Death, Afterlife, and the Future in the Western World

I am really looking forward to this new series on Youtube.

Please like and share this short introductory video, as I think many others will want to follow these studies. Here is the link for a PDF of article I mention in the video that I am asking you all to at least begin reading. Enjoy!!  “What the Bible Really Says About Death, Afterlife, and the Future,” in What the Bible Really Says, edited by Morton Smith and Joseph Hoffmann (Buffalo: Prometheus Books, 1989 (Harper & Row paperback, 1990), pp. 33-51.

I Was There! 70 Years to the Day…

I usually use this personal blog for historical, philosophical, and artistic ruminations. But today is different.
This day, June 2, 1952, marks the 70th Anniversary of Queen Elizabeth–the longest reigning monarch in English history. My two sister and I were there in London for the Coronation Day! My father was a USAF military officer stationed in Buttonwood AFB–near St. Helens–where we lived. It was in the Liverpool area–so Ringo (1940), John (1940), Paul (1942), and George (1943) were maybe already playing around with their instruments–and who knows–might have made the trek to London as so many millions of citizens did. I have only vague memories–do the math and you can figure out my age (b. 1946).
I have vague memories of that day. I know my father hoisted me up on his shoulders–taking turns with my younger sister. We were on the procession route–with the countless throngs waving flags and cheering. I got a toy Buckingham Place guard–the one with the black fur hat! I loved it so much. My sisters got golden plated metal models of the royal carriage. And we all got a five shilling piece–I still have mine–minted especially for the Coronation.
Unfortunately, I don’t have a photo from that day–I think we might have home movie Super 8 footage somewhere–I need to check. My father was avidly into filming everything we did–as many of you will remember who grew up in the 1950s! But today I am thinking of 70 years past–in my own life, and that amazing beginning I had growing up in England those early years (1950-1954). I did find a picture of the house we rented in St. Helens and another of us in the driveway of that house around that time. I will leave it to you all to see if you can spot which boy is Jimmy Dan Tabor. Perhaps someone out there will recognize the house. I also remember, for you trivia old folk, Dad had a 1949 Convertible Studebaker. I would like to go back someday and find that house. I had endless adventures in that house–you can imagine, remembering back when you were ages. I love that house–the endless rooms, closets, and even the attic and courtyard. Talk about letting your imagination run wild.
Anyway, I wanted to share this bit of personal trivia with you all

Why Rejecting the Category of the “Supernatural” Can Be a “Spiritual” Step Forward

I think the main problem in discussions between theists and atheists is the assumption that static categories like “the Divine,” the “supernatural,” the “natural,” and the “material” exist other than as our dualistic semantic projections upon the whole of reality as we can perceive it. Our experiences are never reductionistically “materialistic,” even in the proverbial “hard, cold” lab. Process theism, by whatever name (Whitehead, Hartshorne) seems a better way of thinking about our “reality” even if “God” might not be the word one choses to use, given the connotations from “Classic” theism (omniscience and omnipotence).

Bottom line: the very nature of reality presents us with what appear to be “mechanistic” “time and chance” “atoms and the void” phenomenon (as per Jacques Monod), but also “mind” “thought” and other transcendent “spiritualist” phenomenon as well, that seem to exhibit will, reason, and the aesthetic–hence this very blog, this topic, and the any discussion thereof. It is a simple truism that there is no way to step outside of things and make “meaningful” nihilistic declarations about the non-meaning or hyper-subjectivity of our existence. As the old joke goes: “There are no absolutes?–Are you absolutely sure of that?”

“Mind and Matter”are no opposing realities but of one whole “panentheistic” reality as witnessed by our every thought and word.  Most of us agree that “magical” thinking is not a credible casual factor in our universe (angels, demons, fairies, and projected illusions) but who among us can reduce to the “normal” or the purely “material” (i.e., the four forces/fields of gravity, electromagnetic and strong and weak nuclear) our wondrous and marvelous minds and our common as well as not-so-common experiences of reality? In other words, all natural phenonema are by definition supra-natural, if by “natural” one means a truncated mechanistic view of both our inner realities and all that we experience in our world of “nature.”

So in the silence of the soul I listen for the still small voice, which is God’s call to each of us to engage in the work of love and creativity, to bring new life into the world, and to care for it and nurture it during its years of vulnerability. And whenever I see people engaged in that work of love, I sense the divine presence brushing us with a touch so gentle you can miss it, and yet know beyond all possibility of doubt that this is what we are called on to live for, to ease the pain of those who suffer and become an agent of hope in the world. That is a meaningful life. That is what life is when lived in the light of God’s presence, in answer to his call” Rabbi Jonathan Sachs

Our deepest sense of value and meaning in this world are not an anomaly or fluke, projected onto an otherwise uncaring universe. This inner sense of self is not somehow “outside” reality, and thus unreflective of its fundamental nature. Our capacities of self-consciousness, our sense of time, our existential becoming, is emergent from the “ground of being,” that nameless process rooted in the most fundamental reality. Our best clue as to the deeper nature of nature is our inner selves, reflective of the inherent capacities of reality–defined simply as “what is.” Cogito, ergo sum is not a bad beginning, if one can excise the dualism of Western language and assumptions. Whitehead called it panentheism. JDT
When I heard Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, I knew there was joy at the heart of the universe. Paul Claudel


Being a Hebrew in 2021…

So in some metaphorical way I guess you can call me a “Hebrew,” one who wants to leave behind the “Babylonian” ways of our world, and with Abraham,  walk before and toward “completion,” toward an unknown land of promise–a dream fulfilled. In that dream  the broader household of Abrahamic faith reflects the ways of truth, justice, love, and righteousness, and the “God of all the earth,” in good Whiteheadian fashion, mirrors our own microcosmic sense of justice and truth or is broken and cast aside as another idol (Genesis 18:19-25).

Beware When all Men Speak Well of You…

You have no enemies, you say? Alas, my friend, the boast is poor. He who has mingled in the fray of duty that the brave endure, must have made foes. If you have none, small is the work that you have done. You’ve hit no traitor on the hip. You’ve dashed no cup from perjured lip. You’ve never turned the wrong to right. You’ve been a coward in the fight.

Charles Mackay

Bits and Bites Here and There

From some of my recent television viewing of various shows, both documentary and scripted:

I don’t really do that. Chat.
Amy Adams in the first episode of Sharp Objects HBO

Whoso would be a man, must be a nonconformist, nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind.

Come away with me my love, they will not see us for the dust!
Frank Lloyd Wright to Olgivanna

I am guilty only of the deadly sin of having ideas.
Frank Lloyd Wright regarding his love affairs and unconventional choices

Everything Happens for a Purpose?

Everything happens for a purpose? There is a grand plan for every person on earth, every moment of their lives. It is all guided and orchestrated, like a lovely mosaic, only visible from afar. The universe at all times is unfolding precisely as it should be. We just can’t see the whole.  Zeno of Cyprus ( Ζήνων ὁ Κιτιεύς), 4th Century BCE (paraphrased) 
NO! NO! NO! A trillion times NO!
The Keyhole of our Existential Existence
I absolutely do not believe that. I know it is seductively comforting to some but it runs against all historical logic and moral sensitivity. It removes us from the reality of choice and freedom, happenstance, and flukiness. Time and chance happen to all things. Major events turn on the flip of a coin, the bounce of Woody Allen “matchpoint.” Yes, Crimes and Misdemeanors do often pay. All things are contingent. The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley. Worst of all such a view mitigates the horrible reality of tragedy, senseless suffering, and just plain evil. Let pain and suffering and genuine grief and loss be acknowledged. That sort of repression can never in the end be healthy or good, despite any temporary delusion. The truth has a way of breaking in. True character–love, joy, peace, goodness– arises out of the midst of a “world gone wrong,” as Dylan would say–yes, wrong, genuinely wrong, not a scripted set on a stage, but regrettable, horrible wrong! The “sighs and cry” over the “abominations” of our humanly directed world are holy and sacred, not contrived and staged. The “core” of our truest and most honest Selves, however labeled, as God or “Ground of Being” or the “Force,” weeps and cries and struggles with us, as the Process unfolds. This is, by definition, the “best of all possible worlds,” for the split second present, but we can choose in the next future second to steer ourselves and others in a better path.