Peace on Earth, Goodwill

Conciliation instead of conflict,

My exaltation, your humiliation,

Degradation of all idealization,

Confining you to total isolation,

While everyone is God’s reflection

So pray for divine reconciliation,

In admission of no differentiation,

For we’re all wandering, searching,

Looking for a better home gathering,

In anticipation of soul-gratification

On Trying to ‘Trump’ Reality

It was an undeniably bitter defeat for someone who has said so many times that he does not like “losers” and, accordingly, has disparaged his opponents by calling them “losers,” along with many other pejorative names and remarks, but . . . he lost. Period. Donald Trump truthfully and legally lost his bid for reelection. He has yet to accept this fact, which is beyond realistic dispute.

When at the height of the Vietnam War the Republican candidate, Barry Goldwater, lost his bid for the White House to Lyndon Johnson, who scored a landslide victory, he accepted the outcome, congratulated his opponent, and promised his continued prayers for and service to this country. Goldwater truly understood constitutional, representative democracy and he respected it.

The same can be said for the Democrat candidates, Hubert Humphry and George McGovern, who both lost to Nixon. And mentioning Richard Nixon, he voluntarily resigned from office for the good and, specifically, the unity of the country. Humphry, McGovern, and even Nixon truly understood constitutional, representative democracy and they respected it.

The Ex-Presidents Club

And, yes, the same can be said for Republican Gerald Ford and Democrat James E. Carter, who lost the presidential race to Ronald Reagan. Even in the controversial 2000 election, Vice-President and Democrat nominee, Al Gore, eventually conceded the race to George W. Bush, assuring him of his prayers and support, and wishing him well. He understood constitutional, representative democracy and he respected it.

So, too, the American people, or at least most, but not Donald Trump, and so now he constitutes the one greatest threat to our system of governance. Trump currently poses the greatest threat to democracy, yet in this his true colors are showing. There is no evidence of voter fraud or, more generally speaking, a corrupted election, and this is something even conservative, Republican-appointed judges have said from the bench.

The U. S. Supreme Court is currently comprised of six conservative justices, three of whom were appointed by Trump himself, and three liberal justices, yet even these justices have unanimously knocked down two attempts at overturning the legal results of Election 2020. Yes, even Trump’s own appointees have ruled against allegations of voter fraud and election corruption!

The fact of the matter is, the 2020 election was free, fair, legal and level. Period. It is far past time for Donald Trump to accept this, but he will not, and he will not back down. After four years of witnessing just how he operates — what makes him tick, how he acts and reacts, his motivations and (seeming) fears — no one should expect him to act reasonably and out of any genuine concern for the country.

This being the case, it’s up to the rest of us to put the election behind us, at least as much as possible, and congratulate Joseph Biden and Kamala Harris, promising them our prayers and support, while also (hopefully!) putting these last horrific four years behind us. This is imperative, because quite honestly, our country is undergoing an extreme (but ultimately good?) transformation.

It is this current, ongoing, sociopolitical-cultural transformation that has birthed nearly tangible fear in the hearts and minds of so many millions of Americans . . . mostly conservative, traditionalist, Caucasians, who pine for the “good ole days” when the United States was unquestionably ruled by white males (with, perhaps, a few women, too.) They long for bygone days of white, “Christian,” supremacy, to tell the truth.

The country is going through transformation anyway, despite their wicked longings and unreasonable fears, so that America is changing right before our very eyes. We are really and truly growing and maturing into a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, socio-politically and religiously varied society. We will no longer be the America of “I Like Ike,” and “I Love Lucy,” mostly white, Anglo-Saxon Protestants (WASPs).

The dawning of an altogether new era actually began in earnest in 2008, with the election of Barak Obama. In 2016, after eight years, came the militant reaction to this transformation. It was almost instinctive, certainly expected, and quite visceral. It was, along with the tens of millions who voted for Trump this year, the gasping breath of a dying corpse of white, Protestant “Christian” (and white, conservative Catholic) privilege.

So, yes, congratulations to Biden and Harris. May as many of us, who are ready and willing to be reasonable, respectful and peaceful, commit ourselves to prayer for and support of our country, government at every level, and above all our fellow citizens. We cannot wait for those who simply refuse to even acknowledge reality as reality. We must lock arm, join hands, and simply march forward together . . . as one.

Opening the Book of Nature

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows forth his handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge… Their line has gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.

— King David of Israel

The whole frame of the world is the Theatre, and every creature the stage, the medium, the glass in which we may see God.

— John Donne

Th’unwearied sun, from day to day,

Does his creator’s power display,

And publishes to every land

The work of an almighty hand.

— Joseph Addison

We feel it deeply, almost beyond words… beauty points to Beauty, which points to something, or rather perhaps someone, more or “higher.”[1] Indeed, when we view the Medici Venus or the Death of Adonis by Sebastiano del Piambo, or read the Sonnets of Shakespeare or the ingenious works of Leo Tolstoy, or gaze upon a clear and serene blue sky or the grandeur of Mt. Everest or the Amazon River, or listen to the symphonies of Mozart, or visit the Pyramids of Egypt or the Taj Mahal; there is something mysterious that stirs our hearts, our souls, and seems to promise to somehow ultimately satisfy our deepest yearning for meaning, which will then surely lead to purpose and self-actualization.[2] Won’t it? Or “does this represent anything greater than … the mysterious force which chases the moth into the flame?”[3]

Yet, is life truly and totally meaningless? No, and this we sense very deeply. However, we might suppose, if we only knew our existence is meaningless, then we would at least have meaningful knowledge, and surely this would count for something. A creature, who possesses no innate knowledge at all would not be aware of its own lack of meaning. In fact, a universe of turbulence, chaos, blind and meaningless forces arising from cold and totally impersonal, chance evolution, with no vitality, could not contain beings aware of this tragic fact.[4] But beyond our innate and very deep appreciation for beauty, and so much more, we know intuitively that there is more than meaninglessness, and this mere observation turns back round to confirm itself.

As astronomer Hugh Ross opines:

… if the universe is created, then there must be reality beyond the universe. The Creator is that ultimate reality and wields authority over all else. The Creator is the source of life and establishes its meaning and purpose. The Creator’s nature defines personality. The Creator’s character defines morality. Thus, to study the origin and development of the universe is, in a sense, to investigate the basis for any meaning and purpose to life. Cosmology has deep theological and philosophical ramifications.[5]

More than this, perhaps, as contemporary Anglican theologian and biochemist, Arthur Peacocke, so rightly observed: “The most striking feature of the universe is one that is so obvious that we often overlook it — namely the fact that we are here to ask questions about it,” as well as ourselves, and to investigate, analyze and draw conclusions. This includes the “capacity for abstract thought (that) appears to be distinctively human,” as well as “the acquisition of language…”[6] And from this unique foundation, we are able to think creatively, create from creative thought, and communicate both verbally and non-verbally with one another.[7]

So then, the human may only be a “thinking reed,” as Pascal said, but this fact alone is significant. For “by his rational consciousness he rises above the entire world, for he surveys it. Born for a brief instant, powerlessly carried along by the rapid flow of time and condemned by” the same to certain death, humanity nevertheless possesses eternity in its heart.[8] From where does this arise? We intuitively know we are unique and uniquely valuable from intricate, intimate observation of the world around us and the realization of our observations, that is, the awareness that we are making rational observations, asking questions, drawing conclusions, one of which seems to be that the world has been especially fitted for us, and that this world has far more to tell us than so much about ourselves and other forms of life and insentient objects. Ah, there is more… There is something or, perhaps better yet, Someone more.

Philosopher and scientist Robert Boyle said, “And when with excellent microscopes I discern in otherwise invisible objects the inimitable subtlety of Nature’s curious workmanship; and when, in a word, by the help of anatomical knives, and the light of chemical furnaces, I study the Book of Nature … I find myself oftentimes reduced to exclaim with the Psalmist, “How manifold are thy works, O Lord? In wisdom hast thou made them all.”[9] Indeed, the Book of Nature opens wide to reveal its Author.


[1] Scarry, On Beauty and Being Just, 47

[2] Allen and Springsted, Philosophy for Understanding Theology, 21 – 24 passim

[3] S. L. Frank, The Meaning of Life, 2

[4] S. L. Frank, The Meaning of Life, 51: Note: if it were the case that the universe and all therein were merely the product of blind and totally impersonal chance, somehow arising into an order from within chaos, then the situation would not really be tragic because no conscious being would be present to perceive, and to apprehend, this great tragedy.

[5] Hugh Ross, The Creator and the Cosmos: How the Latest Scientific Discoveries Reveal God, 16

[6] Peacocke, Theology for a Scientific Age, 72 – 73

[7] Ibid, 53

[8] Ibid

[9] Robert Boyle, Some Motives and Incentives to the Love of God, 56 – 57


References

Allen, Diogenes, and Eric O. Springsted. Philosophy for Understanding Theology. Second. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2007.

Boyle, Robert. Some Motives and Incentives to the Love of God. Hard Press Publishing, 2020 (Reprint).

Frank, Semen L. The Meaning of Life. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2010.

Peacocke, Arthur. Theology for a Scientific Age: Being and Becoming – Natural, Divine, and Human. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1993.

Ross, Hugh. The Creator and the Cosmos: How the Latest Scientific Discoveries Reveal God. Fourth Edition. Covina, CA: Reasons to Believe Press, 1993, 2018.

Scarry, Elaine. “On Beauty and Being Just.” Princeton: Princetone University Press, 1999.

Supernal Love, Chi to Life

Lover mine with lovely fair skin, open eyes, bare chest so smooth,

Hover over me with flute in hand to stay and play and plant a kiss

Upon my fit lips at the dawn of a new day drawn from your bosom,

And hold me close against the cold in an emboldened living passion

Born of your compassion for mortal creatures you mean to refashion

In the likeness of your light and life, love and truth, peace and beauty

As an everlasting answer to brahmin prayers that wear into samsara

And this chi shall then forever be free to be all of you to be all of me,

So play some life-giving tune of heavenly fruit upon your sacred flute

That this poor boy may ever rest in the riches of your verdurous grove

In the shadow of tall trees near the sea, waves lapping on a near shore

In your place beyond all places in endless space, laced to you eternally

Lamentation of Eve

Questions endlessly come on endless days filled with endless toil in tilling hard earth,

My wandering mind wondering what it is we wanted so very much for such waste,

But, then, did we know better before embarking on the voyage of greater knowledge?

Could we have discerned the difference twixt good and evil with lack of discernment?

And yet you blamed us … you blamed me for destruction, death and damnation of all!

And do you expect me to forgive, when God is incapable of passing by one infraction?

Ah, but this is the consequence, that we should be ever cut off from your communion.

And this because I was fooled into folly, and my foolish husbandman, lighting the fire

That can never be quenched, with screams of humanity that can never be silenced!

And this because I plucked a pear and took a bite? Why not simply strike me down?

Why an ongoing, tedious torture of humanity in this life and damnation in the next?

Ah, but you no longer speak with me, answer, and no longer address me as daughter;

Though I cry to you as the only Father I’ve every known, but you’ve turned your back,

For lack of love, haven’t you? Now there’s only blood, sweat and tears in tilling earth…

And my endless questions…

So Small to Give All

So very small to give all to feed the burning hunger of restless masses,
With but a few loaves and fish, as droves of folk waste from craving
To satiate their soul starvation in deprivation of the atrophied heart,
No finer part to play the day He came than to offer all that was mine,
So very small, to One who could receive and change even that into all,
To satisfy more than body, but mind and soul, too, to bind up wounds
And heal with one everlasting meal made from my bread and my fish,
An altogether heavenly dish, morsels of which may yet feed the world,
So do I continue to give what seems to small … to give of my all to all

President, Politics & Principled Religion

On Christianity, Other Religions, Excusing Trump, and Basic Goodness

The Lord Jesus Christ was very clear that personal character and integrity are vitally important, and that one’s character, for good or bad, will plainly show in how they live out their lives on a daily basis and especially in what “grows” out from their lives:

The good person brings good things out of a good treasure, and the evil person brings evil things out of an evil treasure… for the tree is known by its fruit. I tell you, on the day of judgement you will have to give an account for every careless word you utter; for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.’ (Matthew 12. 33, 35 – 37)

So there is simply no justification for any Christian to excuse evil and wickedness, even if the perpetrator of such wickedness is somehow, to some extent benefiting them. Sin is sin, and evil is evil, and Christians are responsible before God to recognize such, and to “call a spade a spade.” Period. To do otherwise is in itself an abomination to the Lord.

ProphetIsaiahThe holy Scriptures of Judeo-Christianity are abundantly clear in God’s indictment of those who call good evil and evil good, of those who wink at sin and try to justify wickedness. Consider just one of the many proverbs of wise Solomon: “One who justifies the wicked and one who condemns the righteous are both alike an abomination to the Lord.” (Proverbs 17.15) However, it is, perhaps, the warning of the Prophet Isaiah that strikes the deepest and most poignantly:

Ah, you who drag iniquity along with cords of falsehood, who drag sin along as with cart-ropes… Ah, you who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Ah, you who are wise in your own eyes, and shrewd in your own sight! Ah, you who are heroes in drinking wine and valiant at mixing drink, who acquit the guilty for a bribe, and deprive the innocent of their rights! Therefore, as the tongue of fire devours the stubble, and as dry grass sinks down in the flame, so their root will become rotten, and their blossom go up like dust; for they have rejected the instruction of the Lord of hosts, and have despised the word of the Holy One of Israel. (Isaiah 5.18, 20 – 24)

Of course, the Prophet Malachi was equally clear, if not quite as provocative, yet his particular warning is quite appropriate for professing Christians who continue to blindly support Donald Trump and defend his ongoing, multifarious acts of vile wickedness:

You have wearied the LORD with your words. Yet you say, ‘How have we wearied him?’ By saying, ‘All who do evil are good in the sight of the Lord, and he delights in them.’ (Malachi 2. 17)

And this is precisely where so many white, evangelical Protestants, as well as white, conservative Catholics, find themselves today. Not only do they continue to unabashedly support Trump and defend him, they actually go the extra mile in claiming Trump and his words and actions are “good in the sight of the Lord.” And there simply is no question regarding the eventual fate of such pretended-believers, pseudo-Christians: “Their root will become rotten, and their blossom go up like dust.”

Of course, Trump claims to be Christian, yet he seems not to be familiar with the several re warning in God’s holy Word about lying, deceit, treachery, self-aggrandizement and so much more. Such as the sharp warning given by David in the 52nd Psalm:

You are plotting destruction. Your tongue is like a sharp razor, you worker of treachery. You love evil more than good, and lying more than speaking the truth. You love all words that devour, O deceiver. But God will break you down for ever; he will snatch and tear you from your tent; he will uproot you from the land of the living. (Psalm 52. 2 – 5)

Perhaps, though, he is still to “young” a Christian, as some evangelical leaders have claimed in excusing all of his glaring faults and failings and shortcomings and misdeeds, but then … they bear the brunt of guilt for not having held Trump accountable, for not having provided guidance and direction for his growth and maturation in the Christian faith, for not having opposed clearly vile, nefarious words and actions of this President. And they have no excuse.

HinduPrayer

Furthermore, and along the same lines where Trump is concerned, “better is a poor but wise youth than an old but foolish king, who will no longer take advice, (Ecclesiastes 4. 13) and if anyone loves righteousness, her labors are virtues; for she teaches self-control and prudence, justice and courage; nothing in life is more profitable for mortals than these.” (Book of Wisdom 8. 7) And, no, Trump does not fit this bill, so that even if he is – somehow, beyond all reasonable comprehension, in some vague sense, Christian – he most certainly is not an effective leader, and can never be expected to be an effective and beneficial leader in his current state, his very nature being what it is in its quite deplorable, destructive condition.

And the major religions of the world recognize the same basic life principles requisite not only to being a good leader, but just to live a truly wholesome, healthy, happy life, to wit:

Under the sway of strong impulse, the man who is devoid of self-control willfully commits deeds that he knows to be fraught with future misery. But the man of discrimination, even though moved by desires, at once becomes conscious of the evil that is in them, and does not yield to their influence… (Srimad Bhagavatam 11.7 from Hinduism)

And from Buddhism:

It is little harm if one loses money in gambling with dice, even losing everything, including oneself; but if one bears ill-will towards well-conducted ones it is greater harm indeed. Insulting men of real worth, bearing ill-will in thought and speech, leads to eons upon eons in the states of misery. (Sutta Nipata 658-60)

All of these basic life principles are really self-apparent … except to the one who is foolish or wicked or both, which is often the case. But let’s hear one more teaching that so perfectly applies to Donald Trump, this time from the sacred Scriptures of Islam:

There are three characteristics of a hypocrite: when he speaks, he lies; when he makes a promise, he acts treacherously; and when he is trusted, he betrays. (Hadith of Muslim)

CelticSymbolForPurity

And with this much said, we will be content, especially since the point is well-made: There is no excusing the overt sin and wickedness of Donald Trump, no defending him with any sense of real moral integrity, no continual supporting of him by professed Christians apart from abject hypocrisy. And this last sin is especially egregious for those self-same “Christians,” who not only failed to extend “the grace card” even once to our previous President, Barack Obama, but actually attacked and vilified him more than any other President in the history of our country … even though he consistently proved himself to be of upstanding character and integrity, and not one scandal was attached to him during his entire eight years as President.

One final note: The result of ¾ of conservative, white, evangelical Protestants (and their white, conservative counterparts in the American Catholic Church) will sooner than later be the speedy decline and near-death of evangelical Christianity in the United States, and very possibly everywhere else in the world. And tragically, they will only realize this when it is far, far too late to do anything about it … except to lie down in their own self-dug graves.

Out From Confusion: A Florette

Distant noise, closer confusion
Earth eruption, grand illusion
Falling quickly, so senselessly
Entering darkness painfully, no occlusion

Awaiting war, expected birth
Integrity slips, lose all worth
Flowers fall, all masquerading
Tossed aside in sham parading, creating dearth

Expectant saviour, lovely face
Heavenly light, another place
Flaming hellfire, rising tide
Battlefield earth intensified, toxic embrace

Ocean uproar, blinding lightening
Open doorway, nothing binding
Entering freely, freely freed
With loving sacrificial deed, angels singing


Note: the Florette was created by Jan Turner and consists of two or more stanzas for either of the two versions, the first consisting of quatrain stanzas with a rhyme scheme of a a b a, with an interlaced rhyme in line four, where syllable eight shares the “b” rhyme.

Syllabic:           8/8/8/12

Meter:               Iambic

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Mysterium Dei

Deep, dark … Ocean mysterious abiding,
Keeping untold secrets forever in hiding;
In the soul of humanity ever confiding,
Yet inscrutable and past comprehending

Is there fear here where you are so near,
And part of us who are part of your heart?
Or overcome by your waves, drowning
Beneath your frowning vault of heaven

Living, deadly … Ocean forever existing,
Roiling and churning, forever insisting,
Enveloping the Cosmos, ever persisting,
While humanity floats, ever subsisting

Simulacrum: Shadows Passing Shadows

“But if that is the case,” he asked himself, “and I am taking leave of life with the awareness that I squandered all I was given and have no possibility of rectifying matters, what then?” He lay on his back and began to review his whole life in an entirely different light.

When, in the morning, he saw first the footman, then his wife, then his daughter, and then the doctor, their every gesture, their every word, confirmed the horrible truth revealed to him during the night. In them he saw himself, all he had lived by, saw clearly that all this was not the real thing but a dreadful, enormous deception that shut out both life and death.

— From “The Death of Ivan Ilyich” by Leo Tolstoy

Frosted windows open on snow-covered plains so barren and lonely, with the far horizon so thickly gray, with the assurance of more of the same, and all is as silent as death, so silent that even the voice of God cannot be heard. We need life. We need life.

Shadows passing shadows in the shades of shadow trees. Life is a vapor. Mostly ghostly and blithely ignorant, they know something is missing, these spectators of men. And again the church bell tolls for another someone who never lived but finally died. And the gray coffin is lowered into black earth as phantoms cast forth hollow eulogies beneath the dancing shades of the same shadow trees.

The sun rises on an empty beach on an empty Sunday, where the waves make no sound, and the preacher stands perched on the podium preaching redemption to reprobates who cannot hear. But they pad the pews and smile self-righteous smiles, while girls grunge with Jesus round their necks.

Boys and girls dance round the boy, poking and prodding, teasing and laughing — laughing and teasing, prodding and poking as the dance goes on and the tears freely flow. There is pain and suffering driving the victim insane, but does anybody care? He will take his own miserable life, but will any mourn his passing?

jollain_hyacintheAnd the lovely Hyacinthus, radiant reflection of Beauty, draws his last breath as Apollo weeps for love lost and the world buckles at the passing of the divinely desirable boy, even as his blood gives birth to the flowers that will forever bear his name.

Two hearts bleeding. Two souls suffering. Two minds reeling. Two bodies slowly losing feeling. Two lovers void of love, rolling one over the other, making lust in a haversack with hyacinth in their hair. This is the memorial they offer the boy, who now joins as one with Mother Gaia.

A firefly crawls across the concrete, dying in the heat, but no one hears the slowing heartbeat of another life worth less than three-pence, delivered to deconstruction in total destruction as the thrawn sun thrashes its body at dawn.

Blocks of brick are stacked on blocks of brick, as below asphalt streets burn in the glaring sun. Alleyways are filled with scattered litter blown in from shattered lives, and the moon is full at the witching hour.

Smoke rises from the smoldering city as ash rains down thicker than the citizens, who run to their own burial for cover without looking back to see poppies growing in war-scarred fields. Their translucent bodies back into the black of cavernous caves, where they bark against the darkness.

The emptiness of existence is heavy. The vacancy of persistence in existence tangible and terrible, but do they even know … these passing shadows? Do they even know the profundity of the gaping hole in their soul? Can they feel the absence, and if so, do they know what left the better part of their heart so damn cold … these passing shadows?

Women and men, soldiers and scholars, priests and pious hypocrites stand beneath a rugged Roman cross, and what do they see, but Life nailed to wood for the sake of life? But do they even know … these passing shadows? Do they even know they need a savior? Do we know…?