Another Animal at the Zoo

In an effort to remain sane and to maintain rational emotional feelings, for several weeks mariner has avoided American news programming, tolerating only BBC, CGTN (China), selected CSPAN and, with the aid of the fast forward button, The Eleventh Hour on MSNBC. For years mariner has been saturated by the home and do-it-yourself networks. He tends not to watch fictional programming.

What is left? Science channels (seen all the programs), geological and environmental programming (been everywhere, travelled through time and space, seen all the conditions); mariner knows how to be a junk dealer, bootlegger, hotrod mechanic, gardener, and furniture maker. Scrounging about for anything, mariner uncovered the veterinary shows. There are several series. The theme is that animals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish of all kinds are brought to a vet’s clinic having all kinds of maladies.

Mariner suffered a binge watch the other night. He had enlightenment. As he watched the animals, he wondered how they dealt with human creatures while not knowing the intellectual dimensions, knowledge and cause and effect processes that are foisted upon them. In most cases the patients had learned to tolerate humans, even accepting dependence for comfort and care. But intellectually, there had to be an immense gap between patient reality and human reality. When they were healed, did they have a causal awareness between newfound health and the creatures wearing masks and poking with needles?

Then mariner had his burst of insight. In 150 years, when artificial intelligence has been thoroughly ensconced in human culture, humans will have the exact intellectual experience as the animals. There will be no way to link human consciousness with the surreal reasoning of a robot. This insight applies not only to visiting our electronic vets but also our electronic government, our electronic softball game versus robots and (one wonders) our spousal relationships.

We will be no more than a baby opossum experiencing the AI world in complete ignorance; tolerating them and even accepting dependence for comfort and care. There’s always a concern that AI vets will, just as human vets, decide to have us put down.

Ancient Mariner

 

Philosophy Recipe: Stir and Bake a Long Time

Philosophers are underappreciated. To most of us, embroiled in the intense competitions of the present to make a living, raise children, and root for the Chicago Bears, philosophers are too droll, write boring stuff and write in a dense, laborious style. However, it is philosophers who set the stage for what we believe, what is moral, what the value of life is, and invent the glue that makes sense of human culture. As a new era of history begins, it is philosophers that set the compass.

If one went to college or had an excellent history class in high school, one is aware of the Age of Enlightenment. References set the dates of enlightenment between 1650 and 1800 AD. Notable names of the era, philosophers all, are Bacon, Descartes, Hume, Voltaire, Grotius, Rousseau, Spinoza, Hobbes, Newton, and many more; check Wikipedia or your library for detailed contributions.

We should note that the philosophical burst previous to the Age of Enlightenment lasted over 700 years from about 650 BC to the time of Christ and included Xenophanes, Socrates, Plato, Euclid, Aristotle and others; again reference Wikipedia for more detail. From the time of Christ until about 1500, authoritarians, pragmatists and utilitarians took over to form the Holy Roman Empire and the Dark Ages. The philosophical growth during this time leaned more to the standardization of religious philosophy and practice. Little profound technical or economical change occurred except for mechanical improvements to daily life such as improved water and sewage and the beginning of practical medicine.

As mentioned, religious practices also are cyclic. Comparing historical cycles, Saint Augustine and the Nicene Council occurred in the third century AD; the Holy Roman Empire was established in 800, the Reformation began to emerge in 1500 and today religion worldwide of every spiritual inclination is under duress as pantheism grows in popularity.

Back to the Age of Enlightenment, toward the end of that Age, the Industrial Revolution emerged, throwing labor-based economics to the wind. Needless to say today in similar times, the underlying progress of science, technology, communication, relatively improved education and a newly discovered spherical world led to a hodge-podge of government theories, economic models and disruption in social class stability that cyclically reoccurs across all of human history.

Assuming a harmonic cycle of history, lasting about 600 years give or take, history indeed repeats itself. Comparing cycles (the last one started around 1550-1600), we today are at the point of the Luddite labor rebellion in 1811, the food shortage/population explosion during the Napoleonic wars in 1803-1815, and the Civil War in 1860. In other words, there is cultural turmoil among the masses. Old values, particularly related to human values versus economics, have shifted sufficiently that previous behaviors seem unproductive.

It often is difficult to make sense of the evolution of cultural value because we can’t see the forest for the trees. Events occur every day around the world that shift philosophy, religion and culture tiny bit by tiny bit. A simple example is moving from marriages arranged by families to sacramental marriages to freewill marriages to homosexual marriages to increasing numbers of legally-based marriages sanctioned by the State. Shifts occur event by event, conflict by conflict, official recognition by official recognition. Change is not a consistent path: there are ups and downs, movement is forward and backward.

With a little distance in time, however, one can identify the evolving harmonic cycle. Today, it may be difficult to identify the current harmonic cycle because of all the trees but there are signs – as confusing to us as signs for early H. sapiens during the Iron Age, Baal worshipers 600 years before Christ, Dark Age serfs, the Luddites, and the Reaganites.

Further, there are many similarities between recent lifestyle improvements and those lifestyle improvements that occurred during the Roman Empire. It may be an intellectual reach but in terms of improved daily life, radio, television, air conditioning, plastic and the invention of the combustion engine may be comparable to an easier life in Roman times. Also similar is the lack of a tour de force of philosophers during the Roman era. Noted a few paragraphs ago, the occurrence of a philosophical era did not happen from the time of Christ until the Age of Enlightenment. Daily comfort easily displaces the need for a new philosophy of life. Fortunately, cage boxing, baseball and curling have replaced savage entertainment at the Coliseum.

Will we, in this modern cycle without a philosophical era, suffer the lack of philosophic discipline? As we shift from technical reality to Artificial Intelligence as reality, will we have a new philosophy to hold together unfamiliar ethics, economies, human values and a new harmonic cycle?

Understand that futurists are not philosophers. Futurists predict events and conditions; philosophers interpret and create ideas. Lacking a philosophical groundswell to guide us in this harmonic cycle, will we suffer corporations as we suffered the authoritative behavior of the Holy Roman Church? Will we be forgotten like serfs during the Dark Ages? Many educated and respected futurists, including the renown Yuval Noah Harari, fear that as corporatism separates from humanism as a reason to sustain profits, the wellbeing of ‘useless’ humans will suffer simply because they aren’t needed. Sadly, this is normal behavior throughout history. Today, marketing to more humans means more profits. In the future, it is likely that profit will be built into the corporate model because corporations will control human value without human preferences.

So it is, without a bond of philosophic interpretation, that our next generations must deal with rootless perceptions of what is right, what is moral, what is just. It is the wild, wild west all over again. Oh, for a philosopher’s recipe.

Ancient Mariner

 

 

Did it ever occur to the reader

Did it ever occur to the reader that analog clocks with moving hands and digital clocks with numbers tell different times? Mariner is old enough to remember when only analog clocks existed. Consequently, like everyone else, he grew up reading the whole face of the clock, not time-specific minute markers. If you would like to have the reading experience of an Evelyn Wood speed reader, quickly look at an analog clock for just a tenth of a second. Two things occurred: First, you did not subvocalize the minute marks, which is what speed reading is like; your brain took a picture of the whole face.

Second, your brain immediately perceives values on the clock face to be behavioral rather than temporal. For example, if one is preparing to leave the house for an appointment, the time on the clock face says, “Wow, I’d better get ready to go, it’s almost ten!” Almost ten is purely relative to the viewer’s situation and has nothing to do with finite measurement.

On the other hand, a digital clock zeroes in on the minute as the primary information. Again, the brain takes a picture of stationary digits but another mental step is required to convert the digital picture into a behavioral response. Because the brain perceives the digits as digital value alone, it is possible to look at a digital clock solely to know what minute it is without having a behavioral response. This effect actually is handy for people who don’t sleep well; they can check a digital clock throughout the night and avoid having to deal with behavioral responses.

Being the old generation yet again, with a digital clock mariner must momentarily search to construct meaningful human context for a digital value. Using an analog clock, however, he automatically has a human response. In his house, there are many analog clocks.

֎

Did it ever occur to the reader that our relationship with numbers – no matter why we use them from telling time to building pyramids to astrophysics – is the same as our reading of a digital clock? Our brains need human comprehension of value before numbers have meaning. For example, on sequential days Betty bought 7+4+19 = 30. Thirty what? If we say elephants, that’s a lot of elephants; if we say penny candies, that has a different behavioral response – either example is a response meaningful to humans – a value that numbers alone don’t possess.

When Albert Einstein wrote his “Special Theory of Relativity” in 1905 (he was 26), he had to devise demonstrations that made his theories understandable. He could have shown his mathematical formulas all day to no avail. However, by cleverly relating the special theory to a behavioral experience, people at least had an inkling of what Albert was talking about. One of his famous demonstrations was the elevator thought experiment. To view an entertaining reproduction with a quadcopter in an elevator, see: https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=albert+einstein+elevator+theory&&view=detail&mid=5DCA66974B5DEE42C8CD5DCA66974B5DEE42C8CD&&FORM=VRDGAR

The moral of this epistle is that as humans we are bound to a human view of reality. How much more is there to the Universe, the flower garden, the weather, even of ourselves that we cannot see or experience? What is the Universe really like beyond our senses?

Ancient Mariner

Quietude

First, let’s set the situation. Mariner and his wife don’t watch television much – maybe some taped British stuff and tennis if the men aren’t castrating themselves by wearing their billcap backwards. Especially we don’t watch news programs. We don’t use social media for the reasons that are currently in the news (Zuckerberg and Cambridge Analytica). We still have flip phones rather than smartphones for reasons similar to the issues with social media. Finally, as if to put a point on it all, we won’t send our spittle to DNA mappers because that data, too, will find its way into data mining corporations.

Mind you, we keep abreast of important news around the world and in our own bailiwick by reading quality magazines, targeted non-fiction books and websites of proven quality.

So it’s quiet around the house.

The first sensation is how quiet it is. Mariner went so far as to play a few oldies on the boom box. But quietness quickly normalizes. It isn’t long before one starts to putter about – like mariner’s recent post about his home office, which had not been straightened in his lifetime. It is amazing how strong the urge is to accomplish something; mariner is fortunate that garden season is approaching. Still, he has dusted off the woodshop tools and has a few projects going. The reader must take note of the dreaded influence of constant television: lethargy.

The difficult part of the day is the evening unless perhaps one watches daytime entertainment that often is tailored for female viewers. In the evening, the television programmers really taunt us with interesting trailers and human interest sitcoms – or cops and monsters, whichever. Even the special subject channels like Science, National Geographic and Bloomberg mix in low quality programs. We’ve remodeled enough HGTV homes. Finally, for those who don’t suffer from attention deficit syndrome, there are the movie channels. One may say, “Let’s watch Sound of Music again; that was a good movie,” or “Isn’t that Katherine Hepburn? Boy she looks young!”

Unless one already is a reader, it takes a bit of commitment to replace the television with reading. Commit to reading an entire book and finish it before you cave in to TV. If reading isn’t your talent, look for a hobby. Four nights a week at the fitness center may change your entire life. Want to meditate and escape for a while? Knitting, crocheting, artwork, woodcarving and cabinetry are excellent. It is amazing how many folks do jigsaw puzzles; that hobby requires staying power! Card playing is still a good pastime. You get the drift.

But now we turn to the most evil distraction from normal life: the smartphone. Fortunately, mariner and his wife don’t have them but we see the strong distraction in others and fear what effect it may have on our relationships. You have heard all the silly examples but here’s one or two: children talking to each other in the same room using their smartphones instead of simply talking face-to-face. How about wandering around the neighborhood looking like a broken steering wheel looking for unknown objects? How about those ‘free’ download games that keep your thumbs in top condition and impose irreversible Pavlovian Syndrome such that you become a hermit in the middle of a crowded downtown street or during your great-grandmother’s 110th birthday; “Oh, has everyone left?”

Mariner admits to prejudice primarily because the data mining corporations deliberately impose smartphone addiction then try to redirect one’s life to some corporation’s advantage (Ever search for furniture online and suffer the furniture popups ad infinitum?). Prejudiced or not, he has learned the value of quietude. Quietude means the brain is off the leash of constant distraction. Once the frontal lobes and the amygdala are free to experience what’s real rather than experiencing manufactured reality, quietude becomes a pleasant experience unavailable in the telecommunications world. Let’s not lose the joy of speaking face-to-face.

Ancient Mariner

 

Mariner’s Wife

Poets have their unique qualities. Edgar Allen Poe carried an overarching mood in his poems; examples are “The Raven,” “Annabellee,” and “Al Aaraaf.” Billy Collins wrote with a light touch; for example, “Man Listening to Disc.” And the injection of the self into the poems of Robert Frost was unique; for example, “The Road not Taken.”

Mariner’s wife is a serious and talented poet. She has won contests, writes about every aspect of life and, with seeming ease, can create poetry from events anyone else would dismiss without a thought. She, too, has a unique quality in her poems. She injects a twist of thought in her poems. It’s a twist the rest of us would not imagine yet we are forced to take note of it. In the following poem, his wife addresses the relationship of humanity with their God. As we relate to the human condition, we are led to a heavenly twist:

                         At the Gathering of the Great Congregation

At the gathering of the great congregation,

The Lord made his way down the aisle,

Shaking hands, smiling, nodding,

Reaching out to touch a shoulder

Tousling the heads of the infants

Catching the eye of everyone—

Amazing how he acknowledged

Each of us individually.

 

He mounted the steps

Paused briefly before the altar

Then moved over to the pulpit.

There was a great hush

As at the beginning of the world.

Now at last,

At long last,

The meaning of life would be revealed

And the purpose of our deaths.

 

The Lord said, “In the beginning…”

And paused.

A ripple of laughter spread through the congregation.

“Well,” he said with a smile,

“How did you expect me to begin?

In the beginning, I started a story.

It started with light and stars, and galaxies,

And earth and animals and a garden.

And you.

It was a story and you were part of it.”

 

A murmur of puzzlement arose from the congregation

As they turned to each other in dismay.

A hand went up.

The Lord acknowledged a young man.

 

“Is that it? It was all just a story?

We were just characters in a cosmic play?”

 

The Lord smiled. “Just a story. Yes.

But what more could there be?”

 

Voices, questions began to emerge

From the murmuring congregation.

 

“You put us through birth and death and suffering,

Through war and disease

And fear and pain

For a story?”

 

The Lord said,

“Things happen in a story.

If you want to keep it going,

Things have to keep happening.”

 

“But why,” the young man persisted,

“Did you make us suffer?”

 

The Lord replied,

“It was a big story. It had to contain everything.

Worlds, even.”

He paused and added quietly,

“I suffered, too.”

 

Now there was anger as the questions jabbed out.

“You suffered? Give me a break! It was your story,

You started it. You could have made it better.

We didn’t have to die.

We could have lived forever in the garden.”

 

The Lord was patient and kind. He said,

“One of you could have lived in the garden, perhaps,

But not two. Two is conflict and conflict is lack of peace,

It is pain—and it is also story.   Once there were two

The story spun out inevitably.”

 

An older man interjected,

“Are you saying you had no control of it?”

 

The Lord turned toward him and said,

“I could have wrapped it sooner.

At any point I could have said

‘And they lived Happily Ever After.’

But you do understand, don’t you,

That that would have been the end of the story.

Is that what you wanted—the end of the story?”

 

Someone asked, “Is the story over now?”

 

The Lord laughed. “It doesn’t seem to be.

Wherever two or more are gathered in my name

The conflict—the story—continues!

But that is not a bad thing, is it?

It fills up the universe, and our lives

Yours and mine

With joy and glory, companionship,

Fulfillment and love—yes,

It is true that part of it is also doubt

And hardship, pain and grief.”

 

A young woman stood up and said,

“Let me get this straight.

If there were peace on earth

And the brotherhood of man

Lived in right relations with each other—

Are you saying that would be the end of the world?

The end of the story?”

 

The Lord said,

“Yes. A story can’t continue if nothing happens.”

 

“So our choice is—live in conflict or not at all?”

 

The Lord said, “If you live, there will be conflict.”

 

“So what is the point,” came the plaintive cry

From somewhere within the great congregation.

“It seems like bad people advance the plot

Better than good people. You must really

Love the villains.”

 

“Oh, I do, I do,” the Lord said.

“I love them all. I love you all.

The point is—it is a story.

Be glad you were in it.

I’m glad you were in it.

“Oh, my questioning children—be at peace.

Your part of the story is over.

I thank you for the part you played

And for the indelible contribution

You made to the unfolding story of life on earth.”

The Lord raised his hands in benediction,

Turned and paused at the altar

And walked back down the center aisle

Through the quiet congregation

That was silent in his passing.

 

After he left the sanctuary

There was a brief pause before the murmuring began.

It grew louder and more insistent,

With cries of “It’s not fair!”

“He didn’t tell us anything!”

And, “I don’t believe any of it!”

 

And the Lord smiled,

Knowing that his will would be done in heaven

As surely as it was on earth.

 

MKM

June, 2014—after Annual Conference

On Being Lost

Have you ever been lost? It’s a sense that one has lost touch with the perimeter or edge that provides definition to a person’s situation. One feels adrift and even afraid because there is no meaningful ‘here’ or ‘there;’ there is no ‘over there.’ It is then that we realize how important it is to know where we’ve been, where we’re going, and where we are relative to our start and finish.

This sensation of being lost can be induced in many different situations. For example, trying to solve a puzzle with too many variables like the ones that offer “Jane is 4 years old; John is 12 years old and their brother is 20 years younger than Aunt Joy who is six years younger than their mother. . .” Another example is the experience that college freshmen have when trying to identify one’s proper role in a completely unknown environment. Sometimes the unknowns are so vast and complex, we don’t realize we’re lost!

That brings us to today’s example of being lost. Who is lost? The entire world of people is lost. The world’s cultures are eroding like sand blown by the desert wind. Mariner can provide indicators that suggest we don’t know where we are or where we’re going in the future:

֎ Authoritarian governments are increasing while democratic countries are decreasing. The imbalance has accelerated since the fall of the Berlin Wall. The latest example is China which voted only a day or two ago to grant President Xi Jinping the status of President for Life. Even old standbys like Turkey, Greece, and the Balkan nations are struggling and show signs of increasing authoritarianism. The map shows where authoritarianism has emerged (the orange and yellow states – apologies for the blurred image).

Since the early 1500’s the bluer nations have ruled the world. It is likely that blue rule will fade in the 2000’s. In its third iteration since the 1940’s, China has grown up economically and has improved culturally. It is so huge in national presence that it is likely to dominate world economy and culture much as the United States has since the 1800’s.

Typically, authoritarianism evolves in nations with failed economies or oligarchical cultures. In the case of China, a nation with an average ten percent growth for decades, it will become authoritarian. The question with China is whether one man’s vision will comprehend change well enough to sustain global leadership as the world changes dramatically over the next 50 years. While authoritarian governments can take charge of confusion more quickly than messy democracies, their weakness is the inability to manage cultural change.

֎ If authoritarianism is at one end of the spectrum, the United States (and the less influential Nordic States) is at the other end. Unfortunately, the founding fathers wanted a nation ruled by the people – no monarchy here – but also wanted government to control the economy and the military. Hence, a democratic republic; something like a duckbilled platypus. While touting democracy as the guiding force, the republic side has dominated society and is no better at managing culture than authoritarianism (current studies show that over time the voting public has influenced one percent of legislation while moneyed sources have influenced ninety-nine percent, which explains the growing problem of oligarchy and corporatism in the US since the 1850’s). It is the case with any government philosophy that a hot, expanding economy forgives many sins but the US economy isn’t ‘hot’ anymore.

The US culture has become ragged without good social leadership. As the 1990’s rolled into the 2000’s, fringe conservatism and shifting liberalism crumbled national unity. Further, every country in the world is exposed to lightning-speed changes in culture because of the Internet and Artificial Intelligence. Who knew the morning coffee-klatch would meet on Facebook?

Global economics is changing as well. Old natural resources, old technologies and old political liaisons are up in the air at the moment and do not fit the new world economy in a technology-led world.

֎ Technology has been a puzzle piece for decades. Remember when a generation quietly passed on as it handed the torch to the next generation? Now folks have to live through the next generation as well and maybe the one after that. Never mind that joblessness, financial security, really old parents and feelings of uselessness are left to you to manage. Does that obnoxious voice box in the living room (Alexa or Google Assistant) look like its growing arms and legs? Even today, it knows you’re pregnant before you do; be careful if it starts to rearrange your investments and insurance – it knows when it’s your time to go. If you thought your spouse nags all the time, wait until the voice box follows you around giving you advice about everything and, dangerously, not telling you things you should know. Further, lawyers beware; there are legal bots online that can provide legal services for any need a client may have including the forms to process the issue.

֎ The environment, the puzzle piece still run by the planet whether we acknowledge that or not, already has plans to change the weather, coastlines, atmosphere, food resources and the diversity of nature itself. Did you know that when the last great ice age melted it created the Great Lakes? The water level of the oceans rose 300 feet. Today, if you live on the seashore, a long term mortgage may not be a good idea. You may want to sell soon – just ask folks who live in Bali, Miami or New Orleans.

So – if Jane is 4 years old, China is the new global power, your great-great grandparents live in the basement, you meet for coffee on Facebook, your job is gone or your boss is a nagging robot, giraffes and tigers are gone, the ocean creeps under the door twice each day, where are we going?

Ancient Mariner

Snips

 

Here’s a quote from Albert Einstein:

“A human being is part of the whole called by us “Universe”; a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to enhance all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”

– – – –

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt

Politico.com, a reputable news source, researched Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt. Politico found a series of tapes, “KFAQ University — Standing Up For What’s Right.” Produced in 2005 and posted on Pruitt’s campaign website in 2010, they offer a frightening view of Pruitt’s irrational and conservative view of religion, science, business and politics. A couple of his statements are below. If one enjoys horror entertainment, listen to the tapes at: https://www.politico.com/story/2018/03/02/scott-pruitt-epa-evolution-theory-abortion-gay-marriage-433284?lo=ap_d1

1-Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt dismissed evolution as an unproven theory, lamented that “minority religions” were pushing Christianity out of “the public square” and advocated amending the Constitution to ban abortion, prohibit same-sex marriage and protect the Pledge of Allegiance and the Ten Commandments.

2-Pruitt also described the Second Amendment as divinely granted and condemned federal judges as a “judicial monarchy” that is “the most grievous threat that we have today.”

3-“There aren’t sufficient scientific facts to establish the theory of evolution, and it deals with the origins of man, which is more from a philosophical standpoint than a scientific standpoint.”

– – – –

The Grace of Wealth

While the world ponders the future because China can clone Macaque monkeys, Barbra Streisand matter of factly clones her pet dog into two identical offspring – no big deal except it cost $50,000 per dog. Sort of goes hand in hand with Oprah’s bathtub carved out of a single block of limestone that cost $70,000. Mariner blew $350 on a new miter saw last year. Ahh, the life of the idle rich. . .

– – – –

All things considered, mariner opts for Albert. It should be extremely disturbing to us when we watch the agony and death of people living in war zones, the wretched life of starving families, the unnecessary death of millions from lack of common immunizations, the horrific destruction of life by selfish autocrats – while the overly wealthy look for new heights in lavish, wasteful spending. Fixing this imbalance in human life is virtually impossible. When push comes to shove, oligarchs clone their government representatives.

Ancient Mariner

 

 

The Apocalypse is Nigh

Mariner often has touted the joy of being married to a professional librarian, serious poet, and bibliophile of the first order. Yet again, reading through the many books by her bedside, his wife came across this amazing likeness in C.S. Lewis’s book, “The Problem of Pain”, published in 1940. The quote below is found in the chapter on hell:

“. . . . Picture to yourself a man who has risen to wealth or power by a continued course of treachery and cruelty, by exploiting for purely selfish ends the noble motions of his victims, laughing the while at their simplicity; who, having thus attained success, uses it for the gratification of lust and hatred and finally parts with the last rag of honor among thieves by betraying his own accomplices and jeering at their last moments of bewildered disillusionment. Suppose further, that he does all this, not (as we like to imagine) tormented by remorse or even misgiving, but eating like a schoolboy and sleeping like a healthy infant – a jolly ruddy-cheeked man, without a care in the world, unshakably confident to the very end that he alone has found the answer to the riddle of life, that God and man are fools whom he has got the better of, that his way of life is utterly successful, satisfactory, unassailable. . . .

“. . . . Even mercy can hardly wish to such a man his eternal, contented continuance in such ghastly illusion.”

– – – –

In Apostle Paul’s Second Epistle to the Thessalonians, he describes the antichrist:

“And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will destroy with the breath of his mouth, annihilating him by the manifestation of his coming. The coming of the lawless one is apparent in the working of Satan, who uses all power, signs, lying wonders, and every kind of wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion, leading them to believe what is false, so that all who have not believed the truth but took pleasure in unrighteousness will be condemned.” [Thessalonians 2]

Is who we think we’re talking about the antichrist? Is his base the nonbelievers deceived by his message? He is eager to use nuclear war. Is the Apocalypse nigh?

“And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the Earth: Blood and fire and pillars of smoke. The Sun shall be turned into darkness,  and the Moon into blood, before the coming great and awesome Day of the Lord, and it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the Name of the LORD shall be saved.” (Joel 2:30-32)

Ancient Mariner

How to Make Order from Chaos

Mariner is not, what is the term – a neatnik. His home office is a replica of the human presence on Planet Earth. The office is a clutter sanctuary, a habitat of overgrown functions that dysfunction – lost in the mire of mismanagement, a Paleolithic collection of useless junk. Mariner decided in a godlike manner to restore order and spiritual beauty to his office. It is time for Armageddon.

Mariner discovered immediately that one must indeed have the power of God to restore functional and productive order to human disorder. God uses water and fire which seems excessive for this task. Mariner has no choice but to wade into the matter in the likeness of Jason and his Argonauts.

The home office is no 10 Downing Street. It is a 12×12 room beside the front door entry. The room has a 5×2 closet with a separate 2-foot storage area above which meets the ceiling. Someone in the past put shelves in the closet; it behooves mariner to say they had no sense of functionality. The closet has two sliding doors which means easy access is only at each end. Unfortunately, there are no shelves at each end – only in the middle behind the doors. This situation has led to intense jury rigging while storing supplies – certainly a contributing factor to the immense disorder at hand.

One immediately sees lying about the office towers of 8½ by 11 paper as tall as they will stay balanced. The reader will be entertained that the resident filing cabinet is half empty – suffering long ago from a failed filing system. An overgrown potted spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum) contributes to the mayhem. Overstuffed oak bookcases dominate the walls. Any remaining wall space is filled with sailing charts, photographs of sailing trips and other memorabilia from the past (Why is an eight-foot boat hook leaning in the corner?). A small corner desk with a glass surface holds the computer and its paraphernalia.

Today, the closet has been cleared of everything, shelves and all. This means there is only a foot path from the door to the closet – a mere goat path among the hills. It is time to reorder things. What would God do? Mariner questions God’s judgment when God flooded the Earth but did not oversee reconstruction. Had God dealt with our home offices, perhaps the world of humans would be a more orderly place.

Ancient Mariner

Rajneesh

Mariner was a Methodist pastor during the 1960’s. He was interested in philosophical direction at the time; it was indeed a time of crossroads in contemporary thoughts about secularism, socialism, capitalism, theism, and the role in general of belief systems in modern society. For a college theology assignment, mariner researched an Indian philosopher named, for short, Rajneesh.

Rajneesh was sort of a rebel religious philosopher in India espousing normal Indian mysticism and spiritualism but Rajneesh injected a thread of spiritual humanism that made him known in the western world as well. Mariner has not thought of Rajneesh since his college days. Rajneesh is brought to mind by an article in this week’s New Yorker email.

The most efficient analysis of his approach to spiritualism is to examine his effort to write his own ten commandments (very much a restrictive western gesture). Bless Wikipedia for having Rajneesh’s ten commandments clearly presented!

1.Never obey anyone’s command unless it is coming from within you also.

2.There is no God other than life itself.

3.Truth is within you, do not search for it elsewhere.

4.Love is prayer.

5.To become a nothingness is the door to truth. Nothingness itself is the means, the goal and attainment.

6.Life is now and here.

7.Live wakefully.

8.Do not swim—float.

9.Die each moment so that you can be new each moment.

10.Do not search. That which is, is. Stop and see.

Bring a copy of the commandments to your next Sunday School class for discussion. Mariner guarantees there will be discussion. Certain commandments, particularly 5, 8, 9 and 10, can raise the blood pressure of western capitalists; socialists struggle with 3, 5 and 6; theists are stopped by 1, 2, 3 and 6; western society in general finds 5 an anathema.

Mariner gleaned many sermons from Rajneesh by integrating his spiritual elements with western pragmatism.

Being a bit older, mariner has in his mental library many forgotten moments to discover again. Welcome back, Rajneesh.

Ancient Mariner