Wednesday, September 19, 2018
The Beginning of the End of the Royals running Europe started with an upstart French officer named Napolean and a musician from the German outback named Beethoven.
The End of the Beginning of the End came when Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo in 1914, the event that ignited the First Big War.
The End of the Royals running Europe came when the appointed Generals, elected Presidents and Prime Ministers of a war-crippled Europe assembled in Versailles, France, in 1919. The secular Leaders began trying to pull the pieces of Europe back together again, to reset Euro Civilization on a new Democratic/Republican game-plan.
Since that time, the Europeans have had a rough time of pulling themselves together as a political entity. To begin with, the rubble-heaps of post-WWII Europe ended up in a new polarity of two distant controlling hegemonies—the US and the USSR. These two emergent political empires were centered far outside of the fanciful entity we know as Old Europe, which existed in previous history as a continental area governed mostly from these ancient Capitols: Athens, Rome, Madrid, Paris, London, Berlin, Warsaw, Prague, Budapest, Vienna, and—a most honorable mention—Geneva.
I call Geneva honorable because it is the City on that grand network most associated with a very important concept: Peace.
The Peace of Europe had been, for 1900 years, an elusive State of Affairs, which somehow managed to survive as a glimmer of hope in the Heart and Soul of a quasi-mythical Europa.
Europe is very old, but contemporary Europeans have taken on a venerable Project to form a European Union. Exactly what that is, is a matter of political evolution, politics, compromise, and of course, Money.
This EU is a logical step forward, because the formerly long-hoped-for Peace of Europe has been flourishing since Allied victory was won at great cost of blood sweat and tears, in 1945. By the grace of God and Man, Europe has been at peace with itself since that time, 73 years.
But the next step beyond the Peace of Europe-- European Union-- is a prospect as elusive as finding the Holy Grail, or Valhalla, or Arcadia, or Elysian Fields of Camelot or Heaven itself.
But its political success is nowhere as easy as the Prospect for Unity that we Americans had back in the day. We had a vast, undeveloped continent as a frontier, which was populated originally by primitive tribes who were unorganized and unprepared to deal with our transplanted European development Mindset.
Most of us Americans had ancestors who wandered via Ships across the Atlantic to—as it turned out— find and construct a New World. Our forebears were confronted only by those undeveloped tribes who were already here, and a bunch of competing, mostly-poor immigrants like ourselves from different mostly-Euro traditions.
We certainly had some problems along the way, getting it all together as the United States of America. We even had a goddam Civil War trying to get it all worked out but we managed to get through that and keep the Union going, and expanding all the way to the Pacific shore.
Yes, we certainly had some problems getting it together, but our USA has been, relatively speaking, a light-duty Project compared to what the Europeans have been dealing with since the Collapse of the Old Roman Empire.
We New Worlders had advantages. We did not have, you see, all that 2000-year-old institutionalized sociological, economic and ethnic baggage that the Europeans have had and still have that keeps them caught up in differing National Purposes and Visions.
Presently, between the Teutonic bean-counters and the Mediterranean lay-backs, Europe just cannot get it together to decide how all the Expenses of governance and economic maintenance can be Paid-off.
Now we Americans don’t necessarily pay our Public Deficits either, but at least we are United in our rhetorical affirmation of equality and justice and Credit for All. So we just keep running up the Tab and nobody gives a dam, because we have been, for a awhile, the, you know, new kid on the block and king of the hill and all that and we can get away with it.
Whereas the Euros are presently arguing about Who is going to pay the bills—the Teutonic bean-counters or the Mediterranean lay-backs.
We Americans cast a trans-Atlantic glance at them and express our deepest concern and well-wishes for a continuing Progress toward the elusive European Union and we say wholeheartedly:
Good Luck with that!
Now here’s the good news.There is a bright lining that envelopes this present Cloud of Complex Cooperation in Europa.
French President Emmanuel Macron has now proposed a new plan whereby the burdens of EU Debt, Expense, Governance and Administration of the EU are Dealt-With according to (as my American online ignoramus self-satisfied cyber-awareness would understand it) gradations of Participation, Responsibility and WhothehellCares-Responsibility in the EntitiesUnited of Europa.
These levels of Participation will be most heavily taken Seriously and Attended-To by those State/entities that are closest to the Center of Power and Influence. The peripheral Nations/States will be garnished according to their relative positions in the outgoing Concentric Circles of Europe.
These Circles are most likely actually Parabolas. Because the actual Working Center of Europe consists not of one Point, but rather, Two Points, where the real Movers and Shakers (Bankers) of Europe run their Industrial/Financial Empires.
The Two Points are Berlin and Paris. There is a Third Centric point between them: Brussels, which is the errand by for Paris and London.
So we see that, with Monsieur Macron’s proposed plan for the widening Circles of Influence, Europe has great Hope for the Future.
It may be a plan worthy of implementation. The Europeans have achieved Success in the Development of an essential condition: Peace.
Now it’s just the Money that’s hanging them up.
This American believes that the pesky Arguing about Who pays the Bills is actually Progress, because it is qualitatively better than Bombing each other! So they must have gotten something right, beginning back in '45. They have indeed come a long way since Sarajevo in 1914.
One more thing, very important. This American notices that, in spite of all the different member nations with different languages and politics and values, their system of Trains and Metros puts ours to shame. With just a mention given to their impressive High-Speed, Efficiency and Clockwork Precision, the most endearing characteristic of the Euro rail is Ease and Comfort. Taking a Euro train trip from one city to another is a much easier and far more comfortable Prospect than doing the yankee airport runaround, with sardine-contortion seating and limited passage in the aisles when you may have to pee. Most important of all--the train seats are comfortable, roomy, easy to get in- and out-of, and less pricey than planes.
Maybe we can teach them something about Debts Pretension, while they teach us something about Running the Trains.
Saturday, September 15, 2018
Matchmaker, Matchmaker, make me a match.
That’s the opening line in a song that Barbra Streisand sang in the musical movie, Funny Girl, back in the day, 1968.
She was addressing her request to a matriarchal lady who used to perform a certain cultural role—pairing up a young woman with a young man for marriage— in the subculture of Jewish immigrants in New York City, sometime back in the early 20th-century.
I thought about that line while we were strolling through Valencia, Spain, yesterday. But my remembrance of the phrase was a little off the mark. I was singing it in my mind this way:
Patchmaker, patchmaker, make me a patch.
The reason is: everywhere I go in the world—and in life, generally— I see gaps, where there is space because something is missing, something that should be there, or that used to be there.
Here’s an example of a gap I saw yesterday:
Apparently this problem of missing stuff is nothing new. The dearth has been going on for a long time. There are gaps everywhere, and going way back in time. A few days earlier, we came across this church structure in Madrid that had, indeed, been patched.
This phenomenon of filling spaces goes much farther, I have noticed, than just plugging physical gaps in buildings.
There are many, many gaps of all kinds in this world—many pieces missing from the puzzle.
Something is missing everywhere you go!
Everywhere we go, we find blank spaces that need to be filled with something—something appropriate, something—or some message—that is thought-provoking, or profound, or at least cutesy.
Consider this profound message that was filled in by some anonymous enterprising patchmaker. I noticed it this morning on a wall in Valencia while we here having brunch at the Brunch Corner:
Pretty heavy stuff, don’t ya think? What a message!
Also notice, above the painted message, the broken-off walls in the background which certainly do need some patching or repair. I bet the owner of this broken-off building sings Funny Girl’s song:
Patchmaker, patchmaker, make me a patch!
But back to the painted message below the broken wall, next to the stacked chairs—take a look at it. Doesn’t the style of the lettering ring a bell somewhere in your mind?
Haven’t you noticed that, anywhere you go in the world, as you notice the messages posted in out-of-the-way places—places that need some kind of patch or profundity—there is always a graffiti written there, apparently written by the same person who has a very consistent, blocky style that he(she) displays on walls everywhere in the world?
You see this guy’s work everywhere! Check this out. I snapped the pic while rolling along in a Spanish train somewhere between Valencia and Barcelona. Don't be distracted by the reflection of interior train space at the top of the photo. Concentrate on the message!
Whoever this artiste is that’s doing this work, I don’t know, but I think we oughta give him(her) an award, because he(she) really gets around, and does an incredible amount of work wherever he(she) goes, because (s)he always seems to get the message posted in the most unlikely places. (S)he must be the same person that Paul Simon was singing about in his song, the Boxer, when he patched into his Boxer song this phrase:
“When I left my home and my family, I was no more than a boy, seeking out the poorer places where the ragged people go, looking only for the places only they would know.”
I have noticed, you see, that this patchmaker person—whoever (s)he is— really gets around. Everywhere in the world, everywhere you go—her(his) work is displayed in out-of-the-way places.
You know what I’m talking about. You’ve seen Paco’s work. (I’m pretty sure his name is Paco.) I saw a bunch of his stuff today, painted onto concrete walls that line the railway, a place where no regular people would go to, a place where only “the ragged people” would go to.
Looks like this:
Wherever this guy Paco hangs out, I think the Academy oughta do a search on (s)him and give him an artiste award for patching in all the blank space between everything else that exists in the developed world.
Gracias, Paco! for all the work you do, and have done.
And as they say on Laugh-In, Salut!
King of Soul
Friday, September 14, 2018
Two Spanish towers stand as symbolic descriptors of that country's monarchy.
It only takes a glance to catch a glimpse of the difference between the two historical ages in which these two were constructed.
One ancient tower, pictured below, was built on the Mediterranean coast, at Valencia, between 1441-1460 AD.
The new one, to be seen further below, was constructed in Madrid in 1992.
They are very different. A comparison between the two indicates, I think, a major difference between Spain's early monarchy five centuries ago, and the constitutional monarchy that functions today.
When I look at the older tower, which I snapped on photo this morning, the picture summons in my mind mythical images of a medieval kingdom ruled by kings and protected by an order of loyal knights. In this case, the kingdom was Aragon, in was in eastern Spain, 15th century. The nominal ruler at the time was King Alfonso V.
Because medieval royals moved around Europe like corporate CEO’s who jet around the world today, Alfonso wasn’t very involved in the Spanish parts of his domains; he was preoccupied with Italia and papist politics.
So Alfonso’s brother, prince John, held down the fort (literally) over in the outback Spanish hinterlands.
The task then fell to John, or some of his people, to govern and protect the good people of Aragon. In the main cuidad, the port of Valencia, they built walls around the city, and towers for monitoring the distant horizons. Here’s the tower, obviously still standing, that I snapped this morning.
Doesn’t it absolutely look like the elevated station of a classic medieval fortification wall? Could it be jutting up into the blue sky of at Aragorn instead of Aragon? We see here that Prince John literally “held down the fort” while his big brother was schmoozing with the Italian movers and shakers of their day and their papist pals.
Prince John did acquire, however, a significant role in history. He was the the father of a Ferdinand. That’s the Ferdinand of Ferdinand and Isabella, who commissioned Christopher Columbus to sail for India. Chris never did make it India; but he did bump into another place. . . America.
And the rest is history.
When King Ferdinand of Aragon married Queen Isabella of Castile--that was the beginning of the nation we know to be Spain.
Fast-forward 532 years from Prince John’s constructed wall/Tower to defend Valencia in 1460 AD. By 1992, when my second example of a tower is built, the people of Spain have done significant rearrangement of this governmental arrangement called monarchy. They have democratically kicked out one 20th-century king, Alphonso XIII, in 1931. They replaced his monarchy with a leftist Republic that lasted only until 1939. Then the military Generalissimo Franco summoned a bunch of old-fashioned Catolico, conservative, reactionary and fascist soldiers; he drove them up from Morocco, took hold of Espanya by winning the civil war of 1936-39; he chased away most of the republicans, socialists, communists and any other liberal-minded upstarts who thought they could rearrange Spain according to egalitarian ideals and modern ideas.
Franco ruled, king-like, as a Falangist dictator, from 1939 onward, and managed to hang onto power in spite of all his nazi and Italiano fascisti allies going down in death and disgrace in 1945 after the Big War.
He ruled until he croaked in 1975. But before he died, Franco twisted arms in the corridors of Spanish power to prevent his people from voting in another experiment with democracy.
They must restore the monarchy, insisted the Generalissimo. But they should not crown the royal son who would have been presumptive heir—no, not Don Juan, 3rd son of the late and last King Alphonso who they turned away in '31 Rather, Franco insisted Spain should crown Don Juan's son, Juan Carlos, whose inclinations appeared to be more authoritarian than Don Juan’s.
Nevertheless, after Franco had passed into the great beyond in ’75, the new king Juan Carlos responded with approval for the democratic reforms necessary to bring Spain into modern governance. He instituted reforms that would relegate the monarchy toward more ceremonial duties, a la Britain, the Netherlands, Sweden and several other nations. Today Alfonso’s great-grandson, Juan Carlos’ son Felipe VI, is the king of Spain.
In Madrid, 1992, Spain built a museum to display the modern art of their country. King Felipe’s mother, Sofia—herself of royal Spanish blood as well as being Juan Carlos’ wife and queen—gave her name to the completed project of the new art museum.
A sleek, transparent glass elevator shaft on the Museum’s exterior stands out as a bold work of architectural art, in and of itself. It’s name is prominently etched along the entire vertical length of the structure.
This shiny Tower, which conducts elevators, expresses the innovative thrust by which Spain has ascended into the modern world.
So we notice two incredibly different towers in Spain: one made of stone, appearing very heavy, very old, and fortress-like impenetrable. The other is constructed of glass, gleaming brightly in 2018 sunshine, appearing light and fragile. This second one also has a symbolic name--Reina Sofia, which was not only the Spanish queen's means; it also means Queen Wisdom.
What remains to be seen is the future of Spain’s monarchy-retaining democracy. Is it fortified and impenetrable, or light and fragile, like a smart phone you don't want to drop.
That question is really a manner of consideration for all democratic governments. We shall see what the world does to all our democracies during the next half-millenium. Let's hope they are still functional 500 years from now, whether kings and queens are still part of the structure, or not.
My thought is it would be wise to keep democracy intact and functional, whether or not kings and queens are still part of the arrangements.
Thursday, September 13, 2018
For five hundred Moor years
than the Iberian Catolica peninsula
could ever have estanded
to be Islamically commanded,
they endured Ummayed demands
until Aragon King Ferdinand
came conquestering and demanding
with Castile Queen Isabella, remanding,
to fortify their Catolica position
with a a goddam Inquisition,
stringing up dissidents in their Inquisition power
thereby crushing the bloom of heretical flower.
But with Isabella’s demise mad king Ferd devised
that child Queen Juana should be misused:
She therefore became abused and confused,
being married off to a Hapsburg prince
so that Empire hegemony could commence,
thrusting power over in-between freakin’ France
so Spain would achieve victory in their great Power prance.
Thereby Poor Juana had not a chance
her youthful passion to enhance,
being named an infernal loco heretic.
Therefore history defined her role as lunatic.
While Jews were being unlisted,
dissidents still resisted
although many heretics persisted
while being so unjustly inquisited.
That was then but this is now.
Spain still bleeds; that was how
it happened long ago
when Ferd took on the holy Roman Catolico
Hapsburg Empire show.
Down through history from page to page
As monarchs wage their contests age to age
Spanish blood flows through impetuous action;
it then bleeds out as Spanish soul passion,
moving los manos y voces to music and song
to celebrate what's right and lament what is wrong.
Through the ages, ask the sages
what is right, what is wrong?
Who knows? The priest, the pope?
The poet? the socialist?—who offers hope?
Remember only: life is grand
despite our ruins beneath the sand.
So offer up a sacrifice of song
in notes so potent and passion strong,
while over in the sacrificial ring
a different living sacrifice they bring.
Matador leads. Bull bleeds.
Newfound blood in ongoing sacrifice
echoes ancient cross of crucified Christ.
Priest leads. Jesus bleeds.
The Faithful chant Apostles’ creed..
Sister Maria prays with beads.
But Falanga franco used catolico creeds
while dispatching policia on steeds.
Still saints were interceding
Flamenco singers pleading
Spain is forever bleeding
even as the Savior.
In ’36 Las Artistas pled while Spain bled red.
Still the flamencos emoted, saints devoted,
peasants toted. poets wroted.
democrats noted. republicans voted.
v. Royalistass reactionary.
What else is new, not from the past?
So you might have asked .
Here’s what: Thermite bombs in 1937:
Hitler’s luftwaffe over Spanish village heaven.
Spain bleeds through Guernica saints.
Pablo reads; Picasso paints.
Dali droops. El toro drips
The crowd whoops; the leather rips.
El Guitarist heals. Flamenco dancer reels.
As the eternal note of sadness peals,
La musica heals when dancer reels.
Spain handles the pain.
It falls mainly on the plain
people in Spain.
Sunday, September 9, 2018
When it comes to European civilization, Greece is where the legacy originated about 2500 years ago.
Among the many enduring contributions by which the early Greeks set Europe into cultural motion, I find two, in particular, that have demonstrated incredible longevity:
Democracy, and Olympics.
Those early Greeks were incredibly active in their sporting competitions, and also in their zeal to launch the world’s most notable experiment in governance by “the people.”
Their idea of Democracy was later amended by the Romans as a form of governance known as Republic, which was perhaps a more practical working out of the egalitarian concept, because groups of citizens could, by vote, select representatives to do the actual decision-making.
Many centuries later, the notion of democracy ascended on a fresh new wind of modern life. Most notably in the 1700’s, certain forward-thinking individuals in America and central Europe used the ancient democratic ideal as a basis for updating and improving human governance. The working out of it has been, over the last two or three centuries, somewhat messy and unsure, but the idea of government by the people for the people is still widely considered to be the best and fairest framework for doing collectively whatever it is that we humans are trying to do to improve our situation here on earth.
A lot could be said here but I’ll just toss up an example of how the idea of democracy continues to capture Euro imagination. Here’s a photo I snapped a few days ago while walking through a public square in Barcelona.
As we can see here, democracy seems to be a readily attractive notion, worthy of public mention. However, the prospect of promoting democracy has not always been easy here in Espanya. Spain has had a rough history in which Democracy and Authoritarian governments have bloodily contested each other.
Following their rejection of a King in 1931, the Spanish people fought a civil war, 1936-39; it began in a political competition between zealous advocates of these two opposing models of governance.
But during those tumultuous years, the people of Spain were not the only nation who were grappling with such controversies. A few European borders away, the people of Germany were in a similar contest.
After the Germans suffered the defeat of World War I, they had a massive reconstruction project going on, as they were striving to re-assemble not only their physical nation and its infrastructure, but also their way of governing themselves.
During the 1920’s and ’30’s, both the Germans and the Spanish wrestled with themselves to establish a democratic Republic. Both attempts ended in failure.
When the Nazis took over Germany in 1933, they ditched the Weimar Republic and degenerated into Third Reich bellicosity. Also in the 1930’s, the people of Spain ousted their King and declared a new Republic. But in 1936, the Franco-led Falangists attacked their own people. By 1939, they had driven the Republicans out of office.
Meanwhile, back at the crunch, there was an athletic contention going on between these two violence-torn countries--Germany and Spain. This competition gets back to the other great contribution that I mentioned earlier from ancient Greece:
At the meeting of the International Olympic Committee in 1931, Spain had proposed that the 1936 Olympics take place in Barcelona. But, by a process of democratic voting among the member nations, the IOC awarded the hosting to Berlin.
That was an ill-fated turn of events. Germany was at that time being taken over by the Nazi Third Reich. Hitler and his Nazi thugs were striving to use the Olympics as a showcase of their supposed bullshit Aryan supremacy.
Down in Republican Spain, the leftist government caught wind of what the Nazis were up to. They smelled a rat in Europe. So they launched an attempt to conduct an alternate Olympics, which they thought would express more appropriately the sporting competition of classic events.
But the so-called Olimpiada Popular in Barcelona never happened. As it turned out, the Spanish people were having a war among themselves in 1936 instead of inviting the world in for some friendly sports.
Later, during and after the Second World War, the civilized world awakened to the disastrous truth of what Nazi Germany had been doing behind the scenes while they had been hosting their facade of pseudo-Olympic propaganda back in '36.
Spanish Catalunya Barcelona did, however, ultimately have its day in the Olympic sun. That came 56 years later, in 1992.
A few days ago, here and now 2018, we visited that Olympic site in Barcelona where the competitive events were conducted in '92; quite an impressive sight it still is:
My hope is that both ancient institutions—Democracy and Olympics will survive and thrive in this century we live in now—the 21st.
Wednesday, September 5, 2018
How likely is it that a Catholic-born, born-again Christian good ole boy from Carolina would ever wander into such a grotto of overgrown Catholicism as this?
It did happen, today, in Barcelona. September 5, 2018.
Who’d’ve thunk it?
The Audioguide at Sagrada Familia Basilica requested that the listening visitor enter with respect.
Respect for what?
The incredibly modern-artistic classic-fantastic ecclesiastic structure devoted to Christ and the Holy Family—Joseph and Mary—from which Jesus Yeshua HaMeschiah immaculate-conceptionally came?
Yes. As a Christian I entered respectfully, along with, presumably, all the other thousands of gawking, phone-clicking touristas and believers who darkened the door of Sagrada Familia Basilica today in Barcelona.
Respect for the Christ child who had been born to Mary back in the day of the Incarnation of the Word-made-Flesh person of Jesus Christ?
Yes, I entered respectfully.
Respect for the traditions of the the Catholic Church?
Not so much, having rejected that tradition in my born-again youth. Nevertheless, who am I, as a born-again child of God, to judge the spiritual legitimacy of this high-church, pope-revering institutional “etched in stone” architectural representation— possibly even faith-enhancing experience— of deep religious faith that I encounter and enter into here?
Gosh, guys, thanks for letting us in here. What a cool building!
Meanwhile, back at the Cross. . .
Yep. I know that part. He died for my sins. Let’s not forget.
And of course, ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father.
Yep, we can agree on that part. You gotta believe it.
That’s the real clincher anyway, don’t ya think? The real tie-breaker.
I mean, who else in the history of the human race has made that claim and gotten away with it?
Like I said, you gotta believe.
And I, like, think I’m finding some common ground here.
Belief in the Resurrected Son of God.
Pretty amazing idea, really, if you think about it. You’d have to be crazy or Catholic or Christian to believe it.
And here you have it—“etched in stone” as the Audioguide lady voice says it . . .the story of how it happened that the Son of God Son of Man was crucified and then raised from the dead.
King of Soul
Sunday, August 26, 2018
Seems like folks these days are gettin all wound up about politics and stupid stuff like that. Democrats v. Republicans. Progressives v. Conservatives. Extremists v. Moderates, blah blah blah.
And to make it worse, with the intensifying effects of cellphones and pads and pods and whatnot and so-called social media blather, what we are barreling toward is a vast dumbing-down, barbarizing of all public discourse.
What was called debate in earlier times now has degenerated to knee-jerk bluster hubris yada yada blahblah hatred the-loudest-loudmouth-wins trouble.
People take sides on every little controversy that rears its ugly little head in the public domain. Seems to me more like, as William Faulkner or William Shakespeare might have called it, sound and fury signifying nothing.
My studies of human history indicate some recurring characteristics of the tactics employed by extremist diehard yahoos: Such people want to push public discourse farther and farther toward extremist tactics so they can impose their great radical-fringe remedies on the rest of us who want only to live in peace and security with a little justice, mercy and neighborly good will toward our fellow-man thrown in.
I was born in the middle of the 20th-century, 1951. Looking back on all that happened during that century, I’ve noticed a few alarming things, such as:
The two worst 20th-century assholes who ever came along the pike and pretended to be great leaders—Hitler and Stalin—both of them manipulated evolving political institutions, and the idiot people within them— to make a grand bloody mess of their two nations and the whole damn world at large.
Both dictators, Hitler and Stalin, were idealogues. Historians call Hitler a Nazi, which is a type of Fascist. They call Stalin a Communist.
What’s more important, however, in the historical classification game is this:
Both Hitler and Stalin were mass-murderers. They did not do justice to the people they claimed to govern.
This factual identification is more important than the ideological label by which each of these two demagogues manipulated their bloody way into absolute power.
And they weren’t the only ones. In the 20th-century, there were others: Pol Pot, Idi Amin. Some would say Mao. And onn a small scale. . . Jim Jones, Charles Manson?
This scenario to which I make reference— this human behavior attribute of folks being swept up into murderous behavior by a maniacal leader driven by ideological or religious frenzy that results in mass murder—it could be right around a historical corner now.
If people do not allow the practice of mercy, decency, compassion, reason— and most of all forgiveness— to overpower imminent institutionalized manipulations of bloody power-mongers, then we’ll have another terrible round of mass murder on this planet.
Religion (old-school) and Ideology (new school) are both, when carried to extremes, cut from the same extremist cloth, and can drive people to endorse mass murder.
Don’t go there.
Ideology is a big circle. On one half of the circle is the arc of conservatism, which in its extremism leads to fascism; on the other half is the arc progressivism, which in its extremism leads to communism. They both start their movements at the top of the circle going in opposite directions. But at the bottom where they collide, we find extremism so lethal that it requires mass-murder as a so-called final solution.
You know what I’m talking about: “Somebody needs to kill them bastards!”
Religion, same thing. “Somebody needs to kill them _____” (fill in the blank)
Which is why we must harken to the greatest clarion call of all, the one spoken by the man from Galilee who stood on a mountainside and taught us:
“Whatever you would want done to you—do that for everybody else.”
This is the most important principle of all. Far greater than communism or fascism, far more effectual than Democratic or Republican power-mongering, far more spiritually effective that the Church or the Caliphate.
Peace on this planet ultimately comes down to what people are willing to do--or refuse to do-- to each other in the name of _______.
You fill in the blank.
King of Soul
Monday, August 20, 2018
At the Start, Hydrogen heaved ho.
Helium laughed. Lithium lay low while Beryllium became bemused.
But Boron bore the burden of all the work yet to be done.
Then Carbon was conceived, and came forth in a manger wrapped in swaddling clothes, surrounded by angelic hosts of other elements, celebrated as the great center-point of history. He would go on to bring myriads of other elements together in peace and productivity, but in latter days was criticized for attaching himself to everybody’s business.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, good ole Nitrogen nourished all the stuff that came later.
Oxygen got involved and opened a whole new way of life.
Fluorine flew flags of fluorescence for all to see.
Neon knew nothing but nonsense, but was neutral enough to practice non-intervention.
Sodium solved a lot of problems, and he's all over the map with that
Magnesium managed to make itself useful.
Aluminum lightened everybody’s load.
Silicon solidified his/her position, early on in the sands of time, and then later went on to establish a ubiquitous presence in the science of small smart circuits.
Meanwhile Phosphorus flamed along, brightening the path for others.
Sulfur suffered through a lot.
Chlorine clung to just about everything, cleaning house along the way, but has been known to kill when too excited.
Argon atoms are gone until somebody proves their actual existence.
Potassium produces plenteously.
Calcium is known as a great collector of a lot of stuff.
Scandium is scant. Titans use Titanium to tighten up their tridents.Vanadium is very strong, while Chromium captures all the attention. Manganese manages to make good use of itself.
Iron Age innovations initiated innumerable inventions.
Cobalt combines with others to combat corrosion.
Nickel has made itself a necessity.
Copper's a good cop, conducts a lot of traffic.
Amazing Zinc sets up rustless zones wherever it goes. Thank God.
And then there's Gallium; it has the gall to call itself a metal, as if it were a major player along with iron and nickel and all those other big-time movers and shakers.
Germanium is a dope in silicon valley. Arsenic is also a real dope, but reputed to be a pathological killer when let out of his cell. He hides behind old lace.
Selenium periodically illuminates this end of the Table, while Bromine combines medicinally and then resigns.
Krypton is a rare super-phenom found only in old comics of the 1950’s.
Now here's the line-up for the second Period:
Rubidium rules while Strontium drools— radioactivity, that is— 90 times a second, I think, and then renders all those other metalistic johnny-come-lately wannabees as metalla non grata.
If we keep this mining expedition going long enough, we could find lucky ole Silver hiding under the Table.
Along the way we're bound to kick up that perennial also-ran can—Tin— he comes to town and makes the rounds, but always ends up wasting away in a landfill, a real slacker if there ever was one.
And I mean, sure, there are some bright spots on the Periodic Table. There’s the star of the show, gold, hiding down there in the middle of the pack, and glinting in at a clandestine #79. Highly-prized all the time, but he's oh-so-hard to find, unless you’ve got a really big credit line.
Every now and then you may catch sight of that tempereal Mercury, but its hard to pin him down. He never stays in one place long enough to amount to anything. He’s got a really hot temper, but, I'm told, a cold personality.
Down there in the middle of the defensive line there’s the Lead heavyweight-- not very fast, but good on the line-- a good blocker for those fast Uranium backs.
Uranium backs are the stars of the show, you know, forever racking up the big stats. But most of them are real hot shots, and if their temper gets worked up, you can't get rid of 'em. The refs kick 'em out of the game, but they hang around for a long time like they own the place and make trouble for anybody who crosses their path. Don't cross 'em. If they get really fired up they'll go plutonium on ya and that's all she wr
Saturday, August 18, 2018
In 1971, Don McLean released a great tribute song about the tragic plane-crash death of early rock-n-roller Buddy Holly.
In the musical tapestry-tale that McLean weaves for us, he laments the loss of Buddy Holly’s influence, which had been to musicate an appreciation for the boy-girl melodrama as it was being lived-out and expressed during that early 1950’s phase of rock-n-roll.
Bye, bye Miss American Pie is a long ballad, with many verses.
An early verse in the song registers a commentary, allegorically, on some later rock influences that seem regrettable, or even destructive and decadent.
Consider the verse:
“And while Lenin read a book on Marx,
a quartet practiced in the park;
and we sang dirges in the dark
the day the music died.”
The “quartet” that practices in the park is, I believe, an indirect reference to the Beatles, and their huge impact on pop music during that time—the late ‘60s. The singing of “dirges” seems to mourn the loss of an earlier, more innocent, emphasis in rock music. A classic budding (Buddy) love-song celebration between boy and girl was being cast aside by the foursome from Liverpool. Along with many other rock groups of that time, they were collectively driving pop music toward a psychedelic netherland of chaotic social consciousness.
And so, while my present downloaded Miss American Pie copy of the lyrics contains the line “And while Lenin read a book on Marx, a quartet practiced in the park,” my aging baby boomer mind notices what seems to be McLean’s play on words here. . . and I hear the line in my mind as:
“And while Lennon read a book on Marx. . .”
meaning that John Lennon’s apparent turn away from teenish romanticism toward a kind of pop-culture anarchy—this change of direction— seemed to be based at least partly on his reading of Karl Marx’s revolutionary economics.
Now of course I have no proof that the great poet and songwriter John Lennon did read Karl Marx’s stuff; but I do think it likely that he did, because that period of time—the latter 1960’s— was indeed a revolutionary time, sociologically at least, if not in a fully political US manifestation.
Nevertheless, I will point out that nowadays, 50 years later, all those wild-eyed Lennonist malcontents who were turning university campuses upside down (while singing All we are saying is Give Peace a Chance) are now, for the most part, running those same (mostly State) universities.
While all the Buddy Holly types and their Peggy Sue wives settled comfortably in the suburbs and enjoyed giving birth to Gen-Xers and Millennials.
I mention all this perhaps only because there seems to be now a regurgitation of Marxist theory—a re-reading, as it were. Here’s what I want to say about that. Karl Marx was a very intelligent man. His analysis of nascent industrial society during the early-mid 19th century was uncannily perceptive and accurate.
Where he went wrong was: thinking he could write a prescription—the necessary and inevitable “dictatorship of the proletariat” that could be worked out among the foibles and disasters of human society and somehow make it all culminate as some ideal Pax Humana.
What he didn’t understand was: any theoretical, proposed Pax Humana, always works out to be Pox Humana.
In human history, notably even in the late so-called Christian Europe, we have managed to repeatedly screw society up by generating a few Pox Hamanae of our own—with a pathetic string of infamous wars, pogroms and inquisitions.
Such a despicable history. In spite of (or maybe because of) the fact that we Christians identify human nature as being depraved and therefore imperfectible, we cannot collectively overcome that curse, choosing instead to cry out for our individual salvation. Does such personalized deliverance relieve us from our collective responsibility for assuaging the human condition?
Yes. However, we profess that. . . Christians are no better than anybody else. But we are forgiven, because we acknowledge, before God, our need for judgement, repentance and atonement. And He takes that acknowledgement seriously.
Be that as it may, I know you didn’t land here to hear a sermon.
So, moving right along, I’ll explain how I happened to land on this track in the midst of a particular Saturday morning. The whole cerebral ball of wax started when I read this passage from page 283 of Teilhard de Chardin’s (published 1947) The Phenomen of Man:
“To outward appearance, the modern world was born of an anti-religious movement: man becoming self-sufficient, and reason supplanting belief. Our (his mid-20th century) generation and the two that preceded it have heard little but talk of the conflict between science and faith; indeed it seemed . . . a foregone conclusion that the former (science) was destined to take the place of the latter (faith).
“But, inasmuch as the tension is prolonged, the conflict visibly seems to need to be resolved in terms of an entirely different form of equilibrium—not in elimination, nor duality, but in synthesis.”
Now this means, in a present world of 2018, which still presents a notable presence of us Christian believers, we should consider our Christ-blessed role as peacemakers. Maybe this way. . .
~~Those of us who believe that a loving God watches over the earth—we need to listen to the activists who probably have some valid points about the destructive effects of all this stuff we’re throwing into our atmosphere.
~~While those who have figured out that all the bad effects of human behavior and institutions are destroying our earth—you people need to realize that we cannot (it’s probably too late to) fix this mess we’ve gotten ourselves and our planet into. And we need to allow some room for faith to, as a mustard seed, grown and provide some faith shelter from the destructive effects of perpetually erroneous Homo Sapiens .gov
What we need now is a little agreement and cooperation between those who naively believe too much and those who cerebrally think too much, and who think they can correct Pox Humana by regulating all of our freedoms into bureaucratic socialist mediocrity.
What we need now is what Teilhard called synthesis, a little meeting of the minds, and some peacemaking agreement among the peoples of the earth.
Good luck with that.
Now getting back to American Pie and Lennon and Marx and all that . . .
The third phase of the Hegelian Dialectic is Synthesis. In early 19th-century, Georg Hegel, Marx’s theoretical predecessor, identified an historical pattern which he named the Dialectic. What this pattern revealed was, in the typical path of human thought/action, a chronic pattern of conflict between one ideological side (Thesis) and the other (Antithesis). But Hegel also identified a recurrent merging of these opposites that could tend to resolve some disputes. He called this resolution Synthesis. Hence, the (simplified) Dialectic: Thesis provokes Antithesis; but ultimately they merge, in human acting out, and become a new worldview, called Synthesis.
As in, for instance, in our mid-20th century Baby Boomer scenario. . . Capitalism v. Communism, or Democracy v. Socialism, morphs into . . . (whatever it is we have now) . . . democratic statism?
Anyway, Marx and Engels used this Dialectic framework as a theoretical part of their Communist Manifesto, published in 1848.
And then much later, 1971 . . ."while Lennon read a book on Marx, a quartet practiced in the park", and . . . all this other stuff happened while we boomers grew up and became the people in charge instead of the people being charged, but we still find ourselves "all here in one place" (a small globe), a generation, a human race lost in space, and so let's consider the . . .
Bottom line: let’s synthesize a few opposite ideological points and somehow come together to . . . maintain our earth clean, green and peaceful, instead of assaulting each other with vindictive politics, fake news and a new cold war of polarizing tribalism.
King of Soul
Saturday, August 11, 2018
There we were, all in one place,
a generation lost in space.
Now here we are a half-century after
a life with all our pain and and laughter—
almost exactly fifty years to the day
since Sargent Pipper taught the band to play,
and though they been goin’ in and outa style
we are gathered here to crack a smile.
So may I introduce to you?
--the one and only googled shears,
by which the great gargantuan engine hath snipped
every profound idle idol idyll mobile-friendly byte ever quipped:
I heard the news today, oh boy:
four trillion holes in tiny shiny mobile screens;
and though the holes were rather small
they had to rank them all.
Now they know how many holes it takes to fill
the mobile-friendly Mall
I’d love to turn your phone on . . . .
King of Soul
Tuesday, July 17, 2018
‘’Then Jacob was left alone, and . . . wrestled with him until daybreak.’’
From the smallest of the small
through quarks at the bottom of it all
to the farthest galactic star,
through galaxies spun afar,
we wander in a maze;
we wonder at its ways:
Surely all this stuff did arise from the Creator!
Or maybe it evolved through Nature?
Contemplating incredible predetermined complexity,
yet astounded by so much intricate simplicity—
We find two data sources to uncover,
as if there are two original outgrowths to discover.
Now perched on a precipice of nihilistic trauma,
we recall an ancient hand-me-down, historic drama:
Two multi-branched entities with o'erhanging claims to maintain us:
Two historic flora-fauna, purporting to sustain us.
One provokes a quandary chasing endless knowledge;
it arises from, like, stuff we learn in college;
the other, an affirmation, provides purpose for our strife:
we simply harvest belief from an ancient tree of life..
These two trees we see
manifested in humanity.
The smart ones manage to survive
while the faithful eternally revive . . .
'. . . and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.”
King of Soul
Tuesday, July 10, 2018
Herein I recommend a novelized real story from that infamous "War in Vietnam."
John Podlaski’s novel about a brand-new American soldier in Vietnam strikes at the heart of the matter— just what the hell were our soldiers over there supposed to be doing?
Them brave boys were putting their asses on the line, stalking communist enemies in strange jungles on the other side of the world, when all the while their survival instinct was demanding them to just hunker down, lay low, and get through their year-long sentence of jungle warfare in one living, still-breathing piece.
And All for what?
Because we sent them to do a job—kill communists, and run the ones we couldn’t kill back to the North.
Now we all know it didn’t work out that way, but we learned some lessons—and the world did too—in the process.
The problem our guys had over there was: how could we know, in a SE Asian village scenario, which villagers were helping the NVA, and which ones were on our side? As if these rice-cultivating peasants knew the difference between Karl Marx and George Washington!
After reading this book, Cherries, it seems to me that, in the midst of the terrible gun battles, every soldier’s internal war must have been a constant conflict between these two missions: to kill enemies and thus keep the brass-mandated “body count” on an upward curve, or to stay alive!
Which would you choose?!
In most cases, it seems it came down to protecting yourself and your squad buddies, while treading fearfully through the booby-trapped minefield of two opposing international ideologies whose political strategies had turned absolutely, militarily lethal.
That project required real men—brave soldiers who could bite the bullet— who could launch out and give it a shot while death and danger stalked them at every turn along the path.
This was a terrible, terrible ordeal that our nation put these guys through! We need to talk about it.We need to acknowledge their incredible bravery. We need to ask: Just what the hell happened back then and there in Vietnam?—in that war that so many of us managed to evade. Whether you were for the war of against it— reading John Podlaski’s “Cherries” is a provocative way to begin the assessment— an evaluation that needs to take place, for the sake of our nation’s future security.
Read the book, because this quasi-autobiographical story gives a close-up, day-to-day, boots-on-the-ground account of what our guys were doing over there in Vietnam, while we were trying to figure it all out here, stateside— here, safe in the home of the free, while the brave were answering the terrible call that our government had imposed on them. They endured that jungular hell-pit so that we, as a nation, could, in spite of defeat, pass successfully through the 20th-century burden of Cold War paranoia.
John’s fictionalized personal story fleshes out the constant conflict between two soldierly inclinations: fulfilling military responsibility by driving up enemy “body counts,” vs. following the human instinct to just stay alive, and somehow make it through your one-year tour of duty without getting your ass killed.
Our American purpose there was unclear. No definite battlefield could be found; the war was waged wherever our boys happened to run into the Viet Cong or the North Vietnam Army, in a perpetual theater-game of deadly hide-and-seek. Our teens and twenties recruits and draftees were dropped into unfamiliar Asian jungles, then immersed immediately in extreme fear—fear like you would feel seeing two of your platoon-mates’ heads staked on bamboo poles.
Not in Kansas any more, Toto!
Khe Sahn. A Shau, Ah shit! What have we gotten ourselves into?!
Read John’s book to find out what perils our boys were trudging through while we stateside were trying to figure out the whys and the wherefores.
BTW, by the 1990’s it was plain to see that the free world, led by the USA, had prevailed in our struggle against both fascism and communism. In the big picture, our effort in Vietnam played an instructive role in that victory. The governance of nations has more to do with learning from your mistakes than fighting a lost cause to some idealized bitter end.
Thanks to you all you guys—Cherries, LongTimers and Lifers—who answered the call to service at that time. Oh yeah, and here’s another belated message: Welcome Home!
King of Soul
Wednesday, July 4, 2018
The New World
The coming of the New World dawns slowly; soon and soon very soon its urgency is, was, and will be proclaimed with bold horns and wind.
Strings vibrate with anticipation, mounting intensity, declaring themes of freedom.
Flute gently flows; bassoon resonates with agreement
while horns flourish, air tubes tremble.
Quiet strings set a tone for oboe’s innocence, double reeds inhaling human breath, portending meditations of possibility, proclamations of potentiality, yet quelling quietly the revolutionary air we breathe in smooth strides of tender melody;
Bows sweep up the fervency of this New World and now the golden door swings open, accompanied by bold trombones, to awaken huddled masses yearning to be free!
Strings, undulating in support, inspire a melting pot of symphonic unity, the Union resounding. Harmony ripening establishes a beachhead of audible beauty with well-tempered passion. Strains of melody wave like amber waves of grain. Themes of freedom abound in the harvesting of human liberty, melding with the promise of a New World; it arrives so fragile, and yet so bold.
Oboes dance with joy; bass viols celebrate the depth of profundity;
Oboe re-enters with contented notes while swaying strings agree. Conductor Alan Gilbert affirms,
then urges them on with baton uplift, so horns part the ready sea of sound with their bold fanfare. Strings conclude with soft sleepy assent.
Dream on, America!
Sudden ascension disrupts slumber with vigorous alarm, restive rhythm overtaking repose. Go West, young man! Flutes flutter in resonating encouragement; bold horns proclaim valor and future victories yet to be seen over perils yet unknown.
Rounded melodies bring forth renewals of resolve, heaps of purposeful harmony, mountains of good will, joy abounding, with triumph of compassion and reigning in of passion, to squeeze compelling music out of skeletal staffed spheres written upon pages of Dvorak's painstaking work.
Anticipation is building. Culmination coming. Tremolos of trials intervene.
Haste and urgency suddenly are the order of the day. Trombones resound with trouble in their snouts— not trouble they have made,
--but prescient tremors of trials yet to be born, paths yet to be traveled, mountains to be climbed, trails to be trod, skies to be bright-lit with sun, then clouded with rain bringing nourishment to rivers swift, streams flowing with exploration, as cello bows stride with expansion, across the wide prairie, through the dark forest, vivacious sonorities ascending into skies of blue, purple mountains majesty and amber waves of sound.
Crescendo coming, but abruptly arrested with woodwind moments of repose. Questions arise of when and where conclusions can occur with so much going on. And how can this orchestra it end? when we have only just begun—we have not yet spun upward in fulfillment of all we had hoped for.
When where and how could this would this, should this New World arrive at such suspension of tension in frantic strains strung out upon the peaks of human achievement and then laden into craters of creation at tranquility base? and now suddenly resolving to conclude in bold trombone harmonies with brassy bravado faithfully at their side and bountiful background violins striding o'er the airwaves in intense kinesis. Oh say do those star-sparkling trumpets yet arise! to conclude our tumultuous philharmonia with triumphant trumpet harmonia. . . but now fading into silence.
There you have it, y’all. The New World as Antonin Dvorak conceived it in 1893, and New York Philharmonic performed it in 2016.
King of Soul
Saturday, June 30, 2018
Everywhere everywhere we have waves bouncing around.
The sun sends them to us, across 93 millions of space. They hit our little planet; they reverberate in all kinds of ways. Some of them we capture and channel into energetic uses.
Others we do not capture at all. They just ripple around placidly in places unseen.
Out in the wild, in some natural place where the planetary stream gently trickles through unspoiled environs, we may notice waves just rippling along being their leisurely selves.
If we peer closely at them, we may notice the universal vibration passing through our brief moment in time and space.
In other locations, where humans have captured the waves and trained them into commercial or utilitarian applications, they just degenerate into more of the blahblah interference that we encounter every day in our electronified existence. Like this pic taken at a gas station, where apparently the petrol pushers have determined that we cannot be without electronic stimulation for any amount of time—even the 2 or 3 minutes it takes to fill an itinerant gasoline tank.
Although it is strangely reassuring to see a human face there in the mix, especially a pretty one. . .
Sunday, June 24, 2018
The great physicist, James Clerk Maxwell, had a problem in 1867. It was a very old problem; many had tried to solve it before he came along. It wasn’t actually his problem to fix, but merely to figure it out; his objective was to try and determine who or what had already solved "the problem". Because, you see, the matter had already been taken care of long, long ago.
Otherwise none of us would be here; nothing would be here.
The actual problem-solver who had worked it out was not thought to be credible at the time of Maxwell's work. The problem-solver's presumptuous representatives had made such a mess of things.
Consequently, in the 1800’s, the scientific community placed little or no credence in what the so-called Church had to say about anything—especially presumably scientific matters like the origin and unfolding of the Universe.
19th-century scientists and other serious researchers like Darwin, Marx and many others were all in a tizzy about throwing the God idea out with the bath water. It was a leap of faith instead of a rational inference. They did have some legitimate arguments about the Church’s faith-based input, because the so-called Church had made such a mess of things while they were running the show back in the middle ages. Two especially bad screwed-ups the Church had done happened when they had, earlier, rejected the findings of Copernicus and Galileo.
But you betcha the mystery still lay unsolved when the science boys took over, long about 1800 or so. They were working on the mystery intently. And so Mr. Maxwell, diligent Scot that he was, took hold of the mantle in 1867, as many others were doing at the time, and he gave it a shot—solving the riddle.
The question of how all this happened.
This existence, this world we live in—how did it get here?
There was, you see, a piece missing in this great puzzle of existence.
In the chain of events that ostensibly took place when the universe was made, there was a missing link that no one had been able to figure out. So, James Clerk Maxwell tackled the question, striving to solve the riddle of the missing link.
Therefore Dr. Maxwell came up with what he called the "Demon." My unschooled opinion says he could have chosen a better word. . . something like what Rene Descartes had termed it, the Prime Mover.
As Peter Hoffman gives an explanation of Maxwell's work, the Scot posed this profound question:
“How can molecular machines extract work from the uniform-temperature environment of cells without violating the second law of thermodynamics?”
In other words, how can atoms and molecules organize themselves to become something more than what they already are—just a bunch of damn molecules kicking around like unemployed vagrants?
Or to put it yet another way: How could life have come out of dead particles?
And so, as Dr. Maxwell pondered the problem of the missing link in 1867, he came up with the idea of (what was later called Maxwell’s. . .) Demon.
Peter M. Hoffman explains it, in his 2012 book, Life’s Ratchet, https://www.amazon.com/default/e/B00A29OFHS/ref this way:
“Maxwell’s demon . . . was a a tiny hypothetical creature who controlled a little door separating two gas-filled chambers, which initially have the same average temperature. The job of the demon was to separate gas molecules into fast and slow molecules. . . Starting from a uniform-temperature system, the demon had created a temperature gradient—making one side cold and the other side hot. . . This temperature gradient could now be used to do work if a little turbine could be placed in the demon’s door.”
The analogy of a demon is not, of course, to be taken literally. James Maxwell was a brilliant physicist whose work paralleled Einstein’s. His use of the hypothetical creature is merely a literary device to communicate the function of an unidentified catalyst that makes something constructive happen in an environment in which (theoretically) nothing can happen.
Obviously something did happen, back in the days of universe origin, or we wouldn’t be here. Nothing would be here, if the problem had not been solved. Someone, demon or otherwise, must have worked it out.
Rene Descartes, a mathematician who lived in the 1600’s, had stumbled upon the same dilemma. He had posited the idea of a Prime Mover, which seemed pretty logical at the time.
Still does, if you ask me.
An original cause (as in cause in effect), that caused everything else to happen, big bang blah blah etc. and so forth and so on.
But what diligent mathematicians and scientists neglected to mention was that the problem had long ago been solved by a mysterious entity who had been so erroneously represented by the so-called Church: God.
Not a demon, but God. The demons were the created beings who tried to pull rank on the Creator, YWHeh.
Therefore, in order to now— in the 21st-century— give credit where credit is due . . .
I say it was a notable accomplishment what YWHeh did, when he solved the problem of the missing link, way back in time. And he said so.
He said it was good— in the first chapter of his bestseller, Genesis.
It was good when He separated light from darkness. Genesis 1:4:
"God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness."
This "separation" function is no chance development. It needed to happen. It's no coincidence that Maxwell's demon and Creator YWHeh both are depicted as having "separated" something from something else. . . The Separator's accomplishment was functionally something like Maxwell’s presumed demon's task of separating molecules into two different energy levels in order to create
“a temperature difference between the chambers without expending work, thus seemingly violating the second law.”
The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics is the law that YWHeh seems to have broken when he started the ball of the universe rolling. But it didn’t matter if he broke that “Law” because he set up the whole kitnkiboodle anyway, back in the Day. That 2nd Law of Thermodynamics was an idea that we came up to try and explain it all. It wasn't something that YWHeh declared when he declared Let there be light and so forth and so on.
On Day 1 (whatever that means to you) the Prime Mover separated light from darkness, and the rest is history.
Not bad for a day’s work, YHWeh. Keep up the good work.
Friday, June 15, 2018
To go with the flow, or to go against it—that is the question.
Whether ’tis nobler to nurture the notion that mankind was innocent in some presumed condition of noble savagery—or to accept traditional religion that pronounces us guilty of offenses against Nature or against God.
If we are, or were, indeed, noble savages in our beginnings, why should we have taken on the disciplines and restrictions of religion—doctrines that judge us culpable of sin and thus in need of repair, salvation, or some kind of evolving perfection yet to be realized?
Hawaiians, for instance, who were alive here on the island of Kauai (I am wondering, as I write this on Kauai in 2018)—those Hawaiians who lived here in 1778 when Captain James Cook suddenly showed up with his fancy ship and his threatening weaponry, his magical gadgets, highly-trained crew, impressive use of language and documents, his tailored clothing and highly developed European culture—those relatively primitive people who first saw Capt. Cook’s two ships sail up to the mouth of the Waimea River . . .
Why should they have accepted his intrusion into their simple, primitive life?
To go with the flow, or to go against it—that was their question.
Would they go with the “arc of history” or resist it?
Did they eventually accept highly developed European culture to replace their traditional tribal existence? Did they accede to it out of submission, or out of necessity, or out of attraction to the new fancy stuff they saw? Were they conquered? Or were they taken by the hand and brought gently, Christian-like, into 18th-century civilization, and ultimately into 19th, 20th and 21st-century lifestyle?
Look around Hawaii today. What do you think?
They accepted it.
They went with the flow. One thing we know for sure about the so-called primitive Hawaiians of 1778: they knew how to go with the flow. They were here on this remote island in the middle of earth’s largest ocean, long before we technolified haoles were here, and they had arrived here at some earlier time because they knew how to make “the flow” of this life and the Pacific Ocean work for them.
So now, 2018, it is what it is. Hawaii, like every other place in our modern world, is what it is. Some may lament the demise of noble savagery that has been the result of Captain Cook’s intrusion into this paradisical (though deadly if you don’t know what you’re doing) island. Others may celebrate the entrance of the Hawaiians into modern life.
Some may come and some may go.
Captain Cook came. He left and came back again. The beginning of Captain James Cook’s Hawaii experience happened when his crew sailed their two ships to the mouth of the Waimea River— a river that flowed from mile-high Waialeale crater down to sea level at the southwest shore of Kauai.
He died in 1779, shot dead by an Hawaiian on the Big Island of Hawaii, at the other end of this island archipelago. His sudden demise came in the midst of dispute between some of his own crew members and the natives of Hawaii.
Many have lived and died since that time.
Two days ago, up on the other end of Kauai island, the northeast end, at a strand called Larsen’s Beach, we witnessed the life-end of another person, a contemporary. The man was a traveler from Pennsylvania. He had been snorkeling at a reef in unpredictable waters when the Ocean took hold of him.
A little while later, his flippers floated to shore. After we had witnessed a team of chance beach visitors (us), and then a couple of jet-skiing lifeguards from some other nearby beach, and then EMT guys flown in on a “bird,”—after we had witnessed all this collective noble attempt to coax life back into the snorkeler’s breathless lungs and heart, we saw his neon-green flippers float back to shore.
Maybe he was going with the flow; maybe he was going against it; maybe he was fighting against the current, or maybe he was just going with that flow of life and death that eventually captures us all.
In my case, that flow will, in the long run, take me to death, and then resurrected life, as was demonstrated by Jesus.
Am I really going with the flow, you may ask, in joining the historical current of the Christian faith into which I was born?
Or am I going against the rational flow by subscribing to such an incredible prospect as life after death?
God only knows.
King of Soul
Wednesday, June 13, 2018
(With appreciation of Matthew Arnold’s poem, Dover Beach)
The Ocean is strong today.
The waves roll in; the sun is bright
upon the Pacific. In this island surf the light
sparkles and tumbles; the rocky shores stand,
steadfast and vast, under a friendly sun.
Let’s do the beach; this afternoon’s energy is vigorous.
But hey! from this long splash of spray,
where sea meets the sun-kiss’d land—
Listen! we hear the pounding roar
of sand grains which the waves draw back, and fling,
forever, upon this high strand.
Beginning and ceasing, and then beginning again,
with a forceful rhythm it perseveres, to roll
The eternal resonance of wonder in.
Dear Matthew, back in the day,
heard this on the North Sea, and it brought
into his mind the ponderous ebb and flow
of our melancholy brood; we
hear it still the same; yet with that lamenting we discern
a reverberating of relentless purpose
in this pounding Pacific shore.
Oh sea of faith!
Persistent and unrelenting, all ‘round our earth’s shore—
you flap forever like folds of a bright banner unfurled.
Although I also feel
that ancient melancholy, the long, withdrawing roar,
retreating, in the breath
of the evening wind, laden with our roiling refugees
and the uncared-for masses of the world.
Oh, people, let us be true
To one another! For the world, which seems
to boil before us like a pot of strife—
so disjointed, so distraught, so stubbornly the same,
really has somewhere some joy, love, and even flashes of benevolence,
some certainty— here and there a little peace— even some easing of the pain,
while we here on this fragg’ed globe
get swept with fake news and tweeting dweebs who incite us,
as ill-informed combatants clash with their devices.
Tuesday, June 12, 2018
You can't just bust into a coconut.
Maybe you've seen one at the grocery store. But what you have laid eyes on there is not a coconut; it is the inside of a coconut. Notice that the tasty white stuff cannot be seen; its still hidden inside.
There's a reason why the tasty white stuff cannot be seen; it is impossible to get to if you're a regular person. You have to be a special person to get to it--a coconut farmer, or some kind of a specialized food-processing robot, or a Hawaiian with a machete.
Or a good ole boy with a sharp saw. In the grocery store, you understand, what you see of the coconut appears to be an outer shell; but in the wild, that shell is actually an inner liner.
Like life itself, it's a hard nut to crack. But with a little work, some persistence, and an appropriate tool, the obstacles can be dismantled.
Friday, June 8, 2018
While staying on Kauai, Hawaii, I have been observing a cardinal every morning. This beautiflul red bird has lighted upon the deckrail, shortly after each sunrise each day. His visits demonstrate a boldness on his part to venture into areas of human domain. But that boldness is tempered with a shyness by which he promptly flys away as soon as I make any movement in his direction.
Comparing these bird encounters with similar episodes at our home in the Carolina Blue Ridge, I surmise a personality trait that seems to be characteristic of the cardinal breed. It’s probably my imagination that the colorful creature has some comprehension of his special status among the kingdom of the birds. He seems to understand (or so it seems to me) that this human is fascinated by his flashy appearance; he also knows that his bright profile is, in some settings, a liability, because the bright red makes it easier for nearby predators to catch sight of him and perhaps eat him.
However, Mr. Cardinal’s skittishness did not interfere this morning with my continuing attempts to capture a pic of him. I was pleased this morning to find that the different physical arrangement here in Hawaii have made it possible for me to snap the pic.
My Christian perspective on life in this world prompts me to accompany this amazing (to me) photo with a scriptural reference. Here’s the first one I thought of, in the words of Jesus:
“Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”
In this case, I, human, am representing the heavenly Father in dropping those cereal crumbs onto the deckrail for our scarlet friend.
Meanwhile, feeling satisfied that I have managed to capture, here in Hawaii, that flighty image of the bright cardinal which I could never manage to obtain back home, I’ll cast another crumb of interest in here for you to nibble on.
Before Mr. Cardinal visited this morning, I was continuing my read of Edward Joesting’s excellent book on Kauai, Kauai: The Separate Kingdom.
In chapter 7, Mr. Joesting reports on the beginnings of commercial agriculture on the island of Kauai. The earliest enterprises were initiated by a trio of American business partners who were working with Hawaiian leaders with assistance from Christian missionaries who had arrived in the 1820’s.
Long about 1835, some Americans leased a large tract of land from Kauikeaouli (Kamehameha III) Kaikioewa, the governor of Kauai.
What fascinates me about this development in Hawaiian history is the changes in motivation that Hawaiian working people found themselves adopting in response to the new capitalistic farms.
On page 131 of his book, Edward Joesting wrote:
“In agreement with the philosophy of the missionaries, the lease stipulated that native laborers be encouraged to work on the land. For this right the company would pay to the king and the governor twenty-five cents per month for each man. And it was further stated that each worker would be paid a satisfactory wage and be exempted from all taxation. This taxation had taken the form of labor performed for the chiefs and such other contributions as the chiefs wished to impose.”
As agriculture and business later developed in Kauai during the next twenty years or so, what this arrangement amounted to, economically and sociologically, was this:
Whatever ancient cultural motivations that had traditionally compelled Hawaiian working folk to labor for their tribe and their chiefs—these motivations were being supplanted by new incentives, directly related to 19th-century agricultural scales and practices, and modern, capitalistic business.
On page 132, Edward Joesing wrote:
“The idea of Hawaiians working for an employer who paid them wages, which could be disposed of as the earner saw fit, suddenly introduced a concept of independence that was not easily understood by the commoners and was feared by the chiefs. Adding to the independence of the commoners was the fact that the commoners no longer had to pay taxes to the chiefs. It was more than the average islander could comprehend. There was nothing in their history, no precedent, no legend, that could be used to bridge the gap. . .
On occasion the workers went through the motions of caring for the fields, accomplishing practically nothing. The plantation manager was beside himself (mad). He did not know the Hawaiians still could not comprehend the fact that their wages and the things they bought with them would be their own posessions and coud not appropriated at will by the chiefs.”
My rationale for combining these two different encounters—one with a fresh understanding of historical changes in 1830’s Kauai, and the other with a visiting cardinal this morning—my reasoning may not be entirely clear to you; it’s not even so clear to me, except it has something to do with this quote from a gospel:
“Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”
King of Soul