Religious Anomie

Comment in response to this:

One of the secrets of managing chronic pain is to learn to focus on what feels good rather than what feels bad.

We all tend to be born with the prejudice that our initial system state is all that is important, and evaluate what is good or bad based upon the trends. Conversely, institutions serve to establish continuity across generations and locations. So what helps is to reflect on what it was like before they existed.

Dog ate cat ate mouse ate cockroach ate… Sucked for every creature except the peak predators, didn’t it? And even sucked for them when all the prey were gone.

But it goes to illustrate that “can’t we all just get along” won’t suffice in a reality of resource limitations. Sooner or later there’s only one grape on the table, and forty hungry people around it.

So back to institutions: religions are institutions that propagate wisdom gained about spiritual experience. The best of them seek to liberate the flights of the mind from cultural and material constraints. Fundamentalists, in my experience, work to the opposite end. That’s true whether they are Dawkins and his friends, or Wahabbists or Christian Crusaders. They want us to be animals rather than humans.

Which brings me to God, or Source or whatever you want to call it. The Gospel of John expressed the tautology most directly: God is Love (and conversely Love is God). Love seeks infinite variety in relationship – it is not chaotic, but it always stands on the side of responsible exercise of liberties. It does not rejected those that make errors, for love provides them the skill and motives to heal the wounded. Everything is a lesson that leads to greater maturity, and ultimately to union with Source itself, carrying with us immunity to the selfishness that wounds without purpose or cause.

Humanity isn’t an ugly spot on God’s creation. We are the adaptive agents – a medicine, so to speak – that recognizes and heals its ills.

Deviangelicals?

Evangelicals voted for Trump with the narrow goal of the repeal of Roe v. Wade. Their position is absolutist in this regard: since we cannot know when the soul enters the womb, they insist that every fetus is an unborn child, and thus that termination of any pregnancy is murder. This absolutist position authorizes them control over a woman’s body. Rape, incest and threat to the mother’s life are rejected as justifications for medical termination of a pregnancy. Even birth control is seen as an usurpation of God’s authority to decide when life is brought into the world.

Naturally, as did the slaves before them, women desire autonomy. So they fought for the right to family planning services, a fight that reached its culmination in the Roe v. Wade decision. Having attained autonomy over their bodies, they waged a determined fight to guard their right.

Against that resistance, for forty years the evangelicals have waged a war (sometimes literally) to overturn Roe v. Wade. Joining forces with the Republican Party, they became a powerful engine for fund-raising.

So they voted for a man who famously treated his romantic conquests as pieces of meat – because he promised to nominate judges that would revoke the right to abortion services.

What saddens is to hear them now characterize allegations from other women denouncing other men as a “Democratic conspiracy.” They rely upon the testimony of other men – “friends” of the accused – who admit attending the parties in which inebriated youth engaged in sexual shenanigans.

Here is the fact that you should attend to, my coreligionists: those men have a vested interest in lying, because they also engaged in the same behaviors. If their friend goes down, they all go down.

What should happen, of course, is that fathers should counsel their sons to temperance. Those guilty of youthful indiscretion should recognize and apologize for their transgressions, and by their withdrawal from public life make it clear that such behavior is intolerable and costly.

The alternative is to subscribe to deviancy.

You despise the Catholic Church because it hid pedophilia from the public eye. How can you now support a party that hides sexual deviancy from the public eye? Because the perpetrators were drunk, or politically expedient to the cause of forcing women to bear unwanted children? Under just what conditions, pray, are those children going to be conceived if you tolerate drunken debauchery?

The sad truth is that you are now being used by the political elite in the GOP in the same what that pedophiles used the Catholic Church. They mouth support for your closely-held moral goals, using those assurance as a fig-leaf to cover their history of deviancy.

Ready, Set…Hypnotherapy!

Some of you know that I’ve been less active here due to my investment in a career change. Since January, I’ve been studying hypnotherapy at the Hypnosis Motivation Institute. I attained the credential of Master Hypnotist in July, and began immediately to prepare to work full time to bringing to others the gifts I’ve received from the Father.

That preparation is largely complete. If you go out to my business site, you’ll find pictures of the environment that was created for me.

Sometime in December or January I’ll attain certification as a hypnotherapist and seek thereafter to spend every day working directly with others (rather than serving them through the intermediation of a computer screen). That will be a blessing to me!

And I’ll begin blogging again – though mostly out at Hypnosis RISING on the benefits of the skills I’m beginning to master.

A Pence for Your Thoughts

Speculation abounds that Mike Pence is the author of the NY Times op-ed that lauds a cabal in the White House that is protecting the world from the President’s mental collapse.

So here’s how the scenario will play out: Trump will be ousted from office a few weeks before the mid-term elections. Pence will be sworn in, and the Republicans will count on the general mood of relief to lift them on polling day in November. They expect to retain full control of the Federal government and many of the states as well.

Trump is a tragedy, but he is loyal only to himself. The Republican restructuring of the federal government was delayed by his need to benefit at every turn. Pence has no such compulsions. He is a true believer, a religious and political dogmatist, and will cooperate fully with the conservative male politicians that seek to preserve their hegemony over the nation.

Millennial Catholics Want Transparency, Truth, and Action in Wake of New Sex Abuse Crisis — Millennial

Millennial editor Robert Christian writes: While a small group of ideologues have tried to hijack the crisis to promote their preexisting agenda against Vatican II, gay priests, or celibacy, the general response among millennial Catholics has transcended the many internal divisions that exist within the U.S. church. The anger is palpable. There is anger at […]

via Millennial Catholics Want Transparency, Truth, and Action in Wake of New Sex Abuse Crisis — Millennial

When I was evaluating systems of ethical thought back in the ’80s, I encountered the only meaningful definition of conservatism that I know. A conservative believes that institutions are difficult to create and maintain – that when society crumbles institutions are starved of resources and die. For this reason, a conservative tends to deny support until the needy prove they can organize – to create institutions.

This bias shields the immoral leader of an institution. The leader basks in the authority transmitted by the office – authority invested by the public that understands the importance of the leader’s role in serving the general welfare.

For this reason, we tend to identify the leadership with the institution, and so reflect the sins of the leader upon the institution itself. But institutions survive their leaders, and so can be evaluated only against the sweep of history – a history that in the case of the Catholic Church is longer than any other institution in existence.

I am certain that in that context the Church has been a great good. If it has created trauma in my generation, it stands to bear in mind that a significant factor was the decline in vocations. If the millennial generation believes that better must be done, they have the opportunity to assume the role themselves. The only alternative is to throw in with denominations that lack the influence to speak globally, and whose leaders often manipulate their congregations for personal gain without any effective oversight.

Universal Contrition

Millennial shares a Twitter feed describing the raw searching underway in the Catholic Church.

I’m currently attending morning men’s meeting at a local non-denominational congregation. Many of the men are ex-users, ex-cons and ex-adulterers. The most vulnerable break down in tears when confronting the consequences to those they love. As we are studying Revelation, I offered this yesterday:

Among the great consolations of the Book of Revelation is this: every tear is a promise from God to touch our lives.

We forget that we are in a great struggle against our dependency on sin. Often, that struggle comes to focus as a failure to recognize that others suffer. As Martin Luther King, Jr. observed:

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

Do not let your anger with the Church destroy the humble men and women that have devoted their lives in service to Christ. Stick your nose under the tent of Church administration. Insist on having a seat at the conference table with the prelates, bishops and cardinals. But don’t destroy the institution commissioned by Christ.

Money for Nothing

One of the fundamental assumptions of free-market theory is that information is frictionless. A competitor introducing a higher-value laundry detergent drives innovation only if consumers know about the product. Renewable sources of electricity will be adopted only if public utilities can mothball their existing fossil-fuel-based generating plants – made more difficult when the bonds are still being paid off.

For much of the second half of the twentieth century, the American worker benefited from friction in the delivery of goods and services. That friction took many forms: shipping costs, brand loyalty, and legal and financial rules. Today, globalization of markets forces us to compete with much cheaper sources of labor overseas, and the laziness of American managers (as compared to German and Asian counterparts that invested in skill development) means that jobs bleed across our borders.

The last redoubt of friction is financial services. The Baby Boomers generation accumulated huge retirement reserves, and Reagan-era fiscal policies have driven government deeply into debt. The dollar is the currency of choice for international business. Finally, expensive real-time trading technology is a high barrier to entry.

To those that understood the dynamics, it was no surprise that in the fiscal year following the 2008 meltdown, financial services companies reaped fully half of the profits enjoyed by American business. The system was rigged in their favor.

Some information about the practices of the industry have been revealed by those investigating the collapse of mortgage equities and the Ivan Boesky pyramid scheme. Every financial advisor banks on insider trading. Their job is to build relationships that allow them to get their clients to the trough first when an opportunity is created. No outsider can hope to compete.

Now the World Economic Forum has weighed in on the dangers to this system of artificial intelligence. Substituting a relentless, unbiased algorithm for your investment advisor ensures that you will always be given the best deal available. Your loan may come from Malaysia instead of Wall Street, but the impact of that truth is to drive down costs in the financial services sector.

Yes, the interim will be messy as the trading algorithms expose instability and self-serving in our existing financial system. But the end result will be a system with far less friction. As promised in free-market theory, money will find those inspired to create value, and bypass those motivated solely by greed.