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Saturday, November 30, 2019

Rudy, Rudy…Rudy - Editorial, The Week in Review


Analysis, Commentary, Opinion
11.30.2019

Rudy, Rudy…Rudy


There is not much to like about Rudy Giuliani, even when he was ostensibly a “good-guy,” during his time heading up the U.S Attorney’s Office at the Southern District of New York, or his time as Mayor of New York City, he was a blow hard.

Now look at him…he is worse than ridiculous.

There is something going with Rudy that makes him more detestable than the ordinary Trump sycophant…because he is not the ordinary sycophant. He is a former U.S. Attorney. He knows the law, and his shameful disregard of it is despicable.

His desire to be near the center of power, cavorting with the Russian mob, courting them, seeking money from them all while acting as the so called personal attorney of the President of the United States, it is beyond outrageous.

So what happened to Rudy? Where did he go wrong?

The most uncomplicated analysis suggests that he, like Donald Trump is undergoing a process of mental decline. This would speak to his poor representation of himself and his client, his inability to articulate a coherent defense for their activities, both on the campaign trail and abroad, but it does not explain the corruption and the depravity.

Trump’s corruption is understandable, he has always been corrupt, he was raised in it.

Rudy was once a crime-fighter….wasn’t he?

He prosecuted people and put them in jail, he took on the organized crime syndicates of his day,

Did he do those things without corruption?

The most banal analysis suggests that Giuliani’s current lifestyle of pandering and graft is all about keeping him in a lifestyle that he has become accustomed to. That analysis also suggests that he was incapable of making an honest living.

If that is true, it begs the question; was Rudy corrupt the whole time?

He was always a creature of politics, it came out most clearly in his time as Mayor, he bent the rules, he started the dreaded program of Stop and Frisk, he dared people to challenge him in his efforts to “clean up the city,” a lot of people suffered under his regime, innocent people were arrested, beaten, prosecuted, jailed, at rates higher than normal, and Rudy knew it, but he did not care. He justified it in the utilitarian mode, suggesting that the end justified the means,

When he was still an active politician he thought that the trajectory he had established himself would put him in the United States Senate, and failing that he thought it might put him in the White House. He failed at that too.

Now, having gone to work for Donald Trump, it is clear that the end he sought was never the greatest good for the greatest number, but rather the greatest good for himself. He has proved that even the law does not matter to him, and he is happy to conspire with the Mafia, to keep him near the center of power.

He is a criminal, and it is likely that he always was.
  

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Thanksgiving, the Via Negativa


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

Many of us write reflections on this day, posting memes that express to the world the things we are thankful for.

That is nice, conscientious, appropriate. We have much to be thankful for as Americans, and we should never forget it.

A heartfelt expression of gratitude is always welcome, even the gratitude that is expressed in general for the many things we receive from those we love, by whom we are loved, for the things we are given 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.

Therefore, be gracious.

Be thankful…insofar as you are able, you will be following the way of the wise.

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

This tradition tell us that God is shrouded in mystery, described as the cloud of un-knowing.

According to the apophatic tradition, we are not able speak in the affirmative about what or who God is, because God, the eternal and infinite, God will not be circumscribed by finite constructs of human thought and language.

We are not able to offer 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.

In keeping with the via negativa, I am in the custom of forgoing the traditional giving-of-thanks, even though I am truly grateful for my friends and compatriots, I am grateful for everyone in my life, grateful for all of those who inspire me, who love me, and are patient with me everyday.

I am grateful for you.

For this annual reflection I follow the via negative, the negative way, and express what I am not thankful for.

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

In Yemen where the Saudia Arabia and Iran are fighting a proxy war, and hundreds of thousands of Children are on the brink of starvation. I am not thankful for this.

In Palestine, where the occupied territories continue to suffer under apartheid, where millions of people live in cities and towns that are in reality, nothing more than prisons, and the walls of their homes are the walls of a jail.

I am not thankful for the Turkish invasion of Northern Syria, I am not thankful that the President of the United States opted to abandon our allies the Syrian Kurds.

I am not thankful that in America we are divided by class, culture, color, by a pretender to the office of President.

I am not thankful for the dismal failures of our elected representatives who cannot discern their obligation to oppose Donald Trump or hold him accountable for the crimes he committed to become president, and the crimes he is committing to keep alive his hope of retaining it.

I am not thankful for their collective failure of Congress to protect the constitution, or for the individual members who have forgotten their oath of office.

I am not thankful that we have sold out our national interests to the likes of Vladimir Putin, or that our president dances on a string like a puppet for him.

I am not thankful for the failures of civilization to address our deepest problems such as the existential crises of climate change, destroying communities around the world, including the recent fires in California that have destroyed thousands of homes, killing dozens of people.

I am not thankful for our failures of leadership.

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 and the sloth and the bad public policy that fosters it.

I am not thankful that my friends have to beg on the internet to be financially supported when in the natural course of their oives they come down with cancer, and other debilitating illnesses. I am not thankful for the gaping holes in the social safety net.

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, his allies in congress or anywhere who continue to support.

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 that they have not collectively figured out a way to redress their failures.

I am not thankful and I am ashamed everyday because of his antics as the President of the United States, for his capitulation to murderous regimes, and strong-men anywhere who Donald Trump thinks he can profit from at some future point beyond his presidency, I am not thankful he has sold out our interests to them.

I am not thankful for his corruption of the rule of law.

I am not thankful for the on-going and 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.

I am not thankful for our government’s continuous assault on our population of immigrants and refugees, for the way we have abdicated our responsibility to care for the asylum seeker.

I am not thankful for 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 the 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, both their soft supporters and their ardent advocates. I am not thankful that they have a seat at the table in the administration of Donald J. Trump.

I am not thankful for them.


Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Infinite Worlds


Gathering possibilities
Converting potentialities
Into actualities, visions
Stretched between worlds
Like colors on the wheel
Each choice a demarcation
Every shade a paradox
A Leibnitzian multi-verse
Of alternating realities 
Of choice and consequence
The indivisible, eternal
Gathered in the now

Monday, November 25, 2019

Emergence 4.0 - Part Seven, War; Chapter Forty-five, Possession


Week 47, 2019


Education in the Imperial schools was not centered on learning as much as it was conditioning.

Every citizen was taught that all good things flowed from the Empire, whatever the individual had to be thankful for, no matter how small, including their daily food and clean water, they could look to the Empire and to the Emperor himself as its source.

The schools beat this perspective into the mind of every person, as the hammer pounds a nail.

The teaching was reinforced at every level of Imperial education, both in the secular schools, and through the religious observations of the Imperial Cult. It brought unity to each and every world despite their distance from one another. 

The schools were the hammer, and the cult set the nail.

The people were taught to give thanks to the Empire even for the good things that came from their own hands, the vegetables growing in their gardens, a blanket they had quilted, they gave thanks to the Empire and to the Continuum which undergirded it.

There was nothing that they possessed, or that they ever would possess that did not flow from the Empire’s munificence.

The Continuum and its Empire were the source of all goodness and justice, they controlled the destiny of every living being.

The first gift they gave to the individual was existence, it was selfhood.

Life in the Galactic Empire was like a woven tapestry, with the Continuum dictating how every thread was stretched across the loom, integrating each strand into the fabric of the whole.

The images were constantly changing, moving, developing, even the tiniest detail of the lives of the citizens fed the hunger of the Collective.

The Imperial government was the loom, the Imperial schools and the cult were the shuttlecock, and the Observers in the field were like the hands that pulled the threads through.

The Empire controlled every aspect of home life for the family, how it was employed, whether or not they would advance, how much they could save, how much food was on their table.

To resist the will of the Empire even in thought, was considered to be a grave sin.

A person could not move from one dwelling to the next without Imperial approval. The Empire kept families bound to a single domicile for generations, only moving them if and when their rank changed, and that occurred only if it served the interests of the Continuum, and the narratives it was developing.

This offered the ordinary citizens a sense of normalcy and reliability, of safety and security, while stifling virtually every bit of hope.  

Even marriage was subject to Imperial approval. In most cases the Empire did not exercise that control, but it did when it served the broader purpose of the Continuum. A marriage proposal would be approved or denied at the temple, “according to the will of the gods,” the Continuum and the Collective.

Procreation itself was tightly controlled.

For those with means, unsanctioned pregnancies could be terminated. Those who were afraid to report to the Empire or who could not afford an abortion, were forced to abandon their children among the outcasts and untouchables.

The social structure the Empire adhered to was designed by the Continuum as a means of reflecting on the past, on the traditions of the Ancient People who formed the Collective, who embarked on the great space-faring adventures and whose colonies formed the Empire as it came to be.

Every citizen lived out their lives with the possibility of contemplating only a very narrow band of possibilities for themselves and their families.

Hope itself was discouraged, but in that bleak landscape the most powerful hopes would blossom, brightening the lives of the people like flower blooming in the arctic.

Work and trades were hereditary, they were guarded. Farmers farmed, builders built, and fishers fished. From one generation to the next sons followed their fathers into work, as daughters followed their mothers into the birthing chambers and lives of drudgery.

They married and had children within their class and caste, within their occupation, generation after generation.

Soldiers went to war, while priests officiated the sacred rites. The gears of the social wheel turned predictably and only the rarest of individuals even questioned it.

They people did not question the reality the were taught to believe, that they belonged exactly where they were.

Those rare individuals produced the drama that the Continuum hungered for, they were the source of energy that fed the Collective, kept the membership out of its malaise.

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

As oppressive as this system was, there was comfort in it. The vast majority of the people merely persisted, got by, and did not question what the gods had ordained for them.

Every person was beset by the intense pressure that came with the understanding that their future was completely dependent on every little decision they made in the here and now.

Citizens holding positions of power or authority required balance and poise, the more responsibility they had the more heavily they were scrutinized.

Every person’s life was a matter of public record, every step they took outside the home, every word they spoke. At any time they could held accountable for anything…for everything they had ever done.

The Collective loved to see people and families built up, only to watch them taken down, sometimes over the course of generations, at other time with bewildering speed.

The Continuum gave them these dramas, filling the Collective with the vicarious experiences they craved.

The greatest narratives the Continuum had ever constructed resulted in the destruction of entire worlds, the suppression of rebellion that resulted in total genocide.

The more power a person had the more careful they had to be. Billions of lives depended on their thoughtful application of it.

Such was the case with El the High Priest.

His rebellion had destroyed everything he had ever loved. Then, after his resurrection and his complete submission to Imperial rule, he held posts in which he signed orders that starved quarrelsome population into submission.

He led the Imperial armada on missions that turned entire planets into glowing cinders, sending their raw materials to the central system as an offering to the Collective.

As High Priest El blessed these missions and absolved the commanders of any and all crimes they and their troops committed in the furtherance of it. 

Control requires ever greater control; to force it is to lose it. In the Empire the exercise of power had to be done submissively, always in deference to a greater authority..

It was dichotomous.

The Empire cultivated a sense of helplessness, routinely crushing any sense of self esteem, while at the same bonding various groups of citizens together, forging a sense of belonging among the trillions of citizens living on a million worlds.

The ordinary citizen had no say in the destiny of their home-world, they saw it as theirs, and themselves as belonging to it. For the pleb, every link in the chain-of-being was a vital part of their culture and they had a duty to defend it, both in thought and deed.

Their advancement depended on their fidelity.

In the abstract the concept had a quality of beauty, a social symmetry and wholeness that the witnesses to it could not help but appreciate. In reality, every link in the chain was an instrument of bondage, forged together by lies and leading only to ruin.

The ordinary hopes and dreams of the people meant nothing to the Continuum and the Collective, they were merely data-points in a grand drama which they consumed vicariously, and hungered for with an insatiable appetite.

Any sense of control that an individual might feel was an illusion, fostered for the sake of creating a narrative that leant meaning to the lives of the Collective.

A person only had existential worth if they were noticed by the Collective, but that was by no means a guarantee of happiness.

The ambitions of an entire planet could be burnt up and scattered like cinders and ash, if it suited the will of the Collective.

No individual person or planet had inherent value.

The Continuum used the people while caring nothing at all for them, the people in their turn placed their hopes in the Continuum, desiring nothing more than to be elevated to the Collective and thereby to enter into eternal life.

The sacred rites functioned like a dragnet, drawing everyone in, capturing them body and soul.

Every citizen was compelled to conform; the Empire would not accept anything less than complete obedience. Attendance at the temple was mandatory. Few people even attempted to resist, those that did were discovered and subjected to advanced conditioning.

If the priesthood was unable to change the will of the deviant, they were expelled, cast out, they became untouchable.

Conformation to the Imperial way was the focus of the Imperial schools as well. Conditioning of the head reinforced the conditioning of the heart.

The schools provided an intellectual apparatus and frame of context for the religious rites to fill.

The rites of the Imperial cult were grand ceremonies, both simple and complex, they engaged the adherent at every level of their senses, they were imbued with hypnotic power.

The Empire’s goal was to supplant every natural communal bond, the bonds that every person formed instinctively with parents and siblings, with neighbors and classmates, in their villages, in their cities, on their planet of origin.

To condition to believe that there was freedom in bondage, and belonging in alienation, that obedience was the path to transcendence, and self-actualization could only be had in self-abnegation.

The deepest allegiance had to be to the Empire, and to the Continuum beyond it, that allegiance was based on the promise of a reward that was rarely given.

The priesthood used every device at its disposal, controlling the people with music and movement, with mantras and mandalas, through their diet and with drugs. They had honed their techniques over millions of years.

They never fully succeeded in this, and they never quit trying.

The most important thing the ordinary citizen required, both for their prospects of advancement, and to simply keep their place, was access to the right schools, the right priest in the right temple, or simply to have a relationship with their immediate supervisor.

In order to advance a person needed an advocate.

People coveted access more than anything, as such every access point was closely guarded. There were bureaucratic entanglements to negotiate and social hurdles to climb.

The norms of the hierarchies had to be observed.

In the struggle to craft a meaningful life, to provide some comfort for themselves or their families, everyone needed a hand up. They required representation by those who were ahead of them in rank or above them in class and caste.

The entire Empire was governed by systems of patronage and clientage.

To go anywhere a person needed access to authority, they needed access to those able to grant a boon or advance their cause, this was the grand nexus for the systemic corruption of the entire social order.

Nothing was free.

The limits to upward mobility were clear and near at hand. They could only be understood in economic terms.

The economics of advancement were disturbing, unethical, but by and large they were not illegal. It was not illegal to commit one’s child to a life of servitude in your patron’s house, it was not considered unethical to do so if it meant that another child could attend a better school.

Neither was it illegal to use your servants for whatever purpose you intended, even risking their lives for your own purposes, no matter how mundane or banal those purposes might be.

It was in that nexus that the people found their complicity in the crushing of one another’s dreams.


Emergence 4.0
Part Seven, War

Chapter Forty-five, Possession
A Novel – In One Chapter Per Week

#Emergence #ShortFiction #365SciFi #OneChapterPerWeek

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Friday, November 22, 2019

A Homily - Thirty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) - Christ the King


First Reading – 2 Samuel 5:1-3 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 121(122):1-5
Second Reading – Colossians 1:12-20 ©
Gospel Acclamation – Mark 11:10
The Gospel According to Luke 23.35 - 43 ©


Christ the King


Beware the folly of kings, beware of their pride and their vanity.

Human beings were not made to be ruled by tyrants.

Remember this!

You were conceived in the womb of salvation; it is pointless to seek that which has already found you.

Open your eyes.

Pay no attention to what the psalmist says: all this talk of secure cities and ramparts and thrones. God has nothing to do with these.

God, creator of the universe; is not a tribal deity.

God, creator of the universe; does not belong to one people, one nation, one world or one galaxy.

God is not a king, God does not dwell behind a walled city.

God is infinite and eternal and beyond our comprehension, and yet God is with us, within us; the being through whom we have our existence, in whom we came into being, God is everywhere..

It is right to give our thanks and praise.

The thanks that we give for our own well-being reflects a hope we should foster for all people, for the fullness of humanity.

Listen to the Apostle.

He see in Jesus the image of the unseen God, of God the creator of the Universe, the unknowable, the un-nameable God.

The Apostle tells us what the writers of John’s Gospel affirm, that all things were created in Christ, the Word of God, who Jesus of Nazareth is a reflection of.

All things redound to God, all things and beings are created through God and for Gods purposes; all principalities and all powers, all of the poor, all of the the alienated and all of those who suffer.

God holds all things together in unity.

Remember this, always keep this in the forefront of your mind:

God is not a king, a prince or a lord.

The Church, following in the way Jesus taught, can never be the extension of a royal dynasty, the Chruch is not an empire, it is not a feudal kingdom. The Church is a society of servants.

Listen!

A person cannot expect a reward in this life, for having lived a good life.

No reward shall be forth coming.

One person may experience a long life, surrounded by family and friends, admired by their community, living out their days in peace, and abundance. While another person may be reviled by their community, abandoned by their friends, framed for criminal offences and executed for crimes they did not commit.

There is no divine plan concerning what happens to us in this life.

God, the creator of the universe, God has made each of us free, and all of creation is free from divine coercion. The divine plan does not touch us in this world, it only promises to deliver us to another world when we are done with this one.

That is the way of things.

Believe in God’s promise.

The things we enjoy, and the things we suffer here, they are temporary; this is the promise of God.

We have no choice but to endure the things that come our way, or enjoy them, such as the case might be.

Our experience of this world is ephemeral.

A person may live their entire life outside of the bounds of good society and wisdom may still come to them at the end.

Listen to the voice of wisdom when you hear it.

Wisdom is wisdom regardless of the voice that speaks it.

Truth is truth, and lies are lies. Attenuate yourself to the differences between them.

Reflect on this:

Do not make the mistake of believing that God saved one of the criminals who died next to Jesus, and condemned the other.

Both men are children of God, and beloved by the creator.

A person is not saved because of their ability to recognize the divinity in Jesus, we are saved because God loves us and made us to be saved, there is no other causal factor than love.

The divine plan encompasses everyone; this is the good news that Jesus preached.


First Reading – 2 Samuel 5:1-3 ©

They Anointed David King of Israel

All the tribes of Israel then came to David at Hebron. ‘Look’ they said ‘we are your own flesh and blood. In days past when Saul was our king, it was you who led Israel in all their exploits; and the Lord said to you, “You are the man who shall be shepherd of my people Israel, you shall be the leader of Israel.”’ So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron, and King David made a pact with them at Hebron in the presence of the Lord, and they anointed David king of Israel.


Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 121(122):1-5
They filled me with joy when they said,

  “We will go to the house of the Lord.”

Now our feet are standing

  within your gates, Jerusalem.

Jerusalem, built as a city,

  whole and self-contained:

there the tribes have gone up,

  the tribes of the Lord –

the witness of Israel,

  to praise the Lord’s name.

For there are the thrones of justice,

  the thrones of the house of David.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:

  “Safety for those who care for you,

peace inside your walls,

  security within your ramparts!”

For my brethren and those near to me I will say

  “Peace be upon you.”

For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,

  I will call blessings upon you.


Second Reading – Colossians 1:12-20 ©

The Father has created a place for us in the kingdom of the Son that he loves

We give thanks to the Father who has made it possible for you to join the saints and with them to inherit the light.

Because that is what he has done: he has taken us out of the power of darkness and created a place for us in the kingdom of the Son that he loves, and in him, we gain our freedom, the forgiveness of our sins.

He is the image of the unseen God and the first-born of all creation, for in him were created all things in heaven and on earth: everything visible and everything invisible, Thrones, Dominations, Sovereignties, Powers – all things were created through him and for him.

Before anything was created, he existed, and he holds all things in unity.

Now the Church is his body, he is its head.

As he is the Beginning, he was first to be born from the dead, so that he should be first in every way; because God wanted all perfection to be found in him and all things to be reconciled through him and for him, everything in heaven and everything on earth, when he made peace by his death on the cross.


Gospel Acclamation – Mark 11:10

Alleluia, alleluia!

Blessings on him who comes in the name of the Lord!
Blessings on the coming kingdom of our father David!

Alleluia!


The Gospel According to Luke 23.35 - 43 ©

'Today you will be with me in paradise'

The people stayed there before the cross watching Jesus. As for the leaders, they jeered at him. ‘He saved others,’ they said ‘let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One.’ The soldiers mocked him too, and when they approached to offer vinegar they said, ‘If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.’ Above him there was an inscription: ‘This is the King of the Jews.’

One of the criminals hanging there abused him. ‘Are you not the Christ?’ he said. ‘Save yourself and us as well.’ But the other spoke up and rebuked him. ‘Have you no fear of God at all?’ he said. ‘You got the same sentence as he did, but in our case we deserved it: we are paying for what we did. But this man has done nothing wrong. Jesus,’ he said ‘remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ ‘Indeed, I promise you,’ he replied ‘today you will be with me in paradise.’


Thirty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) - Christ the King