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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Where Is God?

Only the mystery we call God can change the hell that can sometimes exist both in our mind or in the world that surrounds us. No other mystical power or force of science can change that permanently with  lasting effects in mind. Thank God for God. How truly alone we'd feel if He didn't exist. Without God the wonder that we call the universe would be a charade or a cruel joke. All this dazzling immensity and beauty created for no reason and easily destroyed--eventually after billions of years--meaninglessly, as well.

God must exist, you see. He just has to. Otherwise the quality and beauty of life is cheapened.

If--and this we cannot prove--God does not exist then we have to become our own all-loving, all-forgiving and all-comforting "God." [1]  Let us not even consider the quagmire of dealing with lower-case gods or beneficent forces of nature. We need God or the ideal implied by the word God, not just for each other's sake, or for our own sake. We also need God or the ideal of God ("God") for the benefit of the culmination of eons of evolution--pre-primate and primate--as well. Ultimately we need God if only to insure that our own health and survival as a species is assured for whatever fate or providence or some nameless and undefined Factor or Ideal has in store for us down the road. Without something larger than ourselves millions of years of human evolution lose whatever meaning artists and poets have attributed to the wonder of being human and being alive to enjoy that splendor and glory. [2]

Humanity really, then, is created in the image of God. We are carbon copies of our perfect and wonderful God. We need God, however, to let that wonder and perfection shine and grow. Not from within ourselves only but from a mysterious reality or force beyond ourselves. That mystery can only be called God. It truly can be said of us, His children, that "we are the light of the world."


  1. It may not be necessary for some, but in the event that there is some confusion as to what I'm referring to when I speak of God (the deity of the Old and New Testament Bible) and "God" (the ideal of God or a conceptual God, if he were not to exist) this note may prove helpful. Again, it is not my intention nor concern at this time to address any interaction or use of a lower-case god. There are already too many lower-case gods in our  postmodern world.
  2. Though probably used in a different context and possessing different meaning than what I've presented here, I am partially indebted to Jack Provonsha's "God is With Us" which I read at the age of 19. It still lingers in my mind though only vaguely. It was there that I first came upon the sometimes confusing uses of God and "God."

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Compassion is Always Welcomed, Whatever the Source

Not sure of my reasons I separated from my wife for a trip to New York City years ago to decide what the next move would be. Once in the City I called an old college chum with whom I had been in touch with over the years. Through the years we had invited him over for dinner and to spend the weekend with Callisto and little Io, our beloved pets for which he had a special fondness.

I told my friend Gio that I was in town for business and would he like me to drop by and get caught up. Gio, usually very hospitable hemmed and hawed and repeatedly turned me down, very politely, of course. How strange of him to suddenly turn off his friendliness when he always used to chime in via yahoo messenger frequently when I was online. We decided that we'd meet the following day at the Van Dyke Cafe in Soho and take it from there.

Hearing some female laughter in the background I later decided that Gio was tied up and couldn't say very much. Later that evening when I suspected he'd be in, and his guest gone, he'd logged into yahoo messenger, but I had logged in invisibly on purpose. I took my laptop with me to make sure he'd be at home and thought I'd give good old Gio a surprise, pleasant or unpleasant as the case may be, by showing up and bringing over a bottle of Cold Duck (I was a drinker then, I no longer drink.) We had that kind of relationship that allowed us to surprise the other and later offer apologies for having done so.

When I arrived I was greeted by Enrique, an engineer friend of Gio's whom I had only heard about. The room was full of about a dozen people. A motley crew of men, two women, Latinos and others. The music seemed to stop when I walked in which I thought odd since from outside the door it sounded like all were having a lot of fun.

Except for Enrique and Abdul most of the other guests were strangely distant and even impolite. I was thankful for at least two friendly people at this event. It was a going-away party for the two ladies, I think, who were overdressed it seemed to me.

The evening got more and more complicated and icy until I was subjected--much to my surprise--to some particularly offensive comments from one of the ladies, the blond. I suspected that--based on that type of comment--she was no lady whatsoever. At least not the kind of decent and cultured woman that I was used to when we entertained at home.

After she'd had one too many drinks she leaned up to me while I was distracted with my first drink and to my total shock subjected me to an invasive and improper physical gesture which caused the drink to explode from my hands and onto the tile floor. So humiliated was I in front of the other lady, my friend Gio and others that I reacted almost impulsively and slapped the woman--evidently too hard as it caused a tooth and some blood to jump out of her mouth and into a guest's drink.

Of course, I was aghast at my behavior and apologized to her, my friend and everyone present. Gio quickly ushered me into the bedroom as Ms. Darling, it turned out her name was, was given first aid by Miss Violet, the other lady present.

Once in his bedroom I apologized again, and Gio explained Ms. Darling's actions and her particular situation. He said not to worry too much about her teeth as they had been falling into her food, etc., and needed the services of a good dentist and soon. The other bit of information he shared with me about her, stunned me a bit more and I quickly had to ask Gio to get me another drink and some Valium if he still had some. He complied with both requests, but then we both realized how unwise that combination was, after the fact.

Once downstairs I was ready to exit as quickly as possible when a new voice jumped in front of the door and said, "not so quick, buster." He had been told about how I had knocked out Ms. Darling's tooth. Evidently he had not been told what precipitated the slap and I could tell his temper was rising with every passing minute. To my surprise Gio and no one else came to my rescue as the man started to poke me with his finger and lectured me about proper behavior at parties. It seemed others knew what his temper was like and tried to talk him out of whatever he was planning. All to no avail as he now had started cursing at me and rolling up his sleeves.

I had no idea that a surprise visit to my friend Gio would turn out this way and I had to think quickly as to flee or fight. I only saw the fire escape as an option, but wasn't sure if I could distract him long enough to try to make it out the window and onto the roof or downward to the ground. Sensing that this altercation would end badly for all concerned to my surprise Ms. Darling threw herself between us, wrenched us apart with her white cocktail dress now marred with her own blood and shouted at him, as the anonymous friend was almost in another dimension by now, that it was her fault and that she got what she had coming to her. I apologized to her again and she said not to even mention it again.

Fortunately Mr. No-Name backed down and I was able to make a normal exit out of the apartment. Hopefully, never to return again.

Disclaimer: Incidentally, one of the two photos in this post is of Ms. Ultra Violet who in her prime was a Warholian superstar. I actually met her when I and fellow choir members, sang on one track of her only record album. I have never had the privilege to be in a modern recording studio again. I had one chance to pick up the album in question 20 years ago in an East Village used-record shop but had no money on me at the time.

The other photo is of a lady who really did have a tooth that fell into her food as she waited on tables when not performing in her art film events. I am still delighted that I had my brief brush with an avant-garde film-set "Factory Girl" at such a young age.

Authorial privilege enabled me to fuse together strands of two personal first-hand experiences with elements of a decades-old plot from an off-Broadway play. Kudos to Mart Crowley for his ground-breaking play.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Agnostic and Christian: Both Seek Truth

It is healthier in the long run for a Christian to flirt with agnosticism as God, in His infinite love, permits. I will tell you why that is.

Our life may only be lived once. Unlike Hindus we don't get other lives to try again. Still, we better be very sure that we are Christians beyond a shadow of a doubt otherwise we will have lived a sometimes incomplete life all for nothing.

Agnostics believe there is no one Book that contains all the truth you need. Christians believe the Bible has all the truly big answers. Can they both be right?

Could a synthesis of both be valid or simly an intellectual exercise?

Could one be an agnostic who flirts with Christianity's Bible occasionally as he might flirt with the holy books of Hindus, Muslims or the Tao revered by Buddhists?

Could a Christian attempt to find valuable insights in these centuries-old writings, as well. Where would he or she draw the line? A preference for the Bible would need to take center stage otherwise the truth-seeking Agnostic would be a more honest approach to one's life and those we interact with.

Whichever camp you choose to join I wish you a happy and productive life. Peace I leave with you.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

This Changes Everything about Observable Reality

Observable truth about the extent or the nature of the universe will change and be incorrect with what we know now to be true sometime in the distant future. For a believer in God this, necessarily, has ramifications.

If at some distant point in the future scientists will see only pure blackness surrounding our little local group of galaxies, including the Milky Way galaxy. Might not scientists now be missing important, once observable, information about the universe that is forever lost because of its distance in space and time? That information would have long expanded away from our most powerful telescopes. Perhaps other once-observable realities, or forces, that may still be out there, but are beyond our most sensitive and powerful instruments to detect, are forever gone to us. We can never know what has passed us by because we live at this point in time, and on this particular galaxy.

One solution would be if our descendants could build a 99.9 percent fast-as-light space craft, or even a theoretically faster star craft that would travel at the same speed as the expanding universe which is moving away from us at faster-than-light sped. (See article below for this faster-than-light fact.) However, I'm not sure we could travel that far in our 80 years of life, or that our descendants on-board would ever reach the edges of the myriad galaxies we can easily see now, or that our virtual robotic substitutes would ever reach the galaxies that are now observable to humanity.

Another part of the problem would be that our original future culture back home (the one that sent us in search of these distant galaxies) would have ceased to exist or would have experienced billions of our real-time years and so we could never communicate this important reality to them. We would only be able to share the existence of formerly-invisible galaxies to those on-board with us. We could use this on-board remnant of humanity to become humanity as we will know it someday with some planning if we travel to that distant point in space and time via a Macrolife type of craft and engineered habitat (See the Dandridge Cole post about the real possibility of Macrolife in Macrolife, Space Colonization & Adventist Futurism)

You will always have those who would think such missing information that was once observable from Earth, as irrelevant to their world. Such an attitude on the part of our recent ancestors would,  no doubt, have stuck us in the industrial age for centuries since that age possessed enough comforts and wonders for society to function satisfactorily, though not as efficiently as post-industrial culture now functions.

Would God ever allow or permit, though not condone--as conservative Christians are wont to say--such a cataclysmic state to ever occur to the far future inhabitants of planet Earth?  Would He let humanity not see scientifically-observable facts that their ancestors, aka our present generation, took for granted, i.e., that the universe consists of more than our immediate galactic cluster?

Have these changes in perceptual realities already taken place and we, of course, have no way of knowing what we could have known had we been on Earth millions or billions of years ago. If not on Earth, than at least on one of the worlds within our galactic cluster?
Please see:

Friday, January 14, 2011

Coming to terms with Science and Faith

Why did God permit man to appear 200,000 years ago in Sub-Saharan Africa? Creating humankind on day six of Creation week is simpler, perfect and requires less faith than crediting impersonal natural selection for the personable being that is man (generic term intended.)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Meaning of Everything

Galileo helped further the truth that the Earth revolves around the sun and not the sun around the Earth. Though it caused havoc for both Galileo and society we are better off with the knowledge.

Recently I'm reading more about M-Theory which suggests quite strongly that the universe is not just one but an infinite number. We live, M-Theory suggests, not in a Universe but as part of a Multiverse. The ramifications of M-Theory are too many to outline briefly but let me share some thoughts about how M-Theory relates to those who believe in One God.

With an infinite number of universes all created by one God how can we insist that ours is the only sinful world. What if in at least one percent of the infinite number of universes of the multiverse there was one world that also contains sinful beings in need of redemption. One percent of an infinite number is of course an infinite number, as well.

Where am I going with all this? Some will decide that the implications of this line of reasoning lead to agnosticism. Others will catalog it along with the centuries-old discovery that the sun does not revolve around the Earth. World culture survived such monumental discoveries. People of faith eventually followed suit. If both survived such discoveries once it will, no doubt, happen again.

God bless us, his children, who live on an even tinnier speck in one world among the infinite number of worlds of the Multiverse.

By the way, "Hyperspace" (the book that appears in the photo above) was written by Michio Kaku, a respected scientist and a favorite author, and is not science fiction. It is about cosmology, quantum physics, etc.

Consult also the following serious work by another favorite author:  “The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos” by Brian Greene, a professor of physics and mathematics at Columbia.

Thank you.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Evolution's Eons or God's Creative Power and Their Challenges

Science provides a fossil record that most educated individuals accept easily as the logical explanation of how we all got here. It does not, nor can it, purport to explain why we are here.

Religion (Judeo-Christian-Muslim) presents God or Allah as the all-powerful Being who spoke worlds into existence in a flash. It does not attempt to explain the how, but it pretty much delves into why we are here. We are here to treat each other the way we ourselves would like others to treat us. The Bible also tell us that a supernatural being, God, created humanity and all we see out of love for us and out of His desire to interact with his special creation.

A few years ago a renowned cosmologist complained that the more he understood the apparent nature of the cosmos the more he was baffled by the pointlessness of all this immensity. What is the point of all of cosmic reality coming into being eons ago and slipping into final entropy or death eons from now? If no intelligent being, other than pure chance, caused such variety of life--animate and inanimate--to exist, why all the bother? Now some would tell you, and some optimistic scientists will also point out, that regardless of why we are here, it's a good thing that we are to marvel and study this phenomenon called life. Better to have lived and then died, but before doing so, you have 70 plus years to enjoy other living things and the wonders of the universe, than never to have known such pleasant experiences. Of course, life is not always good for everyone so there's an element of heredity or hard work or luck that sometimes maximizes ones chances of living the proverbial good life.

Some try to solve this enigmatic disharmony between the What For of humanistic evolution and the How of God's creative acts by positing that God works through theistic evolution to bring about his crowning creation, humankind, to enjoy their lives for His as well as their benefit. Some find unacceptable problems with this idea since it would mean that God was the author of death in that he permitted millions of living things, and pre-Homo Sapiens ancestors, to live all for the purpose of bringing about his special creation: Homo Sapiens (Man the Thinker.)

Also difficult to justify into theistic evolution is if there was no Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, then there was no Original Ain, and Christ Jesus did not have to die for fallen humanity. Now some would say that each man and woman decides early in life whether to live an altruistic life or to live a life of selfishness. In that case humans need a supernatural Being to grant them favor (grace) to chose the former and not the latter. Since each person has an innate choice in early childhood to chose to do the right thing or to do the bad thing the proverbial Fall comes to each person at some point in their early existence. With that possibility, then all of us needs a supernatural Savior to make it possible to reach the very best ethical goals that we can. No one, not even a small child, is ever morally developed, or sinless, in  biblical terminology. All fall away from desirable ethical or behavioristic perfection as soon as intelligence is sufficient to produce either positive or negative choices.

In the final analysis, we are either here as the result of cold, calculating evolution and natural selection and we need to make the best of it and enjoy our universe and each other while the human race is still around to do so.

Or we chose to believe that a wonderful Being, light years beyond our powers of imagination, created us, wants to interact with us, and will return for us to rescue us from a dying planet.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

We Create Our Own Reality. Really.

If you have wandered here it is because something drew you here. You wanted to access something different, something wonderful that has the potential to enhance your life in ways that will delight you. Law of attraction, positive living and other popular phrases have brought you to this point in time.

Yes, there is an element of self-fulfilling prophecy or statements that are available to all of us. For example, "I will have a great day" as opposed to "This will be a lackluster day." "A winner never quits" as opposed to "I can't seem to get it right." And finally, "Maximize your day" is preferable to "This day has little potential." I don't know about you, but there is more positive energy and life-giving power in the more agreeable of each set of statements.

Having said that, the life-enhancing effect of what you say to yourself and to others is vital to the quality of life that we create. The popular lyric "I will survive" has given many women and men a push when things didn't go as they had planned.

Conversely, the opposite side of the coin is that less-than-perfect statements made to yourself or to others have negative potential that has to be witnessed to validate the downward spiral of its damaging causative agent, i.e., negative words. A  friend told me 30 years ago that he had memories of his mother frequently telling him that he was a "bad boy." He started to believe his dear mother for whom he felt some affection and gradually became the bad boy she told him to be by her repeated statement. That bad boy is now a father and grandfather and is a useful member of society, but he had to shake his "bad boy persona" that was encouraged by his mother's words.

If you have landed here looking for a more traditional and spiritual element here's the personal affirmation I practice daily:

I believe God is forgiving me and healing me. [1] I also believe God is purifying me from all imperfections.[2] In Christ Jesus' name. Amen.

  1. Psalm 103
  2. 1 John 1:9

Monday, January 3, 2011

Perfect Sex, Valium-laced Gazpacho and a Dose of Compassion

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown may well be the only film of Pedro Almodovar's which is good for most, not all, Christians. It is a comic and mad-cap film a la Some Like It Hot and Breakfast at Tiffany's. It is currently on Broadway for a limited run although it has a stellar cast which includes Patti Lupone and Justin Guarini, among others.

Mr. Almodovar has been given two Oscars, or Academy Awards, by the Academy of Motion Pictures for All About My Mother (best foreign film) and Talk to Her (best original screenplay in which we competed and beat original screenplays in English.)
Fox News Latino reports that the show will close tomorrow:

Producers announced Tuesday that the show will end on Jan. 2., although it was originally scheduled to close Jan. 23. The new date means the musical will end its run after 30 previews and 69 performances. It opened Nov. 4.

The show, faithful to Almodóvar's 1988 movie both in its narrative and bold, visual style, starred Patti LuPone, Brian Stokes Mitchell and Sherie Rene Scott.

Nevertheless, the good news is that the original film, on which this frothy and very humane look at women in various states of mental and romantic disarray is based on, will live on forever.

However, this film is not the only movie containing elements of "things that are lovely, praiseworthy and true" as Paul of Tarsus recommended that Christians think on things that possessed these qualities.

Here is a list I've compiled, for Almodvar fans, whether Christian or not. It should be pointed out, in the sake of fairness to Mr. Almodovar, that he is a self-avowed atheist, although he would be pleased, I would imagine, that even Christians care enough about his films to consider which ones are more suitable for their particular lifestyle.

Ultra conservative Christian: No Almodovar film is acceptable.

Moderately conservative Christian: Women on the Verge, etc., and Volver.

Mainstream Christian: All of the above and add the following: Broken Embraces, Talk to Her, The Flower of My Secret

Progressive Christian: All of the above and add the flowing: Bad Education, All about My Mother, Live Flesh, High Heels, Kika, Tie Me Up Tie Me Down, Law of Desire, What Have I Done to Deserve This, Dark Habits and Labyrinth of Passion

The above list is alomost complete. It does not include Almodovar's earliest film ". . . y Otras Chicas del Monton" and it does not, nor can it, Matador. It is, perhaps, the most objectionable film for a Christian because of its amoral view of murder and romantic suicides. I have seen it only one time and that is one time too many. Approach it at your own risk. It may harm you in unexpected ways. Unless, of course, Almodovar intended a modern morality tale, in which case the film went over my head. There are serious academics who deconstruct Almodovar's films full-time. Oh to have such a career of viewing and analyzing Pedro Almodovar's films "todo el santo dia" (all the livelong day.)

Now for the answer to the question in the Facebook teaser related to this post. I had asked "Who is Pedro Almodovar and What Is His Rare Cinematic Accomplishment?" Mr. Almodovar, in addition to having received two Academy Awards has the rarest of cinematic abilities. His ability is so seamless that you don't realize it half the time.

Starting with his early film, Labyrinth of Passion (where he makes accidental incest humorous--yes, humorous--due to a Pharmacist's bungling of a kindly father's prescription,) continuing through Kika where you have to laugh though you know you shouldn't when an escaped convict who is an ex-porn star and mentally retarded finds poor Kika relaxing in mid-afternoon and starts to rape her, though he is cavalier about it, as much as a rapist could be in such a situation, and ending with All About My Mother (his first academy  award success) and its pre-op transgender ladies of the night playing patty-cake hand games while the cars steam past them oblivious to the seriousness of the Field where they come to work nightly.

In these and other films Almodovar has the ability to cushion the shock value of what would, in other hands, be very poor taste. Through Almodovar's eyes the victims are more victors than sufferers and the seedy seems more familiar and understandable than it would appear in another director's hands. Which is to say, Almodovar finds humanity, compassion and humor where ordinarily others see only inhumanity, intolerance and sadness. This gift of his makes almost all of his movies worth watching except the one or two early films, and for some tastes, his controversial Bad Education which is based on his childhood, in part.

Whether or not you are a Christian do yourself a favor and see at least one of Pedro Almodovar's films this year. And it will be a good year.

For a Christian spin on Almodovar films please consult the all original stories of a sister blog: Christians on the Verge of a Cosmic Meltdown. Please click on the link of same title at the top of the page. The blog in question has both English and Spanish posts. Please use Google translator to get a rough idea of what the Spanish-only posts say. I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed creating them

If you are curious why I am so passionate about Almodovar's films "despues te lo cuento" (I'll tell you about it later.)