The Watering Hole; Friday, January 24, 2014; The Poetry of Earth (part II)

“The poetry of earth is never dead.”
(John Keats, 1817)

A long time ago, the English poet William Wordsworth  wrote, in “Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey,” a most able synopsis of the ideal relationship between mankind and the balance of earthly life:

 To look on nature, not as in the hour
Of thoughtless youth; but hearing oftentimes
 The still, sad music of humanity,
Nor harsh nor grating, though of ample power
To chasten and subdue.  And I have felt
A presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean and the living air,
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man
A motion and a spirit that impels
All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
And rolls through all things.  Therefore am I still
A lover of the meadows and the woods,
And mountains; and of all that we behold
From this green earth; of all the mighty world
Of eye, and ear, — both what they half create,
And what perceive; well pleased to recognize
In nature and the language of the sense
The anchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse,
The guide, the guardian of my hearth, and soul
Of all my moral being.

One has to wonder, sometimes, what has happened in this, our ‘modern’ era, to Wordsworth’s “joy Of elevated thoughts”? A glance around at each day’s news headlinesat politics both at home and globally, at scientific data and the discussions based thereupon — offers little reassurance that “The anchor . . . of all . . . moral being” still has any root at all “In nature” much less in “the language of the sense.” Today about all that seems to count, at least for our species, is acquisition of money and power.

I’m not at all certain as to just how many different and distinct species inhabit this little backwater planet we call earth, but I’m guessing ‘tens of millions’ would at least reach ballpark status. And in a sensibly run situation, each and all species would most likely remain viable for a good long time, susceptible far more to global changes brought about by astronomical events than to any sort of localized ‘eat or be eaten’ thesis. In fact, one of the more significant mass extinctions happened some 65 million years ago when a sizable asteroid smashed into the earth, tossed all sorts of dust, smoke, and other debris into the atmosphere, modified the climate, and slammed the door on the dinosaurs, among numerous other life forms, in result. Extinction by natural phenomena is nothing new.

Then came humans. Homo sapiens, as we’ve named ourselves. Not sure just when it was that we popped up. Six thousand years ago, if you believe the believers; maybe a million years ago, give or take a hundred thousand or two, if you believe science. Not that it really matters all that much, given that it’s looking pretty certain that we as a species are well past the halfway mark of our existence, given how diligently we work with all our clever tools to modify the global climate sufficiently to force another mass extinction. Lucky for us there’s all that fossilized carbon left beneath the surface by all the life forms that disappeared in the last mass extinction; it appears, in fact, to be more than enough to ‘fuel’ (sotospeak) the next one.

Oh well, what the hey, I’m too old to worry about it all that much; my fate will likely already be a historical footnote by the time the mass die-off commences. Still, there are the young folks, and, well you know, the millions of other species, many of which will be at risk simply because of the idiocy implicit in our one species.

What went wrong?

I checked with poet Walt Whitman; he offered this little bit of wisdom back in 1855 as part of the preface to his masterwork, Leaves of Grass. He speaks my mind, and he somehow managed to do it some 87 years before I even showed up!

Animals

I think I could turn and live with animals,
they are so placid and self-contained

I stand and look at them long and long.
They do not sweat and whine about their condition,
They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins,
They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God,

Not one is dissatisfied,
 not one is demented with the mania of owning things,

Not one kneels to another,
nor to his kind that lived thousands of years ago,

Not one is respectable or industrious over the whole earth

Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown, or to any man or number of men – go freely with powerful uneducated persons, and with the young, and with the mothers or families – re-examine all you have been told in school or church or in any book, and dismiss whatever insults your own soul; and your very flesh shall be a great poem, and have the richest fluency, not only in its words, but in the silent lines of its lips and face, and between the lashes of your eyes, and in every motion and joint of your body.

Sounds like some of the best advice anyone could ever offer to not only you and me, but also to the entire of our species (even including such sapiens marginals as, say, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, et al. et al. . . . the list is endless). And seriously, just how is it that life-on-earth’s most “intelligent” species is the species engaged in a process previously left solely to galactic processes? What went wrong?

I tried to answer that question a decade or so ago. I used a total of 140 syllables in my so called Paradox of Humakind: Superior Inferiority effort and while I’m not at all sure I overturned every stone in the process, what the heck, right?

Brash vanity ordains that Mankind be
Superior to all other life on Earth,
And curious source of this Mythology
Derives from Bible’s unintended mirth.
Thus bold is he who advocates the case
Of Genesis errant, where metaphor,
As whimsical devise, cannot replace
Realities which each confirm the Core
Of Life: that every living form appeals
To Duty greater than itself alone.
A single moment’s intellect reveals
One Truth, as if inscribed in tempered stone:
Each bird and beast, each flowered weed, each tree
Expounds on Man’s Inferiority!

So today, thanks to human consumption of fossil fuels and with climate change well underway courtesy of atmospheric CO2 levels approaching historic levels — with the Arctic ice cap rapidly melting and thereby allowing the release of the even more climate-altering (permafrost-embedded) methane, and with efforts on the part of science and thinking people to do whatever is necessary to halt and reverse the process dismissed as some sort of collaborative tom-foolery by industrial and political power centers — we have managed to contrive a potential mass extinction episode with the potential equivalence of the asteroid collision some 65 million years ago.  Bring on the Keystone XL Pipeline! More War! Invade Syria! Nuke Iran! Yeah! Benghazi Benghazi!!

So. Where is the sapiens these days, the intellect, the intelligence? What of “The anchor . . . of all . . . moral being”? Wordsworth drew that concept as he apparently pondered the messages he gained from his juxtaposition between the natural world and the world of Tintern Abbey in Wales, an ancient church founded in 1131 by Cistercian Monks who adhered to the Benedictine philosophy that insisted upon a moderate path between individual and institutionalized theses. Tintern Abbey stands in ruins today, as it has for several centuries. One cannot help but wonder if the words “in ruins” are not also applicable these days to most ‘Western’ religious practice, given that today’s major and most murderous conflicts are, after all, between the three major “God” -based belief systems of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. And so the question persists: wherein and in whose hands lies the fate of the human species, indeed of the planet itself?

Brings to mind yet one more piece of compelling poetry, this one written by Philip Appleman sometime in the latter half of the twentieth century. It’s titled Last-Minute Message for a Time Capsule, and its message carries an all too familiar ring of truth.

I have to tell you this, whoever you are
that on one summer morning here, the ocean
pounded in on tumbledown breakers,
a south wind, bustling along the shore,
whipped the froth into little rainbows,
and a reckless gull swept down the beach
as if to fly were everything it needed.
I thought of your hovering saucers,
looking for clues, and I wanted to write this down,
so it wouldn’t be lost forever -
that once upon a time we had
meadows here, and astonishing things,
swans and frogs and luna moths
and blue skies that could stagger your heart.
We could have had them still,
and welcomed you to earth, but
we also had the righteous ones
who worshipped the True Faith, and Holy War.
When you go home to your shining galaxy,
say that what you learned
from this dead and barren place is
to beware the righteous ones.

Are we genuinely the ‘masters’ of our own fate? Of the fate of the planet’s biosphere? Based on current information, we may well prove to NOT be that much better an option than another collision with a giant asteroid! Here’s a better idea: re-examine all you have been told in school or church or in any book, and dismiss whatever insults your own soul; and your very flesh shall be a great poem . . .Thanks Walt. If we can get THAT done it will be further evidence that Keats might have been correct after all when he wrote, “The poetry of earth is never dead.”


OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole, Monday, February 18th, 2013: Pope-Pourri

Separated At Birth?

Separated At Birth?

On February 11th, Pope Benedict XVI, aka Joseph Ratzinger, aka Emperor Palpatine, announced that he was leaving the sinking ship giving up the leadership of the “Worldwide Catholic Church” (or NAMBLA), effective on February 28th, 2013. A papal conclave will soon be convened by the College of Cardinals to determine the next Pope, possibly by the end of March.

The New Yorker provides a few-holds-barred critique in John Cassidy’s blogpost “The Disastrous Influence of Pope Benedict XVI“, an interesting read which succinctly summarizes the regressive Papal policies of both Pope John Paul II (with then-Cardinal Ratzinger’s aid) and Pope Benedict XVI. I really recommend this article, as it clearly outlines the conflicting forces within the Church, which currently favor the conservative side.

I wholeheartedly agree with E.J. Dionne’s opinion piece from February 15th in the Washington Post, as he discusses why “The Best Choice for Pope?” is “A Nun.” As a veteran of 13 years of Catholic schooling, I can confirm that the nuns were more responsible for educating us in school subjects as well as religious subjects than any of the priests or the Monsignor of our parish. The nuns also set much better examples of Christ-like ideals and actions, as we all now know.

Yesterday, I signed a petition from Catholics United, urging Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, the former Archbishop of Los Angeles, not to participate in the upcoming papal conclave.

Former L.A. Archbishop John M. Mahony

Former L.A. Archbishop John M. Mahony

From a Catholics-United Press Release on February 14th:

“WASHINGTON – After the stunning news that Pope Benedict XVI will be stepping down effective Feb. 28, Catholics in Los Angeles are urging Cardinal Roger Mahony to stay home instead of participating in the election to determine the next pope. Mahony was recently stripped of his public duties for his part in a sex abuse cover-up while he led the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.”

“It’s the right thing to do,” said Andrea León-Grossman, a Los Angeles member of Catholics United. “In the interests of the children who were raped in his diocese, he needs to keep out of the public eye. He has already been stripped of his ministry. If he’s truly sorry for what has happened, he would show some humility and opt to stay home.”

The Washington Post Editorial Board published a scathing piece on February 13th entitled “The Sins of Cardinal Mahony”; here’s a few excerpts:

“Eleven Americans will be among the 117 cardinals of the Catholic Church heading soon to Rome to select the next pope. One of them, Cardinal Roger M. Mahony…is lucky not to be in prison, for there is no dispute that he orchestrated what amounted to a cover-up of clerical sexual abuse in Los Angeles…the scale of the misdeeds in Los Angeles, the largest archdiocese in the United States, counts as a particular disgrace. And it is Cardinal Mahony, who resigned as archbishop two years ago, who oversaw the whole dirty business. For that he has been publicly censured by his successor.”

In response to his public rebuke, Cardinal Mahony, who has a master’s degree in social work, wrote that nothing in his training had alerted him to the risks involved in the sexual abuse of minors. How about common sense, respect for the law and a basic understanding of human beings?”

And, for the last word on this issue (for today’s thread, anyway), here’s Andy Borowitz.

This is our Open Thread. Your thoughts?

The Watering Hole, Friday Jan. 18 2013; Drought and Heat vs. Civilization(s)

Sinagua Petroglyph Collage, a few of the more than 1000 ancient glyphs carved on a sandstone cliff face at theV-Bar-B site near Wet Beaver Creek in the upper Verde Valley of Arizona

Sinagua Petroglyph Collage: a few of the more than 1000 ancient glyphs carved on a sandstone cliff face at theV-Bar-V site near Wet Beaver Creek in the upper Verde Valley of Arizona

Drought-reduced precipitation typically goes hand in hand with elevated temperatures, and the consequences to impacted civilizations can be, and usually are, devastating. Case in point: a thousand years ago, what we today call the American Southwest was home to essentially five different (and advanced) cultures. In the area commonly referred to as the Four Corners, the Anasazi culture embraced today’s SW Colorado, NW New Mexico, NE Arizona, and SE Utah. In eastern Arizona, western New Mexico, and probably extending into northern Mexico as well, the Mogollon people dominated. In the southern Arizona deserts lived the Salado and the Hohokam, and between Hohokam and Anasazi lands, the Sinagua. The Sinagua (name based on historical Spanish records which described the aboriginal inhabitants’ desert surround as sin agua, i.e. ‘without water’) are considered by most archaeologists and anthropologists to be the precursors of the Hopi people of northern Arizona, a premise with which the Hopi are in general agreement. It’s also believed, at least in some quarters, that the Sinagua persisted longer than the other four major cultures, although dates of ‘departure’ or disappearance are extremely difficult to ascertain with any precision. Suffice to say that all five cultures had disappeared at least a century, possibly two centuries, prior to the arrival of the Spanish (in Arizona) circa 1539.

What caused their collective (and more-or-less ‘sudden’) disappearance? Until recently, the presumed most significant factor was the enduring and severe drought that blanketed the Southwest in the late thirteenth century. Speculative dates of disappearance range from the early 1300′s to, in some cases, as late as 1450. One could surmise that, since the people were dependent upon both crops and wild game for their food, a crippling drought would likely have played a significant role both in crop production and in the quantity (and quality) of food and materials available to hunters and gatherers; modern tree ring data generally confirm those suspicions.

There are, too, other considerations that have arisen in archaeological and anthropological studies over the last couple of decades, particularly in re the disappearance of the Anasazi. These new theses involve emergent evidences of an apparently severe and divisive religious ‘crisis’ of some sort alongside an obvious infestation of internecine conflicts between different subgroups, with ensuing cultural demise brought to logical conclusion by the encroachment of severe drought. The archaeological and anthropological evidence is, of course, scant and largely speculative; the evidence of a severe drought and its likely impact remains a far more unchallengeable reality.

What tweaks the imagination is the reality that today, we here in the US (along with peoples of other countries throughout humankind’s emergent global society) are on the apparent leading edge of extreme anthropogenic global warming and its consequent climate changes that predict not only severe droughts and untenable temperature elevations, but also profoundly destructive storms as well. In addition, the US finds itself confronted by divisive local and global religious conflicts, intermingled with malignant cultural subgroups including such bizarre “cults” as the National Rifle Association in league with gun manufacturers and sellers as well as with innumerable and heavily armed individuals and deviant “militias” (none of which are EVER ‘well regulated’).  Add to that our myriad numbers of absurdly severe political AND religious extremist and/or racist entities and suddenly the problem becomes clear — obvious, in fact, to the point where, after one reflects on historical precedents, the question: what could possibly go wrong? answers itself in a single word: everything!

The Hopi, descendants of at least the Sinagua and perhaps also the Hisat’sinom (Anasazi), have a word that essentially describes the human predicament, both ancient and modern: Koyaanisqatsi. According to the Hopi Dictionary: Hopìikwa Lavàytutuveni, Koyaanisqatsi means “life of moral corruption and turmoil” or “life out of balance”.

[NOTE: Koyaanisqatsi is also the title of a 1983 film (a Francis Ford Coppola Production) which is presented in 'mystical'  fashion as . . .

time-lapse photography, often shown in hyperspeed, and shot primarily in the desert of the Southwest and New York City, (and) shows the contrast between the pace of the natural world and the one that man has made.

It does, indeed, point toward the 'life out of balance' and 'life of moral corruption and turmoil' memes which are so frighteningly commonplace in today's USA. It's available on DVD, and well worth a watch.]

The modern Hopi people are, meanwhile, derivative of ancient culture(s). They are a people who trace their roots back, via their thesis of origins, to the emergence, at Sipapu in the Grand Canyon, of Human from the Third World of the creation into this, the Fourth World. The Hopi also believe that, by way of antecedent wanderings and explorations of North, Central, and South America, from Atlantic to Pacific and from Arctic tundra to the very tip of South America itself, the paths of the ancient nomads finally converged and crossed at the point where their three great mesas tower above the surrounding desert plains. The Hopi understand themselves to be descendants of these first inhabitants of the Americas. They remain a peaceful people, deeply religious Keepers of the Earth who believe that their progress on life’s road derives from the unspoken observation of life’s laws. Their village of Oraibi, on Third Mesa, is the oldest continuously-occupied settlement in what is, today, the United States. The Hopi people and their culture have withstood the onslaught of at least three tiers of invaders — Navajo, Spaniard, and American — and yet their culture remains intact and faithful to its beliefs, and to practices which are rooted in an antiquity few others can or will ever even attempt to comprehend.

Sinagua Ruins (Hopi ancestors) at Walnut Canyon, Wupatki, and Montezuma Castle, Arizona

Sinagua  (ancestral Hopi) Ruins at Walnut Canyon, Wupatki, and Montezuma Castle; Arizona National Monuments on the Colorado Plateau and in the Verde Valley, resp.

Perhaps it would be wise for modern societies to, for once, listen to and heed the precepts of ancient wisdom, to consider the potential consequences of Koyaanisqatsi in this modern era, perhaps even to attempt correction of those cultural practices (and foibles) which can — and have — provoked the demise of otherwise advanced civilizations. But I’ll not hold my breath in anticipation.

This is today’s open thread . . . speak up, and enjoy!

The Pimeria Alta

Today’s southern Arizona – i.e. all the land below the Gila River, about 1/3 of the state – was, a few hundred years ago, under the governance of the Viceroyalty of New Spain and parcel to a large territorial Province referred to as the Pimeria Alta, i.e. the Upper Land of the Pimas.  The area was thus named because the indigenous peoples, the Sobaipuri, were principally of Pima and closely related O’odham (Papago) ethnicity, themselves each and all presumed to be descendants of the vanished Salado/Hohokam culture which had left behind, on the Sonoran Desert, the huge footprint of a highly advanced civilization, one which had endured for more than a thousand years prior to its mysterious disappearance a century or two before the arrival of the Spaniards.

In the late 1600′s the Spanish began the task of Christianizing the Sobaipuri, and assigned the responsibility primarily to Jesuit Fr. Eusebio Kino who established missions at Tumacacori, Guevavi, and Bac, all Sobaipuri place names — “towns” — alongside the north-flowing Santa Cruz River. The missions were eventually brought under the protection of Spanish military garrisons stationed at the Presidios of Tubac (near Guevavi and Tumacacori) and Tucson (near Bac).

Today, (visibly) little remains at Guevavi other than a few mounds of crumbled adobe wall. At Tumacacori, however, the ruins of a large church still stand, protected and maintained as part of Tumacacori National Historic Park. It’s approximately 17 miles north of the international border at Nogales, a hundred or so meters west of the Rio Santa Cruz, and within easy view of traffic on US Interstate 19. Some fifty miles to the north, again near the banks of the Rio Santa Cruz but on O’odham land stands the crown jewel of Pimeria Alta missions, ‘The White Dove of the Desert’, the Mission San Xavier del Bac. It remains an active church, and as ‘the finest example of Spanish colonial architecture anywhere in the US’ is also a National Historic Landmark under constant care, preservation, and restoration.

Those old missions are, to me at least, captivating places. The embedded history is of course fascinating, but even more fascinating is the ‘message’ each sends, subliminally, to I suspect most any visitor who is innately curious enough to take a look at the physical consequences of historical events and then ponder the new reality that resulted. In the case of the Pimeria Alta, the embedded Sobaipuri culture was forever changed, not often for the better, following the ‘invasion’ from the south of an alien people who spoke a ‘foreign’ language and were physically quite different in appearance (and I suppose some might suggest that with no Russell Pearce, Joe Arpaio, and/or Jan Brewer equivalents to stand in their way, the Sobaipuri paid the ultimate price . . . but that’s another story for another time).

For my part, I began regular visits to both Tumacacori and San Xavier in the mid-seventies, not long after my then ‘permanent’ relocation to Arizona. Following are a pair of photo-poetic essay “messages,” one on each church. The photos date back to around 1976; the most recent were taken on my last visit in October, 1999. The words? Same span of time plus a decade, I suppose. Ideas seldom seem to gel all at once. Don’t know why that is, but if I ever figure it out will surely advise.

In Hoc Signo . . . Vinces

       In Hoc Signo Vinces

**********
Who knows but he will sit down solitary amid silent ruins,
and weep a people inurned and their greatness changed into
an empty name.”  (Constantine De Volney)

**********

ELEGY ON A RUIN

Tumacacori abstraction IIReflections on Mission San José de Tumacácori,
Established in 1691 by Jesuit Fr. Eusebio Kino of New Spain
in Pimeria Alta, on the banks of the Rio Santa Cruz
near Tubac, Arizona, in today’s
Tumacácori National Historic Park

A ruin rests on hallowed ground
In somber reverie;
‘Tis but a shell, an empty church
Called Tumacácori.

Tumacacori - Facade‘Twas built, it’s said, to cleanse dark souls
Of distant, heathen lands;
But conquered souls returned to dust,
The church to sculpted sand.

the church to sculpted sandThe priests and sacred chants are gone,
Old bells, in silence, hang;
Thick walls of clay shroud empty rooms
Where once the heathen sang.

old bells in silence hangBeneath an alabaster dome
In quiet, dark repose,
The Mass is sung by haunting wind
Which ex cathedra blows.

ex cathedra

Beyond the church, a graveyard lies;
Its walls enclose the dead
Departed souls, known but to God,
For whom no tears are shed.

graveyardAtop the dome a cross of life
Points toward what man aspires;
But on each grave, the cross of death
Marks that which he acquires.

on each graveThe breeze mocks sacred melody
While whispering o’er cracked stones,
Though only souls interred can hear
Hymns piped through hollow bones.

hymns piped through hollow bonesWith majesty, this crumbled church
Once served as mankind’s womb,
But men were born, then fled; it’s now
A vaulted, silent, tomb.

silent vaulted tombWild Flow’rs nearby in splendor bloom,
How sad they cannot see,
That splendor need not fade with time
Though life, with time, must flee.

Tumacacori - profile-aa

**********

“These Temples grew as grows the grass.
Art could aspire, but not surpass.”
(Ralph Waldo Emerson)

**********

THE MISSION
of THE SAINTS

Bac profile 1a-1Reflections on Mission San Xavier del Bac,
Established in 1692 by Jesuit Fr. Eusebio Kino of New Spain
in Pimeria Alta on the banks of the Rio Santa Cruz,
on today’s Tohono O’odham Lands near Tucson, Arizona

They stand in stoic, frozen – Silent – pose,
The Saints of San Francisco Xavier,
San Xavier, of Bac.
Niches of adobe’s sculpted clay
and Paints of earthen pigment
decorate their resting space;
Raiments borne of color
and of homespun cloth –
adorn the Votive silence
There.

Bac saints composite 1One strains to hear the voice of God –
Encouragement of Saint –
Yet hears but prayerful murmur,
or creak of genuflect,
Or folding of the hands,
or splash of tears
Before the altars, circumspect,
Within the view of Saints,
Within domain of man’s devise –
Within the grasp of Silence.

Bac saints composite 2To ill define domain of man –
His quest of Power and of Wealth,
of conquering and punishment –
As gift of God Himself
Suggests that man perceives his worth
quite differently
Than gods, or saints
Or even wolves;
He sees himself as dominant,
As gifted, born in image of his God!
–and in his mind–
Angelic voices sing in praise!
Of his mightiness!

Bac-compositeThey stand in stoic, frozen – Silent – pose,
The Saints of San Francisco Xavier,
San Xavier, of Bac.

There sings no chorus –
Here.

Emeralds and Ashes

War. God. The Human Dilemma ‘defined’ in only six letters, two words. The post which follows is the poetic end product of something I’ve played with for quite some time. It begins with an abbreviated series of a mere 13 historical glances, cumulatively focused upon the darkness, not on any mythical glory, of events which essentially came to define the two major war theaters of the Second World War, i.e. Europe and the Pacific. Following the historical ‘peaks’, the realm of pure mythology becomes the focal, beginning with attendance at God’s death during a visit to God’s tomb, including discussions, recited by a composite Greek Muse, with God and Satan. Finally, a cosmic conference commences, moderated by the Muse and including the spirits of four human participants, long dead, but who represent well the cumulative sum of human wisdom. Their ultimate goal: to reinvent and rebirth the God that died in the Holocaust of the Second World War, the genesis of a new and fresh vision of a God based on such esoteric values as Wisdom, Love, Truth, and Beauty … as opposed to the former God’s rooted ‘tools’ of dominion: Money and Power.

I apologize for the length of the post, but in so doing must note that (a) it’s not really as long as it first appears since it’s entirely written in various poetic formats (far fewer words than prose, right?), and (b) it remains tricky to compress the extant of human history AND of human destiny into a ten minute sermon. Maybe if I were a politician, things would seem that simple but since I’m not … well, you know.

Anyway, here it is: Emeralds and Ashes. Whispers from the Muse.

********

EMERALDS AND ASHES

The Second World War and Aftermath
In Poetic Remembrance

for the millions lost

by frugalchariot@ghvalley.net
aka P.L.Nelson

~ ”Gastly grim and ancient Raven
wandering from the Nightly shore –
Tell me what thy lordly name is
on the Night’s Plutonian shore!”
Quoth the Raven,
“Nevermore.” ~
(Edgar Allen Poe from The Raven)

CONTENTS

PREFACE

IN MEMORIAM

Part I: KRIEG in EUROPE

WHERE WERE YOU?

The SECOND GENESIS

OSWIECIM

DRESDEN

They Called it THERESIENSTADT

SATAN’S CHAMBER

FROM THE ASHES: A Letter to God

Part II: The WAR in THE PACIFIC

EMERALDS OF SOLOMON

THE MONUMENT

G _ D HAVE MERCY

THE RISING SUN

¡HALLELUJAH!

JOHN FRANCIS, R.I.P

Part III: REBIRTH

THE FINAL GENESIS

THE THIRD MILLENNIUM
A Spiritual Discourse

Act I
Act II
Act III

BIBLIOGRAPHIC NOTES

*******

PREFACE

The Second World War was, without doubt, the hallmark of Twentieth Century conflicts.  No one who passed through that era, nor those who first followed that generation, need be reminded of the extent of the conflict, of the players, or of the horror and mayhem which they inflicted on the entire of the human race.  However, as is all too typical of the human condition (and perhaps a center point in the human dilemma overall), the past – though not officially forgotten – is too often rewritten or ignored, and lessons which should have been learned are not.

Many reasons to explain the beginnings of the conflict have been offered, and it’s very likely that each of the reasons so offered is, at least, accurate either in part or, failing that, is valid in the mind of he who has thus offered.  If we accept, for example, the Treaty of Versailles as a driving force behind Germany’s ascendency from the ruins of the first of the century’s great War to End All Wars to the pinnacle of military power from which she launched her effort to subvert Europe, we can perhaps rationalize the situation as a means of payback, of setting the record straight.  Similarly, if we allow Japan to have been in search of oil and resources which laid well beyond her shores, perhaps we can begin to understand her reasons for wanting the Western powers to release their respective grips on territories in the Orient and in the Pacific.  But how, from there, do we rationalize the Holocaust in Europe, or, in Asia, the Rape of Manchuria, the Bataan Death March, and other military atrocities which eventually led to the era’s final atrocity: the atomic destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

The answer, of course, is that there is no real and true answer, no single reason which can be singled out and separated for inspection and for study.  Or is there?  The opening poem in this collection refers to “ungodly bands of kings” and “despotic shame”; the second poem asks questions which have been asked and never answered, only rejected: “God, where were you?” and “Do you exist at all?  If so, Why?”  The third poem proposes that God watched and rested during the ascendency of Hitler and Nazi Germany and then, as the Holocaust began, and as “He rested, God died.”  The vignettes which follow speak as if God were, indeed, still alive – but “deaf to screams of dying and the dead”.  In the section titled “Rebirth,” we visit God and share His last moments in His tomb, and finally, in “The Third Millennium” we come to understand the fundamental cause of the human dilemma, and listen as sages in the spirit world devise a plan to resurrect not only God, but human hope as well.

“The Third Millennium” – a play in three acts – explores the passage of civilized man via conversants from each ancient Israel, classical Greece, Persia, and nineteenth-century America where, “spread before each, their collected writings, and on the shelves surrounding them, the sum total of recorded human thought.”  The four sages represent, metaphorically, Wisdom; their moderator is a composite of the nine Grecian Muses, and represents human intellect, or capacity to inspire the quest for knowledge and wisdom.  As she describes herself, “I am naught but the wind which blows forth the inspirations of the minds of those who live upon our Earth.  I am the true guide of each celestial intuition.  I am sometimes called Urania, but with you I am each the sisters nine, we who are the daughters of Zeus and of Mnemosyne, inspirers of learning and the arts. I’m sure you all recall our presence as you penned your Earthly legacies.”

The task, of course, is immense: to redirect human thinking and ambition away from the quest for power and dominion over others and toward, instead, the more grand idea of caring for our Earth and our fellows with whom we share this life.  Can it be directed to happen?  Human Intellect (Muse) and Wisdom (the sages) seem to think so and they construct a plan – devise that first step on the long march to intellectual ascendancy and away from the horror and the idiocy which is inevitably the result of the short view demanded by Power. As Muse says to Satan: “Genesis begins anew amidst the smoking ruins that some of lesser mind have wrought.  I shall return to seek out those whose vision can improve the lot of man.  Beast, hear me well: abide your time – remaining is but one cosmic night of darkness till Final Genesis concludes.  Then you, along with ignorance, shall find yourselves alone and banished from the minds of men on Earth, forevermore.”

A simple enough proposition, all that remains is to see that it’s done!  Time will tell.

****

IN MEMORIAM
of those who died before their time
unforgotten

One wonders if they ever heard the cry.
The sound, the summons, which to faithful says:
Your God has called, your time is come to die
And travel on – conclusion of your days
On earth, the end of all familiar things -
Your Lives, your Loves, interred now, sans the pain
Inflicted by ungodly bands of kings
Who find their purpose in despotic shame.
So now all living walk upon a cache -
Abysmal graveyards – globally extant,
Concealing flesh and bone returned to ash
From which it came. Tears want to flow, but can’t
As souls of murdered dead now roam – set free -
And living close their eyes: Afraid to see.

****

Part I: Das KRIEG  in EUROPE

WHERE WERE YOU?

god
where were you?
where have you been?
where were you that fateful day
anno domini
april 20 1889
the day you let birth a monster?
you remember
god
the one whose surname was schicklgruber
whose kampf
you must already have read before
he changed his name to
hitler
surely you must have seen
the future and what it held
didn’t you?

god
i wonder
how many others were birthed
that same day
or on days which followed or preceded
births of
your chosen people
if we are to believe your books
people whom you allowed to suffer and endure
endless torture
and finally ignominious death
where was their reward?
you know the reward
of which i speak
the one you promise in your books
that speaks of happiness eternal
where are you
god?
where were you?
can happiness of any sort really derive
through murder
and through smoke and ash
of burning bones?

god
as you floated on your cosmic cloud
apparently somehow blinded
to the battles waged below on your earth
did you ever hear the screams?
we all know of armageddon
you’ve written of it in your books
but have you heard the
mutterings
now spoken with contempt
of other places
and other names which have come to mean
armageddon
to murdered millions?

god
may i presume
to bore you with a question
or two?
i won’t trifle with the easy ones
you probably had other business
close at hand those days
you know
those pressing cosmic things
but why
god
why hitler?
why the Holocaust?
is there something you’ve
not told us
in your books?

god
please forgive
my final questions
but i must ask them for myself
and for the dead who only speak with silenced voice
do you exist at all?
if so
why?

****

The SECOND GENESIS: Hell and Ash

“And on the seventh day God ended his work
which he had made;
and he rested…..”
(Genesis 2:2)

the first day
april 20 1889
anno domini
in das waldviertel
österreich
unto us
und alois shicklgruber
a child was born
unto us
und klara pölzl
a son was given
and a government to be upon
his shoulders
and god watched

as he rested

the second day
november 11 1918
anno domini
versailles
armistice
the great world war
endete
with germany in ruin
her savior awaiting
mankind’s most sordid adventure
recalled forgotten prayer
peace!   
   peace unto jerusalem
   they shall prosper who love thee
and god recalled

as he rested

the third day
november 8 1923
anno domini
münchen
THE NATIONAL REVOLUTION HAS BEGUN
so sounded the
oath sworn by adolf hitler
as with pistol he fired the first shot
heard
beneath banner of
das hakenkreuz
the swastika
deutschland über alles!
and god heard

as he rested

the fourth day
july 18 1925
anno domini
deutschland
9473 copies of
mein kampf
published and sold
sordid mission now revealed
for those who dared to see
and god saw

as he rested

the fifth day
january 30 1933
anno domini
berlin
ein tausend jahren
REICH
was born
pangs recorded by herr doctor göbbels as
a dream
   a fairy tale
and by andre francois-poncet
who wrote
the river of fire flowed past the french embassy
   whence
   with heavy heart and filled with foreboding
   I watched its luminous wake.
and god looked away

as he rested

the sixth day
september 29 1938
anno domini
münchen
neville chamberlain
edward daladier
benito mussolini
und adolf hitler
agreed to spare the world of war
und so sudetenland
joined
das vaterland
für lebensraum
and god knew

as he rested

the seventh day
november 8 1938
anno domini
deutschland
in aftermath of appeasement
kristallnacht
began the plunder and the
murder of
der JUDEN
as chosen ones recalled again
an old forgotten prayer
peace!
   peace unto jerusalem
   they shall prosper who love thee
and god heard naught

as he rested

on the eighth day
anno domini
hell and ash
rained with morning’s dawn

as Holocaust commenced

and then
as he rested
god
died

r.i.p.

****

OSWIECIM
In memory of the millions.

in oswiecim
there is a silence
ominous
ponderous
it is a weeping silence
which whispers
only to those who dare listen

the silence is pervasive
to all who visit
save for those who yet can hear
the pounding
of long-stilled hearts
and understand it is not the wind
that speaks to them in muted voice

overhead above the rails
a steel banner shouts
arbeit macht frei
it welcomed all
but never heard the cries
and knows not the sadness of
its message nor the reason for
the silence now

the tracks are silent
rusted rails
there are no more trains
no shuffling burden
no bustle on the platform
no snap of heel
no snarling dog
no click of breech

the buildings are silent
and empty
one can hear within them
but a single sound
a haunting sound
for as the wind
seeps through clapboard cracks
it recalls with grievous moan
vile tales of darkest times

beyond the watchtowers
the fields are silent
save for the wind
in summer the grass grows
bent by the breeze
it thrives
and knows no bootprint
nor drifting dust of ash

the bricks are silent
as they play the role of sheltering walls
showers
chimneys
crematoria
have become markers
in a graveyard
a cemetery with no footstones
yet home to untold millions
where any spade of earth
exhumes the ash of bones
and remnants
of a god
who chose to look the other way
in silence

in oswiecim
the silence is deafening
but fleeting
for here the dead

SCREAM!

and beg the living not forget
nor e’er forgive the human horror
now implicit in a place
and in a name

oswiecim

auschwitz

****

DRESDEN

they stood ’round shivering
in worn and tattered coats
with only blackened sky to reflect their mood
and hopes
warming coals commandeered by those more reckless
for it was a time of sacrifice
you see
a time of war

in spite of chill
they knew inferno raged
on distant sun
even at night
impossible to see
impossible to sense
except through journey of the mind
which disallows consideration of darkness
or of cold
no darkness on the sun
no chill

even a child knows that

in tattered coats
the huddled ones leaned toward shelter
away from iced and chilling wind
to dream perhaps of summer’s warmth
to forget fateful thoughts and imaginings
of what might be their destiny
brought upon them by circumstance
of war
and as they dreamed
perhaps they prayed a better life for their children
who also suffered the cold
also suffered the fears

tomorrow would be better
they knew
because the fires which rage the sun
would rise again
to warm the earth and bring forth life
of yet another day
to nurture sons and daughters of creation
as inferno maintained itself
safe away

even the children knew that

but late that night the bombers came
to demonstrate to all creation
no thing is safe or sure
downward rained the firestorms
inferno and incendiary sucked away the breath
of eighty thousands
non-combatants all
just people in tattered coats
huddled in harm’s way
through heinous plan
and
night became the day of fire
flesh boiled or burned
in tattered coats

a man-made sun had come too close
as if to offer proof
that cold and dark
inhere within the human soul
though warmth and light do not
as dead and dying learned
too late

and children burned to ash

dresden
february 14, 1945
r.i.p.

****

They Called it THERESIENSTADT

-and-

everywhere were evidences of happiness
and gaiety
and cobbled streets were swept
and on buildings fresh and well-repaired
were colored awnings
and draperies
and people meandered freely
and enjoyed cakes
and afternoon coffees
and fears were cloaked
and masked

and children played and laughed
and kicked balls in the schoolyard
and practiced their lessons
and many missed friends from days
before the trains but now were warm
and far from war
and sometimes there were even flowers in pots
and birds and bugs to look at
and soup and bread to eat
and they only sensed the fear

and there were guards about
friendly guards wearing smiles
and double lightning bolts on their sleeves
toting rifles
and it was ok because the world was at war
after all
and sometimes people died
and that happens everywhere
even back home
and if bullet holes and bruises are covered by dress or suit
they don’t exist
really

and the visitors were well-dressed too
and there were red cross armbands on their sleeves
and they walked around the cobbled streets
and took notes

and they were happy that rumors which
had summoned them were quite untrue
and they saw none of the evidences of hatred
and torture and extermination
rumored
and sometimes whispered
by gray ghosts
escaped
from
the

east

and two trains waited at the station
and one had silvery comfortable coaches
and the other didn’t
and the first train left early
and the visitors were satisfied to learn
shicklgruber
was not a monster after all
and all was well
in sudetenland

and the second train left later
after dark
and its human cargo bade farewell to comforts
and games and cakes and coffees
and said good-bye to
Theresienstadt
and they left in cattle cars
huddled
and awash in filth and excrement
enroute
to
the

east

to bear witness
the Final Solution

-and-

the fatal masquerade
had worked

****

SATAN’S CHAMBER

they were coming from all directions
battle fronts collapsed on the fatherland
as if a monstrous pincer
bombs fell
gunfire rumbled over
cyrillic voices on the streets of
berlin
the chancellery – tabernacle of the third reich -
und auch der vaterland
now burning rubble
Götterdämmerung
at last
the closing of the ring

in a catacomb deep beneath the tabernacle
- deutschland unter alles -
ceremonies of highest import began
shicklgruber and mistress eva
became united in bond of holy matrimony
even as they prepared themselves
für das ende

one wonders if they dined
or kissed
or made love
or blissfully recalled halcyon days
before commenced their cowards’ finis
gunshot and cyanide
followed by the darkness of their private journey
to satan’s chamber

one wonders if they ever heard
the sobbings of murdered millions
as they made transit to demonic reichstag
to meet their own
deserved
Final Solution
schicklgruber
hitler
bastard
monster
burn in hell and write from there
the final chapter of your gruesome
kampf

remember
arbeit macht frei.

****

FROM THE ASHES: A Letter to God

Not satisfied to ape the Great
In His simplicity
The small must die, as well as He -
Oh the Audacity -
(Emily Dickinson)

Spring, 1945
Dear God,

My name is Anna.  I was eleven
years old when they came to take me and my
parents and my brother Louis.  We rode
in a train, in a car made for cattle.
It was very crowded and people got
very sick.  We had hardly any food
or water, and it was cold.  Every time
the train stopped there were Germans and snarling
dogs.  It was scary.  Mama was sick when
we left Belgium, and when I woke up on
the third day it looked like she was sleeping.
But in a town in Germany, they pulled
her out of the train and threw her on a
cart.  I think she was dead.  God, where is she?
Where is mama?  Is she in heaven with You?

The train went through some snowy mountains, and
it was very pretty to see the trees.
I remembered when I’d played in the snow,
but now I was cold. There was no furnace
in the car, but there was an opening
where the cold wind always blew in, and the
drinking water froze, and I got thirsty
and I got hungry too.  My papa held
me and Louis.  Papa had a big coat,
and it was warm in it next to him.  But
we were all real scared and we all prayed
to you.  We prayed Hear O’ Israel the Lord
our God,  the Lord is one.  Did You hear us?

The train stopped at a place in Poland called
Auschwitz.  We had to get out.  It was cold
there, and there were dogs.  Nasty dogs that growled
all the time and showed their teeth.  And there were
soldiers.  The soldiers were not very nice.
They kept hitting people from the train with
clubs, and we had to all get into lines.
I cried when my papa had to get in
a different line.  Louis cried too.  We
never saw papa again.  God, where is
papa?  Is papa in heaven with You?

We had to go into a building.  The
soldiers kept hitting people.  They hit Louis
with a club and made his head bleed.  He cried
and so did I.  Then they made us all get
undressed.  I didn’t like that because there were
so many people.  Everyone was told
to take a shower, but there wasn’t room for
the children in the shower, and the guards
took us to another place.  There were lots
of furnaces there, and it was hot and
scary.  There were soldiers with guns, and men
in striped suits.  One of them took Louis and
whispered something to him.  Then he hit him
on the head with a club and threw him in
the furnace.  God, where is Louis?  Is he
in heaven with You?  Please, God, please tell me.

Then a man in a striped suit grabbed me and
whispered something to me.  He said,  Hear O’
Israel the Lord our God,  the Lord is one,
and I thought of my papa.  The man tried
to hit me with his club, but a soldier
aimed at him with a gun and he threw me
into the fire.  And it hurt, God, it hurt
a lot.  And I screamed but no one listened.
I got burned alive, God.  Why didn’t You help?
Did I do something to make You angry?

And then they took all of our ashes and
loaded them into a truck.  They dumped us
into a big river, and we floated
away.  And it was cold again, terribly
cold like on the train.  And it was so dark.
God, where am I?  Where are we?  Are we with
You, God?  Where are You?  Where were You?  Please God –
Say something to me.  Anything.
Please?

Shalom
Anna

She awaits an answer.

****

And where is now my hope?
As for my hope, who shall see it?
They shall go down to the bars of the pit,
When our rest together is in the dust.
(Job 17:15-16)

Part II: The WAR in THE PACIFIC

EMERALDS OF SOLOMON

in distant view
horrors of times long passed are unimagined as
the emerald necklace of solomon lies awash in glistening azure sea
green rough cut stones strung invisibly together
on implied silken strands
swathed in peaceful beauty which belies the anguish of souls
who sleep
beneath mantles of blue and green
for all eternity

on closer view
blue waters of  the coral sea
lap sands and emerald shores of places known by men as
islands of solomon
so named by those who dreamed of wealth
but not of wisdom
of ancient king

Solomon

become today
a nom de guerre

emerald greens and azure blues
are stained with blood of war
ghosts reside ‘neath jungled canopies
alongside rusted artifacts and guns
near hollow shell of bunker
poinciana blooms by tulip tree
and weeping figs display their sorrow
with downward tilting boughs
though they do not know
nor can they know
the pain
befell the fallen dead.

history records both words and deeds
which flowered beauty neither heard nor saw
bougainville
guadalcanal
the slot
bloody ridge
iron bottom sound

the fate of nations hinged upon blood spilled
in erstwhile paradise
of emerald green and azure blue
where spirits cry in darkness

where even god might shed a tear
or so we hope.

****

THE MONUMENT

the smell of sulfur reeked the air
gassed from fiery pit beneath the earth
of island born of cataclysm
barren and alone
astraddle icy seas in path of winds
which blew ill fortune
in face of tens of thousands
whose duties were about to

Clash.

a mountain proudly stood on margin of the shore
wisps of putrid smoke vented from
its eerie yet familiar shape
which towered as if to watch
as if to wait
to serve its destiny as surely as proclaimed by god
whose hand  had sculpted monument
synonymous with

Fate.

they came on ships
some new to game of war but led by veterans of
murderous island battles
already won
or lost
and each was caused to ask himself over and again
the only question burned into his soul

When?

dug into black volcanic sand as batteries rained
fires of hell
from caves within the sculpted shape of stone
and from ravines and other scars
carved both by men and gods
thousands heard the answer

Now.

the battle raged for forty days and forty nights
and stole last breaths
in gruesome tally
of six-and-twenty thousand
souls
with equal numbers maimed and wounded
to claim but eight square miles
of ash and rock with heady price of

Death.

today an icon stands in hallowed place
in peace amongst the flowers
where soldiers
memorialized and cast in  bronze
forever raise their flag on
suribachi

Iwo Jima.

suribachi
a monument carved by hand of god
in distant view
foreboding shape of
tombstone
set on field of ash and blood
it well describes
a second
war to end all wars
memorial
to other millions

Dead.

echo now the living’s prayer
may guilty burn in hell
may innocents and
innocence
rest in peace
and beg we ne’er forget
for all eternity
the horror
of their passing.

Amen.
Amen.

****

G _ D HAVE MERCY

saipan
iwo jima
okinawa
Islands where battles raged to capture
stepping stones
to place the
empire of japan
within range of
bombers
and of
bombs

G _ D
have mercy

the toll in life snuffed or wounded
by flame and bullet
enormous
saipan
34,000
iwo jima
51,000
okinawa
205,000
and fateful lesson learned
‘twas said and written
invasion of japan would bear a cost in human life
unimagined
and far greater than any battle fought before in
all of human history

G _ D
have mercy

there had to be a better way

new mexico
july 16 1945
anno domini
at dawn a flash
described by witness as

. . . enormous ball of . . .
  fire
and closely resembled a

rising sun

a better way
now found
but now
the hour
is
late

later than e’er before

G _ D
have mercy

****

THE RISING SUN

a subtle crimson dawn
bears witness to the

rising sun

as drone of aircraft parts the tropic stillness
of oahu
without warning
flashes
explosions
and searing heat
begin their murderous task
of destroying fleet of ships
and sailors
amidst screams and death
in aftermath
silent determination signals that
the beginning of the end
is begun

then other places and other dawns
in consort with the

rising sun

turn the ocean red as if with blood
the stench of war prevails
and stench of death overwhelms
and sickens
all but gods of east and west
who remain curiously silent
unoffended by carnage beneath them on
bataan
midway
guadalcanal
saipan
okinawa
to name a few
now emerald tombstones
for untold tens of thousands

the inland sea
bears witness to the final dawn of war
as familiar drone parts the morning silence
unobtrusively
above the

land of rising sun

and lets drop its cargo
the soul of hell encased in steel
a flash
explosion
and mushroom cloud’s
atomic searing heat vaporizes
screams and moans
of all beneath this erstwhile devil’s

rising sun

hiroshima
where satan’s crimson dawn
lays carnage at the feet of men
and of gods who never cared enough
to halt atrocities
which tore their world to shreds
the heart of the

rising sun

finally stilled
alongside hearts of
innocents across the globe
the murdered dead
who whisper questions
through the dirt which overlies
their shallow graves

why
they ask
are all gods deaf
to prayers of the living
and deaf to screams
of dying and the dead
why is misery of carnage
always allowed to bear witness to the

rising sun

of yet another dawn
and we are not

?

****

¡HALLELUJAH!

germany surrendered
unconditionally
may 7 1945

anno domini

five years
eight months
seven days
beyond day one
and flow of european brimstone ceased
though well beyond the gates of hell
the maniacal
thousand year reich
died a fitting death
at age twelve years
four months
eight days

PRAISE BE TO GOD!
HALLELUJAH!

finis!
of this
the latest
 war to end all wars
september 2 1945

anno domini

as japan capitulated
on quarter-deck of dreadnought
uss missouri
at anchor in tokyo bay
these final words were spoken
by douglas macarthur
army general of the victors

let us pray that peace be now restored to the world
and that god will preserve it always

PRAISE BE TO GOD!
HALLELUJAH!

in global conflagration
fifty millions dead or missing
cities and nations now become
smoking rubble
through cause unjustifiable
by any measure of
sanity
or insanity

or PRAISE BE TO GOD
or HALLELUJAH

left behind a lexicon
of horror

auschwitz birkenau buchenwald treblinka bergen-belsen majdanek babi yar
pearl harbor bataan guadalcanal saipan iwo jima okinawa hiroshima nagasaki
Holocaust

to those who perished
by fetid hand of satan’s fetid soul

PRAISE BE TO GOD?
HALLELUJAH?

aftermath prophesied in
bhagavad gita

“If the radiance of a thousand suns were to burst
at once into the sky
that would be like the Splendor of
The Mighty One . . .
‘I am become Death, Shatterer of Worlds.’”

EPITAPH:

IN HOC SIGNO

VINCES!

Ha…
Halle…
Hallelu…
¡JA!

Praise be to . . .

?

****

JOHN FRANCIS, R.I.P
Reflection after fifty years

John Francis was a soldier.
2nd Lt., United States Marines.
B. February 17, 1907.
D. October 22, 1942.
So reads the footstone which lies in shadow of marble pillars,
National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific,
Honolulu.

1942,
Anno Domini,
The year John Francis died
Dawned in fateful aftermath of Date of Infamy
And saw the world engulfed in war.
Young men across the globe heeded call to arms
Not knowing of their fate
Though each and all feared the worst.
As private prayers pursed their lips
Battles raged In Europe, Asia, and across the Pacific -
And everywhere, young men fell into the dark abyss
Of deathly silence -
‘Last full measure of devotion’ now complete,
Souls freed.

John Francis went to war in 1942 -
A Massachusetts Patriot
Descended of those who gave up all to leave their homeland
To seek a better life in a place far removed from what they knew -
A place removed from war.
And when the call to arms was issued
He was ready
To climb aboard a ship and sail
Toward battles already raging.
His duty, he knew, was to lead the fight -
To keep the flame of free men alive atop the pyre
Of human hope.
He didn’t know his fate, of course.
Such things are not written in advance for men to read.

John Francis fought the valiant fight until that fateful day -
October 22, 1942,
Anno Domini.
When then there came another call -
This time from his God.

And
Then
John Francis died.

John Francis was interred with honors due
The fallen,
Beneath the Emerald grass of Hawaii
In a somber place – a place which makes the living beg
The question and ask their God or gods -
Why?
Fifty millions dead -
Why?
Perhaps we’ll never know.

I found myself staring at the foot-stone of John Francis.
It was in an early row of graves, close to the ascending stairs.
The marble columns and the Garden of the Missing
Gleamed above the grass of the cemetery.
I lingered there, humbled,
Recalling things, histories,
And ironies.

For on the day John Francis died
Another life began, a full half-world away -
There was a birth, you see -
And the newborn heard no gunshots as he took his first breath.
Nor was he able to wonder if John Francis had heard the noise -
The summons of his God -
Which claimed his last
Breath.

John Francis shares a date with me -
His final day upon this earth
Was my first.
And after fifty years had passed I promised him -
As I stood in sunshine, free of war, alive
Upon his grave -
That I would not forget
His sacrifice.

John Francis
Fogerty.
R.I.P.

****

Part III: REBIRTH

THE FINAL GENESIS

(The Muse who speaks and writes herein is a composite
incarnation of the Nine Goddesses, daughters of Zeus)

The Muse is Dead!  Long Lives the Muse!

The Muse is dead, and, too, is God.
They lie here, buried, side-by-side
In marbled tomb;  Muse finds it odd
That fortune through the mist has cried
Her name – and placed her here atop
Such cold and mossy stone.  If He
Speaks to me, Muse asks, shall I drop
In feigned sleep, ignore His query?

But Muse, by cosmic rule, can never sleep;
Immortality – hers alone to keep.

The First Day
God speaks:

Muse, I see you finally rest alongside
me.  Our troubled paths have now been woven
into one.  Tell me some things.  Or perhaps
you have a question for me?  You always
were one to second guess everything I
spoke or wrote.  Why did you doubt me?  It was
I who created you, after all, and
I who gave you breath of voice.  Feel free to
speak – we are equals in this darkened tomb.

The Second Day
Muse:

I am the daughter of Zeus, who gave both
life and breath of voice to me.  I see no
reason to argue technicality
of creation.  Entombed, we are equals,
as you say.  This slab knows not its burden.

Beg not you feel I’ve written haughtily,
for that was not my course.  I’ve simply done
the things were asked of me.  I wrote your books,
and I was mouthpiece of your prophets and
even of your son.  I taught your children
well – Moses used my work to great avail.
I enjoyed my time with David, and with
Solomon and Job – they were willing souls
with visions only you could grant.  But my
greatest triumphs came through minds you blessed with
wisdom:  Socrates, for one, plus all of
them which followed or preceded.  The poets
and philosophers were easily inspired -
and through this day our thoughts and words persist.
But still I puzzle.  There were those who sought
my services with no illumination
in their minds, and I am wont to ask:
Why the mindless tyrants?  Can you explain?

The Third Day
God:

I offered men of peace to counteract
the tyrannies.  The despots were not mine,
but Satan’s servants.  And furthermore, I
sent musicians, poets, philosophers,
and artisans to weave a subtle cloth -
a tapestry of joy and happiness
for all my children.  And lest you forget,
it was you who spoke for me, and when you
failed, I accepted blame with willingness.

The Fourth Day
Muse:

And speak for them I did.  I penned each note
Of Mozart, and all the words of Shakespeare.
You may recall that it was I who wrote
The Magna Carta, plus documents which
followed well its premise.  But dare I make
a claim for thoughts or words which promise death?
No, Creator, such favors were neither
mine to grant nor rescind.  That choice was yours
alone.  And why, I ask, did you allow,
across millennia,  those words and deeds
of darkness which reflected lack of soul
to manifest themselves,  to overtake
your works?  You say you tried but I submit
you failed – creation was but the first step.

The Fifth Day
God:

How dare you doubt my purposes!  Had you
followed my decrees you’d be aware of
this:  Infinity is my domain, and
mine alone!  Mine is the only vision!
It was I who gave all space a reason
to exist, for by my hand there arose
from nothingness the beauties and the truths
you have seen and recorded.  It was I
who offered breath of life to those become
your minions.  Without me, you’d be nothing!

The Sixth Day
Muse:

Those are strong and haughty words from a God
who lies with me, His Muse, in this cold tomb.
It was you allowed your dominion to
become corrupted by those deeds which slew
your soul.  The final century of this
millennium surpassed in darkness all
which had gone before.  How many millions
died upon the sword of unimagined
tyranny?  I covet not such nightmares.
As Muse, it would be my duty to point
out that even God could never live with
such a burden.  It seems the fact that you
lie here with me upon this mossy stone
is proof that such conclusion is correct.

The Seventh Day
God:

You speak with passion, Muse.  I argue not
the clarity of your view.  And yes, it’s
true the fault was mine and mine alone. I
trusted my creation might evolve to
ascendancy with but the tools I gave
it.  You did your best – you guided well the
visions I had deemed would slay the Beast.  And
yet, the Beast has won the final battle.
As we lie here in darkness, he has free
reign to guide Apocalypse.  His Horsemen
can no longer be detained – creation
now is wed with Armageddon.  I weep
with you demise of wisdom as I shed
my final tear.  Muse, the hour is late. The
darkness is upon us, let us sleep now.

The Eighth Day
Silence

Darkness then became the cloak of God as
the entire of creation slipped slowly
into the abyss of The Holocaust,
and hopeless souls returned to dust and ash.

But Muse, by cosmic rule, can never sleep;
Eternity is hers alone to keep.

The Ninth Day
Genesis

The hooves of horses thundered through God’s tomb.
And four there were, with Death astride them all.
Then cold and darkness vanished from the room
As Beast himself tossed flames throughout the hall.

Satan speaks:

Creator!  Why sleep you here upon a
mossy slab?  You’re missing my impressive
show!  My servants have ripped your Earth to shreds,
and have sent countless millions to their graves!
I’ve taught them clever use of fire, and now
all creation is at risk!  My Kingdom
prospers in Germanic tongue, for I do
allow a single privilege, that they can
hear the final screams of victims even
as they pay their due to me!  And you, Muse,
I wondered where you’d gone, but now I see
you’re here in fitting dress – does not this cold
and darkness bother you?  My domain is
quite the opposite – perhaps you’ve made your
fatal miscue by ignoring my call!

Muse:

I cannot sleep, I cannot die, so long
As thoughtful minds persist upon the Earth.
And you, oh Beast, are surely not so strong
To stop my sacred charge;  for life is worth
Far more than you shall ever realize.
As Muse, I dwell in Truth for Beauty’s sake,
And Love, and Life, and Wisdom for the Wise,
But I choose not to feed the starving Snake.
So best advice from Muse is that you claim
Your victory o’er God while time permits.
Revel in hatred and eternal shame
Which you bequeath to all from fiery pits -
But this recall when hatred starts to dim:
‘Twas I who did create both you and Him!

Satan:

Ridiculous!  I do exist!  Are you
too blind to see?   And there lies God upon
his marble slab – what say you now of that?

Muse:

You’re both illusions in the minds of men.
I know, because I preened the thoughts and wrote
the words, I even gave you voice.  And you
persist through only ignorance.  When minds
develop fully and become aware
of their mistake, they’ll banish you and freeze
your fiery Hell.  But God shall rise again
in different form; next time I’ll get Him right!

And now I must leave.  Genesis begins
anew amidst the smoking ruins that some
of lesser mind have wrought.  I shall return
to seek out those whose vision can improve
the lot of man.  Beast, hear me well: abide
your time – remaining is but one cosmic
night of darkness till Final Genesis
concludes.  Then you, along with ignorance,
shall find yourselves alone and banished from
the minds of men on Earth, forevermore.

Muse left the tomb in gown of purple hue
As Beast and Corpus Dei there remained.
And she returned once more to Earth to view
The devastation and the graves still stained
In blood – armed with only Wisdom to imbue.

For Muse, by cosmic rule, can never sleep;
Infinity is hers alone to keep.

As the cloud is consumed and vanisheth away,
so he that goeth down to the grave
shall come up no more.
(Job 7:9)

****

THE THIRD MILLENNIUM
A Spiritual Discourse

A Play in Three Acts
Live from Cosmic Hall

Setting:  In the waning cosmic moments
of the second millennium, common era;
Voices from the ether.

Act I

(Narrator):

The cosmic hall was darkened as it sat
In ether, far removed from human cares.
Inside, atop a well-worn woven mat
Were placed an ancient table, and five chairs.
A servant slowly shuffled in the room,
Arranging flowers in a crystal vase.
As flowers opened, sunshine broke the gloom,
And servant then unlocked a burnished case.
He spread the contents out upon the oak,
Appropriate for all invited guests,
Then on one chair he draped a purple cloak
Emblazoned with nine Grecian Goddess Crests.

When satisfied, he stooped to light a fire
Which crackled soon to life, removed the chill.
Outside, he lit a torch atop a pyre,
And coaches soon appeared on yonder hill.
Each came to halt before the ancient hall,
And ghostly horses pawed the graveled ground
As disembarked the passengers, who all
Retired inside – though voicing not a sound.
The servant motioned them to take a chair,
And held it as each member settled in.
He said, “Relax, ignore all cosmic care,
When Muse arrives, this session shall begin.”

A woman and three men were thus prepared
To meet their peers who once had lived, and wrote
As brethren of the Earth.  And each now shared
Old thoughts again, some in familiar note.
And then, as if in softest mystic dream
Arose an apparition in the gloom
Which filled the empty cloak from seam to seam,
And cast a purpled glow throughout the room.
She came as incarnation of the Nine -
The Goddesses, the Muses of the Crests
Which now appeared as intertwining vines
Well-laced within the fabric of her vest.

(Around the table sat four writers of the ages:  King Solomon, Aeschylus,  Omar Khayyam, and Emily Dickinson – spread before each, their collected writings, and on the shelves surrounding them, the sum total of recorded human thought)

The Muse begins:

A toast to you, my friends, we meet again!
Remember?  ‘Twas I inspired you to write
Your works, though sans your wisdom, I’d have been
Of little use.  I’ve summoned you in spite
Of  your dilemma which you know as death,
For only flesh is gone – your wisdom lives
And thus do you.  Your words deliver breath
Of life each day to souls awash; it gives
Them hope to know the Beauties and the Truths
You’ve seen and penned in your soliloquies.
I call on you because your wisdom soothes
The mind, and disavows the tendencies
Of graft so prevalent today on Earth.
So let us speak of Wisdom, and Rebirth!

Solomon:

Muse, wisdom is a curse for many souls
Recall my words:

And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to
know madness and folly:  I perceived that
this also is vexation of spirit.  
For in much wisdom is much grief: and he
that increaseth knowledge increaseth
sorrow…Better is an handful with
quietness, than both the hands full with
travail and vexation of spirit.

Muse:

My dear King, your words are true, but there are
thirty centuries passed since your reign.  Pray,
let me speak of  current times, and of what
has been wrought.

The final century of this current
millennium has well-defined both travail
and vexation of spirit.  Knowledge did
accumulate even as Wisdom stood
aside, and the result has been emergence
of  unimagined tyranny.  Fifty,
perhaps sixty million murdered dead have
been added to the roll, and in the short
space of six years, six million of your
descendants – Jews – were claimed by the hand of
a single despot.   War upon war has
been fought and either won or lost,  and yet
so few alive dare admit the folly.

Aeschylus:

Solomon, your point is well-taken.  I
fought the Persians after the desecration
of  Athens, and we defeated them at
Salamis and at Plataea.  There was
hope then, after years of struggle, that
Athenians might enter a new age
of prosperity and freedom.  The dream
came to pass, but was short-lived – fifty years
later, Sparta claimed the Acropolis.
Our victory over the Persians proved
to be nothing more than a temporary
victory over the barbarism
within ourselves.  We saw not wisdom; we
equated knowledge with wisdom.  A most
fatal mistake.

Muse:

A mistake, dear Aeschylus, which is being
repeated even as we speak.

Solomon:

He that digeth a pit shall fall into it.

Khayyam:

I’m reminded of a verse I penned a
near millennium past:

The Worldly hope men set their Hearts upon
Turns Ashes – or it prospers; and anon,
Like Snow upon the Desert’s dusty Face,
Lighting a little hour or two – is gone.

Perhaps that well-describes the brief
golden age of Athens spoken of by
Aeschylus?   Might it not also describe
the state of circumstance this day?  I penned
the words to tell of the curious fates of
unseeing Sultans who had, as you suggest,
no sense of even their own barbarism.
But might not the same words, on further reflect,
speak of the fleeting breath of Wisdom?

Solomon:

‘The fleeting breath of Wisdom’ is sadly
the lot of all men.

There is no remembrance of the wise
more than of the fool….seeing that which now
is in the days to come shall all be forgotten.
And how dieth the wise man?  As the fool.

Muse:

Must it be always thus?  Must Wisdom be
fleeting?  Must the wise man always die the fool?

Dickinson:

Yes, dear Muse, I fear such must always come
to pass.  Many have tried, most have failed, to
see Truth.  And with such scant knowledge of Truth,
what must be the fate of wisdom?  One may
try to go to bed with Truth at his side,
but what of the next day’s dawn?  Wisdom
is but a pawn – Truth is the King, Beauty
the Queen.  Without the two, Wisdom must die.

A darting fear – a pomp – a tear -
A waking on a morn
To find that what one waked for,
Inhales the different dawn.

Khayyam:

I think we need not lose all hope, so long
as men believe Wisdom is attainable.
But the search must never end – for then all
hope is dashed upon a rocky shoal.  We
must rather, it would seem to me,

make the most of what we yet may spend.

Ah, my Beloved, fill the cup that clears
Today  of past regrets and future Fears:
Tomorrow! – Why, Tomorrow I may be
Myself with Yesterday’s Sev’n thousand Years.

Dickinson:

Oh, I do agree Mr. Khayyam.  My
point is simply this:  until Truth itself
is known and understood, there can be no
Wisdom.  For Truth is immutable, it
can never change or be altered  Thus it
is the foundation upon which Wisdom
is constructed.  We perhaps all know the
ancient parable of the fate of a
house built on sand – Wisdom built on less
than rock of Truth would prove of little use,
and would soon wash into the sea only
to be dashed upon rocky shoals.  ‘Tis not
the wise man who dieth as a fool, but
rather he who is a pretender to
Wisdom – for beneath such mask, the fool endures.

Aeschylus:

I concur. Wisdom not firmly rooted
in Truth slays the mind as ably as a
sword, and the death of the  mind is equal
in crisis to death of body or of soul.

By cunning we die, precisely as we killed.
Hand me the man-ax, someone, hurry!
Now we will see.  Win all or lose all,
we have come to this – the crisis of our lives.

Muse:

My friends, ‘tis time we rest.  I must say that
I remain astonished at your insights,
your wisdom has not paled within the tomb.
I suggest we pause and think a bit – shall
we agree to meet again when next the
Pleiades are at their zenith?  Perhaps
you will choose to absorb the history
of this century soon to end – for it
is our duty to guide the living in
transition to the Third Millennium
of this, the Common Era.  Our task is
enlightenment.  When we return, let us
speak of paths to Truth, for Wisdom remains
our goal.  Rest well: we have much work ahead.

(Whereupon all participants rose to greet the servant, and
he led them to their quarters).

(Narrator):

Then servant wandered slowly through the ancient room
Retrieving glasses flush with hints of fragrant wine.
Refreshed he was that sages rescued from the tomb
Were analyzing history and fate, a sign
To him that life need not be cloaked in doom

Act II

(The seven stars of the Pleiades are returned to their Zenith, and the servant has led the participants back to the ancient table.  He has poured the wine and spread the manuscripts out before them.  The Muse appears, and begins to speak.)

Muse:

I trust you’ve rested well, O my wise friends.
‘Tis time we now begin exploring ways
To guide our Earth-bound minions toward the ends
Of Truth and Wisdom that shall, through all days
And years which lie ahead, appear as light
To them.  Let us belay the cloak of dark,
Destroy the sword; illuminate the night
Where lives the soul of tyranny.  One spark
Is all it takes to light a fire.  It seems
We have agreement on the fact that Truth
Is the foundation, the shield by which dreams
Of men are spared the bite of serpent’s tooth.
But from where does Truth arise?  How to know
Its source?  Before one harvests, one must sow.

  Aeschylus:

There is throughout the world of men a lone
impediment to search for Truth and Justice,
and that is man’s eternal quest for Power.
Power is ascendant in the minds of
those who dare pretend to govern; it seems
an inborn evil siren call.  And when
such call is answered, the immediate
casualty is Truth, for Truth and Power
cannot coexist.  Power itself must yield
invariably to tyranny, just as
Wisdom yields to Truth.  Power and Wisdom
cannot stand as brothers, nor Justice with
The Damned.  ‘Tis whispered each must weep … alone.

Who, who can tear from the veins the bad seed,
the curse?  The race is welded to its ruin.

Solomon:

You are correct, Aeschylus.  Reflect on
these, my words of thirty centuries past -
and witness my mistake:  I failed to see
that Wisdom built on rock of Truth is the
only comforter of the human soul.

I…considered all the oppressions that
are done under the sun: and behold
the tears of such as were oppressed, and they
had no comforter; and on the side of
their oppressors there was power; but they
had no comforter.

Yea, better is he…who hath not seen the
evil work that is done under the sun.

I add now this:  He who eschews power
may dare seek Truth, but he who eschews Truth
seeketh not Wisdom and casts his lot in darkness.
Wisdom is the only true comforter,
and power the only true evil, and
therefore power is the enemy of all Truth.

Khayyam:

But is a land of scant power not subject
to be overrun by the strong barbarian?
With humble apologies to Aeschylus,
my forbears had little trouble with Athens,
at  least at first.  It was the bravery
and the power within which led Athenians
to their victories.  And was it not the
superior power of Sparta which stormed
the Acropolis and cut short the Golden
Age?  It would seem that power does indeed lend
itself to a single Truth, such being
that iron wills and sharpened swords prevail
o’er those of peaceful heart.  And what of the
moneychanger?  Is it not true that he
has power over the more benevolent
poor which walk in his midst?  Perhaps it could
be said the most fundamental of all
Truths is that power begets barbarism?

Dickinson:

You make a most interesting point, Mr.
Khayyam.  But I maintain there is even
a more fundamental Truth:  pray listen
as I recite a pair of simple verses:

I died for Beauty – but was scarce
Adjusted in the Tomb
When One who died for Truth was lain
In an adjoining Room -

He questioned softly “Why I failed?”
“For Beauty,” I replied -
“And I – for Truth – Themself are One -
We Brethren are,” He said.

I believe the basis of Truth lies in
Beauty, not in evil.

Muse:

John Keats agreed with you, for I remember
well his words:

“Beauty is truth, truth beauty,” – that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.

But Mr. Khayyam has a valid point
as well – true Wisdom must include under
its umbrella an understanding of
all Truth, and as he suggests there also
is Truth in evil – as the survivors
of this current century’s holocausts
have perceived.

Dickinson:

Perhaps it could be said that true Beauty
lies in seeing Truth, no matter its source?
And he who knows all such Truth is wise?  We
are returned to the premise that Wisdom
is based only on Truth, but now perhaps
can agree that not all Truth is righteous?
Nor borne of Beauty?  That we can only be
assured of Truth’s infallibility?

Truth – is as old as God -
His Twin identity
And will endure as long as He
A Co-Eternity -

And perish on the Day
Himself is borne away
From Mansion of the Universe
A lifeless Deity.

(Narrator):

The servant cringed quite visibly, and spilled
some drops of wine.  And though he knew she could
not know of God’s demise and death,  he willed
himself to silence – for the common good.

Muse:

Suppose
that God is either myth, or dead.  What then?
Would humankind be any worse off than
now?    Recall that God has taken many
forms throughout the centuries, and much
unfortunate religious practice and
belief has been fomented in result.
And yet, must not we all ask where lies the
progression of human thought?  Do Deities
offer more than that which intelligence
might perceive on its own?  And how to explain
ignorance?  If men were created in
the image of a wise God, where lies the
Wisdom of his Creator?  Is Wisdom
excluded in the reflection?  If so,
why?  What is to be gained through pervasive
ignorance?

Dickinson:

Power.  It alone thrives on pervasive
ignorance.  Ignorance is, in fact, the
tool of the tyrant, for it is the
antithesis of both Reason and of
Wisdom.  Truth is forever concealed behind
the mask of ignorance, and the blind, thus
afflicted, cannot see.

Power is a familiar growth -
Not foreign – not to be -
Beside us like a bland Abyss
In every company -
Escape it – there is but a chance -
When consciousness and clay
Lean forward for a final glance -
Disprove that and you may -

Khayyam:

Yes, I agree.  And might I add that power
blinds those who sing its song, with end result
that blind do subjugate the blind in
mutual lament:

There was the door to which I found no Key;
There was the Veil through which I might not see

Solomon:

The ultimate vanity is Power, not Wisdom,
as once I thought.

Aeschylus:

Yes, and I think we all agree that Power
is the seed of tyranny, and when such
is thus, Truth is hidden behind the veil,
and there can be no Wisdom.  Ignorance may
well be a gift of Deity, but one
which man would better refuse. Admit the
Truth that Power is evil and, as such,
precurses tyranny.  For only those
who have a means to measure the future
can guide it.  Left untended, the future
will be laid waste by tyrants; better it
be led by the wise.  Wisdom, if pervasive,
can splay the tyrant upon the rock, and
expose his evil intent.

Muse:

And what of the differences between
Knowledge and Wisdom?

Solomon:

Knowledge is fact alone, Wisdom is Truth.
A wise man possesses knowledge, but one
who possesses only knowledge surely
is not always wise.  Tyrants use knowledge
of fact to perpetrate their evil deeds,
but even as knowledge may allow the
sacking of a sister state, Wisdom would
choose the path of harmony. For it is
harmony that is the soul of Beauty,
and Beauty the soul of Truth, and Truth the
soul of Wisdom.

The words of wise men are heard in quiet
more than the cry of him that ruleth among
fools.  Wisdom is better than weapons of
war: but one sinner destroyeth much good.

Muse:

Are the consequences of power always
tyranny?

Solomon:

When the Egyptians were in a position
of power over the Israelites, tyranny
prevailed.  Nor was Babylon a pleasure
for those in her path

Aeschylus:

And pray we not ignore the Assyrians,
or the Persians, or the Spartans. Or, for
that matter, the Kingdoms of David and
Solomon.

Solomon:

My father and I ruled with benevolent
hand for the glory of God!

Aeschylus:

Perhaps those you conquered would disagree?

Khayyam:

Many have ruled for the glory of their
God, and Deity in any form has
always been a favoured excuse of the
tyrant.  I submit that from the moment
the first hints of human society
evolved, the worship of a Deity
implicitly allowed any manner
of rape, pillage, or plunder as apropos.
So let us be honest amongst ourselves
and admit that Deity is always
deemed expedient to the siren call
of Power and Wealth, with tryanny thus
henceforth justified.

Indeed the Idols I have loved so long
Have done my credit in the World much wrong:
  Have drown’d my Glory in a shallow Cup,
And sold my Reputation for a Song.

Aeschylus:

And may I add:

Bastions of wealth
are no defense for the man
who treads the grand altar of Justice

Dickinson:

I fear I must agree.  If we examine
only the Christian era we find that,
in spite of the gentle and wise teachings
of Christ, much atrocity was committed
in His name.  I seem to recall that the
Spanish Inquisition alone claimed the
lives of  some thirty million souls.  And my
own forebears sought to cleanse America
of its native peoples who were, in their
eyes, but heathen savages.  And all the
while these erstwhile men of God paid homage
to the teachings of the Christ.  Thus to
the conquerors went the spoils, though ‘twas ‘neath
the Icons of their Gods that Wisdom
perished – and the darkness of Hell abides.

Safe in their Alabaster Chambers -
Untouched by Morning
And untouched by Noon -
Sleep the meek members of the Resurrection -
Rafter of satin,
And roof of stone.

Light laughs the breeze
In her Castle above them -
Babbles the Bee in a stolid Ear,
Pipe the Sweet Birds in ignorant cadence -
Ah, what sagacity perished here!

Muse:

Unfortunately, I fear your conclusions
are correct.  There is scant evidence that
Deities have ever been the guides of
men.  If you doubt me, view the records of
history.  Read of Egypt, of Babylon,
of Assyria, of Persia, of Rome,
and yes, of Greece.  Reflect upon exploits
of Genghis Khan, of Attila and the
Huns.  And note that blood of Christ has spilled
across the globe.  Understand brutalities
of followers of Prophet Muhammad,
then ask, as do I, why?  Is atrocity
truly the will of Deity?  If so,
what is it that separates Heaven from Hell?

Solomon:

Such is left for only God to know, for
it is written that the Wisdom of God
together with His ways shall forever
remain a mystery to men, even to
men of faith.  For men are loathe to understand
the mind or means of God.

Fear God, and keep His commandments: for this
is the whole duty of man.  For God shall
bring every work into judgement, with
every  secret thing, whether it be good,
or whether it be evil.

Aeschylus:

In other words, God is swathed in secrecy?
He allows knowledge, but not Wisdom?
Without Wisdom, how can man know what is
evil?  Knowledge makes no distinction between
good and evil.  It would seem that in a
world of escalating knowledge scant of
Wisdom as a guide, atrocity would
magnify and grow to unimagined
size.  This is the intent of a wise God?

So, you can sleep . . .
Awake, awake – what use are sleepers now?
I go shorn of honor, thanks to you,
alone among the dead.  And for those I killed
the charges of the dead will never cease, never -
I wander in disgrace, I feel the guilt, I tell you,
enormous guilt from all the outraged dead!

Muse:

I’m reminded here of words I penned for
William Wordsworth:

To her fair works did Nature link
The human soul that through me ran;
And much it grieved my heart to think
What man has made of man.

Does he not describe a consequence of
a world of men devoid of Wisdom?

Dickinson:

Yes.  Wordsworth knew Beauty, and therefore Truth.
He further wrote:

The Rainbow comes and goes,
And lovely is the Rose,
The Moon doth with delight
Look round her when the heavens are bare,
Waters on a starry night
Are beautiful and fair;
The sunshine is a glorious birth;
And yet I know, where’er I go,
That there hath past away a glory from the earth.

…Thanks to the human heart by which we live,
Thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears.
To me the meanest flower that blows can give
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.

Those are words of one who understood that
Truth is, in Solomon’s words, the soul of
Wisdom, and Beauty – the soul of Truth.

Muse, it seems we have concluded several things:
Wisdom is dashed by Power upon the rock-
strewn shore of tyranny; Beauty and Truth -
the souls of Wisdom – are not seen by the
powerful, because Power blinds both mind
and eye.  ‘Tis Power which well-defines the
barbarism within ourselves – that ancient
woeful curse – which forever thrives.

As old as Woe -
How old is that?
Some eighteen thousand years -
As old as Bliss
How old is that?
They are of equal years

Together chiefest they are found
But seldom side by side
From neither of them tho’ he try
Can Human nature hide.

Aeschylus:

But the lust for power never dies -
men cannot have enough.
No one will lift a hand to send it
from his door, to give it warning,
“Power, never come again!”

It is in those words wherein resides the
crux of the human dilemma.

Muse:

I believe we are seeing patterns as
our thoughts progress.  Shall we, do you think, now
define Power as a barbarism
within the self?  And Wisdom as a
harmony borne of Beauty and of Truth?
But what then of Love?

Solomon:

Love is the equal of Beauty, for Love
reflects harmony of self just as Beauty
reflects harmony of life.  They walk as
kindred souls together, and he who lives
with both shall surely perceive Truth and
become wise, for Love and Beauty are the
twin essences of Truth.

Khayyam:

Ah, the Wisdom of Solomon!  Imagine
if ‘twas true that Love and Beauty became
the essences of the human soul as well!

Would but the Desert of the Fountain yield
One glimpse – if dimly, yet indeed, reveal’d
  To which the fainting Traveller might spring
As springs the trampled herbage of the field!.

Dickinson:

Love is beautiful indeed, and the soul
which sees love becomes, with Beauty, a guide
to Truth -  of that there can be no doubt. But
still remains a problem:

Love – thou art Veiled -
A few behold thee -
Smile – and alter – and prattle – and die -
Bliss were an Oddity without thee -
Nicknamed by God -
Eternity.

How to show the living the Beauty of
Love, and the joys of Truth and Wisdom?

Servant:

Pray beg your forgiveness of me – I speak
without invitation.  But all which you
discuss is the true purview of God, is
it not?  I submit God has failed, and in
result, darkness of Power has prevailed
to overcome the quest for Wisdom.  Power
allows not Wisdom, nor Truth, nor Love, nor
Beauty.  In darkness there is no Harmony,
there is no light.  And the soul cannot long
endure when shorn of Beauty or of Love.

And such it is that’s been the fate of God.

Muse:

My friends, there is one thing you do not know -
All Gods of men are dead, succumbed.  Their fate
Was handed them by evil hand below -
Souls crushed beneath pervasive power of hate.
And now they lie, interred, in marbled tomb -
A just reward for Gods who could not see
That Wisdom is sole glory of the womb,
And Truth, the only course to harmony.
For us, a single task remains ahead -
To re-create a God to guide the race,
Who’ll save the souls of all the murdered dead -
A God of Truth, not one of empty space.
And might I add that now has come the hour
To dis-imbue mankind’s romance with Power.

(Narrator):

Then servant bowed, and led all to their rooms
That each might now reflect upon their goals
Of sparing men the final heinous dooms,
The dashing of all hopes on rock-strewn shoals.

(The stars of the Pleiades slipped below the horizon – and as they
did so, hailed the approaching cosmic dawn).

Act III

(The Cosmic Hall was silent as the sages slept, but Muse can never sleep.
And thus a journey of enlightenment was about to commence)

(Narrator):

Each relaxed in swath of Galactic sleep
Till Muse appeared within their dreams, to grace
Their souls with a most fantastical leap -
A journey to the stars at starburst’s pace.

Five traveled toward the Pleiades, and songs
Of Cosmic Beauty filled their minds with light.
And though at rest, each sensed eternal wrongs
Which burdened Cosmic Truth with senseless blight.

Then stardust of the Seven Nymphs became
Their stepping stones, and they looked back toward Earth
To see it as the faintest spot – the wame
Of life, the planet of their human birth.

And sad they were to note that darkness of
Earth’s aura spoke of tyranny and hate,
But not of Wisdom, Beauty, Truth, or Love -
And thus revealed some hints of human fate.

Then screams of murdered dead did fill their ears,
As souls awoke from their eternal rest
To fill the ether’s black with cries and fears
No God had heard – in message for the guests.

As they returned again to Cosmic Hall,
Their tears were drawn as if from deepest well,
For voices of the dead were heard to call:
“If this is Heav’n, pray spare us, God, of Hell.”

Each wakened as the servant poured the wine
And filled the glasses set upon the oak.
And overhead, the Pleiades did shine
In heightened glow – with Wisdom to evoke.

(The servant lit seven candles, each in a holder made of purest gold.  The
Seven Nymphs, the Pleiades, the daughters of
Atlas and Pleione, now had a home in Cosmic Hall).

Muse:

Welcome back, my friends, I trust your respite
has been restful?  Pray, were your dreams so bold
as mine?

Solomon:

I dreamed of travel to the stars beyond
and thought I was about to see the face
of God himself, for all surround was bathed
in brilliant light.  But then, as I turned
about to view from whence I came, I heard
a moan which chilled the very depths of my
soul.  It was, I thought, the screaming of
the dead in Hell.

Aeschylus:

And I saw row upon endless row of
corpses with hollowed eyes.  And many called
out to me their innocence – that they felt
the hand of death even as they begged their
God to intercede, but He did not.   I
shudder even now at the memory.

Dickinson:

I saw a tiny child, a girl I think,
tossed live into a fire.  And her screams shall
evermore haunt my tomb.  I saw not God,
nor did I sense His presence.  As I heard
the cries of the dead, I could think only
of the sadness of the Truth of life:

Finding is the first act
The second, loss,
Third, Expedition for
The “Golden Fleece”
Fourth, no Discovery -
Fifth, no Crew -
Finally, no Golden Fleece -
Jason – sham – too.

Muse:

You saw the souls and heard the cries of those
whose lives were stolen from them.  Abandoned,
they were, by the embers of their dying gods.
You saw the hollow remnant of uncontrolled
tyranny become wanton death.  There is
no Beauty standing with those souls, nor Love,
for such was left behind, untended.  As
threads interwoven within life’s fabric
were burned to ash in Earthly hell, both life
and eternity became, to each, but
a lonely reflection of days long passed -
now only agony persists.

Khayyam:

As a youth, I had a vision, thus:

Up from Earth’s Centre through the Seventh Gate
I rose, and on the Throne of Saturn sate;
And many a Knot unravel’d by the Road;
But not the Master-knot of Human Fate.

Pray tell, is this what I have finally seen?

Muse:

You have seen the fate of souls that died in
view of gods who listened not to their cries,
nor heard their prayers.   And now all gods are dead,
their souls speared by the lance of ignorance
which they created.  Darkness rules, there is
no longer light – the Master-knot of Human
Fate has been exposed for you to see.  What
say you now of that?

Solomon:

I say ‘tis time for Wisdom to prevail,
that lust for pow’r be subdued.  I kneel here
before my God and beg forgiveness, for
I, too, was guilty of the gravest sin.
I saw myself as strong and wise, but I
used my wisdom as a tool to gain both
power and wealth at the expense of those
who trusted me to lead them.  I was not a
leader, I was a despot.  How many
souls I banished to a mournful eternity
I cannot say.  Thirty centuries have
passed since my time on Earth concluded, and
only now it is that I see my path
in life was ill-chosen: the hollow souls
now speak to me, and I have heard their cries.
My Wisdom was borne of ignorance.

Aeschylus:

My Athens, even in her golden age,
was no better.  It seems that lust for power
is inborn in even the best of men,
and though the poor pray their gods for harmony
within their most meager existence, this
solemn Truth remains: Power begets but pain.

Muse:

I recite the words of Kahlil Gibran,
a poet of this current century:

Much of your pain is self-chosen.
It is the bitter potion by which the Physician
within you heals your sick self.
Therefore trust the physician, and drink
his remedy in silence and tranquility:
For his hand, though heavy and hard, is
guided by the tender hand of the Unseen,
And the cup he brings, though it burn
your lips, has been fashioned of the clay
which the Potter has moistened with His
own sacred tears.

Perhaps therein he speaks of the pain you
feel for Athens, and for her wanton souls?

Khayyam:

Or perhaps he speaks of more as well?

“All this of Pot and Potter – Tell me, then,
who is the Potter, pray, and who the Pot?”

Is God the creator of man, or man
the creator of God?  And in either
case, how is it God is dead while man still lives?

Muse:

Implicit Wisdom in the human soul
is seen by man as God, and thus defines.
But it is Wisdom by itself, alone,
which dares confront and challenge tyranny.
I’ve told you God is dead, which is as much
to say that chaos born of tyranny
has overwhelmed collective mind of man,
all gods thus slain.  Mankind therefore has but
one faint hope – rebirth of Wisdom, and hence
rebirth of God.

Solomon:

Wisdom is attainable only through
knowledge and understanding of the
immutable: Truth.  If Wisdom is the
manifest of God, then Truth must be
the substance of God.  Is it not a danger
for man to be imbued with such power?

Aeschylus:

It is only through Wisdom that man can
overcome the barbarism in his
soul.  Wisdom is not a power as we’ve
discussed Power, for Power is naught but
ignorant intent engaged.  Truth is the
light, ignorance the dark.  Truth is to the
dark as the star is to the night time sky.
Illumination is not a threat to
any other than darkness, or ignorance.

Dickinson:

The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind.

The stars in the night sky are a metaphor,
perhaps – spots of light on a carpet of
black – far easier to view than to stare
directly into a blinding sun.

Khayyam:

The night sky shows the way – the stars themselves
seem to represent Truths emanating
from the dark of ignorance, and the
panorama thus presented to the
seeing eye is intelligence – Wisdom.

Muse:

Recall your journeys to the Pleiades -
you found their light was lovely to behold,
and in result the veil was lifted from
the darkness of the surround.  Wisdom
encompasses all, and recognizes
even the Truth of evil, of darkness.
For should it fail to illuminate, Truth
would betray the wise, and that it cannot do.
There are paths to Wisdom.  What say you now
of them?

Solomon:

Wisdom is all knowledge, born of Truth. It
is Truth which must be sought.

Aeschylus:

And Wisdom is, then, of itself, an
expression of Truth.  Therefore, the complete
of Wisdom is immutable.

Khayyam:

Truth is absolute, and thus is Wisdom
absolute.  But what of the foundation?
Must it not also be absolute?

Dickinson:

The paths to the absolute must not wander.
Vision is the necessity, for to
traverse the darkness, one must see.  The guides
and goals are but points of light, and without
vision they remain veiled and formless..

Khayyam:

And wherefrom derives this vision?

Solomon:

Vision is intelligence.  Neither can
exist except in consort with the other.
And in opposition to intelligence
is ignorance – as opposite to vision
as darkness is to light.

Dickinson:

No, I disagree.  There are no opposites
in all of creation.  Ignorance and
intelligence are entities unto
themselves, and though each wanders about in
opposing direction, each remains
unique.  To be opposite, things must exist
in precisely the same quantity, for
all in the Universe seeks such balance.
And just as light is not the opposite
of dark, so is hate not the opposite of Love.

Aeschylus:

Everything, then, is an absolute?

Solomon:

And I suppose a lie is therefore a
Truth?

Dickinson:

There can be no denial that lies exist,
therefore the Truth of the lie is in its
existence.  Just as the Truth of evil
is that evil exists.  Evil may be
born of lies, but that fact does not detract
from the immutable Truth that each exists.

There is but one absolute in all of
existence, and that absolute is Truth itself.

Khayyam:

Then what of Love and Beauty?  Were we not
in agreement that such were foundational
to Truth?

Dickinson:

Love and Beauty are foundational only
in that possession of their virtue allows
seeing. Truth is not, therefore, the purview
of the ignorant who cannot see.  The
only Truth in ignorance is that it exists.

Aeschylus:

I agree.  Love and Beauty are not each
absolute in themselves..  Only their
existence is absolute.  And he who
sees Beauty and understands Love is thus
prepared to find Truth, and therefore Wisdom.

Dickinson:

That is my view.  Beauty is a thrust
in search of the absolute, of perfection.
Beauty is the ultimate revelation
of perfection in the eye of the mind,
and Love is the reflection of Beauty
in the Soul.  When one gives Love to another,
one gives the Beauty he has seen, and asks
no more reward than that which Beauty has
already given.

Solomon:

And what of those who take, not give?  Might not
they also find the path to Truth, ergo
Wisdom, and then subvert Wisdom to become
Tyranny?

Dickinson:

No.  For takers know not the joy of giving,
and therefore cannot comprehend Beauty.
Beauty is the gift of Eternity
to those who dare to see, and Love becomes
the further gift, the light which guides the way
to Truth itself.  All are as tendrils
intertwined, and manifest as Wisdom -
which is the flower of Truth, bathed forever
in the illumination of Love and Beauty.

Beauty – be not caused – it is

Unable are the Loved to die
For Love is Immortality.

Muse:

And pray let me add the line you dropped:

Nay, it is Deity.

And therein, my friends, lies the key.  Mankind
requires guidance from a God, no matter
whether God be of man’s own design or
not.   I have a vision that the lost souls
we encountered on our journey to the
great beyond are destined to become our
messengers, that they shall be reborn upon
the Earth and carry with them the essence
of what it is we have here discussed.  I
see them as bearers of the light, and through
such light, the reincarnate God of man
shall manifest.  What say you now of that?

Solomon:

If God is dead, wherefrom derives this new
majesty?  And further, if all gods are
but a creation of the mind of man,
how are we to be a party to this
rebirth, since we ourselves are of the world
of man, but now forever dead and gone?

Muse:

We have rejoined the infinite, for such
is the nature of the spirt, the nature
of the soul.  And may I say this: God is,
as we have discussed, a creation of
man as much as is man a creation
of God.  But still remains one Truth which you
have seen and herein lives again: the soul
of all life is Eternal.  Flesh comes and
finally withers, but the spirit is
constant, and awaits only the moment
of rebirth.

Solomon:

Muse, who are you?

Muse:

I am naught but the wind which blows forth the
inspirations of the minds of those who
live upon our Earth.  I am the true guide
of each celestial intuition.   I
am sometimes called Urania, but
with you I am each the sisters nine, we
who are the daughters of Zeus and of
Mnemosyne, inspirers of learning
and the arts. I’m sure you all recall our
presence as you penned your Earthly legacies.

Solomon:

You are the source of what was our Wisdom?

Muse:

The Wisdom was yours alone, my friends. I
was but the wind which carried thoughts from mind
to pen to written page.

Dickinson:

Through you, dear Muse, we slowly came to know
and understand the Truths which further lit
our paths – from inspirations carried in
your wind derived the light which so allowed
our eyes and minds to finally see the Truth.

We learned the Whole of Love –
The Alphabet — the Words –
A Chapter — then the mighty Book –
Then — Revelation closed –

But in Each Other’s eyes
An Ignorance beheld –
Diviner than the Childhood’s –
And each to each, a Child –

Attempted to expound
What Neither — understood –
Alas, that Wisdom is so large –
And Truth — so manifold!

Khayyam:

How satisfying the thought that sometimes – through
the desert sands which quite obliterate
the tracks and trails of even sultans and
their caravans – can spring a wisp of Truth
which carries forth its message on the wind!

With them the seed of Wisdom did I sow,
and with mine own hand wrought to make it grow;
And this was all the Harvest that I reap’d —
“I came like Water, and like Wind I go.”

Aeschylus:

My Athens may not have long survived her
golden age, but yet the records of her
philosophical accomplishments do
still persist in written form, and glow in
shadow of her temples, all now crumbled
and in ruin.

Solomon:

And yet, Muse,  you say the Earth is no more
safe ensconced within the arms of God, that
God and Gods are dead by methods of their
own design?  Muse: how fit we and you, then, within
this scheme of things entire?

Muse:

All things which man cannot behold he sees
and feels within his depths of consciousness.
Man needs both God or gods and Muse alike,
and therefore sees us each as entities
which guide collective destiny of all
within the realm of grand creation as
perceived.  In such regard are all the gods
both creator and created – a strange
but genuine dichotomy which serves
to lead man forward into times unknown
and moments not yet lived.  ‘Tis “I” man calls
upon to transfer each idea drawn
from ether of the mind to form each new
reality.  And though I do exist
as but a spirit in the space which lies
beyond the conscious realm, the essences
I bring to bear oft yield sweet fruits of Truth.
And as you see, you’ve joined with me, and our
collective spirits are now the force which
destiny decrees shall re-direct the
minds – and hence the deeds – of men existing
now on Earth.  So let us then commence and
bring, to man, his God’s rebirth. What say you?

Dickinson:

Can the dumb – define the Divine?
The definition of Melody – is -
That definition is none.

Khayyam:

Would you that spangle of Existence spend
About THE SECRET — quick about it, Friend!
A Hair perhaps divides the False from True —
And upon what, prithee, may life depend?

Solomon:

The thing that hath been, it is that which shall
be; and that which is done is that which shall
be done: and there is no new thing under
the sun.

Aeschylus:

O dark prophetic speech,
Ill tidings dost thou teach
Ever, to mortals here below!
Ever some tale of awe and woe
Thro’ all thy windings manifold
Do we unriddle and unfold!

Muse:

My friends, your wisdom doth exceed my dreams!
And now ‘tis well the time we move ahead
to resurrect the souls of God and gods
who vanished from the minds of man as war
and Holocaust engulfed their Earth.

(Narrator):

Their conversations carried forth till dawn
And then through cosmic days and through each night
Till Pleiad Nymphs had ten times come and gone;
And Muse declared “This time we’ll get Him right.”
The Guests pored o’er each word mankind had penned
In search of books with clarity of mind.
They wondered of the spirit they might send
To speak but Truth … more Truth, therefrom, to find.
They combed each book before they saw their choice
Arise as if from ashes of her life -
She’d perished in the fires which stilled her voice
Just as she begged that God relieve her strife.
Her ashes, freed of pain from life she’d led
Knew not, when last she prayed, her God was dead.

And as the Guests discussed each fact they’d read,
New letters dawned, projected on the wall;
Named they a spirit soul amongst the dead -
As choice to visit Earth from Cosmic Hall.

Muse:

I see you’ve made your choice, my friends,
To carry forth our task;
I know the girl, recall her well -
Just as she died, she dared to ask:
God, Where are you?
 Where were you?
She did not understand, but yet she tried.

Dickinson:

I know of her, she haunted me in recent
dream. I saw her tossed, alive, into a
fire.  Pray tell, is that the one?

Muse:

Yes.

Solomon:

Her task is surely not a simple one.

That which is far off, and exceeding deep,
who can find it out?

Khayyam:

It seems we here begin by providing
a new dawn to illuminate the darknesses
thus far fomented by the span
of man’s earthly existence.  This task, so
notes Solomon with wisdom pure, “is surely
not a simple one” – albeit crucial
if our race is to survive itself and
the “barbarism within ourselves” – so
noted earlier by Aeschylus.  For
my part I have but this to add:

WAKE! For the Sun, who scatter’d into flight
The Stars before him from the Field of Night,
Drives Night along with them from Heav’n, and strikes
The Sultán’s Turret with a Shaft of Light.

Let us not forget – it is this shaft of
light from which we gain the tool to slowly
banish darkness from the soul of mankind.

Aeschylus:

 Spring forth, with promise fair, the young child Light.
Ay – fairer even than all hope…

Shall Truth of God and gods the chosen child
bring?  Or seek? Impose?

Muse:

Tasks which lie ahead are far from simple
ones.  Beliefs of men are scattered by the
winds, with concepts and  identities of
their God and gods quite manifest, both well-
and un-defined.  But each and every god
possessed one single trait which damned them all:
the Power to annihilate.

‘Tis Power, once again, that veils all realms
of Beauty, Truth, and Love and Harmonies
which, if seen by eyes and minds in ways as
we’ve discussed, are fundaments of Wisdom:
that final goal to which we all aspire.

Solomon:

God’s power over man derived from man’s
perception – God created and thereby
owned man’s body and his soul: thus Moses
wrote in Genesis and the Pentateuch.

Muse:

Genesis is but a metaphor which
helps explain all origins to minds not
able to comprehend the vastness of
the Natural Laws which govern all of life.
All Truths await in Nature to be seen,
and from such base new Deity shall rise
with guidance from wise spirits such as you.
Our child will grow and come to show the world -
at first just vaguest hints of Deity -
new gods or God now in command of man’s
fortunes; gods now armed with Love, not Pow’r nor
fear; with Harmony, with Truth, and Beauty
understood; to show the paths to Wisdom,
hence rebirth: Rebirth
of each the gods and every soul of man.

Consider too the gifts that each of you
bring forth – inspire the child with knowledge built
of history, of living, and of life
itself.  Speak to her of ancient conflicts,
of tyrannies long passed; of Sultans and
an Eastern point of view; walk with her amongst
the bees and flowers, and speak to her of
sunrise and colors in the sky.  Suggest
she read of ancient ones – of pyramids,
of sailors, and of builders’ use of stone
and clay. Teach her to see and hear the voices
carried on the wind, from howling of the
wolf to buzzing of the bee; let her
behold from there the Wisdoms of both wild
and Wilderness, and lessons therefrom gleaned.
Above all else, teach her how to dream, for
‘tis through dreams that children learn to see
beyond one flat dimension, and into
further, more distant and revealing realms.

And when her thoughts have formed clear views, and
Harmony is norm to her, I’ll guide her
pen and help her write of Deity and
Deities which fear do not demand,
nor Power do express.  What say you now
of that?

Dickinson:

May I repeat some of which earlier
I spoke?  Perhaps it best sums up my thoughts
each on Love and Immortality, and
what is meant by God, and Life, an earthly
goal, perhaps:

Unable are the Loved to die
For Love is Immortality,
Nay, it is Deity –

Unable they that love — to die
For Love reforms Vitality
Into Divinity.

I shall willingly proceed, and wander
once again amongst the flow’rs and the bees.
The voices which I’ll hear are Anna’s to
declaim.

Aeschylus:

Perhaps my duty lies in teaching her
the vilest and the darkest side of men
who use their gods to justify their needs,
inborn, to wage war upon enemies
created in their minds – all for but to
exculpate their use of Pow’r to feed their
lowly selves: I know them well.

Lusting for war, the bloody arbiters
Closed heart and ears, and would not hear nor heed
The girl-voice plead,
Pity me, Father! nor her prayers,
Nor tender, virgin years.

Solomon:

I, perhaps, should guide her past the wiles of
self, a lesson I found hard to learn.

I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the
labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all was vanity and
vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun.

Khayyam:

And I shall begin by stating lesson learned!

Ah Love! could you and I with Him conspire
To grasp this sorry Scheme of Things entire,
Would not we shatter it to bits — and then
Re-mold it nearer to the Heart’s Desire!

Muse:

I think we all agree, and see just where
we each uniquely fit.  I propose we
meet again in Cosmic Hall and speak
once more on matters which we might locate
or which we deem concern us all.  Meanwhile
we forward move.  I’ll have our servant here
see Anna’s spirit back to Earth, to there
rejoin the living on the day the Third
Millennium turns.  Within a hundred
Earthly years, we should know if man accepts
his fate.

Dickinson:

Muse, pray tell, who is the servant in this
Hall?  He seems so kind, so wise.

Muse:

You’re quite perceptive, dare I say!  The servant
is the spirit of the God who passed while I
was there with Him.  He’s left his Pow’r behind,
encased in stone upon the slab, thus for
servitude, exchanged; He saw what Pow’r misused
had wrought and left it there where it belongs,
alone in silent chill.  Once Anna
redefines Him, he’ll dwell within the hearts
and minds of man again – this time he’ll ask
no fear and offer naught but Love and guidance
forth, toward Truth.

Solomon:

And what of Satan, Muse?

Muse:

The beast, like God and gods alike, shares the
same dichotomy of creator and
created – both in and by the mind of
man. The Beast is but a counterpoint to
help explain to men of little scope a
reason for the evils that they see.  As
Love and Beauty lead the race to Truth,
as Wisdom slow takes hold, the memory
of the Beast will fade until he’s finally gone,
His Hell an icy grave for evil minds.

Khayyam:

I sense it’s time to leave: our Caravan awaits!

(Narrator):

Ten horses and five carriages returned to Cosmic Hall –

The servant  showed the Guests the way,
And led them past ten steeds:
Anxious, nervous, ghostly horses
Pawing at the graveled ground.

Then as the coaches pulled away
And crossed the distant hill,
The servant polished ancient oak,
And set aside the mats.

With care, he folded purple cloak,
Upon which lay nine crests;
He stowed it safely in a drawer
And made the latch secure.

He sealed the wine, then closed the drape
And checked that fire was out,
Then stepped outside, extinguished there,
The flame atop the pyre.

Then as the servant walked away
And vanished in the mists,
He pondered what his fate might be –
Beyond His marbled tomb.

When several Cosmic Days had passed,
The Muse returned to Earth –
And when the child – a girl – was born,
Muse stood within the room –

And though none there but Muse could see –
Her purple glow did warm
The child, in signal of rebirth;

And Guests and Spirits saw –

As Pleiades sent forth the light
Which transposed Earthly glow
From black to bold celestial white –
Their message to all souls.

(Muse began her work that day, for she can never sleep:  
She has responsibility – Eternity to keep)

   ~ For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.  
But when that which is perfect is come,
then that which is in part
shall be done away. ~
(I Corinthians , 13:9-10)

~FINIS~

****

Bibliographic Notes

Throughout Emeralds and Ashes there appear quotations, some credited specifically as they appear while others – especially in The Third Millennium – are presented as if in dialog.  Following are the source citations for each quotation not directly attributed at point of appearance.

Aeschylus: The Oresteia; Robert Fagles, Translator; Viking Press, NY, 1975.

Dickinson, Emily: The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson; Johnson, Thomas H., ed.;  Little, Brown and Co., Boston.

Poems Cited (First Lines)

That this should feel the need of Death …
A darting fear – a pomp – a tear …
I died for Beauty – but was scarce …
Truth – is as old as God …
Power is a familiar growth …
Safe in their Alabaster Chambers …
As Old as Woe …
Love – thou art high …
Finding is the first Act …
Tell all the Truth but tell it slant …
Beauty – be not caused – It Is …
Unable are the Loved to die …
We learned the Whole of Love …
By my Window have I for Scenery …
Unable are the Loved to die …

Gibran, Kalil: The Prophet (from On Pain); Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1966.

Khayyam, Omar: The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam; “Immortal Poems of the English Language”; Williams, Oscar, ed.; Washington Square Press Pocket Books, New York.

Solomon: The Holy Bible; King James edition, Ecclesiastes.
“The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.” (Ecclesiastes 1:1)

Wordsworth, William: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood; “Wordsworth: Poetical Works,” Thomas Hutchinson, ed.; Oxford University Press, New York.

The Watering Hole, Thursday, August 23rd, 2012: Roe v. Wade, “Personhood” Laws, and Colonial Times

What I started out researching for today’s thread, and what follows, bear little relation to each other. I had wanted to explore the history of Presidential nominees whose campaigns included promises to repeal Roe v. Wade, and any resulting attempts at legislation. That effort met with little success (though there was plenty of other fascinating information, too much for me to do more than a cursory scan), but luckily I got distracted by this bright shiny object: Footnote Number 6 on Wikipedia’s Roe vs Wade page:

Wilson, James, “Of the Natural Rights of Individuals” (1790–1792): “In the contemplation of law, life begins when the infant is first able to stir in the womb.” Also see Blackstone, William. Commentaries (1765): “Life … begins in contemplation of law as soon as an infant is able to stir in the mother’s womb.”

So, am I wrong in interpreting those quotes as: before the American Revolution, and continuing after the establishment of the United States of America, life in a woman’s womb did not legally begin until the fetus starts moving?

WebMD says, “You should feel your baby’s first movements, called “quickening,” between weeks 16 and 25 of your pregnancy. If this is your first pregnancy, you may not feel your baby move until closer to 25 weeks. By the second pregnancy, some women start to feel movements as early as 13 weeks.”

Even if one uses the figure of 13 weeks, or let’s say even 12 weeks, it appears that it was settled law, way back during the era of our Founding Fathers, that an embryo was not legally a living human being until three months into the pregnancy. Hmmm…if this was the generally accepted definition of ‘when “life” begins’ back in the 18th century, how can the Teapublicans in Congress reconcile this with their (false) claim that the United States was founded as a Christian nation, and should therefore be ruled by the Bible? How can they justify – or even implement – “Personhood” legislation? And just which exactly is the United States citizen, the woman or the not-legally-”life” zygote or embryo? Which comes first in the hearts of those Teapublicans, their Oath to their country, or their Old Testament god?

Footnote Number 6 led me to more fascinating reading in James Wilson’s “Of the Natural Rights of Individuals.” Here’s some excerpts:

“The opinion has been very general, that, in order to obtain the blessings of a good government, a sacrifice must be made of a part of our natural liberty. I am much inclined to believe, that, upon examination, this opinion will prove to be fallacious. It will, I think, be found, that wise and good government — I speak, at present, of no other — instead of contracting, enlarges as well as secures the exercise of the natural liberty of man: and what I say of his natural liberty, I mean to extend, and wish to be understood, through all this argument, as extended, to all his other natural rights.”

“…what [my description of] natural liberty is:
“Nature has implanted in man the desire of his own happiness; she has inspired him with many tender affections towards others, especially in the near relations of life; she has endowed him with intellectual and with active powers; she has furnished him with a natural impulse to exercise his powers for his own happiness, and the happiness of those for whom he entertains such tender affections. If all this be true, the undeniable consequence is, that he has a right to exert those powers for the accomplishment of those purposes, in such a manner, and upon such objects, as his inclination and judgment shall direct; provided he does no injury to others; and provided some publick interests do not demand his labours. This right is natural liberty.”

If this description of natural liberty is a just one, it will teach us, that selfishness and injury are as little countenanced by the law of nature as by the law of man. Positive penalties, indeed, may, by human laws, be annexed to both. But these penalties are a restraint only upon injustice and overweening self-love, not upon the exercise of natural liberty.

“Let the constitution of the United States…be examined from the beginning to the end. No right is conferred, no obligation is laid on any, which is not laid or conferred on every, citizen of the commonwealth or Union — I think I may defy the world to produce a single exception to the truth of this remark. Now…the original equality of mankind consists in an equality of their duties and rights.

Duties and rights” – note that he puts “Duties” first. An idea which the Teapublicans either have deliberately abandoned, or are too ignorant or oblivious to understand. Or perhaps both. (sigh)

This is our daily open thread — got something to say about something?

The Watering Hole, Monday, August 6th, 2012: You Said It, Sister!

As some of you know, I have been invited to start my own blog on the local ‘Patch’ online newspaper. Before getting set up in my ‘new digs’, I thought I’d take a look around at the other blogs on the Patch site, to see what they looked like, what personal info showed, etc. While doing so, I ran across a blogpost from the Fourth of July, written by M. Doretta Cornell, RDC, of the Sisters of the Divine Compassion, and thought it well worth sharing.

While I do not agree with 100% of the good Sister’s sentiments, she makes excellent points, based on her interpretation of her faith, the Constitution, and in science. A few excerpts:

Our founders were declaring independence from rule by birth, by a class of people whose only claim to that rule was their parentage. No test of ability or morality or vision for the country and its people was necessary, only birth into the “right family.”

Hmm, sounds like a recent Republican President and a current Presidential hopeful we all know.

In our current economic crisis, we have much to reflect on:
- How faithful are we to this basic tenet of our country that all people are created equal and have equal rights to life, justice, ability to make a decent living – even happiness, as our founders claimed?
- How can we reform our laws and policies to create a nation in which all could prosper?
- What are we doing to close the rifts between races that are still deep in our culture, in spite of all the scientific evidence that race is a superficial characteristic?
- What are we doing to close the newer abysses that have been created between people of different religions, particularly since September 11, 2001?

Sister Mary Doretta certainly sounds like quite the liberal – just as so many of us believe Jesus would have been. Personally, I believe that today’s “Christians” would, at least figuratively, crucify him if he showed up now.

“Another aspect of independence that comes to my mind is that, for many people, independence today seems to be synonymous with egocentric individualism: the feeling that no one has contributed to this person’s achievements, and therefore that person has no responsibility for anyone but him—or herself.”

(Psst…Republicans, faux-Christians, and Libertarians, listen up, I think she’s talking to you. C’mon, even the god of the Old Testament got pretty pissed when Cain asked “Am I my brother’s keeper?”)

“…along with Independence, we must also celebrate today our Interdependence! Interdependence—not subservience. Subservience is what our founders were rebelling against in founding this new nation: the belief that some are inferior and others superior by nature, and therefore people have different rights.

Interdependence says that we all have the same “inalienable rights” and that these rights are intertwined, as are all elements of our very existence.

And here’s what I found most impressive and inspiring about Sister Doretta’s piece:

Over the last few decades, we have been learning just how deep our interdependence is, at microscopic levels of ourselves and of the world around us. Astronomy and cosmology teach us that each molecule of our bodies is inherited from one pool of matter, each breath we take is dependent on the exhalations of trees and other plants. Even the tiniest shift in temperature, or chemical makeup of the air, position of the sun, or radiation in the atmosphere would render Earth unable to support human life. We are all interdependent—people, animals, grasses, stars, Earth.

Independence, then, demands that we reflect on and adjust our understanding to the interdependence of all things and all people on each other. It also demands that we learn to act in ways that support that interdependence—ways all our moral and religious educations have taught us. And, as Jesus taught, “the greatest of these is love,” and understanding of the essentialness of each creature to the enterprise we call life.

If more Christians were this enlightened about the role of their faith’s principles and their implicit responsibility to each other and the planet that we call home, this world, or at least this country, would be an infinitely better place.

This is our daily open thread — Got anything you feel like discussing?

The Watering Hole, Monday, July 16th, 2012: The Tea Party’s Kissin’ Cousins

Thanks to pete, who, on Saturday’s thread, provided this link to TPM to a whole new world of crazy in American politics. I thought it was worth revisiting.

A woman named Randi Shannon, while running for a State Senate seat in Iowa, abandoned that campaign because, as she described in a letter to her supporters, she was taking a U.S. Senate seat in the Republic of the United States of America. This “Republic of the United States of America” is apparently based on the Constitution and the Amendments through Number 13. After that, the citizens of this ‘Republic’ believe that the U.S. Federal Government was highjacked and therefore no other Amendments in their imaginary world. In my opinion, the style and content of this “letter” is immature, ignorant, illiterate, petulant, pretentious, patronizing and psychotic. You have to see and read the whole thing for the full effect, but here’s a couple of sections that I particularly noted:

First, the date in the header: [[[ July 4th, 2012 ]]] Seriously? What’s with all of the brackets?

Then:

The Office of the Senator of the Republic of the United States of America,And The Republic for Iowa, Senator Randi Shannon

Wait, now Iowa gets to be its own Republic?

[Forth] Every concern which The People of Iowa have regarding GOVERNMENTAL ABUSE, such as the high cost and unconstitutionality of Obama-care and current healthcare costs, the invasive, insufferable acts committed by the TSAs at Airports, Taxation at Obscene levels, and the list goes on and on, are all problems brought on by The “de facto” UNITED STATES CORPORATION.

Okay, first, “FORTH”?! Of course, also note the usual lies about the ACA, and the ignorance about today’s tax rates.

*Check out the “Recent Posts” and “Blogroll” on the sidebar here. I also liked this bit:

Also, President Turner began a 40-day fast on Monday, July 9. If you would like to join him in this fast, or if you want to know more, download the document with the Daniel Fast Food List here. [Emphasis mine.]

Here’s a few more links to different aspects of this idiocy.

Oh, and, of course, this “Republic” is ‘officially’ a Christian nation.

This is our daily open thread — what’s on YOUR mind?

The Watering Hole: Wednesday, June 20, 2012: Does it really Matter?

Ok, so for the next few months, if you’re in a “swing” State, you’ll be inundated with SuperPAC commercials designed to get you to vote against your own best interests. We will also be systematically bombarded with messages from the Mainstream Media designed to influence our thinking.

IT’S ALL A SHOW. IT REALLY DOESN’T MATTER.

If the Powers That Be really want Obama out, all they have to do is raise gas prices to about $5.00/gallon. Instead, gas prices are going down, heading into the summer vacation season. That’s not to say they won’t go up between now and the election – but they are an accurate predictor of where our economy will head. So, pay attention to the pump, not the talking heads.

Ok, that’s my $0.0199 cents. And you?

OPEN THREAD
JUST REMEMBER
EVERYTHING I SAID
DOESN’T REALLY MATTER

 

The Watering Hole, Thursday, June 14th, 2012: GOD WARS

The topic of Monday’s post was the the appearance that a local Baptist pastor had an active political agenda.

Now it’s the Catholics‘ turn.

I received this through an email from Catholics United:

Dear Jane,
I have been an active member of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Washington, D.C., for more than 31 years. My faith is my bedrock; my parish is my home.That is why I am worried and deeply saddened to see partisan politics increasingly creeping into our faith community. A few months ago, I attended a meeting at our church when a fellow parishioner publicly expressed outrage that there were cars in the church parking lot that had “Obama bumper stickers.” The intensity of his tone and the fact that I had such a decal made me so uncomfortable that I left the meeting.

In this highly charged election season, the political attacks will only intensify. The “Fortnight for Freedom”* being organized by the Bishops because of their disagreements with the Obama administration should not be brought into our sacred space. They are asking pastors to preach about “religious liberty” and to distribute political statements inside our bulletins. ["...The Fortnight for Freedom campaign runs from June 21 to July 4. It features a variety of events designed to appeal to Catholics of all ages, from a Twitter campaign to a music festival at a winery to traditional Masses to the distribution of 10,000 car magnets promoting religious freedom. Two Kansas bishops have organized rallies in front of government buildings in Topeka and Wichita. Other dioceses are sponsoring conferences and public prayer. Bishops are also encouraging Catholics to pray briefly for religious liberty each day at 3 p.m. in a campaign they dub "A Minute to Win It!"]

But there’s hope. A group of parishioners at my church recently spoke to our pastor about our concerns and he is listening. Click here to find out what we’re doing.

We wrote our pastor a letter and asked him to reconsider our parish’s participation in the “Fortnight for Freedom”. We met with him and expressed our concern that this type of political activity was inappropriate and would cause divisiveness in our community. Our parish had always been a welcoming place where people of all different opinions joined together in worship, heard the Gospel message of Christ and found a source of spiritual strength. We are grateful that our pastor listened and feel that he has taken our concerns seriously.
As the mother of five, and the grandmother of nine, I worry whether these future generations will see the Church as a place that proclaims the expansive message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, a place where they will find the abundance of God that will inspire them to go out and serve others in God’s name.
Faithfully,

Eileen Zogby
Parishioner
Blessed Sacrament Parish
Washington, D.C.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB, “or NAMBLA”) are still getting their knickers in a twist about the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive coverage requirement; actually, they’re getting even more twisted. Not content with lobbying Congress, they are now marshalling their armies of pedophiles priests and their parishioners across the land. The more liberal (and Christian) folks at Catholics United believe that the bishops are wrong. But the USCCB is digging in its collective heels, just like the GOP, unless they get everything they want from The President of The United States of America.

What, the USCCB should compromise with the President of the United States of America?! “HELL, NO!”

Tax-Exempt Status?! FUCK, NO!

This is our daily open thread — comment on anything you want!

Oh, and Happy Flag Day.

The Watering Hole, Monday, June 11th, 2012: Which Christ is more “Christian”?

I’d like to expand a little on a comment posted yesterday by Briseadh na Faire:

Many of the basic tenents of liberalism are summed up thusly:

I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. Matthew 25:35-36. But we refuse to give credit to the man who said those things, hence lose the “Christians”.

Give credit where credit is due – own up to following Christ’s teachings, whether or not one proclaims one’s self to be a Christian…

In other words, Liberals, who follow the teachings of Christ, need to take the evangelicals on, on their own ground. It is, after all, who we really are.

After reading this, I could not help but think of the contrast between what the pastor of a local church espouses, and what a particular Catholic organization espouses.

The pastor of the local Patterson, NY, Baptist Church, a Dr. Larry A. Maxwell, is the founder of an organization called Brighter_Future.us. In the “About Us” section on his website, Dr. Maxwell states that, under his ministry, the local Habitat for Humanity for Putnam County was established. Okay, that’s nice. On the other hand,

“Dr. Maxwell is one of the few men ordained to the ministry by the late Dr. Jerry Falwell, Pastor of Thomas Rd. Baptist Church, Lynchburg, VA. Dr. Falwell, was the founder of Liberty University and Moral Majority. Dr. Maxwell graduated from Liberty University in 1975 and was active in Moral Majority, one of the organizations that helped Ronald Reagan become President.”….”The Governor of Kentucky bestowed the title of Colonel upon Dr. Maxwell for his outstanding service.”

Check out what Dr. Maxwell lists as “5 Areas of Influence That Shape Our Society” – why, as a pastor, does Dr. Maxwell list “Government” first and “Religion” fourth? Note that, under #3, “Media“, Dr. Maxwell says: “Media has perhaps the greatest influence on all of us. We Need To: Encourage & Endorse media which presents fair & balanced news and avoid those which do not. Hmmm, I wonder whom he’s talking about? What’s also scary is that, while Dr. Maxwell is the head of the “Living History Guild” and is the official Town Historian for Patterson, NY, under #4, “Religion“, he claims that “Religion once provided a moral compass for our society. The overwhelming majority of our Founding Fathers were men of faith committed to Biblical moral principles.” Also note in #5, “Family“, “We Need To: Recognize marriage consists only as a union between a man & woman who make a lifelong commitment to each other before God & man.”

Dr. Maxwell’s list of “Necessary Qualities for Leaders” contains some pretty scary crap, too:

2. Belief & Dependence on the Divine God

Leaders must recognize the fallen state of man and his imperfections and the necessity of help from the Divine God for man to reach his full potential.

3. Love for Our Country

Leaders need a Commitment to the original intent of Our Founding Fathers & the documents they drafted such as; The Mayflower Compact, The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution and The Bill of Rights. They must believe the best government is Limited Government, answerable to the people at all levels. Leaders must honor our history as it happened, not rewrite or redefine it.

4. Commitment to Family Values

Good leaders must recognize, embrace and encourage traditional family values.

6. Belief in Free Enterprise & Property Rights

Leaders must understand Free Enterprise & Property Rights are two important foundations. Government must encourage, not interfere with, nor over regulate, free enterprise & property rights.

And if any doubt was left that Dr. Maxwell and his group are dyed-in-the-wool conservatives, the list in the “Contacts and Links” section reads as a veritable who’s who of conservative/right-wing organizations, including The Cato Institute, The Heritage Foundation, Family Research Council, Focus on the Family, etc.

By contrast, take a look at the issues with which Catholics United concerns itself:

- trying to restore funding, denied by the US Catholics Bishops, to an immigrants’ rights group called Campaneros, which doesn’t discriminate against gays.

- speaking out against the U.S. Catholic Bishops and Catholic institutions who continue to fight the contraception coverage requirement under the Affordable Care Act, despite the exemptions therein.

- Organizing against Paul Ryan’s budget because it does nothing to help the poor.

- Organizing alternative charitable organizations to counter the stripping of funding by U.S. Catholic Bishops.

It certainly seems to me that it is the people at Catholics United who are following the teachings of Christ (which all of us liberals follow in one way or another), rather than the pastor of the Patterson Baptist church. It makes one wonder if there is a different Christ within each human-authored version of the bible.

This is our daily open thread — comment on anything you want!

The Watering Hole: March 17 – Saint Patrick

On this day in 461 A.D., Saint Patrick, Christian missionary, bishop and apostle of Ireland, died at Saul, Downpatrick, Ireland.

Much of what is known about Patrick’s legendary life comes from the Confessio, which he authored. Born in Great Britain to a well-to-do Christian family, Patrick was captured and enslaved at age 16 by Irish raiders. He worked as a herder For the next six years in Ireland. Following a voice he heard in a dream he escaped, sailed to Britain and was reunited with his family.

Patrick seemed to hear the voices of Irishmen pleading with him to return to their country and walk among them once more. He studied for the priesthood and ultimately Patrick was ordained as a bishop. Arriving in Ireland in 433, he began preaching the Gospel and converted thousands of Irish and built churches around the country. After 40 years in Ireland Patrick died on March 17, 461 in Saul the site of his first church. As time passed, the Irish began to observe the day of Saint Patrick’s death as a religious holiday

Since then countless legends have grown up around Saint Patrick. For one, he is credited with driving the snakes out of Ireland.

This brings me to the point of why I started this post. If Saint Patrick drove the snakes from Ireland, why can’t he be resurrected and do the same with the GOP in America? Aren’t they equivalent to the snakes of Ireland?

Of course, Saint Patrick had a slight advantage – reptiles never entered the evolutionary record on the Irish land mass and had not crossed the water barrier from England.

We can always hope.

Oh,and lest I forget, Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

This is our Open Thread. It is your time to rant!

The Watering Hole: March 10 – Jean Calas

Jean Calas was a French merchant living in Toulouse, France, famous for having been the victim of a biased trial due to his being a Protestant. In France, he is a symbol of Christian religious intolerance. His sole sin was trying to mask the suicide of his son, Marc-Antoine, as a murder. He was charged with the murder and died on March 10, 1762 on the wheel. Voltaire was successful in exonerating Jean Calas (posthumously ) of all charges. His family was paid 36,000 Francs by the king in compensation.

Jean Calas tortured for nothing more than his religious beliefs

Religion was specifically excluded from government in the Constitution. What disturbs me is that the Republican Party is trying to foist religious values into American law. This can not be condoned for any reason.

Could religious dogma endanger the rights of Americans? The “War on Women” offers one step towards this slippery slope! I often wonder if any Republican actually has a mother.

This is our Open Thread. Please feel free to offer a counter argument. You can also spill your guts.

The Watering Hole, Thursday, February 23rd, 2012: I Have a Thesis. And It’s Mine.

Governor Bob McDonnell (R-Virginia) is currently in the process of reviewing the Commonwealth’s restrictive new “personhood” law prior to potentially signing it into law. This is the bill (SB484) that contains the “informed consent” language, which (translated from the legalese) “[R]equires that, as a component of informed consent to an abortion, to determine gestation age, every pregnant female shall undergo ultrasound imaging and be given an opportunity to view the ultrasound image of her fetus prior to the abortion.” I’m sure that pregnant women of Virginia will be ever-so-thankful if Bob grants them a free poke-and-a-prod prior to having an abortion. (Yes, that was snark.)

You may remember Bob McDonnell as the newly-minted and previously unknown Governor who provided the Republican rebuttal to President Obama’s first State of the Union speech. (Or you may not – he was not impressive.)

Well before Bob McDonnell acquired the power to possibly make a lot of women more unhappy than they already are, he had ditched his job and decided to attend Regents University. His recently resurrected 1989 thesis, titled “The Republican Party’s Vision for the Family: The Compelling Issue of the Decade”, is a frightening vision indeed. I’ll just give you the introductory “Abstract”, and let you read the entire work for yourselves:

“The traditional family is the cornerstone upon which Western civilization has been built, but changes in demographics, ideology, and political philosophy during this century have resulted in the decline in the strength of the family institution. The model relationship among church, state, and family, based on history, law, and scripture, is presented as a framework in which legitimate public policy decisions must be made to facilitate family restoration.

“Fundamental Republican Party principles concerning the family and the role of government are articulated, and recent federal legislative initiatives are analyzed for consistency. Political factors affecting family policy development are examined to determine why Republicans are not more successful. The paper concludes that Republicans must stay consistently committed to their principles, communicate more effectively with the American public, and take bold action to restore the family to a position of strength in modern society.”

Between the Abstract and the Introduction, McDonnell includes a quote from, inevitably, Saint Ronnie Reagan.

(Sigh) I’ll leave you to it, then.

This is our Open Thread: have at it, folks.

Oh, and my apologies to John Cleese’s character Ann Elk and her theory.

The Watering Hole: February 11 – Newt I (Oops – Henry VIII)

One of the candidates for the 2012 election is Newt Gingrich. Newt has to be a clone of England’s King Henry VIII.

Newt shares the following “qualities” with good ole Henry.

  • Henry had six wives, Newt is on his third.

  • Henry was predeceased by four wives, Newt by one.

  • Both Henry and Newt remarried with one of their wives on the death bed.

  • Henry cheated on all of his spouses. Newt at least two and probably three.

  • Henry made the the Anglican Church into the Church of England in order to have a place to remarry, Newt changed churches on each of his marriages.

  • Both Henry and Newt considered themselves infallible.

  • Neither can be considered honest.

  • Henry died of complications of syphilis, Newt is spared by penicillin.

  • Both seem obese.

This is our Open Thread. I have presented only a few traits which both Henry and Newt share. Can you come up with some more?

Watering Hole: Monday, December 12, 2011 – A Creation Story

The fundamentalist Christians want creationism taught in school.  Now, I don’t have a problem teaching their story of creation as long as it is not part of a science class because creationism isn’t science.  If creationism is part of a social studies curriculum along with other stories of creation, than I feel it is perfectly fine to teach it.  Most cultures have stories about how it all began.  Here’s one that I would like to share.

The Native Americans of the Northwest give power to animals, especially to Raven.  No, this is not our Raven but Raven who brought the sun, the stars, and the moon to our dark planet.

No one knows just how the story of Raven really begins, so each starts from the point where he does know it. Here it was always begun in this way. Raven was first called Kit-ka’ositiyi-qa-yit (“Son of Kit-ka’ositiyi-qa”). When his son was born, Kit-ka’ositiyi-qa tried to instruct him and train him in every way and, after he grew up, told him he would give him strength to make a world. After trying in all sorts of ways, Raven finally succeeded. Then there was no light in this world, but it was told him that far up the Nass was a large house in which some one kept light just for himself.

Raven thought over all kinds of plans for getting this light into the world and finally he hit on a good one. The rich man living there had a daughter, and he thought, “I will make myself very small and drop into the water in the form of a small piece of dirt.” The girl swallowed this dirt and became pregnant. When her time was completed, they made a hole for her, as was customary, in which she was to bring forth, and lined it with rich furs of all sorts. But the child did not wish to be born on those fine things. Then its grandfather felt sad and said, “What do you think it would be best to put into that hole? Shall we put in moss?” So they put moss inside and the baby was born on it. Its eyes were very bright and moved around rapidly.

What I find interesting in this story is the “virgin birth” of Raven.  The story goes on to tell how Raven, the beloved grandson cons the rich man into giving him the boxes that hold the sun, the stars and the moon.  Once Raven has possession of these boxes, he opens them and releases the light into the sky and our planet is no longer in darkness.  You can read the complete story here.

Sometimes Raven sounds like a scoundrel and at other times, he does what is needed to be done.  To the Tlingit, there is no good and there is no evil.  It is just the way it is.

This is our Open Thread.  Speak Up and tell it like it is.

The Watering Hole, Thursday, October 27th: …and in other news…

After mulling over topics for today’s post, I decided to just present a mixed bag of ‘things that caught my eye on the internets during the past few days.’ The articles range from serious to tongue-in-cheek to outright ridiculous. The following are from Foreign Policy Magazine online and from Newsmax.

From FP: The title of Ryan Caldwell’s article, “An Islamist, a Liberal, and a Former Regime Loyalist Walk into a Cafe”, snagged my attention. The article gave an interesting presentation of the post-Gaddafi views of three Libyans of different stripes working together. Also, for some reason I found it just wondrous that the interview was done via Skype, from Caldwell’s home in California to a cafe in Benghazi. Plus I learned that ‘celebratory gunfire’ is called rasaas al-farah, which means, literally, “bullets of joy.”

From FP: In “Dumb Power: Republicans Introduce the “What Wouldn’t Jesus Do?” Foreign Policy”, David Rothkopf gives his reaction to the Republican debate on foreign policy.

From Newsmax: In the Newsmax “Breaking News” email, this article was billed as “Thomas Sowell: Herman Cain Is Real Black, Obama Not Typical“. The article includes such tidbits as:

“His prescription for fixing the economy: “I would love to have a constitutional amendment that says politicians are not allowed to intervene in the economy under any circumstances. I think there would be a boom following that.””

From Newsmax: The title of “Hensarling: Supercommittee Need Not Cut Entitlements” sounds hopeful, doesn’t it? Sure…read the whole article: Hensarling, the Republican co-chair of this “Supercommittee”, has some strange ideas. Here’s one:

“I would like to pick up the Internal Revenue Code by its roots and throw it into the nearest trash can. Having said that, realistically, that’s probably a bridge too far for this committee,”


From Newsmax
: And finally, Frank Gaffney being Frank Gaffney:

“Frank Gaffney warned in an exclusive Newsmax.TV interview: “I’m afraid there’s a war coming, a very serious, perhaps cataclysmic regional war,” he said. “It will be presumably over, at least in part, the future existence of the state of Israel. It may involve all of its neighbors, as they have in the past, attacking Israel to try, as they say, to drive the Jews into the sea.””

Enjoy!

This is our Open Thread. I’m sure you can find something to say about any one of the above, so Speak Up!

Daddy Dearest

Guest post by Hoodathunk

Many years ago I read a couple of books by Joseph Campbell about the evolution of religion.  How the warrior father image replaced the Earth mother in the West.  It made lots of sense.  And it certainly helped define the development of Western society along patriarchal lines.  Men know everything.  Or rather, men control everything which, in a weird way, came to mean they knew everything.  I think St. Paul was instrumental in this idea in European society.  Why a closeted gay with delusions of violence would gain a place of eminence in a religion based on love and compassion says a great deal about said religion’s commitment to compassion.

But this is about Fathers.  As in divine Fathers like God and earthly fathers like me.  Supposedly the divine father has the idea that if you don’t do exactly as he wants he will banish you for eternity into hellfire.  This is a core teaching of the Christian religion for over 1,600 years.  Screw up and burn in hell (BIH).  Unless you repent before you die and agree that the Big Daddy is 100% right and you are a worm who has to agree with it.  Just makes you want to be a kid, donit?

Now for my take.  I’m a dad.  Three times over.  And a grand dad, 4 times over.  Contrary to what some might say, I’m human.  If one of my kids (grandkids aren’t old enough yet) decided to embrace ideas contradictory to mine I will damn each and every one of them to eternal hellfire and pain for the temerity of their acts.  Unless they accept every word I say as gospel and the sole reason for their existence, they are less than toast.  As their father, I have supreme and ultimate control over their minds, bodies and souls and it is my right to punish them for any deviation from my will.  I brought them into this world and I have absolute and total control over them.  And if they rebel, it is my right, my responsibility, to damn them to the most horrible and grievous punishment imaginable.

This is what the Fundy Gawd says.  It sells humans into slavery by their birth rather than freeing them to find their path.  I am a father.  A father who would no sooner visit any of that crap on my children than I would stick a nuke up my ass and visit the President.  Fathers are supposed to love their children, want only the best for them.  Not make them puppets to live lives under their control.  Screw every religion and philosophy on the planet that does not embrace this idea.

Fathers are supposed to be protectors.  Guides.  Teachers.  Fathers do not damn their children to hell for any reason and any religion that says differently is based in demonology.  It is based in evil and pain.  There is no place in this universe for that.  That is about control, about making one’s own needs mean more than the need of society, of people.  Any religion that espouses any form of damnation for anything less than outright and clear evil behavior, is selling snake oil.  You can’t go to hell for defying your father.  Nor your mother.  You can’t be damned for eternity for honest love.  Or eating fish on Friday.  Or marrying outside your faith.  Or believing in another deity.  Or believing in no diety.

Fact is, no Father could ever even dream up an idea like Hell unless He was one sick puppy.  And if you want to believe in a deity that would accept the idea of BIH for eternity, you might be one sick puppy.  Good news is, you can heal.

A fundamental lie

By Guest Blogger, Hoodathunk.

Lots of talk these days.  Politics, religion, religious politics.  Some things just naturally go together to their mutual benefit.  Like peanut butter and jelly, or peanut butter and chocolate or Irish whiskey and coffee, or, well you get my drift.  Religion and politics really fall into the category of oil and water, fire and ice, or life and death.  This melding has been something that has been tried many times in Western history and the results have never benefited mankind in general.  You would think that by now we would know better, but such is not the case.

The reason for this is, IMHO, there are a great many people out there who claim to be Christian, but lack the comprehension of basic Christian teachings.  Somehow they keep coming up with the idea that this Jesus fellow was about fighting.  I suspect much of this is due to reading the rather violent Old Testament and some of the books of the New Testament written by folks who never really met the man and that, over the years, interpretations and editing have tweaked the message in the divinely inspired book to fit the more militaristic aspects of human society.

The New Testament is filled with contradictions.  This is to be expected because much of the information was written down a generation after it happened or later.  For me, this places the Bible into legend.  None of it was written by the man himself and, IIRC, only one book was written by someone who actually was with him.  But in spite of this, there is one thing that remains pretty constant and that is the legend of that last week.  Up until then Jesus had done a good job of side stepping the whole Messiah issue.  I suspect it was because there were several factions in the Jewish community who were chomping on the bit, looking for a warrior king like David to lead them so they could get rid of the Romans.

That wasn’t Yeshua’s bag.  He was Gandhi, 2,000 years before Gandhi.  He was the original counter culture revolutionary.  Love, not war.  His teachings were all about suffering anything in this world because it would get you a penthouse in the next.  Read the Sermon on the Mount.  The only slight step out of character was the thing with the money changers in the Temple, and even then his anger was at the money.

So now we are down to the big fundamentalist lie.  The monstrous Christian lie, propagated over the centuries in the name of political power and control and spitting in the face of the man who supposedly founded their religion justified by one act — His dying.  In the final days there were several opportunities for him to either walk away or rally his supporters to fight for him.  He begged his father to take the cup from him, to let him live and finally said, “Into your hands, Father.”  Pilate gave him two chances to duck.  Herod gave him one.  In the end, in all accounts, he bore his cross, suffered and died because of his belief.  Didn’t ask anyone else to do it for him.  Didn’t call up the warriors to defend him.  He died for his teachings.

Had he done what his followers are calling for today and have all across the centuries there would have been a huge revolt in Israel.  The Jews were primed for the return of their warrior-king Messiah.  Blood would have flowed and in the end Judaism would have probably died.  If you don’t agree, check out Masada and the Diaspora.  Might have survived as a minor religion.  Christianity would never have been born.  Rome would have pounded Palestine into submission in their very efficient and brutal fashion.

But the bottom line is the heart of the one legend that shows in the various books of the Bible.  Jesus died for his beliefs.  Didn’t fight for them, didn’t go to war for them, he accepted and died for them.  You can pick any other reading from any other book to try to explain, justify or whatever but the bottom line is Jesus so believed in what he did that he was willing to die for it.  All by himself, not behind a wave of warriors, just him.  Sort of how it always comes down to it, every person is always faced with one last thing.  One on one, with their maker.

No mulligans.

Sunday Roast, July 31st, 2011: If George Washington Had Only Foreseen…Oh, Wait, He Did

The current political environment is marked by a small minority holding the entire nation hostage to its demands, with special-interest groups and the wealthiest among us not-so-secretly directing the strategies of said minority. The term “public servant” no longer applies: today’s Congressional Representatives and Senators do not have the best interests of their constituents, or their country as a whole, in mind. What we are witnessing now is the beginning of the destruction of our government and our nation. Who would have thought that it could possibly come to this?

Actually, the first President of these United States, George Washington, thought that it could easily come to this. In his farewell address, published in The Independent Chronicle, September 26, 1796, President Washington warned of the influence and divisiveness of special interests:

“To the efficacy and permanency of your Union, a government for the whole is indispensable…This government, the offspring of our own choice, uninfluenced and unawed, adopted upon full investigation and mature deliberation, completely free in its principles, in the distribution of its powers, uniting security with energy, and containing within itself a provision for its own amendment, has a just claim to your confidence and your support. Respect for its authority, compliance with its laws, acquiescence in its measures, are duties enjoined by the fundamental maxims of true liberty. The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their constitutions of government. But the Constitution which at any time exists, till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole people, is sacredly obligatory upon all. The very idea of the power and the right of the people to establish government presupposes the duty of every individual to obey the established government.”

“All obstructions to the execution of the laws, all combinations and associations, under whatever plausible character, with the real design to direct, control, counteract, or awe the regular deliberation and action of the constituted authorities, are destructive of this fundamental principle, and of fatal tendency. They serve to organize faction, to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put, in the place of the delegated will of the nation the will of a party, often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community; and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction, rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans digested by common counsels and modified by mutual interests.”

“However combinations or associations of the above description may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely, in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.”

The “Father of Our Country” was truly an amazing man. It’s a shame that the like of him has not been seen since our Nation’s founding.

This is our Sunday Roast. What’s on your mind today?

The Watering Hole: March 25 — Big day in history!

Francesco Guardi

According to the Wiki, so many interesting things happened on this day in history!

421 – Venice, Italy is born at twelve o’clock noon, according to legend.

1306 – Robert the Bruce becomes King of Scotland.  (I bet he was wearing a kilt…)

1655 – Saturn‘s largest moon, Titan, is discovered by Christiaan Huygens.

1811 – Percy Bysshe Shelley is expelled from the University of Oxford for publishing the pamphlet The Necessity of Atheism.

1911 – In New York City, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire kills 146 garment workers.

From the amazing beauty of Venice, to the discovery of a planet millions of miles away, to the terrible tragedy of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, March 25 was a very busy day in history.

Some interesting people were born on this day as well…

1867 – Arturo Toscanini, Italian conductor.

1908 – Sir David Lean, English film director.

1911 – Jack Ruby, killer of Lee Harvey Oswald.

1914 – Norman Borlaug, Nobel Peace Prize winner and American agriculturalist.

1934 – Gloria Steinem, American feminist and publisher.

1942 – Aretha Franklin, American singer.

1947 – Elton John, English singer and songwriter.

1982 – Danica Patrick, American race car driver (now House knows when to send that birthday card).

And many more!

This is our daily open thread — What’s going on in your world today?

The Watering Hole: December 2 – Pompeii is Falling Down

Anyone following the news on 12/01 should know that the ancient city of Pompeii is being eaten by the elements. Pompeii offers a snapshot of Roman living in the first century of the Christian Era.

The city was buried in volcanic ash in 79 CE. Its ruins were rediscovered in the early 18th century and gradually excavated into the 20th century. Beyond bomb damage in WWII, the city remained a pristine picture until the time immediately following the war. Materials were removed for construction of personal structures, albeit at a slow pace until Italian Antiquity’s stepped into the fray, banning removal of additional material from the site.

One thing that should be realized is that Italians should not be allowed to take part in the preservation of their history. Preservation consisted of opening a profit center for tourists and closing down areas as they went into decay. These closed areas are presently suffering most from the elements. While the ruins were once protected by the layers of ash that destroyed the city itself, the historical record is being ravaged by the elements and the wear brought on by tourism now that the ash has been removed. My family visited the site in 1985 and we could see the damage effected by pumice being ground underfoot into the ancient marble plazas. Even I had a ‘Felix Unger’ moment as we visited.

This is our Open Thread. Please feel free to add your thoughts on this, or any other topic that comes to mind.

The Watering Hole: November 4 – King Tut

On 4 November 1922, Howard Carter’s water carrier came upon the steps leading to the tomb of Tutankhamen (1341 BC – 1323 BC) an Egyptian pharaoh of the 18th dynasty who ruled from c.1333 BC – 1323 BC during the period of Egyptian history known as the New Kingdom. Tutankhamen who has been immortalized as ‘King Tut’ became pharaoh at the ripe old age of nine and died at 19 from what appears to have been from a leg injury(sepsis?) and malaria.

The burial mask of Tuthankamen

In subsequent years a curse associated with the find has became part of modern folklore. Carter died on 2 March 1939 at the age of 64 which would indicate that he, who had actually opened the tomb, was seemingly unaffected by the curse as based on actuarial tables of the 1930s.

This is our open thread. Please feel free to offer your own comments on this or any other topic.
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The Watering Hole – Wednesday, 10-27-2010: Hump Day: ROMANS 13

Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. (Romans 13:1)

This verse is the “Christian” underpinnings of Evangelical Capitalism, the neo-evangelical movement sweeping the Teabaggers. When viewed from the vantage point of the poor and working class, it counsels against rebelling against authorities.

But, when viewed from the vantage point of the wealthy, it justifies everything. By being “converted to Christ” a rich man now has the faith to know that he was bestowed his riches and power directly from God. Ergo, his will is God’s will. If a dictator chooses to murder hundreds of thousands of his own citizens, it is made possible because God has given him the power to do so.

When the rich and powerful come to believe they are God’s Chosen on Earth, that they have been “saved” and that man’s law no longer applies to them, we have a defacto theocracy. The Family has been building this theocracy world-wide for the past 80 years or so, using “prayer groups” in the halls of power. Their organizational structure emulates that of the early Nazi party, before it came to power; small groups acting autonomously for a common goal. It is the same organizational structure that terrorist groups like Al Qaeda use.

The Family has had about 80 years to infiltrate the halls of power around the globe. Only now is their influence being seen openly by the masses. That can only mean their grip on power is now fait accompli, they have nothing to fear from the masses because the masses are no longer capable of deposing them. Indeed, this election is a test of their ability to use their power openly to manipulate the masses into giving them even more power, more control, more wealth.

This is our Open Thread. Please feel free to add your thoughts on this, or any other topic that comes to mind.