Eden Hill Journal

Comments, dreams, stories, and rantings from a middle-aged native of Maine living on a shoestring and a prayer in the woods of Maine. My portion of the family farm is to be known as Eden Hill Farm just because I want to call it that and because that's the closest thing to the truth that I could come up with. If you enjoy what I write, email me or make a comment. If you enjoy Eden Hill, come visit.

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Location: Maine, United States

Friday, April 15, 2005

The Threat of Advocacy

For quite some time now Eric has been verbally attacking me for my criticisms of the conservative political movement. If I am not mistaken, Eric's claim is that I just don't have the educational or experiential qualifications to state my opinions in any meaningful dialog. I'm too low to count as worthy.
I remember Eric telling me one time that his generation, or at least that he and many of his friends, have abandoned or maybe never even chosen in the first place to value the values of my generation, the generation of the 60s, his own parents' generation.
Eric is entitled to his opinion. So is his generation. I've just wondered - with little hope of really understanding - how this rejection came about. It doesn't seem to be openly discussed very much.
This morning I came across an article dealing with that topic from a perspective that I can relate to. Without further comment, here is the link:

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Tangential Irrelevancies

What is it called when the White House reveals secretly to conservative media the identity of a CIA agent married to a critic of the White House thus endangering her life and sending a strong warning to the rest of the intelligence community to toe the White House line or else?
What is it called when the Pentagon operates an intelligence group dedicated to producing intelligence, accurate or otherwise, that bolsters the case for war against Iraq and secretly feeds that bogus information to the Office of the Vice President? See Karen Kwiatkowski's website for information on this. She was working in the Pentagon while this was going on.
What is it called when the current nominee for the US ambassador to the UN John Bolton reaches down five levels in the bureaucracy to threaten two intelligence analysts five times in two years because he didn't agree with their analysis?
Well at least in the third instance, that was called "tangential irrelevancies" on Public Broadcasting's News Hour this evening by no less than Virginia's Republican Senator George Allen.
I don't seem to be having much luck locating that term in Google, but isn't there a name for a term that consists of two words which both basically express the same concept? What's that called? I forget...
But anyway, it's nice to know that the lexicon of conservative politics has finally placed a name on this behavior, isn't it?

Who Is This Calling?

The setting: My home
The time: Late afternoon, approaching dinner time
I have the radio on moderately loudly and am listening from the other room to Democracy Now. I am home alone.
The phone rings. I go to the phone and pick up the receiver. "Hello?"
There is a pause of silence typical of spam calls while the computer figures out that my phone has been answered by a live human being and not an answering machine, then a recorded submissive female voice comes on, "Please hold while I try to connect this call."
Stretching the cord, I walk to turn down the radio and the submissive voice returns, "I am still trying to connect your call. Please hold."
I hold.
After a short pause a much more powerful and dominant older female voice comes on and says in a New Jersey type of accent, "May I speak with [my son's full name]?" My son doesn't live here but I'll be damned if I'm going to tell that to some damned strange dominant old bitch who doesn't even have the decency to dial me herself but rather considers her own precious time more valuable than mine.
I hesitate for a moment, "Who is this calling?" I ask accusingly.
"Scuse me?" the dominant female asks?
"I said..." again in the same accusing voice, "Who is this calling?"
She hangs up the phone.

Religion Part 6 - Infallible

"I believe that The Bible is the infallible Word of God himself, which was written by God through man."
I quote this from Andy in reply to Dacia's April 12 post Porque? (1 of 3).
It would seem that in order to have a religion, any group would need something or someone "infallible" in which or in whom to believe. The Catholics have the Pope and the Virgin Mother Mary. Islam has the Prophet Mohammed and the Quran. The Mormons have the Book of Mormons and young, innocent Joseph Smith. Evangelical Christianity has the "infallible Word of God" otherwise known as "The Holy Bible." In all cases, infallibility is the key. Yet, strangely, in each case, each religion cancels out the infallibility of each other religion. Not only that, but within some religions there are sects that claim that only their sect has access to the infallibility of God's work. That seems bizarre to me.
I was thinking about all this today while I was out for a walk. In Maine, the long winter's frosts heave (lift up) all of our roads and in April the bright sun finally melts that frost leaving paved roads littered with cracks in the pavement. Sometimes to ease the sheer boredom of walking on paved roads I (almost subconsciously) pace myself so I won't step on any of these cracks. If I play with my mind hard enough, I can almost convince myself that the cracks are so situated that I can walk a natural pace and never step on a crack. That's even how it seems sometimes when I'm walking in the woods in an area where there are no trails, especially when the walk is along a steep hillside or mountain. I can convince myself that spiritual forces have already provided a natural trail for me no matter where I wish to go. Of course, that's absurd, sometimes even dangerous, but that's beside the point. The point is that it is easy to trick my mind into thinking these things and then perceiving convincing proof that they are true.
It's easy for us to trick our minds into thinking that the objects of our faith are infallible. If we allow ourselves to do it, it is easy to think that spiritual forces have already acted to create hidden perfection within that which we base our faith. But if we step back from it all and evaluate what it is we're doing, we're using circular reasoning to justify our beliefs. Because of our faith, we know that the objects of our faith must be real, must be true, because if they weren't true, we wouldn't have a basis for our beliefs. Therefore what we believe in is true. How else could I possibly convince myself that a natural pace will lead me to not step on the cracks?
I mean, if I don't step on any cracks, it's because I am continuously adjusting my stride in anticipation of what I see coming. I am the one making it happen. It's like skiing in a mogul field, you need to look ahead and plan your path ahead of you to keep from being thrown by the moguls. The same thing holds true with faith. If you're going to have faith in something and perceive it as infallible, you have to have some mechanism in your head for dealing with the reality of the situation, that is, the fact that the object of your faith isn't really infallible. You have to be able to adjust to any challenges and convince yourself that the challenge never really existed. If you're going to walk a natural walk that never steps on a crack, you need to forget the times you stepped on the cracks and chalk them up to the forgiven and forgotten past. Your faith needs a coping mechanism.
Religion's coping mechanism is circular reasoning. If you start with infallibility, what you wind up with is infallible. Any challenge must be wrong. The only thing you can allow is that your own understanding was wrong in which case you adjust your understanding but not the objects of your faith, but too many such adjustments would eventually shake your faith so you must forget any adjustments you had to make. You ignore adjusting your stride and forget stepping on any of the cracks. The final result is a hardened faith in your own assumptions of the infallibility of your faith. You wind up with your faith making a complete circle.
But when my walk was done, I brought myself back to the realization that all these notions of spiritual perfection and the natural stride were just amusements to keep my mind from being bored. There's no such thing as infallible objects of faith.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005




I heard a couple of interesting comments on alternative radio today. One was that Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, visiting Iraq this week, said or implied or whatever that the US has a strategy for victory in Iraq, not an exit strategy.
I also heard in a discussion of the upcoming approval of spending another 82 billion dollars in Iraq and Afghanistan that the plan includes establishing 14 permanent military bases in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. I believe I even heard a Democrat saying how important these are. Was I just imagining this? Had I just awoken from an afternoon daydream?
Gee, sometimes I wonder if I am supposed to know these things or if they somehow just slip through the cracks accidentally and land on me. What is the appropriate response once an American hears forbidden news such as this? Denial?
In Mother Jones Magazine this spring: