Thursday night at Allan Brothers Coffee House :::: good and evil and free choice

I am re-visiting book 1 of “Conversations with God”. I have all three but I’ve never made it past chapter three of book 1. At first glance it seems to offer a nice fuzzy answer to my existential dilemna. But I am bothered by the book. Supposedly (according to this book) there is the true Self “who we really are”, and who we are now. We were created as such so that God (the universe) could experience who he is, but he (it) needed us to do this. The most important part of this is our forgetfulness of “who we really are”. Now I wonder, if this was the critical point, why remind us of “who we really are”? Another point is, as God points out, the laws of the universe and how we are acting within those laws and cannot act without them. This reminds me of one aspect of an argument given against the part of some environmentalists’ beliefs which despises anything man-made, believes “natural” as something non-human and occuring without man’s aid. As I interpret Deep Ecology… man is not seperate from Nature and none of our actions are un-natural. We cannot act out of nature. It is this point, I believe, that draws some attention from the potential message of Deep Ecology (or one message at least). When we get to this part things become fuzzy, emotional, and often times a bit “new age-ish”. Emotion generally overpowers rationale at this point. I don’t wish to dismiss the point, as I believe it to be true, that man is an insepperatable part of Nature (and the question isn’t one of man versus nature at all). I feel that trying to save Nature from man is misguided, mispent energy and doomed to fail. It follows that I believe that while the overall paradigm might be biocentric, the actions of environmentalists (or those to have greater impact) would be one to have more of an anthropocentric twist to it. Think about it. If diversity is good for adaptability of an ecosystem, then it stands to reason that it is also good for the human species as well. If one were to take a biocentric viewpoint, can something be good for one species and bad for another? If we were to increase the number of rabbits in the forest isn’t it good for both the rabbit as well as the lynx? It might not be good for the plants who are eaten by the rabbit, but the systems would check this growth, and so we’re back to good for the system as a whole. Sorta along the lines of the Gaia Theory (which I am just getting into but thus far I really like). I believe it nearly impossible for people to give up water for their farms for the salmon when in a drought simply because of some notion of a biocentric earth. If that is the hope upon which we must hang our hat, we are doomed to fail.

But back to my point. God tells the author in the book that man is within the laws (the laws of the universe). Now these thoughts bother me. If these three points are true, 1) there is no good or evil outside of man’s thinking, 2) we are unable to act outside of the universal laws, and 3) our forgetfulness of “who we really are” is part of God’s plan to experience himself… then why on Earth does God come tell the author these things? Is there some bias in God toward good (making point 1 invalid and damaging point 2)? If point 1 and 2 are valid, then God should be equally satisified if Nazi Germany had won and we were all blonde and blue eyed, used leaf blowers every hour of the day, and were as nasty as we could be (an evil empire). When the author asks if certain things are bad, God tells him that they are neither good nor bad. Okay, then why the book? What if the human race was one great blob of mindless illiterate zombie couch potatos? If we were really the experiencing sides of God that we were created to be, wouldn’t we eventually find ways out of that rut? Make rock-n-roll bands, fetish parties, stamp collectors, dog shows, ice cream parlors, hot rod competitions, big game hunters, hairy legged lesbians, uptight priests? Don’t we do this anyway? So why the book? If the book is to help us along, my question is why do we need help when any and all paths of experiencing life are valid to God in the infinite number of ways in which the universe experiences itself, and if not, then where have we failed (since the first sentiment is what God tells the author is our purpose… to just “be”).

On the whole I find the book a soothing read, such as a parent telling a child that all in the world is just and fair, and it seems like an easy escape from my existential void. But I also find the book terribly lacking. Perhaps I’ll continue to read more to discern how I might be mistaken in my impression. I am, afterall, only in chapter 3.

A curious thought comes to mind. I am reading Ivan’s poem as he recites it to Alyosha (in “The Brothers Karamazov). Freedom is brought up amidst the poem (a story of Christ popping up for a short visit in Seville during the Inquisition). A couple thoughts actually come to mind, all swirling around each other, around some central vortex that is not a thought itself. Freedom. During “A Clockwork Orange” the lead character has just acted in a humiliating manner on the stage. The psychologists tell of the change to good to occur in society. In this scene the Catholic priest stands up and, ranting, telling all present that there is no real choice present in the scene they witnessed. Without free choice there is no real good (nor evil for that matter). Now, to another point swirling in my mind. Cut to the scene of the Garden of Eden prior to “The Fall”. Supposedly Adam and Eve were not knowledgeable of the difference between good and evil. So what general flavor were their actions then? I mean, were they necessarily good? How can they be so? Did they commit bad acts (though not knowing they were bad of course). Or is there a world of good and bad actions unknown to us unless we know what good and bad are. Could a truly innocent person give his only shirt to a freezing person? We would be quick to say that an innocent person would not be likely to star in a porn movie, but volunteer at a soup kitchen? Why the disparity?

To annother angle. To hear church goers talk of the time before the fall of Adam and Eve is to hear deeply reverent and reminescent talk concerning such. It is almost as if to say “if only Adam and Eve hadn’t fucked up, we’d still be in paradise now”. Is this truly desired? It seems to me that a church man has two choices; accept that the fall was innevitable and necessary (absolutely necessary) in order for “good” to truly become established on Earth and as such the perpetuation of any and all freedoms of choice and free will (and we can’t really be held accountable for original sin can we?); or second… that good acts are of more importance than the ability to choose (intentions… how does the saying go… the road to hell is paved with good intentions?) and so any and all actions which would limit the potential for choosing the wrong path are to be done away with. I fail to see any middle ground in there. In regards to the second notion, the action of the women of Islam being shrouded in those long dresses to make it more unlikely that another man covet her body (less likely to sin) is the right path. In regards to the first thought, women should be able to wear whatever they damn well please and if a man acts too forward with her she should punch him in the head, or at least tell him the sinful nature of his ways. I also note that among the most erotic images of women that come to mind are those of the belly dancing harem woman scantily clad, a seductive movement of hips, breasts, arms and the enticing eyes of mystery. Funny that it should come from a terribly repressive social structure for women.

A new friend tells me of her beliefs running between neo-pagan and buddhist. I am curious, particular along the neo-pagan lines. I think back to my past relationship with the Goddess Rhiannon. What an interesting conversation we would have.

From Ivan’s poem…

“They will finally understand that freedom and the assurance of daily bread for everyone are two incompatable notions that could never co-exist!”

I am reminded of communism.

I want my nephew to come to Oregon for a week or two (though in the summer time). We can go camping, kayaking, to baseball games, to movies, to the library, to all sorts of things. I can expose him to things outside of the Mississippi bible belt world. I can enliven our connection as uncle and nephew and I can take a greater role in his life, offering to him all that I can in the formation of his heart and mind. Of course I would need a friend to babysit for me on nights that I go to work, and it would be great if he/she had a kid of the same age so that he could make a friend as well.


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