Things That Make You Go Hmmmm... Blog by Lady Victoria Eclectic Pagan
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Hedonism is a school of ethics which argues that pleasure is the only intrinsic good.  The basic idea behind hedonistic thought is that pleasure is the only thing that has intrinsic value. This is often used as a justification for evaluating actions in terms of how much pleasure and how little pain (i.e. suffering) they produce. In very simple terms, a hedonist strives to maximize this net pleasure (pleasure minus pain).

Classic Schools of Antiquity
Democritus  seems to be the earliest philosopher on record to have categorically embraced a hedonistic philosophy; he called the supreme goal of life "contentment" or "cheerfulness", claiming that "joy and sorrow are the distinguishing mark of things beneficial and harmful".

Cārvāka
Cārvāka was an Indian hedonist school of thought that arose approximately about 600 BCE, and died out in the 14th century CE. The Cārvākas maintained that the Hindu scriptures are false, that the priests are liars, and that there is no afterlife, and that pleasure should be the aim of living. Unlike other Indian schools of philosophy, the Cārvākas argued that there is nothing wrong with sensual indulgence. They held a naturalistic worldview.

The Cyrenaic School
The Cyrenaics were an ultra-hedonist Greek school of philosophy founded in the 4th century BC, supposedly by Aristippus of Cyrene, although many of the principles of the school are believed to have been formalized by his grandson of the same name, Aristippus the Younger. The school was so called after Cyrene, the birthplace of Aristippus. It was one of the earliest Socratic schools. The Cyrenaics taught that the only intrinsic good is pleasure, which meant not just the absence of pain, but positively enjoyable sensations. Of these, momentary pleasures, especially physical ones, are stronger than those of anticipation or memory. They did, however, recognize the value of social obligation, and that pleasure could be gained from altruism. The school died out within a century, and was replaced by the more sophisticated philosophy of Epicureanism.

Epicureanism
Epicureanism is a system of philosophy  based upon the teachings of Epicurus  (c. 341–c. 270 BC), founded around 307 BC. Epicurus was an atomic  materialist, following in the steps of Democritus. His materialism led him to a general attack on superstition and divine intervention. Following Aristippus—about whom very little is known—Epicurus believed that the greatest good was to seek modest pleasures in order to attain a state of tranquility and freedom from fear (ataraxia) as well as absence of bodily pain (aponia) through knowledge of the workings of the world and the limits of our desires. The combination of these two states is supposed to constitute happiness in its highest form. Although Epicureanism is a form of hedonism, insofar as it declares pleasure as the sole intrinsic good, its conception of absence of pain as the greatest pleasure and its advocacy of a simple life make it different from "hedonism" as it is commonly understood.
Epicurus

In the Epicurean view, the highest pleasure (tranquility and freedom from fear) was obtained by knowledge, friendship and living a virtuous and temperate life. He lauded the enjoyment of simple pleasures, by which he meant abstaining from bodily desires, such as sex and appetites, verging on asceticism. He argued that when eating, one should not eat too richly, for it could lead to dissatisfaction later, such as the grim realization that one could not afford such delicacies in the future. Likewise, sex could lead to increased lust and dissatisfaction with the sexual partner. Epicurus did not articulate a broad system of social ethics that has survived.

Epicureanism was originally a challenge to Platonism, though later it became the main opponent of Stoicism. Epicurus and his followers shunned politics. After the death of Epicurus, his school was headed by Hermarchus; later many Epicurean societies flourished in the Late Hellenistic era and during the Roman era (such as those in Antiochia, Alexandria, Rhodes and Ercolano). The poet Lucretius is its most known Roman proponent. By the end of the Roman Empire, having undergone Christian attack and repression, Epicureanism had all but died out, and would be resurrected in the 17th century by the atomist Pierre Gassendi, who adapted it to the Christian doctrine.

Some writings by Epicurus have survived. Some scholars consider the epic poem On the Nature of Things by Lucretius to present in one unified work the core arguments and theories of Epicureanism. Many of the papyrus scrolls unearthed at the Villa of the Papyri at Herculaneum are Epicurean texts. At least some are thought to have belonged to the Epicurean Philodemus.

Christian
Christian hedonism is a controversial Christian doctrine current in some evangelical circles, particularly those of the Reformed tradition. The term was coined by Reformed Baptist pastor John Piper in his 1986 book Desiring God. Piper summarizes this philosophy of the Christian life as "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him."  Christian Hedonism may anachronistically describe the theology of Jonathan Edwards. In the 17th century the atomist Pierre Gassendi, adapted Epicureanism to the Christian doctrine.

Mohism
Mohism was a philosophical school of thought founded by Mozi in the 5th century BCE. It paralleled the utilitarianism later developed by English thinkers. As Confucianism  became the preferred philosophy of later Chinese dynasties, Mohism and other non-Confucian philosophical schools of thought were suppressed.

Modern Utilitarianism
The eighteenth and nineteenth-century British philosophers Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill defended the ethical theory of utilitarianism, according to which we should perform whichever action maximizes the aggregate good. Conjoining hedonism, as a view as to what is good for people, to utilitarianism has the result that all action should be directed toward achieving the greatest total amount of happiness (Hedonic Calculus). Though consistent in their pursuit of happiness, Bentham and Mill’s versions of hedonism differ. There are two somewhat basic schools of thought on hedonism:


* One school, grouped around Jeremy Bentham, defends a quantitative approach. Bentham believed that the value of a pleasure could be quantitatively understood. Essentially, he believed the value of pleasure to be its intensity multiplied by its duration - so it was not just the number of pleasures, but their intensity and how long they lasted that must be taken into account.

* Other proponents, like John Stuart Mill, argue a qualitative approach. Mill believed that there can be different levels of pleasure - higher quality pleasure is better than lower quality pleasure. Mill also argues that simpler beings (he often refers to pigs) have an easier access to the simpler pleasures; since they do not see other aspects of life, they can simply indulge in their lower pleasures. The more elaborate beings tend to spend more thought on other matters and hence lessen the time for simple pleasure. It is therefore more difficult for them to indulge in such "simple pleasures" in the same manner.

Critics of the quantitative approach assert that, generally, "pleasures" do not necessarily share common traits besides the fact that they can be seen as "pleasurable." Critics of the qualitative approach argue that whether one pleasure is higher than another depends on factors other than how pleasurable it is. For example, some people may see the pleasure of Satanism as a more base pleasure because it is morally unpalatable to them, and not because it is lacking in pleasure.

Egoism
Hedonism can be conjoined with psychological egoism - the theory that humans are motivated only by their self interest - to make psychological hedonism: a purely descriptive claim which states that agents naturally seek pleasure. Hedonism can also be combined with ethical egoism - the claim that individuals should seek their own good - to make ethical hedonism the claim that we should  act so as to produce our own pleasure.

However, hedonism is not necessarily related to egoism. The utilitarianism of John Stuart Mill is sometimes classified as a type of hedonism, as it judges the morality of actions by their consequent contributions to the greater good and happiness of all. This is altruistic hedonism. Whereas some hedonistic doctrines propose doing whatever makes an individual happiest (over the long run), Mill promotes actions which make everyone happy. Compare individualism and collectivism.

It is true that Epicurus recommends for us to pursue our own pleasure, but he never suggests we should live a selfish life which impedes others from getting to that same objective.

Some of Sigmund Freud's theories of human motivation have been called psychological hedonism; his "life instinct" is essentially the observation that people will pursue pleasure. However, he introduces extra complexities with various other mechanisms, such as the "death instinct". The death instinct, Thanatos, can be equated to the desire for silence and peace, for calm and darkness, which causes them another form of happiness. It is also a death instinct, thus it can also be the desire for death. Psychoanalysis has developed greatly since Freud but his ideas remain influential and contentious.

A dedicated contemporary hedonist philosopher and on the history of hedonistic thought is the French Michel Onfray. He defines hedonism "as an introspective attitude to life based on taking pleasure yourself and pleasuring others, without harming yourself or anyone else." "Onfray's philosophical project is to define an ethical hedonism, a joyous utilitarianism, and a generalized aesthetic of sensual materialism that explores how to use the brain's and the body's capacities to their fullest extent -- while restoring philosophy to a useful role in art, politics, and everyday life and decisions."

Onfray's works "have explored the philosophical resonances and components of (and challenges to) science, painting, gastronomy, sex and sensuality, bioethics, wine, and writing. His most ambitious project is his projected six-volume Counter-history of Philosophy," of which three have been published. For him "In opposition to the ascetic ideal advocated by the dominant school of thought, hedonism suggests identifying the highest good with your own pleasure and that of others; the one must never be indulged at the expense of sacrificing the other. Obtaining this balance – my pleasure at the same time as the pleasure of others – presumes that we approach the subject from different angles – political, ethical, aesthetic, erotic, bioethical, pedagogical, historiographical…."

For this he has "written books on each of these facets of the same world view." His philosophy aims "for "micro-revolutions, " or revolutions of the individual and small groups of like-minded people who live by his hedonistic, libertarian values."

Abolitionism (bioethics)
One modern group that is hedonistic is the Abolitionist Society. They are also a part of the transhumanistic movement. They propose that all suffering should be abolished, and the prospects for happiness be increased, through biotechnology at a major scale.

Criticism
Hedonism has been criticized by a number of modern philosophers.

Robert Nozick argued that we do not only want the pleasure from our activities, but actually want to do them for their own sake as well.

G.E. Moore argued that hedonists commit the naturalistic fallacy.

Ayn Rand, widely read as a modern proponent of Egoism, rejected hedonism in a literal sense as a comprehensive ethical system:

To take "whatever makes one happy" as a guide to action means: to be guided by nothing but one's emotional whims. Emotions are not tools of cognition. . . . This is the fallacy inherent in hedonism--in any variant of ethical hedonism, personal or social, individual or collective. "Happiness" can properly be the purpose of ethics, but not the standard. The task of ethics is to define man's proper code of values and thus to give him the means of achieving happiness. To declare, as the ethical hedonists do, that "the proper value is whatever gives you pleasure" is to declare that "the proper value is whatever you happen to value"--which is an act of intellectual and philosophical abdication, an act which merely proclaims the futility of ethics and invites all men to play it deuces wild.

Proposal for workplace safety regulations, fines imposed, the appeals process as in such instances as Massey Energy and it's affiliates.

Any company that has been cited workplace safety violations that is in the appellate process should be held accountable to it's stock holders by not being able to pay dividends until such instances have been settled in the proper court of law.

Implementing authority:
(a) OSHA
(b) SEC (white papers, prospectus and financial disclosure for legal fees as well as underwriters having to disclose present litigation expenditures and projections)
(c) Justice Department

Provisions:
(a) Implementation of Federal Whistleblowers status for employees who come forward with concerns of workplace safety violations.
(b) Increase of workplace inspectors (proportional to employee count?)
(c)

 

People help me get this through to someone that can help pass legislation to balance the scales of justice once and for all...

With Bart Stupak's idiocy bringing discussion of abortion to the fore, I thought a look at the history of abortion might be of interest. Despite what the Church says, their views on it have been inconsistent over its history. How did a woman's personal matter became part of the business of the Church? Follow me below the fold...

Pregnancy and everything surrounding it, from contraception to abortion to birth, began as exclusively woman's territory. As it should be. In ancient times, there were wise women and herbalists to help a woman in this area. Abortifacient herbs have been found in ancient archeological sites. Though primitive, their methods worked with minimal side effects or other problems.

The earliest written evidence of abortion appears in the Ebers Papyrus, which dates back to 1550 BC. It is believed to be the earliest written medical document and includes chapters on gynecology and obstetrics as well as other medical conditions. Chinese folklore dates the use of mercury to induce abortions to about 5,000 years ago. Of course, mercury is extremely toxic and would have caused other medical problems.

The Bible records (Numbers) the use of an abortifacient potion used in testing for infidelity. This was given to pregnant women when adultery was suspected. The "bitter water" used to "bring on the curse" may have been quinine or several of other herbal and natural concoctions that are considered emmenagogues (drugs that bring on menstruation).

Abortion was a common practice among the Greeks and Romans. It is believed that Hippocrates used dilation and curettage to induce abortions, as he was opposed to potions and pessaries. Philosophically, they were okay with it, too. Aristotle wrote, "When couples have children in excess, let abortion be procured before sense and life have begun: What may or may not be lawfully done in these cases depends on the question of life and sensation."

Similar thought prevailed in India and the East. In Brahman law the fetus was not considered to be "a person" until after the fifth month. At this time, the so-called quickening, women could be punished for murder if they aborted. Before then, the fetus was soulless. 

In Medieval times, herbs were used almost exclusively to promote miscarriage. A medieval herbal reference referred to herbs to induce abortions in the 11th century. Pennyroyal, which can be dangerous, was among the herbs mentioned but so were catnip, rue, sage, savory, cypress, and hellebore. Some of the herbs are listed (and still are) as emmenagogues rather that explicitly as abortifacents, but since the most common cause of a late menstrual period is pregnancy, there is little doubt why they were prescribed and used. Hildegard of Bingen mentions the use of tansy to bring on menstruation (another dangerous herb).

This right of women to control their own child-bearing was not questioned in most places until fairly recently in our history. In very ancient times, it was believed that women spontaneously formed a child from withheld menses. But with the realization that men were half of the equation and the rise of Patriarchal religions, woman's private matter became men's concern. An early belief was that men's sperm gave the fetus its soul. According to magical thought, all the body's effluvia (blood, spittle, hair, fingernails) was to be kept safe lest sorcerers cause injury to the living person by using what was once part of him. Surely if a fetus was destroyed, being as it was part of a man's soul, great harm would befall him. It's not a great leap then, to forbid abortion.

In the early Christian Church, sex itself was seen as sinful, even for procreation. That was bad enough but sex for pleasure was positively heinous. Early discussion about abortion was thoughtful yet critical. The Didache, and early Church document asked two questions about abortion: 1) Is abortion being used to conceal the sins of fornication and adultery? and 2) Does the fetus have a rational soul from the moment of conception, or does it become an "ensouled human" at a later point? This debate - when does a fetus become ensouled - became the cornerstone of the debate which continues to this day.

St. Augustine, not known for permissiveness, held that abortion was a sin only in that it broke the linear progression from sex to new human life. However, in his Enchiridionhe stated: "But who is not rather disposed to think that unformed fetuses perish like seeds which have not fructified?" In other words, the fetus received its soul at some point in its growth, not at conception. As far as being a sin, it was only seen to be so if it was intended to conceal fornication and/or adultery.

The Irish Canons of the 8th century gave penance for abortion at 3 and a half years, while the "penance of one who has intercourse with a woman" is given as seven years on bread and water. It is clear which was considered the greater sin. A bit later in the century, in the Penitential Ascribed by Albers to Bede, the idea of delayed ensoulment is again supported. And, believe it or not, the woman's circumstances are acknowledged:

    "A mother who kills her child before the fortieth day shall do penance for one year. If it is after the child has become alive, [she shall do penance] as a murderess. But it makes a great difference whether a poor woman does it on account of the difficulty of supporting [the child] or a harlot for the sake of concealing her wickedness."

The first official Canon recognized as authoritative within Church Law was compiled in 1140 by Gratian. Among these was a canon stating explicitly that He is not a murderer who brings about abortion before the soul is in the body.

The Council of Vienne was called in 1323 by Pope Clement V. In it, St. Thomas Aquinas' thoughts on conception and abortion were confirmed. While he had opposed abortion as a form of contraception and a sin against marriage, he had maintained that the sin in abortion was not homicide. Aquinas said the fetus is first endowed with a vegetative soul, then an animal soul, and then — when its body is developed — a rational soul. This theory of "delayed hominization" is the most consistent thread throughout church history on abortion. It was was believed to occur at 40 days after conception for male fetuses, and 90 days after conception for female fetuses.

In 1588, Pope Sixtus V issued a bull decreeing that both contraception and abortion were to be punished by excommunication. There was no exception for therapeutic abortion. This law was relaxed by Pope Gregory XIV soon after Sixtus' death. He felt that it was too harsh and inconsistent with Church teaching's on ensoulment. As late as the eighteenth century, the church's greatest moral theologian, St. Alfonsus Liguori, was still denying that the soul was infused at conception.  Like Aquinas before him, he did not say direct abortion was right, but his view allowed a flexibility of approach to abortion, especially when the mother's life was in danger. 

For about three hundred years, the Church accepted the doctrine of delayed hominization. But theologians continued to debate about abortion; was it alright in certain circumstances? Was it okay in cases of rape or incest? Or to save the mother's life? All the while, abortion was not considered murder if performed in the first 90 days after conception. It was a sin and punishable with penance, and in some cases excommunication, but it was not murder.

Then, in 1869, completely ignoring earlier teachings, Pope Pius IX wrote in Apostolicae Sedis that excommunication is the required penalty for abortion at any stage of pregnancy. He further stated that all abortion was homicide. This was an implicit endorsement - the church's first - of ensoulment at conception.

This set the stage for the modern stigma attached to abortion. The revised Church Canon, compiled in 1917, required excommunication both for a woman who aborts and for any others, such as doctors and nurses, who take part in an abortion. Clearly, things were getting stricter. Therapeutic abortions were attacked in 1930, when Pope Pius XI condemned abortion in general. He also specified three instances: in the case of therapeutic abortion; in marriage to prevent offspring; and on social and eugenic grounds. Pius's stance on abortion remains the hierarchical view today.

The Second Vatican Council (in 1965), declared: "Life must be protected with the utmost care from the moment of conception; abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes." With this, abortion is now condemned on the basis of protecting life. All previous ideas about it being used as a concealment of sexual sin have been thrown by the wayside. With 1974's Declaration on Procured Abortion, the position is that the fetus is a human life from the moment of conception, if not necessarily a full  human being. At that point, the church had fully changed the terms of its original arguments.

There are ample examples of Reform Christianity's consistent teaching that abortion is a serious and unconscionable sin. Early Protestant church leaders such as Martin Luther and John Calvin were quite strict on this point. In the early 60s, some branches became less so in their views. The Presbyterian Church has supported free and open access to abortion without legal restriction since 1970. They were joined by the United Methodists (1970), the Lutheran Church in America (1970), the United Church of Christ (1971)and the Disciples of Christ (1971). Most other sects of Protestantism hold with the Catholic Church's absolutism on the denial of abortion.

So now we come to 2010. At this point in human history you would think that we would have come full circle to women's health being the concern of the individual woman. Well, that would be nice but apparently we can't quite get there. Male legislators and theologians continue to believe that they should have a say in this most personal of issues. Even with Roe v. Wade, obtaining an abortion in the United States is difficult. Thanks to anti-abortion groups, finding a practitioner is next to impossible. In some places a woman must travel hundreds of miles to find one. Women with the money to do so can procure an abortion without too much trouble but poor, desperate women are left to their own devices, with no help from their government and little from charities. Thank goodness for Planned Parenthood!

We have come so far yet still must go further. Why do men continue to think they ought to be able to control women by controlling their reproduction? Could they still, deep down, be afraid of the connection between their sperm and the fetus? Could they fear that any harm to it will be transferred to them? Deep down, in their primitive mind are they still envious of woman's ability to conceive, bear and nurture children? One hopes not, but in the case of Bart Stupak and his cronies, ya have to wonder....

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It’s been said many times and many places, that the health of the American economy is dependent on the institution of Christmas, accounting as it does for some huge percentage of total annual retail sales.  But if you ask me, “institution” is a word better reserved for bloated government bureaucracy, oppressive psychiatric facilities, universities and prisons than what I prefer to think of as the season of good will.  And there’s something disheartening about being subjected to a barrage of tacky ads starting the day after Thanksgiving, or seeing thirty part-time Santas suiting up for a day of taking orders for high dollar toys from TV-addled tots at metropolitan shopping malls.

Not only the American economy is affected, of course, but also countries like China which make the bulk of the geegaws that fill the gift aisles of the big-box stores.  When we cut back spending due to so called economic downturns, it is Chinese and Indian laborers that are put out of work as much or more as Americans, so it seems to be in the entire world’s material interest – allies and opponents alike – that we never run out of novel new things we want to buy and try.  Middle Eastern monarchies pump money into failing U.S. banks and enterprises not so much in a take over bid, as to ensure that the dollars keep being spent, and that a percentage of those dollars end up overseas.  The implication is that being frugal, saving instead of spending, is not only unfashionable but unpatriotic.  Those with savings or assets are accused of being hoarders and part of the problem.  When there’s trouble, both Republican and Democratic Presidents exhort the population, insisting that since shopping spurs growth, it’s downright un-American to limit our spending, or to stockpile food, tools or gold instead of investing in endless disposable appliances.

Truth is, it wasn’t that long ago in historical terms that frugality was considered a cultural value, with everyone from children to seniors encouraged to save as much money as possible for possible future hard times.  And poor Santa Claus, first drafted to be the materialist usurper of this preeminent Christian holiday, has now himself been slighted, turned by advertising executives into a shameless salesman for some entirely unnecessary and disappointing products, a red suited boulevard pimp of the most de-natured commodities, a shrill and common carney barker using sentimentality as well as sensationalism to draw in the unsuspecting fair goers and relieve them of their hard earned money.  Rather than being an active agent of material desires run amok, the original Santa archetypes include a fur-trousered Sami wildman and the not terribly material minded Odin.  St. Nicholas, “Ol’ St. Nick,” was actually a Middle-Eastern Turk who gave away his entire inheritance to benefit impoverished children.  He dressed more like a holy man, a beggar, a bearded biker or that unkempt mountain man Ben Lilly than the cash booster in the crimson pajamas appropriated from myth and history by the marketing engineers of Madison Avenue and West L.A.   He’d surely be mortified to find himself recast as a poster boy for consumer excess, his censored and polished image plastered on freeway billboards and plastic Slurpee cups.  I far prefer to imagine him as he was, wandering from town to town, freaking-out the stodgy and narrow-minded with his ragged clothes and beatific grin, intent on social justice, handing out sweet fruits and blessings to the good hearted kids he meets along the way.

This isn’t to say that owning nice things or buying nice gifts is a bad thing.  Like all warm blooded critters, it matters to us to have what we need to survive and even thrive, we appreciate artsy stuff as much as any glitter-gathering grackle or blackbird, and know just how we want to furnish our cave, den or nest.  But next year, you might want to consider doing things just a mite differently.  Instead of buying mostly imported junk from Wally-Mart etc., try buying things made from local materials with labor from the region you live in.  Pick things that are made to last, instead of those designed to entertain for a short while and then break and be replaced.  Or quickly consumed presents that are at least good for you, like natural honey from the state where you live.  Avoid anything battery operated since those are unsustainable and from overseas.  Try to avoid plastic for once, and see what else is out there made of cotton or wool, wood or steel.

Better yet, I’m giving you plenty of lead time if you want to think about making something for those people in your lives that you care most about.  If they really love you, they’ll appreciate the silliest hand drawn card featuring your own sentiments over any purchased one with stock saying.  And they’ll be more touched by every bite of a special treat, if they can sense the time you put into it and them instead of just ordering a fruit and jelly sampler from an online company.  Everyone has skills for making gifts that suit the needs and character of those we want to treat, and gifts that say something about who we are.  Maybe we have some experience carving, and a back room shop that seldom gets used.  A talent for sewing, and a basket of embroidery thread.  A fine stove, and an heirloom recipe for gingerbread.  The hours spent driving to a big city shopping center and milling about with the other bedraggled consumers, might be better utilized whittling an oak walking stick for a dear friend, or bagging up some special medicinal or beverage herbs and adding a personalized label.  Or give one of the best presents of all to your family, the gift of promised time with them in the wild, outside the box, great outdoors.

Not everything about the holiday season has always been easy for me, as I readily admit.  Yet no matter what your experience of the holidays – blissful, stressful or both – surely you’d agree that the best of Christmas lies not in what we’re given or what we buy, but in the love that abides.  In the gathering together of relatives that may live hundreds or even thousands of miles from one another, with Grandmas and Grandpas happily soaking up all the attention, and their wild little grandkids doing their best to get their dress clothes dirty.  In cold noses and warm slippers, hot stoves and steaming puddings.  In a common table with simple decorations, on a day when even those who usually eat out choose to share a lovingly made meal.  In the honoring of our roots, telling revealing stories about distant and not so distant ancestors, breaking out the photo albums, then breaking out in smiles.  In honoring the start of Winter but also the return to lengthening days.  In joyfully stirring a campfire of memories, whose flames might otherwise die out and shine on the planet no more.

It is a time when some of the least enchanted among us can, for awhile at least, retire the sober attitude and suspend their disbelief.  It’s the season when a larger than usual number genuinely open up to the possibility of miracles, like children keeping an eye on the sky for a glimpse of flying reindeer.  Maybe it’s time we kidnap Santa back from the hacks and return him to blissful bedraggled form, bravely odd and thread-worn.

Bring it on, holidays!  With our minds enchanted and hearts unfurled… we may yet remember we reside in a sacred and magical world.

The Ripple Effect

In a world of six billion people, it’s easy to believe that the only way to initiate profound transformation is to take extreme action. Each of us, however, carries within us the capacity to change the world in small ways for better or worse. Everything we do and think affects the people in our lives, and their reactions in turn affect others. As the effect of a seemingly insignificant word passes from person to person, its impact grows and can become a source of great joy, inspiration, anxiety, or pain. Your thoughts and actions are like stones dropped into still waters, causing ripples to spread and expand as they move outward. The impact you have on the world is greater than you could ever imagine, and the choices you make can have far-reaching consequences. You can use the ripple effect to make a positive difference and spread waves of kindness that will wash over the world.

Should the opportunity arise, the recipient of a good deed will likely feel compelled to do a good deed for someone else. Someone feeling the effects of negative energy will be more likely to pass on that negative energy. One act of charity, one thoughtful deed, or even one positive thought can pass from individual to individual, snowballing until it becomes a group movement or the ray of hope that saves someone’s life. Every transformation, just like every ripple, has a point of origin. You must believe in your ability to be that point of origin if you want to use the ripples you create to spread goodness. Consider the effect of your thoughts and actions, and try to act graciously as much as possible.

A smile directed at a stranger, a compliment given to a friend, an attitude of laughter, or a thoughtful gesture can send ripples that spread among your loved ones and associates, out into your community, and finally throughout the world. You have the power to touch the lives of everyone you come into contact with and everyone those people come into contact with. The momentum of your influence will grow as your ripples moves onward and outward. One of those ripples could become a tidal wave of positivity.

 

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Questions of life and death inevitably bring up the issue of abortion. For some women, a commitment to serve the life-force might make an abortion impossible. For others, an abortion might be the highly ethical choice not to bring forth a child that cannot, for whatever reason, be wholeheartedly loved and cared for. For a child is given life not just by its physical birth, but through relationships with lovings, caring human beings. If those relationships cannot be assured, then the newborn is given only half a life, a precarious, starved existence.

But abortion is not truly an issue of right-to-life versus right-to-choice.  To maintain the right of every egg and sperm to reproduce blindly is like maintaining the right of every cockroach and flea to populate the world endlessly. The question at stake is actually the right-to-coerce.  Only our assumption that some people have the right to exercise power-over others allows us even to consider taking the choice away from the woman whose self and body and future at stake.

For human right to be rich, joyful, loving, it must be the freely given gift of the Mother - through the human mother.  To bear new life is a heavy responsibility, requiring a deep commitment, that no one can force on another. To coerce a woman by force, or fear, or guilt, or law, or economic pressure to bear an unwanted child is immoral. It denies her right to exercise her own sacred will and conscience, robs her of her humanity, and dishonors the Goddess manifest in her being.  It is the responsibility of an ethical society not to force every fetus conceived to be brought to term, but to provide support and resources so that every child born can be fed and sheltered, loved, nurtured, and protected.

Human communities must limit their numbers and their lifestyles to what the land can support without straining resources or displacing other species.

We can act freely when we recognize that we are neither powerless or omnipotent; that our active will, strong as it may be, is tempered by the activity of other wills, that our needs and desires must be balanced with those of others.

The purpose of this blog is to address my concerns about some misconceptions and my feelings towards such a controversial subject. Personally, I do not pay much credence and in all honesty, am not at all interested in learning any more than I had to in the past to understand such. Tolerance is what I preach so tolerance is what I must practice as well. The Necronomicon originated as a fictional book in the works of H.P. Lovecraft, and grew into an extended literary in-joke as other horror writers organically added to the Cthulhu mythos. According to Lovecraft, it was written by Abdul Alhazred, 'a mad Arab poet of the Yemen', in 950 A.D. in Damascus. In many of the stories written by Lovecraft and his successors, merely reading or possessing the Necronomicon leads to insanity ...or worse. A collection of most of Lovecraft's stories, which due to either the date of publication or lack of renewal have become public domain in the United States. The following mention the Necronomicon: The Call of Cthulhu The Dunwich Horror The Whisperer in the Darkness, Chapter 2 The Whisperer in the Darkness, Chapter 7 The Haunter of the Dark The Shadow out of Time, Chapter 3 The Thing on the Doorstep The Book The Descendant The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, Chapter II The Necronomicon was not the only book which Lovecraft dreamed up, it is just the most famous. There is a whole list of others cited in his works, such as the Book of Eibon, the Pnakotic Manuscripts, "the Cultes des Goules of Comte d'Erlette, the Unaussprechlichen Kulten of von Junzt, and old Ludvig Prinn's hellish De Vermis Mysteriis" (Haunter of the Dark). He also threw in references to actual books and authors to blur the distinction between reality and fiction, some of which are available on sights such as: The Book of Dzayan Hermes Trismegistus the Turba Philosophorum Olaus Wormius So is the Necronomicon real? The answer may be another question entirely: real in what sense? The normative, majority opinion is that the book is entirely fictional and that any other position is either self-delusion or prevarication. And why should we even care? It is because of the light that this issue can shed on the question of how the provenance of an authentic text is determined. The provenance of a text is a set of criteria which scholars use to evaluate its authenticity. First of all, a text is usually referenced in other historic texts. For instance, the Book (possibly Books) of Enoch were mentioned in the Bible. The Gospel of Judas is mentioned in the writings of the Early Church Fathers as a heretical text. Manuscripts of the Book of Enoch were found in Ethiopia in the 17th century, and a papyrus of the Gospel of Judas finally turned up in the 21st century. However, there is no mention of a work called the Necronomicon until the 20th century. Secondly, there must be a manuscript that scholars can examine openly and subject to tests such as carbon dating and pollen analysis. No such manuscript of the Necronomicon has turned up, and until one does, it must be considered fictional. Other characteristics of an authentic text, which the Necronomicon fails to demonstrate, include a chain of ownership, multiple manuscripts with small variations, as well as linguistic and other internal evidence which places its composition in a specific time and place. Some claim that a book that people want to read will appear spontaneously. It is hard to argue with circular logic of this sort. However, perhaps this 'self-actualizing text' argument is true in one sense. Librarians have been known to insert spurious catalog entries for the Necronomicon, just for fun. And market demand has definitely produced several Necronomicons to sate peoples' curiosity. Caveat Emptor. As the obsession with the Necronomicon grew over the years, a number of books emerged to fill the demand, most notably the Simon Necronomicon. This purports to be a Sumerian grimoire, translated from a Greek manuscript of shady provenance. Simon has recently published a fascinating account of the publication of his Necronomicon, Dead Names. The Chaosium Necronomicon is an anthology of fiction about the Necronomicon and several fictional Necronomicons, including a lovingly crafted pastiche by the late science fiction writer Lin Carter. A recent entry is Donald Tyson's Necronomicon, which is firmly rooted in Lovecraft's universe. Less satisfying is Al Azif, which is simply a couple of hundred pages of illegible script in an unknown language.
Being Projected Upon We all have issues, as well as undesirable qualities or traits that we donít like about ourselves. Most of us realize that we are not perfect and that it is natural to have unpleasant thoughts, motivations, desires, or feelings. However, when a person does not acknowledge these, they may ascribe those characteristics to someone else, deeming other people instead as angry, jealous, or insecure. In psychological terms, such blaming and fault finding is called projection. When we are the target of projections, it can be confusing and frustrating, not to mention maddening, particularly when we know that we are not the cause of another personís distress. Even people who are well aware of their issues may find that sensitive subjects can bring up unexpected projections. They may feel insecure about a lack of funds and thus view a friend as extravagant. Or, if they really want to get in shape, they may preach the benefits of exercise to anyone and everyone. While we can try to avoid people we know who engage in projecting their ďstuffĒ onto others, we canít always steer clear of such encounters. We can, however, deflect some projections through mindfulness and meditation. A useful visualization tool is to imagine wrapping ourselves in a protective light everyday. At other times, we may have to put up a protective shield when we feel a projection coming our way, reminding ourselves that someone elseís issues are not ours. Although itís difficult not to react when we are the recipient of a projection, it is a good idea to try to remain calm and let the other person know if they are being unreasonable and disrespectful. We all know that itís not fun to be dumped on. Likewise, we should be mindful that we donít take our own frustrations out on others. When we take ownership of our thoughts, motivations, desires, and feelings, we are less likely to project our issues or disowned qualities onto others.
Human Angels During each of our journeys, there are those inevitable moments when someone comes into our life at precisely the right time and says or does precisely the right thing. Their words or actions may help us perceive ourselves more clearly, remind us that everything will turn out for the best, help us cope, or see us through difficult situations. These people are human angels Ė individuals designated by the universe to be of service to those in need at specific points in time. Some human angels make a commitment before their births to make a positive contribution to the world at a particular moment. Others were chosen by the universe. All human angels, however, come into our lives when we least expect them and when we can most benefit from their presence. A few of the human angels we may encounter are in professions where helping others is an everyday occurrence. But most of them are regular people, going about their daily lives until called upon to be in the right place at the right time to bring peace, joy, help, or heal someone when they most need it. You may have met a human angel in the form of a teacher who gave you a piece of advice that touched your soul and influenced your path. The person that momentarily stopped you to say hello on the street, delaying you long enough to avoid an oncoming car or a collision, is also a human angel. They may offer nothing more than a kind word or a smile, but they will offer it when you can draw the most strength and support from their simple action. You may be a human angel yet not know it. Your fate or intuition may guide you toward other peopleís challenging or distressing situations, leading you to infer that you simply have bad luck. But recognizing yourself as a human angel can help you deal with the pain you see and understand that you are there to help and comfort others during their times of need. Human angels give of their inner light to all who need it, coming into our lives and often changing us forever. Their task has its challenges, but it is they that have the power to teach, bring us joy, and comfort us in times of despair.

Today I got to thinking, and for me that could be a dangerous thing. I woke up as usual with the sun... let the dogs out, put the coffee on and turned on the television to watch my Sunday morning political shows. All this after my vain attempt to add a new position to my yoga routine as I listened to the sounds of my hubby's sleep-apnea chortles. Yes, it's Fathers Day, and I guess I would feel differently if I were a father, or my husband was a father... but all we have are our "fur-babies" and they did not seem to notice the difference or importance of such a momentous occasion. This is where my dangerous thinking comes in to play... How many people went out of their way to do something for a father figure in their life today? Did you visit your dad? buy him a present? Mourn his passing? Why today and not yesterday or tomorrow? Why? Because you fell into the trap of guilt set by successful marketers and advertising campaigns for your almighty dollar. Why any "special occasion" expense of time, money and false appeasements to ease one from the guilt that the other 364 days of the year aren't just as special? This hit me hard as I watched Meet the Press and the dedication to Tim Russert, who for the past 20 years or so has been a friend inside the box, informing me on the things that really have an affect on my life and keeping many politicians as honest as possible. Tim died suddenly on Friday at work, after a well earned vacation and graduation present trip for his son's graduation from college. All the tributes and real, honest emotion of many who knew him personally as well as professionally had one thing they said in common... and that was he was first and foremost a family man, that cared for his family and everyone he came in contact and their family all the time. No matter who he interviewed, worked with or saw, he always asked about their family and especially their kids. Here was a man who had his priorities straight. Family always came first, and being successful took time, dedication, preparation and hard work. When I heard of Tim Russert's passing on Friday, I was shocked at the news, but did not realize the impact of his loss until today - when it hit me that he will no longer be that comfort in the chaos on Sunday mornings... I considered him my morning coffee buddy as I listened attentively, barked back with my own interjections and objections, and occasionally shot off an e-mail to follow up or give my input as to the weekly discussion. On a few occasions, I was given a courteous reply and chuckled at the responses full of charm, wit and intelligence. He will be sorely missed, but alas life for the living goes on. So just remember, every day is a special occasion. Do not give in to the facade of "This Is Your Special Day" (buy this, do that, spend money and all your guilt will go away - P.S. - The more you spend, the more you show how much you love so and so) B.S. Hallmark loves it and so do all the retailers who profit from your inability to differentiate what matters and what's fake. Today is the "Special Occasion" of Every day! Don't be fooled and don't get caught up in the hype... for tomorrow may be too late to celebrate. Tell your loved ones that you love them as often as possible and do the little things more often. Trust me, making lots of little memories is better than a necktie, flowers or brunch one day a year. On that note - I love you all and just wanted to tell you that - today and every day! {{{HUGS}}} Photobucket

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