Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The life of a servant

The role in this life that I aspire to is that of a servant.  Not a slave or step-and-fetch, but someone who is of service to others.  This is my ideal state of being.  I try to attain this state and am met with some success.

I work for a living.  My boss needs help accomplishing goals.  My role in this relationship is to help my boss be successful.  I manage people.  My role as a manager is to help my staff be successful.

It doesn't matter which direction I look.  My role is to help others be successful.  My success is in making others successful.  My focus is on others and not myself.

My wife and I have a loving relationship.  My goal is to fulfill my wife's needs and desires.  I put her before my own desires and needs.  She does the same to me.  The relationship is one where we don't have the common relationship fight of "why are you not paying attention to me?" or "why do you always go out and do X?  Don't you want to do Y with me?"  Instead, what we fight about is who's turn is it to give the other person what they want.  In my house, the fight is more of a "Please stop doing all these wonderful things for me.  Let me have a chance to do something nice for you."  Neither of us feel abandoned, ignored, unsupported or not thought of.  Instead, we shower each other with thoughtful consideration and kindness.

Serving others builds positive bonds.  It connects people and makes life more enjoyable.  Helping someone in need when they didn't want to bother anyone reunites them to the community and brings them to a more joyful state.

The greatest benefit of being a servant is the tight bonds of fellowship and joy felt by all.  Okay...  The two greatest benefits of being a servant is the tight bonds of fellowship, joy felt by all, and the side effect of others wanting to pay it forward.  Okay...  AMONGST the greatest benefits are . . .

Sunday, June 1, 2014

What's it worth to you?

It's a question I often ask when someone asks something of me.  What's it worth to you?  It's a simple question asking the original requester for the value the person places on their request.  I first started asking the question to figure out how important the request is so I could help prioritize the request.  Over time, I began asking, simply to find where the person's mind is at.

Let me explain.  I can categorize the replies into three groups.  Qualitative, Exchange, and Refusals.

On rare occasions, someone will reply to my question with qualitative responses, like: "a lot", or "not much, but I thought I'd ask", or "oh, I really need it."  While not a perfect scale, it does provide the ranking I originally sought when I first began asking.

"Exchange", on the other hand, is the most common response.  These responses range from "I'll make you lunch." to "I'll give you this picture." and from "a hug" to "a blowjob".  I'm always intrigued by the exchange response as it shows me the currency a person is willing to barter.  The respondent's choice of "currency", while doesn't give me a means of evaluating the value of the exchange, it does show me where the person's mind is at.

The "exchange" response often holds a question of its own.  "Are you interested in taking my exchange so I can have more?"  For example, "let me buy you dinner?" becomes the respondent's way to see if they can get me spend quality private time with them.  These responses spark my curiosity the most.

The final type of response, the "refusal" has always baffled me.  It shows up in the disgust the person displays that I would even ask.  Sometimes, they would respond with something like "No I won't do that with you."  I wonder what it is that they won't do.  They never define the word "that" when they refuse to accept my alleged counter offer.  So, what did they think I was asking for?

In the end, I am entertained more by the type of response I receive than the value associated to the response.  Someday I might take someone up on their exchange offer.  For now, I will continue to be satisfied with learning how the people around me evaluate the world around them.

Want more of these writings?  What's it worth to you?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Buddha Nature

I have been thinking of souls today.

At what point in the overall life of a being is the soul merged with the physical being we think of when we talk of a living person?  Is it at the moment of conception?  At the first breath of life? Sometime in between?  When the person is baptized?

Mothers have often told me that they could recognize personalities of their unborn babies by the way they are able to interact with the fetus.  Is a person's personality their soul?  Could it be that the two are separate and distinct?  Is it possible that a fetus is simply a potential life which develops characteristics like arms, legs, and personalities and that their soul is added at the moment God "breaths the breath of life into the being"?  That might be more compatible with the bible's wording, but is seems to slap me in the face of reasonable.

Assuming humans are not special and all living creatures are God's creation, then who is to say a dog does not have a soul?

Compassion . . . continued

Where did I leave off?  Oh, yes . . . "Take the time to understand the needs, fears, and desires of one another.  Then make the effort to help them achieve their goals."

Yes, looking back, my summation of the message of God's will is still off the target.  Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love God.  The second is to love your fellow man.

The first remains simple to understand.  God created the universe, our world, and ourselves.  The grateful respect due from the created to the creator is a simple thing to grasp.  I stand in awe of all the marvelous creations around and within me.  I am humbled by the magnitude of the creator's skill.  What am I but a small speck on the vastness, both in size and time.  The fact that God gave me self-awareness makes me eternally grateful.  It gives me the foundation and perspective needed to perceive the splendors of the whole creation.

So, the first part is easy.  The second still causes consternation. Love for others.  I left off with: "Take the time to understand the needs, fears, and desires of one another.  Then make the effort to help them achieve their goals."

I fear others will dissect my words as I do and see gaping holes in it.  Do I only need to understand "needs, fears, and desires"?  What does it mean to help them?  How much help is sufficient?  An American Indian prayer comes to mind:  "Great Spirit, grant that I do not criticize my neighbor until I have walked one mile in his moccasins."  Perhaps this is what is meant by having compassion for one another.  If we take the time to intimately know one another from their perspective, then perhaps we can make decisions about our reactions/behaviors that are more in line with God's intent.

By intimately understanding another's life from their perspective, we can respond by finding ways we can help that person in a positive way.  The task is not a simple one.  It is a constant balancing act between doing too little and doing too much.  There is also the constant tug between who to help and if there is conflicting interests, finding a happy medium.

So, instead of simply knowing the  needs, fears and desires, perhaps we are better served with the concept of intimately understanding one another from the other person's perspective.  That is the preamble of the second golden commandment.

Next time, how to act on what we understand.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


Last Sunday was Easter and a friend of mine posted the following: "Jesus, a very merry unbirthday to you."

My brain went through several hoops.  Easter is not about Jesus' birth.  Well, there are some who argue that Jesus was born in the spring and not December. (Shepherds and lambs, etc) If so, then it should be "birthday" as opposed to "unbirthday".  But, we're talking his death!  Well, that's an unbirthday.  Of course, death is the inevitable step in the process of birth.  (Life is a sexually transmitted terminal condition.) Oh wait, Easter is the celebration of Jesus' resurrection, not his death.  That would be a birth of a new stage of life.  So unbirthday is inaccurate. Or is it simply the return of the soul to heaven?  But wait, that didn't happen for another 40 days.

I believe souls exist before the body is born into this world and continues to exist beyond this world's death.  I have never made any statement as to whether the soul has ever visited this world in a prior "life".  I don't know and don't see any reason to care.  Where a soul is before this world's birth is something for my soul to deal with when it is done concentrating on living in this world.

So, Easter is a non-event to the extent that Jesus would ultimately ascend.  His soul is like yours and mine: not subject to the finality of this world.  To the extend that Easter is about the return of Jesus to the state of this world's living after his crucifixion. Is that so much an "unbirthday" as it is an "undead"?

This, naturally, brought be back to rewatching "The lost tomb of Jesus" and looking at the evidence around the talpiot tomb.  In the end, I believe the talpiot tomb is that of the family which includes Jesus.  Does that mean the "Jesus, son of Joseph" is the Christian Jesus?  Could it be a cousin Jesus or a grand nephew?  This is a possibility (however unlikely).

So, can Christianity survive/exist if Jesus' body remained on this world after the crucifixion? Throughout the early years of Christianity, numerous groups considered themselves devout Christians while supporting views which would permit the bodily remains to stay on this world: Audianism, Adoptionism, Apollinaism, Docetism, Nestorianism, Psilanthropism, and others.  If these groups could live according to the teachings of Jesus, and call themselves Christians, can it be possible that Jesus' earthly body remains on this earth?

Is it the location of the physical body of Jesus that matters or the message of God that Jesus gave us?  The message of Easter is about the permanence of the soul.  That is the real message of Easter.  Easter, therefore, is not the birth of anything, but simply the annual reminder of the eternal permanence of the soul.  I say, we should render unto Cesar that which is his, and to God which is God's.  The body to the earth, and the soul to God.

Have a very merry unbirthday to you, Jesus.

Monday, February 6, 2012


I walked away from a one-sided conversation the other day.  It brought up thoughts I wanted to put down here (and perhaps write more extensively on it later...)

The conversation went something like:

Other Person: Prove to me there IS a god.
Me: What can I say, there are many proofs both for and against the existence (being) of god.
Other Person: Show me using something I can recreate to verify your proof.  Something I can see or touch.

At this point in the conversation, I quickly surmised I would not be able to discuss the topic with the person.  Line of reasoning was not acceptable, nor was using any logical proof.  Moreover, I realized (based on other parts of the conversation) that the person hadn't even defined "god".

I decided to define "god" using the ontological argument.  "God is a being that nothing greater can be conceived of."  The person accepted the definition, so I waged into Decarte's proof and was told to stop.  The person didn't want to think.  They simply wanted to be "shown" god.

"God" cannot be "shown" or proven when the constraints on the process presupposes the lack of existence.  If we assume god exists, then anything (otherwise) unable to be explained proves God.  If we assume god does not exist, then anything unable to be explained falls into the category of "yet to be explained using some answer OTHER than God".

The first is not a proof of God, and the second is not a proof of the lack of God.  What needs to be explored is how to identify the existence of God without ascribing more to God than appropriate.  In the same vein, how to ascribe to God what IS appropriate.

Monday, January 9, 2012

My father's bibles

Many years ago, my mother gave me the bible she originally gave to my father when he attended seminary.  It is a simple bible made more useful by my father's hand written notes in the margins and end pages.  Additionally, he had marked up the book in various places with colored lines or letters.  Most of his shorthand notes eluded my understanding of what he was trying to note.  I figured out some of them:  P stood for "priestly code", E for "Elohist", etc.  However, the one thing I could not decipher of his shorthand was his color-coded underlines and margin lines.  Until today.

Several times over the past year, my mother has mentioned one of my father's bibles she has been reluctant to give away.  It is a parallel bible my father acquired.  That, along with the fact it was very old, is all I knew about it.  Hoping it would be more of a polyglot, as asked my mother if I could borrow it for a short period of time.  Sometimes a physical book in front of you is better than electronic text.  She consented and I drove over to her house to pick it up.

It is a large book, many inches thick.  There is a note typed onto a card and taped a couple pages in.  The book was found in the attic of the superintendent's home at Eldridge when Dr. and Mrs. Fred O. Butler retired January 30, 1949.  It is presumed that this bible was moved from Santa Clara to Eldridge when the "HOME" was moved on November 24, 1891.  The card may have been typed up before 1953 because the place was originally called "California Home for the Care and Training of Feeble Minded Children".  In 1909, it changed its name to the "Sonoma State Home".  In 1953, it changed its name again to "Sonoma State Hospital".  As an interesting side note, my research included a quick romp through Wikipedia.  A search there for "Sonoma Development Center" brings up identical information as what is found on the card (names and dates).  It also includes the following line:  "More than 5,000 patients were involuntarily sterilized at this facility during the period 1918 to 1949. The medical director at that time was Frederick Otis Butler, MD."

But I digress.

The book in not a polyglot, but simply a parallel bible between two English bibles.  The title page states it is The Peerless edition of the Holy Bible containing the authorized and revised versions of the old and new testaments arranged in parallel columns; the text conformable to that of the universities of Oxford and Cambridge.  It contains a complete concordance and was published by the Historical Publishing Company.  The two bible version it parallels are the Authorized version and the Revised version.  This, to me, is not that impressive.  I suppose, back in 1885 when the book was printed, it was important to show the variations between these two versions.  Personally, today, I'm not that impressed.

The book is not entirely useless.  Before the parallel portion, there is some extensive information.  The materials in this section are diverse and detailed.  Sections include:

  • Introductory History of the Holy Bible
  • The Earliest Editions of the Bible published in America
  • A table of contents of each book of the bible, broken down to title of the story/narrative
  • Revisers' Preface with a detailed description of why/how the Bible version was revised.
  • Religious Denominations, their history and creeds (including heretical denominations)
  • Science and Revelation; or the triumph of the Bible over criticism
  • Scripture Difficulties
  • List of special prayers
  • Valuable Chronological and Miscellaneous Tables (such as empires of biblical times with their kings/rulers)
  • Modern chronology from A.D. 102 to 1877.
  • Prophetic warnings and promises of our Lord and Saviour
  • Analytical Table and Harmony of the Mosaic Law
  • Harmony of the four Gospels (identifying each story/event and where they are found in each Gospel)
  • Biographical sketches of the translators and reformers and other eminent biblical scholars describing the fate of these learned men who rendered the Bible into the English Language (with woodcuts of each)

The list goes on and on.  There is even a section where the book contains reprints of the first page of each book of the bible: reprinted from an beautifully illustrated Bible.  There are even maps of the holy land and other places of interest.

The "extra" material in this book is beyond extensive.  But the real prize was not printed in this Bible.  Just inside the front cover were some mimeographed pages from my father's June 23 1963 bulletin with the day's order of worship.  Right behind it were four typed pages.  The four stapled pages was my father's syllabus for his six week class on the "Life of Christ: Fiction, Fantasy and Fact".   On the fourth page, at the very bottom was his "Using Gospel Synopsis for Class" where he described his use of color coding and underlining to address specific Gospel issues.

With this description, I finally understand the meaning of the final mystery of my father's shorthand.  I cannot wait to start using my new understanding of my father's research and study.  It is the greatest find I have discovered in many years.  For now, I can clearly understand what my father saw and learned.  I have repeatedly learned how brilliant his mind was.  Now I have the final key to understanding his thoughts.