Recently mariner wrote a post about how to develop spirituality. Briefly, it has two key requirements: One must acknowledge the existence of a permanent prophet who sets the standards for proper behavior. The second is a personal allegiance to that prophet, a sense that one belongs to that prophet rather than to one’s self. The prophet does not have to be human. For example, many naturalists believe Planet Earth is the prophet because it controls the rules of life; some Christians believe the Bible is a prophetic statement in behalf of Jesus [See ‘Spirituality’ May 29, 2024]

Closely related to spirituality is a human behavior called ‘bonding’. Bonding can occur only when sharing with others. One easily can relate to bonding with family, close friends and those who participated in significant life events. But bonding, like spirituality, has an extended role in the fabric of society that sustains social orderliness, community allegiance, and the ability to sustain common abstract behaviors; just a couple of examples: being a fan of a sports team, and befriending the mail carrier as a person who shares a common task. Both these examples imply a commitment to sharing without which the civility would not occur.

An excellent example of bonding in everyday life is the movie “The Green Book” released in September 2018. It stars Viggo Martensen and Mahershala Ali. For those who have not seen it, take the characters in stride as the movie progresses. Mariner’s wife found a copy at the library or you can pay to see it online


Bonding requires sharing a common responsibility with open mindedness as a lubricant. Importantly, bonding generates motivation in life.

Ancient Mariner

An etymology of religion

Well, not really an etymology but it is about the words associated with religion. If one were to step back a good distance from the words used in religion, they would discover that there aren’t any major differences between religions. For example, the motivators are: what is the ultimate, singular force that governs reality? What is the best way to survive in the environment? What is the best way to manage humanity? What is the best way to survive when the relationship with reality seems uncertain?

As an illustration, the first god to be documented in the western world was Cybele, originally a Phrygian [ancient nation in today’s Turkey] goddess. She was the goddess of Mother Earth. In Greek mythology she was Rhea, the mother of the gods. Her Roman equivalent was Magna Mater. She was associated with fertility and also controlled nature, symbolized originally by the lions that accompanied her. In Christianity, she is Mary, Mother of Jesus.

Cybele’s role shifted through the ages except for one element: the master of creation. Because of transitions in human knowledge, Mary did not need two lions at her side to assure the birth of Jesus.

An interesting thing to consider is the definition of God. God was male and except for a few instances, was quite anthropomorphic, managing reality through a human’s eye. Would the reader consider the word ‘singularity’ as the latest definition of God? In quantum physics, this is the definition:

In scientific terms, a gravitational singularity (or space-time singularity) is a location where the quantities that are used to measure the gravitational field become infinite in a way that does not depend on the coordinate system. In other words, it is a point in which all physical laws are indistinguishable from one another, where space and time are no longer interrelated realities, but merge indistinguishably and cease to have any independent meaning.

Another interesting example is comparing the Old Testament’s Ten Commandments [Exodus 20:2-17], Islam’s Sharia Law [see Post titled Sharia Law] and Christianity’s Sermon on the Mount [Matthew 5]. Reading the words suggests vastly different objectives but the subject is the same: What is the best way to manage humanity?

This post is Mariner’s way of introducing the reader to a new way of looking at religion. The traditional way has caused wars, social upheaval and ridiculous fragmentation as politics, culture and technology grind the virtues of life into a useless pile of crumbs.

However, AI is eager to help 21st century humans throw everything into a dishwasher and produce an amalgamated religion appropriate for our modern culture(s).

We need Cybele and her lions . . . .

Ancient Mariner

What should we pack when we go to Heaven?

What with it being the Christian holiday season and what with the world we live in today, mariner’s mind turned to revisiting the Gospels. For his entire life he has struggled with some of the metaphors interpreted by most readers as more literal than they imply. He doesn’t take the Scriptures literally as many readers do; rather, he is prone to searching for behavioral truths.

A significant confusion is the issue of heaven. Since he was a small boy, he wondered where heaven was, given all the family reunions people were counting on.

He focused on this issue as he revisited the Gospels. Owning three versions of the Holy Bible, he even checked out the difference in nuances from different versions. What emerged was a difference in reader perception as to when we would “go to heaven”. Noting all the references to the reward that we would sit at the right hand, or be with the Father, etc., the common Biblical inference is that sitting with the Father is an instant reward: do something nice for someone and you will feel good about yourself in a special way. One doesn’t have to die to be with God. This ‘instant’ reward fits with the core theology of the Trinity, which is a constant dynamic between God, Jesus and humans.

Feeling the Heavenly Spirit in one’s self is a direct cause and effect situation. The example in action is the Good Samaritan parable offered immediately following the Beatitudes and the two great commandments. [Matthew 5] Doing good deeds can’t be put in ‘heaven’ savings accounts. The reward is immediate.

When mariner was a preacher, he often had difficulty understanding why believers chose Christianity as a self-reward responsibility. Jesus makes it very clear that it’s the proactive event that has merit; it’s about helping the other person, not scoring heaven points. In fact, a perfect Christian would never, ever think about what they wanted for themselves.

It is true that putting off the heavenly experience until later when one’s own life is finished seems easier. But Christianity is a ‘do it now then do it again and again – no personal credit allowed’

So we don’t have to worry about the logistics of Armageddon and the Second Coming; it happens all the time. Do a good deed and Jesus chooses you immediately!

Ancient Mariner

The Plastic Christmas

Mariner is just old enough to remember when an important holiday event included acknowledging the religious significance of the season. Church services and the rituals of Hanukkah and even of Kwanzaa were a not-to-be-missed event during the holidays.

Except in the most ecclesiastical circles, this is no longer the case. Why? The cultures of the entire planet seem to be melting away but nothing seems to be taking their place.

It is his speculation that participation in spiritual rituals is a personal, perhaps private experience. Rituals are for restoring order and allegiance to ‘absolute’ reality, for realigning faith in self through unity in universal holiness. He suspects that the importance of survival and continuity in daily life may be the provocation for realigning one’s life with spiritual guidelines. Each of the religions mentioned has a common thread that says “faith will make you whole”.

Yet the human experience over the decades has been one of disbursement, of dissemination, and of decreasing need for societal relationships, even with the Holy spirits; diversity has diminished the intimacy that one has with universal faith. Without spiritual judgment, the dissolution of unity has made faith less important. Metaphorically, it is as though the beans of spirituality have been run through a grinder, leaving a formless, powdered society.

Much of this feeling may be attributed to those in the Silent Generation, a generation from a culture that disappeared long ago. Still, where is the new faith? Where is the spiritual bond with the Universe that makes one whole? Is modern society a ship without a compass?

Ancient Mariner

The good and the bad

Mariner often has feedback suggesting he is an ‘old timer’ that won’t accept the modern world; they suggest he is too negative. He can’t deny these opinions and he is vulnerable to flamboyant metaphors as well. Still, his values stem from his humanist beliefs – a known and accepted philosophy in the world. But seldom practiced. Humanist ethics and Christianity have similar beliefs; both virtually are nonexistent today because the Romans declared that Christianity was the state religion.

It acted like a state acts; it went to war; it monopolized the economies of Europe; ‘Christian’ explorers entered the new world butchering, raping and stealing the wealth of native cultures; today it still behaves as a Roman adjunct to government. He finds it a validation of modern Christian values that it is more important to rebuild Notre Dame, a symbol of religious authoritarianism than to save 1,000 mature trees required to rebuild it in a time when global warming threatens catastrophe. He agrees that the times today require a remake of tradition – but let’s take it in the humanist direction. No room here to talk about American racism and gay follies or oligarchian authoritarianism.

Turning to unimportant issues like speech, mariner has added another word to his dictionary of words beloved by the hearing impaired: shouldna. It means ‘should not have’. What makes this word an interesting addition to the dictionary is the nuanced ‘should not of had’.

So what’s the good news to be had? Foremost, mariner and his wife have had the entire family visit during October. That means two children and their spouses, three children, one dog, two nephews, two cousins and five lifetime friends – all between the eleventh and the thirty-first! Who says extended families are passe?

Further good news, albeit spotty, is that the Republican party is dickering among themselves. The founding fathers intended to have two parties that represented the rainbow of citizens. It’s not over but there’s hope. At some point we may be able to reverse Newt Gingrich’s weaponizing of the two-party system. He shouldna done that.

Ancient Mariner





On democracy

The premise of this post is to examine the impact of progress upon the cultural perceptions that existed in 1778 when the United States was born. Progress is not a bad thing; the benefits in comfort, health and functional prowess cannot be denied. What also cannot be denied is that progress has altered human behavior.

The ideals of democracy, its philosophy and manner of governing, is a product of the Great Awakening, the intellectual era that lifted Europe and America out of the dark ages. Similar to citizen behavior today, the public held a defiant resistance against the power structures of the Dark Ages. The transition to a new culture where each individual participated in society was led by religious liberation from the corrupt and powerful control of Roman Catholicism. The Reformation, led by religious leaders, preached that every person had an equal place in the eyes of God.

Sociologically, human behavior at the time still was constricted by the primitive forms of communication and travel. There were large cities where trading and governance occurred but generally the common citizen was bound to local and regional economics and self-reliance on a day-to-day basis. The term used to cite this culture is ‘communalism’. This was the nature of society in 1778.

What follows is the description of a series of historical moments that changed the economics and social behavior of the public. It can be argued that the troubles of the United States in 2023 are the unintended result of progress.

֎ In 1778 it was virtually impossible for a citizen to communicate with anyone even 50 miles away. Daily responsibility to sustain survival took an immense amount of time, which also limited communication. As a result, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution proposed a distributed form of governance that would allow every citizen to have a say in that governance. Hence the creation of a democratic republic divided into states, counties and districts.

The intent, philosophically, was to have each district contribute political or legislative needs and elected representatives that would be submitted to the county, then to the state. Each state then met with all the other states to pass legislation that accommodated local needs for the entire nation. In 1778, this process allowed each citizen, in principal, to participate in governing the nation in a way that accommodated a locally isolated society. The flow of information and decision making rose from the local communities, processed by the next level of governance and finally to represent national policies.

֎ In 1827 The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad opened its lines. The isolated nature of communal economics changed rapidly. Especially in agriculture, it was possible to integrate farm produce in quantities that required processing companies and much wider distribution to the end user. The local farmer was not dependent just on local markets to sustain his financial security. The bottom-up politics of communal economy had been displaced; processing corporations influenced many different districts, counties and states, often appealing directly to states and the national government. Further, transportation was a new political force that influenced national politics without the need to follow the bottom-up philosophy of democracy.

֎ From April 12, 1861 – April 26, 1865 the American Civil War caused severe damage to the idea of local self-sustenance. The war destroyed many communities and killed more than 600,000 soldiers (comparable to 7 million in today’s population). At the end of the war many did not or could not return home. Despite the truce that ended the war, the philosophy of a democratic republic continued to suffer because of racism and unwanted intrusion in Confederate states by the national government. Communalistic representation suffered a permanent change in daily life.

Even today the political scars remain that cause the two-party system to operate inappropriately in light of the philosophy of a democratic republic.

֎ The next culture-changing advancement in progress was the telegraph and telephone. The first public network was organized in 1877. Before 1877, if one wished to talk to another, it had to be face-to-face. Today, in 2023, we can recognize this new telecommunication device to be the first version of the smartphone! One more reason not to harness the pony and ride a mile and a half down the road.

As with all types of progress that covered many voting districts, the job of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was removed from communal economics and was, politically at least, in the hands of corporations. Retrospectively, one can see that the nation was quickly replacing democracy with corporatism.

֎ The ultimate collapse of communalism and bottom-up democracy was caused by the internal combustion engine. No one needed to keep the pony around anymore. State fairs became popular and represented the local remnants of communalism – just as they do today. Still, it was a burden to travel too far on two lane roads that meandered from town to town having followed old roads from one community to another (Remember Route 66? It was started by Indians.). The two World Wars facilitated shifts in population to support industries needed by the wars, causing a breakup and redistribution of communal families. But the final blow came when Ike created the Interstate system. One could travel on roads that were not managed by states – only by national government contracts.

A ghost of the past is sustained by air travel. Remember your parents who still live in the old home where you were born? It takes an airplane to get there and back in a reasonable time.

So here we are today with an electorate that has no voting power. Political opinion no longer comes from dialogue within a community. The power lies with corporations and the wealthy class who fund very expensive campaigns most local people cannot afford and forces the communal person to pick from television ads, biased news programs and gaming strategies like gerrymandering and avoiding term limits. One recent suggestion is rank voting, which may help with the act of voting, but will not repair communalism, aka democracy.

It is time to have a constitutional convention. Yes, the mariner is as afraid of such an event as anyone. The reality is, however, that democracy doesn’t work anymore. What is the new equality? What is the new ‘all men are created equal’? How do we get there from here? Will wearing a gaming goggle help?

Ancient Mariner





Does anyone have a plot line?


By Wiley:

Is it possible that our eager scientists are consumed by the phrase, “I do it because I can”? Is Homo sapiens ready for an automated lifestyle? Is the biosphere ready for Homo sapiens to have an automated lifestyle?

Scientists have created Xenobots, computer cells that can reproduce. Even Steven Hawking predicted this will be the demise of humanity.

Over the millennia, humans have learned to adapt to significant changes in the biosphere status quo; everything from ice ages to rocket ships and nuclear bombs. But each epoch was singular – just one at a time.

It isn’t the same today. There is AI, collapsing nationalism, global warming, social abuse, over-population and the waning of Adam Smith economics.

Can we Homos handle it?

Ancient Mariner

Who are you?

As we live each day, dealing with the nitty-gritty of each hour and minute, as we get pushed around by schedules and interpersonal dialogue, as we absorb the distractions of the world at large, we lose track of who we are.  We are a montage of feelings, responsibilities, and social obligations. But how do we manage this montage? How do we create sensible order and priority using the guiding principles of our behavior?

What follows is an informal examination of the core principles that guide an individual’s priorities and opinions. It isn’t absolute, of course, but it is an interesting opportunity to focus on our own motivators.

The examination is very general, focusing on the rules of general behavior and belief rather than habits and idiosyncrasies.


Philosophy of life is the Bible for your attitude. What kind of treatment can other people expect from you? Is it “Every man for himself” or perhaps “What’s best for everybody” or “Do it right or forget it”? Another way of putting it is, “What do I owe to the world?”


For 300,000 years, evolution carefully crafted a creature whose survival depended on groups; the deep processes of the brain gave priority to interpersonal awareness. Limited by physical capability and an environment full of life-threatening situations, the human found safety in family and inter-family (tribal) association. In less than 5,000 years, this balance has shifted as humans chose to neutralize the environment, which lessened the need for families, groups and tribes. Still, using the time clock of evolution, humans haven’t changed and remain a social creature. Consequently, certain social aberrations have become common; many would classify murdering fellow humans with an assault rifle to be an example; hoarding excessive wealth would be another; castigating people for differences in sexual hormone balance could be another. Loneliness and suicides are rising.

But the objective in this examination is your perspective. Do you behave among others in a manner that reflects your philosophy of life? If your philosophy is ‘every man for himself’ why would you be concerned about the characteristics of another person? If you follow a righteous doctrine, why would you advocate racist and sexual castigation? Another way of putting it is, “What do I owe to protect the world?”

It is the existence of imbalance between your philosophical categories and actual behavior that causes general irritability, sadness or an attitude of laissez faire toward society in general. Biologically, humans still need groups. Some may call it fellowship.


Economics is a practical interpretation of your philosophy of life. You may need to pause a moment to recognize how what makes you feel secure in life relates to your philosophy of life. You should note contradictions because this suggests you are not self-aware regarding your behavior.

As an example, a person who says “My philosophy is what’s best for everyone” but advocates capitalist priorities does not have a matching philosophy of life and economics. From the other end, a person who believes in communistic economics may be ignorant of their contradiction having a philosophy that advocates ‘every man for himself’. Another way of putting it is, “What should I share with the world?”

If you have not given thought to the relationship in your life between ethics and economics, you may be surprised that you have some reconciliation to do.


It is obvious that the body requires continuous attention and further, is a component affected by your philosophy of life. Medical studies indicate that ignoring the health and physical capacity of the body undercuts the ambition to fulfill any philosophy of life, whichever it may be. In other words, your desire to sustain your philosophy of life requires a body to match. If your philosophy is ‘what’s best for everybody’, your desire to participate in that philosophy requires energy, positive attitude and other energies that require a healthy and energetic body. There are disabling influences at every turn from television to soft recliners to petty prejudices. Another way of putting it is, “How do I pull my weight in the world?”

֎ So that is the self-examination. Does your behavior, habits, commitments, and finances match your philosophy of life? Whichever philosophy you choose isn’t the point – it’s a matter of your lifestyle matching that philosophy.

In retrospect, there may be some readers who would say the examination is upside down, that it is a person’s personal attributes that define their philosophy of life. This suggestion reflects a legitimate approach to problem solving; mariner often has referred to ‘what’ versus ‘why’ problem solving. This examination requires a general declaration first to assure continuity and expose contradictions in life that make life more awkward. One significant example will show the importance of stating a philosophy of life first:

There are many who consider themselves Christians but in terms of behavior are not. The New Testament sets a standard of behavior (philosophy) that must be practiced. There are many ways to ignore or abuse the New Testament and still pretend one is a Christian. In practice, one has fooled themselves into thinking they are a person they are not. By answering the question ‘what do I owe the world’ first, it will be easier to discover discordant practices.

The objective of this examination is to iron out wrinkles and discover who one really is. Answering the question “What do I owe the world?” first provides a ruler or standard that may require an adjustment in behavior. Conversely, one may have to go back and declare a different philosophy that encompasses a different way of measuring behavior.

Ancient Mariner


Emerging Theocracy – or maybe Nazism?

From NPR – the whole article at

is horrifying not just for public libraries but for American democracy as well. One quote to show temperament:

“One of the board members said, ‘Well, what about this book? It’s about underage drinking, and underage drinking is illegal, so why would we have this book in the library?’ ” Dawe recalls. “And my question would be, ‘Where does that end? And what are you doing next? Where does this end?’ ”

U.S. Rep. Clay Higgins, a Republican from Louisiana, has a thought on that.

Higgins recently tweeted about the future of public libraries, saying libraries have become “grooming centers” and that he wants to change the “whole public library paradigm” and help get funding for “beautiful, church-owned public-access libraries.”

The topic makes mariner feel unwell. He will leave this issue in the reader’s hands.

Ancient Mariner

New signs

Bottom up power: [Politico] “The country’s 900 or so rural electric cooperatives serve remote rural customers and are member-driven, -owned and -controlled. Their nonprofit status has made it hard to make investments in low-carbon energy; unlike investor-owned utilities, they can’t go into debt or sell shares to pay for a solar farm. But getting them off of fossil fuels is essential to meeting climate goals.

Already five co-ops have either left or announced they will leave a major G&T (generation and transmission) called Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, which covers parts of four Western states.”

This tendency is happening in Europe as well. Despite all the ‘effort’ to stop using fossil fuel, oil companies are making record profits. Even Biden is allowing a new oil-drilling operation in Alaska – talk about plutocracy!

Mariner often writes about collective cultures. Collectivism includes concepts like extended families, local government, local cooperatives, community rules for equality of life, etc. To one degree or another, terms for collectives include cooperative, clan, communist, commune, tribe and many other terms denoting a localized group. The image below captures the general spirit:

Just being a small group does not automatically grant goodness. There are many small groups bent on anything but sharing and survival of all – NIMBY is one of countless examples that demonstrate the conflict between collectivism and the imposing needs of a much larger population.

Having learned from many sources over many years, mariner knows Homo sapiens is a tribal species, along with most of its primate ancestors. In past posts, he has cited authors who said things like “The maximum number of individuals that can be familiar to a human is 150”, “The further a person gets from a direct relationship with the environment, the more abusive the relationship becomes” and recently, “I’m first if its fair for everyone”.

When he studies the development of western nations, and the unimaginable wealth that suddenly appeared on the American continents, mariner is reminded of a group of hoodlums during a riot who break into a store and steal all its goods. Such tactics work for the hoodlums if there is plenty to go around. Western Capitalism is the fastest way to reorganize wealth.

Today, however, there is not enough to go around. Capitalism has an idiosyncrasy that doesn’t work anymore: Grow or die.

Because the West has achieved such wonders and accomplishments – especially when the achievements provide convenience, collective terminology is not popular and its advantages often are discounted. It is this resistance that makes it good news to mariner that there is a breakaway of self-owned electric companies from large conglomerates. There are other appropriate concepts of management that will work better in these challenging times. Bigger may not be better.

There are many more sociological points of interest but mariner can become boring.

Ancient Mariner