Return to Harmony
I'd like to go into some more detail on reproduction, since it is such an important part of the story. Lets start by remembering the logic about it I gave at the beginning.
If any organism overpopulates, the most likely survivors are the ones that are the strongest and most efficient. One way to be more strong and efficient is to put less energy into reproduction. We see the result of this in animal populations. Predators do not reproduce at the same rate as prey does. Predators do this in many different ways. The eagle may lay only two eggs, and raise only one chick. The lion has a litter of cubs, but mother may go out hunting, not return for two or three days, and after a few episodes of this, 75% of the cubs are dead. I seem to recall that this was in desert country, and in richer country, more cubs are likely to survive, but the principle is clear. In a pack of wolves, only the dominant pair will have young. Again, this is likely to vary with the resources available, but there is a definite mechanism to limit reproduction.
A question arises, though, when we look at
herbivores like wildebeast, zebras, other large herbivores, living with the
lions and other predators. These animals are frequently prey for lions,
yet they give birth to one baby a year. How to explain this? We
have to remember that herbivores are predators of grass, and that while they
have vulnerable periods of life, growing up, growing old, when living
as healthy adults in a herd, they are very difficult for predators to catch.
It has been noted by biologists that it is disease that is the greatest check
on their population, not more conventional predators. So such a low rate
of reproduction still fits. They reproduce to fill up their ecological
space, to go beyond that exposes them to problems like hunger and disease, which
can knock the population a long ways down, and once again, those that
put less energy into reproduction would be favored. Since they are so
successful at evading lions and similar predators most of the time, it would
seem that their low birth rate is a function of such success.
People who have studied hunter gatherer groups often find that reproduction is in balance. Several factors are at play. If the conditions are difficult, northern or southern deserts, tropical forests full of disease, then people naturally die faster from the harsh conditions. Birth rates are slowed by women not conceiving well when they are always on the verge of hunger, or nursing babies, and the food is coarse and babies need to nurse longer. Marjorie Shostak writes about this with regard to the !Kung people. In richer areas of the world, warfare between groups seems to have make up the difference, this added enough stress to groups to make up for the fact that the living was easier.
If we have understanding about the source
of disease, this always gives us a little edge on the problem. If we herd
animals, nurture plants appropriately, that also gives an edge on hunger. Having
better tools and knowledge of microbes also allows food to be better stored
for lean periods. But if people aren't dying so much of disease, and
hunger is lessened so that women conceive easily, we can and have gotten into
trouble. We can't put knowledge back in the bottle, we don't like
high death rates. But we have to choose, either we take a high death rate or
we have a lower birth rate. Farmers have lessened hunger with unsustainable
food production, and welcomed a higher birth rate to have labor, which they
really need lots of.. But even without farming, birth rates have to come
It all comes down to energy efficiency.
We only have so much energy to spend on any one thing. Birth control has
to be as cheap as possible. The cheapest and most effective is a mental
ability to abstain from sex when conditions call for it. Under conditions
of stress, that tends to happen naturally. The question is what a person regards
as stressful. Someone who can see logical connections to disasters looming
will feel a lot more stress and back away from reproduction. Those who
can't see will still be engaged in reproduction, unaware of danger signals.
They get trapped. Pregnant women and nursing mothers can't easily move
and get away from problems. They need a lot of extra care.
When conditions are more peaceful, there are simple solutions to the problem. Vasectomies are simple and cheap, relatively. They don't help much right now, since they aren't easily reversible, and we would want to survive and still be able to reproduce. There are other possibilities. Basically, they have to be energy efficient and sustainable. But right now, the best option looks like abstinence.
More Reproductive Related Issues
There are a couple of very contentious issues
associated with reproduction, that we might look at. Abortion and homosexuality.
It is the same as with everything, is it energy efficient? Abortion doesn't
look very efficient to me. It is a major operation. But it is more
efficient than taking care of a baby. Some people get very upset about
abortion, say that it is killing. They are right, it is killing a potential
person. But all forms of birth control kill potential people. Not
controlling population ends up killing people. Since abortion is an expensive
method, I wouldn't favor using it as a primary means of population control,
but as a last resort. If we are using other cheaper methods of birth control,
we could expect to sometimes have an unexpected pregnancy, but this might
well be balanced by unexpected deaths, and abortion might be something we almost
never resort to. But I wouldn't rule it out.
Lets remember that no one makes themselves. People don't choose to be this way. If you think you chose, try being sexually neutral for a few months. Even the gelding runs to the mares, and humans are no different. Abstaining from sex doesn't mean the attraction goes away. It can be reduced a lot. But it is also true that homosexual attractions are not normal. Wires are crossed, the programming is wrong. A homosexual is broken, and we don't really know how to completely fix it.
Some have claimed that denying themselves
homosexual urges will make them normal. To a degree, I think this can
be true. If brain circuits are not used, they tend to shrink, and have
less power over our actions. I feel that this makes the person in the
same category as a drug addict, where the urges will die down to a low level,
but that the potential remains. If people have the ability to hold themselves
in check this way, that sounds fine to me. If not, then I have some
problems about it.
Does it make sense to take extremely limited
space in a group, for a homosexual that is either not going to reproduce when
the time comes, or will poison a relationship in the future? I can't
see the sense. On the other hand, I would be glad to have homosexuals
help out with parenting of groups, the same as anyone who has some kind of brokenness.
Just because a person is homosexual doesn't mean they are worthless. It
is like any problem, you don't necessarily need to banish them, but let them
contribute as they can. If they can't do anything, then they might have
to go. That is rare.
There is growing evidence that homosexuality
is the result of environmental factors, nutrition, chemical pollution, during
critical stages of pregnancy and childhood. There is less to go wrong with making
a female, since we all apparently start out as female, and additional steps
are taken to make a male. Experiments have been done that make animals
behave as if they were of the opposite gender, by altering hormones during development.
If this holds true, then we should have a lot less problem with homosexuals
being born in the future, as we can watch these things more carefully.
This theory makes a lot of sense, because you would expect a purely genetic
homosexuality to die out over time. An argument can be made for a genetic
factor that hid in the opposite sex, but this remains to be observed.
If we do have small numbers of homosexuals in the future, we should be able
to tolerate this as we tolerate small numbers of other reproduction problems.
Others have to reproduce slightly more to make up the numbers, is all.
The suggestion has been made that homosexual
and bisexual behavior is of value because it decreases the birth rate.
The trouble with this idea is that we have no control of the situation, and
if we did control it, how would you pick the people to be made homosexual?
How would you figure what percentage of the population, if no limits to reproduction
were put on heterosexuals? If you put limits on heterosexuals, why make homosexuals?
Bisexual behavior opens the door to disease.
A slightly bisexual person who can get enough satisfaction from the opposite
sex and reproduce when needed, might be a mechanism for reducing birth rates,
as they wouldn't always be interested in conventional sex. It isn't something
we have a great deal of ability to control, though, any more than homosexuality.
If we could control such things with enough precision, then we would likely
be better off reducing sexuality altogether, so that it worked only when we
needed to reproduce. That would be the most energy efficient way.
We have some good reasons for monogamy.
Cooperation, diversity, and disease. Polygamous situations leave people
out of reproduction. Unless there are solid reasons for this, like a disaster
in which a lot of one sex dies, then interdependent people are not going
to be happy with the injustice of the situation. Having unhappy people
is not the goal in life. More importantly, monogamy favors diversity,
and there are so many ways that diversity favors us, as a person with
the proper talent can always be found to meet a multitude of problems.
It works for animals to have one ideal model for male and female, but it doesn't
work so well for us. It is very useful for us to be able to turn to one
of our number that is tall, or short, or is good at math, or language, or design,
or has coordination of the hands, and so on. And last, disease is
stopped at two people, not the whole group, if people are monogamous.
As long as we are carefully aware of the problems,
I don't think we have to be absolutely rigid about monogamy. Forcing people
to stay together in unpleasant situations that cannot be resolved might easily
cost society more that a split would cost. But divorce should not be taken
Having a community of cooperating people should
take a lot of stress of couples. You don't have to find a whole community
in your spouse. This also means not elevating the importance of your spouse
above the community. This is probably not as romantic as some people might
like, but the results of insanity are never romantic at all.
Some Thoughts About Gender difference in the Brain
Women's thoughts are often ignored by men in the present situation, which seems again to be non functional instinct. Men were hunters, and women really couldn't contribute much to this, since they weren't in the field, and couldn't generally observe, either. Another factor is much older, in that physical strength was the measure by which you listened to another individual. It is not simply a matter of a stronger individual being able to hurt you, though that is a factor. It is also that in a threatening world, you want to stick close to the biggest strength in the group, and so that is what you pay attention to.
Obviously, mental strength can throw this simple
relationship into confusion, and this we see everywhere, and not only between
men and women, but also between men. Having economic measure of money,
that prevents objective evaluation of ideas, men and women are often given
approval on how they look, not on how well their minds operate. Sticking
to questions of gender, the situation is further confused by the different ways
men and women process information, something that brain research in finding
more and more evidence of. We are told by the National Institute of Mental
Health that women's brains show 8 times the activity in response to sadness
and loss, than men's brains show, for example. In most groups of people,
men are superior in spatial awareness, women are superior in language ability.
Objective tests show women respond faster to sounds of distress.
Men are likely to be wary of solutions when they aren't sure of how they were
arrived at, and fall back on the instinctive path of being in charge solely
on greater physical strength, ignoring half the brain power of the group.
This is a great waste. We must make the effort to understand each other
whenever possible. Having minds that process information differently should
be a great asset, it provides a check. If we don't agree, we should figure
out why, and this should save us trouble in the long run.
It is interesting to note that logical thought
can take different paths, and get to the same point. We seem to have two
kinds of computer in our heads, a step by step, "digital" computer,
and an, answer all at once, "analog" computer. Analog computers
are capable of great speed and complexity, but tend to be fuzzy in their accuracy.
We might spend a long time doing a problem step by step, and when we get an
answer, we look at it, and say, in a flash, that sounds right, or wrong.
That is our analog computer weighing in. Women generally seem to be stronger
on the analog side of thinking, than on the step by step logical side.
It is unfortunate that analog thinking has a hard time pointing to a specific
reason for disagreement on something, I think it is a good part of why women
are often ignored.
Analog computers made of electrical components
mimic the problem, all its attractions and rejections and kinetic energy, with
those components. In the same fashion, our analog brains can employ the
emotions we have about things. If the wrong values of attraction and rejection
are programmed in by instinct, then our instant intuition about a problem will
be wrong. Some individuals can override previous programming in the face
of repeated observable evidence that they are wrong, and reprogram their analog
side, but others appear to be helpless to change. They may even be aware
of their helplessness. Drug addicts often tell of being aware that they
were destroying themselves, but that they could not stop. To reprogram
their brain needed a greater force than their reason could provide.
Again dragging the subject back to gender,
the fact that women feel loss so acutely might seem to indicate that women would
have a harder time letting go and joining with reason. I don't think so,
because this fear of loss is balanced by a greater attraction to stable relationships.
It comes down to being able to bend to reason, for both men and women, and I
doubt that either sex has any advantage or disadvantage, on this matter.
A person riding a donkey illustrates partnership,
very well. The donkey has excellent senses, and has instinct to listen
to those senses. The donkey doesn't suffer fools who don't listen to signs
of possible danger. It stops at such signs, and no persuasion short of
threatened death will convince it to advance into the death it senses ahead.
It is master of the event. The person riding a donkey is going to be a partner,
or they aren't going anywhere together. Force a donkey too much, and it
will end up looking for a chance to kick you in the head, or run away.
But if a person is willing to listen, a donkey is also willing to listen.
If no danger is sensed ahead, the donkey will concede to carry you forward.
People have liked horses better than donkeys, because while horses also want
partnership, they aren't so conservative about fears down the road. Horses
have evolved to outrun any danger down the road, and this fits nicely with the
instincts of people, who also feel like they can outrun, outfight, and outsmart
anything they meet up with. A human riding a horse makes a good
metaphor of instinctive leadership leading instinctive people. A human
on a donkey makes a good metaphor of how leadership rationally should be.
If you deal long enough with a real donkey,
you will sometimes find that their instincts are incredibly stupid, as instincts
often are. The problems with instincts are most obvious when the animal
is taken out of the environment where the instincts evolved, and put in another
environment. Donkeys, for example, evolved in dry climates. Water
sources in such places are predator traps, as many animals must go to drink
at these specific spots. Water puts donkeys on high alert for danger.
To step in mud around a place where predators lurk, is an instinctively dangerous
thing to do, since even being slowed by a step can be the difference between
life and death. If you take a donkey out of its dry climate, and put it
in a place where water is abundant, and try to ride it anywhere, good luck to
A person living in a dry climate might look
to the hills, and see a mighty storm going on, and on, and reason tells him
to get out of the low lands, get to higher ground, because a flood will be sweeping
along rather soon. The donkey is saddled, and away they go, until they
come to a small stream that is running, a warning of what is to come, and lo,
the stupid donkey will not cross. It is not a time to bend to instinct.
You tie a strong rope across the stream to the beast, get behind it with your
staff, and let it know that you will kill it, if it doesn't go. A drowned
donkey is no good to you, and doesn't do itself much good either. Given
such a choice, most donkeys will go, and they go before they get seriously hurt,
too. The death in the stream is only a chance, after all, while the pain
behind them is quite real. They don't get out paper and pencil and calculate
the odds. It is just a reality that they have evolved with. If a
lion were behind them, a donkey that feared the stream more than the lion would
die, while one that crossed might live.
We have a barrier to cross, a dramatic shift in
our lives in the kind of society we live in. I want to roar like the lion,
and ask who out there wants to compete with me for leadership on these things?
Who has better ideas, and specifically why are they better? I look to scientists,
whether they have advanced education or not, and they are tied across the stream
by their belief in rational thought. I would hit you from behind, calling
you fools to not see, threaten to kill your reputation and livelihood as scientists,
pull in the logic, point by point, like a powerful winch fastened to the
rope. If you are like the donkey, you will come. Reluctantly, braying,
a tentative kick or two, but you come. If you are like the wild zebra, you
take no direction from me, but fight madly the rope, kick wildly at me, break
the line of rational thought with claims of mysticism, or of the infinite cleverness
of technologists, and run away to drown.
Given what we have already been through, there
shouldn't need to be a lot said about technology. The drugs that the addict
abuses can have potential value, in the right place, the right time, and the
right amount. Technology is no different. We can abuse the balance
of nature, raise the competition between groups to war without limit, with technology.
You cannot run before you have learned to crawl.
Before you think about complex technology, master simple things first. You will
often find that basic knowledge of science is very useful in reinventing simple
ways that have had the details forgotten, and sometimes you can even make improvements.
Not everything has been tried, and a certain degree of success in a design might
result in that design being fixed in tradition, and not improved. This
won't always happen, but I have run across this in some things I've worked on.
You won't find improvements until you have a mastery of what has been done,
so that is the place to start learning.
It is tempting to look at some of the things
being produced today and feel that they solve problems, but we need to be very
careful, and not trust the market measure. You might see a new light bulb,
for example, that promises so much more light from a battery charge, and new
batteries that make similar great promises, but we need to be critical about
our real needs and real costs of things. Quite often these products require
that large amounts of rock be crushed to get the rare elements in them, with
all the toxic by products of mining and refining, large energy use, yet the
market says it is cheap. We will always be more efficient if we can live without
something. With regard to light, for example, what is it we need
so badly that we cannot get enough of it in the daylight, and then rest at night?
Are we so much more inefficient than the animals who can live like this?
It looks to me like there are problems we
will want to solve in the future that require advanced technology, but those
are not the problems of the moment, and we shouldn't waste time trying to solve
problems that we don't need to worry about right now. When we are threatened,
we react with normally unsustainable energy use, until the threat is met.
Then, to continue the example of the light bulb, we would want a better light
source, so we could work into the night. That should be the way we use advanced
technology in the future, we can file away an understanding of how to build
it and use it, and when we need it, we use it, but for 99.9 percent of our lives,
we live as simply as possible. Much of the current problem is that people are
using energy as if we were threatened by grave outside forces, yet we are not,
and the answer to this problem is to stop, not continue.
An addict may quit abruptly, but that doesn't
mean the problem is healed. Regardless of whether one quits something
abruptly, or weans away, there is a time factor in changing a way of life, and
feeling comfortable about it. With technology, giving up everything that
is obviously connected to unbalanced resource use, abruptly, is not a great
idea. You are likely to starve, freeze, and quit trying, or die.
You need to persistently push to do a little more, and a little more, and you
get to where you want. This seems obvious, but there is often an arrogant
belief that primitive ways are so simple, they won't take any time to learn,
and this is like the addict that confidently proclaims that they could quit
any time they wanted to. Sure. But don't make the opposite mistake of
thinking that our ancestors had near mystical abilities of strength and talent.
That is not true either.
If you need to drive, fly, take a bus or train,
to get to a meeting, then do it. If you want to communicate with any kind
of complex electronic equipment, in order to get things together, answer questions,
then do it. It is like have dug ourselves into a pit with technology,
it makes no sense to throw out the shovel in frustration, but use it to carefully
dig out. The important thing is to get started. Technology that you can
get on your own consists of strong, loose fitting clothing, sturdy shoes, (rubber
or wooden sandals are good, for cold weather you can wear them with soft leather
moccasins with some insulation, and have footwear that is simple to make and
very adaptable to varying conditions) heavy duty poncho that can be a ground
cloth, or protect from rain, or linked with others to make a quick tent.
A good quality machete is good, or a light ax and heavy knife. If you
don't know what quality is, find out first. People who know something
about camping have a good start, but we aren't camping. A lot of camping
equipment is really too light for what we want. We are living, not taking
an excursion. Shelter, cooking equipment, animals, are things we are likely
to share, and need to be gotten as a group. If you are a carpenter, take
some basic hand tools. Same for other professions, take some tools to
allow you to do really basic things. Where water is difficult, plastic
for solar stills, sponges to collect dew, and filters may be good. Some
of the new filters, that take out bacteria, are expensive, and we have no way
to renew them, but they might be valuable in the short term. Same with
plastic for solar stills. I have wondered if putting a fire in a hole,
to drive off water in the soil above, and condensed in a damp blanket, which
could be wrung out, would be a low tech version of the plastic solar still.
It would depend a lot on how much moisture was in the soil, and how much fuel
was available. But remember that stills, dew, and filters, are not likely
to water the animals. If there is a lot of water in vegetation, goats
may not need to drink at all, and will actually provide you with liquid, from
the milk, and are a living filter, often able to drink water that people cannot,
and make clean milk from it. Camels of course, are well known for their
ability to get along without water, and will also filter questionable water
into safe milk. But they do need to drink, and often the water in vegetation
will not be enough for goats or camels. You need to learn the land,
and learn to navigate, so you will need tools for this. With cold, the
answer is insulation, and putting bodies together, staying out of the wind.
Animals can be very tough, but they essentially do the same things, growing
insulation, huddling together, looking for places out of the wind. While
you listen to the wind, you can dream of how to make it warm you-there is a
lot of energy there! Like a solar still or oven in the south, there may
actually be some small scale things to play with on this score, friction heated
water to have a warm drink, perhaps some cooking. But only if you have
done everything else that you can think of in more conventional ways.
You will have enough experimentation to make known things work, to learn to
milk, butcher, pack animals, move the herd, make folds, gather wild foods,
repair equipment, start learning how to replace things that wear out.
There is a lot to learn and master, but remember you aren't alone. Together
you can do it.
Complex technology will have to wait for the
days when you can walk out of the harsh lands, and the smell of death is gone,
and grass grows up through bones. In places of trees and rain, one can
relax a little, and dream a little, and grow some complexity in technology,
carefully, slowly, in balance, according to real needs
If you have a group of people working together,
that group can be independent in day to day needs. If a group is independent,
why not fight with other groups, if you can win? Well, history shows that
the latter question is the critical one. The intellectual and physical
capacity of people is so similar all over the world, that wars always end up
with no real change in anything. Invaders sometimes succeed, but over
time they are either kicked out or assimilated. One group comes up with
new technology, another group always comes up with a way to match it.
Soldiers with experience usually agree that you shouldn't start a fight that
you can't win, but the arrogant pride of culture and race has been ever willing
to ignore experience, and fight to the death over these veneers of being.
Once again, we are dealing with instinct.
For many thousands of years, people fought with each other, small tribal conflicts,
often done by rules understood by both sides, to limit the number killed or
hurt. This worked to limit population, and weeded out the unfit.
It has been noted that while the actual casualties of battle were usually small,
the constant threat served to limit populations in other ways besides directly
killing. It has been observed that female infants were sometimes starved
to death in favor of male infants, because males became warriors who could defend
the tribe. But having fewer women has a much bigger impact on birth rate
than having fewer men. You can lose men and easily keep the same birth
rate, you cannot do the same when you lose women. Also, a constant threat
of raids serves to reduce interest in sex, men are more often either patrolling
in defense, or raiding in offense, in addition to trips needed for hunting or
gathering tool material. This makes for a lot of separation of men and
women, and lowers the birth rate.
In such warring environments, learning racial
and cultural distinctions is a survival trait that is very important.
With modern weapons based on metal and chemical understanding, war loses
any value in weeding out the unfit, such weapons kill both the fit and unfit
with ease. Paradoxically, people come to fear war, avoid it, and in the
relative peace between wars can reproduce much easier than our stone age ancestors
constantly engaged in a less lethal warfare. But the old instincts remain,
and population growth, economic growth, demand more and more resources, and
nations run into each other, prejudices can flare practically overnight,
with devastating consequences. The instincts that worked for the stone
age do not work anymore.
In addition to the useless effort of trying
to defeat ourselves, day to day needs are not our only needs. You can
start to be independent on day to day needs, with 20 - 30 adults. You
might have fewer, or more, and asking for a precise number is like asking how
big, or thin, a person can be, and still live. 20 to 30 adults is a range
that our stone age ancestors found comfortable, according to anthropologists
Richard Leake and Roger Lewin. But as projects get bigger and more complex,
you need the cooperation of more and more people. One of the biggest projects
that I can see right now, would be detecting and responding to an incoming cosmic
object. I think you would want global cooperation on that. On a
lesser scale, droughts, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, can have us looking
for outside help. It is quite logical that we stay on good terms with
I think that one can see that groups should
have a degree of competition, just as individuals within a group compete, to
get the best people and the best groups, in charge of things. War as we
have seen it, clearly goes far beyond useful competition, and tries to prove
nonsense. Objective consideration of energy use, output, sustainability,
have never been considered as a way to settle the argument of which group is
doing better. When chimpanzees display, instead of ripping at each other,
they show a very sensible savings of individuals in the competition. When
people display, playing sports, mental games, making better inventions, telling
better stories, we do the same thing. Elaine Morgan, in "The Descent
of Woman" talks about this. All that is required, is to put this sort of
behavior on a group level. Which we also do, with team sports, business
competition. But the judging of such competition gets badly flawed by
considerations of money, and the degree of competition gets badly strained at
times by worry about this measure. The fear of losing becomes tremendous
when it is a winner take all sort of thing, and you are not number 2, for losing,
but nobody. Under such conditions, what is the point of display?
Go for the jugular! On a personal aside, I have found it interesting how
people that I have talked to from other countries, where the culture was more
supportive than in independence crazed United States, found chess to be a relaxing
game, not the war on a board that I have found it to be here. These people
wanted to win, but losing was not a total disaster. They had their place
in life, losing a game showed something, but not everything. I was greatly
intrigued by this when I first ran into it. As a young adult, I decided
not to play chess much, because I hated to lose, and I also hated to win, where
attitudes were so extreme.
You can decline to play some games, but we
must play the game of life or die. Play chess with a child desperate to
win, and when you get to checkmate, they may sit there, refusing to deal with
the reality, going over every angle over and over and over again. You expect
such behavior from a child, sometimes. The board and pieces may go flying
with a child. Grownups are usually more mature about games, yet for this game
of life, I see the behavior of children, people who look at all these
things and refuse to even acknowledge they have read, turn their backs, and
it looks to me like a tantrum is building. People are not behaving like
adults on the logic of these issues around money and reproduction.. Most of
the wars people have had are only slightly organised, childish tantrums.
We are going to see a very disorganized tantrum, when people see that they are
not going to get their way, that they have not chosen logical paths.
Genetics can get very complex when you dive
into the actual mechanism. I'm not opposed to doing this, but one can
also easily lose sight of the big picture, in this maze of details. Lets
look at some things that have been known about the business for thousands of
years. Most of this I have touched on in the previous pages, but I'd like
to put some of it together here.
If you selectively breed for one definite
trait, you will quite often get that trait in the offspring. You won't
always get it, due to the complexity of the system, like recessive genes, traits
made up of many genes with a lot of possibilities. If two solidly
reasoning people have a child, the chances are very good that the child will
be the same, may have even better abilities than the parents. But the
abilities are also likely to be less, and you could easily have someone prone
to listen to instinct at certain times, kind of a borderline person, torn between
the two pathways. Education can sway such a person down one path or another,
and in a society based on reason, the education will definitely push to reason.
When polls indicate that some 80% of present society believes in a mystic god,
you can see that we are not in such a society. But clearly, just as an
instinctive society that has some abilities to reason will always produce exceptional
reasoners sometimes, a reasoning society is going to produce some instinctively
driven people sometimes. Cain could never kill Abel, because Abel was
in his genes. It is the stuff of horror movies, the man that cannot be
killed. But Abel is not going to kill Cain, either. Two borderline
types, that we might be hard pressed to identify as such, may produce a Cain,
as well as an Abel. Instinctive society has suppressed reason that it
does not want to hear. Rational society will have repress instinctive
urges. We don't want to hear insanity. To be born into rational
society will be hell for people who are driven primarily by instinct and they
will cause some minor trouble. To be forewarned is to be forearmed.
There will be more people, who have a small amount of reasoning ability, but
whose instincts fit rather well with the life we make, and will cause no trouble
in the short term. Life will just seem normal, to these people, since
they were born into it. This will cause trouble in the long term.
We will have time to help clean things up,
and start thinking about how we are put together. We will want to understand
the details of genetics, just out of curiosity, and with a repulsion for genetic
diseases. I think we will get a good understanding of the details, and
learn how to manipulate them, and we will have trouble again. There will
be controversy between people who love very much our sexuality, and not want
to change it to be more efficient, and those who seek improvement. Our
present sexuality is very much a drug related relationship. It is natural,
but the hormones are basically drugs, and work on the brain like any drug.
I think that this will be the focal point, but other changes will also be thought
of. A longer lifespan is probably possible, and redesign of weak points
in human anatomy, a refinement of mental abilities. Our genetic structure
appears to be a mish- mash of changes extending back half a billion years, and
we might sort it all out, get rid of useless junk. People will be neutral
to uneasy, to very much opposed, to very much in favour, of taking these steps.
To go ahead would basically mean no longer being human, but it would also mean
the capability to solve problems better, to be a better brain for the planet,
and look out into space with a real chance of exploration there. To design
any kind of body we wanted, with the ability to hibernate, or even freeze, as
some cold blooded animals can do, could be an enormous tool in exploring space.
To deal with space better will be a big factor of safety, with regard to cosmic
collisions. To put a better communication link in animals, like a dolphin,
or large bird, so that we saw the earth better, could manage resources better.
The performance of idiot savants gives an idea of the potential for living computers.
Some people would much rather remain human,
and will resurrect the idea of a mystic god that must be put in charge of changes
of this magnitude, and especially the virtual loss of sex. They will attempt
to break free and form a cancerous society like was once put down long before,
and it will have to be put down again. It will have no chance against
our new abilities. Instinct will not trouble reason in such a way again.
Cain will be dead, alive only in the knowledge of how excess instinct can be
programmed into DNA.
All of this prediction is based on known things.
We are attracted to living, and that pulls us in certain directions. We
have seen nature combine elements into a fantastic array of species, and have
learned to do this on a limited scale already, so learning more direct ways
is a reasonable prediction. I would not predict that we would ever break
the light barrier, because there is very little to base such a prediction on.
Nor do I claim to be absolutely perfect in prediction. Things could go
wrong. A comet could come out of the darkness and smash us before we developed
the strength to deal with such an event. A new disease could develop.
But the odds of these things look small. To give up, and say that we should
just eat, drink, have sex and live a drug dream, because tomorrow we die, looks
like the wrong kind of bet to me. Cosmic collisions happen, but events
big enough to destroy all of humanity are very rare. Diseases have been
around as long as life has. You can look at something that appears to
be new, but chances are that it is only new to our awareness. Prions are
the latest horror. Indestructible, they appear to be. But what are
the chances that something that forms so spontaneously is not also reversible?
If it were really so indestructible and spontaneous, it ought to have built
up to levels to have made life nearly impossible a long time ago. This
doesn't mean that we ignore such things. But we don't panic and think
that we are doomed, either.
The sun will probably expand to engulf the earth some day. Will we be able to get off? I don't really know. I'd like to think so. The universe is either expanding or contracting, and either one indicates that our existence eventually winks out. Perhaps a black hole explodes and starts it all over again. I don't know. I'd like to find out. Life is an interesting ride, I'll ride it as far as it goes. Come along with me, it's no fun alone. It is not possible alone.
I've mentioned the placebo effect of the mystic
aspects of religion, and how predatory instinct can readily accept the claims
of mysticism. These things are general observations about human psychology.
In this section I want to look at specific things, primarily in Judaeo-Christian
religion, but also a little about some other religions. Muslims share
some things, and accept Jesus as a prophet, so this ought to interest them.
I spent over a week at a Buddhist meditation center, and was struck by how similar
many of the stories were to Bible stories. I've already mentioned that
the search for complete detachment is not logical, but quiet time, as is found
in herding and hunting and gathering, does seem to be good for the human brain.
No surprise there. But a life of meditation, begging for food, takes things
into predictable instinctive human excess, looking for a mystic nirvana, does
not look logical to me. My thinking about Hindu reincarnation is similar.
Where is the evidence? The hypocrisy of Hindu vegetarianism is a disgrace, giving
the poor the dirty job of dealing with the deaths of animals, carefully, carefully,
so as not to disturb the upper class dream of a noble existence beyond such
matters. Marvin Harris, in "Cows, Pigs, Wars and Witches," goes
over this in detail. Even where flood plain agriculture is sustainable,
compare the life in an untouched flood plain to the life in a plowed rice paddy.
The cultivated field has been through a slaughter. Animals cannot just
move away. There are already animals next door, filling up the space.
Trapping animals live, and moving them away, may make people feel good, but
basically you only avert your eyes from the blood in such an act. Destroying
habitat is no different.
Back to religion. The Bible is a long
book, and I don't propose to deal with everything, but I want to start at the
beginning, go through and make some observations, and raise some questions.
If you have love for mystical interpretations, it is a good chance you will
be upset by this. If you have Judaeo-Christian beliefs, you may not have
cared much about Buddhism or Hinduism, or even the quotes I've made from Jesus.
You may pray for me, tell me that God loves me, beg me to be careful. Yes, I
try to be careful, and stick to the truth.
"God created man in his own image and
likeness, male and female created he them" Genesis 1: 27
This is an interesting statement, if we assume it to be true. We can learn
something about God by looking at people. Like this creation business.
People always make things by trial and error. They are attracted to certain
things and repulsed by other things, and are always putting things together
and either liking it or rejecting it, and if we like it we do it over and over
and over, and build further with it. God must be doing that too, and evolution
works this way. So it would seem that God is evolution, even in the Bible.
Then we have the story of Adam and Eve, in
the next chapters of Genesis, and I've already pointed out some things about
this story, that would indicate it is not a first man and woman story, but a
first farmer story. We already had the creation. In a way, it might
be a "first humans" story, because there may well have been
an awareness that people had come to creation late, (It is in that order in
the first chapter) and we do have Adam and Eve walking the garden of Eden for
a time without trouble, which could stand for a brief hunter-gatherer past,
where we lived in relative harmony. The feeling that we had not been here
so long could come from the observation that animals were very fixed in their
ways, very well adjusted, but that people were not so well adjusted. Changes
in technology, finer and finer stone tools, hide working, fabrics, finally herding,
and farming, metals, could have been part of tribal history, pointing back to
an animal like existence, with a clock like progression of better technology.
This may have been felt, more than logically said, as I have just done, but
the analog brain may well have declared, "We are young".
Most of the world's population lives by farming
these days, and since the story is not very favorable to farmers, it is not
surprising that twisted interpretations of the story occur,- that it is the
story of the first murder, and the occupations of the players are not considered
significant. It was just an altercation between two specific men, because
men had the knowledge of good and evil now, and the evil came out at times.
No effort is made to look at the details, like a real detective would.
Evil is just a mystical concept, as is good. "Am I my brother's keeper?"
is a question that haunts, but is never faced. Given the fact that people
had always lived in interdependent tribes, the very question points to common
knowledge of the time that everyone was indeed their brother's keeper, and the
use of the words Adam, Abel, and Cain, leaving out the more probable , "Tribe
of Adam, Tribe of Abel, Tribe of Cain," makes the story seem like independence
was plausible, and the fight was between two men, and not two ways of life.
As always, history is written by the winners, and they put their spin on the
story, and gloss over guilt. But history is not quite finished yet.
People are told to go out and multiply, and
subdue the earth. (Genesis 1: 28.) I've always thought there was
a difference between "subdue" and "kill", but such distinctions
are apparently lost on farmers. Wholesale slaughter is the only way their
system works. As for the multiplying, I should think it obvious that we succeeded
at that quite some time ago, and ought to have given it a rest, as it amounts
to more killing, not subduing. People will be quite literal in their interpretation
of the Bible when it suits them. Must go and multiply! Funny how
I never see anyone take other messages in the Bible about reproduction literally,
and become a eunuch. Isaiah says positive things about being a eunuch (56:3,4,5)
and Jesus recommends men become eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew
I think there are some literal things in the
Bible, but there is an enormous amount of symbolism. What I'm seeing is
clearly stuff written by people with one foot in reality, and the other foot
with no explanations for certain things, but able to make a decent guess, sometimes,
but otherwise falling back on mysticism.
The story of Noah , still in the chapter of
Genesis, again shows a God that creates by trial and error. It is interesting,
I don't see how even a mystic interpretation of the Bible supports "creation"
theory. There is the "created in six days", but that has to
be symbolic, because God is obviously still tinkering by the time of Noah, way
past any six days. Everything that God created was "good" but
humans weren't, and snakes weren't, and why would you put a tree of good and
evil in a perfectly good place?
What I see here is again a confused struggle
between reason and mysticism. Coherent theories of evolution were way
in the future, but anyone with a bit of awareness could see that weak animals
died, that weak people died, that weak mental abilities were part of strength,
and the foresight to see a natural disaster was a great strength. People
can often reason that a flood may be possible, looking at snowpack in the mountains,
getting awareness of long term weather cycles like El Nino. The
people of the coast of South America have apparently known of El Nino for centuries.
It doesn't take weather satellites to become aware of patterns, though I don't
deny that they can help. Digging in parts of the Mideast have shown a
history of floods in areas that are now dry. Some have speculated, with
interesting evidence, that the Black Sea was mostly a dry basin, and as the
glaciers retreated and ocean levels rose, it was flooded, a great catastrophe
for anyone living there, and yet one might have heard of the Mediterranean rising
and seen the lay of the land and predicted this. As for the details of
the story, it is rather common knowledge that stories can grow in the telling,
and some people think that they can grow even more in the writing, since paper
or parchment is expensive, and you want the story to look a little more worthy
of being written down. Noah may simply have driven as many animals as
he and his family could manage to the slopes of a mountain, big enough to have
feed for awhile, and be above flood waters, and built nothing more than a shelter
for his family there. This accounts for the story of the mountain that
he came down off of, in the end. To a human being, a flood of quite modest
dimensions can look like the whole earth has been covered. Climbing higher
to see better is a lot of work, and if it is cloudy, you can't see anyway, and
if it isn't cloudy, the flood is likely receding, and you only have the naked
eye, which doesn't go far. The "whole earth", is very likely,
all the ground that they lived on, which was all they really cared about, and
There is an interesting passage in the Noah
story, after the flood, that tells us that we can eat anything that moves, but
not to eat "flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof."
Genesis 9:3,4 Generations of people have taken this as a rule to not eat
blood, but in the context of the story, and simple observation, this is not
logical. After a disaster like a flood, it could be real easy to eat a
species into a local extinction. The remaining animals are the life of
the species, are its blood, that must not be killed, but allowed to reproduce.
It is like not eating your seeds, if you are a farmer. But for a farmer,
it is much better to interpret this statement as a rule against eating blood,
even though if you eat meat, you are going to eat some blood, even if the animal
was well bled. Farmers are not sorry to see certain animals exterminated.
People had respect for Noah, since he had been so smart, and made his advice
sacred, and mystical, and have wasted untold amounts of nutritional value in
blood ever since.
Now I'd like to skip ahead to Moses, and the
Sabbath day, the Sabbath year, and the Jubilee year.
I see these laws as a good clue that the Jews
were indeed slaves in Egypt. As herders, they had probably had a grain-animal
trade with Egypt, a common arrangement. But somehow they got entangled
and were no longer free to go. I think one can see a story where they
got free by being as organized as a labor union today, and anyone who has looked
at that can see what a series of plagues it can be to have people "work
to the rules", to do exactly and precisely what has been commanded, and
ignore everything else. To read the story in the Bible, it is far more
dramatic than that, a series of contests of magic, of mystical power. But stories
grow in the telling, it seems far more likely that there was a battle of wills
involved, but no magic. The Passover might have been a dangerous game
of killing some first born of Egyptians, perhaps by slave nannies, and covering
it with mystical looking painting of blood, as a modern "magician"
diverts attention. This could have been a last straw to the superstitious
and fearful and fed up masters, and they were let go. This was an amazing
and wonderful thing, as great as if the sea had been rolled back. People
have theorized that it is possible that a wind storm of prolonged intensity
could have pushed back water in the shallow "Reed Sea", marshes.
Perhaps an event like this did happen. But if it did, it is very implausible
that the timing was coincidental with their escape. What is plausible,
is that people could link the two things in their minds, and tell the story,
" it was amazing that they let us go, like the time the sea rolled back."
Which became, over time, that the sea rolled back, and they passed through,
which sounds a lot more dramatic, and fits with the mystical story of how they
pressured the Egyptians to get free. Many people love to believe in miracles,
and don't take a lot of convincing.
In any case, the Sabbath laws are very believable
in a people escaped from slavery. (The first, the six day week, was part
of the "Commandments", found in the book of Exodus, chapter 20.
The others are discussed in the book of Leviticus, chapter 25) A
six day work week? Of course, they had been on call continuously.
One day of rest in seven sounds very good. A Sabbath year, one every seventh
year, when they would remember how the escape was possible, herding and gathering,
and it would give the land a rest. These ways of living should be remembered,
in case they were ever needed again. And finally, the Jubilee year, after
seven cycles of Sabbath years, when all servants would go free, land would be
redistributed. They would never permanently enslave themselves to rich
and poor. These are just the kind of laws you would expect a people just
out of slavery to easily agree to. Moses had led them very well, these
laws were his idea, but I doubt they had the reluctance of acceptance that the
commandments ran into, until it came time to carry them out. Certainly
the Sabbath day has been more or less held to, and has spread to other cultures.
But there is no record I can find in the Bible of a Sabbath year, or a Jubilee
year, having ever been held. Considering how much inequity can build up
in 49 years, and the acquisitive nature of people, it is not a difficult guess
to think that people in position to remember might somehow forget these things.
The laws were written, but most people did not read, those who did read were
generally the wealthy, not motivated to pay attention. It is not hard
to guess that they might feel a little nervous about it, too. Ask a rich
person why they are worth so much, and you tend to get very defensive answers.
They will have you know how hard they work and how much responsibility they
have, and this conversation is over. It is a raw nerve. A
serious discussion that other people are needed in their lives, and that it
would be no problem to delegate some of the enormous amount of work and responsibility
has simply never been possible. Fixed hierarchy is the rule. In any case
the rest of the Jewish rule of that area and time, seems to be marked by various
leaders either trying to change the religion to the worship of Baal, a pagan
god, or leaders getting rid of Baal, but not going so far as a Jubilee year,
either. Sabbath years were not any easier. You would be making a
major lifestyle change to live that way for a year. In many ways, a herding-gathering
year would have been a Jubilee year, since established positions of status would
have been upset. The mind set is completely different, you have to bend
to nature, leave luxuries behind. If you aren't home maintaining all your
possessions, they are degrading, someone might break in and steal things.
The attractions of being boss, having luxuries, and watching your stuff, was
just unthinkable to sever. Moses had been a big man, a really, really
big man, so big that perhaps if people thought about how amazing his link to
God was, they might forget about some of the things he actually said.
This was one path. The other was to worship Baal.
As we go along with the story, we find that
there were men who didn't like this ignoring of justice. Truth was more
valuable than material possessions, or status based on dubious measures, to
these men. The first of these men that the Bible mentions, was Elijah.
Now, reading the story of Elijah in the Bible,
(It is spread out through the books of first and second Kings, starts at 1 Kings
17) you might not see on the surface that this concern for justice was at the
heart of the story. But lets take a closer look at it.
It starts with Elijah promising a drought.
When truth is spoken to lies, it can bring activity to a near halt, just as
a drought brings activity to a near halt. And he was successful, his words
brought drought, brought the actions of people to a near standstill.
With such rest, healing for those worked too hard could take place, and we have
stories of healing. Next, Elijah challenged the priests of Baal to demonstrate
their connection with this supposed power. Baal should be able to light
the fire under a sacrifice, with no human hands involved. Now there are
people who like to manipulate mystical attractions found in the majority of
people, and there are true believers, and these priests were evidently true
believers, for they took the challenge, and made utter fools of themselves in
front of a lot of people. Then the account says that Elijah succeeded
in calling down fire, and it was so hot that it took the sacrifice, the stone
altar, and two barrels of water poured over everything. I don't believe
this happened, for several reasons. One reason is that a fire that hot
should have left a melted crater in the ground, and you would expect a spot
like that to be remembered, made into a shrine, with pilgrims coming to visit.
It would be tangible proof of the powerful event that took place. Where
is it? I've heard of pilgrims going to visit all kinds of Biblical sites,
but this one I've never heard of. It is too late for someone to go find
a hole in the ground somewhere, and say, oh, here it is. We forgot about
this. Sure you forgot about it. Something like that would never
be forgotten. The second problem is that the story continues, to have
Elijah running for his life. The watching crowd was so upset with the
priests of Baal, for their years of fraud, that 450 of them were killed, and
this upset the Queen, who was quite pleased with her priests. But why
does a man who can call down fire have to run for his life? I should think
the Queen would be running for her life, to be confronted by a man who calls
down fire, and not any conjurers trick. This makes no sense at all.
Last, it takes the sting out of failure, to tell people that the feat was indeed
possible, but that they had just not prayed to the right god. And making
Elijah into a miracle worker takes attention away from troublesome subjects,
like Sabbath years, and Jubilee years. Tricksters who have a streak of
honesty tell people that diverting attention is a key part of all " magic".
It is quite possible that the priests of Baal had some kind of trick planned,
and Elijah sabotaged it, and they were not true believers in the mystic powers
of Baal. A very good chance is that the priests of Baal had some sleight
of hand with coals planned, and Elijah poured the two barrels of water over
the dry tinder and kindling, and said, here, your god is so powerful, lets see
what happens now.
Whatever really happened, logic says it was
not as written down. Elijah ran, and God miraculously provided food for
him. Translate that, to the sort of people who killed the priests of Baal
were willing to feed the man who exposed them as frauds. Elijah had friends
out in the hills, shepherds, poor farmers. Later on, it is written that
Elijah called down fire on soldiers sent to bring him back. It is not
hard to imagine soldiers sent out with orders not to return without Elijah,
since it was known he was being helped, and even the soldiers could not be trusted,
and those soldiers dying of exposure in the hot climate, with rugged terrain,
chasing a man helped by the local people, who knew the country.
It is written that Elijah divided the river
Jordan by hitting it with his mantle, and if the river symbolizes the people,
that makes sense. And Elisha took over and did the same. They were
true leaders, looking out for the common people. The stories of healing
and feeding people are symbolic of this, feeding people hope, raising them out
of the sickness of despair, making community where none had existed.
Ask an innocent, childlike question, like,
" Why does a man who can call down fire have to run for his life?",
and you are led to interpretations like this, and being led by a child leads
us to Isaiah, who posed this symbolism. (Isaiah 11:6)
I think that Isaiah went deeper into the problems
facing humanity than anyone had to that point. Isaiah makes symbolic reference
to the problem of overpopulation for the first time - "The bed is too short,
the covering too narrow" (Isaiah 28:20) - praises the eunuch and barren
woman.(Isaiah 54:1, and 56:3,4,5) I can't believe he was talking about
beds, but of having enough to go around. And I don't think he was in favor
of biological defects. He also wrote, "Woe to them that place house
to house, and field to field, til there be no place, that they may be placed
alone in the midst of the earth". (Isaiah 4:8) This is a blunt criticism
of agriculture as well as overpopulation, destroying nature like a growing cancer
diverts the resources of the body, as if it were alone in importance.
Isaiah makes constant references to traps, instability, drunkenness (30:13)(
24:7)( 29:9)but not on wine, and refers to truth being trampled in the street.
He saw that the situation would end up in terrible disaster, but that a few,
as few as the olives or grapes left after harvest, would survive, and restore
the waste places, and enjoy the work of their hands. (17:6)(51:3)(65:22)
He felt that sanity and reason would prevail, but at staggering cost.
There is a lame attempt to make Isaiah into a mystic prophet, with a short story
injected in the middle of the book, about how he made predictions to the then
king, and how those predictions came true, turning back time. (Chapter 38) There
may be some symbolic truth in this, for his words may have "turned back
time" in causing the king to lift some repressive policies. But the
interpretation can be mystical, the way it is written, with the familiar idea
of diverting attention from practical matters of justice. The book is
written from the first person, except for this section, and is quite at odds
with the first person sections, for in these sections Isaiah denounces every
form of mysticism that he could apparently think of, (47:12,13)and made calls
for reason. "Come now, let us reason together, saith the Lord,"
(1:18) is an example, and another is, "For precept must be on precept,
precept on precept, line on line, line on line, here a little, there a little".
(28:10) Mystics who couldn't answer his reasoning would want to say that
prophecy was indeed possible by their methods, it was just that you had to have
the proper God. If the name of God is reason, cause and effect, evolution,
then fine. But I don't think that this is what is being implied.
Isaiah questions money. "Come ye,
buy and eat, wine and milk, without money and without price". (55:1)
He saw that the one to lead through the disaster
to come would be a man of quick understanding, and who had been beaten by life
to slow down and reflect on the nature of things. The only way to overcome
addiction is to be hammered by reality, to hit bottom. It doesn't say,
but it probably happened to him. Isaiah - "But he was wounded for
our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our
peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed". (53:5) He
recognized the problem of being heard as a rational man, when it was mystic
religion that was in charge of social problems - "I am sought of them that
asked not for me; I am found of them that sought me not: I said, Behold me,
behold me, unto a nation that was not called by my name". (65:1)
Basically, the situation is the same today. The religious look for the
Messiah to come and work miracles, and the rational are drunk on technology
Nearly 3,000 years ago, this man saw nearly
everything I have seen. And why not? Our ignoring of our interdependence,
and the problems of overpopulation, are not massively complex problems to see
and understand. Isaiah saw the real problem, that people did not want
to understand. (6:10)
And it would go on until the destruction was simply too great to be ignored by people in position to speak. I think he felt that people like himself would nearly always be there, pounding away, with this result - "Before she travailed, she brought forth; before her pain came, she was delivered of a man child." (66:7) There is a lot of lip service about problems, but a serious discussion, with rational techniques of solution, has not been done. Which he also mentions (29:13) When such is called for, here is the solution, already born, ready to go. We have been watching with various degrees of anger and amusement, the drunken foolishness of humanity, for 3,000 years. It will be the biggest, "We told you", ever pulled off. Isaiah saw the problem, and he saw the solution, as well. "But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth: with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked." (11:4)
"He will stir up jealousy as a man of
war, he shall cry, yea, roar; he shall prevail against his enemies."(42:13)
Truth is a weapon against lies.
The other prophets are similar to Isaiah.
Ezekiel was more given to symbolic language, than some of the others.
He gives a vision of animals and people, all mixed together, always facing the
same way, and this is like instinct driven humans, with instinct symbolised
by the animals, always driven by those instincts in the same way, and along
side and in this vision was a picture of wheels within wheels and watching eyes,
which symbolises the rational side, turning as logically as a wheel turns, and
seeing much. Then the vision turns into a burning man, which is symbolism
for the light and brightness of understanding, the beauty of which was like
a rainbow, and consists of a spectrum of ideas. The wheels also always
faced in the same direction, and were "lifted against" the living
animal -man creatures. Reason always gives the same answers, and it often
clashes with instinct. (Read chapter 1)
Ezekiel calls himself the "son of man".
This sounds wonderfully mysterious, but if you look at it with your wheels turning,
it is not mysterious at all. Just ask the right questions, the innocent
questions of a child. What does a son do? He meekly learns of life
from his teachers. Usually those teachers are limited in number, a boy
grows and learns to fill a single position in society. A son of man would
have taken all of mankind as his teacher, learned the basics of many positions
in society, and learned how they must all weave together. One has been
though leadership training, to be a son of man. It was not likely intentional,
and only someone very curious and unafraid of starting all over at the bottom
of various professions a number of times, could get to be a son of man.
There are limitations to the concept of all this education, of course.
At some point, things fall in place, with the ability to use simple principles
to transfer basic understanding very rapidly across professions. In any
case, it is quite logical that a son of man is just that, a student of mankind,
and nothing mystical about it at all.
You can see in Ezekiel's vision of the measuring
of the temple, a measuring of society, how it ought to be as rational as a building,
and shame on the house of Israel, for its iniquities do not let it come even
close to the ideal. (Chapters 40-)(43:10)The measurement of the altar
that follows can be seen as a measurement of how humanity fits with nature,
that sacrifices are needed, symbolising things that must be given up to make
the proper fit.
Ezekiel and Isaiah and the others couldn't
speak and write openly. Jeremiah had some of his writings destroyed, and
was thrown in prison. Elijah had to run for his life. Later on,
we have Jesus speaking of prophets having been stoned and cut down. But
the prophets felt compelled to say something, write something, and do it in
such a way that people of their pattern could read between the lines, be led
by a child, asking innocent questions. By looking at the way Moses and
Elijah were coopted, made into mighty miracle workers, they could have known
they would be coopted as well, but as Isaiah wrote, they will hang everything
on their interpretations, but on the day that things were spoken openly, it
would all be cut down. (Isaiah 22:22-25) As I said before, Isaiah saw
the technique of goading people into madness with truth spoken openly.
Ezekiel saw the power of the pen - his leader of the conflict to come carried
an ink horn. (Ezekiel 9: 2)
Zechariah saw that leadership was the humble
partnership of a man riding an ass, a donkey. (Zechariah 9:9) He saw that
a shepherd that is faced with an overwhelming threat to his flock, would strive
to protect the healthy breeders, let the rest go, and turn to fight with the
weapons he had -
"And the Lord said unto me, take unto
thee yet the instruments of a foolish shepherd. For, lo, I will raise
up a shepherd in the land, which shall not visit those that be cut off, neither
shall seek the young one, nor heal that that is broken, nor feed that that standeth
still: but he shall eat the flesh of the fat , and tear their claws in pieces."
Just as leadership can be a man riding a donkey,
leadership is like the shepherd. The sheep do not argue with the shepherd.
They can't argue, any more than the donkey can argue. That is what makes
a man or woman a shepherd to other men and women. It is interesting how
goats will argue with a herder, unlike sheep. Goats will follow you, if
it looks in their best interest. But if you threaten goats too much, they
scatter and dodge. You can drive sheep, but it is very tricky to drive
goats. For those of you with no experience with goats, one can notice
that goats and cats can be very similar. More people may have experience
with cats, at least in the United States. If you try to train a cat to
stay off the table, for example, they do not respond well to attempts at negative
conditioning. They don't associate being on the table with whatever nasty
thing you have just done. They associate the nasty thing with you, and
will avoid you, but still get on the table at every opportunity. Goats
are much like this, in my experience. And so are people. Laws of
restraint regarding the bounty of nature, and respecting each other, are only
respected if the enforcement of the law is right there. Jeremiah wrote
a single verse, about how the law must be written in people's hearts.
There is no other way. [Jer 31:33.26] "But this shall be the covenant that
I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will
put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be
their God, and they shall be my people."
I think that Elijah was a big inspiration to the prophets, that he had picked up the torch for justice in society from Moses, and passed it on to the prophets, who passed it on to Jesus.
Jesus repeated a lot of what the prophets
wrote, and expanded on them, but still in symbolic language. The thing
that made him different from the prophets was that he didn't write, he spoke,
and he openly preached " the Acceptable year of the Lord", the Jubilee
year, according to some Bible scholars. And unlike Elijah, who made his
challenge and then fled, Jesus didn't run, but let himself be caught, and put
to death. This was dramatic enough that other cultures, who had no history
of Sabbath and Jubilee controversy, got a look at the affair. Most
cultures have not been through mass enslavement, with subsequent release into
self government. Most cultures have just gradually changed. Certainly
there have been serious struggles about inequity in other cultures, but to have
rules for maintaining equity, written down at a foundation point, gives the
Jews a unique place in history. It brought the struggle into sharper focus,
constantly tested anyone able to read. But it was a tribal history, that
others were not likely to pay attention to. Jesus changed that.
The response, I believe, was just as spontaneous as the response to Moses and
Elijah. Cover the man in miracles, so as to hide what is being said.
The greater the threat of exposure, the greater the miracles must be.
But the questions don't go away. How
could it be possible that the authorities were not afraid to seize a man who
could do miracles? A man who could turn water into wine should have no
trouble turning a high priest into a toad. You might say he was too good
to do this, but how would the priests know that? As for the goodness of
the act, he was predicting death and destruction on a very grand scale, just
as the prophets earlier, and seemed to have the attitude that it would be as
it had to be. If he had such great power, why not heal people of their
evil nature, to avoid this catastrophe? You go ahead and pray for me,
but I think it is all nonsense. Jesus was just a man, a son of man, very
talented, but a man. He was preaching the Acceptable year of the Lord,
the Jubilee year, (Luke 4:18,19) that old raw nerve, and instead of having the
good sense to run away, after applying his rough tongue to this sensitive place,
he just kept scraping at it. He was drawing crowds, destroying small intellects
and big intellects, so that "None dared ask him more questions". (Matthew
22:46) He was a profound threat, presented an nearly unsolvable problem.
He knew how they would solve it, they would find some way to kill him, and they
did. But he had left something behind, a teaching of parables that had
the quality of puzzles, and his disciples told amazing stories of healings and
acts, that were taken as true, not symbolic.
But logically they were symbolic, and I believe
they were told in the knowledge that they would be misinterpreted. This
was a struggle that had been engaged before. People learn from such things.
Isaiah knew, and I am sure Jesus knew. "Woe unto you, scribes and
Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish
the sepulchres of the righteous," [Mat
say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers
with them in the blood of the prophets." [Mat
" Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets." [Mat 23:31]
There is one clue that
Jesus left, to indicate the rational interpretation meant for his parables and
puzzles. He gave an explanation for one of the parables, the story of
the sower and the seeds. (Matthew 13:3-) The sower was the son of man,
he said, and we have a rational explanation for that term. And as far
as the disciples were concerned, to which he was talking, there was nothing
mystical about a son of man, since he was there talking to them. The seeds
were ideas, and the ground was the receptivity of people. Not a mystical
concept in the whole thing, and the explanation was given so that the other
puzzles had a model of solution.
So, what can be done with clues like this? Well, quite a lot.
What Jesus Knew
Turning water into wine (John 2:9) can be seen in terms of taking something
common, and by looking at it from a different perspective, you see something
special. You look at society, and you see all the common everyday actions
of people, but by adding a single concept, interdependence, the people around
you are suddenly special in a way you may have never noticed. Like wine,
you can get a little drunk on this - people are wonderful! What a fantastic
thing! We are all one body!
But drunkenness of this sort fades into a hangover, as you look a little closer
at the people who are your life, and see how readily people you must depend
on, accept or propagate lies. It can make you depressed enough to quit
trying to be reasonable, sink into the stormy lies of society. But Jesus
walked on the water. He didn't sink to the level of society, but kept
on looking at things with reason. He could calm passionate debates, calm
the storms, with his reasonable thinking. He walked on the water of temptation.
Healing the blind man with clay and spittle (John 9: 6-8) is just another
version of this idea of taking common things, and by putting them together,
you get sight, you get understanding. We have money, and we have the concept
of measure, and if you mix the two, you see that money is a measure, and it
conflicts with other measures, and understanding of a problem results.
As in the story, you also need to let this work on your eyes, and then wash
them clean, to really see clear. In the end, you see.
Healing paralysis is a simple symbolism. (Luke 5:24) People who want to do
the right thing can be paralyzed by indecision, when every direction looks flawed.
It is very similar to healing blindness. You give people a direction to
move in that can be moved in with the confidence of reason.
Healing the withered hand, and other healings done specifically on a Sunday,
-several of them were- was symbolic bringing sense to the Sabbath day.
(Matthew 12:10) People took the six days work, one day rest, to extremes.
It was a way to gain status, having enough money that you could afford to do
nothing, and look down on people who still had to do the daily chores, tending
animals, that kind of thing. Society was crippled, not rested, with this
kind of foolishness.
The woman with an issue of blood, that was healed by her touching of his garment,
and no one in the crowd was aware of the healing, except Jesus, can be seen
as an understanding of the bleeding of agriculture. (Luke 8:43) The woman could
symbolize the land, continually raped, bleeding from the plow. Jesus was
touched by this problem, he was aware of it, while it was a hidden problem to
the rest of them. And in becoming aware of the problem, he had the solution
for it, the healing of it. He mentions, "The righteous Abel",
(Matthew 23:35) asks how it is that people must work so hard, when the creatures
of nature are clothed and fed without such toil. (Matthew 6:28)
The healings of leprosy (Matthew 8:3, Mark 1:42, and others) can be seen as
dealing with the outcasts of society, who may well have been outcasts for no
reason except belonging to the lowest social classes, dealing with the smelly
and slimy jobs of society, and paid slave wages for the privilege of such work.
Leprosy is often a symbol for the outcast.
I read an explanation for feeding the crowds, (one of these is at Matthew
14:19) given by a mystic named Matthew Fox. A minister cousin of mine
gave me one of his books. The explanation was the only thing I remembered.
Truth is where you find it. The explanation was that Jesus convinced people
to share the food they had brought. This sounds quite reasonable, since
the text indicates that people were rebuked for simply showing up to get fed,
and were not "eating Jesus' body and drinking his blood", symbolism
that they weren't listening to the message of how to live, which would feed
them permanently. (John 6)
Infecting the herd of swine with madness, that they all drowned, was symbolism
for what was going to be done to swinish humanity. (Matthew 8:32)
Jesus defined the devil as a liar. Casting out devils, therefore, is
casting out lies. (John 8:44)
Jesus was said to have raised the dead. (Matthew 11:5 is a general statement
of this, and there are also specific stories) This can be seen in a couple
of equally valid ways. First, people caught in instinctive snares can
be as good as dead, without intervention, just as the rabbit is as good as dead
when caught in a snare, unless someone lets it loose. Jesus provided this
intervention, sometimes. But as he said to the man who wanted to return
to bury his father, let the dead bury their dead. People aren't rabbits,
and you often can't reach them. Second, Jesus noted that death was like
sleep. Humanity is constantly renewing itself, all the physical and mental types
being born over and over and over. This understanding raises the dead.
The people you think you have lost are often standing right there in front of
you, but people generally will not stop wailing enough to notice, and often
it is just beyond their ability.
In the story of Lazarus, (John 11)these elements of sleep, and wailing people who were too grief stricken to understand, incredulous at such thinking, were all there. Jesus could make some people understand, but he couldn't reach everyone.
This understanding of a constantly renewing humanity is at the core of some
otherwise puzzling remarks. He had been there "before Abraham".
(John 8:58) "There are some standing here, that will not taste of death,
until the son of man comes again" (Matthew 16:28) He knew he would be back.
He had defeated death, could dare to give his life, in understanding he
would be back, and that dying would help his return, because a dramatic death
would cause memory of his riddles, and parables, and would help him waken a
future brain with a talent for those kinds of riddles. This would save
time, which could be very valuable. He knew an end would come, but he
couldn't predict the time exactly. (Mark 13:32) Only God, the rules
of the universe that know exactly how fast a rock should fall, and exactly when
it should fall, knew the time of the end.
In predicting his return, he set the stage for a diversion of attention such
as has never been seen before. At his trial, none of the witnesses could
agree on exactly what Jesus had been saying. (Mark 14: 56)This is a rather
common human failing. Lots of people have played the game where
a sentence is given to one of a group, who tells it to another, who then tells
another, and so on, and the final person compares sentences with the first,
and the two are completely different. But the high priests had no such
difficulty. They knew how they could kill Jesus. After taking him
off the cross, they told everyone that they were posting a guard on the tomb,
because they remembered very clearly that this trickster had told everyone that
he would return in three days. They didn't want his followers stealing
the body and telling everyone that since he was missing, he had risen from the
dead. Which was exactly what they wanted to have happen, and with their
guard on the tomb, they made it happen. I imagine that the body of Jesus
ended up in a lime vat, or was fed in pieces to the semi-wild dogs hanging around.
It most certainly disappeared to the very best of their ability. There
could be no better diversion of attention from the public murder of an innocent
man, than to have him appear to do this enormous miracle of raising himself
from the dead.
I don't think his disciples were really fooled. I think they were shocked
at the turn of events. That Jesus had actually been killed, the way he said
he would be killed, took some time to register. At many points in Jesus'
trial, he could have taken the coward's way out. They had a lot of respect
for his intellect, no one could argue with the man, but to really go through
with such a plan? The idea of a constantly renewing humanity was a fine
abstract concept, but to actually die? It was a faith in logic
that was very hard to follow. Judas obviously didn't think he
would be killed. Judas is a very common sort of character, the one who
knows how to do good things, but has evil in the sense of not seeing things
clearly, with a large attraction to money, short term success, and the future
will turn out ok, "somehow". His remorse made him commit suicide.
But the remaining disciples eventually got over their shock and went to make
it happen, to speak the symbolic parables and stories, that were given mystical
interpretations, and made into an enduring religion.
The question of the three days to a return may actually have been said, but
in symbolic terms. In the second book of Peter, chapter 3:8, he mentions
that one day to the Lord is as a thousand years. There was an understanding
of the long time frames of what was going on. The first clash of the tribes
of Cain and Abel had been thousands of years earlier, the lives of Abraham,
Israel, Moses, Elijah, Isaiah, all covered a long span of time. To take
things out of context is a common tactic for those who would deceive.
A mystic interpretation would balk and want a literal 3,000 years, but I don't
think Jesus was being literal. He was saying it was going to be a long
time, and this matches with other words on the subject. Generations would
come and go, looking in vain for the return of the son of man, he said.
If people are such poor listeners and reporters, how can one hope to believe
that there is any sense to be had? All of this makes sense, it all falls
together, but couldn't I be missing some vital thing? This goes back to
something I wrote in the beginning. We don't know everything. We
have to make decisions on what we have. There is no other way. The
confirmed mystic will always claim that you don't know enough to make a decision.
But how do you trust the mystic's knowledge?
The people called to testify at Jesus' trial were probably casual listeners.
The disciples were not casual listeners, and Jesus talked to them for three
years. They were not inclined to garble things, though the gospels were
written and interpreted by others, and some garbling is evident. The four
gospels don't match up entirely, though they are very close.
We can go on and on with interpreting the reported words and deeds of Jesus,
and they fall together in a rational way, a way that makes sense even if the
story of Jesus did not exist. There is observable truth behind the advice
to, "Be a eunuch for the kingdom of heaven" Generations of priests
have gained very little for their misinterpretation of this. And why should
they be celibate, but not their congregations? If you see this as a concern
about overpopulation, it makes sense. You see the practical difficulties
of learning a new lifestyle, as a child, which Jesus also often referred to,
and realize that children do not have children, that people need to be as sexual
as children, as eunuchs, to get through troubles.
Along with this goes the words, "Woe to the pregnant and nursing in the
days of the end". (Matthew 24:19)
Jesus talked about marriage, that , "What God has brought together, let
no man take apart". (Matthew 19:6) But both he and I would split up marriages,
as well. How does this reconcile? Well, did the God I have been
talking about bring you together? Was it a mutual love of objective truth
that brought a couple together? Such unions I have no desire to break.
But people brought together with a blind eye on reality have not been brought
together by any God that I see as valid, and I have no respect for such unions.
Jesus was a determinist. Nobody had free will. "Offenses
will come, but woe to them through which the offense comes". (Matthew 18:7)
" Forgive them, for they know not what they do". (Luke 23:34)
"Who can, by taking thought, grow a little higher?" (Matthew
6:27) Where does one get free will out of statements like these?
Forgiveness was something he spoke about, and is often taken as a chance for
the salvation of everyone, but that doesn't fit with the deterministic statements.
Natural law forgives us just as soon as we quit the harmful behavior, and that
is the essence of Jesus on the matter. Serious ignorance of natural law
ends up with serious punishment. If your brother manages to stay alive
after seven times seventy offenses, you continue to forgive repentance.
(Luke 17: 3,4) But the chances of serious offences going that long are very
slight. Jesus spoke of distrusting those who had been unfaithful with
the unrighteous measure. (Luke 16:11) People willing to cheat and steal
and kill about money can't be trusted with responsibility in proper measurement
systems, of energy and balance. We don't forgive unrepentant mistakes,
and we watch the claims of repentance very carefully. He spoke of
the one who came to the wedding, not dressed in the proper wedding garments,
and was banished. Groups who come together to make a new society are getting
married, it is a wedding. People dressed in the wrong awareness for the
group get tossed out. (Matthew 22)
You can look at forgiveness in terms of injury to the body. A mistake
causes injury. That injury can often heal, but you are wary of trusting
the injured area to take a full load again, for a time. Sometimes injuries
appear to have healed, but infection is just covered over, or a joint is unstable,
and these things must be recognized, and dealt with. As Jesus said, sometimes
you amputate. If your eye offends, you pluck it out. (Matthew 5:29)
This takes on a lot of meaning in this paper. We are amputating some seriously
offensive things in the body of society. Amputations hurt, you get phantom
pain after they are done, but the body of society can regenerate itself as individual
bodies cannot. We must amputate addictive behavior, with all its various
excuses. This is painful, but we will die unless we do it. Jesus
said, you must love me more than family, more than money, more than status.
(Matthew 10:37) And what you loved was not the man Jesus, but objective
truth. "He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth
his life for my sake shall find it. (Matthew 10:39) (John 12:25)
." "Life", in this statement, is not the beating of your heart, but the rhythmic movements of your relationships, family and work. We must have a hunger and thirst for righteousness, a hatred of half truths and outright lies, a meekness to accept truth wherever it comes from. We are poor in spirit, for we do not shout like fanatics, but listen to the quiet voice of reason.
Love your enemies, Jesus said, and this causes great confusion. (Matthew
5:44) But we do love our enemies, we don't lie to them, or try to kill
them with force, but calmly tell the truth to them. Truth amputates lies as
quickly and effortlessly as the finely honed scalpel cuts through flesh.
When the enemy is lies, truth is a weapon, a sword. It wasn't crazy to
talk about loving your enemies, (Matthew 5:44) and then say you had not brought
peace, but a sword. (Matthew 10:34)Both were true, in symbolic terms.
This understanding of truth as a weapon is vital for understanding another enigmatic
statement. "Unless the days be shortened, no flesh can be saved".
(Matthew 24:22) Having a weapon shortens the days, brings an end.
A gradual disintegration of society would be extremely difficult to survive,
as I laid out in Chapter one.
Truth is an infectious thing to those who are susceptible to it. It haunts
you. The holy ghost is truth. It gets into your mind and eats away
at you. There is no escape from it's voice.
It has a challenge, though. Jesus said of technology, that there would
be signs and wonders, to deceive, if possible, the elect. (Matthew 24:24)
Technology promises to fix everything, from birth control to satellite enhanced
farming. It is very flashy, very dramatic, very tempting for many to put
faith in. And right now it ignores basic questions about sustainability
and true cost. None of it puts fish back in the ocean, makes trees grow
any faster, creates oil, takes carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, renews
soil fertility in sustainable manner, etc. Birth control does look like
a positive thing, but there is no technology to make people use it, and no true
accounting of cost. We need restraint, not more gadgets whose
cost is based on what happens to be abundant at the moment.
"What man goes to build a tower without first figuring the cost?",
Jesus asked. (Luke 14:28) People have built society without any concern for
sustainability, without figuring the cost.
But in weaning away from excess technology, changing lifestyle, Jesus had a
parable, the parable of the unjust steward, who was caught by the king, and
used his position to find another, to the king's approval. (Luke 16)
I have compared it to the person who digs himself into a pit. Should you
throw out the shovel in a fit of anger? I think not. Use what you
have to dig your way out. If you aren't smart enough to tell the difference
between digging deeper and digging out, it's your life.
Jesus talked about the survival of the fittest. "To those who have, shall be given, to those that have not, shall all be taken away." (Matthew 13:12) Since he also said that it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven, (Matthew 19:24) it only leaves the mental and physical talents of a person to be something worth having. Having a brain that sees and understands is valuable. Having material riches is a barrier. Along this line, of the rich having great difficulty, he did concede that it was not really as impossible as the camel through the needle. With men, he said, it was impossible. But with God, it was possible. Sounds mystical, right? If you see God as reality, then you see that reality can slam people against the floor in a way that another man cannot do, and this can turn the biggest of addicts. No mystery. The biggest jolt that humans can give, is the disapproval of a group. It can be hard to shrug this off. But I am never going to move much of a group. The great majority will look to the majority, and they won't decide by thinking things through. "How are you going to measure with energy?", people will ask, and they won't understand the answer without going back to school, developing talents that were neglected, and by the time they understand, it will be too late. This is the parable of the talents, (Matthew 25:15-)and the parable of the wise virgins, and the foolish. (Matthew 25:1-) The foolish did not develop their talents, in the first parable, and in the second they let the oil for their lamps, their ability to see, go out, and they lost out. We are going to have to look at available resources, and limit the size of groups to fit. You make up your mind too slow, you won't have a place. The door will be shut.
Jesus and INTERdependence
I have not mentioned interdependence, but it was a major theme for Jesus.
"Love your neighbor as yourself" is interdependence. ( Matthew 22:39)
The "Golden Rule", "Do unto others as you would have them do
unto you", (Matthew 7:12) is also interdependence. Something commonly
missed about the golden rule is that it is much deeper than just being polite.
I want my mistakes pointed out to me. I want you to stop me from hurting
myself or others, if that is the path I am on, and I don't seem aware of it.
And since that is what I want for myself, I will do it for you, as well.
People give lip service to the golden rule, but the rule a lot of people really
live by, is, "Mind your own business." That is the rule for
true sons and daughters of Cain. "Am I my brother's keeper?"
(Genesis 4:9) You shouldn't need to ask the question. Interdependence
says you are your brother's keeper, and your sister's, and they keep you.
How many "Christians", give so that the right hand is not aware of
what the left does? To give to whoever asks? (Luke 6:30) Jesus told
you to live this way. Impossible to do? If everything were to end
up in one persons room, it would be rather obvious that this person wasn't paying
attention to this rule, unless they were a storekeeper. I haven't
met many scientists. I've met some who are haunted by these ideas, but
they are very few. But I haven't met any "Christians" either.
There are some who are haunted by the idea, same as scientists.
Of course, I haven't met but a very tiny fraction of the people in the world.
I think I've met the bulk of the prevalent genetic types, though. Looking at
how the words of Jesus fall into coherent meaning, when you look at them in
terms of reason, not mysticism, it seems that a scientist and a Christian would
be the same person. They wouldn't be a Christian Scientist, though.
That's a mystic religion that has nothing to do with science. I
have sad personal experience with that particular brand of mysticism.
Jesus talks about prayer. Isn't prayer a mystical petition? Well,
it doesn't have to be mystical. Prayer can be petition to understand,
and wanting to understand can be rewarded by non-mystical actions, that sometimes
look the same as what the mystic does. To "go into the closet and
pray", is what Jesus said to do. ( Matthew 6:6-7) But to solve
a problem, that is good advice. You gather information, then you want
to get away from distractions, and line up what you know, look for connections,
see how things relate to each other, and you will come to an understanding of
the situation. When Jesus says that God already knows what we have need
of, he is telling us to be rational about the business, and not ask for miracles.
When you understand things, you don't need to "pray as the heathen, who
think that with much repetition they are heard." That is the prayer
of mystics, not the search for understanding, which is the "prayer"
of the rational seeker. "Knock, and it will be opened, seek, and
you will find", tells us to be persistent about the search for understanding.
Is this enough? I could go on, cover every statement made by Jesus. But to those whose minds are closed, it would make no difference, and to those whose minds are open, it should be enough. People said to Jesus, that if he brought back Moses, or one of the prophets, people would listen, and he was scornful. Even at the time, he noted, "You call me Lord, Lord, but you do not do as I say". (Luke 6:46) One can argue hard, but there comes a point at which it is a waste of energy.
I do want to look at Revelations, though, as it provides a nice finishing
touch to all this. Revelations is easily interpreted in the way I've been
doing, which is interesting, since it has confounded mystics since it was written.
Revelations starts off with some criticism of the fledgling Christian Church,
already moving toward mysticism and money, and then it starts to look ahead.
We look at the symbolism as we have already done, animals represent instincts,
and we add some new symbols. The number seven is the number of rest and
renewal, in Jewish tradition. An angel is a messenger, and with the perspective
of this writing, would be someone with a new understanding about reality.
A seal hides things.
In chapter 4, is a great sense of order. There are animals, but they
have many eyes, very good sight. This is as the beginning of creation
of humanity, animals well adapted in their instincts. But in
Chapter 5, is found some distress, because no human can be found to understand
life, who can read the book, open up what is hidden in it, give its order to
humanity. The writer doesn't say specifically what the distress
is, but it is not hard to see the confusion that Ezekiel pictured, of human
instinct in conflict with reason, as the source of this initial distress.
And then someone is found , the son of man, Jesus, with elements of both lion
and lamb, and the seals are removed, one by one. The first seal, Chapter
6, we can see that the white horse is the attempt to be rational in government,
for white stands for purity of mind, and people often start off government with
pure intentions. The red horse, the second seal, can be seen as
brute force government, which often follows the failure of good intentions,
and dictators take over with military force. Then the black horse, third
seal, is government by merchants, the forces of the marketplace, and the
gray horse, fourth seal, is the death that follows the failures of all these
attempts. Remember how riding a horse can be a metaphor for instinctive
man governing instinctive man, both very willing to go in certain directions.
The fifth seal opens to reveal people who have fought and died to stop instinctive
governments from going to the gray horse, without success. The sixth seal
shows the confusion of all this, no one winning authority, death following the
path of instinct, reasonable people killed, an earthquake of a mess. Six
is the number before seven, things are at the most tired and run down before
you get to renewal, but this period of confusion is going to go on for some
time without resolution. Because the seventh seal starts off with angels,
and that looks good, but the agony has a bit longer to run. Angels
have a message about reality, and this has real promise of resolving the struggle
between instinct and reason. Science makes it's entrance, just as it did
during the Renaissance. But what looks promising seems to be a disaster.
Each angel brings a little more knowledge, and as we all know, a little bit
of knowledge can make an unbelievable mess. One can find six examples
of this kind without any problem, but the six angels are just more build up
of tension to finally come to resolution in the seventh angel, who finally makes
the whole thing worthy of being under the seventh seal. Science is the
resolution of the instinct vs. reason debate, but it doesn't come right away.
As for the identity of the seventh angel, he is clothed with a cloud.
Not everyone can see him. A rainbow is on his head - he has a spectrum
of knowledge. His face burns with the understanding of the spectrum
of knowledge, he is a son of man, and he stands on fire, on power, on burning
desires to stand certain ways. His left foot is on the land, on the solid
observations of things, and his right foot is on the sea, which hides things,
he is standing on the hidden prophecies and people who went before him.
He roars a challenge of his understanding, and his challenge is echoed by others. He has logically understood life, the mystery of God is finished. He has a little book, and to read it and understand it, is too know the sweetness of understanding, and the bitterness of gut instincts in rebellion.
Should I say in false modesty that this is not me? The alcoholics say,
if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it probably is a duck. Alcoholics
have reason to question reality, and so does addicted humanity. But I
fit the prophesy. I am a son of man, a student of humanity, I have this
little book of sweetness and bitterness, I come in a cloud, anonymous, and such
that many cannot see me, and for others I banish clouds, with a light like the
Is this too impossible to believe? Lets go back to Jesus for a moment.
He made some predictions about his return, that were more specific than just
the question of when he would be back. These words are all in St. John.
Chapter 14, he starts by saying that he would send another Comforter.
Some translate Comforter as Helper. Jesus was a comforter and helper,
giving hope to despairing rational humanity, helping to find a way through the
mess. Has Jesus sent me? In solving his puzzles, yes, Jesus has
sent me. We are like twins, not identical twins, but very close.
His words and actions resonate with great strength in me. I find myself
quoting him constantly, as you can see from the first chapter. I talk
to you in his name. Jesus said that I would teach you all things, and
bring all things to your remembrance, that he had taught, and left as mysteries.
He left them as mysteries, because a mystery loving world would preserve them.
Blunt rational words would have been burned and forgotten, but leaving things
in a sort of code that sounded mystical, was like a move in Judo, using your
opponents' strength. Have I brought things to remembrance, and explained
them? He said, that he had to go, in order for me to come. If he
didn't die dramatically, and have his death sidestepped with mystical nonsense,
all would be forgotten. And when the Comforter is come, he said, he will
reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgement. " Of
sin, because they believe not on me, of righteousness, because I go to my Father,
and ye see me no more; of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.
Do I not reprove the world of these things? The message of interdependence,
the world rejects. With Jesus in the gene pool, his "Father",
people have fought over who is right without real consideration of Jesus.
With the shepherd gone, the sheep go astray. The world judges their prince
wrong, not to be considered, worthy of being nailed to a cross. He was
the Einstein of government, and without rational evidence, the world said it
could do better. Kill him.
The Comforter is the Spirit of truth, he said, and " will guide you into
all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear,
that shall he speak, and he will show you things to come." This is
science, not to speak out of mere opinion. Have I told you that it is
only my opinion that people are interdependent? Did it originate with
me, that mixing measures is bad? I give you solid observation and logic
behind what I say. I have told you of things to come, and the reasoning
is based again on observation and logic. I have not told you, that I had
a dream, or saw God in a trance, for anything I have written here. There
is only chance traces of truth in such drivel. I want all the truth,
not partial truth, and would not be satisfied to give you any less than the
best of my abilities in this area.
I am not perfect, do not claim to be perfect. Nor did Jesus. He
rejected the address, "good Master" (Matthew 19:16,17)
He spoke about how people strain gnats, and swallow camels, and the subject
must have been his perfection. (Matthew 23:24)
In Luke, chapter 21, Jesus said, "I will give you a mouth and wisdom,
which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist."
Just so, has Jesus done, and I have done, and if you take these things, none
shall stand before you, either, except those who love truth, and they will stand
to embrace you, not to fight with you.
One more thing Jesus said about the future son of man, also in Luke, chapter
17. Before he became known, "He must suffer many things, and be rejected
of this generation" This I have done.
No where is it said that the son of man would do miracles. "He will
have power and glory", (Matthew 24:30) is the closest thing. And
I do have power, for men and women scatter before my arguments like the willful
goat. Glory is recognition of power, and for now, I am covered with clouds,
waiting for the situation to ripen, and the time to come and put in the sickle,
and harvest the earth. I sit here, polishing the edge of that sickle,
checking the binding of my flail, the weave of my sieve. I send this paper
to people, touching the minds of people in the city, as in the understanding
of Ezekiel, preparing the start of the harvest, giving out the tools, haunting
people with truth. Like the bolt of lightning that raises the hair before
it strikes, I may send a prickle of fear down your spine, and make you consider
Do you recognize this? We are back to Revelations, chapters going on
past 11. John went and told the same story from other angles. There
is the number of the Beast, 666, in one of these. You can find all sorts of
speculation about this number, yet it seems very simple, in the context of the
prophets and their concern about holding the Sabbaths. The sixth day,
the sixth year, the sixth cycle of seven years, the Beast is the screaming need
for the year of Jubilee, to wash away the injustice of the money game.
In this angle, the monster is chained, for a thousand years, - a long time -
until the book of life is read. Jesus saw it all. First energy,
in this fight, chain up instinct, then chain up sexuality, in the final episode.
In the resurrection, he said, people neither marry, nor are given in marriage.
Armageddon is the site of the last battle, in the present conflict, and
this is symbolic. Armageddon is the name of a town, given that name, because
in Hebrew, it means, "place where the hills and plains meet" Some
of the prophets referred to the hills being beaten, threshed, and the symbolism
is that the hills are the rich, peaks of wealth. This is the battle.
Truth about how resources are used, justice to nature and to ourselves.
It is kind of funny, I am a most unlikely looking specimen of a warrior. But the sword is in my mouth, not my hand. I am ready. Do you run, with silence for an answer, like the willful goat, try to fight, with mysticism, pride, like the priests of Baal, or do you join me?
I think there is some value in giving an outline of my life. As I wrote
in the first chapter, it can help to see the mistakes others have made, so that
we can avoid those mistakes ourselves. The paper I have written up to now is
a story of triumph, of finding things that fit, but such things are not always
the result of searches that went smoothly. It has been a near thing that
I am alive to say anything. Some will curse that I didn't die. Too
bad. "The tribes of earth will mourn, when they see the son of man
coming into his kingdom." (Matthew 24:30)
I was born June 1, 1955, in Kansas City, Kansas. My parents moved to
Massachusetts, when I was about 2, and I grew up in a rural area north of Boston,
that turned into suburbia as I grew. My father was a mechanical engineer,
my mother took care of the 5 boys she had. I was the middle child.
My parents were Christian Scientists. My father was quite fanatic about
it, because he had physical problems that would not go away, and for those who
don't know, Christian Science claims to heal the sick with a philosophical -
mystical interpretation of the Bible. My mother was quite healthy, and
didn't worry so much about religion, but she loved my father and went along
I can see now how the physical problem ended up in Christian Science, because
it is genetic, my grandfather suffered with it, apparently, to hear a description
of his problems, and medicine had no recognition of what the problem was, until
the second world war, and awareness has filtered only very slowly into the medical
community, because it is a rare problem. I have sometimes felt, that to
scratch the veneer on a Christian Scientist is to find someone with a chronic
problem. That is an exaggeration, but not too far from the truth.
For the healthy, the religion is a social club, a placebo for worries about
social problems, the sickness of others. The ranks steadily dwindle, as
the old die, and the young find the arguments lacking, and medicine is not the
quackery it often was when the religion started.
But there was still a fair number of people when I was born into it, and there was never any question about going to Sunday School, with my father's attitude, and he was prone to lecture us on morals and metaphysics after supper, and go to the Wednesday evening meeting, and drag us to lectures, and tried to have us read the weekly lesson every day. We were a very closed family, my father distrusted anyone who wasn't a Christian Scientist, and when it got down to individuals, we didn't get close to anyone in the church, either. I think there was fear of being exposed, that my father wasn't making the religion work, he had these problems. It was only when I got older, that I sometimes heard a hushed comment about how someone else in the church was struggling to make the "demonstration", that I saw that it was often a mutual desire to be left alone, and my father was not the only one putting on a brave face and earnest declarations of "the truth". But it was very difficult to find out anything concrete. The central theme of Christian Science is that matter is unreal, reality is spiritual and perfect, and just a glimpse of the truth of this would bring about healing. It is a religion of denial. Deny the problem, don't give it power, it only exists in "mortal mind". And it claimed to be scientific, that there was no question that it worked, if you only saw the "truth". How can you prove that matter is real? That's where the philosophy came in. You can't prove it. But I found endless things to debate in the rest of it. If it wasn't real, then how does being healed prove anything one way or another? Why struggle, why not die, go to spiritual reality, wake up? They pointed to Jesus on the tower, (Matthew 4: 1-11) asking himself why he shouldn't jump, and his answer was that he shouldn't tempt God. I wasn't satisfied with this. Why would God be tempted to kill us for waking to his perfection? What else could God be tempted to do? What was the problem? It was either real or not, this existence. I gave my teachers considerable problems. But in the end, I accepted the answer that I would come to understand as I got older. Yes, it was a science, but faith was a factor in that science. I was a child, who was I to argue with my elders? Well, who was I to argue too hard. I argued questions like this from the time I was around 10 years old, and came to enjoy it. I was good at it, and even though I gave my teachers a very hard time, they were impressed at my questions, told me I would become a very good Christian Scientist, that I had tremendous potential. I had increasing doubts about this, because I was often sick. It wasn't like my father, who had constant digestive problems, had terrible allergies and asthma in the summer, though I never heard those words. It could be frightening to hear my father struggle to breathe, hour after hour, day after day. He got a break, going into Boston, to work in air conditioned offices, but having lived with him for so many years, I have to think that while his intellect could not overcome his instincts, he is one of the physically toughest men I have ever known, with a predatory persistence to match any tiger. But it took a toll on him, and on the family. My own physical problems seemed more ordinary. I got the colds, and intestinal upsets, that everyone in school got. They seemed to put me down for a day longer than my brothers, and the kids at school, but that was no big deal. But the eye infections were scary. And once I got diarrhea that went on for a week. I didn't seem to be growing like the others either. My adult teeth came in with a tremendous overbite, and one tooth came in very late, and with the enamel rotted off. I was worried about these things, tried to apply Christian Science, but got no better results than my father. I know now that some of the things about me would have been difficult to look at, and say, there is a problem here. Lots of young boys are thin and gawky. But that tooth was a definite sign of malnutrition, of serious trouble, though I didn't know that at the time. We did go to the dentist. For some reason, bones and teeth were considered too much of a "demonstration of truth". I remember the dentist looking at that tooth, poking and considering, looking at me. I think he suspected there was a problem that went a little deeper. But he also knew my parents were Christian Scientists. Mind your own business... There was also a bad rash that covered half my body, one year in high school. It didn't bother me, except it was very embarrassing during gym. No one paid much attention. It was assumed that I was seeing a doctor, and there was no problem. Mind your own business.
In spite of these things, I was well enough a lot of the time. There
were other kids who were sicker, weaker, though not many. I was pretty
often the next to last kid chosen for games, was the next to smallest boy in
high school, and that boy seemed just genetically small, he had more vitality
than I did. There was a real discontinuity in my size and health.
My oldest brother was a tackle on a winning football team, a captain on the
gymnastics and track team, had a school record in the 100 yd dash. I could
see the disappointment in the eyes of the coaches, when they saw the name on
the roster, looked down and saw me. How could I be malnourished, when
I ate the same as my brothers? The thought never even occurred to me,
that I was small and weak because I was starving. There was never any
lack of food. I was hungry, but boys are always hungry. I was starving,
At home, my parents got goats and chickens, to teach us where food came from.
It was a very interesting thing to all of us children. My mother had grown
up on a farm in Kansas, my father had grown up on the edge of a town and had
raised goats. I learned to milk goats when I was around 10, and somehow
or another, it seems that goats have never left my life for long. There
were certainly times when I got sick of milking, but the goats were a source
of differentiation that wasn't quite the uncertain thing that Christian Science
was. There were always these nagging doubts about the religion.
Nagging doubts about the goats came up later. We bought hay and grain,
and I was bothered about that. Where was the profit, if you had to be
tied down to goats, and still had to buy food for them? My parents weren't
concerned about the animals making money, they just wanted to teach us about
food, but it just ended up confusing the heck out of me. I tried making
hay, there was a small field with the house, and found it an enormous amount
of work. People who owned the dairy farm next door made hay with machinery,
but I was intensely curious. How had this started, if it was so hard?
I loved to read, and I loved especially stories about how life used to be lived.
The Indians who had lived here never made hay and milked goats day in and day
out. They did have gardens, some of them, but not all. I wasn't
happy about all the work in a garden, either. I watched the manure go
into the garden, saw the hay field next to us get cut too many times without
fertilizer, and the grass got stunted, and while I was in no position to criticize
things, my mind was full of questions and confusion. Fishing was the closest
thing to hunting I could do, and fishing was practically a sacred thing, to
my instincts. I would ask my father questions, and he would point out
that the Indians often starved. But I wondered about that. How had
they gone for thousands of years, if always on the edge of starvation?
I didn't push it. It started a life long interest in work and returns,
though. And a lifelong distrust of money to measure things honestly got
started at an early age, when I could not figure out an honest price to my satisfaction
for work I did.
I had a thousand questions and read everything, but I was not good in school.
School scared me, and I didn't do well, to my way of thinking. I learned
to read like a duck learns to swim, and making letters was no problem, but math
I didn't like at all, and writing book reports seemed a stupid waste of time
- read the book!- was my childish attitude. I never could figure out what
they wanted me to write, and it turned me away from writing, for awhile.
I couldn't do numbers in my head the way the teachers wanted, and this made
me feel stupid. But I started making things with my hands at an early
age. This was not school, but on my own. I wanted to do more than
read about things, I wanted to try them, master them. I wasn't as strong
as other kids, nor as smart in school, but in using my hands, I could learn
things at my own pace, do things at my own pace. Strength was not the
factor in building things, because it could be broken down, done a bit at a
time. I felt good about my ability to do things like this, building
bows and arrows, toy boats, real boats, muzzle loading guns, as I got older.
And I wasn't stupid at Sunday School, which I liked to remind myself of, when
I seemed so slow at other things.
I took music lessons, violin, then the only teacher for that died, so I took
clarinet lessons, and played in the band. I wasn't enthusiastic about
it, as my hands did not have the coordination, I always made mistakes.
My hands worked well for the slow and steady, peeling shavings, chipping away,
but the fast twitch muscles weren't there. I think strength was a factor,
too. I could do things forever, and not seem to develop any strength.
The incentive to practice, that comes from a little progress, just wasn't there,
and my clarinet teacher frequently made me cry, which was not a difficult thing
to do. My head was full of stories of pioneer and Indian courage in the
face of pain and discomfort, and I wouldn't run away from things, but I would
cry, and hated myself for this weakness. I fought very hard to learn to
control tears. It did not seem to be something that others had to fight with
so much, and there was a part of me that could always stand away and look at
myself, but I couldn't stay detached all the time. When I was out of high
school I taught myself to play guitar, made a little progress at it, wrote my
own songs, most of which I've forgotten, and music was an important part of
my life, but I was not good at entertaining anyone except myself with it.
Rightly or not, crying is associated with being female. If the part
of the female brain that experiences loss is 8 times bigger, then it seems likely
there is some truth to the association. I sometimes cried like a girl, and my
sexuality, had an aspect of female, too. But it was also male, was more
male than female. Bisexuality implies half and half, I am much more than
half male. I only fall in love with women, but the physical side seemed divided
about half and half. We need to be open about sex, for controlling reproduction,
but it has taken me years to admit to myself that my brain is partly female,
and I have had to fight myself to write it down here. Recently I have
made a serious attempt to be in more control of this, and I believe that this
is possible. I feel like I have become closer to 100 percent male.
But it is the business of society to know the flaws, as well as the strengths.
Or maybe sometimes in small amounts it is not a flaw. We can never solve
the problem if people are not honest about it.
During high school I did try some sports. A coach took pity on me, in
track, worked out a program, and I actually gained some strength. Got one point
for the team, came in third in the two mile run with three people running.
But it was an amazing thing to me that I actually ran two miles. I didn't
do track again, but ran by myself for many years after. I went out for
wrestling, they wanted a lightweight, but that was a disaster. Badly tore
muscles in the back of my thigh, did a split. I stuck out the season,
though, got in some matches. I felt quite proud of myself for not getting
pinned in the first 30 seconds, in the last match. I didn't get pinned
at all. I did lose, 13 to 1. I have to look back and think I didn't
really do so bad. I was trying to play with half my intestines behind
my back, in a manner of speaking.
I have celiac sprue, by all the indications. The gluten protein in wheat,
rye, barley, erode the lining of the small intestine, and you don't absorb nutrients
properly. You can eat plenty of good food, but it doesn't do you much
good. But I wouldn't find this out for many years. It is a genetic
thing, which is why both my father and grandfather had problems, and probably
why my grandfather turned to Christian Science. It is one of those things
that possibly would be a strength, in situations other than the environment
I grew up in. Many places around the world do not support the growth of grains
containing gluten. Someone who lost the genetic machinery to deal with
gluten might actually have an advantage of strength, compared to someone who
has the machinery and never uses it, because gluten isn't in the environment.
Evolution sometimes works in that way. People have lost capabilities,
lost hair, lost a tail, lost the digestive section that is now the appendix,
lost ability to manufacture vitamin C. I might be seeing an advantage
that really isn't there, but it is an interesting speculation. Certainly
in the present environment it is no advantage.
And so went my early life. Plenty of warnings of trouble ahead, but no
major trouble. I managed to get through school. In seventh grade I caught
on in Math, but the teachers immediately put out that fire by putting me in
the advanced group. I've learned a lot in spite of the education system,
not because of it, for too many things. I caught fire again in Geometry,
because I didn't have to shuffle numbers in my head, and I could shuffle postulates
and theorems in my head as easy as stacking blocks. That was quite a surprise
to me. But I sometimes did something triumphant and stupid all at the
same time. I remember solving a problem in about 13 steps, up at the board,
the teacher looking at me sort of amazed and puzzled. Yes, it was right,
and many of the others were having trouble stringing two steps together, but
if I had taken in the last theorem, it was only an eight step problem.
I did the same kind of thing in college, covering the board with calculations,
getting the right answer, but then the teacher looks at me kind of careful,
and says yes, but if you hadn't been afraid to integrate over here, you would
have had the answer with half the work. It was plain that I could string
logic together, but I also could really miss the easy path. I could go on so
fast that I missed the easy forks in the road. And I don't feel that I
ever really became comfortable with calculus. The principles are easy
enough, but applying all the details could cause me trouble. I saw that
I could learn, but I also saw that the complexity got very deep, and I was satisfied
to think that knowing principles was enough, if I needed details, I could find
them. That has been the depth to which I get into everything, to understand
I did come to realize, though that in solving a problem, details were extremely
important, you couldn't be satisfied with general principles to solve specific
problems. And look for the easy way. Don't be satisfied with solving
the problem, solve it better. It was a lesson that I absorbed in working
with my hands, as well, because I didn't have the strength or tools to muscle
through things. In my high school years, I took to spending hours in the
chair in the basement shop, turning over a problem. How could I do this
thing, with what I had on hand? What was the absolute minimum to get by
with? But talents like this did not show up in most school work.
I tested average in math, high in English, in the SAT, but did not apply to
any colleges. My intellectual confidence was very low. My parents
offered all of us that we could stay at home and go to college, but that we
had to work to pay our own tuition and books.
I ended up working at a factory that made industrial electric heaters, for
the year after high school. They found out my ability with my hands, and
I often went from department to department, fixing things, working in a special
assembly department. But sometimes there was no interesting work, and
I would be put on a machine, doing something simple and mindless for day after
day. I remember looking at the machine one day, and thinking that I could
design a machine like that. I was reinventing the gun at the time, with
success. I applied to Northeastern University, choosing the engineering
technology program, because it was supposed to focus on the practical, and not
be so heavy on the math. I had to take a math test to see where I was,
and I had been so confused by math in high school that I could not do a percentage.
I was put in a remedial program, and everything just clicked. I took freshman
English, and that clicked, too, as for the first time in my life I found I had
things to write, and the instructions for writing made sense. I remember
one English teacher trying to get me to change to an English major, she checked
my SAT and was surprised I had chosen engineering. But I felt that language
and the arts were for fun, that I had to work on what came hard to me, not what
came easy. I also had a burning curiosity for how things worked, to learn
more about metals, and design. When I learned how to deal with numbers
a little better, treating them as a tool that I could deal with later, but concentrate
in class on the principles, I found that these principles came as easily as
the principles of geometry had come years earlier. The numbers would still
have been a stumbling block, since engineering is not taught solely in terms
of principles, but the pocket calculators just coming out saved me. With
that, I led the class in grades, and graduated with a 3.7 CPA. If you
look that up, you might dispute that I led the class, but for some reason the
electrical division was lumped with the mechanical, at graduation, and some
of the electrical students had better cpa's. That has always seemed unfair,
I didn't know I was competing with those students, and certainly there was a
competition. The electrical students were in another world, we never talked
with each other at all. So it goes, just a minor thing, really.
Those were mostly good years, intellectually. But there had been
some serious problems with my health in those years, as well, that were not
at all good.
I went to Sunday School until I was too old, because it was interesting to
talk with the teachers about the nature of reality. But I was not understanding,
as they had promised I would, and I was rejecting the religion, and becoming
a scientific determinist before I had even heard the term. But when my
testicles became infected, just another infection in a long line, eyes, ears,
teeth, I decided to give Christian Science one last try. My reasons for
doing so were not smart. Sexual matters are embarrassing, and I had never
dealt much with doctors. I thought, it was just another infection, I would
get over it, as I had all the others, no need to go to a doctor just yet.
Just like the rat, forced to make a decision, and going to the old training.
After 4 or 5 days, I went to a doctor. Men will understand the pain, perhaps,
like being kicked at every move. Whatever kind of microbe it was, it responded
to antibiotics, but one testicle shriveled up, and it has to be doubted I am
fertile, though I have never had that tested. It was not a sexually transmitted
disease, because sex was something people in another universe worried about,
not me. That is the hard way to give up mysticism. I don't recommend
it. I was much like present society is now, ready to go with mysticism
whenever the instincts make following reason a little difficult. Learn
something, will you?
Anyway, the pain faded after a month or so. I didn't lose my sex drive,
one testicle is enough for that. But with my general poor health, it wasn't
unusual to go long periods without any thought of sex, and my energy level,
not too high to begin, took a hit, that was a very long time coming back.
I was playing soccer a few years later, and tore ligaments in my left knee.
Lots of athletes get hurt, who are fully healthy people. But I wasn't
pushing that hard. The body was weak, it came apart easy. This knee
has plagued me for years, it is unstable, gets out of alignment. It is
what I was thinking of, when I wrote about injured and suspect parts of society,
that need a brace, need to be watched. You can live like that, but if
I could replace this knee, I would do so in a second, and society ought to do
the same. There is nothing but pain in unstable parts of the body or society.
Don't live with nagging questions about trust and strength. Get
it out in the open, get it fixed. Society should be more flexible
than the individual body, you can put people together in various combinations
to overcome weaknesses. This society says
I am not worth trying to fix. At this point, they may be right.
I have decided to put my resources into getting truth into the spotlight, and
not worry much about whether this body can be fixed. If I can't do that,
getting the body fixed for this life will not be much of an achievement.
Around the time of the knee injury, I got a girlfriend for the first time in
my life. I was 24, I think. She was a Christian Scientist.
I wasn't going to church anymore, but I hadn't made a big deal of the fact.
Some people at church asked me to mow their lawn. I didn't want to do
it, I have hated lawns for a very long time, unless they are mowed by animals,
but I was not good at saying "no". These people were healthy,
they had some energy, had a nice house, lawn, pool. It was a totally different
life. And they had a niece, visiting for the summer, and she was as unsure about
men as I was about women. The relationship was doomed from the start,
since she sincerely believed in the religion, but we had a summer romance, and
wrote letters when she went home. You don't have to talk about religion
all the time, but many paths of thought lead to such questions, and it was a
wedge that gradually drove us apart in spite of the instinctive longing in both
of us. But before we came apart entirely, she gave me a book that changed
the course of my life. It was "Small is Beautiful" by
E. F. Shumacher, which is of course about economics, not religion. Just
why she thought I would be interested, I don't know. We always argued
about physics, and philosophy, and determinism, in relation to Christian Science,
never economics. The anomaly between physics and life came up during
this period. She had read the book in a college class, but she was
a botany major, not economics. I guess she wanted to expand my vision.
It certainly did that. I know I had been thinking about the relationship between
energy and money, disturbed about it, but not knowing what to make of it.
"Small is Beautiful" also talks seriously about energy, and this gave
legitimacy to my concerns. How could humanity be ignoring such questions
as finite energy sources? It haunted me. I began noticing the question
in other books. I had been wrapped up in personal problems, but I saw
that if these problems were not solved, my personal problems would be nothing.
Northeastern U. is a co-op school, where you work in the field you study, go
back to school, go back to work, back and forth, a few months at each place.
It was a way to pay tuition, and a very practical education as well. I
had worked for GTE Sylvania, as a draftsman, and found the work more boring
than the machine in the factory, because at the factory I could think about
what I wanted, but drafting was extremely repetitious work that also took attention.
I stuck with it, as it was the path to being a designer, and I felt I could
do that. In fact, my last tour of work, they gave me some simple design
projects, and they were easy, and I felt I was finding my place in the world.
But the company was huge, and decisions could be made from far above, and a
minor recession caused the powers to end the co-op program. I had to get
another job, which turned out to be easy, several companies wanted the person
represented by my grades. But they didn't know what was haunting the brain
that got those grades.
I eventually just couldn't work well. I couldn't believe in what I was
doing, and it was getting harder for me to believe that others could be so blind.
I had long and difficult talks with my boss, others in the company. They
didn't want to let me go, talked about the potential for making money, but money
was the wrong argument. Money was the problem. I had graduated while
working for this company, and my salary was practically doubled by the event.
But I was doing the same kind of work. What was the work really worth,
in energy? What good was it doing society, to have this work performed,
to have the products of the business made, when they were made with finite energy,
polluted the air and water in the process, and went to be used in other machinery
that did the same? These were questions that had little meaning to my
superiors. It wasn't their problem. Eventually, I had to quit or
be fired. I quit.
In spite of feeling I was rational, and right, it felt like failure.
I had always managed to get by somehow in pleasing people, or sliding by out
of sight. My girlfriend called an end to our constant disagreement about
religion, a double blow, not totally unexpected, but I had very few social contacts,
and I felt like I had lost everything. For arguing rationally, I was banished
from my contacts.
I was very much in a "nothing matters" attitude for quite a time
after this. I packed up my car, fossil fuel, which I still cared about,
but had no alternative, and drifted around the country, visited some relatives,
some of whom I had never met. I gradually worked up the determination, with
the urging of a great aunt I had never known before, to try and find work in
renewable energy sources. Wind power seemed most interesting to me, and
I wrote to every wind turbine company I could find an address for, about 30
at the time. Renewable energy was a concern for a lot of people in those
days, though I never met anyone who gave up a promising engineering career to
get into it. The emphasis was to turn the problem into money, for most.
Engineers tend not to be idealistic people, they focus all their attention on
making the gadget on hand work properly. In a way though, I have
taken this same kind of focus, but the gadget on hand is society. And
I took that focus, because I had lost my community. I only see this in
retrospect, at the time I focused on wind turbines. I got a job at one
of these attempts to make a business out of the wind, and it was a very poorly
thought out design that they had, though some things looked like reasonable
goals. It was a small vertical axis design, which seemed a good goal,
for example, because horizontal axis machines are prone to destruction by gyroscopic
forces produced by swirling winds, such as are common in the trees and hills
of New England, and many other places. But vertical axis turbines of the
type would not self start, and detecting wind, when wind is such a variable
force, and storing energy to make repeated starts, and the cost of the starter
were all negatives that were not at all easily solved. There were also
generator problems. All of this is natural to a degree in first attempts
to design anything. But there were very serious problems to continuing
the effort. The human organization just amazed me. There was a president,
and a treasurer, and a secretary, and a salesman, and they hired me. There
were no tools to speak of, most everything was contracted out. Why
we needed all these people, when we didn't have a product, was simply bizarre.
But jobs in wind energy were not common, lots of people had answered my letters
with regret that they had no place for me, and so I stayed, hoping things would
somehow get better, but they didn't. The engineers who had started the
design had mostly left this sinking organization, with only one man who came
back on a part time basis. I learned a lot about wind energy, struggling
with that design, and more about the strange nature of human behavior, how fixated
people could be. I left before it completely died.
I did find some social contacts with this job. There was a loosely bound
community of idealistic people fighting nuclear energy, and I got involved with
some of these people. There was a woman, her name was Penny, a single
mother of two daughters, and I moved to her house, as I had been living at the
wind company's assembly space, providing service as a watchman, as well as engineer
and chief assembler, but the city didn't like me living there, and the company
barely paid enough to live elsewhere. It started off as just a place to
live, but it turned into a "relationship". My only thinking
about the morality of people getting married was that it was wrong to have children
without serious commitment, and she had decided to have herself sterilized,
so that was no problem. Marriage was only a piece of paper, under the
circumstances, and I don't really disagree with that now, though I do feel it
is still the affair of society, now, while I wasn't much concerned about what
society thought at the time, and society at the time didn't care. The
younger daughter accepted me, the older one didn't, but she eventually decided
I was tolerable, as I didn't try to replace her father, emotionally.
It was more of a relationship with a woman than I had ever dreamed of having.
Of course, it was a relationship of convenience, she was considerably older
than me, and children make a single woman a tough sell, because of the reactions
of children. Her older daughter made me think of leaving at times.
And I was absolutely nothing to look at, as a specimen of manhood, I wasn't
much, nothing of a body, and this idealistic mind that had potential to make
money, but wouldn't do it.
I stayed with her for six and a half years. I worked as a substitute
teacher, a mason's tender, carpenter's helper, and was quickly considered a
carpenter, though it was really a little more time that I felt honest about
calling myself that. But carpentry has been the job I have done the most
of in my life.
It is interesting, of course, that Jesus was a carpenter. There is some
sense that we would both have been formed by this job. A house is at the
center of human life, and you stand at this center, building in so many aspects
of people's lives, cooking, food storage, water, sleeping space, defecation,
waste disposal, privacy, heat, light, ventilation, transportation, general storage.
I wasn't the architect for what I helped to build, but I was right in the middle
of all these questions, whether anyone asked my opinion or not.
In a backwards kind of move, I built a house with Penny, she owned a house
built without consideration of sustainable energy, and she was idealistic and
had faith in my ability to figure things out, and we sold that house and started
the new one, before I worked as a professional carpenter. I designed a
lot of it, researched solar designs, and a lot of the building was hired out,
but I did a lot of the finishing, which went on and on. I could have done
more, and better, if I had worked as a carpenter first, but the design was quite
livable, did use dramatically less energy than her previous house. It
was a passive solar design, with wood heat backup, wood cookstove, that had
a coil for hot water, I built a pump to hand pressurize the water at first,
then put in a photovoltaic panel and DC pump. We were hooked to the commercial
electric grid, but had in mind to disconnect some day, a little bit at a time.
We had a composting toilet, got a gas refrigerator. It was satisfying
to have these successes, and expanding into food production, we got chickens,
started a garden, got some goats. I was dubious about the energy efficiency
of these things, having grown up with them, but now I was in position to try
and understand the problem better.
What brought the whole thing down was it was built on the sand of my health.
If I had worked in an office, like my father, and his father, I think I might
have gone on with chronic problems that stayed under a certain level.
But working as a framing carpenter was just too much stress. The way the
market drives people to work, it is too much for a lot of healthy people.
I ate tremendous quantities, and thought little of it, actually gained weight
and strength. But my intestines were not healthy, my bowel movements were
loose, hemorrhoids made life chronically painful, I smelled bad, and no amount
of washing seemed to help. I had built up endurance with my years of running,
but I noticed this was fading. I began getting sick to my stomach.
All of this got worse so gradually that I didn't think of going to a doctor
about it, though I did go for specific things, like a bad ear infection that
threatened my hearing, I went to a doctor for. But going to a doctor was
very expensive, and only repeated trips seemed likely to find what was wrong
with me, if anything could be found at all, was how I thought of it. I
suspected that I was genetically weak, and nothing could be done about it.
I would live as much as I could, and die, same as everyone else.
With some encouragement, I did go and have my teeth shoved back in my mouth.
The overbite was so bad that I couldn't close my mouth without stretching my
lips, and my jaw joint sometimes made disturbing noises, so I got that done.
In hindsight, it would have been better to have had my intestines looked at
rather than spend the energy on my teeth, but the teeth were an obvious problem,
the intestines were not, to me. To anyone who knew anything, it would
have been obvious, but I never said much of anything to anyone about it.
I had always had problems, it was just the way I was.
I got more and more fatigued, and finally collapsed one day, seriously sick.
I didn't go to a doctor, which may seem odd, but in a way I was ready to either
live or die and be done with it. I went down and down, but a point came
where I decided to live, that I was going to live, and I began to fight, and
I did live. But it took a couple of months before I could go back to work,
and it was 6 months before I felt normal. Whatever it was attacked the
nerves controlling eyes and balance, and nerves can be very slow to heal.
I am lucky it did not get to my brain and kill me. Most people walk a
wide path with regard to individual health, and I have spent my life walking
the edge of a ditch, and nearly falling in all the time. My logic has
often been of the blind leading the blind, telling myself it would all turn
out ok, without reason to say that.
This illness was a turning point. I had some serious doubts about what
we had been trying to build, had often felt it should be smaller, less complex,
cheaper, but my de facto spouse had struggled with me about these things, wanting
to believe that no sacrifice of the benefits of technology needed to be made,
that we could have it all. It was clear to me, from my illness, that I
didn't have the strength to continue working as a carpenter and doing things
in this way. I felt like we had reached a plateau, where further improvements
would be increasingly difficult to reach. I wanted solutions that would
work for everyone, not just those that had the money we had . My sense
of energy accounting was still quite primitive in those days, but I knew we
weren't even close to independence from fossil fuel and the electric company,
hooked up to nuclear power. I had no sense of interdependence, though
I had noticed that it was a ridiculous assertion that anyone built a house alone.
I still dreamed of self sufficiency, of a solar powered life, and had not looked
objectively at that dream. Society was crazy, so I was going to get away
from society. I was like the snared animal trying to get away, and
jerking on the tightening noose. The noose on me was interdependence.
In a sense, Penny was more sane about the situation than I was. She wanted
to follow her idealism as far as she could, but I think she knew instinctively
that one could not get away. But I was in a no win situation, with my
health. All kinds of other disagreements of a fundamental nature came
up. She wanted to travel, to send her kids to expensive colleges, she
wanted money. If I traveled I figured it would be foot powered, and I
was increasingly doubtful of the value of education that completely ignored
things of fundamental importance. To have the kind of money she wanted,
she doubled the mortgage, unilaterally. This I couldn't stand. I
had thought to pay off the mortgage, and be free of that burden, in a few more
years. Now it would be doubled. When people start making unilateral
decisions, you don't have a partnership anymore. I might have stayed in
spite of that, tried to work through it, but I didn't think my body would follow.
If I was going to live, I needed a simpler life, less pressure to work like
a machine. And so the relationship broke.
I guess I wouldn't be the first to observe that this sort of thing has some
serious pain to go with it. Broken relationships are not that much different
from broken bodies, which isn't surprising, really. A broken body is a
broken relationship. I have been through a lot of brokenness, but it isn't
anything out of the ordinary, it has been all the kind of things that lots of
people go through. Most people don't have celiac disease, but the way
celiac affects one is very general. It makes you weak, and all kinds of
things can break when you are weak. Of course, it is true, as I said about
my knee, that healthy people get broken, and these things might have all happened
anyway, but I doubt that. Some of them could have happened, but not all
I moved to an empty cabin that some people I knew had, and did some work for
them, in return for living there. I meet a woman who gave me a book that
advised an extreme vegetarianism, that you went to by degrees. I was intrigued,
and a little desperate to do something about my health. I had experimented
with large doses of vitamins, and found that a large amount of vitamin C made
my hemorrhoids tolerable, though it didn't cure them. Nothing else seemed
to have any affect on me. I tried the very low protein diet that was advised,
and was surprised to find that I was feeling better. I think now, that
since I was doing a poor job of digestion, proteins are especially troublesome,
since the bacteria that were digesting the protein were producing toxins that
weakened me even more than just the lack of nutrition. Bad health has
a way of "snowballing" One thing that doesn't work right weakens others,
and things can fall down like a row of dominoes. It is a funny thing,
I have spent most of my life thinking that I was genetically weak, but except
for the one thing, I am probably exceptionally strong, or I would be dead.
Anyway, the diet helped a lot, except I couldn't eat hardly anything of what
most people ate, and I was very thin, and had to eat a huge volume to keep up
with that. Still, it was rather wonderful to feel a little energy, and
a lot less pain. I couldn't agree with the book that everyone
was really unhealthy and needed to eat like this, and I couldn't go to the extremes
that the book preached, eating only raw food, only fruit, but I was definitely
better, which made me think about these things. I juiced grass, and carrots,
raised sprouts, was really into the whole thing of being a vegan. It seemed
to work. I was concerned about vitamin B12, and found that zinc was lacking,
and that linoleic acid was very important. I read books about nutrition.
There was a book that briefly mentioned celiac sprue, but it said that proper
nutrition cured this problem, so I thought no more about it. Nutrition
is important, but it doesn't cure celiac sprue. If the book had been accurate,
I might not be writing this.
While I was getting into this, I started building a canvas yurt, because I
didn't think I could live in the cabin indefinitely. It was an interesting
job, someone gave me some plans, so I didn't have to reinvent the thing.
Sewing the canvas was an ordeal. I think I would just cover it with overlapping
square tarps, if I had to do it again.
The woman who gave me the book on radical vegetarianism was a recovering alcoholic
and a Christian Scientist. That was doomed from the start, but I learned
something about addiction from her. I have had a problem with thinking
people will change when I point out logical inconsistencies. I think I
have learned, but it has been a hard lesson. I owed her money, winter
was coming, but somehow I got it all done, did some carpentry work, finished
the yurt, got it ready for winter, paid her back, got a non-running VW bus running
that had been given to me, since I didn't have a car, and was set. After
getting the bus going, I found a job next door, in a chair makers shop, and
didn't really need the car as bad as I had thought. I worked building
chairs for 9 months, but I really didn't need to work as hard as the owner wanted
me to. I had found the simplicity I had been looking for, and I wanted
company, but not to make endless chairs go out for the rich, as they were works
of art that no one could afford except the rich. I was feeling a lot better,
but I still didn't have enormous amounts of energy. The pain in my life
was loneliness, in those days.
I read books, spent a lot of time thinking, writing down paragraphs of observations
about things. Way back in my last year of engineering school, I had noticed
the anomaly between physics and life. I know others have noticed it, for
people have told me of shaking their heads about this. But now I started
thinking about it seriously. I had never really stopped thinking about
it, it was always in the back of my mind, but now I looked at it more closely.
But I couldn't see the answer. I also thought about the problems of society.
If people were rational, how would you have them behave? I knew that the
money - energy thing had to be solved. I spent a lot of time trying to
make energy be the standard for money, and it always got fouled up in my thought
experiments. I was fixated on the idea that you always traded something.
Even the societies without money bartered things back and forth, but barter
was very cumbersome. I always got stuck in trying to make something rational
work on these principles of exchange and standards for money.
I met women, and they all taught me something, but none of them stayed with
me. I was too radical in my diet, in my thinking about money, and energy,
determinism, in living in a canvas yurt. I lived in the yurt for
three years. I used a photovoltaic panel and a battery the last two years,
for a light, radio, tape player, even a tiny television, though I didn't watch
it much. After the first winter, when the chair making job ended, I moved
from New Hampshire to Maine, where my parents had bought a run down dairy farm,
and set up the yurt on the edge of a back pasture. My youngest brother
had gone to an agricultural school, and wanted to have some dairy cows, and
my parents were interested, and I was interested in what might be learned with
a serious amount of land to work with, though as a vegetarian who didn't drink
milk, the cows didn't interest me all that much, and the energy efficiency of
feeding hay and grain just repelled me. I was starting to understand,
though, that cows and goats could be efficient, that they could turn
nothing but grass and herbs into milk and meat and hide, and moving them pasture
to pasture, nomads were very energy efficient. This was something to store
in the back of my head. The understanding that one did not have to be
a nomad in lush areas only came much later.
One of the women I met taught me about horses, and I bought a draft horse,
with the idea of learning to plow and cultivate, haul wood and water.
I never plowed, but I did haul a lot of water, and some wood. Money got
scarce, and equipment was a difficulty. I also learned to ride, and we
would go thundering across the pasture, often bareback, as I got better, and
my old dreams of being a buffalo hunting Indian resurfaced, though they didn't
fit too well with the fact that I couldn't eat meat without getting the runs.
I did plow a piece of land with the tractor, and found that fertilizing a large
piece of land was not the easiest thing in the world, and that the land needed
quite a lot. People had farmed the land here until there was very little
left. It would grow grass, if you put a little manure to it, but other
crops needed a lot of manure. Deer and racoons would destroy corn and
beans, and I could see the danger of the cows getting loose, as well.
I had successfully fenced small vegetable gardens, but now I saw that this question
had impossible dimensions to it, when food for a whole year was considered.
This was disturbing. I wasn't even living in a healthy ecosystem, the
elk were gone, the woodland bison were gone, the birds were not the force they
could be, and I had seen the enormous damage that crows and jays and sparrows
could do. When the coyotes howled close by at night, I had to realize
that without weapons in my hands, two coyotes could easily take me down.
What made me think that they wouldn't learn that fact, given time? One
could watch the fields day and night, if people cooperated, but unless threats
were backed up, I could see how animals learned that threats were to be ignored.
I could read of this sort of thing, as well. It wasn't just my experience.
How could one be a vegetarian, and never kill? If you did kill, it seemed
a terrible waste not to eat the meat, and I could see that most people ate meat
without the problems that I had. I had left gardens behind, and
had decided to learn how to gather vegetable foods. This was an immediate
success, and I began to think of the world as my garden. But starch was
not so easy. It was out there, but it required more work, and the competition
from animals could be fierce.
I was also having some more disquieting experiences with my health. I
started having asthma attacks at night during the summer. It wasn't every
night, and it was only in the summer, but it made me uneasy. One
day, trying to dig, the shock of the pick seemed to hit my joints like a hammer.
Things were not adding up the way they should, if I were on the right track.
This made me slightly fanatic, but I also knew about doubts and fanaticism,
and never could get too carried away. My ability to reason was a large
anchor, but I dragged that anchor at times in my life.
I would fall in love quite easily, and the women who came and went tore up
my emotions, but I was getting stronger about that. We all had problems,
were all the misfits of society, for one reason or another. Some of us
were aware of the fact, some misfits are misfits because they aren't aware of
enough, and some are too aware, but none of us had any answers that we could
successfully communicate. It was becoming clearer to me that one could
not have stable relationships without a stable community. That teamwork
was required for humans to live in any kind of lifestyle was a growing concept
in my mind. One woman taught me horses, another brought me to the Buddhist
experience, another took my hands and told me to cry, and I did, was shocked
at how much grief was locked up, and how it could be gone, nothing more to cry
about, except she left me too. I went to visit her in San Francisco, where
she lived, and lived in a city for the first time in my life, saw the houses
of the rich right next to decay, saw the bullet hole in the house she lived
in, saw stirring works of art and science mixed with fear and squalor.
It was really something to think about, because I had the beginnings of understanding
in my mind. It came, as I rode the bus across the country to the Pacific
ocean, that enforced meditation of the bus ride. It would be a lot more
romantic to say that it was by the wood fire in my yurt, but it wasn't.
For years I had been thinking of people as complex particles, determined by
the laws of physics to act in certain ways under certain conditions. It
was not a view to win one friends. I could look at stupid actions in my
life, and let it go, "it was determined". This infuriated some
people, I had to take responsibility for my actions, in their minds. I
had to shrug. I was programmed to take responsibility, look at how I had
fought to live in a sustainable manner, for example. Determinism was not
evading responsibility. Determinism was reality. Cause and effect
stopped at the brain? How? My emotions were just the attractions and rejections
of this complex particle, and reason affected those emotions, but did not destroy
On the bus, I tried to write down my thinking, link it to the second law of
thermodynamics. I had been trying to do this for some time, and failing.
I was confused by the pronouncement that order always decreased, the room got
dirty, the egg broke, and nothing fit together. Life was very orderly
at many levels. True, the actions of humans was very messy, but nature
left alone seemed to spontaneously produce order. How could this be?
I got nowhere on the bus, either, with this. It was coming into Salt Lake
City, and I saw all the lights, and a despair swept over me. We could
never light all those lights with alternative energy, and this was just one
city, we had gone through city after city. But the despair was like the
crack of the whip, - solve the problem. You cannot quit as long as
you are alive. Solving problems. . . I remembered that Einstein
had imagined himself riding a beam of light, and how I had used this method
to try a find leaks in a roof, imagining myself to be a drop of water.
OK, I thought I would try that. I was a particle in the flow of the second
law. I had a lot of energy, was moving very, very fast, and I hit into
things, lost energy, slowed down,- attractions took hold,- I went into orbits
around other particles, and we swept out a helix through time, a whirlpool is
a helix , two things have become one thing, more particles are swept in, three
things are one thing, four things are one thing, here was spontaneous order.
I knew at that moment that the answer had been found, so simple, right in front
of my face.
I did go out and walk the streets, looked at everything, but I spent hours
writing and rewriting. Just as the model in my mind, my understanding
was weak and new, but it had the stability to grow. I could add in this
piece of information, and that piece, and that piece, and it never threatened
to all topple over. It was an understanding you could build and build
on. Biology and physics were one. I was very excited. But
none of the people around really understood. A deterministic basis for
life was not what they were looking for. One of the people I talked with
even had a masters degree in science, but he held firmly to free will, nothing
I said could shake him. Well, that wasn't unusual. I was used to
this kind of failure to convince people of anything rational about life.
And it was always there, I only had a Bachelor's degree, and it wasn't even
a science degree, but a technology degree. I had quit formal education
because tuition prices kept going up, and because I felt I had a mastery of
the basic ideas. I had felt it was time to go out and solve some problems,
that I was ready. I was doubtful that I had the kind of mathematical talent
to be an engineering professor, but I knew I could solve a certain level of
problems. I was never the kind of brain to win top status in any specialized
field. I always felt like I had a very generalized brain, that I could
do anything, but I wasn't the best at anything. There didn't seem to be
much use for this kind of brain in society. What kind of job has the description,
"Wide general knowledge needed?" See if you find that in the
newspapers! I didn't feel needed, nobody cared. They didn't want my solutions.
I could go die for all they cared.
Which I nearly did, more closely than I had ever come before. I was very
disappointed to be rejected once again. I knew they weren't really the
type of people to accept me, but rejection always tears at our instincts to
be accepted, regardless of who does it. Another whole set of social contacts
was gone, putting me back with my family, who accepted me because I was family,
but otherwise would have had nothing to do with me. I felt a little like
the cowbird chick, to live with them. Perhaps some of them will show some strength.
I am always ready to have people prove me wrong on their ability to act wisely.
In any case, as with so many decisions in my life, there has not seemed anything
else to do. I am reminded of Jesus' words, "And I say unto you, Make
to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail,
they may receive you into everlasting habitations. (Luke 16: 9)
So I have done, trying to get along. Perhaps some in my family will change, but I haven't seen much sign of that. But when I came back from San Francisco, I was depressed, and went to work on the farm, trying to make things work, neglected my diet, and got sick. I was so thin, that I didn't have the reserves of strength to fight it off, and I was much closer to giving up mentally, than I had ever been before. Having this understanding of life was good, but what was I going to do with it? The health of my body was obviously not a solved problem. The infection raged in my throat, fever dreams kept me from rest, I could not drink, or eat, the swelling was so bad. I could feel myself losing, dying. I decided to live, went to the hospital, expecting some antibiotics. He wanted me to check in, that I could very easily die, he wanted me on intravenous. This I didn't want. Perhaps I was not in my right mind, but I didn't want a huge hospital bill on top of everything. I was only going to live if it was easy. The doctor argued with me a little, but I went home. That night the infection swelled so much it broke into my throat. The doctor had told me that if it broke into my bloodstream, I would be very painfully dead in a matter of hours. I thought I had won, that I would be ok. But with frightening speed, it swelled up again. It is a strong thing, this desire to live. I went through my new understanding with what strength I had, and said that it was worth living for, and went to the hospital and checked in. I don't remember much, it was a dark period. I finally slept. Five days later I was out, but not strong. It kept threatening to flare up again, the medicine was finally gone but a pocket of infection remained. I got some more medicine, then was looking through a book, and remembered that my diet was deficient in zinc, and got some zinc, hoping that this was the key. It was, apparently. I felt my strength coming back, the battle in my throat going away. I had tried to tell the doctor about my diet, and why, but he was focused on the disease at hand, as had always been the case when I went to doctors. I would have died without the care, but I might have died if I hadn't found the real problem with my vulnerability in the diet. There is increasing awareness that the immune system is the final authority with disease, that medicines give a boost, but they won't solve the problem if the immune system isn't there. I was lacking too much. I needed more protein, as well as zinc, and the books said the two were usually together. I had survived the experience, but I still felt vulnerable. I did have a lot of bills to pay for being alive. Some of the bill was paid by charity. I sold my draft horse, my yurt, and a lot of other things. I was seeing more and more that tools were not what I needed. I needed people.
I decided to go looking, and built a tool for the job, a recumbent bicycle.
I continued to think about harmony, as I had decided that this was what I was
talking about. Two things moving as one is harmony. Too much energy,
it is torn apart, too little and it never forms, or it crystallizes.
There was a meeting of Quakers not far from where I was living, and I had been
going, listening, talking sometimes, a heart pounding experience. I had
never been sure enough of anything to talk much in public. The people
were polite but there was no serious acceptance, as I linked the words of Jesus
to rational explanation. Certain people were greatly disturbed by this,
a kind of desecration. There were a couple of scientists there that were
haunted by what I was saying, but not enough to do anything. I had in
mind to ride the bicycle from meeting to meeting, saying a few words at each
of them. I did that, but the bicycle was left behind. It hurt my
knees, and I was starting to question the technology, as the cost of the road
was taken for granted in the analysis of their energy efficiency. I walked,
took the bus, took rides as they came. I had a lot of adventures, scared
myself silly, met some interesting people, made very little impression, and
came back home. I slept in homeless shelters, in the woods beside the
road, under bridges, in people's homes. I fasted seven days in an
Appalachian trail shelter, hoping for better health, looking for quiet time,
testing to see what I could do. My health did improve briefly, and I saw
that one could do a lot more than one thought, but no great insights came. Talking
with people on that trip, I found that there were a lot of intentional communities,
but they all struggled with the same problems, and generally there were communities
that were very strictly religious, that would take you for nothing, but you
had to follow the strict mystical interpretations of the Bible, and there were
secular communities, but you had to have money to buy in, and these communities
also had rules that didn't seem based on serious thought. Neither type
seemed like a place for me. The Quaker meetings were all variations of
the one in Maine. There was always one person, or a couple, who would
take me home and talk, feed me, then I would go. I have kept in contact
with only one person out of the many I met, and he fights to keep a mystic view
of things, but seems to be seriously haunted by what I say.
I came home and started writing endless drafts, sending them to scientists.
I know that the writing was not real clear, in the beginning. I would
find minor mistakes, fix them, find new things to add. A few people have
provided valuable criticism, but this has been very hard to come by. The
understanding of truth as a weapon grew slowly, it wasn't clear to me for quite
some time. The mathematical understanding of order also took some time.
What I had seen in the beginning was only the bare beginning of a logical progression,
and much of my confidence was in the analog side of my brain screaming, yes,
yes ,YES. It was there, I just had to sort it all out. But if anyone
else saw the possibilities of a logical progression taking in all the problems
that it has, they were silent.
Several months after I came home, I saw an article by a doctor who wrote an
advice column, in the newspaper, about celiac disease. I thought, that
sounds like me, and while having the diagnosis formally checked would be nice,
I really don't have much doubt. Thirty six years or so of trouble with my digestive
system vanished. Fear that minor illness could kill me has slowly faded.
I could eat like a human being again, except for wheat, rye, barley, and I avoid
oats, too. I have found that beans are touchy, too, and various spices,
other minor foods, lactose, but these are not gluten issues, obviously.
I think some permanent damage was done to enzyme production, my reading about
the problem backs this up.
I have joked that I am Abel in both mind and body, but nobody laughs much.
A man with a sword in his mouth is not an effective comedian. I think
the image is kind of funny. People who have been close to death, like
myself, appreciate life, but we also like to tell people to lighten up.
It is your life that is important, not all your things, not your car, not people
in your life who can't think straight, not your job, not your status in the
tribe of naked apes. Like Jesus said, seek the kingdom of heaven first,
and the rest of what is needed will be added. (Matthew 6:33)
You can't win, on the issue of humor. Some people are outraged by humor
on such serious life and death matters, and some want a joke to break the tension.
I try to see who I am talking to, but you can't do that with a group.
The lines on my face are as much from smiling as frowning, though. It
can be hard to laugh when you are in pain, but we forget pain, learn to laugh
In the last few years I have worked on a number of practical things, as well
as writing. I can't write all the time, it would make me crazy.
Work with the hands puts you back in touch, confirms the abstract life of words.
My brother bought me a donkey, though he has not read this paper. He just
thought that donkeys fit my personality, and wanted to replace my horse, and
keep my interest in making hay! So I learned about donkeys. I think
that heavy horses are better evolved for this climate of wet cold and deep snow,
but I have learned to get a little work out of donkeys without beating them,
during the dry seasons. People will ask, and I have asked myself, what
right we have to hit an animal. I think it is a matter of causing serious
damage or not. If you don't cause serious damage, you are communicating
with the animal, same as your brain communicates to your muscles. You
give your muscles an electric shock, how awful. You take a whip to the
backside of a donkey, it can be the same thing, if you don't overdo it.
I learned to take my parent's goats out free in the spring,
summer and fall, watch them eat, learned about leading goats. I've never
dealt personally with sheep, but cows are similar, and I've certainly learned
quite a lot about handling cows. That's an almost never ending thing,
though, learning about a species of animal.
My life has been complex, with many complex people in it. I haven't done much except outline the story, in these few pages. I continue to learn new things, continue trying to solve problems, and fix mistakes. I know that may seem too ordinary, for the magnitude of my claim, but the evidence shows a universe that builds by trial and error. Jesus said it, "Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme: But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation" (Mark 3:28-29)
I make mistakes. You want to swear at me when I make mistakes, that's
fine. If you want to swear at the holy ghost, objective truth, deny that,
you are in deep stuff. There is no forgiveness for denying objective truth.
People who want to believe in miracles, hey, perform a miracle on this body.
It could use a few. Jesus said, when he started talking, "No doubt
you will say to me, Physician, heal thyself." (Luke 4:23) Obviously
he had been an unwell man. His dying on the cross so quickly, apparently
on the first day, without having his legs broken (This was done as an act of
mercy, with legs broken you could no longer hold yourself up, and you would
suffocate as your chest mucsles took all the strain, is my understanding)
when it could take three or more days to kill a healthy person, is taken
as mystical evidence of control over life and death, but all I see is a man
so physically weak that he died easily. I think he considered suicide,
looking down from the tower, at the beginning of his public speaking.
He understood the renewing nature of life, and the temptation was to let someone
else take up the struggle, that he had done enough, he hurt, let it end.
But he also saw that the only reason he understood what he did, was the pain
that had brought his attention to reality, and if he stopped, the whole thing
could be lost. Humanity could go extinct, and himself with it. You
reach down a little deeper, and go on, until the job is done. I've been
in the same position. I haven't looked off a tower, but I have looked
down the darkness of a gun barrel, several times in my life, as well as thinking
to let sickness take me. And just as Jesus saw that he had talents for
war, for money, to have anything he wanted of the present system, and talent
for technology to bring water to the desert and make bread from stones,
(Matthew 4), (Luke 4)so have I been tempted to use my talents, and have put
this lie of success behind me. You can't ignore the reality of things
for short term success.
My life has been a microcosm of humanity's condition. Chronic hunger, disease from this, stunted growth, a touch of homosexuality, the confusion between mystic morality and rational morality. Side by side with this, like the houses of the rich bordering a slum, were my talents and opportunities. I have been both poor and rich in one body, the tree of good and evil has been my food. I hope you can learn something from my story. That is why we tell stories, so that others don't make the same mistakes. I think we can do without hearing this story in the future, except to teach children. We shall meet again, God willing, Reality willing.
1. People are interdependent to the point that we die without each other. We all have the naked body to test this observation.
2. Since we must have a society, that society should be efficient and sustainable. There are two basic patterns of society, that of fixed hierarchy, and that of partnership. Usually these patterns are combined to some degree. The latter can be shown to be inherently more efficient than the former. Voluntary behavior is more efficient than coerced behavior, and one person will seldom be in charge without some coercion. Reason for voluntary behavior is shifting mastery of issues, one person is master of this issue, another person is master of a different issue. Limited competition can set acceptance of mastery of different issues.
3. Efficiency should be measured in terms of energy, not money. Using money mixes units of measure, since money is always measuring energy issues. We pay for food, fuel, clothes, shelter, all energy issues, either directly or indirectly. Money is also a flawed measure in that it measures scarcity, but encourages waste and discourages conservation by labeling abundant resources as cheap, and accumulates in ways that energy doesnt. Money also makes people into pseudo independent agents, and this makes society inefficient. In a monetary society, those with the most money become masters even if they are not qualified in other respects; this is often very inefficient.
4. Sustainability should be measured by balance of resources. People should not use resources faster than they renew, whether it is oil, soil, trees, etc. nor should they produce pollutants at greater than the rate at which pollutants break down. Too much energy used taking resources tips the balance away from sustainability, i.e.; resources are used faster than they renew. Too little energy used will also not be sustainable, as people will not get enough to live on.
5. As an interdependent species, reproduction of humans should not be the private decision of individuals or couples, but a consensus decision of society, based on collectively gathered information about the balance of resources. It takes a village to raise a child; it should be a village decision about how many children are born. When an organism overpopulates, the most efficient are favored for survival, and putting less energy into reproduction is one way to be more efficient at getting the more immediate necessities of living. We see this in animal populations, where predators put much less energy into reproduction than do prey animals, the eagle has one chick a season, the chicken may hatch out twenty. The lion may have a litter of cubs, but very few survive, the lioness doesnt put enough energy into caring for them and most of them die.
6. Ignoring or being unaware of basic principles can bring weakness, instability, confusion, and death. Survival in humans is of the fittest society, as no individual human or couple is fit to survive. People have instincts that often instruct actions different from reason, but instinct is blind to changed conditions, and can cause extinction of species that cannot adapt. A partial list of the instincts that cause us trouble:
a) People have instincts of a warm-blooded creature, to take more than is needed at the moment, and store it as fat or extra resources for the future.
b) People have predatory instinct, to not give up, they are often persistent about goals, whether the goal is rational or not.
c) People have instincts for deception, for lies. Stalking an animal, setting traps, are exercises in deceptive behavior that has a very long successful history. When people start acting as independent agents, such deceptive behavior comes very quickly to bear on each other and can be very bad for society.
d) People have instincts for status, to be in charge. When combined with instincts for deception and predatory instinct and the desire to please everyone, this can cause great difficulty.
e) People have instincts for reproductive privacy, as well as generally strong reproductive instincts. The instinct for privacy makes people reluctant to make objective public decisions about population.
f) People instinctively practice eugenics, they look for the smartest and healthiest people they can attract, to have children with. There is no trouble with this instinct, but in a society based on pseudo independence, individuals often do not have the ability to be objective about practicing eugenics in other areas, on how the sick and/or old are treated, and this causes large amounts of confusion and waste of resources.
g) People have instincts for energy efficiency, this can cause trouble when people work as independent agents, what is energy efficient for the individual doing as little as possible for the greatest return- may cause inefficiencies for society, as well as ignoring the balance of nature.
h) Related to this, we have instincts for technology, we are naked, and relatively slow and weak. Technology gives us the ability to cope. But it is often accepted too readily, without concern for sustainability or for the actual amount of work being saved by society.
i) People have instincts for their interdependence, too. Stage fright is a good example, most people are terrified to be judged by a group of people, there is instinctive awareness of the power groups have over the individual, and the absolute need to be accepted somewhere. People will often, "go with the group", and not stand up for things that the group is ignoring. Leaving the group is a terrifying prospect, banishment has always been functionally a death sentence. Joining a new group, with new values, goes into the unknown, unknowns are very frightening to all organisms. If we can see ahead a little, conquer the instinctive fears and attractions also driving us, we will be able to leave present circumstances and form a new society, with new measures and new values.
Return to Harmony
TrustMark 2001 by Arthur Noll