Among the People

The mariner had the privilege of visiting an adult Sunday school class. The class, however, met on Monday. Why can’t things just remain as they always have? There’s a reason Sunday school is called Sunday school! This disregard for tradition, however, is the hallmark of the class. It is a small class of about six to eight members; the class members typically are women. Instead of studying the Bible, the Monday school studies contemporary thoughts provided by religious authors and speakers.

Having just written a couple of posts on church and state, the mariner visited the class to observe the subject discussed in a real environment by real people. Being a new visitor, the mariner didn’t say too much. The dynamic for discussion is provided by a retired professional from the national Methodist Church, a reformed Texas Baptist, two existentialist Christians, a skeptic, an ontologist, and a traditional Bible-based Christian. On second thought, perhaps their church insists they meet on Monday. . .

The combination of excellent congeniality and disparate backgrounds allows for creative discussion. The DVD played on this occasion was a lecture about the conflict raised between a Christian and a US citizen. The speaker accepted that one had to survive both in God’s Kingdom and in man’s existential world at the same time. The primary point was that the existential world depends on the influence of Christians for society’s morality and purpose. The mariner would have liked to hear more about the state as juxtaposed to Christianity.

He observed that the class had difficulty sorting out the balance between church and state because the speaker framed both in the context of religion. Perhaps the class would have had an easier time if the speaker had provided more about the state side of things. In his May 25 2013 post, the mariner cited Christianity and the Encounter of World Religions by Paul Tillich. The world religions are capitalism, communism, socialism and authoritarianism. Tillich said that Christianity morphs into a hybrid combined with the prevailing form of society. In the US, the prevailing society is capitalist. Hence, a balance of behavior evolves accommodating the two religions.

In this age of information, Paul Tillich can add another world religion: secularism. Secularism is void of religious reason. It is the mariner’s opinion that the emergence of secularism is reworking the definition between church and state – a definition which was more or less adequate until Norman Rockwell stopped painting and Pablo Picasso, Marcel Duchamp and Henri Matisse popularized the Cubist movement. Stretched across fundamentalist Christians, traditional Christians and existentialist Christians, it will take a couple of generations to sort the balance between Christianity and secularism.

Ancient Mariner

The Truth and Nothing but the Truth

The mariner may have mentioned, he truly doesn’t recall, that he is writing a lesson plan for twenty-first century Christians. The lessons are in an early stage; he has asked seven friends to review what has been written so far. The friends are from many stripes of Christian belief and activity. The mariner has received all manner of response. All the reviews were helpful and improved the quality of the work. One issue stood out across the board: Every reader had some degree of difficulty managing the difference between spiritual truth and empirical truth.

This post is, in fact, a way for the mariner to clarify the issue in his own mind before he starts a major rewrite because of this issue. He will use the parable of the laborers in the field (Matthew 20:1-16).

Briefly, it is an allegory describing the Kingdom of Heaven. A farmer hires day laborers to work in the vineyards. He begins hiring them at the beginning of the day and every hour or two throughout the day, all the way to the last hour.

At the end of the day, the laborers return to receive their pay. To everyone’s surprise, every laborer is paid the same amount whether they worked from early morning or for just the last hour. The laborers who worked the full day claim this is unfair. The farmer replies that everyone received their agreed wage. The farmer further says “Am I not allowed to do what I choose to do with what belongs to me or are you envious because I am generous?”

Jesus ends the parable saying, “The first will be last and the last will be first.”

To translate this just a bit, Jesus deliberately uses an empirical value, money, to make a spiritual point. The parable actually is a definition of the Kingdom of Heaven – a spiritual truth – not an empirical truth. The laborers are engrossed in the empirical reality that everyone was paid the same – a seemingly unfair empirical truth.

Yet, it is the Kingdom of Heaven that is the subject of this parable. Jesus ends the parable saying the first will be last and the last will be first. This means that, in the Kingdom of Heaven at least, everyone is equally accepted by God; no soul is judged – a spiritual truth that has nothing to do with the empirical truth money represents. Nevertheless, we learn from an empirical situation a new spiritual truth that no one is treated differently by God.

The mariner selected a relatively simple parable to dissect into spiritual truth and empirical truth – though many never get beyond the money issue and miss the spiritual point of a fair and just God.

The ability to see spiritual truth in empirical circumstances is the required skill if one is to read the Gospels in a rewarding way. Readers of the New Testament tend to lean one way or the other when spiritual truth and empirical truth are within the same words. To be overly simplistic, one reader says a given passage is a “metaphor” (an editor’s most discomforting word). Another may say the NT is promoting socialism or equal pay for unequal work. Read properly, inevitably there is spiritual truth and empirical truth woven together in that strange but poetic prose written 2,000 years ago.

This parallelism of truth is most conflicted when a miracle is involved. There is nothing wrong with accepting the miracle (empirical truth) as long as the reader can discern what the spiritual truth is, too.

Ancient Mariner


Are we all Americans?

The mariner is writing a lesson book. It talks about the change and stress brought on Christians and the Christian doctrine as societies around the world leave behind the predictable life that existed before 1980.

Most of us don’t see society change as we live our daily lives. Yet, moving about each day, we are encased in an invisible atmosphere that shapes our reality, our attitude, our finances, our family values, our jobs, even how long we live.

True, there were significant issues like the Korean and Vietnam wars, gas shortages and the 60’s generation that burned bras, draft cards and loosened the taboos that governed sexual behavior. But the attitude was still solidly American. Changes to society occurred in an orderly, generational way. In the seventies, America went into space, the Beatles broke up, MASH started, Roe v. Wade passed, Richard Nixon resigned, Microsoft was founded, the Tangshan earthquake killed 250,000 people, Elvis was found dead, first test tube baby was born, and Mother Teresa won the Nobel Prize for peace.

The changes of the seventies were part of a positive upswing in our culture. But it would be the last nationally unified era. The 1980’s began a swing toward less unity in the country. No one could say “We are all Americans” with the innocence that existed in the time after the Big War.

Assassinations were attempted on the Pope and Ronald Reagan. AIDS was identified and the American culture ostracized homosexuals. Reagan announced his military Star Wars program. The US Embassy in Beirut was bombed. Indira Gandhi was assassinated. A hole in the Ozone layer was discovered. Rock Hudson died of AIDS. The Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior was sunk. Chernobyl nuclear plant exploded. US bombed Libya. New York Stock Exchange suffered Black Monday. The World Wide Web was invented.

By the 1990’s it was obvious that the middle class was squeezed out of the new profits generated by big corporations. By 2000, generational change had disappeared. The world was changing too fast. Telephone and Internet technologies had merged, providing new ways to learn, shop, communicate, receive medical treatment, even order groceries delivered to the door. Watch a movie, watch the news (world-wide and instantaneous), watch your house, and play endless games electronically. What Americans did with their time shifted dramatically. To a great extent, individuals became more isolated as the need for family routine in daily life dwindled.

Socially, the gap between generations became a canyon. If one was over 65 in 2000, they were not Americans anymore. They were seniors. If one wanted an abortion, they were a criminal, not an American. National banking practices created a nation of credit card debt. Slowly an oligarchy was emerging. No one was an American; they were rich or poor. Those who depended on welfare and unemployment were beggars and lazy – certainly not Americans.

The Christian ethic has taken a severe beating since 1980. Capitalism is the national religion. One hopes that Christ’s ethic can emerge like the phoenix to play a role in a culture that is increasingly shallow. The Earth is in trouble and capitalism makes it worse and further cannot fix the Earth’s plight. It is time for everyone to pay back to the planet for our indiscretions – without the need to make a profit. It is also the time to revive the spirit of the song, “We are the World” (1985)

Ancient Mariner

Hooray for the Norwegian Muslims!

From the Times of Israel:

“In the wake of a deadly shooting attack at a synagogue in Denmark last week, a group of Norwegian Muslims intends to hold an anti-violence demonstration at an Oslo synagogue this coming weekend by forming a “peace ring” around the building.

One of the event organizers, 17-year-old Hajrad Arshad, explained that the intention was to make a clear statement that Muslims don’t support anti-Semitism.

“We think that after the terrorist attacks in Copenhagen, it is the perfect time for us Muslims to distance ourselves from the harassment of Jews that is happening,” Arshad told the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation NRK in an interview cited by The Local News website on Tuesday.

She noted that the group aimed to “extinguish the prejudices people have against Jews and against Muslims.”

The demonstration drew praise from the local Jewish community.”


A fine, intelligent act in an age of rage about religions. Has it always been this way? Across recorded history, it seems many people have been brutally tortured and murdered because of religious intolerance – perhaps more than all the wars from 1700 to the present. Even in the “civilized” United States today, religious intolerance is not above killing over abortion, sexuality, Islam, atheism, theocracies, and still ostracizes Roman Catholics and Jews.

Perpetually, philosophers and behaviorists ponder religious brutality and still have not discovered a way to discuss religious differences in a rational way.

What the mariner finds puzzling is that those who turn intolerance into murder and destruction are not exactly the devoted core of the faith, devoted to their god and seeking a holy world. Rather, it is the opportunists, bigots, self-anointed “religious” warriors, and psychologically unbalanced who make up the army of the “Lord.”

In the Mideast, conflict has become absurd. Belief in the sanctity of life disappeared centuries ago. Every type of zealot, from heads of state to violent, deranged thugs, fight under the same flag: Islam. Added to the broiling mess is the regional prejudice between theocracies and western secular countries.

What fuels this ongoing war is not really Islam per se, though that is important. It is the fossil fuel wealth of the area combined with inadequate governments still depending on sheikdoms (Saudi Arabia) city-states (Libya), and warlord authoritarianism (Iraq, Egypt and Syria).

The western countries went through this violence centuries ago and have evolved into nations run by constitutions and law. While extremists still cause problems in the western nations, the political infrastructure is robust enough to prevent anarchy.

The coming battles for the industrialized world are mercenary values versus the earth itself – a new kind of fervor based on ecology rather than religion and one that ignores national borders.


Some notes from the mariner –

Many do not check back to earlier posts to see if replies have been added. The “Purgatory” post drew some insightful responses:

One reader, self-described as an existentialist, defined purgatory as those moments when a person has lost his/her compass of life. “What do I do next? Where are the signs that will give me direction? Where will I stay for the next two weeks? It is a sense that life has come to a stop and there is no way to move ahead into the future.

Another reader suggested that purgatory could last no longer than the last living person who knew you – approximately four generations at most. After that, no one is around who will pray for your release from purgatory.

Another reader suggested the living have nothing to do with purgatory, that is, purgatory lasts from the point of death to the moment one must answer for one’s life at the Pearly Gates.

All these replies are fascinating and provoke extended thought about purgatory.

Thanks for your replies.

Ancient Mariner


Self Serving Utterances

Today’s topic is doublespeak. Doublespeak is designed not only to confuse or fool others but one’s self as well. For example, it is common for an individual to speak of themselves as “fiscally conservative and socially liberal.” This phrase feels comforting; one feels that one is up-to-date on the political tone of the times. Actually the phrase is an oxymoron. One need only say, “Put your money where your mouth is” and the fallacy reveals itself. A fiscal conservative foremost will defend the need for fiscal worth and likely will not trade that for social responsibility.

Another form of doublespeak is “do as I say, not as I do.” There are many examples. An example from the left this time, an advocate of animal rights will decry the practices of sow birthing cages and beef veal pens while enjoying their pork or veal cutlet. From the right, one advocates freedom of religion but denies that freedom to anyone who may not support their perception of religious practice.

Then there is the doublespeak professional – the politician. The late night talk shows, including FOX, NBC, CBS, ABC, Comedy Central and MSNBC, had a field day with candidate policy positions before a primary and afterward. The republicans had to win the primary within extremely gerrymandered districts where the tea party held sway. If they won their primary, the candidate shifted their remarks toward the center to garner as many remaining votes as possible.

The same tactic revealed itself in politicians who decried President Obama’s policies while supporting the same legislation under President Bush. One exception is the proposed immigration reform by both Presidents that was not accepted by Congress in either administration.

The last form of doublespeak today is false advocacy. The most virulent form is the negative campaign advertisement. A candidate espouses an implied but unexplained position on policy by talking about an opponent’s errant ways. Debating in this way permits the candidate to do whatever he wants without defending his or her own policy declarations.

False advocacy is used by the individual citizen in daily conversation when the individual disagrees with another individual but will not express that disagreement. Instead, at best, a statement of faint praise is offered but clearly there is no intention of supporting the other individual. The second individual must be keen on body language to know the person does not mean what they say and is in opposition.

It is no wonder one is encouraged not to speak of politics or religion. One of the mariner’s longstanding friends is a staunch conservative. The friend knows the mariner is, well, all over the place. We never speak of fiscal or social issues which is a shame; the utterances would be self serving but even more destructive to a good friendship. It was in the post “Oneness IV” where the mariner suggested that the reader pick one of the people you know that you have difficulty relating to because of your opinion of that person. Imagine that person without letting your opinion affect you. This takes a lot of practice. You know you are doing the right thing if you can feel a growing empathy. This is an exercise coined in the phrase “walk a mile in his shoes.” What are the good characteristics that you noticed?

As a parting thought, the advocacy for freedom of religion seemed to be a “do as I say, not as I do” form of doublespeak. Does the same apply to “one person, one vote?” Is the US indeed a democracy?

Ancient Mariner


Part III

Part III

Taking both Part I and Part II combined, we learned that humans have vices and by definition in Part II, vices are dissonance in a relationship between a lesser reality (the person) and a greater reality. Further, we learned that oneness is the pursuit of harmony between realities. Finally, we learned that oneness does not judge anything as right or wrong. The goal is harmony among many realities, indeed among all realities. If the reader needs to refresh the meaning of greater and lesser realities, read Part II again. The dynamic of oneness hinges on relationships between realities.

The mariner resists adding further trappings to an interpretation or to the behavior of oneness. He knows that readers will recognize ideas and virtues that are part of their own religion, especially moralistic ideas and rules of behavior. This is because ethics and morality are by nature universal. However, the mariner makes a special effort not to be drawn into judgmental elements of religion or its specialized practices.

Part I took issue with many human behaviors. Quoting Part I:

“Any, ANY activity pursued for the sake of personal gain or stature – whether mental, spiritual, physical, pursuit of success or pursuit of empirical reward. This statement eliminates thousands of pseudo-virtuous activities.”

Humans have active minds. In addition, genealogically humans are not far removed from apes. In fact, humans are classified as part of the family tree. This evolutionary mix produces an ethical behavior prone to empirical gratification and self-guided pragmatism.

Yet humans feel a need to organize, to overcome obstacles, and to achieve consciously some definition of superiority. The trouble is that the simplistic urges passed to us by our ancestors move more easily to greed and chest thumping than to the finer elements of oneness.

Following the spirit of oneness, an individual must not consider themselves a completed product; one must assure there is harmony between themselves and the greater reality of their neighborhood, town and neighbors. As an afterthought, harmony in the family might be nice. Further, a sense of absolute oneness is required as a tool to evaluate lesser realities.

The moral act of oneness is enabling harmony. Therefore, an individual must identify a greater reality that will provide requirements for harmony. It can be civic, as mentioned a moment ago; it can be an organization; it can be any institution from a religious one to a special activities club. There is virtually no limit to greater realities. Greater realities can be as simple as rules for crossing a street, as complex as one’s national ethic and culture, or awareness of nature and planet centric realities.

The mariner will not examine the unending list of pseudo-virtuous activities. It is easier to restate the principle of oneness:

In this moment, doing what you’re doing, saying what you’re saying, thinking what you’re thinking, what greater reality will guide you to harmonious behavior? In other words, do not approach life from within yourself. That process leads to judgmental, pseudo-virtuous behavior. Instead, approach life from the outside, consciously knowing you are enabling harmony within a greater reality.

Pretend you need a map to go from your home to some distant, unknown place. The rational person would acquire a map and follow the path to the destination. The process of knowing that you did not have an answer within yourself but looked for guidance outside yourself is precisely how oneness works. You are always the lesser reality. Enabling harmony comes from outside and is a greater reality that shows you the way to the most harmonious behavior.

A few insightful questions are provided. Trying to invent exceptions to the obvious answers is not helpful.

You are walking on a sidewalk on a street that has moderate vehicle traffic with gaps every so often. You want to cross the street. Do you time your crossing to jaywalk between vehicles or do you walk to the corner? Jaywalking is dissonance to what greater value?

You are walking through the woods. You come upon an animal trap of the kind that is illegal. The trap is set. What do you do? This is a trick question. Any number of greater values can be applied. Maybe the animal is food for a destitute person. Maybe it was set by an uncaring, pseudo-virtuous person with no empathy. Maybe you should report the trap to the authorities. Maybe you should take the trap with you. Maybe……

Each of these actions enables harmony from slightly different greater values. No one said life was easy! The correct behavior is not to be judgmental about the illegal trap. Oneness does not judge right or wrong; only determine what the most harmonious behavior should be.

A business is having financial difficulty. The situation has come to a point that labor costs are too high to pay the twenty people who work for the owner. What greater reality provides her with the most harmonious solution?

Part IV will address escapist behavior.

Ancient Mariner


Part II

To refresh our minds about Part I, it begins a discourse on oneness.  The mariner chose the word oneness to represent absolute holism.  Holism is the belief that all things are connected in an orderly fashion. It is common to mention holistic medicine, which goes beyond the mechanistic treatments of common medical practice. It is also said of holistic belief that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Using a term like oneness allows the mind to deduce lesser realities in context.

An example of greater and lesser reality would be the issue of leveling the Brazilian rain forest. The greater reality is that the forest is part of a global ecology; the lesser reality is the economic imperative to cut down the forest.

Oneness, like any philosophy or religion, has rules for interpretation and rules for behavior. For example, oneness interprets reality as the sum of all human knowledge – both proven and perceived. This interpretation is not as broad as it could be because it is limited to human knowledge; there is no limit to knowledge in general.

Oneness measures behavior in the context of harmony. For example, the intentional abuse of fossil fuels is not in harmony with the natural environment required by living creatures all over the planet – a greater reality. Similarly, cutting the Brazilian rain forest is not in harmony with a greater reality.

One easily can be drawn into a maze of judgments about behavior. Oneness does not denounce any object or circumstance in reality. The example of abusing fossil fuel is not judged as wrong; rather, it seems not to be in harmony with a greater reality.

One cannot role back history or foretell the future. However, one can deduce harmony and dissonance between greater and lesser realities. The moral foundation of oneness is pursuit of harmony.

Often, it is difficult to determine which may be the greater or lesser reality. In the United States today there is dissonance. What is the source of the dissonance? What is the greater reality? One cannot pursue harmony without identifying the greater reality.

Often, there is confusion between similar realities. For example, consider the following: computers, motorcycles, milk jugs, credit cards, electricity, Justin Bieber CDs. What is common to these objects is they are made of plastic, which consumes fossil fuel or they burn fossil fuel directly. How does one accept one object but denounce another? The example given earlier that abuse of fossil fuel is not harmonious with a greater reality seems untidy when very small realities seem to be in harmony with human enterprise and possibly may be measured against another greater reality before arriving at the dissonance found in abusing fossil fuel.

This conundrum is similar to the old question about how many angels can stand on the head of a pin. This arbitrariness is behind the creation of different religions, sects, denominations, countries, provinces all the way down to the dissonance between the Hatfields and McCoys.

Oneness avoids these judgments by not judging right or wrong. If one gives some thought to this issue, one realizes that “right” and “wrong” are never absolute. There are dozens of sayings about right and wrong: “There’s always two sides to the story;” “Everyone does the best they can;” “Time heals all wounds,” etc.

The mariner knows Part II is heavy reading. Philosophical reasoning is difficult at best. Part III, however, investigates the list of human behaviors in Part I. It will be an easier read.

Ancient Mariner


Part I

Part I

The mariner is an old guy. Too old to run and play. Too old to have any motivation for work or for that matter any inconvenience. Too old. Having nothing else to do but be old, he is liberated from ambition, competitiveness, rampant emotion, and has a great desire to allay accountability to any purpose. This leaves him with an amazing amount of physical and mental freedom.

Being similar in age to wizened elders of several religions that pursue unification with a world beyond four dimensions, he understands now that a different worldview comes to mind when one is not obligated to four-dimensional success. Others may call this mindset escapist, lazy, demented or delusional but there is an order of comprehension beyond the mundane.

One must eliminate false interpretations. Obviously, this means eliminate every faux religious or self-righteous activity. The list is immense but a few examples are provided:

  • Any, ANY activity pursued for the sake of personal gain or stature – whether mental, spiritual, physical, pursuit of success or pursuit of empirical reward. This statement eliminates thousands of pseudo-virtuous activities.
  • Escapist behavior pursued for benefit of the self. Eliminate any attempt to elevate self-importance for positive or deranged reasons.
  • Compassion as an act in the moment. Compassion will be evaluated in further detail later. Examples at this point are compassion for kittens and puppies, I’m-better-than-these-people compassion, He/she-is-ugly compassion, I-feel-better-now compassion, He/she-is-like-Kennedy/Reagan compassion, they-are-a-teammate compassion, etc. It is compassion derived from any external perspective.
  • Allegiance to anything. Allegiance constricts the mind more completely than any other behavior. The art of advertising is the art of shaping one’s belief that a certain product, concept, or behavior is the best choice. Surely you have met someone who buys only Ford vehicles. The supreme example in the twentieth century is Nazi allegiance. Other countries, though less brutal, are quite the same in allegiance by their citizens. Some countries may be too broken for citizens to have allegiance typically because of war or tyranny.
  • Homocentric gluttony is the practice of consuming beyond normal necessity – taking into account that the Earth is a finite source with a lot of people. The wealthy are especially prone to gluttony. Homocentric gluttony is the act of consuming earthly materials, earthly fresh water, earthly energy, and earthly space for no other purpose than to consume. A few of the most egregious are corporate farming, construction, real estate, travel and home consumption of all forms of energy. In the United Kingdom, basically made up of islands, there are homes that were built four hundred years ago or older – not because the Brits are virtuous, it’s the limitation imposed by limited real estate.

Oneness is chosen as the word to describe an understanding of the universe, life on Earth and one’s lack of need for the mundane world beyond the constraints of one’s need to survive. By its nature, oneness invites exceptions. However, to claim exceptions implies a misunderstanding of oneness. Perceived exceptions will be reviewed later.

Using oneness avoids talking about six dharsanas, four yogas, five virtues, salvation, miracles, naturalism, humanism, six pillars of faith, two parts of the human soul, and being impervious to snake bites and other superiorities. Oneness accepts belief however it is ordained by any human being. To believe is an unavoidable human characteristic – even if it’s a momentary belief that one will win the lottery.

As an aside, the supreme contribution of the Internet is that one can major in any subject in one day instead of taking fifteen college credits over three years – meaning if you want to learn more about religions of the world or any topic you may have in mind, visit the Internet. It saves the mariner from writing a thick book and saves you a lot of money needed for college tuition.

Ancient Mariner



A Blissful Place

Like many of you, the mariner feels a need to respond to greater tragedies in the world. However, there are two points to be made. First, he will solve not one great tragedy no matter how hard he tries. Second, No matter how much the mariner learns through personal education about a great tragedy, his knowledge inflames only his own soul.

A similar opinion is reflected in a few responses to posts. The mariner must agree with the general premise. True, he will not live long enough to see many great tragedies resolved – if they ever will be resolved. So find something pleasant to do until he dies.

However, a look backward through written history shows that tragedies have been overcome not by one or two powerful individuals but by hoards of people who took matters into their own hands. Discounting the contributions of science and technology, this has been the case most of the time. Further, no set of population has agreed to the last person that a given premise is absolute. Without elaborating, freedom marches could not have occurred with Martin Luther King alone. He had a few companions. Also note that both racism and “paid” slavery still abound. Still, the freedom movement made changes to American culture. One must, over the millennia, take one step at a time.

Occupy America and Tea Party movements are more evidence that it takes more than one person’s angst to change culture. To quote a great American phrase, “E Pluribus Unum.” It takes one hundred pennies to make a dollar. Consider yourself a penny – can’t make a dollar without you. To be more absolute about individual responsibility, be a citizen who votes – a power for change few citizens have had in history. 48 percent of eligible Americans do not vote. The mariner would recommend voting in caucuses and primaries as well. Further, when was the last time you shared your opinion with an elected representative?

The counterpoint is made. Yet, there is truth in the first paragraph. This modern age requires more than a millstone and corn to make breakfast. Although each of us is only one person, we as individuals are super-engaged in every level of local, national and global society. Our lifestyle is dependent on every level of local, national and global society. Our personal lives face daily confrontations that simpler times did not require. Further, in simpler times, tasks generally did not require much stress on the deeper machinations of our personalities.

In the United States, given a few exceptions for the wealthy and starving artists, having a job most of our life is an absolute requirement for survival. That means working steadily all day five days a week (a fairly recent limitation created by collective bargaining – but I digress). It means doing more than that if one needs to assure job security and lasting success. Virtually every job is stressful because time, not our own, is of the essence.

In the United States, children and parents and grandparents and cousins and friends disburse all over the world, leaving less of an envelope of unspoken comfort and protection. It is both blessing and curse in our American culture. As we have moved from an agricultural society to a post-industrial, technology driven society, a new festival has emerged – the family reunion. Used to be every day was a family reunion, though too much of a good thing can sometimes be too much. The mariner is reminded of a good friend he knew during the 1960’s. The friend said, “Never been more than 54 miles from home.” Queried about why, he said he never felt the need. He was an older farmer; he and his wife had four generations of family nearby.

So while we are more involved in our society than ever before, we tend to find less in the way of curative family and friend activities. In effect, were it not for a spouse, a great many individuals literally would live more than a day’s travel to a family member. Those without family or spouse emotionally have a harder life and tend to shape their lives in a way that guarantees curative time with friends and in solace.

The Western World is captivated by the noise and innovation of democratic capitalism. We tend to forget the healing aspects of religions that never experienced a Puritan-driven reformation, never heard of James Smith or John Maynard Keynes. One of my favorite anthropologists, Joseph Campbell often spoke of the need for each of us to have a blissful place. His definition of bliss was for religious purpose as well as emotional. Nevertheless, it takes training to sustain a blissful place. Perhaps that is why yoga and new age movements are growing in popularity – these movements reflect a need solved long ago in Hinduism and Buddhism – two religions that never faced western influence until the world grew too small. Still, as religions, they do not fare well in Western culture. Find solace in Pilates or Tai-Chi.

The mariner concedes we need solace. He also advocates that the world needs our constant attention because of human, chemical, planetary, and equality dynamics – but he digresses.

Ancient Mariner