Thursday, January 29, 2015

Grace and Spirituality

Recently we heard a Spiritualist minister discuss grace. In the subsequent discussion it became apparent that no one present really knew what grace was or is. In my own mind grace is very similar to consciousness: (a) It is something we all recognize as being real, though we don't know how to get it, and (b) We don't know whether conscious animals and living things have it--or even whether they wish for it. If I built an automaton from parts that replicate a human being and its functions, would the automaton have consciousness? Would the consciousness be built in? If it does not have consciousness, why not? If it had conciousness would it also have grace? Having consciousness has been compared to knowing the color red (or, for that matter, any other color) if I were to be completely color-blind and could see only in black and white and in shades of gray. Could you describe to me, your bereft friend, what red is--or what seeing red feels like? Does a mouse, who is not color-blind, understand red?, whereas I have no hope of being able to do that. Does a mouse have consciousness--at least more than my replica human being, the automaton? Are consciousness and grace emergent traits? We know that, for instance, flocking for birds is an emergent trait. As soon as you put a group of birds together they form a flock and act in unison. Yet a bird and even two birds do not seem to be naturally friendly with one another. Somewhere in their genome, over ages birds have learned that flocking has advantages. Therefore when a group forms, they flock. Does consciousness have a survival advantage? If you can dream up an advantage for consciousness, can you for grace? Obviously in time past, when the Inquisition was rampant, being able to say that you had grace was an advantage: You hopefully wouldn't be burned. But today? Blessed be G&Y

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

An it Harm None ?

The ostensible sacred writings of Craft people often quote the Wiccan Rede: An it harm none, do what you will. But what is an? We've seen it misunderstood by journalists, by office staff, by a range of individuals. So far as we can search out, its only current use is by Snuffy Smith of the Sunday comics, when he addresses Lowizee: "if'n". Apparently that 'n was once an, though it survives now only in the remotest reaches of the Smoky Mountains if at all. An may appear in the King James version of the you-know-what, though I haven't taken time to pursue that possibility. And in fact, I heard once somewhere that James himself insisted his scholars use a style of English already archaic, in a quest to make their translations (and incidentally his own Daemonologie) appear to be sanctified by age. So anyhow, in my personal thinking I have dropped an altogether and replaced it with if. What you retain or drop is a matter of your own choice. Yvonne

revisit gay marriage?

We hear that the United States Supreme Court is thinking about revisiting the constitutionality of gay (same-sex) marriage. As a taxpayer I ask, "Why, Your Honors?" I detect the iron hand in its iron glove of conventional Abrahamic religions throwing their weight around again--and the Wiccan in me mentally shouts, "Wait a minute!" Let's reflect on some facts here. Whether they be welcome or unwelcome, they are true. 1. Optional is not mandatory. If you choose not to participate in a gay marriage, you don't have to. 2. Even gay people pay taxes. Recall the placard from the days preceding the American Revolutionary War: Taxation without representation. Does all this feel fair? If not, make your thoughts known and put a little of your money where your thoughts are. Send the package to Americans United for Separation of Church and State 1301 K St NW / ste 850 E Washington DC 20005 What do you say we all join those good people at Americans United* in their valiant efforts to maintain said separation? If I wanted to live in a theocracy, I'd go to Saudi Arabia or to Iran. The time is come (indeed, is way overdue) for somebody to get a reality smack. Blessed be Y'all Yvonne *

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Uighura and China

Call me befuddled. From time to time we hear of how an ethnic group known as Uighurs are persecuted and bullied by the Chinese government. Apparently the Uighurs long to be something apart from the official Chinese communist government in Beijing, and Beijing won't let 'em go. As we understand it from reporters on BBC America's newscasts, * Chinese army troops are stationed long-term in one of the westernmost provinces of China, * geographically closer to Baghdad than they are to Beijing. * The troops constantly are shooting dead, beating, and imprisoning menbers of the Uighur population--elderly, children, women, what have you-- * at enormous expense in military wages, ammunition and equipment, and who knows what else --for the fact that said population resents the Chinese presence. * Uighurs are largely Muslim, not communist or whatever other "faith" they are officially supposed to espouse. * Uighurs and Chinese communists hate each other for the above reasons and probably for many others which the BBC reporters are not allowed air time to enumerate. I don't understand. Can someone suggest a rational grounds on which China clutches that population and those square meters of land, refusing to let it go, either (a) to independence or (b) to affiliation with some other contiguous nation ? I'd be grateful for some fact that would help me understand such behaviors. Blessed be. Yvonne