Monday, October 18, 2021

One Transcendent Experience that Transforms

TRANSCENDENCE

I can’t carry a basic tune
Anymore than a bat can sing wonder
Or envision quantum events,

But once I welled up bursting forth
Beyond all melodious barriers
Of sensuous fountaining,

Songing the voice of all singing.
Hosanna to the Highest and Deepest,
All-embracing universal cosmic Ultimate

Usually, I vocalize low and hesitant
With insecure, stressed effort
But on that humid evened night

In the crowded chapel meeting hall
In the midst of a thousand voiced joyfulness,
I not only caroled the Keys but was mused,

Songing the voice of all singing,
Hosanna to the Highest and Deepest
All-embracing universal cosmic Ultimate

We human instruments, fluting beauty
One glorious open canticled sound
With so much climactic passion;

Me, a human oboe in a great orchestra of tone
Being Bached and Beethovened,
To the alleluiaed heights,

Songing the voice of all singing,
Hosanna to the Highest and Deepest
All-embracing universal cosmic Ultimate.

Lava-hot harmonied, a chorale of joy-exultant
Wonder, the Transcendent's fountain bursting forth,
Geysering up in ecstatic adulation,

Welling skyward to the Ineffable One
Beyond all measuring, awed Infinite
Incomprehensible Becoming.

Songing the voice of all singing,
Hosanna to the Highest and Deepest
All-embracing universal cosmic Ultimate.

Dan Wilcox

First published in The Clockwise Cat in different form;
also in poetry collections--Psalms, Yawps, and Howls
and selah river

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Hearts-full, Not location or creed

But Evangelicals live for US First; They're group-egotists, of that proud sort,

Water piped in from Mono Reservoir Lush grass, high-tech, large-located houses;

But down below, poor refugees at that Wall
Live in patched together plastic tents,

Preyed upon by ruthless cartel killers,
Near their shack of tar ’n’ wood Jesus church

There peasants, Manuel and Miriam grow
Food on their small acre of stony ground,

Open kind actions, smiles, warm with zest and care;
Their hearts-wide, simple lives touch others here.

Not Evangelicals! those proud claimers
Lost from love’s generous kind country.

In the LIGHT,

Dan Wilcox

Friday, October 8, 2021

The Moral Dilemma: Drones to kill Islamic mass suicide bombers, but that also kill innocent civilians

EYE in the SKY, a exrcuciating moral study about whether or not to use drones--of the impossible connundrum of whether or not to kill one child in order to take out 5 Islamic suicide bombers who are going to attack a mall and kill hundreds.



Eye in the Sky North American Trailer

Director Gavin Hood

Writer: Guy Hibbert

Stars: Helen Mirren, Aaron Paul, Alan Rickman

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Guest Post: Excerpt from Transition Quaker, Concerning the Loss of Shared Stories in Quakerism by Craig Barnett

From TRANSITION QUAKER

Concerning the loss of shared stories in Quakerism
Excerpt from Quaker Stories by Craig Barnett
https://transitionquaker.blogspot.com/

"This is not, at root, a problem of individual differences of belief; it is the loss of a shared communal resource. Just as a group can’t sing together unless they all know the same songs, we cannot practise the Quaker way together unless we are familiar with the same stories. Knowing the same stories does not mean having the same beliefs.

Religious stories can be approached in many different ways - as historical accounts, mythological allegories, poetry, psychological truths, philosophical statements, moral teachings etc. Our way of interpreting sacred stories will usually change over time. As adults we are unlikely to understand a parable such as ‘the Good Samaritan’ in just the same way we did as a child.

Stories are, by their nature, open-ended and flexible; open to endless possibilities of personal reflection, re-working and creative imagination. Sacred stories work by engaging the imagination and emotions as well as our rationality.

At the same time, they provide the shared resources of symbols, characters and narratives that enable a community to have a collective conversation, instead of each person being isolated within their own personal language.

- For these different influences to become part of a shared Quaker story, rather than just private preferences, we would need to do something that we have tended to avoid. We would have to share them. This means talking to each other about the stories that give us insight into the meaning of our experience, and that help us to interpret our Quaker practice.

If we have learned something important from Buddhism, or from Jung or Starhawk or Rumi, that helps us to understand what happens in Quaker worship or business meeting, or that informs how we live as Quakers, we could share with each other the stories that have helped us, so that other Friends can also find out what we have learned from them.

There’s a reason we don’t usually do this. It makes us vulnerable to open ourselves up to others. We might feel anxious that our experiences will be dismissed, that our stories will be judged and rejected. We risk exposing ourselves to challenge; perhaps having to think about the stories we are using and how we interpret them. How do they fit with other people’s stories?

Are they complementary or incompatible? If I find another Friend’s stories strange or disturbing, where does my reaction come from? We have too often tended to rely on censoring ourselves and each other, to avoid using controversial words because some Friends have strong reactions to them.

Instead, we might adopt a more questioning approach. If there is a word or symbol or religious tradition that I find distasteful I can choose to ask myself, ‘what is going on here? What is this reaction telling me about my own history with this word? Is there something in this tradition that I am missing because of my partial experience?'

This approach is certainly not easy. It is much easier for us to carry on as we are, avoiding the risk of giving offence by self-censorship and never really getting to know each other in ‘that which is eternal’.

The risk with continuing in this way is that we will steadily lose any shared tradition of religious practice. Without shared stories that describe the significance of core Quaker practices such as worship, discernment and testimony, the Quaker way cannot survive.

The dominant culture has a powerful story about the way the world is. It is a meaningless, indifferent universe, in which we can arbitrarily choose our own values but never find any inherent purpose or meaning.

There is no truth to be discovered, only ‘personal truths’ to be asserted and projected onto the blank screen of the world. No purpose to our life beyond our own preferences, no guidance to be found, and nothing to heal or transform the world through us.

In the absence of any alternative shared stories of our own, British Quakers are inevitably being shaped in the image of this story; the modern myth of a meaningless universe.

The result is our steady drift towards becoming a neutral space for private journeys of self-discovery; a well-meaning, left-leaning ethical society, instead of a religious community with a spirituality and a practice that is powerful enough to change the world.

What are the stories that have shaped your understanding of your life as a Quaker? Do some apparently conflicting stories offer complementary perspectives on Quaker practice, and can we distinguish them from stories that are incompatible with Quaker experience and testimony?

By Craig Barnett

Excerpt from Transition Quaker

https://transitionquaker.blogspot.com/

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Review of Heretics and Believers by historian Paul Marshall

Incredibly scholarly, detailed history and analysis of the English Reformation! The first couple hundred pages are so academic—meaning dealing in lots of statistics and sociological details of an overview of the period of Henry the 8th, that I found the large volume dry and slow.

But once, I adapted back to scholarly study, (and since more ill in bed, able to listen for hours at a time), I began to live in its pages of that god-awefull period—in the worse sense of that adjective.

That’s one dramatic result of my reading this great history of Christians of all sorts and all levels--is that while modern creedal Christianity is often horrific, so unjust, so immoral, so intolerant, so selfish* at least, modern Christians (except when they call for bombing Iran with an atom bomb) don’t burn many thousands of other Christians at the stake and other horrific slaughters!

Many years ago, I studied the Reformation and knew that the Roman Catholic Church, Bloody Mary, Geneva and Calvin, Luther, Zwingli committed immoral horrors, etc., but I didn't have any idea that the English Reformation was so evil too.

It’s shocking how almost all English Christian leaders and their followers, Protestant and Catholic, the lords and nobility, the shop keepers and the working class--ALL were intolerant and strongly supported the burning of “heretics.”

Heresy then didn’t even need to be huge, like a denial of God or the Creeds, but could be just a smaller point like owning a prohibited book, such as an English translation of the Bible, or holding to the Lutheran view of the Mass, instead of Henry the 8th’s or the Pope’s view.

And, tragically, in all the chaos, at least 30,000 peasants and working-class people rioted and revolted across England demanding the return to traditional Catholicism with holy water, pilgrimages, altar and sacrifice in the Mass, when Edward the 6th tried to introduce a stronger Protestantism than his father had!

It’s amazing, that an English Civil War started to happen 100 years before the infamous one in the 1600’s! Also, it is depressing how the so-called good guys, the Protestant young king and his advisors deceived the sincere leaders of the traditionalist revolt, told them they would compromise and had the rebel leaders come down to London for negotiations, but then executed them.

After that, they then sent the small army of the government (about 8,000 English troops and hired mercenaries from Germany) to defeat various small armies in different shires. It was divide and conquer. And they did.

That was good, that the rioters didn’t gain control, but Edward the 6th burned a lot of innocent Christians, too. I thought only Catholic and Reformed leaders on the Continent burned people.

Then all hell broke loose when Edward suddenly sickened and died and Mary, who allegedly was a kindly individual came to the throne. She immediately reversed all of Edward’s Protestant polices, and had all the churches bring back altars for the Mass sacrifice, holy water, etc. And she burned over 300 individuals in 5 years. Thankfully Mary got sick and died.

It appears—at least based upon this massive historical volume—that all Christians of all sorts, Catholic, Reformed, Lutheran, etc. were bad, very bad, nothing like Jesus. The only exception appears to have been the very few Mennonite-sort of Anabaptists who rejected intolerance, injustice, violence, heresy-executions, etc.

And then came Queen Elizabeth, who immediately started rescinding some of Mary’s regressive actions.

However, one of Elizabeth's advisors told her she ought to "hold her cards close"—in other words, even if she is a convinced Protestant, it will be better for her if she hides that, and adopts a moderate course of change against Mary’s total reversion, rather than do exactly what she believes is right. Making too many changes will lead many English Catholics to react severely and violently against her and her sudden reversal of Mary’s religious norms.

Also, while taking a strong stance against Catholic “superstitions,” Elizabeth didn’t immediately pursue persecutorial actions against all Catholics.

But the government did begin to destroy Roods, statues of Mary, Catholic paintings, etc.

But, thankfully (that I appreciate!), Elizabeth opposed Knox and Calvin and their extreme language and intolerant actions. So she didn’t choose anyone for her advisers who were followers of Knox-Scotland and Calvin-Geneva.

Sad, however, even in moderation, Elizabeth’s rule was intolerant like present day intolerance in the U.S. now. Historic statues of famous American leaders of the past are torn down, but not the worst presidents or leaders, just ones picked by extremists such as BLMers.

Also, Elizabeth, ordered communion tables to be kept with coverings, which upset her Reformed bishops and leaders. And she denied priests the freedom to marry, basically, the Catholic view!

Worst of all, though nothing like nations on the continent nor her father or Edward the 6th or Mary, Elizabeth executed many individuals:-( She wasn’t nearly as civil and moderate as I had thought.

IN fact, NONE of the ‘CHRISTIANS’ LIVING BACK THEN WAS ANYTHING LIKE the GOOD NEWS of Jesus.

All of this goes to show, what I’ve become more and more convinced of over many years, that basing one’s life on the Bible isn’t the way to go, because that famous text led to many contrary and contradictory religions, most of them horrific:-(, indeed, evil.

Well, I probably could say far more, but I am anxious to be done with this depressin review. I finally finished the very long tome (over 35 hours long, probably at least 800 pages) very late last night near midnight.

A magisterial study of Christianity in the 16th century.
Evaluation: A+! --- *This is especially the case when far left Christians (including Sojourners, liberal Christians, Quakers, Mennonites, etc.) strongly support untrue propaganda against the police, demand the tearing down of historic statues, and push CRT and BLM as the truth.

And far right Christians, centrally Trump Evangelical Christianity, where 84% of Evangelicals (white) have strongly supported Trump and his immoral and unjust polices including his constant lying, pride, bullying, distorting, demeaning, ad nauseum. Heck, Evangelicals still strongly support him even after his January 6th rioters stormed the Capitol, injuring 100 police officers. And Trump and theyclaim the violent far-right-winger, Ashley Babbitt, was an innocent protester!

In the Light,

Dan Wilcox

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Guest Post: WHY BOMBING UNARMED CIVILIANS IS ALWAYS WRONG--IS EVIL from "Blessing the Bombs" by Repentant priest of the bombers

Blessing the Bombs Father George Zabelka "I was there, and I was wrong. Yes, war is hell, and Christ did not come to justify the creation of hell on earth by his disciples. The justification of war may be compatible with some religions and philosophies, but it is not compatible with the nonviolent teaching of Jesus. I was wrong. And to those of whatever nationality or religion who have been hurt because I fell under the influence of the father of lies, I say with my whole heart and soul I am sorry. I beg forgiveness."



Photo of a dead toddler strapped to his young brother's back after the dropping of the Nagasaki atom bomb

I asked forgiveness from the Hibakushas (the Japanese survivors of the atomic bombings) in Japan last year, in a pilgrimage that I made with a group from Tokyo to Hiroshima. I fell on my face there at the peace shrine after offering flowers, and I prayed for forgiveness—for myself, for my country, for my church. Both Nagasaki and Hiroshima.

This year in Toronto, I again asked forgiveness from the Hibakushas present. I asked forgiveness, and they asked forgiveness for Pearl Harbor and some of the horrible deeds of the Japanese military, and there were some, and I knew of them. We embraced. We cried. Tears flowed. That is the first step of reconciliation—admission of guilt and forgiveness. Pray to God that others will find this way to peace.

This photo is from Bloody Saturday, of the slaughter of civilians in Shanghai by the Japanese Warlord Government, but the small child also represents all the hundreds of thousands of innocent children intentionally slaughtered by other governments including the United States:-(

Father George Zabelka, a Catholic chaplain with the U.S. Air Force, served as a priest for the airmen who dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, and gave them his blessing. Days later he counseled an airman who had flown a low-level reconnaissance flight over the city of Nagasaki shortly after the detonation of “Fat Man.” The man described how thousands of scorched, twisted bodies writhed on the ground in the final throes of death, while those still on their feet wandered aimlessly in shock—flesh seared, melted, and falling off. The crewman’s description raised a stifled cry from the depths of Zabelka’s soul: “My God, what have we done?”

Over the next twenty years, he gradually came to believe that he had been terribly wrong, that he had denied the very foundations of his faith by lending moral and religious support to the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Zabelka died in 1992, but his message, in this speech given on the 40th anniversary of the bombings, must never be forgotten.

The destruction of civilians in war was always forbidden by the church, and if a soldier came to me and asked if he could put a bullet through a child’s head, I would have told him, absolutely not. That would be mortally sinful. But in 1945 Tinian Island was the largest airfield in the world. Three planes a minute could take off from it around the clock. Many of these planes went to Japan with the express purpose of killing not one child or one civilian but of slaughtering hundreds and thousands and tens of thousands of children and civilians—and I said nothing.

I never preached a single sermon against killing civilians to the men who were doing it. I was brainwashed! It never entered my mind to protest publicly the consequences of these massive air raids. I was told it was necessary—told openly by the military and told implicitly by my church’s leadership. (To the best of my knowledge no American cardinals or bishops were opposing these mass air raids. Silence in such matters is a stamp of approval.)

I worked with Martin Luther King, Jr. during the Civil Rights struggle in Flint, Michigan. His example and his words of nonviolent action, choosing love instead of hate, truth instead of lies, and nonviolence instead of violence stirred me deeply. This brought me face to face with pacifism—active nonviolent resistance to evil. I recall his words after he was jailed in Montgomery, and this blew my mind. He said, “Blood may flow in the streets of Montgomery before we gain our freedom, but it must be our blood that flows, and not that of the white man. We must not harm a single hair on the head of our white brothers.”

I struggled. I argued. But yes, there it was in the Sermon on the Mount, very clear: “Love your enemies. Return good for evil.” I went through a crisis of faith. Either accept what Christ said, as unpassable and silly as it may seem, or deny him completely.

For the last 1700 years the church has not only been making war respectable: it has been inducing people to believe it is an honorable profession, an honorable Christian profession. This is not true. We have been brainwashed. This is a lie.

War is now, always has been, and always will be bad, bad news. I was there. I saw real war. Those who have seen real war will bear me out. I assure you, it is not of Christ. It is not Christ’s way. There is no way to conduct real war in conformity with the teachings of Jesus. There is no way to train people for real war in conformity with the teachings of Jesus.

The morality of the balance of terrorism is a morality that Christ never taught. The ethics of mass butchery cannot be found in the teachings of Jesus. In Just War ethics, Jesus Christ, who is supposed to be all in the Christian life, is irrelevant. He might as well never have existed. In Just War ethics, no appeal is made to him or his teaching, because no appeal can be made to him or his teaching, for neither he nor his teaching gives standards for Christians to follow in order to determine what level of slaughter is acceptable.

So the world is watching today. Ethical hairsplitting over the morality of various types of instruments and structures of mass slaughter is not what the world needs from the church, although it is what the world has come to expect from the followers of Christ. What the world needs is a grouping of Christians that will stand up and pay up with Jesus Christ. What the world needs is Christians who, in language that the simplest soul could understand, will proclaim: the follower of Christ cannot participate in mass slaughter. He or she must love as Christ loved, live as Christ lived and, if necessary, die as Christ died, loving ones enemies.

For the 300 years immediately following Jesus’ resurrection, the church universally saw Christ and his teaching as nonviolent. Remember that the church taught this ethic in the face of at least three serious attempts by the state to liquidate her. It was subject to horrendous and ongoing torture and death. If ever there was an occasion for justified retaliation and defensive slaughter, whether in form of a just war or a just revolution, this was it. The economic and political elite of the Roman state and their military had turned the citizens of the state against Christians and were embarked on a murderous public policy of exterminating the Christian community.

Yet the church, in the face of the heinous crimes committed against her members, insisted without reservation that when Christ disarmed Peter he disarmed all Christians. Christians continued to believe that Christ was, to use the words of an ancient liturgy, their fortress, their refuge, and their strength, and that if Christ was all they needed for security and defense, then Christ was all they should have. Indeed, this was a new security ethic.

Christians understood that if they would only follow Christ and his teaching, they couldn’t fail. When opportunities were given for Christians to appease the state by joining the fighting Roman army, these opportunities were rejected, because the early church saw a complete and an obvious incompatibility between loving as Christ loved and killing. It was Christ, not Mars, who gave security and peace.

Today the world is on the brink of ruin because the church refuses to be the church, because we Christians have been deceiving ourselves and the non-Christian world about the truth of Christ. There is no way to follow Christ, to love as Christ loved, and simultaneously to kill other people. It is a lie to say that the spirit that moves the trigger of a flamethrower is the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ.

It is a lie to say that learning to kill is learning to be Christ-like. It is a lie to say that learning to drive a bayonet into the heart of another is motivated from having put on the mind of Christ. Militarized Christianity is a lie. It is radically out of conformity with the teaching, life, and spirit of Jesus.

Now, brothers and sisters, on the anniversary of this terrible atrocity carried out by Christians, I must be the first to say that I made a terrible mistake. I was had by the father of lies. I participated in the big ecumenical lie of the Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox churches. I wore the uniform. I was part of the system. When I said Mass over there I put on those beautiful vestments over my uniform. (When Father Dave Becker left the Trident submarine base in 1982 and resigned as Catholic chaplain there, he said, “Every time I went to Mass in my uniform and put the vestments on over my uniform, I couldn’t help but think of the words of Christ applying to me: Beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing.”)

As an Air Force chaplain I painted a machine gun in the loving hands of the nonviolent Jesus, and then handed this perverse picture to the world as truth. I sang “Praise the Lord” and passed the ammunition. As Catholic chaplain for the 509th Composite Group, I was the final channel that communicated this fraudulent image of Christ to the crews of the Enola Gay and the Boxcar.

All I can say today is that I was wrong. Christ would not be the instrument to unleash such horror on his people. Therefore no follower of Christ can legitimately unleash the horror of war on God’s people. Excuses and self-justifying explanations are without merit. All I can say is: I was wrong! But, if this is all I can say, this I must do, feeble as it is. For to do otherwise would be to bypass the first and absolutely essential step in the process of repentance and reconciliation: admission of error, admission of guilt.

I was there, and I was wrong. Yes, war is hell, and Christ did not come to justify the creation of hell on earth by his disciples. The justification of war may be compatible with some religions and philosophies, but it is not compatible with the nonviolent teaching of Jesus. I was wrong.

And to those of whatever nationality or religion who have been hurt because I fell under the influence of the father of lies, I say with my whole heart and soul I am sorry. I beg forgiveness.

I asked forgiveness from the Hibakushas (the Japanese survivors of the atomic bombings) in Japan last year, in a pilgrimage that I made with a group from Tokyo to Hiroshima. I fell on my face there at the peace shrine after offering flowers, and I prayed for forgiveness—for myself, for my country, for my church. Both Nagasaki and Hiroshima. This year in Toronto, I again asked forgiveness from the Hibakushas present. I asked forgiveness, and they asked forgiveness for Pearl Harbor and some of the horrible deeds of the Japanese military, and there were some, and I knew of them. We embraced. We cried. Tears flowed. That is the first step of reconciliation—admission of guilt and forgiveness. Pray to God that others will find this way to peace.

All religions have taught brotherhood. All people want peace. It is only the governments and war departments that promote war and slaughter. So today again I call upon people to make their voices heard. We can no longer just leave this to our leaders, both political and religious. They will move when we make them move. They represent us. Let us tell them that they must think and act for the safety and security of all the people in our world, not just for the safety and security of one country. All countries are inter-dependent. We all need one another. It is no longer possible for individual countries to think only of themselves. We can all live together as brothers and sisters or we are doomed to die together as fools in a world holocaust.

Each one of us becomes responsible for the crime of war by cooperating in its preparation and in its execution. This includes the military. This includes the making of weapons. And it includes paying for the weapons. There’s no question about that. We’ve got to realize we all become responsible. Silence, doing nothing, can be one of the greatest sins.

The bombing of Nagasaki means even more to me than the bombing of Hiroshima. By August 9, 1945, we knew what that bomb would do, but we still dropped it. We knew that agonies and sufferings would ensue, and we also knew—at least our leaders knew—that it was not necessary. The Japanese were already defeated. They were already suing for peace. But we insisted on unconditional surrender, and this is even against the Just War theory. Once the enemy is defeated, once the enemy is not able to hurt you, you must make peace.

As a Catholic chaplain I watched as the Boxcar, piloted by a good Irish Catholic pilot, dropped the bomb on Urakami Cathedral in Nagasaki, the center of Catholicism in Japan. I knew that St. Francis Xavier, centuries before, had brought the Catholic faith to Japan. I knew that schools, churches, and religious orders were annihilated. And yet I said nothing.

Thank God that I’m able to stand here today and speak out against war, all war. The prophets of the Old Testament spoke out against all false gods of gold, silver, and metal. Today we are worshipping the gods of metal, the bomb. We are putting our trust in physical power, militarism, and nationalism. The bomb, not God, is our security and our strength. The prophets of the Old Testament said simply: Do not put your trust in chariots and weapons, but put your trust in God. Their message was simple, and so is mine.

We must all become prophets. I really mean that. We must all do something for peace. We must stop this insanity of worshipping the gods of metal. We must take a stand against evil and idolatry. This is our destiny at the most critical time of human history. But it’s also the greatest opportunity ever offered to any group of people in the history of our world—to save our world from complete annihilation.

This article is excerpted from a speech George Zabelka gave at a Pax Christi conference in August 1985 (tape of speech obtained from Notre Dame University Archives). The first two paragraphs are from an interview with Zabelka published in Sojourners magazine, August 1980. https://www.plough.com/en/topics/justice/nonviolence/blessing-the-bombs

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

HELP the Police SERVE and PROTECT by funding additional money for a RESOURCE Psychologist for Calls of Domestic Violence and Drug Abuse

HELP the Police SERVE and PROTECT by funding additional money for every large police department to have a RESOURCE psychologist-social worker to travel with the officers to all domestic violence, drug abuse, etc. calls.

IF one had been with the infamous Derek Chauvin attack during the arrest of the law-breaker George Floyd, probably, Chauvin wouldn’t have gotten away with killing Floyd. Nor would have Floyd resisted arrest when he became paranoid because of the large amount of illegal drugs in his system. The RESOURCE officer could have calmed the dangerous situation.

Then Floyd, who had tried to cheat (by using a fake bill) at a store could have been dealt with in a moderate, calm matter rather than with a fight.

In the LIGHT of Justice, Compassion, Protection,

Dan Wilcox

Monday, August 2, 2021

My Response to “Friends, Racial Justice, and Policing” by Cherice Bock

https://chericebock.com/2021/07/24/published-friends-racial-justice-policing-western-friend/

https://www.fcnl.org/sites/default/files/2020-12/Friends%2C%20Racial%20Justice%2C%20and%20Policing%20A%20Biblical%20Economy%20of%20Care-%20Annual%20Meeting%202020%20-%20final.pdf

First, let me give a few notes on my past that have to do with Cherice Bock and with Friends Committee on National Legislation.

#1 I’ve been a part of the Quaker movement since my first visit to a meeting in 1967 in Philadelphia, PA. That occurred when I was serving my conscientious objector service in a mental hospital for children and teens, after I was drafted.

#2 My wife and I have read information on racial reconciliation, justice, and peacemaking by FCNL for many years. We always found FCNL to be a voice for justice with a moderate tone, emphasizing compassionate listening and peace-making, unlike many groups which have sometimes been strident, ideological, and inaccurate in their writing.

#3 When Cherice Bock was part of Freedom Friends in Salem, Oregon. I regularly read her informative articles because of her emphasis upon spiritual reflection and her concern for the environment. Even though my wife and I were members of the Sierra Club for years, etc., Cherice Bock’s articles helped me to gain new understandings of ecology.

As I recall, her articles were warm-hearted, fair, and passioned. Kudos for her.

HOWEVER, she seems to have changed. At least her article for FCNL is disheartening, makes false ideological claims, and contradicts the many news sources I followed when studying the protests in Portland last year.

Side note: It is possible that all the news sources and news videos—including ones from the Portland TV station—that I watched are incorrect. Maybe, they were all wrong, and I failed to see news accounts that were more true to the actual crises there in Portland, Chicago, Minneapolis, etc. But I doubt it.

Please readers, if you have contrary video evidence of police in Portland or elsewhere attacking peaceful and civil protestors, please send me url and I will watch it.

PART #1: I am thankful that Cherice Bock started out by acknowledging/referencing the historical evils that were done to Indigenous people of Oregon.

Too, often very few Americans now living know anything about the immoral and unjust actions of early Oregonians toward people of color (including Native Americans, Asians, and Blacks).

From libraryguides.lanecc.edu/kalapuya: “The Kalapuyans are a Native American ethnic group. Many of their contemporary descendants are members of the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon. The Kalapuyan traditional homelands were in the Willamette, Elk Creek, and Calapooya Creek watersheds of Western Oregon. They hunted and gathered as far east and west as the Cascades and Coast ranges and traded with the Chinookans to the north and Coos peoples on the coast. Their major tribes were the Tualatin, Yamhill, and Ahantchuyuk at the north, the Santiam, Luckamiute, Tekopa, Chenapinefu in the central valley and the Chemapho, Chelamela, Chafin, Peyu (Mohawk), and Winefelly in the southern Willamette Valley. The most southern, Yoncalla, had a village on the Row River and villages in the Umpqua Valley and so lived in both valleys. The major tribal territories were divided by the Willamette River and its tributaries.” https://libraryguides.lanecc.edu/kalapuya

One needs to keep in mind however, that like ALL of us humans, indigenous natives of the America were immoral and unjust at times. Evil isn’t only lived out by only white Europeans. (Heck, over a million white Europeans were enslaved by North Africans and the Ottoman Empire between the 15th and 19th centuries!)

While the Kalapuyans were stolen from, oppressed, killed, and displaced by whites invading from the east coast of the U.S., the Kalapuyans also engaged in wrong actions before white Europeans ever showed up, including enslaving others:

“As was the case for many tribes of the Pacific Northwest, the Kalapuyans practiced slavery, with slaves generally obtained through trade or as gifts. Northern Kalapuyan groups, such as the Tualatin and Yamhill, would obtain slaves through trade with other tribes. Slaves would be obtained by raids on distant tribes or through servitude related to paying off debts. Slaves were considered a form of wealth and were used for the purchase of desired commodities, including beads, blankets, and canoes.”

https://libraryguides.lanecc.edu/kalapuya

#2 Charice Bock: “I think it is incredibly important for white people to tell these stories and do the emotional labor of trying to communicate about police brutality, its links to racism, and the bigger links to economic access and natural resources.”

In this short sentence, Charice Bock combines truth with inaccurate claims. First, I agree that European-Americans, including those who live now (such as myself, of Scottish, Scandinavian, German, and English ancestry*) ought to research history to understand what has been done wrong, (as well as right) and make diligent efforts to correct any evils of the past that still shadow the present.

Second, in contrast, her next phrase is an example of inaccuracy and ideological untruths that are contrary to the facts of this last year.

Related to these false statements, is her inaccurate claim that “Police forces emerged in this country as a way to return escaped slaves to their masters.”

Based upon my extensive reading of scholarly books and teaching American literature for many years, I think it is valid to state that some police forces in slave states did at least partially come from slave patrols.

But policing in the U.S. came because of many other reasons as well. It is a distortion of history to make the claim that American police came from slave patrols. Some of it did, but in many cases it didn’t.

Boston allegedly established the first city police force in 1751, in Boston in 1838, and New York in 1845. None of those were established as a slave patrol!

Boston’s police force was established to protect the harbor, etc. from criminals.

“…by the late 1880s, all major U.S. cities had police forces. Fears of labor-union organizers and of large waves of Catholic, Irish, Italian, German, and Eastern European immigrants, who looked and acted differently from the people who had dominated cities before, drove the call for the preservation of law and order, or at least the version of it promoted by dominant interests. For example, people who drank at taverns rather than at home were seen as “dangerous” people by others, but they might have pointed out other factors such as how living in a smaller home makes drinking in a tavern more appealing. (The irony of this logic, Potter points out, is that the businessmen who maintained this belief were often the ones who profited off of the commercial sale of alcohol in public places.)
Time.com/4779112/police-history-origins/

As for “police brutality,” some officers do fail their duty and engage in brutalty. All professions have those who do what is immoral and unjust. It happens with medical malpractice, biased court decisions, religious leaders' acts of molestation, unfair teachers, etc.
HOWEVER, it is not the present action of the vast majority of police in the U.S.

On the contrary, when many thousands of BLM demonstrators attacked police last year, including injuring about 50 Chicago police officers, the latter being greatly outnumbered by the violence of the protestors, most police actually were praiseworthy for their limited defensive actions.

In my own educated judgment, law enforcement oficers were way too lenient, letting violent demonstraters get away with assaults, destruction, and even arson!

IF in doubt, for instance, watch the YouTube video by the Black Chicago Police Chief who documents moment by moment the planned intentional violent attacks of the protestors against a few Chicago officers trying to do their duty.

Watch the news videos, again, of the many violent attacks by Portland protesters all last year!

Many of these demonstrators are NOTHING like the peaceful civil rights workers of the early 1960's and late 1950s such as at Birminghan where even when viciously attacked by police and their dogs and fire hoses, those prptesters continued to live by nonviolence.

Have you read the accounts from multiple sources of all the violence by demonstraters in various cities across the U.S., watched the tragic videos of them breaking laws and attacking police, etc.?

In Portland, repeatedly for over 100 days, violent protesters attacked police, committed vandalism, some even arson and did many thousands of dollars worth of damage to the Federal Court House in Portland.

It appears, based upon many news accounts of those horrific days that the violent protesters in Oregon misbehaved like the violent protesters who attacked police and broke into the Capitol on Jaunuary 6th.

The destruction of thousands of businesses in Minneapolis, and other cities, IS violence!

Haven’t you read about the many business owners who have lost everything?

Small stores operate on very thin margin. Vandalism against them by protesters harms the owners, some of whom are Blacks and other people of color.

Even IF, no humans suffered great loss, protesters using violence in the pursuit of justice is a severe violation of moral realism. The “end” never justifies the means.

Furthermore, violence of all sorts is immoral and unjust, like Martin Luther King emphasized.

As for the claim that U.S. police are guilty of racism, it’s partially true. In my own limited life, I’ve met racist cops. Their prejudice is appalling!

HOWEVER, most law enforcement officers aren’t racist. Heck, many of them are Black, Asian, and other minorities, and they are dedicated to fair treatment, equality, and justice.

During my teaching career, I taught at least 2 high schools that were mostly minorities. In our classes we had Black, Mexican-American, Filipino, Arab, Hmong, Vietnamese.

Tragically we also had gangs including at least one white gang.

When over 100 students of 2 different minorites started a horrific fight on the high school field in California, we had 11 squad cars on campus.

Those officers did an amazing job of protecting innocent students and stopping the violence!

And here is one powerful example: When my wife and I were members of a BIC church (part of Mennonite world) in Tulare, California, one of the elders was a Mexican-American police officer. He came from a poor family, his older brothers were in gangs, and when he got to his early teens, he broke the law.

HOWEVER, unlike so many tragic cases like this where teens have bad families including gang members, who themselves then go down that crooked path, a police officer, rather than only do his duty and arrest the teen, took a personal interest in him for himself. By that police officer’s interest, the teen left crime and gangs, and eventually became an officer himself. (It’s a wonderful testimony he shared one Sunday to the congregation.)

Of course, there are plenty of true stories of police officers being prejudiced.

But most police aren’t racist nor are they unfair.

That doesn’t take away from the facts that there are some racist officers who harm innocent individuals. Those officers need to be arrested and strongly opposed.

To be continued--

In the Light,

Dan Wilcox

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Becoming Mindful--listen to Thich Nhat Hanh's words of wisdom

Thich Nhat Hanh is a Vietnamese Engaged Buddhist monk. During his difficult life in Vietnam, he endured all sorts of hardships, including the killings of family members and friends by the French, American, and Vietnamese military.

An orphanage that he started was bombed!

And yet, he is a walking example of joy and gratitude, despite the horrors and tragedies.

During the long conflict, he led many thousands of Vietnamese young people in reconciling work among civilians harmed by the fighting.
Martin Luther King nominated Nhat Hanh for the 1967 Nobel Peace Prize for his work of nonviolence and peacemaking.

In the mid-70’s, he helped rescue Vietnamese escaping from Vietnam.

Even in the worst events, Nhat Hanh would ask himself what he could be thankful for even if it was only the blue sky and brown earth, and that he was still breathing.

“Suffering is not enough. Life is both dreadful and wonderful. How can I smile when I am filled with so much sorrow? It is natural—you need to smile at your suffering because you are more than your sorrow.” Thich Nhat Hanh

Saturday, July 31, 2021

WHAT IS REALITY?

2 Divergent, Contradictory Ways of Human Perceiving

Poetry versus prose, fact versus story, symbolic versus technologic, intuitive versus rational, emotion versus logic, experience versus learning, reason versus tradition,

religion versus science, transcendent versus temporal, sacred versus secular, spiritual versus material, supernatural versus natural, personal versus impersonal—

What bipolar opposites!

Yet they both exist within every one of us, the human species.

HOWEVER some modern thinkers claim they are irreconcilable.

Yet from a different angle, these 2 ways of perceiving, “seeing,” so often divergent and opposite, do sometimes interrelate.

They aren’t always extreme clashers/antithetical/ contradictory/mutually incompatible/ not always (as in never shall the twain meet) like “fundamentalists” of religion and “scientilists” of science adamantly claim--incompatible.

But they do, indeed, offer 2 very different ways of perceiving reality.

The HUGE question is whether those perceptions are mutally exclusive or complimentary, even married as in the old saw--opposites attract:-).

The issue of these 2 divergent ways of perceiving is like the old joke about sex: Is the word, sex, an acronym for “sensitive experiential ecstasy”?

OR

the short term for biological interaction between a primate with XY chromosomes with one with XX chromosomes?

Or like the joke pun about the elephant versus the mouse in the room?

It’s ‘irrelevant’;- like these last few lines.)

-- #1 Our first contrast:

POETRY/STORY:

From the Jewish, Christian, Islamic religions, the ancient text of Genesis (written 500 B.C.E. in Babylon by Jewish scribes as a poem to honor the 7th day of Shabbat)

Genesis 1 In the beginning of G-d’s preparing the heavens and the earth — 2 the earth hath existed waste and void, and darkness on the face of the deep, and the Wind of G-d fluttering on the face of the waters, And G-d said, "Let light be; and light is."

On the 4th day of Creation: 14 And G-d said, "Let luminaries be in the expanse of the heavens...and the stars..." And there is an evening and there is a morning, day 4.

VERSUS

PROSE/FACT:

From the Lecture 113--8. Early Universe by astronomer Chris Impey, University of Arizona, Tucson

"...the frontier of knowledge is...the Planck Era. An amazing ten to the minus 43 seconds after the big bang.

“Conceptually, this is a time in the infinite universe when space itself was as curved as a particle. When the distinction between space and time did not exist. Or the objects in space and the space that contain them. This was when the universe was smaller than the smallest subatomic particle.

“Just thinking about the Big Bang, it's an extraordinary event. A 100 billion galaxies and a 100,000 billion, billion stars they contained were all compressed into a space smaller than a sub atomic particle. What the big bang theory really says is that... The universe itself was created in a quantum event...

“...a theory of black holes, of galaxies, and a theory of, of atoms, of light, of force. So, we have two great theories of physics, the theory of the very big, Einstein's Theory of Relativity, and the theory of the very small, the Quantum Theory...

“The exponential expansion of inflation essentially blew up quantum fluctuations to macroscopic size, where they would subsequently become the seeds for galaxy formation. That same expansion of course, is responsible for the flatness and smoothness of space. Whatever the initial curvature, and it must have been extreme, space has now inflated to an enormous size, or space curvature in any large region is negligible.

“This idea puts the microwave sky in a whole new light. What is says is that when we look at the microwave background radiation through a radio telescope, we're look at quantum fluctuations writ large on the sky, the seeds for galaxy formation.

“So hypothetically, about a microsecond after the Big Bang, the universe would have had a temperature of about a trillion degrees. That's the energy from which neutrons and protons can have their anti-particle pairs created spontaneously out of pure energy. Below that temperature, or after that time, such creation is not possible. The speculation is that there was a very slight imbalance in the amount of matter versus anti-matter.

“From the time a few minutes after the Big Bang until just under 400,000 years after the Big Bang, the universe was simply an expanding and cooling plasma, cooling from a temperature of 10 million Kelvin down to about 3,000 Kelvin. When the universe reached this size, density and temperature, it reached the point where electrons could combine with protons to form stable hydrogen and also helium atoms.

“It takes perhaps 100 or 200 million years after the Big Bang for the first objects to switch on as light bulbs in the sky. Stars and galaxies." https://www.coursera.org/learn/astro/lecture/RFkHq/8-early-universe

-- The first account is poetic story, from us finite primates looking up and creating, telling a narrative of meaning.

The second account is factual prose, from us observing, discerning objective facts in the cosmos.

Are these two perspectives totally contradictory?

Is a complete divorce necessary as well as the killing of the former, like some secular scientists such as biologists Jerry Coyne and Richard Dawkins and astrophysicist Brian Greene think?

For instance, Greene, states: “The ancient declaration that "nothing exists but atoms and the void," is not far from the truth.” Though Greene does add, “But what's wondrous is all that atoms in the void, when arranged in organized configurations, can accomplish.”

Of course, then the question is HOW and WHY?

IF there is no story, no creator, no transcendence, no worth, no meaning, no moral realism, no human rights, etc.—“nothing except atoms and the void” HOW/WHY did those multi-trillions of “organized configurations” in Reality come about?!

What is the “void”?

I suppose many famous atheists could be correct when they posit CHANCE brought forth “organized configurations.” Given enough to infinity, possibly laws of physics, galaxies, solar systems, Life, consciousness, reason, math, stories, morals, etc. could have luckily appeared into existence over deep time, though I don’t see how.

Or why.

OR is the very contrary opposite account of what is REAL, actually the truth?

Reality is a sharing couple of both meaningful story and atoms-matter-energy facts, committed to interaction like geneticist Francis Collins, astrophysicist George Ellis, and astronomer Chris Impey think?

According to Chris Impey, the two contrary views are interrelated:

"We're made of tiny subatomic particles and are part of a vast space-time arena, yet we hold both extremes in our heads...the powerful narrative that science has created to help us organize and understand the world.

“We have a story of how the universe grew from a jot of space-time to the splendor of 50 billion galaxies. We have a story of how a broth of molecules on the primeval Earth turned into flesh and blood.

“And we have a story of how one of the millions of species evolved to hold those 50 billion galaxies inside its head." How It Began page xii, How It Ends, page 11 By Chris Impey

-- At this aged point in my long life of seeking and searching, BOTH the storied poetic and the factual matter-energy intrigue me and guide me.

I love both ways of perceiving.

In the Light,

Dan Wilcox

Sunday, July 18, 2021

All mass movements such as BLM, ANTIFA, EVANGELICAL TRUMPISM, CANCEL CULTURE, etc. "BREED FANATICISM...INTOLERANCE..." from the True Believer

"...some peculiarities common to all mass movements...all of them irrespective of the doctrines they preach and the program they project, BREED FANATICISM...HATRED and INTOLERANCE..."

from The True Believer
by Eric Hoffer


Tuesday, July 13, 2021

I Was a Nonviolent S.D.S. Radical: A Beginning Memoir of My Life in the 1960's

Late in 1964, I experienced a spiritual transformation, went from being a gung-ho rightwing individual (like my parents and work boss) who supported the bombing of Vietnam to realizing that such a war stance is contrary to the Way of Jesus as presented in the Sermon on the Mount, etc.

So, instead of joining the Navy Reserves after high school and going to Vietnam to kill communists for Christ, I chose a third way. At the time all of my relatives, friends, everyone I knew in Nebraska supported the war.

But there was a former missionary and a Mennonite family who also opposed war. Thus, I became a conscientious objector.

I applied for that status with my draft board. Even after those 2 witnesses vouched that I was opposed to war including the Vietnam War, our Draft Board in Lincoln, Nebraska still interviewed me, grilled me personally on various specific violent situations, such as what if your family is attacked by killers, etc.

Finally, they gave me the I.O. status, which meant that when drafted, I would be performing nonviolent alternative service, working with poor people in Latin America or with mental patients, etc. instead of killing.

A couple of years later, when I was drafted and taking my physical with many other young men, the friendly Black medical sergeant who was testing me, after seeing my conscientious objector status, started calling me “Brother Love.”

Then in the summer of 1965, after my graduation from Lincoln Southeast High School, a week later, I started attending the University of Nebraska. With in a few weeks, I became involved with the student protestors, those opposed to the War and opposed to segregation and racism.

The first protest I attended was for the latter. It was one against Apartheid in South Africa.

With in a few weeks, I also joined a new social action-civil rights-anti-war organization called Students for a Democratic Society.

Of course, this was long before when S.D.S. turned to hate and violence, arson, attacks on police, etc. like it did with its splinter group, the WeatherUnderground and its bombings, arson, and violence at various universities including Kent State University in 1970.

To make a long complex story brief, by the spring of 1967, I was living as a spiritual hippie in Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco, but got drafted that summer. BELOW is a picture of me in the spring of 1967.

I was sent to serve my service time at a mental hospital for emotionally disturbed children and teens in Trevose, Pennsyvania, got evicted from my apartment for an anti-war sign on the back of my Greenbriar van, “the Mystical Hippopotamus”:-), etc.

As the nonviolent protests of the 60’s turned to hate and violence, even arson, bombings, and killings, I despaired. Where had the wondrous nonviolent altrusim of Martin Luther King, John Lewis and others gone?

I very strongly rejected the new hatred and violence of the extremists. IInstead, I emphasized more and more the Quaker and MLK way of reconciliation.

Standing in silent Quaker-like vigils against the War, we tried in many conversations to reason with others (both violent and nonviolent), including a soldier who had just come back from Vietnam, where he had been seriously injured in his left leg.

That whole tragic absurd period of history was “the Best of Times, the Worst of Times.”

Still radical after all these years*

Dan Wilcox

*an obvious paraphrase of a famous Paul Simon song title:-)

Sunday, July 4, 2021

WHY I USED TO FLY THE STAR-SPANGLED BANNER, but no longer do so.

Here’s an incredible irony: BLMer’s, Democrats, and others are up in arms demanding the banning of the Confederate battle flag. I’m certainly not a fan of that flag that glorified killing and that represented a nation whose leaders believed in the institution of slavery.


HOWEVER, HERE’S THE IRONY: NONE of these BLMer’s, Democrats, and most Americans plan to ban Old Glory, the U.S. flag even though it flew over the U.S. in defense of slavery, invasive wars, huge land thefts, etc. from 1776 to 1865, a total of 89 years!

Even after 1865, though slavery had become illegal, actual slavery, racism, and legal discrimination continued in many states until the 1960's and 70's!

In 1877, President Hayes made a deal with the racist Redeemers and removed all Federal troops from the South.
The Redeemers brought in Jim Crow, Negro Codes, and Segregation. There were "Sundown" towns in the north. President Woodrow Wilson segregated the U.S. government offices! All of these horrors lasted until the 1970's!

-- Even after the Emancipation Proclamation of Lincoln in 1863, slave owners in the Union were allowed to keep their slaves. The Union slaves weren’t freed until the end of the war in 1865.

Lincoln had meant the E.P. only for slaves not under his control in a separate nation, the Confederacy. So, he freed slaves he couldn’t, and kept slaves that he could have freed in the U.S., enslaved!

And Lincoln was still trying to convince all Negros to move from the U.S. back to Africa or go to Latin America in 1863. Lincoln didn’t think that Blacks could live with Whites because he believed Blacks were inferior. While he opposed slavery, he didn’t think Blacks were equal, nor that they should be allowed to vote or serve on juries, etc.

During the Revolutionary War, and especially the War of 1812 the British offered freedom to American slaves, BUT the Americans, supposedly for freedom and liberty, continued to support slavery!

And in the invasion of Mexico and the annexation of Texas, the U.S. supported slavery, while Mexico had banned slavery.

Over the years, in some cases, Old Glory has stood for freedom and genrosity, but in the last 247-years most of the time it has stood for invasions and the rejection of refugees such as when we rejected escaping Jews from Nazi Germany in the late 1930's!

And now in the last 4 years, we've again supported a harsh rejection of the "huddled" refugees, a denial of the Statue of Liberty.


STATUE of LIBERTY on the 4TH of July: "Give me your huddled masses, longing to be free..."


Dan Wilcox

Thursday, July 1, 2021

The HORROR of Natural Evil and Human Evil Actions including the tragedy in Miami



WHY AREN'T TERRIBLE TRAGEDIES LIKE THE BUILIDNG COLLAPSE PREVENTED?

Or questioners could have cited the horrific tsunami in Indonesia in 2004 that slaughtered over 240,000 innocent humans.

Or the 30 Years War, where about 1/3 of all the population of the area of Germany died, about 4-12 millions humans!

The list of human and natural evil events are endless. As a reader of many history book for many years, and a teacher of the American and world literature/history, and the Holocaust, etc., while at the same time being a liberal Christian, I couldn't account for these thousands of years of millions of events of horrific evil.

NONE of the lame theodicies of Christian theologians were satisfying. Most of them made the horrors all that more evil.

Thankfully, I wasn't a creedal Christian, but I did read in depth terrible answers from creedal theologians:

1. God doesn't owe humans any thing because we are his creations and so don't even deserve to exist at all. Its God's grace that we get to live at all.

2. God doesn't rescue the millions of infants who die horrible deaths because at conception, they are in "essence, evil" even though they haven't yet sinned. Michael Wigglesworth the famous American Calvinist stated in his theological poem that was a favorite in nearly every house in New England, that infants will be given "the easist room" in Hell.

3. God plans/ordains/wills all of those horrific evils because all evil brings God "glory" and "good pleasure." That was a favorite of Calvinist leaders:-( Even the Holocaust will give God glory! Whew:-(

4. God gave Adam and Eve free will but they ate the apple so they lost free will and all of us are thus damned, but God provides a limited number of humans, chosen before the foundation of the cosmos, eternal life. IF Adam hadn't sinned, then there would be no natural or human evils. ETC.

I also remember how many Muslim world leaders claimed the tsunami was for specific sins that the 240,000 humans had committed. And, also, one of the key doctrines of Islam is that whatever happens in reality is God's will. ETC.

So what did I do?

As a follower of Jesus and a moral realist, I was convinced that all evils--human atrocities, natural disasters, disease, etc.--are contrary to what is good, what is true, what is just.

So I was left with the terrible contradiction of God's love for every single human versus the utter lack of God's stopping constant evil-- hanging over me-- like a gullotine.

My whole focus was--and still is--on fighting against all human evil actions, and helping to alleviate those who suffer in natural disasters, etc. That is also how some Christian relief-development agencies deal with this.

For instance, MCC and World Vision, which has rescued millions of children and families from poverty, etc. since its founding int he 1950's states that the suffering of any and all humans "breaks God's heart."

They don't attempt to answer how this claim is so contradicted by all of the horrrific evils they work against.

My last comments: It seems to me, that those who think horrific human evil and terrible disasters, cancer, etc. show that God isn't in control is correct. Human history and current events prove that there is no monotheistic God who loves all humans infinitely.

There is too much evidence to the contrary.

Of course, I don't agree that the evidence proves that atheism is true. (But that's another story, why I don't think atheism is true, why I am a Process-theist.

In the Light of the Good, the True, and the Just,

Dan Wilcox

Monday, June 14, 2021

Review of a Navajo Mystery Novel: Skinwalkers by Tony Hillerman

Winner of the 1988 Anthony Award for Best Novel

Winner of the 1987 Spur Award for Best Western Novel

Note: I'm not much of a mysteries reader, however, I needed a break from the 3 long histories I am working my way through, including one on the English in the 16th century, so decided to get back to a Tony Hillerman novel, another one set on the Navajo Reservation in New Mexico.

SKINWALKERS by Tony Hillerman Rating 7/3


The 2 central characters are Navajo police officers, Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn, both of whom graduated from the University of New Mexico.

That is also where Tony Hillerman earned his master's degree in English. And he later joined the faculty in the journalism department.

I've speculated about whether or not he may have actually met a Navajo attending the university, also.

The first time I read Skinwalkers, years ago, I hated it, mostly because of all the heavy emphasis upon Navaho witchcraft, extensive superstition, etc. As I recall, after that I took a dimmer view of Hillerman’s novels because they kept seeming to bring up the theme in later books too.

SPOILERS ALERT

I realize that all of us humans have a tendency toward irrationalism. But the extensive beliefs of witchcraft in the 20th century by many Navajos shocked me. Also, previously I had found out that the Navajo back in the 19th century when they had been oppressed by white invaders were actually violent raiders like the Apaches, not only innocent victims of U.S. Government abuse and oppression.

It's sort of like years ago discovering that Columbus, the famous explorer, who even has a holiday in the U.S. named after him, was a enslaver and mass killer! And that even some leaders of the Cherokee Nation were slave owners. History is far more complicated and contradictory than most people realize.
Still, having said all those particulars, I did enjoy some of this 2nd reading of the narrative. Since I knew the witchcraft theme and plot details were going to be there, I just let them slide by as I kept focused on the suspense, complicated plot. and Hillerman's amazing descriptions of NM settings and weather events.

Unfortunately, the 2nd half of the novel, especially the last 50 pages—its climax, villain-revelation, etc. are very UNDERWHELMING, and unconvincing, and blah.

Dr. Yellowhorse’s socially-inspired fraud, lying, deception, use of witchcraft superstitions of his Navajo patients don’t seem in any way a convincing reason for him to murder the 4 he did, and his attempted murdering of Officer Chee.

Also, it’s very weird that Chee and Leaphorn aren’t going to pursue and arrest the patients who because of Yellowhorse’s lies murdered others! HUH? Not only is that dereliction of duty, immoral and unjust, it is contrary to criminal justice.

I suppose their decision is somehow based in Navajo culture. But it is definitely a wrong decision. Another reason the book fails.

SIDE NOTE: I didn’t even plan to ever read Skinwalkers again, but Betsy and I watched a TV movie of the story, so I wanted to read the novel to try and understand some parts of the plot that were unclear in the movie.

But SHOCK! I quickly discovered that about the only connection between the 2 very different stories is the title, witchcraft, and Chee and Leaphorn!

Yes, I know that often Hollywood changes stories drastically when they make movies of novels. Koontz famous statement comes to mind about how Hollywood so butchered his great novel Watchers at least 3 times. He said that if Hollywood didn’t make another adaption of his book, he would know that there is a god;-).

STILL, I can’t fathom why the movie, Skinwalkers is so totally different in themes, central plots, and characters from Hillerman’s novel. About the only character who is the same is the abandoned Manx cat, evidently left by a tourist who comes, scared of coyotes, to Chee’s place for food and shelter.

Except maybe, the director and screenwriter also saw the fatal failure of the novel’s central plot, climax, and ending. So, they vastly changed all of those things.

I do think that the movie’s efforts are far better than the poor central plot villain, climax, and ending of the book.

Here’s a few of the striking contrasts:

1. The movie starts out with a Navaho Shaman 1. In the book, NONE of that exists with a distinctive headband, Instead, almost immediately, an starting to open the wooden back gate of his unknown assailant fires shot gun truck, when suddenly out of the darkness, blasts at bed level into Chee’s a flash of movement—and his up-reached trailer, trying to murder him! This arm at the shoulder is pierced all the way plot episode doesn’t happen in the through to the wood of the tail gate! movie until much later.
He dies.

2. In the movie, there are 3 sets of 3 NONE OF THESE ARE IN THE BOOK! key visual plot characters There are no shamans.
images/details: 3 headbands with 3 visual images; 3 shamans wear these.

and ONE central image: that of an ancient native American pictograph that is painted by the murdered man in blood on the ground with a head with horns! This is very emphasized and repeated.

3. Both the movie and the book oppose most Navajo superstition, especially belief in witchcraft, (though not the positive “Blessing Way” beliefs of Chee). HOWEVER, via completely different contrary plots, the book and movie show the extreme danger of extremism against superstition!

Because, even though sincere Navajo witchcraft superstition often leads to harm, abuse, and killing, a very strong secular reaction or a secular use of superstition can lead to the same bad immoral and unjust actions as ignorant belief.

In the book, the doctor Stone In the movie, the doctor Yellowhorse, murders the 3 shamans has 4 people murdered, and attempts who gave his father false to have Chee murdered to cover up claims of healing and failed to his bogus use of Navajo superstition have him see a doctor, so his in order to improve Navajos’ health father died.

In general, and to enrich himself via fraud.
4. In the movie, the actual central villain, far Same as above.
more than the revengeful doctor, is the Manufacturing company’s past use of lead that so harms native Americans, including the 12-year- old boy who is being abused by his cruel father and Is hanging out with gang members.

This shows how, not only superstition can kill, This shows how the ends never justify But so can scientific technology wrongly used!

the means—lying, conning with superstition, and even murder.
5. In the book, both Leaphorn and Chee get shot.

In the movie, Chee gets hit with a Stone/rock by the doctor.
6. In the book, Leaphorn is almost Sherlock-Holmes’ In the movie, Chee has to, it appears, intellectually brilliant observations and conclusions, help inform the ignorant secular and though he is still solidly Navajo, he takes a very Leaphorn about Navajo ways and Secular dim view of superstition.

Traditional beliefs
7. A significant thematic irony is that the secular Navajo Janet Peet, legal-lawyer gets guilty individuals who Chee arrested released from jail!

In the movie it was 3 carjackers who stole the car of foreign tourists. Even though they are guilty, Peet gets them released because Chee arrested them on federal land, not actually on the Reservation.

But in the book, Peet believes in a stranger’s phone call; so she gets the Navajo that Chee has arrested for admitting to having shot at another because she thinks that the alleged shooter is innocent, and that Chee is guilty of false imprisonment.

It turns out the phone call was a lie. And the caller then murders the alleged shooter.

IF Peet hadn’t used legal methods, the Navajo that Chee had arrested would have remained safely in jail.

8. Another irony is that in the book, Chee is called to go out to a stranger, Goldtooth’s, and conduct one of his first Blessing Way rituals a positive belief of the Navajo to help her recover. He is very excited to do this.

BUT actually, Goldtooth is a Navajo woman who has died of a fatal illness 3 months before. The request is a killer’s ploy to get Chee out in the desert to murder him, believing that Chee is a witch who has made her baby very ill. Only if Chee is killed can her infant be saved.

In contrast, in the movie, the accounts of his Blessing Way ritual are different, (though I don’t remember the details now. My short-term memory is getting terrible:-(

And there are far more, intriguing aspects, details, and themes in both the movie and the book; maybe I will remember and document more later.

WOW, I am having so much intellectual fun thinking about and doing this literary analysis and compare and contrast and themes, etc.

I wish I was still teaching. This would be a marvelous assignment for an honors or bright college prep class of juniors

Evaluation: B/D-

-Dan Wilcox

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Abortion: the Mother's Human Rights and the Premature Infant's Rights--How to Resolve this Moral Connundrum

Live Action: 2nd Trimester Surgical Abortion Dilation and Evacuation (D & E) from Τράπεζα Ἰδεῶν on Vimeo.



1. A mother's right as a woman shows that she, and she only ought to be the one to decide when faced with difficult, even tragic pregnancies in consultation with her husband and her doctor.

ALL politicians ought to stay out! Both those of the right and the left who treat the mother and preborn infant impersonally without considering the very real tragic situations.

Having said, that,the preborn infant, though connected to his/her mother before birth is also a human with rights and inherent worth.

2. Regardless of one's philosophical views, scientifically, at human conception what is conceived is a human life, which soon becomes an embryo, "a separate body and brain.

This embryo unless it fails (miscarriage) or it is killed (abortion) eventually becomes a fetus--M,W. Dictionary--"a developing human from usually two months after conception to birth" and then at 9 months is delivered and separated from his/her mother.

Ultrasounds, especially video ones show that in late development, the unborn fetus is exactly the same as a born infant. Probably, this is one reason that some states treat the murder of a woman and her fetus as 2 murders.

3. According to the Journal of the AMA, the infant can feel pain by the 23rd week. Premature births usually survive at about the 24th week.

Based upon that, it would seem from a scientific view, that then those in the womb at the 23rd week are basically the same as a birthed infant with inherne worth and human rights.

4. The difficulty, of course, comes because the fetus is still attached to his/her mother, and so, the mother needs to be the deciding one since the infant is still in her womb. When there is a tragedly, the mother is usually chosen for life over the premature infant.

Let me repeat, all political leaders of the right and left ought to stay out of tragedy.

5. Conclusion: "... all thinking people recognise a painful conflict of rights and interest in this question". Christopher Hitchens

In an interview, Hitchens also said that while he wasn't in favor of abortion, he wouldn't go beyond an effort of persuasion. "I myself was reluctant to do this even when my wife got pregnant. It came at the worst possible time. Neither of us wanted to have a kid. My wife was considering an abortion. I urged her not to get one, and ultimately, she decided not to, and didn’t. But I wouldn’t have, even if I could, gone beyond an effort to persuade her."


IF a mother--decides to abort or to birth her little one, that is her difficult moral decision to make, not strangers who don't even know her medical case.

Contrary to some ethical thinkers now, killing an infant after birth because he/she has Downs Syndrome or isn't wanted, is murder.

Infanticide is the worst of unjust human actions.

And the extreme of abortion-on-demand, where the premature infant is treated as "parasite" is very immoral and unjust.


In the Light of Human Rights,

Dan Wilcox

Thursday, June 10, 2021

MY PHOTO LAUGHS

Remember those PLANKING days, that ridiculous fad a few years back?

The contented 'sole' like the company sign says.


No, I'm not board at Mt. Hood, just planking.


Another case of an endangered species, but which one?


Lewis and Clark thinks something smells and looks fishy, probably sea plankton on top of the steelhead fish.






Pelicanplank at Pacific Beach, San Diego






In the Laughter,

Dan Wilcox

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Guest Post: Professor Randal Rauser's opposition to Evangelicals' Defense of the Slaughter of the Canaanites.

Many Evangelical Christian leaders defend the horrific slaughter and genocide of the Canaanites in the Old Testament. They also defend many of the other immoral and unjust texts including those which support slavery, forced marriage, etc.

Here is a recent short article by Professor Randa Rauser where he explains a number of contrary points from his recent powerful book, Jesus Loves the Canaanites, a book of moral realism that shows why and how Evangelical leaders such as Frank Turek, Paul Copan, and many others who defend the slaughter are very wrong.


Frank Turek on the Slaughter of the Canaanites. And My Response.: The perfectly awful apologetic defense of the Canaanite slaughter in this clip concisely captures why I wrote Jesus Loves Canaanites. Let’s begin with the video (it’s only six minutes). I’ll then post my commentary below. ? The video begins with a question posed by the moderator of what appears to be an in-church training event. […]

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Review of the Powerful Historical Fiction, YELLOW WIFE by Sadequa Johnson

An utterly convincing fictional memoir of Pheby Delores Brown, a mulatto slave sharing her life story from her youth on. As a young slave, Pheby (and her mother) are fairly well treated by their owner on a plantation near Charles City, Virginia. Her mother is a skilled weaver and dispenser of basic medicine for those enslaved. And they both have been taught to read and write by the sister of their owner, Master James.

Master James partially treats them well because he has a long-term sexual relationship with her mother, promising the latter that he will free her daughter Pheby when she is 18 and send her north for an education!

Almost an unheard of action in the pre-War U.S.! Very few slave owners in the North freed their slaves, and in the South some states such as Louisiana, Mississippi, Alaban, and Maryland eventually instituted laws against freeing slaves.

As is so often reminded us by historians, 12 U.S. presidents owned slaves in their lifetimes. And 8 even owned slaves while president. Of the first 12 presidents, only 2 opposed slavery! George Washington never freed his slaves while he was alive, though did free them in his will. Jefferson never freed his slaves, not even his long-term Black concubine, Sally Hemmings!

Many of the Founding Fathers owned slaves including Benjamin Franklin, James Madison, and Patrick Henry (who made the famous statement, "Give me liberty or give me death;" but of course, he only meant those words for white arisotcratic Americans who were being penalized by the British Government.

In this suspenseful novle, the ‘nice’ owner’s spinster sister treats Pheby almost like a niece or grandchild!

The sister not only spends much quality time with her, teaching Pheby to play the piano splendidly well, and even to read! Beginning in 1831, eventually all states with slaves, except for Maryland and Tennessee, prohibited owners to do.

These characters, especially Pheby and her later vicious owner, Marse Jacob Laupier, are vividly real and the story so suspenseful that I admit at one point I skipped ahead to the end because I couldn’t wait to hear what happened to Pheby.

She and the others became so real to me. And still are. They seem like individuals who’ve I’ve known in real life, not fictional characters in a book.

SPOILER ALERT Plot and theme details below

One reason this may be so is because Yellow Wife is based upon actual individuals and events, accurate historical fiction at its best. Pheby and Marse Laupier are based up Robert Lumpkin (and his slave “yellow wife” meaning almost white in color) who ran the actual notorious Lumpkin Jail in Richmond, Virginia.

Another intriguing comparison is to Thomas Jefferson and his many-year’d concubine relationship with Sally Hemmings where she birthed 6 children by Jefferson, 4 of whom grew to adulthood and were able to pass for white, and also who escaped from enslavement. Tragically, though in the case of Jefferson, unlike Lumpkin, he never married Sally.

Another very good point about the book are its in depth themes. Yellow Wife shows many moral ironies of the institution of slavery including the extreme differences (such as the kindly owner, James and his sister versus the sociopathic owners of Richmond).

There is the deep theme of the reality of evil versus good, the power of music and literature (with references to other books dealing with similar tragic plots and similar themes—Oliver Twist, Jane Eyre, etc.)

And, amazingly, in contrast to most secular fiction, Johnson includes spiritual and religious themes! At first, I thought she was just giving details of the slaves’ Christian beliefs and actions as part of the history and setting, but later in the novel she emphasizes the realness of prayer, singing, and good actions.

Johnson also mostly avoids promoting immoral actions such as revenge, though at one point Pheby does utter a detailed curse to the cruel wife of her 'nice'first owner.

And Johnson avoids the constant use of obscenities and gross details of dark horror that are common in plenty of modern literature. Her descriptions of sexual relations are graphic enough to be convincing—and inspiring or despairing—but not obscene like so many other writers of the present.

About the only part of Yellow Wife that greatly disappoints is the rushed ending, where Laupier unexpectedly—and unbelievably--changes from the sociopathic, cruel, vicious jail owner who even had one young pregnant slave beaten so harshly that her infant aborts and is expelled in the midst of the beating.

And when Pheby is caught reading a book of his, Oliver Twist, Laupier is so very upset and angry that he viciously rapes her, causing physical harm to her private parts! And he threatens to sell off their children and her older son, Monroe if she teaches any of them to read!

YET only shortly later in the story toward the end, when Pheby sends a secret letter to have abolitionists come and help free Essex, her lover and the father of Monroe, from Laupier’s jail, Marse Laupier hardly reacts at all!

And incredulously, rather than beat her senseless and torture and murder Essex, he asks apprehensively of Pheby, “Do you love him?”

Ridiculous. What a poor ending.

The only penalties that the Marse imposes on Pheby is to send her son away for a few weeks, and their daughters away on a trip, and he prohibits Pheby from going to market and from church for a few weeks!

I suppose it’s possible that Laupier could have changed toward Pheby like the real Lumpkin did toward his Mary, but there are no transition episodes showing him becoming less vicious or becoming more civil and more truly caring in a normal way.

And I would have also liked to not see a total skipping of the war, with only a couple of letters between mother and one daughter after the war as the climatic ending.

Wimpy! Vague.

Oh well, I guess all my strong reactions—both positive and negative—show how deeply the novel has affected me. Maybe, some day I will read the actual history of the Richmond Jail. Currently, I am reading a biography of Jefferson Davis and a history of the War.

Last night, I was also thinking of various questions I had about the individuals in the story that I wanted to know—a sure sign of how powerful the book is!—but can’t think of them now. Maybe I will remember later.

Yellow Wife would make a great movie!

Evaluation: A-/D

Dan Wilcox

5/28/21

Amazon Description: “Born on a plantation in Charles City, Virginia, Pheby Delores Brown has lived a relatively sheltered life. Shielded by her mother’s position as the estate’s medicine woman and cherished by the Master’s sister, she is set apart from the others on the plantation, belonging to neither world.

She’d been promised freedom on her 18th birthday, but instead of the idyllic life she imagined with her true love, Essex Henry, Pheby is forced to leave the only home she has ever known. She unexpectedly finds herself thrust into the bowels of slavery at the infamous Devil’s Half Acre, a jail in Richmond, Virginia, where the enslaved are broken, tortured, and sold every day. There, Pheby is exposed not just to her Jailer’s cruelty but also to his contradictions. To survive, Pheby will have to outwit him, and she soon faces the ultimate sacrifice.”