Wednesday, June 29, 2011

China's Elite Communist Party

... Is actually one of the most elite organizations in the world. It. Is composed of 3 million largely urban educated men and women , a group that is thoroughly unrepresentative of the vast peasant society that it leads. Few of its high officials have real political skills. Those promoted tend to be good technocrats who are also skilled at the art of intraparty maneuvering and patronage. It remains to be seen whether these leaders have the charisma or ability to engage in mass politics -- the skills they will need to govern a population of 1.3 billion people that is becoming increasingly assertive. - The Post-American World - Fareed Zakaria - pg 112
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Daniel Patrick Moynihan

"The central conservative truth is that it is culture, not politics, that determines the success of a society. The central liberal truth is that politics can change a culture and save it from itself." ... The Arab world was once the center of science and trade but now its chief exports are oil and Islamic fundamentalism. - pg. 75 - The Post-American World - Fareed Zakaria
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The Largest Biggest Best

Look around. The tallest building is in Dubai. The richest man is Mexican. The largest publically traded corp is Chinese. The biggest plane is built in Russia/Ukraine. The leading refinery is in India. The largest ferris wheel is in Singapore. Macao exceeds Vegas in gambling revenues. Bollywood beats Hollywood in movies made and tickets sold. Twenty years ago America was at the top. - from The Post American World - Fareed Zakaria - Norton Press ISBN 978-0-393-08180-0
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african missionaries to america

Comment by one Catholic, reposted:

Africa has become so Christian, so Catholic, that they are now sending missionaries to America — we who thought we knew it all. Well it seems that we need the help and religion of those who only three generations ago were worshipping false idols, as we do now in America. We must be totally grateful for the faith of the Africans and their desire to help us maintain what is left of ours.

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Argument / debate

Repost from diaspora

"At any rate, I'm with Richard Dawkins on this. When you engage in a debate you don't attempt to convince your opponent. That's virtually impossible. The object of a debate is to persuade the audience, and when pursuing that end there's nothing wrong with ridiculing a ridiculous position." However, this comment is talking about a different situation than (I think) Plait is discussing. Plait is talking about one-on-one discussions. Dawkins shines in debates before an audience. There are two different goals here. You use different tactics when you're trying to convince your opponent, than when you're trying to convince your audience.

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Monday, June 27, 2011

When God Talks to Politicians

President McKinley knelt in prayer over the decision to invade the Philippines and the Voice of God told him it was his DUTY to civilize those sinful savages and now Michelle Bachmann has it STRAIGHT from God through prayer that she should be president! The little voice in her head has spoken. I feel reassured.

Now let us imagine there was some culture where EVERYONE was very religious and prayed about every life decision. Therefore everyone who got it into their heads to be a movie star or a rock star would pray to the Lord Almighty and, guess what, that little voice in their head would say YES the Lord wants YOU to be a star. This is why all the religious sports stars kneel in thanks to Jesus after every touchdown or home run because of course, in addition to all the starving children and suffering animals in the world and all the wars and disease and crime, Jesus REALLY wants those religious athletes to score big time.

For my next trick: I have here before me "The American Spirit" (Bailey Vol 1. Card# 63-9701, 1963) which is a collection of original documents arranged to illustrate American history. Page 27, CONFORMITY IN THE BAY COLONY: Anne Hutchinson is Banished (1637) - The powerful Massachusetts Bay Colony soon became a Bible Commonwealth, centered at Boston, and the clergymen who dominated it could not permit heretics to undermine their authority. Mistress Anne Hutchinson, who bore her husband FOURTEEN CHILDREN, was a kindly woman of nimble wit and even more nimble tongue. Gathering at her home a select group, she would review and even reinterpret the ministers' sermons in the light of her own brand of Calvinism. Haled before the General Court, she was subjected to a rigid cross-examination. The case against her seemed to be breaking down when her voluble tongue revealed that she was IN DIRECT COMMUNICATION WITH GOD - a heresy that the religious leaders could not tolerate. From this record of the Court, form relevant conclusions as to the Puritan way of thinking, and as to the justice or injustice of these proceedings. [Anne Hutchinson] Therefore take heed what ye go about to do unto me. You have power over my body, but the Lord Jesus hath power over my body AND SOUL; neither can you do me any harm, for I am in the hands of the eternal Jehovah, my Saviour. I am at his appointment for the bounds of my habitation are cast in Heaven, and no further do I esteem of any mortal man than creatures in his hand. I fear none but the great Jehovah, which hath FORETOLD ME of these things, and I do verily believe that he will deliver me out of your hands. Therefore take heed how you proceed against me; for I know that for this you go about to do to me, God will ruin you and your posterity, and this whole state. [Mr. Nowell] How do you know that it was od that did reveal these things to you and not Satan? [Mrs. Hutchinson] How did Abraham know that it was God that bid him offer [sacrifice] his son, being a breach of the sixth commandment?

[later in the text, the conclusion of the court] Governor Winthrop: The Court hath already declared themselves satisfied concerning the things you hear, and concerning the troublesomeness of her spirit, and the DANGER of her course amongst us, which is not to be suffered. THEREFORE, if it be the mind of the Court that Mrs. Hutchinson, for these things that appear before us, is UNFIT for our society, and if it be the mind of the Court that she shall be BANISHED out of our liberties, and imprisoned until she be sent away, let them hold up their hands. [All but THREE held up their hands]

Erik: William, you don't actually believe that the decision to engage in the Spanish-American war was a momentary whimsy of a God-nut, do you? Please tell me that you 'Remember the Maine.' 

I am making a perfectly reasonable argument based upon well known facts. I seriously doubt that Bachmann SINCERELY believes that a little voice of God spoke in her head, that "still, small voice" that the prophet heard, BUT I think that she thinks it is politically expedient to say such a thing to appease the drooling Bible-belt masses. The journalist who interviewed her this morning on television (where she spoke of God's voice) also confronted her with some of her past statements which appear questionable and in some instances false. So, IF Bachmann really thinks that God is telling her to be president then this disqualifies her from office but IF she is LYING about her supernatural experience to gain Bible-belt votes then that too disqualifies her.

Erik: What "well known facts"? That McKinley "knelt in prayer over the decision to invade the Philippines and the Voice of God told him it was his DUTY to civilize those sinful" Catholics? Really? 

William: Erik, yes, really, and my wife is from the Philippines and is the most gung-ho Catholic on the face of the Earth, and Filipinos were Catholic and under 333 years of Spanish rule since around the 1500s BUT the South, Mindanao I think, was converted to Islam 200 years EARLIER by Arab merchants (just an interesting factoid to throw in.) Of course McKinley didn't know or care about that which is what makes his prayerful guidance so ludicrous. But THEN during the occupation, a bunch of good ol' Christian boys from the South wrote home about how shooting a bunch of N!g@rs was more fun than shooting rabbits. One American soldier was killed and so in retribution the Americans murdered an entire string of villages (which I suppose is GENOCIDE).

Tom: I think Bachmann is both delusional and opportunistic … a dangerous combination … strange, how war always begins with prayer, and religious pomp, with clergy parading around all wrapped up in the flag, whatever the flag might be. The story of the German Church, in both world wars, is unbelievable - they bought the Kaiser's world-view, and that of Hitler, lock, stock and barrel. 

William: Someone reading this thread might easily assume that I dislike Bachmann. On the contrary, as I listened to her I was extremely impressed by how capable she might be as a president. The purpose of my post is to try and demonstrate that Jefferson really did have a good idea about "erecting a wall between Church and State" … now Americans (good Bible loving Christians that we are) truly value the FAMILY which of course is a union of one male and one female (and no adultery, prostitution, porn, self-gratification, etc) and so whoever occupies the White House MUST be married and engage in sexual intercourse BUT would it have been appropriate for the journalist to ask for details about how often they do it, and in what positions, missionary, doggie, oral… hmmm…. I guess NOT on the basis of something that someone OH, yes, I remember, some fellow named JESUS, said that when you pray you should do it in the privacy of your bedroom and what you do in secret with God will be rewarded by God openly but as for the hypocrite who has trumpeters toot their horns as they do alms on the street corner, well, they already have their reward… so IS IT NOT reasonable to extrapolate from Jesus sage advice and conclude that it would be inappropriate for her to discuss her sexual activity in her bedroom as well as her prayer…. OH but who really cares what Jesus said or thought because Jesus said that divorce is simply dreadful EXCEPT for reason of adultery in which case a spouse may be "put away" BUT Jesus did not say that one is free to remarry, so perhaps Jesus felt that those divorced people would content themselves with a life of prayer and celibacy and fasting like various saints and prophets.

In theory an overweight Lesbian of African ancestry (who converted or was raised in Reform Judaism) might have all the attributes necessary to lead America and the world out of its troubles and create peace and prosperity BUT we could never put her into office BECAUSE we have an irrational fear of colored people, females, Lesbians, Jews, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, etc. I was in the kitchen listening to the TV in the living room and heard Bachmann and even though I lean to the left I thought "now there is an impressive person" and I walked out, took one look, and said to my wife, "well of course she has to be drop-dead gorgeous because the lame-brained American public would NEVER put a plain looking person in office." No, Ms. Bachmann, if you had no boobs or if you had boobs down to your belly button we would have to disqualify you because we are a very picky nation. We only want genius BUT we dont like intellectuals BUT we like a certain type of Pharisaical religious person (but only from certain denominations) - SO, when you get on that old campaign trail we expect you to tell the Bible belt that you have invited Jesus into your hears as your "personal Savior" (what the heck is an impersonal savior anyway --- "ok, I am saving you all but I have no idea who the hell you are, but I dont care because I am the savior and that is what I do I save everybody and everything because I am a Unitarian Universalist --- just kidding, Tom, sort of)

Erik: I think that 100% of Republican disagree with what Tom has to say about Republicans. 

William: Most scorpions, if not all, would agree that the scorpion is the chosen people, and they pray to their scorpion God, for God was so loving that God incarnated as a scorpion and crawled the earth and died and was resurrected and ascended into heaven (but a scorpion without sin who never stang, stinged, stung once in his life… of course he was a MALE scorpion… dont be silly) …. but those heretic cockaroaches claim that the cockaroach is the chosen creature and they point to all the literature on nuclear holocaust which says that only the cockaroaches survive and they dont say beans about those scurvy scorpions.

Fortune: [yes that is her name] Stay focused - Bachmann's always preaching against accepting money from the government, but she herself reported 300K in profits from farm subsidies given to her "family farm." Likewise her husband's "Christian therapy" clinic receives substantial funds from the Feds for offering "drug treatment." Her "23 foster children" were of course also the source of transfer payments. She lives by sucking the very teat she wishes to deny others.

Fortune: No Wm. Not even in jest. She is a beacon of anti-gay hate. 

William: But, I thought God sees homosexuals as an abomination. That spiritual beacon of Catholic converts, Mr. Sparrow, back in 1968 carefully listened to rumors that I was a homosexual and then (rather than simply as to speak with me since I would have welcomed anyone's counsel on anything) he plotted with my best friend David Cicia to INVITE me to supper and I felt so honored that a Tutor whom I did not even know would want me to supper and during cocktails (about 10 minutes after I arrived) he suddenly rolled his eyes up into his skull like a mad bull and screamed to the top of his lungs "HOMOSEXUALITY IS AN ABOMINATION UNTO GOD" and I gave David Cicia a perplexed look and he looked embarrassed and I was thoroughly confused… nothing further was ever said that evening… the college had admitted Bob Kinsky straight from a mental hospital and Kinsky hit on me and I refused (because I never had sex with any male female or beast until I was age 30) and then Kinsky went about spreading rumors which of course Tutor Sparrow listened to (since idle gossip is also an ABOMINATION UNTO THE LORD) … but… karma has its justice because years later Sparrow got an anullment from the mother of his 10 or so children and had a Catholic wedding with another woman (Peter has the keys to the kingdom).. and SO Fortune why wouldnt you want a president who sees the obvious truth that "HOMOSEXUALITY IS AN ABOMINATION UNTO THE LORD" … or … is it… or is hypocrisy and idle gossip and rumor and bearing false witness an abomination unto the Lord, or perhaps the Lord doesn't really care… or perhaps Sparrow will roast in hell for all eternity simply for what he did to me…ah… but perhaps Sparrow asked God to forgive him just like the Honorable Newt Gingrich asked God to forgive all his adultery and.. God is so cool that he forgives all kinds of stuff…. so I say we let all the gays and lesbians marry and then simply ask God to forgive them… and that should work just fine… No?

David: I'm surprised that we seem to have apologists for American behavior during the Spanish-American Landgrab and the even longer Philippines War that followed. We often hear the "there were atrocities on both sides" argument. The problem with that argument is that the Filipinos ‘belong’ in the Philippines and Americans don't. The Filipinos did not invade the United States and commit atrocities here. If they committed atrocities they were against an invading army. I'm sure there were atrocities on both sides of the Soviet/Afghan war, too, but the Soviets were the invaders and the Afghans were defenders of their own territory (with a little help from their Muslim friends). I don't condone atrocities of any kind, but neither do I concede a moral equivalence b/w an invading, imperialistic force and a native, defending force.

Be thou a spiritual Bezaleel

My best friend from age 25 (we were novices together in a Greek Monastery) is now the only non-Greek every to be accepted to St. Catherines Mt. Sinai and his head librarian in charge of electronically preserving texts which date back to the 4th century (including the Codex Sinaiticus which is the oldest know copy of the complete Bible including Apocrypha-Deuterocanonical and is in Greek Septuagint) - he just wrote to me a about an obscure reference by St. Vincent of Lerins 6th century (or 4th) saying "you must be a SPIRITUAL BEZALEEL, adorning and shaping the doctrine without distorting it." Bezaleel was appointed to be the chief architect/engineer in charge of decorating/designig the tabernacle of Moses" The essence of Eastern Orthodoxy is to preserve everything unchanged and show a doctrinal continuity between Old Testament and New Testament so that, as Augustine said, the New Testament is in the Old Testament concealed and the Old Testament is in the New Testament revealed. Archbishop Anthony Krapovitsky of the Russian Orthodox Church (dating from the time of the Revolution) speculated that Christ's prayer for unity in Gesthemene  "Father all those whom you have given to me MAY THEY BE ONE even as you and I are one" is a prayer for doctrinal and liturgical unity. We know what happened historically with the Greeks from the 2nd century and with Rome and Europe after the Great Schism of 1054 and then with the Reformation of the 16th century. Anyway, all elements which work to increase unity and historical continuity are very significant even if they are also problematic.

Papal Infallibility, Kung, Ratzinger and Plato's Noble Lie

I know a lot about the papal infallibility issue and what Hans Kung said about it and how what he said got him disbarred from teaching theology (so he moved to the philosophy department)... I know about the letter to Pope Celestine wrote to the Synod of Ephesus (which he chose NOT to attend) and where he basically says that a properly convened council has the force of infallibility (which is what the Greek Orthodox believe regarding the first 7 ecumenical counsels)... I know the first time it was formally invoked was around 1850 and that was sole for the purpose to declare the Immaculate Conception as dogma (and the Orthodox have never accepted the notion of Original Sin or the Immaculate Conception which would have been necessary.)  I am not a Hans Kung or a Joseph Ratzinger but I have spent some years writing about these things. Lets face the fact that few people in the world have the academic foundation to really appreciate what went on for the first 2000 years of Christian Doctrinal development and one of them was Jaroslav Pelikan. Anyway no matter what I say or how I say it there will be a majority of readers who misunderstand or do not care and there are going to be a very small number who find it interesting and have some foundation to discuss it, but I just write what comes to mind with those few readers in mind who will take an interest without taking offense....   Actually, I personally see ad hoc value to the doctrine of Papal Infallibility and the authority of the Magisterium as a kind of Plato's Noble Lie (except in Greek it is not really "lie" but more like "account/theory" ... but of the 1.7 billion "Christians on the planet" there are 1 billion Roman Catholics (I am not one),... and those Roman Catholics have a greater degree of unity of doctrine and liturgical practice than any other denomination.... on the other hand I see where Hans Kung is coming from and I have seen hints that Ratzinger at some point gave a not the Kung's point BUT Ratzinger is not in any position to agree with Kung without chaos breaking loose.  There is much practical benefit in the unifying authority of the magisterium above and beyond the theoretical weakness that one may find in the doctrine or history.

The Woman in Red

There is an old movie called, I think "The Woman in Red" I was married in 1979 and in 1980 I happened to be invited up to the apartment of a woman in the next building (who did not know I was married). She wanted to make me a sandwich but I politely declined. THEN all of a sudden she gave me these bedroom "come hither" eyes and said in a deep sensuous voice "YOU dont have to be afraid of ME" and in that heart beat moment I knew I could do anything I pleased BUT suddenly it was like a saw right into her soul and saw all this depression SO the next thing I said was "do you ever get DEPRESSED" and she looked down and said "YEAH, sometimes I get REAL depressed!"  Now this was several years before the movie came out but in a single instant I saw in my mind's eye the plot of that movie and I realized that I would be very foolish to take advantage of this poor, vulnerable, unstable woman.

Kant's categorical imperative and the calculus of consequences

Yes, suppose the decoy girl that you use falls deeply in love with you and then when she learns of the deception she ends her life. I know this is an unlikely scenario but it HAS happened before so it is not an IMPOSSIBLE scenario and then for the rest of your life you would regret that your actions aimed at short term gratification resulted in someone taking their own life. Back to Kant and his categorical imperative, we must assume all possible scenarios of our words and deeds and then base our decisions upon the worst case scenario.

Achieving our ends through deception

I think that whenever we attempt to gain our desired ends by trickery or deception then we build a house upon the sand so that it does not have a firm foundation and will collapse... Emmanuel Kant spoke of the "categorical imperative" which mean that you should take any action and then universalize it so that everyone does it and see if it still seems prudent... well, to take a slightly different slant, think of that politician Weiner who had an attractive and pregnant wife, who was himself young and handsome and successful, but he chose to do a foolish thing by sending inappropriate photos to women he hardly knew.  Now that will follow him around for the rest of his life.  So whatever plan you conceive to achieve your goals, ask yourself what would happen if somehow you became famous and what you did became public knowledge and then ask yourself if you would be OK with everyone knowing. IN FACT this is totally analogous to Diaspora with private aspects and public posts. Except in life assume that every word and deed will become a public post and get in the search engines sooner or later. I grew up in the 1950s when no one mentioned sex.... and I was age 30 before my first experience. Now things are very different. Anyway, if you wait until someone who really wants you comes along you will not die from deprivation for love is not like air or water or food. Just my thoughts.

Friends v. Lovers

Situation comedies like Friends and Seinfeld talk about the danger of a woman seeing you as "just a friend" or like a brother… because then they will never become erotic. Patience is best. Do not TRY too hard to make something happen and then if nothing happens you will not be disappointed but if something DOES happen you will be pleasantly surprised. BUT at some point it is wise to discuss each others expectations ESPECIALLY if one person is very young since the very young are not certain what they want and become curious to try things for the novelty but perhaps later regret their experimentation. Also a young woman becomes aware of the power she holds over males and so it becomes like an intoxicating game, a mind game, and yet the woman's (girl's ) actions are misunderstood, misconstrued as wanting something more than they really want. Old Buddhist wisdom: Desire is the source of all suffering. We suffer because we desire things we do not have and we have things we do not desire.

A simple peasant's faith

Let us imagine the hypothetical scenario of a simple peasant (think of The Way of the Pilgrim) except our peasant will be illiterate. Our peasant has looked at icons and heard people talk about Jesus. Our peasant becomes very fond of his/her concept of Jesus (even though perhaps their idea of Jesus is very far from any "orthodox" understand)... Our peasant decides to spend their life helping the sick and the hungry and decides to remain celibate, and they are endowed by a purity of heart such that they do not even hanker after unseemly things in their imagination...  and they continue in this life for 80 years and die. Question 1) are they saved. Well the judgment of God is a mystery to man so we cannot know if anyone is saved because that is the purpose of a resurrection and judgment. SO next question: IF it should happen that they are saved at the judgment then will they be saved by their FAITH? But they were simple and illiterate and perhaps had notions which are quite strange if not incorrect. Were they saved by their WORKS and way of life? People labored in the vineyard, some from the first hour and others only at the final hour and all received their penny for their labor. Or is it the case that our peasant was gifted with a saintly nature, foreknown and foreordained before conception as, was it Jeremiah, "before you were conceived I foreknew you and while you were in the womb I sanctified you."   David, I respectfully take exception to your use of the word SIMPLE. I say that if anything were simple, then the entire world would agree upon at least one thing of significance, but to my knowledge the world has yet to arrive as such an agreement.

Satan posing as a false Christ

I spent some years with Old Calendarist Greeks who sincerely believed that the New Calendar Greeks were a "synagog of Satan" and that they had been deceived into worshiping a FALSE Christ, an "angel of light" as St. Paul warns... and of course there are sufficient verses to provide ammunition for THEIR argument just as there are sufficient verses to support the convictions of the 5 college students who gather with the sliced bread and grape juice. So there ARE those who see that which is heretical as also demonic. For me, personally, I would have to say that the greatest success Satan enjoyed was the notion that people are saved by faith alone through grace for if such were the original notion of Christianity then why would the first centuries be filled with desert fathers and anchorites who fled the cities and lived in celibacy. Why would they not stay in the cities with their wives and children, sipping their beer, and enjoying the fellowship of their friend Jesus who forgives all and guarantees them a "once saved always saved" get out of jail free card?

How do we define love

How do we define "love" - years ago out of curiosity I opened Strong's Exhaustive Concordance and searched for the first occurrence of the word "love" and found to my surprise that it was the love of wild game mean that Esau's father had for the dishes that Esau prepared.  The word "faith" only occurs TWICE, and the first time in the NEGATIVE (faithlessness Deut. 32) so I began to ponder why the themes of love and faith are not developed more rigorously in the Old Testament if they are so essential to religion. Socrates speaks of "loving" (desiring) only that which we do not possess saying "The Gods do not love wisdom for they possess it" which makes love in to a kind of absence. Genesis 27:4 "make me savory meat such as I love"

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Pure monotheism

The only place I see PURE monotheism is Islam and that is not my favorite religion. Trinity seems a later development and 1 John 1:5 seems a later addition (three in heaven testify to three on Earth) because it is not in earliest manuscripts and was never cited during ecumenical council debates. Also Jaroslav Pelikan and David Christie Murray point out that many people unconsciously think in terms of modalism without realizing it. What strikes me is that during first 7 ecumenical councils the various monophysites monothelites Arians etc OUTWARDLY resembled the "orthodox" with vestments, liturgical practice, and only differed in some small difference of dogma... but after Reformation, the 1500 + sects of Christianity differ so widely that on one side of Rockford Illinois is "Church of Christ WITH music" (they have piano / organ) and on other side of town is "Church of Christ WITHOUT music" (since musical instruments are sinful , all must be sung a capella) - Three persons united is not pure monotheism... nor is Judaism with shekinah and hachmah (wisdom) ... it hints of plurality and why would it be necessary to proclaim so LOUDLY shema Israel if monotheism were intuitively obvious... and why is Elohim PLURAL

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Does the Law Educate and Does Knowledge Transform Lives?

(My reply to a Facebook thread just now) - It is odd that the European Union is indifferent to #abortion but is appalled at #capital punishment whereas the blood-thirsty "Christians" of America (ESPECIALLY Texas) revel in capital punishment. Kurt #Vonnegut wryly observed that Americans clamor to erect monuments to Moses's Ten #Commandments yet no one ever things to put up a plaque for Jesus's #Beatitudes of the #Sermon on the Mount. It took me a lifetime to realize how terribly destructive alcohol and tobacco are. Yet #PROHIBITION was not the answer to criminalize alcohol and for the same reasons one will achieve nothing good by criminalizing tobacco or abortion. Somehow the answer lies in educating people to find such things loathsome and abhorrent.

John - Islam (Mohammad) was of the opinion that chopping off a hand would discourage thieves. Do you feel such corporal punishment has been effective? It is my understanding that prior to Rowe v. Wade abortion WAS criminalized and it did not seem that there were LESS abortions. Switzerland has had great success by legalizing heroin. Each addict registers with the government and reports every day to receive ONLY TWO INJECTIONS (junkies in Manhattan shoot up 5 or 6 times a day because it is not pure heroin).. but NOW the government is their pusher and they must do what the government says and the government makes them go to counseling to stop alcohol and prostitution etc. Now if we look at Plato's Republic then we see the suggestion that the state can be an instrument to produce citizens possessing virtue. I find it odd that one of the few things Jesus explicitly prohibits is DIVORCE except in the case of adultery and Jesus makes no mention of the possibility of remarriage. Isn't it strange that Bible-loving Christian American never gives a thought to criminalizing divorce or adultery or fornication? We have our "HONORABLE" Newt Gingrich who is on his third wife and had an affair during the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal. But Newt appeared in an interview and explained that he has "asked God for forgiveness" and so everything is honky dory. Perhaps since God finds homosexuality such an abomination therefore gays and lesbians should take a lesson from Honorable Newt and have their same sex marriage but then simply ask God for forgiveness. That should work? No?

John: Are you of the opinion that law can never have an educative effect on people? 

John, consider the MANY congressmen, senators and even presidents who have fallen pray to their temptations. There are probably fewer judges guilty of misconduct (I would have to Google) BUT given that it is congress which frames legislation and the senate which passes it (and the president signs it into law or vetoes)…. all those folks play a role in writing, interpreting and enforcing the law. So, John, YOU feel that even though the body of people who author the law are often guilty of dishonest conduct, yet they will produce a body of law which will educate the general populace. As I remember it Moses brought the laws down to the people from Sinai and for 40 years they wandered in the wilderness and yet often they did wrong things. God CHOSE Saul and even gave Saul a new heart and yet it is written that God regretted having chosen Saul. And David had his share of iniquity and Solomon and finally the temple was destroyed and the Jews were scattered to the diaspora.

John: Do you think a bad man can make a good law? Can you separate (to any degree) a man from his office? 

William: John, I have the feeling that you are playing games. Do you feel that you are Socrates and you can lead me with dialectic questions out of the cave and into the light of day? I tell you what. In MY book, smart people don't ask questions, they give answers, good answers, GREAT ANSWERS that boggle the mind. Furthermore I suspect that your questions are not genuine, sincere questions for which you seek some answer. I suspect that you ALREADY have your mind set regarding what the real truth is and you are playing this little Socratic game with me. Now for a Christian (if there are any of those around, I am not certain) I would think they would turn to the parable of Christ about the woman caught in the act of adultery, about to be stoned. Jesus invited anyone without sin to cast the first stone. Now Jesus is believed by some to be the only SINLESS one and Jesus said "I give you a NEW law" which must mean that Jesus is a law giver. SO, John would you still like to ask if bad men can make good laws? Then there are some more verses about how all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and there is no one good, not one. So from that Biblical perspective there is no such thing as a good person and therefore all laws are framed, interpreted and enforced by people who are not good in any sense of the word. PERHAPS they are forgiven but they are not good. But then of course anyone who feels that the Bible is a pile of rubbish will simply laugh at my post and say "Who cares?"

John: Well, I try to think about these things instead of feeling about them, but maybe that's beside the point. 

I think that if we ask the right questions, regardless of what you or I may think the answer may be, we will eventually come to the truth. I don't claim to be "smart" enough to compose answers that boggle the mind, I would rather see if I or anyone else actually understand what we are talking about. It seems to me that to give an answer without first clarifying what the question is is the real intellectual dishonesty. Anyone can simply give an answer that people find interesting, but only the intellectually honest can ask questions that may or may not work out to the answer he is expecting.

Now as to your invocation of Scripture, it seems to me that what follows from this statement: 

"Then there are some more verses about how all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and there is no one good, not one. So from that Biblical perspective there is no such thing as a good person and therefore all laws are framed, interpreted and enforced by people who are not good in any sense of the word" 

is that either there are no good laws or that good laws can be made by bad, sinful men. Is my logic wrong?

William: In fact, let's take a look at the Bible on three issues: 1.) World Peace 2.) Elimination of Poverty and 3.) The question in this thread of somehow eliminating serious crimes and murders and abortions. Now it is interesting that people speak of abortion as "murder of innocents" and yet one billion Roman Catholics in the world believe firmly in "original sin" and so in what sense may we say that those fetuses are "innocent." But aren't we somehow conflating notions of guilt with notions of murder? If killing is wrong then is it not wrong regardless of the guilt or innocence of the victim? OK - World Peace - The New Testament says somewhere that until the end, the final judgment, there will always be wars and rumors of war. So if we take the Bible seriously we know that in is not possible to achieve world peace. OK next "elimination of poverty" - both Moses and Jesus say that "the poor shall always be with you. Moses says it right after the verse which forbids gleaning your fields during harvest, .. leave the gleanings for the poor humans AND the hungry animals. So the Bible suggests that the poor will always be with us until the end of time, until the judgment. Finally, we may consider Jesus question "when I return SHALL I EVEN FIND ANY FAITH." From a Biblical perspective it does not seem practical to expect law and government to stop wrong doing. IN FACT, IF it were possible for law to stop people from wrongdoing then why was the incarnation, crucifixion and resurrection necessary? Hans Kung asks this on page one of "On Being Christian" - namely, why do we need Christ? Why can't we just live good, moral, humanist lives?

The Magisterium and the Catechism and Encyclicals are "law" in a sense and I think that the law of the RC Church has done a lot of good over the past 2000 years BUT has it eradicated sin and wrong doing? Obviously it has diminished wickedness but it has not eliminated it. Did Prohibition stop people from consuming alcohol? No and furthermore Prohibition created a black market for the Mafia. Does Islamic Sharia law in the theocratic states of Iran or Pakistan or U.A.E. eliminate theft, murders, prostitution, drug and alcohol abuse? Obviously not. I do not think it is possible to legislate morality. Some laws are better than other laws and statistical studies can demonstrate periods where certain crimes are in a decline and other times when such crimes are on an increase. In my opinion when abortion is criminalized then wealthy women travel to countries where they can get what they want while poor women die in back alley abortions and a black market is created.

John: First, what is, as you present it, my agenda? 

Second, I think you are equivocating all over the place about "law". Didn't you, not 45 minutes ago, claim that Christ is a lawgiver, and now you accuse me of schizophrenia for asking whether laws can be good whileprofessing to be a Christian? You have to have some more honesty and clarity if you want to actually converse with other people. Otherwise you're just talking to yourself about your own "agenda". You still have not answered a single question I've asked. You have only jumped to conclusions about what my opinion probably is based on the questions that I ask and attacked those straw men with dubious concrete examples. I want real arguments please.

William: I think it is obvious from an overview of 10,000 years of recorded history that 1.) laws do not prevent crime and it is also (I should hope from my above posts) obvious that a believing Roman Catholic is not free to speculate but must seek answers from the Church. A Protestant (depending upon which of the 2,000 denominations) has far more latitude that the Roman Catholic but is still going to bump into problems posted by various verses in the Bible. I personally do not believe that any single president in an 8 year two term office will fix the problems of the nation or the world. I side more with Locke who sees humans as capable of both good and evil than I do with Hobbes who sees people as totally rotten (and I suppose we could throw John Calvin in this on the totally rotten and depraved aspect.) So, my dear fellow, the real answer is that there is no real answer in the sense of some final ultimate solution which will right all the wrongs of human existence. I don't think criminalizing drugs or abortion or any number of other things solves problems. I think a better solution is to TRY to educate people from childhood to make better choices BUT here again we like to pay garbage collectors more than we pay school teachers. I was a Greek Orthodox Christian for 20 years, converting from nothingness in my 20s and drifting away in my forties for the simple reason that I could not live up to what was expected of me so I accepted the fact that I am probably eternally damned, and I don't believe in Protestant notions of forgiveness by confessing Christ, etc. I dont think Martin Luther could live up to what he had vowed as an Augustinian and so his solution was to re-write Christianity.

John: I don't remember anyone asking whether laws prevented crime, all that was asked was whether law had an educative effect on the governed. I asked that question, no one answered it. I simply don't agree with you about Roman Catholicism, but that's another issue entirely. 

I suppose I agree that there will be no "final ultimate solution" to the miseries of humanity (before the Lord comes again). I do not, however, think that excuses us from perfecting ourselves and our communities to the best of our ability. It seems to me that what really matters in the final analysis is the purity of the heart rather than the success or failure of our efforts. 

Why did you accept that you are probably eternally damned, unless you mean that facetiously? What I guess I mean is, are you a Christian (in the sense that you believe some Christian creed to be true) or not? And if not, why do you think you are damned? Or are you not being honest?

Susan: Mr. Buell, as far as anyone can tell there were far far fewer abortions before abortion became legal. There are no stats about how many there were, and the figures usually thrown around were admitted to be utter fabrications by those who made them up. But it was shameful, difficult, dangerous, and painful to get an illegal abortion, and that fact deterred a lot of women from taking the risk of getting pregnant in the first place. I lived in the very end of those times and know what it was like when I was in high school. After abortion became legal I saw women have abortions who would never have considered it before, such as a married woman whose second child was coming too close after the first, after a fight with her husband, for instance. The law is a teacher, and it has taught people that the once almost unthinkable is just a routine matter, no big deal. Something like a fourth of pregnancies in this country now end in abortion. There is no way that many abortions were happening before it was legalized, (starting somewhat before 1973 with liberalized laws in a few states.) Whether what the law has now taught can be untaught, I don't know. 

William: Most criminals, I would imagine, KNOW that they are doing wrong and know it because it is the law which made them aware so YES in a sense the law EDUCATES us. St. Paul writes about this…. That which I will I do not, that which I will not I do, the spirit is willing, the flesh is weak…. and we may toss in Socrates excellent point that all people by nature desire the good, but then we must throw in Solomon's wisdom that "there are ways which seem good unto a man but the end thereof is death."

William: We all know there is one SURE FIRE method of birth control and HIV prevention: abstinence and celibacy. As one wise physician of Mennonite background tells young patients "BEFORE you consider the sin of fornication, consider the sin of birth control so that you will not have to consider the sin of abortion." Pascal said "the heart has reasons of which Reason knows nothing." Woody Allen, with regard to marrying his adopted daughter said "the heart wants what it wants." The Old Testament says in several places that the wickedness of the hearts imaginings knows no bounds. We all know that tobacco causes cancer and emphysema but that knowledge (or education if you will ) is , well, necessary but not sufficient to cause people to quit smoking.

Susan: Mr. Buell, forget about abortion for a minute, since you aren't about to have one, and think about your soul. Of course you couldn't live up to everything asked of us as Christians! That's why we say "Lord have mercy" so many times in the liturgy! That is why we have the Sacrament of Penance. You just need to say, "I did this, I am sorry, Lord, help me to do better." And to say it over and over again. I know that can be embarrassing, but the person you are saying it to, or who is witnessing you say it to Christ, has experienced the same thing after all. I am afraid that it is pride not to want to face that we have done that same stupid or embarrassing thing yet again. We don't want to face that we are that person who is so weak as we face it when we say it to someone else. But with grace, at some point, it doesn't matter so much what "I" am. Let go of it, be willing to be a sinner coming to the foot of the cross, again and again. There is never a time when the offer of mercy is withdrawn…. until death. I heard you say on FB the other day that "Life disgusts me" and that you always have to be doing something , engaged in some discussion, to distract yourself. Life disgusts you because you have turned away from the Source of Joy. Please, turn back before it is too late, and say "Lord have mercy" again. For He is gracious, and loves mankind!

William: Susan, I know how you feel, but I believe what I believe because of my lifetime of experiences. Hallaj, the first Sufi martyr, executed by Orthodox Sunni Muslims, as he was being led to the gallows, said "If I had had your experiences I would have no choice but to execute me and if you had had MY experiences you would have no choice but to exclaim as I did that I am in unity with Allah."

William: It is my understanding that any Roman Catholic who is acting in good conscience will vote for abortion laws and vote for anything else that the Church endorses and vote against anything that the Church condemns. Therefore, why argue about the wisdom of pro life legislation or play games with statistics to say that there are fewer abortions when it is criminalized than when it is legal. If some precision military strike happened to kill one civilian it would be hailed as a tremendous victory. If a military action kills several thousand then it is lamentable but necessary. If a military action kills 300,000 million people then it is genocide. I dont know WHEN the world first began to worry about genocide. They didnt seem to worry about it during the Indian wars or the march of tears. But its like Stalin said, one death is a tragedy but 10,000,000 deaths is a statistic. Only they way I just described it, one death is splendid military leadership and planning but 300 million deaths is a hideous abomination. And yet, when the jury was grilling Oppenheimer, insisting that he was unpatriotic for opposing development of the H-Bomb it was clear that America contemplated bombing its way across Russia and continuing on through China to make the world safe for Democracy by exterminating 300 million people. So its all a numbers game. If you pass anti-abortion legislation and the statistics drop to 1000 abortions a year then you will feel that you have achieved some moral victory BUT if abortions increase then you will feel you have failed. To me it is as silly as the Pharisees who strained at the gnat and swallowed the camel, counting their tithes of anise and cumin and saying CORBAN it is a gift… Mark 7:11 … otherwise have received from me is Corban' (that is, a gift devoted to God), … THAT IS quite frankly how I see your statistics … as something Pharisaical … So if you could stop all abortions then what would you do about all the killing in wars… oh, but they are JUST wars… and if you could stop all murders on earth then there would still be your backbiting and gossiping and bearing false witness and coveting and anger…

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Facebook Group Chat and Diaspora

Regarding #Facebook #Group #Chat - I noticed someone's comment that Facebook did not implement group chat rooms. I have created several Facebook groups and been #admin in several others and it is in a Facebook group that GROUP CHAT is possible.  Each group member has the option to ignore group chats. I have only seen chats take place a few times. Some people were annoyed by them and didnt understand how to adjust the settings to ignore them. An individual Facebook account can have no more than 5,000 friends. I have known a few people (in media and politics) who had the max of 5,000.  A GROUP may have as many as one million members. Anyone can create a Facebook group and then add any number of people on their friends list. People notice they have been added when they see a new group at the left of their home page. People are added without their consent but they may then go to the group and click LEAVE group and once they do that they cannot be readded. IF they later want to join they must find the group in a search and apply to join and an admin must approve them. Each new member of a group may add as many from their own friends list as they please. Hence in a group people can communicate with each other who are not actually on each others friend list.  The old style group of 2 years ago was set up to offer new members an INVITE which had to be accepted. The new facebook group just automatically adds a person and it is up to them to LEAVE the group if they dont like it.  So YES there is a group chat feature in Facebook but I have never seen people use it or really like it.  In any kind of chat between two or more people it is REAL TIME so you have to sit at the keyboard, read, and respond quickly.  I think many people prefer threads and wall posts because they can pass by every hour or two, read, and reply. It is kind of like those chess games by MAIL which were more common prior to the 1960s where each person would mail a letter with the next move. I feel that Diaspora contacts who truly desire chat could get by with jabber or IRC or Yahoo, Aim, IRC.  I have participated in chat rooms, IRC,, message boards since 1998.  One thing I noticed in the early days of yahoo chat rooms around 1999 was that people would enter a room and ask "what is the topic" which was silly because even if a topic did start up no one had the attention span or discipline to stay on topic and discuss something deeply for more than 5 minutes. People tend to have short attention spans and seek immediate gratification or diversion by skimming the surface with shallow observations. No one wants to read dig in and discuss something in depth and google for examples. You will see a few threads in my with examples of long discussions. Religion chat rooms are the one place where people are willing to have long arguments but such people are mostly opinionated and narrow minded and they keep harping on the same points over and over.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Homeric Choices


Achilles must choose between a long but ignoble life or a short, glorious life.

Odysseus is torn between the island of Calypso which offers IMMORTALITY but obscurity or Ithica
which offers mortality but honor, fame.

Eris (Discord) gives Paris the apple and he must choose between Juno (Riches, Power), Athena (glory, renown) or
Venus (the love of fair women)

Ajax chooses death by seeking Achilles armor. Odysseus chooses Athena. Paris chooses Venus.

This is an illustration I made at St. Johns around 1968.

How to join the Diaspora chat at jabber

Step 1, go to and create a jabber account or if you like simply install which is one of the many jabber clients available and then pidgin will allow you to create a jabber account.

It is necessary to realize in pidgin that XMPP is what you will be choosing because jabber is an XMPP service. 

My jabber identity is

As soon as you get jabber running you may add me as a "buddy".

If you search for chat rooms then the room you want is DIASPORA and will be found in in the ROOM LIST.

IF you request as a buddy then I can INVITE you to the room.

Of course you are free to create any number of chat rooms in jabber and you will be the OWNER/FOUNDER/SUPERADMIN of each room that you create.

I am the OWNER of diaspora simply because I was the one to create it. Once you are in the chat room you can enter /help and see all the commands available.

You may POSSIBLY not be able to post to the room UNTIL I issue the command /affiliate member <your nick goes here>

I may also use the AFFILIATE command to promote a member to ADMIN or even OWNER.  

Please feel free to post your comments, additions, corrections and I will update this link.

I will create a TINYURL so that I may post this link in the diaspora chat room in the TOPIC

IF you need to join Diaspora then may I suggest 

Dec. 1994 Taking Zen Initiation


Yeast - a poem

How little my wickedness
My waste
One crumb or drop
One word, the least, in haste.

Is it really so absurd
That in the end
It all comes down to yeast?

Fulcrum of the universe
Balancing hell and heaven,
Hanging upon one verse,
Unleavened or with leaven.

My Father - poem I wrote in high school

(a poem written Thursday, 9:15 p.m., May 26, 1966)

My father was a poor man
But I said to him one day
"What have you saved to give your son
Before he goes away?"

His forehead, heightened in surprise,
Turn to a twinkle in his eyes.
"You ask me what I have to give?
All there is to give!", he said.
"Eighty joyous years to live
And all I ever had:

Two eyes to see what there is to see,
Two legs to take you there,
Two ears to hear what there is to hear,
And a mouth to drink and swear,
Two hands, five burning fingers each,
To feel the smooth and smooth the harsh,
A lust to touch and love and teach
And sense enough to wash."

Well, I walked and saw and heard and held
And loved and swore and drank
And now I have my son to teach and, Hell,
I've him to thank!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Somersaults of Comprehension

Consider life in North America during the millennia prior to 
Columbus. native American life passed by idyllically for thousands 
of years, undisturbed by the cleverness of European conquest and 
colonial aggression. 

Yes, there were doubtless tribal skirmishes and territorial border 
disputes, but no massive waves of conquest or colonial aggression of 
the magnitude of an Alexander the Great, or a Cortez, or a Napoleon 
or a Hitler. 

Prior to the rather advanced culture of native Americans, we know 
that there were upon the earth various human-like but distinct 
species such as the Neanderthal, which lived side by side with 
our "human" ancestors, but became extinct. 

The very existence of separate, distinct human-like species would 
seem to undermine the notion of "Man" as a deliberate creation meant 
to be set above all other species. 

Perhaps the Neanderthal was a much nicer person than our human 

Paleontologists have determined that Neanderthals established a 
permanent home and never wandered more than 30 miles from that home 
in search of food or stones for tool making. 

By contrast, the constant nomadic wanderings and ceaseless innovation 
of our human ancestors theoretically sharpened their intellect 
through the constant exercise of diversity and changing challenges in 
the ever-widening circles of their somersaults of comprehension. 

Astrophysicists tell us that in approximately 8 billion years, our 
sun will expand to engulf all of the planets, including Earth, and 
will then burn out in a spectacular super-Nova and disappear. 

Faced with this distant but inevitable Doomsday, our one real hope of 
cultural "salvation" and ideological "immortality" is to develop a 
technology which will allow our language and learning and culture and 
civilization to escape the narrow limits of this solar system and 
exist self-sufficiently in prolonged space travel to colonize some 
other planetary solar system capable of supporting biological life. 

But for all of our religion and philosophy and science, we have not 
evolved beyond the use of force and violence to settle our disputes 
and differences, but remain in a perennial state of war or 
preparation for war. 

We consume so much energy and resources fighting each other that 
there is nothing left to fight against the real enemy of ultimate 
solar extinction. 

Perhaps the answer to our salvation from the Armageddon of the Super- 
Nova is to develop an artificial intelligence which will carry on the 
activity of consciousness, that great dialectic, once organic life 
has passed away, a cyborg 'Library of Babel' such as Jorge Luis 
Borges describes (above). 

What is the superiority of the simple, good-natured Neanderthal over 
the cunning craftiness and treachery of our all-too-human ancestors? 

Faulkner once criticized Hemingway, saying, "Hemingway was never 
known to send anyone to a dictionary." 

Hemingway won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1954, five years 
after it had been awarded to another American, William Faulkner. 
Neither writer, however, thought much of the other. 
Faulkner once declared that Hemingway had "never been known to use a 
word that might send the reader to the dictionary." 
"Poor Faulkner," Hemingway retorted. "Does he really think big 
emotions come from big words! He thinks I don't know the ten-dollar 
words? I know them all right. But there are older and simpler and 
better words, and those are the ones I use." 

When we read an author like Hemingway, we read life in its 
primordial, (Neanderthal, if you will), simplicity, life for living's 
sake, stripped of its hierophantic garb of symbolism, motifs, 
metaphor, allegory and inner hidden meanings. 

We read in Hemingway's short stories of the manly Nick, who pauses 
during his hike to savor the pancakes saved from breakfast which he 
anticipated as he walked along, and afterwards, a cigarette. 

What is life and existence and bodily experience apart from meaning, 
morality, philosophy, religion and teleological cultural goals? 

Fiction such as Hemingway produced does not provide the same sort of 
fuel for scholastic research as a Plato or a Steinbeck or a Melville. 

Even an Existentialist such as Sartre or Heidegger strives to uncover 
the esoteric meaning hidden beneath the simple bronze of Being. 

Heidegger's definition of man is one who beholds "Being, which 
unveils", but an unwilling, reticent Being, much like Melville's 
Bartleby the Scriviner, whose sole refrain to all requests is "I 
would prefer not to." 

In the two movies, "Wings of Desire (Himmel uber Berlin)" and its 
American remake, "City of Angels", we are confronted with angelic, 
incorporeal beings who crave the esoteric knowledge, most commonplace 
for us, of how coffee tastes and how tobacco smells. Fleshly beings 
such as we, bored with mere physical sensations and appetites, seek 
to uncover the Platonic forms and unified field theories which 
underlie mere Being. 

Whenever the mind turns a somersault of comprehension, we feel a 
metaphysical thrill. 

A child is constantly thrilling to such somersaults since, for a 
child, just as for Shakespeare's Miranda and her "Brave New World", 
everything is new and awaiting discovery. 

Supposedly, when a student of mathematics succeeds with the greatest 
difficulty for the very first time in comprehending what the 
mathematician Kurt Godel did in his Incompleteness theorem, they 
experience a thrill akin to a religious experience. 

Hinduism is quite explicit about "horripulation" (goosebumps) as a 
symptom of experiencing the Divine, while Abrahamic religions remain 
silent about such hair-raising phenomena. 

But, constant sensation ceases to be a sensation.The second time that 
humans walked on the moon, people hardly noticed or made the same 
fuss, compared to the first moon walk. Even manna in the wilderness 
and pillars of fire can become commonplace and passé. 

Marxists awaited a final time when the State would wither away. 

Hegel envisioned a future age of "Absolute Knowledge" where time, in 
the sense of historical change, ceases. 

The Kingdom of heaven, as described in the "Book of Revelation", must 
be something of this sort, an ultimate, unchanging, timeless age of 

In such a heavenly Kingdom, what more is there to prophesize, since 
all prophecy has been fulfilled? 

What further struggle is there to wage, since all evil and opposition 
has been defeated? 

What further thrill from somersaults of comprehension may be had, 
since, as St. Paul says, "We no longer see through a glass darkly, 
but see face to face and know even as we are known." 

In such angelic realms, what is left to desire or yearn for unless it 
is perhaps to once again enter into the imperfect flesh of a physical 
body and taste a cup of coffee, a pancake, a cigarette, or to be 
reborn once again as an infant, innocent and ignorant, to turn 
somersaults once again upon the Bronze of Being and thrill to the 
discovery of the commonplace.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Jung - On the Nature of the Psyche

Carl Jung wrote a small monograph entitled "On the Nature of the Psyche" in which he said that matter has a psychoid aspect and evolves towards consciousness while psyche had a material aspect (Freud's death wish) that seeks to return to an inert state. In the 1980s I asked a Jungian analyst which work of Jung's was most important and he instantly named that monograph. Jung states that "if one day humans damage Mars with a rocket then one may say that Mars was damaged by the psychoid aspect of matter."

Love Your Enemies---Augustine

Love Your Enemies---Augustine

by Roger - 

It is necessary for you to say in that daily prayer of cleansing, "Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors." What will you do? You have enemies, for who can live on this earth without them? For your own sake, love them. In no way can your enemies so hurt you by their violence as you hurt yourself if you do not love them....

Let your prayer be against the malice of your enemies, that it may die and they may live. For if your enemy were dead, it might seem you have lost an enemy, yet you have not found a friend. But if your enemy's malice died, you have at once lost an enemy and found a friend....Why are you forever trailing your heart along the earth? Lift up your heart, reach forward, love your enemies.

William: You mean ... Like ... Osama bin Laden?

I did a long series of posts on SHADENFREUDE which is a Jewish concept (I am not Jewish by the way) which means that we should not rejoice at the sufferings of others. I posted when I read that "Washington is JUBILANT over bin Laden's Death" . A lot of "Christians" demonstrated to me by their reactions that they don't know SQUAT about loving their enemy. There enemy, in their mind is their next door right wing conservative neighbor whose dog craps on their lawn, so they are pissed at each other for a while, and then they remember Christ's words "they shall know you by your love for one another" and then they are all buddy buddy again. One Republican in a small town told me she lives out the life Christ intended because sometimes she helps her Republican neighbor shovel the snow off his driveway. BIG HAIRY DEAL. Try loving your real enemy and repaying evil with kindness.

Tim: Good post William...but I'm still grateful Osama got half his head blown off. Either he's hooked up God's mercy or his fantasy of 77 virgins...which may turn out to be a gang of ugly, toothless meth freaks.

William: which just supports my point that most wannabe Christians simply don't "get" the point of a lot of what Jesus said (and I am not a Christian so this is not about one-upsman-ship)

Tim: And I'm not a "wanna be"

William: Sure you are, your words reveal it... you gloat over the suffering and death of people you see as evil... your own words reveal that: (you wrote) I'm still grateful Osama got half his head blown off. Either he's hooked up God's mercy or his fantasy of 77 virgins...which may turn out to be a gang of ugly, toothless meth freaks. - most people are clueless as to what Christianity is all about. They make it up as they go along. They pick and choose like a cafeteria. No one is lobbying to criminalize divorce in America, absolutely NO ONE, but one of the few things Jesus CLEARLY condemns. Even Newt Gingrich calls himself "the HONORABLE" but he married his geometry teacher out of high school (17 years older) had three children, had an AFFAIR in the middle of the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal... and he thinks everything is honky dory because "he asked God to forgive him."

Jesus CLEARLY states that anyone who calls someone else RACA (fool) will answer severely. I doubt that the importance of that sinks into many people's heads much lest influences the way they live their daily lives.

Tim: For a sure like to ramble on about those who you have no knowledge of. Anyway, you're in good company with Roger. Maybe it will temper your hubris with wisdom. Taking yourself so seriously induces stress. Chillax.

William: Shakespeare wrote a play called "Measure for Measure" and the title comes from Jesus words (paraphrased) "with what measure you measure out unto others so shall it be measured out unto you." People who truly understand this do not demean themselves by name calling, profanity, threats of physical violence. And such undesirable behavior is the knee-jerk reaction of right wing conservatives and is less frequent in left-wing people, and this is obvious when we watch episodes of Wm. F. Buckley, Jr. (Roman Catholic) "Firing Line" where he frequently becomes angry, curses and threatens to punch people in the nose BUT if you watch interviews with Noam Chomsky you never once see a threat of physical violence or hear foul language.

Tim: Then why did you just call me a wanna-be and judge my character?

William: Is it not ironic that you are quick to say that bin Laden's associates are toothless meth addicts when I am certain you have no way to know anything about those people and then you accuse me when I am taking your own words at face value. I am sure you are a very nice and decent person by contemporary American standards but I see no hint in your words that you are a Christian.

I said that the vast majority of Americans are "wannabe Christians" who do not have a clue as to what Christianity is all about and that includes people like Huckabee and also some of the television ministers like Joel Osteen and even Billy Graham.

Jesus said that the good person brings forth good things from the good treasury of the heart and the good tree produces good fruit but the evil person brings forth evil things from the wicked treasury of their hearts. We are judged by every word which proceeds from our mouth. So anyone who gossips or name-calls casts doubt upon their Christian convictions. And even if I am your enemy you are supposed to rejoice when people say all manner of evil things about you falsely for Christ's sake for your reward in heaven will be great. So if I am wrong then why are you angry? Why do you not repay evil with good and heap coals of condemnation upon my head?

In the 6th century, St. John Climacus, author of "The Ladder of Divine Ascent" said "You shall recognize the righteous at the judgment because their heads will be hung low and they will say 'We have done nothing worthy.' " And Jesus said b
asically the same thing in a parable about those who say "Lord! Lord! We have worked miracles in your name" and Jesus says "I never knew you" but others come and he says "I was hungry and you fed me" and they say "When did we do these things" (and you would imagine that someone appearing before a powerful judge would not object when the judge says they are innocent BUT they are so honest that they question when they did such good works.)

Sorry Bill, you did not answer the question. When you said, 
"sure you are" called me a wanna-be--thus, engaging in a beviour that you doth protesteth much about. Characterizing Joel Osteen, Billy Graham & Mike Huckabee as "not having
a clue" about Christianity is no different than those you expend a lot of energy railing & flailing against.

All  I said to start this was that I was grateful that Osama got half his head blown off and stand by that with the perfect peace that surpasses all understanding. God Bless Your Heart.

William: You would profit more if you examine yourself for your shortcoming than by arguing with others about your virtues. Somewhere in the Old Testament God asks "Do you think that I rejoice at the death of a sinner. No, I would that all might be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth" ... yet you are saying that you rejoice at the death of a sinner. You must ask yourself if this is right.

Tim: did not answer the questions posed, nor have you read my posts. That tells you're either unable or unwilling to engage in any meaningful & mature dialog. So, I'll try this one more time. Being grateful that a mass-murderer is no longer alive to commit more atrocities against humanity is quite different that "rejoicing". I've no desire or need to engage in any kind of scripture war....nor am I willing to get sucked into the vortex of hubris inflated semantics. If you'd like to start back at square one and give this another shot...I'm game. If not...that's OK for today. Have a great evening.

William: Tim, obviously you have a high opinion of yourself and are unwilling to entertain my suggestion that perhaps "you have been weighed and found wanting" which was the "handwriting on the wall" which no one could understand until Prophet Daniel was called to interpret it. In my opinion the majority of people who call themselves Christians are "weighed and found wanting." Tim: it is unlikely that you would ever take me seriously. Why do you even care what my personal opinion is? If you feel that you are a good Christian then that should be sufficient. You should have faith that God knows your heart even if all the world reviles you. I suspect that your notion of "meaningful and mature dialogue" is if you win and I lose. St. Paul said that "all people have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God"... so was Paul speaking to everyone EXCEPT you? I don't think you have to worry about a "scripture war" since I have not yet seen you refer to a single verse of scripture. I did notice that you spoke a few words in the King James dialect, or what you imagine is Biblical language (when you wrote, "engaging in a behavior that you doth protesteth much about"). I am sorry if my assessment of the majority of "wannabe Christians" offends you but that is the conclusion I have come to and I am not likely to change it any time soon. A humble person would walk away because Paul advises "not to engage in vain disputation." Being Christian has a lot to do with humility and with admitting ones own shortcomings.

Posterous team suggested DELETING and then re adding

Test of


repost via

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Adaptation, Natural Selection and Divine Will

I personally accept evolution as a fact. A question regarding God's will and foreknowledge naturally arises if adaptation and natural selection lead to the development of some quality like selflessness or compassion (which I can see as a group/species survival advantage.) And yet such notions of adaptation/evolution seem to fit in King Solomon's statements about everything being subject to chance.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

First 7 Ecumenical Councils

May be useful, interesting.

Excerpts: Canon 3: All members of the clergy are forbidden to dwell with any woman, except a mother, sister, or aunt. 

Various Canons of the Apostles include decrees concerning eunuchism. But since they were disregarded, as it would appear, on this account it became necessary that it be made the subject of the present Canon, which says: Whoever has been made a eunuch by surgeons because of a disease or ailment, or by barbarians during the time of an invasion, if he is a clergyman, let him perform the functions of the clergy. But whoever while in good health has made himself a eunuch, even though he is a clergyman, must cease from the activities of the clergy. And of as many such persons as are laymen not even one must henceforth be made a clergyman. But as we say this in regard to those who affectedly and wilfully dare to make themselves eunuchs, in the same vein again we say that if there be any persons that have been made eunuchs by barbarians or by their masters (or owners), that is to say, against their will and tyranically, but that are worthy, the Canon (either the present Canon, that is to say, or Apostolical Canon XXI) allows them to be admitted to the clergy. 

Inasmuch as many things, whether of necessity or otherwise urgently demanded by men, have been done contrary to the ecclesiastical Canon, so that men who have but recently come to the faith from a heathen life, and have been catechized for only a short time, have been conducted directly to the spiritual bath, and as soon as baptized have been given an episcopate or a presbytery, it has seemed well henceforth to have no such thing occur. For the catechumen needs more time and a longer trial after baptism. The Apostolical letter, too, is plain which says, "not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the Devil’s snare" (1 Tim. 3:6). If, on the other hand, in the course of time any psychical (i.e., animal) sin be found against the person, and it is exposed by two or three witnesses, let such a person be dismissed from the clergy. As for anyone acting contrary hereto, as having the hardihood to do things opposed to the great council, he himself shall be in danger of losing his standing in the clergy.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Nostra Aetate Encyclical of Vatican II

A gradual degeneration let to a climate ready for the Reformation after which there was a furious degeneration into thousands of splinter groups and yet it is a sort of miracle that places like Sinai and Athos persisted to this day. No one in this thread has answered my question: what will you do if the Pope permits female ordinations or same sex marriages?  Just curious. How much must things change before they become unrecognizable?  Kung points out that at the Council of Florence it was firmly declared that there IS NO SALVATION outside the Roman Catholic Church and a few hundred years later at Vatican II we see the Nostra Aetate encyclical stating that it is the duty of Catholics to recognize the SAVING GRACE of God present in non Christian religions.  That is a STRIKING change in position.

Heresy by the time of Aquinas

It also helps to read a few books and give them a lot of thought. Surely in the first centuries there were no Billy Grahams or Joel Osteens or Charles Stanleys running around. Look for Jaroslav Pelikan's five volume set in paperback. Read them and see what you think. The Philokalia is also helpful. In 1054 when Constantinope anathematized Rome, Rome had gone off the deep end with the Filioque and a number of other things and by the time 400 years passed and Aquinas came along Aquinas was a flaming heretic and innovator who would be unrecognizable to the Christians of the first centuries. The Arians, Monophysites, Monothelites, Nestorians etc ALL maintained a close outward similarity to the mainstream Orthodox who prevailed at the first seven councils.

Augustine as heretic

I claim that all of Eastern Orthodoxy took a very different path from Rome and the West with regard to philosophy and syllogistic reasoning. The Greek Orthodox to this very day consider Augustine a heretic. The Russian Orthodox were very much influenced by Europe which is evident in their rejection of Byzantine chant in favor of four part harmony (not that the Old Believers in Russia retained their Znamanie chant which was not harmonic).  The Russians call Augustine BLESSED but would not call him SAINT.  Some scholars feel that Augustine laid down the foundations for the Protestant Reformation. Martin Luther found a lot of ammunition in Augustine. It was only during the counter-Reformation that the Jesuits took a closer look at what Augustine was doing.  Actually there is a passage from Jaroslav Pelikan, a brief passage, that reflects the gradual shift from East to West over the centuries. I will look it up and repost it. Jamison has a good point about the carnal and egoistic activity of philosophy which (as Paul said of the Greeks on the Hill of Mars) is "always seeking some new thing."


Jeffery Nicholas the final line of the article is "LaRosa recognizes they are breaking Church law — specifically Canon 10:24 — but says, "when you have an unjust law, sometimes it needs to be broken before it can be changed." " and you say "The concluding line is true prima facie. The question is, Is it true in this case?"   I would like to hear your answer to your own question. DO YOU feel that women should be ordained as priests? Do you feel that a male only priesthood is a social injustice? IF the Papacy should one day declare that women may be priests and that same sex marriage is permitted then would you subscribe to such things and feel that "papal infallibility" was in effect. The reason I bring up the Greek Orthodox of Sinai and Mt. Athos is that they have an unbroken tradition going back to the earliest centuries and so somehow they are a photograph of what the first century Christians were like. And we KNOW that the very first part of the New Testament was one of Paul's epistles written around 51 AD and the first Gospel was not in its final form until around 100AD and the complete canon of the Greek Septuagint only dates to the 4th century AND THEREFORE the first 20 or so years of Christianity was with NO NEW TESTAMENT and so the notion of a "Bible Based Church" goes right out the window.

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