Whence the Next Religion?

Throughout mankind’s current history, that is, since about 10,000 years ago, some form of religion has guided culture’s behavior. Even in the days of Cybele eight millennia ago, the original mother of creation represented a need by Phrygians (Eastern Turkey) to have a bond with something beyond human capabilities.

Western civilization combined religious mandates with civil mandates creating theocracies that clearly were oriented toward human and governmental desires but nevertheless acknowledged ethics, morality and theology in their courts of justice. Sudan, Egypt, Babylonia, Greece and especially Rome spread Christianity/Civil Rule into Africa, the Middle East, the Mediterranean, and to the northernmost lands of Scandinavia. Even Russia depended on the Russian Orthodox Church from time to time.

But as Cybele lost the power of her myth, so, too, over time, Moses, Jesus, Paul and Augustine have paled as the powerful Christian and Hebrew mythic theology is confronted by time and knowledge.

Most telling is the separation of Church and State across the West. Always integrated in the past, modern constitutions and governmental ethics continually expand the civilian control of culture while excluding the moral authority of religion. It is a common opinion that the preferred religion is capitalism.

While practiced in the manner of a religion, Capitalism fails as an extra-human force that promotes ethical principles and meaning to individuals as a species, as individuals of common value, as an engine of virtue rather than wealth.

As mankind enters the new millennia, it enters without a true religion. Certainly Christian and Hebrew practices and beliefs still prevail but in a weakened state. Civility is not a central force today – especially in government – perhaps unaccustomed to managing culture without religion.

Whence the next religion?

One can take hope in the continuous improvement of special interest organizations. Everything from environmental organizations to racial and alternative living groups to human rights groups to equality of life groups are organized, funded, active, and importantly beginning to bring ethics and morality back into civil life. Humans are beginning to realize that today the onus is on them to sustain a quality culture – a function that was the role of the church in times past.

But what of Moses? What of Jesus? What of God? How must Christians breathe life back into the Holy Trinity?

We must create a new myth that unifies mankind with something beyond human control.

Ancient Mariner

 

The Art of Giving – III

The Art of Giving – I defined the key emotional verbs that underlie gifting[1] as a part of one’s life: sacrifice, sharing and compassion. The Art of Giving – II identified how difficult it is to deploy gifting into one’s lifestyle because of prejudice and an ingrained sense of self. Nevertheless, the future will require sacrifice, sharing and compassion if humanity is to remain civil.

The Art of Giving – III will examine sample practices that can be used as models to emulate in one’s personal effort to participate in the art of giving.

Many efforts at gifting fail because the individual does not consider the skills and resources that are available to them. Bill Gates, for example, has wealth; it is obvious that his personal success in sustained gifting is financing the efforts of others. Further, gifting is supposed to make one feel happy and content; an outstanding accountant may find it difficult to incorporate Habitat for Humanity construction into his lifestyle, even increasing his frustration instead of finding satisfaction and happiness.

Another misconception is to join a gifting organization without first finding in one’s self something that is meaningful and raises personal feelings because something is missing the quality of life it should have. For example, many people are concerned about the hardships and abuse of pets. They find reward in doing whatever they can to improve the situation dog by dog, cat by cat; it is an emotional commitment. If that person had joined the Lion’s Club to participate in the organization’s gifting programs, a sense of gratification may not be present – similar to the minimized reward many parishioners feel about their worship contributions.

There is a woman who is skilled at baking bread. She takes pride in providing the bread for meals at a soup kitchen and a shelter. One can see her gift is not taken lightly. Sacrifice, sharing and compassion all are present. And, by the way, she is very happy with her life. Similarly, many hobby gardeners would feel remiss if their vegetables didn’t find their way to free outlets for those who need food. A hobby furniture maker contributes all his projects to gifting outlets supporting the indigent.

For the exceptionally altruistic, usually younger folk and retirees, one can uproot one’s life and join AmeriCorps, Peace Corps, several United Nations programs, and religious missions around the world.

Often understated or ignored is the need for leadership. In small town and neighborhood gifting, the good intent frequently is overwhelmed by organizational disarray. Skilled managers are always needed –especially those managers who have a moral commitment involving sacrifice, sharing and compassion.

Having reviewed the above examples, one can understand that the art of giving must be expressed in very personal terms. Gifting must be a one-to-one involvement. One must ‘get their hands dirty’ to quote an old phrase. To most who are engaged in gifting, gifting becomes a primary motivator because it engages very personal emotions. One is willing to sacrifice to sustain giving; one is willing to share in an attitude of full teamsmanship with recipients; one has an active and motivating compassion that sustains gifting.

Be vigilant about prejudice constraining your giving.

End of series.

Ancient Mariner

[1] The reader may notice the use of ‘giving’ and ‘gifting.’ Giving implies a broad approach to the subject. Gifting is the actual act of presenting a personal contribution.

The Art of Giving – II

The last post, The Art of Giving, introduced the key elements of giving: sacrifice, sharing and compassion. It is not enough to understand the definition of the three words; the words must be integrated into one’s code of living; the experience represented by the words must become an objective that pays a conscious reward. In other words, giving must become a priority experience beyond prejudice.

This sounds irrational but in practice it is more like a commitment similar to healthful practices: committing to walking every day, dieting – even commitment to going to work every day. The responsibility to sustain a viable lifestyle is not set aside. Rather, it is more like adding flavor to a recipe. If one can interpolate adding flavor to a recipe to adding happiness and fulfilment to one’s life, then one understands how the three words function.

However, interpolation is not easy. Consider the following:

Most US citizens decry taxation. Taxes are an imposition. Taxes are misspent by idiot legislators. Taxes do not do anything for one’s immediate situation. How difficult it is to switch one’s attitude from decrying taxation to one of personal satisfaction gained by sharing the load of national need. The three words must be deployed in order to change one’s attitude. To be sure, sacrifice is personal in nature but it also is collective. Democracy, in the hands of idiot legislators (prejudice), is an overhead that must be sacrificed as well. No act in any endeavor is free of inefficiency and inadequacy. But the key is to capture the personal satisfaction gained from sharing instead of paying – belonging to the team rather than being a victim. Compassion is the elixir that drives toxins from one’s spirit.

Prejudice is the worst sin. Prejudice is disruptive to the art of giving more than any other act or opinion. To focus the discussion of prejudice a bit, two of the common prejudices in the US are race and laggardness. Racial prejudice is easily defined; laggardness is widespread but ill-defined. Laggardness can be interpreted as someone who doesn’t appear to want work hard, doesn’t have a job but accepts ‘handouts’, or simply has a lax attitude about cultural worth. It is debatable that the working class has a more intense prejudice against laggards than they do against skin color. The darkest African American can gain respect through hard work; a laggard will never be respected.

If someone has a desire to recognize a need and provide a gift to that need, in many people an unconscious prejudice steers the individual away from nonwhite charity or providing aid to the unemployed. Many will give to abstract charities similar to wounded veterans, orphans, animals, diseases, and other charities that do not focus on race or laggards.

It must be said that in Africa alone 20 million humans are bereft of health and face death by starvation and common disease but are disregarded by those who are better off. This prejudice is associated with economic class. In the US, the world’s most intensely capitalistic nation, this prejudice is the most irrational and most dehumanizing of all prejudices: The successful deserve to be successful; the unsuccessful deserve to be unsuccessful. In other words, if one is lucky, that is their role; if one is unlucky, that is their role. Tough luck, kid.

Sadly, in the US it is this class that is opposed to government providing discretionary funding to their fellow citizens or even providing health care regardless of social circumstances. In other words, government is for the lucky. Otherwise, tough luck, kid.

Having defined these three common prejudices, one realizes how difficult it is to implement the three words sacrifice, sharing and compassion. One would have to suffer a massive change in their attitude and social identity. We can’t all walk the road to Damascus with Saul.

What can we do? What act will help the most? Where do I sacrifice and share to provide a meaningful gift?

It takes a godly intervention to change deeply rooted definitions of self. Fortunately, humans are of different social persuasions. If one were to elect to government candidates that first accepted the role of government to emulate intervention above espousing a commitment to serve your best interests and instead of being an economic hawk, you may have an amazing influence in promoting sacrifice, sharing and compassion as an element in the government’s gestalt.

Hints about a candidate’s understanding of the art of giving are reflected in the candidate’s lifestyle. Is the candidate a racist? Is the candidate an elitist? Is the candidate one who can afford to campaign but otherwise has no redeeming social qualities? Unfortunately, the common answer to all these characteristics is yes. The best gift will be to find a candidate that understands the art of giving.

Ancient Mariner

The Art of Giving

Giving is indeed an art. Few of us cover the art form in its entirety. Each art form, however, provides a different gift to those who give and to those who receive. More often than not, our greatest gift goes unnoticed over a lifetime.

One form of giving is associated with our culture. In the United States, we pay taxes, which is a form of giving – more at sharing – to support millions of people in need; we share roads and infrastructure in general; we help assure that civility and unity prevail. Too often, giving to our cultural norms is the subject of derision and dissatisfaction. Those who dislike taxes do not experience the gratification that comes from sharing. The art of giving is absent and their lives seem diminished – certainly no personal gift is experienced. Hence the word ‘tax’ instead of ‘gift’. Is our culture missing an aspect of humanity?

Another art form is giving without sacrifice. Bill Gates and others in similar financial circumstances give substantial amounts to quality of life programs around the world. There is no question that recipients immensely enjoy the gift. Giving full credit to Bill for his largesse, his own experience likely has little feeling of sacrifice and more a sense of moral responsibility fulfilled. This is very common in gift giving, that is, giving without sacrifice. Knock off a dozen zeroes or so from Bill’s income and assets and the gift is common to most of us – no sacrifice required. True, in form one has given a gift but the experience is light on a feeling of sharing.

There are two circumstances each of which almost qualifies as an oxymoron:

Military basic training inculcates a feeling of intense bonding between recruits. The experience of sharing (bonded commitment) is tantamount to self-preservation.

The second is the offering taken in religious services. One feels little sacrifice and at best that a moral responsibility has been fulfilled. Many congregations will not even commit to a pledge – how dare God impose sharing on a follower. What is this, a tax?

An important art form that, in the midst of great sacrifice and sharing, often is overlooked; the giver doesn’t perceive that they have given a gift over a lifetime. There are many circumstances where lifetime gifting is involved; two are selected:

Parenthood. It is the nature of all mammals and many other species to protect the next generation. In humans, this nature is most complex and requires many years of commitment. Parents, if they are in the range of normal, will sacrifice a great deal to sustain their children in life. This sharing experience is so strong that it continues throughout life even after the children have established their independence. Parents never deny sacrifice. Empathy and compassion are the art form.

Marriage. Perhaps marriage is even more complex than parenthood. A partnership begun in self-satisfaction over the years experiences times of tribulation. Often unspoken, both partners suffer the needs of their spouse. Both have shortcomings to be tolerated. In time, tolerance and mutual support becomes compassion and sharing. Each partner has gifted the other with a bond that goes unspoken, suffered silently and takes a lifetime.

The key words in the art of giving are sacrifice, sharing and compassion. The words together create a sense of sincere commitment and a unique feeling of deep joy – the quiet kind and the most healing for all parties concerned.

Ancient Mariner

 

Arrived.

Ancient has arrived at an intellectual state not unlike running out of gas in the middle of nowhere; or it may be similar to arriving where one intended but there is nothing to be found; or it may be like arriving in a country ready to have a rich experience but no one speaks your language or cares to communicate.

In a word, Mariner, as Amos before him, euphemistically is retreating to shepherd his sheep.[1] The works of Amos in the Old Testament show that he was influenced by a very large Earthquake (8.0) that occurred north of Israel around 760BC. Amos 3.13-15 states the view of Amos about the collapse of the world:

13 “Hear and testify against the House of Jacob,” says the Lord God, the God of Hosts, 14 “that on the day I punish Israel for his transgressions, I will punish the altars of Bethel, and the horns of the altar shall be cut off and fall to the ground. 15 I will smite the winter house with the summer house; and the houses of ivory shall perish, and the great house shall come to an end,” says the Lord.RSV In further verses, Amos makes it clear that no one will survive God’s wrath.

Today, we have no impending earthquake that will end civilization; perhaps a volcano may but none of the major volcanoes are due for thousands of years. Nevertheless, something is happening because God’s wrath has begun and moves ever faster.

 

The Dark Age

The model which defines the relationship of the present era to its future is the model of the Dark Ages, which lasted from the fall of Rome to the early years of the Middle Ages (450AD – 1000AD). It was a time when the social structure and ethic of the known western world had fallen into disarray. Governments (and the Church) disavowed responsibility for the underclass and anyone, for that matter, who could not participate in authoritarian power or its oligarchy. In that time, the general public lived a truly impoverished and brutalized life. The wealthy did not feel obligated to care about common folk. Food was scarce and never adequate; disease ran amok; the simplest barter economy was impossible because of abusive taxation; one third of all children died before age five; adults had an average life expectancy in the thirties; common land, where the populace lived, was treated as a permanent war zone where the powerful played constant war to improve personal power and wealth.

Does this sound relevant today?

The characters are the same. The failing cultural morality seems not to be restrained. War with inadequate purpose seems rampant. Governments ever increasingly seek to avoid responsibility for the growing underclasses. The Church lingers in the twentieth century with very little influence on twenty-first century society.

But ‘God’ is not waiting for an ultimate collapse. Even as the US Government denies the reality of global warming, the Earth is moving on to an environment that may not be suitable for humans. It certainly is not suitable for other species. Global leaders and the wealthy may grudgingly recognize that ocean levels are rising enough to be a nuisance. They do not acknowledge that as the Arctic Ocean and its accompanying permafrost melt, a rise of ocean levels to several feet is projected by the end of the century and that will not be the end of it – rising further in future centuries.

The weather is changing as well. The warming oceans evaporate unmeasurable amounts of water into the atmosphere – causing larger and more damaging weather patterns as well as drought zones that occur seemingly without reason.

‘God’ does not patronize authoritarian and otherwise imbalanced societies that disregard simple moral behaviors – behaviors that have deep genetic roots in a species with strong tribal social structures. The current US government reminds the mariner of a group of people grabbing as much wealth as they can before the end comes. ‘God’ will not be deterred.

There are too many humans. Far too many. Why is this? Give credit to man’s inventive abilities which produced the Iron Age, Industrial Age, the Fossil Fuel Age, the Technological Age and the current Age of Automation. Were humans still bound to the nature from which they evolved, there is no question that nature itself would oversee disproportional population. Man often is his own demise.

Even at this moment the US is fading from its leadership of the modern world. China understands global economics and is investing in newly defined trade and financing relationships with other countries that will ease transition from the twentieth century era. The US is doing its level best to return to cultural and fiscal values as they existed in the mid-twentieth century. True, that was the golden age but nothing escapes entropy.

Aside from the biosphere, world economies must change in concept if any country is to survive financially and culturally. Most critical is the relationship between jobs and income. The eight hour work day began in 1856. Accompanied by a concept of hourly wage, it has been the core device for redistribution of wealth ever since. But its role in the economy is waning. If the world population is to survive in any quantifiable measure, job and wage must be separated.

Mariner is confident that we approach dark times. Dark times will prevail longer than we will like; let’s hope not as long as the model from the Middle Ages – 550 years. For the last four years, mariner has probed endless subjects, admonished many for lax insight, and promoted newly required ideas drawn from modern but ignored commentary. Were that we could describe the collapsing world; perhaps even glimpse the edges of our dissolution as we can see the edge of a storm cloud – but each of us is an integral piece of the storm…. We are the storm.

We, the electorate, are the storm and we have no intelligence with which to steer ourselves to pleasant weather. The human species denies several global issues that may well end as Amos predicted.

Ancient Mariner

[1] Apocryphal works say that Amos was killed by the son of Amaziah, priest of Bethel. It further states that before he died, Amos made his way back to his homeland and was buried there.

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

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

 

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

Can Love Create Matter?

Today, religious folk are having a hard time with spiritual icons. Viewing the main religions over two thousand years, it is obvious religious institutions have inserted disciplined belief systems which largely benefit continuity of the institution rather than enriching the lives of believers.

Uncountable numbers of books have been written about religion; too many have had to explain again for each historical era what the icons mean and have had to reinterpret the complex integration of spirituality and cultural morality. Now, in the Information Age, principles of religious belief are drowned in a waterfall of instant and constant speculation, experimentation, and analytical second guessing. The mariner confesses to be a part of the deluge. Even so, his motivation is to ease the angst prevalent today.

Believers of many religions are caught today without an acceptable story describing the power of faith and spirituality. On the one hand, the traditional stories are increasingly defined as myths which are not the core value but rather the value is an extended and often confusing meaning of the myths. What is the new creative force? What is the replacement story not of belief but of the powerful reality that still catches our awareness today?

A few clarifications are in order from which we may construct a modern story.

As a broad overview, there have been only three distinct forms of animals in Earth’s history: invertebrates, reptiles and mammals. Only mammals have a brain with a limbic function. The limbic is the source of emotions; emotions are required for mammals because they must manage the early lives of their offspring – therefore requiring a means of sensing the state of offspring. Emotional feelings like sympathy, empathy, and compassion, just to name a few emotions, are the means by which parental awareness is managed. We call these emotions ‘love.’ There are emotions like hate, disdain, possessiveness and many more which ignore the caring emotions – the emotions that grow sustainable life.

The creation story begins many religious histories. The element that is still very much a value today is the awareness that an event or thing is good or that it is bad. The human sense of judgment is far more sensitive than any other mammal’s – even other simians and modern dogs.

The final clarification is imagination. Only humans can perceive what a Universe is; only humans can perceive a different state of being after death and even in inspirational moments while alive; only humans can perceive a nuclear weapon….

A new story about the creative power of God can be derived from our power to create life by using love. Is the act of loving a creative power in the Universe? The old stories hold firmly to the idea that God is Love – the most powerful myth!

The cultural morality derived from love has suffered the most. Early civilizations placed human authority above the larger but less abrasive power of love. Humans drifted from the purity imagined by their religions to follow other emotions like greed, capitalism, nationalism and authoritarianism. Humans used emotions to manufacture selfish benefits rather than support the power that comes from acts of love.

The twenty-first century is a hellish scene: a troubled planet, a restless Sun, a drifting Moon – all props for an Armageddon movie. Then there is the intense greediness of all organizations from governments to corporations to religious institutions – all equating righteousness to numbers of dollars or political favoritism. Sympathy, empathy and compassion are not in control of creation and the situation demonstrates that non-love destroys.

What God looks like is not important. God doesn’t look like anything we can imagine. But what does God do? God loves. There is our doctrine. The twenty-first century needs someone to love it.

NOTES

Errata – the URL for the Atlantic magazine is www.theatlantic.com Pardon the error.

The frequency of mariner’s posts will drop a bit as the gardening season approaches. He still will send an email notice so look for an email that a new post is on the website. Anyone wanting to email the mariner please write to skipper@iowa-mariner.com

Ancient Mariner

Religion Starter Kit – III

There are a few satanic religions and a few pragmatic religions, for example, capitalism, communism, socialism, Nazism, etc. But many hundreds of standard religions have the premise that a religion is here to do some spiritual good; god in whatever form is a positive force from which followers can draw positive influence or at least perform ethical behavior.

What every devout practitioner must possess is a feeling of liberation from negativity and failure and in addition a sense of being in a singular state of being – knowing one has transcended duality if even for a microsecond. In order to move on from the Starter Kit, one must experience positive buoyancy from one’s faith. Buoyancy gives one conviction in the day-to-day tumult of duality.

The traditional religions were documented at a time when there was little scientific knowledge and mythical explanations filled the gaps. Further, cultures have come and gone and our planet spins around with a different set of issues. It is not suggested that the religions have failed; the altruistic intent is as pure and valid as it has ever been. What is required in today’s society, one of technical solutions to every issue without perseverance, without obligation to biosphere or human value – or a bond to singularity and Grace (a church word meaning basking in goodness), is a travel pack that has resonance in situational ethics and a solution backed by god’s influence – as Father Fletcher said in his book, an act of love. Religion today is executed on the run.

One of mariner’s favorite ‘executions’ is the act of benefitting another person’s life without reparation of any kind – just making it a nicer day for someone; it has a street term: pass it forward, implying that the person who benefitted from your execution will execute one of their own. Note that both of you had a liberating experience.

Returning religion to society, however, is a large challenge. The past election illustrates clearly that the common citizen does not possess the confidence, the religiously reasoned morality, the unbiased ability to judge duality, or any obligation to the singularity intrinsic in our planet and our own species. These absences are of the spirit of life, not technology or the importance of machine rules.

Just the disorder for religion to repair!

Continuously use the measuring sticks like divining rods to find good duality and avoid reinforcing bad duality. A simple phrase is “two wrongs don’t make a right.” There are eight measuring sticks:

  • Is this event, thought or motive good duality or bad duality?
  • How much of god’s singularity is present?
  • How much beauty?
  • How much love?
  • How much order?
  • How much truth?
  • How much empathy?
  • How much compassion?

Some steering suggestions: Don’t fall into the trap of compensating for negative duality; one will end up fixing situations with more negatives and machine rules. Stick to using positive duality and acts of god to enhance the good things that need help. Joseph Campbell, another favorite of mariner, said the arc of life, the path of the hero, flows from negative circumstances (negative duality) into achievement (positive duality) and ultimately into a state of perfection (singularity).

Good luck.

Ancient Mariner