Agape, Authoritarianism, Becky, Belief, Brett, Christianity, Citizenship, Class War, Coffee Shop Folks, Coffee Shop Stories, Conservative, Democracy, Fantasy Based Community, God(s), Guilt, Judeo-Christian Tradition, Late Night Thoughts, Liberal, Love, News and Current Events, People, Philos, Play, Politicians and Scoundrels, Politics, Progressive, Reality Based Community, Regret, Religion, Romantic Love, Self, Self Identity, Self Image, Society, Work

Late Night Thoughts (Reposted from February 20, 2011)

There are few noises at this hour.   A car passes in the distance.  The house creaks.  The furnace starts.  I have not heard a dog bark in hours.

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…”It is really annoying when people, particularly those in positions of power, can’t even be bothered to take the trouble to lie well.” — Yves Smith.

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…To oppress a mother is to oppress a democracy, for it is mothers who teach the value of democracy to their children.

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…It seems what’s happening in Wisconsin is part of the class war in America that’s been going on for sometime now.  As Warren Buffett pointed out, the war was begun by members of his class, and his class is winning it.

Unfortunately, if rich billionaires like the Koch brothers win the Wisconsin round in the class war, that means they will have managed to break the Wisconsin public service unions.  And if they manage to do that, then the Democratic party will be left as nothing more than a paper man in that state.

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…The other day, I noticed an advertisement that claimed the Bible was, of all the world’s wisdom literature, the most profound.  Now, I’ve heard that claim made before in various ways and places.  But, I confess, I have never understood why anyone would make that claim.

As wisdom literature, the Bible seems to have been often surpassed. And not just by many of the ancient Greek, Roman, Indian, or Chinese authors.  But also by more modern authors.

To give some of the Biblical authors credit, though, their concern for social, political, and economic justice was remarkable for their time, and — thankfully — very influential on the West.

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…There seems to be a sense in which almost all complex, hierarchical societies — even going as far back as to the origin of complex, hierarchical societies some 5,500 years ago — have been scams.   Moreover, it’s been the same scam perpetrated again and again.  And, in essence, that scam has been to fool the masses into believing the society’s elites have the backing of a supernatural order.

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…There are many people in this god-drunk town who cast their blurry vision on science and declare that it, too, is a religion.  The last drunk to tell me that declared, as his reasoning, “Religions are based on beliefs. Science is based on beliefs. Therefore, science is a religion.”

By precisely the same “logic”, “Cats are furry.  Dogs are furry.  Therefore, dogs are cats.”

But, even if his reasoning was logically valid — which it is not, unless dogs are cats — what would not then become a religion?  Indeed, even one’s overwhelming desire to take a shower after hearing him espouse his drunken  “logic” would, according to his drunken  “logic”,  become a religious act.

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Just now, a motorcycle started up, then sped off.  In the day, it would be just another cycle.  But in the night, it seems a story in itself.

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…Humans are natural born cartographers.  We make maps of the world, which we call “beliefs”.   It’s what our species does.

Sometimes, our maps are more or less accurate.  And sometimes, they are fantasy maps, like the ones we made as children to show where a pirate’s treasure lay buried in our backyard.

The accuracy of our maps often matters less to us than the fact they are ours.  Because, for most of us, our maps are something we think of as us.

Now, when we fall in love, she sooner or later challenges our maps…

And, if our love survives those challenges, there’s a chance that our love is true.

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…Tonight, I came across in a faded notebook a line from a poem I once wrote to a woman: “No one has made me wish / To face with grace the challenge / of her morning breath like you, Joelle.”   And consequently, reading that line, I had a sudden and abrupt realization of precisely how it is that I have managed all these years to remain celibate despite the occasional woman who’s now and then been interested enough in me to even read my poems.

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…Once I saw a Seven-Eleven that was closed.  Locked up and abandoned.

Since everything inside the impossibly dark store windows was in place and intact, I eventually concluded it must be a clerk who didn’t show up for work.  But I at first thought: “Not even a president’s death can close a Seven-Eleven. It must be something.  It must be big.”

Perhaps there is inside all of us a thing — a strange, hard thing — that now and then longs for an event so big it will close even the world’s Seven-Elevens.

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…When I met Becky she was in her 30s and would now and then do something completely spontaneous: Always some little thing, but it was an attractive quality.   Even in a city, birds from a branch put to air like her.  So, though they live like the rest of us amongst the concrete and noise, you can see how those birds are beyond the artificial world we have created for them — how they are still native to the earth and sky.  Some people are like that.

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…So far, I have found only three things with power to redeem the human condition: Love, work, and play.  And of those three, love is the greatest.

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…Brett called to invite me to lunch the other day  (Brett was 15 the year we first met at the coffee shop.  I was perhaps 40 or 42).   So, we met at a tavern where the beer is watery, but the food is good, and I enjoyed talking with him so much the time slipped past on rabbit’s feet.

At some point in the afternoon, after we had exhausted half a dozen topics, Brett said he suspected the reason quite a few kids had hung out with me years ago at the coffee shop was because I was for the most part nonjudgmental.   So I told him that was the dumbest thing I’d ever heard from a fellow human, if indeed he was actually human. So, I thanked him for confirming a suspicion I’d had.  Then, being an insufferable old fart, I told him a story he’d already heard at least twice from me, and one he probably didn’t want to hear again.

After we had parted for the evening, I reflected on the fact that Brett had certainly been one of the most intelligent people at the coffee shop, and very likely one of the wisest.  Yet, it had never been any one thing that led me to those conclusions.  Like a stream of gold dust, Brett is someone who stands out from the crowd not for any one big thing, but for the cumulative impression made on you by a thousand glittering details.

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…My second wife had a taste for dresses by Ungaro.  Is Ungaro still around?  That Italian knew how to make a woman wearing silk look like a nude.

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…This night, for the first time in ages, I recall once a woman and I spent nearly two years laughing together.  No, she was not my wife, but a co-worker.  We worked together in the evenings, and we’d spend every moment we could with each other.  Then, when I moved on to a day job, I still dropped by her workplace in the evenings to laugh with her.

One day, I invited her out to a movie.  But by the time she got to my place, it was too late to catch a show.  At a loss for much else to do, I tried nibbling on her ear.  Consequently, two years of laughing together led to her having three explosive orgasms: The best in her life, she told me.  After that, you might think she’d be happy.

Yet, somehow, by the next day, she had translated everything — all of it — into guilt and regret.  “You must think I’m a slut”, she said, “because I slept with you on our first date.”

“No, I feel as if I’ve been courting you for two years”, I said, “Besides I’m in love.”

“Even if you don’t think I’m a slut”, she said, “When I saw you this evening, it made me think of myself as a slut, and then my heart sank to the floor.  I can’t see you again.”  And she meant it.

It was much later I realized that, despite our rapport, only one of us had been in love.

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It is almost dawn.

Belief, Communication, Cultural Traits, Deity, God, God(s), Ideas, Language, Mysticism, Quotes, Religion, Transformative Experience

Was the Concept of God an Error in Translation?

“The concept of ‘god’ was originally an error in translation committed when some ancient sage tried to reduce the mystical experience to words.”

Or, alternatively…

“The concept of ‘god’ was originally an error in translation committed when some ancient sage tried to reduce an experience of the weirdness to words.”

Paul Sunstone

Belief, Christianity, Cultural Traits, Culture, Education, Faith, Family, Fun, God, Honesty, Intellectual Honesty, Mysticism, Nontheism, Parent / Child, Play, Reason, Religion, Skeptical Thinking, Thinking, Truth, Values

How Mom Raised Me to Think For Myself About Religion

(About a 9 minute read)

We used gold star stickers in Sunday School. You licked them and stuck them to you. I always wanted my teacher to lick them — because I would over-lick them — and I always wanted her to stick them to my forehead.

It was almost the only good and decent thing I could fathom came of attending Sunday School.

When we three sons would ask Mom why we could not stay home to play on Sunday mornings, she would tell us that “Christianity is your cultural heritage and you should be exposed to it.”

That was mildly confusing because not only did I fail to fully understand what “culture” and “heritage” were, but it also seemed to contradict Mom’s almost scandalously old fashion notion that we were not to make up our minds about religion until we had “reached the age of understanding”.  That is, until we were at least 18 and “preferably 21”.

Continue reading “How Mom Raised Me to Think For Myself About Religion”

Abrahamic Faiths, Allah, Belief, Business, Christ, Christianity, Cultural Traits, Culture, Deity, Education, Fundamentalism, God(s), Humanities, Ideas, Islam, Judaism, Judeo-Christian Tradition, Language, Learning, Life, Management, Memes, Mysticism, Philosophy, Professionals, Religion, Religious Ideologies, Spirituality, Taoism, Work, Yahweh

About Your “God”, Jeff…

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Paul discusses how the concept of “god” varies from one religion to another with the focus on Christianity, Judaism, and Taoism.

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THE CRITICS EXCLAIM! “It is absolutely certain that Paul Sunstone will someday come to a rich and full understanding of God.  That is sure to be the day Our Altogether Righteous and Just Lord mercifully condemns Paul Sunstone to being eternally chained to Justin Bieber’s buttocks in the hottest regions of hell. Until that day, his opinions and views of deity cannot possibly rise above the ignorant, thoughtless slime that is his post, ‘About Your Gods’.”  —  Merriweather Sterling, Blogs of the Day, “The Daily Burtie”, Berwick-Upon-Tweed, England, UK.

Continue reading “About Your “God”, Jeff…”

Courtship, Fun, God, Human Nature, Ideas, Judgementalism, Life, Love, Lovers, Marissa Callahan, Play

The Manner in Which You and I Resonate

(About a 4 minute read)

FROM: Paul Sunstone
To: Marissa “Free Spirited” Callahan
SUBJECT: I’m Back Like a Tornado to a Trailer Park!

Pray be so kind as to drop your pants.

FROM: Marissa “Free Spirited” Callahan
TO: Paul Sunstone
SUBJECT: Re: I’m Back Like a Tornado to a Trailer Park!

Please specify your initial offer re:  opening negotiations for the friendship of my upper thighs.

FROM: Paul Sunstone
To: Marissa “Free Spirited” Callahan
SUBJECT: Re: I’m Back Like a Tornado to a Trailer Park!

Um…don’t know. Maybe, you’re pretty?

FROM: Marissa “Free Spirited” Callahan
TO: Paul Sunstone
SUBJECT: Re: I’m Back Like a Tornado to a Trailer Park!

Demand clarification at once! Is your aim my upper thighs or my toenail clippings? Please specify!

Continue reading “The Manner in Which You and I Resonate”

Amanda, God, God(s), Life, Living, Love, Lovers, Quality of Life, Religion, Sacred, Sex, Spirituality

Is Sex Sacred?

SUMMARY: The statement “Sex is sacred” can have two meanings and thus two very different answers, depending on which meaning you go with.

(About a 5 minute read)

I was recently shocked and delighted when an attractive young woman I talk with about once every week or two at the local coffee shop suggested to me I’d be “fun to get in bed with”.

That is, I was shocked because Amanda is nearly 35 years my junior, and I was delighted because not many attractive 20 somethings have in recent years professed any such interest in me, despite that I typically spend some time each week standing beside the interstate exit ramp with a cardboard sign reading, “Experienced Sex Tutor.  Free Lessons!”.

Continue reading “Is Sex Sacred?”

Belief, Consciousness, Cultural Traits, Culture, Enlightenment, God, God(s), Human Nature, Ideas, Intuition, Knowledge, Mysticism, Observation, Religion, Satori, Self, Self-Integration, Self-Realization, Spirituality, Transformative Experience

What Do Mystics Mean by “God”?

“Theologians may quarrel, but the mystics of the world speak the same language.” ― Meister Eckhart

SUMMARY:  Mystics naturally speak of the experience that distinguishes them from other folks using words and terms derived from their individual cultures.  Hence, they typically speak of having experienced “god”, but upon examination, their notions of god often tend to have more in common with other mystics than they do with common cultural notions of god.  Central to virtually all theistic mysticism is the notion that god — or ultimate reality — is an all-encompassing oneness or One, despite any appearances to the contrary.

(About a 10 minute read)

I first became interested in mysticism about 40 years ago.  I was a sophomore at university and seriously concerned with finding an objective basis for values.

At the time, I believed — like many people still do — that unless an objective basis for values could be found, “anything was permissible”.  No evil, however great, could be objectively opposed.  And that frightened me.

Unfortunately, the more I learned, the less there seemed to be any possibility of an objective basis.  But then I came across the writings of various mystics.

Continue reading “What Do Mystics Mean by “God”?”

Bad Ideas, Cultural Change, Cultural Traits, Culture, Friends, God(s), Human Nature, Ideas, Life, Living, Nontheism, Quality of Life, Religion, Wisdom

Late Night Thoughts: Moonless Nights, Theism and Nontheism, Age Segregation, Ancient Reputations, and More (October 1, 2018)

(About a 5 minute read)

I once read that on a moonless night, no more than about 5,000 stars are visible to the naked eye.  Yet, to us that number might as well be a million, given how poor our judgement of numerical quantities is.

Apparently, most of us cannot instantly, without counting, recognize the difference between such a small quantity as eight and nine items — let alone the difference between 5,000 and 1,000,000.

♦♦♦

Can you imagine what a paradise this earth would be for (especially) young men if women did not need to fear getting to know them?  Not only would it be easy to get a first date, but you could take her just about anywhere.

Continue reading “Late Night Thoughts: Moonless Nights, Theism and Nontheism, Age Segregation, Ancient Reputations, and More (October 1, 2018)”

Bad Ideas, God(s), Ideas, Logic, Philosophy, Religion

The Burden of Proof in Philosophy (Logic)

(About a 6 minute read)

The eternal conversation between theists and non-theists is often marked by humorous claims.  Such as when some theists claim that all non-theists are non-theists merely because they are angry at their god.  Or when some non-theists claim that all theists are irrational.  Sadly, the humor seems to escape a lot of folks on both sides.

In recent weeks, I’ve come across a claim by theists that, at least, is new to me.  I also find it humorous.  I wonder, however, whether it is not a growing fad.  I first saw it two or three months ago, and I have seen it twice again since then.  Could it be the latest craze in the eternal conversation?

Continue reading “The Burden of Proof in Philosophy (Logic)”

Christ, Christianity, God, Love, Poetry, Religion, Spirituality

To That Man Standing Behind the Pulpit

(About a 1 minute read)

You are a mystery to me, preacher man,
A not-quite-Christian mystery,
How you stand behind a pulpit on Sundays
Wearing that ridiculous second-hand
Chicken-suit, thumping out words
Against homosexuals, fornicators,
Abortionists, feminists, liberals,
And just about everyone else,
Except those who march
In perfect step with you.

To me, your sermons are as relevant
To the spiritual mysteries of Jesus
As is your tenaciously worn bird outfit.

You don’t have the wisdom
Of most common people,
Let alone the wisdom of Christ.

I wonder where in all that you shout
Is God? I suspect when you say
You’ve found him
Somewhere moving inside of you,
What you found was intestinal gas.

I’ve read about your seven mansions,
Your impressive fleet of cars,
And your 26 million dollar private jet
That you’ve appropriately donated
To yourself, the poor in spirit.

I’ve also read about how
You at last take your bird suit off,
Revealing your true authenticity,
When you’ve flown into Washington
To deal out the Evangelical vote
To the false whores of politics and power.

I know my words can’t change you
Because it’s quite obvious
To all but your devout followers
That not even the Word can do that.

I’m just writing this poem to warn
Others there’s a man who stands
Behind a pulpit who preaches salvation
But can’t save himself and can’t love.

Authenticity, Being True To Yourself, Buddhism, Christianity, Deity, Enlightenment, Free Spirit, God, God(s), Hinduism, Human Nature, Islam, Judaism, Life, Love, Mysticism, Religion, Satori, Science, Self, Self Identity, Self Image, Self-determination, Self-Integration, Self-Knowledge, Spirituality, Taoism, Transformative Experience, Wisdom, Zen

If I Were a Theist, I’d Still be a Madman

(About a 3 minute read)

If I were a theist and believed in gods, I would be an insufferable theist.

Indeed, my opinions might be a tad insufferable already.  At least, I think that could be a reasonable conclusion based on the number of encouraging emails I get from my loyal readers that include a pic of someone’s buttocks, along with the usually brief message, “Thinking of you, Paul!”.

Continue reading “If I Were a Theist, I’d Still be a Madman”

Deity, Faith, God, God(s), Happiness, Human Nature, Infatuation, Life, Love, Passion, Poetry, Quality of Life, Religion, Self, Spirituality

A River Runs Beneath Us

(About a 2 minute read)

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” ― Rumi

A river runs beneath us called “Life”
That we sip from but do not drink
That once flowed abundantly above ground
When our short legs ran fast
So fast we believed we could
(In just a week or so)
Chase bullets and jump high to catch
The winged wonders of the air.

Strange how it went
The other way.

Something changed.
We became adults long before
Our bodies did,
And the flow of life
Sank beneath our feet,
Feet that were growing and slowing.

Now we are devout

In mimicking thoughts of strangers,
Men and women we call sages,
For the protection their words give
Least we look for ourselves again.

Our gods protect us too
Now that we have buried them
Between us and the river.

We look away from life
With radiant upturned faces,
Though we say we look to find
Eternal love and bliss
In the forever-closer distance.

Our loves protect us now
That we have buried them too.

They lurk in the earth,
Indistinguishable
From co-dependencies.

We discover in both
Our pleasures and our pains
Useful entertainments
And distractions
From the sound of water.

The water we recoil from,
Preferring a few dry stones:
Remnants of the hours
We come close
To making love.

We hide our fears,
Wrapping them in anger,
In hatreds,
And in anxieties;
Watching screens,
So many screens these days,
While beneath us
The river still flows.

Some day we aim to touch the stars,
Become the cosmic heroes of our dreams
On the soaring mound of lies
We’ve heaped beneath us.

Only the fresh smell of water
Grows fainter by the hour.