killed by Israeli soldiers!

Or what about the Israelis who agree to meet in equality with Palestinians in reconciliation groups such as the grieving parents organization, Parents Circle—Families Forum, and Musalaha, who share more in common with their “enemies” than with the Israeli government of Netanyahu?

What about the Palestinian Elias Chacour (the author of Blood Brothers and We Belong to the Land) who has founded schools for hundreds of children and teens? The schools include Muslims, Druze, Christians, and Jews all working together!

Or consider the extreme commitment to ethics, sharing, and peace of Combatants for Peace, former warriors on both the Israeli side versus the Palestinian side, who now are working together for peace and justice.

The solution of the unending crisis has been tried by at least 8 methods in the past.

What about #6 Diplomacy? We have seen over the last 50 years, political diplomacy, even at its best, is usually little more than a smoke screen for furthering one’s own national agenda. While the Israelis claim to be seeking reconciliation with Palestinians, they continue to confiscate land from Palestinians, siphon off far more than their share of water, water needed much more by the Palestinian Arabs, abuse and demean the latter, etc.

Netanyahu's goverment even destroyed a school built by Scandinavians for Palestinian children and bulldozed a orchard planted by a Palestinian family who owned their land in 1904, long before most Jewish people came from Europe and the U.S.

And while Palestinians claim they want peace with Israel, they actually continue to stock arms, and tell their own people, teach their children in their schools, that they plan for the eventual extinction of Israel. Their diplomacy is only a mask of their real intentions.

As for #7 Legal Claim, surely anyone who has dealt at all with the convoluted legal system in the United States, knows this method is by far the worst of the eight efforts at peacemaking, for trying to solve the tragedy of the Middle East.

Legality seldom if ever has to do with what is ethically good, loving, and kind.

If you think #3 Present Possession is the key, are you prepared to give up your car to the thief who stole it last week because he is now driving it?

If Chumash Indians take over your house, force you and your family off your property, claiming their ancestors lived on your land, are you prepared to accept their present possession?

Present possession for the most part is only the poisonous frosting on the cake of #4 Military Might.

The latter--Military Might is, of course, the most popular and the most successful of land decisions. If in doubt ask the Indians why they don’t control California? Or the Mexican Government?

Or why the Saudis, one of the most oppressive governments in the world, is still in power after nearly a hundred years. It’s called survival of the fittest, governments being the meanest, cruelest…

But I presume if you have come to this site, which has the longwinded name, Infinite Ocean of Light and Love, you are not among the multi-millions of humans who believe in revenge and survival of the fittest, that you don’t espouse stomping out your enemies and so do not want to hear a defense of that method. There are endless pro-military, pro-war websites and books for those who do.

Does anyone think #5 Best Use is ethically sound?

Strangely enough, many Israelis claim they get all of the land because they are better builders, farmers, scientists, etc. than Palestinians. But no doubt you know what infamous political group in the twentieth century actually espoused this doctrine before the Israelis.

It’s very strange that Jewish people would dare touch this view let alone strongly support it.

Now we come to the three best methods, but they, too, are fraught with severe problems...


In the Light of Peace, Justice, and SHARING,

Daniel Wilcox

Friday, January 12, 2018

Parsing Popular Song Lyrics

So many catchy tunes, music, as always in history, a central experience for the vast majority of humans...

This week have you avoided humming a song, or its instrumentation and lyrics playing in the background of your mind as you worked or relaxed or tended to the family and other concerns,
long after the actual musical experience had passed?


And, then there are multi-millions of us humans who wallow in music in a wondrously deep way, captivated to the wiles of countless songs.

Who live in music like fish in water;-)

Which brings me to step aside from the recent political, philosophical, and religious articles...let's take a close look at a few current song lyrics, the only form of poetry most people ever engage in, and memorize with gusto, and carry like pulsating gems in their inner pocket.

Here's one that's a keeper even though the lyrics themselves aren't original, or creative--just your basic true love song.
However, unlike many modern songs the focus isn't on the male singer's selfish wants, or the physical characteristics of his sweetheart,
but on how her love is helping him to be a better person!


BY Coffey Anderson

To see your face, to hear your voice
And oh, to touch you is a dream come true
So I'm standing here, with my hand held out
Knowing that your love will never fade, I stand amazed without a doubt

My Commentary:
1. Beauty of the consonance of "face" and "voice" and "hear" and "your" are powerful even though the verse is almost greeting-card simple.
2. Pledge of fidelity in the last line even if unrealistic given that almost half of all marriages in end in divorce.

And I wanna hear your voice, in the morning when I rise
I think I know I'm just a normal man, only made of sand except when you're by my side
Will you love me, teach me, don't leave me I pray
And when I, and I'm thinking of the times
Your hands in mine, together we will stay
You made me better today
Better than I was before
And now my heart can rest and I will search no more
You made me better today, today, today

1. "Sand" plays sound-wise with "made" and "man," (consonance, again, and near rhyme), but what does it mean?
Rather intriguing. Maybe a take off from man of clay or earth?

So maybe Anderson is alluding to a spiritual/ethical element, about how his finance brings out the best in him?

[Verse 2:]
My heart has wings
Oh you take me away
And every prayer I've ever prayed was answered today
So I'm standing here, with my hand held out
Knowing that my love will never leave
My hearts on my sleeve and now I believe

1. "Heart has wings" is rather a common and traditional metaphor, but seems to work.
2. The repeated emphasis of his "hand" and her "hands" seems to emphasize the equality and commitment and permanence of their relationship.
3. Nice repeat/change of "heart." And the focus of "on my sleeve"--his honesty, transparency, and openness.
4. The repetition of religious terms including "prayer" and "I believe" gets a bit tiring,
though such language is often associated with romantic love in music tradition. What comes to mind is "I'm a Believer," by the Monkees, or "You Still Believe in Me" by the Beach Boys.

And I wanna hear your voice in the morning when I rise
I think I know I'm just a normal man, only made of sand except when you're by my side
Will you love me, teach me, don't leave me I pray
And when I, and I'm thinking of the times
Your hands in mine, together we will stay
You made me better today
Better than I was before
And now my heart can rest and I will search no more
You made me better today

[Verse 3:]
I stand proclaimed, true love is here to stay
I stand proclaimed, forever starts today
You made me better today
Than I was before
And now my heart can rest and I will search no more
Cuz you made me better today, than I was before
And now my heart can rest
And I will search no more
You made me better today
Made me better today.

--Written by Coffey Anderson, Mike Mani, Jordan Omley

In the Light of beautiful music,

Daniel Wilcox

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Part 2: Palestinians and Israelis Who Are Seeking Reconciliation and Justice

With so many multi-millions of humans fighting over land and borders, and building walls, from Trump to the many different sects of Islam...all a vast ocean of darkness....

HERE are a few organizations of humans who are, in contrast, sharing, reconciling, peacemaking, and seeking justice for ALL:

Ramallah Friends School


Mar Elias Schools



Combatants for Peace



"Roots/Judur/Shorashim: The Palestinian Israeli Initiative for Understanding, Nonviolence, and Reconciliation
At the start of 2014, community activists Ali Abu Awwad and Rabbi Hanan Schlesinger, along with others, formed "Roots", a group based in the West Bank area of Gush Etzion to promote dialog and eventually trust between Israelis and Palestinian as a path to peace. The group's full name is Roots/Judur/Shorashim: The Palestinian Israeli Initiative for Understanding, Nonviolence, and Reconciliation, and was initially situated on Awwad's family’s land near the village of Beit Ummar in the West Bank.

The Roots project organizes meetings between Israelis and Palestinians who live near each other in the West Bank in order to create dialogue. The project's outreach program includes monthly meetings between Israeli and Palestinian families, a women's group, work with school children, engaging local leaders, a summer camp, language learning, and cultural exchanges.

Ali Abu Awwad is a Palestinian activist and pacifist. He is the founder of Al Tariq (The Way) and a member of the Bereaved Families Forum, and tours the world together with Robi Damelin, a Jewish woman whose son was killed by a Palestinian sniper, to encourage dialogue and reconciliation between Palestinians and Israelis. His life and work has been featured in two award-winning films, Encounter Point and Forbidden Childhood. He lives in Beit Ummar, near Hebron.

Ali Abu Awwad, whose brother died in the conflict, attends many meetings with local Jewish residents. One of the very first such meetings of his occurred in July 2014, between local Israeli and Palestinians within one part of the Etzion bloc in the West Bank."
--from Wikepedia

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

8 Views of WHO Owns the Land

Again, humans are committing slaughter and other injustices, 'bordering' on the ethically obscene...

Yes, bitter pun intended.

Masked Israeli settlers from the illegal Havat Gilad settlement throw stones at native Palestinian villagers
near Farata, east of the West Bank ciy of Nablus

Who really owns lands and territories and plots in which we all get buried on this small 3rd planet?
Currently many human leaders are fighting over land including Vladimir Putin versus Petro Poroshenko, Bashar al-Assad versus Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and Mahmoud Abbas versus Benjamin Netanyahu (and Donald Trump).

And in the process, humans get killed, and violations of theft, lying, hate, revenge, injustice, inequality occur.

This week Muslim gunmen repeatedly riddled an Israeli car in which Rabbi Raziel Shevach was riding near his illegal settlement, the outpost of Havat Gilad, near Nablus. Rabbi Raziel Shevach a 35-year-old rabbi, father of 6 young children was killed.

Some of the Israeli youth are already calling for "Revenge."

And leaders of Palestine--HAMAS and Fatah--are already praising the killers of the rabbi.

Illegal alien settlement of Havat Gilad in Palestine

QUESTION: If illegal aliens steal your land, throw stones at you, even deny you your own country, do you have the right then to kill them?


“According to Beinin and Hajjar, the Turkish census for 1878 listed 462,465 Turkish subjects in the Jerusalem, Nablus and Acre districts: 403,795 Muslims (including Druze),
43,659 Christians
and 15,011 Jews.
In addition, there were at least 10,000 Jews with foreign citizenship
(recent immigrants to the country), and several thousand Muslim
Arab nomads (Bedouin) who were not counted as Ottoman subjects.”

“By 1946, Jews had purchased 6 to 8 percent of the total land area...” of Palestine. *

How then has a Jewish state, Israel defined by the current Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, come to “own” most of this area and control all of the area?

How have Arabs such as Sari Nusseibeh, whose family has lived in the area since the 7th century, been left with no country?
(Once Upon a Country: A Palestinian Life by Nusseibeh)

It’s long and complicated, convoluted, hate-filled, prejudiced, violent, genocidal, discriminatory, unjust, unmerciful, unloving, and ungodly. Most people know of the Jewish side, how many of the Arabs sided with the Nazis!, how some fanatic Arabs repeatedly rioted and killed innocent Jewish civilians…

Not as many know of the Arab side, but one can read a moving account in Eli Chacour’s short autobiography, Blood Brothers, which tells of how his father emphasized that they as Christian Arabs should help and love the Jewish people.

But then the Jewish army kidnapped this loving man and a couple of his sons, blew up their church, and destroyed their town!

This unending conflict goes back thousands of years.

How can this question “Who Owns the Land?” be resolved?

How can contrary different religions, ideologies, and peoples get along?


There are no easy answers.

In the last few thousand years this area, this land, has been ‘owned’ by the Phoenicians, Canaanites, Hebrews, Babylonians, Arabs, Turks, British, French, Jews, etc.

So who gets it now and upon what basis?


#1 Historic Right

#2 Worldview/Religious Claim

#3 Present Possession

#4 Military Might (The most popular view with most humans in most of history.)

#5 Best Use

#6 Diplomacy/Compromise

#7 Legal Claim

#8 Visitor Status (No one group, nationality, religion “owns” the land. Humans are merely visiting. We OUGHT to/must share.)


In the LIGHT,

Daniel Wilcox

Sunday, January 7, 2018

"Strange...a God..."

"Strange...a God who could make good children as easily as bad, yet preferred to make bad ones;
who made them prize their bitter life, yet stingily cut it short;
mouths Golden Rules and forgiveness
multiplied seventy times seven and invented Hell;
who mouths morals to other people
and has none himself;

who frowns upon crimes yet commits them all;
who created man without invitation, then tries to shuffle the responsibility for man’s acts upon man,
instead of honorably placing it where it belongs, upon himself;
and finally with altogether divine obtuseness, invites this poor, abused slave to worship him!"

— Mark Twain, The Mysterious Stranger*

1. This "a God" described by Samuel Clemens is horrific and alien to me--was so even back when I was a young Christian teen growing up in Bible-belt southern Nebraska. We certainly didn't believe in any such deity.

YET I do know--from my having read many tomes of history and theology, and from personally speaking with a few famous Christian leaders--that Mark Twain's "a God" is a fairly accurate view of creedal Christianity, especially of the Augustinian, Reformed, and Lutheran branches.**

2. Here is background for the assertions of Clemens' anti-creed:

A. "a God who could make good children as easily as bad, yet preferred to make bad ones;"

It is very baffling why an, allegedly, perfectly good God would intentionally foreordain, before the creation of the universe, that all the many billions of infants be conceived and born totally "sinful" and "in essence, evil."

But remember the famous Puritan, Michael Wigglesworth, in his poem "The Day of Doom" emphasized that infants will get the "easiest room in Hell." :-( Line 370-72, http://www.bartleby.com/400/poem/171.html

No wonder that Twain was so bitter about this ethical obscenity.

B. "who made them prize their bitter life, yet stingily cut it short;"

If you had a dollar for every Christian book which emphasizes that Christians ought to accept, even glory in their suffering because it brings glory to God, you would soon be rich.

Titles will be added here later.

Of course, think of the millions of young children and young adults who suffer and die terribly from cancer and other agonizing and death-dealing scourges which God pre-planned for his own glory and "good pleasure."

One of the last tragic cases that happened shortly before I finally realized that organized Christianity CAN'T be true was a young lady of about 32 in our church who suffered and died leaving her 3 pre-schoolers without a mom.

C. "mouths Golden Rules and forgiveness
multiplied seventy times seven and invented Hell;"

Strange as it may seem to many, the sort of Christianity dominating the U.S. where Clemens grew up--and which still dominates some areas--does emphasize that even Hell was created for God's glory.

Heck, one famous Christian theologian said that even the Jewish Holocaust will bring what ever glory to God that he wills!

D. "who mouths morals to other people and has none himself;"
"who frowns upon crimes yet commits them all;"

This is called Divine Command Theory in the Christian religion, or God's total sovereignty. According to many Christian leaders, God has two separate contrary wills; in one he commands humans to obey certain laws, but in the other will, God's hidden will, God causes every evil including molestation, rape, murder, slaughter, natural disasters, diseases, plagues, famines, etc.

Not a molecule moves in the cosmos but that it is by this "a God's" will.

Because God's ultimate nature is his absolute sovereignty, then whatever God wills, then becomes "good." That is why God could order slaughter, slavery, abuse, lying, stealing, and so forth in the Hebrew Bible and in the New Testament.

If you question this, Christians will ask you, "Who do you think you are to question God?"

"That was my fix exactly. The more I studied about this, the more my conscience went to grinding me, and the more wicked and low-down and ornery I got to feeling. And at last, when it hit me all of a sudden that here was the plain hand of Providence
slapping me in the face and letting me know my wickedness was being watched all the time from up there in heaven,

whilst I was stealing a poor old woman's nigger that hadn't ever done me no harm,
and now was showing me there's One that's always on the lookout, and ain't agoing
to allow no such miserable doings to go only just so fur and no further, I most
dropped in my tracks I was so scared. Well, I tried the best I could to kinder soften
it up somehow for myself, by saying I was brung up wicked, and so I warn't so much to blame;
but something inside of me kept saying, "There was the Sunday school, you could a gone to it;
and if you'd a done it they'd a learnt you, there, that people that acts as I'd been acting
about that nigger goes to everlasting fire."

It made me shiver. And I about made up my mind to pray; and see if I couldn't try to quit being the kind of a boy I was, and be better. So I kneeled down. But the words wouldn't come. Why wouldn't they? It warn't no use to try and hide it from Him. Nor from me, neither. I knowed very well why they wouldn't come. It was because my heart warn't right; it was because I warn't square; it was because I was playing double. I was letting on to give up sin, but away inside of me I was holding on to the biggest one of all. I was trying to make my mouth say I would do the right thing and the clean thing, and go and write to that nigger's owner and tell where he was; but deep down in me I knowed it was a lie-and He knowed it. You can't pray a lie- I found that out.

So I was full of trouble, full as I could be; and didn't know what to do. At last I had an idea; and I says, I'll go and write the letter- and then see if I can pray. Why, it was astonishing, the way I felt as light as a feather, right straight off, and my troubles all gone. So I got a piece of paper and a pencil, all glad and excited, and set down and wrote:

Miss Watson your runaway nigger Jim is down here two mile below Pikesville
and Mr. Phelps has got him and he will give him up for the reward if you send.

I felt good and all washed clean of sin for the first time I had ever felt so in my life, and I knowed I could pray now. But I didn't do it straight off, but laid the paper down and set there thinking- thinking how good it was all this happened so, and how near I come to being lost and going to hell...

It was a close place. I took it up, and held it in my hand. I was a trembling, because I'd got to decide, forever, betwixt two things, and I knowed it. I studied a minute, sort of holding my breath, and then says to myself:

"All right, then, I'll go to hell"- and tore it up.

It was awful thoughts, and awful words, but they was said. And I let them stay said; and never thought no more about reforming. I shoved the whole thing out of my head; and said I would take up wickedness again, which was in my line, being brung up to it, and the other warn't. And for a starter, I would go to work and steal Jim out of slavery again;
and if I could think up anything worse, I would do that, too;
because as long as I was in, and in for good,
I might as well go the whole hog."
--from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
by Mark Twain

Samuel Clemens on the theme of his book: "A book of mine where a sound heart and a deformed conscience [because of Christian society and the Bible] come into collision, and conscience suffers defeat."

*As a literature teacher for many years, I used some of Clemens' bitter satire and deep ethical insights for a whole unit on the nature of ethics, and the dangers of conscience, duty, and honor.
But I've not written on Twain or his books for a long time.
Thanks to Bruce Gerencser and Infidel753
for bringing up Twain's keen ethical passage this week on their blogs.

**I won't bother with ranting and raving against the bad three, have done that enough in the past here on the blog. And, since encountering their theological and ethical horrors first 55 years ago have virtually driven all my close loved ones to drink;-), especially my patient wife. She, being non-theological and non-philosophical, doesn't worry about what famous leaders and famous Christian denominations teach. Maybe that is why we share a margarita or wine once in a while for dinner. Much better than the bad spirits.

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox