Friday, June 20, 2008


A good book for dealing with the emergence of the present day circumstances has come my way. Earthspirit is termed by its author, Michael Dowd, as a "handbook for nurturing an Ecological Christianity." The book's message is written simply and to the point. Evolution is part of the religious experience. The all of existence, universe, galaxy, animated and unanimated life, continue that march of change to fit circumstances in a process called evolution.


In my way of looking at the doctrine postulated in this book, all living things are part and parcel of a collective existence that imposes individual responsibilities and grants individual freedoms. The story of Genesis is a wonderful tool for presenting the basic creation story to the developing mind. Light, thunder and life begins. The process of evolution on earth has started.


Borrowing heavily from the beliefs of Native Americans, Dowd, through this book seeks to bring the reader to an appreciation of the individual's responsibilities in fulfilling the duties of stewardship imposed by an increased level of consciousness. Particularly enlightening for me was the proposal that the increasing level of consciousness applies not only to us, living and breathing humans, but to the entire universe itself.


At the same time, the book calls attention to the deficiencies of organized religion and its failure to address God's charge to nurture our world and, indeed, our existence. Your attention to the issues set forth in the book is deserved. If given an opportunity, please read it and reflect. Consider whether the real issue is: Do ethical considerations have a place at the table of science? After all, opportunity is a universal desire and one which all of us have within us to create.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

You Don’t Know How It Feels

Tom Petty plaintively sings a lyric to a tune in his album, Wild Flowers, with the words "you don't know how it feels to be me." That phrase is so applicable to our world today. We are all individuals and, although we can empathize with each other in regard to a particular experience, we can never truly know the other's deepest feelings.

Unfortunately, some people take this essence of individualism and pervert it. The proponents of this perversion maintain a claim that our basic animalistic nature dictates our behavior; that this justifies the contortion of this essence of individualism to a rule that says our individualism dictates competition. Such an approach is suicidal for our species and, if we continue to follow it, we are lost. Our culture exalted the value of "rugged individualism" in the past during a day and time of what appeared to be a world full of inexhaustive natural resources.

Sadly, the realization is just dawning for some that the emphasis can no longer be on "me" instead of "us." Greed can no longer be justified with the Ann Rand slogan of "the only pure virtue." The tendency to turn to promotion of self interest first has always been wrong. From Buddha through Christ to Mohammed, the word that it is wrong has gone forth and fallen on deaf ears.

Soon now, the continued emphasis on self by an individual will mean that the individual is not only stupid, but will also signal the elimination of that individual's place in the gene pool. Years ago, Clyde Kluckhohn on page 41 of his book Mirror For Man noted the fatal flaw in the prevailing justification of greed or rugged individualism with these words:

Many people in our society feel that the best way to get people to work harder is to increase their profits or their wages. They feel that it is just "human nature" to want to increase one's material possessions. This sort of dogma might well go unchallenged if we had no knowledge of other cultures. In certain societies, however, it has been found that the profit motive is not an effective incentive. After contact with whites the Trobriand Islanders in Melanesia could have become fabulously rich from pearl diving. They would, however, work only long enough to satisfy their immediate wants.

And so, I urge that you consider the words from the disciple Thomas, particularly verse 113 of the "Scholars' Translation" of the Gospel of Thomas by Stephen Patterson and Marvin Meyer, wherein Thomas reports the words of Jesus that "the Father's kingdom is spread out upon the earth,
and people don't see it."

In that same vein, we should never forget the closing words of President Kennedy's inaugural address where he stressed "let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God's work must truly be our own."

Saturday, June 7, 2008

We Didn’t Start the Fire

The sound reverberated in my head as I walked. Billy Joel sang the lyrics to We Didn't Start the Fire. For the first time, I also deciphered the closing words. "We didn't start the fire, but we're fighting it." With that background, I finished my daily hike and went to my computer and the television where I watched the ominous climb of the price of crude oil rise and rise.

When the markets closed, the price of oil had set unheard of records with predictions of $150 per barrel crude oil by July 4, 2004. Finally the world was paying attention to the problem that so many of us have seen coming for a long time.

Why did this happen? Who do we blame? The "why" is not hard to answer; a finite resource has met an increasing population with increasing demands for energy. Energy derived primarily from oil. The "who" is even easier to answer. We need only walk over to our mirror and look. We must blame ourselves.

I remember my parents. Both my mother and my father were products of the great depression. They worked hard and had a nice home in the latter part of their lives. Somehow, they did not endorse the manner in which I spent my money. I was affronted that they did not share my ability to buy a new car, live in a nice home, and have as high a standard of living as theirs at a comparatively much earlier stage of life.

Now I understand why my parents constantly lectured on the value of frugality and of maintaining a constant vigil against waste of all of our resources. I still remember the constant reminders to turn off the lights when leaving a room. I still remember the "hand me down" clothing from older siblings who had outgrown them.

At this difficult time (and it will be difficult) in the history of our world, I think we take a page from the story of those who came before us. We turn to life in a simpler time. We conserve. We enter into a relationship of community with our neighbors. Only in this way can we preserve a social fabric in which we and our nation survive in a world that faces a truly dark time. My prediction is that hope will prevail. The things that change will enrich our lives not detract from them.

Some day in the future (and we hope it is soon) more efficient ways of utilizing the energy of the sun, the wind, and perhaps gravity itself will present humankind with the possibility of continued survival in an era of co-operation. The only way to stop the fire is to fight it and fight it we must.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Cannibalism For A Ride

Over a billion people world-wide are threatened with starvation. The cause: Many fingers are pointing at bio-fuel production to wean folks off of oil to run their automobiles.

The issue arose at a United Nations food conference or summit which opened this week in Rome, Italy. Food is becoming too expensive. The increase in the price of food stuffs is apparent to all of us in this country. To observe it, you simply walk through the grocery stores on a periodic basis.

Yet, the leadership of the greatest country in the world sits quietly with hands folded as this crisis unfolds. Well, you could say that a solution cannot be found, but this is different. We are not talking about just anything. We are talking about a moral imperative that we do not engage in cannibalism. It is no more and no less than just that when we choose to put food in the form of ethanol in our gas tanks while the bellies of children stay empty and lead to their slow and agonizing death.

If urging food for the innocent and sacrifice by the more fortunate leads to my designation as a quack or a screaming liberal, then, although I am neither of those things, I shall wear the label if a solution to that problem can be found.

If humankind is determined to be nothing more than a species of animal, as a lot of folks believe, then we do not have to worry about the future. We have plenty of people, probably too many, and we may just turn to that resource eventually in a classic struggle of the strongest to survive. On the other hand, we can choose to be something greater than ourselves and dedicate our lives again to what our recent commenter Rube Cretin has termed "the greatest vanity." We can dedicate ourselves to making the world a better place and maybe, just maybe, save it.