Monday, November 29, 2021
Sunday, November 21, 2021
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
Wednesday, October 27, 2021
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.
Friday, October 8, 2021
Saturday, September 25, 2021
In listening to a tape on the Buddha which quoted a phrase of his; ‘the bonds of civility are fraying’—signaling a danger to social order—I realized that speaks to our culture. The bonds of civility refer to the invisible agreed upon ethics and etiquette which support civilization. Our world is under a great many stresses . . . covid pandemic, climate change, and society’s polarization to name a few. They strain our ability to cope.
During WWII the U.S. pulled together magnificently, but that unity of purpose has long since disappeared. Today we are divided, polarized, and implacable. The multiple crises are magnifying our unrest. We are in peril. The demise can be seen in everything from the increase in gun violence, to disruptive passengers on airplanes, to most pointedly—the fight over mask wearing to prevent the spread of the covid pandemic. Covid is an airborne virus which is spread by coughing, sneezing, talking, and simply breathing. It has been demonstrated scientifically that wearing face coverings sharply reduces the spread. We don’t know who is carrying the virus and masks are to protect the general population (as well as the self); it is in the interest of supporting civilization that it is done. To make it a personal rebellion, demonstrates an unwillingness to support the public good for selfish reasons. Even as a very young child during the war effort, I was aware that ‘everyone must do their part’ . . . we fail our children by not conveying that message.
Society’s polarization has increased by a deliberately manufactured lie—that the election was stolen—which is being peddled as ‘Truth.’ Although proven to be a lie, it is still being supported by many. Few thing can be more dangerous to social order than a significant falsehood be loudly proclaimed as truth.
The ‘bonds of civility’ are rooted in morality. Morality is defined as: principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong, good and bad, truth and falsehood . . . leading to a system of values and principles of conduct. Morality’s roots are inherent in human consciousness, but it requires nurturing—we choose to keep it flourishing . . . or don’t! When we fail to choose for the greater good, we are fraying the bonds of civility.
Sunday, August 29, 2021
This month it seems that we all need some lightness . . . so I’m going with my butterflies. I have milkweed growing near my house. A few years ago I noticed several Monarch caterpillars on the leaves (Monarch caterpillars eat only milkweed) and I decided to watch them develop. The next day when I went out to see them, there were only two left . . . the birds must have gotten them. I decided to take the remaining two to the safety of my house. In a tall clear container I put a cut stem of milkweed in a cup of water—it became their nursery. Each time they had eaten most of the leaves I replaced them and I watched them grow fat. To my delight within the month I had hatched and released two butterflies.
This year my daughter, Lisa, sent me a butterfly cage—who knew there was such a thing? Amazon has everything. I was lucky enough to find 8 caterpillars (one didn’t make it). I charted their time between my finding each, and their chrysalis formation.
It varied from 7 to 10 days (didn’t know how old each was when found). Their chrysalises are beautiful—pale green dotted with gold beads. They emerge in from 10 to 14 days. They then need at least 2 hours for their wings to completely dry.
After a week from the first chrysalis, each morning I awoke to check the butterfly cage. On two successive mornings there were butterflies and the others emerged throughout successive days. I allowed them the almost two hours to dry and on nice days they rode on my finger to the flowers.
The two that emerged at night, having more than two hours to dry, were anxious and flew off as soon as they got outside.
It was a delightful and rewarding experience. I plan to do the same each future summer.
Wednesday, July 21, 2021
Our world is in distress. We have experienced unprecedented life-threatening high temperatures in the 100’s for days on end. Droughts, fires and floods have resulted in unparalleled destruction and loss of lives. Rivers, lakes and streams and oceans as well as lands and the air are all polluted. We see a degradation of the food chain from overuse of antibiotics and chemicals. This past year has brought a plague of deaths from a new virus and the flagrant rash of ‘recreational’ drug use. Nations don’t know how to manage the onslaught of millions of refugees all over the globe fleeing drought devastated lands, tyrannical leaders and uncontrolled crime. This is our world in the 21st century.
Isaiah 24:4 The earth is mourning, withering,
the earth is pinning, withering,
the heavens are pining away with the earth.
The earth is defiled under its inhabitants’ feet,
for they have transgressed the law,
violated the precept,
broken the everlasting covenant.
So a curse consumes the earth
And its inhabitants suffer the penalty.
Those are words prophesized by Isaiah over three thousand years ago . . . and it tells of our world today. Isaiah describes it as God’s wrath. Each age describes reality in the terms that are available to their understanding. The ancients believed God directly controlled everything. Their idea of God was that of a harsh, demanding and controlling Deity—much in line with the rulers of the times. So in prophesying a world disaster he attributed it as being the curse of God punishing humanity.
God’s covenant to man was to shepherd the earth. We were given control.
Jesus introduced a new view of God, as the God of Love who desires and awaits mankind to choose ‘the good’. Jesus did not demand and command, rather he demonstrated love with stories of kindness and lessons like the beatitudes, and he left it to his followers to choose to accept or reject. In Deuteronomy, God’s words are reported as “I have set before you, life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life so that you and your children may live.” Not a command or demand, but a choice.
As religions grew, particularly Judaism and Christianity, they were structured more in line with the Old Testament God of wrath and control. The New Testament view of God, is of a God of love as demonstrated by Jesus. Religions do not clearly convey the difference.
Since the mid-20th century there has been a decline in religious participation as science showed us another side of existence and it seemed less likely that God was controlling what was happening on earth. Many came to think that meant there wasn’t a God. Materialism and consumerism grew, and God was left out of the equation. That was the mistake! It’s not that God isn’t, it that God gave humanity a directive, “I lay before you life and death, choose life.” God watches and waits for humanity to choose ‘the good’ that leads to life.
In today’s world most people recognize that God is not controlling our actions. Humans were given consciousness and free will. That means we are expected to see, think and choose the course of action. Unfortunately we have not chosen to follow the laws laid out at the beginning of time ‘to shepherd the earth’, which means we were to guard and protect it; instead we have chosen to exploit it for selfish ends. We have been directed to ‘love one another’; instead we divide into camps of ‘us’ and ‘them’ and fight each other. We are instructed to share and to care for the poor and needy, instead we accumulate for ourselves—and the world became lop-sided with one percent of the extremely wealthy holding as much wealth as the poorer half of the world.
The climate crisis is not ‘God’s wrath’ punishing us; it is the result of the careless abandoning of principles and laws of justice inherent in ‘choosing life’. In the process we have broken God’s covenant to shepherd the earth. It is not God’s wrath we are facing. It is the result of our own choices; we have chosen for death—and we, the inhabitants, are suffering the penalty.
We still have time to choose the other option. But that requires us to recognize our One World and work together to save it from those selfish choices we have made that got us to this point.
Sunday, June 27, 2021
Wednesday, June 23, 2021
I was shocked and appalled when I read in the Washington Post that my church, the Catholic Church, was taking steps–officially—to make Communion a political issue. That is wrong on two fronts: 1) our constitution clearly mandates the separation of church and state, and 2) I have always heard it stated that the Church does not take a political position.
They will of course deny that, yet this move is trying to limit who is ‘good enough’ to receive communion. Who IS ‘good enough’? The Catholic Church has once again become a body which, in his day, Jesus called the ‘teachers of the laws and the Pharisees . . . who shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces.’ (Matthew was pretty strong on that point.)
God’s greatest gift to humankind was free will; with it each individual is responsible for the choices he/she makes. One’s own conscience is the final determinate. Jesus did not command or demand, he respected one’s free will. When Jesus sat at the table with his disciples on Holy Thursday he knew his betrayer, yet he offered him the cup and bread along with the others. Jesus does not demand or command, he demonstrates Truth and leaves the choice to the individual. . . . If the bishops are followers of Jesus, they should pay better attention to that!
Wednesday, June 9, 2021
Sunday, May 23, 2021
The 21st Century calls humanity to awaken to the perilous path it walks.
There is order to life and existence. On its own, the natural world is in balance. The human world we have built is not automatically balanced, it evolves through the choices we make.
Humanity is called to a moral order which keeps life in balance. We have allowed an imbalance to grow to the point of threatening our very existence. We haven’t paid attention to seeking a balance and it is past time to wake up to the plight of our planet.
Within the living memory of our senior citizens there have been many wake-up calls: WWI, The Great Depression, WWII, Viet Nam and the anti-war movement, The Million Man March, 9/11, Black Lives Matter protests . . . but none has had a lasting effect. We fall back to sleep, ignoring the alarm being sounded. All those alarms were calling us to become aware that Humanity is on the wrong path, we’ve chosen division rather than unity—and we’ve lost our way to sustainability.
As we moved into the 21st Century, there were numerous massive climate crises: floods, tornados, earthquakes, hurricanes, droughts, wild fires, unprecedented winter storms, melting glaciers, rising ocean waters. It took two decades to finally acknowledge the danger this poses and there are still those who demy it. There is one climate that envelopes the earth, and collective human actions have disrupted it. It is our responsibility to correct it and that can only be done through international cooperation.
Most recently the world has been in the grip of a global pandemic; no nation has escaped its ravages; it has killed millions. It demonstrates our planet’s oneness.
The wake-up calls are getting louder, more dangerous and persistent. –To what are the wake-up calls calling us? To realize and act upon the fact that we are One World—which is a singular interacting interdependent unit! That is the critical realization that can save us from self-destructing.
Sustainability is a word that has become popularized. Broadly it means the ability to continue existence at a steady level (i.e. without threat or danger.) At present, our world is unstable—out of balance in ways that threaten humanity’s continuation. For us to achieve sustainability there are three major areas we must address. As difficult and impossible as it may seem, we must do it globally in a cooperative fashion.
1) We’ve come to see the obvious imbalance and threat from climate disruption; it has made itself known through multiple crippling disasters.
2) The next major imbalance is one which we are unwilling to acknowledge. It is that of economic imbalance. Oxfam International is a non-profit group focused on the global economic imbalance, giving annual reports. They have reported that the top 1% of the world population (the billionaires) hold the same amount of wealth as the whole bottom half. That is shocking and obscene that billionaires can buy private islands, personal planes, and gold toilets while half of the world starves.
3) The most immediate and dangerous threat we must awaken to is the stockpile of nuclear weapons. We don’t pay attention to that, it’s scary to contemplate, but within this last century, humanity has devised a way to annihilate all life on this planet. A nuclear war can do that! Throughout all of history humanity has engaged in warring. In the 1970’s there was an anti-war movement, but it met with opposition and went away—yet the nuclear arsenal of some 13,500 nuclear warheads still exists. That is the supreme world imbalance; on the whim of one unstable leader, a button can be pushed to end life as we know it. Look into statics of the nuclear arsenal; I recommend two websites: armscontrol.org and ‘nuclearweaponswhohaswhat’ provides a chart.
This century’s numerous climate crises together with the global pandemic, constitutes humanities wake-up call to recognize our One World in need of international cooperation to address the three major areas of threat that create the disastrous imbalance that could literally bring about our self-destruction.
There is a moral order which consciousness asks that we follow. When we failed that, we lost our way. Can we wake up in time?
Friday, April 23, 2021
Friday, April 16, 2021
Today is April 16, 2021. What a horrible statistic was announced today by CNN: “45th mass shooting in the United States since the Atlanta area spa shooting on March 16” . . . CNN considers a mass shooting incident to be “if 4 or more people are shot and wounded or killed”.
That includes the incident of today in Indianapolis, Indiana. It all happened within a month!
How can that be acceptable to a so-called educated, advanced civilized country? Damn the NRA, damn the Republicans in Congress or anyone who opposes gun control—this can’t be accepted as ‘the norm’ in our nation! All the varying voices of protest against violence must be respected. The American public wants it stopped—I don’t know the percentage number, but it clearly is the majority that want this kind of outrage to end.
How have guns become so sacrosanct that their ‘right to be’ exceeds that of human life? It is an absurdity from every direction that automatic weapons of war are available for purchase at local stores. No other country allows such an absurdity!
Has our nation become so atheistic that the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ has no power or meaning against the Almighty Gun? The ferocity of opposition to removal of weapons of war from our store shelves is tantamount to the revering of a commandment.
It may be true that the banning of assault weapons won’t end the slaughter, there will always be someone who chooses to kill, but the number of people killed by one person at a time can be altered dramatically.
In the name of all that is good and holy, we must act against this kind of menace.
Sunday, March 28, 2021
There is a need to see the new reality in our nation and our world. The reality is that we are one world. We have failed to see our planet as One World. Only if we recognize it as a singular unit, interacting and interdependent, only in recognizing that, is there a possibility to avoid self-destructing.
This nation had 4 years of inciting division—and what it led to shocked all. A brutal attack on our nation’s capital. We never dreamed an insurrection was possible in this democratic nation. The four prior years led up to it. Our democracy works by cooperation between opposing ideas. Four years of lies, insults, and fanning low burning rebellion ignited it. It was a time of ‘Us’ vs ‘Them’—no cooperation, no seeking understanding, no empathy—just do whatever it takes to WIN. The divisions allowed the insurrection to happen!
In the more distant past it was understandable why division was the norm. There was no realization of one whole interacting interdependent world and a Universe beyond. There was focus only on the ‘pieces’ (and the desire to make ‘my piece’ supreme). There were excuses for past generations, they had never realized the planet as one whole…..but the 20th and 21st centuries had forced that awareness upon us—two wars that involved the world—that’s why they were called WWI and WWII. Two world wars and later a trip to outer space to see the singularity of the planet . . . that new awareness requires our response; the need to see and act upon this new reality.
It’s so obvious we need to cooperate—yet so hard! Within our nation and among nations there is so much disagreement. There is a simple prayer that has appeared in all religions throughout time; the wording changes a bit but the essence is the same ‘Do unto to others as you would have them do unto you.’ The ‘others’ includes our near neighbors and our far off ones.
That is what is needed to get out of the world-threatening dangers we are in. This is our WORLD, there’s no other planet to escape to. We face a triple threat: 1) permanent division of humanity into the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’; 2) universal environmental collapse; and 3) extinction of humanity by a nuclear holocaust. Any one of these three should compel us to cooperate.
The facts are: 1) a report from World Economic Forum reported that ‘the 26 richest people on earth in 2018 had the same net worth as the poorest half of the world population’; 2) It is feared by many scientists that we have damaged our environment to the extent we can’t fully recoup. (We have exploited the earth rather than husbanding it); 3) in 2016 there was a total of 15,000 nuclear weapons in the world’s arsenal.
We must face the reality of our One World and work cooperatively to heal internal division and address what unites us as a world . . . both are essential. We can still avert global disaster, but to do so it is imperative that we accept and act upon our new reality.
Friday, February 12, 2021
As I await the outcome of the second impeachment trial of former president, Donald Trump, I feel an intensity that is hard to describe. I believe our world is at a crisis point. The election of Trump has moved the dial more toward a disastrous outcome. We are losing the ability to recognize evil. He has been a champion of unfettered self-serving evil and retaliates against anyone who does not bow to his will. His actions have spawned an insurrection. If he is acquitted and suffers no consequences it will demonstrate that our legal system does not reside in justice and he will be free to continue to spread his brand of evil and our nation will be weakened in the eyes of the world.
This nation and the world have moved away from living by God’s laws and that spells disaster. The words of God in the Bible are: ‘I lay before you, life and death—choose life’. The way we choose life is to live by the universal prayer: ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you ‘. That assumes goodness, not evil. Each time we step farther from the intent of that prayer we move closer to that negative side of the equation –we are choosing death. No one event causes the outcome, but each victory of evil moves us closer to disaster.
Having heard the results, I believe the process of impeachment is a mockery and makes our justice system the same
Having heard the results, I believe the process of impeachment is a mockery and makes our justice system the same
Saturday, January 16, 2021
It is imperative that Donald Trump be impeached in order that it be so recorded in history books. There are some people who seek it for vengeance or retribution; but that is not the central issue; It is a matter of consequences.
What we experienced was an insurrection—no greater crime can be committed against an established government. This cannot be swept away or minimized, it is a sacrilege that puts a dark stamp on our history, and its author must suffer consequences.
Trump has lied relentlessly throughout his term of office. He was fact-checked in the media and it made no difference to him and each time, the news went on to other things. But his last ‘Big Lie’ of a rigged election that stole the votes from him—a lie he repeated over and over—incited an insurrection. The Capital was stormed by a raging mob sweeping through it, hunting congressmen, destroying sacred property and inflicting destruction, pain and death.
Throughout his presidency Trump had played loose with laws and established order. He has no respect for truth and made grandiose claims of his superior intellect, exhibited obsessive-compulsive behavior (endless tweets) and is paranoid, claiming that the press and all but his ‘base’ is prejudices against him. Prejudice is defined as: ‘a perceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience’. The strong anti-Trump opinions that came to light were not due to prejudice but to his exhibited attitudes and behaviors—that does not constitute prejudice.
In his earlier trial for unlawful acts and abuse of power, he was impeached by the House but exonerated by a Republican Senate more concerned with retaining power than doing what was right.
What happened January 6, 2021 is too consequential to treat it as ‘another one of Trump’s blunders’. Our nation’s image was damaged as the whole world watched. It would be unjust if the perpetrator of such a heinous crime suffered no consequences.