A Possible Gospel And New Testament

More Fun Than Fundamentalism.

Posts have been registered with the U.S. Copyright Office under the name of the copyright owner.
For further information, email Darius at possiblegospel@yahoo.com.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Gospel, Chapter Seven: A Child Under Heaven

I.

One day
Not so long ago, Jessica’s eyes
Opened wide looking at the sky.
“Why’s the sky blue?” she asked her Dad.
Her Dad said, “You’ll learn that in science class someday.”
Her Dad was very busy.

Jessica kept looking at the sky.
It made her dizzy.

Only a few long clouds
Were climbing into that blue
So full of empty. Back outside,
Out loud,
Jessica wondered to the sky,
“So how come you’re so blue?”

“Why aren’t you blue?” said Sky.
Jessica wasn’t feeling shy
And placed both hands on her hips:
“I don’t really need
This kind of attitude from you…”

II.

The air came out of Sky
Swirling

And leaves and twigs got in her hair.
Sky sounded sort of mad
But gentle at the same time,
And the way that he was cold
Made Jessica tingle and feel warm inside.

Sky Said: “Why does mist rise
White in the morning, what makes rubber bands
So snappy or seeing grandma
Make you happy? How come birds have wings,
Why’s chocolate cream pie practically
The very best thing, how come people dream at night
And why does boiling water turn to steam?”
Jessica raised her hand quickly,
Forgetting that she wasn’t in class.
“I know that last part! Water’s steamy when it gets too hot!”

And Sky replied: “And what makes water steamy
When it gets too hot?”
Even though Jessica was sort of amazed
That Sky could keep going on
This way,
Still she wasn’t through:
Hey! These are all trick questions, ya know…”

III.

“Okay, said Sky, “I’ll ask an easy one...”

“How come crayons make those lines
Pink, white, green, red, brown,
Black and blue,
Anytime you draw?”

“Of course cause they have colors.”

“What makes the colors come out?”

“Because I rub them on the paper.”

“Why do you rub them on the paper?”

“Because I like to draw.”

“And why do you like to draw…?”

“Just because I do, I guess… That’s how I’m made?”

“Phew!” said Sky, letting our a big gust
That drove away a lot of mist.
“I think you might be getting this!”

“Well then, how come I’m made this way?”
Jessica’s hands had just started
To go back on her hips again, when…

THAT’S the trick question!” shouted Sky.

IV.

Sky widened both eyes and Jessica saw
That blue was just how they were made too.
They were just being blue.
So she replied, “Same goes for you?”
And Sky just smiled.

Then, for just a few minutes,
Sky rained oodles of little “whys,”
Making splashy puddles of word puzzles.
Sky’s sunny smile came back out to dry the last one out
And Jessica helped by jumping in the middle
To see how “whys” go scattering about.
Now Jessica was mesmerized,
Which was a whole new word,
And feeling almost wise
Even though she was only seven.

When I look straight up at you
I almost feel like I could be
That high and wide too,
she sighed.
And this reminded her
Of heaven.

V.

Jessica stayed awhile
Staring at the sky. She was feeling
What it felt like being there with Sky
In almost the same place at the same time
And she started to fall asleep
When she heard Sky wind-whisper in her ear:
Everywhere has all the somewheres
From all over stuck together.
Do you suppose that every somewhere
Knows its only home is everywhere?

And Jessica slipped sleeping into a deep dream
About Sky holding her hand safely
Through the swirling leaves and swaying branches.
The sidewalks were made of air
And even the houses were floating around,
But no one in the land was scared.
And she could even slide whole mountains out of the way
Using her free hand.

28 Comments:

At 5:57 PM, Blogger Pastor Doug Hoag said...

Darius,

What a beautiful story! Such imagination and depth! You sure have a way with words!!

 
At 6:56 PM, Blogger Liquidplastic said...

Oh my, this wonderful world of a child really make me smile, and I wonder if I can go back and do my childhood over again like my little friend Jessica? Can I dream me a new life?

Ahhhh Darius, you do know how to cross minds!

 
At 7:45 PM, Blogger Keshi said...

beautiful imagination of life and never-ending possibilities...

Keshi.

 
At 8:03 PM, Blogger Nabeel said...

the sky is blue because light refracts when it enters the earth's atmosphere .. and it reflects from particles and molecules found in air ..

the sky is blue simply because .. hmmm .. i dunno i am trying to think of what poets and philosophers said about it .. hmm interesting i can't think of any philosophic or poetic answer ..

 
At 8:13 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

Fantastic. Darius, you really can write and have a great imaginative talent. There's aspects of this I love, particularly Jessica's creative action in the whole story. But...

I'd be concerned that Jessica might grow up to be a lovely person like she's clearly a lovely girl, and really caring and really wanting to help others but...

She's continually falling into bad relationships with men who just tell her what to do, say. It's just an example. Eventually she sits down and cries and she thinks 'Why do I keep getting into these bad relationships? Why am I like this? How come I'm made this way?' when...

'THAT'S the trick question!' shouts the sky.

 
At 10:17 PM, Blogger Homo Escapeons said...

I can relate to your lovely scenario. Why is..to infinity.
Sometimes, when you lay back and actually look at how beautiful it can be...sometimes your mind is blank...you don't need to ask anything....it just is and there is no why....I think they call that bliss.
Most of the time I need a Nabeelian explanation but every once and awhile......

 
At 12:39 AM, Blogger crystal said...

Beautiful :-) It reminds me of a Maxfield Parish painting.

 
At 2:34 AM, Blogger Leila said...

Wow! I love this :)

I'm a lot like Jessica I think.

 
At 3:30 AM, Blogger Don Iannone said...

Beautifu indeed. Penned by the master. Worthy of publication!

 
At 7:17 AM, Blogger Darius said...

PASTOR DOUG, LP, KESHI, CRYSTAL, LEILA, and DON, I appreciate all of your words.

As to matters of PSYCHOLOGY and SCIENCE - respectively, BENJAMIN and NABEEL/HOMOESCAPEONS:

Benjamin: Jessica's just not that kind of girl. Very centered - into love, not co-dependency...

NABEEL: Yes, the experience of blue depends on there being particles and molecules - in the configuration of our eyes and brains, as well as the atmosphere.

Does that make the sky and our experience of it nothing but particles and molecules? Nope.

That's called "nothing buttery," or reductionism. A part of scientism, not science.

Another example: When you were a kid and your mom called you in for supper, she probably didn't say, "Hey! My filial atom-cluster! Time to eat!" She probably just called you Nabeel.

Even though Nabeel is made of atoms, Nabeel isn't "nothing but" atoms. When atoms organize and interact in certain ways, new realities emerge.

 
At 8:04 AM, Blogger Within Without said...

Wow, Darius.

Beautifully crafted, it brings me back to sunny days of just laying in the tall grass and looking up, way up, and inhaling the earth's freshness and feeling the wind in the hair, and the wonderment of it all.

To be that kid again, sometimes.

Inspiring. Thanks for it.

 
At 7:56 PM, Blogger SH said...

Darius,

Did you not intend for us to take your words and reduce them to a set of ideas and meanings that we can discuss?

The idea of reductionism is behind much of the science (knowledge). If it wasn't for reductionism we would still live in caves.

The word "scientism" is often used as a derogatory term by those who have issues with science as a valid way of acquiring knowledge about our world. Is it how you intended to use it? I hope not.

Nabeel's comment might have not been what you have expected but, nevertheless, what he said is true.

Which brings up a good question: is it ever wrong to continue to ask why and how? Is it wrong to never be satisfied with "just because"?

"The sky is blue because it is made that way" might be good poetry, but it is not very interesting philosophy or theology. In fact, this is how dogma is being brought about. Which might explain Nabeel's comment and my reaction to your response to him.

Learning about Universe and understanding of the world around us does not diminish our sense of wonder, amazement and awe for what we see or experience. I think it is quite the opposite.

"The feeling of awed wonder that science can give us is one of the highest experiences of which the human psyche is capable. It is a deep aesthetic passion to rank with the finest that music and poetry can deliver. It is truly one of the things that make life worth living and it does so, if anything, more effectively if it convinces us that the time we have for living is quite finite."

-- Richard Dawkins, "Unweaving the Rainbow: Science, Delusion and the Appetite for Wonder"

 
At 7:57 PM, Blogger Jax said...

That was great.

 
At 11:45 PM, Blogger Lady Wordsmith said...

from one to five ...


Feeling Blue?

Why? Why? Why? Which way? Why?

Because. Because. Because. I am. Because.

“Whys” wide. And wise.

With fear aside, dreams inside, and mountains slide.


Wonderments upon a world of truth! Thank you Darius for this delight.

 
At 11:51 PM, Blogger Lady Wordsmith said...

Oh! I closed wrong. It should be:

"With fear aside and dreams inside - mountains slide."


Ahh. My apologies for a too quick publish. Haste. Haste. Such terrible waste. -Lady

 
At 1:02 AM, Blogger Benjamin said...

I like this quite beautifully written story and homo escapeons seems to elucidate for me one positive message of the tale, indeed one highly positive function of religion, which is acceptance of the self and the world. Once we accept ourselves and the world we can love unconditionally.

But sh's point is valid also, and he asks, 'Is it ever wrong to continue to ask why and how?'

I think the Bible is pretty unambiguous on this point. 'Just leave the tree of knowledge alone, kids. Don't touch,' is my reading of the creation myth. This contemporary version of yours, Darius, I prefer (I really like Jessica's imaginative role in conceiving the sky talking to her), but ultimately the message is the same.

But Jessica, even if fine herself, will probably grow up into a world which has problems. War and famine are, indeed, mountains that need to slide. And I think she would be better off with having some knowledge of why such tragedies occur rather than concluding that it's just like that and that's the way it is.

 
At 4:00 AM, Blogger Don Iannone said...

Had to re-read this one. Beautiful Darius! Thank you for sharing this piece. Sounds like a conversation or two I had with my sons and my grandson when they were much younger.

 
At 6:59 AM, Blogger Darius said...

SORRY GUYS... I will be back but probably not for a few days.

I just spent forty five minutes explaining reductionism and when I went to preview, Blogger lost it...

So SH and BENJAMIN in particular, please stay tuned on the points you've raised here...

 
At 7:20 AM, Blogger Matthew said...

w00t!

 
At 7:46 AM, Blogger SH said...

Re: blogger eating messages... I usually type my comments and posts in MS Word first and only when I'm done I copy and paste the text in the comments section of the blogger or whatever web page I happened to be using. This might seem like more work but it has following advantages: I can check spelling and grammar of my comments before I post them (I desperately need that with English being my second language), and I have a copy of my text in case if blogger loses my work. For example, I wrote a long comment yesterday for one of the blogs and when I went to post it blogger was down, so I just saved the Word document and posted my comments later when blogger came back to life. It's just an idea...

 
At 10:40 AM, Blogger Darius said...

WITHIN WITHOUT, JAX, LADY WORDSMITH, and DON, glad that worked for you, and thanks LW for the “riff!”

MATTHEW: Wot??

SH, BENJAMIN, and (if you’re still out there) NABEEL:

What I mean by “scientism” isn’t science itself, but a certain attitude toward it – one far more popular, I think, among non-scientists than scientists themselves, who are generally clear about what science does and doesn’t do.

Scientism consists of unexamined assumptions that people sometimes have about science. The basic one amounts to something like, “Science knows everything”; or perhaps, “Phenomena that can’t be investigated by the scientific method aren’t worth thinking about or noticing.”

So what reductionism or “nothing buttery” does, for example, is claim that things are “nothing but” the underlying entities and processes that science can describe and quantify – ignoring the fact that new properties emerge at higher levels.

Why not just take butter as an example. At breakfast few of us say, “Please pass me those atoms” because we’d all have to go, “Which friggin’ atoms do you want this time?” This would only add to the pressure of our morning work/school routines.

Instead we ask for the “butter.” Butter and atoms aren’t interchangeable concepts.

Even though the existence of butter assumes atoms and molecules configured in a particular way, that particular configuration gives rise to properties that we enjoy having on our toast.

Ditto human experience. Say that we could identify the exact brain waves, or better yet, the subatomic events, that happen in our brains when we experience love. This doesn’t magically turn love into “nothing but” brainwaves or subatomic processes. Love is what love is - a conscious experience of a particular kind and quality. Besides, “Feel Like Makin’ Brain Waves” would have been a bad song title.

And if scientists ever figure out the brain waves and subatomic events that go on in their own cerebral cortexes when they experience the passion for truth and knowledge that leads them to do science, that passion won’t disappear. It isn’t a “nothing but” either.

So SH, the reason we don’t still live in caves isn’t reductionism or any other “ism.” The reason is the scientific method – the best approach to understanding observable physical reality, and thus to generating technologies that actually work, that humankind has ever devised.

And so I agree with you that scientists asking “why” and “how” is great. We find out a lot about how things work that way. I say let science be what it is and keep on keeping on. But science isn't equipped to answer the question, “What’s anything at all doing here to begin with?” - including the existence of scientists doing science, with all that passion for truth…

Mystery isn’t mystification and superstition and illogic and dogma. Mystery is the sheer unaccountable fact of our being here at all, even right now – to type and read these words. Even if science zones in a lot more on describing how it all works, and I hope it will, it comes along after the fact of being inside the very box it’s studying.

The butter in your refrigerator is a profound mystery – no less for organic chemists. If not, tell me exactly what it’s doing there? To do so, you’d have to tell me what the full context for butter - which is all-existence - is doing here.

None of us knows. Things are just so familiar to us, we see them so repeatedly, that we get complacent. Eventually we walk around saying to ourselves, “Why of course it has to be this way – the roundish planets, the stars, the radiation, stuff being made of smaller stuff. Why of course, that must be exactly how things necessarily are…” – as if this represented insight into why things are the way they are, or why anything is at all!

Look into a baby’s eyes. Infants take nothing for granted. It’s not that they’re superstitious. It’s that they take nothing for granted.

If there’s ever something like Ultimate Knowledge I don’t think it’s going to come in the form of either science or religion as we know them now. I don’t even know that our brains are equipped to handle it.

So I fully agree with you that scientific knowledge, as meaningful and important as it is, doesn’t detract one particle from the sense of wonder, amazement, and awe that we experience - and which the poem is trying to get at. Like you say, a better understanding of how the universe works only gives us more to wonder at - unless we’re wedded to “mystery” in the form of belief systems that are contradicted by reason and experience.

BENJAMIN: I think you’ll find that the preceding casts the poem in a different light. Jessica is noticing the sheer, given being-ness of being-itself. There is no advocacy of a new mythology or thought of passivity in the face of what’s wrong with the world. “Right action,” as I think Buddhists would call it, is one of those things, like science, that we just find ourselves doing – darned if I know why.

SH, re. your comment on Blogger: Good advice. I think I’ve just learned to do it more consistently…

 
At 4:51 AM, Blogger Benjamin said...

Hi Darius. I understand your point. We can quieten our minds, be still, accept everything, and be at one in a truly blissful state of existence, unified with all around us. I agree with you. It is a beautiful point.

But Jessica has concieved Sky as an Other God (Og) and this Sky God has told her that, 1. Bliss and peace and unification come from accepting things as they are, and 2. It is best not to question things.

Yeah, this is how we grow up, and these are fundamentals of Jessica's meaning system.

I doubt many Buddhists would agree that 'Right action is one of those things that we just find ourselves doing.' We do what we do for a reason and Jessica has been taught by Sky here not to question why she does what she does.

 
At 6:05 AM, Blogger Darius said...

BENJAMIN: Of course a poem is a thing-in-itself to a large extent, so people can have different understandings of the metaphors/symbols. So yours certainly isn't "wrong," and I see how you can read it that way. Especially since the poem is from quite a long volume of poetry and appears here outside of that context.

Without anaylizing every detail, just to give a suggestion of how different my perspective on it is: For me, since I don't believe in Og, Sky isn't a distinct Entity or Other-God at all, but a metaphor for life or existence as a whole - the One. Jessica is discovering that she can experience her own relationship to That.

 
At 10:21 AM, Blogger Benjamin said...

Sky sure reads like an Other God to me. It becomes easy to see that those who wrote the Bible may themselves have, like you, conceived of God as everything but unfortunately chose to anthropomorphise this everything and give it human characteristics (so that it becomes Him).

I strive to believe that all is unified, together as one, but I also recognise that there is a kind of Other God, very personal to me, that I constantly relate to. It is through the dialogue between me and my personal Other God, if you like, that I think about things, how I act etc.

This is very complex and I understand very little of how this interaction between self (I) and other (the world) can further interact with so many other selves (other people) and other others, maybe, (other people's worlds or conceptions of reality). Very complex!

In seeking to feel and experience the 'everything' sense of God it is helpful to me to understand why I drafted an Other God in the first place. We are talking existence here and, for me, Sky seems as confusing a metaphor as his more celebrated Christian counterpart.

Peace x

 
At 9:35 PM, Blogger Stacey said...

Beautiful, vivid, ethereal. I loved this.

 
At 7:52 AM, Blogger Darius said...

BENJAMIN: I can see why “Sky” could be confusing as a concept. Poetry can’t substitute for expository writing for clarity. The poem doesn’t fully develop anything conceptually; but I think that’s not the business of poetry anyway, and that a poem will at best suggest certain ideas or tendencies of thought.

I’m not recalling offhand that you were in on the thread where I went a little more into what I meant by God vs. “Og?” It would have been in a very recent post or two - in replying to Crystal and/or Matthew.

What I’m calling “Og” might stand for “Objectified God” as well as “Other-God.” It’s God as an object or objectified personage that I personally find unbelievable. These threads have been long, but if you did want to take a look, some words you could search comments for would be: object, objectified, object-among-objects, and circle. I included mentioning that my personal feeling for God as the only One includes a sense of God as - perhaps “Other-like” might be a good phrase. Because the One in whom we live and move and have our being, while truly including us, is truly tremendously more and greater as well.

STACEY, thank you -

 
At 1:17 PM, Blogger SH said...

Darius,

I haven't seen or heard anyone claiming, or even implying, that "science knows everything" and “phenomena that can’t be investigated by the scientific method aren’t worth thinking about or noticing.” So I don't really know whom you have in mind when you talk about your version of "scientism".

Reductionism is a philosophy, or an approach if you will, that holds that complex things or phenomena can be studied (and hopefully understood) by reducing them to their more fundamental components. This is the approach most of our sciences take for centuries and hence this is the reason that we don't "live in caves anymore" as I have stated above. While I think that scientific method is extremely important for the progress of our sciences and understanding of the world, it formally did not arise until much later in human history. I think that reductionism (taking things apart to understand them) probably preceded any other methodology for studying objects or phenomena.

Reductionist approach to science as well as scientific method obviously do work because they produce very tangible results for as long as we can remember. The claim that "new properties emerge at higher levels [of complex systems and cannot in principle be explained in terms of simpler phenomena and properties]" is in fact unverifiable at this time. Not only it is also an unexamined assumption, but it seems to go against most of what we know about history of science. Complex phenomena that we once thought were irreducible and unexplainable, can and are being explained in terms of the underlying fundamental components and laws. Steven Weinberg wrote:

"...relying upon this idea that different scientific generalizations explain others, we have a sense of direction in science. There are arrows of scientific explanation, which thread through the space of all scientific generalizations. Having discovered many of these arrows, we can now look at the pattern that has emerged, and we notice a remarkable thing: perhaps the greatest scientific discovery of all. These arrows seem to converge a common source! Start anywhere in science and, like an unpleasant child, keep asking 'Why?' You will eventually get down to the level of the very small."

That is, I should add, if the Sky does not tell the "unpleasant child" to stop asking "Why?" ;-)

You wrote that the scientific method is "the best approach to understanding observable physical reality", yet you claim that "science isn't equipped to answer the question, 'What’s anything at all doing here to begin with?' - including the existence of scientists doing science, with all that passion for truth." Unless you believe in some form of "supernatural" (things beyond our "observable physical reality") you have to admit that your statements are somewhat contradictory. If we have a method for attaining knowledge about the world, of which "scientists doing science" are also a part, then there is no reason whatever to claim that we in principle could not learn the answers to any question about the Real world.

I see all the talk about "scientism", attacks on reductionism, desperate grasping at Uncertainly Principle (to revive the idea of free will) and clinging to emergence and Theory of Complex Systems, as attempts by intellectuals to salvage whatever it is left of the ideas of supernatural, a higher purpose, a divine mystery. I find these attempts to be misguided. All of our wonderful experiences, feelings and thoughts are perfectly compatible with completely naturalistic and deterministic view of the world.

If we were to learn everything there is to know about the butter in our refrigerators, it would not cease being butter and tasting like butter to us.

 
At 4:20 PM, Blogger Darius said...

SH: I’ve actually noticed many people implying that what can’t be investigated by the scientific method isn’t worth noticing. BF Skinner was one prominent example – feelings as “by products of behavior.” In the blogosphere, I’ve also noticed that many atheists who seem to pride themselves on being science-minded are dismissive of the experiential aspects of religion and spirituality.

I’m no expert on the history of science and whether what you’re calling reductionism came first or the scientific method came first. It doesn’t matter re. the main point, which is that it sounds like our differences on “reductionism” are just tautological. So if you want to define the word as you do here, I’m all for it – understanding fundamental components is part of what science does. If we define reductionism as I did – “nothing buttery” – then it’s a fallacy.

When I said that new properties emerge at higher or less fundamental levels, that’s just a fact. Again: “butter” and “atoms.” There’s a good reason for having two different words. I did not add or mean to imply that these new properties “can’t be explained in terms of simpler phenomenon.” Certainly they can be. The poem isn’t about ceasing to ask “why” in the sense of looking for scientific explanations.

Rather, it’s suggesting that we clearly understand what a scientific explanation is – and isn't. Science, including “reductionism” in the way you use the word (couldn’t that be called, “physics?”) has great truth value and practical utility. Yet even if we ever manage to reduce everything down to describing how reality, in so far as humans are aware of it, works and fits together in terms of eventually getting to, “things that can’t get any smaller”: What in the world are they doing here? What is any form of isness doing here? And what is the full context in which the events we can observe are occurring, when science can’t even get outside the universe of transpiring events (which includes science itself) in order to observe it?

I find consistency, not contradiction, in recognizing that science to date is our best approach to understanding how physical reality works; recognizing that it doesn’t account for the sheer fact of being’s presence; and acknowledging that phenomena quite conceivably exist outside the “box” of what we’re equipped to observe without resorting to supernatural inventions and “explanations.”

I share your feeling that the religious/philosophical use that some thinkers make of certain scientific findings is at best premature and often wildly extrapolative. The fact, however, that science continues to find that the world at the level of the very-small often operates in highly counterintuitive ways does remind me of how much more there may still be for us to learn.

 

Post a Comment

<< Home