Life in a small town

Detaching From the Day-to-Day

Snow”, by Kobudo, from the album “Ototabi”  (2013).

-20 Celsius, and blowing cold from the Northeast. Not a nice day to go for a walk. After a relatively warm winter so far today seems quite bone chilling, almost as cold as I remember the Arctic being back in the 80’s.

Briefly glanced over recent Facebook posts while sipping my first coffee this AM – around 5:00 AM today, and briefly felt submerged in a sea of futility and despair. Scandal and rationalization everywhere. Folks disappointed with the status quo, disappointed with their physical existence, their mental existence, the existence of those who don’t agree with whatever they have decided is the reason for their problems. Folks trying everything under the sun to reconfigure reality to some form of congruence with their own self image and world view.

I thought about how comforting it is to detach from all this temporal worry and dissatisfaction and just focus on eternity. Life after death is really a win-win.  If you are right about it and you have behaved yourself according to the Manufacturers Instructions,  in a decent upright manner, then eternal life looks pretty good.  If you are wrong about it, you might have missed out on some excitement, but it just doesn’t matter, because then you are dead and nothing matters anymore.

As far as I can tell, the only fly in that ointment is the ineffable lightness of being amongst fence sitters reacting to  FOMO.

Cheers

Joe

 

 

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Life in a small town, The Inner Struggle

Christmas Holiday 2018 …

Wishing and praying for a Very Merry Christmas for all my friends and acquaintances (and apparently a 100 or so followers and a few dozen other daily search engine hits).

Really small potatoes on the scale of things on the web, where The Donald gets thousands of hits with a poorly thought out ten word tweet, sigh, everyone is a one hit wonder these days.

I do hope that your Christmas has so far been as peaceful and blessed as ours has been here among the western frozen chosen … the happy (Any Small Town, Flyover Country ) Bagginses of the Plains.

Currently listening to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kRXrqURyRy0 which is 3 hours of easy listening Christmas themed musical compilation. I also que up my Netflix fireplace video.

These are the best kind of fireplace really, which I can display on my 60″ flat screen monstrosity in the “living” room giving me all the esthetic benefits, sight and sound, of a cheerful fireplace scene with none of the downsides attendant in cutting wood, and smoke, and cleaning up the incessant ash piles, and the inevitable buildup in the chimney.

After the steady grind of a less than stellar year with many deaths, illnesses, and sufferings amongst folks we know and also some we don’t know but rather know of,  we here ended up having one of the best Christmases I can remember.

Our latest “Annus Horribilus”  ended with an excellent Christmas season both in the business and in the family. We celebrated Christmas Day with a gathering of family and feasted on a turkey and trimmings very nearly as large as the one in the Rockwell painting at the side. Our youngest family member is now coming up to 24 years old so we were spared the happy chaos of youngsters rowdily enjoying their holiday festivities.

Except for a short visit with other relates in our nation’s capital via Facetime, things were mercifully quiet and restrained here. We enjoyed much quiet commentary on the quality of the meal, the perfect turkey, the nice music and how mild the weather has been this year and how enjoyable everything was. Ironically, my vision of Christmas was for many years something along the lines of the song by The Chieftains – “St. Stephen’s Day Murders” featuring Elvis Costello.

These days my Christmas is more along the lines of this offering by Yo-Yo Ma, and Alison Krauss performing “The Wexford Carol”,   or, this song, written and sung by Jackson Browne, “On The Side of the Rebel Jesus”. If we seriously lived the revolutionary teachings of Jesus Christ, it would be a different world … I love this take on the Holy Season … living in a thoroughly pagan society, and heartsick at the suffering that flourishes everywhere in our nominally christian, capitalist countries. The numbers of homeless and hungry, victimized and disenfranchised powerless little people in both Canada and the US should be a source of shame to every person but instead … well, “I’m all right Jack.

Today is our fourth consecutive day off courtesy of Christmas falling in the middle of the week and a very welcome break it is having been limited to two days off at a stretch for most of the previous 8 years. It is overcast and snowing ever so lightly now and not too cold, a nice mild -15 degrees Celsius, which around these parts is almost shorts and sandals weather.

INGSOC logo from 1984

INGSOC logo from 1984

You probably know that I read a lot of blogs. There’s a lot of good, provocative, and perceptive writing going on in the blogosphere now. I wish I had the time to read everything.

Of course, blogs, like all things resulting from human activity, are subject to Sturgeon’s law, that of being 90% crap, and many who try to blog either become bored and quit, or have little to say which would be of interest to anyone other than their immediate circle of friends (a sort of “Facebook” post writ large).

But with so many people trying, even among the residual 10% of non-crap there are now thousands of people writing good content. And some of that good content I have alluded to in previous posts, most recently on the unlikelihood of any sort of cultural reform going forward in our society, and the stark reality of the passing of Christendom.

These days, most of what passes for entertainment falls into the twin categories of Dystopian fiction, or thinly disguised, and often not so thinly disguised, pornography.

Observed at arms length, we as a society, revel in blood, oppression, violence and sex of various colors and species in all our imaginary distractions.

And most dystopian fiction of the last 70 years or so centres around the eventuation of a godless totalitarian state enforcing draconian social control measures to limit and control the proles, the “citizens” and fashioning those organic resources into a more or less compliant state asset for the realization of inhuman objectives to “protect us for our own good”.

I am in mind of “That Hideous Strength”“1984” or “Soylent Green” or “Logan’s Run”,  or “The Omega Man”, or the more recent remake “I Am Legend” with Will Smith in the lead role, and others really too numerous to list here. it seems to be a frequently recurring theme in literature, film and most recently in online MMOGs.

I have referenced Wikipedia links for information on the above stories and movies with a very precise objective in mind. They often have good information but in using the Wiki one must always keep in mind their obvious, and very thorough Atheistic bias in going to great lengths to  Bulverize any reference to the divine in their information items.

The Wiki is perhaps one of the most obvious poster children for the “Material Naturalist” world view. I wrote at length about that world view and it’s goals and ambitions here and here. Those posts might provide an interesting backgrounder to why we are now living in a real life dystopean drama.

All the heroes in these modern religious myths are always Lone Wolf protagonists who rise up and take action against the monolithic state apparatus, by use of violence and subversion, and the mass audience for this product are the very people who are currently the “oppressed proles” in our current “dystopean” society.

One of my recent posts details why there will never be a real life uprising along the lines of all the admittedly entertaining fictional alternate realities with which our current crop of “bread and circus” addicts distract themselves.

The primary plank of the Material Naturalist world view is that there is no God, that everything in the universe is purely and simply the result of random biochemical processes and survival of the fittest, according to the so-called “Theory of Evolution” courtesy of the Universal Church of Charles Darwin.

There is no God, we are all an accident of evolution, there is no point to anything except return on investment, no moral values, no virtues, no good or evil outside the context of profit and power. Everything which we perceive is the result of random chance working on the basic inorganic constituents of the observable universe, and when we die that’s it, that’s all she wrote.

There is no soul, nothing spiritual, no intrinsic value in any human life beyond the market value of our chemical constituents and/or the possible net positive value we can add to the economy by our efforts during our lifetime, said lifetime to be optimized in relation to our productivity.

And beyond this world, relating to the unimaginably complex and numerous possibilities of “randomness”, there is the assumed but undiscovered possibility of endless numbers of more or less evolved “aliens” also living the same pointless random existence.

And the possibility of  “intelligent life” (i.e. creatures who could appreciate Bach)  is unquestioned … BUT, “real science” would say otherwise. I “borrowed” the next few paragraphs from a David Warren post from 2014 titled “Stardust”.

“For if life truly “evolves” by happenstance, as the Darwinoids do vainly preach, something approaching to human smarts would have appeared here and there many millions of years before us, wherever conditions were favourable. Indeed, given the speed at which humans suddenly “evolved” here, we could ourselves have appeared on Earth, millions of years before we actually did.

David Warren

David Warren

We are extremely recent, in geological terms; have been here less than a second, if the history of the planet were scaled down to one day. We’ve come a fair technological distance ourselves, since the last Earth ice age, a mere twelve thousand years ago, and the pace appears to be accelerating. Imagine what we could do given, oh, another million years, or hundred million. I daresay we’d finally figure how to get out and about.

The Italian physicist, Enrico Fermi, did this thought experiment before 1950. He realized that we did not need expensive, incredibly sophisticated tools, to detect extraterrestrial life. If it was there, it would already have got here.

He reasoned that, even if it could not defeat lightspeed, a sufficiently advanced material culture could send self-reproducing probes to colonize its home galaxy in a blink of exogeological time, then leapfrog galaxy to galaxy in all directions. It would transmit messages that could not be missed.

Any mathematical extrapolation of the number of planets in the universe that could, possibly, “evolve” life, is defeated by Fermi’s Paradox. The more possibilities there are, the less likely it has ever happened.

But of course, physics advances, and we now have a second indefatigable argument against ET. It developed from the “anthropic principle” in cosmology, which holds, tautologically enough, that the structure or “design” of the universe must be compatible with the existence of the conscious sapient creatures who observe it from within. (We would be they.)

Over the last few decades we have come to understand that life on earth absolutely depends on such an extraordinary number of extremely fine conditions, operating together at levels of coincidence that so stretch the odds, that the chance of finding another inhabited planet — even within something so large as our universe in space and time — is inconsiderably remote.

Jesus Christ, AD 30

Jesus Christ, AD 30

Or to put this another way, it appears dead obvious that the purpose of the universe was to make us possible. It would follow that our lives must be in some strange way — beyond any passing subjective enthusiasm — worth living. For Someone went to a lot of trouble to put us here.”

The Real Hero of OUR dystopean drama already rose up more than two millennia ago. The Rebel Jesus spread revolutionary teachings against the values, powers and things of the material world, the things that mattered a great deal to the authorities of His day. And they murdered Him, though there was “no crime in Him”, as Pilot declared. And the Light shone in the darkness and the darkness knew Him not.

Of all the works done by God in time and outside of Himself, the redemptive Incarnation of the Word is the greatest. Always we must be remembering that the vast universe which the materialists are so impressed with as “all there is” was formed in an instant in a “nothing” that GOD Himself had to create by withdrawing some tiny portion of his timeless Presence.

A Presence without beginning and without end drew back a portion of Himself and within that new “nothing” He created time and the material universe and all that developed in it after the Big Bang.

The Incarnation of the Word is the greatest work because it has for an end not a mere creature, however sublime and unrepeatable by man that may be, but GOD Himself, the eternal Word who, in time, assumed a human nature and a material human body in this  material universe.

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Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D

Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D

It is the greatest work because it is the supreme manifestation of the merciful love of GOD, and the work which above all others glorifies Him; and it glorifies Him precisely in reference to charity, that is love, which is His very essence. It is also the greatest of His works because of the immense good it brings to all mankind. The salvation, sanctification, and eternal happiness of the whole human race depends wholly upon the Incarnation of the Word, upon Jesus, the Incarnate Word.   (Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D. from the book “Divine Intimacy” Meditations on the interior life for every day of the liturgical year.pp 80).

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God the Father “chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, (before time existed) that we should be holy and unspotted. … Who hath predestined us unto the adoption of children through Jesus Christ unto Himself. … In whom we have redemption … the remission of sins according to the riches of His grace. … GOD hath quickened us together in Christ … and hath raised us up together, and hath made us sit together in the heavenly places, through Christ Jesus.” ( letter of Paul to the Ephesians 1, 4.5.7 – 2.5.6)

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Unlike the important things of this world GOD’s greatest work takes place in obscurity and silence, and under the most humble and most human conditions. Mary and Joseph are forced by civil authority to leave their humble home and to undertake a long journey. They travel on foot like the rest of the poor, in spite of Mary’s advanced pregnancy. They do not object and they make no complaint, but obey with promptness and simplicity. They are commanded by a pagan emperor, and they go, trusting in GOD’s Providence; GOD knows, GOD will provide; “To them that love GOD all things work together unto good.” (Rom 8, 28).

It is GOD’s will that His greatest work be accomplished here, in a wretched stable, in utter poverty, and Mary and Joseph embrace His will. They are humble and therefore docile to the will of GOD with complete humility. And GOD, as is His custom, made use of what was humble and despicable in the eyes of the world to accomplish the greatest of His works: the Incarnation of the Word.

And the winds do howl, and the waters roughen, and Christ, the Incarnate Word, has come and is always coming. It is something to think about, for no matter how you look at it — whether you are a traditional Christian (there can be no other kind), or  a perfectly conventional, orthodox material Narcissist — the message of Christmas is not, never was, and by its meaning never will be, “all about us.”  It is all about everything that is not us, as the Lord said to St. Catherine of Sienna, “I am GOD, You are not”, and that GOD loves us all with an absolute everlasting LOVE … He loved us from before time was and will love us so for all of eternity. So Trust Him … and come home, to the Father who loves you no matter what.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night…

Cheers

Joe

This Too Shall PassAlways remember, “be charitable in your judgements, never take yourself too seriously” and of course, the ever relevant “Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.”

Sometimes when I post, I look at my sig and wish that I’d follow my own damned advice.

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Life in a small town, The Inner Struggle

World Views & Models That Work (part II) …

Mary Poplin

Further on the topic of world views and reality. Once again I am quoting from Mary Poplin, from her book “Is Reality Secular?” She does such a good job I am not going to muck about with a work of art …

so I just decided to stop with my own opinion and just strongly recommend that you go to Amazon.com and pick up the book, just 10 bucks for the Kindle version and worth every penny. Please read it and pass on the information, the “model”, to those you care about.

This is from Mary Poplin’s, “Is Reality Secular?: Testing the Assumptions of Four Global Worldviews” (Veritas Books) (on p. 76). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.

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Old-earth special creation.

Old-earth creation proponents look at the seven-day story more in terms of geological epochs or as a narrative framework for interpreting the origins account as did many of the early church fathers.55

They accept the traditional dating of the universe and earth but do not accept evolution as an adequate explanation for the origins of life.56  Some point out that the fossil record does basically follow the same order as listed in the “generations of days of creation” in Genesis, while others will disregard the apparent chronology.

These scholars use scientific evidence to argue for the existence of God and believe that scientific ideas are evident in the Bible but that not all these biblical passages are to be interpreted literally. Old-earth creationist and Orthodox Jewish physicist Gerald Schroeder is a physicist, earth scientist and theologian whose science degrees are from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

His early scientific work centered primarily on the control of radioactivity. He is a popular and prolific writer on the “confluence of modern science and ancient biblical commentary.”57 He was influential in the conversion of famous philosopher Antony Flew.58

Hugh Ross

The most prominent old-earth creationist, astrophysicist Hugh Ross, has pulled together scholars across the scientific disciplines to develop the Reasons to Believe Institute.59 RTB has a large number of scholars working to articulate the latest discoveries to a well-educated audience who may or may not be scientists.

Their mission is to equip Christians “by demonstrating that sound reason and scientific research—including the very latest discoveries—consistently support, rather than erode, confidence in the truth of the Bible and faith in the personal, transcendent God revealed in both Scripture and nature.”60

Ross was the youngest person (at seventeen) to serve as director of observations for Vancouver’s branch of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. He is a prolific writer articulating a biblical creation model that is testable, falsifiable and predictive.61

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God or Material Origins

John Lennox

John Lennox asks the ultimate question that theistic evolutionists, intelligent-design theorists and old- and young-earth creation theorists ask: given whatever the materials, processes and laws one believes caused the universe to exist, where did or do the basic building blocks of the material world come from, and, in particular, where did information (coded in DNA) come from?

Lennox asks, “How much more likely, then, is the existence of an intelligent creator behind human DNA, the colossal biological database that contains no fewer than 3.5 billion ‘letters’—the longest word yet discovered?”65 DNA’s storage density alone has been found to be six powers of ten denser than flash-drive technology.66

Anthony Flew

Once an apologist for atheism, Antony Flew advised us to follow the evidence where it leads. In science, as in all human endeavors, scientists cannot afford to hold on to a priori ideological commitments (secular or religious) that may become blinders for themselves or others. In all these theories, none is any more dependent on faith than any other.

Most important, none of these five perspectives on origins and agency inhibits scientific inquiry or discovery. Quite the opposite, they all encourage it. Proponents of nontheistic evolution, theistic evolution, intelligent design, old-earth creation and young-earth creation all use the same scientific methods when they conduct actual studies.

John Polkinghorne

These highly politicized metaphysical battles over five distinct scientific theories about the origin and agency of life on earth cannot be solved on one side or the other using the scientific method alone. Cambridge physicist, theologian and former chancellor John Polkinghorne, an esteemed scholar of both science and religion, reminds us that metaphysical claims need to be defended with metaphysical arguments.67

Evolutionary biologist Michael Ruse admits the naturalist’s Darwinian evolutionary bias has political intent: Evolution is promoted by its practitioners as more than mere science. Evolution is promulgated as an ideology, a secular religion—a full-fledged alternative to Christianity, with meaning and morality.

biologist Michael Ruse

I am an ardent evolutionist and an ex-Christian, but I must admit that in this one complaint the literalists are absolutely right. Evolution is a religion. This was true of evolution in the beginning, and it is true of evolution still today. . . . Evolution therefore came into being as a kind of secular ideology, an explicit substitute for Christianity.68

Oxford philosopher Richard Swinburne describes the theist logic: We find that the view that there is a God explains everything we observe, not just some narrow range of data.

philosopher Richard Swinburne

It explains the fact that there is a universe at all, that scientific laws operate within it, that it contains conscious animals and humans with very complex, intricately organized bodies, that we have abundant opportunities for developing ourselves and the world, as well as the more particular data that humans report miracles and have religious experiences.

In so far as scientific causes and laws explain some of these things (and in part they do), these very causes and laws need explaining, and God’s action explains them. The very same criteria which scientists use to reach their own theories lead us to move beyond those theories to a creator God who sustains everything in existence.69

This above is excerpted from Mary Poplin’s, “Is Reality Secular?: Testing the Assumptions of Four Global Worldviews”(Veritas Books) (pp. 76-79). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.

That’s all for now folks. My point in retelling all this is to point the finger at the inconvenient truth that any world view that doesn’t include GOD inevitably results in a murderous totalitarian self centered society however it is manifested. These last two posts have been an appeal to authority supporting my own world view, but unlike the secularists, I am in no way appealing to my own self image and my own intellectual authority, my vanity and narcissism.

Today’s modern culture in the west  denigrates and belittles any one who disagrees with the prevailing view regardless of their proven integrity and intelligence and regardless of the empirical proofs offered. Today’s “brights” care nothing for truth, but rather seek license and avoid responsibility, and this worship of self and love of self always and everywhere results in the death of the innocent and the helpless.

Cheers

Joe

 

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Life in a small town, The Inner Struggle

World Views & Models that Work …

 

Ballad Of A Thin Man”, Bob Dylan, from the album “Highway 61 Revisited”, (1965)

Cancer as a Metabolic Disease, Thomas N. Seyfried, 2012

So, slogging along between bouts of accounting, and IT frustration, I am recreating in the evening by reading my copy of “Cancer as a Metabolic Disease …”. It is slow going and were I not so interested in the “model” I might not be reading this book, it is definitely not a page turner.

On the other hand It also works way better than sleeping pills, so you win some you lose some. It is heavy going but understandable with a couple of years of university biology and chemistry under my belt and a wife who studied organic chem to whom I direct questions on occasion.

It is both discouraging in its recounting of the past 50 years and very encouraging of my fasting Keto lifestyle. I have posted snippets here and there when I found stuff clearly relevant to fasting and Keto, but for starters, a revisit to the Forward (by Dr. Peter Pedersen, Professor of Biological Chemistry, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD):

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Peter Pedersen, PhD

Cancer persists as a major disease of mortality and is afflicting more people today than ever before. Few families remain untouched by this insidious and vicious disease. In fact, cancer is predicted to overtake heart disease as the prime cause of death in industrialized societies during this century (21st). …

The Nobel laureate, Otto Warburg, was the first to provide evidence during the early part of the last century for the involvement of disturbed respiration with compensatory fermentation (glycolosis) as a common property of cancer, thus perceived to be related to its uncontrolled growth and progression. Few subjects have been as controversial in the cancer field as Otto Warburg and his theory of cancer. … “

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And now we are reading Chapter Four “Energetics of Normal Cells and Cancer Cells”, and we find the following:

“METABOLIC HOMEOSTASIS: Homeostasis is the tendency of biological systems to maintain relatively stable conditions in their internal environment” and “This is especially important for humans that follow a feast/fast schedule of nutrient supply. Metabolic homeostasis within cells is dependent … on the energy supply to the membrane pumps. Hormones such as Insulin and Glucagon can regulate global system energy homeostasis in order to maintain steady energy balance within the cells of each organ.”

That is just the simple introduction to the chapter explaining how the above “Energetics” process takes place, at the microscopic level, in every cell and organ of our body, every second of every day of our lives. And if even a bit of it goes wrong then we die … in this case by Cancer … but there are many other killers opportunistically waiting for us, “the self”, to deviate from the “Manufacturers Instructions” and set off into the empty blank part of the map where lie “Dragons”.

And the complexity about which I am reading intuitively leads me to reject the hypothesis that reality is all just accidental random chemical processes. In my primitive ignorance I simply can’t accept the Material Naturalist or Secular Humanist view reducing everything to chemical accidents. The machinery is far too precise and complex to be an accident of evolution. I find myself coming up against the idea of irreducible complexity.

It seems that “Darwin’s theory of evolution is the great white elephant of contemporary thought. It is large, almost completely useless, and the object of superstitious awe.”  Dr. David Berlinski, Philosophy. Darwinism is just another mutation, a religion by any other name. Even Darwin didn’t believe what modern materialists and humanists believe.

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Further on topic the following is a direct quote from Mary Poplin, from her book “Is Reality Secular?” She does such a good job I am not going to muck about with a work of art …

” …  More recently, evolutionists point to genetic similarities between species to bolster Darwinian views of evolution. It has been widely reported that the human genome and that of the chimpanzee share about 95-98 percent similar DNA. This is used by material naturalists to bolster their arguments against the exceptionality of human beings in nature.

But why would we not expect God to use the same material for many different things? We use metal for children’s toys, skyscrapers, mechanical limbs and bombs. Rather, the more obvious question is how much then can the physical genome actually explain? While there are some obvious physical similarities between apes and humans, there are vast differences in our behaviors, histories and abilities.

This argument seems only to suggest that DNA studies may not be sufficient to describe the radical differences between the species. Why if there are such similarities at a molecular level are there so many differences in nature? No chimpanzee, ape or similar animal has ever set up complex societies, built houses, produced works of art and music, developed an oral or written language, or studied itself.

Where do these tremendous differences come from? Perhaps, as salmon scientist Ernie Brannon suggests, there is something more to the biblical explanation that God breathed his spirit into man and made him in his image than is thus far evident in the gene pool.

Intelligent design. On sabbatical in 1993, Berkeley law professor Phillip Johnson began reading about the theory of evolution. From his position as a lawyer, he reasoned that the theory lacked evidence. He later wrote asking some troubling questions about Darwin’s theory.

From this beginning, Johnson attracted other scientists with similar concerns. These now form a group of scientists and philosophers who collectively refer to themselves as intelligent design theorists and scientists.

Biochemist Michael Behe, famous for the study of the bacterial flagellum, argues that certain biological systems would have to have been assembled in one fell swoop in order to function. His argument on “irreducible complexity” dovetails with the argument of philosopher William Dembski’s notion of “specified complexity,” revealing the impossibility of particular complex systems to have emerged in the manner described in neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory.

Stephen Meyer’s work suggests that the complexity of the DNA genetic code is evidence alone of a designing intelligence. Other ID advocates include both religious and agnostic scholars Antony Flew, Michael Denton, Jonathan Wells, Caroline Crocker, Richard Steinberger, Robert Marks, Jeff Schwartz, Guillermo Gonzalez, Jay Richards, David Berlinski and Phillip Johnson.

ID proponents scientifically analyze systems in astronomy, biology, physics and chemistry to determine whether the observed structures are most likely products of unguided natural selection, intelligent design or some combination. Like other scientists, they advance their propositions by inference to the best possible explanation and conduct experiments that arise from these hypotheses.

They have discovered new planets and worked on the finely tuned nature of the universe and earth, the initial conditions necessary to support life, the origin of irreducibly complex life including DNA transcription, the origin of major body plans in the Cambrian explosion, biological disparity and species diversity, and the processes of mutation, such as those involved in bacterial drug resistance.

EXPELLED

Intelligent design advocates hold prestigious degrees and have considerable scientific accomplishments but are often marginalized and sometimes even excluded from the scientific establishment in elite universities and other institutions. For example, in August 2013 a university president announced that the theory of intelligent design could not be taught in science classrooms.

Thus proponents who remain in universities work largely under the radar and keep their skepticism of Darwinian evolution and their metaphysical commitments hidden. Ben Stein’s popular film Expelled, though hotly criticized (by all the usual suspects), revealed a reality that ID proponents face often from the same people who paradoxically accuse the early Roman Catholic Church of persecuting Galileo for his doubts. (the coverage of and reaction to the movie “Expelled” are defacto proof of what Mary Poplin is writing about in her book. The Wiki article is a perfect example of media bias pretending to be impartial when reporting sources that disagree with their beliefs).

In an attempt to discount the academic rigor of intelligent-design theorists and their work, material naturalists often label its advocates creationists. The term creationist has suffered so much derision in the media that it makes it easy to dismiss ID out of hand without engaging the advocates’ scientific research and theory.

Unlike young-earth creationism, ID draws its metaphysics not from arguments about the age of the earth or man but from empirical scientific data revealing the design components that would be unlikely to have formed as a result of a slow process of evolution. Intelligent design advocates define themselves as a community of scientists, philosophers and other scholars seeking to understand the “prodigious evidence of design in nature.”

The Discovery Institute serves as the primary gathering place and think tank for intelligent-design advocates. They believe that the operations of the universe and the intricacies of living things are best explained by an intelligent, purposive design and reject theoretical propositions that solely material phenomena acting according to unguided processes brought the universe and nature into being.

toppling the religion of evolution …

Since 2001, over seven hundred scientists have signed Discovery’s Statement of Dissent from Darwinism, which reads, “We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.”

The reason that ID refers to an intelligent designer rather than God is that some members of its community of scholars are agnostics, Muslims or Buddhists in addition to Jews and Christians. Even atheists like Nagel support their work as a viable theory. Nevertheless, one of the criticisms is that most intelligent-design theorists, in fact, do believe in God or at least that God is probable.

Philosopher of science and self-described “ex-Christian” Michael Ruse quips that their use of the words “intelligent designer” rather than God is “a terminological inexactitude.” Mathematician and philosopher David Berlinski, who calls himself a secular Jew, says of intelligent design theory, “I do not know whether any of this (intelligent design) is true. (but) I am certain that the scientific community does not know that it is false.

Mary Poplin, “Is Reality Secular?: Testing the Assumptions of Four Global Worldviews” (Veritas Books) (pp. 73-76). InterVarsity Press.

The point of this is that believing and using the wrong models is dangerous. Dangerous behaviour based on faulty models kills people. We find that in every field from Engineering, to Aerodynamics, to Social Sciences, bad models invariably get people killed either by engineering system failures, or biochemical system failures.

The Material Naturalists, and Secular Humanists pushing these failed models are not the ones dying, and they don’t care as long as their models are not questioned.  Meanwhile, the ones doing the dying are us, the little guys in the street, the victims of guidelines and regulations and policies based on “an unproven theory” for the ego gratification and fat remuneration of policy makers and department heads and ministers? Yes Minister!

More to follow in the next post.

Cheers

Joe

 

 

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Life in a small town

Thoughts on Thanksgiving …

Oh Earth Oh Earth Return”, Bill Douglas, (1996)

So, thinking about the black hole of nothingness to which we are led by the “no god, random chance, biochemical process, evolution, moral relativism” paradigm at the heart of our modern culture, our culture of Material Naturalism, and Secular Humanism, I find my whole being screaming out a huge NO! to that culture of hopeless chaotic death. I live and breath and think in this world here.

So I challenge my readers to take a moment, every morning, to think about ten things which we are grateful for, and then think about why we are grateful and to whom we are grateful.

In that vein, on this Thanksgiving Morning I am just going to post the Thanksgiving Proclamation, 3 October 1789   without commentary but with gratitude and thanksgiving for the thousands of blessings which we all take utterly for granted every day while we are focused on what is wrong in the moment.

I start with being grateful for my moment, and being able to think these thoughts, which I do not believe are the result of some chemical process rooted in random evolutionary chaos.

So without further ado:

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By the President of the United States of America. a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor—and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me “to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be—That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks—for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation—for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war—for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed—for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted—for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

Freedom From Want, Norman Rockwell (created January 6, 1941–March 6, 1943)

and also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions—to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually—to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed—to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord—To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us—and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New-York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

Go. Washington

*****

May you have a peaceful and blessed Thanksgiving

Joe

 

 

 

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Life in a small town, The Inner Struggle

Cancer Models, Complexity … and Beauty

“An Taiseirl (The Resurrection)”, Noirin Ni Riain and The Monks Of Glenstal Abbey, from the album “Vox de Nube”, (1996)

In a series of previous posts, I remarked on the effective use of models and the nature of models and the difference between hard models and soft models and the real world results deriving from the different types of models.

For the interested, that series is here, and here, and here, and here. So if models are of interest read the whole series, or not, your call, your mileage may vary. This post is about a couple of models which occupy opposite ends of reality, from the macro to the micro.

As previously noted and discussed “reality” was once a popular topic, and over the centuries, even the millennia, humanity has developed a rich, varied and often contradictory plethora of “Philosophical Traditions”, a detailed taxonomy of thought, trying to make sense of our experienced reality.

But what it all boils down to in the end is only four basic macro “Models”. Those models are worldviews at their most basic level. The Four Models, the four major global worldviews are Material Naturalism, Secular Humanism, Pantheism and Monotheism, represented by Judeo-Christianity. I happen to believe and act according to the Judeo-Christian world view, or model.

Is Metaphysics useful?

Today’s thought is about the naturalist and humanist view that everything in “reality” including “self” is “simply” biochemical or physical process, random chance, and evolution, along the lines of the old saw about a bunch of monkeys randomly typing away and “randomly” producing “The Bible”, or a “Palestrina Mass”. Is “complexity” a clue to the nature of reality, or is reality personal, just another pot of muddy soup simmering on the stove top of self interest?

And opposite this simple metaphysic for simpletons I try to contrast the extraordinary complexity of cell respiration in the context of developing cancer. What I am attempting here is to show that the extraordinary complexity of cell respiration alone is ample evidence for something beyond and above the simplistic views of the materialists and the humanists without ever venturing into the massively complex inter-relation of all the universal constants and environmental and physical variables which must be precisely what they are for cells, (ie. us) to even exist.

I am everything

I find myself unable to accept a simplistic answer that all this beauty is just “biochemical processes, random chance, and evolution”.  Now, these days my model is not very popular, in fact those who adhere to the Judeo-Christian model tend to be regarded as “superstitious primitives”.

The majority of folks these days, the new”enlightened”, when they think about it at all, hold to the models of Material Naturalism and/or Secular Humanism or a kind of non-thinking spouting of bits and pieces from both depending on the circumstances of the moment and whoever they are trying to belittle and Bulverise amongst those neolithics who do not agree with the prevalent popular version of “reality”.

Of course, it’s a given that anyone who doesn’t agree with the “nice” “polite” social club we call “modern” enlightened society, anyone who doesn’t agree with The Progressive Faction, is an idiot. As I have posted before, I believe that the rise of Bulverism in any group is a sure sign of the decay, the rot, within said group.

Oh! You just say that because you are a man!

I have referenced Bulverism in a couple of previous posts but Bulverism is indeed THE sure sign of a weak and immoral argument and a failed entity, whichever and wherever they are found. Progressives, Communists, Nazis, Liberals, Democrats, Clerical Socialists, Liberation Theologians, all cut from the same cloth, dyed black or red or denim, whatever, and all serving the same master, shoveling coal for Satan.

I suspect that most of those who practice Bulverism are not even aware that that is what they are doing, since Bulverism is the stock in trade of the entire “philosophy of emotion” crowd and they have no idea that there is any other method of “discussing” ideas.  The method of Bulverism is to “assume that your opponent is wrong, and explain his error”.

So too the Liberal wing of the Catholic Church, and virtually every other left leaning group and individual, political or economic or social, on the planet  … their opponents are “obviously” wrong and “out of touch with the times”. The Bulverist assumes a speaker’s argument is invalid or false, “all right minded people know this to be true”,  and then explains why the speaker came to make that mistake, attacking the speaker or the speaker’s motive.

How do you make a phone?

The term “Bulverism” was coined by C. S. Lewis[1] to poke fun at a very serious error in thinking that, he alleges, recurs often in a variety of religious, political, and philosophical debates. Similar to Antony Flew‘s “Subject/Motive Shift”, Bulverism is a fallacy of irrelevance.

One accuses an argument of being wrong on the basis of the arguer’s identity or motive, but these are strictly speaking irrelevant to the argument’s validity or truth. But it is also a fallacy of circular reasoning, since it assumes, rather than argues, that one’s opponent is wrong.

So back to my subject of interest, the macro model known as Material Naturalism, and the beliefs arising from it, which inform the understanding of the micro model known as cell theory. In this post I am comparing what seem to be conclusions derived from the macro model Material Naturalism and applied to the micro model of cell theory.

How do you make a Pork Chop?

Material Naturalism is the “idea or belief that only natural (as opposed to supernatural or spiritual) laws and forces operate in the world.” Adherents of naturalism (i.e., naturalists) assert that natural laws are the rules that govern the structure and behavior of the natural universe, that the changing universe at every stage is a product of these laws.

In this view, it comes down to the belief that a cell phone and a porkchop have their origins in exactly the same random processes, and to further confuse these believers both items come shrink wrapped in clear plastic, so it must be true, right?

Remember when science was science, and “scientific” carried credibility? For example, cell theory In biology, is the historic scientific theory, now universally accepted, that living organisms are made up of cells, that they are the basic structural/organizational unit of all organisms, and that all cells come from pre-existing cells.

Cells are the basic unit of structure in all organisms and also the basic unit of reproduction. With continual improvements made to microscopes over time, magnification technology advanced enough to discover cells in the 17th century. This discovery is largely attributed to Robert Hooke, and began the scientific study of cells, also known as cell biology.

So somewhere in the 19th or 20th century we entered the age of Scientific Material Naturalism.  Everything which we think of as “reality”  is simply a process and everything that takes place, is thought about, or felt in our emotions, is nothing more than a biochemical reaction, evolving randomly towards chaos. What is left of “Beauty”, “Quality”, “Love” in a reality which is no longer real but rather just some random accident? You can’t touch them, or measure them, so they can’t be real, right?

Curiously, “Does it spark joy?” proves again to be a useful tool.

So, that’s part one … more to follow as I try to make clear this simple emotional muddle that dangerously contaminates our thinking about virtually everything we encounter on a daily basis.

Cheers

Joe

How do you make a million dollars?

In the age of Material Naturalism, does the question “What is Science?” even mean anything anymore? When Facebook opinions carry more weight than Nobel Prizes and “Scientific American” has more cred than “Science” we seem very close to “Burn The Witch!

 

 

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Life in a small town

Remembrance Day 2018 …

Into the West, Annie Lennox, Howard Shore, LOTR, 2003

Remembranceday1Last Sunday was Remembrance Day 2018. The 11th of November fell on a Sunday for the first time in my memory, (probably faulty) and the whole ceremonial routine took place at exactly the same time as our 11:00 AM and only Sunday Mass. Over the years my feelings and thoughts about “Remembrance Day have changed quite a bit. Bitterness has crept in.

I used to share all the emotional attachments about honoring my fallen brothers and so on, but lately my cynicism about the civilian leadership who have never served a day in their lives has tainted my memory and my sadness with bitterness. I guess I am turning into a grumpy old man.

So I chose to go to church and give the Remembrance Day ceremonies a pass, also one of my first times to miss this “official” photo op for all elected and appointed officials everywhere.  We played “The Last Post”, had our politically correct “Minute of Silence” at the beginning of Mass and then the smaller than usual congregation got on with the True Sacrifice.

The missing parishioners must have felt that the Remembrance Day Ceremonies were more important than Mass. “C’est La Vie” in Canada anyway.  Laurence Binyon is most famous for “For the Fallen“, often recited at Remembrance Sunday services in the UK, and an integral part of Anzac Day services in Australia and New Zealand, and November 11th Remembrance Day services in Canada.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.”

Remembrance Day  is a memorial day observed in Commonwealth of Nations member states since the end of the First World War to remember the members of their armed forces who have died in the line of duty. But do we really remember them, except in an abstract way, for a minute once a year? And how do we honour their memories, do we honour the values they died for?

The memorial evolved out of Armistice Day, which continues to be marked on the same date. The initial Armistice Day was observed at Buckingham Palace, commencing with King George V hosting a “Banquet in Honour of the President of the French Republic” during the evening hours of 10 November 1919. The first official Armistice Day was subsequently held on the grounds of Buckingham Palace the following morning.

poppy-fields-remembrance-day-1

The eleventh day of the eleventh month has always seemed to me to be special. Even if the reason for it fell apart as the years went on, it was a symbol of something close to the high part of the heart. Perhaps a life that stretches through two or three wars takes its first war rather seriously, but I still think we should have kept the name “Armistice Day.” Its implications were a little more profound, a little more hopeful.” (Ten Everlovin’ Blue-Eyed Years With Pogo (1959), p. 100)

The red remembrance poppy has become a familiar emblem of Remembrance Day around here due to the poem “In Flanders Fields” written by Canadian physician Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae.  At first real poppies were worn. These poppies bloomed across some of the worst battlefields of Flanders in World War I; their brilliant red colour became a symbol for the blood spilled in the war.

Over the Top, Neuville-Vitasse

Over the Top, Neuville-Vitasse, Granddad’s War

This blood spilled by the self interest of secular progressive powers who, in their wisdom, declare that they do not need God and Religion, that those of us who still believe in GOD and Country are nothing but “Bitter Clingers”.

The saddest fact of our Canadian war deaths is that in fact they died in vain. They were suckered by civilian politicians into making the ultimate sacrifice to uphold immoral means to evil ends.

My grandfather, having served in most of the most vicious battles of WW I, was of the opinion that it was all just a terrible waste, the annihilation of a couple of generations worth of the best and the brightest of Christendom, before secular materialism wiped out their descendants. He is now buried in a Veteran’s cemetery near Montreal maintained by the Last Post fund.  In our respective enlistment photos we could have passed for twins except for the difference in style of our uniforms. I remember him being very proud of me signing up and serving … I still miss him.

It didn’t have to be the way it was

David Warren writes: “When, for instance, the newly-enthroned Karl I — Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary; “fanatic” Catholic Christian — discreetly proposed a separate peace to the allies in the spring of 1917, his agents were rebuffed, outed, and mocked. … our nationalist politicians could now hope to utterly crush the foe. They would demand unconditional surrender. … Drowned in the gunfire was this Blessed Karl’s expressly Christian plea. In an instant the decision was made, in the West, to persist till millions more were slain, and the conditions assembled for international violence and totalitarianism through the next seventy years.”  Go and read the whole post, it is worth your few minutes.

But the bitter truth is that Evil triumphed. The politicians got their way.

Jumping from a Dakota, training at Fort Benning

Jumping from a Dakota, training at Fort Benning, Ga, Dad’s photo

My father survived his war (WW II) because he had the great good fortune to be part of the second cadre, the second wave of reinforcements, He joined later in the war, because he was just 18.

He was part of the “replacements”, who were always about to be deployed into action when the “enemy” finally surrendered. He used to cynically joke about “they always quit because they heard we were coming into the line”, of course there were no lines for his outfit, which suffered 70% casualties at times in the missions they took on. He died in 1984, they are all dead now, including most of the people I served with.

Canadian DDH, 1970's

Canadian DDH, 1970’s, my war

I survived my war (WW III) because I had the equally great good fortune to serve in a branch that never, during my service, had anyone shooting at us in anger.

Yes, there were at times mortal danger, but not from “enemy action”. We cruised around at half strength with obsolete ships and equipment much older than we were, according to the political expediency of the day, showing the flag, showing a “presence”  and playing “chicken” with our contemporaries in equally obsolete ships and aircraft on the “enemy” side, who were also “showing a presence”.

Because budgets were more important than lives. Not enough crews to man the ships, not enough fuel to deploy to all our commitments, not enough ammo or torpedoes to come even close to a full load-out, not enough maintenance hours to fly the choppers safely. 300+ days a year at sea so that some ignorant wanker of a politician could make grandiose speeches about things he didn’t believe, in Parliament, at NATO meetings and in the UN General Assembly.

The "enemy"?

The Evil Empire, aka, the “enemy”?

I eventually stopped seeing that 20 something seaman on that ratty old Soviet destroyer 100 yards away as an “enemy”. He was just “me in another uniform” just doing his patriotic duty because of the designs of the real enemy back home in the Kremlin, and in Ottawa.

For years, I used to feel guilty that I had never “seen combat” like my army peers, until one day an older vet told me: Don’t be a stupid wanker!  I should be happy about “missing out on combat”. That was a “rain-check” he would have been grateful for. I changed my mind that day and asked God to forgive my stupidity.

WW I, II, and III only slowed down the Evil momentarily, Pyrrhic victories at best.

The truth of my Remembrance Day memories is that everything our fathers and grandfathers fought against and what we, in our turn,  believed we stood against is now running rampant at the very heart of our own polite society. And yet, God loves them all … that is difficult to understand …

Real life example … There were indeed horrible atrocities committed during the waning days of the Vietnam war. But the majority of the real “Baby Killers” weren’t “anyone in a military uniform” as the college crowd believed and attacked us for, back in the 70’s.

We were well trained and disciplined Canadian military … we and the vast majority of all serving military everywhere weren’t even remotely associated in any way with this sort of action, this sort of atrocity, which was stopped in its tracks by other members of the same military involved in the atrocity.

None of us had anything in common with the actions of the leadership of some angry draftee wack jobs in some Vietnamese village, except that we also wore “green uniforms”. But the protesters didn’t give a frack about the “truth”.  They didn’t seem to care about “facts”, or “truth”, ’cause it was “cool” to be a tool of the left, a useful idiot.  And besides, “every right minded person knows this to be true”. Evil in action.  And yet, God loves them all … that is difficult to understand … and even more difficult to emulate.

The real “Baby Killers” went on with their lives, left their protests behind, graduated from all their colleges, cut their hair, dressed up in suits and are now running the national murder show. In government, health, police and academia, the policies of death triumph everywhere. “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” (Pogo).

Carl Edward Sagan,

So about the time I retired from the military in the late 70’s I had come to the conclusion that the real enemy was in Ottawa and other government capitals. Nothing I have experienced subsequently has convinced me otherwise. Evil Triumphed. For now.

And yet, God loves them all …

I had an atheist acquaintance who, a few years ago, returned to his homeland to live out his days. He died, like all men do. I suspect that he has discovered that real “reality” isn’t even close to what he imagined it was.

Anduril, Howard Shore, LOTR, 2003

Stephen William Hawking

I imagine my old acquaintance, sitting around a back wall table in some eternal bar somewhere outside of time, along with his gods, his heroes Carl Edward Sagan, (November 9, 1934 – December 20, 1996 (aged 62)  Stephen William Hawking, (8 January 1942 – 14 March 2018) and Henry John Deutschendorf Jr. (December 31, 1943 – October 12, 1997), known professionally as John Denver.

There they sit, telling each other tall tales about how screwed up and unfair the outcome turned out to be. Or maybe not, after all, God loves them all …

Occasionally, when things get tough here and now, and I start to feel sorry for myself, I think I might just run away somewhere like Australia or New Zealand, but it is not this day.

We can’t really run away from our thoughts, our understandings as they evolve. Wherever we run we all die and if we have not gotten it right by then, then what?

Henry John Deutschendorf Jr.

My atheist acquaintance’s favourite theme when running down believers (often), especially Christians  was all the evil killing of all the Christian religious wars, especially Catholic religious wars, of all the centuries of history. And, as with the current “Global Warming” religious fad, the data simply do not support the rhetoric.

But, as one gent in my store said recently: “I DON’T CARE ABOUT FACTS! Everyone knows it’s true.” We are sorely afflicted, perhaps even fatally, with the philosophy of “feelings”.

Emotions trump facts and logic every time and if someone disagrees with the “emotional” excuses for faulty beliefs then they are Bulverized out of existence.

Uh-huh, and we now have Socialist Secular Progressive governments at the Provincial and Federal level who are very busy expanding the state role in eliminating inconvenient people, the economy is in the tank, we live with a 60 cent dollar and spend all our time complaining about Trump. The Kool Aide flows on in endless streams.

It has become so bad that in fact, now, at the Federal level, one is no longer allowed to even run for office unless one agrees in advance, in writing, to support killing babies and seniors and other “less desirable” people as required, in the name of “Woman’s Health” or “Quality of Life” or whatever the meme du jour happens to be this week. And yet, God loves them all ….

And no-one sees a problem with that … “Kristallnacht” anyone?  How did we get here? Doesn’t ANYONE understand that decisions and actions have consequences?

Maybe this is all just egotistical pontification, I am in love with my opinion, my version. What has this to do with Remembrance Day.

Maybe it’s because there is a huge disconnect between the people who died walking the walk for us, and the talking heads preaching and speechifying with the flash’s popping at the microphone. Funny thing how Christians in general and Catholics in particular are every gutless pseudo-intellectual non-believer’s favorite target. I would be astounded to see any of the usual suspects running down Muslims publicly.

“Je Suis Charlie”, right? Color me amazed at the sheer overwhelming unashamed hypocrisy of the whole damned lot of them. There are, obviously, individuals and groups who still misuse religion as a reason for violent behavior, but modern nation states don’t need religion as an excuse for going to war. Every major war in the last 300 years has been fought by nation states, not by the church. (death toll so far: 251.53 million conservative estimate and counting). And yet God loves them all … the politicians, the protestors, the profiteers, the bureaucrats, the civilians, and all the uniformed guys and gals sacrificing for the good of the many. God loves them all …

Union Field Hospital … American Civil War

In America’s history alone, the 4 year re-conquest of the secessionist states in the Civil War with a death toll of more than 620,000 killed and millions more injured, was a far bloodier event than the several hundred years of re-conquest of the Holy Land by the now despised Crusaders. Current estimates found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_war. place the highest estimated death toll for Christian religious wars at 18-20 million dead from all causes including civilian deaths from famine and disease, genocides and massacres.

The Battle of Arsuf was a battle of the Third Crusade in which Richard I of England defeated the forces of Ayyubid leader Saladin

The lowest estimate is about 5 to 6 million. It would seem that, whatever one’s views, reality lies somewhere in between, given the extraordinary range reported and the probable biases of the reporters depending on their religious or non-religious views. But even taking the highest estimates as veritable they are still dwarfed by the death tole inflicted by the godless progressive secular state and it’s multitude of minions in all it’s wars.

The state apparatus for investigating civilians now is far more extensive than anything dreamed up by the Spanish Inquisition, although both were created to serve the same purpose: to preserve a government’s public ideology and control of society, whether based on religion or on modern constitutional order.

Analogies can easily be multiplied, if one wants to push a thesis; but the point is that the greatest threat to world peace and international justice is the nation state gone bad, claiming an absolute power, deciding questions and making “laws” beyond its competence. And yet, God loves them all …

Boy Trudeau, Red Rachel, and all the rest ...

Boy Trudeau, Red Rachel, and all the rest …

And so we find ourselves surrounded and vastly outnumbered by the howling savages and zombies of the moral apocalypse, a kind of last ditch Fort Apache, and like others in history, sometimes you reach a place where you just have to stand and deliver.

I wear my Poppy to remind me of the generations wiped out by an insidious evil flowing through the rivers of self interest in the hearts of our secular masters who believe sacrifice is only for the other guy, the little guy, the suckers that the figureheads talk about at their Remembrance Day photo ops. And yet, God loves them all …

And I thank God this whole miserable world is just a way-station,  just boot camp, our Arrakis, created to train the Faithful. On Sunday at Mass, I thought about Boy Trudeau, Red Rachel, and all the rest and said a prayer for them, and for our Pope and the Cardinals and Bishops.

Because, still, God loves them all … and the Supreme Commander’s Standing Orders are: “Love one another as I have loved you.” This. Is. Hard. But then, just when the bitterness seems overwhelming … an answer comes. I just opened a letter, turns out to be from the grandparents of one of the children I support in the Ukraine. Their daughter, the kid’s mother, just died of cancer and now, with both mum and dad dead, the grandparents have all the children to look after. This is really what the whole point of life is, all us little people, sacrificing for the good of the other, to will the good of the other. No matter what. And I cry.

Wisdom 6:2-11
2 hear this, you who govern great populations, taking pride in your hosts of subject nations!
3 For sovereignty is given to you by the Lord and power by the Most High, who will himself probe your acts and scrutinize your intentions.
4 If therefore, as servants of his kingdom, you have not ruled justly nor observed the law, nor followed the will of God,
5 he will fall on you swiftly and terribly. On the highly placed a ruthless judgement falls;
6 the lowly are pardoned, out of pity, but the mighty will be mightily tormented.
7 For the Lord of all does not cower before anyone, he does not stand in awe of greatness, since he himself has made small and great and provides for all alike;
8 but a searching trial awaits those who wield power.
9 So, monarchs, my words are meant for you, so that you may learn wisdom and not fall into error;
10 for those who in holiness observe holy things will be adjudged holy, and, accepting instruction from them, will find their defense in them.
11 Set your heart, therefore, on what I have to say, listen with a will, and you will be instructed.

Cheers

Joe

Ready to jump … Dad’s photo, Fort Benning, Ga.

Mind The Step!

 

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Life in a small town, The Inner Struggle

Through The Lens of Age … Conformity to God’s Will

“Hotaru” by Kobudo, from the album “Ototabi”, (2013)

So, on revisiting my last post it might seem that life is grim and depressing with nothing of joy to contemplate in the world. And this would be correct when looked at a certain way. The painful disassociation from all things secular and temporal is indeed depressing and grim, joyless even as the realization of how little of the secular human existence matters in the big picture, one discovery of dissatisfaction after another, failure in all the members, even in members which heretofore had been relied upon to provide some comfort in the storm.

September 1970: French naval officer and underwater explorer Jacques Yves Cousteau (1910 – 1997), who in 1957 was appointed director of the Institute of Oceanography in Monaco. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

Jacques Cousteau remarked: “The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.” I spent almost 8 years of my young life as a blue ocean sailor. I would have to agree wholeheartedly with Jacques regarding the spell of the sea.

I do not recall ever reading anything by Jacques Cousteau on spirituality and GOD but have difficulty believing that a fellow ocean sailor would not have had deep thoughts and beliefs regarding GOD in His majesty. I would paraphrase that sentiment to say “GOD, once he casts His net of wonder, holds one in thrall for the remainder of ones days”.

GOD and His existence and his all encompassing plan for everything and everyone is only hinted at powerfully by the sea and the experience of those who travel thereon, feeling the full range of the power of the sea.

I do not include the millions of “cruise boat tourists” who “take a cruise” from year to year in the number of those “who go down to the sea in ships”. For all the exposure they get, in their multi-thousand head herd, to the sea, they might as well be at Disneyland of some nautically themed entertainment venue in Vegas.

And I wade through my personal mental virtual reality of Frodo’s “Dead Marshes”  where the public actions of our modern Roman Curia color my faith life, and the public actions and words of our modern political and social classes, and the media color everything by which I try to understand what might be happening in the world around me. And I have to continually remind myself that “telling it like it is” is really only “telling it like what I think it might be”.

The Dead Marshes – from Peter Jackson’s movie “The Two Towers” based on “The Lord Of The Rings”

The Dead Marshes – from Peter Jackson’s movie “The Two Towers” based on “The Lord Of The Rings”

It’s not really “like it is” because there is no way I can know what it is, very much like I could not tell what the outcome would be when in the midst of a life and death struggle to preserve our little vessel in the midst of the power of a hurricane driven sea.

What I “think it is” is colored, is filtered,  by my pride, my opinion, my attachments, and my desires regarding what I think it “should” be.  Filtered by what “makes sense” to me.  I am completely missing the “deep” game. Only God reads the heart.

And why then does it all seem so grim? Is it because I am, in fact, failing to conform myself to God’s will?  God communicates Himself most to the soul that has progressed farthest along in love, in the sense of “Agape”, that is, true charity, or so I am told.

“Red Dragonfly” by Kobudo, from the album “Ototabi”, (2013)

And I am also told that true union with GOD brings true joy in its fullest sense. In real life, true love is made manifest in the willingness of the lover to do what pleases the loved one. True love is manifest, in this world, in the lover’s conforming oneself to the desires, tastes, and will of the loved one, not willing anything which could displease the loved one.

Saint Michael The Archangel

Saint Michael The Archangel

So, is it, the lack of, an abundance of joy, that is perhaps a real barometer of ones degree of conformity to God’s will? More joy more conformity, less joy less conformity? So it seems to me at this time, anyway. All the human foibles and sins to which I am prone interfere with and prevent full conformity with GOD’s will and therefore necessarily interfere with the development of joy in my life.

And what about outside influences? What about “all the evil spirits who prowl throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.” as found in the last line of our “Prayer to Saint Michael The Archangel”?  I have been reading about exorcists, and reading books by real exorcists, there is even a “Priestly Society of Exorcists” called the Dolorans. I have also lately watched a couple of videos claiming to be about real exorcisms. I have moved firmly into the “I believe in spirits and demons and the Devil” camp.

As the Book of Revelations, (Revelations 12:3-4) says, “3And there was seen another sign in heaven: and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads, and ten horns: and on his head seven diadems: 4And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to be delivered; that, when she should be delivered, he might devour her son”.

So we are talking billions of evil spirits. Unfortunately, this whole area of demons and evil spirits, is not a popular subject these days since we are “too sophisticated” to believe all this superstitious nonsense. It is really quite dangerous to deny the existence of a powerful enemy.

This notion of the non-existence of Satan, and evil spirits and demons, and their influence in and on our lives, is a relatively new “truth” believed only by our sophisticated materialist secular society. Our “primitive” and “superstitious” ancestors believed otherwise, in all times and all cultures. C.S. Lewis mentions this in “the Screwtape Letters” :

*****

“My Dear Wormwood,

I wonder you should ask me whether it is essential to keep the patient in ignorance of your own existence. That question, at least for the present phase of the struggle, has been answered for us by the High Command. Our policy, for the moment, is to conceal ourselves.

Of course this has not always been so. We are really faced with a cruel dilemma.When the humans disbelieve in our existence we lose all the pleasing results of direct terrorism and we make no magicians. On the other hand, when they believe in us, we cannot make them materialists and sceptics. At least, not yet.

I have great hopes that we shall learn in due time how to emotionalise and mythologise their science to such an extent that what is, in effect, belief in us, (though not under that name) will creep in while the human mind remains closed to belief in the Enemy. The “Life Force”, the worship of sex, and some aspects of Psychoanalysis, may here prove useful.

If once we can produce our perfect work – the Materialist Magician, the man, not using, but veritably worshipping, what he vaguely calls “Forces” while denying the existence of “spirits” – then the end of the war will be in sight. But in the meantime we must obey our orders. I do not think you will have much difficulty in keeping the patient in the dark.

The fact that “devils” are predominantly comic figures in the modern imagination will help you. If any faint suspicion of your existence begins to arise in his mind, suggest to him a picture of something in red tights, and persuade him that since he cannot believe in that (it is an old textbook method of confusing them) he therefore cannot believe in you.

Chapter VII”

*****

So in this enlightened age we now have acknowledged the real “Materialist Magician“. We know them as Material Naturalists and their belief system is known as Material Naturalism. This is the belief that all that exists in the world is ultimately reducible to material phenomena. For example, from this perspective, Mother Teresa was just a unique bundle of brain chemistry with particular psychoneural processes acting predictably, prompting her to do what she did.

At all other times and places in history the belief in the demonic has been both fervent and well documented. Especially prevalent is the existence of “fomenting spirits”. That is, those evil spirits whose specialty is fomenting one or another kind of bad behaviour in humans who are more than ready to go along with any evil urging. Exorcists tell us that since so many demons identify with the vice or attitude they seek to foment, demons answer to these names.

As a result, some of the names of demons which I am listing here will correspond to various vices and disorders or attitudes which demons foment, but which we tend to think of as “natural” human behaviour because we don’t believe in demons. Here is just a short list of examples taken from the domain of

Satan's Subtle Art of Destruction

Satan’s Subtle Art of Destruction

Lying Spirits: “Pretension, Unreality, Denial, Delusion/Labyrinth, Convoluted Thinking, Cheating, Neglect of Responsibilities, Irreverence, Circumvention, Folly, Concealment, Blindness of Spirit, Evasiveness, Deceit, Mask, Game Playing, Deception, Illusion, Diversion, Error, Drama, Marionette-Puppet, False, Farce, Hallucination; Smoke & Mirrors, Harlequin Mask, Imitation, Pantomime, Counterfeit, Role Reversal, Fraud, Detraction, Incredulity, Coy, Cunning, Undermining, Aping, Dichotomy, Juggling, Duplicity, Facade, Dual, Showmanship, Theatrics, Show, Acting, Trickery, Magic, Mockery, Appearances, Fantasy, Heresy, Legion, Subversive, Irony, Mimicry”

Another domain is Unclean Spirits:Unclean & Offensive Conditions, Compulsiveness to Clean, Involuntary Vices (Obsessive Compulsive), Compulsion, “I have to”, Distortion of Truth, Busybody, Nosey, Curiosity, Violation of Confidentiality, Rumors, Critical Judgment, Perverted Judgment, Perverted Thinking, Scandal, Spirits that cause Accidents”.

And yet another domain is Theft:Stealing, Greed, Avarice, Materialism, Possessiveness, Hoarding, Covetousness, Collecting, Exclusiveness, Making Excuses for Sin & Infidelities to God; Neglect-Omission; Inability to Pray Because of Worldly Cares; Inability to Give or Share, Stingy; Inability to Give Praise & Thanksgiving to God or to People”

So yes, lots of outside influences … and none of them good, the above lists are drawn from Appendix I of  Deliverance Prayers, for use by the laity” a slim volume published by Sensus Traditionis Press, and available at Amazon.com.

When we consider the subject of evil spirits, and demons, and demonology, it really is hard to ignore C.S. Lewis. In our modern times there have been very few authors to have so stimulated the imagination with regard to the spiritual realm as the author of The Screwtape Letters. The book, dedicated to his friend and colleague J.R.R. Tolkien, begins with two quotes:

The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him, for he cannot bear scorn. (Luther)

The devill . . . the prowde spirite . . . cannot endure to be mocked. (Thomas More)

This Lewis then proceeds to do in masterful fashion. Through witty episodes, he captures the cleverness and wiles of Satan’s agents, the demons and spirits who “prowl throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls”  as well as their ultimate shortsightedness and folly. The biggest part of the battle is to struggle against the tide of modern sophisticated disbelief and accept the truth of the existence of evil spirits.

Well, I guess that’s enough for now. I will read some more and think some more and perhaps post some more about this later, as I want to discuss some of this with my parish priest and get his thoughts on this topic.

Cheers

Joe

The Long Defeat …

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Life in a small town, The Inner Struggle

The Lens of Age …

“Oboe Concerto In D Minor: 2. Adagio”, Heinz Hollinger, Members of the Staatskapelle Dresden & Vittorio Negri, from the album “The Ultimate Baroque”, 2004

Harvest Moon

Harvest Moon, artist unknown to me.

Sunday morning again. Finding myself sleeping less and less these nights. Not feelling like I would necessarily want more sleep than what I am getting because I do feel rested, but simply finding myself awake and thinking earlier and earlier in the morning. Find myself pondering on last things, end of life things, afterlife.

Spoiler … this is not a happy letter, not feeling warm and satisfied in my happy place this morning. If you are looking for happy, probably you should look elsewhere. Also, these thoughts are probably boring as hell for anyone else but me. But its my blog and I get to write what I want, so I can get things out of my head, so I don’t nag people around me with downer pontification.

I consider that most of the people I have known personally in this life are already dead, by age, or disease, or misadventure, having buried more people than I now have in my circle of friends, I feel the presence of the “The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come” here present in the library of my mind. Maybe there are a few others out there in the early morning fog wondering about the end of all things and the personal “eschatological” implications for whatever is left of my life, our lives.

I am certain that I am not unique, or the only one wandering around this particular dark forest. For clarity I use the term “eschatological” above, to indicate my personal belief in a doctrine concerning ultimate or final things, such as death, the destiny of my soul, the destiny of humanity, the Second Coming, and the Last Judgment.

These days I am waking regularly around 04:00 and sometimes earlier. Thoughts that clutter up my mind this early almost always revolve around mortality and the absence of distractions to look forward to with anticipation. The “things of this world” which once fully occupied my thoughts attract and distract less and less.

A good friend of mine gets out and walks whenever this happens, now he is walking 6 or 8 miles a day. His family seems OK with this, but mine would freak out if I started walking around town in “the middle of the night”. I have to understand and accept that I should stay right here and entertain them if they are awake, and if I get up and go out they always wake up immediately.

My mother was like this, never able to settle unless everyone in the family was doing whatever she believed was the “right” thing for them to be doing at that particular time of the day. “Snug in their bed” she called it. And of course I don’t really feel like walking that much anyway, courtesy of knees and hips which feel like they have shards of glass embedded in them if I tax them too much.

The last Judgement (Hans Memling painted between 1467 and 1471)

The last Judgement (Hans Memling painted between 1467 and 1471)

Still find myself wasting neurons mulling about things over which I really have little or no control, some concerns for developments and possibilities after my death, and as a result of my death. Trying to figure out how to minimize the impact of my decline and death on those around me, loved ones and friends as well as the service community.

Really, the only thing that seems to bother me about death is my wish that I do not become a burden to others in my death spiral. My dad did it right, aneurysm, all over and done with in 3 days. No wailing and gnashing of teeth, no vindictive repercussions as the disabled geriatric lingers on in the valley of death.

No risk of becoming such an inconvenience to others that the government’s euthanasia, assisted suicide, mercy killing, legal murder of elders, pick your euphemism, starts to look attractive. Just a desire to somehow atone, by suffering, in peace, as long as it takes.

Most of this mind mulling around is not about anything I can do anything about in the present, but it is difficult to break out of old ruts and habits of thought. Once one begins to pull back from all the little things that used to fill up one’s life, to “detach” from the little things like socializing, eating, visiting, playing games, sports, travel, “watching” media distraction, Netflix, Kindle books, what then is left?

Thinking about physical ailments about which there is really nothing that can be done as I age. That is just the cup of aging humanity, suck it up princess. Just pain and discomfort in varying degrees and parts, and no way to lay or sit that doesn’t hurt somehow.

Entertaining and socializing seems largely connected with eating in our culture and this becomes a challenge rather than a pleasure when one is trying to fast and detach from one’s attachments to sensual pleasures. It is sobering to realize what a huge part eating plays in our daily activities.

Thinking about meals that don’t really satisfy because the old satisfactions involved socializing, and drinking, and eating way too much, beyond what the body actually needs, which turns out to be very little. Thinking about “Meals” as a penitential chore, a sacrificial task derived from the needs of others.

It is an interesting way to look at the domestic function of meal preparation.  Definitely not fashionable these days, especially with the vertically integrated multinational food conglomerates selling cheap processed corn and wheat and entertainment via lips and tongue and throat.

Job 34:15

15All flesh shall perish together, and man shall return into ashes. (Job 34:15)

Thinking about books that are more and more difficult to read, not because of failing intellect, but because of failing eyes – thank God for electronic text and zoom. Thinking about the interior life, and the sins of the past, long forgiven but still not atoned for, and the growing sense of my own unworthiness, my own “wretchedness” and utter insignificance in the biblical sense, relative to Almighty God.

There is increasingly nothing left but misery and mystery. The weight of what I don’t understand is overwhelming. I thought I was just getting a handle on spiritual growth and I now find many statements from the Gospels more challenging in their greatness and gravity than I did before. In old age it doesn’t get easier, but harder. This has become a very troubling situation but there is a great truth here.

On the one hand, in older age I am more practised, smoother, more sure, more “professional”. I have figured out the easiest and most efficient ways to get through. Life has taken its shape and all the the important decisions have been made. It is in some ways a comfort, I may or may not actually understand that my bad choices have had bad consequences, but at least that light is starting to come on, if only for my personal audience of one.

On the other hand, as I age, I more clearly see the difficulty in life’s questions. It is not so much getting wisdom as the inevitable grinding down of my preconceptions and vanities about what I think I know. Ha, maybe that is what wisdom is? I don’t know anything any more except that I really know very little about anything.

As I age, I see more deeply, I feel the burden of my culture, of the secular humanist, fashionably progressive godlessness all around. I start to see just how deeply I am embedded in that culture. I see, like a neon sign flashing, the absence of faith in our polite society and even deep into the Church.

I see the glorification of perversion and deviance and all manner of corruption and evil, murder, fornication, sodomy, adultery, fraud, prostitution, all now legal in some guise or another under some euphemism or other – I feel like I am in the audience to whom Paul spoke in Rome.

Saint Luke

Saint Luke, by Claude Vignon

In spite of the temptation to just give up on faith, what else is there to turn to? I think about Christ’s words In Luke 18:

*****

“1And he spoke also a parable to them, that we ought always to pray, and not to faint, 2Saying: There was a judge in a certain city, who feared not God, nor regarded man. (ed. as with our current crop of Supremes) 3And there was a certain widow in that city, and she came to him, saying: Avenge me of my adversary. 4And he would not for a long time.

But afterwards he said within himself: Although I fear not God, nor regard man, 5Yet because this widow is troublesome to me, I will avenge her, lest continually coming she weary me. 6And the Lord said: Hear what the unjust judge saith. 7And will not God revenge his elect who cry to him day and night: and will he have patience in their regard?

8I say to you, that he will quickly revenge them. But yet the Son of man, when he cometh, shall he find, think you, faith on earth?” (Luke 18:1-8, Douay-Rheims Bible)

*****

Even so, in sacred scripture, I also feel the greatness of Jesus Christ’s words, which, more often than before, seem difficult to understand. Is this my personal cross, is this a distance from God’s nearness, the clouded “personal connection” obscured by my narcissism? Is my doubt rooted in the beginnings of understanding how far I am removed from the greatness of the mystery of God, of GOD.

But I also have these little AHA! moments, again and again. I find these comforting, little momentary consolations, juxtaposed against the depths of the Word never fully understood. And then there is judgement!  As an awareness of my own wretchedness percolates through my dim understanding, the words of God’s wrath, of accusation, the threat of judgement, have become more frightening, more grave and awesome than ever before.

And now, new to my thinking, there is the God/GOD gap which I referred to in previous posts. I now find the Old Testament, and the Gospels more challenging than I did before when I was feeling good about how I was getting more familiar with scripture and congratulating myself in finally making sense of everything. While certainly not claiming anything resembling holiness I get a glimpse of the thoughts of Simeon when he exclaimed:

29Now thou dost dismiss thy servant, O Lord, according to thy word in peace; 30Because my eyes have seen thy salvation, 31Which thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples: 32A light to the revelation of the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. (Luke 2:29-32, Douay-Rheims Bible)

Saint Peter Canisius, 1521-1597

Saint Peter Canisius, 1521-1597

In mind of the current rather chaotic and scandalous state of the Church I am going to close with a quote from Benedict XVI, and the ‘General Prayer’ of St Peter Canisius, the ‘Second Apostle of Germany’:

‘Almighty and eternal God, Lord, Heavenly Father! Look through the eyes of your gratuitous mercy at our sorrow, misery, and need. Have mercy on all the faithful Christians, for whom your only-begotten Son, our beloved Lord and saviour, Jesus Christ, willingly went into the hands of sinners and shed his precious blood on the trunk of the cross. Through this Lord Jesus avert, gracious Father, the well-deserved punishment, present and future threats, shameful rebellions, war, famine, disease, sad, and miserable times.

Also enlighten and strengthen all worldly and spiritual rulers and leaders in all goods, so they convey what is to your divine honour, to our salvation, to general peace, and the welfare of all Christianity. Grant us, O God of peace, a right union in faith, without any division and separation; without any separation and schism, convert our hearts to true repentance and amendment of our lives; kindle in us the fire of your love, give us a hunger and a zeal for all righteousness, so that we are as pleasing and complacent to you as obedient children in life and in death.

We pray also, as you want, O God, that we should pray, for our friends and enemies, the healthy and the sick, for all sad and sorrowful Christians, for all the living and the dead, to you O Lord, is commended all our deeds, our trade and commerce, our living and dying. Let us enjoy thy grace here and get there with all the elect that we might praise you in eternal joy and blessedness, honour and praise. We want to give praise, honour and glory to you! Grant us that, O Lord, heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ your beloved Son, who lives with you and the Holy Spirit as the same God and rules from eternity to eternity, Amen!’

Benedict XVI, Pope. Last Testament: In His Own Words, Bloomsbury Publishing.

So, instead of Cheers, I will just say “Peace be upon you”.

Joe

 

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