Saturday, June 16, 2007

The One Cosmos Interview: On Finding Your Real Self in the Virtual World

WILL: Our guest today is well known to longstanding One Cosmos readers for his insightful commentary and his uncompromising honesty and self-insight with respect to his own spiritual path. Welcome, John.

JWM: Hey.

WILL: John, I know you're a southern California guy, but could you tell us a little more about your background?

JWM: That's an invitation to an autobiography. I started out life as a baby, but that was a long time ago. Just kidding.

WILL: You are forgiven.

JWM: Here's the condensed version: I was born in Michigan. I lived there until I was in the sixth grade, when we moved from a suburb of Detroit to a suburb of Los Angeles. That was 1963. We left Michigan a month after Kennedy was assasinated, took off on the cross country drive after school on Friday, the thirteenth of December and moved into a house in North Orange County on Christmas Eve.

WILL: Hmm, Interesting that this huge change in your life came at such a pivotal time in American history. Would you say you were self-aware as a child? What kind of student were you?

JWM: I was always told I was smart, but I never did well in school. I slouched through high school with C's, mostly.

WILL: I swear I've never met anyone with spiritual inclinations, even if those inclinations were buried, who didn't float through grade and high school in a cloud of indifference -- you know, they failed to "apply themselves." I know there's got to be some out there who actually did well in school, but --

JWM: Well, all I know is I graduated in 1970 without the faintest idea of what I wanted to do. So, of course I signed up for junior college that Fall.

WILL: Naturally.

JWM: But even in 1970 they wanted more homework out of you than I was willing to do.

WILL: I hear ya talkin'. So what did you do?

JWM: I took a few crappy jobs, moved out of the house when I was nineteen, and decided to be a self educated intellectual. I got a job working as night custodian for the local school district. I drank a lot of sour wine, smoked a lot of crappy pot. I listened to a lot of great music. Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, Monteverdi, William Byrd.

WILL: That's not a bad education, right there.

JWM: Well, I read a lot of garbage, too.

WILL: Like what?

JWM: Existentialists. French authors.

WILL: Any theology, spiritual stuff?

JWM: No, I despised religion, and the religious. I was living like a character in a Simon and Garfunkle song. [Hmm. Reminds me of this one -- "Michigan seems like a dream to me now." Sorry. Continue. I'm all ears. -- BG] But in '74 I went through a seismic shift. It was the first of several I would experience. [Hmm. This also comes to mind... ]

WILL: What happened?

JWM: I threw all that intellectual crap over for the True Education.

WILL: Which was... ?

JWM: I took up surfing.

WILL: Whoa! You've no idea how cool that sounds to a Midwest flatlander such as myself. The Beach Boys, endless summers, Dick Dale, "hangin' ten".... So you really lived that "Zen and the Art of Surfing" thing?

JWM: Will, let me tell you, the ocean is a merciless instructor, but every lesson is allegory and parable that you can apply on many levels.

WILL: I can believe it.

JWM: Well, my salad days -- where the hell did they get that term? -- wilted when I met my first serious girlfriend.

WILL: I'm guessing it's because the first thing served at a dinner is a salad, thus one's early days are the "salad days." Or maybe it's because in our early years we are "green" like a salad, or --

JWM: Right. Anyway, my days went from: surf, work, beer, bed; to: work, beer, bed. I was hearing, "Can't you get a better job? You're smart." So I left the school district for a utility company.

WILL: How was that?

JWM: Hated it. I quit the job. Then another seismic shift.

WILL: Which was . . . ?

JWM: I went back to surfing.

WILL: Cool.

JWM: But then I went back to school when I was 30. I wanted to do something "meaningful". To me the most "meaningful" job was teaching school. And the most meaningful subject was English because being able to communicate clearly and understand communication is the most important thing. It never occurred to me that a degree in English, even with high honors -- State College can't afford Latin, like the UC system -- was like getting first prize in a coloring contest. It's a blue ribbon in getting a blue ribbon.

WILL: Understood.

JWM: All it did was kill any love of reading that I ever had in me. But it taught me how to think. I gave speeches in speech class about the need for socialized medicine and I roundly loathed the Puritans in American Lit class. In short, I came out well indoctrinated with kneejerk liberalism.

WILL: Most of us have been in that bus station at one time or another. So then what did you do?

JWM: I taught English in inner city Los Angeles for ten years.

WILL: Admirable thing to do.

JWM: I married. I divorced. I bought a Harley. Crossed the continent ten times over before I sold it. I was teaching continuation at an insanely bad school. I was burning out very badly. So badly that I did not not realize I was burned out. I cracked. I just lost it, completely. When all was settled and done the school pushed me out the back door with a disability retirement. Even the hired gun shrinks didn't fight it.

WILL: That's another thing that people with serious spiritual intentions -- even if they aren't consciously aware of those intentions -- have in common. At some point, they hit rock bottom. Dark Night of the Soul. How did you cope at this time?

JWM: Well, I threw myself into artwork for the next six years, and spent my time working in stone. I carved a lot of alabaster, got invited to shows, won some awards, and even sold some stuff. And... out of the blue I met Mary. I wanted no relationship but... we took a bike ride and were married within the year. Didn't expect that.

WILL: Excellent! Are you still involved with the stone work?

JWM: No, the art dried up. The last of the creative process went into the epic toyshelf serial that I published on Robot-Japan.

WILL: For those readers who don't know, '"Doesn't Play Well With Others" is JWM's online serial comic. I hesitate to use the word "charming" to describe it, but that's exactly what it is -- particularly if you find the bizarre, off-center, very clever, and hysterically funny to be charming. I urge everyone to check out DPWWO. Anyway, John, that take us pretty much up to the present. What's been going on lately?

JWM: Well, by the time I published the last exciting DPW episode, the creative energy that had sustained me for over fifteen years just vanished. A spiritual hunger took its place.

WILL: It really is interesting how the intensely creative periods in our lives seem to camouflage a spiritual desire that we aren't fully aware of -- until it really makes itself known, of course.

JWM: It had been eating at me ever since 9/11. It's what drew me to certain people on LGF, including the mysterious Gagdad Bob who dropped those awful puns in his otherwise hillarious one-liners.

WILL: Oh yeah, that guy.

JWM: I spent a lot of time walking. I live near the hills, so I took the energy that used to go into doing art, and used it to stay in decent physical condition. Besides, I always appreciate the times when I can hike up there alone. Then last fall I had some heart trouble. Another seismic shift. Had to give up hiking for a while. But they got me fixed. And broke. The part isn't all that expensive, but the labor to install it is kind of steep. So as soon as I got on my my feet again I got a job working part time for the local elementary school district. I'm substituting for the custodial staff. Right back where I started.

WILL: The symbolic full circle. And as with full circle completion, I don't doubt you have been transformed in the process. How do you see yourself at this time?

JWM: Well, one of the wonderful things about what we are doing here on the internet is projecting what is as close to pure thought out into the ether as is possible. The impressions we have of one another are built entirely of electrons ordered just so to reflect the inner workings of heart, mind, and soul.

WILL: Yes, agreed.

JWM: I'm sure we all wonder if the person whom we project on line is the person whom we want to project. The very first time I posted anything on a message board, it struck me that I was creating an on-line reputation. I decided right then that I'd use the same nic and signature all across the web. I wasn't going to try and create some on-line alter ego with a flashy name and a goofy style -- although much of what I post on LGF falls into the Goofy zone.

WILL: Goofy is good. It's an important part of the spiritual kit-bag, I think. it helps to lighten the load, so to speak.

JWM: It does. And that's one thing I like about the gang here at OC. There are lots of very sharp senses of humor. I'm 54 years old. I have some "been theres" and some "done thats." Some small successes and some spectacular failures. I try to stay simple. Point is, if I say I did something, then I did it. I don't make stuff up or pretend to know things that I don't know. The overall topic here is theology. Many of the regular posters and all of the Raccoons are better studied than I am. I'm no theologian. Neither am I well read in philosophy. Even though I have practiced daily prayer for decades, I am a neophyte at this business.

WILL: It's interesting. I always have the feeling that I'm "just beginning," even though like you, I've spent years splashing around in the shallow end.

JWM: Well, I have my first hand experience, some small knowledge of Scripture, and that which I seem to sort of intuit, the stuff that the voice just seems to place in my head.

WILL: And that voice sort of led you to One Cosmos?

JWM: After 9/11, I turned to the one person in the world whom I trusted to make sense of things -- Dennis Prager. I bought a cheap radio just so I could listen to his show while I worked on the stones. I listened every day for months. One day Prager talked about Little Green Footballs. I was new to the internet, but I found the site. I was drawn to a couple of people in particular out of the LGF crowd, BabbaZee, and Gagdad Bob. It was like following a trail that seemed random at the time, but it led me to address the real issue that was drawing me in the first place -- a spiritual hunger. I was looking for religion. Bob's writing gave me the doorway that I had been looking for.

WILL: I think that's a good note to end on. John, I think I speak for many when I say I find your story to be really inspiring. Thanks for the interview.

JWM: Thanks, Will, I'm honored.

*****

Random Bobservations

That's pretty weird, because I was listening to that same Dennis Prager show that led me to LGF, which opened up a whole new world to me, an instant rapport with a community of generally kindred spirits that I never would have found without the internet. Interestingly, I rarely posted anything explicitly spiritual there, since that's not what the site is about. Rather, I simply tried to come up with humorous gags as a way to deal with my disgust with the psychotically hateful Islamist world and its satanic leftist allies (all-lies) in the West. Hence the nic "Gagdad Bob," which was actually coined by another reader. Before that, it was just "Bob G."

Only after a couple years of posting on LGF did it occur to me that I might start my own blog, which I did in October 2005. Now I literally can't remember what it was like to not have this outlet. What did I do before with all those thoughts? I think I just overwhelmed people in conversations. Now I am not nearly so compelled to speak.

This certainly highlights what Will always says about the "quickening" effect of the internet. I think the idea of an instantaneous virtual "global community" has prematurely become a cliche, to such an extent that most people are utterly blind to how truly revolutionary it is going to be. It will be foundational to man's future evolution in ways that we can scarcely imagine. The most clueless of all are the MSM and academic elites, who don't even realize they are working for the other side. They are truly dinosaurs, but unfortunately, it will take another meteor hit of the magnitude of 9-11 for them to become extinct. It's coming, and we can only hope that a man such as Rudy Giuliani -- which is to say, a man -- is in office when it comes.

Only then will more than a handful of people in the West begin to rediscover the surpassing value of our traditions and of America'a spiritual mission -- a mission that can be brought about by no other nation. And this may awaken the ruthlessness necessary to defend our uniquely beautiful values. In the process, all the vacuous spiritual careerists of the "new age" variety will be exposed for the narcissistic frauds and fascist enablers they are.

It reminds me of a discussion I was having with a colleague at work a couple of days ago. We were talking about how the mind has this miraculous ability to "somatize" anxiety and conflict. There is a certain type of person who spends his life going from doctor to doctor, trying to find out what's wrong with him or her, even though nothing really is, except mentally -- we call them hysterics or hypochondriacs. And then finally, when you hit your 50s or so, something finally is wrong -- heart disease, or diabetes, or some other condition, and it kind of blows away all the hypochondria. You go from the obsession with fantasy illnesses to dealing with a real one.

Our liberal media are hysterics and hypochondriacs, obsessed with meaningless trivia for the purposes of managing and channeling collective anxiety, including their own. You might remember, for example, that prior to 9-11, all of the networks were obsessed with the Gary Condit affair, day in, day out. Then something real came along -- 9-11 -- which rendered the Condit affair totally meaningless, even though it had been utterly meaningless before.

If you've ever stepped on an ant hill, you may have noticed how the orderly lines of ants suddenly become chaotic, but within a matter of minutes they sort things out and are back to their mundane routine. It's the same with our lamebrained MSMistry of Truth. Within weeks of 9-11, they were back to purveying their mindless substitute reality of leftist lies and hysteria. (Here is the appropriate response to Al Gore's weather hysteria.)

So there's a straight line that leads from 9-11 to JWM and I bumping heads and hearts in cyberspace. For me, my life is so utterly different than it was pre-9-11, that I've almost lost any sense of continuity between my past and present selves. When I pause to think about it, it's a little disorienting, and I don't quite know how to assimilate my past into my present. The image that comes to mind is those rockets that jettison their lower half as they leave the earth's atmosphere. Naturally, there's no turning back at that point. Nor is there standing still. Rather, you can only continue to hurtle forward into the unknown.

I want to thank Will for coonducting the interview, and JWM for submitting to it. It provoked a lot of other thoughts that I think I'll discuss later. Suffice it to say that I always love reading any meaningful spiritual autobiography. In a way, it's the most important testimony or witness we have to the reality of spirit. In the absence of this kind of unfolding and very real transformation, even the greatest theology is just theory. For the transformation is a result of ongoing conformity to a reality that simultaneously transcends and abides within us. But it is always retail spirituality: the cosmic tumblers can only align themselves one Raccoon at a time.

60 Comments:

Blogger walt said...

Hey, interviews are a lot of fun! JWM was the first commenter I recall when I first came here - something about his tone of expression made an impression. His long and winding road makes for interesting reflections; it's always amazing how people's lives fit together. Except for the occasional tirade we all must endure, it is an inspiring story!

6/16/2007 10:41:00 AM  
Anonymous will said...

Well, I, for one, thought JWM was a great interview with a very interesting story, or as Bob puts it, a spiritual autobiography.

>>Now I literally can't remember what it was like to not have this outlet. What did I do before with all those thoughts?<<

Whenever I lose internet service for some reason or another, I experience a sense of Communication Deprivation no different from what I feel if I lose telephone service. It's like being deprived of a sense organ. I feel shut off, isolated - even though I have 35 neighbors living in the same building as I do.

It's as if with each innovation in communication tech, we acquire or awaken a new sense, one that, like any of the senses, gives us a greater awareness of our environment, our community - and makes us aware of the degree to which we are part of our environment and community.

6/16/2007 11:07:00 AM  
Anonymous dilys said...

Like Walt, I always enjoy what JWM has to offer. Our English degrees as "first prize in a coloring contest. It's a blue ribbon in getting a blue ribbon" -- that's a keeper.

"the surpassing value of our traditions and of America'a spiritual mission -- a mission that can be brought about by no other nation. And this may awaken the ruthlessness necessary to defend our uniquely beautiful values."

OK, another book topic suggestion: American Exceptionalism, Reconsidered.  Why are we exceptional, as opposed to simply having distinctive characteristics? (though I have my own ideas, related to motives, conditions of founding, and explicit covenants...) It may be that continued recognizable existence will depend on understanding what has consituted our allegiance to goodness, and acting from that base. While stiffening ourselves to shake off the more-recently-inherited misunderstandings of the demands of goodness, wholeness, and even perfection in this realm where we for a time wander.  Good in this realm may not be the same as imagined good Somewhere Else, Somewhere Better.

Today, Robert D. Kaplan cites Clausewitz:

In affairs so dangerous as war, false ideas proceeding from kindness of heart are precisely the worst.... The fact that slaughter is a horrifying spectacle must make us take war more seriously, but not provide an excuse for gradually blunting our swords in the name of humanity. Sooner or later someone will come along with a sharp sword and hack off our arms.

Courage and virtuous compassion. We need the recipe very soon.

6/16/2007 11:32:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

A winding road indeed.

I was thinking about the internet - our handle, our persona we put out (which must be different because it consists of words and maybe images) - is it really better to have a photo (like I do) or not?

I do it because I like the notion of being willing to show my face, even though my name remains secret.

In the long run, it might end up being stupid.

Anyhow, good interview.

6/16/2007 12:37:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

JWM, Will, thanks much for the interview, and Gagdad thoughts afterwards - Always fascinating to learn more about these new friends that I know. Friends that I know of only by their thoughts, or at least by the words they use to express their thoughts - is it the best of us that we share here? The most us of us? The polished marble statue goals of our still rough hewn sculpture? I wonder if we'd be better friends with our physical selves gathering together in Gagdad's basement bar - or would we get in the way of our discussions and familiarity? Someday it might be interesting to find out... unlikely given our world wide distribution, but interesting.

Quickening? What else would you call our world(s) spanning extended cocktail hours?

6/16/2007 01:16:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

It is a bit reversed from the 'normal' method of meeting people isn't it? Here we meet eachothers thoughts first, and only afterwards if we would meet(have met? The movie 'You've got mail!' pops into mind), would we have the meeting colored by our physical appearances & mannerisms, where as in 'real' life, of course, we gravitate towards or away from eachother usually by those appearances and mannerisms, and only afterwards find out whether or not we enjoy the thoughts within them.

An interesting new wrinkle to the world...

6/16/2007 01:20:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

River Cocytus said "is it really better to have a photo (like I do) or not?"

I had my picture, I suppose still do..., yep still there on my original blog at MSN.spaces.

Being the 10+ years programming geek that I am... I couldn't figure out how to get the pic to work on blogger at the time, and never got around to it.

Someday perhaps... just like all the other nifty stuff Ricky was pointing out I could do with sorting and organizing... nah. Too much like work.

6/16/2007 01:33:00 PM  
Blogger Oracaat said...

>>But it is always retail spirituality: the cosmic tumblers can only align themselves one Raccoon at a time.<<

Indeed! After a year and a half of daily reading/lurking today's interview moved me to step out of the shadows and give a public thank you to Bob, JWM, Will and the rest of the One Cosmos community. The conversation that goes on here has truly been a God send for this recovering materialist.

6/16/2007 01:39:00 PM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

Well, since Van posted his real pic, I'll post my virtual self.

6/16/2007 02:07:00 PM  
Anonymous will said...

hey oracc, you're welcome.

So now that you're in the house, stick around, why doncha?

6/16/2007 02:11:00 PM  
Anonymous will said...

Joan, that is one cool image-likeness. Nothing overdone, almost minimalist. Rather stirring, actually. It reminds me a little - now please do NOT take this the wrong way - of a Che Guevara-like revolutionary poster, but of course it's revolutionary on a much higher plane.

I like the upside down mirror image - is a symbolism there?

6/16/2007 02:31:00 PM  
Anonymous In other words said...

BoB, Petey, Wil, River, Argg Joan of, DuPree et al….. since it seems to be a slow comment day I wish to ask for your help in something that has been annoying me for quite some time.

I'd like to start out by saying that, like Bob, I seem to be backing into Christianity after having spent many years pursuing the Eastern religions. It was thru reading Bob's book and then all of the archives that I started to get a real appreciation for the depth of Christianity and at how peaceful it seemed to finally be back ‘home’.

Thanks to reading the comments by most of you I'm getting a real education on how the precepts of the Eastern philosophies that I've studied easily translate into scripture. The one stumbling block that I've come across and can't seem to settle to my satisfaction is any scripture that addresses reincarnation.

If it wouldn't be any trouble to you I would surely appreciate what ever it is all of you might have to say on the subject. Scriptural references would be most appreciated.

Thanks for your consideration and all your work that goes into making this site my only must-see site.

Sean

6/16/2007 03:12:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Joan of Argghh! "I'll post my virtual self."

Hmm... sort of fits what I expected... but you have more heads than I imagined.

6/16/2007 03:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The negative exploitation and killing of human beings by human beings violates the heart of one and all.

The negative exploitation and killing of nonhuman beings by human beings violates the heart of one and all.

The negative exploitation, and progressive degradation, and potential destruction of the fundamental order of natural environment on which all Earth-life depends violates the heart and ditectly threatens the life of one and all.

Therefore, all should always actively participate in the positive moral rightening and disciplining of "self" in its relation to all other beings and the natural world.

The positive moral rightening of ALL human activity would, if everywhere exercised, become the universal demonstration of a right and true human disposition, that "self"-disciplines the tendency to physically, politically, socialy, culturally, and environmentally "toxify", harm, and, altogether, negatively affect the human and natural world.

This positive moral rightening of ALL human activity is, essentially, a matter of always pre-establishing the principle and the practice of PRIOR UNITY, and, thus, of mutually sympathetic relational bonding, which inherently, and specifically, eschews, and always prevents, mere objectification, dissociative detachment, all of unjustifiable destruction, and the will to both relationlessness and chaos.

The intrinsic integrity of PRIOR UNITY is the necessary rightness upon which all truly morally rightening action can and must be done.

.

6/16/2007 03:31:00 PM  
Blogger Scheiben Honig said...

Bob's comments about hypochondria led me to remembering one of my favorite epitaphs:

I TOLD YOU I WAS SICK

It's in the Key West Cemetery.

6/16/2007 03:31:00 PM  
Blogger Scheiben Honig said...

url for photo of the above

http://www.flickr.com/photos/hoffmann/35498918/

6/16/2007 03:34:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

In other words said "The one stumbling block that I've come across and can't seem to settle to my satisfaction is any scripture that addresses reincarnation."

... I think you might have stumbled on one of those topics which few are agreed upon - I'm even arguing with myself on it. At the moment I'm winning, but Myself is still making some good points.

Will?

6/16/2007 03:36:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

aninymouse said... "The negative exploitation and killing ... The negative exploitation, and progressive degradation...Therefore, all should always actively ...The positive moral rightening of ALL human activity ... This positive moral rightening of ALL human activity is... The intrinsic integrity of PRIOR UNITY ..."

Thank you Mr. Platitude - that was truly entritening.

6/16/2007 03:40:00 PM  
Blogger debass said...

Van,

Maybe that's why "You've Got Mail" is one of my favorite movies. Of course, I love the music too.

6/16/2007 03:49:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

"Suffice it to say that I always love reading any meaningful spiritual autobiography. In a way, it's the most important testmony we have to the reality of spirit. In the absence of this kind of ongoing, very real, transformation, even the greatest theology is just theory. For the transformation is a result of ongoing conformity to a reality that simultaneously transcends and abides within us."

Yep.

"...For the transformation is a result of ongoing conformity to a reality that simultaneously transcends and abides within us."

Just wanted to see it again. Thanks again Will & JWM, lots of stuff set spinning around upstairs... should go well with breakfast in bed tomorrow.

wv:tcmfiv - no this is only the fourth attempt

6/16/2007 03:52:00 PM  
Blogger Oracaat said...

Will,

Thanks for the welcome mat!

In other words,

I’m no scholar, just a struggling newbie to Christianity, but I can tell you with some certainty that at least within my own tradition (Roman Catholic) there is little if any doctrinal room for reincarnation. I think this is more a matter of implication than explication (i.e. Scripture). Reincarnation is simply not needed for the arc of salvation as Christians generally understand it. On the other hand extreme humbleness concerning our own understanding of God is central to Christian practice. My own reason tells me that a God who exists both within and outside time can certainly author a cosmos with reincarnation in it, but since I have no direct knowledge of such a thing, treating this life as the One that will matter seems the prudent course. Then again maybe it depends on which angle you are viewing the Matterhorn from. I don’t think certainty that I’ll get a “do over” if I screw up this life helps me orient towards God, but I can imagine it might work differently for someone else. Best of luck in your journey.

6/16/2007 04:12:00 PM  
Blogger Sal said...

Dracula?
Darth Vader?
Lord Voldemort?
that Lovecraft thingie?
the entity in "Oh, Whistle and I'll Come to You?
Pfffft!

"Dweedle O'Dee-
He scaries me.
He creeps me out
With his 'hee-hee-hee'.

Seriously - he gave me the horrors.

What's fascinating is that though souls, circumstances, personalities, etc. are so different, there is a universal thread that runs through the genuine spiritual awakening.
The Absolute drawing the reflections back into wholeness.

Sean- there's a Scripture about how man dies once, and then comes the judgment. let me look it up for you.

6/16/2007 04:19:00 PM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

thanks, will.

It was a class assignment to design ourselves as playing cards. But we had to stick to our chosen color scheme for the sememster, and our chosen theme for the semester. My theme was day and night, my colors primary, my card, "The Queen of Arts".

Look again.

:o)

6/16/2007 04:19:00 PM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

Van,

Two heads are always better than one!

You look exactly like yourself, btw...

I've seen a likeness of Petey, too. Not at all what you'd expect.

6/16/2007 04:22:00 PM  
Blogger Smoov said...

"Salad days" comes from Shakespeare, I believe. Forget which play.

6/16/2007 04:25:00 PM  
Blogger Sal said...

Sean-
Hebrews 9:27-28
27 Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him

But as a Catholic, like oraacat, I'd add to the above the teaching from Tradition that this is it- this is not a drill- so make the most of it.
Even when one of the prophets has supposedly come back (see Matt 16), they come back as themselves, not the same spirit in a radically different body.

Purgatory is a poorly understood doctrine by many, but it addresses some of the instinctive concerns re: how little sanctified some of us get in this life.

6/16/2007 04:29:00 PM  
Anonymous will said...

Well, Van and In Other Words -

As to why reincarnation is not specifically mentioned in scripture - well, I guess we should remember that the early church fathers decided what would constitute scripture, what should be included or left out. There were Gnostic sects that bought into the idea, so the early church fathers must have given it consideration. Which was not necessarily a bad thing, in my view, even if reincarnation is fact.

Here's the thing - I don't think it's important that it be mentioned specifically in scripture or not. If it's a staple in some eastern religions, okay, then it exists as a kind of diagram, a map. It's not in itself an underscoring of the tools you really need when you go on the journey. Christianity says, OK, you know you're on an infinite journey anyway, so let's not engage in the science of it, let's get right to what you need while on the journey. That's why I think the church fathers might have been correct when they made sure scripture placed no emphasis on reincarnation - a spiritual urgency (fostering a dynamism in Christianity, not found in eastern religions) was stressed.

Human spiritual development has always been an urgent matter, of course, but never more so than now.

I gots to tell you, though . . . I don't believe in reincarnation so much as it just makes sense to me. The fathomless depth of the psyche, the miraculous array of talents and willingnesses to engage them, their sheer diversity, the miraculously *mature* talent and genius - I just can't accept that all this emerged from a big, empty slate and developed this infinite depth in the span of one lifetime. It's like believing that the cosmos as we know it now was created ex nihilo, fully intact and developed, 5,000 years ago. To my way of thinking, our human complexity had to have been developed in previous existences, just as the cosmos must have had a multi-billion year existence to account for its current nature.

But even if reincarnation is fact, it doesn't go on forever and a day. It's got to end sometime, you either make it or break it at some point.

Don't know for sure, but I have a strong sense that we're nearing a finish line.

6/16/2007 04:31:00 PM  
Anonymous will said...

OK, Smoov, but from where did Shakespeare derive it? If he coined it, it must have some meaning. Same if it was an already existing expression.

I still like my explanations even if they're wrong.

6/16/2007 04:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous, I completely agree with you.

"Negative exploitation" is really, really bad. I much prefer the positive kind.

6/16/2007 04:42:00 PM  
Anonymous will said...

Joan, unfortunately, the computer I'm using darkens, smudges colors, sometimes into an undefinable blur, which means I cannot (as yet) take in the full glory of the Joan playing card.

From what I can see, it's totally cool.

6/16/2007 04:45:00 PM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

"It appears in Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra of 1606, in the speech at the end of Act One in which Cleopatra is regretting her youthful dalliances with Julius Caesar: “My salad days, When I was green in judgment”. So the phrase came to mean “a period of youthful inexperience or indiscretion”, though it only became popular from the middle of the nineteenth century on."

-World Wide Words

6/16/2007 04:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Will,

You said:

"Don't know for sure, but I have a strong sense that we're nearing a finish line."

Have you read Ray Kurzweil's stuff on the impending technological singularity?

I'm sure you're familiar with it, but I've provided a webpage just in case.

It's not an overtly spiritual theory, but itis a compelling framework for thinking about the "quickening" as it applies to the physical realm.

(www.kurzweilai.net)

-Stu

6/16/2007 05:01:00 PM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Well, I view the idea of reincarnation arising from the natural dying-rebirthing that goes on throughout life - you can see people 'reborn' in their children, plants are reborn every year, etc and so on. When we think religiously we may have a tendancy to think holistically, which is to say, in this case, seeing all parts of physical life as reflecting spiritual principles of a kind.

Christianity's focus on salvation often dilutes this, which is both a good and bad thing - good because the former way tends to foster worshipping the creation instead of the creator - but bad because the above/below thing is true, and we are assisted in understanding it.

We westerners are in a hurry, but for good reason - there is plenty of time. Even so, Maranatha.

6/16/2007 05:11:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Outstanding innerview, Will and JWM!
Y'all got an ocean of eyedeas in my head with that innerview!
Surf's Up!

Thanks for the inspiration and for re-introducing Robot Japan!
I had that site saved when I had Webtv but somehow lost it in the transition to the 'puter.

JWM-Can we expect more from Gandalf and the gang in the future? They are quite addictive, ha ha!

I love the witnessing factor; the spiritual lifeography that JWM and the entire Raccoon gang bring to the 'sup-er table, as well as the Humor, Gnoledge and Wisdom, more prevailent here than anywhere else that I gno of!

In-tell abounds at the OC, but it is Top Secret, and unless one has the proper clearance, and the Cosmic Raccoon decoder ring, it is impossible to understand and realeyes.

6/16/2007 05:52:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Three quotes from the article Dilys linked to,

"Despite Decoud’s virtuoso conversation and commentary, in a crisis, Conrad tells us, he “believed in nothing.” Decoud doesn’t represent any particular philosophical position or point of view; he is there to remind us that cleverness should not be confused with character. "

And in the fog of war "... to believe in something is more important than to be blessed by mere logic, or to have the ability for talented argument—even more important than the marvelous gear one carries."

and finally,
“Faith is the great strategic factor that unbelieving faculties and bureaucracies ignore”, retired Army Lt. Colonel Ralph Peters wrote in the Weekly Standard in February 2006."

These should be read along side the silly pomofo misosophy prof that Alan linked to yesterday, who seemed to think that because the brain is physical and can be 'fooled' with optical illusions, therefore he mind doesn't exist.

6/16/2007 06:03:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Hey Van-
You remind me of Reed Richards, Mr. Fantastic hisself!
:^)

6/16/2007 06:14:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Joan-
Nice card/photo!
"Queen of Arts" is a catchy phrase, methinks! :^)

6/16/2007 06:17:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"And this may awaken the ruthlessness necessary to defend our uniquely beautiful values."

I certainly hope so.
It is literally too bad that so many consider ruthlessness in war to be a bad or evil thing.

For there is such a thing as righteous ruthlessness.
Showing and giving no quarter to the evil that abides within terrorists or anyone else that attempts to eradicate those of us who love Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness is not bad or evil, and is in fact, everyone's duty.

It's called protecting and defending all that is Good, True and Beautiful, and it certainly isn't an easy thing to do, but it is worth it, and it does have God's stamp of approval.

God actually encourages us to defend all that too many take for granted.
If God wanted us to be pacifists, He wouldn't hold Justice, Mercy, Truth, Holiness, Love or Peace, etc., as valuable attributes to attain to or strive for.

If God wanted us to be pacifists He would cease to be Good, True or Beautiful, and this is easily verified by Scriptures.

It's preferrable (but not easy) to 'live free or die' than to live as slaves and die twice over.

6/16/2007 06:38:00 PM  
Anonymous will said...

Anonymous, yes, I am familiar with RK's singularity thing, but I'll check out his web page anyway, thanks.

Like the Mayan 2012 theory, it's all part of apocalyptic fever! Catch it!

6/16/2007 06:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Jacob C. said...

Like Sherman said, war is hell - and the more hellish you make it, the more eager your enemy is to put an end to it.

6/16/2007 07:34:00 PM  
Anonymous jwm said...

First- Thank you, Will, for not doing a Michael Moore with the controversial details of my fabulous life. I'm relieved that I didn't come off looking like a refugee from the Jerry Springer show. (Yes, there's an opening for straight line of the year. A true gentleman would never even think of picking it up.) And thanks, Bob for the posting, and your comments.
Will, Sal, and Ben- Thank you a million for your kind words on DPWWO. In an odd way, that project was the single biggest creative undertaking I ever did. The picture of Unit One mugging Jigglypuff was one of the first things I ever did with a digital camera- a cheap Sony Mavica that I borrowed from my sister in law. I went from zero knowledge about computers through a year and a half of adult ed classes to get where I could use Windows, then Word, then on to Dreamweaver, Photoshop, and the use of a good digital camera with manual settings- The goal was to take that whimsical medium- taking pictures of toys, and see if I could be a sly enough dog to slip a real story in under the radar, get a reader hooked, and actually get a laugh, or evoke an emotional response here and there. If I succeded in doing that on any level for anyone, then the time was well spent. (Oh, and yes, that was a shameless plug)
On reincarnation- Like you, Van, I have gone back and forth on it. Reincarnation lacks one thing that would have it make sense- Continuity. You can't use a lesson that you don't remember. And it also has that built in invitation for indifference to the suffering of others- "after all, they earned it."
A different picture has ben taking shape in my mind. I wonder if the soul is the fruit of a properly nourished mind and a spirit aligned with God's Truth. I can think of a parable or two where Jesus used the metaphor of plants bearing fruit. It is our job to grow the soul- the immortal being that will live on after we die in the flesh.
And you know what else?
(tirade coming)
I like to think that when Jesus said,(paraphrase) My father's house has many mansions. I go to prepare a place for you.
He meant a Place.
Perhaps some people take comfort in the notion of an afterlife as a disembodied spirit forever in the orbit of God. Or a black sleep before awakening again as a human infant, once again without the faintest idea of what happened to you or why. Sorry. I think at heart- beneath all the metaphysical mumbo jumbo we all secretly yearn for that storybook Heaven. The City of God where there is no sickness, no deformity of body mind or spirit. No evil. No death. Where you are reunited with those you loved. I could go on, you have the picture. Or perhaps that's a dream- a stopping off place before you move on to the Real Thing. No telling.

JWM

6/16/2007 07:48:00 PM  
Anonymous In other words said...

in regards to my reincarnation bleg.......

thank you one and all for your responses! it appears that some insights i've come to 'know' on one side won't make the transition to the other....and maybe that's the way it should be.

your measured responses,highly valued, have reiterated to me that, when East meets West, down here,consensus maybe isn't required.

higher on the verticle it all comes together.

thanks for your efforts.:)

sean

6/16/2007 08:50:00 PM  
Anonymous jwm said...

Oh- Joan of Argghh:
Thanks for the info on "salad days". It would figure. Degree in Lit, and all. That's a play I have not read, or seen.

wv: ejlhq we hates wv, hatesss it

JWM

6/16/2007 09:16:00 PM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

Thanks, Ben. You have the cutest pic, though!

Will, at a certain age, women can appreciate the lens that is a bit dim, diffused, and out-of-focus.
;)

6/16/2007 09:45:00 PM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

jwm,

I like the second descriptor Cleopatra provides:
"...My salad days, When I was green in judgment, cold in blood..."

WV: vbozh; a new kind of jazz!

6/16/2007 09:49:00 PM  
Anonymous will said...

Joan - >>a bit dim, diffused, and out-of-focus<<

Well,there ya go,that's basically me.

6/16/2007 10:23:00 PM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

I would so like to believe in reincarnation. I think, in a way, I do, along the lines of George MacDonald's assertion that, "God will have us good" and will have all things caught up in His goodness, even if it takes forever.

Cuz, that good thing is kinda killing the grading curve.

Sigh.

6/16/2007 10:34:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Annonymouse of 6/16/2007 05:01:00 PM - Stu,

Hey, is that the Stu we haven't seen in quite awhile, Stu?

Actually, Gagdad did a post on Kurzweil's Singularity, Singularity is here!, a goodie if I recall...

6/16/2007 10:45:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

About the reincarnation... on one level it makes sense, but at the same time, if so, then it seems like sneaking a peek at the answers, the kind of thing that turns Understanding into scribbles on crib sheets....

If there is such a thing, and you don't remember it, there's probably a pretty good reason you don't remember. We're here to live this life, not sniff the laurels of past ones.

Not since I was about 8, have I had any interest in sneaking a peak beneath the presents wrapping paper, or looking at the back of the book before getting there.

It's a nice thought, fun to casually speculate about, especially as part of a story (such as Robert Jordan's 'the Wheel of Time' books) I just don't see how it's of any use one way or anotherk, to living this life.

6/16/2007 10:57:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Joan of Argghh! 'Queen of Arts', kind of proud of myself, that was the first thing I guessed on noticing the 'A'.

(what's the 'feeling smug' smiley?)

6/16/2007 10:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Van,

Yeah, it's the same Stu from many moons ago.

I've been busy at a new job working for The Man trying to become one of those reviled capitalist fatcats.

Damn free markets got me under their spell, ya know?

But I'm still around. Just not commenting much, unfortunately.

It's funny, actually. Even though I haven't interacted here much lately, I still feel a very strong affinity towards our community.

Whatever it is we have built here, I am glad that people like you and Will and Gagdad are working to maintain it.

All the best to you and my other online friends,

-Stu

6/17/2007 12:59:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Yo! Stu! Glad to have ya back! I for one miss ya!
And you gno...yer right! Thanks fer stoppin' by! :^)
Okay, I miss you, dammit! :^)

6/17/2007 01:29:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

jwm - read the whole thing. There's just something lovable about giant robots, even if they only are toys. I still have one Gundam left from my old snap-together collection, the Heavyarms Custom (Endless Waltz.) I've always been looking for the full size model one - they're about a foot tall - but never found one at the conventions I went to.

Anyhow, I just thought about it, I'm sure some are familar with the series 'Big O'... (If not, youtube it.)

Calling your giant robot to rise through the buildings of a city? Plus, what's with that name, Big O?

6/17/2007 04:49:00 AM  
Blogger Magnus Itland said...

In other words...
Christianity has a clarity of vision in which spirit and soul are seen as different. The soul is You, but the spirit comes from the eternal I AM and returns hence.

Jesus referred to John the Baptist as Elijah, but John's father prophecied that the child would go forth in Elijah's spirit. God sent the spirit for a purpose, as he had done before in the age of Elijah. Not to atone for Elijah's karma or add to Elijah's life experience. John had his own soul, but shared a special inner fire of being with Elijah. This is an amazing bond, but more amazing yet is the bond with Christ. For it is written, he who cleaves to the Lord is one spirit with him.

People are all too willing to misunderstand reincarnation, because they believe the word of the Serpent, Ye shall not die. But die they must.

There is much to say about all this, but I am not worthy to teach it. And anyway, it is all hidden in plain view, so that those who would be hurt by it cannot find it. Darkness is not the least of God's blessings.

6/17/2007 05:33:00 AM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

Van,

Reading your comments about not opening presents put me in mind of how many spiritually intuitive people love surprises, generally expecting them to be pleasant.

Raccoons are always aware of the precarious nature of things, and yet we see a Reason to trust the movement of Time through our shadow-life, with every surprise it brings, good or bad. We respect the judgement of the giver of the gift, the Author of the story.

Well, that's one way to go about it.

It must be considered that Jacob wrestled a blessing out of an angel. He wasn't going to wait until Christmas, as he had a whole tribe of folks under his care and a pretty important business meeting the next morning.

"And [the angel] said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed."

Maybe some kits really do feel an urgency to go after everything that's coming their way and get there first, be it judgement or blessing.

Some kits just can't stand in line, sit in their seats, wait until they are called, let others go first, or otherwise be bothered with convention. But their reason for being that way better be just as good as Jacob's! And the rest of us may need to consider the Jacobs around us and not be dismayed when they grab up Elijah's cloak and demand a double blessing.

Just sayin'...

6/17/2007 08:25:00 AM  
Anonymous jwm said...

I guess we're dead threading.

Joan:
A timely comment. I'm reading Genesis right now. Holy cow, what a story! Right now Joseph's in the hoosegow after Potiphar's wife set him up. Tune in for the next exciting chapter!

River:
Thanks. Glad you enjoyed the tale. Over at thr robot-japan message board we have a whole section on Gundam. The Endless Waltz mecha's were cool. It's odd. I always thought the Wing Zero Custom was just a silly design. Yet I have three of them. The large version in the story is the Perfect Grade model kit. The transformed version at the end of the story is the Perfect Grade Strike model (you wanna have some serious fun?)
I really enjoyed Big O when it was on Cartoon Network, but I was disappointed that they never drew the series to its close. I remember a while back seeing some pic's of some really fine figures of the Big O robots, but I don't know if they ever hit the market.
Drop by over at the BBS!

JWM

6/17/2007 08:49:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Joan,

Continuing the dead threading, I hope you don't mistake my having no interest in peaking, for complacency.

Jacob didn't peak into the book of life to see what would happen to him, he wrestled (an Angel or God?) for his 'fate' in the here and now, and extracted a changed life and name through it - that's what I'm talking about.

6/17/2007 09:09:00 AM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

Van,

Complacency? Oh, not at all! It prompted many and varied musings about my own drive, but for brevity perhaps I shortened too many thoughts.

In every way, I am the "elder brother" always upholding, obeying, seeking the True. Calmly trusting in the Author and His ways. It worked for me so many years.

But too often I find myself in awe of others, (or find others awful!) when they seemingly get away with outrageous boundary-crashing in the spiritual sense. So my comment had much more to do with my own musings about where I am, what it means to me, and if that's really who I am.

No intent to project that onto you. Believe me, the original post was twice as long!

:)

6/17/2007 12:34:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Joan,

It's one of the primal connundrums isn't it? When to press forward, when to accept 'the facts'...?

Didn't Jacob come out of that wrestling match with an injured leg? While wrestling, the pain throbbed in his leg, but he didn't relent, and though he won the match, forever afterwards... some might say he limped, some might say his gait was altered.

Either way, our choices affect how we proceed in life... and thank goodness we don't know all the answers - can you imagine how boring that would be?

Hey, any time you've got a long reply, you don't need to edit it on my account... always worth reading!

;-)

6/17/2007 01:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Philomathean said...

Excellent interview. Spending a few years surfing is an excellent antidote for what ails you.

Bob, your comments on the impact of the internet are well taken. Every advance in communications technology (telegraph, telephone, radio, TV, etc.) has led to a revolution in human affairs. The internet promises to put those revolutions to shame.

6/18/2007 08:33:00 AM  

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