Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Don't Talk to Me About "Spirit"!

On another blog site it was questioned whether "God was able to speak" to the individual. I used to believe so, but have made my commitment to doubt it, because of the horrendous atrocities I have seen and experienced in such a claim!

 How can those that  "have a personal relationship to God" be distracted from what they deem to be "true"? It is subjectivism to the extreme. But, it is personalization of myth making and meaning forming "identity". These are hard places to break apart, as they are embedded within the person himself/herself.

People do irrational things when such belief is held. I sold all my possessions, and went to a mission organization. I broke up with my boyfriend who I'd dated for 4 years. I threw away a silver bracelet that was given to me as a gift which held much meaning. I used such scriptures as "loving god before father and mother, etc." to defend my irrational behavior. I was sold out to "Christ". I had surrendered all! But, my experience is not a "lone ranger" one, many have done such things in the name of "faith".

I just heard on the news that a mother had killed her child by performing an exorcism. She had given the child some "concoction" that she thought would alleviate the child from his "demons"! The child's body was found a week later! These are not uncommon occurances, because "faith" makes one believe beyond reason. The Oklahoma bombing, the Texas military post murders, and many others are driven by strongly formed beliefs about "hearing god"! It doesn't matter whether it is a Christian community, Muslim community, Jehovah's witness community", or what, all religious communities are formed and framed by claims and rationale that frame one's "world".

Whenever such beliefs are affirmed in a community, they become self-affirming and self-fulfilling "prophecies" about reality and life itself. One cannot "see" life in any other way. Those that are so conditioned are in "cults" or in "cultish thinking". Life is only viewed in one dimensional form, or ways. It is the ONLY right way to view things.

So whenever you talk about "spirit" my antenae goes up. And the questions start. One cannot live on faith alone.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Don't Talk to Me About "Love"

I have been romantic most of my life. Dreaming of the day I'd marry and live happily ever after. I absolutely loved planning and being a part of our daughter's wedding. Decorating the reception hall and church was something I will never forget, as I love making things look beautiful! I loved talking to people in junior high and high school about their relationship problems. I used to be all about "relationships". I just knew that things could be worked out. I believed in "love" back then.

Cynicism is a transition phase until one can get over the realities of life. Life is not about hopeful dreams, but problems and difficulties. It is reality based, not escapist theology. Such transition means one doesn't look for narratives to woo one to sleep, but looks for the love in the 'neighbot's face". Friends and family is really all anyone has and these are to be cherished as one gets beyond cynicism of life.

Life hits everyone sometime with hard realities. And those of us who are more sensitized by nature or nurture are prone to react strongly to such realities. Some of us decide to think through their life differently. What they had believed is myth and unrealistic hopefulness of 'Utopian" ideals, not the conflicts, politics and harsh painful realities that are the true reality of life.

 I don't think there is any healing for "ideals". These are only to be fought for, they are not realities, but dreams of human hearts. And human hearts understand their dreams in different ways. I only want to now protect others from crushing blows about believing "hopeful dreams". It is improbable for most that dreams come true.  And this is what being an adult is about, fighting to live and make one's choices, and be who one desires to be, irregardless of what others think or believe. This is when one not only owns one's life, but starts to enjoy life in a new way, because one begins to love oneself . This is only the begining of happiness, to know oneself and not keep hoping for another reality, life or dream.

After one has grasped that life is not a romantic novel, where things are always completed and neatly tied up, one has to begin thier life in a new understanding of value driven goals, not ideally driven dreams. This is reality based thinking, not mythological dreams for hope in the "by and by".

So, don't talk to me about "love". Love is action, but the action must be driven from personal choices about values that are important. Otherwise, others impose thier "ideals" from the outside, as moral demands and that is not love, nor loving. All of 'us" have a right to "be", so if I am not allowed to "be", "Don't Talk to Me About Love".

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Is God the End of All Moral "Oughts" (tToday's Sermon)

Today's sermon was a sermon defending suffering as a means to forming character. The sermon's three points were:

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Preaching this morning...

... from Romans 5:1-11. Simply outline:

1. God has been getting us ready for our sufferings.
2. God has been getting us ready for the end.

3. God is with us now, in suffering, leading to endurance, building our character, and confirming a hope that will not disappoint.

Assumptions to the sermon:  WHATEVER "God requires", i.e., "Christian character", as defined in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7), "He inspires". The foundation of such a belief is the "Divine Command Theory" in moral philosophy.

The Divine Command Theory does not question what God commands, as it is obedience to WHATEVER God requires. And such obedience is the "right response" to suffering, not questioning, but submitting. It is human passivity or resignation to "Fate", which the Christians call "God's Sovereignty" or "God's Providence".

The future is known by God, ( foreknowledge), as God stands "outside of history or time. He knows the beginning from the end, so whether "He predestines" or not, His concern is that one believe that "He has control" over human history,  He "Knows all" and will "not disappoint in the end". This is the traditional view of God in scriptures, and in Greek philosophy of biblical times. God is Omniscient, Omnipresent, and Omnipotent.

The "preacher" made a point about Japan's recent tsunami, and asserted that God did not cause the tsunami, and expressed his own concern, as a "Jesus model" of "care for the suffering". He pointed out that if any of us had known about the forthcast of the tsunami, would we not warn those that died, to prevent them from dying? He told a story about a man who had gone to pick up his son at the pre-school on the second floor. He looked out the window to watch a car being swept away when the tsunami hit, knowing also that those that had gone into the parking lot, his son's playmates, had died with their children. Yet, he had survived. Why?

 Why would God not warn those that died, if He knew the tsunami was coming? It seems clear that either God didn't know the tsunami was coming, or did not have control of this natural occurrance, or He could not warn those that died. OR maybe he just didn't care about those that died, or maybe those that were meant to warn the ones who died didn't do their part? Maybe those that died "got their just desserts becasue they weren't listening to "God"? They needed to have an "inside connection" or "personal relationship", so God could have warned them!

Something seems wrong with the picture of such an untold tragedy. One cannot answer those that suffered with platitudes that God wanted to build character! How horrendously insenstive. How callous and presumptuous! Do Christians think they know the mind of "God", when they claim that "God's ways are higher and His thought past finding out"? Either Christian do know how God works, what He wants and what everyone should do and/or believe to be saved, or they can't understand the "mind of God". It can't be both! Or is God capricious? Does He destroy and then blame those that haven't done their "fair share"? Scriptures say that He creates light and darkness; good and evil. How are we to even understand that in a theological frame? except to use it when it is convienient for our own purposes, and claim "God" as the supporter to our own plans or wishes?

Are these who suffered such losses in the tsunami to "trust and obey", submitting their questions and reason to submission of scripture? They are to know that God knew beforehand what they would suffer and He is using it to form their character? He knows what we need, so we are to perservere, knowing that He will not disappoint???? But, scriptures also says that "hope deferred makes the heart sick". Just when is too much, too much? How are we to know and make the determination when another has "had it"?

God's Divine Command is not the only "moral" theory, but those that adhere to DCT, use scripture as the support of their belief system. That is, Christian character is gauged by scripture, which was written during Roman power, where Christians were mocked and despised. The Chrisitans had no power base, nor influence in society. Theirs was the lot of servitude to an overbearing government. Today, we do not have such a government. Our government is more just or tolerant. Our government allows for religious liberty and influence in the public square. So, today, a Christian is not to "trust and obey", submitting to tyranny. We are to appeal, petition, voice and protest because humans are not called to suffer under tyranny to form "Chrstian character". Leadership is accountable to "the people". Are good leadership principles applicable to "God"? It can't be under the Divine Command Theory. God is an authoritarian dictator in the DCT. Humans cannot be moral agents if they do not have choice and liberty about their lives..

Christian character can define itself differently, even within scripture. Christians, instead of the suffering servant model, can also hold government accountable, like Esther, or hold to principle or conscience, like Daniel. Character can be viewed as an absolute response, or a moral judgment within a value system. It's response is contextual historically and situationally. God's Divine Command theory believes that just because "God is God", He deserves obedience without rationale, principle, or question, which does not take into account any other possible scenario. It is a legalist perspective, instead of an ethical one.

The "preacher" pointed out that Gadhafi would be considered universally as "evil". Why would one not have to be a "Christian" to make such a judgment? because Gadhfi does not respect the rights of others to act independently from his wishes. He is a dictator. Some Christians that hold to the Divine Command Theory believe God is to be "honored" as it is God's "right" above our "rights". Humans are necessary means to "God's ends" which are not the human, but "His Glory and Will". We should never make our plans, as God has His, God is granted ultimate right to rule over and humans are unvalued except for God's designs". And, yet, we understand that the Sermon on the Mount is to be the "human response" to God's Power, if we want to "be like Jesus". We must submit, walk the second mile for our enemies, turn the other cheek, because Christians aren't to have power? And yet, power can have a corrupting influence. But, it doesn't have to.

Our Founders did not desire for leaders to be overbearing tyrants. They desired for humans to be respected moral agents that could frame and form their lives by self-governance. Self-governance means that humans take responsibility for themselves to plan their ends. And the "ends" are what motivate humans to "form their character" to accomplish their own purposes. "God" should never be useful to control, and manipulate others.

Suffering comes from natural disasters, but should never come from the hands of men. Men have choice and responsibility about causing such pain. Stealing another's property, coveting a neighbor's wife, etc. are moral precepts that work, not just because God said it in the Ten Commandments. Many believed in such precepts in ordering society long before Christianity.

Therefore, formulating a Christian character building theology, or discipline is wrong headed. Character is innate natural tendencies, as well as self-reflection and value driven character development. Some people might want to strengthen a certain character trait, while others might want it to remain weak and focus on something else, depending on what one's goals are. Different goals require different character traits. So there is no "Chrisitan character". It is only defined as character within context of given situations and it does not have to do with Divine Commands or 'God", as a requirement, at all, unless the Church wants to formulate a conformity to Church rule that abdicates individual liberty, under the Divine Comman Theory of moral development.

Friday, March 25, 2011

For Those Who Presuppose Experience...

Destiny is but a phrase of the weak human heart, the dark apology for every error. The strong and virtuous admit no destiny.

On earth conscience guides; in heaven God watches. And destiny is but the phantom we invoke to silence the one and dethrone the other.
Edward Bulwer-Lytton

The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts.
Bertrand Russell

These two quotes are relevant to those that are so cocksure about their destiny and knowledge! Those that think they understand and know everything, whether the believer or unbeliever know not what they speak! We are all ignorant in areas, and we are all in the 'dark" no matter how "enlightened", OR how much "revelation" we can understand!

Experience should teach us that none of us are immune to any of the vices of heart, that we try to "win" at another's costs! And for what, and why? For "God" or for "Man"? For the "Greater Good"? Do you suppose the costs to another when you plan your destiny?

Destiny means an "ultimate end". It can be understood by the religous to be predestination, and to the unbeliever as the "work" of "gods" (men). Oligarchies are what are made from small groups of elite that design such plans. Our Founders were not impressed by oligarchies, because they sought to defend the right of all under the "rule of law"!

Is there an "ulitmate end"? The religous believe so, as these believe in rewards and punishment in eternity, but not all religous believe such. Some believe that we are rewarded or punished in the here and now. The unbeliever believes that by his "wisdom" or "shrewdness" he earns his "keep" and people should applaud his ability to "control the situation".

Experience is a teacher, all right. A teacher that Man is just man. And that despite man's noble qualities, man can't help but flounder, faulter and fail if he has not been reflecting on his life long enough to evaluate its values as to ends. Are all 'ends" equal? Or there more noble ends, than others? Do others have a right to choose their end, or is your end the only one to be promoted? Why? Who are you?

Some presuppose that humans identify through experience! These like to promote human experiments so their "end" will be verified! Empirical evidence in human form! Others like to use sacred texts to evaluate human history! And what will the knowledge bring mankind? Of what use is it?

How do we frame our lives? How do we understand our values? What are our priorities? Why do we prioritize the way we do? What do we want to accomplish? What do we ultimately desire? and Why?

Some questions I do not know how to answer. I cannot answer them until I study further as to my frame of reference, which is nature herself.  This is work that must be done. Otherwise, I will not know what I value and why? It is my life. I have only one to live and I don't believe in eternal life, heaven or hell.  "From dust we came, and from dust we will return". 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Why the Law Cannot Make Someone Be Perfect

In religious circles, it is taught that the law "cannot make someone perfect". This is what scripture says. This means what our Founders understood to be character. Americans were to be self-governing.

Character is about how we behave, not just about values. Do we respect another's right to "be", or do we demand them to be what we want? The  Founders understood that a Republic will never survive apart from the character of its people. There must be a concern about the state of affairs, as government was not to run itself, but be run by the people! I think this is what the tea partiers desire, the people's voice.

Civility has been a little tattered these days, because most of us haven't felt we have had a "voice" or been respected by those that should be concerned and listening. These are our Representatives after all, aren't they?

What has been America's response to abuses of power? Have we been concerned and informed? I have taken my government for granted, thinking that religious or sacred things were the only things "eternal". I know better now. I'm not assured of eternity, but I do have now. I must live it in the conscience of my values, but be just as concerned about the state of affairs in my government! I think this is a "real perfection" and not the "idealized perfection" of holiness camps!

Power and the Law

"Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely", so said Lord Acton. Our Founders found this to be so, as well. They framed our government so power could not be absolute, or at least ideally. There are always ways around the law, but those that choose to abide by our laws do so to promote order, and value the liberty our laws are to protect!

Those that are driven by power are driven because of  insatiable needs that corrupt them from governing for the "greater good" or from being "public representatives" that serve the public's interests. Power does corrupt. Power has a deadening effect on those under it. There is a sense of invincibility when one has power to wield. Therefore, power must be held by those that are self-reflective enough to know its deadening impact. Many have lost their "life" and reputations because of using their power and influence to gain absolution from the law. Fudging on one's income taxes is to be expected, everyone does it. Then, what are the laws defending? Are laws there to protect some ideal? And what is the rationale for these laws and ideals?

These are questions that concern our courts, in our present day. But, they used to concern the average citizen. People were more prone to self-evaluation back then. Religion serves the purpose of self-reflection for fear of "God's judgment", or "fitting in" with the Church club. And rightly so, for the philosophers of the past said that an "unexamined life is one not worth living".

Religion today does not serve the purpose of "examing one's life". Religion serves the end of justification of one's life or one's end. This leaves little room for self-reflection or self-examination, and religion ends up being the validation of "stoning another" or judging another based on personal conviction.

Personal conviction was the liberty of conscience our Founders granted under law. Religous conscience is valued, but was never to condone the right of judgment, as that was the place of government. Government was to protect everyone's right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But, nowadays, the religious fear that our nation has gone too far.

While I agree that our nation has dissolved any means of evaluating values, it isn't because Americans aren't religious/believers, but because religion and the American way of life itself has gotten in the way of "self reflection". We don't have time to do everything on our plates. We delegate to those we hardly know and suffer the consequences of unwise delegation.

We hurry to meet all our promises, which we can hardly meet, with family responsibilities and we wonder why our families suffer or deadlines go by without our meeting them. We bite off more than we can chew. We must know our strengths and weaknesses enough to know what we can handle and make our choices wisely.

Many have gotten into financial straits because they have only looked at the monthly payment, and presumed upon the future, not preparing for it. Wisdom doesn't presume upon others, but meets life with an attitude that one must take their own responsiblity, and not look to others for the hand-out, nor should we compare our standard of living with another's. Everyone doesn't have the same material blessings. So what? The question should be is the pursuit of the material what life consists of? And what are the costs of such a pursuit?. This is not to say that no one should ever have a need that can't be met and our sociel networks could help provide, but more often than not, we are taught that we need dependence on others or that we have a right to have what everyone else has. Such teaching doesn't demand self-responsible behavior. Self-responsible behavior means that society consists for the most part of self-responsible adults, and not dependent children.

All governments are not equal. This is obvious to anyone that loves liberty. Is it moral to demand immoral governments to 'obey' or comply with human rights under the hand of our government's Power? How much should we intervene into other countries and their problems? And how do we choose to get involved? Are our own interests the only protections that are deemed worthy of using power? Obviously, America is limited by resources, and time. Are these what should frame what and when we "give a hand" to those wishing for reform?. But, there are other extenuating circumstances, that make for conflicting interests. Our politicians, and ambassadors are the ones that evaluate those decisions. And our judgments from afar might not know all the facts, nor the conflicts that impinge on such decisions.

I am no expert, by any means, but it seems to me that we all have biases about where we draw our lines. Most of us are not consistant, nor are we reflective enough to know why we choose what we do, nor why we do so. All of us need to evaluate ourselves and determine how we would "lead" if givern similar circumstances and ask ourselves why we make those choices. This would reveal our underlying motivations and determine our priority of values. Then, we might understand that decisions are not "black and white" solutions, but complex problems that need creative minds to solve.

Christianity Is Dead

Christianity is dead, at least my husband read something this morning that made him question me. I told him about the discussions going on  in the blogospehere and how many books were out about the "death of Christianity". Why is Christianity or religion dying? And does it matter?

Some have suggested that the death of Christianity has come about because the social needs of our population has gotten met through the social media. People have contact at anytime and anywhere these days. So, why go to church to find a place to be affirmed?This is the challenge of "belonging".

Others have suggested that the theology of the Church just doesn't measure up to our scientific knowledge these days. How can one believe that Jesus rose from the dead, or that people can do miracles? These are fairy tales, or myths that make life more bearable, when life is hard. This is the challenge of belief.

Still, some have sought to re-frame theology so that the Church is more "up to date". These have reframed "God" himself, as a process, a becoming, or our experience itself is "god in the making". God is the Present, "I Am" and incorporates all of reality (panentheism). These are not orthodox views. This is the challenge of behavior.

Some have seen this challenge to Christian faith as a challenge to know what/where Christian faith began. These go into scholarly debates about Judean roots and what happened to the Arab. How did ethicities get defined? And what protects their identities. These are questions that serve the work of "peace". Because ethnic identities are what make for 'war'. This is an attempt to re-create a new political belief structure, so Man can understand himself as "human" and not by religous identifications or ethnic identities.

The Christian "end" has also been challenged. It used to be that Christianity understood itself historically. History was "God's history". The teleos of all history was the advent of "Christ" or the second coming. Traditional Christians still believe in a coming judgment, and heaven and hell. But, these also believe in a separate reality/realm, the spritual realm.

Christianity is dead for all practical reasons. But, maybe this is not so bad, as Christianity is about how one sees oneself and others, and rightly or wrongly, Christians see themselves as superior beings, because of their promised eternal life. They are prone to think that those without faith are to be pitied, as they are reprobate.

As an "outsider", Christians like to define themselves by their cateogories where they are the prime arbitrator of truth and values. They are confident that what they believe is absolute for everyone, everywhere. And this is where they miss the mark of finding themselves free from defining themselves by faith alone. What do they personally value apart from any religious claims, do they even know? Why do they value it?

This is my concern. Those that are religous are prone to judge without thinking. And they are prone to throw verses around as if life serves people "black and white" situations and circumstances". Everything is "nice and neatly" organized in their frame of reference and if others don't have themselves organized in such a way, they are a threat to society. While I do not doubt at ALL that organization and order is very important, humans are not commodities to be put in boxes or compartments that frame their lives apart from human contingencies.

Political parties organize their platforms simply. But reality gives politicians complex situations to face. These situations challenge their political promises, because politics serves out contingencies too. We can't control what another country does or doesn't do, ultimately. We can co-operate, negotiate, or sanction, bomb or bring out the troops. But, are we different from those that also seek to have a life?

 Government itself is a form of order/structure that seeks to circumvent what is of value. Free societies allow liberty where it concerns human life. Dictators, authoritarian power structures are those that believe that "order" should not be horozonally controlled, but hierarchally. These claim power for themselves, and some do it in the "name of God". This is why those that believe that "God" is not just an idea in one's mind, but a real reality are dangerous to our liberties. But, then, the religious are also Americans, and it is important that they also have a voice.

One thing for sure, humans are a diverse species. We are not clones of one another, though there are similarities in what we desire, how we define that in our lives is vastly different in a free society! And certainly, government is made to prevent desires from running over another's right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Parallel Longings and Fulfillment

Choices in America are as various as there are types of people. We love to have choices. Take note of our supermarkets, or SuperWalMarts. The bigger the better because it accomodates all of us and our diverse tastes. Diversity is what makes America, well, America.

But, choice is much more than about the food we eat, or the clothes we choose to wear, but also the values we hold about life and what we want out of life. These all matter, too. An Ameican will 'fight for the right' to have alternatives and, to negotiate differences. This is what has motivated the American worker, as well as inspired the American entreprenuer. Everyone is "special" in America because there is always a place where one can find a "home". "Home" is about what the heart longs for and human hearts long for more than just a place to belong, but for "ideals". America values its ideals and we paint them in our wildest imagninations. And imagination reside only in individual human hearts.

The  individual human heart longs for beauty, justice and love. Each individual cannot find that beauty, justice and love apart from life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This is what makes America great, because we believe that each individual counts and matters. And because of the individual's value in our society, he can choose how he defines the beauty of life. He is allowed the liberty, which is justice to follow his passion/love in the pursuit of happiness.

We are free in America in many ways to pursue our dreams, fulfill our hopes and find our lives in whatever endeavor we desire. I hope that this American Dream will last so my grandchildren will have the opportunities we so often take for granted. I am thankful to be an American.

Why Longings of the Heart Reasonates With Me

The "Longings of the Heart" was the title of the last post. Why did I choose such a title? The subject was about a eulogy of a Jewish scholar who'd impacted his students and their eulogies were memorials to his life. He lives on in their lives.

Humans all resonate with beauty, justice, and love. These are universal categories that are made vivid in a particular human frame. The longing of my heart was about the care these students had under thier mentor's tutlelege. Of course, their choice to pursue their speicified interests was what put them in contact with him in the first place. He had represented all of these attributes to them personally in their pursuit of a degree. Such stories resonate within the human heart.

Today, I had an exchange with an Eastern Christian, who said he identified in his particularity to Christ. His identity is defined by Jesus and his life. But, I had understood Paul's message about Jesus' life and Jesus life itself as a universalization (liberalization) of religion itself.  Religion defines itself by doctrine/behavior that defines people "outside" or "inside" (us/them). All groups define themselves in this way; families, community groups, ethnic identities, social clubs, professional clubs/guilds and national identifications.

 The geopolitical realm is not going to reflect such universalism, because we do define ourselves within our contexts of value. Individuals must discriminate to define themselves. And free societies allow individual to identify in many ways. In psychological terms, it is called individuation.

So, even though I did not know Alan Segal, nor did I read his works in depth, I found myself moved by his life, through those he had touched, he will live "eternally" through his efforts here on earth!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Longings of the Heart

I just read a number of beautiful eulogies from former students of Alan Segal and had to share one of the quotes from his book, "Life After Death".

 "Religion's imagining of our hereafter also seems to say the same - our 'immortal longings' are mirrors of what we find of value in our lives. They motivate our moral and artistic lives. Our longing itself deserves a robe and crown, nothing less. If humans can be, in Hamlet's words, 'in apprehension like a god,' do we not deserve his epitaph: 'flights of angels sing us to our rest'?" (p. 731).

I think this is a beautiful quote that resonates within my own heart about the "human value" of valuing and determining. These longing of value deserve a "robe and a crown"! His students described a man who talked of transcending oneself. He obviously found that he could do that through the students he left behind.  Alan must have been an artist in creating his scholarship of early Christian and Judaic communities and using classical literature to defend or support the "human element" of such literature.

After that , what more can be said?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Value and the Market

Something I read just recently just didn't sit well with me. The article stated that some things are valueless apart from the market.

While this is true in an economic system, it is not always the case for the individual and a choice of value. For instance, a family "heirloom", might not be a heirloom in the market, but it is to the family or a specific family member. So, market value is not always absolute. Nor is the market always the priority for choices of value.

Sometimes there are more important priorities than attaining success or the highest salary. I am NOT saying that seeking a higher salary or attaining the highest salary that one can is immoral or wrong. But, what one chooses to value cannot be determined by a system, necessarily.

The problem become when such attainments are sought at "any costs". Then, such comples systems can cause  unintentional outcomes that are horrendously immoral. And this is when one's choice of value imposes itself upon another's life.

The prevention of such unintentional outcomes would be prevented if the "rule of law" was upheld and those within such schemes would not cooperate when they found immoral practices, decisions or commitments.  But, the choice to stand against such systems brings costs that many don't want to pay. And then, those that have the unfortunate circumstances to be associated with such people have to pay the price!

Friday, March 18, 2011

But, What About Germany, Switzerland, the Czech Republic and Austria!

While this morning seems to bring back many memories of our travels, I cannot leave behind my memories of Germany, Switzerland, the Czech Republic and Austria!

Many years ago for our 10th anniversary, my husband had a conference in Garmisch Partenkirchen. We had flown into Frankfurt before to visit our family in the Netherlands, but we didn't get to see the beauty of Bavaria! So, Wim decided to let me join him on the trip! Our children stayed with his parents.

Our hotel had a balcony that looked upon the place where the Olympics were held for skiiing on year previously and our beds had feather coverlets that we found luxurious at the time! But one of the best memories was the buffet breakfast! I have not had one similar anywhere! It was the first time I'd tasted fresh squeezed carrot juice. Carrot juice was only one of many choices that we had! The yogurt was delectable and I could never put in words the view of the resturant!

While Wim was attending the conferences, the organization had different tours for the spouses to go into Innsbrook, tour where violins were made and see all the many Churches in the area. The tour bus had big windows so we could take in the views of the Autrian countryside!

One night we had dinner while a Bavarian band played. Not the most relaxing music by far, but a "taste of culture"! The food was traditional sausages, saurkraut and potatoes.

The Czech Republic was a vacation we took with Wim's sister's family and our kids. I remember taking the road into Germany and entering Eastern Germany. This was in 1995 and we couldn't grasp the difference between the East and the West! The scenes were dour and depressing, though there were many grand buildings where the "communist" had held control!  We arrived at a campground where many of the Dutch decided to "lay their tent" and we found many open to talk.

Everyday we went to get bread for the morning. And it was hard to know what anything was, as everything was written in a language we couldn't read.

The most memorable part of our trip wasn't long enough. We took a half day trip into Prague and saw art in tilework all over the ceilings and floors! We saw the tower where the 12 apostles comes out on the hour. And we walked the Charles Bridge where many artists and musicians "sell" their wares. I wished I had known more about the history concerning the Jewish background, as it would have meant more!

Switzerland has often been a stop on the way somewhere, so we have stopped there many times. Wim's old room-mate grew up in the Italian speaking side. He owns a chalet in the Alps and teaches part-time in another city. Everyone doesn't need to have me tell them what to expect in Switzerland, but to actually see it, is too hard to describe!

I think that all of our trips have held special memories and touched our hearts in different ways! I am so thankful that I have had these opportunities! Now, I am trying to catch up on learning about the history behind my experiences! That adds much more depth to my experience!

I Can't Leave Behind Italy

After thinking about France, I had to remember and "commenorate" Italy and its beauty and culture!

 A couple of years ago my husband and I took a trip with his sister and brother in law to Italy. We toured Florence's art mueseum, found an Italian "outlet shopping center" with Italian designers that would make any women lust. We camped in Tuscany, experienced the beauty of Rome and the "Holy See" and saw the romance in Venice!  If France is "Ooo La La", then Italy is "Aaahhh, Muah"!!!

The Italian designers are my favorite, even above the French! And there is nothing to compare the rolling hills, the grape fields, and sunny skies of Tuscany!  But, then there are all those Italian artists that can't be outdone! But, what about all the history there? I wish I'd been more "read" about the Renaissance! What a fabulous country!

Man and His Creative Mind

Ayn Rand

‎"Man’s distinctive characteristic is his type of consciousness—a consciousness able to abstract, to form concepts, to apprehend reality by a process of reason . . . [The] valid definition of man, within the context of his knowledge and of all of mankind’s knowledge to-date [is]: 'A rational animal.'"
Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, 58

Ooo La La and the French

This morning while checking stats, I noticed two views from France. I told my husband that just seeing the word France gives me a good feeling. Why? The memories.

We've been to France more than just several times. My husband lived there while he was finishing a degree. And we've experienced France "among the French" in the "back fields" of the Loire Valley, when we camped with our family alongside Wim's sister and her family. We have taken the kids  as well to the busy city of Paris. So, France holds many memories for us/me.

Because of these warm memories and the beauty of the country and language, I love France. The French language is beautiful to listen to, even when a mother scolds her child! The beauty of the fields of yellow sunflowers, the narrow streets through little towns with cobbestone and the castles that we explored in the middle of "nowhere" all add to the "romance" of France. (Once we found a castle in the middle of a field that was being sold for $1, if it would be restored to its original spendor. In it was a desk that Layfeyette wrote the King of France to support the American Revolution, a piano that belonged to Chopin and a basement full of artifacts, like letters from Marie Antionette to Napoleon!)  And even though we've not been treated with the greatest hospitality in France, we still love it. (Once we ordered "Onion soup" in a resturant, after waiting an unusually long time, we asked the waiter to have him wave his hand in the air and "dismiss us"!)

Everyone has heard of French cuisine and the French love to savor their meals. It takes hours for their meals to end, quite different from our American culture!

It is no wonder that painters used impressionism to express the French countryside! Life is good, but "Ooo La La", the French" life" is fine!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Healthy, The Normally Shaky and The Insane...

Humans are works of art. And art has been made in many images, the realist, the impressionist and the insane! Such can be useful to define mental health issues...

The healthy are common sense realist. They don't imagine, they just see. They don't envision, they just are. And they think that this is the way things "should" be for everyone. Possibly so, but, probably not. So, the healthy are not prone to bouts of emotional expressiveness, or overly cautious questioning, these people trust life. And they look down on those that struggle, doubt, and question life. They wonder why we don't learn.

The Normally Shaky is most of us. We sometimes don't see clearly and have an over-reactive reaction to some tragedy. We become anxious about the unknown realites that might be, but are not loosing sleep over it. But, sometimes, we do. And we think in terms of "the human", because we understand that sometimes life gives you a curve ball. And we understand that it is normal to need support, care and concern, during those times. These are the impressionist, who see through a glass darkly.

Then, there are those that cannot realize any normalcy, because these have blinders where they can't see any blessings. They focus on the imperfections, and cannot let go of their ideals long enough to recognize that these ideals are walls that keep them from embracing life and accepting others. These are the ones that are never content. They want change. These are the surrealists, who imagine, shake and prod reality for all it is. These are restless souls that have no home. And  they find themselves constantly struggling against whatever is precieved to be in their way. Most of the time they are self-destructive because they can't believe that life has anything positive for them.

I think we can move in and out of these categories from time to time and sometimes live in them at stages of our life. But, hopefully, we find ourselves in the stage of impressionism, where life is seen and embraced as not a clean cut experiment or ideal, but a life full of both the tragic and the celebrative! Then we can learn to live with ourselves and others in an understanding way, not demanding, demeaning, or destroying life. Life can be healthy without perfection and THAT is the ideal!

The Human Person as a Work of Art

Humans differ as to their interests and choices of value. This is important to affirm and uphold in free societies, even when we disagree, as humans are not to be cloned representations of their parents, mentors, or voluntary associations. The human person is more than the sum of his/her parts. It is called irreducible complexity. And those that want to mandate a moral realism that perverts the human ability to "be in the world" as an autonomous moral agent is deluded about their right to power.

I got to thinking about realism itself, because of another blog site on Moral Ontology by Richard Carrier. Art is understood in philosophical terms such as realism, surrealism, or impressionism.

A realist painter paints a picture that is representative of reality. There is no question about the painting and what it is. Realism is a correspondence theory of understanding "truth claims".  Such a view of "Truth" is understood as absolute, because of its direct correspondence to "the real". Such thinking is what underlies traditional understanding of theology. Everything that "is", is directly underpinned by "God", even history itself.

But, there are other art forms that are just as beautiful that express their time. Impressionism comes to mind. Impressionistic paintors paint without defined lines, but still have a  "sense of" reality or of objective form. It is more intuitive painting, as it is romantic. I love Von Gogh and French impressionists, like Delacroix. These paintors would be more Transcendental in their understanding of 'truth", as truth is worked into reality, but not a direct representation. Such writers as Emerson, and Whitman come to mind, especially Emerson's "Over-soul" and Whitman's "Leaves of Grass". Romanticism has  influenced American culture through the "Story" as Real. Our myth is the American Dream, where everyone has opportunity and all are 'equal before the law'.

There is also the surrealist paintors like Salvador Dali. I love his work because of the many meanings that can be read into his paintings. Surrealists  have post-conventional ways of expressing their art. Their art is an expression about representations in conventional society that have hindered or slighted the "whole picture". Their attempt to express anti-traidtional values, or the minority "vision" have left the traditionalists uncomfortable.

I think humans should be free to interpret their reality. Therefore, I wouldn't be a legalist, but I think that the laws of our country should protect all expressions of life that do not usurp the basic foundations of society. And I think this is what we argue in the cultural wars. Laws should be like impressionism, defined where they are seen and understood, but not defined by "rude lines" in the sand. Such is Islamic religious culture. Human experience does not lend itself well to such views of justice.

Humans should be autonomous moral agents that can choose their associations by their frames of understading and their identification factors. There shouldn't be discrimination of those that don't hold the majority's opinions, but neither should there be special priviledge for them, either.

Art in its many forms has brought untold blesshing to man's life, as it allows creativity of expression for the individual artist and it allows culture to evolve, seeks to bring all humans 'under one roof" of the human experience/condition and makes society more of an "open" society.

Relgion because of its need to define "God" in theologial language comes short of describing the indescribalble. The huamnities benefit all men because they speaks beyond words to the heart, at least for those that are open. Religous climates have been known to oppress certain expressions of art because of the fear that art would be offensive to "God". What should be understood is how art has enhanced man's ability to appreciate the beauty of human experience, even the common ones, even the tragic ones teach us. Journalism, art in it many forms, writing, communication arts can all be means of grasping and grappling with the human condition. Beauty can be grasped through a "human message", or a "human idea", or a "human value", which all underwrite the human experience!

Humans are works of art, whether one believes that natural processes or "God" created human persons in their complexity. Humans should be allowed to advance their art form in a free and open society.

Can Science Be Just as Oppressive as Religion

Religion is well-known to bring about oppression. It describes the world in "old ways", using "god language". Such "god language" is "theology speak". Natural real world experiences are interpreted by rational explainations about theodicity. God is present, just not understood. Faith is trust irregardless of pain and suffering, as "God is in control". Such thinking leaves one cold from the "rational". There is "no heart" there.

On the other hand, science can be just as heartless. Science is useful to bring about new discoveries and create new realities that help humankind. But, science is just as blind as religion sometimes in its universalizing what can't be understood readily without experimentation. But, even with experimentation, who is to know how to gauge whether a particular human being will respond as all human beings given particular stimuli? How does one understand a "human universal", even when experience is common?

Sciene seeks to describe reality in uniform and monistic ways, as this helps science to formulate "natural laws". But, when human persons are put within a framework of uniformity, conformity and monistic understanding of reality, then, science has become just as oppressive as religion.

Somewhere between absolute scientific materialism and religious idealism is a new understanding for the "human". I think our Founders came close to granting that in our form of government, where individual liberty is appreciated within the boundaries of an ordered society and leaders being accountable to the people they are to serve. Then, there is no empowered "vision" for mankind through uniformity,  that is granted primary status over society, either through scienctific investigation and technological advances, or religious idealism/abolutism and confomity.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Transparency in Government

In light of "Transparency in Government"....

Ayn Rand

‎"A private individual may do anything except that which is legally forbidden; a government official may do nothing except that which is legally permitted."
“The Nature of Government,” The Virtue of Selfishness, 109

Do Feelings Make Any Significance to Moral Judgments?

I have been thinking about "moral values" and what determines how we judge moral values. How are our feelings directive of morality, or are they?

The reason I bring this up is that I have a repulsion over "do-gooders". I know that my repulsion is not reasonable, but it is rational. Why? I think that my repulsion over "do-gooders" has a lot to do with my needs as a child. These needs were not met, and yet, I saw those around me "doing good", baking the cake to take to the sick, visiting the nursing home, etc. What message did it send to me as a child? I wasn't important or valued enough to commend anyone's attention. My value was diminished, and my needs were secondary to what was gauged as important. Others needs came first. (Many Christians think that family responsibility isn't of value because of the command that one should "love God first". Family can stand in the way of loyalty to one's first priority. One's family is only "natural love", therefore, what one does outside of family, in fact, for one's enemy, is deemed of more value in the Christian community. It is a sign of "Christian discipleship!)

I wonder if my reaction today to such "do-good" projects and my evaluation of them as being self-interested is judged in a universal way. What I mean is:  given my situation and circumstances would others judge "do gooders" in a similar fashion? Or would there be another response to the same conditions? Does personality have anything to do with how we "cope" with unmet needs?

This is the problem with "social justice" claims, I believe. Because whenever we set out to "do good", there is someone left inevitably behind. It is much better to leave the individual to be the "cause" of his own choices, and goals, otherwise, we might set up "projects", though well-meaning that have unintentional, but devastating consequences.

Reality based therapy means that the individual takes responsibility and owns his own life, as to choices of value. There is no "ideal" to be pursued, but goals that are desired outcomes of personal values. This is the only rational way to live, otherwise, rationality and reasonablness is left "outside" to die in the night of another's oppressive shadow, whether it be Man or God's!

What Is Moral?

There are many needs that are pressing upon our globe today, which ones will make the "cut" as the ultimate need? Moral sentiment usually drives what people claim are the moral imperatives. Such sentiment is one's personal desired outcomes. And these are driven by prioritizing personal values, even the "objective ones".

Humanists value human rights as a universal standard. These people have chosen to universalize Western cultural values. But, the United Nations has made exception to Islam, giving them the right to Islamic law. How can two conflicting values be held by an organization? Don't we have to make discriminations about what is of ultimate value and how do we do that?

Neuroscientists have argued that our brains determine much of what we desire and value. Is the brain determined by one's cultural experiences or is the brain innatedly endowed with certain desires?

Obviously, all humans have the need for sustenance. Physical needs are not choices of value, but are objective needs. Humanists would be driven to meet these needs as of foremost importance. But, what of emotional needs and attachments? Are these just as important?

In Maslow's hierarchy of needs, such needs are secondary to physical needs. And this is where we find America today, debating what is needed in our nation's budget. One politician claimed that we could not cut entitlement spending, as it was "immoral". And that there are some things that are moral imperatives. These moral imperatives are driven by moral sentiment. Emotion drives such "entitlement" speak. Whereas, our budget deficit cannot be ignored. This is a moral imperative driven by reason, not sentiment! Isn't this more important than particular situations that might call for intervention? Our nation's viability is at stake! But, what is to come of a budget, when elected officials can "walk out" of negotiating and perservering in a job they were elected to do?

Those that want to play on moral sentiment, play upon religious values and emotionally driven goals by appealing to the "Golden Rule". Those that get their desired outcomes are those that have planned on using such emotional appeal to sway the "common man" to to their bidding. And usually their bidding is not chosen "up front" in the full light of day, but driven by the need to control or manipulate the "mob" so social order can be maintained. Such "Systems" are totaltaliarian. They are driven by elites for the "common good", but not the personal good of those under them. "Personal" ceases to have meaning or value, because it is independent of "theWhole", which is more valued than the "Parts".

Scientists value the physical universe. Its resources are of ultimate concern. But, physcial resources must be prioritized as to ultimate value, don't they? And what of the conflicting ways in which to approach limited resources and how to use them and create alternatives that might benefit "the Whole"? Who determines what policy will be made? And what outcomes will be of ultimate value or concern? Are Americans allowed to drill for oil, as other countries? Are we going to be allowed to drill for oil irregardless of environmental concerns for wildlife? Is the individual human of more value than other life forms? Or are all life forms or equal value?

If one values the nation-state, then there are priorities that must come first, irregadless of sentiment. Our nation's security is at stake, if we cannot maintain viability! Who will be at the helm of power then? Will we dissolve the nation-state for good, for a "common government"? Hasn't experience taught us that Bigger Government leads to more corruption because of an inability to make accountable such a "system"? Wasn't our Constitution even debated in our early years, because of such a belief? How then, can we think that liberalizing the world will bring about a "better way of life" for all? How do we know? What has history taught us?

My husband was expressing his desire for a certain endeavor that he felt would not be appreciated, acknowledged or valued by others. I encouraged him to attain his goal, irrespective of anything else, as such a desire was a matter of integrity and his own "honor and sense of being true to himself". Such "self-affirming" choice could not be made in a totalitarian system, because such "self affirming" ways of thinking and being in the world would be considered "selfish" , by those that want him to do "their bidding". But, I think such "selfishness" is a point of character. "Character" must be defined within the context of the "self", for there to be a "grounded self". Character that is evaluated by others might be applauded or dissapproved based on some other value, outside of "principled character". One might not value what he chooses, but they must applaud his commitment to it, IF they value a liberal democracy and human rights.

It seems that what is "moral" has been a useful term for many reasons. An ultimate and important value  is the individual's right to exist and choose his own way of life, which is what a Democracy allows, and our Republic demands its Representatives uphold those values in it legislative powers!

Monday, March 14, 2011

"Self" in Society

"Self" does not exist apart from society, as "self" functions within society in some form. But, a fully developed "Ego" is the only "human self". Society is formed by collective "selves", but society is not an entity itself, unless one is committed to something other than the "human".

Self-understanding is formed within societal structures. The first being the family and whether it is extended, and/or dysfunctional. "Self-understanding" is first understood within such an intimate "collective". The child learns how to love, be nurtured and what is of value within the family unit.

But, when the family unit is not functioning or functioning improperly, then the developing "Ego" has little to help form his self-understanding. The "getting over" the "Who Am I?" stage might never develop apart from intervention. And this is where society's structures might help the child to form a healthy self -understanding and image.

A child who hasn't learned appropriate behavior, or had good examples of care will develop behavioral problems or mental illness. Society suffers when its children are disadvantaged in this way.

"Self-understanding" in religious communities can be damning if the child sees himself as "evil". or has a personality that would tend to be exasperated, or hindered by such teaching. Such children might "act out" because they can never meet "perfection", or be reticient about thier interests for fear their very interests or passions are detours away from their first allegience. Such "self-understanding" is not healthy, but annihlates "self" altogether. Such messages are "self rejective" messages and are not the foundations to form a healthy and separate identity.

"Self" is where the distinctive person resides. "Self" is identity. The particularity of the "self" might never be known apart from "self"'s ability to free itself from the demands of a overly zealous religious consicence, where "self-denial" or the "culture of death" is applauded and promoted.

"Selves" that have not become "true selves" in their particularities are prone to over-react to threats to their identifying factors, whether it is a fundamentalist religious tradition, "Truth claims", familial identities, or political ideologies. All form a bulwark against "things that would challenge and bring self-reflection instead of promoting  the prevailling "self opinion". Change and maturation does not happen when such defensiveness is embraced. Such defensiveness should be understood when "self" is fragile and based on its defensive identification factors. "Self"s very existence is "felt" annilhlated, when, these dependent factors are undermined.

The human person cannot accomplish, grow and expeience his own accomplishments apart from distancing himself from such emblemic self understanding. "Self" must distance and then choose to embrace the chosen goals, values and purposes, for "self's own reasons. It is only then, that "self" has come into its own and become a "human being" and not a human clone or a human doing. It is the understanding of "self's existance apart from society, and then, the embrace of society that forms the adult "self" fully and functionally.

Otherwise, "self" remains only a functon of society and not understood as a being apart from society. "Self's" function must be a chosen one, apart from anyone else's value or goals.

"Reality" in the Movie, "The Unknown"

I have recommended the movie, "The Unknown", because of its excellent direction. The movie keeps one spellbound. It captures the audience's attention and emotion, when "Martin"s memory is partially impaired.

Humans live from memory. We learn our language and remember the right words to even communicate with others when we grow up. What if we couldn't remember our words? This was not the case in "The Unknown", as his memory of important emotional facts was intact, but some of the other facts were forgotten due to an accident. Due to the "missing links", he is living in "limbo" land, not able to understand many things happening to him. How does he interpret them?

Whenever humans don't have a grasp on reality, such that they can find security, they find themselves anxious. Anxiety is the state of "not knowing", or fearing that which "might come". Why would this anxiety have any hold on a human being? When experiences continue to confound and there is no rationale for what is happening, humans become anxious about their futures. A "state of peace" or psychologial security is the result of learning about "cause and effects". Behaviors are conditioned by "causes and effects". But, "sometimes the "causes and effects" are not straightforward "laws of nature". These have damaging effects on the psyche. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder could be the result and might have a disorienting effect on the personality.

Humans must have some sense of control about thier life to maintain a sense of dignity and personal orientation about "reality" itself.  "The Unknown" brought to light what it is like to experience a dis-orienting experience where 'life doesn't make sense. The Unknown gave a sense of what life would be like if one lost partial memory and had to "live with it".

Memory or the brain's recording or experience is not the "whole story". Memories have to be itnerpreted to be meaningful, but when some information is "lost" and one is left to interpret without all the 'facts", then what? This made for a great movie.

Go see it. You won't be disappointed!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Movie, "The Unknown"

I love action, mystery, and suspenseful movies. Such is the movie, "The Unknown". I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The questions about identity, reality and intentional deception was the topic that created the story line. Though I would never want to be in a real world scenario as the one painted, I did think that the director's did a great job in making the movie "real".

Let's just say that when one is faced with conflicting stories about one's identity and memories, it creates a disturbance of personality. I wondered how much one could take in a "re; creation" of one's identity. Would this be considered tolerable to the scienttific community, and for what reasons, would such re-framing be done? When would such an endeavor be considered abusive, totaltalitarian, and unethical? On what basis would one argue against such an under-taking?

Identity is created by the intereaction with the "real world" and the personal one. When these realities collide, there is a dissassociation of identity, or a questioning of "who I am" that has to be reformed, and re-framed. 

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Movie, "The Power of Words"

Interesting movie tonight on a DVD we bought for a couple of dollars. The theme was about trauma and its effects.

The nurse doctored a patient who'd lost his sight due to an explosion on an oil rigg, was the main character. She was withdrawn and obviously emotionally distant, but no one knew the reason, until the tension had built in the moive such that when she revealed "her secret", the audience could "feel a release" of tension, which added to the feeling of anger toward her revelation, i.e., the problem.

The secret was of her political and emotional abuse by the police in her country of Yugoslavia. She's been repeatedly raped, seen her best friend die in front of her, bleeding slowly to death. She had witnessed an officier putting a gun in the hands of another prisoner and "helping" her insert the gun into her vagina, pulling the trigger. Such emotional and physical abuse one cannot imagine. But, the full impact was revealed by her psychologist to her former patient.

The patient had fallen in love with her, but she left him before he had had surgury to regain his eyesight. The fully recovered patient found her psychologist and asked if she could help him. The psychologist warned him that she would be affected possibly forever by such experiences. The effect of surviving such an incident is "shame". The questions that continue to haunt her about her survival when the rest had died would not be easy to get over, if at all..  But, he still wanted to find her.

When he finally found her, he gave her the satchel she'd left behind. She started to walk away, only to hear him tell her he wanted her to come with him. She told him that she was afraid that if she did, she'd start to cry at some point and never be able to stop and they'd both drown. He smiled and told her he'd learn to swim.

The pain she carried in her heart was not something that can be reconciled with any belief in "Providence", God, or a caring or just world. That kind of pain is brought about by those that seek to inflict their control and domination of others. Such behavior is more common in groups, where there is a comaradie about why "the other" deserves such abuse. Those that are different and outside the scope of humankind.

What is "humankind"? What makes us all human? The ability to think, reason, feel and commit to certain behaviors? Humans have a lot to learn before we all will come to understand all the answers to that question. But, the answers might just give us insight into how to prevent such atrocities in the future.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Questions About Reality

My husband is reading a book, to review it, "Is God a Mathematician? And I had not really connected that dot to another in my thinking. Was the American Revolution based on an understanding of Newton's empiricism, and understanding of "Nature"? Or did the Founders really think their revolution was a "New Creation"?

I don't know enough about the history of law to know what the foundations of Law were. But, it would be an interesting story. Our nation has been based on Greek and Roman understanding of law and liberty. Were the Founders looking at "Nature" as a law, when the DOI says that "they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights". These rights were granted "BY MEN". So government is what protects these rights in the "real and political world"!

Science was the revolution of an enlightenment. Man was not the center of the Universe, but a part. This paradigm shift shook Christiandom to its roots. Man wasn't looked upon as a special creation. Then came Darwin's evolutionary theory, which associated man to the animal Kingdom. No longer was man created in "God's image", but an animal image. How did this affect man's understanding of himself, the world in which he lived and what these theories meant to man's life in the real world?

In mathmatical theory, there is a disagreement about whether man discovers the "laws of Nature' OR man "creates expressions that describe Nature" more effectively. Which is it? Does it matter?

Everything rests on theory. As the saying goes, "the Devil is in the details"!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Children of Divorce

My grandchildren spent 5 days with me recently, as their parents had to work and one night was spent in the hospital with our grandson for some testing. By the end of their stay, Hannah was asking for her Mommy and saying how she didn't ever want to leave her Mommy, "ever again". I knew she didn't say this because she had not enjoyed her visit with me, but because she had a real need for her "Mommy". When I asked her what she would do if she got married, she just smiled and said," I'll take Mommy with me."

I know they love me, as they express this often, but their hearts belong to their parents. and so it should be. What happens to such hearts when they face a loss "they can't imagine". Would it be the nightmare of their lifetime? And how would it affect the rest of their life?

I know of a case where the parents were divorced because of the husband's infidelity. The little girl was only 6, but was affected so deeply, a psychologist suggested regular counselling. But, how was a single mother to afford such an "extravagance"? This little girl had three other siblings; an older sister, a younger brother, and one yet to be born. This was the time when divorce was not looked upon lightly. It was a great stigma.

 The children and mother moved to a house beside their maternal grandparents, so the mother could work and the grandparents be ready made babysitters. The grandparents weren't too easy-going with the children's newfound anxieties. And with the newborn, it was almost too much.

Several years later, the mother and children moved to a small house near the hospital, where the mother held down a job. They were dirt poor, and had to make ends meet by sharing clothes and eating the bare minimum.

These experiences left deep scars on the children. All of them grew up with an unusual need for material security, and the "finer things in life", which I suppose was due to the shame they suffered from being so poor.

The good news is the mother got re-married when the children had become young adults. The oldest daughter marrying a year later and the next eloping a few months after that. A child was born to the eloping couple 9 months after their marriage. The mother was only 17.

How did that 17 year old mother think? Was she able to be equipped to parent her little girl? Wasn't she even in the best of circumstances at a grave disadvantage? And didn't her background make it even harder for her to "care and nurture"? What about her need for counselling that had not been met? Was this need exasperated by such stress as a teen marriage and teen motherhood?

I can't imagine how hard it would've been to be in her shoes. But, I do know the little girl could not have gotten good mothering. She couldn't have. And how did that affect her?

Children of divorce are more likely to get divorced themselves. I have wondered the reasons. Is it because they haven't the example of commitment? are they emotionally immature? or is it that they sabatoge their own happiness? or do they fear intimacy? do they expect and perhaps, force abandonment? Do they mis-read and mis-communicate due to their anxieties? Do they manipulate for fear their needs won't be met? do they feel unworthy and have a low self-esteem? are they low achievers or driven persons?

I think all of these apply in indivdual cases. And even divorces that happen after children are grown still has a grave affect. I had a friend in her 30's suffer after her parent's divorce. She was disoriented. Her identity was traumatized. She didn't see it coming. And she worried for her own children's sake!

I have several other friends who live in the house with their husbands, but have no intimacy. Which is worse? What is the answer?

I have seen in my own family my grandmother, and three of her four children suffer divorces. And the dynamics that are normally difficult are doubly compounded. Divorce should never be taken lightly. It affects everyone.

Moral Order

Another comment on another blog got me thinking this morning. The comment was in the context of education. The comment stated, that some teachers are more geared toward order while others are geared toward content. I agree. And I hope I can express all the thoughts congealing in my mind concerning the issue of order and content.

Moral order has been understood as "government". Government is about maintaining the sturctures in society. But, when order/government is abolutized, then, there is little room for liberty or choice, as to valuei. This is a authoritarian government. It is the Christian view of Moral Order under "God".

Scriptures paint a picture of what happens to those that subvert authority. These are lawless persons, that are killed, or punished like Moses' siblings, or the grumblers in the desert. God is the absolute authority. There is no resistance to his will, as he is perfect and we must submit to him. Othewise, we are rebellious, and call for God's judgment!

Such are the view of the Westboro Baptist Church's view. They represent his repulsion over the "gay community" and the judgment, that is deserved by standing at the funeral and yelling at the parents.

Fortunatly, for all of us, our govenrment allows for freedom of speech to such as these, because we all can have freedom of speech. Liberty is what Americans value in our Constitutional government, which IS the moral order of our govenrment! Thank goodness we are not like Islam, under a theocratic government, that stones the adultress!!!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Discrimination Is the Means of Making Decisions

One must discriminate to make value judgments. Otherwise, one is doomed to be defined by others and their value judgments. Values are what form our decision making and what makes for discriminations.

Universalism is an Utopian ideal, but is not practical in the real world of politics. One must make choices about where to draw lines, and where and what makes for the "best life", for oneself and others.

Our Constitution allows liberty of judgemnts, where religions seeks to subvert such liberty. Our society, while free and liberal, is also in need of solutions to societal ills. Such ills as budget deficits, to local delinquency are of concern to citizens. The answers are complex and won't be easy to come by, as they infliterate into our very cultural meleiu. What makes America American.

Liberty is such a value. More than once, I've heard that liberty is associated with license. "License" has to be defined. The normal definition of "license" is offical permission to carry out a particular job by the proper authorities. Licenses are legal contracts. But, the context might make a significant differnce. The religious would define license as "against God's law". Such definition is a narrowly focused, but widely defined, as religions would define "God" and "law" differently. This difference is what makes for religous wars. And such wars are justified in the name of "God".

Our Constitution limits only those who'd limit others in their liberty to 'find their own way". Choice is a value in America, because we believe in individual liberty of conscience. But, American families are broken and Americans have lost thie "sense" about value, when they don't seem to care about anything other than watching the next episode of "The Bacholor". Children are raised with little sense of self, because their parents are too busy to make room for baby. I don't value this attitude, because young people need guidance, so that they can make wise choices about thier lives. Parents and others in the community are needed to encourage such emotional and character development.

Discrimination means that making choices might mean separating onself from things that are not valued, as much. Prioritizing such values is a necessary "education" about oneself and goal setting.

In our culture, "discrimination' has gotten a "bad" or negative definition, because it has so often been associated with racial, or sexual inquality. Equality is an American ideal, so the politically correct definition of discrimination never gets investigated. It is swallowed without thinking about what it might mean.

I am glad that America allows for inviduals to discriminate about thier own values and purposes, otherwise, I would be discriminated against!!

Decision Making

Ayn Rand

‎"Since knowledge, thinking, and rational action are properties of the individual, since the choice to exercise his rational faculty or not depends on the individual, man’s survival requires that those who think be free of the interference of those who don’t."
“What Is Capitalism?” Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, 17

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

When We Get to Write Our Own Story

Children are known to love fairy tales. But fairy tales are not "fairy tales" to them. "Fairy tales" are real. Little girls envision the day that they will become a Princess. But, then, their little hearts are broken on the 'hard facts" of life. Life is not a "fairy tale", unless you believe in liberty.

My grand-daughter is just such a little girl. She dresses up and loves to watch for the "happily ever after". Just recently, she was the flower girl in my son's wedding. I couldn't help but notice how she was looking up at the bride. She was mesmerized. Her eyes were glowing and her little mouth was slightly smiling. I realized she was envisioning the bride as a "Princess". I wondered what she was thinking. Then, I learned that my daughter had told her that this would be a "Princess Day"! She readily accepted that rhe reality in her head, was the reality standing before her. They corresponded and confirmed to her little heart that "fairy tales" do come true.

Humans have a need and capacity to imagine, dream, hope and envision. They long for "a better tomorrow". This tendency can be a good incentive for future goals, or a passive longing and hoping for a "fairy godmother" to show up, always longing for "the grass on the other side".

America is known for making dreams possible, because we believe in individual liberty. Walt Disney took human nature and enlarged its dreams with color,. image and myth-making to make billions as this is the "stuff dreams are made of".

Self-interest is not a vice, but a virtue, because the individual is "the king of his own ship". Liberty is the ultimate value for human flourishing, otherwise overlords or rulers destroy the making of individual dreams and take away human desire to initiate. Liberty means one can write thier own story. And most of the time they succeed with a "happily ever after".