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Two worlds, forever separate, that of Mercy Culture Church, and that of Albert Einstein. Where do you fall, on one side or the other? With the Pastor at Mercy Culture, or like me with Albert Einstein?

An American Kingdom

Our beliefs are firmly rooted in Scripture, and they guide every decision we make and every action we take as a church. We believe Jesus is the Son of God.
We believe The Bible is the Word of God.
We believe in the Trinity. THere is only one God and that He is eternally existent in three persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We believe in biblical marriage
because God our Creator established marriage as a sacred institution between one man and one woman.

Pacing up and down the aisles were the ushers, the parking attendants, the security guards, the greeters, the camera operators, the dancers, the intercessors, all of them praying, whispering, speaking in tongues, inviting into the room what they believed to be the Holy Spirit – not in any metaphorical sense, and not in some vague sense of oneness with an incomprehensible universe. Theirs was the spirit of a knowable Christian God, a tangible force they believed could be drawn in through the brown roof, through the cement walls, along the gray-carpeted hallways and in through the double doors of the sanctuary where they could literally breathe it into their bodies. Some people spoke of tasting it. Others said they felt it – a sensation of warm hands pressing, or of knowing that someone has entered the room even when your eyes are closed. Others claimed to see it – golden auras or gold dust or feathers of angels drifting down.
That was the intent of all this, and now the first 1,500 people of the day seeking out those feelings began arriving, pulling in past fluttering white flags stamped with a small black cross over a black “MC,” in through an entrance where the words “Fear Go” were painted in huge block letters above doors that had remained open for much of the pandemic. Inside, the church smelled like fresh coffee.
“Welcome to Mercy,” the greeters said to people who could tell stories of how what happened to them here had delivered them from drug addiction, alcoholism, psychological traumas, PTSD, depression, infidelities, or what the pastor told them was the “sexual confusion” of being gay, queer or transgender. They lingered awhile in a communal area, sipping coffee on modern leather couches, taking selfies in front of a wall with a pink neon “Mercy” sign, or browsing a narrow selection of books about demonic spirits. On a wall, a large clock counted down the final five minutes as they headed into the windowless sanctuary.
Inside, the lights were dim, and the walls were bare. No paintings of parables. No stained glass, crosses, or images of Jesus. Nothing but the stage and the enormous, glowing screen where another clock was spinning down the last seconds as cymbals began playing, and people began standing and lifting their arms because they knew what was about to happen. Cameras 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 were in position. The live stream was on standby. In the front row, the 85-year-old retired pastor of the church this used to be secured his earplugs.
What happened next was 40 nonstop minutes of swelling, blasting, drum-pounding music at times so loud that chairs and walls seemed to vibrate. The huge screen became a video of swirling clouds, then a black galaxy of spinning stars. The spotlights went from blue to amber to gold to white. A camera slid back and forth on a dolly. Fog spilled onto the stage. Modern dancers raced around waving shiny flags. One song melded into the next, rising and falling and rising again into extended, mantralike choruses about surrender while people in the congregation began kneeling and bowing.
A few rows back, the pastor stood with one hand raised and the other holding a coffee cup. And when the last song faded, a worship team member walked onstage to explain what was happening in case anyone was new.
“The Holy Spirit is in this room,” he said.
Now everyone sat down and watched the glowing screen. Another video began playing – this one futuristic, techno music over flash-cut images of a nuclear blast, a spinning planet, advancing soldiers, and when it was over, the pastor was standing on the stage to deliver his sermon, the essence of which was repeated in these kinds of churches all over the nation:

“The Bible could not be true, ” Albert Einstein

EINSTEIN was raised by secular Jewish parents, and attended a local Catholic public elementary school in Munich.[11] In his Autobiographical Notes, Einstein wrote that he had gradually lost his faith early in childhood: I came of entirely irreligious (Jewish) parents—to a deep religiousness, which, however, reached an abrupt end at the age of twelve. Through the reading of popular scientific books I soon reached the conviction that much in the stories of the Bible could not be true. The consequence was a positively fanatic orgy of freethinking coupled with the impression that youth is intentionally being deceived by the state through lies; it was a crushing impression. Mistrust of every kind of authority grew out of this experience, a skeptical attitude toward the convictions that were alive in any specific social environment—an attitude that has never again left me, even though, later on, it has been tempered by a better insight into the causal connections.
It is quite clear to me that the religious paradise of youth, which was thus lost, was a first attempt to free myself from the chains of the ‘merely personal,’ from an existence dominated by wishes, hopes, and primitive feelings. Out yonder there was this huge world, which exists independently of us human beings and which stands before us like a great, eternal riddle, at least partially accessible to our inspection and thinking. The contemplation of this world beckoned as a liberation, and I soon noticed that many a man whom I had learned to esteem and to admire had found inner freedom and security in its pursuit. The mental grasp of this extra-personal world within the frame of our capabilities presented itself to my mind, half consciously, half unconsciously, as a supreme goal. Similarly motivated men of the present and of the past, as well as the insights they had achieved, were the friends who could not be lost. The road to this paradise was not as comfortable and alluring as the road to the religious paradise; but it has shown itself reliable, and I have never regretted having chosen it.
Einstein expressed his skepticism regarding the existence of an anthropomorphic God, such as the God of Abrahamic religions, often describing this view as “naïve” and “childlike”. In a 1947 letter he stated, “It seems to me that the idea of a personal God is an anthropological concept which I cannot take seriously.” In a letter to Beatrice Frohlich on 17 December 1952, Einstein stated, “The idea of a personal God is quite alien to me and seems even naïve.”

On January 3, 1954, Einstein sent the following reply to Eeric Gutkind: “The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish.”

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how trump does it.

Really no mystery here,

How Trump does sit? 1.
Trump’s relatively explicit appeal to xenophobia, racial prejudice, authoritarianism, sexism, conspiracy thinking, in combination with his outsider status that gives him credibility as the anti-establishment candidate. Thomas Edsall, July 2021

How Trump does it? 2.
Well he does it with “toadies” of which, surrounding him there do seem to be an infinite supply, think of Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham, and Josh Hawley, et al.
What is a toady? You can call the kid who is always really nice to the teacher in hopes of getting a good grade a brown-noser or, if you want to sound clever, a toady.

The word toady has a gross, yet engaging history. Back when medicine was more trickery than science, traveling medicine men would come to a town. Their assistant would eat a toad (you read that right) that was assumed poisonous so that the medicine man could “heal” him. Who would want that job, right? So toad-eater, later shortened to toady, came to mean a person who would do anything to please his boss.

Toady, a few definitions: —
a person who tries to please someone in order to gain a personal advantages,: ass-kisser, lick spittle, crawler, lackey, sycophant apple polisher, bootlicker, fawner, groveller, truckler, in brief, a goody/goody, one who humbles himself as a sign of respect; but who behaves as if he had no self-respect at all, at least for him or herself (they come in both sexes).

Schools? No schools.


From Philip’’s 1970 (??) LPE journal with a few additions and corrections.

Children did not always have the rights they have now. In the 18th and 19th c.s, for example, boys went into the mines and factories with their fathers, and the girls helped their mothers in the home with the household tasks. Schooling was exceptional, not a right but a privilege.

Then someone (Horace Mann, perhaps?) remembering that Thomas Jefferson had said that a democracy depended on its citizens being literate and in general well schooled, said that children should leave the factories and the farms and go to school. Now we would probably say that children should have the right to go to school.

Anyway, the result was “free” public schools. Children were required to attend these schools, at least for a certain number of years, for otherwise their parents would not give up the substantial material support provided by their working children. This was the beginning of a new era.

Children were in school, learning to read and to write, and thereby, it was thought by those who made this happen, becoming better citizens than they otherwise would have been.

However, here we are n the 20th. century and the expected result has not come to pass. Free public schooling has been with us for well over 100 years and there is no evidence that the products of these schools, the citizens, the educated masses, are running the country any more effectively than those who came before. A case in point, Abraham Lincoln, never went to school. Why hasn’t compulsory school attendance worked? What went wrong?
jui
Perhaps because we’ve put all our eggs, as it were, into one huge basket, the gigantic system of public schools. Whereas education for democracy, that which was most likely on Thomas Jefferson’s mind, should be the principal business of society as a whole, we’ve handed it over to the schools, institutions which above all are almost completely isolated from the lives outside of school of both parents and children.

One class of people , teachers, should never have been allowed to believe that they had sole responsibility for the education of children. Such a responsibility is much more that of the parents’, that is, yours and mine. And until people take that responsibility back on themselves, out of the hands of the professional educators, their children will not become better citizens or better people. Many feel that it’s already too late, that parents have ceased for too long being parents, that our society is in irreversible decline. We trust that this is not so.

We would prefer not to beat on the schools, disparage them, belittle them. The sixties taught us the futility of this way of proceeding. Indeed, the radical criticism of that time led to such absurd conclusions as, “School is Dead,” and the “Deschooling of Society.” (Now much like defunding the police.)

The fault lies not in the schools but in our attitude towards them. We need to change that attitude, no longer look to them to educate our children, but merely help us to do so ourselves. The return of parental responsibility is what we are most in need of.

Now this is, or course, easier for some of us than for others. Those who most need the schools are those who are least able to receive what the schools can do for them. The schools fail them and these families would be better off if they returned to the time when children worked, perhaps not in a factory, and certainly not in a mine, but outdoors, on a farm, in the woods, in a workshop or studio, places where the children had to pay attention and things had to get done, just the opposite of how they spend their time in schools today.

The oft repeated question, “What did you learn in school today?” sums up prevalent attitudes towards school and schooling. The question implies that children go to school to learn something, and to learn something from a teacher so that the question, “what did you learn,” is not essentially different from,“what did the teacher do?” Indeed, in most people’s minds that which the teacher does and that which the student does (and learns?) are about the same thing, or should be. For the honor students, they are perhaps the same thing, the grade A meaning that the student has done just what the teacher wants.

Even teachers themselves are often unaware of the difference between what they are doing and what the students are learning. How many times will the teacher answer the school committee person’s question in terms of the program or the curriculum, of what they would have the children do in the class, probably because by and large they do not know what the child is actually doing. In fact, how can the teacher know what the child is doing when the schedule demands nearly constant movement on the part of the student from one subject or activity to another.

So we should not abolish the schools. Schools can help us to educate our children. But they can’t do it for ourselves. Bottom Line? we should either not have children or if we do give them up to someone who can educate them for us.

If there is any single thing that has accounted for the failure of our ‘education for democracy’ it is that large numbers of parents have surrendered to the schools the major part of the responsibility for their child’s education. We need to change course, and only go to the schools for what they are able to do….

Shatov on Reason and science from book II, chapter 1. of Night in dostoevsky’s demons

‘Not a single people,’ Shatov began, as if reading line for line and at the same time continuing to look threateningly at Stavrogin, ‘not one people has ever yet organized itself according to the principles of science and reason. Never has there been a single example of that, except only for a brief moment, out of stupidity.

Socialism, by its very nature, must be atheism, for it has specifically proclaimed, from its very first words, that it is an atheistic construct and is intentionally organized exclusively according to the principles of science and reason. Reason and science in the life of peoples always, now and from the beginning of time, have fulfilled merely a secondary and auxiliary function; and that will be their function until the end of time.

Peoples are formed and moved by another force that rules and dominates them, but whose origin is unknown and inexplicable. This force is the force of an unquenchable desire to go on to the end, while at the same time denying the end. This is the force of a ceaseless and tireless affirmation of its own being and the denial of death. It is the spirit of life, as the Scriptures say, “of living water”, the drying up of which is threatened in the Apocalypse.25 It is the aesthetic principle, as the philosophers say, the moral principle, as they also identify it. “The search for God”, as I call it more simply.

Founding Fathers, John Adams and Abraham Lincoln

October 30, 1735, Braintree, MA
DJuly 4, 1826, Quincy, MA

John Adams was a Founding Father. In 1814 he wrote, “Democracy soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. It never lasts long. ” According to Adams there never was a Democracy that did not commit suicide. Only a founding father whose words were not well chosen could say that. For even today when Adams’ words are ringing true there is much that can still be done to stave off democracy’s collapse.

Lincoln was not a founding father, “was not an earth-giant, even a tree. He was simply a clear thinker who studied his country’s past, charted the best course he could, and stayed true to it.” (Ted Widmer)
Lincoln’s country would never waste itself, commit suicide, but would always do whatever it could to correct what was wrong and move on. But that didn’t happen. Lincoln’ death by an assassin’s bullet did happen. That was a tragedy, perhaps the greatest we’ve ever experienced.

What the country needed most then —thoughtful, reasonable words and actions),— and still needs, was no longer in the White House. And the result was Jim Crow or another 100 years or so of what seemed to be once again democracy’s end. Is it? Are we losing our voting rights? We’re waiting to see.

« Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. “

And that’s a good thing, as is our democracy a good thing, its citizens being of all colors, and other than our native residents, coming from all over the planet and making their homes here.

At Columbia University Eric Bentley was my thesis advisor. From him I learned that playwrights were no less thinkers than philosophers, or at least men of ideas and I began to read them. First it was Luigi Pirandello folllowing Bentley’s direction, and I never stopped, having begun with two of the greatest, with Pirandello and George Bernard Shaw. While I never wrote a book about either one, I learned early on that at best their ideas, were playthings, not dogma, and ought to be treated as such, as play.

In 1976 La Petite Ecole was a middle school. Now it’s a high school, but some things have never changed. We began our school then with an all school meeting, with the Petite Ecole kids about a table along with at least one of us, the tutors as we called ourselves, very similar to Eric Bentley also at a table with only his students, books and notebooks. I imagine that things haven’t much changed in this respect and that the innermost heart of the very best schools and colleges is still made up of chairs and tables and student tens and twenties, rather than rows and lecture halls full of student hundreds.

Also at La Petite Ecole there was the all school meeting, a lark when there were only 15 or 20 of us. What’s it like now at the successor to La Petite Ecole, the Waring School in Beverly ? Now I’m going to ask Head Tim Bakland and his students to complete this blog entry. I’ll be quiet now, other then saying I would like to hear about today’s students seated in chairs at tables much like those of Eric Bentley’s and mine, and of course I’d like to hear about today’s all school meetings. For me these are the link between us and the past. What’s it like today? I still hope to see for myself….


And until we hear from Tim, …


And until we hear from Tim, we could insert this picture of Mateo Homeschooling. This is much more like it was when we began.

Mateo Valdes, Tampa 2015,
Home Schooliing



All school Meeting, May, 2021

And yes things have changed. But the students still meet together, much the way they did in Rockport and in the early years in Beverly. And yes the attachment to our past, to our beginnings. does make us conservative. But we are no less liberal, free to move on, while the past although a kind of anchor holding us in place, is never a dead wight or dogma, holding us down, keeping us from moving freely ahead into the multiple and varied futures of each and everyone one of us.

Thinking, the ultimate form of play

The critic, author and playwright Eric Bentley in 1976.

Eric Russell Bentley (September 14, 1916 – August 5, 2020) was a British-born American theater critic, playwright, singer, editor, and translator.

By 1976 I had left Columbia, and all but abandoned my failed attempt to win a PhD from Columbia in Comparative Lit. It was Columbia, and the teachers at Columbia, and in particular Mark Van Doren, but mostly Eric Bentley who most influenced me. It was Bentley’s book, The Playwright as a Thinker, publishedin1946, when I was not yet at Harvard and certainly hadn’t read it at MHS or PA, my high schools , before going to Harvard in 1950. I first read it, probably at Columbia, where I was a student in English literature and had written a Masters essay on Herman Melville.


When did I begin to think for myself, or rather when did life become for me mostly about thinking, my own thinking.? It certainly wasn’t that way in school, not at Phillips Andover Academy nor at Harvard. The irony, is this a correct use of that word? is that I began to think when I should have been looking at the human body and listening to the scientists and doctors. Well I didn’t much listen to them and walked away from the classrooms, laboratories, and clinics at the University of PA where I was being trained. I walked out of Dr. Z’s operating room where I was an assistant and never looked and never came back. I went to New York, returning to a third Ivy League School, Columbia, after first Harvard and then Pennsylvania. And that’s when thinking became my major activity. But unlike others who would write books (just today reading about Amy Chua at Yale who in her first four years at Yale Law School wrote four books) not to mention the thriller writers whom I read on occasion and who manage 40 or more books each in a lifetime, I didn’t. Sure, I thought of writing books but never did then or later. I did write an essay on Melville and an unfinished doctoral dissertation on Luigi Pirandello, these two being about as far as I went in this direction.

A thinking man who doesn’t write books, that’s me. I’ve learned of course that there are probably many more of us who don’t write books, than those who do. And I’ve also learned that thinking doesn’t always have to produce a book. In my own experience the book may be the “end “ of thinking and in order not to go on rehashing the same subject matter in the book you have to drop it and read, if not write, on a different subject.

In my own case thinking has always meant playing with ideas. I might even say that in book form books are killing ideas,—— how many books make up an average professor’s library? Any number of them of course. The number of them comes from the professor’s time and money available for the purpose.

I guess in this sense collecting books, as I have done, is also a kind of playing with ideas. And the fun even goes on as I read the names and titles of my own hundreds if not thousands of books while walking about our home. The singer Juan Diego Florez while singing about the death of a pigeon (Paloma) asks his listeners, of whom I am one, “Are you having fun?” And I always respond yes. And my fun goes on, ignorant fun mostly because there are very few of my book collections (La Pléaide, the Great Books of the Western World, the Calculus and the stories of Anton Chekhov) that I have read in their entirety (maybe both Chekhov and Pirandello), and from only a few of these do I still have bits and pieces of them in my memory.


Anyway, it was Bentley’s book, the Playwright as a Thinker (who is himself “playing” with ideas in this book) who got me started as a thinker. Oh yes Shakespeare too was a thinker, who probably didn’t so much write books, as play with ideas, but whose thinking was always interesting, perhaps the product of his reading no less than that of most thinkers and writers, but in his own case always playful. Shakespeare always seemed to be having fun, certainly in the comedies, but also in the tragedies. With Ideas, not even new ideas. He was having fun and we along with him.

As I think about this I might even be of the opinion that schools have failed because they have always taught ideas as being fixed, somehow set in stone, as in books, much as the series of kings and queens of England and France, and even, up until now (because we’re not sure what’s happening out there now) as the presidents of the United States. Probably no original thought has ever come from learning these names and their places in the lists….





BREAKING NEWS FROM THE TIMES,

FRIDAY MORNING, MAY 28, ONCE MORE BREAKING OUR HEARTS AND MINDS. WHY?

Republicans on Friday blocked the creation of an independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, using their filibuster power in the Senate for the first time this year to doom a full accounting for the deadliest attack on Congress in centuries.

With the vast majority of Republicans determined to shield their party from potential political damage that could come from scrutiny of the storming of the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob, only six G.O.P. senators joined Democrats to support advancing the measure. The final vote, 54 to 35, fell short of the 60 senators needed to move forward.

A mob of Trump supporters climbed the walls of the Capitol in January.

The vote was a stinging defeat for proponents of the commission, who had argued that it was the only way to assemble a truly comprehensive account of the riot for a polarized nation. Modeled after the inquiry into the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the proposed panel of experts would have been responsible for producing a report on the assault and recommendations to secure Congress by the end of the year.

The debate played out in the same chamber where a throng of supporters of former President Donald J. Trump, egged on by his lies of a stolen election and efforts by Republican lawmakers to invalidate President Biden’s victory, sought to disrupt Congress’s counting of electoral votes about five months ago. (NYTimes, May 28. 2021)

Liberal and conservative, two sides of one coin

Lberal democracy, in the words of Adam Gopnik, is the magical marriage of free individuals and fair laws, the pursuit of happiness, each to his or her own joy, the practice of disinterested justice, everyone treated the same .

But think about it. Would conservative democracy be anything any different from Gornik’s liberal democracy?? Wouldn’t it no less mean a magical marriage of free individuals and fair laws, the pursuit of happiness, the practice of disinterested justice? Why do we allow a separation between these two words to pull us apart, and in this age of Trump, to tear us apart?

Now the best definition of either liberal or conservative democracy may still be the mantra of the French Revolution: Liberté, Egalité, and Fraternité. allthough I myself might begin with Fraternité, that which is most often overlooked.

Somehow we have lost sight of democracy. which is after all no less conservative than liberal. And in fact if we somehow still had it in view, a liberal/conservative democracy, would anyone of us put any other form of government above this? I conclude that Trump and Co. could not possibly have had Gopnik’s liberal let alone conservative democracy in view when they set about the destruction of our Capitol building on January 6. Did they even know what they were destroying?

Perhaps the reason for this turn of events in our country is that the country has allowed itself to be split in two by a liberal/conservative opposition. An opposition which never should have been. The meaning of liberal and conservative are not in opposition to one another. On the contrary they complete one another, liberal and conservative being heads and tails, the two sides of the same coin. While liberal would set us free, the other, conservative, would have us hold onto whatever we have of great value and don’t ever want to lose.

And finally my blog title has it all. For what could be more conservative than liberté, égalité , and fraternité? And what could be more liberal than the same liberté, égalité, and fraternité?

make America great again

Donald Trump’s Great America?

Well if you remove the Blacks (which is easy to do, there being just one of them in this picture) and the Native Americans (there are three of them here) you’re left then with the America of Donald Trump and the white supremacists, guns and all.

Liberté, Égalité, et Fraternité