Archive for January, 2014

State of the Union: Poverty Place

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

Noah is giving his fourth-grade classroom speech on poverty, and it’s interesting for me to listen to a child speak earnestly about something he’s never experienced. Obviously I’ve had a role in forming his opinions. He decided he can’t say something such as, ‘being raised poor is like being beaten every day; no matter what you grow up to be, you never get over it’ – because there are poor children in his own class and he doesn’t want to make them feel different. He did point out: ‘poverty is hard to talk about because many people think it’s your own fault and you’re a bad person.’

My feelings, of course, are clear. We are a confused and amoral people, governed by the hereditary rich, who demand poverty to create the fear which keeps everyone else working. Even those uncomfortable with the consequences live their lives bamboozled or silent, at their best hoping to promote change through elections. And what have we elected this time?

Mr. Obama is presiding over enactment of public law requiring all citizens to hand over hard earned pay for private insurance company profits. He has worked tirelessly to preserve and promote financial institutions ‘too big to fail’ and cultural structures resistant to threatening the status quo. A primary social function of the United States stock market is to transfer labor’s earnings to the financier class. There remains a sizable group who haven’t been hooked into this scheme by their employers’ 401ks. Mr. Obama’s State of the Union speech featured a proposal to pry away a chunk, even, of their money for his banker buddies. You see, many of our squishy liberals (myself included) thought we were getting something else when we elected him. Our subsurface bigotry was played to perfection: we actually believed because he is a black man for some reason he was likely to be a good one.

Being christian

Friday, January 24th, 2014

It’s my self-explanation. I am not aware of ‘me’ as separate from the space around. I feel like a part of something else. I wonder what that something is; whether it’s animate, thoughtful, or nothing at all. I enjoy feeling ‘created.’ I might even require that sensation, and I look for the purpose in it. I want that purpose to be ‘good’ – I like to imagine everyone – everyone – in the world suffused with the sort of happiness I suppose we all feel when we feel ‘good.’ I think of God as the intention behind eventually creating that, through the mechanism of people doing it themselves.

There’s more, though. I’m persuaded there’s an intention specifically directed toward me, toward you, toward all of us, with thoroughly individual comprehension and compassion. I’m aware of Jesus Christ as a friend and mentor (sometimes my only friend). I don’t know how he came here, but I think he’s got direct contact with what God is. I’ve simply never had a consciousness without him.

But those closest to me do not share my faith, so it’s rarely a pleasure discussing it. More, I feel my convictions have failed me. The entire purpose of my hope in Christ is for enthusiasm and kindness; if I believe truly, then, people should see it in me. This thing that sustains and encourages me should show up in how I act – I should be attractive to be around. Yet this is not so.

I feel I’m groping about a world full of people quite unlike myself, without my sensation of belonging to a larger part; without my joy in feeling ‘created;’ without my need for a sense of purpose. I see them – I live with them – and I love them. I find myself wanting to be like them. I am trying to explore what the rest of you are.


That said

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

I hope my decision to remain faithful to my God concept isn’t off-putting. I’m a little distressed to find my positions on physics and consciousness are about a hundred years old. I’m sure there are deep thinkers today who have advanced our comprehension of life in ways which will surprise and exhilarate me. I want to go there. I want to move beyond the mere urge to insist our minds are simply our bodies to the proof that this is so. I’m very interested in the morality that emerges from a conviction our soul is an expected manifestation of our flesh.

The problem, until I discover my way around it, is the very ineffability of my soul is what makes it impossible for me to kill it off. If consciousness is, metaphorically, like a cloud of super activity animated inside a mechanical structure sufficiently complex, which switches on and off with the power supplied to the structure – still, how does that persuade me the cloud isn’t something different?

To think of my complex, self-reflective presence as a product of electric circuit operation on a matrix, really, isn’t much different than thinking of myself as a soul inhabiting a body. In either case, something mysterious has taken up residence. The problem doesn’t seem to be solved by announcing my consciousness and its substrate are the same thing.

So I feel I may be looking in the wrong place for understanding. I’m trying to identify the impossible as a real event. Perhaps I should attend to my way of thinking. There is some benefit, I think, to people who have discovered the certainty they are only what they appear. They amount to the sum of their molecules. And they die.


Closing the debate

Saturday, January 11th, 2014

I compiled some instructions for the assembly of a ‘proofing box’ (a warm place for raising bread dough). They were simple, a few boards to be nailed together. But often, when instructions are given, they’re received differently than intended, and results vary from plan. I was careful. I noted to myself, if my diagrams were misunderstood, the boards might be fitted alternatively. There was only one real possibility for this and, considering it, I realized the ‘mistaken’ results would, perhaps, turn out more usefully. This gave me a glimpse of an idea.

A perfect plan, perfectly followed, fulfills its promise. Misconstruing it achieves something even better.

This seems to me what God did, when God created our illusion of free will.