Friday, July 5, 2019

I AM RIVER

I am River
I am Free
My waters rush 
Into the Sea

I am Mountain
I am Shore
I am Sunset
Still . . . I’m more

I am All  
And now I see
That I am You
And you are me.

And together
We become
    The infinite . . .
 The Universal One.

Sue McGhee
Copyright 2018

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

God, Religion and Biocentrism

   
       God, Religion and Biocentrism
         Rambling Thoughts on the Nature of Being

        My dad died in my arms when I was 15 years old; he died suddenly from a heart attack, gasping for air, sprawled on the bathroom floor. We were alone and I tried to revive him without knowing how.       
       I began a long journey of blame and self-analysis, searching for answers to all the ancient questions like, “who am I?” “Why am I here?” “Where do we go when we die?”  I dabbled in everything and rejected everything. I considered becoming a Trappist nun after reading Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton when I was seventeen. I didn’t. But I did join the Roman Catholic Church and for a time became devout. I observed no meat Fridays, Holy Days of Obligation; I had my babies baptized before they were six months old.  
       But I continued to explore. I ran the gamut, studying every off-beat version of philosophy, science and religion. I thought of myself alternately as a mystic, a Pantheist, a half-hearted Buddhist, and ultimately, an agnostic.  
       I studied the big bang theory and in my mind became a bit of stardust, believing for a time that is where we all came from as a result of this cataclysmic event – an explosion 13.7 billion years ago that created massive energy allowing us to drift around until we began to form into atoms and molecules.  And all that blustery energy stirred the primordial stew until there was our earth and the seas and sea creatures who gradually migrated to land and trees and... 
        When I was a child, my WASP-ish parents dutifully sent me to Sunday school and then my grandmother had me dunked at her Southern Baptist Tabernacle by Dr. Huston when I was somewhere around ten. When I embraced Catholicism, I grappled with a God who was cool and distant, who would have condemned me to an eternity of hell, fire and brimstone had I sinned mortally and not had the good sense to go to confession before getting hit by a bus. (That god led me into a miserable marriage – yes, miserable, but it produced four wonderful children whom I love with all my heart.)      
       The idea that I was a jot of mystical stardust from heaven was warmly comforting for a while and I basked in the knowledge that I was a creation of light and energy, exuding that life force into the world.          
       The “God is Dead” period in my life was difficult and demeaning. I was lonely without a God – believing that if in fact He wasn’t really dead, He certainly no longer gave a damn. He became to me the so-called “clock maker God” who created the multi-verse and then turned his back on all that he created and sold us to a pawn shop.        
       But I hung on to a belief in miracles. Because in hard times they came to me at the precise moment I needed them – to help me find a job, a buyer for my piano in order to pay the rent, to keep the house my kids and I were living in; to avoid an on-coming out of control semi as it roared down the mountain in my lane. My life was full of them.  Still I searched.  I wondered. I doubted.            
        Then I learned about the Quantum Theory.       
        Oh, but Quantum Theory (Mechanics, Physics, etc.) excludes the big bang, doesn’t it?          So I asked myself: how did we come to be if there was no beginning? We created ourselves is Quantum’s answer. In the quantum system, reality is in the eye of the perceiver and therefore nothing is really real unless someone observes it.       
       Not too long ago, scientists began looking for the God particle or gene or VMAT2 which they said would explain everything to everyone and bring back the God of my childhood, He, who crammed all his creating into seven days and nights, the God of Genesis.           
       After the end of my marriage, Religion began to lose all meaning to me and I stopped going to church. I soured on it all -- that is, all traditional religions including Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, Islam -- believing they do more harm than good. The Bible, a revered piece of God’s Word became no more to me than a fanciful piece of literature, an ancient text filled with stories of ancient people, compiled and edited by those attending the Council at Nicea in 325, to include only those events and characters that supported the doctrine of Christianity (sold, in my opinion, hundreds of years earlier by Paul, a talented mythmaker who never even knew Jesus).       
       I don’t mean to offend the reader, here. But really, how much of the Bible is myth, especially the New Testament?  I know that Jesus walked the earth because of Josephus, who was his contemporary and a major historian of the time.  I know that Jesus lived, but was he God?                 
       History of the Crusades, the boiling in oil of non-believers, antics of Catholic priests, terrorism by the Jihadists, distortion of the Koran, all added to my disenchantment with religion. Think about how our Evangelical Pastors manipulate their congregations and make money off of their flocks (yes they do – especially through “televangelism” with Television pastors who fly around in their “Jesus Jets” and live in tax free mansions they call parsonages paid for by their supporters).       
       Religion became a joke to me.  Belief, on the other hand, was still an important part of my life.
       From the time I was a child chasing a lost spider or ant around the bathtub to keep from washing him down the drain, I’ve always loved and protected animals and nature. I remember sitting for hours watching my goldfish twist from side to side, then float upside down in his fish bowl; I prayed that he would live. He didn’t.  I had a turtle named Ike who was eaten by my dog, Tony. My dad told me he had wandered out of the house to find his mother in the pond down the street. I was heartbroken, but still I prayed that he would somehow amble his way back to me. But,  I prayed -- to someone or something.       
        My love of nature led me to Biocentrism, the belief that we and our animals, all sentient beings have worth and that we humans do not necessarily have dominion over the animal world. It fit perfectly with what was then becoming my belief system.    

The term biocentrism encompasses all environmental ethics that “extend the status of moral object from human beings to all living things in nature.” [5] Biocentric ethics calls for a rethinking of the relationship between humans and nature. It states that nature does not exist simply to be used or consumed by humans, but that humans are simply one species amongst many,[6] and that because we are part of an ecosystem, any actions which negatively affect the living systems of which we are a part adversely affect us as well,[6][7] whether or not we maintain a biocentric worldview.” [6] Biocentrists believe that all species have inherent value, and that humans are not "superior" to other species in a moral or ethical sense.
                                                        (From good ol’ Wikipedia)

        Of Course! The statement above implicitly includes our environment.       
       But, back to my dilemma. How then did our world come to be? And, who’s in charge?         Are the earth and its creatures created by God or did we just randomly appear and assume our roles as a result of an incredibly long evolution from stardust to sea creature to land beings? How does one make sense of it all?       
        And, really, do I want to put God back in my belief system?       
       Better Yet, can I have my God without Religion?       
       Western science has always maintained dualism, back in the days of the Greeks followed by the Romans.  Our western gods were separate and apart and living a life of luxury and war in their pantheons, but still experiencing similar emotions as we, such as love, hate, jealousy and wars. Still, we looked up to them.  They were above us. Western physicists, including Newton, managed to keep the maker in their theories of Physics. Newton defined creation as a grand happening, but it was always understood that there was a higher intelligence behind it.
        In most, certainly many, eastern religions, we are one -- the divine is within us – we are God.  And since I started practicing Yoga and studying the ancients, I realize that may be where I’ve landed and will end my life-long search for answers. Maybe we are God or at least, we are partly God.  We are the Source. So everything we say, do or think affects not just our family and friends, but our community and the world beyond.  Perhaps the new Biocentrists (who do embrace some of Quantum Theory) are correct – that our consciousness is the real creator.

I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.” – Max Planck, the originator of quantum theory (source)
       
       In the last ten years, two young scientists (Dr. Robert Lanza and Bob Berman) seem to express what I’ve been grappling with all these years – a theory that allows me to believe in something that is more than just randomness, although still with an abundance of questions – which will probably never be answered.  
       Did the Big Bang happen according to Biocentrism? Yes.  How? This is what they say:

The laws of physics seem to be exactly balanced for life to exist. For example, if the Big Bang had been one-part-in-a-million more powerful, the cosmos would have rushed out too fast for the galaxies and stars to have developed. There are over 200 physical parameters like this that could have any value but happen to be exactly right for us to be here. These fundamental constants of the universe aren’t predicted by any theory — all seem to be carefully chosen to allow for the existence of life and consciousness. (Yes, consciousness raises its annoying paradoxical head yet a third time.) Although biocentrism supplies answers, the current model has absolutely no reasonable explanation for this.                                   Robert Lanza and Bob Berman from Biocentrism

       The universe is over 95% energy – dark energy and dark matter -- and we are all a part of it.  We are all connected – to one another, to animal life, to plant life, to the entire planet.  We do not die, because our consciousness, (no, not the brain) lives on.  
       So then, what is consciousness?  We don’t know. What is dark matter? Still unanswered.  What is infinity?  We don’t know that either.  What happens to us when we die?  No one knows.      
       Thank you Dr. Lanza for satisfying my need to feel relevant.  But no thanks that your perfectly perfect “theory of everything” does not answer much of anything.  There are still questions whopping around my head. More than ever.      
      Was God involved?      
      Yes.  According to Lanza, etal. There was some knowing Power that made the conditions simply perfect for our world to become.  Remember, There are over 200 physical parameters like this that could have any value but happen to be exactly right for us to be here.”        If so, isn’t that a good thing?       
       Knowing there is a superior power out there should compel us to be good. And suggests we might live on after death.  If there were no motivation that leads us to “do unto others,” why should we?  If not heaven, hell, the fear of retribution, then why should we try so hard to do the right thing? Is this religion talking? Or does it matter?  Will my moral behavior propel me into a higher and richer existence, or a lower, more demeaning life than the one I am now living?  
       And what brought me to this life?  Was it my immoral and unforgiving behavior in a prior incarnation? Or a bargain I made at some celestial bus stop before being born?  Since I’ve had a pretty challenging yet fulfilling life this time around, perhaps it was because I lived a decent, moral life before. Do we live in a system of rewards, then?  
       And. I know I am happier when I live morally -- when I am generous and giving and grateful for what I have.  I am unhappy when I allow myself to sink into resentment, anger, revenge or retribution. 
       Perhaps that means we are naturally imbued with a sense of morality, goodness and love. And when we reject those things, we are out of balance.  And so is our world.  Perhaps this is our moral imperative. To be good. Not because of fear or a possibility of reward, but because it behooves us to be good – to our family, our community, our world.  We can make it better just by being good.  How powerful that is!            
        Oh, my God.        
        Just think about it!  I have.          
        But I don’t have the answers.        
        Do you?           










Friday, November 23, 2018

House Cleaning


Interesting to watch as the House Majority, still attempting to flex their muscles, try yet again to thwart the lawful purpose of oversight by selectively leaking and distorting information resulting from secret testimony. 

They have now subpoenaed James Comey and Loretta Lynch for closed door hearings regarding events during the 2016 campaign. Mr. Comey’s attorney, David Kelley has replied, saying Mr. Comey will be happy to testify but not behind a “closed door” session. 

How refreshing it will be in January to have new occupants of this House, sweeping away the dirt, the secrets and the lies, scrubbing out the stains of hypocrisy, opening up the windows and allowing the sun to shine through.


Thursday, November 22, 2018

JFK. I Remember . . . a reprise

It is Thanksgiving Day in the United States.  

In other years, November 22 was not a day to celebrate but to remember.  

I was very young and very idealistic in the early sixties.  But I have never been more in tune with or involved in our government and what it was doing than those days of the Kennedy administration.  My generation believed that government could work; we believed in the wisdom of the Constitution, in equal rights, in the freedom of the press.  

We were involved; we became warriors; we were activists, we lived fervently, rebelled ostentatiously and loved freely; we fought back; we became consequential.  We did not "go along."   

We had a leader who inspired.

Kennedy's legacy through the years has been laced with a kind of blandness as though aside from his youth, his wit and charisma, his attractive young family, he really accomplished very little. This was blatantly wrong.

And, now, gradually, appreciation of Kennedy's accomplishments grows with each passing year. And it should.  

True, he allowed Khrushchev to get the upper hand (at first). Also true, that the Berlin Wall went up during his tenure. Indeed, he resided over the Bay of Pigs fiasco and we're all aware of his "indiscretions." But I believe today, that had that young president lived, he might have been one of our greatest leaders. Remember, he had only a thousand days in which to accomplish his agenda.
  
As for his accomplishments, take note: the Peace Corps, the Alliance for Progress, Civil Rights legislation, the Space Program and the introduction of the Green Berets. 

His major accomplishment, however, was a tight and tense little psychological drama between the USA and the USSR known as The Cuban Missile Crisis, which, without the successful maneuvering of the Kennedys, might have left the world in a state of nuclear disaster.

I guess his potential greatness will never be known which is what happens when someone takes you out before your time. But I think when all is said and done, his star will ultimately shine as one of the brightest.  

Mr. President, I remember and I am grateful to have learned my political abc's under your leadership. You never blamed others for your mistakes -- you took your lumps with a calm appreciation of history. You spoke decisively but with care for the feelings of your listeners, with admiration and humor for those in the Press who covered you, with respect for those who opposed you and with dignity that matched the office you held. Intellect, Decency and Grace defined you. 

We have lost something precious. The ability to dream and not dread.  You made us dream.   

I miss you, JFK.    


Friday, October 5, 2018

Our Democracy


Brett Kavanaugh is probably well qualified, academically, for the Supreme Court. 

I don't know this, but I grant him this. 

But that is not my problem with him. I did not like what I saw as he testified during the spectacle we witnessed last week.  I am a citizen of this country and I feel that I’ve been railroaded today. None of my concerns have been validated by those who represent me.  And neither have theirs.  That’s because one political party holds power in all three branches of government.

The Republicans who control our Senate, have virtually ignored every dissenting opinion in Congress in order to get this guy into a life-long post as Justice. The FBI “investigation” begun on Friday last, turned into a sham and produced no new information. This is because the White House orchestrated the parameters around which the FBI was allowed to work.

Today the Senate votes on cloture, a preliminary vote that does not mean much as far as I can tell. It is said to move the vote forward, however; in other words, the Senators will vote again tomorrow.  According to this vote today, Kavanaugh has won cloture 51 to 49 and Senators like Susan Collins of Maine, having falsely agonized over their decision now show their true stripes.  Party over conscience.  She turns out to be like all the rest and her declaration of why she will vote yes tomorrow makes it obvious.  

Kavanaugh does not appear to be a nice person, at least as he has represented himself on TV. His demeanor as many have stated after viewing him last week, is not what one would call judicial. He has an ugly temper and went on a rant about the Democrats’ revenge for his role assisting Ken Starr in the Clinton hearings. I don’t remember this, but it was this unnecessarily snarly defense that so outraged many of us who watched. 

The allegations of early drinking and sexually abusive behavior are one thing, but as bad as they sound, we cannot hold a seventeen year old accountable for bad behavior 36 years after those incidents. I believe it is, however, an indication of character, displayed with a vituperative and arrogant surliness not becoming anyone seeking public office. He is not seventeen today and he must own this.    

It is his record (and writings) on the power of the presidency that worries me most:  as I understand it, Kavanaugh believes the presidency is inviolate; ie, the person holding that office can get by with almost anything, including acts against the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, Fraud, Tax Evasion, and can, if it behooves him, even pardon himself.

Our system of “checks and balances” so lovingly set up by our patriotic forefathers, those who believed that the people we sent to Congress to represent us, would be non-partisan and work together for the good of the country, has not been working. There are no "checks" on a runaway Senate controlled by the partisan Mitch McConnell.  

The people we have in Congress, by and large, have little sense of patriotism – love and pride in our system of government.  They are there to enrich themselves and their friends and families.  They are there in order to acquire power and hold on to it – they vote in order to keep themselves in office. (Term limits, anyone?)  What happened to Conscience, Country and lastly Party?   Eh, Lindsey Graham?  

Kavanaugh is one of their kind. 

This man is not fit to sit on the Court.

And they who put him there are not fit to hold a seat in Congress. 

This president will never be impeached. Indeed, he will be pardoned. 

He will pardon himself.         



Thursday, September 6, 2018

Things Need to Change



Does anyone think that the Anonymous Op-Ed coming from the WhiteHouse is anything other than a pathetic attempt to soothe someone’s conscience?
How can I express the disgust I have for those surrounding the President, who despise what he’s doing but don’t have the spine to do anything about it? 
And then there’s our flaccid Congress, (a critical check on the presidency provided for in our Constitution) which should have stepped in months ago to begin Impeachment Proceedings within the House.  But of course the one to begin such proceedings would be the Speaker who somewhere along the way (along with McConnell and Graham and numerous others) has dumped his patriotism into the trash bin and covered it up with a sycophantic eagerness to allow this president to get away with anything.  
Why? 
It doesn’t make sense to me.  They know Trump cannot continue in office and will eventually resign or be removed. Where does that leave them in the annals of history once he’s gone?
And then there’s Kavanaugh. Do they think that confirming him for the Courts will not only save Trump but them too?
Let’s talk about Kavanaugh: on the second day of confirmation hearings, he refused to answer the question that we are all concerned about:  should the president be allowed to self-pardon?  It was a hypothetical question, he said, that he was not prepared to answer.  
Hello? Hypothetical today, perhaps, but reality likely tomorrow.
Where are our Nathan Hales?  Where are our Thomas Paines? Our JFKs:  “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”
These men and women in Congress are supposed to represent us. We are supposed to be their constituents.  But no, it doesn’t work that way anymore.  They do not represent us.  They do not work for us.  They work for themselves and that is their main purpose for running for office – to enrich themselves and their families and to stay in power. 
Some things need to be changed, like term limits. One term only extended, perhaps, for House and Senate.  Come in, do your job and go back home. It is an honor to serve one’s country. Perhaps, this would remind them that it is a privilege not a payoff.
Things need to change.
And soon. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

America's Denouement

In his inaugural address on January 20, 1961, John F. Kennedy observed among many other truths that we, as citizens, must be vigilant:  

“Let the word go forth that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans, born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this Nation has always been committed and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.”  

Are we still committed to those rights 57 years after those words were spoken?

With the advent of Trumpism, we are losing our Democracy, slowly but surely.

Under the title, Kennedy was Right:  we are Heirs of the First Revolution, John W. Whitehead wrote a piece in the Huffington Post back in 2013.  He seemed to see it coming even then, back before Donald Trump was elected president. This is what he says:

The freedoms we often take for granted did not come about through
happenstance. They were hard-won through the sheer determination,
suffering and sacrifice of thousands of patriotic Americans who not only
believed in the cause of liberty but also acted on that belief. The success of
the American Revolution owes much to these men and women. In standing
up to the British Empire and speaking out against an oppressive regime,
they exemplified courage in the face of what must have seemed like an
overwhelming foe.
Those revolutionaries were average citizens, not agitators or hotheads. They were not looking for trouble or trying to start a fight. Like many today, they were simply trying to make it from one day to another. But they finally had enough and decided to stand and fight for the one thing that makes an American an American:  freedom.
It wasn’t easy. Many lost their livelihoods and homes. Many lost their lives.
But, like Tom Paine, they would not be sunshine patriots. They would not shrink from service to their country.
If we are to survive as a nation, we must regain the spirit of the American revolutionaries. It’s time to turn off the television set, put down the cell phone and, if need be, take to the streets and make sure our voices are heard. Some of our fellow citizens are already on the front lines of freedom. Let’s join them. In the words of Patrick Henry:”
Why stay we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God. I know not what course others may take, but as for me: give me liberty, or give me death!

From The Blog @ The Huffington Post 

11/22/2013 10:52 am ET Updated Jan 25, 2014
Kennedy Was Right:  We are the Heirs of the First Revolution, by John W. Whitehead