Wisdom & Love


Wisdom and Love

These are two of the greatest messages we learn about in the Bible. They are also the main images of Jesus that I possess. He taught Wisdom, the Wisdom that has been taught in all cultures from the beginning of recorded history.

We still cannot get it right.

The Sermon on the Mount, one of the most spiritually uplifting messages in Matthew, should be the veritable blueprint for our lives, filled with Wisdom and Love. Yet we reject it; or, rather, we think we have mastered it because we think we got it right at the start. We ignore its teachings, because we believe that we are following its precepts and therefore, do not have to re-examine its meanings.

For many of us, we feel that God is silent; rarely, if ever, entering our lives. However, without words, God speaks to us, filling our hearts with Wisdom and Love; all we must do is listen, but not with our ears. Can we hear God’s message of His Omnipotence, His Love, His Wisdom? We can, if we so desire. He is near to all who want Him as part of life. He hears our cries of despair in this age of “alternate truths” – comforting us as no human can.

My prayer for the day is that we have more Love in our lives, more Wisdom to face the many frustrating and fearful images in the world today. I want to always be able to recognize the goodness, God, in all I meet. I pray that our lives return to the time of being when mankind was a true steward of God’s kingdom.

Heavenly Father, please help me get it right!



Retirement in a Cynical Age


Many people in the world today tends to be cynical about most things; but do nothing about reversing this trend. I don’t have an answer for this; at least not for everyone. But I do know what helps me calm down. I love being out in the fresh air, communing with nature if you want to call it that.

Even with my limited ability to walk, I love to be out, watching the wild life. Even in these cold winter months, I love watching the birds and squirrels attacking the feeders we have in our own little Eden, our nature-loving backyard Garden of Eden. I remember sitting on our patio in New Jersey as I was editing my dissertation, enjoying the birds all around me, even having them land on the table next to me. They accepted me as if I were a kindred soul.

The is something very reverent about being able to share nature, being invited to participate by those who live in nature all their lives. Sitting in the Garden is similar to being in a cathedral. It is quiet; I enter it softly, breathing quietly, respecting the solemnity of the area. My yard is quiet; even the birds and squirrels vying for food, do it silently. I listen to the scurrying, I listen to the quiet. I listen to the clean colors of nature, as it blooms around me.

Time out for my complaints:

I can forget about what my world, our world has evolved into. The state-run college where I teach is a very pleasant place to work, but they do not want to pay me a living wage. Then the state takes some of that away from me in the form of taxes. Huge corporations, drowning in profits are no different, paying their average working near poverty-level wages. There is no entity in our western world that does not want me to give them money. Money. . . the mammon Jesus warns us to avoid.

The huge businesses, and even the churches, use their power to oppress the average person. These organizations press the need for money, press the desire to obtain more of it. We are told to defy mammon, but all of our social institutions only talk of the need for money. There are some churches and organizations that do stress personal time commitment to a cause, not just give me more money.

I am disappointed by the number of church leaders who are backing the debauchery we are experiencing in our political leaders. From the Crusades to present day, governments and churches back going to war. Government and religion tell us that killing is bad, but both support the death penalty, both support the waging of wars. Both do little to lower the gun violence in our country. The personal right to own and use a weapon supersedes all. Now our leaders want to allow weapons in classrooms and church naves. Wow, are we that enamored by the money that gun sales make that we allow guns in church. Is there no place safe from this madness? Other than my backyard Garden of Eden.

Back to my point of retiring:

So, I am retiring after 66 years of work, going to my Garden of Eden, watching the birds, squirrels and other of nature’s creatures enjoy the food my wife so unselfishly shares. Sometimes, I watch from the warmth of my kitchen window (in the winter) or the warmth of my patio chair (in the summer). Away from the pressure for more money, away from the threat of gun-toting, closer to God’s nature, closer to how I want to unwind from the hypocrisy and cynicism of the world around me.

This will be the first time since I was 9 years old in 1952 that I have not been gainfully employed by choice. Sixty-six years of habit-forming work that I will try break when this final semester ends in May. Wish me luck. I will need it.

I apologize for this miscellaneous meandering of a mixed-up mind.

False Beliefs

winter serenity

False Beliefs:

Rene Descartes’ famous line “Cognito ergo sum” does not seem to be worth anything today. Just because we think, means nothing to people, particularly our leaders. According to them, perhaps, “I consume therefore I am” or “I produce therefore I am” may seem more important. Or at least more to the point. I have a hint for you: our leaders and Descartes are all wrong.

This way of looking at things had blinded us to reality; it has convinced us that more is better . . . a bitter car, a grander home, a new TV to watch the Super Bowl. The only thing this way of thinking leads to is a life of stressful relationships with everyone, family, friends, coworkers. It has created a false competition where none is needed. In some cases, it has created hoarding, so that I have more and you have less.

According to our leaders, there is not enough of anything to go around, for all to benefit from. This begins and ends with money; but, in between, everything else is coveted. Food and housing costs are rising by the month; costs to get a higher education are rising so quickly that even community colleges are out of reach for many.

These beliefs and these practices have produced a greed unmatched in the history of mankind, including the days of Rome’s Caligula.

Our leaders spend money on war, military hardware, and more bombs. Good grief, we have more than enough nuclear weapons to destroy life on Earth 10 times over. But we need more. We don’t have enough money to feed our people justly; we lack the funds to provide healthy options for all; we cannot afford to repair our roads, build new rail lines, or expand highways to accommodate all of the new cars. And, we ration education through higher costs. I know I said this once. But, being a college professor, I empathize with my students who cannot afford to buy the books and rely on financial aid, which many times does not distribute until the third or fourth week of school. These students begin each year that far behind. The world of education seems, no, is stacked against them.

We never have enough money in this country to raise the standard of living for all, but we can give a trillion-dollar tax cut to the very wealthy. Henry Ford gave up a little of his profit to lower the cost of his cars, allowing his employees to purchase one. In the long run, this made him a very wealthy man. Not a billionaire, but a very high-living millionaire. Our billionaires have forgotten this lesson, including our president.

Jesus said that what we do to the least of those in humanity, we do to him. What we do to our poorest brothers and sisters, we do to God.

My wife and I had lunch with Muslim friends of ours yesterday. Two women who give of themselves daily. And, when they meet someone in need, they stop to help. Good Samaritans all. Yet our government looks at the color of their skins and their religious beliefs and declares them enemies of the state, willing to take what little they have and discard them like a pair of worn-out shoes.

I laugh in derision when I hear our leaders proclaim their faith, their Christianity, as they do all of these things to make it more difficult for the non-rich to survive.

Do they think that God is proud of them?


A Kindergarten Lesson in Sharing

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A Kindergarten Lesson in Sharing 

I am confused about many things; but the one that bothers me most is how we live our secluded lives. We always anticipate a more glorious life. But the life we have is the only one we’ve got, composed of flesh and blood . . . just like everyone else. We share this life with all others.

I don’t care what religion we are, or if we are not religious. What I do care about is whether we are willing to let others enjoy this life we share. How is it possible to be content and happy in this life, when we see poverty and degradation all around us? Jesus, who looked at mankind and was saddened by all the neglect present in his time, teaches us to love one another as we love ourselves. But, maybe we don’t love ourselves. We can only offer hope and courage because of the hope and courage we have found in others.

There is a story about an African missionary bringing a basket of fruit to a native village and offering it to the children. The children raced to the basket, all holding hands. When they got to the basket, they emptied it and took the fruit off to enjoy . . . together. When asked by the missionary why they did not grab a lot for themselves, the children answered that they could not be happy if their friends we saddened by the lack of food.

Jesus tells us to “love one another as I have loved you.” Here is the source of this strength which we can receive from him and pass along to others. These children, who are not Christian, practice this daily.

 The gospels are filled with stories where Jesus ignores the boundaries imposed by acceptable social practices, and openly disregards man-made laws and regulations in order to show compassion. Jesus would have loved this story and would have shared this with many people, while on his journey. He consistently lets those oppressed by society know that they are wanted and loved by God, even if they are ignored and despised by everyone else.

God gives us the responsibility of doing something ourselves about the accepted social norms that are holding us back in doing good for others. We don’t have to do this alone. We have God’s promise of holding our hand and of helping us. But we must take the steps.

Our governments, and others in the positions of power, do everything they can to hoard the basket of fruit. They fear allowing others to share in the bounty. They can only be happy when they have it all.

And . . . they call themselves Christians.



The Freedom to Stop Oppression in Ourselves

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The Freedom to Stop Oppression in Ourselves

What we’re searching for, we already know. We are blessed us with this amazing life, with eyes to see, ears to hear, a mind to discern, and a heart in which to perceive something else other than ourselves living in our midst. Do we have the courage to face it?

I say courage, because admitting that we are not the end-all to everything can be difficult. The willingness to give up something, even if it is a little of ourselves, can be a little scary; and since it seems that most people have a negative one-track mind, a little bit useless. It is very easy to say, “Why bother; nobody cares; and if they do, who will it affect.” I live by the code that my mission in this life is to change the world. I know that I cannot do that, so, I try to change something that is within my sphere of influence. It is why I continue to teach at the age of 75.

When I went into teaching, age 53, I vowed to teach as long as I felt I was making a difference, as long as I knew that I continue to change my little corner of the world. My body is continuing to weaken as I age, and I am now in the position of change, a change that is calling me to switch my focus from teaching to some other way to accomplish my promise. I don’t know how I can do this, but I will try.

Maybe by example. One of Jesus’ messages is that being human is good. We have lost sight of this. Our personal needs, at all levels of society, have superseded our ability for compassion. I have heard people say things, such as, so what; when we go to heaven, God will sort things out. Where is heaven? I believe that it is within us. It is not a place to go when we die. Our view of this causes us to be overly harmed our relationships with sexuality, food, possessions, money, animals, nature, politics, and our own incarnate selves.

I see the greed in America, the me first, the lack of respect for others as is demonstrated by all of the sexual abuse news we are confronted with. God will sort it out when we die. When we continue with this abstract falsehood, we will always be subjected to the living nightmare that many in this world live with. I question why some people feel that they have to take from others when they have it all now. Isn’t having it all enough; or are these people just little piggies in a dirty slime. Just a thought: pigs are highly intelligent animals; I wonder if the are more intelligent than mankind. But that’s a topic for another time.

We desperately dance between the loneliness and desperation of our false selves and the fullness of the self that we should be, which is re-discovered and experienced anew as an ultimate homecoming. Our journey is a path of deeper realization and transformation, never a straight line, but a back and forth journey that ever deepens the consciousness of God within us. It is maturing; it is waking up.

We are given free will; but this free will is not a blessing, at least not the way we are handling it. Our unwillingness to allow others to have free will limits our own free will. We are so darkened by all of the oppression of the powerful over others, that our liberties are a curse, not a blessing.

I pray that by trying to change my little corner of the world, life can be a blessing to those, not a curse.


Wisdom’s Call


Wisdom’s Call

Above all else, we must listen to Wisdom, not what we hear on the news.

We are at a crossroads; at least I am. I like to think that the path I am on is the correct path, but with the many hats I wear, I can never be too sure what path I pull from the nether regions. I know to true comfort and maybe true happiness, I must search for Wisdom. She stands at the portico of the next phase of my life. If I listen, She cries out to me, offering what is true, offering prudence, offering truly unobstructed justice in my daily life. If I take the time to listen for her.

Wisdom detests evil and only speaks words that are just, uncorrupted by perversity, misrepresentation, or deception.

It’s not easy tuning all other voices out of our radio brains. Wherever we turn, there are people who profess a very limited view on just about every topic imaginable. And, sometimes, I seem to be one of them.

I teach freshmen comp in college; I am a stickler for rules. As a result, some, not all, of my students think that all of the rules are absolutely ridiculous. And, they are correct. I do this to allow the students to develop disciplined minds that will offer well-balanced arguments. In other words, they must train their minds to think about what they are writing. In reality, the way they write is unimportant; it’s what they say that is. I pray that my stringency can pay off for them in the long run.

This seems to be a weak excuse for defending my likeness to other voices. I like to think that what I have to say is at least closer to what Wisdom offers, and not what some narrow-minded philosophy professes. At times, I walk a fine line between the two.

I wrote an essay on Wisdom in my graduate work, and in the middle of the essay I referred to the sculptures of Socrates in deep concentration and Athena, the goddess of Wisdom, ready for war. Socrates is considered to be one of the greatest minds in history; thus, he is shown seated with his elbow and his knee and his chin resting on his upturned hand. A pose of deep concentration, i.e. Rodin’s The Thinker.

On the other hand, Athena, the Greek goddess of Wisdom is always shown prepared for battle. I know, she was also the goddess of war. But why the two? Why the different portrayals.

As much as I love the statues and painting of Socrates in deep concentration, I think the images of Athena are probably more apropos.

Wisdom is always in a battle for Truth; notice the capitals. Truth is capitalized because there is only one truth. Wisdom know this truth. Socrates, one of the greatest thinkers, must search for Truth, lest he fail. His is the more difficult task. But, both are vitally important.

God gives us the gift to accept, understand, and teach true Wisdom. We have to work to achieve this.

One last note; isn’t it interesting that both Greek and Roman deities for Wisdom are female!!


Seven Deadly Sins


Of the many things in this world that truly bothers me is the duality forced on us by those in power. But this has always been the case.

In our Christian upbringing, we are told of the seven deadly sins, the ones that will never be forgiven. Our priests and ministers, our fathers and mothers, and our teachers and bosses drill this into our heads. The leaders create laws with harsh punishments for violating these deadly sins. Just to modernize the names, we are talking about: selfishness, greed, lust, ambition, laziness, pride, and deceit.

The obvious question is which one of our political, religious, or educational leaders do not break each of these on a continual basis. I will only mention greed, although all of them are just as important. It is a crime to steal. And yet, the masses are subject to losing everything at the hands of the leaders. Low wages, a lack of supported health insurance, the high cost of everything from food for our tables to education, which will allow us some form of financial stability. All of these are legislated against the poor.

Congress cannot pass a budget; so, the officials shut down the government in protest, protest against who can live where, who can earn what. I have many friends who are now on unpaid leave. This means that it is very likely that their paychecks will be less, due to the shutdown; but our congressmen and senators will continue to get paid.

Costs of education are rising, because congress limits what the government will spend on education; so, counties and cities have to scrimp, causing lower school teachers to spend their own money to buy pencils and paper for their students. And remember, teachers are one of the lower-paid working classes in the country. Many teachers are forced to get their food at food pantries.

When we speak of college, state funding for even community colleges is so low that even the cost to go to one of these is getting out of the reach for many. Greed, a wonderful sin for the rich to profit from.

I could go on, but I think you get the point.

We are also taught to be humble, which I think is a wonderful virtue. As with learning to get along, our leaders missed that day in kindergarten. I am always amazed at how boastful our leaders are. There vainglory is only surpassed by their bombastic talk.

We live in a wonderful country, a country that my fathers, my son, and I all served faithfully in the armed services. Historically, all men were subject to serve in the military, but no longer. How many elected officials have worn the uniform . . . embarrassingly few. If we are supposed to be equal in this country, then we should demand true equality. But, then again, Napoleon, the pig in Orwell’s Animal Farm did say that everyone is equal, but some are more equal than others. That holds so true today in this democracy we call America.

Our self-appointed leaders, those who twist the words of the Bible to suit their personal needs always let us down. Always think of what is good for them, not us. Demand that we praise them for deeds not yet, or never, done. These are the false gods that holy men from the time of Abraham to the time of Martin warn us about.

One ridiculous point: there are so many laws against sex and abortion. Our leaders do not allow women the right to control their own body. The Bible is quoted as a resource for these laws. Sex is mentioned less than 50 times in the Bible. Hmmm  . . . want to know how many time poverty is mentioned? Over 2000!!! Where are the laws against poverty? Twisted vengeful thinking

 I am strengthened by my understanding of my position in this world. Unless I win the lottery, which I doubt will ever happen, I will never be rich, money rich. But I am rich in so many other ways. I have a terrific loving family. I teach, and most of my students appreciate the effort I put forth to help them improve their lives. I also have faith. I know that God provides. I have had so many “Bad” things happen to me, that at times I have wanted to throw in the towel. But I am strengthened by those around me. The people that God put in my life to give me the support I needed to survive. I am truly blessed. God is my refuge in this chaotic world. When I take the time to think and pray, I am settled by His presence in my life.