Thursday, September 16, 2010

On the Lighter Side....

Follow the adventures of four aspiring novelists as they plan literary-world domination from a New York ristorante:

See You at Arno's

Saturday, August 28, 2010

A Question of Faith


I've received a number of questions off-line recently. Things like

What do you have against religion?

What's wrong with being a Christian?

Why do you hate God?

Why can't you put your empty glass in the dishwasher?

OK, that last one really doesn’t have anything to do with the blog. (But, yes, I'm getting better about it.)

As to the other questions, they merit some discussion.

First off, I should state that I consider myself a Free-Market Christist. I believe in the redeeming mission of the Christ-spirit who indwelt—among others throughout the ages—Yahshua of Galilee. I believe that without the intervention of the Christ-spirit, humanity would have slid into an abyss of materialism from which we might never have escaped. I believe that by following Yahshua's example (as particularly suited to the Western psyche), one may draw nearer to the goal of individual spiritual fulfillment and unity (or, at-one-ment) with the Divine. As a good free-market kind of guy, I also believe that everyone has the right to find and follow his own spiritual path, so long as he does not infringe on the rights of others to do the same.

Therein lies what I have against religion. The very etymology of the word reveals the problem with the institution: Re-ligio, to bind. The teacher Yahshua said that Truth liberates. If the purpose of religion is to restrain or to bind its adherents, what does that tell us about the institutions of religion? And what does that tell us about those dogmatists (of any religion) who insist that their path to God is The Path to God?

As to hating God, nothing could be more absurd (for me or for anyone else). I give no credence to the notion of a white-bearded King of the Universe seated on an invisible throne in the sky. Rather, my notion of God is as the One. The Grand Architect of the Universe. The Uncreated. The First Cause. The Spark (and the fuel and the oxidant) behind the Big Bang.

With this view as the foundation, assuming the One was all that was before anything else, then all that is must be of the One. Quantum strings, atoms, proteins, animals, planets, stars. All that exists has its origin (through natural processes, known or unknown) in the One. Everything that is, is made up of God-stuff. To hate God, then, or to hate another ________ (nation, race, religion, political party, football team, you-name-it) is to hate myself, to hate the air I breathe or the food I eat.

Keeping this in mind, then, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being a Christian. Or with being a Muslim or Jew or Buddhist or Ba'hai or Pagan or…or…or…. What is wrong is claiming a monopoly on The Will of God. What is wrong is demanding adherence to a particular set of beliefs or conduct in order to be deemed Worthy. What is wrong is insisting someone give up her free will in order to be accepted.

And what is wrong is to accept as Truth a version of history distorted through the lens of ignorance, hatred, bigotry or greed. One need only watch competing newscasts to see how the events of only hours or days ago can be distorted into competing versions of truth. How much more so with events from a century, a millennium, or six millennia ago?

What is Truth? Truth, like the One, is simply what it is. My understanding of it changes every day as I learn and experience more and more upon this magnificent journey of becoming. I celebrate the freedom to pursue it, the opportunity to share it, and the possibility to find it in those with whom I disagree.

And I laud the rights of others to tell me they think I'm wrong. In the end, it's not a question of my truth or his truth or her truth. There is one's understanding, and there is Truth. How and where the two meet, well—that's a question of faith.


Monday, June 7, 2010

Raising Cain

It's an old story.

On one side we have Cain. Cain the farmer. Cain the woodsman. Cain the cultivator, giving his sweat to the earth in return for his crops.

On the other side there's Abel, the shepherd. He drives his herds to pasture, then strums his lute or whatever it is herdsmen do while alone with their flocks.

Then comes the harvest festival. Cain brings his first fruits, the best of his labors. Abel culls one of his many lambs for a sacrifice. The two present their offerings to the local storm god, Yahweh, presumably as thanks for good weather and a plentiful harvest. Yahweh accepts Abel's offering but rejects Cain's. In his fury at being spurned, Cain kills Abel and become history's first recorded murderer. He is sent into exile, forever marked as an enemy of Yahweh.

Sibling rivalry gone too far? A lesson that hard work never pays? Or proof that vegetarians are outside Yahweh's grace? Whatever the meaning of the tale, it merits further investigation.

Cain and Abel are the archetypes of two branches of humanity: Those who accept what has been given, and those who find in the world around them a springboard to what does not yet exist.

Abel was the shepherd, his primary role to protect his flocks from predators. Beyond that, his ovine charges followed their instincts to tend to their own needs. If grass was abundant, they ate. A stream nearby, they drank. A ewe in estrus…. You get the idea.

Contrast with Cain. The farmer, of course, relies on natural processes to the same degree as the herdsman. Without proper soil, without a suitable balance between sun and rain, growth cannot occur. And like the herds, the crops must be protected, though from the predations of roving herbivores with nasty-big-pointy-teeth.

Unlike Abel, Cain took the opportunity to pick up where Yahweh left off. Not satisfied to stake out a field where seeds just happened to fall, he gathered seeds of like kind and planted them together. Rather than the random sprinklings of wind and spoor, he created patterns of his own, straight lines and right angles not typically found in Nature. With audacity unparalleled since his mother chose to exercise free will for the first time, Cain stepped onto the Hell-ward path of creativity and self-reliance.

Despite what They would have Us believe, the murder of Abel by his brother is not simply a tale of outrageous jealousy , nor the unwarranted hatred of the profane (despised by Yahweh) for the holy (beloved of Yahweh). It represents the supplanting of the servants of revelation—those who take only what is provided through faith and the word of god—by those who build upon the foundations of Creation, to become finishers of the work of nature.

The result? Cain is exiled. Exiled by the father who still resented the expulsion from Eden, the awakening from somnolent communion with the divine to the active, volitional pursuit of achieving divinity for oneself.

But exile came with a catch.

Cain was marked "so that no one who found him would kill him." However grievous his actions, however heinous his apostasy, it would seem that his sins were not without value to rest of humanity, to those still in favor with Yahweh.

Genesis records the progeny of Cain. Noteworthy among them are Enoch, the first astronomer, geometrician and cartographer; Jubal, inventor of music; and Tubal-Cain, father of metallurgy and smithing. The great practical arts of mathematics, geometry, music and astronomy have their roots in soil stained by Abel's blood, shed by Cain's hand.

To those who see in Yahweh's creation, in divine revelation, the summit of human potential, Cain's sin is the second great abomination to poison man's existence. The arrogance, the presumption to attempt improvement upon perfection is tantamount to spitting in the face of god.

But for those who view Creation as an unfinished masterpiece, who recognize Nature's unlimited potential—for these, Cain's legacy is the fulfillment of human potential. He is the father of inspiration, the progenitor of ingenuity.

For through Cain, humanity found its potential as co-creator with the Divine.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

In the Beginning....

Perhaps history's first loser (at least in the traditional Judeo-Christian framework) is Havah, or Eve.

[Side note: I feel really stupid for just now noticing this, but Eve's name in Hebrew, HVH, is only one letter shy of the name of god, YHVH. Perhaps a subject for later discussion....]

We've all heard the story. Adam & Eve reside in all-inclusive splendor in a place to put St. Regis to shame. The wildlife is friendly, the buffet is open at all hours (vegetarian-only, of course), and the general manager takes a walk-through every evening to make sure the sunset is on cue. No fees, no tips required, just--by the way--don't eat from this one particular tree. We here at Eden know you have a choice in garden paradises, and we thank you for incarnating with us.

All good.

Until one day, Eve gets a wild hair and says, "Y'know what? I'm gonna take a look at that tree. Not only that, but I'll pluck some fruit, savor it, then give it to the douche I'm with so he can rat me out to the manager, throw me under the bus, and get us both booted off the island. AND, we'll lose our immortality and I'll get wicked cramps every four weeks. Sounds like a plan."

Or so holy writ--loosely translated into the New International Loser-Historian Version--would have us believe.

For 4,000 years (at least by Bishop Ussher's reckoning), women have borne the shame of the first mother's folly, and all humanity--indeed, all of nature--has suffered for her pig-headed sin.

But, what if...?

What if the human condition in Eden was one of catatonic servility (think Yvette Mimieux-type Elois from The Time Machine)?

What if Eden represented a time when humanity was in a condition little better than ambulatory plants?

What if by reaching for something more, by striving for that which was deemed beyond her limits, Eve cleared the pathway to humanity's full potential?

What if the Fall was actually the Awakening?

For thousands of years, the Genesis account has been made a whipping post of women, a warning against female contumacy. "Boy, you better keep her in line. Let a stray thought get in her head, and there'll be hell to pay."

The fact of the matter is that Eve (or the real-life Types to her Archetype) gave birth not just to mankind, but to free will and free thought. Yes, in Eden man may have been in direct communion with the divine, but in the mindless, will-less manner that trees and rocks are in communion with the divine. Through Eve, every one of us has the choice to experience the divine for ourselves. The divine in nature, the divine in a lover's caress, the divine in the voices that whisper in the silence.

Above all the rest of Creation, humanity has the opportunity to consider itself, to judge its relationship with the world about it, and to choose the path it will follow. History is rife with examples of poor choices, but every once in a while a great leap is made on the upward path toward enlightenment and reunification with the divine. Eden is within our reach, but it will be an Eden freely chosen and made all the sweeter for having been the product of that freedom.

The freedom first claimed by Eve.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Welcome, and Why...?

Thanks for joining me on my first blog endeavor.

Why, you may ask, have I selected this particular (and peculiar) title?

The adage (oft attributed to Winston Churchill) "History is written by the victors" is ubiquitous. As is Napoleon's "History is a set of lies agreed upon." In these pages, we'll explore the history not recorded, the truth forgotten--in short, the history of the losers.

Through intention or ignorance, general education (particularly in Western cultures) is dominated by the Helleno-Roman legacy, informed by orthodox Christianity. While I acknowledge the impacts (some of them good) these influences have had on modern society, the roadblocks they have placed in the way of other cultural contributors are too often excused or overlooked.

Goths. Arians (as opposed to Aryans). Parthians. Names and peoples forgotten to history. If remembered at all, they are typically dismissed as barbarians, heretics or mere footnotes in the stories of true civilizations. Here, we will attempt to present them in perspective, and to draw a picture of their true contributions to liberty, freedom of thought and the upward march of humanity.

I invite you to join in the discussion, offer your thoughts and even suggest topics for consideration.

Thanks again for joining me, and welcome to the ride.


Tuesday, January 26, 2010