attitudes towards sex – avoiding the harmful extremes

We recently encountered these words in a novella length short story from nearly one hundred years ago, Out of Nowhere into Nothing (which is found in The Egg and Other Stories published by Dover Publications in 2000 as a republication of the 1921 work by Sherwood Anderson, The Triumph of the Egg:  A Book of Impressions from American Life in Tales and Poems).  These stories are fictional yet are the author’s attempts to portray attitudes of the time.  (We will from time to time read books written decades ago to gain insights into how people thought at earlier times.)

We share these words (from pages 128 – 130) now as the starting point of today’s essay.

Ma Wescott is thinking to herself and then speaking to her 27 year old daughter, Rosalind, who is romantically involved with a man.

page 128

. . . . To her she must make clear the fate of all women.  Young girls grew up dreaming, hoping, believing.  There was a conspiracy.  Men made words, they wrote books and sang songs about a thing called love.  Young girls believed.  They married or entered into close relationships with men without marriage.  On the marriage night there was a brutal assault and after that the woman had to try to save herself as best she could.  She withdrew within herself, further and further within herself.

page 129

. . . . . She had been thinking, all through the years she had been thinking.  There was a dreadful lie in life, the whole fact of life was a lie.

She had thought it all out.  There was a world somewhere unlike the world in which she lived.  It was a heavenly place in which there was no marrying or giving in marriage, a sexless quiet windless place where mankind lived in a state of bliss.  For some unknown reason mankind had been thrown out of that place, had been thrown down upon the earth. It was a punishment for an unforgivable sin, the sin of sex.

The sin had been in her as well as in the man she had married.  She had wanted to marry. Why else did she do it?  Men and women were condemned to commit the sin that destroyed them.  Except for a few rare sacred beings no man or woman escaped.

page 130

. . . . . Life was a lie.  Life perpetuated itself by the lie called love.  The truth was that life itself came out of sin, perpetuated itself only by sin.

“There is no such thing as love.  The word is a lie.  The man you are telling me about wants you for the purpose of sin,” she said. . . .

. . . . “Men only hurt women,” she said, “they can’t help wanting to hurt women.  They are made that way.  The thing they call love doesn’t exist.  It’s a lie.”

“Life is dirty.  Letting a man touch her dirties a woman.”  Ma Wescott fairly screamed forth the words.  They seemed torn from her, from some deep inner part of her being.  . . . . Ma Wescott had said nothing of what was in her mind.  She had thought it all out, what she wanted to say to her daughter.  Why would the words not come?  The passion for denial within her was not satisfied.  “There is no love.  Life is a lie.  It leads to sin, to death and decay,” she called into the darkness.

What do you think of these quotes?

The other extreme, to the current widespread sexual license that is disconnected from a healthy understanding of morality, is the hatred of sex and this leads to sexless, dead marriages.

I think this is sick.  The quotes above appear to indicate a case of personal bitterness taken to a grotesque extreme where mental illness, even insanity, may be present.  In addition to bitterness, religion may have been a factor in this woman’s thinking.  The quotes above could pass for the writings of Christian monks during Scholastic times (11th to 13th centuries).

Extremism begets extremism.  Hatred of sex.  Extreme prudishness.  A twisted, distorted understanding of holiness.  An inhuman view of human sexuality.  Sexless, joyless, love less, dead marriages.  All this leads to, as it has done during the 20th century, to sexual anarchy.  Sexual addicts.  Widespread promiscuity.  Etc.  Extreme attitudes to sex do much harm to real people.

the rigid inflexibility of some churches

Causing much harm to our attitudes about sex, western Christianity (since the time of St. Augustine, died 430) has clung to an ancient pagan sexual pessimism that is not authentically Christian.  For too long, the churches have had a negative attitude towards sex within marriage.  Taken to a grotesque extreme, we have the sexual morality of celibates, the morality of the monastery or the cloistered convent.  This “morality” seeks to emasculate husbands and de-sexualize wives.  Of course, this morality ceases to be moral with the harm it does to married persons and becomes a tool of power and control. (Christians need to consider what Jesus taught in the Gospels.  He calls us to live a moral, human life.)

For many, the Catholic Church comes to mind here.  The institutional Church, as opposed to the Catholic faith, treads too heavily upon marriage.  For many Catholics, it is hard to go along with all of the Church’s many positions on so many diverse issues.  The Catholic Church with its bishops and lay apologists will bleed for convicted capital murderers on death row awaiting execution (thanks to Pope John Paul II’s personal animosity to capital punishment).  At the same time, the Church will assert that the husband who desires to make love with his wife can be guilty of lust.  (Again, John Paul.)  But, this is not accurate as lust refers to unlawful sexual desire.  There is talk of frequent sex within marriage leading to the “objectification” of the wife (especially if the couple is using contraception). What some of these church men and their lay apologists fail to grasp or fully appreciate is that women do have a sex drive.  (By the way, you will be hard pressed to ever see the Church – in its voluminous writings on sex within marriage over many centuries – use the term “lovemaking” to describe what goes on in the marriage bed between the spouses.)  As to the objectification of persons, that is what occurs not in marriage but with bed hopping, one night stands and casual sexual “hook-ups” between strangers.  As well, it is offensive to many married persons when the Church complains about those husbands and wives who incorporate oral play (oral sex) into their lovemaking, which the Church chooses to forbid at all times, even on non-fertile days (when there is no possibility of conception occurring).

married lovemaking and the sexless marriage

Our view, not very popular with those of the extremes, is that sex ought to be reserved, saved for marriage.  The spouses should practice and enjoy mutually fulfilling sexual love within their loving marriage.  The lovemaking needs to be frequent, playful, passionate and enjoyable for both spouses.  Thus, the marriage bond is strengthened.  (Sexual frustration within marriage leads to sexual sin and marriage failure.)

There is a need for Christian marriage bloggers.  These marriage bloggers are married women and married men.  Thus, they can address the many challenges in marriage having the actual experience of being married themselves.  What is one of the most frequent topics on Christian marriage blogs?  Which essays have many painful comments submitted by readers, both by wives and by husbands?  Answer: The topic of sexual refusal (and sexual neglect) within marriage and the closely related topic of the mostly sexless marriage.

One curious or odd thing to note is that many married couples stuck in a sexually dysfunctional marriage had frequent sex while they were dating and engaged to marry. We read many comments from both husbands and wives about how they had – while dating their then future spouse – lots of passionate sex prior to getting married.  But, since their wedding day the frequency of sexual intimacy has fallen off significantly.  This seems to us to be getting it backwards.  Try to save the sex for marriage.  Once married, let no one tell you not to engage in frequent, mutually pleasurable lovemaking with your spouse.

The lovemaking makes one vulnerable, yes, but it also opens us up to the mutual respect, the shared trust and mutual appreciation that we can build and experience with our spouse during our lovemaking.  This shared emotional vulnerability need not be feared and thus avoided.  In time, it can and will be supplanted by a stronger, deeper trust of one’s spouse, a greater respect for him or her, and a loving, embracing, deeper acceptance of him or her. But, this will not happen, cannot happen, when you refuse your spouse frequent sexual intimacy.

Our featured image is of a heart, an inflated heart under a sunny sky.

 

heart in the open

Copyright 2014 – larrysmusings.com

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the turning point – that delicious moment

Poetry that does not rhyme

is still worth the time

. . . . the turning point, the inflection point . . . . when the pain and the sorrow having reached a peak of intensity, are spent . . . .  the anguish finally stops, lifts, dissolves away . . . . and, for a passing moment you are numb, without feeling . . . . then peace and bliss flowers, blossoms up, wells up, like a fountain abruptly switching on . . . .

. . . . that delicious moment when the accumulated, built-up, excruciating, gnawing tension gives way to . . . . sweet, powerful, soothing (waves of) release . . . . and the spirit flies, soars free . . . . leaving the nagging flesh behind.

. . . . death is the release, the climax, the orgasm that frees the spirit of the prison house of the flesh. . . . why do we fear it so?

. . . . end of non-rhyming poem . . . .

 

We include these pictures from a cruise last year to Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta (previously posted, but very nice).

 

rocks at water's edge in Cabo 2

 

The timeless, ever restless sea lapping against the rocks and slowly, inexorably eroding these away beneath a long lived sun.

 

rocks at water's edge in Cabo

 

Rocks at water’s edge.

 

rocks at water's edge

 

copyright 2014 – larrysmusings.com

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the spectre of mental illness has always haunted human history

the spectre of mental illness has always haunted human history

Kings that went mad and became megalomaniacs (some even going so far as to declare themselves to be God, and then demanding to be worshipped). Religious zealots, or fanatics, who did not (or would not) govern their religious fervor with reason.  Deranged sociopaths that murder and traffic in mayhem.  Delusional utopian Marxists who murdered tens of millions of human beings in the 20th century (here many would object, and label these bloodthirsty tyrants as evil, not insane).  Power hungry, shallow, yet narcissistic community organizers.  Enough examples.

There is a very relevant question lurking here:  What constitutes true mental illness, and what is just pure old-fashioned evil?  The question is not an idle one, nor intended to be an exercise in philosophical speculation.  There are important real world implications here.

If one is truly suffering from serious mental illness, then he or she is not (fully) responsible for his/her actions, but still would need to be confined in a controlled setting if they are violent and dangerous to others and/or to themselves.  If they are mentally competent, not seriously mentally ill, these violent, destructive individuals will be dealt with in the existing criminal justice system (that may need serious reform or restructuring).

Resources, nowadays, often are available to help diagnose and treat such baneful psychoses.  But, psychiatry – it needs to be said – does not have all the answers, nor is it likely ever to possess all the “answers”.  Drugging and sedating individuals in an effort to control their behavior, except in extremely violent cases, is a risky and dangerous path to embark upon, or to continue along.

But, how does one know that he or she is mentally ill, or becoming so?  How can a person recognize the warning signs in themselves?  How can others, close to such a person, recognize the red flags of approaching danger?  Anyone who listens to the news regularly hears of multiple murders, suicides, and not infrequently of multiple murder-suicides where one person kills others (usually family members or co-workers), and then kills himself.  The news reports sometimes indicate that there were existing problems that were known to others, but in other cases it is noted that there were no indications of existing stresses or mental illness that would lead to outbreaks of such violence and destruction.

Perhaps, there is an unrecognized collective psychosis in today’s society that too many individuals are suffering from, albeit they are unaware of its presence and symptoms.

Just food for thought.  We don’t claim to have the answers either.  But, these questions ought to be given consideration.

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Capital Punishment for Convicted Capital Murderers is not a Pro-Life Issue

Capital Punishment for Convicted Capital Murderers is not a Pro-Life Issue

The late Pope John Paul II had a serious distaste, or even animosity, towards capital punishment.  However, he could not impose a de jure change (on this issue) on the Catholic Church as Church teaching had allowed for the use of capital punishment in previous centuries.  However, he was able to achieve a de facto change in Church attitudes to the death penalty.  This can be seen in the articles and opinion pieces published in Catholic periodicals (including local diocesan publications) in the past 15 or more years.  This altered attitude is also to be heard in Church pronouncements on the life issues as these pronouncements now include reference to capital punishment as something to be condemned (as it is unnecessary).

The same is now true in homilies at Sunday Mass in many, if not most, parishes in the USA.  I recently heard one such homily where the 5th Commandment was addressed by the priest.  The correct translation of the 5th Commandment is “Thou shalt not murder”. Note this carefully. It does not translate to “Thou shalt not kill” as some priests are claiming.  In this homily several weeks ago, the priest allowed for national self defense in the form of a just war (a concept the Catholic Church arrived at some centuries ago).  He also mentioned individual or family self defense when being assaulted with lethal force as being morally licit.  He was conspicuously silent on societal self defense and the proper application of capital punishment.  Well, I will not be so silent.  And, this was not the first homily on the subject that I found distasteful.  Last summer, at another parish, a priest specifically cited capital punishment along with abortion as being serious moral evils.

This inclusion of capital punishment in the life issues does serious damage to the pro-life movement’s credibility and effectiveness by introducing needless confusion into its message.  To be pro-life means that one condemns (and likely abhors) the taking of innocent human life (murder) by any means.  That is why the pro-life position condemns wars that are not justified, murder, abortion (in all its forms), euthanasia, so-called mercy killings, assisted suicides, and the withholding of basic food and water from severely, and even not so severely, handicapped newborns and infants (a growing form of infanticide in the Western world) and all other forms of infanticide.  I have yet to hear a persuasive, much less compelling, argument as to why capital punishment is correctly a pro-life issue. Quite simply, this is because capital punishment is not a pro-life issue. The convicted capital murderer residing on death row is not an example of innocent human life.

Ought the Church address the issue of capital punishment?  Of course, the Church can and ought to address this issue.  The Church, rather than attacking and condemning capital punishment per se, can and ought to address the serious abuses of its application in the world.  Here are a couple of examples of abuses of capital punishment that need to be condemned.  Summary executions, where there is no due process (no fair trials) are to be condemned.  Summary executions often, if not always, lead to individuals being executed who are either innocent of crimes, or are guilty of less than capital offenses.  Applying capital punishment to less than capital offenses is also immoral and must be condemned. In some countries (Communist China comes to mind, but there are other offending nations such as in the Islamic world), individuals can be and are executed for property crimes such as theft, or for such things as adultery.  Those abuses of capital punishment are rightly condemned.

You might also want to read this essay:

http://larrysmusings.wordpress.com/2012/06/19/common-ground-with-islam-islam-appears-not-to-have-much-of-importance-in-common-with-christianity/

Thank you for reading and thinking about this.

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a critical look at how the Holocaust (of European Jewry) has been used and other relevant questions

In this essay, we look at how the official history of the Holocaust has been used since 1945, and afterward we add a few relevant, important questions to the discussion.  For readers in Canada, Germany, and in various other European countries where it is forbidden by law to cast doubt on the official history of the Holocaust, please note that we are not doing so in this essay.  (We are not engaging in so-called “holocaust denial”.)

how the Holocaust has been used: the victorious Allies

The official Holocaust story (that we have all heard many times throughout our lives) has been used by the victorious Allies to provide cover for themselves by diverting attention away from their crimes and atrocities.  Collective guilt for the war and for the Holocaust was post facto pressed upon all the Germans, civilian and military alike, to justify and rationalize the punitive and lethal actions taken against the defeated Germans after the end of the war in May, 1945.  As well, there was a need on the part of the Western democracies (Britain and the US) to divert or distract attention (and scrutiny) from their war time alliance with the Soviet Union, a murderous regime whose objective was the destruction of western civilization and the spread of communism world wide.  The Holocaust was also convenient to Stalin and his cohorts in the USSR for diverting attention away from their horrific crimes (including, but certainly not limited to, the Holodomor in the Ukraine in 1932-3, a forced starvation (man-made famine) of 5 to 7 millions of peasants who had resisted collectivization).  The Soviets committed many heinous crimes and outrages before, during, and after the war.

Here is a little more on Allied war crimes (we have previously written on these crimes).

Allied war crimes – both during and after the war.  The terror bombing campaign of German cities started and pursued relentlessly by the British led to the deaths of several hundred thousand (by conservative estimates) German civilians.  The mass rapes (possibly more than 2 million German women and girls were victimized) and murders committed by the barbarous Red Army in late 1944 and in 1945 as eastern Germany was overrun and occupied.  The Bolshevik commissars were exhorting the Red Army soldiers to commit these crimes.  After the war, throughout the late 1940s, millions (12 to 14 million) of ethnic Germans were forcefully expelled from eastern territories (formerly German and now part of Poland) to journey on foot to the western zones of occupation. Millions perished during these expulsions.  Also, there was a punitive, purposeful program of starvation in the western zones of occupation – particularly in the French zone and most viciously in the American zone of occupation – directed at both the disarmed German military and the civilian population.  (We have cited documented references for this in earlier essays in February 2014.  We are not making this up.)  Let us not overlook that several nations conquered by the Germans, or allied with Germany, were captives of the Soviet Union and its communist system after the war and remained so until the break up of the Soviet Union decades later.

The Holocaust is what we read about in the history texts in our high schools and colleges. There have been many television documentaries over many years on the Holocaust. There have been Hollywood movies about it.  There are hundreds of books that have been published about the Holocaust or episodes or incidents in it.  We do not read of, or hear of, these heinous, horrific Allied war crimes against the German people.  The Holocaust has been used to divert attention away from these Allied atrocities.

how the Holocaust has been used: Israel and reparations

It must be said that the Holocaust has been used to make the post war West German government (to 1989, then a united Germany) pay several tens of billions of dollars in reparations to the state of Israel, and to survivors over many years.  Attempts were made in the mid to late 1990s to make Swiss banks pay compensation to Holocaust victims because the Nazis deposited seized Jewish money into such banks during the war. Opportunistic lawyers ended up taking much of these recovered monies.  Thus, survivors and their heirs saw little of it.

The Holocaust has also been used to stifle or blunt any criticism of Israel.  The Israelis pretty much maintain an apartheid system towards the Palestinians.  This apartheid approach to dealing with the Palestinians has led to hopelessness and despair in many of these people, especially among the youth.  (We condemn the attacks of Hamas on Israel, but we also condemn the harsh treatment of these people by Israel.)  The specter of the Holocaust serves to blunt criticism of Israel as the victims (of the Holocaust) cannot themselves be villains or victimizers, or so the thinking goes.

Some may assert that the Holocaust has been used as a moral justification for the founding of the modern State of Israel after the war.  This is somewhat misleading.  Zionists were in Palestine in the 1920s, 1930s and the early 1940s agitating for a state of their own.  The British authorities there at the time (under their post World War One mandate in this former Ottoman province) had clashes with these Zionists.

Why is there a Holocaust museum in Washington, D.C.?

The US Holocaust Museum – why here?  We can all agree that the Holocaust of European Jewry did not happen in the US.  (This museum had its annual operating budget subsidized with federal (i.e taxpayer) money in the 1990s.  We do not know if this subsidy continues today.)

Why not a museum or a memorial of some kind to the victims of injustices that occurred here in the US?!  One readily thinks of the victims of slavery.  Also, the Native Americans (American Indians) suffered harsh treatment, forced expulsions from their lands, broken treaties, etc.

There were small protests and sidewalk pickets at the museum in the 1990s by local African-Americans.  Their signs and placards read “move it to Israel”.  Not everyone thought this museum appropriate on the mall in Washington. (Also, this museum is not in character with the architecture of the various memorials and monuments in Washington.  It is a rather ugly edifice on the mall in Washington.)

This Holocaust Museum in Washington only deals with the Jewish “holocaust” of the 1940s in Europe.  There is no mention of other mass killings elsewhere in the world.

Why is there no mention of other genocides in this museum?  And, this directly leads us to our next question.

Why the exclusivity of Jewish suffering?

This fixation on the Holocaust, its singularity, prompts another question:  Why the exclusivity of Jewish suffering?

Excluding the Holocaust of European Jewry in the 1940s, here is a listing of some of the major genocides and targeted mass killings of the 20th century in chronological order. Armenians during World War One (killed by the Ottoman Turks), the Holodomor of Ukrainians by the Soviets 1932-3, Stalin’s purges of 1937, German and Japanese civilians incinerated in their cities by the Allies, Germans who died in the expulsions after the war and by the Allied policy of starvation in post war Germany, the crimes of the Communist regime in China under Mao that killed millions of Chinese, the Chinese conquest (early 1950s) and brutal occupation of Tibet that killed many Tibetans, Cambodia (late 1970s) under Pol Pot, the ongoing (large scale) female infanticide in China that began with the one child policy (1979), and Rwanda in the mid 1990s.

Is the murder of an innocent Jewish person more heinous, more horrific than the murder of a baby Chinese girl, or of a Rwandan, or a peasant of the Ukraine, or a German housewife, etc.?  Put differently, is the life of a Jew of intrinsically greater value than the lives of any of these others?

We must condemn all murders (and all forms of murder) or we have no authentic claim to being truly moral.  (Similarly, we must condemn all war crimes – even those committed by the victors.)

That is how we see it.  The charge of “anti-Semitism” is often thrown around to stifle debate about any aspect of the Holocaust.  We reject this and believe in free and open inquiry.

copyright 2014 – larrysmusings.com

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Obama Administration Suppresses Talk of Muslim Persecution of Christians: March 2014

larryzb:

This essay, we are reblogging, gives some idea how widespread and prevalent are the continuing atrocities against Christians in the Muslim world. What is not listed are the persecutions of Christians that are also taking place outside of the Muslim world in Vietnam, in China, in India, and even in Sri Lanka.

Originally posted on VOICE OF THE PERSECUTED:

anti_christian

Why is the U.S. downplaying or denying attacks against Christians?

“What about the churches which were desecrated? Is this not blasphemy? Where is justice?” — Fr. James Channan OP, Director of The Peace Center, Lahore, Pakistan.

Members of the Islamic group al-Shabaab publicly beheaded the mother of two girls, ages 8 and 15, and her cousin after discovering they were Christians. The girls “were witnesses to the slaughter.” — Somalia.

“Christian teaching is extremely harmful to the mental health of the people.” —Kazakhstan.

Five years’ imprisonment and up to $20,000 in fines for educators if they…speak to a Muslim child of religions other than Islam. — Brunei

Along with an especially egregious list of atrocities committed against Christian minorities throughout the Islamic world, March also saw some callous indifference or worse from the U.S. government.

President Barack Hussein Obama was criticized by human rights activists for not addressing the…

View original 3,300 more words

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Americans: just keep telling yourself “it cannot happen here”

Let’s begin this essay with our conclusions.  The majority of Americas do not want to be free as they are not willing to pay the price of freedom.  The price is eternal vigilance (and resistance) against the internal enemies of our freedoms and true rights.  As well, the price of freedom is taking personal responsibility for one’s life.  (This is anathema to many millions of Americans.)  We willingly vote to keep the 2 corrupt, craven parties in power that serve their banker and gangsta corporate masters.  We acquiesce while they take away our freedoms.  Thus, do we really even deserve to be free?  I am beginning to think that people, in large numbers, cannot really be free, are not up to taking responsibility for their lives.

Americans: just keep telling yourself “it cannot happen here”

Americans, as the brazenness and overreach of the government (at all levels) becomes more extreme over the next several years,  just keep telling yourself “it cannot happen here”.  Let that be your mantra and the rationalization for your state of denial.  Simply keep repeating to yourselves “this cannot happen here”.  Let that be the gag for your conscience and the justification for your apathy and inaction.

When you wake up one day to hear that a large portion of your financial assets have been seized, have been nationalized by the federal government, just tell yourself “this cannot happen here” as you drink your morning coffee.  Do you think what was done in Cyprus a while back was merely an anomaly?  And, it won’t matter if you are a good liberal or an enlightened “progressive” – your life savings will be seized at the whim of the government and there will be nothing you can do about it.

When the tax rates are dramatically raised on your salary, wages and your income from any real property (real estate assets) you may own, do not be upset or angry.  This is only being done for the greater collective good of society.

What do you think the militarization of your local police departments around the country has been about?  (This was started by George W. Bush shortly after 9/11/2001.)  Can you keep a secret?  It has not been about fighting terrorism or securing our borders.  Similarly, under Barack Obama, most federal government agencies are now arming themselves.  Do government officials and the lustfully power hungry bureaucrats that work in government fear civil and social unrest?  We had such unrest in the 1960s in the inner cities and on the college campuses.

How did we get to this point?

This unfolding scenario was a long time in coming.  One thing that cannot be ignored is the demoralization and dumbing down of our society over the past several decades.  Younger readers may not recognize this.  But. older readers can remember when the social fabric, albeit far from perfect, was not completely shredded.

When is it easier to manipulate and control people?  When they are distracted and demoralized.  (In July, 2012, we wrote of this.  See link at bottom.)  Thus, we currently see large segments of the US population that are living hedonistic lives and these people do not see – perhaps are incapable of seeing – the larger picture, the larger societal issues.  This is not helped at all when most American adults spend many hours each week sitting in front of their television sets and basically switching their minds off and zoning out.

It is no exaggeration to say that millions seem to be primarily concerned with: the next party they will attend where they can and will get drunk and/or “stoned” or “wasted”; and/or their next “hook-up” sexual encounter (one night stand) and who they will be having recreational sex with.  These people have no idea what true freedom is.  They do know what licentiousness is, but not true freedom.  A large segment of society is living an animalistic life as they eat, sleep, screw and “party”.  And, these folks rarely really think about any thing that does not immediately impact them and their “lifestyle”.

Can it be true that the greatest collective good for society will be achieved when the greatest number of individuals are living myopic, self-absorbed, hedonistic lives?

closing thoughts 

We Americans will be serfs in a new feudalism or serfdom or slavery.  We will all be economic slaves on the global plantation run by and for the bankers and the giant trans national corporations.  These banker gangstas and corporate executives do not really believe in free markets. They like to control, or at least manipulate the markets to add to their profits. and they insist that government aid them in this.  Thus, we have corporatism and not free market capitalism.

Oh, but you will have some “rights” under the new regimen.  Young, unmarried women, who are sexually active with multiple partners (this used to be called “promiscuous”), you will still have so-called abortion rights and the government health care system will pay for these.  Gays and lesbians will still be able to marry.  More recreational drugs will be legalized over time to keep you narcotized.  Sex, drugs, rock and roll will be available to all. You will not have to take personal responsibility for your lives.  The government will take on the responsibility for your life in return for your unquestioning obedience.  And, this “bargain”, this social compact, will not be negotiable nor revocable.  (The government will not be the servant of the people, but the master of the people.)

The American Dream of freedom and prosperity is in ruins.

 

China 84

 

Here is the link to a related essay from our blog’s archives.

http://larrysmusings.com/2012/07/03/collective-apathy-do-you-demoralise-people-when-you-de-moralize-them/

copyright 2014 – larrysmusings.com

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a Yangtze River cruise – day four – the Jingzhou Museum

In this final part of the river cruise picture essay, we take a short excursion on shore to the Jingzhou Museum.

On the beautifully landscaped grounds of the museum complex.

 

museum outside

 

The itinerary for the day.

 

itinerary day 4

 

One building of the museum complex.  Such architecture reminds me of buildings on a university campus.

 

museum

 

A flowering tree on the grounds.

 

blossoming tree in China

 

An information plaque.  Note the “no smoking” requirement at top.

 

museum 2

 

The sky may be hazy, but one can see a reflection in the water in this photo.  Was it Coleridge that gave us the poem, Xanadu?  This may be what he saw in his mind’s eye.

 

river side scene

 

Western tourists entering part of the museum complex on this late Spring day.

 

museum area

 

This next view appears to be adjacent to the previous one.

 

 

Chinese architecture

 

Inside one of the museum galleries.

 

gallery of artifacts

 

The Han Dynasty was contemporary with the ancient Roman Empire.  And, both were aware of the existence of the other through trade over the Silk Road.

 

cup with fish design

 

The artifacts.

 

cups

 

Another ancient artifact.

 

ceramic urn

 

A beautiful object from the remote past.  Men’s bodies may crumble to dust, but some of their works endure.

 

ceramic urn 2

 

An intriguing object.

 

chimera

 

Subjective interpretation?  Nevertheless, an interesting work of art.

 

chimera 2

 

Our blog’s photographer who we thank for these images from far away China.

 

lucy on scene

 

A local person in daily life.

 

locals in street

 

This concludes the river cruise picture essay.  After some essays on other topics, we will return to southern China for more pictures taken at Kunming, Dali, and at Lijiang.

copyright 2014 – larrysmusings.com

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a Yangtze River cruise – day three – the river

In this installment of the river cruise picture essay, we present views of various scenes near the river.

A woman on a boat in a tributary to the river.

 

in the afternoon

 

A closer view.

 

river cruise day three 17

 

A nearby scene.

 

river cruise day three 18

 

A view further away showing some reflections in the water.

 

river cruise day three 16

 

A caution to be careful on the path.

 

river cruise day three 15

 

A view of the water through the leaves.

 

river cruise day three 14

 

Another nearby view.

 

river cruise day three 13

 

Trees, boats, rocks, etc.

 

river cruise day three 12

 

A closer view.

 

river cruise day three 11

 

Nice image of ladies on an arched stone bridge with many trees in the background.

 

river cruise day three 10

 

Monkeys that are not shy near tourists.

 

river cruise day three 9

 

A closer view.

 

river cruise day three 8

 

A solitary monkey.

 

river cruise day three 7

 

A warning sign in 2 languages.

 

warning sign

 

It is not clear what this is.  Perhaps a resting place on the footpath.

 

river cruise day three 6

 

Beautiful image of a stream.

 

river cruise day three 5

 

Interesting looking trash disposal containers.

 

waste containers

 

What is this about?

 

coffin sign

 

Not sure if this hanging coffin can be seen in the below photo.

 

2 tiny coffins in mid mountain

 

An interesting pic.

 

river cruise day three 4

 

Nearby construction.

 

river cruise day three 3

 

Forested hillside with small structures at bottom of image.

 

river cruise day three 2

 

A view of the river.

 

river cruise day three

 

copyright 2014 – larrysmusings.com

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musings on God and man – and a short critique of religion

musings on God and man (and woman, too)

“Dust in the wind.  All we are is dust in the wind.”  (Lyrics from the 1977 song of the same name by the rock group, Kansas).

Our featured images are of colored lights at a recent wedding banquet.

 

lights of wisdom

 

It is not so very difficult to get married.  The real challenge comes in staying married over the years.

 

lights of wisdom 2

 

It can be rather humbling for we humans to consider that God has always existed.  Infinity and eternity are hard concepts for us to get our limited minds around.  There are interesting implications here.  Can one still believe that the Earth was created on – what was it? – October 23, 4004 B.C.?  Is man the only sentient species or intelligent form of life that God has ever created?  Since many of us believe that God has always existed, then He has been around for a very, very long time.  Is it reasonable to think that He only decided to create intelligent life in the very, very recent past?  We think that God has created other intelligent life and that there are likely other intelligent beings alive this very moment in, perhaps, many universes, and/or many different dimensions or planes of existence.

God is as He is – He is not going to change.  What I mean here is that if God ever evolved in His nature that time is long past.  God has had eternity – an infinite number of years or eons – to grow and evolve.  He is either a compassionate, loving God – or He is not.

Our very short lives – on this speck of dust in an unremarkable galaxy among billions of others – are for what?  There are those who say for everlasting bliss in a heaven or for everlasting torment in a hell.  Here is the problem I have with that view.  Forever is a long time.  A very long time, indeed.  Methinks that we have a God who is restless and may not want for us to remain in a heaven type state for ever and ever.  (Would such a heavenly state be static, or would growth and new experiences be possible, permissible there?)  No, dear readers, we think that there is a good chance that there will be future assignments for humans, future challenges to endure.  God will raise the bar, so to speak, and require more of us.  (For our own good, of course.)  The struggle continues, and will our souls ever know true peace?

Some readers may think that I am immature to entertain these speculations.  Perhaps, to do so indicates that I am no longer straight-jacketed by childish, irrational fears.

Please, dear readers, do not take these thoughts of mine as “dogma”.  These are not intended as such.

Is all the suffering (mental, psychological, emotional in addition to physical) just a cruel jest?  Does all that we endure, what we experience, go for anything, count for anything?

The way I see it things can only be put right – at some future point – if God is truly just, loving and merciful.

Could it be that the suffering we experience is intended to help us to not be so attached to living in this finite, temporary, limiting world?

For those who choose not to believe in a Creator, the current novelty is “alien intervention” via genetic manipulation, genetic engineering.  150 years ago evolution was the novelty for those who would not make the effort to believe.

Our souls come from God – not from “aliens” whether these be inter-dimensional beings, extraterrestrials, demons, whatever.

what about religion and the religious?

If one studies the history of religion, from primitive animism through pagan polytheism to the monotheistic religions, one finds that it has always been about power.  Oh, yes.  Priests – as the interceders, or go betweens, on behalf of us mortals with the gods or God – have preyed upon human fears and on human ignorance.  When considering religion, one needs to take a step back and try to be objective and rational.  The misuse of religion is very dangerous.  (We see this danger today.  As we type these words, the world’s attention is focused on a civilian airliner that may or may not have been brought down by a surface to air missile in the Ukraine, and on the ongoing fighting between Israel and the Palestinians. What is being overlooked or ignored is the daily murders, rapes and pillaging of Christians in Iraq, Egypt, South Sudan, Nigeria, Pakistan, etc. by Muslims.  And, because of Muslim immigration, Muslims are raping women, both Christian and atheist, in Europe today and are terrorizing Jews in France.)

Some religious people, including not a few preachers, would have us believe that God cannot stand the sight of us.  If that were so, I have a question.  If the Fall (the Garden of Eden story) were so traumatic and painful to God that even Jesus’ sacrifice on Calvary could not heal the wound, then why did not God just end the experiment and have done with it?!  (We gave our thoughts on the Garden of Eden story 2 years ago in late July, 2012 on this blog – see the monthly archives.)

There are many Christians who will quote Scripture to me and yet are callously indifferent to the suffering and injustice all around them.  Modern day Pharisees do not make a favorable impression on me.

If your message is immature, primitive, negative, limiting – should we be interested?  It seems those trafficking in fear have little love to share.

Some religions, even today, traffic in fear, guilt and suffering.  I cannot work out my salvation each and every day in fear and trembling as (St.) Alphonsus Liguori (1696 – 1787) counsels we must do.  I cannot operate that way.  The demands of modern life consume much energy and we cannot waste energy on fear for the sake of fear.  I choose not to feel guilty for having been born into this fallen world.  It seems I had no say in the matter.  There is no need to seek out suffering or to glorify suffering.  Suffering stalks us and seeks us out each and every day of our lives.  (Masochism, which is merely sadism directed at one’s self, is no virtue.)

Synchronicity or coincidence is rather amazing at times.  As I had put these thoughts down on paper last week in preparation for drafting this essay, I started to read a book that speaks to some of these same issues.

We want to quote now from Olive Schreiner’s book, The Story of an African Farm (originally published in 1883, this book is now in print again from Dover Publications). Schreiner (1855 – 1920) saw the hypocrisy and abuses of religion in her day while growing up in South Africa.

From page 160, we offer this passage which alludes to man’s temporary nature.

” . . . . She raised herself on her elbow.  ‘And what, if we could help mankind, and leave the traces of our work upon it to the end?  Mankind is only an ephemeral blossom on the tree of time; there were others before it opened; there will be others after it has fallen.  Where was man in the time of the dicynodont, and when hoary monsters wallowed in the mud? Will he be found in the eons that are to come?  We are sparks, we are shadows, we are pollen, which the next wind will carry away.  We are dying already; it is all a dream.'”

From p. 215, we read this passage about what Lyndall (one of the principal characters in the book) had learned in her short, troubled life.

“. . . . Softly he whispered, asking what she saw there.

“And she said, in a voice strangely unlike her own, ‘I see the vision of a poor weak soul striving after good.  It was not cut short; and, in the end, it learned, through tears and much pain, that holiness is an infinite compassion for others; that greatness is to take the common things of life and walk truly among them; that’ – she moved her white hand and laid it on her forehead – ‘happiness is a great love and much serving.  It was not cut short; and it loved what it had learned.'”

And, on page 218, we have this very poignant yet touching description of poor Lyndall’s death in very early adulthood.

“. . . . The dying eyes on the pillow looked into the dying eyes in the glass; they knew that their hour had come.  She raised one hand and pressed the stiff fingers against the glass. They were growing very still.  She tried to speak to it, but she would never speak again. Only, the wonderful yearning light was in the eyes still.  The body was dead now, but the soul, clear and unclouded, looked forth.

“Then slowly, without a sound, the beautiful eyes closed.  The dead face that the glass reflected was a thing of marvelous beauty and tranquility.  The Gray Dawn crept in over it and saw it lying there.

“Had she found what she sought for – something to worship?  Had she ceased from being? Who shall tell us?  There is a veil of terrible mist over the face of the Hereafter.”

Copyright 2014 – larrysmusings.com

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a Yangtze River cruise – day three – three gorges dam project

The Three Gorges Dam Project is the world’s largest hydroelectric project.  It no doubt is a source of national pride for the mainland Chinese.  (Electromagnetic induction was first discovered by Michael Faraday, and from that we eventually got electric power generation.)

As the Yangtze is a navigable river, the cargo ships and cruise ships will transit the locks and thereby go around the dam which is impassable to vessels.  See the many electric transmission lines coming from the nearby dam power generation complex.

 

river locks

 

Many of these photos show the same cloudy or hazy appearance of the sky that we saw in day two’s photos.  This recalls to my mind the time we visited the Grand Canyon in Arizona in the very early spring of 1993.  There were low cloudy, misty skies then and that made the views we saw and the pictures we took of a rather disappointing quality.  One thing to note, readers/viewers, is that after this multi-part river essay we will present other picture essays from this trip to China where the skies were more clear and a brighter blue in color.

Another view of the locks.

 

river locks 2

 

Day three’s itinerary.

 

itinerary day 3

 

The model room or visitor center at the Three Gorges Dam Project.

 

Three Gorges model room

 

These next 3 pics are of the model of the dam system.

In the distant future, after man is no longer on the scene, these manmade lakes or reservoirs will silt up and the large concrete dams will then become waterfalls.

 

Three Gorges model

 

Another view of the model.  It appears that the model’s background shows cloudy skies and reflects the reality of the local weather conditions.

 

Three Gorges model 2

 

A final look.

 

Three Gorges model 3

 

The escalator up to the grounds near the dam.

 

esacalator to the dam

 

Electric transmission lines and a warning for escalator safety.

 

escalator

 

The grounds near to the viewing area of the dam.  Tourists are visible in the distance at the summit of the concrete structure.  From there, one can see the water exiting the dam.

 

grounds of dam

 

Another view.

 

grounds of dam 2

 

A large dual language book.

 

lucy at dam site

 

Close to the concrete promontory.

 

grounds of dam 3

 

In a nearby area, Lucy sits among large river rocks.

 

lucy among the rocks

 

A reminder to watch your step.

 

caution

 

It is not clear what this odd-shaped object is.  An interesting artifact.

 

grounds of dam 4

 

Our photographer, regrettably, did not take photos of the dam itself.  The press of the other tourists may have deterred her.  As well, having seen other engineering marvels such as Hoover Dam, the Great Wall (on an earlier trip to China), and having transited the Panama Canal on a cruise ship, she did not think this dam project so singular.  The canyon dams in the southwest US (Hoover, Glen Canyon) have a large and high concrete edifice at the bottom of which the water exits the dam.  The Three Gorges Dam, from the model above is wide in design, and appears to be not as tall as some other well known dams. Many colorful images of this dam in China can be easily found via Internet search engines. (I remember that at Hoover Dam there is a viewing area deep down inside the dam complex (reached by elevator) where visitors can see and photograph the several large electric turbines in their metal housings.)

Among tourists on top of the concrete promontory.

 

grounds of dam 5

 

The return staircase or escalator.

 

close to the dam

 

A trash can.

 

waste basket

 

Upon leaving the dam project area, we see this view of part of the waterway system.

 

view from dam

 

Day three’s activities were not over.  We will post a thematic essay next and then return to continue this river picture essay.

copyright 2014 – larrysmusings.com

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a Yangtze River cruise – day two – river scenes

In this installment of the river cruise picture essay, we present views along, and of, the river and mountains.

Has China been continuously inhabited by hominids since the time of Peking Man (Homo erectus pekinensis) 400,000 years ago?  In any event, it is an old country.

Here we see the bow of the river cruise ship.

 

bow of cruise ship

 

The day’s itinerary.  Excursion:  Shennv Stream, a tributary stream of Yangtze River – embark smaller boats to enjoy the beauty of Shennv stream and to continue to the Wu Gorges and Qutang Gorges.

 

itinerary Wushan day 2

 

A small, local river boat.

 

small local boat on river

 

We have tried to assemble these pictures in the proper chronological order during the day these were taken.  Much of the scenery looks similar in the various gorges and tributaries of the Yangtze.

In this next photo, a structure can be seen on the shore in the distance.

 

river scene day 2

 

Is this some kind of river fog or haze, or is this air blown pollution from distant industries?

 

river scene 3 day 2

 

Impressive mountains seen through the haze.

 

more scenery along river

 

Much green growth on the hillsides.  Did early Taoist sages wander through this area 23 or 24 centuries ago?

 

more scenery along river 2

 

Structures along the river.

 

uzi dwellings along river

 

A river shuttle launch for ferrying cruise passengers to shore for excursion.

 

river launch shuttle

 

There may have been the remains of a stone fortress somewhere here in these pictures.

 

uzi day 2

 

Looks like limestone formations along the shore of the river.

 

uzi 2 day 2

 

Does appear to be sedimentary rock in this closer view.

 

uzi 3 day 2

 

The hand of man, man’s handiwork is visible in this next image.

 

uzi 4 day 2

 

Local river people.

 

uzi 5 day 2

 

Scenic cruising through a river gorge.

 

uzi 6 day 2

 

Another view.

 

uzi 7 day 2

 

More nearby scenery.

 

uzi 8 day 2

 

Local river sightseeing boats?

 

uzi 9 day 2

 

These workers are constructing a barrier to prevent rock slides.

 

uzi 10 day 2

 

The mountains often rise very steeply from the banks of the river.

 

more scenery along river 3

 

The wide river flows on inexorably towards the sea.

 

more scenery along river 4

 

An enigmatic woman, a foreign traveler in interior China – our blog’s intrepid photographer.

 

lucy kinda mean

 

copyright 2014 – larrysmusings.com

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