Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Science Does or Does Not Advance Soceity?

Last post I wrote about a certain type of mental illness, Borderline Personality Disorder. Mental illness is a label given to the individual by psychological science. Psychological science has "defined" what is normal or abnormal behavior and developed a system that defines what is proper behavior in society. Deviant behavior is labeled as socially disturbing and undermining.

Interestinly enough, some who have been labeled with Manic Depressive Disorder are known to be the most creative and productive individuals throughout history. A prominent psychologist from a major research institute revealed her own "diagnosis" and then revealed how many "creative spirits" would have been "eliminated" by the "system" if medical science had medicated them. These were well know writers such as, Emerson, Dickinsom and painters, such as van Gogh, Rembrandt, and artists such as Beethovan. Creators of many of our "great humanitites". What would the world be like without their contributions?

But, what about moral reformer and revolutionaries, which circumvented the "norm" for something of higher value? These reformers were not seen as society's supporters, as these were ones who saw a more universalized way of understanding the world, tradition, society, and culture. These were usually killed by those they sought to reform or change. These would have been labelled by sociologists as deviants.

The previous blog entry got me thinking about the film I saw about this subject and it made me wonder of what us is medicating those whose "disease" "helps" their creative bent. Most of the geniuses of the past have been deviant in one way or another.

I hope somehow to resolve in my thinking how social norms and values, which are important, at the same time, undermine some of the ones amongst us that would otherwise contribute greatly. How can we know?

Borderlines or Border Lines?

Border lines define boundaries. And boundaries define "self", others, social groups, and nations. Boundaries are maintained by the "laws" or "rules" . These rules or laws define what is "approved" or "disapproved". These laws and rules maintain the identity and values of a certain "culture".

In American culture, where the individual is "free", the group identifiers are as many as there are types of people. This leaves room for the individual to find a place where personal values are upheld and the individual can give back in the place where the culture is condoning of those personal values.

Border lines are therefore, important as they define identity and formulate what is of ultimate value. But, borderlines are a different matter. Borderlines are defined by their personality disorder. Borderlines fear abandonment, reject before they are rejected, use self destructive and mutilating behavior to affirm their self hatred and low self-esteem. They flucuate their ideation and disgust of others, which hinders intimacy, and have tendencies toward implusivity. These people feel "bad" and empty. They lack a definitive identity, as they have lacked the nurturance that develops identity, so trust is of uptmost importance for these.

So, how do social structures that define themselves by their rules and laws "help" define the borderline, when the borderline themselves, feel as if they don't fit, or fear abandonment and rejection without any reasonable reason?

It is imperative that those in the public spheres of influence are informed about the generalities of mental illness, so that they do not exasparate the problem within these individuals. Individuals with certain mental illnesses need medication, counselling, and "help", not condemnation and criticism.

I find that the Church sometimes does nothing to help these individuals, as fundmentalists do not adhere to psychological science. Fundamentalists deny that any reality is real, except the spiritual. These live in denial and hinder others from embracing reality and taking responsibility for their life.

It is imperative in this day and age, that we take advantage of what modern science has given us. We should not live in the Dark Ages when we had no options available to us. And we should never ostericize, criticize, or condemn what we don't understand.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Conforming Tradition

Those who subscribe to social construction must understand how tradition "works", so that a successful re-definition can be accomplished. Re-defining tradition is important to bring about transformation. The question today is what is tradition's role, when science is understanding human development in such a way that undermines the prominent role of tradition in past centuries.

Tradition, in the past, when there were hierarchal understandings of government, brings about "hope" to oppressed people, by giving a future judgment to the injustices suffered today. The "constructors" of tradition (theologians/philosophers) also use "moral modelling" to give a "vision of life", so that moral example can be followed. These images, whether real historical figures, or mythical ones are literary devices that "conform" the individual to group norms and values. Because these cultures are hierarhcal in governing, the "role model" is one of personal sacrifice. The personal sacrifice of one class for another is the moral model for an aristocratic class, which is what "inspired" Luther to bring about the Reformation in questioning the Church authorities. Tradition is not based on democratic ideals. The book of Hebrews in the Christian scripture and "The Chronicles of Narnia" are two examples of these types of Christiaan literature.

The social sciences are revealing that men develop through the use of education, where critical thinking is valued and helps the individual to come to terms with his own values, apart from traditional conformity. This is not to say that tradition will not become a dominant value to one such educated, as the indiviudal must determine for himself what is of ultimate concern. But, it does mean that the individual could leave tradition's role and re-define himself according to his own personal interests and values.

Traditional cultures depend on religion to maintain their identification and define values. These values are interpreted by religious authorities that rule and dominate another's conscience and choice. These cultures do not value freedom in any form, as freedom of information through academia, the media, and life choice would undermine tradition's role of dominance and determination, which would limit and undermine the aristocrat in their purpose of maintaining "social order", whether the "aristocrat" is a political or religious leader.

Is Religion "Necessary"?

A Call to Uniformity?

I had the radio on, while I was doing some "chores" today and heard an "annonymous" call to consider the social /communal, instead of the individual. This irked me, because it "calls others to the table, when the table is already set". Predetermination is not a value of American ideals in individual liberties of conscience. Paternalistic and patronizing ways of understanding one's social obligation and concern "rub me the wrong way", because it is presumptive of what "should be" of ultimate concern to the individual!

What ultimately is the "outcome" of such a "call" of concern? A uniformity of vision. A "moral obligation". A "religious duty". All subvert independece, liberty and creativity.

Much has been said about America's "universal" ideology, which is true. But, those whose commitment is to the "greater good" of humanity are not affirming of individual nation-states, but a globlaized "one world". How can American ideals be universal, while America holds to a sovereign right to maintain their own boundaries/securities/interests, and yet, maintain the "moral high ground"?

The religious have 'played into the hands" of these globalists for the "sake of humanity or God". These use terms like "building God's Kingdom", "missional", "communal", 'worldview", world changers", etc. focus on "wholistic understanding". These are rational in their commitments, but they call also for postmodernity's "localism", contextualizing the universal into specificities. This is the understanding of the universal and particular.

I think the height of immorality and injustice is limiting individuality in choice and liberty of conscience and conviction. Traditions do not adhere to such liberties, as they demand comformity of opinion and conviciton and commitment. They gauge each individual by the definitions of the "approved" authority. These authorities seek to bring about a uniform and unified "vision" of " god" or "purpose". There is no diversity in such groups, only conformity. So, beware of the rationalists who "use" relgion as a means of accomplishing ends that subvert individual liberties.

Order or Rights?

Government exists to maintain order, while rights defend the human. Human rights are only acknowledged within governments that allow difference, liberty of conscience, and dissention. These rights are granted to Americans in their "Bill of Rights".

So, while order, structure, law, and authority are necessary to protect society, these aspects of society are to be open to change, evaluation, scrutiny, accountability and dissent. Otherwise, the government becomes oppressive, dictatorial and limiting of human freedom.

Scientific Understanding and Morality

On "Exploring Our Matrix", there was a blog entry which correlated Scripture's "strong and week" to those who believe in evolutionary thinking. It was argued that using Galatians or Romans depended on which one was using the argument. But, a response in the comment section argued that arguing for or against circumcision, a religious rite, was not to be compared to the science/religion debate. The science/religion debate is based on "fact", whereas, circumcision is based on "faith".

In the context of a religious community, the science/religion argument as to the strong would stand, whereas, generally, it would not. Scripture is not to be used as a proof-text against "knowledge" in general, as the fundamentalist argue, as this would take the individual books of scripture out of original context.

Scientific understanding are based on the facts of reason and not on faith, although one can adhere to faith in reason's understanding, without upholding an allegience to reason's understanding in an absolute sense. Reason's understanding is always historically bound, because science is always enlarging our understanding and our views. We have to revise and re-formulate what and how we believe and understand. This re-formulation and revision is part of growth, intellectually and morally.

Behavior, which is based on understandings of morality, is understood within a certain context. Different denominations understand faith differently (beliefs), and therefore, behavior is understood within that context. Each denomination uses "reason" to understand and defend a specified way of "seeing". And membership in a particular denomination means that one "belongs".

In our open and free society, we understand that one's view of behavior is limited by the laws that define what is "right or wrong". These laws are "hammered out" in Congress or decided by our "Supreme Court". We are a people because we are defined by the "rule of law" and not the Divine Right of Kings.

It is first and foremost important to uphold freedom of conscience, because without it, we will limit another's freedom, which may just as well limit the basis of our society. The difficulty facing the West today is how does one uphold our liberal democratic ideals, when certain religious fundamentalists want to subvert liberty for another. Where do civil liberties end without undermining the basis of society itself?

The discussion is a two-edged sword. How do you define liberty and law?

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Origins Are Difficult But Are Necessary Means of Identification

Origins are difficult for most subjects and peoples. Some people find that geneology is of uptmost importance because one's pedigree shows one's roots. And roots show connection. Connection is about belonging. Instead of looking at one's individual geneology, others look to one's historical context, whether that be a specific nation or religion. Men seek to understand where and how they belong.

Family connections are useful for identifiers. As the child grows to understand and expand in his knowledge, the child comes to choose where he will belong. Will he remain within his familial context, or will he find a different "place" of belonging?

Some find their identity in their religion. These have committed because of "conversion experiences", or cultural upbringing. Religious identification are a means of coming to terms with one's need to "belong".

Still, others find meaning in their discipline of choice. These have a passion to know in depth and understand a certain subject of knowledge. These also have a "fraternity" of sorts.

Every human alive needs to belong, as only in belonging is there a sense of "being". Humans define themselves according to their greatest values. And these values define where one's commitment will be in vocation.

Belonging to a defined group also affirms certain beliefs, which are the chosen group's identifying boundary markers. These define the person's understanding of themselves within the group, as well as defining what is the expected behavior that represents the group's ideals.

Democracy does not have specified boundary markers. Democracy lends itself to various ways of group identification. Therefore, the individual is free to choose the path of his own values.

Belief, belonging and behavior all are "sign posts" that help the individual to function within a framework. All are needful for the individual to find meaning and purpose.

Some unfortunate souls are under the compulsion of others to define themselves by other's definitions. It is only in a democracy that one can fulfill one's dreams without compulsion from the outside, but from passion within.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Isn't It Interesting?

What do you find interesting?

It disturbs me that people want to know so much about other people's private lives. Do they not have enough to keep them occupied? Instead they snoop and investigate others, read everything they can get their hands on. Is thier life so boring, that they must "live" through another's life?

After hearing of the "confession" of Gov. Sandford the other day, I had the radio on. The talk radio host went into detail about the e-mails sent back and forth between the Governor and his mistress. I felt so sorry for everyone involved, as it was really no one's business what the "details" were. And the ones wagging their finger in the face of Sanford, are the very ones listening to all the "details". (I guess listening the legitimate news sources makes such revelations okay...)

There is something so sinister about how many of us want to give no one else room to "be" and live their lives in peace and quiet. I wonder if celebrity is worth the "costs" of giving up one's private life.

Now, we have questions concerning Michael Jackson's death. I don't mind or think that it is "immoral" to talk about how a celebrity grew up or became famous, but it goes a little over the line to hear the constant barage or speculative and suggestive scenarios.

I like to hear information about what our leaders are doing and what they believe, but I find that their private life, unless revealed by consent is really nothing other than stealing their "life" from them. It is a form of voyerism.

On the other hand, if something is revealed that involves public interest and would hinder someone's ability to carry out his official duties, then it is the public's business. Accountability should be within the bounds of responsibility. Public should remain public, whereas, private life is best left to private areas of religious or social connections (unless it involves some criminal activity.)

Though I believe that political opinions are open game to discuss in the public square, where does one draw a line when something is "revealed" that shows a leader's "clay feet"? Do we ever give room for the leader to be "human", to have frailities, to have questions, or do leaders have to lead a "perfect" life in however that is defined in a particular context?

I feel for celebrities, politicians, and leaders of all kinds, as there is no way to please everyone. So there will be someone that will be critical.

Leaders, live your life, yes, in responsible commitment to the ideals you believe in and remind yourselves that it is only the small minded that have no room to grow beyond filling their minds with "life".

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Do We Have a Right to Exist?

Much has been promoted in the media about "social justice", humanitarian aid, and "moral concern" for those without opportunity. Although these are ideals that most people assent to, is it practical? The real world must define itself. And definitions are not inclusive, as diversity limits one's ability to exclude. Without boundaries, no individual, group, or nation can exist. Therefore, definition is important.

Social justice has been suggested for "all people" or humanity at large. But, while liberalism promotes inclusion, it limits the boundary of definition and dissolves difference, which practical policy issues demand.

One of the major areas of policy facing our nation for the last decade has been the issue of immigration. Should immigrants have the same advantages that a citizen does, in the name of "human rights"? Where does a sovereign nation deserve the right to discriminate in making policy decision based on the best interest of the nation? And where do national interests, such as national security trump expediency, outcome and limitations to resources for our own people? And where does national security trump "human rights"?

These are not easy questions to resolve, in light of our nation's ideals and beliefs about natural rights.

It seems obvious if we give healthcare to those who have not shown a desire to "bear the burden" of our countrie's interests by becoming a citizen and learning the language, then we, the people, bear the burden alone. And we are dooming ourselves to subvert our cultural interests of freedom.

While in Europe, the European Parliament held elections. The Dutch, who are known to be the most tolerant of all countries, voted Gert Wilders into office. He respresented the "Freedom Party" which promotes Dutch national interests. As a whole, all European nations were swinging back to conservative policies, at a time when globalism is trying to 'win the day'.

Gert Wilders has spoken out aggressively against the immigration of those whose culture is undermining his own. In fact, he was invited and dis-invited to the British Parliment to present his film concerning Islam. Our country invited him to present his film before Congress, which I hope has made an impact and impression about the costs of tolerance.

Last year, my husband and I went to a science and religion conference in Madrid. The conference was on Choice, Free Will, and Tolerance. How does a culture that adheres to diversity (tolerant) allow choice and free will to the intolerant?

Policy demands answers and solutions to real problems. Policy problems do not solve themselves. We must address these issues theoretically and practically, if we want our nation's interests to survive an onslaught of exclusive religious claims! Otherwise, we WON'T have a right to exist!

The Atrocious Injustice of Jesus' Life

Jesus is known to the Christian community to be exemplary of "faith". Various affirmations of his life have defined the Christian community from the literalization of his death as an atoning sacrifice to an exempliary life lived in service to others.

I find that generally the upholding of Jesus life as an example, whether of faith or "duty" can be useful for social purposes. But, if one thinks about what justice should mean, his life was the epitome of injustice. Shouldn't men be interested in justice for the individual?

Jesus lived his life under obedience, first and foremost to "God". "God" decided for him what was to be done and how it was to be done. This is known as Jesus' "Passion". It was not Jesus' will, but God's that was of uptmost importance. Is martyrdom the necessary "duty" of the "faithful"? I think this is absurd and subverts the understanding of justice in a modern society, where justice is known to be for the individual's right to choose, and be free from such conforming and "unjust""standards".

Those who suggest that Jesus' life was one historical life among many that have changed the world, are more realistic and grounded. Theology has served the pusposes of the Church's self-interest. Nothing is wrong with self-preservation, but not at the expense of others, as this is the height of immoraility. People must be free to be informed and know what their life is to be committed to. And this is the "ideal" of justice in a free society.

American Values Re-Defined

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness are the "ideals" of our Founding Fathers. While these are still the values of the American people, what do they really mean?

Life is about survival. All humans need to survive and the basis of our life is to "compete" for survival. This is what our capitalistic system is based upon, "survival of the fittest". We have grown and enlarged our economy, but have limited others their "right to life", because they were "not fit". What is to be the solution?

Liberty is about opportunity. Opportunity to grow, become and choose. Liberty is not the life of all, when economic disadvantages limit choices and hinder opportunities to belong. What is the solution?

The "Pursuit of Happiness" only belongs to those who have the liberty of life. Many do not have these advantages because of personal limitations, or domination. The individual must have these opportunities, but how?

The Democrats have suggested that government is the answer to all social problems. But, dependence on government does nothing to help other "become fit". How does government help without encouraging dependence?

Republicans have affirmed personal responsibility, which has helped the individual to "become" and take their own responsibility without blaming others.

While the Republicans affirm the values of personal accountability, the Democrats affirm social responsibility. Which is of importance? Both.

Because both affirm certain values that are important for society to flourish, why have there been no more choice in our political parties? It seems that in Europe there are more distinctives, and perhaps, this would be a way to help the public to become more engaged in politics, if there were more nuances in different political parties. Instead, we see "black and white", with no shades of gray. Shades of gray are important to develop a more discriminating political view and help further the political debate, which, I think, would help our country as a whole.

Corruption and Compromise in High Places

The news is filled with the downfall of many of our leaders and we yawn. Our democracy is only as strong as the leaders' commitment to value the ideals of our Founding Fathers. Some believe that without personal character, these ideals will be compromised. Others suggest that even our Founders were immoral in certain areas of their lives. Does it matter?

A leader has a relationship of some kind to those he leads. Trust is of major importance in any relationship. For if trust is broken, those that follow are hesitant or questioning the leader's "vision". The question is, "Is trust based on the lifestyle and example of the leader or the ideals ("vision") of the leader"?

Conservatives believe that there must be congruency in one's life. One's ideals cannot be disconnected from one's character. This seems to be why conservatives are "inspected" by the media and others with more scrunity. Hypocrisy is not the "ideal" of anyone for leadership.

Liberals seem to have more room to "fail" in their personal lives, with little or no consequence. Liberals disconnect thier private life from their public "vision". People seem to accept this separation, for the most part, for America likes to protect their private life from public scrutiny.

The separation of the private and public sector is what the separation of Church and State was based upon. One's personal convictions about morals did not impinge upon one's public "ideals". How can we trust that if a man "compromises" on his most intimate relationship, that he will "stay true" in other matters of public interest? The "game" has become one of "hide and seek". If one can "cover up" thier private indiscretions from the media, then "all is well". American freedom has become American license.

Though I believe that one's personal commitments do illustrate commitment to the public interests, I do not believe that dissolving the line between the public and private sector in public affairs is the way to build public welfare.

Just last night the President gave his "vision" for healthcare reform. We have seen and heard this all before. It is nothing new. But, those who are finding their monetary resources at an all time low, and wondering how to meet their debts are "open targets" for this kind of propaganda. We have been warned that those who hold debt, will inevitable be enslaved to the debt holders. But, America continues to live on 'credit" and dismiss the warning of our Founder's wisdom.

Why am I concerned about another government takeover of healthcare? Healthcare accounts for one of the highest areas of our GNP. Government beauracracies can "hide" many outrageous expenses, which are useful for those in government to create their own "business" at public expense (taxes). We have seen how contractors charge the government outrageous prices for government "needs". The tax-payer foots the bill.

My son told me that while we were in Europe, Glenn Beck featured a story about 134.5 Billion dollars of our government bonds being confiscated at the Italian border. No one seems to know if these bonds are conterfeit, if the two Japanese are being held, or why these bonds were being smuggled across the Italian border. The Treasury Department seems to be unconcerned, as they have "investigated" by looking at the bonds on the internet! Why has this news story been suppressed? There are many "imanginative scenarios".

What has a public servant, healthcare and American bonds have in common? American interests! The interest of the American people should be the concern of the public servant.

Healthcare cannot be "invested" in the government without public accountability through stock-holders that have interests that are open to public scrunity. We are, after all, a government "for the people and by the people", not a government "for the people, by the government".

American bonds are a sacred trust of public interests in American economic viability. Certainly, the media would hold public servants accountable for such a large (1%) of our GNP and investigate and inform the American people! Or is there a "cover-up" of the American government about our real economic "problems"? Are we indebted to countries that hold our values? Or are we going to be enslaved to those who want to rule us by tyranny?

No one is above "falling" morally, but if we do not hold leadership for their failures, then we will never be able to trust our government. Unfortunately, trust has been broken for so long, that we have become cynical about our government and most American's don't even listen or care about what is happening.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Identities, Faith and Such...

Identities are known to be "attached" to something. A fully developed and functioning "self" has come to understand itself within a framework of values that are of utmost importance. These values hold the "key" to understand what motivates the person to action and is what the personal identity is "attached to".

Children "attach" their identities to their "important other". Their "self" is understood only in relationship to another whose opinion and desires they seek to please. Parents are of utmost importance in the early stage of the developing ego. But, parental "images" continue in Christian understandings of faith. Reason does not define faith, but trust does. This is an infantile stage of ego development.

Young adults must be allowed the freedom to choose for themselves for what their "attachments" will be. Will their attachments be to their social group of origin, whether that be defined by religious/cultural/familial or will they find a separation of their identity because of "reasonable" reasons? The difference is based on whether one thinks that man is a "thinking self" or a "relational self". I don't think the answer is going to be an "either/or". Man is a thinking, as well as a social animal. And each individual will have variances of these tendencies.

Some have suggested that without content, faith has no value. This may be the case for some. The political has a lot to do with how the social is understood. The political is about power. Power was not the position of the early Christians, for the most part. Therefore, wouldn't it be reasonable to assume that faith was a "crutch" to defend the identity of those whose identities had be stolen by those in power?

Democracy allows the "self" to develop beyond the infantile dependent stage of childhood. Freedom of information, and the individual's self determination of choice are important values to uphold in "helping" the individual to develop fully. Tribalisitc mentality leads nothing to critical thinking, but a dependent attitude of helplessness that mimics another's values, instead of coming to terms with their own unique identity. This is why American values of "life, liberty and the pusuit of happiness" is of ultimate value for anyone who believes in the individual and the individual's "right to exist".

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Power Politics and Freedom of Information

Knowledge is power and if you can keep others from knowing what is going on behind the scenes, then the people in the know can thrawt the social contract. I hope there are people aware of what is going on in our country to hold others accountable and not allow power to rule access to knowledge about our nation's business.

Social contract is the result of negotiating interests, coming to terms with differences, giving equal respect between employer and employee. A contract is a binding agreement of known variables. Our representatives are to represent the electorate's interests, not their own interests. But, it seems that sometimes interests collide and this is what power politics determines, who wins the argument. but, these arguments cannot be had, if power limits the discussion in the first place.

Social contract is based on democratic ideals, where reason is the cash of discussion. Woe be to those who live in societies where freedom of information is limited and power determines "what will be". We will no longer be free, but enslaved to those who think they do "what's right", because they are "in the know".

Political Problems Will Always Exist

The news headlines for a few weeks have featured Iran's elections and peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

Elections are a "right"in free societies. But, human rights are ignored in regimes that do not want or allow individual freedom of choice. There is a belief in Iran that the elections were rigged. Certain "kidnappings" have occurred to the ones supporting the opposition party, even though the law supports the right to voice difference. Rigged elections do not allow the "voice" to the individual or certain groups that differ in political agenda. This is not an unusual occurance, as power is hard to over-ride in these regimes, as there are no "checks and balances" as in our government.

I have become concerned recently at the large number of powerful posistions that this adminstration has "appointed" without accountability to the electorate. Is this a step to undermine our Constitutional government, as a representative republic?

This morning it was reported that Israel has offended the Palestianians with certain absolute non-negotiables, such as Israel's right to the land granted to them as a state and the right to Jerusalem. It seems that the Palestianians are forced to maintain a tribal identity, as they do not have a nation state that identifies their legitimacy. Personal identity is associated with one's nation, as well as familial culture.

I do not know the answer to this one, as there are conflicting stories about who has the right to Jerusalem and why and where boundaries should be established in maintaining borders between the two peoples. Without a country and home, the Palestianians do not have a "voice". But, terrorism and violence is not the answer or solution to resolve these tensions.

It seems that the persecuted "need" resolution of their denied identity by restitution of those who have limited their identity. This action affirms their "right to life and liberty" and their pursuit of happiness. Many countries granted that right to the Jews in granting them a nation and granting them a right to their own land. How are we to negotiate between two persecuted parties, who continue to persecute the "other"?

Rational choice has been useful in bringing about peace in many instances to conflicting countries, but generations of conflict over interests do nothing to make the way clear for "hearing" the other and compromising or negotiating. Emotions have become attached to certain "bulwarks" of conflict that make these stumbling blocks hard, if not impossible, to overcome.

The real world does not act based on compassion, goodness, and understanding, but on interests. Interests are not "right or wrong", just different. Justice is bringing about a equal hearing and coming to terms with the ultimate issue concerning conflict. Therefore, it behooves all of us to be aware of what our interests are and base our negotiation on what we are willing and unwilling to compromise.

Personalities, Friendship and Hospitality

Just last evening two friends dropped in unexpectedly. I loved that they decided to do so, as it "says" a couple of things to me that I think are important. They thought that they would be "welcome" and my heart would be "open". It is nice that they thought so "highly" of me, besides the fact that they wanted to see me. It was a nice visit, as I hadn't seen one of them in a year. We needed to share the events in our lives. The visit got me thinking about the friends and family we saw in Europe and it made me smile.....over the differences in personalities and in how they showed their hospitality!

One friend, Fritz, is so outgoing that he greeted me with a bear hug, continued squeezing my arms as he kissed me on each side of the face three times and told me "how beautiful I was"! I told my husband that that would not be a bad greeting ever so often :)! He is a friend of my husband's since before junior high days and they were part of a motocycle "club" of their own making. Soon after arriving, Fritz took us to "scout out" his local town. He treated us to ice cream and we went back to meet his daughter, Iris. Iris has just graduated from high school and was to take her examinations to enter Cambridge to study English and literature. She wants to teach in Japan. She loves Japanese culture and hopes to meet a Japanese man. It was a delight to talk with her. She has made an impact on her father, as well. Fritz has taken an interest in her interest of reading and it was interesting to share their "experiences" in reading around the dinner table. Trus, Fritz's wife, had made lasagna, in honor of our upcoming trip to Italy.

We visited Chris in his Swiss chalet overlooking the Alps! We had heard about this chalet for over 30 years, as Chris was my husband's room-mate while getting their Ph.Ds. He teaches Physics 3 days a week in the French-speaking side of Switzerland, although he was brought up in the Italian speaking side. But, he spoke Swiss German to his sister, who we also met, after hearing of her for many years! I had to grin as I watched the two of them discuss "metaphysics". It was like old times, as if time hadn't passed at all. But, then, my husband started abruptly speaking Dutch! I sat there not knowing if Chris understood everything or not. He was cooking "sheep meet" over an open fire. When I interrupted my husband to ask if he was aware of his change of language, we all laughed. We were blessed as we awoke the next morning to a sliding glass door view of the snow covered Alps with evergreens all around! The chalet sits at one of the highest passes in the Swiss Alps! It was breath-taking. When I mentioned how beautiful the view was and why anyone would want to save that room as the guest room, Chris' sister, Ursala, said that she had given her room to us! I was touched.

When we arrove back from Italy, we went to see another old friend from my husband's motorcyle club, Aad. He and his wife talked about European politics, business, and our children. They took us to a charming local resturant and we were grateful for their picking up the tab. It is so interesting to get another side of the story in political/cultural/social issues and these friends have always obliged us with good conversation and stimulating discussion.

My husband's family was no less hospitable. We stayed while in the Netherlands with his sister and brother in law. They had just moved into a high rise, and tho they had less space than usual, but made space for us. They travelled with us throughout Italy and we enjoyed their company. Rob tends to sing in the morning, as he is a morning person. The rest of us are not! But, I always had to smile when I heard him in a nearby shower stall singing away. We have a family joke about Rob's singing a "Fa" (a brand name soap and shower products) song while we camped as a family with them in France many years ago.

Even though we experienced many hospitable people throughout our time in Europe, I was most touched by my husband's graciousness as we travelled back through Germany to the Netherlands. We stopped at a nice hotel outside of Rottenburg off the "Romantic Road". We had stopped in Rottenburg about 19 years ago, when my husband attended a conference in southern Germany. He had wanted to "experience" this again with me, and reminisce, as well a express his gratitude for my "living" in a pup tent and cooking over a camp stove for the past three weeks while travelling in Italy. I was hungry, so he wanted to accompany me to the hotel's resturant, where the view would have taken anyone's breath away. But, because he had not been feeling well and had had a high fever for a few nights, I insisted that he not sit with me. We resolved the problem with room service. So, I enjoyed a nice meal while watching CNN. My husband slept. This is normal for my "tender" husband. And it showed his open heart towards me. I was blessed.

So, our trip to Europe this time was a double blessing, as we got to visit in the individual homes, instead of meet in a "pub". And we delighted over each person's unique way of expressing their hospitality. I loved it and them.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

An American's View of Value

While my husband and I were in Europe, our youngest son was sworn into the U.S. military. We value the military for its commitment to democracy and upholding and protecting our Constitution, under the authority of our president. But, our values were not the value in most of the European friends and family that we know and I begin to question why this was so....

While sitting with some European friends at dinner, we were sharing about our children and when we shared that our son was going into service, the wife questioned how I felt about that. I sat quietly, at first, as I weighed what I would say. And then, I compared service to the military with the husband's job at Phillips. Although one may not agree to every decision that is made by company managers, there is an overall agreement and upholding of company values and vision. This was similar to anyone that wanted to serve their country in the military.

Our country's values of "ordered liberty" is a value that we take for granted. We must not take these freedoms for granted, but be indebted to our fore-fathers for forseeing what the costs would be if there was no protection of these values.

All of the Europeans that we spoke to and we questioned about the European Paraliment could not give us a concrete vision or purpose for its establishment. Granted that there must be a way to order the vast differences of the individual European countries. The problems have resulted in unification at the sacrifice of individual identity. And this is one reason why Switzerland has not joined the European Union.

Our son's life is being committed to the values we have upheld for him, because we believe that all men are created equal, not in aptitude, but in innate being, as a human being. Human dignity is the basis of human rights, which some religious do not value. We should not apologize for these values, for they represent the highest form of moral order. We tolerate the intolerant at our detriment and our demise. How do we protect those who do not know they "need" protection, or do not value liberty, because they have not experienced it? I don't know, but I am so thankful to have had the freedom that we have in America.

Americans, and anyone who values individuality should uphold American government and defend its ideals. Our family has given their lives for these ideals to be protected and we think this is of ultimate value!

Friday, June 12, 2009

"Angels and Demons", Comments and Personal Opinion

My husband and I went to see " Angels and Demons" yesterday. We had heard the story a few years ago on CDs, while on our travels and he enjoyed it so much, he wanted to make sure we saw it before it left our local theatre.

We really enjoyed the movie and I would highly recommend it. It's theme is one that my husband has had interest in all his life, science and religion, but this movie does not ground its message in science fiction, so much as probable real life scenarios of "church history".

It was interesting not only for its content and acting, but because we just were in Rome and were at the very same locations as the film depicted. I think whenever real life experience intersects fiction, the fiction seems to present a "reality" that is confirmed by the person's ability to identify with the 'fiction". This is what is experienced in "conversion", as the stories of Scripture are translated by the person's experience. But conversion is not unlike any identification to other sources of literature that teach human tendencies, and moral dilemmas. Literature is a means of communicating and uniting us, as humans.

Reason is situated within a context of personal history itself and promotes the hermenuetic. On the other hand, those who adhere to a more ideological understanding of "truth", dismiss this aspect of personal experience/history, ignore "other realities", or behave in an irrational manner, because it "fits" within their particular hermeneutic of "truth". (Of course, in human relations, "irrational" is defined within its own context).

The priest in the movie, "Angels and Demons", was trying to protect the Church from science. His "ideological" commitment was not void of personal history in understanding the Church's nurturing influence in his own life. This was his "truth". In trying to protect God and the Church, he became a person who lacked integrity. He thought that science's discoveries had undermined the authority of the Church by undermining the Church's message. He wanted to continue to promote the diconnect between the sacred and the secular, so that the Church and God could continue to remain behind the "veil of faith", without engaging the real world in scientific endeavor.

We all have "commitments". Some of these are not consciously acknowledged, until they are challenged. We should not be upset by challenges, for anyone that seeks after truth, continues to do so, as it is a lifelong endeavor, that has many avenues. We will never come to the end of it.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Mulling Over Many Things....And "Coming to Terms" With None....

My husband and I just got back from visiting friends and family in Europe. I love Europe's beauty, diversity, and history, but will maintain my loyalty to the values of "unity and diversity" within my own country, the U. S. A. More specifically, my sis and bro in law accompanied us on this trip, to see some sights in Italy, which was an educational experience, as well, as familial fellowship.

I will have to say that there were so many things that impressed me (from art in the Sistine Chapel ; to an inteview on CNN of the famous fashion designer, Prada; to a movie I saw on the way home, "New In Town"). I will have to take the time to process them all. And as I do, as always, I will write.

I think humans are made to "think on these things", and in doing so, grow in understanding of
"what matters" and how to evaluate concepts that affect one's life. This brings wisdom in knowing what to do and how to respond in different situations, as history is a "teacher" of wisdom.

I am sorry to say that many do not think that "thinking" is valuable, as they understand faith to be a variance with "reason". That is fine, as long as they maintain their irrationality within their specific "sect" and do not disturb the rest of us.

Science cannot be devoid of beauty, but how is beauty to be "a science"? Beauty, as well as science, points beyond itself to another realm that has always mystified. Man has sought to understand this realm in many ways, and man's understanding of faith has evolved over the eons of time.

The individual, also "evolves", or grows, in "coming to terms" with what is true, good and beautiful. These are the concepts that define the individual's values and goals. These "concepts" cannot be confined to any one realm of understanding, but are representative of the "whole" concept in understanding.

I will continue to ponder as I live and move and have my being. I think we need more ponderers, how about you?