Chronicles in Ordinary Time 237: When will our consciences grow so tender…

When will our consciences grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it? – Eleanor Roosevelt

Wonder of Life

By my second year of college, I realized that my life had no meaning. “Existential Angst” would have been a good description. I first learned about life-having-meaning in my senior year of high school [1970]. What would now be called AP English. My teacher was Robert Bonniwell. His real life was the stage. As AP students, we were exposed to ideas I’d never heard of. Existentialism being a critical component.
“…a form of philosophical inquiry that explores the problem of human existence and centers on the experience of thinking, feeling, and acting.[3][4] In the view of the existentialist, the individual’s starting point has been called “the existential angst“, a sense of dread, disorientation, confusion, or anxiety in the face of an apparently meaningless or absurd world.[5]Existentialist thinkers frequently explore issues related to the meaning, purpose, and value of human existence

…an apparently meaningless or absurd world.
What could be more absurd than the idea that in the midst of a global Pandemic that has taken six million lives—a number too often remembered for a different period in our history—a wannabe emperor decides to slaughter civilians and to start firing weapons in the direction of Chernobyl. If this was a movie, it would be a total flop as being too ridiculous.

However, this is real, and it is cruel. Putin is targeting hospitals and civilians. Non-military targets. The U.N. defines these actions as War Crimes. But the wannabe emperor doesn’t care. Neither, apparently, does our former president.

Back to high school AP English. A virtual term paper every other week. “Appearance versus Reality, as seen by Camus and Kafka” etc. ‘Captain Bob’ [yes we actually called him that] regularly brought the stage into the classroom—prancing and singing Fagin’s song from Oliver—“You’ve Got to Pick a Pocket or Two” as he collected papers. He would play cast recordings from stage plays, the most important, for me, The Man of La Mancha—my first introduction to the concept that I could live for a purpose higher than myself. An idea that I had trouble integrating into my introverted self—I never fit in with the students around me; nor did I really want to. I chose to live a rather solitary life. It wasn’t forced upon me. I never thought about the way I wanted to live my life; but that, too, was a choice. I don’t ever remember having a meaningful conversation with my parents—something more than scheduling. My parents, and the relatives that came with them were mostly ‘that which enables me to live my life as I want’. Within strict boundaries.

Move ahead a couple years and I still had not found meaning in my life, nor how to apply it if it showed up. My lack of planning had led me to a major in Architecture at a school that lacked an accredited Architectural curriculum. After two years, it became time to change Universities. A difficult decision that became a 90° turning point in my life.

I was raised in a totally secular environment; Faith and religion weren’t even concepts that had any meaning for me. I had encountered preachers in my first two years of college—guys that did not know how to create a logical argument; but were determined to pass their message on to passersby. They were a very effective way to ruin a ‘coffee house’—live acoustic music, without coffee. The title for these gatherings comes from Greenwich Village. My third year of college found me living across the hall from two religious guys, who weren’t. They weren’t ‘selling’ anything. Two strangers who liked to talk about meaning and ethics. For the next few years, I studied the concept of meaning for my life—not a vague concept of ‘meaning’. Becoming a student of theology and philosophy in an environment that did not require adherence to a specific religious ‘code’—I did not have a particular denominational preference. Some of the experiences caused my brain to go TILT.

Why is it that some Religions believe that every person in the world has to have nearly the same experience of the Eternal as everyone else? We are each born with a different set of DNA molecules than our mother has, than our father has; those DNA molecules are mixed together to create each of us as an Individual—entirely new creations. We aren’t clones. Your experience of the Eternal, if you desired it, is almost guaranteed to be different from mine. And yet, there are religious beliefs that require individual people to believe the same thing as other individuals. “Individuals” becoming part of a collective that rejects individualism…

I enjoy science fiction. I started reading science fiction sixty years ago, when books weren’t categorized by place in society. I read science fiction written for adults, because I was not directed toward children’s books or YA novels [I don’t object to the categories, but they can become something very similar to religion].

My latest addition to ‘all-time great science fiction’ is the motion picture “Arrival“. A story of ‘First Contact” with extraterrestrials that defies most of the premises of science fiction. The extraterrestrials do not set foot on earth, their ships don’t land on earth, and they don’t have verbal communication with humans. Their system of communication is totally ‘other’.
One woman, a Linguist, after months of fear-causing silence throughout a world that fears a ‘thing’ simply floating above the earth [perhaps having seen “Alien” too often], creates a visual decoding system for the extraterrestrial’s ‘graphic’ language. She learns to communicate with these extraterrestrials. The only person in the world who is introduced by the extraterrestrials to the concept of non-linear time. An example: she dreams/remembers a years-in-the-future conversation with a world leader who is at a world meeting of dignitaries, and the non-US leader tells her that the only reason he is there is to meet her; and how he only listened to her, on the conversation that had not happened yet, because she called him on his private line. “I don’t know your private phone number…” The world leader takes his cell phone out of his pocket and points the screen at her. “Now you know my private phone number” which uses in her present time, years earlier, to call him for the first time, averting disaster.

Non-Linear Time. The nature of the Universe. I feel as though I have been led to “42”—the meaning of Life, the Universe and Everything.

For over 40 years I’ve wandered through Evangelical Christianity never understanding how the Church has survived, while being so dense. People asking the question, ‘how could god allow this to happen?’ I think they ask the question because they only selectively remember history. Six or seven Millennia of eventually recorded history, demonstrating every day how horrid humans are to each other; senseless, meaninglessly disgraceful behavior toward people sharing the same space, based on the amount of melanin in their skin, or their understanding of what it means to be human. And why the Other is only ‘barely human’.

The meme:

The people who threw rocks at Ruby Bridges for trying to go to school are now upset that their grandchildren might learn in school about them throwing rocks at Ruby Bridges for trying to go to school.

I believe that the Universe has a Creator [no, I cannot prove this; neither can you prove the idea false]. Creator exists in Non-Linear Time–what the Greeks called, Kairos. The real Question is why Creator allows humans to continue our existence. Creator knows what shitty people we are. Our Selfishness, our Callousness, our Crimes Against Humanity. And we are our own worst enemy. A couple Millenia ago, in what Believers called ‘the right time’ [there really is no explanation of why it was ‘the right time’] the Creator of the entire Universe entered Time and Space in the form of a single cell, embedded in the womb of a teenage girl. That cell joined with one of her cells, and in 9 months, a boy was born.

The boy grew to be a man named Yeshua, probably a carpenter, like his [adoptive] father. One day he decided to get baptized by John the Baptizer. A Voice came down from the heavens. No one seems to have heard it, except for the guy telling the story. Yeshua became an itinerant Teacher, healed people of diseases, threatened the beliefs of the religious leaders of that time, who then had him tortured to death by the Roman government. Three days later, he came back from the dead, and said we could do the same. He hung around for a few weeks and gave to a band of his followers the Spirit of the Creator.

The only reason Creator entered Time and Space was to share Light and Life to people who would never deserve the Gift. Yeshua/Jesus did not die so that you could go to Heaven—clearly written in John 3:17, where it states that:

For God did not send his Son into the world that he would condemn the world, but that he would give life to the world by him. [Aramaic Bible in Plain English]

They stop at 3:16 because their intention isn’t scholarship; their intention is to make a religious point. Jesus either accomplished his goal—giving Life to the entire world, or Jesus failed.
It’s that simple. I prefer ‘accomplished’.

However, one of humans’ continual flaws is that they have vested interest in an idea that matches their belief. Consequently, they are unwilling to explore new ideas.

Your life is not about you.

In America, there are a few hundred people in buildings near the ‘seat of power’ who think your life is about them. In America, we make ‘stars’ out of people we would not give up a seat on a bus for—of course, they don’t travel by bus. Except for the remarkably kind Keanu Reeves.

Your life is about what you leave behind. Like the remarkably kind Keanu Reeves, who spreads kindness everywhere.

Only when we realize that our lives are situated in a context of a Life that stretches infinitely beyond us, only when we know that our wills are related to a Will that encompasses and surpasses the whole of the cosmos, are we ready to live. I’m not saying anything about religion. It’s life.

Garden of Gethsemane

Jesus is about to be arrested, which will lead to mockeries of a
Trial. He will be tortured to death.
Jesus makes time to give a slave a new ear; an ear lopped off by
Peter, who was told by Jesus to bring a sword. Peter drops the sword.
All of our lives begin, when we finally shed these broken bodies.

You are not hidden
There’s never been a moment
You were forgotten
You are not hopeless
Though you have been broken
Your innocence stolen
I hear you whisper underneath your breath
I hear your SOS, your SOS

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