Bible Law

Reading Notes /

Re: Robert Wright, The Evolution of God
Jared Diamond, The World Until Yesterday

(I’m reading the former, wow; rereading the latter: also wow, very.)

Moses gave the Jews Ten Commandments: laws if you will. Jesus gave us two laws (love God, love your neighbor).
(Note: those are prescriptive, not descriptive laws.) (Jesus was not prescribing adultery; he was recommending social behavior.)

Something I missed as a child (that every child misses): Jesus preached to the most law bloated of ancient societies, the Hebrew. The Hebrews at the time were ruled, like much of the rest of the civilized (cough,, gag, barf) world, by the Romans. The Romans were conspicuously law-obsessed. The Romans didn’t just enforce laws that told others what to do; the Romans chiseled laws for their own behavior: and they obeyed them!

warming up

Reading Notes A — L By Author M — Z
Posted in law | Leave a comment

Universe as Theater

/ Cosmology … Theology /

When I was a kid it seemed to me that the congregation of my church was on the same page as my Sunday School teacher: God would judge us, our sins would be exposed. God would be right. Human institutions –media, government, academia — would serve God, serve judgment, serve the truth. We’d all see it, we’d all understand it. If we hadn’t understood our sins before we’d understand them then, at judgment, we’d see that God was right, we were wrong; but we’ve got it right now. Now we understand what Jesus was forgving us for. We woudn’t be worthy of the forgiveness, but we never thouht we would be: that’s what’s so miraculous about divine forgiveness.

After judgment people who didn’t know shit from Shinola would get out of the way of those who did. Society would finally work. Science, history — future history if not past history — would agree. The philosopher might have a better understanding of the details the way this or that commentator might have a penetrating understanding of Hamlet; but it wasn’t a situation where Hamlet alone understood .01% of things while the bosses committed every sin but understood nothing.

Hamlet was tricky: but we all understood what was what: a little course correction and we’d be fine, forever. It wasn’t one of these things where no one, including Shakespeare, has a clue what the play is about: especially not Polonius or Rosencrantz: and certainly not poor Ophelia! But Poloniuys-etc. are the ones in charge of church, state … State, state, and more state. Shakespeare knew and we knew too, even if less well. The playwright knew perfectly, like God. The teacher knew too: better than the student, but not as well as Shakespeare: Student-A knew better than Student-B …

Now I believe that Beckett knew, so did Billie Whitelaw: Phil and I knew better than Rosencrantz or Guildenstern: the New York Times critic knew enough to bullshit a few paragraphs. Newton understood part, Halley understood more than anyone except Newton, but after a few years, the whole Royal Society, greedy for funding, was back to shit on Shinola.

Billie Whitelaw
Billie Whitelaw
thanx blogspot

How ‘about that for an actress!

Reality Theater scrapbook scribble

Steven Johnson has been presenting us with a magnificent series of books on culture, markets and evolution: I love his image of Darwin bumping near a major invention at a reef in India. Darwin discussed some of his ideas with his ship’s captain, Fitzroy. But he knew to tread lightly, not to go too far: not to let himself see more than a fraction of where the evidence seemed to be pointing. A century and a half later Johnson still has to be careful how he says what he says. (You want proof? just see that he absolutely doesn’t know who I am, who Illich was, what Illich (and pk) said! or tried to say: and least tried to bring up!

I still haven’t make my title point as clearly as I intend, but a little thought will show you a bulk of it.
more in a sec

Cosmology, Theology

Posted in social epistemology | Leave a comment

Shaman US

/ Reading Notes /
Wright, Robert: The Evolution of God

(Understand: Shame on US is a domain I registered 27 or so years ago.)
People pay the shaman to caste evil spirits from their sick child. People do the same — pay the bishop — to caste out spirits within the hierarchy of this or that church. Wright points out that people pay the stock analyst for investment advice. Sometimes the kid gets better, sometimes the stock goes up. Sometimes Houdini casts out the caster-out from the seance. Some shamans live a whole career without more than a little embarrassing exposure. Etc.

Recently I’ve been claiming that I can prove that church-members are actually atheists: would real believers really be so careless about epistemology?

For example, and all I mean is here implicit: I announce in 1970 that God told me to offer the world an internet: in 1970 I repeat. Anyone who wanted unregulated information should have paid attention, contributed resources: money, labor … real estate, services. The bishops and priests who did not assign their staffs to help should at least summon testimony from God: did he or didn’t he say anywuch thing to pk? Hadn’t he already said very much such things to (and through) Ivan Illich?
I got it from God: I very much got it from Ivan Illich getting it from God.
I recognized God’s spirit in what Illich said: shouldn’t you have recognized God’s spirit in what I said?

Ponder this analogy:
Wasn’t it obvious to monotheists that God was speaking through Jesus? a hell of a lot more clearly that God had supposedly spoken through Moses. shouldn’t God’s testimony be solicited?

What makes people believe that a priest to whom God has obviously never spoken should be an authority on what God has said subsequently to Boho-A, B, C?

Relate all this to the fraud of governments who’ve never understood a word said by Jesus, Illich, or me claim to “represent” me? ! or you.

more, scrapbook, all relates to Wright & Illich & pk …

Wright Notes: Evolution of God, Robert Wright

War puts a premium on social efficiency

On the one hand, the ruling class, consisting as it does of human beings, will try, consciously or unconsciously, to steer culture, including religious belief, toward its selfish ends.

revolution, military defeat, or economic eclipse

Every religion, to survive elementary logical scrutiny, has to have its explanatory loopholes.

law of unintended symmetry

Religion is a feature of cultural evolution that, among other things, addresses anxieties created by cultural evolution; it helps keep social change safe from itself.

Reading Notes A — L By Author M — Z
Posted in reading notes | Leave a comment

Five Spirits

/ Cosmology / Anthropology, Religion /

From Robert Wright, Evolution of God

Linguist Albert Samuel Gatschet studied the Klamath language and culture. He identified five types of supernatural spirits. They apparently fill the quorum for gods, etc.

Gatschet’s writings on the Klamath capture something found in every hunter-gatherer culture: belief in supernatural beings — and always more than one of them; there is no such thing as an indigenously monotheistic hunter-gatherer society.

In fact, the anthropological record reveals at least five different
kinds of hunter-gatherer supernatural beings, some of which are found in all hunter-gatherer societies and most of which are found in most hunter-gatherer societies. Klamath culture, with a rich theology, illustrates all five. 19

  1. Hunter-gatherer supernatural being Type I: elemental spirits. Parts of nature that modern scientists consider inanimate may be alive, possessing intelligence and personality and a soul. So the workings of nature can become a social drama. When the Klamath saw clouds obscuring the moon, it could mean that Muash, the south wind, was trying to kill the moon — and in fact might succeed, though the moon seems always to have gotten resurrected in the end.
  2. Hunter-gatherer supernatural being Type II: puppeteers. Parts of nature may be controlled by beings distinct from the parts of nature themselves. By Klamath reckoning, the west wind was emitted by a flatulent dwarf woman, about thirty inches tall, who wore a buckskin dress and a basket hat (and who could be seen in the form of a rock on a nearby mountain). The Klamath sometimes asked her to blow mosquitoes away from Pelican Bay.20

    Combining supernatural beings of types I and II into a single scenario is possible. The Klamath believed whirlwinds were driven by an internal spirit, Shukash. The nearby Modoc hunter-gatherers, while agreeing, believed that Shukash was in turn controlled by Tchitchatsa-ash, or “Big Belly,” whose stomach housed bones that rattled, creating the whirlwind’s eerie sound.21 Such theological differences are found not just among different hunter-gatherer societies, but within them. Thus Leme-ish, the Klamath’s thunder spirit, was sometimes spoken of as a single entity but was sometimes said to consist of five brothers who, having been banished from polite society, now made noise to scare people. (These interpretive divergences form the raw material of cultural evolution, just as biological mutations create the diverse traits that feed genetic evolution.)

  3. Hunter-gatherer supernatural being Type III: organic spirits. Natural phenomena that even we consider alive may have supernatural powers. The coyote, for example, housed evil spirits, and, Gatschet noted, “his lugubrious voice is the presager of war, misfortune, and death.” 22 One species of bird could make snow, and another made fog. Some animal spirits could help the Klamath cure disease, a collaboration facilitated by a spirit called Yayaya-ash, which would assume the form of a one-legged man and lead a medicine man to the home of these animal spirits for consultation.
  4. Hunter-gatherer supernatural being Type IV: ancestral spirits. Hunter-gatherer societies almost always feature spirits of the deceased, and typically these spirits do at least as much bad as good. Ancestral spirits, Gatschet wrote, were “objects of dread and abomination, feelings which are increased by a belief in their omnipresence and invisibility.” 23
  5. Hunter-gatherer supernatural being Type V: the high god. Some hunter-gatherer societies, though by no means all, have a “high god.” This isn’t a god that controls the other gods. (One early-twentieth-century anthropologist wrote about the Klamath, with traces of disapproval: “there has been no attempt to marshal the spirits into an ordered pantheon.”) 24 Rather, a high god is a god that is in some vague sense more important than other supernatural beings, and is often a creator god. For the Klamath this was Kmukamtch, who inhabited the sun. Kmukamtch created the world, then created the Klamath themselves (out of a purple berry), and continued to sustain them, though he had been known to rain burning pitch upon his creation in a fit of temper. 25 *

Religion Menu

Posted in religion | Leave a comment

Happy Easter

/ Chat / Seasonal /

Happy Easter!

I loved Easter as a kid. The forsythia was in bloom! Broke as we were, Mom tried to get us new clothes. I loved the choir singing the Hallelujah Chorus. I was in the kids” choir and we sang part of the Handel with them. Wow, unforgettable.

I still love Easter. I celebrate how confused and confusing it is: all holidays based on lunar calendars supervised by astronomical ignorance. Sometimes the forsythia was far from blooming: it felt like mid-winter, and we needed warm coats and mittens to wear over the bright cottons. The Hallelujah Chorus sounds great no matter the weather but it’s far and away the best if the air is drunk with blossoms, if the air is two parts pollen to one part breathable.

But these days I best like the conundrums I didn’t even know about in the kids’ choir: how did the Jews trick the Romans into murdering their god for them? Jesus hadn’t broken any Roman laws, not that the gospels mention: and it was illegal by Roman law for Roman administrations to execute locals except according to Roman law. I can see Pilat and the Romans looking the other way while Herod and Caiaphas tortured Jesus in public, but how did the latter get Pilat to violated Roman law to join a strictly local quarrel?

Of course the real problem is that we have no idea how much of the bible is fabricated. We know that some is; but we don’t know where the lies end. If Judgment were today and God appeared in person to tell us what’s forged and what, if any, isn’t, I can’t imagine Christians holding still and listening.

i jut censored some of this, don’t know what in any i dare restore in future


Posted in chat | Leave a comment

Resurrection Blues

Cosmology / Religion / God /

The gospels tell how on the third day Jesus rose again from the dead. The gospels further tell how Jesus appeared before his disciples. Even seeing his master Thomas doubted: and had to poke his finger into the mortal holes.

Good. Now what else did he do? Where did he go? Did he have a smoother time this time?

I want to know what happened when Jesus reappeared before Pilat! and Herod! and Caiaphas! They didn’t like it the first time he told them that he was the son of God: were they ready to listen a few days later? or a month?
(About as ready as I am to hear that Trump is a good guy, good for our country.)

There isn’t much historical evidence for the original Passion: does the Resurrection do any better? (I mean of course the apres-resurrection.) What did Tiberius say when Jesus extended his howdey-dos to Rome? If the governor had freadked out, whet did his boss, the emperor, do?

Well, those questions aren’t very well answerable: and they weren’t when first asked. But there are some answers that ought to be at least discussed. at least brought up.

I step back to enter at an angle:

When I was a kid I believed what everybody seemed to believe: God sent Jesus, Jesus chose his disciples, the Passion happened, Jesus showed strength, the disciples showed more than a little weakness … but: everyone, good or evil, already damned or saveable, was on the same page. Everyone knew who God was, the true God and all the false gods, the truth, and all the mistakes. Everyone understood who Jesus was: or at least understood what he was saying he was.
And the mistakes were “honest” mistakes; not deliberate obfuscations: evil for the sake of evil.


It wasn’t until the early 1960s, when I was in the army, and my buddy and I were toying with the big fat Kazantzakis novel The Last Temptation of Christ, that we first broached the possibility: the disciples didn’t know who Jesus was after the Passion, and the disciples didn’t know who Jesus was before the Passion, and Pilate did know who Jesus was but kept it to himself … And the world is not a world replete with understanding. Peter didn’t know who Jesus was, Paul certainly didn’t know. Paul’s egregious epistemology chases, doesn’t invite, understanding. The Church doesn’t know who Jesus was. No pope, no bishop. The priests certainly don’t know. With a few exceptions: Francis, maybe. (At least Francis was trying.) (As had Augustine.) (seems to me.)

Not only Francis: a couple of contemporaries had tried. Ivan Illich. (Me.)

That doesn’t mean we got it right either.

But try again: God sent Jesus, at least something, some non-thing, something I call “God”, or rather I call god, sent Jesus. Jesus said some stuff, that no matter how many lying priests bolixed it seems somehow to suggest that despite the hierarchical kleptocratic apologies the theology seems to offer, there’s also the possibility of interpretation in which something, some set of things that can be abstracted, misleadingly, as evolution, as survival, as intelligence was possible to try to broach …

And is, despite the verticallity, the infinitude or hebetude, or misunderstanding.

An infinity of liars, no matter how stupid, can still model some Platonic shadow of the truth.

Related scribble, some already broached, some blabbed about incessantly, some new angles just peeking around the corner:

Multiple God
If we’re ever to become sentient, to be worthy of honest discussion, semanticists should be compelled to interrupt any questions about “god” to clarify what god is being referred to. Otherwise the morons will say God meaning Jaweh, will be understood to mean Jehovah while others think Allah is meant … People think the participants are on the same page when next to no one is on the same page.

I say God I mean god. I say god I mean evolution. Is it possible to know what I mean?
I guess not: someone would actually have to read what I wrote, understand what I meant, still understand it thirty seconds later. …

What if there was a god actually in existence 10,000 years ago? What if the same god was in existence 3,000 years ago? 2,000?
What if that god ceased to exist in the last few hundred years?
What if that god needed sacrifice to sustain his super-engergy level? What if the sacrifices, the nutrients, the sutenance that god used to receive: from priests, from temples, from worshippers … terrified, threatened, cajoled …
Can a “Confucian”-type god sustain when the sacrifices are given instead to Ford? and GM?

Only since I jotted the above has bk sent me the e-book Evolution of God by Robert Wright. And I just read the following:

The Ainu, Japan’s aborigines, would sometimes try to win divine favor with offerings of millet beer, but if the gods didn’t reciprocate with good fortune, the Ainu would threaten to withhold future beer unless things improved.

i be back

Cosmology, Theology

Posted in god | Leave a comment

Aging Scrapbook

/ Stories / By Age / ’70s /


I’ve been riding my bike nearly every day for a bit now, three miles, five miles … I’m embarrassed to report a mistake I just made:
I was pedalling home through Woodhaven Estates. A couple, elderly, were walking ahead of me. When I first took up skiing I was grateful to the experts who would warn “On your left” or “On your right” as they whizzed past me. This pair shifted position, and then some. Finally I was almost upon them, the woman was lurching a bit left. I decided the safest and most courteous thing would be to pass them on her right. So I said, softly, “On your right.”

I saw no response from her or him, but by that time I was abreast of her and passing her. “Ooo, ooo, ooo,” I heard from her. “Ahh, ahh.” Then, “You should toot your horn.”

No, I did better than that: I spoke, in an even voice, unalarmingly. At least that was the intention.

I’m 78 1/2. I don’t hear much of what people say. I suspect this couple didn’t either. I warned them, they remained unwarned. Now I see that I should have come up on his left, should have warned them earlier, should have made sure they acknowledged me … Or I should have blared them off the face of the planet with a truck horn! I worked in a motorcycle place in NY& in 1967: Outrider sold truckers’ air horns for motorcycles: clear traffic for ten miles!

I coming up behind them, I should warn them in a polite way; but at the same time at some time pedestrians become responsible for their own handicaps: they certainly weren’t paying attention.

London Bridge is the first known avenue to have instituted traffic rules: then invented traffic keeping to the left, or to the right. With manners many more people can it into the one shrinking world.

Points I yield on: I believe that pedestrians should have right of way and right of courtesy over vehicles: they were afoot, I was on a bicycle.
Further: it was (I presume their park, not mine. I owed them a little extra courtesy. They were old: I should beware of assuming competence.
But I’m old too. they should beware of assuming competence … pk, joking again.

Stories by Theme by Age
Posted in old age, Uncategorized | Leave a comment