Links to my Books

Links to My Writings

Third Daughters at Smashwords
Meditations on Maintenance for the Kindle
Memoirs of a Super Criminal for the Kindle, Nook or Smashwords
One Year in the Mountains for the Kindle, Nook or Smashwords
Adventures of Erkulys & Uryon for the Kindle and Nook

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Big History

In the recent issue of Discover, I read an interview that dealt with the theme: Big History. As far as I understand the concept it is putting human history into context of universal history. Human history is only a subset of a much larger history that include the environment that allowed mammals to develop, the cosmos that allowed a planet to develop with such an ecology that supports life... back to the beginning.

I had this thought. Before everything that is there was truly limitless possibility. It is like a blank piece of paper before the first line is drawn; but once that first line is drawn it both reveal what picture may develop and also begins to limit what possible picture may take shape and with each line more limits are placed, until finally a finished product is revealed. As the cosmos go, before the Big Bang there were no limits, no natural or physical laws. But once "Bang" happened then limits were placed: atomic structure and shape, thermal dynamics, gravity, electromagnetism... more and more limits were put into place until life emerged. And limits are placed on life through ecology, DNA, intelligence.

But at what point can we step back from the paper and see the picture, how much of the outline needs to be revealed before we can understand the contours of the overall structure and shape of the picture developing before us? How many details need to be sketched in before the limiting effect is in fact a revealing effect? Or is there no grand picture emerging from the chaos turned order of the cosmos which has brought about life and awareness?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Wandering

The following is an excerpt from a document called, "Million Words." It is where I let my mind wander and fingers flow. It is were I practice my art of the wordsmithing. Someday I will write a million words (I am only around a few hundred thousand so far.) And so I share with you a walk down a rabbit trail.

______________
(Written Before 02/15/2008)

I stood staring at my keys, forgetting what I was doing. Move ahead it will all come back to you. Look like you have purpose and keep moving. It does not matter where, just move, decide. Fool those staring at you. Keep acting with purpose. Why do I have my keys out?

Oh yeah going home at the end of the day. But to what home… I am lost in a sea of humanity and cannot find my mind. I am lost, completely alone and all that I put my hand to turns to rubbish. I am lost and alone; I am the existential dilemma incarnate.

I walk to and fro upon the streets and some think I am a beggar, others think I am a directed and confident soul. Some ignore me as I walk by and others are disgusted at my stench. Each breath is putrid rot and I enjoy the taste of the bile in my throat. Will they see my in time to stop?

I put the keys down on the counter as I enter the door. I put the bags of mass produced food like substance on the floor, perhaps the dog will put them away, or shall I? How did I get home? When I turn off my brain, my body can move on automatic and get me through the day. But when I turn it on, all that I see is kaleidoscopically and chaotically churning colors before my mind and I want to jump in and swim in those magical colors, but I fear I will drown. And so I snack every thirty minutes to give my self an excuse to not go insane. “Must wait thirty minutes after eating before you can swim,” is my mantra to sanity.

Why should I hold so dearly to my sanity when it is obvious no one else does?
Why do I have to pretend to be sane when it would be so much easier to be myself?
Ah, liberation of the artist’s soul!!!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Emerging or Post Christian

I have recently read Phyllis Tickle's "The Great Emergence," which of course brought a flood of thoughts into my head. First, let me talk about the book a little and then about the thoughts which is sparked.

The book is... well, light in some areas and thought-provoking in others. The book attempts to cover the last two thousand years in history, western history that is. Western history with an eye towards trends in religious thought and development. The book itself is an easy read, although her sentence structure and thought processes are a bit muddled at times. Towards the end of the book it begins to play out and the themes she creates earlier on in the book finally emerge. I am not sure if it is the best book on the subject but it is an adequate introduction. Because church history is my area of study, I felt it was lacking in some areas. I don't think she misrepresented church history, but she does not give a detailed account. OK, now to the subject of the book.

The book looks back at the last two thousand years of history and brings out a trend or cycle. Every 500 years, roughly speaking, there is an event that radically changes the face of the western world, and specifically the church. Of course we are coming up or in the midst of the next five hundred year mark and so the book attempts to flesh out current trends of the course of the next five hundred years. So here is a break down of the last four cycles:

1.0-500 Christ: the birth of Christianity which ushered in a new religion that over the next five hundred years became the dominant religion.

2. 500-1000 Holy Roman Church: with the fall of the Roman Empire and Rome itself, there was an economic, political and religious vacuum which the church was able to step in and take control of. With the birth of monasteries, western thought and culture was preserved and carried forward.

3. 1000-1500 The Great Schism: The eastern church and the western church split over theological and ideological themes. This is the when the west flourished in thought and development, especially as the crusades brought back knowledge from the east.

4. 1500- 2000: The Great Reformation: The church had become authoritarian and oppressive. Scholarship had moved beyond the church as a final authority. People, Martin Luther in particular, stood against the church, calling for reform. What happened was the creation of Protestantism and its thousands of denominations where the Bible became the final authority, not church dogma.

And now, 2000- present: What is being called The Great Emergence. What it is and who is involved, or what effects it will have over time is still unknown.

My thoughts:
This book fails to take into account the other forces that were at work in each of the epochs. Martin Luther was a success not because of his ideas alone, but because he had the backing of German princes who tired of the Church tithing them to death and the Holy Roman Empire taxing them to death. The advent of western science and shifts in technology combined with the emergence of a middle class which could rival the Nobility in wealth and power all called for a shift to occur. Martin Luther has just become the rally cry of the religious historians. But the history of that time period is much more complex.

The book does give credit to modern shifts in science, technology and world views. But when we stand so close in history to the events, it is hard to tell which events will be the hallmarks of the age and which will pass quietly into the past. Certainly tomorrow a greater event can occur that overshadows anything over the last hundred years. Or perhaps Christ will return and the whole question will be mute.

It appears that things happen every five hundred years to shake up the world and what settles out is different than what was before. That which shakes the world is hard to define. Science, technology and culture are all shifting. In the west, eastern ideas about religion, life, and death are forcing people to think differently. In the east, Christianity and western economic and political thought are forcing people to change their worldviews. And the realization that we are one people all inhabiting the same planet is having a major impact on the world. As the west moves towards post-Christian thoughts and practices, it is incorporating ideas from the east but also from science. And what is emerging is spreading that new gospel in new ways through technology. It is there in the blending that I think the next flower will blossom. I think this new epoch will emerge out of a blending of east/west, science/religion and the break down of dualism. Philosophy, theology and politics will all have to be rethought in light of new technology and new responsibility towards the whole. It is not us/them, or you/me... but rather we. This new thought will include the greater environment as part of the human being.

Another theme which is overlooked in the book is that each epoch is also ushered in with violence. That which was before does not want to change into that which is coming and so lashes out violently to stop the change. The usual response is to lash back with self defense and often violence, as well to bring in the radical change. History settles out and forgets the names and faces of the dead on both sides. Today war still rages. But how does that warfare fit into changing times and thoughts? And who is waging the war: the old stalwarts refusing to change, or the revolutionaries helping to emerge a new worldview? This is one of those moments when we stand too close in time to know what history will say in the future about today.

What will emerge will blend the threads of the current trends into a new fabric of reality that will greatly challenge and frustrate that which was. It cannot be just the continuation of what was, but must be an internal change with external consequences. And again, beccause we stand so close, it is hard to say what or who will force that change; but change is occurring.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Garbage day and economic justice

Tuesday is garbage day. Not that big of a day unless you forget to take the can to the street and it is extra full. But I also think that it is a sign of the times.



I remember as a kid garbage day was a big deal. The big white truck would roll up with two guys holding on to the back for dear life. The truck would stop at the cans: one, two or three metal cans all piled with bags, boxes and loose garbage. The men would jump off the back of the truck, toss the garbage into the back, pull a lever and press a button. Then the truck would whirl and whine and an arm would somehow push all that garbage up inside... I mean what action! and those brave men holding on to the truck as it sped down the road to the next house.



And then sometime in high school the trucks went robotic.



Now a big arm drops down, grabs the one big green plastic can and scoops it up dumping its contents straight into the top of the truck. Very smooth and efficient. And if you have more than will fit in the one can... perhaps your neighbor has a little room, or wait until next week, or wait until the city has a special clean up day.



But even all of that is not the point.



With the new fancy robotic arm trucks, the work force diminished by two thirds. Now all you need is a driver. So what happened to the two men who risked life and limb on the back of the truck? Now that we don't pay for them, do we get a discount rate on garbage pick up? No, because the city had to buy new trucks and matching cans. But certainly by now the trucks have been paid off. And there is the rub... with technology and the workplace, technology and economic growth, technology and societal development. I am not anti-technology. I just think we need to use some wisdom when it comes to incorporating technology into our lives.

The idea of introducing technology into the workplace, or society as a whole is to save time. At work, time is money. Save time to save money. Does that money saved make it down the ladder to the consumer, or just into the pocketbooks of the CEO, managers and board members? Business is business. I would hope that good business is wise business. But it appears that good business is concerned less with its workforce, its effect on society and the environment, than with profit margins. Can we have just and responsible business within capitalism?

Let us return to the garbage men. Cities are not businesses, they are people gathered together to join in creating a better place through mutual consent, work and cooperation. A city is more than just buildings, politicians and people. A city is a commune. And above all shouldn't the city be more concerned with its people then with anything else? So does laying off two thirds of the garbage men help the people in general or harm them? How do we evaluate this question? Are one hundred people out of work worth saving millions of dollars? Have those savings even really taken place? What is the long term result? Would I pay higher taxes to insure that a neighbor or myself stays employed? Perhaps not... but does the promised savings of technology really come through? Who can I ask?

Maybe, just maybe, rolling the can out to the street should not be a moment of philosophical reflection. Maybe it is just garbage day. But if I don't think these thoughts and ask these questions then who will?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Growing Strong

Growth has always been a viable metaphor for the spiritual life. If it is the growth of a plant from seed to tree or of a child moving towards adulthood, the idea of growth has always been applicable to the spiritual life. I have a nine year old daughter and a ten month old baby boy. Both of them are at completely different developmental stages, and yet someday they will both be adults. The spiritual life is much the same way. We may be just beginning the growth cycle of a spiritually maturing being or we may be well on our way. Either way the steps of development may be similar for all of us, just like childhood development is similar for all children. Here it is important to make a distinction. I say it is “similar” for all children; for everyone develops and matures along their own lines becoming a diverse group of adults. The spiritual life follows suit. We learn to pray, but our prayers will be different; we learn to serve, but choose different ways to be servants in life. There is a similarity to growth which creates a united community in shared commonalities, but our differences foster diverse communities.

The point I would like to move towards is that growth brings change and maturity which include new challenges. My nine year old knows how to walk, my ten month old will learn that skill in the next few months. My nine year old does not need to relearn that skill, she knows it and can move towards the next challenges of running or biking. Spiritually speaking, growth is similar. Once we learn a spiritual skill, we don’t have to keep going back and relearning it. It is time to put that skill to use, to develop it further and allow it to lead to other challenges where we need to grow. If you have mastered the discipline of prayer as intercession, then perhaps it is time to explore prayer as meditation or discernment. If you have mastered serving as an usher, perhaps it is time to challenge yourself to serve as a reader.

A good place to start is knowing where you are. Take some time to make an inventory of your spiritual skills. Ask the following questions: How am I using these skills for my community? How can I further these skills as I grow? What challenges in growth am I facing now?

Another exciting exercise is to create a spiritual autobiography where you can track your growth in the spirit. Make sure you list special moments such as baptism, confirmation, reaffirmation retreats or service projects, that have had an impact on your spiritual life. This autobiography can then be used as a tool to see trends, movements and growth in your own spiritual life. Perhaps it will open you to see ways in which you have been moving that you did not recognize before.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Value: Economics or Meaning

This is a thought which I have had recently. It is one that is still in development and so a little shy on concrete principles or proof. At some point in human history we started to see each other, and by extension ourselves, as commodities. Our value and worth became coached in economic terms. A person's worth became tied to their economic potential. Success became gaged by ownership of possessions and their economic value. When did that shift occur? Or was it even a shift or just a natural extension of the industrial revolution's effects on human society? Certainly having the ability to provide both support and safety have been long sought after skills by both men and women. But wasn't that skill honed within a community all trying to advance the good of all for the advancement for the good of the individual?

I think perhaps the difference now is that the good of the individual overrides the good of the community. I will run the best and cheapest business in order to outsell and undercut my competitors and drive them out of business so that I will succeed. This last statement is all about the individual's ability to provide by out-performing. They are not bringing value and worth to the community, only cheapening the business class. Not that healthy competition is bad, it just needs to be balanced with a little community mindedness. Why do I need to open a new store if two already exist in the community that sell the same thing, just to try to drive them out of the market and show how "good" I am at business? Where is the value in that?

At this point perhaps I need to let the original thought simmer for a bit longer before I ramble on and on and turn it into a muddled mess. I guess the question (or thought) is why do we let economics dictate our worth and value, and not some other aspect of life?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Freedom and Responsibility

This is an excerpt from a posting in a discussion group at Fine Art America.

Free is a relative term. As a father I am free to do somethings but not others, as a husband the same holds true. When out in society I am free to act in some ways and not others. And the association with free is always changing. In Cali you used to be free to light up after a good meal, but not any longer. You used to be free to make a living off the land, but not any longer. You used to be free to homestead, but not any longer, (not even in Alaska). The idea of freedom changes over the course of time. We used to be free to live life without the intervention of the government, but not any longer. Freedom is always juxtaposed against responsibility. Responsibility is when you knowingly and freely give up some aspect of your personal freedom for the greater good of family, society or nation. I know people who don't want to give up their freedom of snowboarding to show up to work on time and they cant figure out why they keep loosing jobs. We are free to vote but we are also responsible for the outcome. If we don't like the results we are free to change them, but then we become responsible for the changes (if we wait for the next voting cycle or instigate civil unrest they all have consequences.) I am sure this is all assumed nonsense and I have no need to spout out about freedom and responsibility. If we want to be free to be one of the most powerful nations on the planet, then we also have responsibilities. Am I willing to give up some of my freedoms to make a better world: cheap art supplies, affordable studio space, the ability to travel to shows, plethora of museums and galleries that wealth brings to a city, time in my day to paint and pursue art... I am free but the flip side is I am responsible to use my freedom, even to give it up for the greater good, with a bit of wisdom. And the boy in the photo does not have to think about such things because he assumes his freedom to enjoy a summer day is sacred and protected by the adults around him who have given up personal freedoms to make that day happen; adults who make the tough, in the moment decisions that may be right or wrong but still have to be made then and there. It is no easy thing to be a responsible adult. I always thought that someday some elder would sit me down and tell me how to be an adult, but as I became one through trial and error I realized we are all more or less making it up as we go along. We try our best and hopefully learn from our mistakes, but we don't know it is a mistake until well after the fact. But if we move forward with growing wisdom and the desire to learn from our mistakes then we can grow into being decent adults creating those lazy summer days for children to have the freedom to enjoy without care or concern about safety or survival.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Faith and Doubting

There is a difference between doubting and pushing back against faith. Doubting is questioning the evidence and waiting for more proof before believing. Pushing against faith is when one knows what to believe and when to believe but refuses to do so. Doubting is healthy in creating strong mature faith that is built on solid reasoning and belief. Pushing against faith is creating the illusion of doubt to persist in holding back from belief even if it means the slow decay of the soul and spirit. Doubting leads to faith, pushing against faith leads to despair.

I have always been a skeptic, holding off from making a decision believing that tomorrow more evidence may present itself to persuade me one way or the other. Although that is a healthy way to approach a subject until one has a grasp of the main themes and is ready to proceed towards a conclusion, it is not a healthy way to live. Eventually one must decide. Not that one has to give up questioning or searching, but one must begin to narrow down the searching by choosing a course of action which by its nature begins to exclude other courses of actions. It is hard to live if one is not being committed. You can only half-ass life so long until it catches you. Calling it skepticism or even searching only holds so much water.

So when I bring these two tenets together I see in myself the fear to commit because of my proclivity toward skepticism which I call doubt but in reality is pushing against faith. I can no longer live that way but must commit to a course of living. And along this path I will find many more questions to search out the meaning towards. Having faith is not giving up thinking. Having faith is not blind belief. Having faith is accepting what you know in your heart to be true, even when your mind wants to ask that next question or is waiting for that next bit of evidence.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Life

Life is never the way it is supposed to be. There are so many things outside of our control, things we get blamed for and held responsible for, but in reality we have absolutely nothing to do with. As the old saying goes: life is unfair. But why is that? Why do we just sit by and accept that as part of life? Yes, life will throw curve balls at us, but that is different than intentional creation of scenarios where life has to act in unfair ways. How do we create a life, a society where trust, faith, justice and fairness are the defining points?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Human totality

I believe that humans are made up of three parts: the body, the psyche, and the spirit. Each part is essential to a fully functioning human. Each part must therefore be understood and developed. Often a culture or religion will highlight one of the three aspects to the detriment of the other two. Let us look briefly to see how a human is created from these three aspects.

The body is the physical aspect of the human, the flesh and blood. It is the vessel where the psyche and spirit meet. But it is not just an empty vessel. It is essential to the totality of the human. Bodies come in all shapes and sizes and in all modes of health. But there is also a baseline that must be achieved to be human. Once that baseline is met then healthiness can flow out of it. But for many it is a strive just to maintain the baseline and health is far away. Or once a little health is achieved, then it is an easy slide back down. The body is greatly affected by the psyche and the spirit. To achieve health in its truest form, harmony and balance must be sought.

The psyche is Greek for soul. But I have found the psyche is more than just the soul of the person it is also the mind of the person. We will see how this duality is created a little further on. The psyche is the emotional and mental state of the person. It is how one processes the outside world into inward feeling. But it is also the person's character, personality and will. If one is convinced mentally of a sickness or defect, then it is sure to materialize physically. The body will follow the psyche into sickness, but also into health. That is, if health is rightly understood.

The spirit is that part of the human that connects us with the divine, but not just a religious concept of God, but to the energy that is in everything and flows through everything. The spirit is what makes us part of nature. It is the connecting and entangling principles just now being discovered in the areas of quantum physics. It is a force that has limited understanding because science denies it, and religion confuses it with the soul and muddles the idea with theological limitations.

But now to put the pieces together. Think of the three aspects as three triangles, each slightly over lapping another to create a larger triangle. Where the body and the psyche meet you arrive at the mind. Where the psyche and the spirit meet you arrive at the soul. Where the spirit and the body meet you arrive at the quanta (or divine).

So it becomes obvious how all the parts fit to make the whole person. And health is the balance and harmony of the parts working together. Health is not just the absence of sickness, but it is the smooth running and flowing of the parts to create more than just the individual aspects. There are always hiccups and breakdowns, but to have the ability and wisdom to find where the "sickness" originated puts one in the place to restore the balance necessary for health. It is simple, but also very complex. It takes awareness of the self in all three aspects, but it also takes awareness of the awareness, stepping back a step to look at the totality of your being. That is the complexity. Diligence and discipline help us to enact the steps required to restore the proper balance. In essence, could this be quite simple?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Art work

If you happen to be in Pocatello ID anytime in February, stop in and check out my art work. It is on display at the Portneuf Brewery which is located on 1st Street.

If you are not in Pocatello or Idaho you can still see my work online at

daav-corbet.fineartamerica.com

Feel free to leave a comment or even buy a print if you are so moved.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Human Condition and Economics

Is there an appropriate response in economic terms to the perceived human condition?

First let us define our terms.
Economics: the exchange of goods or services for other goods and services usually with a mediator such as I.O.U., coins, cash or vouchers of some flavor.

The Human Condition: On the definition of this term the whole question turns.
1. Humans are inherently bad or evil.
2. Humans have a predisposition to learning to be evil and to do bad.
3. Humans are inherently good and are forced into situations that create within them the capacity to do evil.

Putting the pieces together would pose questions such as: Can an evil humanity create a just economic society? Why do some people prosper while others who work just as hard fail? How do the few hold economic sway over the many? The questions could be nearly endless depending upon the shading one would wish to take with the above definitions.

But is there one system of economics that can cover the full spectrum of meaning, or does it always break down at some point?

Free market leaves itself open to corruption and greed.

Regulated markets can fall into the hands of the "haves" who can control who the regulators are and how they choose to regulate.

Socialism and Communism as economic systems can fall prey to the "haves" or the party elite creating their niche markets and safety zones.

At first glimpse it appears that there may be no justified economic system. There will always be those in power, in control and in the money who can dictate to the rest how things will be. Even if we were to find highly enlightened individuals to make up that cast of "those in power," those who are not in power would become jealous or angry about the power situation and make moves to amend it. It is an eternal struggle of the classes. But certainly we must just not wander aimlessly from one theory to the next. Certainly there must be one that stand above the rest to assure fairness of trade, equality of living standards, checks and balances on business and lending institutions. An informed and educated citizenry will go a long way in making some of those balances, but it may also breed new villains.

Is economic justice and equality a real and meaningful thing or is it a pie in the sky dream?

Friday, January 9, 2009

Death rattles of capitalism, 1929

Isn't capitalism just one big ponzi scheme?
The way a ponzi scheme works is by paying yesterday's debt by tomorrow's earnings. A ponzi scheme promises investors with higher-than-normal returns on investments. It sounds good so people invest. The return is payed by future investors wanting in on the good fortune. It works because there is always a larger flow of cash into the system. It collapses when the flow stops or too many people try to withdraw from the scheme.

Kind of sounds like the basic premise of capitalism. The key word being "capital," as in needing to continually raise more this week to support last week's payments. The capital to be raised may be goods, or money, or workers. But without the increase it self destructs. Why else would 3% growth (inflation) be good? Is less or more bad? Less and it all falls apart, more and it threatens to run away.

In 1929 the premise was questioned and was found lacking. The result: the only thing that keeps a ponzi scheme afloat is to throw more money at it. The New Deal did just that. It shored it up for a while, then a war helped it along. In the aftermath of the Great Depression the real questions about capitalism were not addressed. Business boomed with a lot of hard workers and the world's resources to fund it (more and more capital). A few hiccups were felt and should have been warning signs. But a ponzi scheme this large would take decades to unravel and more capital was raised (Hence the Cold War and the hot wars in the Middle East countries).

But now the world is running out of capital to invest. The last few pounds of earth and flesh are being eaten as we speak. Soon there will be nothing left but revolving debt: 700 billion now (coming from where? DEBT) and another trillion later (again from DEBT). The ponzi scheme will be over and there will be no capital left to throw at it (The Middle East countries and China are the last of the big money men and look how heavily we are invested in their interests. Yet even they are eating through whatever capital they might have at an alarming rate). Finally the premises of capitalism must be questioned.

When the ponzi scheme is over then capitalism dies. So what is next? Hard to tell. It may be possible to prolong the death for a few more years... but in the meantime, we better all learn Chinese.

Daav Corbet

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Happy New Year

Well another year is gone and another has come. But is today any different than yesterday? I suppose it is as good a time as any to make some changes to your life routines. It is a tradition to set some resolutions, but that is one tradition which I don't always participate in. Why? Because I am not any more likely to stick with resolutions because it is the first of the year than if it was the third month of the year. I guess what I am saying is... when you are ready to change your life to reflect that which you want your life to truly look like, then you will make those changes regardless of the calender. So use this first of the year as a catalyst if you must or use your own desire to shape and change your future and life to find fulfillment, whatever it takes. Just reach out for those hopes and dreams and make progress at finding happiness in everyday living.

Daav Corbet