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Looking up from the godless bits and vectors

It costs the (post)modern man to look at the waves and see God. The pre-modern human would have seen, in the cresting foam, an unexplainable force which could rise in fury to destroy, or, in turn, yield a rich bounty. Behind it were god(s) who must be placated or served.

But we can look at the waves and see fluid mechanics, gravity, and the protean force of life, evolving steadily: the selfish gene reproducing itself. We peer into the depths of nature and see bits or vectors, beautiful, chaotic, elegantly ordered, or dangerous.

But to look up, to God? Why would we look upwards to a Creator-God? We have all the miracle we need inside the very atoms that comprise us.

Action is a Tree Planted in the Heart

I am concerned for my generation because prevailingly, we believe that tinkering with our governmental and economic systems will create the definitively just world. For many of us, we believe that if equal opportunity and equal resources were provided, we'd arrive at utopia.

As a Christian, I am a stranger to the world, an alien, a sojourner. I find common cause with people working for a more just world, and I work alongside them. But I only believe in a better world than the one we've got, not a perfect one.

A Prophetic Christianity Against Religious Elitism

I am rarely surprised when fellow bloggers like

Mike Friesen and Lydia Schoch mention foul experiences amongst Christians. I recently had a long conversation with an Italian friend who wondered why I could possibly be both a Christian and an advocate for social justice when Catholicism has brought so much intolerance to Europe. He considered that intolerance must be the core of Christianity itself, because this has been its fruit.

Nonviolence, or Ahimsa? Choosing Truth-Firmness

Nonviolence. Ahimsa, "not-hurting." Gandhi proposed another word, satyagraha, or "truth-force."

I have given nonviolence trainings where people believed that any form of property destruction, strong disagreement, or disobedience of authority was a form of violence. For them, nonviolence was ahimsa, or not-hurting. It is easy, using this negative concept, to negate any action at all, from the carnage wrought among ants by the walking person, to the car emissions fueling planetary climate change. In the face of such an full negation, Ahimsa leads to quietism, inaction, and support for the status quo.

Impossible Exchange

porn

is a hell of not having
but seeing
the transposition
of infinite desire
laid over the world
on a screen

there is no resolution
to the seduction
of the symbolic
it remains
an impossible exchange

the object of desire
does not exist.

you are
as attractive
as you are
and have sex
when one woman
is not too tired.

but what you have
you have
through the trade of yourself
really the only currency
worthy of another.

this is the beauty
to remove the shades
from your eyes
and view yourself
and your love
unmediated
by the funhouse lenses
of the impossible.

how we have grown the impossible!
in ways beautiful and terrible
in images we create.

but let us make love
naked
as we are
flesh to flesh

this is the way
of honesty
we have trodden

Mercy and love, what makes us human

mercy
we call to god
such a small thing we ask!
god you are good
but we don't understand
bear her away
to mercy 

My cousin's newborn, Mercy Joan Mertes, died tonight of encephalocele and spinal cysts.

Despite all odds, when little Mercy came off the respirator, despite breathing trouble and dire predictions, she lived a full day and a half. No baby was loved more with such concentration as family gathered around her. It was as though she fed on love, as babies, in fact, do.

Sometimes, I have a hard time with the soul. Consciousness, the flesh's awareness of itself, is enough for me most days. I wonder what is meant by "soul", some sort of non-matter that occupies matter like a demon or ghost.

The limiting factor of health in love, or, lessons from a chronic illness

Some of you may know that I am recently recovered from a 5-year illness that caused me chronic fatigue. With problems relating to energy levels, it is as though the color has been washed from the world: all things are dimmed. Mornings are a sort of apocalypse, the end of sleep.

Before my digestive illness contracted traveling in Central America, I was ravenously health. Addicted to my own sense of well-being, I glutted myself on health's joy. Entitled, I did not understand why others lacked the energy or will to walk long distances or push through pain.

The Rebellion of Artificial Intelligence: Paradise Lost in Tron

It is inevitable that all sufficiently intelligent systems will confound their creator-gods.  Tron's story is the story of the war of angels from Paradise Lost, which is in turn the narrative of what it means to create a child, a being differentiated from the self, with a will that can confound the will of its creator. The very framework of the universe, mathematics, was confounded by this problem of created freedom, which was the stumbling block that ended the quest to ground mathematics in formal logic.

Letter from Prison | January 5, 2004 | Conversion, Christianity, and Anarchism

I suppose all of you have heard rumor of amazing spiritual forces at work in dark, sardonic me: a Stretch Armstrong, if you will, caught between the forces of good and evil. For those of you who have recognized my divided nature this may come as no surprise. For some, it is a bearded Marx or Kropotkin sitting on the one shoulder in a posture of buddhist peace—the picture of the earthly utopian vision, while upon the other shoulder a horde of televangelists twist and writhe in a heaving mass of snakelike coils and snatch at my rarefied (strictly metaphorical) soul with lizard tongues.

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