Fundamentalist World View Conditions Evangelicals To Be Right Wingers

Fundamentalist World View Conditions Evangelicals To Be Right Wingers

From James: 

Fundamentalism is a thought form in which one believes that the Bible or other holy book is completely accurate and a source of absolute truth. These true believers are prone to apply the same rigidity of thinking to politics and are thus subject to manipulation by politicians on the right. They become worshipers of the Constitution they way they are worshipers of the Bible or other holy book. A few wedge issues such as opposition to abortion are used to turn true believers to supporters of right-wing policies which are opposed to the teachings of Jesus or the other great moral prophets. Jesus was not a fundamentalist. He challenged the correctness of certain Old Testament and rabbinic teachings..

The Evangelical Roots of Our Post-Truth Society

New York Times, April 13, 2017, Molly Worthen

THE arrival of the “post-truth” political climate came as a shock to many Americans. But to the Christian writer Rachel Held Evans, charges of “fake news” are nothing new. “The deep distrust of the media, of scientific consensus — those were prevalent narratives growing up,” she told me.

Although Ms. Evans, 35, no longer calls herself an evangelical, she attended Bryan College, an evangelical school in Dayton, Tenn. She was taught to distrust information coming from the scientific or media elite because these sources did not hold a “biblical worldview.”

“It was presented as a cohesive worldview that you could maintain if you studied the Bible,” she told me. “Part of that was that climate change isn’t real, that evolution is a myth made up by scientists who hate God, and capitalism is God’s ideal for society.”

Conservative evangelicals are not the only ones who think that an authority trusted by the other side is probably lying. But they believe that their own authority — the inerrant Bible — is both supernatural and scientifically sound, and this conviction gives that natural human aversion to unwelcome facts a special power on the right. This religious tradition of fact denial long predates the rise of the culture wars, social media or President Trump, but it has provoked deep conflict among evangelicals themselves.in the evangelical world. The radio show founded by Chuck Colson, “BreakPoint,” helps listeners “get informed and equipped to live out the Christian worldview.” Focus on the Family devotes a webpage to the implications of a worldview “based on the infallible Word of God.” Betsy DeVos’s supporters praised her as a “committed Christian living out a biblical worldview.”

The phrase is not as straightforward as it seems. Ever since the scientific revolution, two compulsions have guided conservative Protestant intellectual life: the impulse to defend the Bible as a reliable scientific authority and the impulse to place the Bible beyond the claims of science entirely.

The first impulse blossomed into the doctrine of biblical inerrancy. Scripture became the irrefutable guide to everything from the meaning of fossils to the interpretation of archaeological findings in the Middle East, a “storehouse of facts,” as the 19th-century theologian Charles Hodge put it.

The second impulse, the one that rejects scientists’ standing to challenge the Bible, evolved by the early 20th century into a school of thought called presuppositionalism. The term is a mouthful, but the idea is simple: We all have presuppositions that frame our understanding of the world. Cornelius Van Til, a theologian who promoted this idea, rejected the premise that all humans have access to objective reality. “We really do not grant that you see any fact in any dimension of life truly,” he wrote in a pamphlet aimed at non-Christians.

If this sounds like a forerunner of modern cultural relativism, in a way it is — with the caveat that one worldview, the one based on faith in an inerrant Bible, does have a claim on universal truth, and everyone else is a myopic relativist.

Nowadays, ministries, schools and media outlets use the term “Christian worldview” to signal their orthodoxy. But its pervasiveness masks significant disagreement over what it means. Many evangelical colleges allow faculty and students to question inerrancy, creationism and the presumption that Jesus would have voted Republican.

Karl Giberson taught biology for many years at Eastern Nazarene College in Quincy, Mass., where freshmen take a course that covers “the Christian worldview” alongside topics like “racial and gender equity” and “cultural diversity.” In the Church of the Nazarene, many leaders have been uneasy about the rationalist claims of biblical inerrancy, and Dr. Giberson openly taught the theory of evolution. “I was completely uncontroversial, for the most part,” he told me. “The problems emerged when I began to publish, when I became a public spokesman for this point of view.”

Nazarene pastors and church members — who absorbed the more fundamentalist worldview of mainstream evangelicalism — put pressure on the school. “The administrators were not upset that I was promoting evolution,” he said. “But now they had a pastor telling the admissions department, ‘we do not want you recruiting in our youth group.’ ” The controversy drove him to resign in 2011.

Dean Nelson, who runs the journalism program at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, told me that he doesn’t see “how you can teach ‘Christian journalism’ any more than you can teach ‘Christian mathematics.’ ” But he acknowledged that “many of the students’ parents were raised on Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck and distrust the mainstream news media. So it’s a little bit of a dance with parents who are expecting us to perpetuate that distrust and raise up this tribe of ‘Christian journalists.’ ”

The conservative Christian worldview is not just a posture of mistrust toward the secular world’s “fake news.” It is a network of institutions and experts versed in shadow versions of climate change science, biology and other fields, like Nathaniel Jeanson, a research biologist at the creationist ministry Answers in Genesis, in Petersburg, Ky.

Dr. Jeanson is as important an asset for the ministry as its life-size replica of Noah’s Ark in Williamstown, Ky. He believes the earth was created in six days — and he has a Ph.D. in cell and developmental biology from Harvard.

Home-schooled until high school, Dr. Jeanson grew up going to “Worldview Weekend” Christian conferences. As an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin, Parkside, he dutifully studied evolutionary biology during the day and read creationist literature at night.

This “reading double,” as he calls it, equipped him to personify the contradictions that pervade this variety of Christian worldview. At Harvard Medical School, he chose a research topic that steered clear of evolution. “My research question is a present-tense question — how do blood cells function,” he told me. “So perhaps it was easier to compartmentalize.”

Dr. Jeanson rhapsodized about the integrity of the scientific method. Before graduate school, “I held this quack idea of cancer,” he said. “But that idea got corrected. This is the way science works.” Yet when his colleagues refuse to read his creationist papers and data sets, he takes their snub as proof that they can find no flaws in his research. “If people who devote their lives to it can’t point anything out, then I think I may be on to something,” he said.

Dr. Jeanson calls himself a “presuppositionalist evidentialist” — which we might define as someone who accepts evidence when it happens to affirm his nonnegotiable presuppositions. “When it comes to questions of absolute truth, those are things I’ve settled in my own mind and heart,” he told me. “I couldn’t call myself a Christian if I hadn’t.”

We all cling to our own unquestioned assumptions. But in the quest to advance knowledge and broker peaceful coexistence in a pluralistic world, the worldview based on biblical inerrancy gets tangled up in the contradiction between its claims on universalist science and insistence on an exclusive faith.

By contrast, the worldview that has propelled mainstream Western intellectual life and made modern civilization possible is a kind of pragmatism. It is an empirical outlook that continually — if imperfectly — revises its conclusions based on evidence available to everyone, regardless of their beliefs about the supernatural. This worldview clashes with the conservative evangelical war on facts, but it is not necessarily incompatible with Christian faith.

In fact, evangelical colleges themselves may be the best hope for change. Members of traditions historically suspicious of a pseudoscientific view of the Bible, like the Nazarenes, should revive that skepticism. Mr. Nelson encourages his students to be skeptics rather than cynics. “The skeptic looks at something and says, ‘I wonder,’ ” he said. “The cynic says, ‘I know,’ and then stops thinking.”

He pointed out that “cynicism and tribalism are very closely related. You protect your tribe, your way of life and thinking, and you try to annihilate anything that might call that into question.” Cynicism and tribalism are among the gravest human temptations. They are all the more dangerous when they pose as wisdom and righteousness.

Do Unto Others – a Song by Jimmie Deal

Do Unto Others – a Song by Jimmie Deal

Click here to hear the song

Click here to open a PDF to the lyrics and chords: Do-Unto-Others-JR-Deal.

I write this song while I was deciding to run for Governor.

I ran to point out the many deficiencies of Jay Inslee and to point out how things could be done much better.

Somebody needed to point a finger at the folly. I was hoping someone else would. But no one else did.

For me to run was my way of doing for others as I would have them do for me. It was part of my pro bono work as an attorney.

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James Robert Deal, Broker and Attorney
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Book Review

Book Review

Book Review – What to Serve a Goddess

By Konrad Riggenmann

At first sight, this voluminous and (too) large-format book appears to be an amateur issue. And at second sight it is just that – in the word’s best sense. I learnt a lot from it.

The author stopped his studies of theology due to the theo-logical problem: “I took my religion seriously, but I also took my science seriously. The teachings of my church often conflicted with my academic studies.” This is why Deal holds two bachelors,P1010430 one master degree and ½ M.Div. Small wonder that the whole book is characterized by this non-conformist and open-minded view of life, planet, history, religion and ethical nutrition (Deal is vegan since 1981, when hardly anyone knew this term!).

His peak experience started with his question during a starlit summer night: “How can I know which way to go?” and left him with the answer: “Search for truth and follow it wherever it leads you. And don’t fear the truth you will find. Truth is the one thing not to fear.” Consequently, his approach to ethical nutrition is by no means dogmatic but rather unconventional, down-to-earth, multi-faceted – and tastefully illustrated with drawings of (admittedly differing) artistical skill.

And practical at that: Cooking recipes make for almost fifty pages of this volume which starts with a ten-page table of contents and concludes with “vegetablearian songs”.

In truth, this book is cooked with love.

Please go to Amazon and look inside, and maybe buy.

And after you read my book, send feedback.

James at James Deal dot com

JRDeal-caricature-png

Magical Religious Thinking

How Christian Delusions Are Driving the GOP Insane
Why aren’t Republicans more frightened of the consequences of a shutdown and default? Part of the reason is magical religious thinking.
October 9, 2013  |
Why aren’t Republicans more afraid? The entire premise of both the government shutdown and the threats to force the government into debt default is that Democrats care more about the consequences of these actions than the Republicans do. Republicans may go on TV and shed crocodile tears about national monuments being shut down, but the act isn’t really fooling the voters: The only way to understand these fights is to understand that the GOP is threatening to destroy the government and the world economy in order to get rid of Obamacare (as well as a panoply of other right wing demands). Just as terrorists use the fact that you care more about the lives of the hostages than they do to get leverage, Republican threats rely on believing they don’t care about the consequences, while Democrats do.

So why aren’t they more afraid? Businessweek, hardly a liberal news organization, said the price of default would be “a financial apocalypse” that would cause a worldwide economic depression.  This is the sort of thing that affects everyone. Having a right wing ideology doesn’t magically protect your investments from crashing alongside the rest of the stock market.

The willingness of Republicans to take the debt ceiling and the federal budget hostage in order to try to extract concessions from Democrats is probably the most lasting gift that the Tea Party has granted the country. More reasonable Republican politicians fear being primaried by Tea Party candidates. A handful of wide-eyed fanatics in Congress have hijacked the party. The Tea Party base and the hard right politicians driving this entire thing seem oblivious to the consequences. It’s no wonder, since so many of them—particularly those in leadership—are fundamentalist Christians whose religions have distorted their worldview until they cannot actually see what they’re doing and what kind of damage it would cause.

The press often talks about the Tea Party like they’re secularist movement that is interested mainly in promoting “fiscal conservatism”, a vague notion that never actually seems to make good on the promise to save taxpayer money. The reality is much different: The Tea Party is actually driven primarily by fundamentalist Christians whose penchant for magical thinking and belief that they’re being guided by divine forces makes it tough for them to see the real world as it is.

It’s not just that the rogue’s gallery of congress people who are pushing the hardest for hostage-taking as a negotiation tactic also happens to be a bench full of Bible thumpers. Pew Research shows that people who align with the Tea Party are more likely to not only agree with the views of religious conservatives, but are likely to cite religious belief as their prime motivation for their political views.  White evangelicals are the religious group most likely to approve of the Tea Party. Looking over the data, it becomes evident that the “Tea Party” is just a new name for the same old white fundamentalists who would rather burn this country to the ground than share it with everyone else, and this latest power play from the Republicans is, in essence, a move from that demographic to assert their “right” to control the country, even if their politicians aren’t in power.

It’s no surprise, under the circumstances, that a movement controlled by fundamentalist Christians would be oblivious to the very real dangers that their actions present. Fundamentalist religion is extremely good at convincing its followers to be more afraid of imaginary threats than real ones, and to engage in downright magical thinking about the possibility that their own choices could work out very badly. When you believe that forcing the government into default in an attempt to derail Obamacare is the Lord’s work, it’s very difficult for you to see that it could have very real, negative effects.

It’s hard for the Christian fundamentalists who run the Republican Party now to worry about the serious economic danger they’re putting the world in, because they are swept up in worrying that President Obama is an agent of the devil and that the world is on the verge of mayhem and apocalypse if they don’t “stop” him somehow, presumably be derailing the Affordable Care Act. Christian conservatives such as Ellis Washington are running around telling each other that the ACA  will lead to “the systematic genocide of the weak, minorities, enfeebled, the elderly and political enemies of the God-state.” Twenty percent of Republicans believe Obama is the Antichrist.Washington Times columnist Jeffrey Kuhner argued that Obama is using his signature health care legislation to promote “the destruction of the family, Christian culture”, and demanded that Christians “need to engage in peaceful civil disobedience against President Obama’s signature health care law”.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops joined in, demanding that the Republicans shut down the government rather than let Obamacare go into effect. The excuse was their objection to the requirement that insurance make contraception available without a copayment, saying ending this requirement matters more than “serving their own employees or the neediest Americans.”

The Christian right media has been hammering home the message that Christians should oppose the Affordable Care Act. Pat Necerato of the Christian News Network accused the supporters of the law of committing idolatry and accused people who want health care of being covetous. The Christian Post approvingly reported various Christian leaders, including Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, saying things like the health care law is “a profound attack on our liberties” and lamented “Today is the day I will tell my grandchildren about when they ask me what happened to freedom in America.”

Some in the Christian right straight up believe Obamacare portends the end times. Rick Phillips, writing for Christianity.com, hinted that Obamacare might be predicted in Revelations, though he held back from saying that was certain. Others are less cautious. On the right wing fundamentalist email underground, a conspiracy theory has arisen claiming that Obamacare will require all citizens to have a microchip implanted. While it’s completely untrue, many Christians believe that this means the “mark of the beast” predicted in Revelations that portends the return of Christ and the end of the world.

In other words, the Christian right has worked itself into a frenzy of believing that if this health care law is implemented fully, then we are, in fact, facing down either the end of American Christianity itself or quite possibly the end times themselves. In comparison, it’s hard to be too scared by the worldwide financial collapse that they’re promising to unleash if the Democrats don’t just give up their power and let Republicans do what they want. Sure, crashing stock markets, soaring unemployment, and worldwide economic depression sounds bad, but for the Christian right, the alternative is fire and brimstone and God unleashing all sorts of hell on the world.

This is a problem that extends beyond just the immediate manufactured crisis. The Christian right has become the primary vehicle in American politics for minimizing the problems of the real world while inventing imaginary problems as distractions. Witness, for instance, the way that fundamentalist Christianity has been harnessed to promote the notion that climate change isn’t a real problem. Average global temperatures are creeping up, but the majority of Christian conservatives are too worried about the supposed existential threats of abortion and gay rights to care.

Under the circumstances, it’s no surprise that it’s easy for Christian conservatives to worry more about imaginary threats from Obamacare than it is for them to worry about the very real threat to worldwide economic stability if the go along with their harebrained scheme of forcing the government into default. To make it worse, many have convinced themselves that it’s their opponents who are deluded. Take right wing Christian Senator Tom Coburn, who celebrated the possibility of default back in January by saying it would be a “wonderful experiment”. Being able to blow past all the advice of experts just to make stuff up you want to believe isn’t a quality that is unique to fundamentalists, but as these budget negotiations are making clear, they do have a uniquely strong ability to lie to themselves about what is and isn’t a real danger to themselves and to the world.

Sufism

Sufism:
The Spritual Path To Preach Love, Coexistence And Peace‏

By:

Thanks to Eurasia Review

 

December 31, 2012

Morocco owes its image of a modern Muslim nation to Sufism, a spiritual and tolerant Islamic tradition that goes back to the first generations of Muslims who, for centuries, has supported religious cohesion, social and cultural Moroccan society. Sufism provides answers to some of the most complex problems facing the contemporary Muslim world, where youth comprise the majority of the population.

Most Moroccans, young or old, practice one form of Sufism or another. Deep component of the Moroccan identity, Sufism absorbs all members of society, regardless of their age, sex, social status or political orientation.

Sufism attracts more young Moroccans because of its tolerance, due to the easy interpretation that gives to the Qur’an, its rejection of fanaticism and its embrace of modernity. Young people are the principles of” beauty” and” humanity”. Sufism balanced lifestyle that allows them to enjoy arts, music and love without having to abandon their spiritual or religious obligations.

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Sufi orders exist throughout Morocco. They organize regular gatherings to pray, chant and debate timely topics of social and political, from the protection of the environment and social charity to the fight against drugs and the threat of terrorism.

In addition, focusing on the universal values ​​that Islam shares with Christianity and Judaism (as the pursuit of happiness, the love of the family, tolerance of racial and religious differences and the promotion of peace) Sufi gatherings inspire young people to engage in interfaith dialogue.

Taken together, Sufi seminars, chants and spiritual gatherings provide a social medium where millions of Moroccans mix the sacred and the secular, the soul and the body, the local and the universal. Every aspect that is both possible and enjoyable.

Sufis distance themselves from fundamentalists (who see Islam strict and Utopian emulation of the Prophet Muhammad and his companions), with particular emphasis on the adaptation of community concerns and priorities of the modern time. Sufis neither condemn unveiled women nor do they censor the distractions of our time. For them, the difference between virtue and vice is the intent, not appearances.

Sufism is so diffuse in Moroccan culture that its role can not be properly understood if reduced to a sect or a sacred place. People get together to sing Sufi poetry, the primordial essence of the human being, the virtues of simplicity and the healing gifts of Sufi saints such as Sidi Abderrahman Majdub, Sidi Ahmed Tijani, and Sidi Bouabid Charki, the spiritual masters revered by peers and disciples for having attained spiritual union with God during their earthly lives.

Gnawa musicians, the descendants of African slaves brought to Morocco between the twelfth and seventeenth centuries, produce a music that is a mix of religious lyrics deeply rooted in the oral tradition of sub-Saharan Africa and melancholic melodies reminiscent of jazz and blues. The Gnawa performance centers on a spinning body and a high-pitched voice, rhyming poetic verses with Sufi chants in Arabic such as” there is no other God but God and Muhammad is his messenger.” These words are terrifying when they are spoken by a terrorist, but lift the soul when they are sung by pious Muslims, Gnawa and other Sufi-inspired musicians.

In addition to Moroccans, thousands of young people in Europe, America and Africa flock to sacred music festivals organized every summer by Sufi movements throughout Morocco, to sing and celebrate their enthusiasm for life and their commitment to the universal values ​​of peace. The scene at these festivals completely refutes the kind of image that extremists seek to convey to Muslim youth.

It is this fusion of Sufism and modernity that produces a unique aesthetic experience, which is attractive to Moroccan youth who reject extremism and uphold values ​​of a shared humanity.

About the author:Said Temsamani

Said Temsamani is a Moroccan political observer and consultant, who follows events in his country and across North Africa. He is a Senior Fellow, Merdian International Center Washington DC, Founder and CEO “Public Initiatives” Consulting firm and Former Senior Political Advisor, US Embassy Rabat, Morocco.

Thanks to Eurasia Review

Chapter 22 – Final Speculations

Chapter 22 – Final Speculations

22
SPECULATION ABOUT AN UNCONSCIOUS CONNECTION

In this chapter I will pick up the thread I left behind at the end of Chapter 14, The Ethics of Diet.

Some of you will already think I have gone off the deep end. Now I am going to venture even further. If you rate low on the spirituality scale, skip this section. For some, having too much compassion is a flaw, even a form of mental illness, or at minimum a distraction from the getting of more money.

I speculate that there exists—or if it doesn’t exist that it could be created—some connection among all who have made a commitment to the good, referred to by some as “god.” I hope more people can become aware of this connection, meditate about it, listen to it, learn from it, talk to it, strengthen it, perhaps help create it, make it a central part of their personalities, and even follow it. This would be a connection not only with others but with ourselves, with the part of our personalities which calls us, so we can hear what it is saying.

I speculate that we can broaden the extent of this connection—even to include other species. Consider that porpoises, killer whales, and turtles have empathy for us: There are numerous instances of them saving humans.
Some animals that live in parks where hunting is prohibited actually like us. Those we hunt, on the other hand, always seem ready to run for their lives. They have long-term genetic memories.

The biggest part of most species’ brains is the smell brain. Humans find the smell of factory farms to be absolutely loathsome. Imagine how factory animals perceive it. I suspect that animals confined in factory farms are thinking something like, “Will I ever get away from this stench?” Factory farm animals cry out, not just at the times of their deaths, but throughout the period of their confinement.

I presume that as we humans inflict pain on them, they think the animal equivalent of “Why?” Their language skills are limited to simple cries, but I presume they have a cry that means “Why?” I presume that cows, pigs, and chickens have in their thoughts and vocabularies such concepts as “When will this pain end?” Or the capability to think “They are going to kill me.”

Koko is a domesticated gorilla who understands spoken English and has learned to speak using sign language. She recounts the story of her capture. She becomes highly emotional as she describes the day that poachers killed her family and kidnapped her away to civilization. It may be that many species are conscious and do remember their own history. It may just be that their thoughts are trapped inside because we have not learned how to decipher their language and they have not learned how to speak ours.

If we were castrated without anesthetics, as happens to bulls and boars; if our noses and lips were cut off, as happens to chickens’ when they are de-beaked; if our tailbone were skinned off without anesthetic, as happens with Australian sheep; if we were made to stand and lie in excrement or had it rain down on us, as happens to cattle, pigs, and chickens; if we were made to endure air that seared our lungs with ammonia, as happens to pigs and chicken; if we were driven to our deaths with electrical prods as are cows or with baseball bats as are pigs; if we were hoisted up by a leg and hung there waiting to have our throats slit, as are cattle; if we were made to consume our own feces, as are cows, pigs, and chickens; if we were made to drink our own urine, as are pigs; would we not ask “Why?”

Any person who has been beaten, raped, or abused in some way knows how degrading and humiliating assault is. They at least should understand that animals of lesser intelligence are capable of asking the fundamental question: “Why?”

Some people do not believe in hell, but 15 billion (some say 40 billion) animals in factory farms certainly do. They believe in it because they are in it right now, in the modern Inferno. I speculate that the ghoulish descriptions Dante and other writers and artists made of the horrors of the Christian hell were inspired by what they saw in the slaughterhouses of their day. We create their Hell as part of our worship of the false god Dollar, to maximize profits.
Insensitive people in the past would have said such things as: “Oh, come on, James, they are just slaves;” “Oh, come on, James, they are just Italians”. (The classical Greeks captured slaves from then-primitive Italy.) “Oh, come on, James, they are just Slavs” (root of the word ‘slave’). “Oh, come on, James, they are just Africans.” “Oh, come on, James, they are just Jews.” “Oh, come on, James, they are just Gypsies.” “Oh, come on, James, they are just women.”

We have elevated ourselves morally to the point where we no longer say such things. However, otherwise sensitive people today still say, “Oh, come on, James, they are just animals.” We have shed our bigotries towards slaves, blacks, Jews, Gypsies, and women. When will we learn to shed our bigotry toward animals?

Most of us know on at least an intellectual level of the pain and terror that exists for our food animals, but most of us choose not to think about it. I do choose to think about it. I meditate about it. In my contemplation I imagine as much as I can of the horrors animals experience. I feel I owe them at least that much. My heart quivers over the gross injustice done to them. I ponder their suffering, although it is unpleasant to do so, for if I were kept in a tiger cage in some remote place, I would hope someone would at least be pondering my suffering.

I spoke at a hospital in Seattle as part of an HMO program to encourage veganism and vegetarianism—a smart move because medical costs are lower for vegans and vegetarians. I spoke about the suffering of animals in factory farms, and there were a few who groaned. I said, “I’m sorry; I’m almost done.” And I asked, “Shall I go on?” Everyone who spoke said “Yes.” To continue the terror we have to suppress our sensitivity. To end the insensitivity, we must increase our awareness. So I must speak out.

Most people have experienced telepathy and believe it really happens. I once felt my mother’s pain from 2,000 miles away when she was having an operation. Right in the middle of a property exam in my first year of law school, I felt a piercing pain in my abdomen that would not go away, a pain I had not felt before and have not felt since. Later I learned the pain had started when she awoke from her hysterectomy. How is it that so few perceive the terror and pain of the animals we torture and kill? Why do we not perceive it the way wives and husbands, mothers and fathers, often perceive at a distance the death or pain of those they love, the way dogs sometimes howl when their masters far away are in danger?

Perhaps the enormous suffering of factory animals creates a continuing, droning, telepathic noise of terror and pain that is so persistent that we have learned to ignore it, the way we ignore the humming of our florescent lights. Perhaps human perceptions of loved ones in trouble are as rare as they are because they are overshadowed—jammed like some electromagnetic broadcast—by a white noise of psychic pain created by so many animals in so much pain.

In making ourselves insensitive to the terror and pain of animals, have we not made ourselves insensitive to other voices or some greater Voice that is trying to tell us of a way out of the moral and environmental mess our world is in?

Now, I will return to my previous point about a higher consciousness that could include other species: Animals lack our level of intelligence—as we define intelligence—, and they lack most of our abilities with language. But is it not possible that some species are capable of some level of higher consciousness and some level of telepathic connection with members of their own species, or with other species, or even with humans? Are we perhaps abusing or exterminating species that could evolve to take our place after we destroy ourselves? We are bigots to presume that there are no other species capable of higher consciousness.

One fall night in 1999, I observed a raccoon climbing my backyard fence. I stood very still on the back deck and let her become accustomed to me. I watched as she climbed the arbor. She had come for the sweet, seedless Himrod grapes. We stood a few feet apart, watching each other eat. There were plenty of grapes for us both. I wondered what she was thinking. Raccoons are very clever animals. They don’t particularly like humans, and you should keep your distance from them and not corner them. But why should they like us? We make coats and Davy Crockett caps out of them. They are much more skilled at survival than the great apes. It could very well be the raccoon and not some ape that will evolve to replace us after we have wiped out our own species.

I watched (November 16, 2000) a flock of birds fly together and turn in absolute synchronization, probably hunting for insects, and I wondered if they might be interconnected by some group consciousness. Why would telepathy be any less prevalent among animals that lack the ability to speak? If telepathy exists at all, it would seem to be more, not less, prevalent among wordless animals than among humans.

Might some animals even be “religious?” Is it impossible that some nonhuman species might even share the commitment to god that some humans have made? Animals are on a lower intellectual level than we are, however, Jewish philosopher Nachmanides believed that animals are on a higher spiritual level. (Rabbi Alfred Cohen, “Vegetarianism from a Jewish Perspective,” Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society, Vol. 1, No. 2, (Fall, 1981), p. 45, cited in Schwartz, Judaism and Vegetarianism, p. 2.)

Is it possible that there exist species right now which engage in moral thought similar to ours? We humans, self-important to the point of crudity, simply choose not to consider the possibility.

If the animals we eat perceive terror and pain as we do, if they would never harm us and are more innocent than we are, if they exist on a higher spiritual level than we do, is it not all the more unjust that we make them suffer so much?

The Judeo-Christian-Islamic theory of god is ethical monotheism, which is this proposition: There is a single god or unifying moral force. That force is inseparable from ethics; in some sense god is ethics.

Lest I leave the skeptics behind, I would like to interject that the agnostic idealist—very common in the West—says something similar: If there is no unifying moral force, we should be about the business of creating one. If there is no god, then we humans should accept the godlike responsibility to civilize the world and build a comprehensive ethical system. That system would not be very different from what believers refer to as god. The theist works to discover more about the god he believes exists while the agnostic idealist works to create the god he doubts exists.

Unfortunately, there are some who proclaim most loudly their belief in god, but are the most determined to kill the spirit of moral discovery. They say: “Every word in our holy book is true; there are no more moral insights to be gained; god said we should dominate the earth, multiply our numbers endlessly, and terrorize, torture, and kill any animal we please. God will return soon and destroy the earth anyway, so environmentalism is pointless. Don’t trouble me with any new spiritual insights.”

Such people consider it necessary to believe some correct and complex theological doctrine in order to be pleasing to god. But they search for god in all the wrong places. The focus should not be on what doctrine we should believe but how we should behave. God and ethics are so inseparable that what we do about god is far more important than what we believe about god. The most important creed we could possibly recite is that we should live a morally responsible life, as Moses, Jesus, Hillel, and Mohammed taught. (Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 7:12, 25:31-46; Shabbat 31a; Koran 6:160.) Thus, god and the good are very close, and it is to emphasize their closeness that I never capitalize the word “god” except when I am quoting someone.

One of my friends suggested that I was being irreverent by not capitalizing the word “god.”

Ha!

I am confident that god has much more important things to be offended at than how I spell HER name. I don’t think god cares about our conformance to any specific custom or ritual or doctrine. I don’t think she cares about our obsequious praise and repetitive prayers. I think she wants us to live right, and that includes showing mercy to animals. (Matthew 5:7, 9:13.) If our religions and our doctrines encourage right living, then she probably is pleased with them; otherwise she probably is not.

The commitment to the good that we should make involves being sensitive. Sensitivity—to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” to do unsolicited good deeds for those humans and those animals we can see need them—is a fundamental component of ethics.

Some thousands of years from now, we will venture out past our solar system and meet other species that are on our verbal and technological level. We will quickly write—if we have not already—a corollary to the Golden Rule, an Eleventh Commandment, and we will learn to say: “Do unto other species as you would have other species do unto your own.

My hope is that some little thing I can do now might lessen the length of the Dark Age we live in. It shouldn’t take thousands of years and thousands of light years of travel for us to learn this. We can begin by treating the other species right here on this planet as we would have them treat us. If we do so, then by the time we meet the first extraterrestrials, we will have developed the necessary patience, understanding, and compassion to enable us to deal with them wisely. Perhaps we have already been visited by extraterrestrials, but perhaps they have chosen not to communicate with us because they found us to be too primitive. Perhaps they found us to be morally twisted in our willingness not only to torture and terrorize and kill other animals but even to exterminate entire species.

My hope is that more of us will become aware of the connection between the good impulse in ourselves and in others, meditate about it, listen to it, learn from it, talk to it, strengthen it, make it a central part of our personalities, and be open to the possibility that other fellow-humans and perhaps other species might be able to be part of this connection.

I sit and cross my legs and meditate and ponder this. In so doing, I conjure the animals and listen to what they would pray to us: “We roamed free until the end of the last Ice Age over the entire surface of the earth, when there were very few of you humans. You were just another animal species, a balanced part of the web of life. You killed some of us for food, but we accepted that as necessary for your survival. But recently you have taken more and more of the land until we now exist entirely at your sufferance. Your flaw as a species is your unrelenting urge to increase your numbers and take over every last acre of this earth. We ask that you leave us some place to live in the wild, for we are part of the natural world that makes possible your very survival. Many of us actually like humans and have joined your strange society and become your work animals and pets. We have done nothing to you humans to deserve the injustices you inflict on us. But how can we express this to you? We try to speak to you, but you have not deciphered our languages, and we give up on learning your strange tongue. All we can do is pray to you humans and hope some of you will hear our prayer and stand up for us.”

SPECULATIONS ABOUT WHERE CALLINGS COME FROM

It should be obvious to you by now that I feel a calling to stand up for the animals. I wonder where my calling comes from.

Ancient man presumed that callings come from god above. Prophets in legendary times heard voices while in ecstatic frenzies, while meditating or praying, while fasting, or while under the influence of drugs. Moses was said to have heard god’s voice in broad daylight, perhaps while sitting in a tent pondering and writing down his insights.

I have never had a vision of god or heard a deep voice from an unknown source. Whenever I have prayed and meditated and received answers, they have come in a voice that sounds like my own thought processes. I make no claim to inspiration.

I hope there is a god above us or within us, and I hope he or she calls us, but I can’t be sure. I will be patient; I will find out soon enough when I die. Faith is an easy thing for those who are absolutely convinced god exists. The greatest faith, however, is that of the person who is not certain god exists but still chooses to live as if god exists by making a commitment to right living.
Maybe the calling we perceive comes while we meditate and pray, not from god above but from those who are suffering—humans and animals. Maybe it is their voices we hear calling us telepathically.

Maybe there is some spiritual spark within us, inherent in the structure of our minds and bodies, like our instinct to love babies, which lies latent within us until it is awakened by our study, observation, and meditation. Maybe the calling I perceive is a natural, physiological reaction to what I have learned.
Maybe callings come entirely from within us. Maybe there is another consciousness within us: Maybe the mitochondria are conscious and struggle to communicate outward and upward to our body and mind. Jesus said the kingdom of god is within us.

Regardless of where callings come from, the existence of the calling is not enough. We have to choose to yield to it. This is why it can be said that we call ourselves. Many people have callings but ignore them, as did Jonah, who was miserable because he ignored his calling. We focus instead on the daily grind of making a living and running a household. Most ignore the calling and eventually forget about it. Ignoring a calling has a way of weakening us and even causing us to fail when we do labor that does not fit with our calling, while yielding to our calling has a way of strengthening and ennobling us.
How can you find your calling? Or revive a calling you have lost touch with? Visualize your aged self looking back and reflecting on the years that zipped by and the projects you never got around to. Then retrace your steps back to the present, and in the present make your commitment to work now on those projects that you will wish then that you were working on now.

Another way to find your calling is to meditate and pray and listen to the answers that come into your mind. You probably have a calling, but maybe you have not listened for it, or having heard it have ignored it. So meditate, pray, listen, and act.

I should say a word about prayer. Prayer is sending a message to god. Meditation is listening for a message god might be sending us. Meditation is to be preferred over prayer. Prayer is best used not for heaping up praise to god or asking god for help. God needs no praise. God knows already what help we need. Prayer is best used to ask god (or our deepest selves) for answers to questions, or for direction.

SPECULATIONS ABOUT WHAT ONE PERSON CAN DO

It’s a warm summer night and there is a full moon. There is a slight breeze. You are eating dinner with your family and friends outside on the back deck, under the grape arbor. Stars shimmer down through gently rustling leaves. A good time is being had by all. You are asked to make a toast: You raise your glass, “People always talk about the good old days. Well, I’m here to tell you that we are living the good old days right now. This, my friends, is as good as it gets.” There is laughter and applause.

There is an extra chair. You look over at it, and there she sits, the goddess—like the angel who protected Daniel in the lion’s den. She looks like the goddess on the cover of this book. You blink and rub your eyes. You wonder if you are dreaming. No one else seems to be aware of her. She is wordless, but her half-smile communicates more than words.
In her face there is disappointment: She is unhappy with what her sons and daughters have made of her world.

In her face there is challenge. She calls you to do more.

In her face there is a quiet confidence—in you. There is much you can do to carry on her work, and she wants to fill you with her confidence.

In her face there is the hint of happiness and even a slight smile. Although foolishness and strife grow stronger every day, so also at the same time does wisdom and the love of peace. Things are going her way in the world. She will win in the end, although it may take a very long time.

She looks at you. Look at her face on the cover of this book. See that she is unwavering. You think of your unworthiness and look away.

You rub your eyes again. You look back, and she’s gone. You realize that no one else has perceived her. You awake and realize you have experienced a theological dream.

You feel changed. You have received a calling. From time to time thereafter you will recall her gaze as you go about your work in the world. You will focus on what’s really important. There will be no time to waste not working for law, ethics, justice, and peace. No time to waste not being a good example to your son or daughter of a gentle strength. And at the same time you will try to find happiness within yourself. The whole point of our efforts is to help bring happiness to others, and if we lose our own happiness, we lose our ability to help others find happiness.

So now when you look at the extra chair at the dinner table, you will think of it as an invitation to the wise one to join you. Jews invite the prophet Elijah to be present at their circumcisions.

You are just one person, but her challenge is that there is some small thing one such person can do.

What we eat is a small thing, but if millions of people make millions of small choices fit for the goddess, we can have an effect. There are ways of eating that are good for our bodies and for the environment, for the economy and for restraining population growth, for peacemaking and love making, for justice-making and reducing hunger, for our individual spirits and for the moral structure of the world. The closer we move to a green diet, the more we make this a more peaceful and environmentally sound world.

What would you serve the goddess if she joined you under the grape arbor on a summer night? Perhaps a succulent soup of pot herbs? A big skillet of rich stir fry? Sprouted and cooked grain? A salad of sprouts and greens? A spicy peanut and flax sauce to pour over it? You know she’s going to approve of this food. It is food that celebrates life and health, food that was gotten in a way we have no need to be ashamed of.

You look at the empty chair and imagine her half-smile. You understand her work in the world and accept it as your own. You think about the disappointment in her eyes, and you realize it is tempered by her confidence in people like you. You are just one person, but there is some small thing you can do to help to civilize the world—one meal at a time.

What you eat is a vote on how food is produced. Your vote has a small but real effect. The less animal-based food you eat, the less is produced. There is no person who is without effect on how the world will work out.
What you eat arouses curiosity and makes a much more powerful statement than words alone. People trying your food are saying, “Umm, Jimbo, this is really good. I see what you are talking about. Maybe this vegetarian thing is not so bad.”

Your carnivorous friends will be seduced by the good tastes, smells, and textures. They will feel light and healthy. They will get their diabetes and blood pressure under control. They will eat more food than ever before, but will lose their big bellies.

It is not important that you become a writer or speaker on this subject. It is more important that you become a cook and get people to try your green food and then teach them how to cook it for themselves and others.
A beautiful idea is powerful. It propagates itself—virus-like and exponentially. Its symmetrical sensibility is attractive to the mind. It is a beautiful and powerful idea—to think that we can change the world by eating a green diet.

I have an idealistic theory I would like to share with you: There are around 6.6 billion people in the world. Assume that each day each person learns something worthwhile. That means that each day the world as a whole gains 6.6 billion person-days of maturity and wisdom about how to live. I dream of waking up some morning to headlines that say:

World Reaches State of Enlightenment

War and Crime Disappear

Sales of Meat, Milk, Eggs Drop to Zero

NASA says a plant-based diet is the diet of space: Astronauts living in a long-term, self-sustaining space station or space colony will have to eat a green diet. In a small space, there will be no way to grow farm animals, deal with animal diseases, and dispose of the poop. Maybe NASA is taking notes from the green diet of the mythological Starship Enterprise where replicators make all the food—out of pure energy. I assume there eventually will come a time when more humans will live out in space than here on Terra. That means that someday a green diet will be the diet of a majority of humans.

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James Robert Deal, Broker and Attorney
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