Memorial Day – A Reflection

Memorial Day is a day set aside for reflection. It is a day meant for us to honor our fallen dead.

The meaning of Memorial Day has changed a great deal since it was founded. At its inception, it was meant to honor African American soldiers who fought and died in the Civil War, both our soldiers who were born-free, as well as those who were former slaves; men and women, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters who gave everything they had to keep the union whole.

Memorial Day was created to honor those who died for an America which they only dreamed could exist. They died for these United States, for a vision of it that the prayed for, but was not yet real; they got something different, they got this reality, an America that is still in a state of becoming, one that is more or less just, depending on where you are born, what color your skin is, what class you belong to.

Those men and women died for us, for good or ill, they died for us. They died for promises that went un-realized.

We have yet to repay them, we have yet to fulfill their hopes for the America they dreamt of; America, daughter of liberty, America the true, and good, America the arbiter of justice.

Now, we honor our dead on this day; our soldiers and sailors and airmen, our police and firefighters; we honor them.

We honor all of our citizens who spent their lives, who gave their days to public service; we honor our doctors and nurses and teachers, the good works of our ordinary citizens, of our friends and neighbors, we honor everyone’s sacrifices; known and unknown, and those yet to come.

This year we must even children, who stood in the way of gunfire to protect their classmates and paid for it with their lives.

We must honor them, and their sacrifice, they died upholding our most cherished values, in recognition of the fact that we are one people, that we are descended from many nations, and that we each come into the world with the absolute right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and that all other rights are subordinate to these.

On this day of all days, do not make the mistake of thinking that it is our service women and men who keep us free.
It has been at least sixty years since America faced an “existential” threat from a foreign power.

We are not kept free through armed conflict.

We do not face such an existential threat from beyond our borders and shores right now; not from Iran, not from North Korea, not from Russia, not from anywhere.

The real threat we face is from ourselves, from our ignorance and from our fear.

It is we, and we alone who can protect us from ourselves.

Our own apathy, our prejudice and hatred, these are the most dangerous forces aligned against us, that threaten our freedom. They are more deadly than any other worldly power.

To honor our fallen dead, you must do your part to keep us free. You must participate in our democracy.

Vote, stay informed, organize, build alliances and collaborate.

Our collective failure as citizens of the Unites States has allowed a criminal, autocratic, demagogue to hold power in the White House, allowed the Supreme Court to state that corporations are to be treated as people, and money regarded as free speech, while those same justices have told ordinary American’s that their right to free speech does not include the right to be heard, and that our right to vote does not include the guarantee that our votes will be counted.

This rank cynicism is more dangerous to our freedom than any rag tag group of militants half way around the world, more dangerous than immigrants looking for a better life on our side of the border we share, they are only seeking the same thing as my own forebears did when they came here a little over a hundred years ago.

Honor our fallen dead. Not with cards and flowers and barbeques (but do those things because they are good), honor them by standing up to racism and bigotry, to religious zealotry and corporate greed, to scientific ignorance and xenophobia, to corruption in our public officials in our highest offices, and to the notion that the right to keep and bear arms does not include our responsibility to regulate them.

Honor them by participating in public discourse. Do not lose heart, and do not give up.

Stand up, and be counted!

We must rebuild America, reform our institutions, we must do this for the sake of all Americans and our future generations. We must take responsibility for our own freedom.

We will have nothing to protect if we let our freedom be stolen from us while we are busy watching TV, posting pictures on social media of the last meal we ate, and arguing with one another about who is the most liberal, most progressive, most concerned about the common good.

Honor the fallen, in this way.

Participate!

Jay P. Botten, Veteran, U.S.N., Hospital Corps, 1990 – 1994

Given 1st 2015.05.25

Revised 2019.05.27

Emergence 4.0 – Part Three, Earth; Chapter Twenty, Collective

Week 21
The care of a loving family is like the wet clinging mesh of a spider’s web. Humans are trapped in it, suspended, enwrapped in it. The majority of people who have ever lived, never lived a day apart from these sticky-bonds.

Familial obligations are invisible. We are bound by them through our emotions; by fear and love, hate and pride, anger, hope, and jealousy, the feelings that bind us to our parents and our siblings, to our clans like the ligaments that join bones to muscles.

We are conditioned by rituals; by the stories we tell, the drums we play, by music, and language, by the seasons we live and the hours of the day. They are the food that nourishes our identity. We are raised in the patterns that play themselves out, in both the small cycles and the great.

Everything we are comes from the family, everything we do redounds to the family name, the name of our clan, our tribe, our village, our state.

Our identities are completely enmeshed with the identity of the group we are raised in. Only the most profound betrayal can break the patterns we are conditioned to live by, and even then, those who break free from their familial identity, or through no choice of their own are exiled and then cast-out, they leave the family only to recreate the same structures in new places with new people.

The individual can be raised up, lifted high, made strong by their family and tribe.

They can also be shunted, marginalized, and cast aside.

Families have a tendency to cannibalize their strength. In times of great need they will go so far as to eat their own, or set up the strongest and most beautiful as holy victims for the gods they worship, to barter their best and brightest away in the hope of some kind of boon.

As families become clans the bonds of loyalty are fixed in the body, constructed by chemicals and enzymes, by proteins and amino acids, by the songs and rhythms unique to each group, and through which they reinforce the knowledge of their history, their ancestral memories, passing them on from one generation to the next.

These are bonds that we do not see, bonds we never question.

Rituals are developed to lift up and memorialize the common ancestors whose great deeds, or terrible failures were such that the clans wrote songs about them, and passed them on to their children, and their children’s children, as the saga of their kin.

Every person reared within the group learned to see themselves as a continuation of the clan’s broader narrative. They saw their own deeds as a reflection of the deeds of their ancestors.

They imagined their departed dead as living beside them, all around them, and they were not wrong.

The departed spoke to them through ancestral memory, not just the patterns of their consciousness remaining with the clans and tribes, but their actual consciousness remaining with individual families, bound to them and the planet in the electromagnetic field called the nous-sphere.

The ritual remembering, the songs they sang, the drums they beat, these reinforced the connection and secured it, keeping it vital through that period when the groupings of human beings were still small enough that every person could trace their connection to the other through their blood lines.

They were migrating and wandering, they were navigating by the stars. They marked their narratives by the movement of the constellations, and projected their own stories into the heavens.

They were together and they were one.

Every individual saw themselves as a part of the tribe, and saw the fullness of the tribe as manifested in them. The clan was the clearest representation of the structure of human unity and belonging. It had a sufficient critical mass to draw the individual outside of themselves, and yet it was not large enough for the individual to feel lost within it. The clan was the family writ large, it was small enough to be intimate and large enough to provide for the safety of the group through the structures they form.

Hierarchies emerge in village life, just as they do everywhere in the animal world.

Human beings are animals after all, and in their need to establish social structures they are no different from the wolf, or the lion, or the ram.

In the animal world it could be dangerous, even deadly. The competition for leadership was intense, it was largely physical, and the strongest usually won.

Among humans the intensity was no less, but it was often more deadly, and physical strength was not the most significant indicator of primacy.

Social hierarchies formed in villages; around the well, at the markets, in the places of worship and religious life, and most importantly in the seat judgment.

The center is everything, with social rank flowing from it in concentric rings.

A person was either in or out of the village, either in or out of the center, with movement and access regulated between the spheres.

The beginning of cohesion around village life was the beginning of the disintegration of families, clans, and tribes.

The social order was undergoing change, metamorphosis, redefining allegiances.

These developments were not uniform, it did not happen in all places at once. It happened in key places; at the confluence of rivers, along the shores of the great inland lakes, in the desert oasis, at any place where the movements of migratory tribes would bring them together.

The villages were rising.

There was safety in the tribe, and the ability to test one’s self through competition with peers.

There was jealousy, yes, and envy. There were customs and taboos that were well established, intending to prevent such things from having a harmful impact on the life of the group and its cohesion

There were shared customs and stories, rituals, things that shaped both the structure of the tribe and its future. The narratives they spun taught all of its members the means by which they could advance, redress wrongs, recover from injury, hold fast to their position.

The tribal life was essentially democratic, members of the tribe could come and go as they pleased. There were no laws to bind them. There was only duty, obligation, and the expectation of those who were dependent.

It was only when the migrations ended and the tribes became fixed in villages and hamlets that the notion that people could be treated like property advanced and class systems became entrenched.

During the time of migrations men and women were essentially equal, neither was the property of the other, the concept of ownership was alien and everyone had a say in the destiny of the group.

The tribe might be governed by a chief, there could be a de facto leader, especially in times of conflict. That person was more often than not merely the voice of the people, the arbiter, the mediator, the negotiator, and judge.

In place of the single leader, more often than not, a council of elders held sway over the life of the tribe. The tribe did what it could to give every person a voice, to be inclusive. Everyone was a part of the whole.

Then there were the others.

Encampments became villages, and villages became towns. The human communities were growing, coming into greater contact with one another, realigning themselves both through necessity and by choice.

Towns grew into cities while people migrated into urban centers for trade and work. Individuals pulled away from their families, from their clans and tribes, pulling themselves into new relationships with merchants and farmers, with herders of new and different breeds of animals.

They clung together in ever greater numbers, both for protection, and opportunity. Learning from each other new ways of life, alien rituals and practices that each group had developed around their totem animals, their symbiotes, these began to be synthesized, re-contextualized for the purposive of enlarging the group.

In the beginning we learned to honor the other, the stranger, and we held in esteem the strengths they brought to new society.

They farmed, they built granaries and the foundations of the city flowed from there, from wellsprings to ziggurats.

The granaries became temples, where the people prayed for and received their daily allotment of food, grain and seed to themselves and their families. Temples became fortresses where they stored the fruit of their labor up against times of conflict, drought, disease and famine.

The temples became towers, ziggurats, great platforms that touched the sky, and from which the sages plotted the movement of stars across the heavens. These became the seat of priestly-royalty, and the place from which the laws flowed which bound human beings to their caste, class and station.

Families dispersed, becoming ever less important.

The division of labor ensued.

What became paramount were the relationship the individual had to neighbors and teachers, to systems of patronage and clientage. The individual had the potential to become both everything and nothing, a god-like figure or a slave, to be named in the annals, recalled and remembered, to be sung about or to be utterly forgotten. To achieve immortality through the songs and sagas of the people, or to become dust, nothing at all.

Most, the vast majority, nearly all went unremembered, but they did not disappear.

The cities gathered towns and villages to themselves, expanding and absorbing them, pulling their people away from their homes, relocating them in the urban centers. Cities did this just as clans and tribes had done with families and kin in past ages.

The bonds that formed were weaker than family bonds. Individually they were weak and flimsy, but like the spokes of wheel, together they supported a structure of great strength, capable of extraordinary movement, both radiating from the center and supporting the outer frame.

In the urban core social power concentrated itself in the hands of the few, the elite and the strong, the wealthy…the cunning.

The poor and the newly arrived, if they were free citizens, they needed representation.

The majority of those living in the urban centers were enslaved, either owned as private property, or they were the property of the state, its institutions and its temples, they belonged to the war machine that kept the state alive.

The free people needed sponsorship, the poor enjoined relationships with the rich, they became clients to their patrons, and these new bonds became formalized into extra-familial systems of societal structure.

This was a new version of a family, famiglia only loosely related to blood ties. Inter marriage and progeny strengthened these bonds, but they were not required.

These were the ancient bonds of vassalage.

They were bonds of the imagination, and bonds of determination. They were bonds of circumstance, and will, not happenstance or hereditary accident. They were forged by choices.

The cities became states, and in the cauldrons of statehood the relationships between all things and beings were redefined and refined.

Common language, common custom, rituals and religion all conspired to tie people together, just as connective tissues sew the limbs of the body together in the joints. Shared experiences are the sinews of human culture.

There are extrinsic and intrinsic movements with the ritual framework. Well executed rituals engage all of the senses.

The best rituals go beyond the physical structure of the world, and join the participants to one another through the inner sanctum of their memory, recalling the ancestral rhythms that move them.

When a ritual is serving its purpose it points the individual to a place beyond themselves, and creates in that person the sense that they are being pulled, drawn, or called in that direction.

Proper ritual juxtaposes the past and the future, it holds the ancestral memory in tension with future expectations.

When the rites are well executed it creates a space in which the whole community is moved by contact with the cynergenic field. They enter the nous sphere, and they transcend themselves and become one.

These are the essential building blocks of group identity and with their perfection came the ability to pull all the disparate parts of human culture together.

Nations were formed out of states, building on the foundations of security and prosperity for the people.

The old allegiances of family, tribe and clan were shifting ever-outward, away from people, into the world of ideas.

The fundamental buildings blocks of human identity were changing. Their National identity transcended their sense of themselves as a member of a family, and even as individuals.
Emergence 4.0
Part Three, Earth

Chapter Twenty, Collective
A Novel – In One Chapter Per Week

#Emergence #ShortFiction #365SciFi #OneChapterPerWeek

Like it, Follow it, Share it!

A Homily – The Sixth Sunday of Easter

First Reading – Acts 15:1-2,22-29 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 66(67):2-3,5-6,8 ©
Second Reading – Apocalypse 21:10-14,22-23 ©
Alternative Second Reading – Apocalypse 22:12-14,16-17,20 ©
Gospel Acclamation – John 14:23
The Gospel According to John 14:23-29 ©
Alternative Acclamation – John 14:18
Alternative Gospel Reading – John 17:20-26 ©

(NJB)
Listen!

Salvation is not earned.

It is a gift. It is the fulfillment of God’s intention for you and the whole of creation.

Salvation is not linked to our rites and rituals, to the way we mark ourselves as belonging to a group or not, to whether we are in the Church or out.

Our ultimate salvation has nothing to do with the things we eat, with our good deeds or our bad ones.

Our Salvation comes from God. We are saved together, and until we have arrived at its fullness and completion, we are not saved at all.

Be mindful.

The psalmist is right to ask God to bless all peoples and all nations; to have pity and to be merciful.

The psalmist is right to ask for the fulfillment of God’s promise.

Know this:

God is not confined to one place, neither is God confined to one time, nor does God belong to one people.

God, who created the universe, God is the God of everyone, whether they know of God or not. God is still God.

Praise the fairness of God. Ask for God’s blessing; not just four yourself, but ask for it on behalf of everyone.

When we visualize the fulfilment of God’s promise, when we reflect on the heavenly worlds and the paradise to come, bear this in mind:

Let all the talk of precious metals, and precious stones fall away; forget the talk of gold, and gems.

Ignore the jingoism, the fetish with Israel and with Jerusalem, with the apostles of Jesus, they are not relevant to these reflections. Every reference we find in scripture to these material things, is in a real way a distraction from the central message of the gospels and the good news they are meant to convey.

Where God is there is God, God who created the universe and sustains all things in it. God who is the parent of every being; where God is there is no temple, there is no altar, there is no edifice or anything we would recognize as the structure of a church; there is no cathedral, there is no basilica…where God is there is light, and love and peace.

The light has no limit, the light shines forever and there is no darkness in it; in God’s embrace all people are welcome, and no one will come to it who has not been prepared for it.

God prepares us all.

Where God dwells there are no gates. People will come having passed through every plane, they will come from all directions.

Listen!

The promise of the revelation is this:

Every person will receive what they deserve…as the children of God they will receive God’s love, they will be forgiven just as Jesus prayed when he was dying on the cross. We will all receive mercy.

We will be cleansed and made well, healed and made happy.
We will be whole.

The hungry will be fed, and the thirsty will drink, the gift is free, and that is the promise of God.

Understand this:

God, the creator of the universe, God is present in all of God’s children, and where God is present God is present fully.

There is no division in the divine. The divine is inclusive of all reality, of every living being that is it.

No-one is excluded.

Every person who ever was, who is, who will ever be, everyone is present in the divine, as such they are present within each of us, for each of us carries the divine within ourselves.

Jesus was the son of God, as each of us is a child of God; a son or daughter.

Love one another, as God loves you. This is the great commandment.

Do not be afraid, life on Earth is merely a passage to another world, it is the unfolding a mystery.

Listen to your sister, to your brother, they have something important to say. Each one of us has the potential to speak for God, to be God’s prophet, to be the advocate of Christ,

Everything, and everyone, returns to the creator, in so doing we come to the understanding that we never apart.

God, the creator of the universe, God will abandon no-one. God will leave no orphans, no-one will be left stranded in the throws of sin.

Not one of us shall be lost.

Listen!

There are passages in scripture, and there are many of them, in which the Gospels provide the reader, or the listener, with only a tangled and confused set of words and concepts that do little to shed light on anything good or meaningful.

The Gospel for today is one of those passages.

It is nearly impossible to get an accurate bead on its meaning.

Set aside for a moment that John’s Gospel, has the least concern for historical accuracy of the four. The Gospel was written more than one hundred years after his death. It is likely that the event portrayed here never happened, that Jesus never spoke these words in this way.

He may have said something like it, but that is neither here nor there.

What this meandering passage represents is the thoughts and feelings of John’s community at the end of the first century CE. It fully represents the mystical and mysterious way in which Christians had come to see the life of Jesus, and Jesus’s relationship to God, the creator of the Universe. It does this in terms that have a connection to some of the prevailing philosophical beliefs regarding the metaphysical structure of reality, but does nothing to explicate the system of beliefs it is specifically engaging.

It is poor theology.

This type of thinking has been a burden on the faith over the centuries and millennia, and should be struck from the cannon. It is impossible for us to know what the Gospel writers meant, what the limits of their thinking was, never mind the fact that the philosophies of the ancient world, their metaphysical systems, were false, they were wrong, they were errant, there is little in those thought systems that can help us understand ourselves, the world we live in, or our relationship to the divine.

What truth we can glean from today’s passage is this:

Jesus prayed to God on behalf of his followers, he prayed that they would understand both his mission and the mission that he was passing on to them.

He prayed for their unity.

He prayed that they love one another, and that the message they carried forward in his name was one of love.

This Gospel passage has the appearance of being directed specifically to Christians, and that is unfortunate because the mission of Jesus crosses all boundaries; sectarian, national, ethnic and gender.

This Gospel passage is overly concerned with the message regarding the identity of Jesus, it is dogmatic, it pushes the message of who John’s community believed Jesus was, over the mission to preach the love of God. That was not what Jesus himself taught. In this way the Gospel deviates from the faith.

Who Jesus was in the world, and what we believe about that is not germane. Such beliefs have no bearing on the way that is meant to be the Christian life.

As followers of the way, rather than concerning ourselves with who we believe Jesus was, we need to concern ourselves with how Jesus was in the world, with how we are able to live a loving life according to the standard Jesus set.
First Reading – Acts 15:1-2,22-29 ©

It Has Been Decided by the Spirit and by Ourselves Not to Burden You with Any Burden Beyond these Essentials

Some men came down from Judaea and taught the brothers, ‘Unless you have yourselves circumcised in the tradition of Moses you cannot be saved.’ This led to disagreement, and after Paul and Barnabas had had a long argument with these men it was arranged that Paul and Barnabas and others of the church should go up to Jerusalem and discuss the problem with the apostles and elders.

Then the apostles and elders decided to choose delegates to send to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; the whole church concurred with this. They chose Judas known as Barsabbas and Silas, both leading men in the brotherhood, and gave them this letter to take with them:

‘The apostles and elders, your brothers, send greetings to the brothers of pagan birth in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia. We hear that some of our members have disturbed you with their demands and have unsettled your minds. They acted without any authority from us; and so we have decided unanimously to elect delegates and to send them to you with Barnabas and Paul, men we highly respect who have dedicated their lives to the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accordingly we are sending you Judas and Silas, who will confirm by word of mouth what we have written in this letter. It has been decided by the Holy Spirit and by ourselves not to saddle you with any burden beyond these essentials: you are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols; from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from fornication. Avoid these, and you will do what is right. Farewell.’
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 66(67):2-3,5-6,8 ©

Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.

Alleluia!

O God, be gracious and bless us
and let your face shed its light upon us.
So will your ways be known upon earth
and all nations learn your saving help.

Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.

Let the nations be glad and exult
for you rule the world with justice.
With fairness you rule the peoples,
you guide the nations on earth.

Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.

Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you.
May God still give us his blessing
till the ends of the earth revere him.

Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.

Alleluia!
Second Reading – Apocalypse 21:10-14,22-23 ©

He Showed Me the Holy City Coming Down Out of Heaven

In the spirit, the angel took me to the top of an enormous high mountain and showed me Jerusalem, the holy city, coming down from God out of heaven. It had all the radiant glory of God and glittered like some precious jewel of crystal-clear diamond. The walls of it were of a great height, and had twelve gates; at each of the twelve gates there was an angel, and over the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel; on the east there were three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. The city walls stood on twelve foundation stones, each one of which bore the name of one of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

I saw that there was no temple in the city since the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb were themselves the temple, and the city did not need the sun or the moon for light, since it was lit by the radiant glory of God and the Lamb was a lighted torch for it.
Second Reading – Apocalypse 22:12-14,16-17,20 ©

Come, Lord Jesus

I, John, heard a voice speaking to me: ‘Very soon now, I shall be with you again, bringing the reward to be given to every man according to what he deserves. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. Happy are those who will have washed their robes clean, so that they will have the right to feed on the tree of life and can come through the gates into the city.’

I, Jesus, have sent my angel to make these revelations to you for the sake of the churches. I am of David’s line, the root of David and the bright star of the morning.

The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come.’ Let everyone who listens answer, ‘Come.’ Then let all who are thirsty come: all who want it may have the water of life, and have it free.
The one who guarantees these revelations repeats his promise: I shall indeed be with you soon. Amen; come, Lord Jesus.
Gospel Acclamation – John 14:23

Alleluia, alleluia!

Jesus said: ‘If anyone loves me he will keep my word,
and my Father will love him,
and we shall come to him.’

Alleluia!
The Gospel According to John 14:23-29 ©

A peace the world cannot give is my gift to you Jesus said to his disciples:

‘If anyone loves me he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we shall come to him and make our home with him.

Those who do not love me do not keep my words.

And my word is not my own: it is the word of the one who sent me.

I have said these things to you while still with you; but the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all I have said to you.
Peace I bequeath to you, my own peace I give you, a peace the world cannot give, this is my gift to you.

Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.

You heard me say: I am going away, and shall return.

If you loved me you would have been glad to know that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.

I have told you this now before it happens, so that when it does happen you may believe.’
Gospel Acclamation – John 14:18

Alleluia, alleluia!

I will not leave you orphans, says the Lord;
I will come back to you,
and your hearts will be full of joy.

Alleluia!
The Gospel According to John 17:20-26 ©

Father, May they be Completely One

Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said:

‘Holy Father, I pray not only for these, but for those also who through their words will believe in me.

May they all be one. Father, may they be one in us, as you are in me and I am in you, so that the world may believe it was you who sent me.

I have given them the glory you gave to me, that they may be one as we are one.

With me in them and you in me, may they be so completely one that the world will realise that it was you who sent me and that I have loved them as much as you loved me.

Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, so that they may always see the glory you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.

Father, Righteous One, the world has not known you, but I have known you, and these have known that you have sent me.

I have made your name known to them and will continue to make it known, so that the love with which you loved me may be in them, and so that I may be in them.
6th Sunday of Easter

Nostalgia – Editorial, The Week in Review

Analysis, Commentary, Opinion
05.25.2019

Nostalgia

I was watch the news yesterday morning. I was sitting at my desk writing with the news on, as is my routine.

A segment came on the TV featuring President Obama.

He made an appearance at a school, it looked like he was talking with older elementary school and middle school boys and girls. They were out on the field together playing baseball, throwing the football, having fun.

President Obama can do it all. He threw a long spiral pass, he knocked a softly thrown baseball over the fence.

They kids adored him.

I miss having a person like him in the Oval Office.

The way he spoke to the children was uplifting. It wasn’t just that he was inspiring, a rhetorical skill which he can turn on and off at will. It was the genuine caring in his voice and manner, his humility, his respect for them.

I miss that in our president.

Bondage

Beauty on the screen
Electric light, and visions
Shape the lust for life

Digital poisons
Pixel-pixel HQR
Computer prisoners

Translating signals
For wide screen TV’s, flat-curved
A life in shadows

Cast on concrete walls
Fill my emptiness through the
Miracle of light

Beneath sheets of glass
Contorted flesh twists inside
In plastic boxes

Beauty release me
Come, free me from this bondage
I, the unwilling

Submit myself, my
Secret self to your vision
Illusory you

Emergence 4.0 – Part Three, Earth; Chapter Nineteen, Consciousness

Week 20

Birth is concrescence, the coalescence of matter organizing itself into a unique form. Birth is the quest of consciousness, the cognizant being emerging independent and alone, ready to observe the universe as an individuated node of self-hood.

Each instance of birth is the beginning of a series of reflections made by the universe, on itself, for itself. The relative length of those reflections is not germane. The only thing that matters is that they are made.

The bare witness is enough.

Not all life is capable of making these reflections.

Most life in the universe is silent, vegetative, passive; algae and fungus, plankton, and moss, grasses, and trees, bacteria and the ubiquitous virus, these life forms are most prevalent than any other. They mark a certain-narrow range of activity taking place in their environment, on their individual planets, orbiting their individual stars.

The animate life of fish and insect, of reptile and avian, of mammal, these life forms are rare. These animate beings see and do more, feel more than the vegetation they consume as food. But, until the discovery of Earth, there was only one world in the entire galaxy where it was known for life to have evolved into sapient creature, into creatures that learned to see beyond themselves, projecting images of themselves, of their hopes and fears and possible futures into the great beyond.

The Ancient People, who constructed the Continuum, they were the first, and until their colonists reached Earth, they thought they were the only one.

The human, homo sapient sapient; like every other organic being, is beset with the inherent biases of the animal brain.

The glands of the brain pump chemicals into the liquid consciousness of its neural net.

Strong emotions are generated here.

We are awash in them.

The animal brain is fearful. It is concerned with the most basic things; pleasure, pain, anger, fear.

It is inherently suspicious, having risen out of the world where the law of life is eat or be eaten.

It wants to regard every other creature as either a threat, or as food, as something to be exploited.

These tendencies rule the creature, and the search for safety.

This is not to say that human beings, and other creatures are not capable of learning trust, they can and they do, but trust is a learned behavior.

The tendency to see every other being in oppositional terms is never completely erased.

Otherness, alienation, these feelings are in constant tension with the supernal drive that is necessary to advance culture.

The rudiments of language are warnings.

Sirens and alarms link directly into the limbic system: fight or flight.

In times of plenty these feelings become less pronounced, they become easier to set aside.

In times of scarcity they rise immediately into the control centers of the brain, and generations of cultural conditioning that came to mitigate those responses can be erased in moments.

Even the human being, The homo sapient sapient, the animal with the most advanced neural net, even that creature will quickly fall into extremes of genocidal killing and cannibalism, when scarcity and fear, starvation and war, or other threatening circumstances come to dominate human consciousness. This is true whether the threat is real, or simply imagined.

There is a brief period of time for every mammal, when they are in the warmth and dark of the womb, a short time when they are one with another, their mother.

It is a time of total dependency.

Two hearts beating in the same body, sharing the same flow of blood, of oxygen. They are in a state of complete cynergy.

The father contributes a piece of the code for the formation of the new being, but that is it, the father merely influences the design.

The mother gives the child everything.

This does not end at birth.

The child travels with the mother in the warmth and dark of the womb for nine month, through genesis, formation and growth.

It learns the low tone of the mother’s voice, her rhythm of speaking, of moving, of singing.

The newborn infant takes all of its sustenance, either from the mother’s breast, or from the mother’s hand in the ultimate form of belonging to another.

The child travels with her everywhere, or desires to. There is no place safer, no greater feeling of security than to be placed against her flesh, in the blanket of her scent, to feel her voice resonate through her body.

Everyone else in the world is an alien, potentially hostile, a threat…except for mother.

There is no one more frightening than the father.

Stranger, protector, arbiter of conflict; a father is the first person the child seeks to bond with after separating from the mother.

The father is stern and foreboding.

For most tribes of early humans, as they migrated across the planet, the father was the ultimate authority, holding the power of life and death over his family and able to exercise it any time. There were few checks on his authority.

The child seeks to bond with, to understand, to contend with, and to please him.

In times when the actual father is not present, the child will find a surrogate and seek adoption.

The way in which the relationship develops between the child and father determines virtually everything about who the child will become in the eyes of the world.

The father imparts the public persona to the child, and the child carries that persona, like it does the fathers name, throughout its life and in the world.

Good or bad, the influence of the father is imparted to the child like an indelible mark.

Everything the father does, or does not do matters. Active or passive, present or absent, the role the father plays in the child’s life shapes them. None of the father’s words, none of his gestures, not a single touch, or glace occurs in a vacuum.

The child absorbs it all. Everything done and left undone is determinative of who the child will become, and the esteem they will experience in the world.

We are each of us a reflection of the image the father projects on us, not a perfect facsimile but a living representation of the intentions and wishes of the patriarch.

After the mother and father, our sisters and brothers are the first people with whom they share a common bond, and with whom we compete.

We identify with our siblings, discover betrayal through them, experience them as a threat, and learn from them both how to love and how to forgive.

The human capacity for empathy is refined through our relationships with our siblings. Having first learned to love them, we are able to extend that compassion to others.

If we learn to hate them, be jealous of them, covet their place in the world, then by extension we are able to project those same feelings onto anyone.

Human history is replete with the stories of siblings, accomplishing great things together, and allowing their rivalries to destroy them.

Cain slew able, he killed him with a stone.

Romulus killed Remus, he cast his brother from the walls of Rome, broke his body on the rocks below, a blood-sacrifice for the eternal city.

The duplicity of the human being, our duality, our capacity for selflessness and self-centeredness are demonstrated in these relationships more poignantly than in any other.

A brother or sister will at one moment put their lives at risk to protect their sibling from harm or even the specter of harm, and in another moment plot to take their life and destroy their extended family.

The sibling bond is the strongest of all bonds, apart from the bond the child has with its mother. When the tension is so great that it breaks, the resulting backlash has the potential to scar everyone who is near it.

It is no small thing to reprogram the animal brain, to take the essentially selfish organism and transform it into something new. Suspicious creatures become altruistic only by learning and through experience, through the bonding of the senses and by neural linguistic programming, by ritual and narrative.

The first stage is complete when the individual person comes to see the family as an extension of the self, when they see their well-being, their fate is tied to the fate and the well-being of others, both in this life and the next.

The brain is an evolving structure. It mutates, both over the course of the life of the individual, and by procreation, from generation to generation.

Most of the mutations are not visible or even noticeably structural. They are packed into the dense tissues of the neural network in the brain.

With every new experience a new thread is spun, a thread as thin as a sequence of proteins, and with that the organ of the brain is changed, at the same time the code inside the cells is rewritten, peptides and amino acid redraft the genetic sequence, and the endowment is passed on to succeeding generations, it is a growing inheritence.

The greatest periods of growth and change are infancy and childhood. When every sound and sight, every smell and touch, every taste is actively changing the nascent being, especially at this time when they are learning the language of its family and tribe.

The human being will begin to see the well-being of the family and tribe as being in alignment with their own, identical to it, without regard for the hurts and minor competitions that ensued while growing-up together.

The other becomes one, when this has occurred we will protect those closest to us with a ferocity equal to our own drive for safety, because they have in reality become a recognizable part of who we are, our relationship to them, our memories of them have changed our genetic codes and the physical structure of the brain, both.

Blood and family, they bind us, they may confine us, but they may also set us free.

As we become self-aware we also become “other-aware.” We struggle with the full array of human emotions. We feel the flood of neuro-chemicals and learn to control the mechanae which regulate them. The most significant among them being fear.

Fear lodged deep within the limbic system, in the far reaches of the “reptilian” brain, in the spine and the neural network flowing out from it into our extremities, fear is the great divider, our limitations are founded in it.

We come into the knowledge of self, fearing any and all others, seeing them first as dangerous, as threatening. Every other person we encounter, accept the mother who gave birth to us, who anchors us through our memory of the womb, every other person is a potential adversary, is an actual adversary until we learn to see them in another light

Every person has a different learning curve, a unique capacity for the things of their experience they remember, recall and contextualize.

The acquisition of language gives us a taxonomy, the linguistic tools to understand these differentiations: self, mother, father self, brother, sister, self…it is a code that grows and continues to grow.

It is open ended: self, uncle, aunt, self, cousin, self, offspring, self, niece, nephew, self, spouse, self, friend, self…

It is through kinship, by relating to those whom we believe share our deepest interests that we learn to see strangers as other-selves, even the adversary.

There are language games, there is neuro-linguistic programming in every culture that can force these issues. They combine words and actions, feelings of mystery through rituals of shame, fear and empowerment, which break down barriers, moving a person rapidly through every stage of acceptance in regard to another. Religion, and ritual, military service and shared suffering among them. By passing through these stages a person become fully realized and in possession of their true self.
Emergence 4.0
Part Three, Earth

Chapter Nineteen, Consciousness

A Novel – In One Chapter Per Week

#Emergence #ShortFiction #365SciFi #OneChapterPerWeek

Like it, Follow it, Share it!

A Homily – The Fifth Sunday of Easter (Year C)

First Reading – Acts 14:21-27 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 144(145):8-13a ©
Second Reading – Apocalypse 21:1-5 ©
Gospel Acclamation – John 13:34
The Gospel According to John 13:31-35 ©

(NJB)

When you are reading about the acts of the apostles remember this: everything they accomplished they accomplished by their own design. We know that this is true because God does not intervene in the lives of the people. God has made each of us and the entire creation free.

Praise God for creating the universe, and filling it with all of its potentialities, with its myriad of possibilities that included us.

Now be mindful of this:

We will all experience hardship in life, such is the nature of being, but hardship is not a requirement for living in the way. We are not required to endure hardship before we see the face, of God, even though it is likely that we will.

Listen!

God is not a king.
God is the creator of the universe, God is present in all times and places; even in the deepest places of the human heart, but God does not intervene directly in human events.
God only issues an indirect influences over God’s children. God’s power will never circumscribe human freedom.
Contemplate the vast power of God, and contemplate the ways of God’s love and mercy, and know that the psalmist is mistaken when he calls God a king.
Listen to the prophet John:

At the end of all things there is God, the creator of the universe, and God is the temple we shall worship in; God is, God who dwells in the heart of every human being.

God’s temple is in the heart of everyone, enter into the other’s heart and allow the other to enter yours; there you will worship God together as one.

Do not forget this.

Everyone of God’s children has their name written in the book of life.

God promises to make the whole of creation new.

The world of the past will be gone, and death will be no more.

There will be no more mourning and no sadness, God’s own hand shall bring relief to everyone.

Listen!

Forget the apocryphal imagery and mythological symbolism of the “Son of Man,” forget the cryptic words about the glory of God; in whom and how it appears. Forget those things because they are irrelevant.

Know this, love one another. This is the purpose for which we were made.

To follow Jesus is to lead with love.

Love as Jesus loved. Be caring, be merciful, be just.

Be prepared to risk everything for the sake of love, even your life.

In this way you will be true to Jesus, and everyone will see that truth.

This is the way, there is no other.

Faith (which is the trust we place in God); faith is not about words, it is about actions, faith is an exercise of love.

Faith is not ideology, it is not partisan, it is not dogmatic, it is not doctrinaire. Faith is not a legally binding agreement. Faith is not concerned with creeds, or secrets, or magic words.

Faith is love.
First Reading – Acts 14:21-27 ©

They Gave an Account to the Church of all that God Had Done with Them

Paul and Barnabas went back through Lystra and Iconium to Antioch. They put fresh heart into the disciples, encouraging them to persevere in the faith. ‘We all have to experience many hardships’ they said ‘before we enter the kingdom of God.’ In each of these churches they appointed elders, and with prayer and fasting they commended them to the Lord in whom they had come to believe.

They passed through Pisidia and reached Pamphylia. Then after proclaiming the word at Perga they went down to Attalia and from there sailed for Antioch, where they had originally been commended to the grace of God for the work they had now completed.

On their arrival they assembled the church and gave an account of all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith to the pagans.
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 144(145):8-13a ©

Alleluia!

The Lord is kind and full of compassion,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
How good is the Lord to all,
compassionate to all his creatures.

Alleluia!

All your creatures shall thank you, O Lord,
and your friends shall repeat their blessing.
They shall speak of the glory of your reign
and declare your might, O God,
to make known to men your mighty deeds
and the glorious splendour of your reign.

Alleluia!

Yours is an everlasting kingdom;
your rule lasts from age to age.

Alleluia!
Second Reading – Apocalypse 21:1-5 ©

A Vision of the Heavenly Jerusalem, the Bride of the Lamb

I, John, saw a new heaven and a new earth; the first heaven and the first earth had disappeared now, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the holy city, and the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, as beautiful as a bride all dressed for her husband. Then I heard a loud voice call from the throne, ‘You see this city? Here God lives among men. He will make his home among them; they shall be his people, and he will be their God; his name is God-with-them. He will wipe away all tears from their eyes; there will be no more death, and no more mourning or sadness. The world of the past has gone.’

Then the One sitting on the throne spoke: ‘Now I am making the whole of creation new.’
Gospel Acclamation – John 13:34

Alleluia, alleluia!

I give you a new commandment:

Love one another just as I have loved you,
says the Lord.

Alleluia!
The Gospel According to John 13:31-35 ©

In the Son of Man, God Has Been Glorified

When Judas had gone Jesus said:

‘Now has the Son of Man been glorified, and in him God has been glorified.

If God has been glorified in him, God will in turn glorify him in himself, and will glorify him very soon.

‘My little children, I shall not be with you much longer.

I give you a new commandment:

Love one another; just as I have loved you, you also must love one another.

By this love you have for one another, everyone will know that you are my disciples.’
5th Sunday of Easter

Trump, Putin and the Ayatollah – Editorial, The Week in Review

Analysis, Commentary, Opinion
05.18.2019

Trump, Putin and the Ayatollah

Difficult, the future is to see.

National Security Advisor, John Bolton has a long history of advocating for robust military intervention in Iran. He has a strong hand in shaping our military policy, if we are not careful a man like him can get us involved in a conflict that the majority of us do not want.

John Bolton believes that the United States should have an unfettered hand in exercising its military power; Iran, Syria, Venezuela, North Korea, Yemen, the Taiwan Straits, he advocates for an aggressive pursuit of what he perceives our interest to be.

When it comes to our military stance against Iran he echoes the interests of allies like the Netanyahu government of Israel, or the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. These are relationships that Donald Trump is keenly interested in protecting, in advancing because of this you might think that the National Security Advisor would have a free hand in his efforts to get us engaged in conflict with Iran.

But for some reason he has been rebuked by Trump.

T-Rump has softened our approach with North Korea, against the recommendation of his National Security team. T-Rump has pulled us back from John Bolton’s more aggressive posture against the Maduro regime in Venezuela, and he has pulled us back from John Bolton’s adventurism in Iran.

I am not suggesting that the interference T-rump has been running against the National Security Advisor is based on any kind of firm policy position.

I am just noting that it has happened, and I am offering an explanation as to why.

The explanation is Vladimir Putin.

Putin supports the Maduro regime, and though the United States does not, T-Rump will not go head-on against Putin’s wishes.

Putin wanted us out of Syria, and so we left, leaving the Russians, who support the murderous Assad regime, and the Iranians, Assad’s long term allies, to fill the Vacuum.

In the same way T-Rump has bent over backwards to treat another ally of the Russian’s, North Korea, as if they were not the most wicked, most dangerous, most evil-totalitarian regime on the planet. T-Rump tell us that he and Kim Jong Un are in love.

Because of Putin’s long standing relationship with the Iranians you can be sure that T-Rump will not actually allow an invasion of that country to occur. The Russian’s don’t want that to happen, and so neither does he.

Now, I am not sure if I have this right. I think T-Rump would break any alliances, violate any treaty, subvert any pact, commit any crime to stay in power; as long as he sees something to be in his political interests he would even go against Putin, but right now that is a long way off.

Right now, Putin has no desire to see us invade Iran, and that explains why T-Rump rebuked John Bolton this week. Putin said no dice, let the ayatollah be.