All credit for the title goes to Billy Joel, for his wry-grin lyric in Only The Good Die Young:

And they say there’s a Heaven,
For those who will wait.
Some say it’s better,
But I say it ain’t!
I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints.
‘Cause sinners are much more fun
Only the good die young

mark twain on heaven and hell

The song is brimming with colorful phrases about suppression of nature for the sake of christolic dogma (and, certainly, Church control of it’s adherents’ souls) . . .

Well they showed you a statue, told you to pray
Built you a temple and locked you away . . .

That stained glass curtain you’re hiding behind
Never lets in the sun . . .

You got a nice white dress and a party on your confirmation
You’ve got a brand new soul
And a cross of gold . . .

But this isn’t about a classic rock song. The song, however, is an irrepressible nod to religious metaphor, if not a tad more direct than the following example. It is a perfect lead-in to a recent epiphany I had.

In his book The Historical Jesus, John Dominic Crossan, in one chapter, gives us the definition for the word “Kingdom” as supported by various attestations—— that is, by its appearance in different locations within biblical scripture, both canonical and non-canonical.

In the following passage, he discusses, from the Gospel of Thomas (a non-canonical text; gee, I wonder why) when the disciples ask Yeshua about entering the kingdom as children; Yeshua asks them, essentially, not to look forward but rather to look back.

When you make the two one, and when you make the inside like the outside, and the outside like the inside, and the above like the below . . . and when you make the male and the female one and the same, so that the male not be male nor the female female . . . then you will enter the kingdom.

He is—-in this Gospel excluded by the Church—asking the disciples to think about looking back to the past, past Eden, before Adam and Eve sinned (according to Genesis, which I won’t belabor here). He asks them to consider an even more primordial moment before the male and female—-animas and animus—-were split into two beings.

Note the use of the more historically accurate name of Yeshua instead of Jesus; if we are mindful of such a seemingly small change it helps to provide a more distinct delineation between the carefully groomed ‘Jesus’ and the actual historical figure he was, Yeshua.

By asking his closest followers to take a mental leap backwards he is challenging them to consider a more ephemeral cosmological approach as opposed to the utterly human desire to know of the future, of revelation . . . as the Greeks termed it, apokálypsis.

Taking the cue from the primordial example, if you allow yourself to do what countless cultures have done throughout human history you may be able to conceive of a ‘first entity” if you will, a spirit or essence which is considered not yet neither male nor female as we consider the genders of biological life—-the two as one.

Yeshua posed the further challenge to the disciples, to look at a “child” as something that wasn’t male or female but rather as an androgynous Adam (a ‘first entity’)—-an image of its creator, being neither male nor female.

Baptismal regeneration involved the destruction of duality of that between the inner soul and the outer body. between the heavenly, androgynous image of God and its earthly bifurcated counterpart.

These things help to clarify why the child is the perfect Christian metaphor for those entering the kingdom.

The child is considered asexual or pre-sexual or nonsexual in any operational manner and is therefore an appropriate image for the ideal Christian, the Christian who is, in other words, an ascetic celibate. A Kingdom of children is a kingdom of the celibate.

So, what was my epiphany, you ask?

This is why the saints cry.


Word Crimes

To my several readers, I offer you what I consider to be a wholly and unapologetic theme song . . . my profound gratitude to Weird Al Yankovic for this catchy and so very needed  paean to proper grammar.

This Is awesome! 

Z for ZorroFor those who grew up blindfolded, hearing deficient, or otherwise completely detached from American ‘culture’ in the late 70’s and early 80’s, Zorro is a Mexican culture hero introduced to American audiences well before the 70’s but found his entertainment niche by bringing his swashbuckling Sonoran style of slice-and-dice to the big screen and did pretty well for himself until the second Banderas Zorro flick, Legend of ZorroMask of Zorro was actually entertaining, though.

Point here is Zorro used his blade with elegant efficiency and made significant inroads until Hollywood sucked at his teat one time too many (it’s a figure of speech — get over it). Sorry again, Mexico.

Why “again”? I like cheap “Mexican food” once in a while like any other properly raised American, but Taco Bell is as authentic as canned ham. And don’t even get me started on Cinco De Mayo.

So what’s the connection between a Mexican culture hero and Harry’s, an internet-based men’s shaving product company? Why, blades, of course.

Important Disclaimer: Neither Harry’s, Antonio Banderas, nor any Hollywood studio has provided any remuneration, material compensation, or free goodies for my mentions here. Seriously.

One day, while reading my Dictionary.com Word of the Day e-mail, I noticed the 80’s orange-colored banner across the top of the message, an ad for Harry’s men’s shave products. I don’t recall the actual wording of the ad but it touched a nerve which has long been sensitive–paying up the you-know-what for replacement blades (take note Gillette). Now, while I’m known for being frugal . . . well, let me approach this with a quick anecdote . . .

When I was seventeen I worked with a guy who said something I have never–and will never–forget: “I like intercourse, but I like to be in on it.”

Yeah. Buying replacement blades for an Excel or Fusion razor is similar to the aforementioned lack of consent.

So the Harry’s offer of some German-engineered blades and a shaving cream 50 Shades better than what i usually buy was a song I happily would listen to, all for about $15 I think it was.

Obviously Harry’s is taking a cue from Apple in regards to its packaging and marketing: simple, elegant, putting the product front and center. Opening the package when I got it was like opening the box containing my Mac laptop–akin to a black tie affair for the eyes and mind, simple and unpretentious, yet an unmistakable air of “you made the right choice”. I could hardly wait to try it out the next morning.

For two weeks I genuinely enjoyed using my first set of blades and the new cream. Then, something entirely unexpected happened–the razor head itself snapped on one side . . . while shaving.

This experience was utterly counter to my initial impression of the products. Words leapt to mind, some of which shall not be offered up here, but I knew I’d be writing a little note to Harry’s after work that day, because, I obviously have sort of a thing for words.

My puerile fantasy of sticking it to the Razor Blade Man seemed to be crumbling before my eyes, and even, sort of, on my face. I took a picture of the fractured blade head and attached it to the e-mail which read as follows:

Was with a solid dose of intrigue that I placed an introductory order, eager to see what German engineered blades and a much better shaving creme could do for my shaving regimen. Up until this morning I was enjoying both.

I had been considering passing along my early considerations of the products to dad, my son, and some of the guys I work with at Facebook here in Oregon—but this morning, my first blade—only been in use two weeks—snapped at one of the ‘hinges’ (see attached photo).

I had been shaving under my nose when the blade seemed to grab then halted mid-stroke. Thankfully I didn’t get cut, but I was dismayed to see the strut had snapped clean in two.

Is this to be expected in the course of normal use? I had expectations of more durability and longer use duration. I don’t use excessive pressure which might result in such a failure.

If such a curtailed life span is the norm then I should choose to withhold my earlier advisements to others.

J.W. Nicklaus

Frankly, I know I didn’t pay a lot for the initial package of three blades, new handle, and shaving cream, so I mostly expected some form of acknowledgment from Harry’s and a dutiful if not polite message regaling me with tales of manufacture defect or user error. Part of my expectation was spot-on–I did hear back from Harry’s, the very next morning:

Thank you so much for reaching out, and I’m so sorry that this has happened – the last thing we could ever want for our customers is an experience like this.

It’s a rare case that our products arrive in less than perfect condition, and it’s crucial that we know when they do so that we can do everything possible to avoid it from happening in the future. My suspicion here is that you were the unlucky recipient of a blade that was improperly packaged in transit, leading to excess strain on the rubberize cartridge arms and, ultimately, the breakage you experienced. It’s a problem we’ve worked hard to resolve, and I’d love to go ahead and send you a free 4 pack so you can give us another go with brand new (and hopefully improved) blades.

I’ll get those sent out to you right away, and I just hope we can fix this for you. We really want to improve your experience with us, and hope you will still consider passing this along to your son and friends at facebook. Apologies again!

Now, sure, you can see some things you would expect a company to say. It’s by no means boilerplate, but the foundation is solid. More importantly, an explanation was proffered and not just one replacement blade but four have been sent in return. Honestly, I hadn’t expected this, and was very pleased to not have received the usual “sorry bub” response, or worse, sent a lame coupon I’d probably have to print out to use.

I whipped out my trusty iPhone and dictated a reply, and as you will see, didn’t give it the proper once-over I should have:

Oh how many companies claim or desire to be on the forefront of customer service it has been my rear experience to encounter such companies.

I thought I would hear back from somebody at Harry’s, if only to, at the very least, acknowledge receipt of my email and the issue at hand. I hadn’t expected the rapid nature of your response nor the outright willingness to go the extra mile and make things right.

Thank you for your sincerity and genuine good will. It is very refreshing to do business with a company which clearly values each and every consumer, not a specific demographic alone.

Before I forget I would also like to order an extra bottle of the shaving cream — it’s really quite good although much higher tier than I usually use. But I do enjoy it so if you could, please, add a bottle to an order for me.

Not too much later, before I engaged my brain and actually read my own message, I received another reply gracefully thanking me for my (butchered) 2nd e-mail and surprising me with another generous gift–they added the tube of $8 shaving cream to the order . . . free of charge.

I thought the replacement blades a most generous and appropriate effort, from a consumer perspective; to throw in the tube o’ cream was like getting to lick the beaters after mom mixed up chocolate chip cookie dough or chocolate frosting–yeah, you know what I’m saying . . . a whole lot of awesome!

I could not possibly have been more pleased with my interaction with Harry’s; they had gone over and above what I expected, which is, of course, a solid tenet upon which to grow your company. I was feeling pretty darn good about the whole episode–until I reread my prior e-mail.

If you are not familiar with the following word then, clearly, you are barely human or simply haven’t done enough stupid things in life:
mortification: to humiliate or shame, as by injury to one’s pride or self-respect.

The only salve to soothe my bruised conscience was yet one more e-mail, a digital Hail Mary to try and regain personal yardage lost:

I am compelled by some strange form of grammatical OCD to correct a couple of my previous errors (not that you likely care but it shall serve to soothe the nagging English demon currently gnawing on my brain):

• It has not been my “rear” experience, rather it has been my rare experience… That was an auto correct issue and while truly worthy of a laugh it is ever so subtly disturbing.

• I wasn’t overly cautious nor attentive as I dictated my first email to you, as the next error will glaringly point out. I mentioned that Harry’s appears to be a company that values each individual consumer and not “merely a demographic.” That deserves a major DUH! Obviously Harry’s caters to men, which qualifies as a single demographic. But, I’m sure you understood what I was trying to say.

Not pretty or elegant, but it got the job done. I’m not proud of such oversights, so let’s just move on.

I have little doubt many companies, large and small, are employing the same quality customer service which Harry’s has displayed with me. Alternatively, many seem to find their customer base more a nuisance than a blessing, among them Sears, Comcast, DISH Network, Sprint, Bank of America, and JP Morgan Chase (these companies earned their consumer disdain as measured by the American Customer Satisfaction Index). Hardly surprising that most of us can easily recall instances when we were treated more like rotten fish than Neptune.

Here I gladly pronounce my thanks to Harry’s; they made me feel like I mattered. As good as it feels to really hold a bad company’s ass to the flames it feels equally good–and I believe equally important–to hold up good companies for doing right by their customers.

Zorro would understand this implicitly, no translation required.

**If you’ve read this far (and you appreciate a good shave, good products, and good customer service) be sure to check out Harry’s**

Religious Mythology

Adam and Eve
ADVANCE WARNING:The following post is lengthy and should not be read by those with weak intellectual capacity or those with grievously short attention spans. Or if you’re easily offended by provocation of thought or saucy language.

It is my firm belief that I try to give everybody a fair shake, anyone who has read this blog for a while should see that. Sure, I push a few buttons once in a while, but I am (most of the time) categorically respectful—with one glaring exception . . . the stupid.

I shall reiterate my criterion: I have no qualm with those who simply don’t know better, whether through lack of experience or education. My acrimony is freely showered upon the willingly stupid, those whom, at any point, can—and should—take the opportunities to better themselves over gulping down dogma of any sort—but don’t.

One of the most contentious and erstwhile of these are the bleating sheep who, lucky for them, don’t drown in the shallow waters of brainless religion—zealots, non-thinkers, habitual conformers without concern for understanding (or functioning brain stems).

Now, just so I can be sure to offend as many people as possible up front, I share the following placard, not merely for shock value but moreso for its gospel truth:


The following is an important foundational principle of this blog post: A myth can be a duplicitous thing—when standing outside it looking in it clearly is a way for the culture of origin to deal with or understand its environs at the time; when standing inside a myth it becomes something else entirely . . . it becomes divine truth. Myths hide the fact they are myths–they offer a reconciling story. It (mythology) is a way of being human with an existential appeal.

As I mention later, these cultural stories can often be what shape and inform entire communities or peoples, give their lives value and direction. More often they help drive home a deeper ethical, psychological, or symbolic truth which is designed to keep one on the proper path. Myth means ‘sacred story’; it is a way of looking at reality which puts us into that story.

Galileo once wrote “All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.” Discovery takes a willingness to continually ask why, and then question the answer until the proof becomes irreducible. At that point one has a truth which was never really hidden to begin with–it only required our pursuit to fully understand it once we found it.

So, let’s begin, shall we?

Last week I was browsing through my news reader and came across a headline something like this: Christian college taking heat for stance on evolution.

I feel no shame in admitting I am not a scientist, but I very much enjoy—even fascinated by—science. I am grateful that God gave me the capacity to apply a modicum of logic and structured thinking about the world around me. This gift is what gives me the ability to almost instantly recognize morons of any stripe, regardless of their feeble cover or colorful costumes (If in doubt, see my post about the one-quarter of short-bus Americans).

We’ll arrive at the Mythology perspective in a few moments, but first back to the article at issue.

Initially I didn’t read the article because, well, I figured it was an idiot-fest in the making. But the headline festered and like any weakness it kept whispering my name, annoying in the same way eyelashes tangling is irritating or in the way the person seated next to you during mass keeps trying to clear their throat quietly, fooling themselves into thinking no one else can hear.

You know, the kind of things that make you—if for just a passing moment—want to beat the living crap out of somebody.

So, yeah, I caved in, opened the article, and started reading.

This is where the fun begins, kids, so please keep all hands and feet inside the cart while the ride is in motion, and please remember—no flash photography.

I really wish I could begin this with “In a galaxy far, far away . . .” because it would allow me to feel some pity for the distant galaxy. Sadly, we have to share the same piece of galactic real estate with people who can’t draw distinctions between fact and fiction. Enter Stephen Livesay, the president of Bryan College in Dayton, Tennesee, a Christian college.

The picture begins to gel a bit, doesn’t it? The following is copied directly from the article:

“Bryan College’s statement of belief, which professors have to sign as part of their employment contracts, include(s) a 41-word section summing up the institution’s conservative views on creation and evolution, including the statement: “The origin of man was by fiat of God.” “

“But in February, college officials decided that professors had to agree to an additional clarification declaring that Adam and Eve “are historical persons created by God in a special formative act, and not from previously existing life-forms.”

This is where the roller coaster reaches that breathtaking apex and lets you peek over the edge, with slow cruelty, before it begins its stomach churning drop. WEEEEEEEE!

The “statement of belief” is, fairly enough, required of all professors, including those in the sciences, like biology or anthropology. Well, maybe they don’t have anthropology departments—would be utterly unsurprising.

The gentleman in me is willing to let this “origin of man” statement go quietly into that good night. But a gentleman can take only so much before he must emphatically call “Bullshit!”

Sigh . . .

“. . .Adam and Eve “are historical persons created by God in a special formative act, and not from previously existing life-forms.”

Please understand that these six words make my skull ache in a way which begs for imminent explosion to relieve the pain: “Adam and Eve “are historical persons . . .” I want to laugh, truly. I can feel it sticking in my chest. But the urge is efficiently stifled by the potent desire to beat the living crap out of somebody—you know, for just a passing moment. I’d feel guilty about it later . . . unless it was one of these bigots of brainlessness. Then I believe society would throw me a huge f*#$!ng parade; mentally timid conservatives and their ilk are not invited.

Note to mom and dad: not enough people read this blog to warrant any concern of bodily harm. I’m confident that my seven readers are mentally agile, competent folks. I’d be hard pressed to believe any lesser person would have read this far once they saw I was setting out to prove them wrong (see placard above).

Now that the premise is bared, let’s take a moment to consider mythology in its academic context.

The ancient Greeks genuinely believed that Zeus and his cohorts ruled over, judged, most every aspect of their daily lives; ancient Mesopotamians held Marduk to be their true god, having slaughtered the goddess Tiamat and used her body to create the cosmos; in the Carabaulo myth of Timor, eastern Indonesians believed that the first peoples to emerge from the earth’s vagina were aristocrats and that later peoples were commoners, all of them lesser beings to the first emergents.

Are we truly to believe the cosmos is comprised of the dismembered corpse of a Mesopotamian goddess? Or that someone else is better than you just because they crawled out of mother Earth’s holiest-of-holies first (no gentle way to express that)?

To any rational person, the answer is obvious. Disturbingly, an “educator” sees fit to impress his own delusional world view upon the paying student body of Bryan College. This creeps into my dreams; my nightmare is not mine alone—I am boldly confident that many share it.

Lest we allow an appalling diaspora of unibrowed, drooling sock puppets with the mental capacity of concrete to infiltrate our social and communal institutions, misconceptions such as these must be challenged and brought to bear upon an enlightened country teetering frighteningly close to the brink intellectual collapse. Understandably, the argument could be made that we have already crossed that bridge.


For those familiar only with the Genesis account as mother church regurgitates it for the masses, let’s take a slightly closer look at the tool all self-righteous, indignant people like to lean on, the Bible.

The Adam and Eve creation myth (yes, it is a myth—and yes, I’m Catholic) has two accounts—the first from 1:1 to 2:3 and the second from 2:4 to the end of chapter three.The second telling is the more familiar one, recounting the story of Adam and Eve’s betrayal (the Fall) at the Tree of Knowledge and their eventual expulsion from the Garden of Eden. In this account God is immanent, meaning he is manifested, physically present, in the material world—in this case, the Garden of Eden with Adam. In this version Adam is created first from dust and given life through God’s breath—Eve comes later from Adam’s rib.

In the first account God is transcendent, removed/separate from the physical environment and existing far away from the world he created. This is the version where he stirs a vast sea to begin creation (“and the Spirit of God moved upon the waters”), then speaks things into existence (“Then God said “Let there be light”; and there was light”). Here, humans—Adam and Eve—are created at the same time.

The number of similar creation myths worldwide, from various cultures, is stunning. This does not merely suggest but flat out states there is no single, overarching correct perspective of creation, of how we got here. Unless of course you have a single, lengthy eyebrow and breath through your mouth; in such cases your stupidity requires that you desperately clasp onto something that you can’t comprehend but sounds good.

Relevant to this issue are the several types of creation myths or cosmogonies—the word cosmogony itself is a combination of two Greek words meaning “order” and “beginning”:
Ex nihilo — quite literally, from nothing. A deity may simply speak, think, or dream creation into being.
・Earth Diver — a creature, usually a turtle or bird is sent to the depths of a primordial sea to bring up a piece of mud from which the earth is formed.
・Breaking of Primal Unity — generally parental entities, such as Mother Earth and Father Sky are forcibly separated so that creation may continue; or, a bifurcation of a singular asexual entity which then takes the guise of male and female so as to begin forming the cosmos.
・Dismemberment — usually (although not always) the result of a great battle between deities after which the victor uses the corpse of the conquered to create the cosmos.
・Emergence — creation happens gradually here as human-like creatures typically must traverse several other ‘worlds’ before being truly ready to enter this one.

These are worldwide cosmological mythologies. But creationists, such as Brian Thomas (you’ll meet him in a moment) or Stephen Livesay choose to shut out the rest of the world’s peoples and beliefs in favor of their own misguided convictions. How mind-blowingly ironic that these kind of people comfortably address themselves as “creationists.”

The only sound, most widely accepted version of creation comes to us via hundreds of years of scientific observation. Many of these scientific minds were known to be devoutly religious; rare was the mind which attempted to disprove God. Science was—and is—a process of objective observation and testing. Science gives us proofs which further our understanding of ourselves and our world.

Those matters which we cannot prove—yet still place belief in—are matters of faith . . . not to be construed with actual knowledge.

Both Genesis accounts—along with all manner of other creation myths, and myths in general—give us an apparatus for understanding certain concepts or ideas which otherwise would be complete mysteries to us. In many instances they are etiological, meaning they give us the origins of specific circumstances: the legless serpent we associate with evil, the pain of childbirth (as punishment—along with death—for Eve’s eating of the forbidden fruit), the need for manual labor, to commune with the land for our sustenance (as opposed to pre-betrayal when God tended the garden and Adam luxuriated in its bounty).

Many gods for many cultures have, as part of their own mythologies, created we humans via “special formative acts.” In the Mayan’s Popol Vuh the gods tried creating humans three times and failed, eventually achieving the results they wanted the fourth time around. Were these “historical persons” too?

Greek mythology relates the story of Zeus, so completely fed up with men (and Prometheus) that he sent a catastrophic flood to wipe out men and start over again. The god Prometheus warned his mortal son Deucalion of the flood, and he and his wife, Pyrrha floated in a chest for nine days and nights. When the waters receded enough for the pair to once again walk on firm ground they asked an oracle how to go about repopulating Earth. The oracle told them to “scatter the bones of your mother”–to the Greeks, as with many cultures, Earth is our Mother, and earth is made of stones. So as they walked they picked up stones and tossed them over their shoulder—those which Deucalion tossed became males and those tossed by Pyrrha became females.

Are we to discount the Greek flood account as well because it’s not Christian (or Semitic) in its origin? How about Deucalion and Pyrrha—the Greek analogs for Adam and Eve—are they, too, historical persons?

If you were to pull my finger would I also create a historical person via “special formative act”? Absurd, of course . . . which is entirely my point.

For a moment let’s step across the line (or, if you prefer, step inside this myth) and consider it as if we accepted this ‘divine truth’ that Adam and Eve are “historical persons.”

Historical figures are noted by scholars and students for their part in actual events which surrounded them—they are literally a part of history. So, if the Genesis couple are, in fact, historical figures, then we must also accept that all events—and the subsequent results of those events—are factual as well. One of those events was the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden for having sinned against God.

The Tree of Life (or Tree of Knowledge) was the only tree in the garden which God forbade Adam to eat of; per Genesis God’s initial intent was for Adam (man) to live forever. Along comes Eve and convinces Adam to partake of the fruit of said tree, resulting in banishment from Eden, along with pain of childbirth for Eve, eventual death for all humans, and the need to toil with the very ground they walked upon for their sustenance.

All these things were brought about by Eve—the Bible doesn’t say Adam suggested she check the fruit out, Eve did it of her own volition.

PandoraNow, for a brief moment, let’s visit a similar myth of Greek persuasion, one which I covered in a blog post some years ago . . .

The myth of Pandora begins with Prometheus and Zeus. The king of the gods had decreed that mankind—as Prometheus had recently created—were forbidden to have knowledge of fire. Long story short, Prometheus tried to pull a fast one and snuck fire to his creations hidden in a hollow reed. Zeus caught on when he saw the stars reflecting the light of fire on earth below in human settlements. He was furious. For starters he chained Prometheus to a mountain and sent an eagle to eat his liver every day. Being immortal, Prometheus’s liver would regenerate overnight, and he would suffer the torment all over again the next day.

But this wasn’t good enough for Zeus. He was really pissed. Clearly, it didn’t take an Olympian god to see that mankind was prepared to make all kinds of trouble now that he had fire. Zeus asked another god, Hephaestus, to create a woman. He wanted something evil to befall humans to balance out the gift of fire . . . the way he saw it a woman was just what the doctor ordered. Until Pandora, all humans were male. Hesiod, in his book Theogony, misogynistically refers to the ancient time of life without women as the “Golden Age.” Things were perfect; men ate what they wanted, did what they wanted, had very little to fret over. Life was good.
Zeus had bigger plans.

Now, remember, the pantheon of Greek gods contained goddesses as well—female deities, and these feminine divinities gave to Pandora many a gift for mankind so as to soften the impact of Zeus’s fury. These gifts were carefully placed in an urn, and were not to be released until they could be properly trained by Pandora to benefit humanity.

But Zeus, per usual, had an ace up his sleeve. He gave Pandora a gift of his own—an abiding sense of curiosity

Hardly had Pandora arrived on the earth, when she opened the lid to see what the urn contained. Immediately the creatures in the container flew out, and being as yet untrained to serve humanity they became instead despair, jealousy and rage, and the myriad diseases and infirmities that inflict humanity, All that remained was hope, which became trapped under the unbreakable rim of the urn, and which mankind was able to train and make a friend, as the other ‘gifts’ in the urn had intended to be, though in ways which we cannot now imagine.
*from The Greek And Roman Myths: A Guide To The Classical Stories by Philip Matyszak

Some similarities here: a god/supreme being is angered and seeks to teach humans a lesson; a woman, placed among men for their good, winds up unleashing a bevy of mortal woes upon all mankind because she does something she is expressly told not to do.

So, if we consent to the “historical persons” construct, and as should logically follow, also concede to all events surrounding said persons, then clearly woman is the root cause for all despair, jealousy, rage, diseases and infirmities which the human species must suffer.

It’s all right there, in the Bible! . . . and other world mythological accounts. If Mr. Livesay says these are historical persons then as formal argument demonstrates this becomes a categorical syllogism—the conclusion follows necessarily from the premise of the argument:
・Adam and Eve were (by Livesay dictate) “historical persons,” actual human beings
・Eve (woman) ignored divine rules resulting in expulsion from paradise and subsequent wretchedness
・Therefore all evil in the world is the fault of woman.
I believe God also mandated that women must be perpetually subservient/subjugated to men.

Here’s another interesting bit which speaks to the subjugation (if not indirectly) of woman to man in biblical context: there is but a single—almost non-referential—mention of Noah’s wife in the bible. She is mentioned in Genesis 7:7, but nowhere is she mentioned by name; Noah’s sons wives names are not mentioned either . . . but all males are definitively introduced.

How does that sit with you, ladies? . . . Yeah, I wouldn’t be too jazzed about it either. But again, if you must adhere to the “historical persons” declaration of belief then you have little choice but to accept all which follows.

No, you simply cannot pick-and-choose which things you want to accept. You can’t say the holocaust never happened but, in the same breath, declare your utter disgust for Hitler—the two are inextricably entwined . . . unless of course you were a deluded leader in a theocracy; I won’t name names. And while I’m at it, I’d like to point out that the holocaust was really caused by women, I mean, if you believe Adam and Eve were historical persons then it all points back squarely at Eve.

Need yet more “proof” that Adam and Eve really existed? I thought you might.

Enter a one Brian Thomas, M.S.(Master of Science), who wrote an article posted on the Institute for Creation Research’s website in support of the historical accuracy of Adam and Eve. You’ll see direct quotes followed by translation which seeks to draw aside the veil of ambiguity which Mr. Thomas so artfully weaves in his article.

His premise is, based on actual (ancient) human DNA, Adam and Eve truly existed as real people—and not just real people, but the first people ever!

“However, the evidence supporting Adam and Eve actually overwhelms secularist’s atheistic interpretations of scientific data.”

Here he’s saying the, um, “evidence” which proves the root of our ancestry is so fantastically good that anyone who declares otherwise is full of shit. He goes on to deride genetic research and the human genome stating “the human DNA sequence now best fits the concept of special creation.” This predicated upon the science community’s reliance upon “junk DNA.”

Junk DNA, are, in a basic sense, segments of DNA which have no apparent genetic function; they don’t code proteins nor regulate or encode genetic material. Coded genes are what determine our eye and hair color, etc.

The argument here being that this apparently unused DNA may have been the catalyst for evolution to occur within chimpanzee DNA—meaning, evolution—Nature itself—eventually found a way to use this “junk DNA” to eventually come up with homo sapiens. Mr. Thomas prefers to disregard science (despite his degree) and states:

In other words, without junk DNA as an explanation we must have had Adam, not apes, in our past.

Essentially, if one ignores this non-encoding DNA in our genome (note, he never says it doesn’t exist), if we act as if it’s not really there, then the only plausible explanation for our existence is Adam, not apes.

See, the problem is, this “junk DNA” does exist.

I humbly apologize for the following quote, but it is necessary, the reason for which I’m not entirely certain, but it seems to be . . .

Even more DNA clues strikingly confirm Genesis history. For example, the three fundamental lineages of mitochondrial DNA, called “M,” “N,” and “R,” likely correspond to Noah’s three sons’ wives. These mitochondrial DNA analyses exactly match Genesis 10:32, which says, “These were the families of the sons of Noah, according to their generations, in their nations; and from these the nations were divided on the earth after the flood.” And why else would all men’s Y chromosome sequences—regardless of tongue or tribe—trace back to a single consensus sequence if it were not that of Noah himself, who inherited it from the very real Adam?

Noah's ark after the floodMan, where do I begin?!

“Likely correspond”—hmmmm . . . according to other Genesis leaners, I imagine.

This post is long enough so I’ll spare the reader the likely lineage of the biblical flood account, but suffice to say that it is very likely a conflation of a number of far more ancient flood stories as culled from cultural mythologies in the Middle East well before the account of Noah was written. Once again, another great story but not based upon an actual person(s).

Look, after the flood God mandates that Noah, his wife, and his sons and their wives repopulate the earth. He allows Noah to live for something on the order of 600 years. Uh huh. Riiiight. How could someone honestly believe that a flesh-and-blood human being could possibly survive that long without turning into a rather unpleasant puddle of bio-goo?

. . .trace back to a single consensus sequence if it were not that of Noah himself, who inherited it from the very real Adam?

How awesome is that? He follows that up with this juicy morsel:

Surely Christian Colleges’ students would be better served without professors who uncritically align themselves with antiquated secular speculations like junk DNA.

“antiquated secular speculations”—guess we can easily see that Mr. Thomas is clearly better than any of us.

Mr. Thomas goes on to indirectly acknowledge that apes and man share “similar body structures” such as two arms, two hands, and five fingers on each hand and this commonality, according to secular science “clearly illustrates their shared common ancestry.” But it really irks him that something as strikingly similar as appendages gives science a reason to refute the idea of Adam.

Let’s stop here a brief moment . . .

I think science readily accepts the “idea” of Adam, the concept of a primary instance or occurrence of the human species—I certainly do. At some point along the (sorry Mr. Thomas, et al.) timeline of evolution, well before Lucy, there irrefutably was a creature with a brain better than anything around him or her which walked upright and began using simple observation and reasoning to take abstract concepts like sticks or rocks and develop the logic to use them as tools. I believe science would embrace naming such a creature “Adam,” and it would be fitting.

He continues—

“But this logic simply ignores the possibility that a single, smart engineer could have crafted similar design features in different creatures.”

Engineering, at a bare minimum, mandates the application of several fields of science. So, Brian blasts science for it’s supposed flawed approach to man’s evolution but cries out in his desire for us to embrace a “single, smart engineer.”

Then he decries evolutionists who “almost never discuss the insurmountable differences between humans and chimpanzees, like their 900 million DNA differences.”

According to this article in National Geographic (a highly reputable publication), Mr. Thomas’s boat has at least a couple of leaks.

First, while they note there are—as Mr. Thomas states—millions of genetic differences, there are “40 million differences among three billion molecules.” That’s an exponential disparity from our Creation Wizard—a gap of 860 million; exaggeration, be thy name. The article further elaborates . . .

The vast majority of those differences are not biologically significant, but researchers were able to identify a couple thousand differences that are potentially important to the evolution of the human lineage. “The goal is to answer the basic question: What makes us humans?”

Notice, no aspiration to disprove God, nor, likewise, to prove Adam through rose-colored glasses.

Furthermore we learn “2.7 percent of the genetic difference between humans and chimps are duplications . . .” Not a staggering amount, but notable. “Eichler and his colleagues found that the human and chimp sequences differ by only 1.2 percent in terms of single-nucleotide changes to the genetic code.”

This points to a studied, tested, observable process, not a wild, straw-grasping attempt to explicate religion and affix it as doctrinal fact in the social consciousness.

Humans and chimps originate from a common ancestor, and scientists believe they diverged some six million years ago.

Whoa! Seriously? Six million, not six thousand? Who’da thunk it?

Science, Mr. Thomas, via sequencing of the chimpanzee genome, has determined that man and ape are 96 percent alike. You can take the remaining four percent and call it your own but the numbers are clearly not in your (stunted) favor.

Back to Mr. Thomas’s article . . .

Atheistic, and sadly even Christian, secularists have also asserted that we could not have descended from Adam and Eve in only 6,000 years because this is not nearly enough time for mutations to have added the many DNA differences found throughout all peoples. However, this straw-man argument assumes that God did not build a host of variations into Adam’s chromosomes right from the start. Clearly not all DNA differences between people arose through mutation. What if most of them were created for God’s purpose of watching human diversity unfold through the ages as they filled His world?

Sadly, too many idiots believe the Earth has been around for only 6,000 years—some adherents to this empty-headed belief have the gall to call themselves scientists . . . well, at least one of them does. More depressingly, teaching this to impressionable minds is sanctioned in some places.

Once again, science proves, in numerous ways, that our home has been here for billions of years. The Bible doesn’t mention dinosaurs, but we have abundant fossil evidence of their existence—and they came before man . . . or, Adam, if you prefer.

And something else—civilization, as we know it, may have been around—maybe—6,000 years; civilization being defined as the organized and structured use of agriculture, building, forms of rule (typically aristocracy in the early going), and development of written communication. None of these things appeared simultaneously along with man, nor did they happen within a couple hundred years of Adam showing up. Of necessity they evolved—hey, whaddya know! Just like us!

Now we come (sort of) full circle to the reason behind Mr. Thomas’s lame attempt at comedy (although a strained scholarly one, I’ll give him that): his full-throated support for Bryan College’s “clarification” statement . . .

So, there’s no scientific reason to reject Adam and Eve. Perhaps if the dissenting Bryan College professors had more exposure to the recent, high quality science that confirms biblical creation, they would have applauded the trustee’s wording changes.

Jaw-droppingly brilliant . . . and thoroughly entertaining—“no scientific reason to reject Adam and Eve”; “more exposure to the recent, high quality science that confirms biblical creation.”

So, again, the creationists not only see fit but find religious mandate in declaring all other accounts of creation null and void, pointless, erroneous. China’s Pan Ku, the Norse tale surrounding Ysmir, the Navajo’s insect people, Egypt’s Geb (Earth) and Nut (Sky) , ancient Mesopotamia’s Marduk, and countless others. Rather than allowing for these cultural mythologies to serve their intended purpose as vehicles for deeper lessons the creationists—mind you, Christian creationists—hereby declare that their collective shit doesn’t stink . . . but all others do.

Why? Because if they concede to other creation accounts they would, as a moral imperative, necessarily concede that their own creation story is just that—a story. That just won’t do. As history constantly reminds us, religion has always been, is now, and ever shall be a means for repression and attempts at subjugation . . . based upon beliefs. Think I’m out of line? Consider radical Islam or pogroms against the Jews.

Some of the students at Bryan College were concerned enough about the “belief clarification” that they circulated a petition requesting the amended statement be rescinded and returned to its original form. But Kevin Clauson, Professor of Politics and Justice at Bryan College, wrote a letter to the student newspaper, the Triangle, urging students not to sign the petition. He said the wider culture is waging a battle for the “heart and soul” of evangelical higher education.

“If an Evangelical Christian college wants to remain such, it must of necessity limit ‘academic freedom’ to some extent,” he wrote. “This is more or less done through doctrinal statements that must be subscribed to. If the attitude was “believe whatever you wish–anything”, then there would be no way to guard the institution against error or even heresy.”

A little too late to guard against error, methinks.

Every person should, must, hold precious their own beliefs, many of which give our lives form and value, and many of which help keep our internal moral compass properly directed. Likewise, if you wish to do harm to yourself, or harbor delusory notions, then knock yourself out—but do no harm to those around you.

To forcibly impress fallacious reasoning upon the unwilling is not a truly Christian trait, no matter how one spins it. And it is, I daresay, but a hop, skip, and a jump from criminal to mandate professors subscribe to such fallacious declarations as a requisite for their very jobs. Sure, this is America and they could look for a job elsewhere if they don’t like it . . . that’s what’s called a rationalization.

Mr. Livesay has no love for science and would seem to fervently believe we are still in the Dark Ages (which, I understand, would require a true comprehension of time and history, both of which Mr. Livesay has demonstrably ignored). “Scripture always rises above anything else,” Livesay has said according to an online podcast of the clarification event. “Scripture rises above science. … Science at some point will catch up with the scripture.”

Oh, Mr. Livesay . . . just an FYI: all humans are created via a special formative act. Including you.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change…The courage to change the things I can…And wisdom to know the difference…And sedation in the presence of morons.

I cannot change the minds of morons, but I steadfastly refuse to accept their word for the sake of serenity, for how could I peacefully live with myself if I did?

The following scriptural reference is not only apt but puts a nice, vitriolic tourniquet around this post:

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”  Ephesians 6:12

Thank You

military cemetaryStories of familial ties to the invasion of Normandy rarely brushed by our ears, but the couple times they did an indelible impression was left.

My grandfathers served, and participated, in the invasion; my father served in the Army and spent time in Europe. 

None of these men spent time holding us in their laps, spinning yarns about their contributions during the war. They didn’t make grand overtures about being American, rather they did what men and fathers do—focused on raising their families, taking care of life as it happened, not living in the past.

My ardor and love of country wasn’t something drummed into me as a child. We were taught respect for the flag, and for our country. We were taught that God belongs in the Pledge of Allegiance. Patriotism came practically through osmosis instead of indoctrination. 

Years of study and reading, in pursuit of quenching a thirst for knowledge, helped solidify my understanding of how and 

 we became Americans, of what it meant and what it still means. I didn’t learn my lessons on a battle field on in a foreign country while wearing my country’s uniform; books and lectures are dismally poor substitutes for flesh and blood.

But when my son enlisted in the Navy, and both times he swore his oath, he did so cloaked in a most dignified, heartfelt pride; Dad and I were present for both events, and though our perspectives on service are borne of two different spirits their collective sentiment gives breath to the same loyal affection, that of flesh and blood.

As I sat and watched, again, footage of the landings at Normandy on D-Day in June of 1944, and of new sailors on ships heading out into the Pacific toward Saipan, i am instantly confronted with a weighty question:

If my son were in a similar situation, knowing what I know of history, what would I say to him? 

What could I say to him?

Perhaps the best approach would be to reiterate our pride and support, and carry on as Americans invariably do . . . to do what’s right.

caveman using stone tool on rockMost readers of this blog will remember, with only the faintest nostalgia, the following watersheds along the timeline of communication and information dissemination:
・The pencil
・The pen
・Carbon copy paper
・Postage stamps (these are not relics . . . yet, although I am grateful for them because they helped put food in my belly, clothes on my back, and a roof over my head as a child)

With this small list in mind I offer the state of Arizona kudos for not only embracing some of them still, but also for its impressive efforts to encompass the breadth of human communication forms since chisel was first put to stone.

We are some years along since Al Gore invented the internet, and the web has offered us some disadvantages and some stunning efficiencies. Consider that we can not only download fillable PDF tax return forms but can electronically file those same documents, with no shortage of important personal information on them; in Arizona we can renew our vehicle registrations online, again with all the pertinent personal data in tow; we can manage our financial concerns online; and the whopper–the federal government has mandated that if you don’t have medical insurance you must sign up via the web and get it–this naturally requires a slew of personal information to be divulged.

There are no shortage of entities which can find us when it’s time for jury duty, send us gentle reminders if we miss a payment, or send any other marketing based upon our current residence and/or age.

No secret . . . we are ‘in the system’, each of us a statistical and numerical part of a brain-melting expanse of database.

So, given the aforementioned, I remain perplexed about the process for attaining a copy of ones birth certificate in Arizona.

It begins with a line. This is not unexpected. All state offices enjoy a good line. This line feeds one solitary public servant whose job is to dutifully sit in front of a computer terminal and look us up in ‘the system’. This fact alone should make the process practically state-of-the-art. But that would mean embracing efficiency and giving tradition the cold shoulder, and government loves tradition.

For the sake of tradition, they take my drivers license (another state-issued document with lots of personal data) and use a scanner to read the bar code on the back. Said servant then pulls a paper form and stamps it with the word “COUNTED,” unsettling in itself.

I am asked to fill out the form and wait for my number to be called; I think God does something similar.

Being no stranger to the digital paradigm I don’t carry a pen with me like I used to many (many) years ago. So I ask, “Do you have a pen?” She hands me the form . . . and a pencil. How quaint.

As I entered the building I could see others filling out forms with pencils, which triggered a series of grating texts to a friend:

“2014 and we have to wait in line to manually fill out a form”
“Christ, it’s practically the Stone Age here.”
“Excuse me, could I borrow your chiseled, pointy thing so I may chip out my info on this clay tablet?”
“How much more Cro-magnon could it get?”

“Feel better now?” she asks. Of course not, and I’m fairly certain she knows this and as any good friend would she patronizes me

“I’m wondering,” I begin again, “if I should use Cuneiform or early Arabaic.”
“Surprisingly, they actually use a verbal form of language communication here”
“I think grunts and rough gestures might be more in tune with the overall ambiance”

She’s come along for the ride, I can tell by her next reply. “Maybe you could move kinda ape-like to the window . . . grunting, of course.”

“That’s pretty funny!” I respond, “I’d do it if I didn’t think they’d deny my request.”

I take my early 17th century paper form–and pencil–and drag my knuckles to a table, whereupon the pencil lead actually breaks the moment I set it to paper. Seriously.

The form asks for all the same information on my license, the same info which I know damn well is staring them in the face on that terminal monitor. In addition they require you to actually fill in your credit card info on this form. Surprisingly, they don’t ask for the social security number, probably because they already have it?

I am pleasantly surprised by how short the wait time is until my number is called (not you, God, the vital records clerk). She, too, asks for my drivers license and the credit I want to use to pony up twenty friggin dollars for the copy of the certificate–$20! Perhaps I shouldn’t expect a happy ending, but at least a smile?

I can sense my annoyance meter slowly rising as I dig out the cards. The clerk at the first window already confirmed my identity and ‘counted” me, and my C/C info is on the stupid form. Why the hell do you need to see it, or, conversely, why must we write the number on the form if we’re going to give you the physical card anyway?


Okay. Whatever. I dole them over and she does her thing. I sign the credit slip, she staples it to yet another piece of paper and says “Take this to window 4.”

Window 4 is where the duplicate birth certificate is printed, from — wait for it — another computer terminal.

In case you’re wondering, in Arizona you can obtain a duplicate BC via mail, but they require the use of a carrier pigeon.

The American Heartbeat



The following text is from the body of a letter I sent to my son while in basic training for the Navy. I had been listening to my iPod and an old song titled American Heartbeat played. Something told me to sit down and write about what that meant to me, and it seemed relevant to what he is working for in his naval training. 

transparent div line 

We are not ancient Persia, nor Greece, nor Rome. We are many things: strong and weak, hustling and slack, demonstrative and passive. We are the siphon of human history. 

We have an empire, of sorts, but are not imperialistic. We are decidedly imperfect yet most often choose to pursue what is right rather than not. Say what you will about our character but our collective loyalty is ardent, durable and mighty.

Every civilization in recorded history has struggled with profound scars, has deliberated how best to cope with their weeping wounds in the context of their own times—Madame Blue, she is no exception. Grievous are her transgressions, yet she prefers not to turn her back on them. Her exertions are toward nobility, toward the minimizing of ignobility. 

When we call for help we answer it ourselves. We prefer action over whimpering. Earth rests beneath our feet yet we don’t just think about going to the stars . . .we innovate and then go there. We also sleep beneath the sparkle of heaven making it the province of our dreams.

We are fasces—as many individual reeds we are vulnerable, feeble, hesitant; bound together we are robust, tenacious, enduring.

Our pulse is fast and loud but if we are still for a moment, and truly listen across the chasms and erosion of volubility, we would find one voice, one nation, one majestic heartbeat.


American IdiotAs I type this we’re (Dad and I) cruising at approximately 29,000 feet above Oregon on our way to Los Angeles, our stopover before Phoenix. It’s a smaller aircraft, 2 seats per row. I’m obviously not aircraft savvy, but at least I possess a rudimentary knowledge of how our solar system functions—according to a recent survey I’m smarter than 1 out of four of you, and I take no great pride or pleasure in saying so, but more on that in a bit.

Simple probability tells me I am surrounded by a cadre of imbeciles.

I’ll begin my story/rant earlier this morning. Dad and I stopped in Redmond, OR to gorge on a delicious apple pancake–this at 6am local time. After placing our order we both scanned through the news headlines on our phones. Seems newspapers are becoming something of a relic, which is sad.

Anyhoo, he states, all of a sudden, that 1 in 4 Americans believes the Sun revolves around the Earth. As much as I can be at 6am, I’m stunned. But it’s early yet. I haven’t had any sustenance. The brain is consuming somewhere around 23% of my entire available energy just keeping the whole shootin’ match up and running while breakfast goodness bakes.

But the news takes root, like a stinkweed, and begins to fester.

Mom and dad would tell me “Let it go.” They’re right, I know. But I’m not fueled enough at this point to either let it go or truly cogitate upon it. This will happen, however.

Rant trigger: We begin the boarding process, and of course the airline makes the announcement that everybody better than you, those-who-shit-don’t-stink, get primary boarding privileges. Suckers! Once on board this tiny craft you become no more important than the rest of us chaff!

But it irritates me nonetheless. One ‘exceptional’ person boards before everyone else. He seemed a little ashamed, if his body language was any indication.

By this time said pancake and hot tea have had plenty of time to begin digesting and fueling greater bandwidth for irrational though.

We board the plane (fairly quickly, I might add . . . nice job, American!) and as I wait for all the pre-flight stuff to be completed the headline—which I subsequently saw in my own news reader—pops to the fore.

So I pull out the flight magazine and go to the puzzle section, trying to find a mental distraction. I don’t read it in any particular order and I alight upon number 5, on page 55; these puzzles are apparently presented by MENSA. The saving grace here is MENSA members are going to understand the true workings of our solar system, so my beef isn’t with them.


Number five reads: “A young childhood rhyme has been put into very fancy language. Can you put it back into everyday English?”

Let’s give this a go . ..

A very young girl with a very common name . . . Okay, I have it already. I’m really not that smart, but it’s a dead giveaway. Perhaps they’re throwing a bone to the one retard who thinks the sun revolves around the Earth.

possessed a rather uncommon pet . . . wow, MENSA has really let themselves go.

with a distinctly pigmented skin covering. This pet followed her on all occasions.

Really? This qualifies as MENSA sanctioned brain exercise? Jesus, I was educated in the Arizona public school system and even I got it! (no offense meant, Arizona, but your system doesn’t exactly rank among the best).

No damn wonder 25% of Americans think the Earth is flat (well, if you think the sun revolves around the Earth, what else am I to think?)

God, or Jesus, or whatever higher power may be reading this as I type, I ask, in advance, for forgiveness for the trespass I am about to commit.

So here’s the ugly but undeniable truth: If you believe the sun revolves around the Earth you are a certified moron. True story.

Look around you (if you’re somewhere other than home). Somebody within your view thinks our solar system is Earth-centric. They wouldn’t admit it of course. But you can probably bet good money they sleep better than you do because emptier heads sleep lighter than useful ones.

I am absurdly hopeful that anyone reading this comprehends words longer than 4 letters, although moron has five letters, I’ll give you that.

If you understood moron, and you believe the Sun revolves around the Earth, then I owe you more credit than I thought. That is impressive, most impressive. But it doesn’t change the fact that you’re a moron.

If I had to guess I’d say such gullibility is due to something Ben Kenobi would appreciate and exploit—a weak mind. You know the type, those who latch onto anything a more powerful mind (or collective body) tells them. I won’t name names, but a certain city-state in the Italian part of Europe comes to mind. Another group would be those who steadfastly believe that ‘teaching to the test’ is the way to a brighter America.

Flat Earth Society, indeed.

I could go on and on and offend more folks, but likely 1 of 4 wouldn’t get it anyway.

Thank God we have the other 3 to properly put planes in the air and make our buildings safe, to create workarounds that save the twenty-five per centers from any truly worthwhile process of thought. Without this demographic the Star and Enquirer would struggle mightily.

But MENSA might have found itself a fresh pool (if shallow) of new members.

A Certain Incompatiblility

Over 900 years ago the Crusades fizzled out . . . well, sorta. The Christians, Muslims, Jews, and whomever else was up for a fight spent a respectable chunk of history killing one another over whose beliefs were better than whose—essentially a playground brawl but with doctrinal rancor.

As I was rereading Ghosts of Vesuvius by Charles Pellegrino I came across this statement from Isaac Asimov: “…religion is incompatible with civilization.” Asimov referenced the Taliban, who, in 2001 came to our shores as if to prove, once and for all, that their beliefs (as Pellegrino points out, “extremist” and “intolerant”) are the gold standard for humanity and America must be the poster child for their modern crusade.

And yet that same idea, the mere thought and words, fly in the face of certain moral intuition. Many an act of kindness—dare I say, of civilization—was borne of these same ideals which organized religion try to espouse.

Clearly, evidence would seem to suggest the very statement “religion is incompatible with civilization” is nothing less than a solid truth. Religious prejudice is no modern phenomenon, history is crystal clear on that point. But even the least educated among us could likely point out examples where people of strong religious convictions have done much to improve civilization around them; again, history illustrates this as well. I could prattle on about hope in its mythological context, or even in the biblical construct, but I think that would belabor the point.

To me this question of incompatibility boils down, as many things do, to the individual. An individual has a choice (at least in a democracy). Not so much in a theocracy, or perhaps any other ‘-cracies’. Reduce this concept down just a little further and see that each of us are born with a moral compass. The flaws of humankind are not small, however, and such a compass is easily corrupted. To wit, James Madison wrote “If men were angels government would not be necessary.”

Though many religions claim to be superior to others, to my knowledge there is no mandate by Providence that man or humankind must accept or affirm any single sort of structured, organizational sense of religion. Sure, certain sects boldly declare that God has, in fact, deemed all prior belief systems bunk and theirs is the chosen group. i still can’t bend my mind around so many sects believing in essentially the same Power of Nature, and yet having the stones to say their belief is the only real way to save ones soul.

Religion, as a system of ritual and communication, has throughout history served as both an emissary of good and a deliverer of unspeakable evil and cruelty. But the conduit for such delivery has always been mankind. If indeed there is a God, the preponderance of historical evidence would suggest that at some point He threw his hands in the air and let us continue to fight it out like tempestuous, argumentative children.

Given religion’s innate inclination to be a force of good, can it actually be said that religion is incompatible with civilization? Perhaps it is simply the other way around.

Twixt The Sky And The Soul

light through forest treesFar above the clouds we’ve seen, beyond the purview of the stratosphere and troposhpere, the cloak of the universe wraps itself around us at a temperature barely above absolute zero Kelvin.

If God is out ‘there’ in a frozen vacuum then perhaps it makes sense that evil chooses to reside alongside us, where flesh is warmed by our nearest star and spilled blood dries and stains the earth it once lived upon.

How could any incarnation of beauty and purity, of salvation and hope, possibly prevent—much less allow—innocent children to be sacrificed as prodigal lambs at the hands of something so vile and inhumane?

Why would our “God,” as Obama said yesterday, “call to him” those twenty innocent children? I believe they will find their own place in heaven, but I can no more supplant iniquity than I can explain why benevolence would decree violence upon children.

Evil, or any other explicate of a dark nature, is not only inherent to Nature itself but necessary; it provides an uneasy balance, a discord which, perhaps, acts to keep our moral compass properly tuned. But unspeakable evil is a matter which the living can only struggle to conceive of . . . unless one is the embodiment of such fathomless depravity.

The breathable atmosphere which we rely upon for our very existence is but roughly 3 miles above our heads, if that. The processes which create clouds and rain, wind and vivid sunsets, are as wondrous as the glorious space that expands forever in all directions above our little shell.

Perhaps up there, out where mankind continues to pursue answers to profound questions, is Paradise. Perhaps this existence is our close brush with Hell. If peace is ever to be achieved then it must be found within . . . not without.

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