Posts Tagged ‘surviving’

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 238: Everything Connects to Everything Else

April 15, 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

As my 70th birthday approaches, and the world continues to spin toward chaos, I find that I am somewhat of an existentialist philosopher.

“Existentialism is 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/absurd world.
Political leaders knowingly causing the suffering of people through the deceit of their opinions…
What could be more absurd than the idea that in the midst of a global Pandemic that has taken more than 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. He even sends soldiers to Chernobyl, with no protection from the radiation. He is not doing this to benefit the Russian people.
The invasion of Ukraine is real, and it is cruel. Putin is targeting hospitals, schools 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.

How do we do Life, when so many lives are dying?
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.

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.

From Gerald Schroeder: Genesis and the Big Bang
“In the thirteenth century, Nahmanides quoted a commentary on Genesis written 600 years before him, noting that prior to the existence of the universe, time did not exist. This was learned from the wording of Genesis 1:5, “…and there was evening and there was morning, day one.” It is not stated “the first day”…Although it is difficult to comprehend, the creation of the physical universe brought with it a concurrent creation of time…
“This earliest existing reference is in a commentary on the book of Genesis written by Nahmanides (1194-1270) Of course, Nahmanides never referred to it as the ‘big bang’, but this is basically how he described the first moments of the universe.
“At the briefest instant following creation, all the matter of the universe was concentrated in a very small place, no larger than a grain of mustard. The matter at this time was so thin, so intangible, that it did not have real substance. It did have, however, a potential to gain substance and form and to become tangible matter. From the initial concentration of this intangible substance in its minute location, the substance expanded, expanding the universe as it did so. As the expansion progressed, a change in the substance occurred. This initially thin noncorporeal substance took on the tangible aspects of matter as we know it. From this initial act of creation, from this ethereally thin pseudosubstance, everything that has existed, or will ever exist, was, is, and will be formed.”

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. It requires Faith.
Medical science has yet to determine how thought comes into being, much less the soul. Functional imaging studies of the brain can pinpoint the beginning of a thought, and its passage through the brain; but not all thoughts start at the same point. No one knows where thought begins. Our medical research abilities are not yet capable of analyzing that self which is our soul.

I used a religious word.

It’s hard to avoid the smokescreen that envelopes Faith, in the very un-United States at this point in history. That smokescreen is the American Civil Religion which has taken hold of a lot of very strange people in this country. People that apparently want to return to the days of the Jim Crow South, shortly after the War Between the States. Prior to the election of President Biden, I thought that the percentage of people preaching the American Civil Religion was fairly small. I was mistaken.

This will be the third Easter that I have not attended a church, since the Pandemic began. I’m not particularly bothered. For those who haven’t been paying attention, the Pandemic is far from over. Even though people are tired of protecting each other from the Pandemic, the Pandemic does not care. The novel [new] coronavirus keeps mutating. That’s what viruses do. No knows what this one will do next.

For many, today, April 14, 2022 is called Maundy Thursday. The last day that Jesus was free to teach, to heal, and to talk about the Future. Maundy Thursday includes the practice of foot washing—”an act of radical love, of seeing and being seen, that Jesus practiced that night that he was betrayed.” Having shared time with his disciples, Jesus, Peter, James and John went to the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus went there to pray; his guys fell asleep. Judas Iscariot, one of Jesus’ closest disciples, made a deal with the religious leaders of Jerusalem to bring Roman soldiers to the Garden, so that they could arrest Jesus. The religious leaders weren’t sure what Jesus looked like; and the Roman soldiers did not have a clue. No social media.
Jesus was tortured through the night and into the following morning. He was then taken to a hill where he was executed.

Many will disagree: Jesus did not enter time and space to die by execution on a cross.
Nor did He enter time and space so He could be resurrected. Jesus came to bring Life to the entire world.

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’.

Christ of the Ukraine
Adaptation of Salvador Dali’s
“Christ of Saint John of the Cross”

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

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 233-2: Brain with a Body

August 15, 2021
Same characters, Doctor Who theme

Welcome to my new visitors. I appreciate your time.

The Strange World of the Future-Reprise

Somehow, the human race cannot translate the technological accomplishments of the 21st Century into making a better society. And 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 remaining Billionaires. Instead, they play space tourist. It’s sort of like Superman deciding that reading the Daily Planet is the best he can do, before making another orbit around the world.

I have given up on politics as a means of rescue. I will vote, as I have, for the last 50+ years. I’m grateful that I live in Portland, Oregon, where there may not be many churchgoers, and there are a lot of Progressive Liberals. My ‘Give a Damn’ was broken on January 6th of this year when members of various police forces attempted to protect The United States Capitol in its first invasion since the War of 1812. A large portion of our elected officials are saying that the deaths of police officers in their attempt to protect the safety of said politicians was similar to a visit by a regular tour group… An allegiance to a criminal who told the world that COVID is a hoax; and the world believed him. Not because of his credibility as a human being, but as some devotion to an American Religion.

Consequently, I have returned to Science Fiction to find sanity.

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.

Think about this:

You are a brain with a body. All of you that exists, your body, your ideas, your dreams, these happen in your brain. Your body provides transportation and nourishment to your brain. You theoretically are reading this on something that looks like a piece of paper. You do not have a screen in your brain. You cannot see a piece of digital paper. As far as your device is concerned, it’s all ones and zeroes translated into machine language. The light contacting the retinas of your eyes sends electrochemical signals to nerve centers in your brain. What you are reading is a scientifically created illusion.

Take it a step further. Suppose that our current scientific understanding of the brain is missing what I believe is the key element: you are Energy. According to the first law of thermodynamics, you can be transformed; but cannot be destroyed. There is a YOU that is crafted by Creator and exists outside of our limited understanding of Life. I use the word ‘soul’ as many other people do. There are people who do not believe that the Soul exists because there is no evidence to prove it.

I have been following the Faith Walk, the Spirit Walk for 48 years. I cannot prove the existence of the Soul, but lack of proof does not mean lack of existence. The biggest problem I’ve had with my Faith Walk is religion. I have served in a variety of capacities in a number of denominations, and I am continually amazed at how people can take a few sentences out of their context, and then build a religious belief. I have also learned that I cannot change the minds of people whose minds are closed. The most I can do is provide an environment where change can occur, when someone wants to change.

You can be transformed; but cannot be destroyed.

This messes with the religious beliefs of many people.

I can’t help that.

Short Religious thought [Mark 9]:

Jesus [‘Yeshua’ in Hebrew] takes Peter, James and John to a high mountain. As Jesus is standing apart from the three, He is “transfigured” [think superhero] Jesus’ “garment was shining and became very white, like snow, in a manner by which men on earth are not able to whiten. 4 And Elijah and Moses appeared to them as they were speaking with Yeshua.”

  1. There were no cameras in Jesus’ day, nor centuries earlier in Elijah’s and Moses’ time. How did those with Jesus know who the newcomers were? The images from Egypt were probably the most sophisticated of the time. Very few, if any, portraits in Egypt [Moses was in Egypt before the whole ‘parting the Red Sea’ stuff].

7 And there was a cloud and it was a shelter about them, and a voice from the cloud which said, “This is my Beloved Son, hear him.” 8 And suddenly afterward, the disciples gazed up, and they saw no one except Yeshua alone with them.

  • Creator identifies Jesus; and the three with Him continue to think Jesus is some sort of prophet…

9 And when they descended from the mountain, he commanded them that they would tell no one anything that they had seen until after The Son of Man had risen from the dead. 10 And they seized on that statement in their souls and they were inquiring, “What is this statement, ‘When he rises from among the dead?”

  • Jesus and his followers knew that Jesus would end up crucified; they had seen, every day, of their lives what Rome did to troublemakers. Jesus was a troublemaker. He didn’t bother the Romans—Jesus wasn’t sent to the Romans. Romans officially believed that the Emperor was something like a god.

It seems to me that if Jesus came to die on a cross so that Jews could be saved from Hell [Jesus was Jewish], He might have mentioned the concept of being raised from the dead. His closest followers had never heard about Jesus being raised from the dead.

Creator entered Time and Space in the form of one cell implanted into the womb of a young girl. That young girl gave birth to a boy named Yeshua, who apparently entered into the trade of his ‘foster’ father. Yeshua became a carpenter. I read somewhere that an ancient writing talked about plows made by Yeshua. Yeshua came to teach people how to live—what to do with the Energy that we all contain—Energy that can be transformed; but cannot be destroyed. This messes with the religious beliefs of many people. I can’t help that.

So what do we do with this unbreakable Energy [soul] within us? We try to make the world better.

Get Vaccinated. Nearly every COVID death that has occurred since Memorial Day was avoidable. If you fear the practice of Vaccination, I would remind you that every child in America, under the care of a medical practitioner was vaccinated for Measles, Mumps and Rubella. If you’ve ever been to an ER to patch up a hole in your body you created with a tool, you were vaccinated for Tetanus. I did a lot of that in my years building/repairing houses.

If you are afraid that the government is injecting you with some sort of device that can track you, wherever you go, you should stop listening to Conservative news sources, and throw away your cellphone. You show up on tracking of some sort every time your cell phone gets turned on.

My personal recommendation is that you should stop using QR-Codes with your phone. You have no idea what is programmed via a QR-Code. They were developed by the automotive industry because the format can transmit data better than a bar code. If you are scrupulous with passwords, but accept any QR-Code you see, you might as well give up on passwords.

However, I was born When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth.

…mushrooms, 30-40 feet high…

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 233: Brain with a Body

August 3, 2021
Ashes of Hiroshima

The United States detonated two nuclear weapons over the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6 and 9 August 1945, respectively. The two bombings killed between 129,000 and 226,000 people, most of whom were civilians, and remain the only use of nuclear weapons in armed conflict.


Hanford: … You some kind of a pacifist, Driscoll?

Paul Driscoll: No, just some sick idiot who’s seen too many boys die because of too many men who fight their battles at dining room tables… and who probably wouldn’t last so long as twenty-five seconds in a REAL skirmish if they WERE thrust into it.

Hanford: …I take offense at that remark, Mr. Driscoll!

Paul Driscoll: And I take offense at “armchair warriors” like yourself – who clearly don’t know what a shrapnel, or a bullet, or a saber wound feels like… or what death smells like after three days on an empty, sun-drenched battlefield… who’ve never seen the look on a man’s face when he realizes he’s lost a limb, and his blood is seeping out. Mr. Hanford, you have a great enthusiasm for “planting the American flag deep, high, and proud.” But you don’t have a nodding acquaintance with what it’s like for American families to bury their sons in the same soil!

*********************

Paul Driscoll: We live in a cesspool, a septic tank, a gigantic sewage complex in which runs the dregs, the filth, the misery-laden slop of the race of men: his hatred, prejudices, passions, and violence. And the keeper of this sewer: man. He is a scientifically advanced monkey who walks upright, with eyes wide open into an abyss of his own making. His bombs, fallout, poisons, radioactivity everything he designs as an art for dying is his excuse for living. We live in an exquisite bedlam an insanity. Maybe all the more grotesque by the fact that we don’t recognize it as insanity.

Narrator: [Opening Narration] Exit one Paul Driscoll, a creature of the twentieth century. He puts to a test a complicated theorem of space-time continuum, but he goes a step further – or tries to. Shortly, he will seek out three moments of the past in a desperate attempt to alter the present – one of the odd and fanciful functions in a shadowland known as the Twilight Zone.

The Twilight Zone No Time Like the Past (1963)

I Sometimes wonder how Rod Serling would write the story of today’s political environment. People dying at horrendous rates because they listened to a handful of politicians and preachers who say that the worst worldwide Pandemic in over a century is a hoax; despite the urgings of epidemiologists for people to simply get vaccinated against the virus. But, no, a corrupt politician has more clout among the religious and political leaders of today, and as a result, over two thousand new cases presented themselves to Oregon hospitals, over this last weekend. Not last month or last week; simply last weekend. Florida has set a new national record for COVID cases.

I have given up on politics as a means of rescue. My ‘Give a Damn’ is broken, ever since January 6th of this year when members of various police forces attempted to protect The United States Capitol in its first invasion since the War of 1812. A large portion of our elected officials are saying that the deaths of police officers in their attempt to protect the safety of said politicians was similar to a visit by a regular tour group…

Consequently, I have returned to Science Fiction to find sanity

Robot making a Vow to Will Robinson that he will not harm Will

I enjoyed Netflix’s “Lost in Space” and am waiting for Season 3 to appear. What I find strange is that Maureen Robinson, as the main engineer/science person in the show, apparently has never read Science Fiction. She, and everyone except Will Robinson apparently can’t comprehend the idea of a sentient artificial intelligence. She cannot comprehend that Robot can make a vow regarding behavior; and cannot comprehend that Robot feels grief at the death of four-legged friend.

Sentient artificial intelligence is a concept that has run through Science Fiction since the 1940’s. She also hasn’t watched any OLD television episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, which must be in some future historic database.

In the episode entitled, “The Measure of a Man“, the future of the android officer Lt. Commander Data is argued in a courtroom. The rights of Lt. Commander Data are threatened by a scientist who wishes to dismantle him in order to produce replicas of him. Captain Jean-Luc Picard argues in a Starfleet court for Data’s right of self-determination, rather than being declared mere property of Starfleet. Picard turns the discussion to metaphysical matters of Data’s sentience. Picard points out that Data meets two of the three criteria that the scientist uses to define sentient life. Data is intelligent and self-aware, and Picard asks anyone in the court to show a means of measuring consciousness…

The measuring of consciousness is getting closer…

As a result of neuroimaging of the human brain scientists have established that a network of interconnected brain regions known as the default mode network disintegrates in anesthesia and after brain damage, causing disorders of consciousness.

They found that across pharmacological (sedation) and pathological (disorders of consciousness) consciousness changes, the source of dopamine in the brain, called “ventral tegmental area”, disconnects from the main hubs of the default mode network.

They also found that the severity of this disconnection was associated with default mode network disintegration, highlighting the relevance of dopamine for consciousness. They therefore propose that dopaminergic modulation may be a central mechanism for consciousness maintenance.

Exploring the neural bases of consciousness

an image of a thought

Humans make decisions based on supposition when they can’t find facts, or when they simply don’t want to make the effort to learn. Learning takes effort; humans don’t particularly like effort. Consequently, humans do stupid things and then try to cover them up.

Seventy-six years ago, this week as I write, The United States of America, having firebombed Tokyo to dust in March of 1945… 

The Bombing of Tokyo (東京大空襲, Tōkyōdaikūshū) was a series of firebombing air raids by the United States Army Air Forces during the Pacific campaigns of World War II. Operation Meetinghouse, which was conducted on the night of 9–10 March 1945, is the single most destructive bombing raid in human history. Of central Tokyo 16 square miles were destroyed, leaving an estimated 100,000 civilians dead and over one million homeless.

…and then preceded to wipe the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki from the face of the earth.

The United States detonated two nuclear weapons over the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6 and 9 August 1945, respectively. The two bombings killed between 129,000 and 226,000 people, most of whom were civilians, and remain the only use of nuclear weapons in armed conflict.

Wikipedia

The ‘shadows’ of humans in the images below, aren’t conventional shadows. They are all that remains of human beings blasted by the atomic blasts; permanently etched into adjacent structures.

Many Americans believe that this destruction was justified because these actions kept the number of American combatants from becoming a horrid number.

The two bombings killed between 129,000 and 226,000 people, most of whom were civilians

a.k.a. the elderly, the infirm, women and children

Waging War against the elderly, the infirm, women and children is shameful. Where are the admissions of guilt?

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 232: Why does it matter?

July 13, 2021

Narrator: What you are about to watch is a nightmare. It is not meant to be prophetic, it need not happen, it’s the fervent and urgent prayer of all men of good will that it never shall happen. But in this place, in this moment, it does happen. This is the Twilight Zone.

An Air Raid alert happens one night…

Dr. Bill Stockton: You better get on home and get into your shelter… eh, your basement, and I’d board up the windows if I were you.
Jerry Harlowe: Bill, we don’t have any cellar, remember? The advantages of modern architecture, we have the only modern house on the block. We get everything at your beck and call, everything at your fingertips, even got an electric launderer right off the back room. All the wonders of modern science taken into account except that thing that’s heading here right now…
The neighbors who, an hour before celebrated the doctor’s birthday, decide to invade the fallout shelter…

Man: Why don’t we get some kind of battering ram?
Frank Henderson: Yeah, we could go over to Bennett Avenue, Phil Cline has some heavy pipe in his basement, I’ve seen it.
Man: No, no, that would bring him into the act too, and who cares about saving him? No, if we do that, we’ll let all those people know we have a shelter on our street. We’ll have a whole mob to contend with, with a whole bunch of strangers.
Mrs. Henderson: Sure, and what right have they got to come over here? This isn’t their street, this isn’t *their* shelter.
Jerry Harlowe: Ohhhh, this is *our* shelter, and on the next street that’s another country. Patronize home industries, you idiots, you fools, you’re insane, all of you…

The battering ram forces the fallout shelter’s door to break…and then the Alert is revoked.

Jerry Harlowe: Hey that’s a great idea, block party, anything to get back to normal, huh?
Dr. Bill Stockton: Normal? I don’t know. I don’t know what normal is. I thought I did once. I don’t anymore.Jerry Harlowe: I told you we’d pay for the damages, Bill.
Dr. Bill Stockton: Damages? I wonder. I wonder if anyone of us has any idea what those damages really are. Maybe one of them is finding out what we’re really like when we’re normal; the kind of people we are just underneath the skin. I mean all of us: a bunch of naked wild animals, who put such a price on staying alive that they’d claw their neighbors to death just for the privilege. We were spared a bomb tonight, but I wonder if we weren’t destroyed even without it.

No moral, no message, no prophetic tract, just a simple statement of fact: for civilization to survive, the human race has to remain civilized. Tonight’s very small exercise in logic from the Twilight Zone.

The Twilight Zone The Shelter (1961)

For civilization to survive, the human race has to remain civilized.

Rod Serling was a genius; lately I’ve been watching a lot of Twilight Zone episodes. They make a lot more sense to me, than other stories.

I’m not sure what ‘civilized’ means, anymore. The last 6 years in America has changed a lot of my beliefs. Politically, my “Give a Damn” is still broken. My concept of White American Evangelical Christianity is also broken. These two are connected.

“When I met Sudan, the remaining northern white rhinos were all in zoos, safe from poaching but with limited success at breeding. Conservationists had hatched a bold plan to airlift four of the rhinos to Kenya. The rhinos, it was hoped, would be stimulated by their ancestral habitat’s air, water, food, and room to roam. They would breed, and their offspring could be used to repopulate Africa.
When I first heard of this plan, it sounded to me like something out of a children’s story. But I quickly realized that this was a desperate, last-ditch effort to save a species…
How did we arrive at the point where such desperate measures were necessary? It’s astonishing that a demand for rhino horn based on little more than superstition has caused the wholesale slaughter of a species. But it’s encouraging that a disparate group of people came together in an attempt to save something unique and precious, something that once lost would be gone forever…”

This story appears in the October 2019 issue of National Geographic magazine.

An international team of researchers led by the National Autonomous University (UNAM) has found that since the year 1900, about 477 different species have become extinct because of continued human degradation and destruction of natural habitats.
They found that for every 10,000 species in the world, about two of them die off every century.
In the past 100 years alone, however, about 500 species have become extinct instead of the nine species that would have been expected at natural rates.
These extinct species include 158 fish, 146 amphibians, 80 birds, 69 mammals and 24 reptiles. The researchers said these estimates are highly conservative at best.
While such a study is susceptible to overestimation of modern-day extinction rates, especially given the limited data available, the researchers placed a floor on their figures so that the conservative extinction rates they arrived at would not be any lower given the data they had.

This means their findings are much more significant because even with the conservative estimates, they were able to calculate for extinction rates that are much higher compared to the background extinction rate, or the rate at which species are lost without any human impact involved.

https://www.techtimes.com/articles/64542/20150630/humans-cause-of-extinction-of-nearly-500-species-since-1900.htm

We are destroying Earth and mega-billionaires are playing ‘space tourists’ when they could feed the people who have little, or end homelessness. Would-be-astronauts who can’t pass the physical.

Politicians are arguing over who has the power to run government while they could be creating legislation that actually makes the world better, safer. Politicians are spouting nonsense about conspiracy theories, so that they can attract media attention, so that they can attract contributors who will provide them with the money they need to finance publicity so they can stay in office and spout nonsense about conspiracy theories.

I long ago learned that the only person I can change is myself; but only if I want to make the change. The most we can do for people we believe need changing, is to provide an environment the person can come to, if they decide they need to change. But we cannot change them. They are the only ones that can change themselves.

“What is objectionable, what is dangerous about extremists is not that they are extreme, but that they are intolerant. The evil is not what they say about their cause, but what they say about their opponents.”

“Few men are willing to brave the disapproval of their peers, the censure of their colleagues, the wrath of their society. Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential, vital quality for those who seek to change a world that yields most painfully to change.”

“Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events. It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”

But we can perhaps remember, if only for a time, that those who live with us are our brothers, that they share with us the same short moment of life; that they seek, as do we, nothing but the chance to live out their lives in purpose and in happiness, winning what satisfaction and fulfillment they can.”

Robert F. Kennedy

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 229: Easter Has Passed Over Us—So, Now What?

April 25, 2021

The Easter eggs have been found, and the chocolate bunnies have been eaten.
What’s next? In the Church calendar, Pentecost [May 23rd] is next, followed by Ordinary Time [my life seems to take place mostly in Ordinary Time].

Regarding the above images, Rubens gets the award for accuracy—Jesus was most likely naked when He came out of the tomb—His burial cloths Left Behind. Dürer gets the prize for most literal—Mary Magdalene was said to have thought the Resurrected Jesus was the gardener— Dürer gives Jesus a shovel. The ivory carving is probably the oldest; the one from the Byzantine School probably next oldest. The website that had the image on the far left seems to have misplaced its name and date.

You’re asking, ‘why does any of this matter?’

This morning I saw a reader board at a church:

“JESUS IS ALIVE AND HE IS LOOKING FOR SINNERS”

Maybe I’ve watched too many Westerns—to me the above phrase reminds me of ‘Wyatt Earp coming to clean up Dodge City’…

Jesus never went looking for sinners. Jesus went looking for those who had lost their way. When I was first introduced to Faith, in my twenties, I hadn’t lost my way; I didn’t even know a way existed.

The White Evangelical Church [a term of my preference] would say that Jesus’ Crucifixion means that your sins can be forgiven, and that the point of Jesus’ Resurrection is that Christians will be Resurrected, also.

A problem: This form of theology accepts the idea that 3/4 of all the people that have ever existed, are now burning in Hell; and further accepts the notion that Creator intended for this to happen when humankind was first Created; and that Creator is at perfect ease over the fact that 3/4 of all the humans who have existed burn in Hell. [It is possible that 3/4 is a low number]

And we Americans [rightly] demand that mass murder not occur on our streets and in our schools. If we are irate at wrongful death, why isn’t Creator angry about these wrongful deaths?

The White Evangelical Church misunderstands the reason Jesus was born.

=Ф=

Back When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth, my sons were in Boy Scouts; during the summer there were Summer Camp events [including a lot of rain, here in Portland]. Once everyone was in their tents for the night, I would wander to the nearby lake, lie down on the dock and look up into the night sky. It never occurred to me to envision the ‘lights in the sky’ to be at the outer perimeter of our solar system, but apparently that is what a lot of people in America [the only country I’ve lived in] seem to think.

NGC 4380 is a spiral galaxy located in the constellation of Virgo. There are planets in the galaxy we know as NGC 4380; we do not know if these planets are inhabited. We may never know, here on Earth. However, if Newton’s Laws of Motion are accurate, these Laws will apply on NGC 4380. If not there, then Newton’s observations are not Laws, they are merely explanations.

If there are sentient beings on inhabited planets in the NGC 4380 galaxy, they too will have a ‘Jesus’ story. A story of the Creator who became ‘human’ in whatever sense ‘human’ applies there. The image below could be a photo of the ‘humans’ [bipedal is a presumption on our part] living on some planet in the night sky. In the movie, “The Arrival” most weren’t ready to attribute to these creatures the same ‘dignity’ we ascribe to humans [actually, perhaps that was the problem—they did not ascribe the qualities of White Privilege to these ‘aliens’ in the same way brown-skinned humans are treated].

If you can only see Jesus through a First Century lens, you may not understand your faith. If Jesus only has meaning for you in the story of the Nativity during the Christmas and Easter seasons, then you probably don’t understand your faith.

At Christmas we don’t hear of a fairy tale that takes place in a barn, witnessed by Angels and shepherds and cattle. We hear a story of the Creator of the entire Universe entering our time and space in the form of one cell implanted in the womb of a teenager named Mary. Nine months later, Mary gave birth to a boy named Jesus. Jesus grew up as a child grows, observing and learning what all human children observe and learn.

The Easter story takes place around 33 years after the story of the baby in the manger. The story of what happened between the baby in the manger and the day Jesus left his inherited [assumption] carpentry shop doesn’t get told at all, in the New Testament canon. There are a lot of religious texts that didn’t ‘make the cut’ in the Third Century, when Bishops voted as to what would make up that which we know as the Bible.

Jesus’ death was inevitable, from the Wedding at Cana, where Jesus turned water into wine. Everyone knew who Jesus was; small towns lacking newspapers. When the miraculous events began, those stories of Jesus’ colorful life became even more colorful. The Conservative Religious leaders of Jesus’ time began planning to shut Jesus up. Jesus was a troublemaker.

One of my favorite non-Biblical stories is about the boy, Jesus, who would mold birds out of the clay along the river, and then send them flying.

Who gave these Bishops the authority to make these decisions? Well, of course, they gave themselves the authority.

Jacob M. Wright

“Someone asked me if I believed that stories in the Old Testament about God killing people were made up. Here’s what I believe.

“I think it was made up, but out of ancient people’s conceptualizing the world as through mythology. This is literally how the ancients found meaning in the world, through mythologizing their experiences together, and passing these stories down through oral tradition. But I believe God was being revealed through it. Because a myth does not mean that something is entirely false, but that a truth is being revealed through a story that is endowed with sacred meaning.

“So, while people are mythologizing about God destroying nations or killing this or that person, it is taking events and endowing them with cosmic/theological meaning, and while they are not literally true, they are imaginatively attempting to get at meaning in the universe and this was part of the progression towards truth.

“This is being honest about the primitive times in which these texts were written. If the world was so supernatural back then that God would literally just endow a fruit with magical knowledge that would cause the entire downfall of the species, or confuse the languages at Babel to create different cultures, or rain down fire from “heaven” (outer space?) to destroy nations, and swallow up people in the earth, and supernaturally set altars on fire, and supernaturally drown the whole world, and supernaturally fight Israel’s enemies with angels and shoot them down with lightning bolts from the heavens, and supernaturally release plagues on cities by the waving of Moses’ rod, and turn rivers to blood, and part seas for people to walk through and then crash them down on Pharaoh, then why isn’t that the world we live in today? Why was the world such a magical fantasy world 3,000 to 4,000 years ago? It wasn’t. This is mythology typical of those times.

“After we’ve come to terms with that, we can see how the mythology is getting at a truth that is leading the way to Jesus. As CS Lewis said,

“Just as, on the natural side, a long preparation culminated in God’s becoming incarnate as Man, so on the documentary side, the truth first appears in mythical form and then by a long process of condensing and focusing finally becomes incarnate as History. Just as God is none the less God by being Man, so the Myth remains myth even when it becomes Fact. The story of Christ demands from us, and repays, not only a religious and historical but also an imaginative response. Thus, the question is not one of theology alone, but of the nature of myth: This involves the belief that myth in general is not merely misunderstood history (as Euhemerus thought) nor diabolical illusion (as some of the Fathers thought) nor priestly lying (as the philosophers of the Enlightenment thought) but, at its best, a real though unfocused gleam of divine truth falling on human imagination.” – CS Lewis (Miracles, p. 161)

“Jesus is where God actually breaks into history outside of myth.”

“My point, once again, is not that those ancient people told literal stories and we are now smart enough to take them symbolically, but that they told them symbolically and we are now dumb enough to take them literally.”

John Dominic Crossan

Creator is creating the entire Universe.

There is no evidence that the Universe is complete.

There are only theories.

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 228: What the heck is Holy Week?

March 27, 2021

This was my thought when, in my twenties,
I first heard of Holy Week.
Forty-eight years later, in a Pandemic, I still wonder about it.

This isn’t a painting of Jesus of Nazareth.

This is what is called an Icon [LONG before computers]. Icons began to be painted for use in the Orthodox Church, because Creator told the Hebrew people to not ‘make graven [carved] images. Being a painting, there is no engraving involved. Icons play a huge role in the Orthodox Church; they have almost no role in the Presbyterian Church [and many others].
There is an entire vocabulary involved in the creation of Icons. From this vocabulary, the Icon isn’t painted, it is ‘written’. The maker of the Icon is always left unknown, as far as history is concerned. There probably was a man who commissioned the writing of the Icon; but the writer is always named ‘Anonymous’. This Icon appears to show a Caucasian man; since “Christ Pantocrator” isn’t a painting of Jesus, his appearance does not reflect a theological statement.
Every “Christ Pantocrator” Icon that has been written has the same elements. Many are identical, century after century.

The White Evangelical Church tends to give the impression it’s beliefs are tied directly to the Apostles, uninterrupted.

Church history is entirely about interruption.

Holy Week is about ritual. Rituals that can help people be connected with a Creator that we rarely perceive. I haven’t participated in Ritual for over a year. I’m still connected to Creator.
 Holy Week begins tomorrow [as I am writing], with Palm Sunday; and ends next Sunday with Easter.

Palm Sunday commemorates Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem for His last time there. He came in riding on a borrowed donkey as prophesied [following a passage of Scripture from the Older Testament]. There were people who were cheering Him on, who threw palm branches on the road.
Next Thursday [as I am writing], is called Maundy Thursday:

Maundy Thursday is the Christian holy day falling on the Thursday before Easter.
It commemorates the Washing of the Feet (Maundy) and Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles, as described in the canonical gospels.[1]
It is the fifth day of Holy Week, preceded by Holy Wednesday (Spy Wednesday) and followed by Good Friday.[2] “Maundy” comes from the Latin word mandatum, or commandment, reflecting Jesus’ words “I give you a new commandment.”[3]               Wikipedia
A new command I give unto you: that you love one another. As I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this, everyone will know that you are My Disciples, if there shall be love among you; one towards another.”

As this last Election Cycle has shown, the Church doesn’t do a very good job with this Command.
After Jesus and His disciples finished their Passover meal, Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, heads to the Chief Priests in order to betray Jesus. Judas ate with Jesus. The Religious leaders of the day knew of Jesus, but lacking the Internet, they did not know how Jesus looked. Having the Internet, neither do we. Judas was paid to point out Jesus to the Roman cops, so that Jesus could be arrested.
Good Friday is the day upon which Jesus was tortured, tried, tried again, tortured some more, and finally crucified. The Gospel attributed to Matthew paints a dramatic scene:

And, from the sixth hour to the ninth hour, darkness fell over all the land. And around the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?”—that is, “My God, my God, why did you forsake me?”
And some of those who were standing there, hearing this, said, “This man calls to Elijah.” And one of them immediately ran and—taking a sponge and filling it with vinegar and putting it on a rod—gave it to him to drink. But the rest said, “Leave off, let us see if Elijah comes to save him.”
And Jesus, again crying out in a loud voice, gave up the spirit. And look: The veil of the sanctuary was rent in two, from top to bottom, and the earth was shaken, and the rocks were split, And the tombs were opened and many bodies of those holy ones who had fallen asleep were raised; And, coming forth from the tombs, they went into the holy city after his resurrection and appeared to many. And the centurion and those guarding Jesus with him, seeing the earthquake and the things that were happening, were extremely afraid, saying, “Truly this was a god’s son.”
The New Testament – David Bentley Hart

I don’t think I’ve ever heard a sermon that included the dead rising from their tombs and entering Jerusalem, appearing to many, once Jesus died. It would be an interesting sermon and generally is not included in the White Evangelical Church canon.
I have heard at least one sermon about the ‘veil of the Sanctuary’ being torn in two, top to bottom. This ‘veil’ was a two-layered curtain, in a very tall space [approx. 30ft], that separated The Holy of Holies from the rest of the temple. Only the High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies, and even he would only enter once a year on Yom Kippur, to offer the blood of sacrifice and incense; and a rope was tied around his leg, so that if he died while encountering the Almighty, he could be pulled out; leaving the Holy of Holies secluded.
The Temple was a very tall space; they didn’t have extension ladders. Therefore, the veil was torn by Someone who was at ceiling height, and my guess is that Someone wasn’t human. The Torn Curtain meant that there is no longer a separation between Creator and Mankind. This is far more important than what the churches I’ve belonged to hardly ever [never] mentioned. This interferes with the following:
Non-believers are very familiar with John 3:16—signs with this Bible reference show up at any sporting event that has people in the grandstands. The short translation is ‘anyone who doesn’t believe in Jesus is going to Hell’. This isn’t Biblical interpretation, it’s human interpretation.
People who pay a lot of attention to John 3:16 don’t talk much about John 3:17:

And whoever hears my words and does not keep them, I am not judging him, for I have come, not to judge the world, but to give life to the world.

My question is, “did Jesus fail in His mission?” Jesus came to give life to the world. He either did that, or Jesus failed. If Jesus failed, the Church has a big problem.

 Aramaic Bible in Plain English  
1 In the origin The Word had been existing and That Word had been existing with God and That Word was himself God. 2 This One himself was at the origin with God. 3 Everything was in his hand, and without him not even one thing existed of the things that existed. 4 In him was The Life and The Life is The Light of men. 5 And The Light is shining in the darkness, and the darkness did not overtake it. 6 There was a man sent from God; his name was Yohannan [John]. 7 He came for a witness, to testify about The Light, that everyone by him would believe. 8 He was not The Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. 9 For That One was The Light of Truth, which enlightens every person that comes into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world existed by his hand, and the world knew him not. 11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not…

I consider myself fortunate, in that I was raised without Ritual. I came to Faith in my third year of college, kicking and screaming. I’ve spent most of my 48 years with Jesus in the White Evangelical Church; and I have been ashamed/angered over the beliefs that have been displayed in the last five years, in the news and on Social Media.
I have not gotten past my anger.

What I have learned is that Creator is not some sort of local ‘mystic fairy’ that grants our wishes. Creator has made/is making a Universe so large that we don’t even have the language to describe it. The Universe is likely Filled with inhabited planets; and I believe that on each of those planets there will either be a ‘Jesus Story’; or that the ‘Jesus Story’ was not needed—their “Adam & Eve” did a better job of parenting.

I don’t know what to do with people who believe Creator is responsible for the evil in the world—those people who believe that the Older Testament is God’s-Truth-Written-Down seem to forget why Adam and Eve got kicked out of the Garden. They had learned how to tell good from evil. We humans are fully capable of doing evil on our own. We don’t need Creator’s help to do that.

Our Creator is infinite, which does not mean ‘really, really big’—Creator is outside the Universe, working within the Universe. Creator is outside of time. Creator has known all about your life from the moment the Universe was Created. The good stuff and the shitty stuff and everything in between. While it may feel like you have walked away, you haven’t. You always will be taken care of, which does not mean, being spared from shitty stuff.

This life is only the beginning of your Real life. We are souls with bodies. We are all Eternal. We will one day realize that there was a better choice to be made at a given time, but that choice never separated us from the Eternal. Sometimes it’s a matter of finding a new definition. I don’t believe, any longer, that the new definition will come from a group of believers and a pastor–all of whom are flawed. I have been through too many churches to believe that any group of people has it all together. We do well in certain areas; but not in every situation.

You are always loved by Jesus, and by your Creator. The Spirit is at hand, even when you don’t realize it.

Christ of St John of the Cross by Salvador Dalí

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 225: A New Year in Pandemica

December 31, 2020

By Michael Gerson for The Washington Post December 24, 2020

“One of the stranger elements of the strange Nativity narrative is the way an angel addresses Mary: “You who are highly favored.” As a teen mother, pregnant before marriage and destined to give birth among barn animals, she might have been forgiven for regarding this as angelic sarcasm. Fast forward three decades, and the most favored one will see her son executed among thieves before a jeering crowd.
“The whole Christmas story is pregnant with enigma and violated expectations. The Creator pulls on a garment of blood and bone. Almighty God is somehow present in a fragile newborn. The deliverer of humankind is delivered, slimy with vernix, in a place smelling of dung. If God can come here, amid the shame and straw, he can come anywhere. If God came here, he has come everywhere.”

The dumpster fire that was 2020 will still spread into 2021. But it will get better. Fighting fires takes a long time.

If vaccination for the COVID-19 virus continues as it has so far, it is projected that it will take 10 YEARS for the entire country [only the US] to be vaccinated. “Operation Warp Speed” has produced the same sort of vaccine results that his administration has accomplished over the last four years. One might be forgiven for thinking that the Keystone Kops have been running the show. Or Larry, Moe and Curly. One doesn’t bankrupt himself five times for being skillful with deadlines or productivity.

How to end this year that has denied so much, and cost so much…

Words from Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM

“The “Christ Mystery” is much bigger than Christianity as an organized religion. If we don’t understand this, Christians will have little ability to make friends with, build bridges to, understand, or respect other religions or the planet. Jesus did not come to create a country club or a tribe of people who could say, “We’re in and you’re out. We’ve got the truth and you don’t.” Jesus came to reveal something that was true everywhere, for everyone, and all the time.
“Many Christians have a very limited understanding of Jesus’ historical or social message, and almost no understanding of the Cosmic Christ—even though it is taught clearly in Scripture (see John 1, Colossians 1, Ephesians 1, 1 John 1, Hebrews 1:1). Christ is often taught at the very beginning of Paul’s and other New Testament authors’ writings, yet we still missed it. But you can’t see what you were never told to look for. Once you do see the shape and meaning of this cosmic mystery of Divine Incarnation, you’ll be able to see that the Presence is everywhere—and the archetypal Jesus will not be such an anomaly, accident, or surprise.
“God is saving everything and everybody, it is all God’s emerging victory, until, as Paul says, “God will be all in all” (1 Corinthians 15:28). If Christ is truly the “savior of the world” (see John 4:42), then God’s shape, form, meaning, and message are all far bigger than any single religion. Talking to the intellectual Athenians, Paul is wise enough to say: “God is not far from any of us. It is in him [sic] that we live and move and have our very being” (Acts 17:28).”

For me, this has been a dismal Christmas season.

Social Distancing and Shelter at Home are my normal life habits. I miss being able to freely see family and friends; but I value these people so highly that I would not dare to infect someone simply because I wanted to see them in person.

A new Variant of CVirus is working its way across the globe. The Variant is significantly more infectious; so far, it does not seem to be any more deadly.

What has made this season so dismal is witnessing the callous disregard that the president and the senate has shown for the people they have sworn to represent. The violence that more-than-I-thought-possible have inflicted upon fellow citizens.

And worst of all, the Evangelical Church’s callous disregard of everything that Jesus taught about loving our neighbor and caring for the poor.

So as not to end this Chronicle on such a sour note, I offer the following illustration of what we need, moving forward:

Remember to hug, physically or symbolically, the ones we love; and carry a stick. My grandson loves sticks. They are useful tools for discovery.


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