’22 A To Z Challenge – I

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s not that I’m stubborn.  It’s just that I’m usually right.  I am urged to consider others’ opinions.  I do!  I consider many of them stupid and unworkable.  My darling wife, whose vocabulary is limited to romance novel levels, would not call me

Intransigent

refusing to agree or compromise; uncompromising; inflexible
obstinately maintaining an attitude

Nor

Intractable

not easily controlled or directed; not docile or manageable; stubborn; obstinate:
difficult to influence or direct

I don’t think that I am smarter than others.  It is, perhaps, just that I pay more attention to reality.  I only have a high school diploma, and some work-related post-secondary training.  I am constantly amazed by the ignorance and misunderstanding of people with college and university degrees.

One day, at work, four of us were playing cards at lunch, and the radio played an advertisement referencing the legal code of Habburami.   Two of us perked up, and simultaneously shouted, “Hammurabi!”  A co-worker asked, “How do you know?”  I answered, ”Because we paid attention in class.”

Religion is not the only reason that people believe and say foolish, stupid things.  The education system in North America, more and more, resembles a sewage treatment plant, with about the same type and quality of output.  Something is rotten in the state of Denmark Mississippi, New Jersey, etc.

I am amenable to being honestly and intelligently guided, but I refuse to be blindly led.  I am willing – anxious – to change my opinion if I am offered solid evidence, and well-thought-out presentations.  I will not take seriously, any opinion, from someone who asks things like, “Do Atheists have children?” – or Flat-Earth-type fools who claim that, “Australia is a lie.  It’s not real.  If it was, (sic) people would fall off.”

Inventing Christianity

I offer the following, as it was offered to me – for cogitation and contemplation.  I have found no official corroboration, nor refutation.  Christians who deny that their religion is not just a made-up one, can research this historical document, apparently composed and signed by Constantine, Roman Emperor and first, self-appointed Pope.   😯

A new consciousness of personal human dignity has emerged across our empire.  Men feel the infinite value and responsibility of a new life.  But within their realm of imposed happiness, a strange thing is occurring.  As naturally as they have rejected the former political structure, men have begun to seek a religion of a more personal nature.

It is admitted that when in recent times the appearance of our Savior, Jesus Christ had become known to all men, there immediately made its appearance a new religion, not small, and not dwelling in some corner of the Earth, but indestructible and unconquerable, because it has assistance directly from God.  This religion, thus suddenly appearing at the time appointed by the inscrutable counsel of God, is the one that has been honored by all with the name of Christ.

It is true that religion and civilization advance together.  But it is equally true that religious creeds and practices can often lag behind civilization.  We find that situation at present with the lingering of the pagan gods and the emergence of the new Christian faith.  We find a further example of this with the new Christian faith fighting within itself, so many varied views as to what should or should not be believed.  So many different ideas as to who and what is God and who and what is our Savior.

Any religion must reflect the pure ideals of the society in which it exists, its practices and sacrifices can only be as the general sentiment allows.  No new religion can easily claim the soil where other gods have long been worshipped.  To survive, a religion must have structure, rules, order, and, most important, consistency.  The following mandates are offered as a means to protect that which we created:

Always remember that an Angry vengeful God is preferable to a benign, loving entity.  We must Proclaim that Obedience and compliance with God’s directives is the only way to obtain eternal peace in heaven, while disobedience leads to everlasting suffering.  The fear of that perpetual suffering should be used to keep the faithful under our control.  The faithful can never forget that the only salvation from their fear comes from the Christian faith, its Doctrine and practices never open to question, their obedience absolute.

Sin is the mechanism whereby control will be enforced.  For the Hebrew nation the Ten Commandments, which Moses first delivered, have long stood as their basic tenets.  But we need more.  A list of sins should be created, a list that adapts to the times, each sin designed to instill fear.  There must be a clear belief that a failure to obtain forgiveness of sin places the immortal soul in the gravest of danger, with forgiveness obtained only through the Christian faith.  This concept should begin at birth with the belief that all men are born into the world with sin.  Never will they dwell with God unless there is absolution for this original sin through the Christian faith.

Many of the prior religions fostered a belief that when one lifetime ends another begins, the cycle never ending.  This spiritual immortality, this reincarnation is surely comforting, but the Christian faith will offer only one physical life and One opportunity at eternal salvation.  When that life ends the soul moves to either heaven or hell, both of which we must not only create but define.

Never can the failings of man be blamed on any lacking or deficiency in the Christian faith.  Instead an adversary must be created.  A diabolos, a spirit, a devil, who constantly poses challenges along the path to salvation.  All of man’s sins and shortcomings must be blamed on this devil, who is always present, always tempting, never relenting, with the only resistance coming from Christian doctrine.

No spiritual abilities can ever be tolerated.  Those who profess visions or an ability to speak with God are a danger.  As treason is punishable by death, heretical thinking and acts must likewise know the wrath of God.  Heretics can never be tolerated, their deaths a righteous calling, a warning to others that actions and thoughts contrary to the Christian faith come with dire consequences.  Killing in the name of God is not a sin.  Defending the faith with the spilling of blood is a duty we must never abandon.  (Emphasis mine – lovely religion, this Christianity.)

Religion expresses itself in terms of the knowledge of the world in which it exists.  If that be defective then religion likewise is defective.  Never be afraid to change.  It is the only way to survive.  But never be too anxious to do so, either.

Sacred objects are those things that man must not use or touch because they belong only to God.  Creating these, whether they be churches, places, people, words, or things, is essential to rooting our Christian faith.  Keeping them sacred through rules and punishments is equally important.

Priests shall become a special class unto themselves.  I am the natural choice to ultimately lead these priests, as religion is a vital part of politics.  The first duty of the state is to stay right with God and keep God on good terms with the people.  The priests’ duty is to keep the people on good terms with me.

Above all, the Essence of Christianity must be in loving God and following Him in faith, but it must also include upholding the authority of the Priests and believing in Christian doctrine without question.  On this objective we must unite as the conduct of public affairs will be considerably eased if we take this step.  Let us rejoice in unity.

Constantinus
Pontifex maximus
Nicea
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’21 A To Z Challenge – Q

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sugar and spice, and everything nice
That’s what little girls are made of.

Snakes and snails, and puppy-dog tails
That’s what little boys are made of.

Folks – some of them smart and educated – used to think that people, and the Universe, were made of some strange things.  They thought that all things were made up of four ‘Elements.’  Not elements like carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen, but the Elements of Earth, Air, Fire and Water.  You can build a fire, but I don’t know how even God could build anything except panic and destruction, from fire.

Having been constructed of the four ‘Elements,’ the human body then somehow related to them with the four humors of Black bile, Blood, Yellow bile, and Phlegm.  Our ancestors seemed to be a dour lot, not having any room for silly, playful, happy, or even Woke.

Four Humors – And there’s the humor of it: Shakespeare and the four humors (nih.gov)

Black bile – Earth – melancholic
Blood – Air – sanguine
Yellow bile – Fire – choleric
Phlegm – Water – phlegmatic

The four humors somehow worked the body through hot, cold, moist, and dry, but in hot/moist, hot/dry, cold/moist, and cold/dry combinations.

The four Humors were also known as the Four Essences, which, at long last, brings us to today’s word.

QUINTESSENTIAL

Having decided that only four Essences comprised and controlled the human existence and behavior, they realized that there were actually times and situations where a Fifth (Latin – quinta) Essence was present, or required – that indefinable, indescribable property that made a genius, a genius, or a great leader, a great leader.

Today’s archaic word was brought to you with a smile, by toast and crab-apple jelly.  Wednesday’s post will use more modern words to complain about how “Black Friday” isn’t really over, but like a zombie, keeps lurching onward as Black Friday Weekend, and Black Friday Week sales.  Then I’ll really get into character by ranting about all-Christmas carols, all the time, from now till the 25th.  😉

I Was Mesmerized

Better I say that I was hypnotised.

Franz Anton Mesmer, who discovered the phenomenon in the late 1700s, believed that it worked through ‘animal magnetism,’ and treated it like a parlor trick, entertaining the social elite in their homes or small halls.  A hypnotised person is not supposed to do anything beyond their moral limits.  It was revealing and disturbing, the limits that the minor aristocracy would go to.  Eventually, he was booed off his entertainment stage, and the term mesmerism took on a negative connotation.

In the summer of 1958, when I was 14, an entertainer booked the auditorium of the Town Hall for five evenings – Monday to Friday.  He put up posters on lamp posts and handed out small flyers.  He was a stage hypnotist, who promised an interesting and amusing show that included people clucking like chickens.  I HAD to see this.

I attended the Monday show.  I never thought about where he would get willing subjects until he asked for audience volunteers.  I was the first on my feet.  I didn’t feel hypnotized – whatever that was.  I was awake and aware, but felt no drive to do anything but just stand there.  My part came toward the end of the act.  He had me and a girl about my age hold our right arms out.  He lit a candle and passed it beneath her fingers.

She never moved a muscle, while I waggled my hand and acted disturbed.  When he asked me why I was upset, I told the audience that my fingers were hot.  I don’t remember them actually feeling hot, but I remembered that his flyer said that someone would experience it, so I gave him what the crowd expected.

All the volunteers got a pass for a later show.  I was busy Tuesday and Wednesday, but went to the Thursday show.  A University Professor used to give lectures, and when he was done, would tell his classes that psychology inhibited people from being the first to respond, so he always offered to take the Second question.  Thursday night, when he asked for audience participation…. crickets, nobody moved.  I again stood up, and there were five more behind me when I reached the stage.

Some people claim that, “I’m too intelligent to be hypnotised,” but practitioners say that more intelligent people are better subjects, because they are able to focus, and accept the required control.  This night, he saved me for the final part of the act – the piéce de résistance.

He had two of those uncomfortable, tubular steel and formed plywood, chairs placed about four feet apart, and had two of the other subjects sit in them.  He told me, Stand up straight.  You are firm.  You are hard.  You are strong.  You are rigid.  You are like a tree.  You are powerful.  You are as stiff as a lamp-post.  Then he poked me in the chest, and I fell over backward.  Two of the other enchanted assistants caught me, lifted me horizontally, and placed me across the backs of the two chairs.

The one contacted me just below the collarbone and above the shoulder blades.  The other met the back of my calf muscles.  There I hung, suspended in midair, planking, long before it became trendy.  But the show isn’t over, ladies and gentlemen.  Watch this.  He placed another chair in front of me, climbed up onto it, slowly turned to face the audience…. and carefully sat down on my stomach.

Even I was amazed, a scrawny little stick of a kid like me, holding up a 160 pound man.  I was completely aware of what was happening.  I wondered if I had any control over my body.  I allowed my abdominal muscles to relax about a quarter or half an inch.  He felt it, and intoned, Steady!  Steady!  Rigid!  Rigid!

He climbed down to thunderous applause, and turned back to his onstage rogues’ gallery, to begin un-hypnotizing all six of us – and there were only five.  Who was missing?  Where?  When?  How??!  This had never happened to him.  Hypnosis will eventually wear off, but he worried about a suggestible victim being given a direct command in public.

The one missing was a lad, two years older than me.  The hypnotist enjoined us to go looking for him, and take care of him if need be.  I went to his house, and told his father what had happened.  He just laughed, and went back to watching The Honeymooners.  With a 90/95 IQ level, between stupid and stubborn, the boy apparently did not go into a hypnotic trance.

I met him the next day, and he explained.  Nothing exciting happened to him during the show, and he was bored, and felt like a fool, just standing there.  While I was doing my levitation act, he drifted into the wings, down the back stairs, and off to the bowling alley in search of French fries and tourist girls.

I guess that shows like this may still exist in Las Vegas or Atlantic City lounges, but hypnosis has come to be used much more professionally and effectively to aid in combating drug or tobacco use, stress, depression, psychiatric and relationship problems.  My two experiences were all in fun, but it can be quite serious.  Have any of you had hypnosis therapy?

Flash Fiction #256

PHOTO PROMPT © Liz Young

CHRYSALIS

His parents wanted him to go to university, or at least a Community College to learn a trade.  They were just so tight, so restrictive, so controlling.  He burst free from their bondage and got himself a great job at 18, with his own income, and promise of advancement.

A month later, he was smart enough to see that it was just a clerical dead-end, and a barely legal pyramid scheme.  He was also smart enough to tell his parents, “You told me so.”  Let’s have a look at the course catalogue at Conestoga College.  I could become a welder.

***

If you’d like to join the fun, go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

WOW #63

Someone is always trying to control you.  It has been going on for millennia.  I recently came upon an even-rarer-than-usual word which proves it.

ATHANATICS

The use of the word is so uncommon, that it is almost impossible to find in a dictionary or search engine.  The concept has been around for as long as there have been alpha-males who want to inflict their views on others.  The term seems to have arisen about 400 AD, based on Athanasius of Alexandria.

As the Bishop of Alexandria, he used social, political, and religious power to eliminate heresy, and enforce his beliefs about Christian Orthodoxy.  The definitional value is to create an ideal world, although your definition of “ideal” probably greatly differs from whoever seizes the right to impose theirs.  Athanasius’ idea of ideal, was blind obedience, uniformity and conformity – no free thinking allowed.

In Poul Anderson’s World Without Stars, the antithantic prevents age and disease but memories must be artificially edited. In Anderson’s The Boat Of A Million Years, eight mutant immortals survive through history until the athanatics are developed.

In Larry Niven’s Known Space future history, ‘Boosterspice’ extends life indefinitely, and protectors, who have eaten “tree of life,” live until killed.

1970Nigel CalderTechnopolis: Social Control of the Uses of ScienceSimon and Schuster

If only a minority of the athanatic technologies summarized in this book comes to practical fruition in humans — and some of them are mutually contradictory — there will be plenty of moral, legal and political issues to perplex us.

England is perhaps the most athanatic country in the world.  “The Wild” has almost completely been eliminated.  There are still stands of (hardwood) forests, but they are open and welcoming, with paths, trails, tiny roads, and bridges over streams.  It is almost impossible to get lost, in any dangerous sense.

In the developed world, science and technology have done much to make life ideal, but the more we are protected from harm, the more freedom and control of our lives, we lose.  When motorized vehicles were new, they were cumbersome things that required training and knowledge, care and control, to safely operate.  Many attained all of these, but quick and handy transportation meant that far more did not.

In 1906, there were only 8 motor-cars in the entire city of Cincinnati, yet somehow, two of them managed to crash, head-on, into each other.  Soon came control – the requirement for driving licenses, speed limits, stop signs and traffic lights.

Early cars had manual transmissions.  Drivers had to understand gears and clutches.  I very much liked the feel of controlling a ‘standard’.  I did so until cars with gearshifts became so rare that buyers had to pay a premium for them.  All of my motorcycles had gearshifts.  Now, even many motorcycles are equipped with automatic transmissions.  It just takes away the fun, the thrill, of doing it yourself.  I was recently passed by a large motorcycle with its radio blaring, so that the rider could hear it over the wind noise.  I was almost surprised that the rider didn’t have Wi-Fi direct to built-in earphones in his helmet.

The flying cars that we have been promised for almost a century have failed to emerge, because technology has not advanced far enough.  We’ve seen what destruction and chaos inattentive fools can create in two dimensions.  I hate to imagine what they might accomplish in three dimensions.

AI, and self-driving cars are almost perfected.  When that is accomplished, we might move on to individual, self-flying cars.  They might satisfy the general population, who just want to get from place to place.  For archaic fools like me, who still want the feel of doing something, AI is a smothering pillow.  I want to control what my vehicle is doing.  With self-drivers, I can’t start, stop or steer.  I can’t drive 10 MPH over the speed limit if I’m foolishly late.  Even if I could override the controls, the manufacturer put in a black box that will tell Big Brother, and my insurance company, if I did.

The world continues to be safer, tamer, more ‘ideal,’ but, more and more, we end up swaddled in Amazon bubble wrap, protected, but divorced from reality and any chance of adventure.  This may be acceptable to a large percentage of the population, but we still need some who dare, who search, who triumph.  The New World was not discovered or conquered by a boatload of chartered accountants.

WOW #57

Brat

Nobody is totally useless, or wrong all the time. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day. While they are often irritating and contradictory, a Christian Apologist recently gave me a new word. He wrote that ‘God is

FROWARD

The eyes do not see. It is the mind which truly sees, and the mind sees what it expects to see. The blogger’s usage of the word kept seeming wrong in his context. I read it three or four times, before I realized that his correctly-spelled word, which meant
willfully contrary; not easily managed
from the concept of ‘to and fro’ – this is not to-ward, it is fro-ward – the negative
was probably being used incorrectly.

I don’t know why a God-believer would describe his Deity with such an adjective. It seems almost as if he were trying to “control God” into doing, or at least meaning, something that supported his views.

Or, perhaps he was just flinging around scholarly, cultured words, in order to appear erudite. I know I do. I’ve just managed to get another whole blog-post out of a word that I don’t expect to ever use (or see) again. This is what happens when Ego runs high, and creativity runs low. I’ll do better next time – I promise!

Crossed Fingers

Wrong For The Right Reasons

dinosaur

A very atypical Christian Apologist published a post where he admitted that he accepted that the Universe came into existence 13.8 Billion years ago, and the Earth and the Solar system coalesced about 4.5 Billion years ago. He believed in Evolution but, desperate to keep his God’s fingers in, he posited a Creator which nudged and guided Earth’s development, until Mankind reached the exalted pinnacle.

***

I could believe in a Creator like this. The 2 problems are; such a being would not need or want, to be worshiped, obeyed, or called “God.” Second, it would not be the omnipotent, create everything in a snap of a non-existent finger, prayer-answering, miracle producing, sin-punishing “God” that most Christians (especially Apologists) believe in.

***

Why would such a being not want to be recognized as what he is: God? And if he made everything to work a certain way, why would he not want us to avoid screwing that order up and breaking things, i.e., obey him?

Also, if he has the power to create all things, which would imply that he has the power to make things be different than they are, wouldn’t this constitute at least some loose sense of “omnipotent”?

***

I am amused, but confused, with your use of the phrase, “loose sense of ‘omnipotent.” This joins ‘a little bit pregnant,’ and ‘partly dead!’ It’s either/or, yes or no, it either is, or it isn’t.

What you have described is a version of the ‘Watchmaker God,’ wind the Universe up, and let it run, or the ‘Power-Steering God,’ which lets existence pilot itself. You have invented a Gardener God. Actually, perhaps ‘He’ is not God. Perhaps ‘It’ is not omnipotent, and is unable to create the Earth and mankind instantly, through ‘magic’, but only through careful tending. Maybe this creature (not ‘The Creator’) is fertilizing and planting Someone else’s garden.

It is not the all-powerful Being, who wants – needs – demands – to be blindly obeyed, and worshipped as “God.” Do ants in an ant farm worship the little boy whose bedroom they are in? Does a tulip pray to the gardener, to become a rose? Would the gardener hear? Or care? Or be willing or capable to do it?? What you have described is not ‘God,’ but merely a being with more knowledge and power than we have – yet.

Why would you specify a predetermined order, and fear altering it? The purpose of doing, is learning. Change, and variety, is good. The wife raised some pepper plants on our deck. In one large planter, along with six jalapenos, we had a big tomato plant, apparently from a seed in the compost. It wasn’t wrong. It didn’t need to be controlled, or corrected. It was an interesting and educational occurrence. Vive le BLT!   😀

Flash Fiction #201

Alien Takeover

PHOTO PROMPT © Penny Gadd

ALIEN TAKEOVER

Apteryx reporting. I have managed to infiltrate the Humans, the ones who believe that they are the greatest species on this planet.

I have disguised myself as a ‘houseplant’ and am hiding in plain view. I plan to remain here for several time periods while I absorb all information about them from things they call books.

I have learned about ‘coding’, how they control their computers. I have begun to understand their social structure by scanning the writings of one of their respected philosophers, a being named Doctor Seuss. They communicate in short, simple groups of words.  Hop on Pop.  😆

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

Friday Fictioneers

The U.S. Is NOT A Christian Nation

Capitol Building

I have heard it said many times that America should support a certain principle (usually conservative) because America was founded as a Christian Nation. When I hear this, I immediately wonder where this notion came from. We know that America is clearly not a “Christian” nation, considering the fact that the Constitution never mentions Christianity or Jesus, and the only mention of religion in the text is in the First Amendment where it seeks to respect the free exercise of any particular religion, I find it interesting where this thought came from.

The answer actually resides in the way America was set up. Contrary to what many Christians today believe, the goal of the Constitution was not to proclaim Christianity as the official religion of America, but actually to disorient any notion of that particular thought. The goal of the founding fathers was to establish a country in which a particular religious system was not collectively in cahoots with the established state.

This was one of the main problems in Europe at the time. The Church and the State were linked, causing a whole array of problems to exist. While there were several founding fathers who were in fact Christian, the reality is that their goal was to keep Christianity, or any other religion, from becoming a functioning part of the state.

Ever since the reign of Roman emperor Constantine the Great in the early 4th Century, Christianity has become an institutionalized religion. Let me rephrase that. Christianity has become (in the western world) the institutionalized religion.

Before Constantine, Christianity was far different than we see it now. In fact, it would be difficult to associate it with the modern title of Christianity, considering the differences between it and today’s established, institutionalized religion. Think of the church of Acts. It was a message of beauty. It was a desire to proclaim the beauty of the gospel to all. Many were persecuted, and it consisted of a small following.

The terror of the Roman Empire created little willingness to follow an outlawed religion. But when Constantine converted to Christianity, and it became a part of the state, it was reformulated. It became the dominant religion, and with this, it became the ordering sheriff of its world.

Christianity was no longer about the beautiful gospel message. It became about getting people to behave. It became about attacking those who didn’t agree. It became about war. It became about nationalism and patriotism. It became law and order. It became about God’s chosen people. It became about how to do all the right things to get to heaven and what everyone else should be doing so they won’t go to hell. It was no longer about bringing heaven to earth. No longer was it about the beauty of the gospel.

To see the attempts of Christians to force their religion into the religion of America, is really not a shock. This is what Christianity has been doing for 17 centuries. And sadly, it is largely what Christianity has become.