Tag: God

A return to integrity

Can we mend our broken ways? Just possibly.

Yesterday’s long rant was the outcome of me promising ‘a debate’ with Patrice Ayme.  Succinctly, I had disagreed with a comment from Patrice where he had written: “Force is the truth of man. Everything else is delusion, even the vegetarian style.” and wanted to respond within the space of a post rather than the more restrictive comment.

For my disagreement with Patrice had been essentially about his statement, ‘Force is the truth of man‘.  I don’t recall a war in the last 50 years that has been a force for good.

But then it was Alex’s comment, see below, that stopped me short.  For I realised that I was confusing ‘force’ with ‘war’ and that was probably a big mistake on my behalf.  Of course, I’m writing this without the benefit of knowing better what Patrice meant in his comment! Blogging, as powerful a media as it is, does not provide for immediate interaction!

Nevertheless, Alex’s comment yesterday was powerfully inspirational.  Because so many of us (and I include me in that ‘us’) all too often behave as though we are a species utterly divorced from Nature.

I closed yesterday’s post with these words;

So what to do?  Because I am fundamentally at odds with the sentiment expressed by Patrice Ayme; “Force is the truth of man. Everything else is delusion, even the vegetarian style.

The answer takes us to tomorrow’s post, A return to integrity.

And, yes, it does mention dogs!  Rather a lot as it happens!

Dogs are the one species that man has lived with longer than any other species.  So when we refer to the qualities of the dog it is simply because we are so familiar with them.  In no way does that exclude the numerous other species that bond with man and share the same wonderful qualities.

Qualities so easily seen: Love, Honesty, Loyalty, Trust, Openness, Faithfulness, Forgiveness and Affection. Together they are Integrity.

Of course dogs will kill a rabbit, for example, as readily as a cat will kill a mouse.  In this respect force is the truth of Nature.

The only way for species man to survive on this planet is for every element of man’s existence on this planet to be rethought of in terms of the natural order.  Read the comment left by Alex in yesterday’s post:

Hi Paul, what you highlight are examples of disconnection between humanity with nature and each other. I have on my own blog highlighted a concept of Ubuntu – “I am because we are” – which is only possible when the self realises they are part of an inter-connected network of life. Your example of islands of fragmented forest where disconnected wildlife are dying out is how it is with disconnected humanity, we are doomed to destruction because we are cut off from the life-giving connection to nature.

All the problems you highlight are symptoms of the disease of disconnection, until there is reconnection to nature none of these symptoms can be successfully addressed.

War is an integral part of nature, when people seek to dismiss this then they add to the disconnection from nature. I was stung in the face by a drunken wasp a few days ago, this is how it is with nature, it is beautiful but also brutal. Peace and balance are illusions, life is in a becoming because of unbalance and strife. I advocate harmony, like a downhill skier we do not seek to control our surroundings, but instead act in harmony by moving around the obstacles such as rock and tree.

Disconnection can be as large as destroying whole forests by ignorant energy policies to those idiots who kicked a puffball to pieces before I could harvest it, or the new owners of my former home who have taken a chainsaw to all the trees and bushes in the garden. People who are disconnected do not consider how their actions impact nature or people contrary to the philosophy of Ubuntu.

I am because we are!” Each and every one of us is where we are today, for good or ill, because of what we are: part of Nature.  It’s so incredibly obvious – we are a natural species – yet who reading this wouldn’t admit at times to behaving “as though we are a species utterly divorced from Nature.”

Millions of us have pets and animals that we love.  Yet we still miss the key truth of our pets.  That we are a part of Nature, subject to Natural order, just as much as our pets are.  We have so much to learn from our animals.

Take this rather sad story but, nonetheless, a formidable story of the integrity of one species for another.  Watch the video.


Take this rather happier story about the integrity of one species for another. Watch the video.


Thus when we see the extraordinary benefits that arise from love and trust, from loyalty and faithfulness, and much more, why oh why is so much of our society fundamentally broken?

As John Hurlburt wrote in a recent email, it is because, “we are spiritual bankrupt. We spend too much of our time thinking about ourselves and what we want and too little of our time thinking about other people and what we all need.”  John went on to add that this spiritual bankruptcy had preceded our moral and economical bankruptcy. He pointed out that the solution to our moral and financial problems, as well as our salvation as individuals and as a species, is spiritual. “We simply need to love the Nature of God, the earth and each other regardless of what we may believe God to be.”

Now whether you are a religious soul, or a heathen, or somewhere in the middle, it matters not.  For if we continue to defy Nature and the natural laws of this planet we are going to be dust before the end of this century.  Again in John’s powerful words:

Denying climate change is a death wish.

Nature always wins in the long run.

Nature is balanced. Are we?

As if to endorse the great examples that Nature offers us in terms of the benefits of love and trust, take a look at these three recent photographs from here in Oregon.

A young timid deer responding to me sitting quietly on the ground.
A young timid deer showing her trust of me as I sat quietly on the ground less than 30 feet away.


A mother and her fawn trusting Jean's love for them, and getting a good feed!
A mother and her fawn trusting Jean’s love for them, and getting a good feed!


Sweeny, on back of settee, and Cleo in peace and comfort.
Little Sweeny and Cleo converting trust to peace and happiness.  (Not to mention Jean!)

Now these are not photographs to ‘ooh’ and ‘ah’ over, these are reminders that kindness, generosity, selflessness and trust are part of Nature.  All the great virtues and values of man do not come from a vacuum, they come to us via Nature.

We have been blessed by an evolution that has allowed mankind to achieve remarkable things.  Even to the point of leaving the confines of our planet and setting foot on the Moon and sending probes from out of our Solar System.  There’s a sense, a distinctly tangible sense, that man has conquered all; that we have broken the link from being part of Nature; from being of Nature.

And now Mother Earth is reminding all of her species, every single one of them including species man, that everything is bound by her Natural Laws.

Does this mean that man has to revert to some form of pre-civilised stone-age era?  Of course not!  Progress can be as much within the Natural order than in competition with it, as it has been in recent times.  In fact, Professor Pat Shipman explains our progress is benefited by being part of that Natural order.  Here’s how Amazon describe her book, The Animal Connection.

The Animal Connection: A New Perspective on What Makes Us Human

A bold, illuminating new take on the love of animals that drove human evolution.

Why do humans all over the world take in and nurture other animals? This behavior might seem maladaptive—after all, every mouthful given to another species is one that you cannot eat—but in this heartening new study, acclaimed anthropologist Pat Shipman reveals that our propensity to domesticate and care for other animals is in fact among our species’ greatest strengths. For the last 2.6 million years, Shipman explains, humans who coexisted with animals enjoyed definite adaptive and cultural advantages. To illustrate this point, Shipman gives us a tour of the milestones in human civilization-from agriculture to art and even language—and describes how we reached each stage through our unique relationship with other animals. The Animal Connection reaffirms our love of animals as something both innate and distinctly human, revealing that the process of domestication not only changed animals but had a resounding impact on us as well.

It’s a powerful read and greatly recommended.  Here’s an extract from the book [page 274, my emphasis]:

Clearly, part of the basis of our intimacy with tame or domesticated animals involves physical contact.  People who work with animals touch them.  It doesn’t matter if you are a horse breeder, a farmer raising pigs, a pet owner, a zoo keeper, or a veterinarian, we touch them, stroke them, hug them.  Many of us kiss our animals and many allow them to sleep with us.  We touch animals because this is a crucial aspect of the nonverbal communication that we have evolved over millennia.  We touch animals because it raises our oxytocin levels – and the animal’s oxytocin levels.  We touch animals because we and they enjoy it.

From the first stone tool to the origin of language and the most recent living tools, our involvement with animals has directed our course.

So to round this off.  These last two posts came from my need to debate with Patrice the statement that “Force is the truth of man.”  If Patrice’s meaning was that the truth of man is subject to the force of Nature, then I agree one-hundred percent.

For the time for man to recognise that the force of Nature is “the truth of man” is running out.

Each of us, whoever you are, for the sake of your children and for all of the children in the world, embrace today the qualities, the values of Nature.

Love, Honesty, Loyalty, Trust, Openness, Faithfulness, Forgiveness, Affection.

(Unknown author)

If you can resist treating a rich friend better than a poor friend,

If you can face the world without lies and deceit,

If you can say honestly that deep in your heart you have no prejudice against creed, colour, religion or politics,

Then, my friend, you are almost as good as your dog.

Let us learn from dogs.

Let us return to integrity.

Love is??

Reflections on the meaning of love.

Yesterday, I explored love across the species; back to that first encounter between wolf and early man.

Today, I want to revisit what we mean when we use the word ‘love‘ and feel the emotion.  I say revisit because it’s not the first time I have dipped my toes into this particular pool.  Last August, I wrote a piece What is love?  It opened thus:

How the relationship that we have with domesticated animals taught us the meaning of love.

This exploration into the most fundamental emotion of all, love, was stimulated by me just finishing Pat Shipman’s book The Animal Connection.  Sturdy followers of Learning from Dogs (what a hardy lot you are!) will recall that about 5 weeks ago I wrote a post entitled The Woof at the Door which included an essay from Pat, republished with her permission, that set out how “Dogs may have been man’s best friend for thousands of years longer than we realized“.

The following day, I wrote a further piece introducing the book and then commenced reading it myself.  Please go there and read about the praise that the book has received.

What I want to do is to take a personal journey through love.  I should add immediately that I have no specialist or professional background with regard to ‘love’ just, like millions of others, a collection of experiences that have tapped me on the shoulder these last 67 years.

The challenge for us humans is that while we instinctively understand what emotions represent: love, fear, anger, joy, grief, sadness, happiness, et al, we really have no way of knowing precisely what another person is feeling and how that feeling compares to our own awareness and experience of that emotion.

Stay with me as I explore how others offer a meaning of love.

As it happens, this week’s Sabbath Moment from Terry Hershey was much about love.

If you judge people you have not time to love them. Mother Teresa

Where there is great love there are always miracles. Willa Cather

Someday, after we have mastered the winds, the waves, the tides, and gravity, we shall harness… the energies of love. Then for the second time in the history of the world man will have discovered fire. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Then some further reflections:

Here’s my take: Life is complicated and at times, very, very challenging. And sometimes, overwhelming.  Bad things can happen to good people. Decisions can be thorny and disconcerting. However. Even in the midst … where there is great love, there are always miracles.


Here’s the deal:

  • Love is not always where I predict it will be.
  • Love can grow and blossom even in the face of striving and anguish.
  • If we judge we cannot love. Just because I see something one way, doesn’t mean that I am right and you are wrong.
  • When we do love, we are present. When we are present, there is always a thread.  The good news is that we are in this together. One day you may be that thread for me. And one day, I may be that thread for you.

Powerful words! Words that will have many nodding.  Yet still nothing absolute that offers a definition of love that would be universally understood.  Because there can be no universal definition.  That is the magic of all emotions – they defy the ‘science of life’.  So let’s just treasure that magic.

A few days ago, Sue over at Dreamwalker’s Sanctuary wrote a post under the title of Cosmic Seeds of Thought.  With Sue’s kind permission, I republish that in full.

Last night I wrote this poem, its been a while since I posted one, so as my pen flew across the page I was inspired with these words.. Maybe due to the recent Solar flares, but my ears have been ringing ever louder as the energies have intensified.. The Silence space within is a place to reflect and absorb the peacefulness of Oneness with the Universe…. A place I often go, where we can just close our eyes to the constant noise as the Planet cries with yet more pain…  Meditation helps centre our minds. If you would like to follow a meditation I often do… You can find it Here on a post I did back in 2008 .


Silence booms in an explosion of sound

Splintering static high pitched and loud

Morse Coded downloads in intermittent bursts

The Cosmos is talking-Do you hear its verse?


I escape to the mountains and I run to the sea

But its chatter surrounds me as I long to be free

I hear cries of children, laments from the old

Each on a journey their stories to be told


The Elephants and Dolphin their cries go unheard

Yet I hear their low rumbles and clicks how absurd

Each voice in the matrix – every thought in the mix

A Planet in Crisis – will it ever be fixed?


So I turn down the volume as I shut the outer door

As I meditate inward finding higher-self law

Here I seek Peace in the stillness I find

The Key to the Cosmos we turn in the mind


All things are great and all things are small

The Mind gives them power and shall overcome all

The Universal Plan- I am part and unique

Each one is searching to fit the pieces they seek


And the answer is simple- but we make is so hard

With the choices we choose as we shuffle life’s cards

It seems we chose greed, possession is King

Forgetting how to love our fellow Human Being


But it’s never too late for we each have a heart

To alter our ways – To care is a start

So clear out your Anger, your hatred and greed

Listen to your heartbeat –Start sowing Love Seeds

© Sue Dreamwalker – 2013 All rights reserved.

Start sowing love seeds!  Wonderful.

How to close it for today?  Frankly, I’m not sure.  So I’m going to ‘cheat’. By which I mean republish something else from last August. A guest essay about the loss of love.  Because it seems to me that one way (the only way?) to experience what love truly means is when we lose it. As Eleanore MacDonald describes below in the most heart-rending and beautiful fashion.


one of the seven great dogs

“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”
Anatole France

Djuna Cupcake, my heart of hearts,
photo by Breelyn MacDonald

A great squall came upon us here on our farmlet a week ago. I saw it first from a distance, in that dawning of the morning when Djuna usually announced the coming day with his gentle, breathy ‘woooof’, his polite plea to join us on the bed. Mysteriously disturbing, it surely was a sign of things to come, but we didn’t know how dangerous it really was until it was upon us.

And when it was suddenly there, a Great Joy was sucked from our world and an overwhelming sadness took its place … a raging stillness, hot and stifling, no breath, no heartbeat.

My springs of Joy are dry … (a sentiment stolen in part from that great old song, Long Time Traveler)

Djuna Cupcake was one of the Seven Great Dogs. If you’ve seen the film ‘Dean Spanley’, you will know what I mean. If you have loved and been loved by a dog of pure heart … one who was a great teacher of presence, of patience, one who was the dispenser of unconditional love and the blessings of an incomparable joy … one who was a great listener, guardian, and the embodiment of Buddha, Coyote, the Goddesses Eleos and Kuan Yin all in one soft coated body … one who was your loving shadow because he or she felt that it was their job to see you safe at all times … you will know what I mean.

He died quite suddenly. Like that squall, his death came with no warning and for days after Paul and I were sucked deep into that great black hole of grief. The dread attacked us at every turn, where we would always see him but now only a glaring emptiness stood. I felt as though my heart and soul had a raw, oozing, gaping, searingly painful wound where he had been torn away from me. Stolen. We cried a lot.

Some people will never understand. I try to feel compassion for them, rather than issuing the big ‘EFF YOU”, but I am only human. What is this BS about a ‘three day’ rule? What? Because he was ‘just a dog’ we should be over it all in 3 days? Djuna was surely a better person than most Humans and I will never stop missing him. I feel so deeply sorry for those people who have overlooked having such grace and beauty bless their lives –– the companionship of a great dog (or cat or horse, or human person) –– so that, when the monumental end comes and they’ve come through the great fires of sorrow, and have been washed by the flush of a million tears, they come through to the other side where they are able to see the remarkable love, joys and lessons they’d been gifted by that companionship. I can only hope now to ‘be’ the person Djuna thought me to be.

3 days and 3 more and 3 million more and even then more just won’t do it.

Paul and I were with Djuna on our bedroom floor when he died. I lay with him next to my heart, whispering love, my arm draped over his neck … and as he was leaving us, I saw him standing just beyond Paul. Alert, ears akimbo, head cocked, eyes bright, a wad of socks in mouth, standing in his particularly great exuberance, as he did each morning when the time for chores presented itself – “Come on! It’s time to go! Get with it you silly humans! There’s work to be done, there’s a barn to clean and a day to sniff, there’s delight to be found!” And then he left.

My ‘joyometer’, my daily dispenser of mirth, and my constant reminder of the importance of presence, has gone missing – his lessons of ‘Be Here Now’ measured in doses of ’Oh, sense the beauty in the music of the wind!’, ‘Let’s just run in circles and laugh’, ‘I love, love, love you!’ … gone. It is wholly up to me now to remember to stay in each moment, to just be a nice person, cry whenever I must, to laugh as much as possible and dance for the sheer joy of it. And when the cacophony of the deafening silence has quieted and the colors of sorrow have muted and gone transparent and I’ve had some time to let the Aegean clean up those bloodied wounds in my heart and soul, there will be room again here for another one of the Seven Great Dogs. And the cycles will continue on.

Almost every evening Djuna and I took an evening stroll down our quiet lane. I loved watching him dance his great joy, nose to the ground scenting all of the news of the day or nose to the sky, sensing what was coming on the breeze. On our walks I watched the seasons change, the rising of the full moon, the greening of the new spring and the evening skies, like snowflakes, no one ever alike … I watched the Canadian geese come and go, the Red Tail hawks courting in the air above me, and let the build up of my day fall away as I tread softly with my gentle friend. It took me several days after Djuna’s death for me to realize that here was yet again another gift he had left for me in his wake, and one I should continue to enjoy. The sky was black to the West, we’d had heavy winds and rain all day, but when there was a break I set off on ‘our’ walk. Wrapped tightly in sadness and hardly breathing with the missing of him, I shuffled along about a 1/2 mile and turned for home before the rains started up and the chill wind began to blow, fierce again, from the south. That wind battered and bashed me until it freed the tears from my eyes, and the freezing rain lashed my face until I grew numb. As though suddenly realizing I was about to drown, I surfaced, taking in great gulps of air as though I’d not been breathing for several days, and began to climb free of the suffocating bonds of my sadness.

Part of our family

My Djuna, my Cupcake … My Heart of Hearts who knew my soul, my every thought; great lover of Paul and I, and of Breelyn; great lover of his mare and his pony, of socks and his furry toys and his GWBush chew doll; great lover of his evening walkies and of riding in the car, and feeding the birds; great lover of sofa naps and sleeping in late with us on the bed and chasing BALL and rolling on the grass and of eating horse poop; bountiful bestower of stealthy kisses; joyful jokester, Greek scholar (he knew about 15 words and understood several phrases spoken to him in Greek; something we did only after he’d begun to understand words and phrases *spelled out* in English! ‘Car’, ‘dinner?’, ‘play with the ball?’, ‘feed the birds’, water, pony, get the goat, etc!); Djuna, beloved Honorary Cat, our timekeeper, our guardian angel, our boss, our playfully dignified friend (thanks for that Marija) and family member, and one of the Seven Great Dogs – we will love and miss you forever.

But now – there’s work to be done, there’s a barn to clean and a new day to sniff, there’s delight to be found!

love – photo by Breelyn MacDonald

Copyright (c) 2012 Eleanore MacDonald


Fear versus Faith

“Fear comes from uncertainty. When we are absolutely certain, whether of our worth or worthlessness, we are almost impervious to fear.”  William Congreve, English playwright and poet.

It’s Sunday (i.e. yesterday).  I woke around 6am to a cold morning (28 deg F/-2.2 deg C), the result of a clear, moonlit night.

Then as the night sky lightened with the coming dawn, the green, forest-cloaked valleys, visible to the East through the bedroom windows filled with a white, morning mist.  In a metaphorical sense that descending mist matched a mood of gloom that was trying to descend on me.

Early morning mist, Merlin, Oregon
Early morning mist, taken 7:15 am Sunday, 24th Feb.

As I lay back against the headboard of the bed, Jean still sleeping close to me, dogs Cleo, Hazel and Sweeny snoozing on and around me, I pondered on my mood.  It came to me that I might be picking up the growing sense of anxiety, of uncertainty, that seems to be ‘in the air’.  Me reading too many blog articles about global warming, climate change, et al.  Being three-quarters through Professor Guy McPherson’s book Walking Away from Empire: A Personal Journey wasn’t helping either!

Then I recalled a recent conversation with dear friend and colleague from our Payson, AZ. days, John Hurlburt, who said that fear is the absence of faith.  That if we trust what will be will be, then we can counter the fear of the unknown and embrace the present day, one day at a time.  Living in the now as, you’ve guessed it, that dogs do so supremely well.  Something else to learn from dogs!

I made a decision to take a stroll in the forest, emotionally speaking, for this week, so far as Learning from Dogs is concerned.  Enjoy the beauty of the world around me and offer a few essays on the meaning of life. No blog posts at all about anything that engenders fear from any quarter!

And if that doesn’t slash the readership figures, I don’t know what will! So there! You have been warned.

So let me start by offering this essay from John.  John is one of those rare people who has been through more than his fair share of ‘challenges’ over the years, yet has grown from those experiences.

Here’s John – I’m turning over and going back to sleep!


Education, Formation and Transformation

Most Americans remain comfortably complacent despite world economic brinksmanship, the escalating deterioration of our planetary environment and raging world discontent. Although we may be caring and compassionate in our personal lives, we are often reluctant to take any risk of reducing our personal comfort.

Education is a process. A process of learning how to think life through in order to become aware of whom we are, what we are, where we are, and why we exist. Education has always been the human gateway to a better future.

Knowledge does not guarantee wisdom. Education, formation and transformation are an integrated process which includes studying to gain knowledge, making natural connections based on the best information available, and experiencing the higher levels of conscious awareness we recognize as wisdom. The educational process works best when it is open minded, factual and sustained. We learn best when we learn together.

The human wisdom tradition is rich in myth, mysticism, symbols, imagination and creativity. It tells a common story of emergence through centuries of sacred writings stretching back through time to the earliest human cave scratchings roughly 17,000 years ago, and the beauty of the prayers of the Rig-Veda 12,000 years ago which all begin with an homage to the natural energy of the Sun.

We’re conscious components of a living planet. We’re surface dwellers with exposure to universal and planetary energies. Our species is only 200,000 years old. The universe is roughly 13 billion years old. Our planet is deteriorating and we’ve lost our collective moral compass. What can we do to make a local difference?

We only recently learned to hunt woolly mammoths in packs using bows, arrows and spears as tools. A perception of God in relation to our responsibility to each other and creation exists as the foundation of a human wisdom tradition which, relatively speaking, has just began.

In many ways, nothing seems to have changed as we have passed through successive cyclic waves of emergence and contraction. It becomes simultaneously increasingly more complex and exquisitely simple to understand. That is as we begin to realize how our metanexus emerges, contracts and turns inside out without breaking … like a pulse.

The next ten years are more important than the next several thousand years in respect to the choices we make about our biosphere.

There seems to be little doubt that our world problems are steadily increasing. What’s the next right thing to do?  It’s time to grow our conscious connection in God. It’s time to share the spring of human wisdom from the ground up. It’s time to develop a world economy which is gentle to the earth.

The Clearing Rests in Song and Shade

The clearing rests in song and shade.
It is a creature made
By old light held in soul and leaf.
By humans joy and grief,
By human work,
Fidelity of sight and stroke,
By rain, by water on
The parent stone.
We join our work to Heaven’s gift,
Our hope to what is left,
That field and woods at last agree
In an economy
Of widest worth.
High Heaven’s Kingdom come on earth,
Imagine Paradise
O dust, arise!

Wendell Berry; 1909


The illiterate of the future will not be the person who cannot read. It will be the person who does not know how to learn.” Alvin Toffler

Truth is Relative

(Reposted from The Liberated Way with the generous permission of Alex Jones)

Go beyond the appearance and the behaviour to the nature that underpins everything. 

The truth of being a cat is relative only to this cat.
The truth of being a cat is relative only to this cat.

Recent events got me thinking about what truth is.  I find that nobody has a monopoly on truth, that truth is relative.  Take for example the colour red, I see red as red, the bee sees red as black.  Truth is the product of self, the bee brain makes red black and my brain red as red; truth in this sense is relative to the beholder of the truth.


Take the example of God, some believe in God, some reject God, some like me sit on the fence as agnostics.  Those that believe in God differ on what God is: energy, gravity, a mind, with no mind, in creation, separate from creation.  God is one of those ideas that can neither be disproved or proven with any certainty.  Truth is relative to the beholder.

Nothing is certain.

Truth then to me is never one conclusion, but can be a diversity of conclusions.  Red can be red but can also be black depending on the beholder, thus truth is relative.  It is better to say I believe the truth to be, rather than say this is the truth.  With the universe composed of visible and hidden variables, always changing and in feedback loops nothing can be claimed with any certainty.


Since truth is relative it is better to say that I act and think according to a belief rather than a truth, the same for everyone.  When the word belief is mentioned some people choke on it, they believe that the universe is deterministic, that there is only one truth, often the one they believe it to be.  It is apparent neither Bee nor I have a monopoly on the truth of what the colour red is, we hold different beliefs of the colour red relative to ourselves.

The hubristic need to monopolise belief.

I see no harm in a world holding a diversity of beliefs.  So what if a Native American believes a tree has a spirit, a belief based on animism? Yet to the Christian missionary the Native American is a lost soul to be saved, and to the Atheist the Native American is one to be converted to the progress of modern science.  The outsider has this need to force their own beliefs onto the Native American, resulting in widespread suicide, mental illness, drug abuse and alcoholism amongst the people whose belief systems they obliterated.  The need of some to westernise Islam or Islam to convert the West sets the scene for a so-called clash of civilisations: violence, hate, fear and anger.

Black swans.

Even in my own empirical and inductive approach to truth, I know I can only draw a probability of truth.  I may count 1000 white swans on a lake and conclude the world only has white swans, then one day a black swan appears.  I have to be open to the possibility of black swans, which is a position of humility.

Hubris hates diversity of belief.

The individual or group who claims their truth is the only truth is gripped in hubris.  Truth is relative, there can be many truths. Hubris follows through to control, the individual or group needs and acts to force their belief upon other people who have a different belief of a truth relative to them.  Those inflicted with hubris hate diversity, they only want one truth, that of their own.  The horrors of Nazi Germany, or the Crusades or of Vietnam were because a group of people wanted a world based on their own beliefs with all other beliefs eliminated.

Grounding belief like roots of a tree.

A belief should be grounded like a tree has roots that anchors it into the ground, otherwise it moves into fantasy.  To ground a belief it is to be tested by asking questions, by looking for observable, experiential or demonstrable evidence of its existence.  A belief untested but accepted without question is ignorance, it is opinion.

Follow the common.

When Heraclitus suggests “follow the common”, he means to deal with things based upon their nature: it is common for all ducks to love water; it is common for all energy to flow; it is common for all things to evolve or change through strife.  Heraclitus suggests people go beyond appearances and behaviour to the underlying nature of the universe, and in this one grounds belief in the common of reality rather than in the ignorance of opinion.

And the result is …

Light-hearted contribution following yesterday’s Presidential election.

I’m writing this at 5pm PDT on the 6th so the result is yet unknown to me and millions of others. In this afternoon’s email ‘in-box’ was this delightful story that, despite being widely distributed, isn’t harmed by being displayed today.  So thank you Rob I.

While walking down the street one day a Corrupt Senator (that may be redundant) was tragically hit by a car and died.

His soul arrives in heaven and is met by St. Peter at the entrance.

“Welcome to heaven,” says St.. Peter. “Before you settle in, it seems there is a problem. We seldom see a high official around these parts, you see, so we’re not sure what to do with you.”

“No problem, just let me in,” says the Senator.

“Well, I’d like to, but I have orders from the higher ups. What we’ll do is have you spend one day in hell and one in heaven. Then you can choose where to spend eternity.”

“Really?, I’ve made up my mind. I want to be in heaven,” says the Senator.

“I’m sorry, but we have our rules.”

And with that, St. Peter escorts him to the elevator and he goes down, down, down to hell.

The doors open and he finds himself in the middle of a green golf course. In the distance is a clubhouse and standing in front of it are all his friends and other politicians who had worked with him. Everyone is very happy and in evening dress. They run to greet him, shake his hand, and reminisce about the good times they had while getting rich at the expense of the people.

They played a friendly game of golf and then dine on lobster, caviar and the finest champagne. Also present is the devil, who really is a very friendly guy who is having a good time dancing and telling jokes. They are all having such a good time that before the Senator realizes it, it is time to go.

Everyone gives him a hearty farewell and waves while the elevator rises.

The elevator goes up, up, up and the door reopens in heaven where St. Peter is waiting for him, “Now it’s time to visit heaven…”

So, twenty-four hours passed with the Senator joining a group of contented souls moving from cloud to cloud, playing the harp and singing. They have a good time and, before he realizes it, the hours have gone by and St. Peter returns.

“Well, then, you’ve spent a day in hell and another in heaven. Now choose your eternity.”

The Senator reflects for a minute, then he answers: “Well, I would never have said it before, I mean heaven has been delightful, but I think I would be better off in hell.”

So St. Peter escorts him to the elevator and he goes down, down, down to hell…

Now the doors of the elevator open and he’s in the middle of a barren land covered with waste and garbage. He sees all his friends, dressed in rags, picking up the trash and putting it in black bags as more trash falls to the ground. The devil comes over to him and puts his arm around his shoulders.

“I don’t understand,” stammers the Senator. “Yesterday I was here and there was a golf course and clubhouse, and we ate lobster and caviar, drank champagne, and danced and had a great time. Now there’s just a wasteland full of garbage and my friends look miserable. What happened?”

The devil smiles at him and says, “Yesterday we were campaigning. Today, you voted..”

Only a humourous story, or course!

Ecology and faith

The National Preach-In held the week-end of February 11th/12th.

Some while ago, I signed up for a week-end organised by the Arizona Interfaith Power & Light.  It was part of a national programme inviting faith leaders from across the country to give sermons and reflections on climate change over the weekend of February 10-12, 2012.  My interest was simply to learn more about the week-end.

Then I quickly discovered that Father Dan from our church, St. Paul’s, had also signed up.  In my innocence I offered to help in any way which was quickly met by a response that bowled me over, “Well, you can be the homilist and give the sermon!”  Thus it came about that at yesterday’s 8am and 10am services yours truly rather uncertainly delivered the sermon.  John H., who with my dear wife Jeannie, did so much to turn my rambling thoughts into a coherent theme, encouraged me to publish the sermon as today’s Post on Learning from Dogs.  It now follows.


St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Payson, Arizona

The 6th Sunday after the Epiphany

Year B

February 12th, 2012

2 Kings 5:1-14 X Psalm 30 1:13 X 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 X Mark 1:40-45

It was just a photograph. OK, one taken 43 years ago but, so what! Well, the late Galen Rowell, the famous Californian wilderness photographer called it, “the most influential environmental photograph ever taken.”

We are talking about the photograph called ‘Earthrise’ taken from Apollo 8 on December 24th, 1968 during the first manned mission to the Moon. Each of you should have a copy of that picture close by. Look at it now and let your imagination be carried back to that Apollo 8 capsule and that momentous experience.

As the Earth rose above the horizon of the moon, NASA astronaut Frank Borman uttered the words, “Oh my God! Look at that picture over there! Here’s the Earth coming up. Wow, is that pretty.” Bill Anders then took the ‘unscheduled’ photograph.

Then recall that evening, Christmas Eve 1968, when the three NASA crew members took turns reading from the book of Genesis to what was probably the biggest audience ever in the history of television, Frank Borman finishing with the words, “God called the dry land earth, and the gathering of the waters He called seas; and God saw that it was good.

Our planet is good, and so beautiful, and so precious to life. Life that arose in just a fraction of time after the Solar System formed 3.7 billion years ago; the oldest traces of life have been found in fossils dating back 3.4 billion years. That miracle of life.

Who hasn’t gazed into a clear, Arizonan, night sky and been lost in the beauty above our heads. Or felt the wind, flowing across ancient lands, kiss our face. We stand so mite-like, so insignificant in all this immensity of creation; God’s creation.

Our dreams, our hopes and failures, everything we are, have ever been and ever will be, nothing more than a swirl of dust across a desert track.

Jeremiah was called to be a prophet in 626 BC, some 2,638 years ago. In Jeremiah 12:4 he wrote, “How long will the land mourn, and the grass of every field wither? For the wickedness of those who live in it, the animals and the birds are swept away…

Words from so long ago! But Jeremiah would, surely, have gasped with disbelief had he realised how, some 2,600 years later, ‘the land now mourns and the grasses so wither’.

Jeremiah reveals much that we all could learn about ourselves. The other prophets couldn’t be accused of hiding behind their work but Jeremiah, out of all of them, allowed us to see the evidence of his own spiritual condition. He was a man of deep feelings and sensibilities and in his book there are five laments over the serious spiritual and moral condition of God’s people. That’s us, by the way!

In that time of Jeremiah, the world population was 100 million persons; slightly less than the population of Mexico today.

Some 1,350 years later, 1,000 A.D., the global population was 265 million.

But by the year 2,000 A.D., our population had increased to 6,000 millions! Put another way, that’s an increase of 5.7 million people every year for a 1,000 years !

Any guesses on the increase in the last 12 years, since 2,000? Well, the global population has increased by 990 million. About 90 million every year!

It is utterly unsustainable at present levels of Western consumption, let alone with poorer nations trying to ‘catch up’.

Last September, our House of Bishops issued A Pastoral Teaching. Our Bishops believe those ancient words of Jeremiah describe these present times. They call us to repentance, to change.

That Pastoral Teaching, in part, says, “Christians cannot be indifferent to global warming, pollution, natural resource depletion, species extinctions, and habitat destruction, all of which threaten life on our planet. Because so many of these threats are driven by greed, we must also actively seek to create more compassionate and sustainable economies that support the well-being of all God’s creation.

Our bishops refer to The Anglican Communion Environmental Network that calls to mind the dire consequences that our environment faces, again I quote: “We know that we are now demanding more than the earth is able to provide. Science confirms what we already know: our human footprint is changing the face of the earth and because we come from the earth, it is changing us too. We are engaged in the process of destroying our very being. If we cannot live in harmony with the earth, we will not live in harmony with one another.

Let those words enter our souls: “If we cannot live in harmony with the earth, we will not live in harmony with one another.” Planet Earth mirrors our souls! Nothing new about that. In 1975, Berkeley physicist Fritjof Capra wrote in his book The Tao of Physics, “we can never speak of nature without, at the same time, speaking about ourselves”.

Fr. Dan reflected in his January 22nd sermon on the questions, “Am I really free? Can I really change?” ….. and continued with the words from Jesus, “The time is fulfilled, the Kingdom of God has come near, Repent.” Fr. Dan reminded us that the word ‘repent’ indicates that we can change. We can change, we must, and we will.

Otherwise we will learn the truth of that Cree prophecy, “When all the trees have been cut down, when all the animals have been hunted, when all the waters are polluted, when all the air is unsafe to breathe, only then will you discover you cannot eat money.

OK, from out of the mouths of North American Braves to out of the mouths of English babes.

The ‘eat money’ phrase reminds me of a story I heard years ago, back in England. You need to imagine a dilapidated, rural Anglican church with a dwindling congregation. A young boy was given a five pound note to put in the collection plate. When the offering came around, he didn’t put it in. However, after the end of the service, he went up to the vicar, shook his hand and gave him the five pound note. The vicar asked him, “Why are you giving me this money? Why didn’t you put it in the collection plate?”

The young boy answered, “Because my Mummy told me you’re the poorest vicar we’ve ever had!”

Let me stay in Britain. Martin Rees is a British cosmologist and astrophysicist and has been Britain’s Astronomer Royal since 1995.

Sir Martin Rees, indeed Lord Rees as he is now, has been Master of Trinity College, Cambridge since 2004 and was President of the Royal Society between 2005 and 2010.

In a presentation in 2005, he said this, “We can trace things back to the earlier stages of the Big Bang, but we still don’t know what banged and why it banged.

Lord Rees continued, “But the unfinished business for 21st-century science is to link together cosmos and micro-world with a unified theory. And until we have that synthesis, we won’t be able to understand the very beginning of our universe. You want to not only synthesise the very large and the very small, but we want to understand the very complex. And the most complex things are ourselves, midway between atoms and stars.”

Hang on to that word ‘midway’ as I continue reading from Rees’ presentation.

We depend on stars to make the atoms we’re made of. We depend on chemistry to determine our complex structure. We clearly have to be large, compared to atoms, to have layer upon layer of complex structure. We clearly have to be small, compared to stars and planets — otherwise we’d be crushed by gravity.

And in fact, we are midway. It would take as many human bodies to make up the sun as there are atoms in each of us. The geometric mean of the mass of a proton and the mass of the sun is 50 kilogrammes (110 lbs), within a factor of two of the mass of each person here. Well, most of you anyway!

Back to me! Just reflect on the magnificence of that fact! Science and poetry so beautifully woven together. We, as in humankind, the poetic manifestations of God’s unbelievable creation. Our relationship with the atoms perfectly balanced with our relationship with the sun. Brings a whole new meaning to seeing starlight in the eyes of the one you love!

It is all so beautiful, so magical, so spiritual, so God-like. It is also so fragile and vulnerable.

There is a copy of that Pastoral Teaching available for you on your way out of Church. I implore you to read it, nay more than read it, hold it close to your heart. Within that teaching all of us are invited to join our Bishops in a 5-point commitment for the good of our souls and the life of the world, our beautiful planet; the essence of those 5 points being:

That we, as brothers and sisters in Christ, commit ourselves:

  • To repent all acts of greed, over-consumption, and waste;
  • To pray for environmental justice, for sustainable development;
  • To practice environmental stewardship and justice, energy conservation, the use of clean, renewable sources of energy; and wherever we can to reduce, reuse, and recycle;
  • To uproot the political, social, and economic causes of environmental destruction and abuse;
  • To advocate for a “fair, ambitious, and binding” climate treaty, and to work toward climate justice through reducing our own carbon footprint and advocating for those most negatively affected by climate change.

As our Bishops wrote, “May God give us the grace to heed the warnings of Jeremiah and to accept the gracious invitation of the incarnate Word to live, in, with, and through him, a life of grace for the whole world, that thereby all the earth may be restored and humanity filled with hope.”

I started with the taking of a photograph 43 years ago that forever changed our view of our planet. Now is the time to change our relationship with our planet, to love it and cherish it; it’s the only one we have. Otherwise, we may not have another 43 years left.

Or in the words from today’s Psalm, “O LORD my God, I cried out to you, and you restored me to health.


Voices from the Beeline Café

The second guest post from John H.

John’s first guest contribution, Clarity of Thought, was published on the 20th September and attracted a collection of very thoughtful comments.  To give you a sense of that first contribution, it started thus,

The Passion of Enlightenment

Enlightenment includes deep grief and a passion to leave life a bit better than we found it. Enlightenment has little practical value in a growing and constantly consuming cultural demographic. Consumers tend to spiritually disconnect when faced by a need for change or when morality becomes inconvenient.

To set the scene for these musings from John, Highway 87 that runs South-North through Payson, where John lives, is called the Beeline Highway and there is, indeed, a Beeline Cafe in town.

Over to John now.

Voices from the Beeline Café

Americans are the best entertained and the least informed people on earth.

Combined commercial and investment banks have become a global casino.

No one can afford to run for political office without corporate approval.


Political campaigns are celebrity theaters devoid of content or reality.

Climate change is a planetary constant exacerbated by human activities.

A twenty-four hour media drumbeat of fear encourages human divisiveness.


Education, history and science are marginalized.

Facts are systematically denied.

People are confused.


Global totalitarianism is immensely profitable.

Corporations do not care about democracy or humanity.

Economically stressed voters are disenfranchised by corporate government.


The rule of law has lost equity and become the tool of oppressors.

Firefighters, policemen, nurses and clergy have become political pawns.

Corporate supported criminals control a majority of the nations of the world.


We have lost the rudder of human morality.

Material well-being is considered the greastest good.

War is a highly profitable form of corporate enterprise.


The flag and cross are employed to demonize opposition to corporate authority.

Politics worth supporting begin and end with service to God and nature.

God grant us each the grace to make a transformative difference.


an old lamplighter

Yet another Saturday smile

When I was living back in South-West England, in the Totnes area, I had plenty of time to get to know Neil K.  Neil has the most wonderful sense of humour and an ability to look at the world rather differently than the rest of us.  I offer this tribute in acknowledgement of the great items that Neil passes to me for inclusion in Learning from Dogs.  This one is no exception.


The Story of Adam & Eve’s Pets 

Adam and Eve said, ‘Lord, when we were in the garden, you walked with us every day. Now we do not see you any more. We are lonesome here, and it is difficult for us to remember how much you love us.’

And God said, I will create a companion for you that will be with you and who will be a reflection of my love for you, so that you will love me even when you cannot see me.

Regardless of how selfish or childish or unlovable you may be, this new companion will accept you as you are and will love you as I do, in spite of yourselves.’ 

And God created a new animal to be a companion for Adam and Eve.

And it was a good animal and God was pleased.

And the new animal was pleased to be with Adam and Eve and he wagged his tail.

And Adam said, ‘Lord, I have already named all the animals in the Kingdom and I cannot think of a name for this new animal.’

And God said, ‘I have created this new animal to be a reflection of my love for you, his name will be a reflection of my own name, and you will call him DOG.’

And Dog lived with Adam and Eve and was a companion to them and loved them.

And they were comforted.

And God was pleased.

And Dog was content and wagged his tail.

After a while, it came to pass that an angel came to the Lord and said, ‘Lord, Adam and Eve have become filled with pride. They strut and preen like peacocks and they believe they are worthy of adoration. Dog has indeed taught them that they are loved, but perhaps too well.’ 

And God said, I will create for them a companion who will be with them and who will see them as they are. The companion will remind them of their limitations, so they will know that they are not always worthy of adoration.’ 

And God created CAT to be a companion to Adam and Eve.

And Cat would not obey them. And when Adam and Eve gazed into Cat’s eyes, they were reminded that they were not the supreme beings.

And Adam and Eve learned humility. 

And they were greatly improved. 

And God was pleased.

And Dog was happy.

And Cat . . . 

didn’t give a shit one way or the other.

Behaving like animals

A fascinating point of view of the relationship between humans and animals.

Jean and I were at our regular gardening college class yesterday.  It was all about the growing of vegetables.  OK, I can hear you thinking, what on earth does that have to do with today’s topic?  Simply because the tutor, Cayci V., mused at the start of her lesson how gardeners were great animal lovers and then proceeded to list all the animals she and her husband kept at their home in Globe, about an hour from Payson, Arizona.  Cayci admitted to having 5 dogs, 15 cats, 2 emus, 2 llamas, numerous chickens.  She also had 2 bison that recently died having been poisoned by Oleander cuttings.  Anyway, to the article.

recent article on the BBC News Magazine was about the need for humans to have contact with animals.  It was presented by John Gray who is a political philosopher and author of the book False Dawn: The Delusions of Global Capitalism which  argues that free market globalization is unstable and is in the process of collapsing!  H’mmm.  John is also the author of the book Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals, a book that was described by the British Observer newspaper thus,

There is unlikely to be a more provocative or more compelling book published this year than Straw Dogs. A long-time scourge of the delusions of global capitalism, John Gray is one of the most consistently interesting and unpredictable thinkers in Britain. He is unpredictable because, unlike most political commentators, he never ceases to question the underlying assumptions of his own beliefs and prejudices.

Anyway, I’m at risk of digressing, as many of you will regularly notice!  The article by John Gray on the BBC News website was published over a couple of weeks ago and, therefore, I feel it not too great a copyright sin to reproduce it in full on Learning from Dogs.  It’s a fascinating article.

Why does the human animal need contact with something other than itself, asks John Gray.

Many years ago an eminent philosopher told me he’d persuaded his cat to become a vegan. To begin with I thought he was joking. Knowing a bit about cats, I couldn’t take seriously the idea that they’d give up their predatory ways.

“You must have provided the cat with some pretty powerful arguments,” I said jokingly. “It wasn’t as difficult as you may think,” he replied rather sternly.

He never explained exactly how the transformation was achieved. Was his cat presented with other cats that had converted to veganism – feline role models, so to speak? Had he prepared special delicacies for his cat – snacks that looked like mice but were made of soya, perhaps?

Beginning to suspect that the philosopher might after all be serious, I asked if the cat went out. He told me it did. That answered a part of my puzzlement. Evidently the cat was supplementing its vegan diet by hunting, natural behaviour for cats after all.

I was still a little perplexed though. Cats tend to bring their hunting trophies back home and I wondered how the philosopher had missed seeing them. Had the cat hidden them out of sight? Or were the cat’s trophies prominently displayed but disregarded by the philosopher, marks of atavistic feline behaviour that would eventually disappear as the cat progressed towards a new kind of meat-free life?

The conversation tapered off and I never did get to the bottom of the mystery. The dialogue did set me thinking. Evidently the philosopher thought of the cat as a less evolved version of himself that, with a lot of help, could eventually share his values. But the idea that animals are inferior versions of humans is fundamentally misguided.

Each of the millions of species that evolution has thrown up is different and particular, and the animals with which we share the planet aren’t stages on the way to something else – ourselves. There’s no evolutionary hierarchy with humans perched at the top. The value of animals – or as I’d prefer to say other animals – comes from being what they are. And it’s the fact that they are so different from humans that makes contact with them so valuable to us.

Human qualities

Some philosophers – not many it must be admitted – have in the past understood this. The 16th Century French essayist, Michel de Montaigne, loved cats because he knew he would never be able to enter their minds. “When I play with my cat,” he asked, “how do I know she is not amusing herself with me rather than I with her?”

Montaigne didn’t want his animal companions to be mirrors of himself, he wanted them to be a window from which he could look out from himself and from the human world.

Never more than partly domesticated, cats are never fundamentally humanised. Montaigne found them lovable for precisely this reason, it wasn’t that he was suggesting we should emulate cats. Wiser than the philosopher who believed he’d converted his cat to veganism, he understood that the good life means different things for animals with different natures. What he questioned was the idea that one kind of life, the kind humans alone can live, is always best.

It’s true that cats don’t have some of the capacities we associate with morality. They seem to lack empathy, the capacity of identifying with the emotions of others. This may explain what has often been described as cruelty in their behaviour, toying with captured mice for example. Attributing cruelty to cats seems a clear case of anthropomorphism – the error of projecting distinctively human qualities onto other species.

Cats are not known to display compassion, but neither do they inflict pain and death on each other in order to gratify some impulse or ideal of their own. There are no feline inquisitors or suicide bombers. Pedants will say that this is because cats lack the intellectual equipment that is required to formulate an idea of truth or justice. I prefer to think that they simply decline to be enrolled in fanaticism, another peculiarly human trait.

Dogs seem to be capable of showing human-like emotions of shame, but though they are more domesticated they still remain different from us. And I think it’s their differences from us, as much as their similarities, that makes them such good companions.

Whatever you feel about cats and dogs, it seems clear that the human animal needs contact with something other than itself. For religious people this need may be satisfied by God, even if the God with whom they commune seems too often all-too-human. For many landscape gives a sense of release from the human world, even if the land has been groomed and combed by humans for generations, as it has in England.

The contemplation of field, wood and water intermingling with wind and sky still has the power to liberate the spirit from an unhealthy obsession with human affairs. Poets such as Edward Thomas and Ted Hughes have turned to the natural world in an attempt to escape a purely human view of things. Since they remained human and used human language in the attempt, it’s obvious that they couldn’t altogether succeed. It’s also obvious that searching for a way of looking at the world that’s not simply human expresses a powerful human impulse.

The most intense example of this search I know is that recorded by John Baker in his book The Peregrine. First published in 1967 and recently reissued, the book is seemingly a piece of nature writing which slowly reveals itself as the testament of someone struggling to shed the point of view of a human observer.

Renewed humanity

Baker records his pursuit of two pairs of peregrines, which had arrived to hunt in the part of East Anglia where he lived. Alone he followed the birds for over 10 years. Concentrating the decade-long quest into a single year in order to recount it in the book, he writes of the peregrine: “Wherever he goes, this winter, I will follow him. I will share the fear, and the exaltation, and the boredom of the hunting life.”

He tells us that he came late to the love of birds. “For years I saw them only as a tremor on the edge of vision. They know suffering and joy in simple states not possible for us. Their lives quicken and warm to a pulse our hearts can never reach. They race to oblivion.”

In time the human observer seemed to be transmuted into the inhuman hawk. “In a lair of shadow,” Baker writes, “the peregrine was crouching, watching me… We live, in these days in the open, the same ecstatic fearful life. We shun men.”

Note how Baker switches suddenly from describing the hawk watching him to describing how “we” flee from humans. Baker found a sensation of freedom in the feeling that he and the hawk were fused into one. Sharing in the “exaltation and serenity” of the birds’ life he could imagine that he’d shed his human identity, at least for a time, and could view the world through hawks’ eyes.

Of course he didn’t take this to be literal truth. He knew he couldn’t in the end be anything other than human. Yet he still found the pursuit of the peregrine deeply rewarding, for it opened up a temporary exit from the introspective human world.

John Baker’s devotion to the peregrine hadn’t enabled him to see things as birds see them. What it had done was to enable him to see the world through his own eyes, but in a different way. His descriptions of the landscape of East Anglia are exact and faithful to fact. But they reveal that long-familiar countryside in a light in which it looks as strange and exotically beautiful as anything in Africa or the Himalayas. The pursuit of a bird had revitalised his human perceptions.

What birds and animals offer us is not confirmation of our sense of having an exalted place in some sort of cosmic hierarchy, it’s admission into a larger scheme of things, where our minds are no longer turned in on themselves. Unless it has contact with something other than itself, the human animal soon becomes stale and mad. By giving us the freedom to see the world afresh, birds and animals renew our humanity.

A fascinating, beautiful and incredibly thought-provoking essay.

Clarity of thought

The power of clear visions.

Martin Luther King, (January 15, 1929-April 4, 1968)

One of the aspects of modern life that is deeply unsatisfactory is the way that politicians and leaders of democratic societies fudge the truth in the hope that trying to be all things to all men means wider acceptance of their messages.

Think of the quote from Martin Luther King, Jr., “A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus. ”

These words serve as an introduction to some beautiful thoughts from a loyal American living here in Payson.  This is a man who is deeply spiritual, who has fought for his country, and who is soft and gentle to the core.  This is a man who is not afraid to offer a personal vision to the world.  I regard it as a real bonus that Jean and I have his friendship.

Here is the first of two contributions from John H.

The Passion of Enlightenment

Enlightenment includes deep grief and a passion to leave life a bit better than we found it. Enlightenment has little practical value in a growing and constantly consuming cultural demographic. Consumers tend to spiritually disconnect when faced by a need for change or when morality becomes inconvenient.

Is God truth?  What is the opposite of truth?  We’ve lost our way as a species.  Does God tell us to worship money? Does God tell us to ignore our finite earth?  Does God tell us to kill each other?  Does God tell us to ignore human history and the emerging network of scientific understandings?

Human wisdom has been far greater in the past than it is today.  God is not known through empirical knowledge.  Man is as limited as the finite planet which gave life to our species and sustains our existence. Matter and energy are interchangeable as fundamental forces.  God is experienced through our inner being and understood through the wisdom tradition of our species.

Sustainability includes the well-being of our planet and the life it supports.  Sustainability includes serving as caretakers rather than acting as owners.  Sustainability includes surrendering our addictions, our illusions and our delusions. Surrendering includes the courage to speak the truth and walk as we talk.  Surrendering assures our common well-being as a conscious component of God.  We have nothing to fear.

Consider world leadership.  Who are the aggressors?  Who are the oppressed?  Who serves God?  Who serves Mammon?  We each must search our heart, mind and soul to answer these questions honestly.  We need to face our shame and guilt in order to redeem ourselves and make a sustained effort to change.

The roots of wisdom in a constantly changing world are God, nature, history, and science.  We’ve come a long way since we first learned to use tools.  What have we forgotten in the process?  We can’t wait for the truth to become popular.  We each need to help make the truth popular.

an old lamplighter

Powerful words.  Thank you John.