About monarchy

All the news, of course, is about the death and burial of Queen Elizabeth and what King Charles will do differently. England was organized into a nation officially in 927 CE, the point being that in comparison, the US today is but a teenager. Since 927, England conquered Scotland, signed the historic Magna Carta in 1215, was the primary colonizer of North America beginning with Jamestown in 1606, was the world leader in the age of colonialism during the 18th and 19th centuries and, as the calendar approaches the 20th century, formed a multinational union and shared global leadership with the United States.

Since its inception, the United States has switched national leadership 46 times, having only politically based Presidents, not neutralized Kings. As we are witnessing today, this teenager is having trouble holding things together.

The United States does not have an apolitical monarchy. Does a royal family that is noted for dogs, horses, interesting marriages and fancy parades have a role in the stability of the English State?

Perhaps there is more than meets the eye. Watching from this side of the pond, it seems the general population shares affection for the Monarchy despite their personal political differences and serious economic hardships.

Remember Rosie the Riveter? Rosie was a symbol of “We can do it” at a time when US industries did not have enough men to meet the demands for military production. Rosie had a positive aura that brought the nation together during a difficult time. Is this what the Monarchy provides – a sense of common unity that sits above the derisive issues of life and politics?

In mariner’s life time there is only one brief moment when the President may have represented a unifying role. Remember Camelot? He was assassinated.

Short of establishing an apolitical family of its own, what could the United States do to generate national unity? What cause is as great and threatening as World War II? The pandemic, serious as it was, didn’t coalesce the nation. Maybe it might be global warming – that would be a world war with a tough opponent. Could that unify the US?

Maybe it’s a shame that the Founding Fathers didn’t set up an apolitical family. The Fathers did attempt something similar in granting religious freedom but they forgot to castrate it.

Ancient Mariner

Jesus versus tribal instinct

A film, available for viewing on PBS cable or online called ‘Hacking the Mind’, presents an experiment with 4 and 5 year-old children. Presented simply as a game, one child at a time is asked what color tee shirt they would like to wear. There are two options – orange or blue. The child picks one and then is presented with a series of drawings each showing two children, one in orange and one in blue. A simple situation is represented in the drawings.

The test giver asks each child independently to interpret the drawings. Without exception, the child in the chosen color can do no wrong and the child in the unchosen color can do no right – even when it’s the same drawing with colors reversed.

The point is made by the interviewer afterward that this is an embedded defense mechanism. Tribal behavior is in our genes. There is safety in belonging to a protective group.

In pre-industrial times large families survived more easily than small families. Large families could garner more resources for survival. In early Japanese history an army’s subdivision frequently was a collection of families. In mariner’s lingo, biologically humans are intelligent chimpanzees – inheriting the same tribal instincts and survival chemistry.

It is hard for tribal humans to abide by Jesus’s mandate to love all others before self. In other words, the self is discounted and sacrifices itself to the wellbeing of those in different color shirts – not a relatively protected situation.

So Christians build fortresses called churches; indoctrination into the tribe requires a purifying ceremony called baptism (AKA changing the shirt color); social prejudices are part and parcel of religious practices. Humans can’t help this natural, in-the-genes behavior. Not exactly what Jesus wanted.

But this doesn’t discount the value of faith, morality, and interpersonal bonding. In today’s overpopulated world with its emphasis on personal achievement above tribal obligations and economies that disrupt large family assimilation leaving nuclear families scrambling, every compassionate gesture is sorely needed.

Ancient Mariner

A conundrum

Mariner was a preacher for a while. He became familiar with the Christian faith generally and with Christ’s exhortations to love others before self. In college he had a minor in religion and studied several religions. Not one religion, especially Islam, ever took the ‘love’ thing seriously.

For centuries Christianity, Buddhism and Hinduism were more closely related to the role of a Supreme Court and supported the political power base. Islam had a similar role but promoted a more punitive role as a requirement for inclusion. These are generalizations, of course, but generally the role of religion has more often been concerned about politics and self-aggrandizement than the pursuit of salvation.

It seems today that this political role has returned. In the United States particularly, hate is preached from the chancel. Deliberate political enmity and even violence are supported.

Is religion a change agent? Does religion have a ‘divine’ right to promote pain, suffering and death in the name of God and Jesus Christ? It is a conundrum.

Whenever religion takes up political reform, it is rebellious; advocates are looking for revenge, not love. Whenever religion focuses on profitability, it disregards the need for love and replaces it with dollars. With all the confusion in today’s world of humans, it is hard to find positive spiritual anchors – especially in churches.

What happened to the words of Jesus? Does religion suffer from the same forces that shape society? If so, what purpose is religion? In a time when unity, love of fellow man, sharing and compassion are in critical demand, where is the moral authority of religion?

Some of this confusion can be laid at the footsteps of the Founding Fathers. They wanted to be sure that the Church would never play an official role as a ‘state religion.’ In effect, however, making religion an independent and protected role in society, religion could do whatever it wanted in spite of democratic legislation.

So, the question remains, how can religion help? How can it advocate love of others? If religion doesn’t uphold Christ’s principles, who needs religion – unless it is a political voice instead of a religious voice?

Ancient Mariner


Demise is becoming a possibility

Another tragic mass murder of children. It is within reasonable odds that the reader and their children will be shot before winning any state lottery. Yet, like an internal cancer, guns and gun ownership have become an irresponsible characteristic of American society.

Similarly, racial bias not just against blacks but against Chinese, Latino, immigrant and Middle Eastern races remains entrenched. Despite protest, like an internal cancer, racism has become an irresponsible characteristic of American society.

Similarly, homosexual differences and sexual discrimination against women prevail. Like an internal cancer, they have become an irresponsible characteristic of American society.

Similarly, the wealthy prey on more and more human lives, expanding the number of poverty-stricken families and forcing a drain on financial stability from governments, jobs, housing, and diverse productivity. Yet, like an internal cancer, trillions of American dollars continue to be hidden away and represent an irresponsible characteristic of American society.

Similarly, giant corporations have cornered freedom of speech. Lack of privacy, free thought and lack of accountability to the public, like an internal cancer, have become an irresponsible characteristic of American society.

Similarly, Federal and state governments have turned against democratic voting and pursue a totalitarian plutocracy. Like an internal cancer, self-interested governments have become an irresponsible characteristic of American society.

Similarly, the advocacy of religious institutions for the equal well-being of every individual has vanished and has been replaced with vile accusations, prejudice and endorsement of violence. Like an internal cancer, the spiritual base has become an irresponsible characteristic of American Society.

Some may scoff and recount the many counter-movements that fight these cancers. But the movements lose. The cancers abide within the core of the nation’s ethos.

Mariner is reminded of an old orange that has lost the shine of its rind. Soft shades of green begin to appear over the orange – then grey mold and sunken flesh appear. The orange approaches demise. There is no hope for this deliberately bred seedless orange.

Ancient Mariner

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.

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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


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