Is it the Tower of Babel all over again?

Genesis 11:1 Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. 2 As people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there. 3 They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. 4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”

5 But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. 6 The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.” 8 So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. 9 That is why it was called Babel -because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth.

– – – –

Mariner wishes sincerely that everyone would subscribe to the Atlantic magazine. It publishes articles that look at reality in a plain, nonpolitical way. Mariner cannot share adequately a real world metaphor in the May edition but the reader will get more from reading the article themselves at

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2022/05/social-media-democracy-trust-babel/629369/

The gods of social media have brought down the tower called ‘United States of America’ – a land for which “nothing would be impossible”. We must, in some way, perhaps through small, hands-on, face-to-face behavior begin again to build one nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all.

Ancient Mariner

It is about the times

Mariner’s wife has a desktop Zen calendar. Most of the time mariner struggles to grasp the point of the quote but today it couldn’t be clearer or more apropos to these times:

“The dignity of man lies in his ability to face reality in all its meaninglessness.”

We must find our dignity within ourselves – in the world today the reader won’t find it anywhere else. There is no news outlet broadcasting good times. Even marginal advances in humanism and technology are fraught with negatives and controversy. There is the Putin war, the totalitarian legislatures, the republican autocracy, the uncontrolled metaverse, the age of misinformation, global warming, pandemics, housing shortages, inflation, skyrocketing medical expense, China, North Korea, societal disintegration, the age of mass murders, the destructive influence of venture capital, uncontrolled private equity, growing plutocracy, Christian-based Trumpism, abusive tax structures that protect the wealthy, ignorance about the disappearing biosphere, disrespecting the very immigrants who will bolster the national population and its GDP.

Okay, mariner will stop. Oddly, it seemed almost like good news when the news outlets broadcast the passing of Madeline Albright; it wasn’t, of course, but it seemed better because it carried no angst. Bless her; she helped run a more civil nation in a different time.

Within ourselves we must find stability, sameness, a reason we exist. We must use behaviors that show responsibility for others, by doing what we can to help victims of our age.

We must separate our emotions from our thinking. Pure, educated thinking is in short supply today. We must act with vision and wisdom.

As the Zen quote implies, we must search for a world with meaning.

Ancient Mariner

 

Church versus State –

– in Afghanistan. The Muslim practices relating to women are severely punishing; not only physically but emotionally and with life-long debilitation. In Afghanistan the church side dominates the state side without question. Note the following excerpts from the Associated Press:

“Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers unexpectedly decided against reopening schools Wednesday to girls above the sixth grade, reneging on a promise and opting to appease their hard-line base at the expense of further alienating the international community. The international community has urged Taliban leaders to reopen schools and give women their right to public space.”

Islam dominates every aspect of daily life. Very frequently government legislators and judges are imams (priests) as well. When the United States wrote the original Constitution, it declared that religion was free to practice as it desired and the state had the same mandate. Fortunately, the Reformation had begun beforehand or the U.S. may have found itself in a situation similar to Afghanistan. The reader may recall the bitter confrontations between early ‘denominations’. The Christian religion absolutely is totalitarian and can muscle in on the State’s authority with little difficulty. This occurs consistently in the United States because ‘freedom of religion’ was free to run without a leash.

The clash between the freedom guaranteed to the people via the vote and the mandates of religious practice are in constant battle, to wit: abortion, gay rights, segregation, state practices like marriage, zoning, tax shelters and advocating conservative causes like Trumpism and immigration – the last two clearly matters of state.

Given the totalitarian conflict between church and state, money grubbing between capitalism and socialism, national demolition between Trump and the electorate, existence of privacy between big data and the individual citizen and the imminent flooding of Tiger Woods’ 41 million dollar home in Florida, We the People are in good shape. Indeed good shape – would you rather live in Afghanistan? Or, sigh, Denmark?

Ancient Mariner

 

Investigating Dignity

In a recent post mariner discussed a book by Congressman Ro Khanna, Dignity in a Digital Age. Very generally, Khanna promoted the idea that legislative issues should receive broader input from around the nation rather than being an isolated, deal-making process within the Congress. The Congressman’s ideology suggested legislating ‘dignity’ rather than ‘rights’.

Mariner suggested that some serious reorganization of the Constitution would be necessary before other parts of the culture could participate. That being said, the idea of protecting every citizen’s dignity has stayed with mariner, puzzling what it really means to legislate dignity rather than rights.

In the New Testament Jesus assures his believers that God guarantees dignity even to the least of us. Each of us, no matter how poor, forgotten or abused we may be, we are all equal and as the Beatitudes suggest, ‘blessed’ in the eyes of God. [That’s what Jesus says; don’t hold mariner accountable for today’s ‘Christians’]

The Christian doctrine suggests that giving dignity to others is a path to self-satisfaction and depends on God’s grace as a dignified reward.

The founding language for the new United States suggests, ‘life, liberty, pursuit of happiness, freedom of religion’ and ‘all men are created equal’. Bullhockey. This was deliberate language to ward off theocracy, monarchy, social discrimination and any version thereof that the King or the Church of England may have mandated. In truth, the United States was created to run a nation that owned a continent. Implied liberties were that the US had an entire continent of riches for everyone – go for it!

From the beginning to this very day, dignity = success. In the last forty years, dignity has come to mean I am f***ing rich.

The turmoil of the disenfranchised in the United States has led to a collapse in labor, a rejection of traditional national values and a questionable future as artificial intelligence strips away traditional forms of even meager financial security.

‘Rights’ have become threadbare if not meaningless. Mariner invites his readers to contemplate where the path may be to restore dignity to all American citizens.

Ancient Mariner

 

Unfinished business again

There is concern about thinking that Christianity will disappear. Religions, especially universally accepted religions like Christianity, Islam, Hindu and even the god families of the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans, universally accepted in their time, do not disappear completely; they are set aside or modified as humankind’s need, knowledge and awareness change. Christianity especially has morphed in major ways in the last 2,000 years.

When mariner was in college pursuing a double major in religion and sociology, he learned that sociological perspectives are held in disdain by the more spiritually motivated believers. This is because sociology measures everything as a manifestation of cultural need rather than as spiritual assignation. Nevertheless, mariner will dust off his sociological roots to examine the ever changing religion called Christianity.

From the beginning

What is interesting is that a small band of civilization between the Greek/Roman god families to the north and the Egyptian god families to the south, that is, the region that includes Israel, sustained a belief in one supreme god. This single deity, originally named Cybele, arose in history in Phyrgia (western Turkey today) around 7500 BCE. Mariner refers the reader to an earlier post in which he discusses the impact of Cybele on all modern religions.[1] This earlier treatise illustrates clearly how religions morph to accommodate emerging cultural need.

1 – At the root of every religion is the need to know what omnipotent, life controlling force dictates the human experience. Knowing (or believing spiritually) what the core set of values are establishes a base for cultural stability.

2 – Human need drives adaptation. For example, a moral value has arisen in this century when it comes to how humans treat the environment. It can be sensed that the environment has a supreme value above the narrow benefits of commercialism. This may be an example of naturalism emerging or possibly Christianity, in time, may modify humanity’s role as a servant of God and how to care for his Kingdom. In sociological terms, either interpretation is identical as a response to global warming. In this example, Christianity must adapt to the need for a religious relationship more in the hands of humans than of god.

3 – On the doctrinal side presented in the synoptic gospels, it is very clear that Jesus is born into a terrible period of Jewish history. Rome invaded Israel dismissing all cultural values, private ownership, cultural norms and replaced them with Roman mandates that benefited Rome, not Israel. Romans took slaves as needed, enforced a brutal one-sided justice system and generally collapsed the Jewish economy. Jesus opens the Beatitudes with an accurate description of the times and assures Israelites that they are of supreme value in God’s eyes (See: Matthew 5:1-16). Then Jesus embraces compassion as the tool for survival; succinctly, Jesus says there is salvation in caring for others first, thereby limiting personal feelings of uselessness and abusive treatment as a recourse.

4 – This particularly high standard for human behavior remains troublesome. Throughout history until today Christians have performed brutal and unfair acts on fellow humans. Mariner recently cited the brutality with which European explorers and Christian cults came to the Americas – not stealing but literally taking all the wealth of natives, genocide, slavery of the people on the land they once owned and an intense prejudice that remains strong today. Then there are the religious cults who killed other Christian cults or drove them out of their land because they weren’t in the same cult; not to consider genocide of the Native American Indian.

Life in the 2000 millennium has begun with a great deal of upheaval in all sectors of human experience. Politics must adapt, economics must adapt, religion must adapt, culture must adapt. Ironically, Jesus’ command to use compassion may come in handy but it is in remission in the halls of Christianity.

End of unfinished business.

Ancient Mariner

[1] Mariner wrote a post dedicated to Cybele back in April 2016. In the search block type Cybele.

Unfinished Business

֎ Speculations about the future of Christianity drew interest. If the Trinity disappears, Armageddon will ensue. Mariner is not in a position to reconcile such a difficult question so he will throw some logs on the fire.

Log 1 – In the local newspaper today was an article about a Roman Catholic priest here in the US. He was in deep trouble because many parishioners had to re-baptize their babies because the priest said, “We baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.” Turns out the Vatican said this is improper because it is the spirit of Jesus only who baptizes; the priest should have said ‘I’. Calculate the amount of grace, dare mariner say God’s grace, that was demonstrated in the strict interpretation. Define aquarium. Define spiritual.

Log 2 – Just in his small town mariner counted five people who never go to church but are known for their good works and their commitment to help others. One of these people is older than mariner and when there is a snowstorm will get out his tractor and clear 19 driveways in town, mostly those who cannot do it themselves. Can the two Great Commandments be defined in other belief systems that do not have a spiritual deity?

Log 3 – There is a hairdresser who takes one workday each week to work in retirement homes. Does this woman go to church? Define Holy Spirit.

– – – –

On to other matters:

More companies are using AI-led video interviews to assess job candidates before a human recruiter even meets them. Some automated programs evaluate not just on answers to questions, but sometimes on facial expressions, intonation and word choice.

Remember Nadine?

 

Here in Iowa mariner had another snowstorm yesterday. The ground is covered in snow and ice; bitter breezes prevail; many winter chores remain undone. Nevertheless, four weeks from now the early vegetables like lettuce can be planted; is the asparagus bed ready? Clean the greenhouse and pots; repair garden tools. Get ready, gardeners.

Ancient Mariner

 

2000 Century Trends

Below are random thoughts collected from mariner’s alter egos about trends in society and history that are too large to be noticed daily and so slow in impact that, today at least, they don’t matter.

֎ Migration from the coasts.  Axios, an online news source, reports that a trend is well underway which involves a significant number of people relocating from the coasts and current centers of commerce to twenty heartland states. Three major causes are the ability to work from home, the internet enables large corporations to relocate for tax purposes and an awareness of the impact of global warming on the coasts – ocean levels are expected to rise one foot by 2050. Map below:

Mariner mentions this trend because it is a shift in winds by the nation’s cultural ideology about what it means to be successful. Since the 1960s one was considered upwardly mobile and successful if they were able to escape the local scene and become part of the world of big-time success, typically large corporations, universities and the world of the Fortune 500. One could ask whether today’s working class (including the trumpers) will ever again be the center of the nation’s work ethic, will ever again bask in the glory days of Rosie the Riveter and the political influence of the AFL/CIO. In the future one wonders where the collective identity of a U.S. citizen will emerge – given the isolating characteristics of working from home and the extensive automation of manufacturing. In the future what cultural characteristic will define a successful individual?

֎ The disappearance of Christianity. Among the major religions of the world, Christianity is the most spiritual. To be a Christian requires an eagerness to put aside one’s own sense of accomplishment and replace it with enabling success in others. The theological basis is a spiritual relationship – a partnership – with God, Jesus and the human Christian; scripturally called the Trinity. In 2014 Paul Harvey, a conservative talk show host on radio, said “Too many Christians are no longer fishers of men, but the keepers of the aquarium.” – clearly a recognition of an evaporating spiritual element in Christianity.

For many decades religious thinkers have pondered what will replace Christianity. Will it be atheism? Will it be humanism? Will it be naturalism? Will it be, in a computer-driven society, determinism? Will a new age of theocracy emerge? Each of these ideologies has a similar ethical structure, essentially endorsing a grand order from which morality can be deduced but not necessarily from an anthropomorphic deity driven by spirituality. Like the national identity of success, Christianity is a deeply rooted characterization of most U.S. citizens. What will replace the spirituality provided by Christianity? Will church buildings go the way of public telephone booths? What unchanging, overarching principle will guide humanity in the simulated world of artificial intelligence?

֎ Economic theory. Since the beginning, Homo sapiens’ habitat has been one, most of the time, that has allowed a constant increase in the number of humans in the world. There was always another natural resource to leverage, always a new way to profit as a species, always a new intellectual device to increase production beyond human capability.

Along with a period of unusually long and stable planetary weather, the environment allowed three primary economic theories to work: capitalism, socialism and communism. Granted, there are unending political ways to manage these theories from dictatorships to democracies but only these three economic theories can leverage the natural resources in a manner that is sustainable. The number of humans has long surpassed survivability based on hunting/gathering and family labor.

Today the human population has grown past 7 billion on its way to what many scientists from different disciplines believe, given natural resources, is a maximum capacity of 11 billion. Add to population issues the issue of global warming and a reduced need for labor in an automated world and one begins to wonder what food will be available? What income will be available? How will banking and supply economics work as resources diminish on a person-to-person basis? What is the future of capitalism when there is no longer an opportunity to increase profit? Will underfed socialism lead to an era of war and domination?

Humans may not be wiped out by a meteor like the dinosaurs were, but humans may experience a rapid transition as the combination of profiteering, extreme weather and resource depletion come together to form a new age.

Ancient Mariner

 

The Constitution of the Christian Faith – 2

Jesus continues by addressing the Greatest Commandments and demonstrating how to invoke the Holy Spirit with the Parable of the Good Samaritan.

IIIb  THE GREATEST COMMANDMENTS

Mark 12:28-31

36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

֎ To demonstrate these responsibilities, Jesus selects a situation that has confrontational aspects to it: the story of the Good Samaritan.

IIIc  THE GOOD SAMARITAN

LUKE 10:30-37.

Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion, 34 and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.

36 “Which of these three, do you think, proved neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37

He said, “The one who showed mercy on him.” And Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

֎ While still within the Jewish faith, Samaritans had a set of differences with Jews that was deep rooted and reflected a class difference in Israel. There were several religious differences between Samaritans and Jews. Just one example had to do with the role of the Savior:

The Samaritans await “The Restorer”, whom they call the Taheb—a prophet who will establish a period of peace and justice. The Jews, of course, awaited the Messiah, who would overthrow the Romans and give them back their land.

These differences, while seemingly minute to some, were the basis for a division that existed between Jews and Samaritans for thousands of years and still separates them today. Figuratively speaking, today the Samaritan would be a member of a black activist group and the beaten man would be a white supremacist.

 

TBC

Ancient Mariner

Nearer My Casket to Thee

Mariner just saw a frightening news clip on CBSN (ROKU). Robot puppies that look like the Paw Patrol cartoons are displacing real dog ownership. It reminds him of the perverts who live with sex dolls and people who marry suggestions from a manipulated database or the adults in a doctor’s office playing mind killing smartphone games.

Say goodbye to reality. Fantasy sells. Benignness sells. Stupor sells. Laziness sells.

If someone wants a dog, buy a real one dammit. Matrix lives.

Remember pet rocks? At least it was seen as a joke – although as mariner’s wife noted, some people name their automatic vacuum cleaner. Mariner’s wife provides a poem:

On learning that people who name their Roombas have a hard time
throwing them away:

Ah, little Roomba, Roomie-Roo
I love how you clean my floors
Diligently sucking up all the fluff you can find
and then scooting across the room
bumping against the chair leg
backing and turning
to dart off in another direction
Like an eager little puppy
who does the opposite of shedding,
chasing in your funny way
all the dusty bunnies hiding in the corners.
I don’t just love the work you do, little Roomie Roo
I love your friendly presence and helpful attitude
And when at last your lithium battery goes off somewhere to die
As happens to the best of us,
You will always have a home
In the closet of my heart.

MKM 4-20-21

All this reminds mariner of the Pew Christian who thinks one hour every seven days does it. Should we fear the coming of mesmerizing God robots? Preacher robots are just around the corner – or already here in podcast services.

If people want numbness, take opiates.

Ancient Mariner

 

The Constitution of the Christian Faith

(part of a pamphlet mariner is writing)

The Constitution of the Christian Faith

I  God

There is but one God, the creator of all dimensions, all material living and inanimate. God and God’s creation are inseparable.

God maintains order in all of existence, giving order and dependency to all processes. God’s will is delivered through love for God’s creation.

God endowed the human species and similar creatures with the ability to use God’s love in a manner that increases God’s presence – order and dependency can be enhanced or denigrated by their behavior.

II  The Trinity

The Trinity is a description of the relationship between God, Jesus of Nazareth and the human race. The typical expression is ‘God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit’.

Jesus was an individual who understood the manifestations of God’s love and the power it could invoke. Jesus understood clearly the responsibility humans have to sustain order and dependency in God’s creation. His knowledge of God and God’s love was beyond the normal abilities of other humans.

It is through Jesus and his teachings about God that humans learned they have a role in the Trinity. When humans act in a manner that enhances God’s love, they are participating in the spirit of God’s love, when they use God’s love they are the Holy Spirit in action.

III  Definitions for participating in the Trinity

Virtually all of Jesus’ knowledge about God is captured in the New Testament of the Holy Bible. Certain passages stand out as a guideline by which to express the spirit of God’s will. They are reproduced below.

IIIa  The Beatitudes

MATTHEW 5:1-16.

Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down his disciples came to him. And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. 8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.

12 “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you.

13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trodden under foot by men.

14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid.

15 “Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand and it gives light to all in the house.

16 “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

֎ Generally, the Beatitudes imply that existential comfort and personal reward are not part of the value system. Rather, it is association with God’s love and invoking that love that really counts. When we act in accordance with God’s standard and therefore expand God’s grace in the world, we are fulfilling our role in the Trinity – we are the Holy Spirit.

 

TBC intermittently.

Ancient Mariner