DON’T EXPLAIN

It does not matter much what a man hates provided he hates something. –Samuel Butler

Some time ago, after I’d written a number of posts lampooning America’s vainglorious leader, I was asked by a reader why I “hate” Donald Trump. I replied that I didn’t hate him, I pitied him — pitied him for being the kind of human being he is. In hindsight, I should have asked the reader, Does Trump hate those he insults? — i.e. “Pocahontas” Elizabeth Warren, “Little Marco” Rubio, “Lightweight” Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (I suppose the Senator should be grateful Trump didn’t call her heavyweight), etc., etc., etc. My answer (and, I assume, that reader’s) is no — hate is something deeply felt, not a juvenile slur. Trump’s mocking is strictly gratuitous, like a bully who must put down anyone who, in his world, is a “loser” — someone in his way; an inconvenient object to be diminished or pushed aside. It’s not even personal (a “loser” is but an abstraction).

So, in deference to Samuel Butler, should I apologize for not hating Trump — or anyone, for that matter? Truth be known, the closest I come to hating anyone is God….that is, if I believed in God — the biblical God, the invented God of wrath, innocent suffering and mystifying absence. But I am a ‘default’ deist, left with a creator God, an impersonal God, a God with nothing to explain — at least, not until the next life (if there is one). The creator God never said a word or promised us anything — not on earth or after. Perhaps I should be jealous, for, unlike the creator God, there are times (like now) when this only-human creator feels the need to explain what I create. And yet, I get not deigning to explain — explaining ain’t easy. If I were God or Trump, I might not explain myself either.

 

 

 

 

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TWO BAD

Well, no one has blasphemed against the one-line poems in my last post, so by all that is holy, I should forget about my threat to up the ante with a post of two-line poems this time around. Ha ha — I’ll forget when Hell freezes over! Although no one commented to complain, I expect the thought crossed the minds of some….and even if it didn’t, the very suspicion demands consequences. Consequently, I am left with no choice but to proceed with the poems I intended to post anyway, and it serves you right!

My first two-line poem is unWitt(er)ingly brought to you by….

SPIES LIKE US*

We measure success
one imposter at a time.

*If this title sounds familiar, but you can’t quite ‘picture’ it….there’s always Google! Ha ha ha!

THIS IS A TITLE

Sometimes a poem
is entitled to be obvious.

ENVIRONMENTALLY CORRECT [previously published]

Poems don’t grow on trees….
however, some are recycled.

HEARING I’M PAIRED

Poetry is that
conversation we could not
otherwise have had.
–Cid Corman, Kyoto, Japan

Sorry I do
not speak haiku.

We interrupt this post for another commercial:

OBSESSION

buy Calvin Klein.
Sell futures.

GIVE ME THAT OLD-TIME RELIGION

Of course God knows everything —
He’s been around forever.

WHAT GOD TOLD ADAM AND EVE

You don’t want to know
(so, on with the show).

IS THIS GREAT POETRY, OR WHAT?

The power of suggestion
is that it begs the question.

Is this a great job, or what? But apparently not everyone shares my view:

OLD TESTAMENT RE-VIEW

Take this Job
and shove it.

FINNEGAN’S DYING WISH

Wake me when it’s over
(re Joyce).

We conclude with….

TWO MORE POEMS BY MISTERMUSE

One
short.

 

 

SET IN STONE

I think, therefore I am. –René Descartes

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You will (hopefully) recall that my last post, STONE COLD DEAD, featured some of my favorite epitaphs published 4 years ago on SWI (a blog due to bite the dust in November). Ah, but the best laid plans….  The SWI editor announced on 9/1 that he would now need to pull the plug first thing on Sept. 6; thus today becomes SWI’s last full day on this earth.

This sudden passing prompts me to salvage another of my previously published posts from that body of work: a poem which poses a question I believe naturally arises out of STONE COLD DEAD. Unlike that post, it ain’t funny, but perhaps the poem’s saving grace is that what it lacks in humor, it makes up in brevity. It’s the least I can do on Labor Day.

LUCKY STIFFS

Are the faithful
dead better positioned
to be saved
than those who
lived with doubt?
Even a God
can’t help being
what He thinks.

 

 

A GOOD DAY TO WONDER

I was going to title this awkward post GOOD FRIDAY FARE, but thought better of it (a little too light to fill the bill). Or I could have titled it REALLY?. Really? I may be an ex-Catholic, but I still respect the meaning of Good Friday for the hundreds of millions who take the premise of this day at faith value. My breach of faith is not with the faithful, but with the premise of their faith — as explained in the poem which follows this paragraph of Christian apologia:

What’s So Good about Good Friday? asks Episcopal priest Justin Holcomb in a recent article. The origin of the term, he says, is debatable, but “Regardless of the origin, the name Good Friday is entirely appropriate because the suffering and death of Jesus, as terrible as it was, marked the dramatic culmination of God’s plan to save his people from their sins….all in accordance with what God had promised all along in the Scriptures.” We can all agree, can we not, with the gross understatement that people have been sinning since time immemorial? But….

DIDN’T THE ANCIENTS EVER WONDER?

One of the earliest questions which presented itself to my youthful mind was that of election: Why had God chosen the Jewish people as the sole recipients of  His divine revelation and of the messianic promise? By what creative caprice had he excluded all others? –Morris West, Catholic novelist & playwright (1916-99)

After the Lord God said Let there be light, there was no one
to share the scene. God looked down and beheld a creation
too wondrous to keep to Himself. Flesh forward.
Adam, meet Eve.
But, inevitably, Adam and Eve stray.
They have a bad day.
‘Twas the serpent, they say.

Boys and girls, welcome to hard times
where life becomes a chance bet
begetters scatter and beget
until they forget
without regret
where they came from and divine not
what they’re about

until at last there emerges a Chosen People on
whom it never dawns that revelation comes with
implications: were untold others not equally in need
of deliverance from their benighted nature? If
what you don’t know can’t hurt you, why now the
Voice in the wilderness….and if it can hurt you,
how was silence justified? You see we still live
in the shadows of tribal primitives, still die in
the wake of unasked questions….save for He who
would die to save us from our sins, without asking
if the creator was in need of saving from His own?

Did my poem blaspheme, or did it pose a serious question (or did it blaspheme in posing a serious question)? Does your answer depend on whether you believe in an ALL-PERFECT, ALL-LOVING GOD, a MIGHT-MAKES-RIGHT GOD, or NO GOD at all? How far would you go to try to convince or force (as if belief can be forced) others to believe as you do? Isn’t it sad enough when members of one family can’t agree to disagree, much less the human family writ large? How much longer would you and your god have the world pay the price of religion’s aggressive side?

Peace, however awkward, be with you on this Good Friday.

 

 

 

GOD, MAN and CHARLES DARWIN

I was very unwilling to give up my belief…. Thus disbelief crept over me at a very slow rate, but was at last complete. —Charles Darwin

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I have on occasion speculated that if I weren’t a deist, I would without doubt (or more accurately, with doubt) be an agnostic. For me, atheism is a non-starter; I cannot rule out possibilities beyond the point where mere mortals have the capability to ascertain. For me, the difference between an atheist and an agnostic is humility: we’re limited humans. Even if you and I don’t believe in the ‘revealed’ God, why fall into the trap of conflating man’s invented God (religion) with the fact of creation and thus the plausibility of a creator, divorced and absent though He (It) may be from what He (It) hath wrought?

These thoughts were in the back (but not too far back) of my mind as I was reading CHARLES DARWIN – A SCIENTIFIC BIOGRAPHY by the late Sir Gavin de Beer, a British scientist and author of many books on zoology, embryology, genetics, etc. I’d come upon this old book while library-browsing, and realized that, while we all know what Darwin was famous for, do we really know Charles Darwin, the man? What was he like, and what did he believe at various points in his life as his thinking evolved (pun intended)?

Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind in getting to know Darwin is that he was “The man who struggled with his own ideas” (BBC website), keeping silent for 20 years before going public with his painstaking research, and describing his writing On the Origin of Species as “like confessing a murder.” Its publication in 1859 represents “one man’s struggle with the most radical idea of all time — the idea that humans shared a common ancestor with apes.”

Darwin was born of Christian parents in 1809 at Shrewsbury, England, the son of a successful physician and a mother who died when Charles was eight years old, after which (quoting de Beer) “his home upbringing devolved largely on his elder sisters to whom, in spite of their persistent fault-finding, he was ever grateful for instilling in him the spirit of humanity.” Additionally, his grandfathers were important Enlightenment figures: Josiah Wedgewood, anti-slavery campaigner, and Erasmus Darwin, a doctor who ‘wrote the book’ (ZOONOMIA) on the radical idea that one species could transmute into another.

Darwin’s father wished him to become a doctor, but after realizing that his son had an aversion to practicing medicine, he (quoting de Beer) “proposed that he [Charles] take holy orders in the Church of England. Indeed, at this time in his life, he felt so convinced of the truth of his religion” that he accepted. But after three years of studies at Christ’s College, he considered the time “wasted. His greatest pleasure was collecting beetles for the sheer joy of collecting.” After meeting men of distinction in botany and other fields, he studied geology and read books “from which he derived a zeal to travel and study natural history.”

A set of fortuitous happenings led to a position as a neophyte naturalist on the HMS Beagle, which set sail from England in Dec. 1831, not to return until October 1836….five years of meticulous observations, collecting specimens and exhaustive exploration too lengthy to detail here, but which began a new chapter in the history of science.

Years later, “The result of his experiences was that (says de Beer quoting Darwin) My theology is a simple muddle; I cannot look at the universe as the result of blind chance, yet I can see no evidence of beneficent design, or indeed of design of any kind, in the details….the impossibility of conceiving that this grand and wonderful universe, with our conscious selves, arose through chance, seems to me the chief argument for the existence of God; but whether this is an argument of real value, I have never been able to decide. I am aware that if we admit a first cause, the mind still craves to know from whence it came. Nor can I overlook the difficulty from the immense amount of suffering through the world. The safest conclusion seems to me that the whole subject is beyond the scope of man’s intellect.”

“Darwin never felt any but the most friendly and charitable feelings for those who differed from him in matters of religion, provided that they were honest. This is amply confirmed from both sides. Rev. J. Brodie Innis wrote to Darwin, We often differed, but you are one of those rare mortals from whom one can differ and yet feel no shade of animosity, and that is a thing of which I should feel very proud if anyone could say it of me. Darwin’s description of their relations was equally generous: Innis and I have been fast friends for thirty years, and we never thoroughly agreed on any subject but once, and then we stared hard at each other, and thought one of us must be very ill.”

And now I feel I know Charles Darwin, the man.

P.S. My thanks to Richard Cahill, whose July 23rd post “God, Man and Donald Trump” inadvertently suggested my title for this post after I thought better of my original (or more accurately, less original) title.

 

 

DO YOU BELIEVE IN ATHEISTS?

ATHEIST HAS REPEAT NEAR-DEATH EXPERIENCE

Never.
Again.

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Although not an atheist myself, I believe they exist, and I’m not above quoting them….and what better day to do so than April Fool’s Day, a day of dubious origin and God-awful jokes? So, without further a-Dieu, I bring you the word(s) of Godless mortals:

I have too much respect for the idea of God to make it responsible for such an absurd world. -Georges Duhamel

When one person suffers from a delusion, it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion, it is called Religion. -Robert M. Pirsig

I once wanted to become an atheist but I gave up — they have no holidays. -Henny Youngman

If absolute power corrupts absolutely, where does that leave God? -George Deacon

Eskimo: If I did not know about God and sin, would I go to hell?
Missionary: No, not if you didn’t know.
Eskimo: Then why did you tell me?
-Annie Dillard

I admire anyone who’s genuinely trying to achieve spiritual enlightenment and live a peaceful life. But religious dogma is a barrier to that. The last thing a dogmatist wants is for anyone to be enlightened, any more than a pharmaceutical company wants anyone cured. -Pat Condell

When did I realize I was God? Well, I was praying and I suddenly realized I was talking to myself. –Peter O’Toole

Christianity, as many religions, was just dreamed up by a couple people with really good imaginations, a lot of time on their hands, and even some “herbal” help. I mean, who would dream up half of that crap without being totally baked? -Jillian A. Spencer

Puritanism, n. The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy. -Ambrose Bierce

There ain’t no answer. There ain’t going to be any answer. There never has been an answer. That’s the answer. -Gertrude Stein (when asked about God)

Oh, well. We’ll always have Paris.