Thursday, December 23, 2021

FLOATERS--a poetic reflection on coastal warm days, shortly before winter

Floaters

I’m spent to despair,
For lost hope yearning,
Tried for years to rescue others
Caught in tangled news hours
Of hellish hate, intolerance, despair,

Wrong right-leftist spinners,
Those creedalists and secularists
Both deniers of the morally real--
Their abyss of modern sheol winter
Stop!
Abandon this somber cellared lament!

Instead,
My sweetheart suggests, Let’s visit
A coastal winery,
Say, I do,
We do.

Driving along a winding river valley,
We arrive, expectant,
Hoping for respite;
Then, listening to soft music,
Sipping small glasses of moscato and merlot

Enjoying a glad lackadaisical day,
Mellow and casual,
Light of heart,
Carefree, contented
In California’s autumn’s wonder
Below tall sycamores and elms;

After Thanksgiving before winter;
We bask in 86-degree warmth,
When unexpectedly a slightly curled
Leaf floats down before
My eyes,
And lands gently on my lap,
A died wonder for us to behold;

Then another drifter
Lets go from a large limb above,
A deep rust-brown leaf spattered
With light tan highlights and vein-lines,
Descends in front of us,

Swaying back and forth,
Languid,
Lightly
Floating down
Inches away from us,
Landing nearby
On the lawn;

I lay with my head way back,
Gazing up to the sky's azure blue,
As other gifts let go every few moments
From high above,
Swinging wide and graced,

Falling beauty in slow motion,
Floating, swaying;
I realize—here, now--
With this Present--
I could die free, released.

Dan Wilcox


Tuesday, December 21, 2021

MOVING toward CARING for the BIOSPHERE as a starting VEGETARIAN

Beginning of a new article I am writing: Moving toward caring for the biosphere as a starting vegetarian

Prologue Disclosure: I am NOT a fundamentalist about this, or anything for that matter.

I’m neither an absolute pacifist nor a warrior for God. Not at all like the Hindus such as a Hindu priest in LA in 1966 who told me I should go to Vietnam and kill because, after all, humans kill insects regularly!

And at that crisis time, almost all Christian leaders, when I asked about whether I should apply for conscientious objector status against all war, told me that God calls all Christians to kill our enemies. Only one Mennonite family and a retired missionary encouraged me to oppose war as a follower of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.

Nor am I of the passive sort who wouldn’t try to stop an Islamic jihadist from killing civilians or one who is a strident, total vegan.

However, why is it that the vast majority of humans--a somewhat smart species--continue to justify slaughter of other humans in the name of their God, their nation, their religion?

How can such a species as ours justify the intentional slaughter of other intelligent, conscious species such as the pig?




1. Let’s face it, the natural world is many ways “tooth and claw.”

Whether its our cat, Smoke, bringing us a small bird he killed as a present
or the violent deaths of many thousands of animals every year on their massive migration on the plains of southern Africa, the natural world isn’t one of moral truth, but of harsh survival and death.

-- Having said all of that, I do think it is morally and spiritually true that all intelligent, conscious, moral species ought to refuse to kill, to harm, to destroy. We ought to seek to care for all of the biosphere.

To be continued--

In the Light

Dan Wilcox

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

GUEST POST from Professor Randal Rauser to William Lane Craig's Claim that God May Command Us to “Drive Out Canaanites” in Our Day.

FROM the BLOG of Randal Rauser, a Canadian professor of systematic and analytical theology:

William Lane Craig Says God May Command Us to “Drive Out Canaanites” in Our Day. I Respond.: Reasonable Faith just posted a short video from William Lane Craig in which the esteemed apologist defends the prospect that God may command Christians today to target people groups in the same way that the ancient Israelites targeted the Canaanites for extermination. In this video, I provide a response.
from Randal Rauser

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Yeshua, Child of the Masses

Yeshua, Child of the Masses

So awe fulled the birthing
of God's presence, new cauled
in humble manger's destiny,

The base and apex of
a starred cave's presents
of all future festivals

Yet abandoned, forsaken to
the crowned world's nails,
every man's cursedness;

Farthest reach of faith
this Apocalypso dancer
crosses the Cosmos,

Morning us night-less;
he compassions Earth
ever peopling Heaven,

Emptying the pitiless bottom
zeroing Apollyon
into ever's Now

Beloved one, Yeshua
child of the masses
point man for us all.



--- A poem I wrote 15 years ago that I think still distills the Good News message. It still warms my spirit during this cold, intolerant, dysfunctional time, though I no longer think the lines are literally true.

Hopefully, the poem will speak to all of you.

May you have a blessed Christmas month, filled with hope, joy, and kindness.

Dan Wilcox

First published in The Green Silk Journal

Monday, November 22, 2021

Wokeness to 'Systemic Racism" and Original Sin--2 false ideological claims

Randal Rauser, a systematic theologian, claims: “Personally, I struggle with all sorts of impulses to be prejudiced against other people. This is a manifestation of the more general struggle with sin and the fallen human nature. Day by day, I need to seek and call out my own internal fallen impulses to otherize and dehumanize my fellow human beings.

"Wokeness is at its best not as a punctiliar moment of revelation equivalent to the old Methodist perfectionism but rather an invitation to examine oneself and become woke every day to one’s own sin and wickedness including in the area of race.”
-Randal Rauser, Canadian Systematic Theologian at Taylor Seminary.
https://randalrauser.com/2021/11/a-review-of-owen-strachans-debate-performance-on-unbelievable/

Rauser appears to defend the claim that systemic racism exists at present in the United States even though it isn’t as bad as during Jim Crow and antebellum slavery.

While I agree that in some places and among some individuals overt racism does still exist. I think that the claim there is “systemic racism” in all of the U.S. is not only untrue, but is an ideological falsehood of the worst sort.

A number of Black scholars including Thomas Sowell, Professor of Economics, author of A Conflict of Visions and Walter Williams, Distinguished Professor of Economics at George Mason University have emphasized that while some racism does exist and needs to be strongly opposed, “systemic racism” doesn’t exist in present day America.

I do agree with Rauser that each of us do need to regularly check his/herself see whether or not we are being biased against others because of race, sex, class or nationality.
However, I don’t agree that all Americans and Canadians “struggle with all sorts of impulses to be prejudiced against other people” because of “sin and the fallen human nature.”
Unlike Rauser, I don’t believe in the creedal doctrine of Original Sin, don’t think humans are born sinful, totally depraved, “in essence, evil” because of Adam’s eating a fruit, like the vast majority of Christians do.

Original Sin or Systemic Racism of Whiteness and similar ideological claims have no basis in reality.

1. Geneticists seems to have demonstrated that there never were 2 humans 6,000 years ago who were the origin of all the billions of humans today. Instead, the evidence so far indicates that all of humankind came from a few thousand individuals in existence many thousadns of years ago.

2. Original Sin is a pernicious doctrine that claims what the alleged wrong the ancestor of all humans did thousands of years ago was innately transferred to each infant of him and down to each grandchild, great-grantchild, etc. This total depravity, sinfulness is so innate within human nature every infant upon conception and birth has this sinfulness within them, unable to overcome it. Indeed, according to this doctrine, even good actions by each of us, are actually sinful!! A wrong action by another person, even if it was by our parent can't be innately inserted within us as children because we are their children.

Even if such a biological claim could be possible (which it isn't), that would be utterly evil, to blame a child, even a day-old infant for what wrong-doing his parent did.

This strange doctrine of Christianity also demeans the Creator. A good Creator would never insert utter sinfulness into each new human infant, no matter how sinful his/her father was.

Original Sin is also a denial of human choice, creativity, ability, and inherent worth.
Etc.

This new ideological claim of "woke" humans, that whites are guilty of systematic racism stereotypes unique individuals based upon such a superficiality as skin color. It's claim all humans with white skin are racists is very untrue, unfair, and delusionary.

Woke believers ought to read a good scholarly book on genetics. Geneticists have discovered that there is more variation within some racial groupings than there is between 2 different racial groups!
Furthermore, such a claim is contrary to the history of humankind. Racism isn't unique to one racial grouping. It appears in various contexts among all human groups.
While European whites, especially the
British, were mostly racist against Blacks in North America and Africa in the past, other races and nationalities in different times were also given to prejudice.

In the last 30 years, in Zimbabwe, for instance, there is clear evidence of racial prejudice against whites. And in China for centuries there was prejudice against anyone who wasn't Chinese.

Japanese have been very prejudiced against non-Japanese.

In history, North Africans enslaved over a million white Europeans over a period of 300 years!

There was plenty of prejudice, abuse, and enslavement in the Americas before whites ever showed up here. Various native American groups treated other native groups unfairly, even massacred the "other."

Instead, of prejudice and racism being something unique about humans with white skin, humans generally are given to IN GROUP VERSUS OUT GROUP bias, and to unfair treatment toward others, regardless of the color of skin in particular.

We all can fall for the will to power, the temptation to generalize and stereotype, etc. For example, BLM leaders often did it on their website in their claims that all police officers systematically oppress Black people. That is factually wrong.
Heck, many thousands of officers are Black, Asian, Hispanic, etc.
The Police Chief of Chicago is Black as is the mayor; the Attorney General of Kentucky is Black, etc.

In some cities, a few officers have been shown to be racist, but that is a regrettable minority, not most, let alone all police officers.

What is often the case in many of these infamous cases of alleged racism by officers is that people of color aren't attacked by officers because of their color but because the individuals are engaging in criminal activities and resist arrest.

In only one protest by BLMers in Chicago, over 50 police officers were injured! The Chief of Police documents the riot-violence of the protesters in a news video.
Noting about racism at all.

Seek the Good, the True, and the Just,

Dan Wilcox

Friday, November 5, 2021

Beautiful Art Creations by Betsy Wilcox


Red Rock Vista
by Betsy Wilcox



Anchors Away to Alaska
by Betsy Wilcox
--from N.Y. design
by Deb Tucker



Rollin' on the River
by Betsy Wilcox
Most of the fabrics for this quilt
were purchased in Hannibal, Mussouri
om the Mississippi River, which was higher
than flood stage when we were there, after
our going to the Missouri Star Quillt Conference.



Merlot
(Spangled pattern
by Cozy Quilt
Company)





Betsy sewing on Psycheldelic, a quilt
for me based upon when I lived in Haight-Ashbury in spring 1967.



In Process



Here, Betsy and I are
getting ready to take a
tractor ride out to an island
lighthouse on Lake Michigan,
after the M.S.C.

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Reflecting on life and death, which comes to us all

Personal: Two Poems for My Dad

My Dad

My dad at the end
down to ice water and pain

Last breath and his stretched skin over skull,
Looking like a turkey’s throat--

Cut through
No Thanks
---giving

The undertakers come,
the younger looking like a freshman on a date

Refuse collectors
Lift /it/—a skin bag of bones,
like a decrepit wrinkled carpet

Onto their white winding sheet,

Roll /it/ up like a fabric cigar and place /it/ on a gurney--

“Rolled away...
all the burials, rolled...”
They wheel the thing outside

barely missing a left
edge of his big screen TV

My dad/obsessively/watched like a Fox;
So mundane,

Death...

No burning light,
“no raging against the dying”...

Dad’s last act
--breathing with a tube and drinking;

Not quite, when I arrived
only 7 minutes before the Taker

And joined my mom and sister at his contraption bed,
I told Dad my last joke,

the 4 of /us all together/ he on hold/

My dad felt my hand--
Then not.

“That’s all folks.”

--


Deaf to Death

Am I still deaf to death
Even Dad’s demise?

Hard to ‘ear’ like him,
No mourn, only even
Less
because of all that immortal noise

The daily barrage of clamor

How can one imagine

Zero

0?

150,000 /zeros/ every day/sunset
around the global 0
spinning
in
the spaced black darkness;

We all await that last straw

Poked into eternity,

Like through a screen door in a tornado’d torrential storm;

Another human’s missing,
Only hole in water
after a finger’s withdrawn.

Billions in the past, no more, one less

Dusted to stars,
scattered to the cosmic wind,

No more,
Not even less;

Not even
Not.

-- To Dad.

Miss you.

Dan

Monday, October 25, 2021

HITLER'S MENNONITE VOTERS, from Anabaptist Historians

https://anabaptisthistorians.org/.../hitlers-mennonite.../
SHOCKER!
Mennonites helped vote in Hitler.

by Ben Goossen

"In May 1933, Mennonites delivered Adolf Hitler the only country-wide majority he achieved in an open election. Four months after Hitler became Chancellor of Germany at the head of a short-lived coalition with another party, the Nazis won an outright majority during elections in a nearby microstate known as the Free City of Danzig.

Located in what is today northern Poland, Danzig had a substantial Mennonite population. Mennonite ballots pushed the Nazis over the 50 percent threshold in the popular vote. A parliamentary majority allowed the Nazis to rule Danzig alone, and no fair state-wide elections were held again."
Whew...

At times in my life, when I couldn't attend Friends Meetings, my wife and me attended Anabaptist churches (Mennonite and Brethren in Christ) because we thought it was probably the most Jesus-centered denomination.

However, this insightful study by historians, HITLER'S MENNONITE VOTERS, documents that some European Mennonites became deluded by nationalism, selfishness, pro-war views, and even supported forced-labor of minorities including Jewish people!

Don't miss this very troubling, horrific, study at anabaptist historians.org.

There is a striking lesson for all who seek the Good, the True, and the Just.

The study reminds me of how disheartening it was when I studied Quaker history and learned that for a time George Fox supported the very immoral and unjust Puritan leader, Oliver Cromwell.

In the Light,

Dan Wilcox

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