The Murder of Kairos, and the Illusion of Time

17 01 2011

“The illusion of time” is a concept making its way across the internet, stated mostly by people who don’t really know what is meant by it, much less who started it.  So we’ll get out with the basics of the matter firstly.

Hawking, that great master of intellect, who has yet to think of anything useful, made the assertion that time is an illusion, meaning not that time doesn’t exist, but that our travel through time is just a product of our brain function.  He would say that time exists, but that we do not travel through it, and it is non-linear.  More to the point, he has embraced the first dimension of time and rejected the second.

To be fair, our travel through time, the fact that we pass along the time line seems to suggest that we exist at different places in time at different times.  Now, it is 3:00, but soon I will be at 3:01.  Hawking would argue that we exist both at 3:00 and 3:01 at the same time, if that isn’t a self-contradiction.  To a degree, he’s right, that I exist at both of those times.  Historically speaking, I do.  The fact of the matter, though, is that I can only be at one of those times at any given time.  He calls it an illusion.  I call it a profound truth, missed by a celebrated intellectual.

The idea of two-dimensional time is not a new one.  The ancient Greeks called these two forms of time Kairos and Chronos.  As a way of remembering them, they are personified as mythical beings.  Chronos is what we would know as the traditional time line, like what might be marked on a calendar.  Kairos is the second dimension of time, that instantaneous moment at which we exist right now.  Kairos is represented as a winged man with the back of his head shaved.  He runs by, and we attempt to grab him by his hair.  Once he is past, even slightly, we have nothing to hold on to.  Kairos is the symbol of our journey through time.  We see each infinitely small span of time for an infinitely small span of time.  We can only just barely utilize it, and only but for an instant.

In a previous post, which also references an even earlier post, Here and Now…, I go into a more detailed explanation of what is meant by a second dimension to time.  In a nutshell, there is an important distinction between saying that I exist in the future, as in, I will exist in the future, versus saying that I exist in the future as in saying that I am there right now.  There are two different ways to be in the future.  So long as I’m still alive by then, then I exist in that time.  That’s different than saying that I’m there right now.  In terms of Chronos, I am in the future.  In terms of Kairos, I am not in the future.  Hawking has taken upon himself the role of executioner, and he wishes to murder Kairos.  The real question is why.

Modern science, a strategy that attempts to fully understand the physical world as a means of deliberately overlooking the spiritual, by its very nature rejects the most obvious thing of all, which is human experience.  Descartes, who often is seen as a forefather of empiricism, ironically determined that experience was the original premise.  “I think, therefore I am,” is not so much relevant to the nature of my thoughts, as it is the fact that I had one.  It is therefore with a great deal of sarcasm that I observe the self-proclaimed defenders of empiricism abolishing the only thing I really know for certain, the obvious fact that I am experiencing something, even if it is an illusion.

Kairos was targeted for murder for the simple reason that Kairos is spiritual, whereas Chronos is strictly physical.  Chronos is safe, and useful for various physical tasks that can be calculated through standard math.  No one really questions the existence of Chronos.  Kairos, the perception that we are traveling through time, is threatening, because it means we are at different places in time at different times.  Where I am now in time is a constantly changing location, and it makes absolutely no sense from a strictly physical worldview, such as modernism.  It means that not only is there a secondary time, by which we judge our progression through the more conventional physical time, but it means that there is something that exists beyond the physical, riding the physical world like a wave.  If there is Kairos, then there is spirit.  If there is spirit, then there might reasonably be an afterlife.  If so, then there might be no escape, neither from troubles, from judgment nor from God.

Hawking is on a rampage to kill God once and for all.  To do so, he must effectively kill the human spirit and all things beyond his reductionist atheistic worldview.  He intends to murder God, Kairos, and even his own spirit.  In the end, he might escape God, lose Kairos and spiritually die in that afterlife for which he is destined, which is to say that he might largely succeed.

I, for one, am inclined to think that, were it not for greater minds than Hawking, he would not have enough technology to make him anything more than a drooling cripple.  His whole life is propped up by the inventions of “lesser” minds, people who actually conceived of something practical and true.  Hawking is nothing but a story teller.  He overawes people by speaking a language that they don’t understand, to convey ideas that they cannot disprove.  But the fact is that there is a limitless supply of fantastic ideas that cannot be disproved.  We tend, all too often, to put the burden of proof on the negative assertion, rather than the positive.  I can say that the entire universe is contained within a huge eggshell, too massive to be seen.  It goes against intuition, but it would be hard to disprove, because it could always be just out of sight.  To say that time is an illusion is also counter-intuitive, and it also cannot be disproved, because no matter what I say I observe, my observations could be nothing but a product of that illusion.  The burden of proof should always be on the positive assertion.  Until we know for certain that Hawking is right, we assume he is wrong.

And he has a lot to be wrong about.  His whole life is a string of fantasies about things that are far out of reach, but the underlying theme behind it all is his drive to kill God.  When we know what motivates a man, we ought to mistrust any reasoning of his that furthers that motivation.  Just because he implies that Kairos doesn’t exist doesn’t make it true.  It only means that greater minds are dead and unable to defend themselves.

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Lawless One; a permanent nightmare

18 10 2010

[fiction]

Our star, Larry Lawson, had a rousing morning slapping his girlfriend to her senses.  She was still moaning over that fetus he pushed her to abort.  Zooming down the parkway, he considered that he might stop by the bar after work and see if he could pick up a new hottie, maybe a Latino chic.  That would suit him nicely.  Who knows, he might get lucky, today.  A light turned red, and he breezed through it unscathed, only to be stopped dead by a stale red with heavy cross-traffic a hundred yards later.  A black kid with an iPod stuck in his ears strutted in front of him, earning a honk and a few nasty words.  Larry thought to teach him a lesson for prolonging his red light with a crosswalk signal.  The kid would probably think of this day whenever he considered white people, in general.  He probably hated white men, already.  Larry had the vague recollection of having honked at this kid before.  Across the intersection stood a billboard photo of some guy in a white cowboy hat holding a telephone, with the words, “In trouble with the law?  Call Jesse!”  He chuckled to himself and made a mental note of the number.  The traffic going straight got a green, but Larry couldn’t waste time for the red left arrow, so he pulled an illegal U-turn and slid into the underground parking lot of his glass-walled high-rise office building.  He did a quick glance into the rearview mirror for cops and mumbled, “Sorry Jesse, maybe next time.”

Out of the car, he hopped into the elevator and waited for it to take him to the top floor, where a coffeepot and a corner desk had his name on them.  Some sappy song played over the speaker while he waited; it may have been called Shooting Stars.

“Like shooting stars we shine and then fade,
Breaking the promises we made, what about the promises?
What about the promises we made?  What about our plans for forever?”

Without thinking about it, he hummed along and counted the floors on the display above the door.  He couldn’t get out fast enough.  He put on his best attitude, taking the long way to the coffee maker, past the desk of that hot new intern.  He tried not to huff when she wasn’t there.  At his desk, he barely had the computer fired up when the guy in the cubicle next to him rolled around the cubicle partition and asked him, “Yo, Larry, you forgot to get a chain of custody receipt for yesterday’s Picasso delivery.”

Larry gave an over-the-shoulder smirk at him and said, “I didn’t forget.”

“Then where is it?” the pest insisted.

“I’ll get it to you.  I’ll get it to you.  Just wait a minute.  I just got here,” Larry snapped,  “Don’t rush me.” As soon as the neighbor wheeled back out of sight, he brought up a blank form on the computer and hit the “print” button.  Strolling as casually as possible to the printer, he snatched the document and slipped into a nearby vacant cubicle.  A few forged signatures and falsified dates written in, and he was on his way back to his desk via the aisle next to the file cabinets.  He learned long ago not to make the falsifications at his desk.  The new guy was too sharp; he’d see Larry strolling back from the printer with a fresh document and pause in his own cubicle for a moment, only to appear with the requested document, which was only too obvious.  Justifying the action was easy.  The delivery had been made, and that’s what really mattered.  This was just a lot of red tape, and besides it was a mistake, after all.  Granted, everyone would like to do things right the first time, but that’s no reason to take heat for a stupid piece of paper, or so Larry figured.  So long as the customer never complained of non-delivery, the document was never scrutinized.

All this was so much fuss over dry paint.  Larry figured Picasso to have created almost nineteen hundred paintings in his lifetime.  Of those, he had personally sold over twenty-five hundred, courtesy of a man on Thirteenth Street, named Joe Guiles.  Old Joe was one of those artists who sold art by the pound.  Larry loved his abstract works.  The need to follow reality set rules that made realistic artwork difficult to forge.  Bad art was bad, whether it looked like the original or not.  Abstract art was the sort of thing that could never be bad art, because it never actually had to look like something real.  It was essentially lawless.  The consumer eye couldn’t tell a Guiles from a Picasso, but it could certainly tell it from a Rembrandt.  No Picasso fan could look at one of his works and identify it as a forgery by its poor quality.  That’s because it was all bad.  Without having the real thing to hold up next to it, no one could notice the difference.  With the advance of the Giclee printer, a downloaded work could be printed on canvass to look like a genuine double of the original.  Granted, there were certain risks.  He had to be careful not to sell any of the showcased works, or anything too famous.  The best bet was always something that Picasso never attempted, yet should have.  These were the “lesser-known works.”  That’s where Joe’s talent really shined.

Well, it wasn’t too hard to rationalize, really.  A painting was as good as the owner’s enjoyment of it.  It didn’t really matter who made it or how it was made, so long as it had the certain visual appeal that the consumer was looking for.  I mean, it’s either worth hanging on a wall, or it isn’t.  In the end, it’s just an image.  If the consumer wanted that image, then that’s what the consumer got.  In return, Larry only asked for mass-produced artwork of dead presidents on rag paper.  That should be fair enough.

The phone on his desk rang.  It was Joe.  He answered it, “Larry Lawson, superstar.”

Joe replied that one of his works was ready, and then he disconnected.

Larry stood, passed the bad document over the shoulder of his coworker and disappeared around a corner.  He had been in the office less than twenty minutes, and already he was headed for the elevator and freedom.  Stopping by the receptionist’s desk, he asked the lady to tell his boss that he was on his way to do a pick-up.  She replied that the boss was not coming in today.  This had “good day” written all over it.  He counted the steps to the elevator, waited for the doors to shut, and then he did his best rendition of a football goal line victory dance.  That stop at the bar would be coming earlier than he had planned.  The elevator car dropped a level and opened to a pretty little clerk that he had gotten to know a month earlier.  As soon as she saw him, she made an awkward nod of the head, mumbled, “Sorry, mistake,” and hurried away.  He made a mental note to study that case.  Clearly, something went wrong with that one.  Maybe he had pursued her a little to aggressively.

The doors closed and the elevator car continued on its way.  “Shooting Stars,” played softly over the speaker.  “Come on, people, we just played that one,” he muttered.  Two lines later, he realized that the words were different.  This one wasn’t about shooting stars, like the kind one might watch on a hot August night.  This one was about shooting stars, as in celebrities and with a gun.  He shifted uncomfortably.  “Odd, that one,” he said to the wall.  His cell phone rang.  It was the jerk from the cubicle next to his.

“Larry,” whined the jerk, “This receipt is a complete forgery!  What the heck are you doing, trying to pawn this junk off on me?”

“Just file it,” Larry answered, “you know no one’s going to look at it, anyway.”

“Larry, I looked at it!  Now we’re both involved.  This isn’t just your butt that’s going to get fried.  I never asked for this.  It’s illegal, you know!” the twiggy coworker cried.

“Laws were made to be broken,” Larry returned, “Get a grip.  You’re not going to get arrested for possession of a fake receipt.”  He snapped his phone shut and continued waiting.  This was taking too long.  He looked at the display above the door, and it showed that he was ascending, instead of descending.  “Drat!” he shouted.  Actually, that wasn’t quite the word he used.  The numbers kept going up.  Then, he was back to his own level, which was on the highest floor.  Then he was on the floor above it.  The numbers rearranged themselves into a little face, just a line for a mouth and two dots for eyes.  “What the…?!”

“So, you don’t like laws, do you?” the little face said, and he heard it through the speakers in place of the music.  The face screwed itself up into various Chinese characters.  Then the display went blank and the doors opened, revealing the roof and all of the workings one might find on top of a high-rise office building.

“This is nuts,” he said with a shiver, “Elevators don’t go clear to the roof.  This can’t be happening.”  But the unnaturally dark and smoky sky drew him outside and toward the parapet.  Looking down, he saw that the whole city was on fire, making him think for a split second that it had caused his elevator to rise to the top, but that would still be impossible.  The elevator still doesn’t reach the roof, even if it malfunctions.  A huge billow of smoke rose in the distance, forming what vaguely looked like an angry face, which turned and dissipated a second later.  A moment after that, the roiling smoke formed another face, which rotated and obliterated.  It was only the sort of thing one sees in clouds, when one looks up and makes believe that the thing is shaped like something familiar, even when it clearly looks dissimilar.  Yet, face after face arose and disappeared.  “What is going on, here?” he wondered aloud.

“At the moment, you’re hallucinating, but that could all change in a few minutes,” said a voice behind him.

He turned toward the speaker and saw a man in a leather jacket, leather pants and leather boots.  In fact, it would appear that every thing he wore required the shedding of blood.  “What’s going on?  What’s happening,” Larry asked.

“This day has been waiting for you for thousands of years, and you have only just now stepped into it,” replied the stranger, “But I wanted to give you a moment longer before you met your destiny.  The world burns like incense to appease the nostrils of a holy God, but one can burn swine meat forever without ever producing a pleasing aroma.  Really,  I don’t think we need more of that.  I like to think that there’s a chance to reconcile you with the law you hate.”

Larry tried to give him a look that said, “You’ve got to be kidding,” that looked more like a terrified, “Man, I sure hope this is just a joke.”  He looked back at the rising smoke, which seemed to look back at him.  “So what are you saying?”

“You need Jesus Christ to pay the penalty for your breaking of the law,” the man in leather said.

“Yeah, whatever.  Jesus overthrew the law,” Larry replied.

“No, you overthrew the law.  Jesus fulfilled it.  He loved the law enough to die, rather than break it.  He loved you enough to die, rather than break you.  Something had to break.  It was you against the law, and….”

“That’s nice,” Larry interrupted, “but I’ve got an elevator to catch,” and he headed back to the entrance.

“Are you really in such a hurry to go down there?” asked the stranger.

Larry stepped inside the elevator, turned, and gave the button for the parking garage a resolute push.  There’s something about insanity that makes people compensate by attempting to be extra sane.  They stand a little taller.  They walk stiffly and talk about anything normal, if they can.  They find themselves looking for any symbol of normalcy to which they can cling, even striding with ineffective slowness from an onrush of doom.  For Larry, this meant resetting himself to the last moment before things went haywire, which meant standing in an elevator and pushing the button for the parking garage with the determination of one who actually expected it to go there.  When the doors closed and his stomach rose into his throat from the descent of the car, he hoped life was as normal as it now looked, but four seconds later, when he became weightless and floated about the interior, he realized with horror that he was better-off on the roof, with the freak, where at least he was free and not trapped in a box.  The display above the door showed the little face again, and he heard its voice through the speakers.

“You know, Larry, I know you think of yourself as a minor outlaw, but I happen to know that you love laws,” said the voice in a synthetic sort of way.  Larry was too busy floating about the cabin to venture a response, so it continued, “Take the law of gravity, for instance.  You love that law.  You like being able to use those little stilts you call legs to pry yourself away from the ground and move from place to place across the surface of a dirt ball.  You love knowing that every day, God happens to follow that law faithfully.  Or, take the laws of time and space, even.  You like, or better yet, are tremendously excited to know that your elevator will get to where it’s going in a timely manner.  You like to be able to cross a room in a matter of seconds, rather than decades.  In fact, it would kill you to know that you might not even get there in your lifetime.”

“Oh, dear God,” Larry mumbled, not reverently.

“Yes, both dear and God, in fact,” said the voice.  “Aren’t you glad God obeys his laws?  Don’t you wish you had obeyed yours?  Oh, but then there’s the Master Law, and this one you love the best.  It’s the law that makes all other laws possible.  It’s the law of consistency.  It’s so universal and so important that most people don’t even know it exists.  You wake up every morning, go to work, come home and go to bed.”

“I do not love that law,” Larry groaned.

“Oh, but you do,” argued the voice.  “You don’t like not knowing if, perhaps, you might wake up one day and find that you are a chicken, strapped to the back of a flying purple pig, singing We Are The World a hundred times really fast.  For instance, you don’t like floating about, trapped inside an elevator that talks nonsense to you.”

Larry resisted the urge to puke, and said, cautiously, “You’re right.  I definitely do not like this.”

“Ah, but fortunately for you God is very good at following his laws,” the thing said.

“Then why isn’t he?!” Larry roared.

“Ah, but he is!” the elevator cheered, “You may think that you are floating, but it only seems like that because your entire world is falling with you.  Your coworkers are falling with you.  Your elevator car is falling with you…and it still only takes four and a half seconds to hit the ground!  Even the laws of time and space are obeyed.  Did you know, Larry, that the terrified mind of a human fires signals so fast that he perceives that time comes to a standstill?”

“That’s great!  That’s just fantastic, you stupid, little, whatever you are!  What about consistency?  What about your freaking Master Law?!” Larry screamed.

“It’s about to be taken from you,” said the elevator, flatly.  “The Master is about to be taken from you, and there’s really no way to have the Master Law without the Master, now is there?  I mean, that wouldn’t make any sense, now would it?

“You mean, I’m going to be stuck in this nightmare?!” Larry panicked.

The elevator was silent for a moment.  Then it replied, “Yes, but this is all taking too long.  We are nearly out of time.”

All at once, the elevator groaned softly, and Larry was flung at the floor, where he stopped, mid-air, spread-eagle, with his nose an inch from the ground, hovering.  He brought his arms and legs down, and he carefully stood to his feet.  The moment the doors opened, he rushed outside, into the parking garage, and for a moment life seemed to have returned to normal.  A short distance away was a small one-person restroom, used mostly by the security guards and the incontinent.  Into this he rushed, either to vomit or to splash water on his face, whichever he could manage best.  It was one of those cold, ugly places, with a steel mirror and a steel toilet and a push-button washbasin.  He got one splash of water to his face before he began to doubt his own reflection.  It didn’t look right.  He worried that the nightmare might be returning.  It was his face, alright, and it even imitated his movements, but somehow it felt like the image of someone else.  The man in the mirror looked like the sort of jackass a person loves to hate, bearing a sneer best removed with a tightly-clenched fist.  Then, he could contain himself no longer.  He fell to his knees before the toilet and spilled his breakfast, which appeared to be a diet of worms.  In between retches he could still feel them wriggling in his throat, which made him retch all the more.  Gripping the bowl with both hands, he felt himself surrender to the panic.  There was no end to the worms within.  That’s when he noticed his hands.  They were covered in worms, too.  In fact, they were so covered that he could not see his hands.  He swiped at them vigorously, knocking them in large clumps into the toilet, taking off whole fingers and then an arm, into the bowl.  That’s when he realized that the worms were not on his arms.  The worms were his arms.  He pushed himself to his feet and examined his body, a seething mass of worms in the general shape of a man.  His right arm flopped detached over the edge of the bowl, spreading in an array of nematodes, until it no longer resembled an arm.

Larry had one thread of sanity left, and with it he barged out of the restroom, up the ramp and out onto the street.  He was going to wake up or die trying.  The street outside was packed with pedestrians, marching routinely to work.  He pushed through them rudely, not knowing where he was going, or why.  He overheard their conversations with each other, normal and unrelated to him, but his mind picked out one word from one person and one word from another, fitting it nicely together into a sentence that was never spoken by a single individual.

“Hurry…call…on…Christ!…now,” said no one and everyone.

Larry stopped at the street corner and looked each way.  It was an alley, crossing with the main boulevard.  The alley had nothing but two old trash cans, a cat, and a homeless bum, who was striding purposefully toward him.  Everyone else was walking or driving along the boulevard.  In the moment that he recognized the bum as the man from the roof, he looked up at the street sign and saw that he was at the crossing of Hell Avenue and Heaven Alley.  “Oh, very funny!  Oh, yeah, this is all just one big hilarious joke, isn’t it?!” he yelled at the stranger.  The people on the street stopped in their tracks and stared.  Even the cars slowed to watch the madman.  Everyone was waiting to see what he would do next.  He was about to say something more, when he heard the whistle of a train.  It was the Seven-Ten, and for once it was right on time.  He knew what he had to do.  He turned up the boulevard and ran madly for the tracks.  The stranger broke into a dead run after him, trying to stop him.  Up ahead, he saw the tracks.  To his left, he saw the coming of the Los Angeles Westbound.  Larry was determined to meet the LAW head-on.  Someone or something was going to break.  With his legs spread, he stood and faced the oncoming diesel engine.  To his left, the stranger kept coming, with a look of horror on his face and his hand upraised in warning.

“Larry!” yelled the man in leather, “You can’t wake up from this kind of nightmare!”  But Larry turned toward the engine and ignored him.  The stranger slowed to a stop when the futility of his effort became evident.  The words barely squeaked from his throat, “Not again.  Oh, for pity’s sake, not again.”

The impact was so thunderous that everybody thought a bomb had gone off.  The doors and large pieces of the elevator car blew out into the cars parked opposite, rebounding with a clatter, a tremendous racket and a billow of dust.  A dozen car alarms sounded, honking in protest like frightened donkeys.  The entire office building came alive with workers buzzing about, trying desperately to know what was going on.

The event was summed up in a news article the next day, that the elevator in a downtown office building had become detached from its pulley mechanism and fallen all the way from the top floor to its resounding demise far below, killing one person in the process.

A clerk from the top floor minus one considered that she barely missed getting on that elevator seconds before the disaster.  Strangely, she was saved by her disdain of the victim, which, incidentally, made the victim harder to disdain.  Had he not been on that elevator, she felt that the victim would have been her, instead.  Somewhere on the top floor, the victim’s coworker made a callous remark that he probably hit the ground and kept going, straight to Hell.  Both were wrong in their own way.  The reason she did not die was simply because it was not her time to die.  He did not go straight to Hell, exactly.  Somewhere along the way life took an unexpected detour, before continuing on into the permanent nightmare.

But it is not for others to know the full story of a man.  His interaction with God is known only to him and God.  He can’t tell, and God won’t.

[/fiction]

Some say that the genre of Christian horror is a self-contradictory and impossible concept.  In truth, those who see the world falling headlong into a permanent nightmare are audience of the ultimate horror story.





A Dangerously Weak god

16 09 2010

A coworker named Albert  attempted to explain to me that another coworker named Tuan thought he was far better than anyone else at the lab.  When confronted with what were perceived to be his shortcomings, Tuan reacted by insisting that he was the very best among us.  In fact, he might have had us believe that he was near perfect.

“He doesn’t really think that,” I told my other coworker, “He’s just insecure.”

“No, he’s not insecure,” replied Albert, “He thinks we’re all down here.” He indicated an arbitrary position with his hand, palm-downward, “And he thinks he’s way up here,” he said, raising his hand above his head.  “When I tried to correct him, he got defensive and argued with me.”

“Secure people don’t get defensive,” I replied.

It’s true, though.  Confident people can take harsh criticism in stride.  It may bother them, but they don’t lose confidence in who they are and where they stand.  It is with this in mind that I note how, with a Koran in one hand and a cigarette lighter in the other, I can make the entire Muslim world jump with every flick of my thumb.  With a pencil and a wild imagination I can draw a face and call it “Mohamed,” earning myself a death sentence.  But all of this zealotry runs amok when we put it to the magnifying glass.

I understand that offenses against Muslim icons are an offense against Muslims.  Insults to my mother are offensive to me, and insults against my God are all the more so.  In a sense, everything that I hold dear and close is part of what I call home.  In a beehive, the queen bee is home.  To the mockingbird, the nest is home.  We naturally fight to protect our home.  However, against these physical things, there lies a real threat of harm.  The bees fight for the queen, because she could really be killed.  The bird fights for the nest, because the young might really be devoured.

On the other hand, fighting to protect one’s god is like fighting to rescue a wooden idol from a burning building.  When a person finds himself filling the role of a self-appointed guardian of his own god, then he ought to reconsider what this thing really is.  I might ask, exactly how fragile is this Allah, that he cannot defend his own honor?  Why does any supreme being need mere mortals to run to his rescue?  It’s like the idol-makers at Ephesus fighting to protect their trade from the teachings of Paul and Barnabas.  That Muslims feel any need to fight for their god is all we need to see their insecurity.  No one dies in defense of the invincible.

They have every reason to feel insecure, though.  The whole Muslim world is economically, militarily, socially and technologically weaker than the industrialized Western nations.  If Allah were strong, then he would have lifted them above the infidels in all respects, for this god is not known for its modesty.  All the worse, though, that Allah is immodest, for weakness is never an act of voluntary meekness, as it is with Jesus.

Our God humbled himself and became a human so that he might be mocked, torn apart and murdered.  In light of this, one might threaten the burning of thousands of Bibles and never come close to the desecration that Christianity suffered.  Yet, this desecration was part of our theology.  Humiliation is central to our faith.  No derision proves our God too weak to respond, and no lack of faith or weakness of character would keep us from defending him.  We don’t need to defend him, and he is not weak.  It is through our persecution that we are proven strong.

Allah takes nothing in stride, and neither do his followers.  He proves his might through violence, which, ironically, is all the proof of his weakness.  Those who look to him for deliverance have become his protectors.  It’s the grandest of all role-reversals.  The loyal adherents have become the gods and made their god as weak as a newborn babe.

You can burn my Bible.  It’s just a stack of papers with ink scribbles on them.  Only the ideas contained within are holy.  The book is just a book.  Even the ideas don’t exist within the pages of a book.  Ideas can only exist within a mind.  A book never read is a book without meaning.  In this case, the book was read, and the meaning, which is the only thing holy about it, was stored within the soul of the one who read it.  The only thing holy about the Christian holy book lies hidden within the hearts of the Christians who believe in it.  There, no match can burn, nor any heretic desecrate it.  We have nothing to fear.  The real Bible cannot be burned.  That which can be burned is not the Word of God.

It is the weakness of Allah that causes the infidels to die.  A polytheistic god that was hardly more than a myth was built up to parade in the place of God, himself.  Such a vainglory was but a house of cards, and the effort to protect that house is more than the world can bear.  If Allah were stronger, then his followers would not have to fight so hard to protect him.  So far, though, he has managed to make a solitary prophet snort and gag while uttering proverbs.  His people have done the rest.  We are the victims of a dangerously weak god.





Psychic Blindness

26 04 2010

Despite its name, it’s really not the sort of thing one would go to a palm reader for.    Psychic blindness is a fancy name for a vaguely defined problem, when a person’s eyes are working, but the mind is not seeing.

As a physiological problem, psychic blindness can result from brain damage.  Though the eyes are working and the signal is getting to the brain, it cannot be properly processed.  As a psychological problem, psychic blindness is effectively a dissociative disorder, whereby a person denies his own sight.  He sees, but he does not acknowledge.  He claims to be blind, but he still reacts to visible threats.

On a more common level, it affects everyone.  This is the aspect to psychic blindness that doesn’t make the medical journals.  We’ll say you’re looking through the refrigerator for a bottle of ketchup, and you feel confident that you’ve searched every last inch of the interior.  It’s gone.  It couldn’t possibly be anywhere in there.  You ask your spouse where it went, and your loved one walks straight to the refrigerator and pulls it from a parallel universe (the middle shelf, near the front).  You can’t say that you didn’t see it, because it was right there in front of you.  You were staring right at it.  Yet, you didn’t see it.  That’s a limited form of psychic blindness.  The eyes were working, and the image of the ketchup bottle was transmitted to the brain, but it got lost in the paperwork.

Now, being unable to find a specific object might be a memorable example, but it is not a representative one.  Let’s say you were not looking for the ketchup bottle in the first place.  Would you see it?  In fact, you would have been even less likely to see it if you had not been looking.  Therefore, if we are occasionally blind to objects that we are looking for, we must be very blind to many objects which we are not looking for.  It’s like the man who claims that he sees no evidence of God.  He has not looked, and if he looked, he would not try to find, and if he found, he would pretend that he did not find anything at all.  Finding God is a challenge to them who want to find God, and it is an impossibility to those who do not.

I do not know how many square inches of surface area the interior of my home has, including all of the objects contained therein, but the vast majority of my attention is drawn to 198 square inches of it, my computer monitor.  The reason is simply because it captures my interest.  It continues to change.  Every last object within sight of me gets ignored from one day to the next.  This is a mental efficiency.  The mind does not need to take continual notice of things which do not change, and it tends not to notice things that change slowly.  On the whole, I think I must ignore billions of details per day.  From the knickknacks on the desk in front of me, the loaded bookshelves to my side, or the decorations to my right to the living room that I never use, I am surrounded by an environment of my own making, which we have lovingly arranged for our comfort and pleasure.  I see all of this every day, and yet, like the ketchup bottle it is all invisible to me.

Yesterday, I sat in an outdoor eating area, watching the drama unfold in the lives of a community of sparrows.  I watched their courtship.  I watched them hop around, looking for food.  I watched a nearby kid nearly step on one, except that the sparrow was far more observant than he was.  The birds were invisible to everyone but us.  The other diners were blind to this detail.

In the evenings, I have walked along a sidewalk, observing how the residents spent their time staring at a television.  The air was crisp, and the moon reflected off of the ocean just a stone’s throw away.  Surely, they must have paid millions for this view, but they were blind to it.  House after house was illumined by the same blue glow.

I have been in homes where clutter littered the floor, the desktops, the chairs and even the yard.  They may have been too lazy to clean it up, or they may not have had enough time, or they may have even been unable, mentally, to solve the problem, but in the end, they got used to their situation.  Eventually, they stopped seeing the trash.  The eyes still worked, but the mind did not see what the eyes were conveying.

I have seen people put themselves into destructive relationships, boyfriends who used their ladies, friends who manipulated their peers, drugs that rotted the body and well-being of the user.  I have seen sin destroy a life, and I have seen the sinner stare straight at his circumstances and continue walking into it.

I have seen a piece of wood grow and stretch, developing little solar panels, capturing light.  I have seen it tap into an underground source of water, drawing moisture from depths less than a well could find it.  I have seen cells that knew exactly what shape to take and what function to serve, because they knew exactly where they were in the body.  I have learned of an engineer’s plans, written in multiple redundancy, for the construction of an organism that could find energy without a wall socket or a battery supply.  It could find materials to repair itself and make another of its own kind.  It could do all of this with nothing special at its disposal.  Release it into the woods, and it could make do with anything that it found.  It was more advanced than anything made by humans.  I have seen people look at it and call it a freak accident, as though one might spill a glass of milk and accidentally make a cow.  Their eyes work, but their minds do not see.

We learn from the things that we afford our attention.  What we do not see, we do not experience.  What we do not experience, we do not live.  All of the joys of real life, the physical, tangible things, are lost to our blindness.  The spiritual things are twice removed from our sight.  Everything has been reduced to a flat screen and whatever shines forth from it.  Everything we learn, we are taught.  People have become inept at learning for themselves, could not even begin to see, even if they looked.

Within the view of everyone who reads this is an innumerable array of details and objects, but the biggest question on anyone’s mind is, “I wonder what’s on television?”

That’s psychic blindness of the common sort.





Déjà Vu, Idle Chatter and Barking Dogs

16 03 2010

No one gets déjà vu worse than I do.  Well, no one I know does, at least.  The phenomenon is considered to be the feeling that one is experiencing something that has already happened.  What it really amounts to is a vague sense of repetition.  Well, for most it is just a vague sense of repetition, but oftentimes I find that the situation goes well beyond that.  I used to think it a silly social custom for people to have repeat conversations.  When you run out of things to talk about, then you go back over the old subjects and discuss them again as though they had not been discussed before.  A few years ago, though, I noticed some coworkers having a repeat conversation for at least the third time, and they were repeating themselves almost verbatim.  They could have been reading from a script, they were following their previous conversation so closely.  What was more amazing to me was that one conversationalist was reacting to the other’s words with astonishment, the same as before.  Now, generally, when someone tells me something that I find intriguing, I think I’m pretty likely to remember it.  At the very least, it shouldn’t surprise me when I hear it again…I think.

But that’s the real problem.  If other people were repeating their own conversation exactly, then how many times did I hear it before I first recognized that they were repeating themselves?  I might experience this redundancy unawares.  I only know that others experience it one or two more times than I do before coming to the sense that they’ve had this or that conversation before.  They could have repeated it twenty times, with me being aware only of the nineteenth and twentieth times, where they only remember the twentieth.

The next time they had that conversation, and they did, in fact, have that exact same conversation later, I stopped them and finished the conversation for them.  I begged them to please remember doing this before.  They said that they may have sort of remembered it.  At least they didn’t do it again.

That was not an isolated incident, though it may have been the worst.  I told my wife about it, and she thought it was funny.  A few weeks later, I told her about it again, and she reacted exactly the same way.  So long as I followed my part of the script, she followed hers.  I asked her if she realized we were repeating ourselves, and she got mad at me.  She doesn’t like to be tricked.

No need to take it personally, though.  Almost everyone I know seems able to have the same discussion multiple times without being remotely aware of it.  Particularly observant people can discuss a thing twice, where others can have the same chat four or more times.  I prefer to stop counting after four.  Again, though, that is four times more than I repeat myself unawares.  If I do it twice, then the one who seems to repeat himself four times actually does it six times.

The deciding factor seems to lie in the loquaciousness of the individual.  The more chatty a person is, the more prone they are to having the same discussion with the same people over and over again and react exactly the same way each time, as though never having heard it before.  Socially, I am possibly the least chatty person I know.  Hence, each discussion means more to me, and I am more likely to remember it.

I am under the impression that talk is cheap for most people, that the act of having a chat has nothing to do with the exchange of information and ideas.  That is to say that people talk to each other for the purpose of talking.  Previously, I had assumed that people talked for the sake of entertainment, which still may be true, but the act of talking, itself, is both the means and the end in most exchanges.  It’s the reason we say “hello” to people when we see them, even if we had just seen them the previous day.  What does that word even mean?  Most of the way people relate to each other conveys no great meaning, other than to emote.  “Hey, man, how’s it going?” is not a question, when it really comes down to it.  The statement, itself, is just a gesture.

Idle chatter, in many cases, is on par with the barking of dogs.  The point is in the vocalization, not the true meaning of words.  If people don’t take their conversations seriously, then they are not apt to remember them.  All they take away from the event is a sense of their relationship with the other person.

However, the lowest form of conversation, the one that really resembles the barking of dogs in terms of its intelligence, is the use of obscenities.  I don’t mean the use of crass words where more delicate words would suffice.  I mean the use of obscenities in sentences where the literal meaning of the word has no relevance to the subject at hand.  It’s an alternate to the word “duh.”  More often as of late, I find that people are throwing in obscenities in random places in their speech, out of pure habit.  If we replaced those words with the word, “duh,” not a single ounce of meaning would be lost from what they say.  For example, “Hey, duh, where did you get that duh awesome shirt?” to which the other person replies, “I got it from that duh store down on duh D Street…you know…the one with the duh picture of a duh gorgeous babe in the window.”  Generally speaking, in terms of vocalized speech, obscenities tend to be used most by people who have the hardest time thinking of the right words to say.  The bad words have actually come to substitute the nonsense word, duh, in every sense of the way.  But replacing poor language skills with foul language has not only ceased to be counter-culture, but it has actually become fashionable.

The summary meaning of this trend is that communication in our society is becoming dull.  We don’t really mean what we say, and we don’t care enough about what others say to remember it.

The brain acts as an excellent filter of information.  In truth, we would drive ourselves insane if we remembered everything.  Therefore, we have a knack for forgetting trivial stuff, which, in this case, is anything that a friend tells us.  If an event happens once, then the brain determines that it must not be important.  Useful information is always encountered over and over again, like the skill of driving a car, forming words or tying a shoe.  Hence, a conversation might be forgotten until it’s been had a few times.  The catch in all of this is that the brain cannot determine to start remembering these things on the third round if it does not remember that there was a first and second round.  What this means, then, is that people really do remember their conversations, even if they repeat themselves.  What they cannot do is recall those conversations.  It’s in the head, but it’s not coming out.

Two ways exist to promote memory, cognitively.  The first is to think about a thing repeatedly.  The second is to think about it deeply.  In reality, though, because the brain runs in cycles, a deep thought is really just a prolonged one, which is really just a thought that repeats itself over and over for a longer period of time.  Repetition is the primary determinant of whether we will recall the thing later on.  People forget their conversations, because they spend no time pondering them, because they really do not value what was said.

Churches are notorious for having people walk out of the doors and be hopelessly unable to remember anything that was said during the sermon.  Frankly, this is pathetic.  What it means is that they may listen, but they do not ponder.  They hear, but they do not consider.  They believe that they value the theology, but their memories betray them.  We remember the information that we cherish.  Fortunately for the pastor, though, even when the laity cannot recall what was said, the brain does still remember.  With enough sermons and enough reinforcement, a sound theology can be built with time.

Perhaps, if we pay attention, we can remember our lives and relationships, instead of living in a fog and doing everything twice.  Though, I have a feeling that “twice,” is an understatement.





Life in a Bottle

9 03 2010

We live our lives from within a bottle.  That bottle is the human body, which contains us.  We look out through the windows of our eyes.  The world looks back at us and sees only the eyes.  We look through them, and the world looks at them.

 Modern thought is highly analytical.  The scientist observes human behavior and explains it entirely on physical terms.  The testosterone and androgen levels cause a chain of chemical events that turn a boy into a man.  The chemical messengers cause a change in the firing pattern of neurons in the brain, which causes the man to think affectionately toward members of the opposite sex.  The purpose is unmistakable.  It exists to promote human reproduction.  The strong desire produces a feeling of intensity, triggering the fight-flight mechanism.  This causes an adrenaline response, which, in turn, limits most of the non-essential body functions.  One resultant effect is clammy hands.  He takes her hand, as a gesture that communicates his intentions.  She then evaluates his proposal and assesses his merit based on what she deems to be her range of options.  Her cerebellum works actively to determine whether he can provide an adequate genetic contribution to their progeny, as well as his ability to provide financially for their collective well-being, thus ensuring the successful rearing of young.  If she deems him to be a suitable mate, then a similar adrenergic response might be invoked in her own body as a result of the importance of the situation.  Next, they might engage upon a contractual agreement, ensuring that the male will fulfill his duties to help in the maintenance of their household, rather than depart abruptly and prematurely.  We call this contract “marriage.”  It also arranges for exclusivity, so that the male might not accidentally waste his time rearing another male’s offspring, and in so doing jeopardize his own reproductive success.  All of this is necessary for the continuation of the species.

 But this is the description of an organic robot and has nothing whatsoever to do with falling in love.  From the outside, we see mechanisms of a purely practical purpose.  They in no way resemble the experience that lies beneath those functions.  When I fell in love with my wife, I never once considered, nor cared, what physiological processes were involved in this state of existence.  At the time, I was even a biology student in college.  At the time, I was even studying physiology.  One notable effect to having my nose in biology texts for hours on end was that I began to see people as walking, breathing sacks of guts.  Every person was an assembly of their various parts.  I didn’t look into people’s eyes, so much as I looked at their eyes.  This person might have a lovely iris.  That person might have more or less adipose under the basilar membrane of the skin.  When a person is considered in terms of her physiology, she ceases to be regarded for her humanity.  We stare at the surface of the glass, observing its reflectivity, its color or its label, not seeing the person on the inside, looking out.  Within that physical bottle is a spiritual being, looking out.

 In this sense, then, pornography and modern analytical thought have much in common.  Both take into great account the physical shell and disparage the spiritual human.  They look at the outside only.  The abortionist doesn’t claim to murder a person, but, instead, is merely removing a lump of “tissue.”  The most sacred things in life can be desecrated through cold objectivity.  Over-analysis reduces humanity to a sack of guts, or a bag of chemicals.

 But I am here.  I am in this body, looking out.  As I gaze into my wife’s eyes, I dive into her soul.  I connect with that person, whom I love.  I don’t see a couple of well-shaped corneas covering two hazel irises.  I see a person.  I don’t respond to a natural chain of physiological events.  I love.  I adore.  Whatever the mechanism, I am consumed with the experience.  Somehow, I think that this is what our Creator intended. 

 When we watch television, we get into the show.  We don’t sit there and marvel at the complex array of photons being emitted through a cathode ray tube or a liquid crystal display.

 When we drive a car, we need not consider the timing of the firing within each cylinder, or the chemical processes of combustion.  All of the complex functions of the engine, the transmission, the steering and the brakes have been simplified and condensed to a few simple controls.  The entire machine has been made intuitive for us.  If we want to turn left, then we turn the steering wheel left.  If we want to speed up, then we step on the gas.  We don’t need to adjust for air intake.  We need not direct the oil to be pumped to the top of the engine block, so that it can run down over the camshaft.  The gas pedal has been brought to us; we don’t have to climb over the engine to control one of its components. 

 Such is the human body.  Most of what happens to keep us working is, thankfully, beyond our conscious perception.  We don’t have to manually digest our food.  We don’t need to think about our heartbeat in order to make it happen.  We don’t have to consciously assemble enzymes within our cells.  This machine, which is far more complex than an automobile, has been simplified and brought to a focal point of control, so that we might be able to operate it as intuitively as though we were not driving a machine at all.  We hardly even notice that we are operating a machine, but we are.

 Modern thought has struggled to take this away from us.  It has focused so intently on the machine, that it denies the very existence of the driver.  It reduces the experience to an illusion created by a mechanism.  Unfortunately for the modernist, he cannot observe this mechanism without living through such a mechanism, himself.  In order to stare at a bottle and see no further than the glass, he must first look out through the glass of his own bottle.  This is a double standard, an unequal treatment of others and himself.  The mechanism of a human body cannot be studied without living through one.

 The spiritual side of humanity is what’s being ignored.  If the man looks at a woman and connects with her humanity, then he will not be addicted to pornography.  If the abortionist considers the humanity of the fetus, then she might reconsider this murder.  If the priest connects with his God, then he might not obsess with the legalism and rituals of a dead religion. 

 When we love our neighbors as ourselves, when husbands love their wives as Christ loves the church, we see the humanity within the corporeal bottle, like we see ourselves.  We all love ourselves.  We all nurture our own humanity, yet we often objectify each other.  We do not do this because we have been deceived by appearances.  We do this because it is convenient to sin.  It is the vice known as selfishness.  We ignore the humanity of others in order to use them for our own gain.

 To see the life inside that bottle, to look beyond its glass, we only need to change our focus.





Here and Now; The Spiritual Unity Principle

6 03 2010

In an earlier post, Perceptual Fog, I discussed the principle of Now, that span of time that we inhabit, which occupies absolutely no space on the time line.  Now is a very important concept to consider, because it clearly defines the difference between one’s body and one’s eternal soul.

My body has been smeared across the time line like butter on bread.  It exists along a range of points, and it encompasses an infinite number of infinitely small points, of which Now is one.  However, Now is where I am, and Now does not exist at all of those points.  Therefore, I do not belong with my body in the past, nor do I belong with my body in the future.  If you could build a time machine and travel back in time, you might see me living my life, doing all of the things that I have done, but I am not there.  You would only see the physical shell of me.  In theory, if I went back to that time, I would think all of the same thoughts that I did then, and I would be unaware that I had traveled back to that point.  This may be true, but I am, in fact, not at that point.  I am here, even if for a fleeting fraction of a second.  I can no more inhabit the body of my past than I can inhabit the body of my neighbor.

This is the essence of my immortal soul: regardless of my body’s influence on my memory or my temperament or my rationality, I am what I experience.  I am that, even if what I experience is a dream or a hallucination or an illusion.  Even if it’s wrong, so long as I experience it, then it was me.  The reason that Now occupies no space on the time line, despite the fact that our bodies occupy an entire range of the time line, is that the soul is of this property.  The soul has a location on the line, but it occupies no length of it.  If it did, then it would contain an infinite number of infinitely small points, meaning that it would be not one soul, but many.  A soul is indivisible.  You cannot be more than one person, and you cannot be less than one.  The essential you is a point.

The paradox in all of this is that while your body can exist at different points in the time line at the same time, your soul cannot.  As soon as your soul moves to the next point in time, it no longer exists at the previous point.  Now is the only point you will ever occupy, even if Now moves onward.  The important thing to note, here, is that the idea of whether a thing can occupy different points of time at the same time uses a secondary time line for comparison.  That is to say that we’ve inadvertently added a second dimension to time, making it not a line, but a plane.  The body occupies all of the same points in time that the Now merely visits.  The former does all at once what the latter does in sequence.

The time line that we measure with clocks is only for physical things, as clocks are physical things.  The spirit is not physical, which is why, though it can be located on the time line, it cannot take up any space on it.  It’s like the intersection of two lines, or, in this case, the intersection of the two axis of our now two-dimensional time.

In Ezekiel 3:16-21, the Lord tells us that we will be judged by what we are at the end of our lives, regardless of how good or evil we were formerly.  Some take this to mean that the future trumps the past.  It does not.  The last moment of our lives possesses no future.  In that instant, there will only be the Now and the past.  Because we are the Now, and the past is but a shell that we left behind, God judges the Now.  That is to say that God judges our souls, not our bodies.  God isn’t waiting for you to die to judge your soul.  If your soul has not been redeemed by the blood of Christ, then you stand condemned already.

The body occupies an infinite number of infinitely small points along the time line, but it also holds a similar quantity of points in physical space.  The soul, however, is not matter.  It does not occupy any space.  It does, however, have a location in space, just like it has a location along the time line.  That location is an absolute point, and it cannot exist at two points at the same time.

Many authors have speculated about the exact abode of the human soul within the body.  Some have written theoretical works on mining that magical organ from the body and refining it to a pure soul-body interface.  Descartes believed it was the pineal gland.  C. S. Lewis speculated in an unfinished fiction that it might be a special part of the brain.  All of these authors hit at a profound point, and all of them miss it, entirely.  The entire pineal gland, and any section of brain would be far too large to be called the most essential part of our existence.  If a whole organ is as far as we can narrow it down, then we have not gone much further than to say that the human soul exists somewhere within the human body.  In that case, we’re just dealing with a smaller chunk of flesh and no more.

The key to understanding the soul’s relation to the body is to consider their analogy to the time line.  The soul is a point, and the body is a region.  They can both cover the same areas, but while the body takes the whole region at once, the soul moves about, taking one point at a time.  Even secular science has tried to narrow down the place in the brain where we live.  They think that it exists in the temporal lobe, near its junction with the parietal lobe.  However, there are two of each lobe and only one of me.  If we can narrow it down to that, then can we identify the exact neuron?  Any particular ion pump?  A single ion?  Perhaps, an electron?

We can eliminate as much of our body in the quest for the abode of the soul as we wish, but so long as we have any left, then we are no closer to the truth than if we had eliminated nothing.  You can remove a leg, yet still be yourself.  In fact, you can remove your entire body and still be yourself.  In a way, you have done exactly that already.  The body of your past has been cut away from you.  None of it was left intact.  You have no power to re-inhabit it, like you have no power to inhabit your dog.

Now is a point without a range.  Here is also a point without a range.  There is an age-old question that asks how many angels you can fit on the head of a pin.  The answer is that you can fit them all on the head of a pin and still have room for more.

Two lines intersect at a point.  One line is physical and the other is spiritual.  The physical component is made of time and space.  The soul forms a point in time and a point in space.  One is the Now, and the other is the Here.  The soul has no substance in either, but it has a definite location in both.  That point is always on the move.

The only question you have left to ask yourself is, “Where, exactly, is it going?”