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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Death Defeated

"I long to be with you, and to love you forever."

I told my wife that.  And I believe in forever.  I am a Christian, as I've stated so many times my atheist friends are turning green... I believe in eternity.  Now, having said all of that, I don't believe that eternity is a temporal, physical, viscerally experienced world.  I believe we are sent here to earth to endure suffering, enjoy pleasure, to understand the sensual world, and by sensual I am not implying erotic. 

So, why do these bones left in this fashion move me?  I mean, obviously if I believe in eternity and the continuance of existence via the spiritual realm, or non material realm, aren't these skeletons just remnants or artifacts of life?  No.  They are a photograph, a memory, of the power of love, unto death.  Death is powerful, it is transformational, it removes hope from many people.  But, in loving one another, and being buried together, in embrace, they were able to mock death, to flip it the bird, if you will.

When asked how I wanted to be cared for after death I said, I don't care.  This led to a long conversation of how our death here is not a big deal to me, and that whatever my wife and family chose to do with my remains, I was cool.  So my wife said, so we just have you buried and move on.  I said no, have me cremated and flush my ashes down the toilet.  She wasn't too happy with that, but, I said, honestly, the bathroom is where I spend most of my life, if you must have a certain lingering memory of me, flush me in memorial to all the time I spent there.

She wasn't really convinced.



















"A pair of human skeletons lie entwined at an Neolithic archaelogical dig site near Mantova, Italy, in a photo released February 6, 2007. In a Valentines Day gift to the country, scientists said they are determined to jointly remove and preserve the remains of the couple buried 5,000 to 6,000 years ago, their arms still wrapped around each other in an enduring embrace.  Credit: Reuters/Enrico Pajello/Handout"

Thursday, September 18, 2014

What is Hell?

I have never believed in the literally described Hell as a location or a place with a Lake of Fire.  I have struggled with the concept of a God who would send those who did not believe to a place suffer eternal torment.  Suffering and punishment seem more human concepts than elevated godly ones.  I am familiar with what Hell is for, and what it is said to be.



In the deeper past, Hell has numerous sources.  Found in the so-called Abrahamic religions,  Jewish, Christian, and Islamic scriptures consider Gehenna as a destination of the wicked.  The good do not dwell there, it is for those cursed and to be punished.  Sheol is the abode of the dead, similar to Hades of Greek mythology.  All who are dead but not yet judged are said to exist here.  Hell as the term, and place for punishment is a combination of Anglo/Norse terms, Hel being the queen of death realms in Norse and some other myths, while the concept of eternal torment and suffering comes from the various translations of terms from the New Testament of the Bible.


But I think and might surely be wrong, that it is a metaphor, for being lost, and being outside of the relationship with God. I am making a personal commentary, not one derived from any dogma, or even, necessarily my religion. I am a Christian, but I do not necessarily conform to any coded requirements or follow any articles of faith, outside of having read/reading the bible, studying concepts of right and wrong, and accepting my flaws and weakness as an interpreter.  I fall under the label of independent politically, and I think the same label would work for me regarding God, Christianity and religion.  While I worship, believe in, and follow Jesus Christ, I find most "denominations" and "religions" to not be for me.  I am allied with some of them, however, and trust that they can help others.


I've many reasons for what I believe, but I am not trying here to define them, or convert other people into belief.  I have used the terms "the devil""Hell""Lucifer""Satan" and being that I am discussing the subject I thought it would be more honest of me to explain my use of the terms, and how my person beliefs are not altogether literal regarding faith, even should I be using terms that come from and reflect a particular version of faith, religion, or belief.


I haven't worked out the exacts yet, of what my cosmology might look like.  I have beliefs about what God is, what belief means, and how I might follow.  I find purpose in both the path I take, and how it is meant to be taken.  I believe that death will obviously happen, but, my definition of death is very simply, the end of life in physical form.  Whatever goes on beyond this world, is left to prophets, theologians, scientists, believers, agnostics and atheists.  I am a poet, and while I might well think on these subjects, others are better at arguing their views, or explaining them.


I have been told that my writings too often refer to God and my belief in God.  If that is the case, I suggest to those who are so sensitive regarding such subjects to stop reading what I say.  A poet is meant to be nude to the world, in my view.  As I am a poet, everything I am is up for others to judge, question, contemplate, mock, ridicule, and more.  But I didn't just become birthed with ideas.  My life, my background of what I've read, how I was raised, all contribute to my worldview.  

But, whatever you think of my beliefs about God or anything, I want to say, I believe that God is good.  Thereby, whatever God makes is good, and God made me.  I use my intellect that is God given.  I use the events in my life to help forge wisdom.  I use my poetry to explore my own world, along with comment for others to consider about their world.  People have told me that God and various sorts of followers are judgmental.  To which I have to say, I believe that we are all filled with acts of judgment, towards others, ourselves, and to understand our place in this world we have to make judgments.  What is right, who is moral, where is hope, who do I trust, why do I suffer are all questions that require our judgment to answer.

God gave us tools to make judgments.  We are allowed to consider all sources of information, and judge which is righteous and good.  I believe that God doesn't condemn us to Hell.  I believe that we condemn ourselves to Hell.  And I believe that Hell is a metaphor for being in a place where we refuse to believe, along with don't believe.  That is, Belief is an active thing.  I believe that to say you do not see evidence of God is different than to say There is no God.  I believe that the terms and concepts Hell and The Devil and Satan and Lucifer are all tools to help guide us to the destination.

But I might be wrong.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Bones of a fallen world

It is said that the future is unwritten. That there are no promises. Every choice made now, effects the future. The fluttering of a butterfly's wings in Mexico, perhaps will result in a hurricane in Brazil.

But I was given a dream, no, a nightmare.  I woke with a vision of the future.  A virus was born from the tragedies of conflict, poverty, and hate.  Fear of the virus would soon rule human interaction, lives, and empires. As cruel of a reign as Death had previously, the virus now held the throne.  Despair was the table upon which the few survivors would sup.

With winged sandals of Hermes, with the wings upon a pegasus, soar above the earth and see the burning clouds, from the mass of pyres that were used to cremate the remains of humanity.   The skies were torn asunder with fire, black, and storms.

Every single breath taken had to be begged for, as if the oxygen were gone.  The wealthy and the poor were finally equal, the virus that burned, killed without prejudice.   The earth will collapse under its own weight of sorrow. The bones of the skeletal remains, now cracked upon after death so that the scavengers could suck the marrow.  The wrath of our indulgences repaid upon our children, the legacies of our failures castrate the generations that come.

When the earth has been drained of resources, and the land is no longer able to provide, for those who have survived, if not thrived, there will be a reckoning.  Wars among the survivors pour out the final wine from the vintage, and no one is spared. Poet warrior Archillochus spoke the truth "Ares is a democrat. There are no privileged people. on a battlefield." 

  "The death-change comes.
Death is another life. We bow our heads
At going out, we think, and enter straight
Another golden chamber of the king's,
Larger than this we leave, and lovelier.
And then in shadowy glimpses, disconnect,
The story, flower-like, closes thus its leaves.
The will of God is all in all. He makes,
Destroys, remakes, for His own pleasure, all."

Philip James Bailey, Festus 


Who are we to question our purpose, when we have only sought to fill our bellies over full?  When greed is considered the righteous motive to progress?  Upon death, there will be symphonies, no choral anthems, or choirs singing grieving songs.  When the world dies we will not be worth having been here, for Eden we had.  And sorrow we earned.


Sunday, September 14, 2014

THE COURSE OF EMPIRE

Thomas Cole
The Course of Empire by Thomas Cole was a series of 5 paintings illustrating how an empire would birth, grow, reach its peak, fall, and be remembered.  Thomas Cole was a fine painter, with skills that were obviously considerable.  His native talent was brought out further with his dedication to craft.
But, it should be said, art is a product that depends upon the reception of that product, in order to be considered successful.  Sadly, many artists fail regardless of their talents, and dedication and time devoted to development of skill.  Thomas Cole was no different.  While these paintings were successful, as a painter he and his family were often hungry and hoping for a sale, or two.

The series of paintings were begun as a response to the inspiration from Lord Byron's poem Childe Harold's Pilgrimage .

(Verse quotes of Lord Byron from Childe Harold's Pilgrimage)


The Savage State

"Full from the fount of Joy's delicious springs
 Some bitter o'er the flowers its bubbling venom flings. "



The Arcadian State

"But 'midst the crowd, the hum, the shock of men,
 To hear, to see, to feel, and to possess,
 And roam along, the world's tired denizen,
 With none who bless us, none whom we can bless."


The Consummation of Empire

"But hush! hark! a deep sound strikes like a rising knell!
  Did ye not hear it?—No! 't was but the wind,
  Or the car rattling o'er the stony street.
  On with the dance! let joy be unconfined;
  No sleep till morn, when Youth and Pleasure meet
  To chase the glowing hours with flying feet."



Destruction

"Could I embody and unbosom now
  That which is most within me,--could I wreak
  My thoughts upon expression, and thus throw
  Soul, heart, mind, passions, feelings, strong or weak,
  All that I would have sought, and all I seek,
  Bear, know, feel, and yet breathe--into one word,
  And that one word were lightning, I would speak,
  But as it is, I live and die unheard,
  With a most voiceless thought, sheathing it as a sword."


Desolation
          
            "There is the moral of all human tales;  
            'Tis but the same rehearsal of the past.
             First freedom and then Glory – when that fails,
            Wealth, vice, corruption – barbarism at last.
            And History, with all her volumes vast,
            Hath but one page..."

 Some Further Notes
Lord Byron

Lord Byron was not referring to Rome when writing.  Although the life cycle of an empire certainly fit/applies, he was referring to the recent, for him, wars of empire of France, England and Russia.  The wars of Europe had gone on long and the people were exhausted by it.

There are symbolic clues to the poem regarding the cycle of life of an empire.  The first painting shows a wild land being pummeled by storms, in the dawn's light.  The Arcadian state is one where it is mid morning, and there is a calm about the world depicted.  The Consummation of Empire depicts a developed, busy state, in the light of a later afternoon.  By the Destruction era, the sun is setting, and the world is not just busy but is panicked.  Finally in Desolation, the calm has returned, but there are no people to be seen in the image.  Nightfall and the moon are seen, as the viewer realizes that the empire has died, and is close to being now forgotten.


Saturday, September 13, 2014

When Guilt Crushes, and Fingers Point

There are things we do that I am convinced are worse for our existence than war, crime or ignorance.  We aren't evil, perhaps, but we make choices that are wrong, and we suffer for the choice.  Some people would like  us to believe that our culture caused us to act in a way, or our lack of will, or intellect.  But whatever happened to us, however we grew up, and wherever we live, the choice to act, for good or evil was ours.  Forgiveness of our self is very important, but so is being true to our selves.  People will always push their hubris upon you, hoping you will take it, and remove it.  But the answer to that, is to take ownership of our own hubris, and reject that of other people.

To live with hidden secrets is worse than to be accused for something you did not do.  Guilt burns inside, whereas being falsely accused allows you at least the sanctuary of self, because you know that you are not guilty.  Both situations mean you know the truth, and others do not, but in one case you suffer in silence from your deed, and in the other, you are thought to be guilty, but are not.

So did Satan feel either of these thoughts?  Did he feel wronged? Or shame for his choices?

I have kept painful secrets inside my heart, and I have been falsely accused.  The suffering inside is beyond pain.  It hollows your soul so that when joy is possible, you turn away, fearful of being enticed and turned away.  Guilt is a poisonous thing.  Relieving your soul of it involves soul searching, honesty, and possible embarrassment.

Modernity seems to be filled with choices, and they seem to offer freedom from guilt.  But that is a lie.  Humans have a conscience, and when they do not, they are considered to be sick.  Being guilty and owning the guilt and the choice allows you to enter  into forgiveness.  Rejecting guilt, accentuating your pride and feelings of worth that impinge upon others, is the path to hell.

I do not think Satan felt falsely accused nor guilt for his actions.   He definitely felt pride, and he made his choice. *

((*  I also don't quite believe in the red devil with horns and forked tail.  He is concept, a focal point of understanding our own evil.  But I do believe that there is evil that exists outside of our human existence and awareness.  So, I am not fully rejecting the existence of Satan, only our beliefs about his physical manifestations.))


"Lucifer Liege Luc Viatour new" by Luc Viatour - own work www.lucnix.be, cropping by Richardfabi 22:00, 25 April 2008 (UTC)Nikon case D300 optical Sigma 17-70mm F2,8/4,5. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

To Watch, With Honor

They watch, loyal forms of stone.  Over the great city of culture, of love.  They watch without end, solemn and silent, for they were made to be guardians, and they do their work well.

 “Rather fail with honor than succeed by fraud.” Sophocles

We, the makers, do nothing so well as the gargoyles.  We have freedom, not purpose, we are made of flesh that dies, not stone that remains, for ages. We pursue leisure, treasure, pleasures, while they stand watch, never failing.  

“Fail to honor people,they fail to honor you; but of a good leader, who talks little, when his work is done, his aims fulfilled, they will all say, 'We did this ourselves.'” Lao Tzu
 

I believe that living with honor is a result of having a belief in your actions having purpose, and what you do echoing into memory of the past.  Living without honor is easier than not.  But life has meaning, especially when lived with purpose.  

“Honor is the inner garment of the Soul; the first thing put on by it with the flesh, and the last it layeth down at its separation from it.” Akhenaton 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

False Worship


Worship.  Worship comes in many forms.  But to worship a created thing instead of the creator, is called idolatry.  I have often thought that nature is perfect, and perhaps, in itself, without any context, it is.  But nature is a created thing.  So in my view, America, which worships celebrity, fame, power, beauty, success, and more, is an idolatrous nation.  I believe every nation is likely such, but having not lived elsewhere I can only offer that as a theory.

But the worship of idols has gone on so long, we have no reason to be ashamed for it.  We have inherited this tendency from 30 previous generations, or more. I do not offer these thoughts to condemn other people.  I am idolatrous.  I look at beauty and praise it, worship it, in my own wicked way.   And I am ashamed of myself.  I recognize that many people, if not most, do not believe in a god.  I do.  So when I worship the created, instead of the creator, I fail worse than others, who hold no beliefs.  Some of my behavior is instinct.  I am made of meat, I am not so bright I escape my human trappings.  I lust for women.  Beautiful women make me want to have their body close to me, and to have sex with them.  The extent to which I fight, depends  upon how moved I am.  I am not, however, a wall of stone.  How tired I am, how long it has been since I've been with my wife, and simply the power of the beauty before me all play a role in my descent.

I fail.  Every day, I fail.  But I will go on, and try harder.  Because the result if I do not, is to fall from this high perch, to the bowels of Hell.  Lust is my greatest sin, it is a multiple headed snake, with poison to kill me.  So mock me, track my fall, laugh at my folly.  I deserve it.  But I believe in the Creator, the architect of everything.  So whatever I endure, is worth the pain.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Wheatfield with Crows: The power of creation in everyone

To be moved by the fields, one must be able to see the stalks and kernels as eternity.  The crows flying above them are in worship of the maker of the fields.  Though the horizon is dark, and the winds rage, we know the day will return bright, and the harvest of grain full.


We are not told our purpose in life.  We are not born given directions to succeed from a internal voice or billboards.  We have goals to become moral, that much is clear to me.  We have a clue about how to do that.  But to what end?  Why not just beat the crap out of people and steal their joy, their livelihoods, their harvest?  

I believe that we are born with a sense of right and wrong.  Whatever else, we have a natural inclination for goodness, and we are healthier when we are moved by hope.  I believe therefore that what our hearts recognize as good means that the life of pillage, theft, assault, do not offer hope, only sorrow.  And we might not cognitively understand why, but we do know.  A tree doesn't require knowledge of the chemical equations resulting in being fed by its roots. But it still does benefit from such.


There will always be storms on the horizon, whether snow, rain, ice, wind, or dust.  We are always going to be tossed by the power of the forces of existence.  The purpose I find is found in knowing that life without meaning is absurd.  I treasure the fact that I might create purpose for my existence, rather than to allow existence to be me.  My life was a gift and if I let it waste, if I ignore my gifts, I am not worthy of that gift of life.  I am worthy.  I have a destiny to exist, to survive the horrors that existence brings, and go to the place, via my journey, that will redeem me.

Knowing that life is absurd, and wrought with events that can injure me, and distract me, I have to accept that for there to be value in my existence, I must create a purpose.

My purpose is to love others, and to show the world that there is more than simply being.  I believe that we must make our world a better place as our purpose.  We will then have wrought in the stories and paintings, architecture and sculptures our efforts to make the world better, even new.  By having children we explore our own powers of creation, but we create far more than just with that. Every painting's brush stroke, every poem's rhyme, every rock placed properly upon the wall of other rocks, we create.

May you be blessed in your labors, your creations, and hope.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Ovid's Transformation: From hero poet to outcast

Ion Theodorescu-Sion "OVID IN EXILE"

"Nec species sua cuique manet, rerumque novatrix
Ex aliis alias reddit natura figuras.
Nec perit in toto quidquam, mihi credite, mundo,
Sed variat faciemque novat: nascique vocatur
Incipere esse aliud, quàm quod fuit antè; morique
Desinere illud idem; quum sint huc forsitan illa,
Haec translata illuc; summâ tamen omnia constant."

No species remains constant: that great renovator of matter
Nature, endlessly fashions new forms from old: there’s nothing
in the whole universe that perishes, believe me; rather
it renews and varies its substance. What we describe as birth
is no more than incipient change from a prior state, while dying
is merely to quit it. Though the parts may be transported
hither and thither, the sum of all matter is constant. 

Turner's painting Ovid Banished from Rome, shows a flash of golden light, but the overall composition is not a flash of golden brilliance, rather, it is the setting sun upon an old and chaotic place.  That is, while the bright sun can show the architecture in a golden brilliance, and perfection, it can also reveal the hazy, softly passing into irrelevance and aging.

That is, by banishing the poet Ovid, Rome sealed its own fate by removing one who might challenge its status quo, and question what is right and wrong.

"Cura quid expediat prius est quam quid sit honestum."
It is annoying to be honest to no purpose.

Ovid was a brilliant poet, also, a true romantic believing in the glories of romance and sexual love.  He was cast out of Rome for his poetry that might incite people to break the bonds of monogamy.  This came at a time that the Empire of Rome was trying to bring a sense of order back to society, after the many excesses of the beginnings of the Empire.

"Sic ego nec sine te nec tecum vivere possum."  
Thus, I can neither live without you nor with you.

J.M.W. Turner, Ovid Banished from Rome

"Nitimur in vetitum semper, cupimusque negata."  
We are ever striving after what is forbidden, and coveting what is denied us.


The Future...

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” Søren Kierkegaard
 


We live in a wonderful world, a terrible world, people are good/evil, giving and selfish.  We do wonderful/terrible things to the planet.  I am conflicted, you see.  I am a believer that our world is a part of us, and we are a part of it.  So I disagree with people who argue that humans are a virus that is killing the planet.  However, I also believe that things humans have done have had negative consequences for the planet, and that we need to be better.

“Is this a horrible future? Or actually a return to what we've always had in the past? Think of old villages. Everybody knew everything about everybody else. Strangers were intimidating and worrisome. This will be like the village our ancestors grew up in, only with 7 billion people.” DAVID BRIN

The future is a frightful thing.  However, some believe we've only begun a human renaissance, the technology will allow us to expand and grow and learn.  Others are less hopeful.  They see a world where humans are growing in intellect but not in maturity or wisdom. And some see the world as a presenting a case for human devolution.  Where the equivalent ignorance of cave men with few language skills possess cell phones and computers.  They believe the world is their oyster, without having a clue what that means, nor the intellectual desire to find out.  Again, we have a number of views.  Some thinkers in the 1800s believed that the world, by now in our present would involve space colonization, and various other big ideas, that have never come true.

“This is my long-run forecast in brief:

The material conditions of life will continue to get better for most people, in most countries, most of the time, indefinitely. Within a century or two, all nations and most of humanity will be at or above today's Western living standards.

I also speculate, however, that many people will continue to think and say that the conditions of life are getting worse.”   JULIAN SIMON


But the future is unwritten.  There is no destiny or fate guiding our hands.  Every single thing we build and create, we enter a new different place.  The journey to the future is walked by everyone who thinks new things. Architects, writers, artists, inventors, even politicians all contribute to creation of the new world.

"Solving the population problem is not going to solve the problems of racism… of sexism… of religious intolerance… of war… of gross economic inequality—But if you don’t solve the population problem, you’re not going to solve any of those problems. Whatever problem you’re interested in, you’re not going to solve it unless you also solve the population problem. Whatever your cause, it’s a lost cause without population control." PAUL EHRLICH


Some imagine flying cars.  Some imagine Artificial Intelligence and Cloning to have replaced humans in military and labor.  In some minds, war becomes a constant, rights are lost, and we are surrounded by chaos.  Some imagine dystopias ruled by the wealthy, or the otherwise elite.  I accept that all things are possible.  Perhaps, many things will combine, I obviously don't know the future.  In fact, my degrees from university are in history and political science.  So I am better at understanding events of the past than those of the future.  However, we cannot move forward for any length of time, and do anything positive, without a thorough understanding of the mistakes of our past.


“It is by no means an irrational fancy that, in a future existence, we shall look upon what we think our present existence, as a dream.”  EDGAR ALLAN POE






Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Lazarus Be Damned

They ask us for and beg us our forgiveness.  Life does not offer hope, nor does it offer fruition of their dreams.  They remain unable, and even unwilling to go on.

"To the ears of one possessed by the God of Death, reason and objections seem like so many idle complaints."

Chikamatsu Monzaemon

I too am limited, by my flesh,  and I am unable to fly.  But casting aside my flesh, I will soar.  But I am not God, nor the Angel of Death

"Gut ist der Schlaf, der Tod ist besser—freilich
Das beste wäre, nie geboren sein."

Heinrich Heine

They might desire to leave.  They might have ample reason to wish to flee.  Life is hard.  I too grieve that I am unable to survive what others thrive within.  My mind is not as that of the rest of the world.  My body grows older, not from the years, but from the pain.  But the difference is, I have hope.


Source of image

"We shall not decide which life fights the good fight most easily, but we all agree that every human being ought to fight the good fight, from which no one is shut out, and yet this is so glorious that if it were granted only once to a past generation under exceptional circumstances-yes, what a description envy and discouragement would then know how to give! The difference is about the same as that in connection with the thought of death. As soon as a human being is born, he begins to die. But the difference is that there are some people for whom the thought of death comes into existence with birth and is present to them in the quiet peacefulness of childhood and the buoyancy of youth; whereas others have a period in which this thought is not present to them until, when the years run out, the years of vigor and vitality, the thought of death meets them on their way. Who, now, is going to decide which life was easier, whether it was the life of those who continually lived with a certain reserve because the thought of death was present to them or the life of those who so abandoned themselves to life that they almost forgot the existence of death?" Soren Kierkegaard


Suicide is a horrible thing,  But death is not the end.  Death is the finality of the flesh that we wear.  Deeper inside we have something that is eternal.

"You grieve for those who should not be grieved for;
yet you speak wise words.
Neither for the dead nor those not dead do the wise grieve.
Never was there a time when I did not exist
nor you nor these lords of men.
Neither will there be a time when we shall not exist;
we all exist from now on.
As the soul experiences in this body
childhood, youth, and old age,
so also it acquires another body;
the sage in this is not deluded."

Lord Krishna speaking in the Bhagavad Gita

So do not grieve.
What is eternal has always been
What is temporal isn't meant to go on.



Monday, September 1, 2014

The narrow line

Astride the line between Heaven and Hell is this earth.  I long to breathe, to lay down upon the ground, but I live in fear.  Should I stray, I'll be cast out, or held captive.  So instead, I prepare myself for my catastrophic end.  I will never sleep, again.  I therefore will never dream, ever again.