There ain’t no tree, nor moon neither.

One of the most difficult concepts for human beings to wrap their heads around is… well… that their heads are wrapped around everything!

One of the “ah-ha!” moments of my life was when it occurred to me, as I was looking at a star-filled night sky, that on the other side of the stars I saw, millions of light years away, was cranium – MINE!

Try it.  Look up from your phone, computer screen, or whatever device you’re using to view these words, and focus on the most distant object in your line of sight.  Now, think to yourself something like this; “That wall I see is an image in my brain and the reality is that, though I can’t see it, or sense it in any way, it is surrounded by my skull.”

So what?  It’s an obvious fact, but what does it mean?  The wall, the sky, the stars… they’re still out there.  The stars are still light years away.  Right?  Well, no.  Away, here, there, anywhere, become meaningless terms if “reality” is the construct of consciousness that theoretical physicists are beginning to concur that it is.  And that conclusion is based upon real science; empirical or measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning.

We now know that the moon is demonstrably not there when nobody looks.
N. David Mermin

Have you ever heard the question “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”  It is a philosophical thought experiment that raises questions regarding observation and knowledge of reality.

Most people will argue that the tree makes a sound, and it makes that sound whether anyone is there to hear it or not.  Very likely you’re one of those people yourself.  But, as it turns out, not only is there no sound in the absence of a “conscious”observer, there isn’t even a tree!

As difficult as it’s been – make that impossible – to convince those with whom I have actually engaged in the tree-falling-in-the-forest debate that the tree fell silently, I can’t even imagine convincing them that the physical manifestation of the tree itself was dependent upon the presence of an observer.

Frankly, nothing else makes sense.  The idea that the universe exists within consciousness rather than the other way around, e.g. consciousness is a resultant product of physical reality, answers some otherwise intractable questions.  Let me give you one example.  And this is my own.

Most of us remember laying out under the stars and wondering “Where do they end?”  Laying on sleeping bags in the backyard as kids we’d wonder what was beyond the stars.  But n0 matter what the answer was, the next question would be the same, “Yeah, but what’s on the other side of that?”

It is a question that obviously, even to youngsters who haven’t heard the term “infinite regression,” has no answer.  But that is only true if we’re talking about a finite physical universe.  But what if the universe is “virtual,” a construct of consciousness.  Would the question then have an answer?  Would the question even have to be asked?

Well, let’s see.  Imagine you’re sitting in front of a computer simulated representation of a starry night, filled with stars and galaxies.  Would you wonder, like kids on a starry night, where is the last of these stars, and then what?  Probably not because we all know the computer would just make more of them.  Roll the little wheel on your wireless mouse and “move” deeper into space – simulated space – on the computer screen.  What happens?  The computer just renders more stars.

In fact a computer game was recently released entitled “Endless Sky,” described as  the 2D action space exploration game of infinite depth.  Infinite depth!  That would mean stars without end.  But not just stars.  The algorithms in the software of Endless Sky also creates planets to explore, complete with flora and fauna of infinite variety.

One of the inescapable aspects of an objective physical reality is its finite nature.  Finite things demand a beginning, and things that begin also must end.  In a virtual reality, where space and time itself is a creation within consciousness, beginnings and endings cease to have meaning.  There literally was no beginning and, good news, there is no end.

So the next time you look up at the moon, marvel even more at the fact that the moon YOU see is not the one I see, even if I am standing next to you.  Yes, they are both derived from the same informational database, but they are “rendered” by our individual consciousnesses.  Just like the page you see on this screen exists, not as a page, but as a stream of bits of information, decoded by your computer and then displayed on your computer screen.

But it doesn’t stop there.  The screen, it’s light emitting LEDs, even the light they emit, is all information when it hits your retina.

But it doesn’t become visible even then.  It is still just information as the photons of light excite the cones and rods which send electrical impulses along optical nerves to the visual cortex, and voilà, a computer screen appears “right before your eyes.”  Except it’s not.  It’s in your head.  Which by the way is only another construct of consciousness.

Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.
Albert Einstein

For further reading on the topic I suggest Quantum Mysteries Disentangled by Ron Garret.

Posted in Philosophy, Ramblings, Religion, Science | Leave a comment

The most noble reason to kill.

Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that “being human” begins at conception.  I am not referring to the secular, scientific definition, a person rather than an animal.  I’m talking about the religious body-soul combo.  In other words let us assume that fetuses have souls.

Does this assumption impact the moral implications of abortion?  I think it obviously does.  A soulless fetus doesn’t just look like an embryonic human – after looking like an embryonic fish, and an embryonic chicken –  but it has a human soul.  That would mean abortion involves more than just a mother and a growth within her womb.  Abortion impacts an eternal soul, and could be considered the killing of a human being. It means abortion is murder.

So far we are building the impassioned case put forth by the largely fundamentalist Christian, anti-abortion, point of view.  And that is exactly what I want to do.  But you’ll have to stay with me to see where I’m going, because I intend to expose their hypocrisy; shoot them down using their own ammunition, so to speak.

Let’s consider the popular Christian stance on killing.  It’s a sin.  It’s the seventh of the ten commandments.  Thou shalt not!!  No equivocation on God’s part there.  Well, except for his exceptions.

He did tell the Israelites – through his representative Moses – to stone to death a man who was picking up firewood on the Sabbath.  No regard is mentioned for justifying motives the man might have had that could have lessened the punishment.  Nope.  Broke the rules – death!

That would indicate that God’s ethics are deontological, i.e., the morality of an action is bound by rules and without exception one is duty-bound to obey them.

But there are many instances where God’s ethics are consequential, or utilitarian, i.e., the morality of an action is to be judged solely by its consequences.  The Old Testament is replete with examples where killing of entire populations is permissible if it benefits the Hebrews.

Even the destruction of all but eight souls in the great flood of Noah was justified by the end result, a better world.  At least that was the plan.

And then of course the ultimate act of consequentialism on the part of God was sacrificing his son for the salvation of mankind.

So what about the killing of unborn babies?  Which is the proper ethical rule to follow; the deontological or the consequential?

The anti-abortionist has not a single doubt as to the answer.  Killing is wrong… period.  But isn’t this a bit hypocritical?  Are Christian ethics deontological?  Only when it suits them.

Sixty-three percent of people who identify themselves as members of the religious right supported the war in Iraq.  A majority of fundamentalist Christians believe that innocent children must die as “collateral damage” if America is to protect itself from foreign threats, e.g., Nazis, communists, and terrorists.  And that is consequentialism.  The end justifies the means.

The death penalty is another example of Christians with consequentialist ethical views on killing.  While not all Christians surveyed support capital punishment, a significant percentage do.

I don’t think I have to provide statistics to assert that Christians support the owning of guns for self-defense.  They do.  And that is evidence ipso facto that killing is acceptable if it results in a greater good – staying alive.  They may want to go to heaven, but not just yet.

So, Christians believe that killing for the greater good is acceptable.  How then does that have anything to do with the question of abortion?  What is there about an abortion that could possibly be for the greater good?  I think that’s an easy question to answer.

What is the greatest of all possible “good?”  What is the ultimate “gold ring” that Christians devote their entire lives to obtaining?  It’s heaven!  For their souls to reside in heaven for eternity.  Isn’t that the entire focus of Christianity?

So, abortion kills a baby and releases its soul to heaven.  Correct me dear Christian friends, but isn’t that a noble reason… the most noble reason of all… to kill?

But maybe bodies are like automobiles.  A living soul doesn’t get behind the wheel until after they come off the assembly line.  There is evidence to support that view, but that’s for another post.

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Hasta luego to my favorite Christian

I have a neighbor – at least he will be for ten more days – who has become a dear friend. Kili and I have sold the house we’ve called home for the past four years and are moving to Mexico.  The house is beautifully situated on two acres backed up to a wooded dry river bed.  We love it here.  But we love Mexico as well, and fiscally it makes more sense to live there.

The thing I’m going to miss the most about living here isn’t the house, or the wooded view, it’s the frequent conversations I have with a neighbor.  I don’t usually associate with neighbors.  I once said – and you can quote me – “Geographical proximity is not the basis for a friendship.”

That’s especially true when you’re as different as I am.  I don’t find much in common with most people, and I dislike inane conversation.  That would include such topics as who will be the quarterback for the Cowboys next season, or how dry the grass looks.

So what do I find to talk about with my neighbor?  Well, a lot of things, but our favorite topics are religion, philosophy, politics and the meaning of life.  The things most people avoid talking about.  On the contrary, we love it!  What could possibly be more important?

My neighbor has two degrees in – hold onto your hat – theology!  He’s a Christian.  If you know anything about me it is that I abhor the Christian religion; all religions, but Christianity the most.  So how can I be friends – close friends – with a Christian?

Well, although he is a Bible believer, and attends church regularly, he isn’t a Christian in the usual sense of the word.  He doesn’t even really care whether Jesus Christ was a real person.  He does, I don’t, but he says it wouldn’t matter either way. What kind of Christian is that?

He’s the kind who believes it’s his example that matters.  The goal is to emulate Christ.  The example he set was to live unselfishly, which in a theological nutshell is just about all one needs to know about Jesus Christ.

We have argued as only two men passionate about their beliefs can argue; but always with respect.  Respect because we both know the rules of logic and reason.  And we concede when the other has made a valid point.

We have, though rarely, both raised our voices to be heard by the other; to the point where a neighbor once wondered what the hell the ruckus was about.  In a neighborhood where the lots are measured in acres.

In spite of that, we have never gotten mad at one another.  There is no reason to be angry if your differing opinions are accompanied by reasonable assertions, facts, examples, analogies, i.e.,the accepted tools of persuasion.  Never have our debates devolved into an ad-hominem attack with name calling.

The best part is that we each leave our conversations with a bit more than we came with.  One plus one always equals three.  My mind has been expanded, and I’ve been given food for thought.  For example, I am considering the differences between utilitarian versus deontological ethics.  Would I be if we hadn’t had a discussion on abortion?  Maybe yes, and maybe no.  But I am.

Has he converted me to Christianity?  He hasn’t tried.  Have I damaged his faith?  I may have given him a lot to ponder, but converting him from his faith has never been my goal.  I don’t care.

I’ve learned from my friend that it isn’t the religion of Christianity that I object to, it is the inanity and hypocrisy of its practitioners.

Just because I’m not a Christian doesn’t mean I can’t aspire to be Christ-like.   Christians would be a lot less obnoxious if they did too.  Like my dear friend Randy.

I’m gonna miss the great debates, the Rocky Mountain springwater, and you amigo.

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American Exceptionalism

America is a Christian nation, and it shows. I think Americans get the idea that they are exceptional from their religious faith. After all, they, and only they, know who God really is.

The fact that they worship at a church rather than a mosque because of the geographical location of their birth is obfuscated by the certainty that they are exceptional. “I’m an American because God made me an American!”

They live in an empire which extracts wealth from the poor of other nations by force and financial manipulation, but in their minds it’s the one true God who has blessed America. Poor countries are poor because they worship the wrong god. We will send them missionaries, and our armies will make them free; the ones that live.

Americans don’t believe in killing. But, kill if you must, to protect American lives. American lives are, after all, exceptional.

They believe in one life and then the judgement; which means they believe they can only be, for example, a white Christian male from Alabama.

Maybe they would behave differently if they knew God does not interfere, nor does she make exceptions.

If they only knew this life is only one of many they’ll live on the path to enlightenment, then maybe they would feel less exceptional.

Maybe they’d stop the bombing if they knew their next incarnation would be as a black Muslim female in Yemen.

But that’s a silly idea… if you’re a Christian.

Posted in Politics, Religion | Leave a comment

Is Truth Ever Absurd?

The answer is plainly found in one definition of the word absurd: “utterly opposed to truth”  Another definition I found on the internet is, “something that is so untrue or impossible it is funny.” Most definitions include the words illogical, and unreasonable.

In my personal quest for truth I’ve stated flatly, and without equivocation “Truth is never absurd.”  I consider it to be a guiding principle.  No matter what I am told, and regardless of the source, be it a respected authority, or a stranger I’ve just met, if I find it unreasonable, or illogical, I question the truth of it.  If it creates a logical absurdity I reject it completely.

If finding absurdities is all it takes to sort truth from fiction then why do people so often disagree?

Most of us have been inculcated with particular beliefs concerning the world we live in and the way it works.  Those beliefs are not necessarily true, but they constitute the truth as we know it.  They become matters of faith. The faithful have a desperate desire to keep believing whatever they believe, even if all the evidence is against it.

Faith, by definition, is a belief in something for which there is no evidence.  But if evidence is not essential to a belief then what idea is unbelievable?  Without evidence it’s possible to believe anything.

Are beliefs based upon evidence more likely to be true than those that aren’t?  I think the answer to that is a very reasonable and logical YES!  And the more reliable the evidence the better.

We all believe things that aren’t true.  It’s inevitable.  I think most people are content to believe what they believe, and say “don’t bother me with the facts.”  And that is their right in a free world.

But if you’re on a quest for the truth and not content to just accept without question cultural myths, or the consensus of opinion, then you should reject absurdity; whenever and wherever you find it.

Posted in Philosophy | Leave a comment

An Offer You Can’t Refuse.

What if you were found guilty of a crime so serious that you were sentenced to spend the rest of your life in prison?  For me that would be worse than a death sentence, but to make my point we’ll have to settle for life.

Now imagine this conversation with a friend.

A friend visits you in jail as you await transport to the prison and says to you,”I’ve worked out a deal with the court and you’re off the hook.  They’ll be here in a minute to set you free.”

You’re incredulous, but this friend is one you can trust so without question you reply, “You’re kidding.  That’s fantastic.  What kind of deal?”

Your friend puffs his chest in mock pride and says, “I told the court that I’d serve in your place, and they agreed, so long as you say you’re sorry for what you did.  And you’ll have to say it on bended knee before the judge.”

Even more astonished you reply, “Of course.  Hell yes.  I’d say it standing on my head, but why?  Why would you be willing to do this for me.  I mean, who in their right mind would spend the rest of their life in prison for a friend?”

“Oh hell no.  I’m not going to prison for life,” says your friend.  “We’re buddies but I wouldn’t do that for my mother.  I’m only going to jail for 24 hours; just a single day.”

Now you really are confused.  “That’s crazy.  I was looking at 50 years in prison.”  Doing some rough math in your head you say, “That’s like, 20,000 days!”

“Yep,” says your friend smugly,”A hell of a deal ain’t it.”

I would argue that not only is it a hell of a deal, it’s an utter absurdity; outrageously disproportionate.  One day in exchange for 20,000?  We would expect that if one were to repay another person’s debt there would be some semblance of parity.  Who would accept one dollar as payment in full for a $20,000 debt?

Is there any precedent for this in history?

Well actually there is.  For 2,000 years it has been believed that millions… no, billions of people have been sentenced to years in hell.  Not just a lifetime, that would not be nearly severe enough to satisfy the ultimate court of God.  An infinite number of lifetimes!

But, as the story goes, someone has volunteered to pay our debts.  All of us!  And his name is Jesus Christ.

Do the storytellers say that he will pay it in full?  Yes.  Does that mean he will spend eternity in hell in our stead?  Well… no… not exactly.

Then what?

Well he spends about a day suffering terribly, then goes to hell for three days.

Then what?  What happens to Jesus next?

He spends the rest of eternity IN HEAVEN!

And to join him in Heaven all we sinners need to do is believe it’s true.  We’re told by priests and pastors that we should accept this offer of salvation; that it’s proof of God’s love and generosity.

I’m sorry.  They’ve got it backwards.  If I was Satan’s representative, brokering the deal, I’d say, “Ya gotta do better than that Jesus. One day on a cross and three days in hell in exchange for billions of eternal lifetimes in Hell is not a generous offer.”

What if you have a problem believing ideas which, on their face, seem utterly absurd? As a critical thinker you might require evidence, and the more absurd an assertion, of course, the more evidence you would need.  Which is why, if this rubbish is true, I don’t think there will be many critical thinkers in Heaven.

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Forgiveness requires sacrifice?

I just watched a youtube video in which a minister explained why God couldn’t just forgive the humans he had created without first torturing and killing his son Jesus.  His explanation was that “Real forgiveness comes from restitution, from costs, from sacrifice….”

Is that what Jesus taught?  I didn’t understand it that way.  So let’s see what Jesus did have to say about forgiveness.


Matthew 6:14-15 NIV

For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

To be forgiven by God I must forgive.  So far, nothing about restitution or suffering.

Luke 6:37 NIV

Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.

Once again, no restitution necessary.  

Luke 17:3-4 NIV

So watch yourselves. “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says , ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”

Okay, so forgiveness does come at a price.  Repentance – feel or express sincere regret or remorse for your wrongdoing.  There is, once again, no mention of restitution or suffering.  But it should be noted that this is not about God’s forgiveness, but rather our forgiveness of one another.

Luke 23:33-34 NIV

When they came to a place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals – one on his right, the other on his left, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

It seems from this that God only withholds forgiveness from the knowledgeable.  The ignorant get a free pass.  Not exactly the best defense in a modern court of law, but maybe if it was Jesus pleading the case… of course.  This would support the idea that Jesus CAN intercede on one’s behalf, but not that he MUST intercede.

The cornerstone of the Christian religion is that the only way the omnipotent God could forgive the humans he had imperfectly created was to torture and kill his son Jesus because his forgiveness requires restitution and suffering.  His love for us is demonstrated by his willingness to suffer for us, but we have to acknowledge it (preferably on bended knee) or else.

Or else what?  Or else we won’t be forgiven and in that case the suffering and restitution is endless.  Endless as in a million years?  NO… fuck a million years.  That’s not long enough to satisfy God’s sense of justice.  FOREVER!  And that is more than a gazillion gazillion years.

How do we know this is true?  Jesus didn’t say it.  So where did this idea come from? Could it have been invented by the early church fathers; the bishops who were recruiting ignorant illiterate, and superstitious people into the fold?

It certainly seems like a scare tactic to me.


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The Day I Lost My Bigotry

Raised in the 50’s with a southern heritage, I was inculcated with a racist bias.  My grandparents were the grandchildren of slave owners and nigger was just a descriptive like Chinese, Indian or Italian.  My grandpa Underwood called them “neegras,” and their babies were “pickaninnies.”

I remember, in Oklahoma, the separate bathrooms and water fountains marked “colored.” I grew up with the feeling that black cooties were worse than white ones.  You didn’t want to touch anything that a black person had touched; and, you sure didn’t want to eat with the same utensils.

Thankfully, over the years, I have managed to break the molds that formed me.  Over the years, there had been a natural erosion of my racism. I can’t credit that to any specific cause; so, I’ll just say it was due to an innate sense of human equality.  I believed that a lot of who we are is environmental; and, it was easy to see that the black community lived in a completely different environment.

However, in a single day, the racist mold was smashed and ground to dust by a singular event.  And, that’s the story I want to tell you about.

The chain of events that led to my Eureka moment began with a biography of the Dutch Psychic, Peter Hurkos.  I found it lying on my nightstand one night and asked my wife, “What’s this?”

“It’s a book a friend wants me to return to another friend,” she replied.

I picked it up and began reading it.  I found it interesting; maybe even fascinating.  As a Christian, I had never let my mind explore the paranormal.  It was just not compatible with the Christian world view.

Several times in the the book the author referred to another famous psychic, though I had never heard of him, named Edgar Cayce.

I finished the book and it was returned to its owner.

I have always read; but, seldom do I read fiction.  I prefer non-fiction and have read on a wide range of topics.  It was my habit – back when reading meant books or magazines, before the electronic revolution – to walk the aisles of the book store just waiting for something to pop out and catch my attention.  I was doing that barely a week after reading the Herkos biography when a book didn’t just pop out it jumped off the shelf and fell at my feet.  The author was Jess Stearn.  The title was Edgar Cayce – The Sleeping Prophet.

Of course, I bought it; and, I was fascinated by the life of a man Wikipedia describes as a Christian Mystic.  Save me some typing and click here Edgar Cayce to read more about him.

They called him the “Sleeping Prophet” because he was in a self induced trance state when he did his “readings.”  As his career progressed, he began to give “past-life” readings. This fact at first troubled Cayce because of his Christian faith – which of course only recognizes one life and then the judgment.

He was able to reconcile the two by studying his Bible which he reportedly read through in its entirety once every year of his life.  He found verses that strongly suggested that Jesus and his disciples believed in a pre-existing life.

Whether Edgar Cayce’s health readings were efficacious, or whether or not he was actually able to read the “Akashik record” and report on a person’s past life, is not the point.  So don’t get hung up on that.  Keep reading.

I was mulling over what I had read, like I do whenever I’ve found new food for thought, ideas that challenge my current paradigm, when one more seeming coincidence occurred.  I saw a poster in a store front window that read:  PAST LIFE READINGS – Wichita School of Metaphysics.

It gave an address on East Douglas and a time of 3:00 pm the following Sunday.  I was shocked.  I had been bemoaning the fact that Cayce had died the year before I was born so there was no way I could have a health reading, or more importantly a past life reading.  Who wouldn’t want to know who they had been in a previous life?  Most people, of course, were then, just as now, common ordinary nobodies.  But, just the same…

Now, maybe I had a chance.  At least, it looked like the same kind of thing Cayce had done.  I determined to be there and check it out.  Admission was free; and, nothing was said about a reservation.

On the following Sunday at three o’clock, I rang the bell to the old Victorian house on East Douglas. It was the kind with the wide steps leading to a full width porch and three stories tall.  There are rows of them in that part of Wichita and, at the time, they were pretty run down.

A woman answered the door and ushered me in placing her finger to her lips in the universal gesture that means be quiet.  She pointed to an overstuffed chair, one of a large eclectic assortment of chairs and couches encircling a very large living room.  Although I was punctually on time, the session had begun.

Around a dozen people were sitting quietly, their attention focused on a petite blonde woman sitting cross-legged on a long couch situated across the front window.  She was taking long deep breathes and her eyes seemed to be fluttering, with an occasional hint of white, but no pupils.  I imagined they were rolled back.

Once she had entered the proper state of trance, another woman with a clipboard in her hand (I’ll refer to as the director) began to talk to the blonde (I’ll refer to as the reader) and the session began with health readings.

I found the verbiage used by the director to be strange, but succinct.  “You will search for the essence of the entity known as _____ and report on any health issues you find.”

The reader would take a long breath, seem to be looking at something, eyes darting back and forth beneath her eyelids and then begin talking rapidly in a monotone voice without the normal hesitations of ordinary speaking.

I found it strange that the reader used the first person plural – “We see this one blah blah blah…”

After a few health readings, which were of course impossible for anyone to evaluate except maybe the person for whom the readings were intended, the director said, “You will now proceed to the fourth level of consciousness and prepare for past life readings.” Maybe it was the fourth, maybe the fifth… it was a deeper level of trance.

Here is where it got interesting… but, more for me than for anyone else in the room.

The first past life reading, in fact I think the only one of the day, was for young black teenage boy, whose mother was with him.  The director, reading from her clipboard, said to the reader, “You will search for the essence of the entity known as (I have no recollection of the kids name, so let’s call him…) Charles Jackson, and report on a significant past incarnation.”

The reader’s eyes began to move rapidly back and forth, as though viewing or searching something.  Her eyes were closed; but, one could see the bulge of her pupils through the eyelids.  Then suddenly she began, “We see this one in the land known as Virginia in the early 1800’s.  This one is a farmer involved in agriculture… this one… this one… this one.  Frankly, the details were lost to me as soon as she said them.  I guess that was because nothing about this life as a farmer at the turn of the 19th century in Virginia was memorable.  The memorable part was about to hit me like a ton of WTF!

The reader stopped as suddenly as she had begun.  The director turned to the black kid and asked, “Do you have any questions?”

As he paused, pondering, I was wondering what could he possibly ask when abruptly he said “Yeah.  What was my name?”  Good question.

The director turned to the reader and asked the question.  The reader replied, “This one was known as Robert Michael Land.  I felt my heart jump… the kind of jump when a totally unexpected surprise smacks you in the brain.  Why?  First of all, because it is damned nearly my name – Rodney Michael Land.

Nobody in that house new my name.  No one knew I was coming; and, there had not been time for any introductions.  How many surnames are their in the world?  How many given names?  What are the statistical odds that, with the exception of four letters, my three names would be uttered?  I’ll tell you.  Incalculable!

I also thought it extremely unlikely that anyone, even if they had known my name, would have been aware that the Lands would be found in Virginia in the early 1800’s.  My own great-grandfather, Nicholas Rufus Land, was born in Virginia in 1809, and I had seen the 1810 census with my own eyes while researching my family’s genealogy – there were lots of Lands.

For you who believe in coincidences this qualifies as a MEGA-coincidence.  I don’t believe in coincidences.  If you do… fine.  We’re all entitled to our beliefs, and of course there is no way to prove that a book would find it’s way to my nightstand, that would lead me to recognize a book that falls mysteriously off of a bookstore shelf, that lead me to a psychic reading at which my name is pulled out of thin air by total strangers – is anything but a coincidence.  So I’ll leave it to you, the reader, to draw your own conclusion.

Whether coincidence or providence one thing is not debatable – the profound impact that moment had on my spiritual views.

Two profound paradigm changing thoughts occurred to me as I left that house, my mind still processing the import of what I’d experienced.  The first – this black kid, if reincarnation be true, and he was a Land in early Virginia in a past life, could be a reincarnated branch from my own family tree.  In fact, he would have been, since all of the Lands in Virginia were descended from the original immigrant John Land.

The second realization was that, given the above, he was a reincarnated slave owner.  It is almost a certainty that any Virginia farmer from the early 19th century owned at least one slave.  As surely as a modern farmer owns a tractor.

How bigoted can a person be if they truly believe we all have familial roots that run throughout human history? If they believe, not in an abstract we’re-all-members-of-the-same-species way, but in a way that anyone you meet, regardless of their current culture or race could be a progenitor of yours?

Would we not be more careful about hanging a black person if we knew we might one day feel the bite of a rope around our own dark skinned neck?

Believing we are exceptional and forgiven of our sins because we believe in a Bible story does not make this world a better place.  America is living proof of that fact.

The world would change for the better if we believed that we might one day, in a future life, be black… or yellow, or red, or Hindu, Muslim, or… yes… even gay.

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A Mule Named Homer

I got my first horse when I was 15 – a loaner.  He belonged to Frank, a wheat farmer near Scott City, Kansas; a friend of the family.  His son, Ray-Lee, worked for my dad.  We’d go pheasant hunting each fall on Frank’s place and when he found out I wanted a horse he loaned me Sonny; a big gelding Frank said was three-quarters Quarter Horse and a quarter Morgan.  Frank said “If you like him, buy him.  If you don’t just bring him back.”  We took him back a year later. Continue reading

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The Journey

I was plopped in the River Mike on December 19, 1946, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma at 4:45 in the morning.  And thus my journey began.  This is the section where I’ll share stories from the trip so far.

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