Tuesday, January 18, 2022

God Beyond Knowing

 This month I write of my works of fiction.  My two novels, although very different, are connected to my firm belief in a God beyond my knowing—this theme was presented in my first blog eight and a half years ago Aug 19, 2013—the long poem ‘Un-Named God’.  That poem encompasses all that I write about.  I often make references to Teilhard de Chardin who saved my faith and enabled me to embrace ‘Mystery God’.  Teilhard foresaw religions moving out of the static state of absolutism and into a dynamic evolutionary world view wherein religion and science are seeking, by different paths, the Truth of our existence.


‘The Stations’, my first novel is about an artist commissioned to create Stations of the Cross for a proposed shrine.  It has an allegorical quality in that the artist must plumb the depths of his soul and challenge the establishment to give new meaning to an old church symbol in the face of resistance from the conservative arm of the Catholic Church.  The artist shares Teilhard’s vision of the need for humanity to expand our vision to find sacred meaning in the secular world. Many of our religious symbols have become static and inert—thus idols.  Symbols need to be suggestive and speak to us of where we are in our development so they come alive with insightful perceptions.  Much of our world resists transformative change.  The search for new meaning in religion is not a denial of historical spiritual tradition; it’s each era’s attempt to reach closer to Truth (which cannot be reached, only approximated).  New knowledge is always built upon the old with the understanding that it is the way we grow.  Not denial; rather a transformation to incorporate elements of an ever-changing world.


My new novel, ‘The Conflagration’ carries the theme of transformation.  The old world is nearly destroyed by a nuclear WWIII at the end of the 21st Century.  The shock, that near world destruction actually came to be, is enough to awaked the survivors to realize war is never the answer and they see the need to recognize the planet as One World.  Their descendants cooperatively abandon war and embrace universal values to assure continuation of the species; shaping their choices by relying upon the demands of sustainability and guided by global ethics.  The protagonist is in effect a ‘time traveler’ from the 21st century and we watch as she resists, then gradually adapts to the new world and is haunted by the question “Was the Conflagration inevitable?”  For her Masters thesis she looks back at the signs of danger that were there for all to see yet were ignored.

(Although a work of fiction, all references to issues of the 21st century or earlier, are researched and accurate.)



Wednesday, December 22, 2021

of Serious Thoughts: December 2021

of Serious Thoughts: December 2021: With this December blog I wish to introduce my new work of fiction,   The Conflagration,   just published by Amazon .     The synopsis on th...

Monday, December 20, 2021

December 2021

With this December blog I wish to introduce my new work of fiction, The Conflagration, just published by Amazon.  The synopsis on the back cover reads:


Toward the end of the 21st century, a mature young woman dies and is cryonically preserved.  She is found 300+ years later in the Antarctic when the earth has entered a new era.  The planet and environment have largely recovered from the climate crisis and WWIII—the global nuclear war at the end of the 21st century that nearly destroyed the planet and became known as the Conflagration.

The remnants of humanity who survived, emerged with a new consciousness and vowed, collectively, to never again engage in war.  Over the following centuries descendants of the survivors recaptured the knowledge, skills, and technology needed to create a new world with eyes toward unity, sustainability and collective consciousness to become a humanity never before realized.

             Sydney Constance Thrasher awakens to this new world. 


As I sat thinking about how difficult it is to conceive of a world without war, my thoughts went to the ancient past . . . What merchant, plodding the miles of the silk road with his ladened camels, could have foreseen modern transportation, with trucks and airplanes transporting goods across nations and the world in hours and days?  What scribe painfully copying word for word his Holy books could have foreseen computers spewing forth pages and whole texts in seconds?  


So too it is hard for us, surrounded with wars and violence to foresee a One World of peaceful cooperation, having abandoned war—but it is worth trying to envision.  Like a phoenix rising from the ashes of a devastated world . . . humanity finally having learned that war is never the answer!


In the story, Sydney Constance Thrasher first awakened in utter disbelief which turns to anger and morphs into depression; we watch her slowly adapt to the reality in which she finds herself.  Eventually she is offered an advanced education; for her Masters thesis she is haunted by the questions, ‘Was the Conflagration inevitable?’ 


In the story, while world conditions and issues of the 25th century are fabricated, all references to material from the 21stcentury and prior are researched and accurate.














Monday, November 29, 2021

of Serious Thoughts: Need for a God--Real or Invented

of Serious Thoughts: Need for a God--Real or Invented:   Years ago I heard a wise man say, “I believe there is a God, but if there isn’t, we’d have to invent one.’     I didn’t immediately ‘get i...

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Need for a God--Real or Invented

 Years ago I heard a wise man say, “I believe there is a God, but if there isn’t, we’d have to invent one.’  I didn’t immediately ‘get it’.  I thought he was just being flip—but the thought stayed with me.


Recently I have returned to that thought.  It seems that in the 21st Century, as a society, we’ve lost touch with God; God has become irrelevant.  When, by law prayer was eliminated from classrooms and public assemblies, the idea of God gradually faded. That isn’t to say that all thoughts of God have disappeared, but its place in society’s consciousness had been relegated to the back seat, whereas it was once front and center.


In the time when references to God were common-place, many people would say grace at meals and prayers at bedtime—that is now a rarity.  Before radio and TV, it was fairly common, especially in rural areas, for families to gather round a table as a family member read from the Bible.  In 1912, at the realization that the Titanic was sinking, the ship’s string ensemble spontaneously began playing ‘Near My God to Thee’—that would never cross the minds of people today.  


We can’t know God because God is so beyond our human understanding.  It is worse than unfortunate that so many different ways of attempting to grasp what a God must be and what One would want of us, led to different images, definitions and demands which led to conflict and division.  None of the images can capture God.


Whether God is, or is not real, our understanding in the contemporary world is that God represents the source of all that is good and desirable . . . all hope, truth, love . . .  the vessel of all goodness.  Ergo the opening statement, ‘if there isn’t (a God) we’d have to invent one.  We need a reminder, an incentive to continue striving for the good.  Only if good surpasses evil will the planet continue.


As thoughts of God have faded from our awareness we have seen an escalation of dangerous and destructive behaviors.  On the large scale: explosions of violence and vandalism during peaceful protests; political polarization where each side flatly rejects anything proposed by the other; widescale polluting of the planet; increasing presence and threat from nuclear weapons; terrorism in the form of suicide bombers and individuals with assault weapons opening fire on innocent strangers and vehicles driven into crowds.  On a smaller scale: a willingness to close eyes to facts and fabricate alternative ‘truths’; airline passengers attacking flight attendants over being told to mask up for public safety; brawls at sports events—both professional and little league; school board meetings interrupted by parents shouting and demanding changes in the  curriculum . . . a general demise of civility.


The general public seems to accept this as ‘the way things are’ and not realize it is in our hands to change.  We need God; either embraced as real, or ‘invented’ by a return to intentionally seeking ‘the good’.

Friday, October 29, 2021

of Serious Thoughts: Taliban & Genesis

of Serious Thoughts: Taliban & Genesis:   Now that the Taliban has returned to power in Afghanistan, girls over 13 are once again denied education and all women’s freedom is restri...

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Taliban & Genesis

 Now that the Taliban has returned to power in Afghanistan, girls over 13 are once again denied education and all women’s freedom is restricted.  There, women and girls are regarded as chattel to be controlled by men.  That was the ‘norm’ of all history prior to the 20TH Century.


As humanity gradually inches toward enlightenment, we now see horrible mistakes make in the name of ‘progress’.

   --historically, kingdoms sent adventurers to find and conquer ‘new lands’; then, subjugating the natives, claimed the territory for their far-away monarchs. 

   --in the 1600’s, an emerging ‘industry’ was designed to capture and restrain dark-skinned humans, then transport them across the ocean to sell them to white slave-owners.

  --in the mid1900’s, a nation perceiving itself as ‘superior’, rounded up other humans deemed ‘inferior’; then devising a ‘final solution, gassed and burned them in incinerators.


Ever since the earliest institution of government, women were not included.  That position came to be known as: Patriarchy—a system of society or government in which men hold the power and women are largely excluded.  In our time the Taliban demonstrates that.


In general, men and women have different fundamental perspectives on life.  Individually, points-of-view vary across the spectrum, but taken as a whole, males tend to value power and control; while females value nurturing and compassion.  Each perspective has its value, but it was patriarchy that determined the unfolding of civilization.  By having excluded the ‘female voice’ from participating in shaping the world, our world has become distorted.  That is not to suggest either voice is superior . . . the problem came from males believing their voice was superior, and disavowed the female voice.



Bible stories tell of how people of that time sought to understand their world.  They lacked science and used story-telling to explain life.  Because it was only males in control, stories were heavily male oriented.  We wonder how the stories might have been different if the story-tellers were women.  How might a woman have told the story of Genesis?                                                                    



          If we look at Genesis (2 & 3)—the very beginning of scripture—as written, the story is told of God placing the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the center of the Garden of Eden and forbidding the human couple to eat of the fruit . . . but Satan tempts them, saying they will be like God if they eat the fruit.  The woman picks the fruit and eats, then gives it to the man to eat . . . (here we see the male author blaming women for original sin . . . and thus justifying millenniums of oppression of women and establishing the superiority of the male gender) and then we see God, learning they disobeyed him, so in anger, he curses them and their children and drives them from the Garden.



Had a woman told the story in Genesis, it would have gone differently . . . 



Retelling the Story 



          In the beginning, God placed the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the garden, saying to the human couple it was their choice to eat or not; but for their own good he cautioned them not eat it because it was the nature of The Garden to hold only the good, so if they ate of the fruit and came to know evil (it would become part of them) they would have to leave. They would then have to make their own way in the world.

          When Satan told them that if they ate the fruit they’d know all things like God, Adam became restless.  He wanted to be like God.  He was curious, ‘what was this thing called evil?’ and he longed to see that world beyond the Garden.  He talked of adventure to Eve, how exciting it would be to explore the unknown.  She’d listen and agree that it sounded interesting, but she was more content with the garden and it didn’t seem wise to go against God’s advice.  One day as they sat under the tree Adam said:

          “Eve, reach up and pick me one of the fruit.”

          “I think that’s not a good idea” she said.

          He laughed and said, “Come on, Hun, trust me, it will be OK.”

          “But God said not to”

          “No, God just advised against it—and how do we know what we are missing if we don’t’ try it?”

          “No, we shouldn’t” she pleaded.

          “Come on, if you really love me you’ll do it.”

          “Well,  . . . I don’t know.”

          “Go ahead, just pick one.  That one right above your head.”

          As she reached up gingerly, he said, “Great going, Hon!  Now take a bite and give it to me.”  She did.

          After a while as the awareness of evil seeped into them, they knew they could no longer live there.  Together they walked out of the garden; God watched with great sadness as they left, knowing the tribulation ahead.