A Continuous Quest In An Ever Changing Universe

The universe is in constant flux and transformation. A moment by moment displacement and reformation.

The universe is everything which is known and experienced, and much more. Even the most knowledgeable among humanity regarding the happenings of our ever expanding universe are merely as a child on the beach looking across the ocean as far as one’s vision might allow. If we only knew what we don’t know, perhaps our ignorance would overwhelm our confidence.

Our concept of reality is limited in scope and to certain specifics. What we know amounts to perceptions as defined by our instincts and our experiences. Our instincts are innate, our experiences are an expanded context of the function of those instincts within the framework of the natural principles of the universe.

Our lives are a moment by moment quest for comfort. An instinctive effort from birth to death. The specifics as to how we achieve that ever elusive goal are limited to the framework of certain seemingly consistent principles within the context of the physical universe.

Our natural instinctive aversion to discomfort is complemented by a secondary instinctive sensitivity for the suffering of others. In fact, we become distressed and therefore internally uncomfortable at the mere sound of the suffering of any other sentient being.

Our instinctive aversion to suffering then seems to not only serve as a means of self preservation, but likewise as a basis for social interaction. Such seems to be the most fundamental principle of our very being as sentient beings within the the context of the constant flux and transformation of our niche of the known universe.

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On Innate Comprehension and Universal Aversion To Suffering

Lu Jiuyan taught that the mind is the universe, and the universe is the mind. Mencius taught that all things are complete in oneself.

There is a universal principle that suffering is not good.

It seems universally comprehended that the only suffering which is not bad is that which is inflicted for the purpose of preventing another and less desirable degree of suffering. Surgery for the purpose of preventing a painful or deadly disease comes to mind.

Our aversion to suffering is innate and instinctive. We are born with a natural aversion to discomfort, and we maintain that posture until we pass away. The innate and instinctive comprehension that suffering is bad allows for a spontaneous guide for self preservation and social conduct.

The innate comprehension of the universal aversion to suffering is indicative of Lu Jiuyan’s theory that the mind is the universe, and likewise the thoughts of Mencius that all things are complete in oneself.

Or so it seems to me.

The Essence of Ethics

The notion that we humans are self equipped with instinctive qualities for ethical thinking is evidenced by our natural aversion to suffering for self and others. It seems to me that we are born with the former and that we develop the latter quite early in life through the most basic of natural experiences. Mencius’ illustration of our aversion to the suffering of a dog is a prime example of our natural sensitivity for the suffering of others. Our moment by moment quest for comfort seems to be a kinetic illustration of our natural discomfort in general.

It seems to me that such basic human qualities are the basis for ethical thinking, which in turn should translate to subsequent ethical behavior.

The Twelve Years of Christmas

A Humanist's perspective

THE 12 YEARS OF CHRISTMAS
By Dave Henderson

There are two Canonical accounts of the birth and early childhood of Jesus.

By Canonical of course I mean texts that are deemed worthy of inclusion in the Bible per the standards of the Catholic scribes who composed such in the 4th Century CE. There are several Infancy gospel accounts, but only those of Matthew and Luke met the approval of the Bible composers. I myself am somewhat partial to the Gospel of Thomas. Thomas relates several fanciful boy Jesus stories which did not merit Catholic scribe approval for inclusion in the Bible; yet which are both entertaining and enlightening nonetheless. A topic for another day no doubt.

Now though the tone, topics, and even time frames of Matthew and Luke differ with regards to the childhood of Jesus, they each claim that he was divinely conceived and of a virgin birth…

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Life

Life.

I was born at a very young age, though I have spent a lifetime getting over it. Well. Not yet.

Life is a circumstantial situation beyond my control. At least at the entry level.

I am a victim of circumstances beyond my control and to which I gave no consent. I never asked to be here, and I will leave any time I damn well please. No immediate plans to that end, but just making a point.

Speaking of points, life is a broken pencil. No point to it, but accompanied by an eraser to remind us of our errors.

A natural effect of a natural effect is all that I am, and that is all I ever will be.

Existence is a once in a lifetime experience. An annual trip around the mass which is the center of the known universe. A continuous quest for comfort. No rule book supplied, though several have been written. No clear point to the experience, though plenty of theories have been conjectured.

Life supplies us with a natural aversion to suffering and a nagging sense of right and wrong which is continuously convoluted and confused with and by cultural conditioning and subjective standards.

Life is love, laughter, and lunacy. Then 15 minutes of fame. Then the flower garden.

Like two physicians making love, life is a paradox.

Such is life.

Tribalism: The Confessions of a Campbellite from Carrollton

Tribalism.

Denominational Protestant Christianity; bible thumping ideology of the Church of Christ. Every good Campbellite knows that there are no other Christians, there are no other saved ones, there are no other saints, and there is no other spiritual kingdom; save for them that are members of the Church of Christ. Immersion, not sprinkling, for the remission of sins, and for no reason other. If baptized any other way, or for any other reason, then your baptism did not get you saved, it just got you wet!

Tribalism

Of course, Muslims are more lost than Baptists and Methodists. But they are all lost nonetheless, unless they repent and are immersed into the Church of Christ.

Tribalism

Be true to your school! Trojans before Lions, and Eagles before Vikings. Depending on what part of town you are from. The Battle of the Spike, Texas-OU weekend, and win one for the Gipper!! RAH! RAH!! RAH!!! Go home team, win, win, win!! Down with the vile visitors from the other side! Boo!! Hiss!!!

Tribalism

All us kids from Carrollton knew this joke back in the day. Question: What does FBI stand for? Answer: FBI stands for a “Farmers Branch Idiot” Ha! Ha! Ha! The joke’s on you!!

Tribalism

An observation while watching a movie at the Plaza Theatre back in the day. Question: Why are all the black kids and their families sitting in the balcony at the rear of the theatre? Answer: Because they are black, and their families know that they are supposed to sit in the balcony at the back of the theatre.

Tribalism

Elephant or Donkey; of whose tribe are ye? Choose ye this day, but choose wisely; like me! It’s one or the other, Red State or Blue. Unless heaven forbid, say it ain’t so. You’re no Socialist are ye? O no no no!! Vote for the corporate puppet of your choice, it’s your constitutional right. Red State or Blue State; Elephant or Ass.

Tribalism

Blue or Gray, North or South, Poor or Rich, Gay or normal, homosexual or homo sapien, lazy or ambitious, successful or failure, lost or saved, Texas or some other insignificant State, the USA or some other insignificant country.

Tribalism

Choose ye this day whose god ye shall serve, whether the wrong god or mine, but choose ye you must!

Tribalism, confessions of a Campbellite from Carrollton.

The Sand Creek Massacre: November 29, 1864

On this date, in the year 1864; the infamous slaughter of approximately 200 peaceful Native Americans by members of the US Military was executed at Sand Creek in the Colorado territory. The preparations by the US Government for the event were as sinister as was the brutality of the event itself.

For weeks leading up to the massacre, peaceful Indians were encouraged and enticed to assemble and dwell at Sand Creek under the guise of forming somewhat of a safety zone from the violence of allegedly “bad Indians” or any conflicts with the US Military who were patrolling the area in search of such alleged menaces to society. (Society of course being gold diggers who found the presence of the indigenous people an annoyance and a hindrance to their efforts). In retrospect, it is clear that the peaceful Indians who were assembling at Sand Creek were actually being corralled for the slaughter.

Having assembled a sufficient quorum for the killing, the commander who had arranged for the assembling of the Indians at Sand Creek, (who seems to have been sympathetic to the plight of the Native Americans) was suddenly recalled and replaced by a Christian Minister Military man by the name of Chivington. Chivington was a murderous mercenary who aspired to a career in politics, and who also believed in and commanded the genocide of the American Indian people.

And on this day in 1864, for a period of 6-8 hours, Chivington and his men did their part in an effort to such a very end.

The record of the atrocities afflicted against the unsuspecting Indians during the massacre consists primarily of two letters written a few weeks later by two Officers of character who refused to engage in the Sand Creek slaughter. The most outspoken of the pair was Silas Soule, who told his superiors and his men the night before the premeditated mass murder that any man who engaged in such an endeavor against the peaceful community was a “low life cowardly son of a bitch”. Although threatened to be hung if he did not take back his words and engage in the massacre, Soule stood by his words and the next day commanded his men to stand down when the killing commenced. (Soule was never executed as threatened, but he was murdered the next year in Denver. Soule’s murderer was never brought to justice, but years later would himself be buried with honors)

In closing my commentary as to the slaughter of the innocents at Sand Creek 153 years ago today, I offer the following three links which provide more history as to the event, including the text of the two aforementioned letters written by Soule and Cramer, a pair of men of character among the low life cowards who did in fact carry out the massacre itself. The third link is a personal letter which Soule wrote to his Mother; which is dated four days after his letter to the former commander Wynkoop (I must warn the reader that the letters of Soule and Cramer are graphic, and that the description of the slaughter involves bodily mutilation of the basest sort, and the slaughter of children who were begging for their lives; among other atrocities too gruesome to bear):

Soule’s Letter to Wynkoop (former Commander): 12.14.1864: http://www.kclonewolf.com/History/SandCreek/sc-documents/sc-soule-to-wynkoop-12-14-64.html

Cramer’s Letter (12.19.1864): http://www.kclonewolf.com/History/SandCreek/sc-documents/sc-cramer-to-wynkoop-12-19-64.html#sthash.ptjUSrsB.dpbs

Soule’s letter to his Mother: 12.18.1864: http://www.kclonewolf.com/History/SandCreek/sc-documents/sc-soule-letters.html

On Nation States

Nation States by their very nature tend to hinder the natural course of the human experience. The natural way of all sentient beings is a consistent and continuous quest for comfort. Our humanity likewise involves an instinctive tendency to seek the comfort of others, insofar as such an endeavor does not necessarily involve our own suffering in the process.

Nation States do not exist to seek the common good, but rather are a medium to isolate power and concentrate wealth. The means to such an end have historically involved the conquest and exploitation of others. Such endeavors then directly violate the natural principles of our humanity to instinctively seek comfort for self and others. For whereas most every person would make haste to alleviate the suffering of even a stray dog, the ongoing suffering of the working class is a normalized way of life in the Nation State. The purposes of the Nation States then are by no means consistent with the natural principles of the human experience.

Such a state of being is naturally undesirable to the exploited class, hence the Nation State requires effective levels of unnatural and illegitimate authority, accompanied by creative methods of coercion in order to enforce and maintain the very scheme in and of itself. Since the working class largely outnumbers those who exploit their very own existence in a Nation State, then there is a self serving need for the elitist benefactors of this arrangement to seek and secure the consent of the exploited masses to such an arrangement. Furthermore, since compliance to one’s own self exploitation and oppression makes no sense, then the consent of the working class is not sought as a matter of sensibility, but rather as a sentiment. Hence, the consent of the masses to their own exploitation in the social arrangement of a Nation State primarily involves a conditioning of the victims of such to actually take pride in both the system of their own oppression, and in the very concept of the Nation State itself.

The masses then are indoctrinated from an early age to buy into the concept that a willing compliance to one’s own oppression and exploitation is not only natural, but even noble. They are furthermore conditioned to classify those who would reject such an arrangement as rebellious misfits and undesirables. The accomplishment of the latter enables the benefactors of the Nation State to persecute would be social rebels without any outside interference from the passively conditioned masses represented by the former.

The Nation State then is an unnatural social arrangement, which perverts the most basic of human qualities. Even natural familial relations are compromised, as effectively conditioned parents are actually proud to have offspring who murder and risk being murdered on behalf of the very Nation State which exploits and oppresses their own existence.

There is simply no reasonable explanation for the inexplicable dependence of the masses upon the societal hierarchy known as the Nation State, except perhaps the fear of exploring alternative social arrangements. The fear which inhibits our potential independence is a self imposed psychological experience of our successful conditioning, hence we abide as complicit captives of our own Nation State.

Misogyny In The Law Of Moses: The Patriarchal Privilege To Veto The Vow

“When a man vows a vow to the Lord, or swears an oath to bind himself by a pledge, he shall not break his word; he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth. 3 Or when a woman vows a vow to the Lord, and binds herself by a pledge, while within her father’s house, in her youth, 4 and her father hears of her vow and of her pledge by which she has bound herself, and says nothing to her; then all her vows shall stand, and every pledge by which she has bound herself shall stand. 5 But if her father expresses disapproval to her on the day that he hears of it, no vow of hers, no pledge by which she has bound herself, shall stand; and the Lord will forgive her, because her father opposed her. 6 And if she is married to a husband, while under her vows or any thoughtless utterance of her lips by which she has bound herself, 7 and her husband hears of it, and says nothing to her on the day that he hears; then her vows shall stand, and her pledges by which she has bound herself shall stand. 8 But if, on the day that her husband comes to hear of it, he expresses disapproval, then he shall make void her vow which was on her, and the thoughtless utterance of her lips, by which she bound herself; and the Lord will forgive her.” (Numbers 30.2-8; emphasis mine, DLH)

There is hardly a concept more personal and privileged than one’s own thoughts. The impenetrable fortress of the intellect is a natural private domain. Yet in the ancient Hebrew culture which produced biblical literature, patriarchy trumped privacy, even with regards to a female’s deliberated determinations and personal commitments.

The patriarchal privilege and power to veto a woman’s personal vow is one of the most intrusive of all violations of privacy and is a most presumptuous form of misogyny. Though a seemingly subtle authority in that such neither violates one’s physical being nor exploits one’s services, nonetheless the right to regulate another individual’s personal commitments is a most substantive exercise of assumed hierarchy and usurped privilege.

The right of the Father and then later the Husband to veto the vow of the woman is not only a matter of patriarchal rule, but likewise upholds the principle of male property rights with regards to the woman. The Tenth Commandment clearly regards wives as the personal property of their husbands, and the fact that the patriarchal right to veto the woman’s vow passes from the Father to the Husband is an evident indicator that the ownership of the woman is transferred from the former to the latter at the point of marriage.

The disregard for the intellect of the woman was clearly deep rooted in a variety of ancient cultures, including that which produced the Bible. Hebrew mythology blamed the hardships of humanity on an independent woman who dared think for herself with regards to her choice of edibles, much as Gnostic mythology blamed an independent female deity who chose to reproduce without consulting her consort for the deficiencies of our earthly domain. And unfortunately, such backward and bigoted thinking was incorporated into the doctrine of the Church, as women are to learn in silence and subjection, and leave the teaching to the men.

Regardless of one’s religiosity, surely it is evident that the conventional and orthodox doctrines of the Church have been based upon backwards thinking and bigoted views towards women which originated in an ancient male oriented culture. Whereas it seems unfortunate that such blatant sexism was ever normalized and legalized in any ancient society, it is surely a shame that such thinking has been incorporated into any aspect of modern, civilized society.

(Next: “Misogyny In The Law Of Moses: The Patriarchal Rule Of The Father”)

Misogyny In The Law Of Moses: Femaleness Devalued And Disdained

The society which produced biblical literature was clearly male oriented and misogynistic. The very explanation for the hardships of survival is blamed on a woman in the Hebrew Creation Myth of Genesis 3, and even the Ten Commandments relegated wives to a role equivalent to an item of personal property. The degradation of women and the double standards between the genders are each consistent and common themes within biblical writings, and the fundamental basis for each was apparently derived from an assumed inferiority of the former from the day of their very birth. Hence, the reason that misogyny and the maltreatment of women are both normalized and legalized in biblical literature is that the culture which produced such both devalued and even seems to have disdained the very concept of “femaleness”.

“The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Say to the people of Israel, If a woman conceives, and bears a male child, then she shall be unclean seven days; as at the time of her menstruation, she shall be unclean. 3 And on the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised. 4 Then she shall continue for thirty-three days in the blood of her purifying; she shall not touch any hallowed thing, nor come into the sanctuary, until the days of her purifying are completed. 5 But if she bears a female child, then she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her menstruation; and she shall continue in the blood of her purifying for sixty-six days.” (Leviticus 12.1-5)

“The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Say to the people of Israel, When a man makes a special vow of persons to the Lord at your valuation, 3 then your valuation of a male from twenty years old up to sixty years old shall be fifty shekels of silver, according to the shekel of the sanctuary. 4 If the person is a female, your valuation shall be thirty shekels. 5 If the person is from five years old up to twenty years old, your valuation shall be for a male twenty shekels, and for a female ten shekels. 6 If the person is from a month old up to five years old, your valuation shall be for a male five shekels of silver, and for a female your valuation shall be three shekels of silver. 7 And if the person is sixty years old and upward, then your valuation for a male shall be fifteen shekels, and for a female ten shekels.” (Leviticus 27.1-7)

In the case of the laws regarding childbirth, a woman was considered unclean by the very act itself. The sexism related to such thinking is unmistakeable. The double standard regarding such is transparent and hypocritical. The very notion that a woman is impregnated by a man, and then is regarded as unclean when she delivers the product of the impregnation defies logic and sensitivity. Furthermore, to compound the insult, if a woman delivers a female baby then she is regarded as being twice as unclean. The double standard of such legalized misogyny clearly indicates a disdain for the very concept of femaleness in general.

Then, in a case of put your money where your misogyny is, the laws regarding the value of one’s very being assessed females at a fraction of the worth of a man. The blatant bigotry of male superiority (and thus female inferiority) as written into the laws regarding valuation sacrifices reveal the depth of the feelings which the ancient Hebrew culture which produced the Old Testament had for femaleness in general. Females were thought of as less than worthy in that male dominated society, and hence women were regarded as mere private property of men (cf Exodus 20.17).

That such double standards and degradation of women were ever normalized to the point of being legalized in any culture is a shame and a pity. But then to realize that many contemporary cultures view biblical literature as a social template with regards to patriarchal rule and female subjugation, and the concerns are compounded to the extent that the influences of such should be regarded as ill advised.

(NOTE: All biblical citations are Revised Standard Version; Biblegateway.com)

Next: “Misogyny In The Law Of Moses: The Male Right To Veto The Vow”