Racism et al.

It seems that racism has been in the news on a regular basis for some time. Pick any starting point – perhaps something obvious like the murders at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. Since, there have been a number of race riots similar to Ferguson, the Trump racist movement, citizen backlash to the Muslims just in principle, and now the Boston treatment of black baseball players. Donald is doing his best to stir anti Mexican racism but that seems to be limping along. Still, unfair treatment of Hispanics runs deep in American culture.

Another prejudice raising its head is among conservative religious movements. There is an obvious attempt to make the US a theocracy. Why our representatives don’t stop this on Constitutional grounds is a quandary. We should never have put “In God We Trust” on our money. Jesus said, “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and unto God that which is God’s.” Can we agree we don’t need money in heaven?

Third, there is a violent class war going on and the common folk are losing big time. To save space, mariner will just mention Bernie – and Donald’s proposed tax reform – which doesn’t seem too out of line to the Republican representatives.

All this commotion seems elevated. In a decade or two, our economy is likely to fail; our role as an influential cultural influence around the world will dwindle; automation will decimate the workforce if redefining the relationship between income and jobs has not occurred.

It is like a home overrun by fleas which preoccupy us while the house burns down unattended.

Prejudice, of course, is more potent an interruption than fleas. Yet must we reconcile these ancient misbehaviors before we notice our burning nation?

Mariner takes the position that both can be addressed at the same time:

An intelligent, internationally balanced immigration policy will quell or at least placate the paranoia against foreign immigration – something the US desperately needs to help with its future economy.

Black racism is as strong as it ever was. Mariner doubts this deeply ingrained class structure will diminish until all the white guys in the victory photo for health reform are dead. As to Dixie, it’s more a money issue. If the South had tried manufacturing earlier instead of trying to grow crops without the slave economy, maybe things would be slightly different today. We tend to forget the intensity of this racial divide – intense enough for southern states to secede from their nation and suffer a civil war. A growing rate of interracial marriages seems to be the only positive strategy.

The severely imbalanced economy is the most dangerous issue. Combined with automation and international corporatism, the US could be an economic has been by 2050. Knowing that it takes a decade or two to significantly modify an economy, 2050 is frighteningly close. A real, undeniable statistic researched and declared many times is the fact that from 1939 to 1980, the wealthiest 10 percent of the population received 30 percent of income growth while the remaining 90 percent received 70 percent of income growth. Economically, things seemed to be working fine.

From 1980 (Reagan) to 2017, the wealthiest 10 percent of the population received 90 percent of growth income while the remaining 90 percent received less and less over that time. Today, 90 percent of the US population receives 40 percent less in gross adjusted income than they did in 1979.

This issue of a balanced sharing of the economy continues to be buried by all US governments – Federal, State and Local. Especially during the eight year filibuster of Barack by a do-no-business Republican Congress and now by the same Congress and an authoritarian, ignorant and immoral President.

The undeniable truth is that the real holdup in improving racism, balancing the concepts of freedom of religion and the existence of state authority, the clash between working classes and missing income, is the US Congress. It is a Congress dominated by the Reagan philosophy of culture and economics – imposed 37 years ago and by any measure clearly defunct today.

Until the Congress is completely revamped with modern politicians who understand 2017 racism, religious conflict and class struggles will continue. The fact that Donald is still around is another indicator of the antiquated Republicans stonewalling – their only Standard Operating Procedure.

Ancient Mariner

The New Elephant

It has taken a few days for mariner to restore his awareness of the major themes of society and world events. Surprisingly, his attention is drawn not to irritating politics or immoral economic behavior or disregard for the meaning of life – his attention is drawn to demographics. Global population patterns have become the elephant in the room and will dictate the quality of national life in every nation – not in the future but already – now!

US citizens already have a sense of the demographics issue caused not by population alone but by the emerging wave of joblessness caused by automation. There will be too many people not contributing to the economy but still dependent on it for survival. Economic solutions aside, there simply will not be enough employed younger people earning and spending dollars to sustain a robust economy.

The US is not alone. Every nation in the top twenty GNP has a similar issue: the shape of the population leans toward older citizens and the younger generations are not plentiful enough to sustain either the economy or the older citizens. China, Japan and Germany, in particular, face an almost instantaneous shift between generations in about 30 years that surely will affect their economies. Demographically, one country stands poised to expand its economy many times over during the next 100 years: India.

Some numbers:

In 1965 the world population stood at 3.3 billion; today it is 7.3 billion.

In 2011 the average age of the world population was 32; by 2100 it will be 42.

Because China played with population via national mandates (first, grow the largest population, then one child per family), the nation will have difficulty sustaining a world-leading economy. In 2026, China will have 316 million citizens over age 60. That’s close to the entire US population.

America’s population is growing because more people are being born than are dying and because immigrants, most in their late teens or early 20s, are still coming to the United States. This combination means that the American population is younger than in other developed nations. In 2001, 21 percent of the population in the United States was under the age of 15. This compares with 18 percent in Europe and 15 percent in Japan.

To consider US immigration policy in a different light than racist invasion, the immigration policy should be liberalized and made part of a demographic plan for the nation’s future. Still, other forces like capitalistic oligarchy must be forced to participate more rationally in the nation’s economy. Further, the definition of work and the link between ‘earning’ and ‘working’ will have to be redefined otherwise the impact of automation will have a devastating effect regardless of demographics.

Stephen Chan, an international expert on population and demographics, states that immigration (perhaps a better term is ‘migration’) will continue to be a large event in international life (he refers to the current immigration out of the Middle East and Northern Africa). Consider Africa – the entire continent including central, large primitive areas where culture is still based on iron-age tribalism. These populations have no national economy to help them so their only solution is to immigrate (migrate) to nations where there may be a better opportunity to survive.

One of the more important areas of policy that must be expanded and modified to prepare for immigration-supported populations is education. The mariner suspects that the whole framework of familiar grades, secondary schools, trade schools, and colleges, is not capable of supporting the new requirements by which populations are to be educated. The slate chalkboard cannot compete with the Internet and modern technology. Nor will it prepare students and retirees for the new world of work.

So, whenever it happens that the US has representatives that understand today’s world and are making rational plans to manage it; until we have a statesman President; until we have a liberal Supreme Court; until we have state legislators who don’t keep their head where the Sun don’t shine – hold on to that slate chalkboard.

Ancient Mariner

 

Different Takes on Economics

Mariner is fortunate to have among the selection from his television network provider several channels from foreign countries. Only occasionally, usually in news coverage, will there be differences in the interpretation of events. This is most often true with Aljazeera (Arab countries) and Russian Television (RT). It is least true on British television (BBC) and China Global Television Network (CGTN); The China network has a discipline similar to PBS in refraining from broadcasting controversial content. CGTN has a rich selection of western programming about western philosophy, politics, economy and culture; similarly, a lot can be learned about China’s philosophy, politics, economy and culture.

A recent broadcast of the CGTN show ‘World Insight’ had a panel of four Nobel Laureates for economics (Stiglitz, Spence, Phelps, and Pissarides). The dialogue was fascinating as these four gentlemen wandered through the world’s economic issues providing surprisingly simple concepts which could, if adopted, remove many of the seemingly unresolvable economic troubles in the world today. Of course a simple spoken concept from a Nobel Laureate does not carry much weight in a highly politicized and conflicted world.

One of the major topics was automation (Robots, as Pissarides referred to it). The German approach was used as a prospective model by which the impact on the labor force could be controlled using fair labor policies. In short, as ‘robots’ did more work, the work day became shorter for employees – some worked only three hours per day. Salary, however, did not drop. In fact, as profits rose due to automation, salaries benefitted to various degrees.

Spreading profits among workers is anathema to American Capitalism. Intentionally paring payroll overhead is de rigeuer. Stiglitz said either way, the worker receives what he wanted: free time and independence except one way the worker has no financial security and the other is financially secured.

Mariner was impressed that these four distinguished economists felt no need to incorporate political nuances of conservatism or liberalism, or theories of Keynesian or Adam Smithian economics. They were pragmatic and sought to solve economic problems – plain and simple. It was a refreshing broadcast.

It was painful afterward to refocus on the US philosophy of government advocating no minimum wage, passing right-to-work legislation which undercuts unionism, cutting government employment to weaken government union benefits and cutting aid to the marginally employed. Further, the oligarchs show no intention of sharing with the world that worked to make them wealthy.

 

 

REFERENCE SECTION

Here’s an article from The Nation that targets cultural change among intellectuals. It claims that the wealthy snap up the progressive ideas of traditional intelligentsia and convert the ideas to the purposes of the well to do. The key reference is the ideas in a book by Daniel Dresner, ‘The Ideas Industry: How Pessimists, Partisans, and Plutocrats Are Transforming the Marketplace of Ideas’. The article is entitled:

‘Thought Leaders’ and the Plutocrats Who Love Them

The wealthy have taken over intellectual culture, and it is devastating progressive politics.

By Eric Alterman

—-

For the few who linger to hear Richard Muller’s description of NOW, he provides the following argument: The Big Bang created an eternally expanding universe. Space continues to fill new voids as they are created. Time, too, expands to fill the voids. NOW is the leading edge of time expansion. Yes, mariner understands. Leave it to a theoretical physicist to make things clear. Mariner suggests a nap.

—-

For those living in North America near the fortieth parallel and below 3,500 feet altitude, it is now time to plant vegetable gardens.

Ancient Mariner

 

 

One Nation, One God, One Answer.

Originally, 15 thousand years or more ago, religion, politics, cultural norms and common behavior among neighbors, all had one source of evaluation – one undeniable power that dictated the rules for ethics, politics, religion, even dickering with a neighbor. Fallible but relatively consistent, the source was a designated priest of sorts. The priest interpreted what was acceptable, right, timely, or not. Having a local ‘judge’ of proper morality was very convenient – very much like shopping at Walmart.

This model of maintaining morality and ethical behavior still exists in parts of the world and still is convenient. In truth, however, it is uneven in application and so dependent on unproven myth and prejudice that it can be as brutal as to condemn women and children to death as presumed witches on the whim of the priest. In perspective, this practice is more sacrificial than judgmental.

Singular authority to pass moral judgment exists in modern times as well. Excluding cultish movements that come and go, covens and the like, there are a few places where ethics and morality are meted locally. For example, in many common Amish parishes, the local parish is led by a local team comprised of a bishop and two or three ministers – all drawn from the local congregation. The interpretive power of this leadership is far ranging and covers virtually all behavior and beliefs of parish members. Further, to sustain the culture, the state has little if any authority under normal circumstances.

An irregularity in Amish practices made the news several years ago. It seemed an older brother was regularly raping his younger sister. When caught and brought before the leadership, the brother confessed his sins, was forgiven by the leadership (as God would forgive) and allowed to return to his family. As you might expect, the boy, forgiven of his behavior, resumed raping his sister. This forgiveness loop was exercised often and resulted in the state interfering – a far greater sin not worthy of forgiveness.

Today, Western Culture is in turmoil. No one, it seems, is responsible for ethical behavior, the meaning of fairness, or protection of human rights. The two largest religions, Christianity and Islam, remain embroiled in antique rituals and are preoccupied with property rights from gold plated art to the clitoris of young women. The religions have been left without moral leverage by extremely rapid changes in technology that have stripped the gears of normal cultural change.

What remain intact are the false religions of capitalism, corporatism and authoritarianism. None have moral constructs for human wellbeing. It is the nature of our technological improvements that it grows easier to skim massive wealth from old, labor sharing economies – leaving hundreds of millions of people with questionable survivability.

As a consequence, across the western world populism has emerged as the disrupting force it should be – rising only in the midst of highly imbalanced wellbeing and fairness. As usual, the populists want a ‘person’ to be able to straighten things out; the status quo abusers are not to be trusted.

It feels nice to have a priest with moral authority in place again. It’s nice to have a Walmart in town again. Alas, the simple solution never works. The old priest method ‘solves’ problems quickly and authoritatively but, as suggested above, the singular priest in charge is a questionable choice – especially today when singular authority over a planet, nuclear war, cultural values with no roots, and millions of uncared for humans around the globe are not the type of issues left to one priest’s whim.

But history will repeat itself at the visceral levels of human behavior. So here we are.

Ancient Mariner

 

Potpourri

It has been a while since mariner submitted a post. Apologies. When one ages, there are other responsibilities one is obligated to perform. Primarily, health systems are associated with these responsibilities and have no compassion for other priorities or entertainment. So one must submit.

Except for tiny details, the mariner seems to have fared well. The tiny details will take care of themselves but, alas, he will never play football again. If any good has come from this distraction, it has been that the mariner has been weaned from television news. Not one program has made it for more than a few minutes. It has been pleasant not to have Donald in his life. Mariner’s frustrations about the electorate aside, the best commentary on Donald was published in the May 1st issue of The New Yorker Magazine by its editor, David Remnick. It is by far the most insightful, balanced and true commentary on Donald since his emergence in politics. Mariner implores you to do what you do not want to do: uplink to this article! See:

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/05/01/a-hundred-days-of-trump?mbid=nl_170424_Daily&CNDID=49421095&spMailingID=10881576&spUserID=MTg3Njg2NDM4MTg0S0&spJobID=1141896563&spReportId=MTE0MTg5NjU2MwS2

It is the mariner’s last foreseeable comment about Donald. As far as the mariner is concerned, nothing has been done as long as he remains in office. Many will complain and feign or experience actual pain but until he is removed, they have done nothing and nothing will change, nothing will heal, nothing will move forward. Any complaints, visit your electorate representatives.

The mariner’s attention to the world was slightly diverted during his visit with the health industry (yes, an industry; where else would 30 pills cost $489?). Lying in bed long hours, his mind wandered the halls of his memory to stumble on a factoid he learned in 12th grade Chemistry: there are only three chemicals that will support life: Carbon (us), silicon and Chlorine. This is because these are the only chemicals that can simultaneously bond with Oxygen, Hydrogen, Nitrogen and Phosphorus. All these years this factoid lay on the dusty, cluttered floor of mariner’s memory. It has only occurred to him at this moment that we Carbon-based types have been creating Silicon-based life since 1935: computers and electronic transmissions! So it may be true that computers may one day turn around and bite us to erase the competition from another life form. (It doesn’t pay to lose control of one’s thought processes).

Another odd thought that occurred while watching science shows which replaced news shows, is the phenomenon of Now. The experience of NOW. Mariner knows most readers are not interested in space-time physics but the mariner was freshly intrigued about his perception of NOW when listening to a CSPAN book review by Richard Muller, author of a new book, ‘Now: the Physics of Time.’ Mariner had always perceived NOW as an infinite moment, that is, it crosses the Universe like a wave comes to shore – the same wave for the whole universe, i.e., NOW on a distant star occurred at the same moment as it occurred here on Earth. Muller challenges this thought, saying that NOW is relative, just like Einstein said about relativity. Mariner ordered the book through SILO (State of Iowa Library interlibrary loan); it arrived today. The CSPAN interview can be seen on CSPAN’s website.

Well, this is enough for a first post in a while. Mariner will do his best to restore the potpourri of the past.

Ancient Mariner

 

One Species

There is only one species on Planet Earth: Rocks.
Born in violent conflict
Tempered by fire
Riding through the Universe
Afraid of nothing
Nurtured by its planet.
 
 

 

Ancient Mariner will be back soon.

 

FYI

 

From the Atlantic:

A President’s Self-Evaluation: In his Time interview, Trump brushed aside criticism that he doesn’t always adhere to facts and evidence: “I’m a very instinctual person, but my instinct turns out to be right.”

Donald has yet, and likely has never corrected his own error because he believes in all sincerity he has never made an error nor apologized for defaming someone with false accusations. If pressed, he blames someone else – like all of America’s military brass for the failure of the raid in Yemen that was on hold until he authorized it. – mariner

What Are Work Requirements For?: Politicians have long debated “the practical and moral utility of requiring people to work in order to receive government benefits.” Now, a last-minute provision added to the GOP health-care bill would impose these requirements on Medicaid enrollees. (Vann R. Newkirk II)

Every form of media and education is loaded with debate about a soon approaching future where there literally will be far fewer jobs than there are people who want to work.

Both political parties are comparable to hoodlum street gangs. There was a time when the citizen could at least believe that politicians were honorable statesmen responsive to the needs of the citizens and the nation. – mariner

– – – –

From Food and Water Watch:

By Mary Grant

01.25.17

The Trump administration has declared war on the environment and the safety of our drinking water. His team put together an aggressive action plan for the EPA, stripping away public protections and critical resources. 

According to a memo leaked on Monday, Trump’s team has proposed cutting $513 million from EPA’s “states and tribal assistance grants.” These grants support a range of projects to protect our air and water resources – from protecting wetlands and beaches to preventing radon-related lung cancer. It includes the Public Water Supervision Program that supports states every year to help enforce drinking water regulations. For example, Arkansas’s Department of Health received a $947,000 grant for fiscal year 2016 and $180,000 for fiscal year 2017 so far. Ohio’s environmental agency has received nearly $500,000 for fiscal year 2017 so far from this one grant program alone.

The State and Tribal Assistance Grants also form the backbone of the State Revolving Fund (SRF) programs, the primary source of federal funding for our water and sewer systems. Every single state relies on funding from these programs to assist community water and sewer projects – from helping the small town of Edgerton, Wyo. remove bacteria from its water supply to helping St. Bernard Parish, La., replace its old, deteriorated water lines. 

And:

While gutting these vital water funding programs, Trump’s team is also advancing a proposal to let Wall Street take over our public infrastructure. Trump’s policy advisors have outlined a scheme to give massive tax breaks to Wall Street firms that take over infrastructure projects. It would give Wall Street a tax credit of $0.82 for every $1 of equity invested into a project. 

This privatization scam will benefit only Wall Street. Widespread privatization of water systems would lead to large rate hikes, loss of local control, loss of transparency and accountability, loss of jobs and deterioration of customer service quality. Water bills would skyrocket to allow Wall Street to profit, leading to unaffordable bills and more water shutoffs. 

Privatization will not help Flint or other communities address their water problems. Private investors will not put money into replacing water lines in low-income cities. They would cherry-pick service areas to avoid cash-strapped neighborhoods where households can’t afford to pay the cost of privatized service. 

And, despite claims to the contrary, the tax-credit scheme will cost taxpayers a lot of money. The plan would not pay for itself. Wall Street players would just shift their investments to infrastructure and not necessarily increase the amount of money invested in the economy overall. There would be no increased revenue from income taxes on investor profits. 

Trump’s plans amount to a massive windfall for Wall Street, and combined with his proposed cuts, they endanger our public water systems.

See more at

http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/news/trump-attacks-safety-our-drinking-water

The mariner could go on… and on… and on. Using a quote he has used before and likely will use again:

Remember Bob Edwards? He said one of mariner’s favorites:

Now I know what a statesman is; he’s a dead politician. We need more statesmen.

– – – –

At this moment mariner is consciously fearful of authoritarianism. The US Congress is antiquated both in age and culture. The “establishment” is broken and useless. We have forgotten how energetic, positive, and problem-solving this Congress was in the 1970’s and 80’s. Congressmen were young then, full of vison, in the midst of the culture they knew. The computer age left them behind – old in years, fragile in wisdom, not functional in the high speed, international world of a new culture, a new age. The Congress is defunct. Big money is taking over and will prefer oligarchy, authoritarianism, and even sharper, unfeeling capitalism.

 It is an ignorant, uneducated electorate who must save a democracy they do not understand in the midst of an alien and dangerous new world.

 Mariner is afraid.

 

Blame it on the Weather.

The late winter weather in Iowa has been exceedingly warm. Consequently, many fruiting and ornamental trees have started to waken much too early and are subject to damage if the temperature drops to normal levels before spring really arrives. Weather all over the US has been temperamental this year. We have been conditioned to ponder whether the weather is affected by global warming. Meteorologists suggest that the weather is still just the weather but also suggest that global conditions are changing.

In other words, our major weather patterns still follow familiar seasonal patterns. What may be new are annual averages of temperatures across regions, stronger storms, and near the polar zones more ice and permafrost melting than in the past.

Global warming changes planetary conditions more rapidly than it shifts weather patterns. In the oceans, three significant global circumstances are apparent: (1) Excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is absorbed into the oceans making the water noticeably more acidic – killing coral reefs and shellfish and generally making life difficult for ocean plant life. (2) Melting ice at the poles is altering ocean temperatures to the point that major currents that flow from the tropics toward the poles (e.g. Gulf Stream) are slowing down and further, the sinking cycles which recharge nutrients in the currents as they flow back to the tropics are not as defined as in the past and nutrients behave differently. (3) The change every one hears about is the rising depth of the world’s oceans due to melting icecaps, threatening shorelines by estimates between 9 and 30 feet; current measurements indicate that oceans have risen 3 to 6 inches at an unusually rapid rate.

Most scientists who study the Earth believe no one will alter the impact of global warming. It has been suggested that global warming is on a 2,000 year path that is the Earth’s cycle[1]; humans only have exacerbated the effect. This insight enables some oil-dependent politicians to deny that people cause climate change. In fact, people do – to a damaging degree. People make the next 2,000 years a lot, lot worse than they need be.

The insult added to injury is that H. sapiens is so trashy and disrespectful toward their planet. Elizabeth Kolbert[2] is right: we are the cause of the Sixth Great Extinction. Some thinkers, most notably Stephen Hawking, believe our species will be counted among the extinct.

Ancient Mariner

[1] Ends with major ice age due to orbit tugs from Jupiter and Saturn.

[2] Author of best selling The Sixth Extinction, stating that there have been five major extinctions during Earth’s history that wiped out 90 percent of all living species. Most are aware of the fifth extinction caused by a meteorite that killed off the dinosaurs. Humans are causing the sixth.

Dry Rot

Do you know what dry rot is? Have you ever seen old wood that looks like wood but is hollow because there is no pith left? Have you ever lifted what seemed to be a piece of cloth but it crumbled into a dry powder in your hands? Have you ever found an old box of cards exposed to dampness and when you tried to read them they would fall apart in fragile disarray? It is a condition of decay. It looks okay until one tries to use it in a useful way. Suffering from dry rot, it is not up to the task. It is a ghost, an ash of its creation.

Humans are susceptible to the same decay.

We work from day to day surviving the constant pressure that wears us down until one day we are in dry rot. We look human; we look functional; we feel we are the substance of our birth. But we are a ghost who breathes, eats, pontificates, and pretends to be valuable. We are just dry rot. Called to task, we crumble into uselessness.

This is too bad. Just as in material things, there are defenses to prevent dry rot in ourselves. Just as we seek to prevent rust in our tools; just as we maintain our houses; just as we maintain functionality in our vehicles; just as we maintain static rituals that keep order in our lives – we can introduce defenses that keep our lives rich and full and pliable against the vagaries of living. We can avoid dry rot to our last day.

One way is to keep the mind flexible. Deliberately pursue new ideas that test your opinions. Deliberately allow yourself to be confronted by social progress. Deliberately investigate the value of lifelong beliefs. Deliberately pursue new physical experiences and challenges. Dry rot cannot accumulate in the presence of newness.

Another avenue is to pursue new information as literally as you pursue physical fitness. The precursor to intellectual flabbiness is lack of intellectual exercise. The best avenue is reading. Television will draw you away; Internet will draw you away; weariness will draw you away. Where can you find new nutrients to prevent the emptiness of dry rot?

The answer is both far reaching and personal. As a simple example of maintaining flexibility in our contemporary lives, the mariner and his wife scramble for first read of the Atlantic magazine. We have observed that the Atlantic, along with the New Yorker magazine, Scientific American and an array of Internet websites, provide us with a constant barrage of new ideas, new reports on a rapidly changing culture, new interpretations of old, dare we say sacrosanct rituals, and new views of the future that emerge beneath our feet.

Using the technology of broadcasting, deliberately check in on other news channels besides NBC, CBS, ABC and Fox. One would be surprised at the perspectives of news channels sponsored by China, Great Britain, Arabic broadcasting and European news networks. Even Canada has a different slant on the importance of news.

Certain channels like Bloomberg offer educational programs that broaden one’s understanding of the world. Exploring newness is the best defense against dry rot – even new physical experiences.

The mariner can attest that age is an ally of dry rot. It makes the challenge of being a purposeful human being in the world even greater. One must overcome frailties; one must garner strength from task to task. But one should never allow retreat from an active life about which to take control.

At the other end of the spectrum, the young have no perspective on the amount of energy wasted on frivolousness. The young must discipline themselves to ask what the future holds and how they will play a role. They, too, will be challenged by the willingness to recede into dry rot.

Ancient Mariner

 

 

Yes, Virginia, there is more than Donald

One grows tired of reacting to a failed democracy – especially when the faithful electorate hires a demolition expert to finish the job. Yet, we must be diligent; there is no second inning in this ball game. Nevertheless, the mariner must have a reprieve; who thought religion would be considered a haven?

Mariner was up late a few weeks ago browsing late night – AKA early morning – television. He stopped to watch one of those New Testament films about the life of Jesus. It was wholly graphic in nature, typical of these productions, with no nuances about philosophy, Judaism, Christianity, culture, dogma or doctrine. The kind with Jesus portrayed by a blue-eyed European with coifed hair.

Also typical was the straight-line portrayal of the best of the Synoptic Gospels Matthew, Mark, and Luke. (Admitting Matthew is mariner’s favorite gospel because it is a sociological dance between the Old Testament and the New Testament.) Poor gospel John is always denied recognition because he doesn’t tell the same story as the Synoptic Three.

PBS has an introduction to the Gospel John that is better than mariner can produce so he copied the paragraphs and inserted them below:

John’s gospel is different from the other three in the New Testament. That fact has been recognized since the early church itself. Already by the year 200, John’s gospel was called the spiritual gospel precisely because it told the story of Jesus in symbolic ways that differ sharply at times from the other three. For example, Jesus dies on a different day in John’s gospel than in Matthew, Mark and Luke…. Whereas in the three synoptic gospels Jesus actually eats a Passover meal before he dies, in John’s gospel he doesn’t. The last supper is actually eaten before the beginning of Passover so that the sequence of events leading up to the actual crucifixion are very different for John’s gospel. And one has to look at it and say, why is the story so different? How do we account for these differences in terms of the way the story-telling developed? And the answer becomes fairly clear when we realize that Jesus has had the last supper a day before so that he’s hanging on the cross during the day of preparation before the beginning of Passover.

So here’s the scene in John’s gospel: on the day leading up to Passover, and Passover will commence at 6 o’clock with the evening meal, on the day leading up to that Passover meal is the day when all the lambs are slaughtered and everyone goes to the temple to get their lamb for the Passover meal. In Jerusalem this would have meant thousands of lambs being slaughtered all at one time. And in John’s gospel that’s the day on which Jesus is crucified. So that quite literally the dramatic scene in John’s gospel has Jesus hanging on the cross while the lambs are being slaughtered for Passover. John’s gospel is forcing us, dramatically at least, through the storytelling mode, to think of Jesus as a Passover lamb. Jesus doesn’t eat a Passover meal, Jesus is the Passover meal, at least within the Christian mind in the way that John tells the story.

PBS did an excellent job of showing why John is less popular. Unlike Matthew, who plays ping-pong back and forth between Judaism and Christianity, John tells the gospel story in the context of the Old Testament. The reader must be familiar with both religions in order to see the spiritual differences. That being possible, the Old Testament, compiled in stages since 4000 BC, and the new New Testament being compiled as we read, have very different beliefs in God, spirituality, ethics, and doctrine.

If one of these late-night Jesus productions used John, not only would the storyline be different, the purpose of dialogue would be to articulate differences between Judaism and Christianity – which is the true motivation for John. John clearly does not intend to accept any Jewish dogma. Hence the reputation for spiritual clarity rather than historical sequencing.

That was refreshing, wasn’t it?

Ancient Mariner