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Chronicles in Ordinary Time 245: Privilege

September 26, 2022

I’m not sure that ‘growing up’ ever ends. I thought it would stop; but I was mistaken. I’ve known people for whom growth seemed to have ended; I did not envy then. They tended to stay stuck in the mud hole they dug for themselves.

A conversation with my wife pointed out I have some choices to make in how I live my life. An ‘if-then’ sort of transaction. Sometimes, ‘if’ goes in a direction I don’t really want to go, but the consequence of inaction is also not acceptable. So, I choose to accept the difficulty along with the benefit.

Perhaps this is why ‘snotnose’ politicians of a certain age think that their actions make them important. It merely causes them to be noticed. Perhaps a fear of being rejected creates the need to be noticed. It certainly does not make for Democracy.

While in high school, I learned that I was half-Vulcan [metaphorically], and that’s why I rarely fit in. Living in college dormitories was a bizarre experience for me. Back When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth, dormitories were co-ed by building or sometimes by floors. Four years, living with rutting males. I knew a guy who said he was in pre-med and planned on being a gynecologist; there was only one part of female anatomy that interested him. I was interested in women’s brains.

The Doctor on Mars

The word, “Privilege/Privileged” is frequently thrown about, in this time of my life. Typically, it’s definition means that someone has so much money or so much presumed power that there is no need to be kind toward the people they encounter; especially toward “essential workers” who weren’t considered Essential before the COVID Pandemic. BTW: COVID will probably return in force.

Back When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth, Privilege/Privileged meant: to have the good fortune (to have, be, or do something).

The image above is from a collection of images I called, The Unwritten Adventures of the 13th Doctor. This was taking place in the interim between the first announcements from the BBC about the new version of The Female Doctor, and when I could actually watch the stories.

When I was young and checking out science fiction from the Multnomah County Library, I never imagined that I would have the privilege of seeing the surface of Mars. The image above is the actual Martian surface [scale may be wrong] with added Martian Soldiers and the 13th Doctor.

This coming November is bringing out the worst in some people. Politicians trying to score points, as if this was some bizarre team sport. Politicians who sit down after making a speech, and bring out their electronic brain, to see how well the speech scored.
Politicians breaking the law with no sense of remorse…

And then the religious people drag the Bible into the argument, ‘proving’ their argument by using verses taken out of context, so that the words may sound appropriate, but in context, an entirely different subject is being discussed.
The Bible did not have chapters until the 13th Century. The Letter/Book was simply read start to finish. The Bible did not have verses until the 16th Century; and the verses were created by a printer, not necessarily a theologian. John 3:16, as a standalone concept, did not have any meaning until roughly 1500+ A.D. There is no way to read the third chapter of the Book of John, so that the one verse that is featured in video sports broadcasts has meaning. John 3:17 changes the meaning of verse 16…

White male ‘adults’ [by age, only] determined to keep America as refuge for Jim Crow and The Handmaid’s Tale. Every woman I keep in touch with, and who live in America is voting for what Eric Bibb calls, “Put a Woman in Charge”.
It seems that in general, a lot of White males are afraid of women. Women use a different way of thinking then what I have experienced as typical male brain-use. I can’t really call the usage ‘thinking’ because I’ve known very few men who actually think, beyond ‘what channel is that on’ and ‘bring me a beer from the frig’. I find it embarrassing. My Vulcan self, coming through again…

An artist’s impression of Europa Clipper in orbit around Jupiter’s frozen moon Europa.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

As infuriating as life can be in these United [?] States, where all people are still not created equal, we can still experience wonder.

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 244: The inter-related structure of reality

August 7, 2022

Regular readers of my Chronicles will see information I’ve posted before.

Science Fiction stories help me to find sanity in what is an ever-more-insane planet; however, Science Fiction too often chooses to resolve problems by War. This implies that those responsible for the production of science fiction stories can only imagine life in the future as being Endless War.

Then there is The Doctor.
The centuries-old Alien whose only weapon is a sonic screwdriver.
To be fair, many of the enemies of our galaxy are warmongers; The Doctor uses those enemies’ own brutality against themselves.

Somehow, the human race cannot translate the technological accomplishments of the 21st Century into making a better society. We seem to be unable to stop destroying this world. Mega-Billionaires who have prospered enormously during the Pandemic, apparently can’t envision their place in history, as the people who, by themselves, stopped hunger and homelessness across the world while still remaining Billionaires. Instead, they play space tourist. “Ending world hunger by 2030 would cost $330bn, study finds”

“These are the principles for the development of a complete mind: Study the science of art. Study the art of science…Learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else.”
“The greatest deception from which men suffer is their own opinions”
Leonardo da Vinci

“In a real sense all life is inter-related. All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be…”
“This is the inter-related structure of reality.”

The first law of thermodynamics states that the total energy of an isolated system is constant; energy can be transformed from one form to another but can be neither created nor destroyed. We, each, are energy. We each can be transformed from one form of energy to another, but we cannot be destroyed. You will never die. Your body will be transformed into muck, if you are in a concrete burial box; or transformed into heat energy, if cremated; or into the landscaping, if you are planted directly into the ground.
Your non-physical self, the self that is contained in the brain goes on. Your self does not die in the brain. This has yet to be proven; our medical research abilities are not yet capable of analyzing that self which is our soul.

Michael Burnham: I envy those who can believe there is a greater hand, writing our story, who chooses the words to keep chaos at bay. Connection. Joy. Love. And resurrection. With these words, the path becomes clear for a moment, and then disappears. If I have a path…I’m still searching for it. We all are. That’s how we find our way, by choosing to walk forward, together. And if there is a greater hand leading us into an uncertain future…I can only hope it guides us well.

George Carlin:
…there is nothing wrong with the planet… nothing wrong with the planet. The planet is fine… the people are fucked! Difference! The planet is fine! Compared to the people, THE PLANET IS DOING GREAT: Been here four and a half billion years! Do you ever think about the arithmetic? The planet has been here four and a half billion years, we’ve been here what? 100,000? Maybe 200,000? And we’ve only been engaged in heavy industry for a little over 200 years. 200 years versus four and a half billion and we have the conceit to think that somehow, we’re a threat? That somehow, we’re going to put in jeopardy this beautiful little blue-green ball that’s just a-floatin’ around the sun? The planet has been through a lot worse than us. Been through all kinds of things worse than us: been through earthquakes, volcanoes, plate tectonics, continental drifts, solar flares, sunspots, magnetic storms, the magnetic reversal of the poles, hundreds of thousands of years of bombardment by comets and asteroids and meteors, worldwide floods, tidal waves, worldwide fires, erosion, cosmic rays, recurring ice ages, and we think some plastic bags and aluminum cans are going to make a difference?

I believe that all of entire our lives have been KNOWN since the moment of Creation. The problem comes when some people believe that all happens in our life is being done TO us by Creator. We are the problem, and always have been. When nearly half of the country in some fashion believes that the Jim Crow South had a really good idea, it’s hard to imagine that this number will become half of what it was–and that it will take a clear Majority before a Star Trek future can happen instead of a Handmaid’s Tale [NOT my original thought].

13th Doctor

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 167: HPtFtU [part 4] A Cautionary Tale

July 19, 2022

Francis Spufford, in his wonderful book, Unapologetic, uses the term HPtFtU for the Human Tendency to F**k things Up. If you watch any legitimate news outlet today, you will see countless examples of HPtFtU on display; especially in Washington DC.

I was scammed out of $450 in 2018. The good news is that the intention was for me to get scammed out of $3300 [in 2018$]; thanks to my dinosaur brain, it didn’t happen.

I received an email purporting to be from someone at the San Francisco office of ——- Associates, an international graphics and branding business. The email said they liked my work and wanted me to be interviewed by someone in their HR section via Google Hangout; and they gave me a name and a —— address.

The ‘interview’ process was very well rehearsed. They asked me to walk them through my online portfolio; they asked the reasonable questions to ask, for someone looking for a remote contractor for work. Then they dropped the magic words:

We will pay you $55/hr (USD) with benefits and you will receive your pay via Direct Deposit or Check bi-weekly, taxes are taken out of your pay as you will be an employee. Working Days are Monday-Fridays and you may work remotely for us. You can work overtime hours on Saturdays if desired and we will arrange working equipment for you to get started ASAP.

I told them that this sounded like full-time language, rather than part-time language, and they assured me that my hours would be flexible. Then they asked me about the work that would be needed, and whether I felt confident doing these sorts of tasks; which I am.

The above is nearly identical to my online interview on ICQ today [19 July 2022]. The offer was from a videogame company looking for a Character Artist. The last videogame I played was Minesweeper. This didn’t seem to be a problem for them; I sounded like such a [ripe] target.
The key this time was that they used a email address rather than a

Then they provided me the list of ‘toys’ they were going to provide me with, for which the above check was being provided. The plan was to take a pdf of the front of the check, and a png of the back of a check, and deposit the money with my banking app on my smart phone.Rescued by dinosaur brain—I have 5 computers. While it would be convenient and fun to have a computer in my pocket, the reality is that I do not need a computer in my pocket. So

I have a Bluetooth compatible cell phone that does texting, and if one is really desperate or patient, will connect to the internet. It’s about the same level of sophistication as dial-up; and it does not do apps.

I have a better cellphone today for use by my family; I still would have chosen the same difficulty.

When I finally got them to understand that I am one of the last 12 people on the planet with out a cell phone that does apps; ‘she’ told me that the check would arrive in the mail. The following day, I was informed that to get started with ——–, I would need the program that keeps track of time, for my training. So, I needed to send $400 to someone in Texas via Western Union. Given the presence of the above check in my email, it seemed like a little flexibility was in order. BTW it was explained to me that ——- worked as a payroll company for the ———–, consequently the money was coming through the ———.

After all of the folderol with getting Western Union to like a card from my collection, I was then told that there was a bargain available to me:
The iMac is of 2017 and it will cost you just $698 and it will come with a brand new printer and we will reimburse you all the total amount next week…
At which point, the conversation went as follow [I’m in red]:

You realize this is all rather weird…
I answer an email; I get hired via a chat; you send me a pdf and a photo of a different check; the check is from the ……….., not —— Associates; you have me send $400 to some lady in Texas; and you are now asking me to send her money for equipment you want me to use.
If someone told me I was getting scammed, I’d be inclined to agree with them.

No, this is all legitimate

You need to trust this, we have lots of others working for us and the reason why we sent you the check is to assure you that you will get the full reimbursement.

We can call you and also re-assure, we have a lot of others who go through same process and none has ever had a bad experience

I will not deceive you Marty.

So are you instructing me send Mandy more money to buy last year’s iMac?


and she will buy and ship all the items to you

I need you to trust me

You will get the tracking # to the package coming by tomorrow via FedEx and it will all be delivered to your door step

Trust me ok

You will see everything arrive in the mail

Are you with me?

OK, when your check arrives here, and is deposited, I’ll send her the money.
You may need me to trust you, but at this point you are a name on a screen.

The $400 software [presumed] did not arrive. Before that confirmation, I did a bunch of research and sent messages and a FAX to various executives of —— [no one has email addresses when you want them]. I heard back from one of the execs, who assured me that the name wasn’t associated with ——-, and they never hire remote employees…

So, why am I sharing this embarrassment? So that hopefully you, dear reader, will avoid the scam. I’ve contacted the State of Oregon, the FBI, the Internet Fraud people, as well as a few others. I did not give them a SSN, nor did I give them any information that isn’t already in the public domain. I did send them a high-res image of my new driver’s license [birthday in July]; which concerns me. The —— exec told me that they were contacting authorities in San Francisco. The authorities have the transaction information from Western Union; and I’ve contacted my bank. The reality is that I voluntarily sent money to a private individual, who did not provide me with the stuff I was supposedly paying for; but I wasn’t coerced.

The ——- responded to an email, and told me that the check would bounce, after a few days. So, I would order $3300 worth of toys, from my account, to be reimbursed by the bogus check… Big surprise—I don’t have $3300 lying around in my checking account.

I’ve been full-time self-employed for 20 24 years; including a part-time gig for the City of Salem, which was my last W-2 job. I assumed that I really wasn’t looking for another W-2 job. It was a surprise to find that a part-time job with benefits was so attractive. The money was better than I charge graphic art clients, a little less than I charge for architectural work.

For a few hours, I was hooked.

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 243: Non-Linear Time

July 15, 2022

Watch the film, Arrival. An excellent explanation of non-linear time.

My imagination and my theology is stirred by science fiction–the possibility that things may occur in the future that we can’t imagine. Faster-than-light space travel hasn’t even been theorized very well, and yet nearly all science fiction stories from the mid-60s onward have space craft that can travel faster than light. The only way to travel between star systems in a human lifetime.

On Monday, July 11th, 2022, from the White House, humanity got its first glimpse of what the James Webb Space Telescope has been seeing: a cluster of early galaxies. This telescope is designed to see further than humanity has ever been able to see.

the edge of a nearby, young, star-forming region called NGC 3324 in the Carina Nebula
This landscape of “mountains” and “valleys” speckled with glittering stars is actually the edge of a nearby, young, star-forming region called NGC 3324 in the Carina Nebula. Captured in infrared light by NASA’s new James Webb Space Telescope, this image reveals for the first time previously invisible areas of star birth.
Called the Cosmic Cliffs, Webb’s seemingly three-dimensional picture looks like craggy mountains on a moonlit evening. In reality, it is the edge of the giant, gaseous cavity within NGC 3324, and the tallest “peaks” in this image are about 7 light-years high. The cavernous area has been carved from the nebula by the intense ultraviolet radiation and stellar winds from extremely massive, hot, young stars located in the center of the bubble, above the area shown in this image.
Located roughly 7,600 light-years away, NGC 3324 was imaged by Webb’s Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) and Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI).

In viewing the images above and below, you are experiencing non-linear time. The electromagnetic signals that were sent from NGC 3324 happened billions of years ago. 7600 light years converts to 44,646,972,718,000,000 miles [international]. The counting of seconds is an experience of linear time.

You are seeing now, events that happened billions of years ago; and you are reading something I wrote days/weeks/years ago.

Why does this matter?
It may not matter at all to you; why does it matter to me?
The NGC 3324 image is simply beautiful. Its distance from Earth is approximated at 8500 light-years.
The images above show some of the most distant galaxies, whose ‘light’ [electromagnetic energy] have traveled for over 13 billion years. We are looking into billions of years in the past. Today. Non-linear time.

As a man of Faith, not raised in a religious environment, and trained to ask questions, and evaluate answers, non-linear time provides an answer to one of the most difficult questions of Faith: Why does Creator [higher power, deity] allow evil to happen?

  • When I use the word, ‘Creator’, I am not referring to some god located somewhere around Saturn, who is responsible for the good and evil in the world. Creator has been creating the Universe for tens of billions of years, at a minimum. Creator does not have a specific location.
  • Creator does not allow evil to happen. WE ALLOW EVIL TO HAPPEN. There’s no blaming of a deity for what is happening in the world this very moment. Nearly all the crises raising havoc in the world, causing me to be FEAR*ful for the lives of my grandchildren, are caused by human beings in the last century and more. Some actions probably out of ignorance; many caused by humans who just don’t give a shit.
  • For Millennia, humans have blamed all of the tragedies of the world on a deity. “Why did [deity] allow this to happen?” That question places the blame on Creator. We live on a planet that is spinning at the equator at a speed of 460 meters per second–or roughly 1,000 miles per hour. Earth travels around the sun at approximately 67,000 miles per hour. In addition, our solar system–Earth and all–whirls around the center of our galaxy at some 220 kilometers per second, or 490,000 miles per hour.

The land upon which we travel is broken into seven or eight major plates [depending on how they are defined] and many minor plates or “platelets”. Where the plates meet, their relative motion determines the type of plate boundary: convergent, divergent, or transform. Earthquakes, volcanic activity, mountain-building, and oceanic trench formation occur along these plate boundaries (or faults). The relative movement of the plates typically ranges from zero to 10 cm annually.

Underneath these plates of stone is molten lava.

We are living on top of an ever-moving ball, sitting, standing, walking, running, sleeping on molten lava. The idea that the world is unstable should be taught in every classroom on Earth.

* False Evidence Appearing Real

Evangelicals won’t like this one. I believe that all our pasts, presents and futures have been known by Creator since the beginning of the Universe. Given that Creator has know everything about us, everything we have done or are about to do, it is impossible for us to surprise Creator. Not surprising Creator means that our futures are already known. We don’t know how we end. Creator knows. Punishment for ‘sins’ is illogical.
Jesus did not die on the cross so we could be saved [lots of proof-texts with which to disagree]. Jesus died because He spoke out against the religious authority of the day. He healed people without involving the religious bureaucracy. He fed hungry people virtually out of thin air [the Creator of seeds made bread, bypassing the ovens].
Jesus came to bring Light into the world as the Second Person of the Trinity—all of Creator that would fit in a human form. Jesus either did bring Light into the world, or Jesus failed. Failure would mean that he was hung on a cross by Roman soldiers at the behest of the leaders in the Temple. Hung on a cross like all the other men the Romans crucified. Evangelicals stop at John 3:16 because it serves their purpose. The paragraph ends on verse 21.

19 This is the judgment: The Light has come into the world and the children of men loved the darkness more than The Light, because their works were evil.

Jesus was the only One to get back out of His tomb. He said that we can, too.
Jesus left behind, the Spirit of the Creator. He left Himself, the Second Person of the Trinity and became the Third Person of the Trinity.
Jesus’ followers, needing some structure similar to the religious environment where they were found, worked at bringing order to that which may not have needed order. The Emperor Constantine, in the Third Century AD, created the Holy Roman Empire.

Over a couple thousand years, it all got messed up, and turned into a religious circus.

  • The above is simplified from actual history.
  • The passage below is magnificent in its simplicity

The Jewish discovery that God is not a god but Creator, is the discovery of absolute Mystery behind and underpinning reality. Those who share it (either in its Judaic or its Christian form) are not monotheists who have reduced the number of gods to one. They, we, have abolished the gods; there is only the Mystery sustaining all that is. The Mystery is unfathomable, but it is not remote as the gods are remote. The gods live somewhere else, on Olympus or above the starry sky. The Mystery is everywhere and always, in every grain of sand and every flash of colour, every hint of flavour in a wine, keeping all these things in existence every microsecond. We could not literally approach God or get nearer to God for God is already nearer to us than we are to ourselves. God is at the ultimate depth of our beings making us to be ourselves.

Herbert McCabe

Informally named the ‘Finger of God’ or Defiant Finger

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 241:  At doom’s doorstep: It is 100 seconds to midnight

June 6, 2022

2022 Doomsday Clock Statement
Science and Security Board
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Founded in 1945 by Albert Einstein and University of Chicago scientists who helped develop the first atomic weapons in the Manhattan Project, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists created the Doomsday Clock two years later, using the imagery of apocalypse (midnight) and the contemporary idiom of nuclear explosion (countdown to zero) to convey threats to humanity and the planet. The Doomsday Clock is set every year by the Bulletin’s Science and Security Board in consultation with its Board of Sponsors, which includes 11 Nobel laureates. The Clock has become a universally recognized indicator of the world’s vulnerability to catastrophe from nuclear weapons, climate change, and disruptive technologies in other domains.

To: Leaders and citizens of the world
Re: At doom’s doorstep: It is 100 seconds to midnight
Date: January 20, 2022

Last year’s leadership change in the United States provided hope that what seemed like a global race toward catastrophe might be halted and—with renewed US engagement—even reversed. Indeed, in 2021 the new American administration changed US policies in some ways that made the world safer: agreeing to an extension of the New START arms control agreement and beginning strategic stability talks with Russia; announcing that the United States would seek to return to the Iran nuclear deal; and rejoining the Paris climate accord. Perhaps even more heartening was the return of science and evidence to US policy making in general, especially regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. A more moderate and predictable approach to leadership and the control of one of the two largest nuclear arsenals of the world marked a welcome change from the previous four years.
Still, the change in US leadership alone was not enough to reverse negative international security trends that had been long in developing and continued across the threat horizon in 2021.
US relations with Russia and China remain tense, with all three countries engaged in an array of nuclear modernization and expansion efforts—including China’s apparent large-scale program to increase its deployment of silo-based long-range nuclear missiles; the push by Russia, China, and the United States to develop hypersonic missiles; and the continued testing of anti-satellite weapons by many nations. If not restrained, these efforts could mark the start of a dangerous new nuclear arms race. Other nuclear concerns, including North Korea’s unconstrained nuclear and missile expansion and the (as yet) unsuccessful attempts to revive the Iran nuclear deal contribute to growing dangers. Ukraine remains a potential flashpoint, and Russian troop deployments to the Ukrainian border heighten day-to-day tensions.

My 70th birthday is next month. I graduated from high school in 1970. I was born in 1952. I don’t remember knowing anything about the Doomsday Clock in 1953, 1969, or 1971 [see above]. I mostly ignored politics and the world in general during these years of my life. I voted Republican because my parents were Republican and raised me in the American Legion. Consequently, I voted for Nixon, twice; I voted for Reagan and believed his magical ‘trickle down theory’. I stopped voting Republican when George W. uttered the words, ‘Preemptive Strike’. The Iraq War was built upon a lie. There were no Weapons of Mass Destruction. They were expected, because the US, by way of the CIA, were financing Arab Rebels for years.
Beginning with 1998, the Doomsday Clock continually loses time before Midnight…

As of January 2020, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists 203 critically endangered mammalian species, including 31 which are tagged as possibly extinct. 3.5% of all evaluated mammalian species are listed as critically endangered. The IUCN also lists 60 mammalian subspecies as critically endangered.
Of the subpopulations of mammals evaluated by the IUCN, 18 species subpopulations have been assessed as critically endangered.
Additionally, 900 mammalian species (15% of those evaluated) are listed as data deficient, meaning there is insufficient information for a full assessment of conservation status. As these species typically have small distributions and/or populations, they are intrinsically likely to be threatened, according to the IUCN. While the category of data deficient indicates that no assessment of extinction risk has been made for the taxa, the IUCN notes that it may be appropriate to give them “the same degree of attention as threatened taxa, at least until their status can be assessed.”
This is a complete list of critically endangered mammalian species and subspecies evaluated by the IUCN. Species considered possibly extinct by the IUCN are marked as such. Species and subspecies which have critically endangered subpopulations (or stocks) are indicated. Where possible common names for taxa are given while links point to the scientific name used by the IUCN.

Of the seven animals portrayed below, four are already considered extinct. In the case of the Northern White Rhinoceros, there are two animals left. They both are female. IVF has failed.

On my Instagram page [ ], you can see my list of 134 of the 203 Endangered Mammals.
Close to half of the politicians in the House and Senate are not taking Climate Change seriously; nor are they taking gun violence seriously.

“Before a man killed at least four people Wednesday at a hospital in Tulsa, there had already been 232 mass shootings this year in the United States, according to the Gun Violence Archive. It is the twentieth since last week’s shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Tex., left 19 children and two teachers dead.
“Mass shootings, where four or more people — not including the shooter — are injured or killed, have averaged more than one per day so far this year. Not a single week in 2022 has passed without at least four mass shootings.”

While I am inclined to say that we, as a nation, must do better, it’s clear that we, as a nation, don’t intend to do better. Apparently, we aren’t even close to agreeing that we must do better.
The son of a politician facing criminal charges said that the problem wasn’t the gun; the deaths could have occurred with a baseball bat. It’s difficult to be in 19 places, swinging a bat and killing children. Some politicians make very strange comments.
The answer brought forward by some politicians is that we need to have armed police at every school in the nation. In Uvalve, Texas, there were over a dozen armed officers inside the building while shooting continued and children died. Apparently, no one was in charge.
An 18-year-old bought the assault rifle he used, that very same day.
An 18-year-old in Texas cannot buy beer but can buy an assault rifle.
Nineteen children killed, two teachers killed, and 17 people wounded. Apparently, it took about 90 minutes for the hundreds of rounds to be fired. Armed police were on site for 40 minutes before they entered the building [the stories keep changing].
In the end they had over 100 police officers on site. The children still died.
Armed police aren’t the answer to the problem.

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 240: 21 weeks into the year; 213 mass shootings

May 27, 2022

May 24, 2022
19 children and 2 adults dead

The Washington Post has spent years tracking how many children have been exposed to gun violence during school hours since the Columbine High massacre in 1999.
Beyond the dead and wounded, children who witness the violence or cower behind locked doors to hide from it can be profoundly traumatized.
The federal government does not track school shootings, so The Post pieced together its numbers from news articles, open-source databases, law enforcement reports and calls to schools and police departments.
While school shootings remain rare, there were more in 2021 — 42 — than in any year since at least 1999. So far this year, there have been at least 24 acts of gun violence on K-12 campuses during the school day.
The count now stands at more than 311,000 children at 331 schools traumatized by gun violence.
The Post has found that at least 185 children, educators and other people have been killed in assaults, and another 369 have been injured.

I see headlines every day where ‘conservative’ politicians claim to be protecting the country from the Radical Left [aka social justice]; and now they are bringing ‘god’ into the message with greater force [at a time when the largest denomination in the country has admitted “that leaders falsely claimed they could not maintain a database of offenders to prevent abuse when a secret list of more than 700 abusive pastors had been compiled. No action was taken to ensure the accused ministers were no longer in positions to do harm.”
These people need to leave Creator and Jesus out of these cultural crimes, until they have actually read Jesus’ teachings with the intent of following them.

The graph below proves that Gun Violence is entirely preventable.

All that is required is the will to stop the violence

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 239: “The greatest deception from which men suffer is their own opinions”

May 22, 2022

“These are the principles for the development of a complete mind: Study the science of art. Study the art of science…Learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else.”
The greatest deception from which men suffer is their own opinions
Leonardo da Vinci

America is incredibly complicated. Maddingly complicated.
Complicated almost beyond belief.

I am a child of immigrants. Approximately 3/4 of my ancestors lived in Scandinavia. Immigrants who traveled from Norway and from Finland, in search of a better life. My Grandmother talked about traveling with her three young daughters across the country on a train. She had never seen a person with brown skin before; she could not speak English, so as to learn about these strange people. She told of how kind the brown-skinned people on the train were.

In humans, Melanin is the primary determinant of skin color. Melanin is an effective absorbent of light; and is believed to protect the skin from UV radiation. Three-quarters of my DNA comes from Scandinavia. The need for Melanin as skin protection is fairly low in the places where the sun doesn’t shine that often, and the place where the nights are long. Parents having a dozen children, who all have a dozen children in their families. Those long nights…

There is only one Homo Sapien Race in our world—the Human Race—we all have similar DNA. Even when Melanin is more active, darkening the skin to protect against UV radiation, we are still One Race. There are a lot of people in this country who have a difficult time understanding this fact.

I finished watching “Ken Burns’ Country Music” again. I’m not particularly fond of twangy music; I am fond of bluegrass and the stories the series tells. Similarly, with “Ken Burns’ Jazz”. The music that is by definition American mostly comes from the Deep South. The banjo came from Africa, work songs came from Africa and the Caribbean. The Blues came from brown-skinned people dealing with the struggles they endured primarily because pink-skinned people wanted brown-skinned people to be kept something below pink skin.
Politicians today want to pretend American history in the South did not occur; and refuse to admit it continues today. Ban a textbook, ban a library book because, sadly, the ‘song’ they are singing is something different than ‘three chords and the truth’—the foundation of County Music.

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says that everyone in the United States has the right to practice his or her own religion, or no religion at all.
Our country’s founders — who were of different religious backgrounds themselves — knew the best way to protect religious liberty was to keep the government out of religion. So they created the First Amendment — to guarantee the separation of church and state. This fundamental freedom is a major reason why the U.S. has managed to avoid a lot of the religious conflicts that have torn so many other nations apart.

Recently, HD1 was discovered using space telescopes.

The Universe had a beginning. “330 million years after time began,” in astronomical terms, is fairly short. Shortly after HD1 was discovered, another signal from about the same distance was discovered; astronomers have no idea what the newer discovery is.

“To hear Charlie Duke tell it, his life’s most important moment did not come 50 years ago today, when he became the 10th and youngest of 12 people to walk on the moon. It came six years later, as he sat behind the wheel of his parked car alongside State Highway 46 in New Braunfels, Tex.
“He felt lost by then—unhappy in his marriage, emotionally distant from his two young sons, unfulfilled in his post-NASA career selling beer. But that day, he and his wife, Dotty, finished a weekend Bible study retreat, and in the car afterward, he became a born-again Christian.
“If his conversion story ended there, he would have plenty of company. But Duke would, in time, embrace a literalist interpretation of the Bible that contradicted all he accomplished as an astronaut and scrambled his expert understanding of the heavens…
“The expedition also collected some especially old moon rocks. On the second of their three days exploring Descartes, Young picked up a four-pound chunk of bright white stone that turned out to be anorthosite, a remnant of the moon’s original crust. Sample 60025, as it’s known, is among the most exactly dated prizes of the Apollo campaign, at 4.36 billion years old.
“The next day, Duke bagged a dust-covered 10-ounce rock on the rim of the vast North Ray Crater. It was a breccia containing a nugget of anorthosite that apparently crystallized 4.46 billion years ago…
“Today, Duke says he believes Earth to be only about 6,000 years old, and the rest of the universe with it — which is to say, he holds that the scientists overstated the actual age of that rock by 4.459994 billion years.”

Religion in America has become cruel. This country has never been a Christian nation. Our Constitution guarantees freedom of worship; and under some forms of worship, abortion is viewed differently from the Christian church.
In reality, people who claim to be Pro-Life are really Pro-Birth; if they were Pro-Life, they would be concerned about unwed mothers who cannot afford health insurance, and consequently pay for Neo-Natal Intensive Care [if needed]. To really be Pro-Life means to be concerned about the welfare for the child after the child has been born. All that ‘Radical Left’ stuff…

ATLANTA — Justice Clarence Thomas said Friday that the judiciary is threatened if people are unwilling to “live with outcomes we don’t agree with” and that recent events at the Supreme Court might be “one symptom of that.”
Thomas, speaking to judges and lawyers at the 11th Circuit Judicial Conference, did not speak directly about the leak of a draft opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade, a colossal breach of the court’s procedures.
But he referred a couple of times to the “unfortunate events” of the past week, and in a question-and-answer session led by a former clerk, he said he worried about declining respect for institutions and the rule of law.
“It bodes ill for a free society,” he said. It can’t be that institutions “give you only the outcome you want, or can be bullied” to do the same, he said.
The court’s longest-serving justice said he also worried about a “different attitude of the young” that might not show the same respect for the law as past generations did. “Recent events have shown this major change,” he said.

This is the same Supreme Court Justice whose wife was directly involved with the Capitol Riot on January 6th of last year. The reporter of the words above was ‘playing softball’ rather than ‘hardball’. Justice Thomas should recuse himself from any Supreme Court cases involving the Capitol Riot. Based on past performance, he probably won’t.
This same Institution has a sitting Justice who was accused of rape during his Confirmation Hearings and was never investigated. The FBI was directed to investigate by the Trump Department of Justice, but the alleged criminal in the Oval Office ordered the FBI to stand down.
This same Institution has two sitting Justices who swore under oath that they would not attempt to overcome Roe v. Wade because it was settled law. These two justices, on the leaked report, are voting to overturn Roe v. Wade.
The 45th President told over 13,000 lies while in office, paid hush-money to avoid criminal charges while sitting at his Presidential Desk in the Oval Office, was impeached twice and was found ‘not guilty’ by the Republicans in the Senate, even though the evidence was clear. He is also the instigator of the Capitol Riot.
I am no longer young; and I do not share the respect for the law that my parents had. Their respect for the law came from their life during the Great Depression and World War II; times that predated Nixon and Watergate, the Vietnam War, and the assassinations of FIVE proponents of Civil Rights in the 1960’s. Times long before our Endless War in the Middle East; the one that began with the misinformation presented to Congress that Saddam Hussein had [never-found] Weapons of Mass Destruction. These weapons had been provided to Afghan forces by the CIA, to prevent the Russian Army from doing what is happening in Ukraine. History repeats.

“In psychology, the holding of two opposing ideas in your mind at the same time is known as cognitive dissonance.”

I believe that Creator entering Time and Space in the form of Jesus was the equivalent of throwing a life preserver to one who is drowning. Humanity sucks, and always has. The Biblical account of Adam and Eve [I don’t believe this is a statement of what occurred] explains it, but people don’t see it that way. Adam and Eve gained an understanding of the difference between Right and Wrong and were consequently kicked out of Eden. Humans have been choosing Wrong ever since.
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 single 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.
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. We are our own worst enemy. A couple Millennia 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 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]

People 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’.

Ascension Day is the 40th day of Easter and commemorates the ascension of Jesus into heaven 39 days after resurrection on Easter Sunday. Ascension Day 2022 is on Thursday, May 26…

9 And when he had said these things, as they saw him, he was taken up and a cloud received him and he was hidden from their eyes. 10 And as they were gazing into the sky, as he was going, two men were present standing with them in white clothing. 11 And they were saying to them, “Galilean men, why are you standing and gazing into the sky? This Yeshua, who was taken up from you into Heaven shall come in this way, as when you saw him going up into Heaven.”Acts 1 Aramaic Bible in Plain English

No one really knows how this will work. Biblical literalists will find their literal interpretation as an explanation in itself. Followers of Jesus know that Jesus never left. His body left—although, when the risen Jesus walked through walls, one has to question the nature of Jesus’ visible body. I’ve taught myself, more times than I can count, I cannot walk through walls.
This has always been my favorite depiction of the Ascension. “And as they were gazing into the sky, as he was going…”

Ascension By Salvador Dali

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

March 16, 2022

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

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 236: The inter-related structure of reality pt.2

January 30, 2022
These are all Human

From Sapiens: a brief history of humankind by Yuval Noah Harari:
“Species that evolved from a common ancestor are bunched together under the heading ‘genus’ (plural genera). Lions, tigers, leopards and jaguars are different species within the genus Panthera. Biologists label organisms with a two-part Latin name, genus followed by species. Lions, for example, are called Panthera leo, the species leo of the genus Panthera. Presumably, everyone reading this book is a Homo sapiens—the species sapiens (wise) of the genus Homo (man)
“Homo sapiens, too, belongs to a family. This banal fact used to be one of history’s most closely guarded secrets. Homo sapiens long preferred to view itself as set apart from animals, an orphan bereft of family, lacking siblings or cousins, and most importantly, without parents. But that’s just not the case. Like it or not, we are members of a large and particularly noisy family called the great apes. Our closest living relatives include chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans. The chimpanzees are the closest. Just 6 million years ago, a single female ape had two daughters. One became the ancestor of all chimpanzees, the other is our own grandmother…”

Religious people hate/will hate this book, because the book runs afoul of one the foremost traits of Evangelical Religion: that we are created by God in his likeness [Creator looks like a human], and that we are created for a purpose: “to glorify God and enjoy Him forever” as written in the Westminster Shorter Catechism, written in the mid-1600s.

The only way the Evangelical Religious person can come to this understanding is by rote instruction in the teachings of the Evangelical Religion. Which is why, in nearly 48 of my 70 years, I have never been able to understand the Evangelical Religion. I have attended and served a number of Evangelical churches over the decades and have realized that many religious ‘truths’ are deemed true only because people have been taught that they are true.
I became a father 7 years after I found Faith. I was still learning; and had no idea how I was supposed to teach children the truths I was learning in my twenties. So, I wrote these things down in books that I created for my children. There were flaws in the execution of this project. I assumed that Sunday School teachers were taught what to teach children about Faith. This failed in execution, also. Sunday School teachers I’ve encountered simply volunteered. The outcome would have been better if I’d made better choices

Metaphor is often misunderstood by people.
Doctor Who is my favorite metaphor

The Doctor and Dinosaur Valley 2

A mythical person, created in 1963 [4 years before Star Trek] to fill-in a half-hour gap in the BBC scheduling. A show aimed at children, intended to be educational, and to be Produced by the BBC’s first female Producer, Verity Lambert; directed by the BBC’s first Indian Director. The Doctor would travel through time and space in a somewhat magical ‘ship’—the TARDIS [Time And Relative Dimension In Space]—a device with a malfunctioning Chameleon Circuit that, when working correctly, enables the TARDIS to blend in with the landscape. It broke in 1963 London, where one of the most visible landmarks was a blue Police Box—a telephone booth for a Constable On Patrol, as well as a temporary holding cell. The concept of a regenerating Doctor was not intended from the beginning. William Hartnell, the actor playing The Doctor, became ill and needed to leave the show, which had [unexpectedly] become very popular. So, the plot device of ‘regeneration’ allowed the BBC to cast a different actor in the role of The Doctor, while keeping the narrative. The 13th Doctor is the first female-appearing Doctor; although not the first female-appearing Time Lord. Time Lords are not part of the family Homo Sapiens.

Doctor Who is a metaphor.
What one might desire to be true in a heroic figure.
Earth is Protected by the Doctor. While the Doctor does not resort to violence, the Doctor frequently turns a potential invader’s war efforts back upon themselves. Consequently, the Doctor uses wits rather than weapons.

The Marvel Universe hasn’t figured this out. Their heroes are flawed, for dramatic effect. The modern world has trouble believing that heroes don’t need to be flawed, like the rest of us, in order to be heroic.

Back When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth, Superman was one of the first superheroes to be found on the small screen. He was one of my babysitters. While Superman was weakened by Kryptonite, he was not weakened by character flaws. George Reeves, the actor, found the role of Superman to be crippling to his career. While I never heard about it while a child, George Reeves died by a bullet. How the bullet got that far has never been determined.

I don’t know that I can say that without George Reeves, there wouldn’t be Christopher Reeve as Superman. I believe that it’s true. Reeve didn’t read Superman comics, but he watched the television show. Christopher Reeve enabled the taglines to be fulfilled:

The movie that makes a legend come to life. You’ll believe a man can fly.
“What makes Superman a hero is not that he has power, but that he has the wisdom and the maturity to use the power wisely. From an acting point of view, that’s how I approached the part.
“A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles. I have seen first-hand how Superman actually transforms people’s lives.  I have seen children dying of brain tumors who wanted as their last request to be able to talk to me and have gone to their graves with a peace brought on by knowing that their belief in this kind of character is intact. I have seen that Superman really matters. They’re connecting with something very basic: the ability to overcome obstacles, the ability to persevere, the ability to understand difficulty and to turn your back on it.”

Christopher Reeve

I grew up believing that heroes exist. Granted, my heroes were found in books, television and movies. It was hard to keep believing in heroes during the Vietnam Police Action era [as with Korea, there was no declaration of War].

I hadn’t given much thought to making children; I thought more about the ‘planting’ aspects than the ‘nurturing’ aspect. I realized that I didn’t have role models—I never liked my family all that much—there was nothing bad about my family, the problem was mine. When our children started being born, I had to start finding role models. I was fortunate enough to find role models, who would probably be embarrassed to be considered in that light. Frank and Jeanette lived across the street for most of my life at that time, Stan and Diana were people we met at church, as well as many others. Rolland and Molly were mentors for me, sadly, the relationship ended badly—again, my fault.  

My goal in these Chronicles is to explain Faith—understanding Creator—as well as the inexplicable nature of the Universe, in terms that aren’t religious. One does not need religion to explore that which we cannot fully know. One does not need religion to interact with Creator. The reality is that in this life we will not know how life as a concept intersects life as we live. We search for answers that only Creator can explain, and the explanation won’t happen in our life here on Earth. Humans are incapable of understanding.

It will be marvelous and horrible if we learn that the other life forms on this Earth actually do know the answers; and that we humans have simply been too full of ourselves to learn.

I came to Faith in my third year of college, having been raised outside of religion. I had learned about Metaphor while in high school and in college. The notion that a series of writings from thousands of years of history would be collected into two separate volumes [Old and New Testaments] by religious leaders in the Third Century and translated into a variety of languages by a number of different translators, all the while remaining Literally True never crossed my mind. The writers of the Talmud—the collected interpretations of difficult passages in Torah [the Hebrew Bible]—rarely considered Torah to be literally true. It’s an evangelical concept that probably began two to three centuries after Jesus came back from the dead.

So many religious people get caught in the words used in Biblical texts, and don’t see the metaphor. Christians get caught up in the Crucifixion, believing that death and resurrection was the point of Jesus walking the earth. There came a point in Jesus’ life when he knew he was not like other people; and there was a point where he realized what was ahead. There wasn’t any surprise on his part. We read about three years of his life; he probably was the same guy for the decades before then. No one bothered to write it down. There are legends in which Jesus, while young, molds clay into the form of a bird, and it flies away… Jesus was born so Creator could be here himself. To exist in the lives of those created in the image of our Creator.

“The Buddha taught that we have a tendency to get caught in five kinds of wrong views. The fifth kind of wrong view is being caught in the outer form of rites and rituals. We think that if we avoid doing what is forbidden and follow all rules and regulations, we will be liberated. We are content to follow rules and perform rituals without understanding their significance. When we are caught in rituals, we can also be caught in the various rules and regulations which are attached to these rites and rituals. When studying the precepts and putting them into practice we need to be careful not to fall into the fifth kind of wrong view, by being caught in the outer form of practicing the precepts. If we keep the precepts but are caught in their outer form and do not understand their deeper meaning, our practice cannot lead to liberation, purity, peace, and joy.
For example, we may think that the more we invoke the Buddha’s name, the more holy and pure we will become. Yet if we invoke the Buddha’s name without mindfulness and concentration, it will not bring us any benefit. We can repeat the Buddha’s name thousands of times a day but if we are still carried away by our irritation or unhappiness while we practice then we are caught in the outer form. Or suppose we eat a vegetarian diet but we do not enjoy it. It makes us suffer and we always think of how nice it would be to eat meat. This is being caught in the form. We do not touch the essence of the practice of protecting life, of not harming living beings. When we practice the content, the essence of the precepts, we receive the benefit of peace, clarity, and freedom right away.”

Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh October 11, 1926-January 22, 2022

The above is what Jesus taught. He used different words.

Creator is not responsible for COVID, nor cancer, nor any other disease. Creator is not responsible for War and death by War. Religious people justify war by quoting from Scripture, never figuring out that War was not ordained by god; war exists because we are broken. They delight in quoting Scripture they happen to like; there’s a whole lot of Scripture they don’t like to quote.

“I have a childlike conviction that the sufferings will be healed and smoothed over, that the whole offensive comedy of human contradictions will disappear like a pitiful mirage, a vile concoction of man’s Euclidean mind, feeble and puny as an atom, and that ultimately, at the world’s finale, in the moment of eternal harmony, there will occur and be revealed something so precious that it will suffice for all hearts, to allay all indignation, to redeem all human villainy, all bloodshed; it will suffice not only to make forgiveness possible, but also to justify everything that has happened with men.” – Fyodor Dostoevsky

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 235: A Story of Christmas

December 19, 2021

4th Sunday in Advent

I don’t do Christmas well. I don’t know why. I enjoyed watching our adult children when they were young [Back When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth], and anticipated Christmas. I enjoy watching the continuous joy of our 2+ year old grandson as he wanders through a forest of new things.  

Back When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth, and I worked for the City of Portland, at lunchtime I would listen to a local Catholic radio station that played only Advent music in the weeks before Christmas. Music that prepared people for the appearance of the Christ Child…

The Story isn’t all that complicated. The Creator of the entire Universe entered Time and Space [not unlike Doctor Who] in the form of a single cell implanted in the womb of a teenaged Jewish girl named Mary. Her son Jesus lived as a human male, preached for 3 years reminding people how they should act, and was killed by upset religious people.

Yes, I believe the Universe is Created. I’ve worked as a designer for 50 years; I recognize Design when I see it. I have experienced Intervention over the last 40+ years. Things that have happened that I cannot explain. Not often. Jesus is believed to have healed 30-40 people in a three-year period. The Evangelical Church expects healing all the time.

Christmas in America has little to do with the Story. Jesus probably wasn’t born in a barn; the Magi came when Jesus was a toddler. Christmas Trees have nothing to do with Christmas. The Magi brought gifts for a newborn King, nobody else.

Humans have a need to venerate/celebrate/experience wonder. I don’t have a problem with that. Celebrations of the Winter Solstice accomplished that. Jesus entered the world to bring Life; not to create a reason for a party; not to help Christmas sales.

Back to Mary. She was visited by an Angel and was told that she would that she would bear a son who was to be named Yeshua; and that he would save the people from their sins. There is a long passage in the New Testament called “The Magnificat”—Mary’s response to the Angel that came and told her she would bear a child, not having ever having sex. A month or so ago, I created the image below, thinking about how my 19-year-old grand-daughter might act, if she was in Mary’s situation.

A male-looking Angel comes into her bedroom[?] and she apparently does not get freaked out. I have trouble believing that part. Eventually understanding that what the Angel said might be true, I can believe.

Now we get to the ugly part of the Story.

Searching for the Christ Child, three Maji from East came to Judea. They stopped at the Palace, to ask King Herod for the location of the new King that they had foreseen. Herod did not know but asked the Magi to return after they had found Him so that Herod could worship Him [he lied]. Having visited the new King, leaving behind gifts to honor a King, the Maji took a different route home.

Herod, realizing he had been fooled by the Magi, ordered that all male children of 2 years of age and younger were to be murdered. History calls this The Massacre of the Innocents [above left]. Such massacres have continued into our time. Humans are broken. An Angel warns Mary’s husband Joseph in a dream and tells Joseph to take his young family to Egypt [above right].

The Gospel of Matthew tells the Christmas Story, complete with Angels from Heaven, and domestic animals in a barn. A great Story told and retold for two Millennia. The Story would probably look different if there had been a camera and a reporter there to document the event. Doctor Who, the Time Lord who has roamed the Universe for centuries, claimed to have been there, near the barn where Mary gave birth to Jesus, because he had rented the last room at the inn…

I am making a conscious choice to allow the Story into my life this year. This year is exceptionally difficult. What’s worse, nearly all of the challenges have to do with the choices I made in the past, intending better outcomes. As it says in the movie:

Okay, there are two things that l remember about my childhood…
First, l remember being with my dad.
He would get these far-off looks in his eye, and he would say,
“Life doesn´t always turn out the way you plan.”
l just wish l realized at the time he was talking about
my life.

While You Were Sleeping [1995]

I never had that conversation with my Dad.

The Story isn’t all that complicated. I also never had this conversation with my parents; they had run from Church in early adulthood and weren’t interested in the information I wanted share with them—information that I’d never heard before.

Evangelicals have lists as to Naughty and Nice. Different denominations have their own list. They tend to believe that everyone has the same list.

I’m on the Naughty list owned by the church I’ve served since 2004, to the Pandemic. I believe that we are all [no Exceptions] tasked with finding Creator wherever we can. No one is separated from Creator by their actions. This the concept of Omniscience—All Knowing; in the same category as the Laws of Thermodynamics. We can never surprise Creator. There are no Naughty and Nice lists with Creator.

To say that ‘sin separates us from Creator’ can be found in passages in the Bible. As can the following: Psalm 137
1 By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion…
8 Daughter Babylon, doomed to destruction, happy is the one who repays you according to what you have done to us.
9 Happy is the one who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks.

I have never heard a sermon preached about that part. Probably would not go over well in Texas and other states that advocate pro-birth. [If they advocated pro-life, they would assure early childhood care].

The Story is that Creator came into the world as a cell that grew, was birthed, and was raised as a Jewish child.
It is believed He became a Carpenter, following His adoptive father.
In His 30s He became all of the Creator that a human can be.

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.  John 3:17   Read it literally.

The male pronouns above refer to Jesus.
Jesus came into our world to give our world Life.
Jesus either succeeded, or Jesus failed.
There really are only two options.

I choose Succeeded

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