Uncle Thor's Lessons, Anecdotes and Humor

14
Mar

Steve Hawking: Science for Us

The passing of Steven Hawking is itself extraordinary, as he was only given two years to live at age 22. It is also impressive that Hawking was acclaimed far and wide at a time when such is usually reserved for entertainers. Dr. Hawking expanded our understanding of our Universe. It is amazing that a man so physically crippled could transcend his limitations to become the foremost physicist of our generation.

The Havamal wisely states:

The lame can ride horse, the handless drive cattle,
the deaf one can fight and prevail,
’tis happier for the blind than for him on the bale-fire,
but no man hath care for a corpse.

In other words, all who live have value. Steven Hawking certainly proved this. In transcending his own limits he also transcended the scientific thought of the day.

One salient fact of life in these times is that science is to be taken seriously by all. While some of it is speculative, most is proven fact. We see that in our everyday life. The reason GPS devices work is because part of their calculations take into account the affects of Einstein’s Relativity. Without the Theory of Relativity, GPS would be hopeless. Science works.

There are people who deny science. Some do so on religious grounds. They put faith in their scriptures even when they are contradicted by science. Others perpetuate old superstitions, such as those who claim the Earth is flat. Religious thought must take account of the findings of science. We know that Thor does not ride across the skies in a goat kart. We know that mankind did not originate in a mythic garden with two people named Adam and Eve. It is evident that existence as we know it had nothing to do with e peacock and a giant pearl. And the first humans were not made from trees or pieces of clay. Religious writings composed centuries ago did not have the luxury of science.

Many scientists are considered atheists because they do not believe in a big magickal man named God in an Astral throne room ruling all of existence by fiat. I do not believe that, either. Yet the pursuit of scientific knowledge is a very spiritual thing. One does not have to objectify Divinity to express spirituality. After all, many of these so-called atheist scientists are highly ethical. Seeking the foundation of Existence is a spiritual pursuit, whether one chases atomic particles or contemplates the subtle nature of that which we call Life.

The wonders of science which have already been discovered show us that there is so much more to explore. Science is opening whole new realms for spiritual research. If we believe that our physical Universe is founded on principles, then it stands to reason that the same holds for the spiritual. The laws of science and the principles on which spirituality operate are but facets of the same thing. Our Universe could not be founded on immutable principles on one side and guided by caprice on the other. There must be consistency. Thanks to brilliant scientists like Steven Hawking, we can appreciate the foundations of the Universe and find their applications in our own experiences.

09
Mar

The Buckwheat Story

When I was in first grade in a religious school, they used to collect money for “the missions.” There was a poster on the wall. They exhorted the children to give their pennies and nickels to this cause. Each time the money raised reached $5.00, they said that we helped “buy” a Pagan baby and brought him to salvation. As a reward, we got to pick the baby’s name. A small sticker with the baby’s name was added to the poster.

Yes, they used the word “buy.” Not convert, not “save,” but “buy.”

One time, we got creative. When asked to name the baby, the whole class agreed on a name. “What name did you select?” asked the sanctimonious clergywoman.

“Buckwheat!” we all replied

The clergywoman was startled. By the “rules”, we had the right to choose the baby’s name. She would not agree to Buckwheat, claiming that we had to give the child a saint’s name. Bah! Saints were boring. Buckwheat was cool.

Ah, but what a reminder of Christian piety, vis a vis the “buying” of Pagan babies.
It makes me wonder: from whom were they buying the babies?

28
Feb

Father Fraud, A Cautionary Tale

One of my high school classmates got himself into several nasty situations. I don’t want to mention his name because articles about his misdeeds are still posted on the Net. Were someone using a search engine to get information about him, my page might pop up. So we will just call him TC.

I was in several classes with TC. Not much about him stood out. He could be amusing, and sometimes caustic. TC was just a fellow student. Our acquaintance did not extend past school. I knew nothing of his home life, his family, or his interests except that he had said he wanted to become a Catholic priest.

TC’s one shining moment came at the end of junior year. A math teacher had accused him of cheating on tests. TC denied it stridently. The math teacher was an unpleasant woman. She was insistent that TC be expelled. To placate her, the school arranged a deal where TC would finish his junior year and then transfer to another school. The last day of classes, TC presented her with a note card and one of those “weirdo” figurines. Suffice to say, it caused quite a scene. The mean and implacable math teacher was in tears, which surprised everyone. She had made herself a reputation as a mean, formidable person. (I have mentioned this story in other articles.)

That was the last I saw of TC. His conflict with the math teacher provided me with an example for one of my later articles. I did not know what became of him, and frankly, did not care. TC was just another fellow student. I doubt we ever had a conversation that was more than two or three sentences.. Life is like that. There are people passing through our lives who are there, but whose presence is of little or no consequence to us.

Last year, something reminded me of the math teacher. I wondered what became of TC and his ambition to be a priest. TC was innocuous. I figured he might be a parish priest somewhere. So off to the Internet and taking a moment to type in TC’s name and “priest.”

Wow! The kid who was so average in high school turned out to be quite conspicuous in adulthood. He became pastor of a church down South and was quite popular. TC had a lot of supporters who genuinely liked him. He did much to draw people to his church. He also had a condo in New Orleans near the French quarter. I was surprised to learn that TC was gay. He was also increasingly flamboyant. Apparently, he had managed to change the rules about financial oversight in his parish and get control of all the finances. TC plundered the church’s coffers to fund his condo and other things. Then, according to the articles, TC was caught. He made a deal to avoid arrest by making full reparation, sold his condo, and was sent to another church.

Things got worse. In the new parish, TC began selling drugs to pay for the things he liked. He was caught and sentenced to four years in prison. TC was supposedly a model prisoner who functioned as an informal spiritual advisor to other inmates. He got an early out, from what I understood. The church also sidelined him.

No longer working as an active priest, it was not long before TC got himself into another bind. According to reports, he sent pornography to a minor. This netted the former priest a ten-year sentence. I gather that he might have gotten parole or time off for good behavior. The last mention of him is that he is living with relatives in another state.

How does a person who is educated and successful do so many incredibly stupid things? This goes beyond betraying the public trust (the public being his congregation, in this case). It is a very sordid tale that I find appalling on so many levels. How does an unremarkable and generally benign individual fall in such foul and stupid ways? The person I knew in school was not a bad fellow. The TC I read about on the Internet was a disgusting scoundrel.

Maybe he did cheat on those tests. I wonder. But I wonder more at how a person like TC could go from a devoted clergyman to a criminal and a public spectacle.

There is a lesson here.

Perhaps it is the contrast between a man whose profession is to uphold morality and accountability, yet whose deeds were immoral and filthy by any standard. The idea of a clergyman of any denomination peddling dangerous drugs and pilfering the institution he is supposed to protect is repugnant. Lascivious contact with minors is just one more dirty deed: the fetid icing on the rotting cake.

As the old saying goes, “You cannot have it both ways.” You cannot enjoy the respectability of an esteemed office if you are not willing to live according to its ideals. We expect a priest to live according to Catholic ideals, a Rabbi to uphold Jewish ideals and an Odinist to abide by Odinist ideals. Claiming the title entails exemplifying its principles in one’s life. And while none are perfect and may occasionally fall short, no one should ever betray the standards which he espouses. There is a difference between a mistake and wilful mischief.

Having the title also means that you know better. Therefore, you are responsible to do better. When you take on the mantle, of clergyman, leader, elder or such, you also accept the responsibility to be better than average in upholding the ideals you claim to represent. For whatever reasons, TC sold out his station time and again. He had attained his dream of becoming a priest, and at some point he shat on it.

A title or similar honor does not exempt you from the rules of respectable behavior. It incurs your responsibility to exemplify its ideals. In order to be respected as Good, you must be every bit as Good as implied. And if you find you cannot or will not do it, step aside and leave that position. You cannot have it both ways.

******

Let me be clear on something. Catholic standards are not my standards. I am not defending them. What matters here is that a person upholds the standards which he chooses to support, be he Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Heathen, or Pagan. I may not agree to a particular set of standards, but I respect a person’s commitment to them. If you tell me you are a good Heathen, Pagan, Catholic or Jew, I will expect you to be true to that which you claim to believe.

22
Feb

Miracles or Mundane?

Forget the miracles promised in scriptures. They are tall tales, not much different from Paul Bunyan stories. It is best to regard them as folk tales rather than religious history. Real miracles are the ones we make for ourselves. This is not to say that miraculous things do not or cannot happen. They do. But they do not happen with a flash of light or a burning bush. The best miracles come quietly, unnoticed until after they have happened.

The greatest miracle is the human spirit that transcends obstacles and circumstances to work its wonders.

The fact is that miracles work out through mundane circumstances.

It is widely said: “Coincidences are the Gods working anonymously.”

Many a miracle and many a plea is answered through people. It is as if a higher power extends the blessing to others by having them participate in the miracle.

God / the Gods can only do for you what they can do through you.

16
Feb

Beyond Gun Control: Solving the Problem of Deadly Violence

A long time ago up the country, hunting seasons were a time for firearms. Our family had several hunters and a variety of rifles and shotguns. They were in the closets when not out on a hunt. We were taught not to touch them when we were very young. When older, we learned gun safety and how to shoot. We were taught never to point a firearm at a person, and always to make sure that where you pointed it was safe. That meant looking to be sure there were no people, pets. livestock, roads or buildings in line of sight.

In those years, when firearms were everywhere, there were no reports of gun crimes. Even accidents were rare. They only happened every few years. The number of accidents increased only when more city people came North to hunt. That is when there were reports of someone’s cow or big dog being shot.

Even in the cities, shootings were uncommon then. Physical fights were uncommon, too. As a rule, people did not slug it out in the street.

Gun control sounds like it would work, but it does not. Chicago has the strictest firearms laws and is an epicenter of gun violence. The problem will not be solved by laws. It will only be solved when we go after the mentality that misuses firearms and other weapons. We need to bring back a sense of individual responsibility for one’s actions and knowledge of the consequences of one’s behavior. We need to instill in the young the value of life. And we must once again teach them that their hurt feelings and their whims and wishes do not justify actions that adversely affect others. Because without instilling that sense of responsibility and self-control, no amount of laws will prevent more outrage. The guns are already out there and the cat is out fo the bag.

Guns are not going to go away, even if we stopped making them. Laws do not prevent the mentally ill and the criminal from acquiring them. For a lasting solution ,we must go to the hearts and minds. Any doubts? Look at Chicago. Look at Oakland and East LA. We cannot legislate our way out of this and hope to end the shootings. The solution takes more work, takes longer and the results will be gradual. But if we persist, the results will become widespread and even permanent. Most of all, we do not need to wait for the government to solve the problem. We can begin the process in our own homes and neighborhoods. If we do not make the first move, nothing will get done.

Stop waiting for government to stop the problem. Become part of the solution. Take the initiative to instill in the young the principles that would make gun violence a thing of the past. That is the only way to make a lasting solution.

Any doubts? There are millions of adults in this country who know how to use a variety of weapons. Many of them also know how to make effective bombs, mines and booby-traps. Yet they do not cause shootings or make bombs. These are present and past military people (veterans). They were taught responsibility for handling and using weapons. I am one of these people. We were properly trained not only in their use, but were taught how to handle this knowledge responsibly. Do not think instilling responsibility and the value of life is insurmountable, because the militaries of the world have been doing it for years. Again, stop waiting for the government to pass a law that solves the problem. Start implementing the solution where you are, now.

08
Jan

What Makes Great Science Fiction?

What Make Great Science Fiction

Science fiction should be more than entertainment. Great science fiction should make you think. It needs to challenge the status quo and ask questions that many fear to ask. Science fiction should not only show the range of possibilities, but also consider their ramifications. This is why certain books, movies and television series make an impact. The old classic “Forbidden Planet” was a space opera on the surface, but it came to a point where it asked deep-seated questions of the psyche and the possible consequences of tapping its power. That is why it endured. The original Star Trek series was an anthology wrapped around a central story line and cast of characters. Each episode tackled different subjects, from time travel to bigotry. The crew, star-ship and “federation” were but a milieu to tell those stories. Though the special effects, uniforms and aliens are hokey by today’s standards, the stories still hold.

Great sci fi challenges us to think. Robert Heinlein’s “Starship troopers” (the book, not the movie) questions why men fight. Philip K. Dick’s dystopian Blade runner questioned the issue humanity and technology. The old classic “A Canticle For Liebowitz” questions nuclear war and humankind’s repeated attempts to annihilate itself.

Yes, science fiction can be entertaining. Movies like “The Fifth Element” and “Valerian” are a romp through fantastic worlds. However, they merely entertain, though they entertain well. The truly great sci-fi asks and inspires.

It is truly said that the idea is not to have all the right answers, but to ask all the right questions. Great science fiction does just that!

09
Dec

Are You Somebody?

The purpose of life is to express the individual that you are. In order to do that, you must be somebody. Though being somebody is really simple, many people never get it. You do not have to try to be somebody. You do not have to strain. Relax into it, because the great secret to being somebody is the realization that you are already somebody.

You are a unique and distinct individual. You bring that uniqueness into this world. Only by being your unique self do you make your destiny. You are somebody. You are not a nobody. No matter hwat anyone else does or says to the contrary, you count. You have value. Expressing that value that is you is your purpose in life.

You have a brain to think, emotions to feel, intuition to guide you and instincts to keep you alive.

In a nutshell, this is the purpose for living.

This life is to be lived. It is not a test for placement in an afterlife. It is not an ordeal to purge you. This life is the one you are to live. And if you live this life, then your place in the afterlife will take care of itself.

Fret not about the afterlife. It is not a punishment or reward for the deeds of this life. The afterlife is just a continuation of this life in another place. No Heaven for the Good, Hell for the Bad or Purgatory for the Marginally Naughty. Life goes on, and that is that. You ought not put your present life on hold for some nebulous claims about the afterlife.

Live. Do. Be the unique individual that you are. Express yourself. We see that the Universe around us expresses itself in diversity. You are part of that expression.

Think of Supreme Being as a verb rather than a noun. Being is existence, and Supreme Being is the totality of all existence. You are part of it. You are an element of Supreme Being. Now express yourself as part of it!

You count. You are somebody. Embrace that right now. Be the somebody that you are meant to be.

26
Nov

Heathen’s Peace

The peace to accept science without first reconciling it with theology

The peace to live without the burden of dogma.

The peace to accept and enjoy this life as it is.

The peace that we can focus on living this life, knowing that the afterlife will take care of itself.

The peace to know that there is no judgement day, just Wyrd. And that Wyrd is as active here as it was in the past and will be in the future.

The peace to know that our mistakes can be amended free of divine disfavor, without spiritual stigma (i.e. sin).

The peace to know that our Gods regard us as adults, and not as spoiled brats who must be punished, cajoled and rewarded to gain divine favor.

The peace to know that we can believe or not without fear of incurring the slightest scintilla of Godly disdain.

The peace to live free of crackpot taboos and silly superstition.

The peace that we are human beings, meant to stand tall. We are not unworthy; we are not worms. We do not grovel. We do not humiliate ourselves when facing the divine or the mundane.

The peace to be free of self-deprecating religious attitudes.

The peace to enjoy the good of this world.

The peace to know that we have found our spiritual home.

The peace that comes from living a life without the need for apology or explanation.

The peace to express joy.

23
Nov

The Power of Gratitude

Gratitude is an attitude that works. Every year at Thanksgiving, Americans take note of those things for which they are thankful. This all sounds like a nice sentiment, but there is a pragmatic side to it all. And these days, both the sentimental and practical aspects of gratitude are more necessary that ever.

We are beset by an increasing, annual flood of greed as we enter the Winter Holiday season. Whether you celebrate Yule, Christmas, Hanukkah or no particularly holiday at all, you are exhorted to spend yourself into debt. The manufacturers and retailers and purveyors of stuff ramp up their marketing earlier and earlier in the season. In effect, they are urging you to buy so you may give. Within their messages is an implication that to show one’s affection, one must spend more extravagantly. In other words, they are saying Stuff = Love and Stuff = Esteem.

Stuff cannot buy love or esteem. Stuff can only buy a flimsy parody of love and esteem. Real love and respect come as they will, and stuff has little or nothing to do with either.

Once again, the merchants of greed are opening their stores earlier than ever before. Again, they are opening on Thanksgiving Day to draw a glut of customers. And as in recent years, there will be a stampede of greed-fueled patrons hoping to get the small amount of goods that have the lowest discounts. In the start of the season which is promoted as a time of goodwill by most religions, people will push and shove, grab and brawl to save get a discount. In effect, they sell out their dignity for a few dollars.

Gratitude is the antidote to greed. Gratitude acknowledges and appreciates what you have. It does not moan over what you had in the past, nor pine for things that you want for the future. What you had before is just a memory, and what you think you want is just a wish. What you have today is real. When you are grateful for what you have, you use it and get the most from it. Should you focus on what you have lost or what you want, you are fixating on things that do not exist for you.

I am reminded of a quote from The Magic Story by Frederick Rensselaerr Dey

“Man should not be blinded to whatsoever merit exists in the opportunity which he hath
in hand, remembering that a thousand promises for the future should weigh as naught
against the possession of a single piece of silver.”

What you have now is everything! Gratitude is appreciation. It looks not only at stuff, but the things in life that cannot be measured by material means. Gratitude includes the people, places, good fortune and other assets that fill a person’s life. Gratitude recognizes such unmeasurable things as love, kindness, friendship, health and beneficial circumstances.

If you are not grateful for the people, places and things in your life, you can lose them. The sad fact is that people without gratitude do not realize how much they appreciate something until it is gone.

To whom should you be grateful? You can be grateful to a God, Gods, Destiny, good fortune, the goodwill of others, or no particular thing at all. The important thing is to keep a thankful attitude for that which is yours. Thanksgiving is an appreciation the good in one’s life and experiences. It is the antidote for greed and many other ills.

********

I heartily recommend The Magic Story. I first came across it almost 40 years ago. The story itself is embedded with wise advice for those who will heed it. Should this be your first encounter with The Magic Story, read it several times during the next month. There is a reason this little story is still being passed around. Here is a link to a PDF copy for you:

http://www.thortrains.com/UncleThors/Rensselaer_Dey_-_The_Magic_Story.pdf

19
Nov

The Path to Wisdom is a Hard Road: My Insight

I had been cursed with bad luck almost from birth. I was put up for adoption as an infant. My adoptive family turned sour by the time I was 8 years old. They liked to take their problems out on me. Add to that the problem of high intelligence. It almost guarantees an outsider status. As time progressed, other adventures happened. I lost everything a couple of times, for instance. And there are other losses I will only share with those close to me.

I will not go through all the troubles of the ensuing years. Things became peaceful after I met my wife. For many years, we had peace. Then, in 2003, I was hit with a monster. I had a heart attack. Since then, I have been on a cardiac adventure.

I have faced my demise on several occasions over the years. Some incidents were quick, others slow.

Has it all been miserable? Of course not. I outgrew my circumstances and rose above them time after time. I have met extraordinary people and learned from some very wise individuals. I have pursued spirituality and have had experiences from Alchemy to Zen and back again. I have meditated with the Zen people, prayed with the religious folk, touched great Power with metaphysics and joined in arcane rituals in smoky, torch-lit chambers. I have invoked the Gods of my genetic ancestors and learned how to cast the future. And through this, I have overcome my own flaws of character and found truth that transcends everyday reality.

One of the byproducts of all this is wisdom. Through the troubles and triumphs and the search for Spirit, an unexpected byproduct is wisdom. This is a thing that comes not with an easy life, but a willingness to learn, experience and observe.

If there is one thing I can say, it is that wisdom is not so much adding new ideas but subtracting ideas and attitudes. In many ways, it is more a great unlearning where the false falls away so as to reveal the truth. One must be willing to let every idea, notion and belief be challenged to stand up to the barometer of truth. One must be willing to a be a fool for a short while so one can be insightful for the long haul. You must never be afraid to appear stupid, because many around you have no idea of what you are doing.

Never be afraid to make a mistake. Fear of mistakes keeps many in bondage. Be willing to be wrong so that you may learn to be right. (A turtle only moves forward by sticking his neck out.)
Not all people are given to this work. Those who are not driven here are no less valuable. One learns that whatever a person’s journey through life, he or she is a valuable part of the whole. Wisdom only makes a man wise. It does not make him a master of all of life’s tasks.

You take wisdom where you find it. The most unlikely person may be the one to share an insight of great value. The wise are not aloof ascetics, nor are they ostentatious and haughty. Wisdom comes where you find it, and you most often find it where you would least expect it. Part of this is knowing to whom to listen, to whom not to listen, and when you have heard all you need from that source. You are not alone in this endeavor and you are not the first to undertake it.

You are doing this because deep within, you know you can do nothing else.

Welcome to my world.

© 2018 Uncle Thor's Lessons, Anecdotes and Humor | Entries (RSS) and Comments (RSS)

Design by Web4 Sudoku - Powered By Wordpress