Saturday, August 6, 2016

A GRANDFATHER'S SECRET LIFE

When our son was small, we lived in an apartment complex in Los Angles with a pool. Everyone who had kids and grandkids got to know each other as we sunned ourselves, swam and kept a close eye on the little tadpoles. Often, we got to chatting. That was how my husband and I heard a very remarkable wartime story of the kind of great and unnoticed heroism that characterized the men who fought WWII.

We were chatting with a grandfather proudly keeping an eye on his two grandchildren. He was an older man who we'd spoken to briefly to many times before, but, on that day, my husband, who was raised on WWII stories, happened to ask if this gentleman had been involved in the war. Oh, yes, he replied. Really, where were you stationed?

Well, he was on a PT boat. He described how very small and fragile those early PT boats were, but how fast and maneuverable that made them. It was a small crew that served with him on his boat. And, completely surprising my husband, who'd read so much about WWII, this unprepossessing grandfather, sunning himself in Sherman Oaks, had been part of the D Day invasion force. Very few people know, he told us, that PT boats braved the channel the night before the invasion to reconnoiter the coast, but he was there and witnessed the dawn of June 6 when the huge attack force came across to the beaches at Normandy.

Yes, he said, it was very funny when he joined up and got assigned to the small PT boat. I believe it was a crew of only six, and, he added, I was the only Jew. In fact, most of the guys were Southerners and had never met a Jew before. But we got along great, he added.

Looking at those lovely grandkids of his, I expressed how glad we were that he'd lived through D Day to come home.

But, turned out that was hardly the end of his story. After the D day invasion, he'd been assigned to the war in the Pacific, where the Marines and Navy were retaking all the Japanese occupied islands one at a time. He got a far away look in his eyes, before he went on. We thought we were goners, he said. The casualties for retaking each island were huge. He didn't expect to live many more months. None of them did. Then, he said, it was the most amazing thing. This rumor went around about a miracle bomb that was going to end the war. No one could believe it at first. We were so used to thinking we had to take each island at the cost of thousands of lives, that it just seemed like another one of those crazy hopeful rumors that couldn't be believed. But it was true. And that was the A-Bomb. I wouldn't be here today if not for that.

Well, he was just one man of many brave and very young men in the Pacific fighting a war that looked endless. And he was on a mission that had extremely high casualties, so he knew it would take a miracle for him to ever see home again. But, he got his miracle. For him and all those men, the A Bomb saved their lives. And he looked to have lived a very good life after that. His grandkids had a lot to be proud of in their old granddad, and I'll bet when they asked, "What did you do in the war, granddad, they got a story that they would never forget. I never have.

August 6 is VJ day. I thought it was a good thing to remember one man's story.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

The Bible a New Perspective



In coming to terms with my psychic experiences, there was no ignoring the bible, a book filled with stories of scientifically impossible things which modern people were always trying to explain away as some perfectly natural phenomenon. I used to be a big fan of this type of thing. The Red Sea parted due to the gigantic volcanic explosion that blew the Greek island of Thera almost off the map. The seven plagues of Egypt were biological events having to do with the flooding of the Nile and parasites. That kind of thing fascinated me.

It was time to give the bible the once over with an open mind about psychic phenomenon. I started with the bible because I was most familiar with it, as opposed to any other religious document. The truth is I was only passingly familiar with the bible.

The New Testament turned out to be the best place to start my quest to reevaluate the bible in light of my new science of the psychic world. So much of the Old Testament is very ancient and each book has such a complex history, that it would be a life time of work to try to tease an understanding of the psychic threads from the old prophets. 

How funny and distressing it was to read about the Jesus Seminar, which was a group of religious leaders who, like me, didn't believe in the supernatural. Well, I was not alone in my skepticism. But I had seen the mystery in everyday life that psychics had access to, and all my former assumptions about what was true in the bible were open to modification.

The question I wanted to settle for myself was how reliable were the gospel's testimonies about Christ's miracles and his rising from the dead. Was the reality of a supernatural God actually empirically believable in a modern scientific world? 

This in itself is a gigantic undertaking, but I did my best to satisfy my intellect. My first question was where did the bible come from. Sounds easy, but it's a long, complicated story. Suffice to say that thousands of brilliant scholars of ancient Greek, Hebrew and Latin have spent their lives studying fragments of ancient biblical texts, papyri, and many other sources to obtain the most accurate reading of the New Testament Gospels. 

There are disputes about many of the details, but for my purposes, I was able to assure myself that the texts we have are close enough to the original texts to be trusted. Surprisingly, or perhaps not so surprisingly, there are lots of reliable, first person sources and records for the gospels from very shortly after Christ was crucified.  

I read so many books and often got only one small insight out of the whole book. The best overall book I read was 'Who Is Jesus' by Darrell L. Bock. 'Can We Trust the New Testament' by John A. T. Robinson is also pretty good.

The picture I constructed from all this various research was of a Mediterranean world that was far more sophisticated and advanced than I'd imagined. At the same time, in those ancient days, they were more inclined to believe in supernatural causes for things than we are today. Things like thunderstorms and droughts were believed to be acts of God, as indeed, we still often refer to them today. Soothsayers and prophets and the idea that some people can perform miracles was more easily accepted back then, than it would be today.

I had to believe that if there were third grade teacher looking people today who could hunt out murderers from unseen Polaroids, as I had seen on the TV show SENSING MURDER, there were similar people in the time of Jesus, doing the same sort of things and subject to far less skepticism than they would be today.

Jesus, then, must have been someone quite a magnitude above this type of 'seeing,' or the things he did wouldn't have seemed so remarkable to his contemporaries. It appeared to be very likely that he was something much more than a knowledgeable rabbi who told subtle and profound parables.

As I read the letters of Paul, I was very impressed by his intelligence. He was a highly educated, sophisticated Jew from a cosmopolitan city, who was also a Roman citizen. In the end, it was those letters, written so soon after the Crucifixion, that persuaded me that something very unusual had indeed happened. Clearly, Paul was a man of substance in his community and a deep thinker, and he was satisfied by the testimonies he heard from the disciples, and by his vision on the road to Damascus, that Christ was the son of God and had come back from the dead. I am not enough of a scholar to understand exactly what was meant in those times by the phrase 'son of God.' But it seems to me, at the very least, to imply a very close relationship with the very greatest of powers of the universe, otherwise referred to as God.

Now that I had accepted that the world according to science was a very incomplete world model, I gave a lot more credence to the New Testament claims of miracles, like bringing Lazarus back from the dead, the angels at the tomb, and Christ risen from the grave. The New Testament could be looked at as partly a simple reporting of the significant events of the life of Jesus, and his attempt to make clear the spiritual meaning of his miracle acts.

Once you accept that the rules of science are somehow embedded in a larger supernatural construct, the New Testament becomes a really interesting document of ordinary men and women, who witnessed probably the most extraordinary event in mankind's history, relating what they saw and thought about it. The story of what they saw is so amazing, that it is not surprising that over two thousand years later, people are still enthralled by it.

To say that this was a life changing event would be a huge understatement. However, I did not shed my clothes and run around the streets shouting Eureka! But, subtly, every day, I thought in new ways about everything and everyone, wondering what I really believed was going on in this life. 












Sunday, July 3, 2016

SELF EVIDENT TRUTH AND THE HOT DOG



I love the Fourth of July because I love hot dogs on the grill and REALLY LOUD fireworks.

I'm glad we're independent. I'm proud to be an American. If we Americans did nothing else, we tried to build a country where the most important self evident truths are that all men are created equal and have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

For me, hot dogs are happiness. HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY




Wednesday, June 29, 2016

BREXIT AND PROFESSOR GOOCH

Classic Bell Curve


There are teachers who teach us so much more than just the subject of their specialty. Professor Gooch was such a professor. She taught Econ 101 at Barnard College way back when Christ was a corporeal and I was a freshman. A large woman in every way, tall, broad, with a mind that encompassed centuries of economics, history, philosophy and even fashion.

I remember the first day of class when she announced that though she would assign reading in our economics textbook and she hoped we'd read it, but she would teach the principles of economics with class discussions.

Each class covered a certain economic topic like market forces, price, cost, and all the other basic concepts we had to master. But each discussion began informally when she would ask a student to talk about what she'd done yesterday. One discussion I particularly remember was a girl who'd bought mascara the day before. Now Professor Gooch eschewed mascara and all that went with it, but nevertheless it was a topic that interested her greatly. How did the young student decide which mascara to purchase? Magazine ad. Advertising costs and returns on that investment. Advertising industry. Where did she buy the mascara? At a discount drug store. Discounts and how and why businesses can achieve them. Where was the mascara manufactured? It was enthralling to think about all these things.

Well, her classes fairly flew by. We young students were preparing to run the world merely by purchasing mascara. The excitement in Gooch's classes was palpable. No one ever missed her class.

And now we come to Brexit. Clearly the EU bureaucrats never sat in Professor Gooch's classroom or the reason for Brexit would be obvious to them. Economies of scale. This is the principle which shows that you can often achieve great benefits by growing a company larger, benefits mainly like lower cost and more efficiency. However, the economies of scale typical simple graph is a bell curve, which indicates that up to a certain level, yes, bigger is better, but beyond that point, bigger is worse. Past the top of the bell curve, cost goes up and efficiency goes down. It's called the Law of Diminishing Returns.

What the EU and the Globalists haven't noticed is that they've gone way over the top of the bell curve into deep, deep debt. Evidently Globalism is too big to succeed. But the people in the British economy have noticed that they are deriving no more benefits from Globalism's gigantic corporations and want to scale back. This is a very prudent, rational, intelligent decision. One which any of us Gooch students would have reached from our mascara discussion in less time than it took to blow dry our hair. And don't you doubt it. Thank you Professor Gooch!!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

DADDIE DEAREST



(currently playing on Amazon Prime)

Earth to Hollywood! EVERYBODY'S FINE is based on a very dated Italian movie, directed by a British guy and starring actors who obviously haven't left their gated compounds in FOREVER! No wonder Hollywood and all the elites are terrified of free elections and the voter's revolt. They make no bones about showing everyone in the USA as shallow, screwed up, failing, drinking, overweight and sexually confused. They don't think we peons out here in flyover country ever have a happy day.

Frank Goode, (get it? He wants to be frank, and his name is good. So he's frankly a good guy. Don't barf yet, it gets better.), is the lonely Dad of a family of four grown children who has just lost his wife of many years.

Won't even mention the weird lack of modern technology for a 2009 movie, no cell phones, travel by bus and train, and no prescription refills in other cities, because if the story and performances worked, you'd forgive them everything.

I really wanted to at least like this movie. Family drama is a big favorite of mine. But, come on, old Hollywood B melodramas had more depth and realism than this movie. The big sin of the dad played by Robert De Niro, who, as always, eats the scenery, (He can't help it, but it's all wrong for this role.) is that he pushed the kids when they were young instead of accepting them for what they were, which his now deceased wife did. So she knew they were screwed up and didn't tell him. Now, eight months after her death, barely time to start grieving a wife of a long time marriage, he finds out the awful truth.

It is awful, because his youngest son has OD'd on drugs in Mexico and died. This is the son who receives the ultimate Hollywood accolade; he's described by a pretty young thing as "really special." Ahhhh. Well, then his death really is a loss. We can be sure that even if he was a reckless, freeloading ne'er do well playboy, he was special.

But, just so we know, his spirit appears to Dad when he's in the hospital with a heart attack to tell him it's not his fault that this "special" guy got all messed up on drugs. Well, for Pete's sake, if this is a family Gosh Darn drama, it's gotta be somebody's fault. So it's gotta be Dad's fault because he pushed the kids. And if that Dad is played by powerfully aggressive, take no prisoners actor De Niro, you have a sneaking suspicion that when this dad pushed, it verged on brutal. But no, we're just supposed to believe he's a puzzled care bear who was always too busy making his blue collar living to understand. What this movie wants you to understand is that it was wrong for Dad to expect his kids to try to be happily married, raise normal kids, and contribute to society in some small way. He pushed them to achieve, don't you see?

There is a particularly maudlin and unpleasant scene of Dad's vision when he is having his heart attack. In the vision, he's his current age, but the kids are kids again. However, he's really not the dad anybody would want. The worst is when his eight year old son smart talks him, and he makes a big issue about showing respect. When a kid that young and tender stands up to you in their silly way, it shows they trust that you won't smack them down and that they are developing some moxie. Respect is such a hard thing to earn from your kids, and De Niro lost all my respect when he got all testy and, threatened by his eight year old child, verbally smacked him down. Ugly.

However, the ending is perfect for this movie. Dad narrates to himself that "everybody is making his and her way in the world, and everybody is fine". (Except for the dead kid, you know, the one who dad smacked down for not showing respect and who is "really special", but who's too nice to blame dad for his ruined life.) Frankly, Frank Goode as a father is reminds me of Joan Crawford as Mommie Dearest. But the whole family gets together in Elmira, New York for Christmas. Upstate New York, where winter is snowier than friggin Moscow and where global warming would be proof of a merciful God. There, Dad cooks the Christmas turkey, and boy is this movie ever a prize turkey.




Sunday, June 5, 2016

MURDER FOR PLEASURE

This is from a wonderful book MURDER FOR PLEASURE about the history of the murder mystery story written by Howard Haycraft, 1941

Published while the war was raging, well before June 6, 1944, D -Day, nevertheless, this post is my way of never forgetting the terrible sacrifices made that day so the world could be free.

"When Nazi Luftwaffe squadrons unleashed their wanton fury on London in the late summer of 1940, initiating to their own consternation a deathless epic of human courage and resistance, they also drove a city of eight million souls beneath the earth's surface for a nightly refuge. After the first shock of a kind of battle new in the annals of warfare had passed, life underground began to take on some of the aspects of normality. One of the earliest harbingers of rehabilitation was the appearance of books in the fetid burrows while the bombs rained overhead. What volumes, asked curious Americans from the comfortable security of their homes, could men and women choose for their companionship at such a time? The answer was soon forthcoming in dispatches from the beleaguered capital, telling of newly formed "raid" libraries set up in response to popular demand to lend detective stories and nothing else. The implications contained in this circumstance, as applied to the underlying appeal of the detective novel, might easily constitute a superior essay in themselves (and are perhaps unfathomable at that). But surely no more striking illustration could be found of the vital position which this form of literature has come to occupy in modern civilized existence, for whatever reasons.

"A few months before the outbreak of the Second World Was, press dispatches from totalitarian Italy announced to the outside world that the works of Agatha Christie and Edgar Wallace, the two English detective story writers most popular in Italian translation, had been banned from the country by decree of the Fascist party. No reason was stated for the decision. But early in 1941 a more explicit action was reported from the Third Reich, where the Nazi party ordered the withdrawal of all imported detective fiction from German bookshops. As spokesman for the party line, the Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung was quoted in angry denunciation of this "illegitimate offspring" of English literature. Detective stories, the newspaper thundered, were nothing but "pure liberalism" designed to "stuff the heads of German readers with foreign ideas."

"These actions were dismissed by many citizens of free lands simply as further instances of the reasonless stupidity (once so amusing) of dictatorships. But those readers who paused to recall the genesis, history, and very premises of detective fiction found little that was surprising in the edicts. For the detective story is and always has been essentially a democratic institution; produced on any large scale only in democracies; dramatizing, under bright cloak of entertainment, many of the precious rights and privileges that have set dwellers in constitutional lands apart from those less fortunate."

"Detectives," wrote the late E. M. Wrong of Oxford in a notable dictum, "cannot flourish until the public has an idea what constitutes proof." It is precisely this close affinity between detection and evidence which accounts for the interrelation of the fictionized form and democracy. For, of all the democratic heritages, none has been more stubbornly defended by free peoples the world over than the right of fair trial -- the credo that no man shall be convicted of crime in the absence of reasonable proof, safeguarded by known, just and logical rules.



A LITTLE DAILY WISDOM

This is from a book called A LITTLE DAILY WISDOM Christian women mystics, translated by Carmen Acevedo Butcher

I'm the secret Fire in everything, and everything smells like
Me
The living breathe in My sweet perfume,
and they breathe out praise of Me.
They never die
because I am their Life

I flame out -- intense, godly Life -- over shining fields of
corn,
I glow in the shimmer of the fire's embers,
I burn in the sun and the moon and the stars.
The secret Life of Me breathes in the wind
and hold all things together soulfully.

This is God's voice.

Hildegard of Bingen, Hymn

The Origin of Fire Medieval Chant by Anonymous 4 of Hildegard's Music

Here is the like to the movie on DVD VISION about the life of Hildegard von Bingen. It's really excellent.