Many Thoughts on 9-11-14
1. I will focus on a “how to”, or “you should know” post next time. For now, several thoughts push into my mind, which I will share.
2. Today is the 13th anniversary of 9-11, 2001.
3. I was happy as I drove back from Elkins @ 10:00 a.m. today not to be afflicted with horrible news as I was 13 years ago, at the same time, on the same road, for the same purpose, when I called my wife while coming back from Weston. She watched the second plane hit as we were talking. The question remains, how can people like Al Qaeda exist in the world? Or mad men like Hitler and the Nazis?
4. And, just last evening, our President announced his plans for “degrading and destroying” a group of fanatics called “The Islamic State” which is dedicated to creating “A new Caliphate”. Does the average person even know what “The Caliphate” was, or the historic conflicts between Islam and Christianity, or the schisms of both Moslem Religion, into six pieces, and The Christian Religion? I think not.
5. On the way to Elkins today, I listened to a segment in NPR about a young woman and a young man, each on death row in Pakistan, for “blaspheming the Prophet”. Their charges? She was supposed to have cursed Mohamed (Islam’s founder) in an argument with her neighbors, and he is accused of the same thing in an argument with “a friend.” (Some friend for turning him in!) The boy was fortunate to have a prominent Pakistani lawyer volunteer to represent him. The lawyer was murdered. The girl had a Moslem and a Christian leader speak up for her and against Pakistan’s defamation laws. Each of them was murdered too. The future appears bleak of each of these people, as does the future of Pakistan so long as it is dominated by such Medieval thinking.
6. That got me thinking.(Just about anything gets me thinking.) Regardless of what the defenders of Islam say, their religion is aggressive and intolerant. What kind of holy leader, knower of the secrets of the infinite, wants people to be killed simply for denying him? Mohamed? I am not a scholar of Islam, but it seems so to me.
7. Surprisingly, according to a FB “Friend” this morning, Jesus is one of those leaders. The “friend” posted a bible quotation and ordered us to “share” it right away to show we are true Christians. (It was challenging and taunting, almost like those posts, “Share this within ten minutes or have bad luck for a year.) I can’t locate the post, which has scrolled out of sight, but, in effect, it has Jesus saying, “Believe in me and my divinity, or I will stand at the right hand of God and deny you entrance to heaven.” This woman apparently has that literal view of Jesus, God, and Heaven. Heaven help us! This is 2014 for God’s sake!
8. I say, “For shame!” to my FB Friend for posting “Jesus’ threat” of hell and damnation to non-believers. What kind of religion says, “Believe what I say, or die, or burn in everlasting hell.”? No religion of sanity or reason should attempt to spread itself through fear and ignorance.
9. I agree with the fellow I heard this week on NPR, a former Moslem, born into a radical Moslem family, sick of killing and hatred and now converted to the “true Jesus”. He explained that he has abandoned belief in the supernatural, but he believes in Jesus’ essential values and teachings. He prefers the gentle truths of humility, pacifism, charity, empathy, tolerance, and love that Jesus’s teachings contain. One does not have to believe in the supernatural to accept some core values and try to live with them. And, people can find many paths to the truth as they see it. Except for someone who will not tolerate me or my views, or who wants to impose her views on mine, she/he/they are entitled to their views. Didn’t Jesus say, “Judge not lest ye shall be judged.”?
10. And, lest you think that Christianity only threatens you with hell, remember the inquisition, and Galileo who was forced to recant what he had seen with his own two eyes, or be burned at the Stake. Galileo recanted, but the Sun, Moon, Earth, and Stars remain stubbornly in place. Funny how the truth does tha.
11. And then there was the talkative Scottish Presbyterian divinity student, Thomas Aikenhead. In 1696 he made light of hell, and denied the infallibility of the Bible, calling it “(The Prophet) Ezra’s Romances”, and Jesus’ Miracles “cheap magic tricks”. Just as the “Great Heretic” Baruch Spinoza, he opined that God and the world were simply the natural order.
12. Although the 18-year-old Thomas recanted loudly, and often, and passionately, he was hung by his neck until dead, at the beginning of the era that author Arthur Herman referred to in his book titled, “How the Scots Invented the Modern World.” Such events are forgotten by the average American. Yet “Isis” is cutting off the heads of Americans right now for much the same fraudulent reasons. How can we dare to ignore the history of such things?
13. I also heard on N.P.R. this morning an announcement of a Ken Burns’ documentary on the amazing Roosevelt family, Theodore, Franklin, Eleanor, and many more. What a great way for the average person, especially non-readers of history, to have a review of American history during the latter part of the 19th and first half of the 20th Century. Burns’ series have taught me much, especially “The Civil War” which I have viewed several times.
14. Why would anyone prefer a game show or reality show, when stuff like this is available to us? History can only be a partial view down a long, sometimes dark, telescope, but Gibbon can give us Rome, Prof. Bob Briar can give us Egypt, John Julius Norwich can give us Venice, Italy, and Byzantium. David McCullough can give us The Johnstown Flood, the Brooklyn Bridge, The Trans- Continental Railroad, Truman, Adams, and many more, and Ron Chernow can give us Titan (the life of John D. Rockefeller), Alexander Hamilton, and “George Washington, A Life”.
15. Again, how does one operate in this country, in this era, without knowing what preceded us, and without studying what scientists and fiction writers predict for our future?
16. It is the same for our physical world and “big history”. Without knowledge of “The Big Bang Theory”, the origins of life, the evolution of life, and mankind, and the natural history of our world, and without concepts like gravity, time, zero, and infinity, the extremely tiny, and the extremely large, or the extremely hot and the extremely cold, how can a person avoid believing in myths, “conspiracies”, and the supernatural?
17. In a world of instant information, it seems the number of non-critical thinkers is growing. Only critical thinking and scientific methods can lead us to an accurate understanding of the world and its problems.
18. Two more examples of how “ignorance” can harm us. I don’t mean this in a pejorative sense, just “ignorance” as in lack of information.
19. A nice lady with some “cognitive impairment”, living on SSI, files and tries her own lawsuit in order to stop her neighbor from blocking the right of way to her 15 acre rural property. She owns 15 acres, and the right of way has existed, on the ground and in the public records, for 90 years. The neighbors hired a lawyer. Result, the “nice lady” has lost all access to her land unless further litigation can save her.
20. A nice fellow enters into a generous divorce settlement with his wife. He walks away with a net value, from an $82,000 “marital estate” of $4000, by assuming virtually all marital debt. She gets nearly $80,000. They present the settlement to the family court, which approves the property and debt settlement, but allows the wife to renege and also ask for and get alimony of $27,000. Ouch! The outcome of that too depends on further court action.
21. Even if one or both of these injustices can be undone, doing so is expensive and problematic; also stressful.
22. The core point of this post is that ignorance is NOT bliss. It is just the opposite. I believe in knowledge, and I believe in communication (a topic I touch on frequently in my writing.) I believe you can have “a spiritual side” without believing in the literal truth of myths and legends.
We have minds; let’s use them!
This post was written by Burton Hunter