I, Weed.

Unknown and therefore unchecked by public opinion, without any ‘stake in the country’ and therefore reckless . . .

That’s how the English anti-Semitic writer Henry Wickham Steed explained the “unfair advantage over the natural-born Viennese” that enabled the successful Jewish businessman or financier, arrived from Galicia within a generation or two, “to prey upon a public and a political world totally unfit for defence against or competition with him.” This is from The Hare with Amber Eyes, a page-turner of a memoir by a descendant of one of those Jewish banking families, who follows the fortunes of a collection of Japanese netsuke he’s inherited to trace his family’s rise and fall in, seeming assimilation into and convulsive expulsion from, Parisian and Viennese society in the 19th and 20th centuries. (Yes—I’m actually finding the time to read a book!!)

Why do I quote this? Because, having been immersed in ecology and natural history lately, I recognized, with a start, pretty much the exact same language that ecologists use to deplore and traduce invasive, opportunistic species.

Not having coevolved with the rest of an ecosystem, these species have no natural constraints on their growth, such as predators, and no “stake in the country”—no dependence on the evolved, stable balance of the ecosystem. Similarly, the Jews who fled Galician pogroms for the cities of Central and Western Europe in the 19th century didn’t “know their place” because they had no place, and this enabled some to be immensely successful. Like invasive plants they thrived and found new niches in soils disturbed by change, and they accelerated change.  With invasive plants and animals, ecologists—like the “blood and soil” defenders of Europe’s settled, traditional order—try to restore the status quo ante of an ecosystem by programs of exclusion, confinement, and if that doesn’t work, eradication.

Does this analogy make me feel more sympathy for the defenders of tradition? No, as a Jew—an opportunistic weed myself—it makes me feel more sympathy for kudzu.

The analogy is hardly perfect. Invasive plants, marine organisms, goats, rats, or cats can really overrun an ecosystem, outcompeting or just plain eating unique endemic species ill equipped to adapt.  A small minority of Jews can hardly be said to have done the same to Western European civilization—which, if anything, they enthusiastically adopted and arguably revitalized—though it is sobering to realize that that’s exactly how the “blood and soil” nativists saw the financial success and cultural ubiquity of a minority of the minority.

But it should make us question the impulse to try to restore ecosystems or societies to the way they were. Biodiversity is an irreplaceable trove of genetic creativity, but nature itself is quite heartless toward it.  Nature’s one constant is change, even though it goes in pulses that our lives are sometimes too short to perceive, and change is never all good or all bad; it destroys as it creates.  For further examples, we need look no further than the arrival of Europeans in North America . . . or the emergence of an upstart, upright species out of Africa.

Advertisements

Author: amba12

Continuing the conversation that started at AmbivaBlog ...

124 thoughts on “I, Weed.”

  1. Ahhhh, a dandelion- you look vibrant in yellow, too:0).

    Above in reference to a letter to the editor in our local Chronicle about the upstart dandelion that “broke free from the restraints of carefully tended gardens and quickly puffed it’s way to virtually every field, pasture and lawn in North America.” “Unlike many other flowers, it does not require human hands to flourish. It prefers to stand or fall on its own, independent and free.”

    I feel differently about the dandelion that i do the kudzu. Some species enhance and encourage the rest to look better– and some species cover completely the natural beauty surrounding…

    You, my dear friend– and your chosen People– are for the better of us all.

  2. Thank you, Karen. :) Not all invasive species are created equal? But then, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Kudzu produces a substance that is useful in the treatment of alcoholism.

  3. Interesting analogy but I just can’t wrap my mind around a comparison of people and weeds. :-)

  4. It’s the ecological understanding that an organism that coevolved with others in the same ecosystem has kind of a defined and circumscribed role as part of the whole. An organism coming in from the outside, particularly one that has evolved to be adaptable and to take advantage of disturbances that destabilize ecosystems, can be very successful because it has no natural predators and maybe no specific, limited food supply. Its existence does not depend on being a carefully fitted piece of marquetry in a design.

  5. Well, I understand all that BUT, as you know, I do not believe that humans just ‘evolved’ and are no different from other species. From a purely ecological/evolutionary perspective this is certainly plausible. But from a higher vision of a mankind created with a spirit in the image of the Creator, it does not apply.

    The ecological model you present seems very Spencerian to me. Just another ‘survival of the fittest’ paradigm.

    I can imagine Woody Allen pondering aloud the ‘kudzu’ dilemma and trying to explain his Jewish insecurity to Diane Keaton.

    Hey, but what do I know?! ;-)

  6. I’m thinking of all those snakes in the Everglades of FL– holy crap.
    Of course, man in all our wisdom– capture~n~cage all species different/non-indigenous to us… only to get sick of this game and release into the wild. Human nature is detrimental to one’s better well-being, or so i am thinking.

  7. ” from a higher vision of a mankind created with a spirit in the image of the Creator, it does not apply.”

    Why can’t the other animals have a spirit and be in the image of the creator? I never understood that. Do you really think God is a two-legged ape like us? And all the other animals have no spirit?

  8. “An organism coming in from the outside, particularly one that has evolved to be adaptable and to take advantage of disturbances that destabilize ecosystems, can be very successful ”

    I think that is exactly what happened with the Jews, starting in the middle ages. Jews and Christians were all prohibited from charging interest on loans, because of their Old Testament’s laws. Jews could not charge interest on money they loaned to other Jews, just as Christians could not charge interest when they loaned to Christians.

    But since Jews, back then, probably did not consider Christians to be quite human, it was ok to charge them interest. So Jews became the first bankers in Europe, and some of them became enormously successful and powerful.

    Capitalism might never have started if not for this loophole in religious law. And without capitalism, I don’t think we could ever have had democracy or the crazed consumer society we have today.

    I am Jewish, so don’t think I am not trying to blame the Jews for all the world’s craziness. Some other weed species would have done it if not for us.

    But it’s true, we have always been a tiny outsider minority, sort of like the gypsies who nobody trusted.

  9. “Why can’t the other animals have a spirit and be in the image of the creator? I never understood that. Do you really think God is a two-legged ape like us? And all the other animals have no spirit?

    I don’t believe I said animals have no spirits. It is my understanding that our spirit is in God’s image. Two legged? God is a Spirit [John 4:24].

  10. Well I guess we have no way of knowing what image God is in. Maybe there is a god for humans and other gods for animals. There is no reason to think God, who is infinite, can’t take on an infinite number of different images.

    It doesn’t matter to me what human beings have said about God throughout history. Well it matters, but I don’t feel like I have to go along with it. We are just one species on earth, and not a very smart one either.

  11. I’ve lost so many cows over the yrs that i’ll have a tremendous herd by the time(if)i make it to Heaven. And, it occurred to me just rather recently- that God could very well be a composite of all the things(animals)that we have ever -individually- loved.

    I believe that all animals– all things of other matter than human- go back to God. Maybe tree, plants? They die and He takes them home, as they come from Him to begin w/. They are total spirit- IMhumbleO- while we(human beings)are given a soul. I often have wondered if maybe, being made in God’s image- this means that our souls are what makes us so. And, when He created us and breathed ~life~ into us– that this life is our life for forever– the part of us that never dies. The part of Him in us that makes us in His image and goes back to Him.

    If we were all asked to draw a picture of the face of God– these ~faces~would be as unique as we-ourselves, eh? That’s why no one picture is as the others. I also believe(it’s kinda silly)that when we see our Lord, we will know Him because He will be made of all things that we have loved throughout our lives. I may not have my ~herd of cows~ in Heaven, but i will experience them and all my beloved in His face. He’ll turn one way– and eyes of favourite loved animals or the smell of loved places and growing things or experiences will be a bonus. Other than Him being purely Himself– the one God.It is one of the most amazing books to read– about God. He is always who He is, but we can experience him on our level and He can accommodate this by being something/someone we can recognize and feel safe w/.

    I miss Icepick and his linkys for me– maybe someone can find a link to it? I tend to find myself off on a tangent when i search for something & the linky thing is… a pain.

  12. Karen I like what you said about God being a combination of all the things we ever loved. That sounds like a good way to define God. When we try to figure out what God is intellectually, we can’t. But we can just imagine the feelings we have about all the things, animals and people we have ever loved, and that is what God means to each of us.

    I have been thinking a lot lately about the relationship between God and Love, and how they are kind of the same thing. And I was also thinking about how I always searched for the love that God feels for me. But I always forgot that I it goes in both directions — God wants us to love him back.

    It’s like parents and their children — the parents love and protect the children, and the children love and trust the parents. That’s why God is called “Father” in the bible, He really is our parent.

    And one reason atheists don’t like religion, I think, is because trusting God means you have to be innocent and trusting like a child. And of course we want to be all grown up and not need anyone. We want to be proud and independent and go our own way, but that does not work. Not for me anyway.

  13. Real– God IS love– and he who abides in love, abides in God. And, God abides in Him. I know song forms of the Bible so much better than verses, but that is exactly what it says in the Bible.

    I have a friend who came to church w/me- and she was worried that she wasn’t dressed well enough. “What will they say– will they kick me out if i don’t look acceptable?”(i’m thinking– who is they?) She was dressed better than i was, too.

    It doesn’t matter what people think– no one can kick you out of church for what you wear(unless- there are boundaries everywhere, yes?) It matters only what you think God would say– you ask: is this acceptable or good enough for God? It personally makes me want to do more, give more, be more… 1st fruits:0).

  14. ooops– (H)im= him? I’m a French lefty- i may have things a little backward, but- the sentiment is spot on.

  15. Found this this morning:

    St. Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop & Martyr (d. 107)

    “Faith is the beginning and love is the end; and the union of the two together is God.”

  16. The problem (as Amba notes in her comment above) is the lack of predators** in the new environment. Over time, new predators will doubtless arrive or evolve. But that time frame is likely to be rather long, at least compared ot human lifetimes.

    So what we see are ecosystems in a state of rapid change. And we somehow feel that things in nature shouldn’t be changing that quickly. We expect (even if some of us don’t like it) that our own technology, and society, will change over the course of our lifetimes. But nature changing? Apparently much harder to accept.

    ** someone tell me, is “predator” the right word to use for something that feeds off of plants, as well as something that feeds off of animals, and so keeps them in check? It doesn’t feel right, but I’m not coming up with a generic term which fits better.

  17. Let’s talk about the bacteria that live in the human gut. E. Coli [the native form] in our large intestine is a ‘good’ bacterium which keeps ‘bad’ organisms at bay. If we take a powerful antibiotic that kills off the E.Coli, predatory [opportunistic] bacteria [such as C. Difficile] which exist in controlled number can take over, causing serious erosion of the lining of the colon and even death, because of the resulting malabsorption and electrolyte imbalances that result from the ensuing diarrhea.

    Another example of organisms ‘knowing their place’ is the presence of a normal intestinal bacterium, like E.coli, finding its way into the bladder. The mechanisms that control the health of the bladder under ordinary circumstances are at a loss to deal with the interloper and a urinary tract infection will result.

    While change and even transplantation occurs in nature it does not always result in innovation and improvement to the host environment. Is C. Difficile superior because it is so predatory? Is a rat superior because it is so very adaptable? Are the ‘fittest’ always the best suited to prevail?

  18. Depends what you mean by “best suited to prevail.” Sometimes they are very well suited to take food away from native organisms, or to smother them. That makes them “suited” to prevail in a raw competitive way, but it can destroy a delicate, complex balance that’s really a thing of beauty and took a long time to evolve. My point I guess is that nature doesn’t have our esthetic and moral preference for balance. Nor does nature take pleasure in destroying balance. It is capable of producing both — a complex balance of many organisms interacting in a climax ecosystem, and an opportunistic organism supremely equipped to travel, adapt, disrupt, and survive (like genus Homo emerging from Africa, equipped, by God if you will, to colonize the world, upsetting ecological apple carts all across the board; but even without language, culture, spirit, certain plants and animals can also colonize the world). Of course the fittest to multiply aren’t always the nicest or the prettiest, and they also often overdo their success and ultimately self-destruct. . . . Ecologists think restoring a unique ecosystem (by exterminating all the rats on an island, for instance) is a good thing to do. Horrifyingly, that’s very much the same way the Nazis saw exterminating the Jews. And if we are always in favor of preserving or restoring the status quo, we’d have to deplore the arising of our own species and be in favor of its extinction (some “deep ecologists” have probably gone that far). We have every right to prefer endemic Hawaiian birds to rats, we should just be aware that that’s our preference.

  19. Just because it may be right with rats under certain conditions doesn’t make it right with Jews. Jews are not rats–they are human beings created in God’s [spiritual image]. His chosen people, in fact.

    But, see, the basic difference in our perspectives is that of viewing homo sapiens as just another species. If that is the case, then it’s ‘dog eat dog’ and we are not accountable to anyone or anything.

    Man is given the task of stewardship of the earth and the life that dwells upon it I think we shall be judged in part by how this is done. We have been given a sense of aesthetics for good reason. I think we instinctively know that nature is perfect and that meddling with it will lead to problems down the road.

  20. “Jews are not rats–they are human beings created in God’s [spiritual image]. His chosen people, in fact.”

    Wasn’t it the Jews who decided they’re the chosen people?

  21. “Man is given the task of stewardship of the earth and the life that dwells upon it”

    I think the other animals might not agree with that statement. Unfortunately, we are not intelligent enough to understand their languages, or we could ask them.

  22. That’s according to Genesis, real. We have dominion over all the created down here on Earth– given to us(ok- Adam)after we were created. Stewardship is akin to dominion. Vica versy.

    Of course no animal would agree- they are individuals and think differently than we do. W/them, dog eat dog is fine dining(oooh, man– an Obama joke here would be so funny:0))!

    I don’t think Jewish folk came in and took over– i think there was a niche market available and being adaptable as all get out, they made the very best of it. That’s cool.

  23. I agree, Karen! And, since God dispersed them [or, at least permitted the Diaspora], He provided the nice market for them. :-)

  24. Karen, I know that’s according to Genesis. But Genesis was written by humans, so of course they declared themselves the greatest thing on earth. And the Jews said they were chosen by one particular god, and very possibly they were. That doesn’t mean the Jews are the greatest thing on earth.

    Since I am Jewish I wouldn’t mind being one of the chosen people, but I know it’s just human nature to want to feel superior to everyone else and everything else. The ancient people who wrote the bible were very similar to us, always wanting to feel special and better than.

    If the books written by other people around that time had survived the way the Jewish bible did, I’m sure we would see that every culture thought it was the one chosen by the best and most powerful god.

  25. LOL, MockT.

    It may have been written by humans– not monkeys, but it is the inspired word of God. We(i)were/was taught that it is the Holy Spirit that wrote the Bible through men(not women, so why do i think,a s a woman- it’s the greatest thing before sliced bread?- and i’m Catholic, not Jewish- so why am i so gung ho over the chosen people?

    Faith.

  26. “so why am i so gung ho over the chosen people?”

    Because from them came our Lord! :-)

  27. “Maybe I’m just an opportunistic bacterium in the colon of life.”

    mockturtle — I did not know you were a politician!

  28. “i’m Catholic, not Jewish- so why am i so gung ho over the chosen people?”

    I don’t know, because you’re supposed to think we’re all going to hell since we don’t believe Jesus is God.

  29. “We(i)were/was taught that it is the Holy Spirit that wrote the Bible through men”

    You were taught that by human beings. Our species cannot possibly know many of the things we often pretend to know. Our understanding is limited, our pride is unlimited. We worship ourselves, and I think that is too bad.

  30. So you agree with the Apostle Paul who said: “[they] changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever.” Romans 1:25.

  31. “So you agree with the Apostle Paul who said: “[they] changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever.” Romans 1:25.”

    Well I guess I might agree with that statement, although it is out of context and I don’t know who “they” are since I did memorize the entire bible. But that does not mean I agree with the Apostle Paul about everything else he ever said.

    Human beings, in general, tend to worship the creature (ourselves) more than the creator. This was not always true, I don’t think.

    I think Jesus had some great teachings (and also some that were incomprehensible). I think he was trying to show people something very profound.

    But I do not think he ever expected to be worshiped as a God.

    Similarly for the Buddha. Trying to show people how to look infinitely beyond humanity, and then he winds up being worshiped.

  32. This post was kindly nominated for a monthly or bimonthly blog roundup, and a number of blogs repost those nominations; each links to all the nominees. Those links show up in the comments as “pingbacks.”

  33. No, of course not. (LOL) The word spreads about these nominations through a wide circle of blogs; there will be voting, if I understand rightly, and some other, more contemporary-political posts(s) will receive the highest ranking; and then it will be over. I don’t have to approve those “pingbacks,” but why not? We might make some new friends.

  34. Well, it certainly was an interesting post and you deserve the recognition. Maybe not all the ensuing debates, though.. ;-)

  35. Real– do you know what i mean by ~gung ho~? ‘Cause- it doesn’t sound like you do!

    ~sigh~

    We tend to lose a tad of the point w/out expression of face or hands– i talk mostly w/my hands:0).

    I don’t know who will go to hell or who will make the final cuts for the upper crusted clouds- it’s not my place. I pray we all get there(even those who have hurt me irreparably(holy cow, no screaming, red squiggly- it’sawordit’s a word!), and as for the specific criteria- which i had spelled as criterium, but did get shot down for bad spelling by this all-knowing computer- i leave that in the category of…

    “I think Jesus had some great teachings (and also some that were incomprehensible). I think he was trying to show people something very profound.”

    Incomprehensibility- i’m cool w/that.

    ~ping- you’re it~!

  36. (H… howling w/laughter @her own stooopidity…)

    5th place w/ a vote of 2/3-

    OooooOoohhh-Hhhh!

  37. [Ron, back in the City from seeing his Saville Row tailor, strode back in the comment thread in his bespoke suit, wanting to kill some time before hooking up with that crazy actress for dinner uptown, (60’s? 70’s He forgot; the driver would know) when, mouth agape, he stood stunned at Ozymenedian complexity of what had been wrought, and decided it was way too much to take in without a drink or two. He ducked back out, and remembered that place on 21st with the martinis with gigantic olives and decided that was his safer course….]

  38. “Real– do you know what i mean by ~gung ho~? ‘Cause- it doesn’t sound like you do!”

    I just looked it up on wikipedia to make sure I know what it means, and it’s what I thought — “enthusiastic.” So that’s what I thought you meant, that you like the chosen people or feel enthusiastic about them.

    And the reason you like them probably is that Jesus born Jewish and he always followed that religion. He was never a Christian, since Christianity didn’t exist during his life.

    I think Jesus was misinterpreted and I don’t think he ever wanted to be worshiped as a god or a son of god. That was pagan stuff that was thrown in later.

    The Jews were very strict about worshiping only one god, Yahweh, who was not a person. Most of the Old Testament prophets spent all their time raving about this.

    People seem to have a natural tendency to worship multiple gods, so the Old Testament prophets were always going nuts about that.

    And Catholicism really does illustrate this natural tendency, as lots of people have noticed. Instead of a collection of human-like gods you have a collection of saints.

    And that is one reason I like the Catholic religion, because I think it makes sense to have plenty of gods. Judaism always had problems with the idea of one god.

    The ancient Jews practically invented intolerance, because they could not incorporate other religions.

    To me, the idea that God can only be ONE is really silly. As if God could be restricted by our human concept of numbers.

    Well anyway, Jesus was Jewish, but Jews do not consider him a god or a savior. Christians believe the only way to be saved is through Jesus.

    I think they are wrong — I think the way to be saved is through what Jesus was teaching, not by worshiping him as god.

  39. Jesus did say, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No man cometh unto the Father but by me.” John 14:6.

  40. AND his teaching, while important, was secondary to his sacrifice. As our ‘lamb without blemish’, His blood was shed for our sin–once and for all. The Passover was a ‘type’, or foreshadow of the crucifixion. This is what Christians believe. You are free not to believe, of course. :-)

  41. If you think the saints are a holy collection– wait til you hear how we feel about guardian angels:0).

    Yet- we have only ONE God– Trinitarian, yes– but, One.

  42. It is my understanding that ‘saints’ are just sinners saved by grace but I think your church sees it differently. [Differences of opinion don’t bother me at all ;-)].

    And remember that 1/3 of the angels are evil rebels who were cast out of heaven. :-)

  43. Amba will have to start a new topic to put an end to this shameless hijack to theological discourse. ;-)

  44. I never thought of the dark angels, mockturtle.
    I call them demons- …

    “… cast into hell- satan- and all the other evil demons who prowl throughout the world, seeking the ruin of souls.”

    A-hem… i mean, amen:0)!

    Maybe we can talk politics next???

    Wayway O/T– about the Treyvon Martin murder— and ~the talk~ given to black boys of a certain age– what if- the talk wasn’t given anymore? What if the tradition of what is considered helpful and sane advice is now obsolete due to– our equality?

    Do you think President Obama was given ~the talk~? Raised as he was by his white grands?

  45. “Yet- we have only ONE God– Trinitarian, yes– but, One.”

    Karen, how is ONE God different from 537 gods, or a million gods or an infinite number of gods? If God is infinite, he can’t be counted, and ONE is the same as 3 or a zillion.

    Humans try to measure infinite things with a finite yardstick (some famous person said that, forget who, but it is so true).

  46. “AND his teaching, while important, was secondary to his sacrifice.”

    Mockturtle, I do realize that someone wrote that stuff down thousands of years ago. Does that make it “true?” Well not for me. What someone said or wrote is just their opinion, or what they are trying to sell for whatever reasons.

    St. Paul was promoting a new religion and trying to get followers. Maybe he truly believed everything he said, but that still doesn’t make it all true.

    Blood sacrifice rituals have been found in many ancient and primitive cultures. The Jewish bible goes into great detail about the different kinds of sacrifice. I don’t think anyone understands why sacrifice, especially involving blood, has been so important in worshiping gods.

    I think it somehow ties in with the theory behind homeopathy and the memory of water, and how thoughts, information, can be stored in liquids. But who knows. Jesus as sacrificial victim makes sense, especially since most of us don’t perform any sacrifices.

    But I don’t think Jesus ever said or thought he was going to be the big sacrificial victim for the whole world.

    Jesus also didn’t go around claiming to be half human and half god. He called god Father, but so did everyone else.

    I just really wish people could see how limited our knowledge and understanding of these things really is. Just because someone said something or wrote something, however long ago, that doesn’t mean it’s true.

    Insisting on all these specifics generates more hatred than love, it really does. I think it distracts from the direct and genuine religious experience.

    I think the central message that Jesus taught was that human beings need to be saved. I happen to believe that, so in a way I think of myself as Christian. But the same message can be found in other religions and philosophies.

    Why are there so many Christians in the world anyway? Because it’s the best or only true religion? I think it’s because a Roman emperor happened to convert to Christianity because he thought it would help him win wars, and then Rome conquered all of Europe and forced everyone to give up their local (pagan) religion and become Christian.

    Otherwise, we might never have heard of it.

  47. “I just really wish people could see how limited our knowledge and understanding of these things really is. Just because someone said something or wrote something, however long ago, that doesn’t mean it’s true.”

    Faith, real. Faith.

    Saved from what? Saved FOR what?

    In my religion– it’s kinda all or nothing– @ least that is how i believe and i believe i am old fashioned- raditional. Uh- Traditional, i mean.

    What’s weird is that– when we discuss things here– something like the bible, who wrote it, how much truth is in it– is optional/questionable to you– and then when you promote something scientific- w/studies done by fallible human beings– it’s truth.

    Which is all ok by me, honestly. It’s just an observation i’m making…

  48. We shall continue to agree to disagree, PC. In this country you are free [at least, at present] to worship whatever or whomever you please. Or, like my mother, a devout atheist, nothing at all! Ain’t freedom grand? :-)

  49. “and then when you promote something scientific- w/studies done by fallible human beings– it’s truth.”

    That never happened Karen. I have never said something was definitely true because scientists claimed it. I have done the opposite many times.

    And I have plenty of faith, just not in those little unimportant things that are based entirely on what some guy said or wrote.

    There are things we can be pretty certain about, that have been demonstrated scientifically and it would be silly to doubt. But I do not believe things just because it’s the scientific fashion of the moment. Just the opposite.

    If you ever read any of my posts or comments here you would know that I am just as skeptical of scientific authorities as of religious authorities. Just quote me some “truth” spoken by some authority or expert and I will wonder if maybe it is not true.

  50. “Faith, real. Faith.”

    I have faith Karen, in God, not in someone who wrote something centuries ago. My faith is not in popes or preachers or scholars. I can read or hear what they said and think about it, but there is absolutely no reason to believe everything people say. That is not what I consider faith. Faith is recognizing that God and the spiritual worlds are beyond human understanding, and still believing that we are loved and taken care of.

    A child doesn’t think it’s as smart as its parents. When have you heard a child try to explain everything about its parents? They don’t, and they know they can’t.

    Why should we think we can explain God?

  51. Why should we think we can explain God?

    We can’t. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts [Isa. 55-9] But God has revealed himself in nature, in His Son and His Word that part of Himself that He would have us know. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us [John 1:14].

  52. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts [Isa. 55-9] But God has revealed himself in nature, in His Son and His Word that part of Himself that He would have us know. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us [John 1:14].”

    That passage is self-contradicting. First he says we can’t understand God, and then he claims to know that Jesus actually was God, or a part of God, whatever that means. We are all part of God anyway.

    You can take all kinds of statements out of any part of the bible and it can seem to mean all kinds of things. But the only thing we really need to know is that we do not know.

  53. Hard to believe but it’s the Holy Spirit who teaches us and the revelation is not of our own doing. [I thought it was all a lot of rubbish until in my late thirties!]

  54. “Hard to believe but it’s the Holy Spirit who teaches us and the revelation is not of our own doing. [I thought it was all a lot of rubbish until in my late thirties!]”

    I agree with you about that. The Holy Spirit, or whatever anyone wants to call it, is what we can experience in our own lives. We can be guided by what people say of course, but remember that people are not infallible. Even people who are considered great sources of wisdom are just human. We have to learn how to recognize what comes from God versus elsewhere. It’s very hard.

    I think we have a lot more than 5 senses. We also have senses for “hearing” messages from God. But we can ignore these senses if we are overly focused on the world.

    We also get messages from God in everything that happens in our lives. When lots of things are going wrong it can be a message that our thinking is somehow wrong, for example.

    I believe that everything is meaningful and meaning is everything. There is nothing that happens, however small, that does not contain messages. We have to learn awareness, and that often means learning to ignore a lot of what comes from the society we live in. Our society is pretty depraved, I think.

  55. raditional [ruh-dish-uh-nl]  

    adjective
    1. of or pertaining to radition.
    2. handed down by radition.
    3. in accordance with radition.
    4. of, pertaining to, or characteristic of old styles of old radicals.

  56. “God has revealed himself in nature” — John

    The Puritans took this verse quite literally.
    ~~~~

    “We also get messages from God in everything that happens in our lives. When lots of things are going wrong it can be a message that our thinking is somehow wrong, for example.

    I believe that everything is meaningful and meaning is everything. There is nothing that happens, however small, that does not contain messages. We have to learn awareness, and that often means learning to ignore a lot of what comes from the society we live in. Our society is pretty depraved, I think.” — realpc

    That’s a succinct description of (some aspects of) Puritanism. Noting that, btw, is not an insult.

  57. “Faith is recognizing that God and the spiritual worlds are beyond human understanding, and still believing that we are loved and taken care of.”

    Isn’t that what i said? I could have sworn that’s what i said!!

    That–Faith– is what helps me to be ok w/not getting the entire picture of my re-lig-on at this time in my life. I have to grow it and i have to believe that it is the inspired word of God = a gift.

  58. I have read your posts and comments, real. Did you not see(hear)me there?

    Maybe the info you were citing didn’t come from scientists- the research or the readings you used to get to your conclusions were not scientific? Maybe the conclusions were all yours and you cite it as factual.

    Exactly as i said.

  59. You are right, Karen. Faith is a gift from God. While we can choose to exercise it [or not] we do not create our own faith. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. Ephesians 2:8,9.

  60. karen, yes we all have some faith in what other people say, but this is a matter of degree. If a scientist did some research and I think it makes sense and agrees with other things I know, then I might feel I can trust what that scientist said. But I would change my opinion if I heard about other evidence that contradicted that scientist, if it made more sense to me.

    The kind of faith that says everything that was written in certain ancient books we call the bible, or every statement made by every pope, is a very different kind of faith.

    Having faith in God because the idea of God makes sense to us and because we feel we experience God in our lives is very different from believing in God just because some authority told us we should.

    Believing that Christianity is the only true religion because someone told you that is not the kind of faith I am talking about. Believing that anyone who does not think Jesus is God will go to hell is not spiritual faith. That is faith in human authorities.

  61. Warning: In case you don’t remember George Carlin, there will be ‘F’ words but it’s very funny with a lot of truth, too.

  62. I LOVE George Carlin, and I can take it. :) Just have to find time to watch. (I have a hunch I may have heard this before, but will be happy to revisit it.)

  63. Fwords… what Fwords??

    I LoVe it, mT.

    So- i just did something i’ve never done b4 in my life.
    I poured myself a drink just for theFword of it:0). Never have i done that, so i’m in2 a little self analysis about it(alcoholics swing free in my family tree!)

    We had a calf get out today(stay w/me there iS a correlation here).
    She’s out of Radish– i named her Radical(see it now?).
    She was a free Radical for all of 40 minutes:0)- it’s a good thing i think i’m funny, life would be so boring.

    Real- i knoq i’m auppoaed(kickin’ in already!)… ahem…

    i know i’m supposed to think(believe) my Faith is the one and only Way– it says so in the NTestament. Purely heterical of me(sp ck says heRETical-okok then)yet, i believe that our Lord has infinite Mercy on dolts like me that believe that only He can know the good in all He created- who AM(HITS THE CAPS KEY)i to think i know who is saved, who is not.

    There’s one for you, real. InfiniteMercy.

    I hate to admit how much i love this feeling- just a weight off my shoulders to set this burden down while soaking something(fairly crappy)up. I should just get a massage.

    Crown&Ginger, btw. I know our Ron will dispute, but i dare say= more satisfying that Fred.

  64. I’d love the thought of creating a blog only for the %impaired- i think i’d call it…

    ShitFaced. In case no one thinks that’s that funny, i do-lol.

  65. ” i believe that our Lord has infinite Mercy on dolts like me that believe that only He can know the good in all He created”

    It is human nature to always think My way is the best, my tribe is the best, my tribe’s religion is the best. Maybe it’s just because we are weak and scared (or should be scared if we are not).

    It would be nice if we could try to separate our scared little human nature from the part of us that is divine and connected to God. Instead of mixing them together.

    God is infinite and His love is infinite. He could save each of us in a different way.

  66. OmGoodness!!!
    “i drink because that’s what womb(men)do!”

    i could do– w/out the hurlishness- yuck.
    Again- real-Pc… all my shadow to be cast upon myself– because the LORD has infinite mercy… just because i believe this doesn’t mean it’s all about me.

    Trust me– i am not that kind of person.

  67. The trouble with drinking is that just when you start to feel really good, you start to feel really bad.

  68. “the LORD has infinite mercy… just because i believe this doesn’t mean it’s all about me.”

    Our terminology is different so I think our messages are not getting though. To me the LORD is not a specific human-like person. I agree the LORD has infinite mercy (for those who ask for it, not everyone does). I don’t agree the LORD has some specific human-defined identity.

    Sometimes, very often, we simply do not know. We can know our own personal experience of God. There is no reason for saying another person’s experience is not valid because it is from a different culture or a different teaching.

  69. TehKng:

    “WwwwWw-what?”

    ps- had to google Don Draper– got him a tad con-fUs-ed w/Don Johnson= not!

  70. Yet- i believe in certain Absolute truths, real. I recite them in our Nicene Creed,,,God became man(flesh and dwelt mong us”. John(i miss John.)

    Please don’t ask me for an example. though- ’cause- my heAD(who put the Fword caps lock key where it is, i ask?)is starting to get tired and i’ve decided not to finish the 2nddrink– i mix ’em like i cook- eyeball everything@!)Ignore the @.

    ~sigh~ being drunk is just as hard as facing reality. nOT THAT MY REALITY IS SO BAD- IT’S JUST REALLY TIRING, AS WE ALL PROBABLY UNIVERSALLY AGREE(fword)…

    h2omelon SLICES IN cROWN IS A THUMBS UP. sPEAKING OF THUMBS, HAS ANYONE ELSE SEEN THE rINGER…maybe because i’m left-handed, all the caps? When i heard what this movie was about, i was all self-righteous, indignant- then i watched it.

    I did love it. I love the phrases(lines)in it. I love the shifting paradigms.
    I love the jokes.

  71. #100 =

    Word.

    Excepting, i killed my buzz by eating two pumpkin muffins which were only soso in terms o texture/sweetness, but lotsa VitA:0).

  72. Karen, I thought of you last week and again tonight upon hearing of your freed Radical. I’m on a strange journey myself, leaving the pen and leaving behind a strict Calvinist upbringing and 50 plus years of one kind of belief system and faith for a different, more expansive version. Last week, I’d had finished a meeting with an unusual person who’d described “energy point” as a place where the soul first joins the physical body; and the picture that had come to mind upon hearing about that was of something encapsulated, in a shell or seed-casing, that broke open to reveal big pink petaled flower, fluffy looking and lovely, bounteous, full of potential, present and real. The accompanying motion was one of spilling out, a blossomy release of poetry, fragrance and visual delight. Followed by these words…begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father from whom all things are made. And there I sat, wondering if those words from the Nicene Creed, used to describe the Christ, might fit human souls as well??

    Yesterday, pictures of pink peonies at Althouse brought a smile and a “YES” as they confirmed the flower I’d imagined earlier when I’d written: My heart cannot hold or contain this loveliness, it spills forth. It IS. To box it would be destructive. I need to water, nourish, enjoy and allow it to be the flower if IS.. And I’d wondered, Is this what needs to happen to my faith, to the Light and Christ within?

    What separates humans from weeds? Could it be the ability to love, to listen deeply, to encourage and ignite “another’s soul into a condition of disclosure and discovery”?

    Tonight your spirited ramblings outside the pasture and mention of the Nicene creed helped affirm shifting paradigms. Encouragement through and beyond imagination!

  73. Karen, I think you are hilarious! Free radical…… my kind of joke.

    My daughter is moving so I’ll no longer have a grandchild within reach — defined as less than 1/2 a day’s drive away. It was a good two years! To celebrate her hubby’s graduation and dwindle the stock of items the movers won’t move, there was a party. I won’t want a drink for another couple of months… unless someone offers me one :-)

  74. Wow, Louise . . . in a barren place myself, I needed to hear that. “Disclosure and discovery” may be a ways off, but there! A little light defining the horizon.

  75. Donna, that must have been a bittersweet party. Not the time for you to suffer another loss, even if only geographic. :(

  76. :0)-
    I’m up and well- have been up since early- 5ish.

    1/2 a day’s drive away is pretty far, to me. Are you hung over?? I think it was a subliminal thing w/me- in steps- to let down my hair & free the Radical w/in(i’d started w/a Bud Premium which no one else cares for).

    I went shopping for groceries yesterday- very taxing because i can never find what i need. All those loud colours blare out from the shelves and blend in w/each other. So much choice. i could physically work for hrs- but, take me shopping and i’m tired w/a headache b4 i even leave the car.

    In the checkout line a woman i know(older, Mom of a school friend)was raving about those drinks- dacqaris(sp)- that you freeze and then drink… it sounded so good.

    LouiseM- you have so much poetry& love- i get tears, sometimes, reading you. The promptings of the Holy Spirit… Conversations from outside to the very core of our being. Amazing.

    Be not afraid.

    Amba– word.

  77. Karen, I’m with you on the shopping. NOTHING is more tiring! I’ve always hated it.

  78. PS: A Russian friend’s mother visited him in Seattle from Kiev and he took her to a supermarket. He told me she had to go to bed for two days as a result. The overabundance, over-stimulation, the too ‘much of a muchness’ of the whole experience just about did her in.

  79. That is exactly how i feel, although i’m much better than i was even 5yrs ago. It’s just that i procrastinate, which makes it harder to do.

    I went to Price Chopper, they have really nice fruit- but, i usually go to the littler grocery- it was once a locally owned place- where i know the checkout lady and the baker(went to school w/her)- and things are where i can find them.

    I can totally understand the Mother from Kiev- just visiting Seattle would send me to bed!!

  80. Annie, my daughter and son-in-law had two choices where to be the past two years — 4 hours away from me or 2 days away. They kid me that they chose the DFW area because of the great football games they could go to. My daughter is a TCU grad and they did buy season tickets and they both put the ‘fanatic’ in ‘fan’ but I also know that being close to family (me, her brother, her grandfather, 1 day closer to her sister) had a lot to do with the decision.

    It’s not often the Army allows such a choice and not often that a soldier is guaranteed two years deployment and TDY free. Not exactly ‘free’ since he is obligated for (I don’t know how many) years in return.

    I think it is my somewhat late in life experience of the military that colors many of my opinions. Though many males in my family had served in every war since before the Revolution, none had a military career.

    Had I not met and married my 2nd husband (a Marine who decided on the USAF for his ‘civilian’ career) and moved to a city where the high schools all had JROTC programs… where this daughter thought that program was a great way to not have to take PE classes… so much serendipity.

    All my children and step-children are either military or married into military families except my son… whose head injury and physical limitations prevented him from serving (which only added to his sense of failure). Among these are two female officers and a West Point grad.

    So… I find my prominent pragmatic side further reinforced.

    I do not think I am a spiritual person, yet I find the discussions of spirituality here very appealing… and appalling.

    My quest is for balance.

  81. yes.

    But I fear finding a balance, because… then what do I do? Though the pendulum swings uncomfortably far to both sides, if it should stop or even pause midway…

    Do I want my quest to end?

  82. “The issue is now clear. It is between light and darkness and everyone must choose a side.” last words of GK Chesterton

    I got that off Anchoress yrs ago and found it so compelling that i copied, printed and taped it to my cabinet door. My 20yr old daughter is studying psychology/nursing and considering the direction this country is moving- vastly secular(IMhumbleO)- i thought she might like to know that she has choices inside of choices to make(i say, making no sense). Balancing career and religion to gain inner-peace in today’s society is no easy feat- a job in itself. As religion plays less and less of a factor in today’s societal equation– i feel so sad.

    I’m pretty disheartened by our society– who knew Barney and Elmo(fwording fuzzy little wimps!) would not be strong enough to encourage youth to continue being polite and nice to e/other as they grew(saw a bullying segment on CBS morning news). How could all of these ~great role models~ fail our kids so badly(yet- how much stock can you put in a large purple dinosaur, anyway? How serious is that?) The growth thing never happened. Kids leave pre-K, they leave elementary school and all that baby stuff behind and what do we have now?

    Donna, balance is a hard thing to maintain, too. As a kid, i used to balance on the teeter totter, so much fun but really kinda hard. Easier yo do w/a best friend:0). Balance like that probably always is.

    We always have choices- even when we choose to sit on our hands or continue the journey. The journey never ends– it’s the direction one goes in that brings the journey meaning.

    The quest won’t stop, Donna– but, it can grow into something more than just wandering int he desert-(heh-i’m one to talk). I have my Faith quest mapped out pretty well, now how about the rest of my life!!!

    All in my humble opinion, of course:0).

  83. Oh- and Donna… please thank you family for me– for all that they do in their line of work. W/out them, we’d all be in so much the worse kinda shape.

    I love your husband’s civilian job, btw. Made me LOL.

  84. Do I want my quest to end?

    Donna, I have a board game that involves Quests…you decide how many quests you want to determine how long you want to play.

    But, in the game, when you don’t quite finish what a quest needs the game tells you “Quest Extended!” Over the years, we have made quite a bit of fun with that phrase….when we can’t quite finish something, we’ll say that!

    So, Quest Extended may be your new life meme….

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s