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Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Nightmare

The boy dreams, quiet
Legs crossed, sitting on the curb
Awake, head in hands

Eyes open, searching
Looks beyond the passing cars
Past the rumbling noise

Through the darkened shroud
Into a different world
Cloistered and alone

Reason and terror
War machines scream through the night
The echoes of crows

Enveloped by fear
Nightmare of blood, black as oil
Rains on broken flesh

Visions of horror
The boy recoils, he struggles

With the turning world

Sunday, November 26, 2017

A Homily – Matthew 25:31 - 46 ©

The Gospel According to Matthew – 2017.11.26


Jesus is not a King


The reading for today contains much of what is true, and much that is the false.

Let us begin with this:

Jesus is not a king, not an emperor.

Jesus is brother, Jesus is friend.

The glory of Christ is expressed in his mercy, you will not find Christ seated on a throne, commanding armies of angels, with the nations assembled before him.

It is the duty of all Christians, of all who would follow in the way of Jesus to reject such images. They lead to fallacies.

What is true is this:

Our love and fidelity to God, and Christ is expressed in how we treat one another; rich or poor, weak or strong, right or wrong.

Among the ancient Hebrews, both the sheep and the goats were integral to their community, each belonged.

We are one human family, we are not sheep and goats, we are never divided by God, we are only divided by each other.

We must reject all such efforts to divide us.

In our human family there is good and bad, there are right and wrong. We are called on to foster the good, and forgive the bad.

We are called by Jesus to forgive even those who do us harm.


Christ the King, the Son of Man

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘When the Son of Man comes in his glory, escorted by all the angels, then he will take his seat on his throne of glory. All the nations will be assembled before him and he will separate men one from another as the shepherd separates sheep from goats. He will place the sheep on his right hand and the goats on his left.

  ‘Then the King will say to those on his right hand, “Come, you whom my Father has blessed, take for your heritage the kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you made me welcome; naked and you clothed me, sick and you visited me, in prison and you came to see me.” Then the virtuous will say to him in reply, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you; or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and make you welcome; naked and clothe you; sick or in prison and go to see you?” And the King will answer, “I tell you solemnly, in so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me.”

  ‘Next he will say to those on his left hand, “Go away from me, with your curse upon you, to the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you never gave me food; I was thirsty and you never gave me anything to drink; I was a stranger and you never made me welcome, naked and you never clothed me, sick and in prison and you never visited me.” Then it will be their turn to ask, “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty, a stranger or naked, sick or in prison, and did not come to your help?” Then he will answer, “I tell you solemnly, in so far as you neglected to do this to one of the least of these, you neglected to do it to me.”
  
‘And they will go away to eternal punishment, and the virtuous to eternal life.’


34th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Christ the King

Emergence, In Fifty-five Words - Section Seven, War; Part Forty-five, Possession, Collected Chapters




Emergence 2.0
A Novel – In 55 Words a Day
Day 323, November 19th, 2017

Chapter One: Self

Every citizen was taught, and the teaching was reinforced at every level of the Imperial education, both in the secular schools, and through the religious observations of the Imperial
cult, they were taught that all good things flowed through the Empire; and to the Empire from Continuum.

The first gift was existence, it was selfhood.

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Emergence 2.0
A Novel – In 55 Words a Day
Day 324, November 20th, 2017

Chapter Two: Home

The Empire controlled every aspect of family life.

A person could not move from one dwelling to the next without approval. It kept families bound to a single dwelling for generations.

Even marriage was subject to Imperial oversight. In most cases the Empire did not exercise that control, only where it served its broader purpose.

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Emergence 2.0
A Novel – In 55 Words a Day
Day 325, November 21st, 2017

Chapter Three: Trade

Every citizen lived their life only contemplating a very narrow band of possibilities.

Work and trades were hereditary, and they were guarded. Farmers farmed, builders built, and fishers fished.

Soldiers went to war, and priests officiated the sacred rites.

There was very little opportunity for an individual or a family to change their inherited circumstances.

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Emergence 2.0
A Novel – In 55 Words a Day
Day 326, November 22nd, 2017

Chapter Four: Control

The citizen in a position of power or authority, requires balance and poise.

The Collective loved to build people up, to take them down, sometimes over the course of generations.

The more power a person possessed the more careful they had to be.

Control requires ever greater control; to force it is to lose it.

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Emergence 2.0
A Novel – In 55 Words a Day
Day 327, November 23rd, 2017

Chapter Five: World

The ordinary citizen had no say in the destiny of their home world, they saw it as theirs, and themselves as belonging to it.

Everything was controlled by the Empire, and the desires of the Continuum.

Any sense of control that an individual might feel was an illusion, granted for the sake of creating drama.

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Emergence 2.0
A Novel – In 55 Words a Day
Day 328, November 24th, 2017

Chapter Six: Rites

Every citizen must conform; the Empire would not accept anything less than complete obedience.

Conformation to the Imperial way was emphasized in the Imperial schools, and primarily through the religious rites of the Imperial cult.

The Empire’s goal was to supplant every competing communal bond.

It never succeeded in this and it never quit trying.

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Emergence 2.0
A Novel – In 55 Words a Day
Day 329, November 25th, 2017

Chapter Seven: Access

People coveted access more than anything.

In the struggle to craft a meaningful life, to provide some comfort for themselves or their families, everyone need a hand up.

They needed access to authority, to those able to grant a boon or advance their cause.

The limits to upward mobility were clear, and near at hand.

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Emergence 2.0:
Section Seven, War

Part Forty-five, Possession

Collected Chapters
01 Self
02 Home
03 Trade
04 Control
05 World
06 Rites
07 Access

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Saturday, November 25, 2017

Contra Relativism et Futility

 Is the universe, is reality in general, an utterly incomprehensible field of chaos in motion?

The answer is quite simply no.

There are many philosophers, however, writing books and teaching in universities who cling to the pretense that this is remains a relevant question.

Is there a universal order, are there universal truths, do we as human beings possess the ability to discern them?

The answer is yes, though many have argued that we do not.

Many have argued that the human intellect does not include the ability to arrive at any definite understanding of, or comprehensible answer for perennial philosophical questions such as these:

What is the meaning of life?

What is the nature of reality?

What is the purpose of existence?

Many people never even bother to grapple with these questions.

Many of those who do, find that their understanding of these matters changes over time, with experience, through dialogue.

Many others take the position that there are no answers to be had:

That the meaning of life is dependent on the narrative we weave around our experience, and nothing more.

It is relative.

That everything we perceive and think of as “reality,” is actually "maya," an illusion, and there is nothing more.

It is relative.

That given the inherent relativity in the structure and meaning of our lives there can be no purpose beyond the purposive force of the individual will.

It is relative

Among those who hold to these relativistic views, individuals are more and less adamant about the central proposition, that there is no truth.

Some would unequivocally deny that there is any universal truth at all, while others would admit to the possibility of such universals, and at the same time asserting they are beyond our comprehension, inexpressible in human language, and thereby moot.

Philosophical relativism endorses the notion that the quest for knowledge is a futile endeavor.

This is futilism, relativistic-futilism.

This school of thought suggests that nothing can be known, that there is no truth, and that to question anything is an exercise in futility.

The futilist demands that people do not analyze their lives.

The futilist does not believe that people are able to make common bonds based on a common understanding.

Relativistic-futilism permits any idea, permits all ideas, all thought processes, every emotional reaction, regardless of the way in which they might contradict one-another.

For the relativistic futilist, all social norms are equivalent, disregarding evidence, ignoring logic, reason, and scientific deduction.

There is the no truth, each person has their own reality, everything is false, our lives are illusions.

The futilist will state that the human mind is a vehicle, not bound by the laws of reality.

The futilist will reject logic, because logic has rules, dictating the use of inflexible parameters that govern thought.

These intellectuals will say that nothing can be known for certain, because no-thing can be proven.

It is true that the meanings and values ascribed to words and symbols are dependent upon the agreement of the parties in communication.

This is true, nothing can be taken for granted

We agree that 2 + 2 = 4 because we agree on the value assigned to the numerals two and four, and we agree on their value in relation to each other.

We are able to do arithmetic and speak to one another in the arithmetical language because of this.

Our ancestors were able to chart the progress of the planets and the stars in their movement across the night sky because of this.

Because of this, we are able to build skyscrapers and bridges, airplanes and rockets, to construct telescopes, draw maps, make charts and navigate.

We are able to split the atom, send and receive radio transmissions, digital communications, watch television, listen to music, write letters, send mail, send e-mail and all manner of other things that make up the fabric of our life in the 21st century.

When the relativistic-futilist states that no-thing can be known for certain, they have planted the seed of their argument's undoing

If knowledge of the truth is something impossible to arrive at, then no premise for any argument can be established, this includes the premises that support the arguments of the relativistic-futilist themselves

The relativistic-futilist must remain true to the principles of uncertainty that they adhere to, and because of this, the futilist should not speak or write, and afflict the rest of us with their non-sense.

A genuine belief in relativistic-futilism should manifest itself in the lives of its adherents as intellectual paralysis.

Sadly, this is not the case.

The relativistic-futilist commonly asserts their point of view as if it were the only universal truth that may be apprehended by the human mind, they will disallow logic, dismiss the constructions of reason, and berate intellect on every other front.

They will say that intellectualism is weak, limited, and subject to personal and societal conditioning.

They will say that all personal judgements are merely individual perceptions whose conclusions are dominated by the prevailing culture.

While those criticisms are reasonable, they are not ultimately determinative of anything.

The futilist will ignore those same factors when they assert that the validity of their own arguments, and thereby deny themselves, for nothing can be considered true, known or proven in the relativistic scheme.

How can any-thing, idea or concept be true if everything is uncertain?

Catch 22, nothing can…

The arguments of the relativistic-futilist amount to intellectual laziness, and should be rejected.

I exist, I know this. It is true. I do not require Descartes’ cogito to arrive at this conclusion.

It was never in doubt; my life, my breath, my hunger, my direct contact with reality confirms this for me.

I am real, that is true, and so are you. That much I know, if I know nothing else I do know that. The world around me is not a figment of imagination.

Reason allows me to extend this understanding to all of reality. As logic follows, I am required to acknowledge each thing, and each person in my experience, existing independently from my perception of it.

This is not to say that I understand them perfectly, that I am able to see them in the full spectrum of light, or that I know their story, and its antecedents.

That is not necessary.

The basic fact of their existence is not subject to a relativistic point of view.

That much is certain.

I will not except the idea that I am illusion, a figment of some other imagination. That is contrary to the health and well-being of my ego, and my experience contradicts it.

I will also not assume that everything I experience is a figment of my imagination, that the reality I witness is dependent on my perception, such a level of megalomaniacalism is ridiculous.


I am real, that is true, and so are you.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thanksgiving, the Via Negativa

Today is Thanksgiving. It is a secular holiday, but nevertheless, Thanksgiving is sacred to most Americans.

Many of us are writing, posting memes, outwardly expressing the things that we are thankful for.

That is nice. It is conscientious, appropriate. We have much to be thankful for.

A heartfelt expression of gratitude is always welcome, even gratitude expressed in general for the many things we receive from those we love, by whom we are loved, that make our lives more comfortable, more challenging, and more meaningful.

It is never inappropriate to thankful.

To express gratitude is to make one’s self humble; it is to acknowledge our reliance on others for making us into the people we have become.

Be humble.

Be gracious.

Be thankful.

In theology there is something known as the apophatic tradition. In this tradition it is understood that God (the creator the universe, of all that is and all we are), that God dwells in a place beyond human understanding.

God is shrouded in mystery, in the cloud of un-knowing.

According to the apophatic tradition, no one can speak affirmatively about what or who God is, because God, the eternal and infinite, God will not be circumscribed by language.

There can be no positive assertions about the nature of the Divine, there is only the via negative, the way of understanding who God is by stating what God is not.

Following this tradition, I will forgo the giving of thanks, even though I am truly grateful for my friends and compatriots, for everyone in my life, for all of those who inspire me, and are endlessly patient with me.

I will be selfish and tell you all what I am not thankful for.

I am not thankful that there is no peace in the world,

In Burma/Myanmar where the Rohingya people are facing genocide.

In Palestine, where there is apartheid, where millions of people live in cities and towns that are prisons, and the walls of their homes are the walls of a jail.

In America, where we are divided by class, culture, color.

I am not thankful for the dismal failures of our government in the recovery of Puerto Rico.

I am not thankful for white supremacy, and domestic terrorism.

I am not thankful for terrorism anywhere. I am not thankful for the religious fundamentalism that drives it. I am thankful neither for the fear that spawns it, nor for the fear it generates

I am not thankful that there is hunger in our bountiful world. I am not thankful for the greed, for the sloth, and the bad public policies that foster it.

I am not thankful for willful ignorance, for anti-rational, anti-intellectual, demagoguery. I am not thankful for the cultural relativism that has promoted it, for anti-objectivism, for liars.

I am not thankful for Donald Trump. I am not thankful for my fellow Americans who voted for him.

I am not thankful for the media outlets, the reporters, the editorialists who failed to take him seriously. I am not thankful that they abdicated their responsibilities as the gatekeepers of our society, as the so called 4th Estate, and allowed his criminal regime to hold the seat of power.

I am not thankful and ashamed everyday of his antics as the President of the United States.

I am not thankful for on-going continuous assault on the working class, the threats that are levied against the average citizen in the spheres of public policy like health care, and taxes, access to our National Parks, and the reasonable expectation that we live in a clean environment.

I am not thankful for our government’s continuous assault on our population of immigrants and refugees.

I am not thankful that these things.

I am not thankful that there is so much more to add to this list.

I am not thankful for the shortsightedness of liberals and progressives who cannot stand united in the face of social forces that threaten us all.

Did I say that I am not thankful for white supremacists? I did, but let me say it again…I am not thankful for them, or their apologists, their soft supports or their ardent advocates. I am not thankful that they have a seat at the table in the administration of a Donald Trump.

I am not thankful for that vile imposter, who stole the presidency with the aid of a foreign power, the Russians no-less.

I am not thankful for them.

They suck.



Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Enigma

Sing to the unknown
In the place where shadows fall
The pipes are calling

The bell has been rung
Echoes murmur in the tide
In waves resounding

The mind alighting
The flicker of a candle
Glows beneath the shroud

Secrets in the night
Love-dreams of the infinite
Cross the Milky-way

Reaching for the stars
Driven from the darkened cave
Ethereal flight

Soar the Astral plane
Surfing with the Alien

In cosmic fire, born

Sunday, November 19, 2017

A Homily – Matthew 25:14 - 30 ©

The Gospel According to Matthew – 2017.11.19


God is not a King, or a Banker, the Betrayal of the Church

It is heartbreaking to see the teaching of Jesus betrayed so completely by the writers of the Gospels.

The authors of Matthew, writing a hundred years or so after the death of Jesus, were more concerned with building up and retaining church property than they were with teaching the good news, that Christ has risen, that God loves the sinner, even the worst of them.

It is impossible to know how the way came to be betrayed in such a fulsome and complete manner, but I am thinking it has to do with the fact that over the course of a hundred years, after the destruction of Jerusalem, the leadership of Christian communities throughout the Empire fell to wealthy, bishops were selected from among leading merchants and tradespeople, landowners and people of status.

It is not surprising that in this time the way, that Jesus preached about came to be imagined as a kingdom, while abba, the father, became a king.

This parable views God or Jesus as a merchant, and a banker, instead of a fisherman, or a farmer.

The parable begins with the idea that God will distribute challenges and tasks to the people according their ability, that God knows both the powers and liabilities of God’s children, and consequently God knows what to expect from them.

Therefore, it is out of Character for the loving and knowing God to punish the servant who buried his one talent. God knew that this is what this servant would do.

According to the way of Jesus, the servant who buried the talent should be the recipient of mercy, and ministry, not cast out into the dark.

One hundred years after the death of Jesus, the leaders of the church had forgotten this.

The servant who hid the talent was not lazy, as “master” said, but was fearful because he knew that the man he was beholden to was a hard person, who took what he had not worked for and robbing from others the fruit of their labor.

This servant did not multiply his talent as the others had done because he did not want to emulate the corrupt practices of his master as the others were willing to do.

Again, the master, who represents either God or Jesus in this parable, does not deny being hard of heart, and does not deny the charge of being a thief, reaping what he had not sewn, and gathering what he had not scattered.

He is proud of it, and that is the type of behavior he intended to promote.

He charges the frightened servant with laziness, and neglect and stupidity, call him a good-for-nothing and has him thrown out into the dark, into the place of wailing and gnashing of teeth, into hell, the place of death.

Through this twist in the narrative the authors of this parable up-end Jesus’ teaching that the last will be first, and the first shall be last.

The true reading of this parable is this:

The man who was thrown out represents the figure of Christ. Like Christ he refused to emulate the wicked practices of the rulers, he refused to profit from the suffering of others, he knew that he would be punished, and he accepted the consequences. He was proven right, and he was killed for his convictions.


You have been faithful in small things: come and join in your master's happiness

Jesus spoke this parable to his disciples: ‘The kingdom of Heaven is like a man on his way abroad who summoned his servants and entrusted his property to them. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to a third one; each in proportion to his ability. Then he set out.

  ‘The man who had received the five talents promptly went and traded with them and made five more. The man who had received two made two more in the same way. But the man who had received one went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

  ‘Now a long time after, the master of those servants came back and went through his accounts with them. The man who had received the five talents came forward bringing five more. “Sir,” he said “you entrusted me with five talents; here are five more that I have made.”

  ‘His master said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have shown you can be faithful in small things, I will trust you with greater; come and join in your master’s happiness.”

  ‘Next the man with the two talents came forward. “Sir,” he said “you entrusted me with two talents; here are two more that I have made.” His master said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have shown you can be faithful in small things, I will trust you with greater; come and join in your master’s happiness.”

  ‘Last came forward the man who had the one talent. “Sir,” said he “I had heard you were a hard man, reaping where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered; so I was afraid, and I went off and hid your talent in the ground. Here it is; it was yours, you have it back.” But his master answered him, “You wicked and lazy servant! So you knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered? Well then, you should have deposited my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have recovered my capital with interest. So now, take the talent from him and give it to the man who has the five talents. For to everyone who has will be given more, and he will have more than enough; but from the man who has not, even what he has will be taken away. As for this good-for-nothing servant, throw him out into the dark, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.”’



33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Emergence, In Fifty-five Words - Section Seven, War; Part Forty-four, Loyalties, Collected Chapters



Emergence 2.0
A Novel – In 55 Words a Day
Day 315, November 11th, 2017

Chapter One: Genetic

Many things united the people of the Empire; language, cult, custom.

Fear and hope were among the most powerful forces establishing both mutuality and commonality throughout the worlds.

Nevertheless, the children of the Ancients evolved in different ways, on their disparate worlds, with different stars to look upon, different fates to contemplate.

Differences were primary.

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Emergence 2.0
A Novel – In 55 Words a Day
Day 316, November 12th, 2017

Chapter Two: Class

Everyone dreamed of advancing to the next level, it was the constant preoccupation of the masses, to advance, either in this life or the next.

Complacency was abhorrent.

They loathed their own place, but when threatened their class united them.

They were connected by clan, village, planet, by class, and rank, by fear and loathing.

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Emergence 2.0
A Novel – In 55 Words a Day
Day 317, November 13th, 2017

Chapter Three: Planetary

There were a million worlds in the galactic Empire. Planets strung like gems among the stars, each of them was the locus of identity for the ordinary citizen.

Every person was marked by the world they lived on, genetically aligned to its exigencies. Their worlds marked them in ways that were both obvious and hidden.

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Emergence 2.0
A Novel – In 55 Words a Day
Day 318, November 14th, 2017

Chapter Four: Linguistic

The Imperial schools attempted to normalize linguistics.

It was a mission that never ended, something that they failed at from generation to generation.

Variation persisted, colloquial patterns bonded people to one another, an unconscious manifestation of shared experience.

Language patterns were buried in the ganglia of the central nervous system, they were a genetic endowment.

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Emergence 2.0
A Novel – In 55 Words a Day
Day 319, November 15th, 2017

Chapter Five: Desire

People found one another through the things they desired most; bonding with one another through their joy, and pain.

Shared experience were the strongest ties, and because of this, people unconsciously sabotaged themselves, undercut their hopes for advancement, so as to remain in proximity to those they loved.

Through this medium, incredible tragedies would unfold.

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Emergence 2.0
A Novel – In 55 Words a Day
Day 320, November 16th, 2017

Chapter Six: Fear

Fear makes the life and behaviors of the citizenry more predictable than any other factor.

 Not even death could overcome the power of fear.

Fear poisoned the body, shaping its consciousness in the electromagnetic field.

Fear was the most powerful emotion, stronger than hope, than desire, than hate.

Fear catalyzed all of the lesser emotions.

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Emergence 2.0
A Novel – In 55 Words a Day
Day 321, November 17th, 2017

Chapter Seven: Love

Love is stronger than fear, stronger than any power.

The Imperial cult worked tirelessly to frustrate the reality of love among each of the million worlds that constituted the galactic civilization.

Love is a feeling, like fear, and joy, but love is more, it is a choice, it is a fundamental option.

Love is freedom.

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Emergence 2.0:
Section Seven, War

Part Forty-four, Loyalties

Collected Chapters
01 Genetic
02 Class
03 Planetary
04 Linguistic
05 Desire
06 Fear
07 Love

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