By Arthur Noll

Return to Harmony
Part I

Chapter 7

I'd like to go into some more detail on reproduction, since it is such an important part of the story.  Lets start by remembering the logic about it I gave at the beginning.

If any organism overpopulates, the most likely survivors are the ones that are the strongest and most efficient.  One way to be more strong and efficient is to put less energy into reproduction.  We see the result of this in animal populations.  Predators do not reproduce at the same rate as prey does.  Predators do this in many different ways. The eagle may lay only two eggs, and raise only one chick.  The lion has a litter of cubs, but mother may go out hunting, not return for two or three days, and after a few episodes of this, 75% of the cubs are dead.  I seem to recall that this was in desert country, and in richer country, more cubs are likely to survive, but the principle is clear.  In a pack of wolves, only the dominant pair will have young.  Again, this is likely to vary with the resources available, but there is a definite mechanism to limit reproduction.

A question arises, though, when we look at herbivores like wildebeast, zebras, other large herbivores, living with the lions and other predators.  These animals are frequently prey for lions, yet they give birth to one baby a year.  How to explain this?  We have to remember that herbivores are predators of grass, and that while they have vulnerable periods of life, growing up, growing old,  when living as healthy adults in a herd, they are very difficult for predators to catch.  It has been noted by biologists that it is disease that is the greatest check on their population, not more conventional predators.  So such a low rate of reproduction still fits.  They reproduce to fill up their ecological space, to go beyond that exposes them to problems like hunger and disease, which can knock the population a long ways down, and once again,  those that put less energy into reproduction would be favored.  Since they are so successful at evading lions and similar predators most of the time, it would seem that their low birth rate is a function of such success.

People who have studied hunter gatherer groups often find that reproduction is in balance.  Several factors are at play.  If the conditions are difficult, northern or southern deserts, tropical forests full of disease, then people naturally die faster from the harsh conditions. Birth rates are slowed by women not conceiving well when they are always on the verge of hunger, or nursing babies, and the food is coarse and babies need to nurse longer.  Marjorie Shostak writes about this with regard to the !Kung people.  In richer areas of the world, warfare between groups seems to have make up the difference, this added enough stress to groups to make up for the fact that the living was easier.

If we have understanding about the source of disease, this always gives us a little edge on the problem.  If we herd animals, nurture plants appropriately, that also gives an edge on hunger. Having better tools and knowledge of microbes also allows food to be better stored for lean periods.  But if people aren't dying so much of disease, and hunger is lessened so that women conceive easily, we can and have gotten into trouble.  We can't put knowledge back in the bottle, we don't like high death rates. But we have to choose, either we take a high death rate or we have a lower birth rate.  Farmers have lessened hunger with unsustainable food production, and welcomed a higher birth rate to have labor, which they really need lots of..  But even without farming, birth rates have to come down.

It all comes down to energy efficiency.  We only have so much energy to spend on any one thing.  Birth control has to be as cheap as possible.  The cheapest and most effective is a mental ability to abstain from sex when conditions call for it.  Under conditions of stress, that tends to happen naturally. The question is what a person regards as stressful.  Someone who can see logical connections to disasters looming will feel a lot more stress and back away from reproduction.  Those who can't see will still be engaged in reproduction, unaware of danger signals.  They get trapped.  Pregnant women and nursing mothers can't easily move and get away from problems.  They need a lot of extra care.

When conditions are more peaceful, there are simple solutions to the problem.  Vasectomies are simple and cheap, relatively.  They don't help much right now, since they aren't easily reversible, and we would want to survive and still be able to reproduce.  There are other possibilities.  Basically, they have to be energy efficient and sustainable.  But right now, the best option looks like abstinence.

More Reproductive Related Issues

There are a couple of very contentious issues associated with reproduction, that we might look at.  Abortion and homosexuality.  It is the same as with everything, is it energy efficient?  Abortion doesn't look very efficient to me.  It is a major operation.  But it is more efficient than taking care of a baby.  Some people get very upset about abortion, say that it is killing.  They are right, it is killing a potential person.  But all forms of birth control kill potential people.  Not controlling population ends up killing people.  Since abortion is an expensive method, I wouldn't favor using it as a primary means of population control, but as a last resort.  If we are using other cheaper methods of birth control, we could expect to sometimes have an unexpected pregnancy,  but this might well be balanced by unexpected deaths, and abortion might be something we almost never resort to.  But I wouldn't rule it out.


Lets remember that no one makes themselves.  People don't choose to be this way.  If you think you chose, try being sexually neutral for a few months.  Even the gelding runs to the mares, and humans are no different.  Abstaining from sex doesn't mean the attraction goes away.  It can be reduced a lot. But it is also true that homosexual attractions are not normal.  Wires are crossed, the programming is wrong.  A homosexual is broken, and we don't really know how to completely fix it.

Some have claimed that denying themselves homosexual urges will make them normal.  To a degree, I think this can be true.  If brain circuits are not used, they tend to shrink, and have less power over our actions.  I feel that this makes the person in the same category as a drug addict, where the urges will die down to a low level, but that the potential remains.  If people have the ability to hold themselves in check this way,  that sounds fine to me.  If not, then I have some problems about it.

Does it make sense to take extremely limited space in a group, for a homosexual that is either not going to reproduce when the time comes, or will poison a relationship in the future?   I can't see the sense.  On the other hand, I would be glad to have homosexuals help out with parenting of groups, the same as anyone who has some kind of brokenness.  Just because a person is homosexual doesn't mean they are worthless.  It is like any problem, you don't necessarily need to banish them, but let them contribute as they can.  If they can't do anything, then they might have to go.  That is rare.

There is growing evidence that homosexuality is the result of environmental factors, nutrition, chemical pollution, during critical stages of pregnancy and childhood. There is less to go wrong with making a female, since we all apparently start out as female, and additional steps are taken to make a male.  Experiments have been done that make animals behave as if they were of the opposite gender, by altering hormones during development.  If this holds true, then we should have a lot less problem with homosexuals being born in the future, as we can watch these things more carefully.  This theory makes a lot of sense, because you would expect a purely genetic homosexuality to die out over time.  An argument can be made for a genetic factor that hid in the opposite sex, but this remains to be observed.  If we do have small numbers of homosexuals in the future, we should be able to tolerate this as we tolerate small numbers of other reproduction problems.  Others have to reproduce slightly more to make up the numbers, is all.

The suggestion has been made that homosexual and bisexual behavior is of value because it decreases the birth rate.  The trouble with this idea is that we have no control of the situation, and if we did control it, how would you pick the people to be made homosexual?   How would you figure what percentage of the population, if no limits to reproduction were put on heterosexuals? If you put limits on heterosexuals, why make homosexuals? 

Bisexual behavior opens the door to disease.   A slightly bisexual person who can get enough satisfaction from the opposite sex and reproduce when needed, might be a mechanism for reducing birth rates, as they wouldn't always be interested in conventional sex.  It isn't something we have a great deal of ability to control, though, any more than homosexuality.  If we could control such things with enough precision, then we would likely be better off reducing sexuality altogether, so that it worked only when we needed to reproduce.  That would be the most energy efficient way.


We have some good reasons for monogamy.   Cooperation, diversity, and disease.  Polygamous situations leave people  out of reproduction.  Unless there are solid reasons for this, like a disaster in which a lot of one sex dies,  then interdependent people are not going to be happy with the injustice of the situation.  Having unhappy people is not the goal in life.  More importantly, monogamy favors diversity, and  there are so many ways that diversity favors us, as a person with the proper talent can always be found to meet a multitude of problems.  It works for animals to have one ideal model for male and female, but it doesn't work so well for us.  It is very useful for us to be able to turn to one of our number that is tall, or short, or is good at math, or language, or design, or has coordination of the hands, and so on.   And last, disease is stopped at two people, not the whole group, if people are monogamous. 

As long as we are carefully aware of the problems, I don't think we have to be absolutely rigid about monogamy.  Forcing people to stay together in unpleasant situations that cannot be resolved might easily cost society more that a split would cost.  But divorce should not be taken lightly.

Having a community of cooperating people should take a lot of stress of couples.  You don't have to find a whole community in your spouse.  This also means not elevating the importance of your spouse above the community.  This is probably not as romantic as some people might like, but the results of insanity are never romantic at all.

Some Thoughts About Gender difference in the Brain

Women's thoughts are often ignored by men in the present situation, which seems again to be non functional instinct.  Men were hunters, and women really couldn't contribute much to this, since they weren't in the field, and couldn't generally observe, either.  Another factor is much older, in that physical strength was the measure by which you listened to another individual.  It is not simply a matter of a stronger individual being able to hurt you, though that is a factor.  It is also that in a threatening world, you want to stick close to the biggest strength in the group, and so that is what you pay attention to.

Obviously, mental strength can throw this simple relationship into confusion, and this we see everywhere, and not only between men and women, but also between men.  Having economic measure of money, that prevents objective evaluation of ideas, men and women are often given  approval on how they look, not on how well their minds operate.  Sticking to questions of gender, the situation is further confused by the different ways men and women process information, something that brain research in finding more and more evidence of.  We are told by the National Institute of Mental Health that women's brains show 8 times the activity in response to sadness and loss, than men's brains show, for example.  In most groups of people, men are superior in spatial awareness, women are superior in language ability. Objective tests show women respond faster to sounds of distress.   Men are likely to be wary of solutions when they aren't sure of how they were arrived at, and fall back on the instinctive path of being in charge solely on greater physical strength, ignoring half the brain power of the group.  This is a great waste.  We must make the effort to understand each other whenever possible.  Having minds that process information differently should be a great asset, it provides a check.  If we don't agree, we should figure out why, and this should save us trouble in the long run.

It is interesting to note that logical thought can take different paths, and get to the same point.  We seem to have two kinds of computer in our heads, a step by step, "digital" computer, and an, answer all at once, "analog" computer.  Analog computers are capable of great speed and complexity, but tend to be fuzzy in their accuracy.  We might spend a long time doing a problem step by step, and when we get an answer, we look at it, and say, in a flash, that sounds right, or wrong.  That is our analog computer weighing in.  Women generally seem to be stronger on the analog side of thinking, than on the step by step logical side.  It is unfortunate that analog thinking has a hard time pointing to a specific reason for disagreement on something, I think it is a good part of why women are often ignored.

Analog computers made of electrical components mimic the problem, all its attractions and rejections and kinetic energy, with those components.  In the same fashion, our analog brains can employ the emotions we have about things.  If the wrong values of attraction and rejection are programmed in by instinct, then our instant intuition about a problem will be wrong.  Some individuals can override previous programming in the face of repeated observable evidence that they are wrong, and reprogram their analog side, but others appear to be helpless to change.  They may even be aware of their helplessness.  Drug addicts often tell of being aware that they were destroying themselves, but that they could not stop.  To reprogram their brain needed a greater force than their reason could provide.

Again dragging the subject back to gender, the fact that women feel loss so acutely might seem to indicate that women would have a harder time letting go and joining with reason.  I don't think so, because this fear of loss is balanced by a greater attraction to stable relationships.  It comes down to being able to bend to reason, for both men and women, and I doubt that either sex has any advantage or disadvantage, on this matter.

Chapter 8
A Story about Partnership

A person riding a donkey illustrates partnership, very well.  The donkey has excellent senses, and has instinct to listen to those senses.  The donkey doesn't suffer fools who don't listen to signs of possible danger.  It stops at such signs, and no persuasion short of threatened death will convince it to advance into the death it senses ahead.  It is master of the event. The person riding a donkey is going to be a partner, or they aren't going anywhere together.  Force a donkey too much, and it will end up looking for a chance to kick you in the head, or run away.  But if a person is willing to listen, a donkey is also willing to listen.  If no danger is sensed ahead, the donkey will concede to carry you forward.  People have liked horses better than donkeys, because while horses also want partnership, they aren't so conservative about fears down the road.  Horses have evolved to outrun any danger down the road, and this fits nicely with the instincts of people, who also feel like they can outrun, outfight, and outsmart anything they meet up with.  A human riding a horse makes a good  metaphor of instinctive leadership leading instinctive people.  A human on a donkey makes a good metaphor of how leadership rationally should be.

If you deal long enough with a real donkey, you will sometimes find that their instincts are incredibly stupid, as instincts often are.  The problems with instincts are most obvious when the animal is taken out of the environment where the instincts evolved, and put in another environment.  Donkeys, for example, evolved in dry climates.  Water sources in such places are predator traps, as many animals must go to drink at these specific spots.  Water puts donkeys on high alert for danger.  To step in mud around a place where predators lurk, is an instinctively dangerous thing to do, since even being slowed by a step can be the difference between life and death.  If you take a donkey out of its dry climate, and put it in a place where water is abundant, and try to ride it anywhere, good luck to you.

A person living in a dry climate might look to the hills, and see a mighty storm going on, and on, and reason tells him to get out of the low lands, get to higher ground, because a flood will be sweeping along rather soon.  The donkey is saddled, and away they go, until they come to a small stream that is running, a warning of what is to come, and lo, the stupid donkey will not cross.  It is not a time to bend to instinct.  You tie a strong rope across the stream to the beast, get behind it with your staff, and let it know that you will kill it, if it doesn't go.  A drowned donkey is no good to you, and doesn't do itself much good either.  Given such a choice, most donkeys will go, and they go before they get seriously hurt, too.  The death in the stream is only a chance, after all, while the pain behind them is quite real.  They don't get out paper and pencil and calculate the odds.  It is just a reality that they have evolved with.  If a lion were behind them, a donkey that feared the stream more than the lion would die, while one that crossed might live.

We have a barrier to cross, a dramatic shift in our lives in the kind of society we live in.  I want to roar like the lion, and ask who out there wants to compete with me for leadership on these things?  Who has better ideas, and specifically why are they better?  I look to scientists, whether they have advanced education or not, and they are tied across the stream by their belief in rational thought.  I would hit you from behind, calling you fools to not see, threaten to kill your reputation and livelihood as scientists, pull in the logic,  point by point, like a powerful winch fastened to the rope.  If you are like the donkey, you will come.  Reluctantly, braying, a tentative kick or two, but you come.  If you are like the wild zebra, you take no direction from me, but fight madly the rope, kick wildly at me, break the line of rational thought with claims of mysticism, or of the infinite cleverness of technologists, and run away to drown.

Chapter 9

Given what we have already been through, there shouldn't need to be a lot said about technology.  The drugs that the addict abuses can have potential value, in the right place, the right time, and the right amount.  Technology is no different.  We can abuse the balance of nature, raise the competition between groups to war without limit, with technology.

You cannot run before you have learned to crawl.  Before you think about complex technology, master simple things first. You will often find that basic knowledge of science is very useful in reinventing simple ways that have had the details forgotten, and sometimes you can even make improvements.  Not everything has been tried, and a certain degree of success in a design might result in that design being fixed in tradition, and not improved.  This won't always happen, but I have run across this in some things I've worked on.  You won't find improvements until you have a mastery of what has been done, so that is the place to start learning.

It is tempting to look at some of the things being produced today and feel that they solve problems, but we need to be very careful, and not trust the market measure.  You might see a new light bulb, for example, that promises so much more light from a battery charge, and new batteries that make similar great promises, but we need to be critical about our real needs and real costs of things.  Quite often these products require that large amounts of rock be crushed to get the rare elements in them, with all the toxic by products of mining and refining, large energy use, yet the market says it is cheap. We will always be more efficient if we can live without something.   With regard to light, for example, what is it we need so badly that we cannot get enough of it in the daylight, and then rest at night?  Are we so much more inefficient than the animals who can live like this?

It looks to me like there are problems we will want to solve in the future that require advanced technology, but those are not the problems of the moment, and we shouldn't waste time trying to solve problems that we don't need to worry about right now.  When we are threatened, we react with normally unsustainable energy use, until the threat is met.  Then, to continue the example of the light bulb, we would want a better light source, so we could work into the night. That should be the way we use advanced technology in the future, we can file away an understanding of how to build it and use it, and when we need it, we use it, but for 99.9 percent of our lives, we live as simply as possible. Much of the current problem is that people are using energy as if we were threatened by grave outside forces, yet we are not, and the answer to this problem is to stop, not continue.

An addict may quit abruptly, but that doesn't mean the problem is healed.  Regardless of whether one quits something abruptly, or weans away, there is a time factor in changing a way of life, and feeling comfortable about it.  With technology, giving up everything that is obviously connected to unbalanced resource use, abruptly, is not a great idea.  You are likely to starve, freeze, and quit trying, or die.  You need to persistently push to do a little more, and a little more, and you get to where you want.  This seems obvious, but there is often an arrogant belief that primitive ways are so simple, they won't take any time to learn, and this is like the addict that confidently proclaims that they could quit any time they wanted to. Sure.  But don't make the opposite mistake of thinking that our ancestors had near mystical abilities of strength and talent.  That is not true either.

If you need to drive, fly, take a bus or train, to get to a meeting, then do it.  If you want to communicate with any kind of complex electronic equipment, in order to get things together, answer questions, then do it.  It is like have dug ourselves into a pit with technology, it makes no sense to throw out the shovel in frustration, but use it to carefully dig out. The important thing is to get started.  Technology that you can get on your own consists of strong, loose fitting clothing, sturdy shoes, (rubber or wooden sandals are good, for cold weather you can wear them with soft leather moccasins with some insulation, and have footwear that is simple to make and very adaptable to varying conditions) heavy duty poncho that can be a ground cloth, or protect from rain, or linked with others to make a quick tent.  A good quality machete is good, or a light ax and heavy knife.  If you don't know what quality is, find out first.  People who know something about camping have a good start, but we aren't camping.  A lot of camping equipment is really too light for what we want.  We are living, not taking an excursion.  Shelter, cooking equipment, animals, are things we are likely to share, and need to be gotten as a group.  If you are a carpenter, take some basic hand tools.  Same for other professions, take some tools to allow you to do really basic things.  Where water is difficult, plastic for solar stills, sponges to collect dew, and filters may be good.  Some of the new filters, that take out bacteria, are expensive, and we have no way to renew them, but they might be valuable in the short term.  Same with plastic for solar stills.  I have wondered if putting a fire in a hole, to drive off water in the soil above, and condensed in a damp blanket, which could be wrung out, would be a low tech version of the plastic solar still.  It would depend a lot on how much moisture was in the soil, and how much fuel was available.  But remember that stills, dew, and filters, are not likely to water the animals.  If there is a lot of water in vegetation, goats may not need to drink at all, and will actually provide you with liquid, from the milk, and are a living filter, often able to drink water that people cannot, and make clean milk from it.  Camels of course, are well known for their ability to get along without water, and will also filter questionable water into safe milk.  But they do need to drink, and often the water in vegetation will not be enough for goats or camels.   You need to learn the land, and learn to navigate, so you will need tools for this.  With cold, the answer is insulation, and putting bodies together, staying out of the wind.  Animals can be very tough, but they essentially do the same things, growing insulation, huddling together, looking for places out of the wind.  While you listen to the wind, you can dream of how to make it warm you-there is a lot of energy there!  Like a solar still or oven in the south, there may actually be some small scale things to play with on this score, friction heated water to have a warm drink, perhaps some cooking.  But only if you have done everything else that you can think of in more conventional ways.  You will have enough experimentation to make known things work, to learn to milk, butcher, pack animals, move the herd, make folds, gather wild foods,  repair equipment, start learning how to replace things that wear out.  There is a lot to learn and master, but remember you aren't alone.  Together you can do it.

Complex technology will have to wait for the days when you can walk out of the harsh lands, and the smell of death is gone, and grass grows up through bones.  In places of trees and rain, one can relax a little, and dream a little, and grow some complexity in technology, carefully, slowly, in balance, according to real needs

Chapter 10

If you have a group of people working together, that group can be independent in day to day needs.  If a group is independent, why not fight with other groups, if you can win?  Well, history shows that the latter question is the critical one.  The intellectual and physical capacity of people is so similar all over the world, that wars always end up with no real change in anything.  Invaders sometimes succeed, but over time they are either kicked out or assimilated.  One group comes up with new technology, another group always comes up with a way to match it.  Soldiers with experience usually agree that you shouldn't start a fight that you can't win, but the arrogant pride of culture and race has been ever willing to ignore experience, and fight to the death over these veneers of being.

Once again, we are dealing with instinct.  For many thousands of years, people fought with each other, small tribal conflicts, often done by rules understood by both sides, to limit the number killed or hurt.  This worked to limit population, and weeded out the unfit.  It has been noted that while the actual casualties of battle were usually small, the constant threat served to limit populations in other ways besides directly killing.  It has been observed that female infants were sometimes starved to death in favor of male infants, because males became warriors who could defend the tribe.  But having fewer women has a much bigger impact on birth rate than having fewer men.  You can lose men and easily keep the same birth rate, you cannot do the same when you lose women.  Also, a constant threat of raids serves to reduce interest in sex, men are more often either patrolling in defense, or raiding in offense, in addition to trips needed for hunting or gathering tool material.  This makes for a lot of separation of men and women, and lowers the birth rate. 

In such warring environments, learning racial and cultural distinctions is a survival trait that is very important.  With modern  weapons based on metal and chemical understanding, war loses any value in weeding out the unfit, such weapons kill both the fit and unfit with ease.  Paradoxically, people come to fear war, avoid it, and in the relative peace between wars can reproduce much easier than our stone age ancestors constantly engaged in a less lethal warfare.  But the old instincts remain, and population growth, economic growth, demand more and more resources, and nations run into each other, prejudices can  flare practically overnight, with devastating consequences.  The instincts that worked for the stone age do not work anymore.

In addition to the useless effort of trying to defeat ourselves, day to day needs are not our only needs.  You can start to be independent on day to day needs, with 20 - 30 adults.  You might have fewer, or more, and asking for a precise number is like asking how big, or thin, a person can be, and still live.  20 to 30 adults is a range that our stone age ancestors found comfortable, according to anthropologists Richard Leake and Roger Lewin.  But as projects get bigger and more complex, you need the cooperation of more and more people.  One of the biggest projects that I can see right now, would be detecting and responding to an incoming cosmic object.  I think you would want global cooperation on that.  On a lesser scale, droughts, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, can have us looking for outside help.  It is quite logical that we stay on good terms with each other.

I think that one can see that groups should have a degree of competition, just as individuals within a group compete, to get the best people and the best groups, in charge of things.  War as we have seen it, clearly goes far beyond useful competition, and tries to prove nonsense.  Objective consideration of energy use, output, sustainability, have never been considered as a way to settle the argument of which group is doing better.  When chimpanzees display, instead of ripping at each other, they show a very sensible savings of individuals in the competition.  When people display, playing sports, mental games, making better inventions, telling better stories, we do the same thing.  Elaine Morgan, in "The Descent of Woman" talks about this. All that is required, is to put this sort of behavior on a group level.  Which we also do, with team sports, business competition.  But the judging of such competition gets badly flawed by considerations of money, and the degree of competition gets badly strained at times by worry about this measure.  The fear of losing becomes tremendous when it is a winner take all sort of thing, and you are not number 2, for losing, but nobody.  Under such conditions, what is the point of display?  Go for the jugular!  On a personal aside, I have found it interesting how people that I have talked to from other countries, where the culture was more supportive than in independence crazed United States, found chess to be a relaxing game, not the war on a board that I have found it to be here.  These people wanted to win, but losing was not a total disaster.  They had their place in life, losing a game showed something, but not everything.  I was greatly intrigued by this when I first ran into it.  As a young adult, I decided not to play chess much, because I hated to lose, and I also hated to win, where attitudes were so extreme.

You can decline to play some games, but we must play the game of life or die.  Play chess with a child desperate to win, and when you get to checkmate, they may sit there, refusing to deal with the reality, going over every angle over and over and over again. You expect such behavior from a child, sometimes.  The board and pieces may go flying with a child. Grownups are usually more mature about games, yet for this game of life, I see the behavior of  children, people who look at all these things and refuse to even acknowledge they have read, turn their backs, and it looks to me like a tantrum is building.  People are not behaving like adults on the logic of these issues around money and reproduction.. Most of the wars people have had are only slightly organised, childish tantrums.  We are going to see a very disorganized tantrum, when people see that they are not going to get their way, that they have not chosen logical paths.

Chapter 11
Some Thoughts on Genetics and the Future

Genetics can get very complex when you dive into the actual mechanism.  I'm not opposed to doing this, but one can also easily lose sight of the big picture, in this maze of details.  Lets look at some things that have been known about the business for thousands of years.  Most of this I have touched on in the previous pages, but I'd like to put some of it together here.

If you selectively breed for one definite trait, you will quite often get that trait in the offspring.  You won't always get it, due to the complexity of the system, like recessive genes, traits made up of many genes with a lot of possibilities.   If two solidly reasoning people have a child, the chances are very good that the child will be the same, may have even better abilities than the parents.  But the abilities are also likely to be less, and you could easily have someone prone to listen to instinct at certain times, kind of a borderline person, torn between the two pathways.  Education can sway such a person down one path or another, and in a society based on reason, the education will definitely push to reason.  When polls indicate that some 80% of present society believes in a mystic god, you can see that we are not in such a society.  But clearly, just as an instinctive society that has some abilities to reason will always produce exceptional reasoners sometimes, a reasoning society is going to produce some instinctively driven people sometimes.  Cain could never kill Abel, because Abel was in his genes.  It is the stuff of horror movies, the man that cannot be killed.  But Abel is not going to kill Cain, either.  Two borderline types, that we might be hard pressed to identify as such, may produce a Cain, as well as an Abel.  Instinctive society has suppressed reason that it does not want to hear.  Rational society will have repress instinctive urges.  We don't want to hear insanity.  To be born into rational society will be hell for people who are driven primarily by instinct and they will cause some minor trouble.  To be forewarned is to be forearmed.   There will be more people, who have a small amount of reasoning ability, but whose instincts fit rather well with the life we make, and will cause no trouble in the short term.  Life will just seem normal, to these people, since they were born into it.  This will cause trouble in the long term.

We will have time to help clean things up, and start thinking about how we are put together.  We will want to understand the details of genetics, just out of curiosity, and with a repulsion for genetic diseases.  I think we will get a good understanding of the details, and learn how to manipulate them, and we will have trouble again.  There will be controversy between people who love very much our sexuality, and not want to change it to be more efficient, and those who seek improvement.  Our present sexuality is very much a drug related relationship.  It is natural, but the hormones are basically drugs, and work on the brain like any drug.  I think that this will be the focal point, but other changes will also be thought of.  A longer lifespan is probably possible, and redesign of weak points in human anatomy, a refinement of mental abilities.  Our genetic structure appears to be a mish- mash of changes extending back half a billion years, and we might sort it all out, get rid of useless junk.  People will be neutral to uneasy, to very much opposed, to very much in favour, of taking these steps.  To go ahead would basically mean no longer being human, but it would also mean the capability to solve problems better, to be a better brain for the planet, and look out into space with a real chance of exploration there.  To design any kind of body we wanted, with the ability to hibernate, or even freeze, as some cold blooded animals can do, could be an enormous tool in exploring space.  To deal with space better will be a big factor of safety, with regard to cosmic collisions.  To put a better communication link in animals, like a dolphin, or large bird, so that we saw the earth better, could manage resources better.  The performance of idiot savants gives an idea of the potential for living computers.

Some people would much rather remain human, and will resurrect the idea of a mystic god that must be put in charge of changes of this magnitude, and especially the virtual loss of sex.  They will attempt to break free and form a cancerous society like was once put down long before, and it will have to be put down again.  It will have no chance against our new abilities.  Instinct will not trouble reason in such a way again.  Cain will be dead, alive only in the knowledge of how excess instinct can be programmed into DNA.

All of this prediction is based on known things.  We are attracted to living, and that pulls us in certain directions.  We have seen nature combine elements into a fantastic array of species, and have learned to do this on a limited scale already, so learning more direct ways is a reasonable prediction.  I would not predict that we would ever break the light barrier, because there is very little to base such a prediction on.  Nor do I claim to be absolutely perfect in prediction.  Things could go wrong.  A comet could come out of the darkness and smash us before we developed the strength to deal with such an event.  A new disease could develop.  But the odds of these things look small.  To give up, and say that we should just eat, drink, have sex and live a drug dream, because tomorrow we die, looks like the wrong kind of bet to me.  Cosmic collisions happen, but events big enough to destroy all of humanity are very rare.  Diseases have been around as long as life has.  You can look at something that appears to be new, but chances are that it is only new to our awareness.  Prions are the latest horror.  Indestructible, they appear to be.  But what are the chances that something that forms so spontaneously is not also reversible?  If it were really so indestructible and spontaneous, it ought to have built up to levels to have made life nearly impossible a long time ago.  This doesn't mean that we ignore such things.  But we don't panic and think that we are doomed, either.

The sun will probably expand to engulf the earth some day.  Will we be able to get off?  I don't really know.  I'd like to think so.  The universe is either expanding or contracting, and either one indicates that our existence eventually winks out.  Perhaps a black hole explodes and starts it all over again.  I don't know.  I'd like to find out.  Life is an interesting ride, I'll ride it as far as it goes.  Come along with me, it's no fun alone.  It is not possible alone.

Chapter 12
My Thoughts on Religion and the Bible

I've mentioned the placebo effect of the mystic aspects of religion, and how predatory instinct can readily accept the claims of mysticism.  These things are general observations about human psychology.  In this section I want to look at specific things, primarily in Judaeo-Christian religion, but also a little about some other religions.  Muslims share some things, and accept Jesus as a prophet, so this ought to interest them.  I spent over a week at a Buddhist meditation center, and was struck by how similar many of the stories were to Bible stories.  I've already mentioned that the search for complete detachment is not logical, but quiet time, as is found in herding and hunting and gathering, does seem to be good for the human brain.  No surprise there.  But a life of meditation, begging for food, takes things into predictable instinctive human excess, looking for a mystic nirvana, does not look logical to me.  My thinking about Hindu reincarnation is similar. Where is the evidence? The hypocrisy of Hindu vegetarianism is a disgrace, giving the poor the dirty job of dealing with the deaths of animals, carefully, carefully, so as not to disturb the upper class dream of a noble existence beyond such matters.  Marvin Harris, in "Cows, Pigs, Wars and Witches," goes over this in detail.   Even where flood plain agriculture is sustainable, compare the life in an untouched flood plain to the life in a plowed rice paddy.  The cultivated field has been through a slaughter.  Animals cannot just move away.   There are already animals next door, filling up the space.  Trapping animals live, and moving them away, may make people feel good, but basically you only avert your eyes from the blood in such an act.  Destroying habitat is no different.

Back to religion.  The Bible is a long book, and I don't propose to deal with everything, but I want to start at the beginning, go through and make some observations, and raise some questions.  If you have love for mystical interpretations, it is a good chance you will be upset by this.  If you have Judaeo-Christian beliefs, you may not have cared much about Buddhism or Hinduism, or even the quotes I've made from Jesus.  You may pray for me, tell me that God loves me, beg me to be careful. Yes, I try to be careful, and stick to the truth. 

"God created man in his own image and likeness, male and female created he them"   Genesis 1: 27  This is an interesting statement, if we assume it to be true.  We can learn something about God by looking at people.  Like this creation business.  People always make things by trial and error.  They are attracted to certain things and repulsed by other things, and are always putting things together and either liking it or rejecting it, and if we like it we do it over and over and over, and build further with it.  God must be doing that too, and evolution works this way. So it would seem that God is evolution, even in the Bible. 

Then we have the story of Adam and Eve, in the next chapters of Genesis, and I've already pointed out some things about this story, that would indicate it is not a first man and woman story, but a first farmer story.  We already had the creation.  In a way, it might be a  "first humans" story, because there may well have been an awareness that people had come to creation late, (It is in that order in the first chapter) and we do have Adam and Eve walking the garden of Eden for a time without trouble, which could stand for a brief hunter-gatherer past, where we lived in relative harmony.  The feeling that we had not been here so long could come from the observation that animals were very fixed in their ways, very well adjusted, but that people were not so well adjusted. Changes in technology, finer and finer stone tools, hide working, fabrics, finally herding, and farming, metals, could have been part of tribal history, pointing back to an animal like existence, with a clock like progression of better technology.   This may have been felt, more than logically said, as I have just done, but the analog brain may well have declared, "We are young". 

Most of the world's population lives by farming these days, and since the story is not very favorable to farmers, it is not surprising that twisted interpretations of the story occur,- that it is the story of the first murder, and the occupations of the players are not considered significant.  It was just an altercation between two specific men, because men had the knowledge of good and evil now, and the evil came out at times.  No effort is made to look at the details, like a real detective would.  Evil is just a mystical concept, as is good.  "Am I my brother's keeper?" is a question that haunts, but is never faced.  Given the fact that people had always lived in interdependent tribes, the very question points to common knowledge of the time that everyone was indeed their brother's keeper, and the use of the words Adam, Abel, and Cain, leaving out the more probable , "Tribe of Adam, Tribe of Abel, Tribe of Cain," makes the story seem like independence was plausible, and the fight was between two men, and not two ways of life.  As always, history is written by the winners, and they put their spin on the story, and gloss over guilt. But history is not quite finished yet. 

People are told to go out and multiply, and subdue the earth.  (Genesis 1: 28.)  I've always thought there was a difference between "subdue" and "kill", but such distinctions are apparently lost on farmers.  Wholesale slaughter is the only way their system works. As for the multiplying, I should think it obvious that we succeeded at that quite some time ago, and ought to have given it a rest, as it amounts to more killing, not subduing.  People will be quite literal in their interpretation of the Bible when it suits them.  Must go and multiply!  Funny how I never see anyone take other messages in the Bible about reproduction literally, and become a eunuch. Isaiah says positive things about being a eunuch (56:3,4,5)  and Jesus recommends men become eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven.  (Matthew 19: 12)

I think there are some literal things in the Bible, but there is an enormous amount of symbolism.  What I'm seeing is clearly stuff written by people with one foot in reality, and the other foot with no explanations for certain things, but able to make a decent guess, sometimes, but otherwise falling back on mysticism.

The story of Noah , still in the chapter of Genesis, again shows a God that creates by trial and error.  It is interesting, I don't see how even a mystic interpretation of the Bible supports "creation" theory.  There is the "created in six days", but that has to be symbolic, because God is obviously still tinkering by the time of Noah, way past any six days.  Everything that God created was "good" but humans weren't, and snakes weren't, and why would you put a tree of good and evil in a perfectly good place?

What I see here is again a confused struggle between reason and mysticism.  Coherent theories of evolution were way in the future, but anyone with a bit of awareness could see that weak animals died, that weak people died, that weak mental abilities were part of strength, and the foresight to see a natural disaster was a great strength.  People can often reason that a flood may be possible, looking at snowpack in the mountains, getting awareness of long term weather cycles like El Nino.   The people of the coast of South America have apparently known of El Nino for centuries.  It doesn't take weather satellites to become aware of patterns, though I don't deny that they can help.  Digging in parts of the Mideast have shown a history of floods in areas that are now dry.  Some have speculated, with interesting evidence, that the Black Sea was mostly a dry basin, and as the glaciers retreated and ocean levels rose, it was flooded, a great catastrophe for anyone living there, and yet one might have heard of the Mediterranean rising and seen the lay of the land and predicted this.  As for the details of the story, it is rather common knowledge that stories can grow in the telling, and some people think that they can grow even more in the writing, since paper or parchment is expensive, and you want the story to look a little more worthy of being written down.  Noah may simply have driven as many animals as he and his family could manage to the slopes of a mountain, big enough to have feed for awhile, and be above flood waters, and built nothing more than a shelter for his family there.  This accounts for the story of the mountain that he came down off of, in the end.  To a human being, a flood of quite modest dimensions can look like the whole earth has been covered.  Climbing higher to see better is a lot of work, and if it is cloudy, you can't see anyway, and if it isn't cloudy, the flood is likely receding, and you only have the naked eye, which doesn't go far.  The "whole earth", is very likely, all the ground that they lived on, which was all they really cared about, and disaster enough.

There is an interesting passage in the Noah story, after the flood, that tells us that we can eat anything that moves, but not to eat "flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof."  Genesis 9:3,4  Generations of people have taken this as a rule to not eat blood, but in the context of the story, and simple observation, this is not logical.  After a disaster like a flood, it could be real easy to eat a species into a local extinction.  The remaining animals are the life of the species, are its blood, that must not be killed, but allowed to reproduce.  It is like not eating your seeds, if you are a farmer.  But for a farmer, it is much better to interpret this statement as a rule against eating blood, even though if you eat meat, you are going to eat some blood, even if the animal was well bled.  Farmers are not sorry to see certain animals exterminated.  People had respect for Noah, since he had been so smart, and made his advice sacred, and mystical, and have wasted untold amounts of nutritional value in blood ever since.

Now I'd like to skip ahead to Moses, and the Sabbath day, the Sabbath year, and the Jubilee year.

I see these laws as a good clue that the Jews were indeed slaves in Egypt.  As herders, they had probably had a grain-animal trade with Egypt, a common arrangement.  But somehow they got entangled and were no longer free to go.  I think one can see a story where they got free by being as organized as a labor union today, and anyone who has looked at that can see what  a series of plagues it can be to have people "work to the rules", to do exactly and precisely what has been commanded, and ignore everything else.  To read the story in the Bible, it is far more dramatic than that, a series of contests of magic, of mystical power. But stories grow in the telling, it seems far more likely that there was a battle of wills involved, but no magic.  The Passover might have been a dangerous game of killing some first born of Egyptians, perhaps by slave nannies, and covering it with mystical looking painting of blood, as a modern "magician" diverts attention.  This could have been a last straw to the superstitious and fearful and fed up masters, and they were let go.  This was an amazing and wonderful thing, as great as if the sea had been rolled back.  People have theorized that it is possible that a wind storm of prolonged intensity could have pushed back water in the shallow "Reed Sea", marshes.  Perhaps an event like this did happen.  But if it did, it is very implausible that the timing was coincidental with their escape.  What is plausible, is that people could link the two things in their minds, and tell the story, " it was amazing that they let us go, like the time the sea rolled back."  Which became, over time, that the sea rolled back, and they passed through, which sounds a lot more dramatic, and fits with the mystical story of how they pressured the Egyptians to get free.  Many people love to believe in miracles, and don't take a lot of convincing.

In any case, the Sabbath laws are very believable in a people escaped from slavery.  (The first, the six day week, was part of the "Commandments", found in the book of Exodus, chapter 20.  The others are discussed in the book of Leviticus, chapter 25)   A six day work week? Of course, they had been on call continuously.   One day of rest in seven sounds very good.  A Sabbath year, one every seventh year, when they would remember how the escape was possible, herding and gathering, and it would give the land a rest.  These ways of living should be remembered, in case they were ever needed again.  And finally, the Jubilee year, after seven cycles of Sabbath years, when all servants would go free, land would be redistributed.  They would never permanently enslave themselves to rich and poor.  These are just the kind of laws you would expect a people just out of slavery to easily agree to.  Moses had led them very well, these laws were his idea, but I doubt they had the reluctance of acceptance that the commandments ran into, until it came time to carry them out.  Certainly the Sabbath day has been more or less held to, and has spread to other cultures.  But there is no record I can find in the Bible of a Sabbath year, or a Jubilee year, having ever been held.  Considering how much inequity can build up in 49 years, and the acquisitive nature of people, it is not a difficult guess to think that people in position to remember might somehow forget these things.  The laws were written, but most people did not read, those who did read were generally the wealthy, not motivated to pay attention.  It is not hard to guess that they might feel a little nervous about it, too.  Ask a rich person why they are worth so much, and you tend to get very defensive answers.  They will have you know how hard they work and how much responsibility they have, and this conversation is over.  It is a raw nerve.   A serious discussion that other people are needed in their lives, and that it would be no problem to delegate some of the enormous amount of work and responsibility has simply never been possible.  Fixed hierarchy is the rule. In any case the rest of the Jewish rule of that area and time, seems to be marked by various leaders either trying to change the religion to the worship of Baal, a pagan god, or leaders getting rid of Baal, but not going so far as a Jubilee year, either.  Sabbath years were not any easier.  You would be making a major lifestyle change to live that way for a year.  In many ways, a herding-gathering year would have been a Jubilee year, since established positions of status would have been upset.  The mind set is completely different, you have to bend to nature, leave luxuries behind.  If you aren't home maintaining all your possessions, they are degrading, someone might break in and steal things.  The attractions of being boss, having luxuries, and watching your stuff, was just unthinkable to sever.  Moses had been a big man, a really, really big man, so big that perhaps if people thought about how amazing his link to God was, they might forget about some of the things he actually said.  This was one path.  The other was to worship Baal.

As we go along with the story, we find that there were men who didn't like this ignoring of justice.  Truth was more valuable than material possessions, or status based on dubious measures, to these men.  The first of these men that the Bible mentions, was Elijah.

Now, reading the story of Elijah in the Bible, (It is spread out through the books of first and second Kings, starts at 1 Kings 17) you might not see on the surface that this concern for justice was at the heart of the story.  But lets take a closer look at it.

It starts with Elijah promising a drought.  When truth is spoken to lies, it can bring activity to a near halt, just as a drought brings activity to a near halt.  And he was successful, his words brought drought, brought the actions of  people to a near standstill.  With such rest, healing for those worked too hard could take place, and we have stories of healing.  Next, Elijah challenged the priests of Baal to demonstrate their connection with this supposed power.  Baal should be able to light the fire under a sacrifice, with no human hands involved.  Now there are people who like to manipulate mystical attractions found in the majority of people, and there are true believers, and these priests were evidently true believers, for they took the challenge, and made utter fools of themselves in front of a lot of people.  Then the account says that Elijah succeeded in calling down fire, and it was so hot that it took the sacrifice, the stone altar, and two barrels of water poured over everything.  I don't believe this happened, for several reasons.  One reason is that a fire that hot should have left a melted crater in the ground, and you would expect a spot like that to be remembered, made into a shrine, with pilgrims coming to visit.  It would be tangible proof of the powerful event that took place.  Where is it?  I've heard of pilgrims going to visit all kinds of Biblical sites, but this one I've never heard of.  It is too late for someone to go find a hole in the ground somewhere, and say, oh, here it is.  We forgot about this.  Sure you forgot about it.  Something like that would never be forgotten.  The second problem is that the story continues, to have Elijah running for his life.  The watching crowd was so upset with the priests of Baal, for their years of fraud, that 450 of them were killed, and this upset the Queen, who was quite pleased with her priests.  But why does a man who can call down fire have to run for his life?  I should think the Queen would be running for her life, to be confronted by a man who calls down fire, and not any conjurers trick.  This makes no sense at all.  Last, it takes the sting out of failure, to tell people that the feat was indeed possible, but that they had just not prayed to the right god.  And making Elijah into a miracle worker takes attention away from troublesome subjects, like Sabbath years, and Jubilee years.  Tricksters who have a streak of honesty tell people that diverting attention is a key part of all " magic".  It is quite possible that the priests of Baal had some kind of trick planned, and Elijah sabotaged it, and they were not true believers in the mystic powers of Baal.  A very good chance is that the priests of Baal had some sleight of hand with coals planned, and Elijah poured the two barrels of water over the dry tinder and kindling, and said, here, your god is so powerful, lets see what happens now.

Whatever really happened, logic says it was not as written down.  Elijah ran, and God miraculously provided food for him.  Translate that, to the sort of people who killed the priests of Baal were willing to feed the man who exposed them as frauds.  Elijah had friends out in the hills, shepherds, poor farmers.  Later on, it is written that Elijah called down fire on soldiers sent to bring him back.  It is not hard to imagine soldiers sent out with orders not to return without Elijah, since it was known he was being helped, and even the soldiers could not be trusted, and those soldiers dying of exposure in the hot climate, with rugged terrain, chasing a man helped by the local people, who knew the country.

It is written that Elijah divided the river Jordan by hitting it with his mantle, and if the river symbolizes the people, that makes sense.  And Elisha took over and did the same.  They were true leaders, looking out for the common people.  The stories of healing and feeding people are symbolic of this, feeding people hope, raising them out of the sickness of despair, making community where none had existed.

Ask an innocent, childlike question, like, " Why does a man who can call down fire have to run for his life?", and you are led to interpretations like this, and being led by a child leads us to Isaiah, who posed this symbolism.  (Isaiah 11:6)

I think that Isaiah went deeper into the problems facing humanity than anyone had to that point.  Isaiah makes symbolic reference to the problem of overpopulation for the first time - "The bed is too short, the covering too narrow" (Isaiah 28:20) - praises the eunuch and barren woman.(Isaiah 54:1, and 56:3,4,5)  I can't believe he was talking about beds, but of having enough to go around.  And I don't think he was in favor of biological defects.  He also wrote, "Woe to them that place house to house, and field to field, til there be no place, that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth". (Isaiah 4:8) This is a blunt criticism of agriculture as well as overpopulation, destroying nature like a growing cancer diverts the resources of the body, as if it were alone in importance.  Isaiah makes constant references to traps, instability, drunkenness  (30:13)( 24:7)( 29:9)but not on wine, and refers to truth being trampled in the street.  He saw that the situation would end up in terrible disaster, but that a few, as few as the olives or grapes left after harvest, would survive, and restore the waste places, and enjoy the work of their hands.  (17:6)(51:3)(65:22) He felt that sanity and reason would prevail, but at staggering cost.  There is a lame attempt to make Isaiah into a mystic prophet, with a short story injected in the middle of the book, about how he made predictions to the then king, and how those predictions came true, turning back time. (Chapter 38) There may be some symbolic truth in this, for his words may have "turned back time" in causing the king to lift some repressive policies.  But the interpretation can be mystical, the way it is written, with the familiar idea of diverting attention from practical matters of justice.  The book is written from the first person, except for this section, and is quite at odds with the first person sections, for in these sections Isaiah denounces every form of mysticism that he could apparently think of, (47:12,13)and made calls for reason.  "Come now, let us reason together, saith the Lord," (1:18) is an example, and another is, "For precept must be on precept, precept on precept, line on line, line on line, here a little, there a little".  (28:10)  Mystics who couldn't answer his reasoning would want to say that prophecy was indeed possible by their methods, it was just that you had to have the proper God.  If the name of God is reason, cause and effect, evolution, then fine.  But I don't think that this is what is being implied.

Isaiah questions money.  "Come ye, buy and eat, wine and milk, without money and without price".  (55:1)

He saw that the one to lead through the disaster to come would be a man of quick understanding, and who had been beaten by life to slow down and reflect on the nature of things.  The only way to overcome addiction is to be hammered by reality, to hit bottom.  It doesn't say, but it probably happened to him.  Isaiah - "But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed". (53:5)  He recognized the problem of being heard as a rational man, when it was mystic religion that was in charge of social problems - "I am sought of them that asked not for me; I am found of them that sought me not: I said, Behold me, behold me, unto a nation that was not called by my name".  (65:1) Basically, the situation is the same today.  The religious look for the Messiah to come and work miracles, and the rational are drunk on technology and money.

Nearly 3,000 years ago, this man saw nearly everything I have seen.  And why not?  Our ignoring of our interdependence, and the problems of overpopulation, are not massively complex problems to see and understand.  Isaiah saw the real problem, that people did not want to understand.  (6:10)
And it would go on until the destruction was simply too great to be ignored by people in position to speak.  I think he felt that people like himself would nearly always be there, pounding away, with this result - "Before she travailed, she brought forth; before her pain came, she was delivered of a man child."  (66:7)  There is a lot of lip service about problems, but a serious discussion, with rational techniques of solution, has not been done.  Which he also mentions (29:13) When such is called for, here is the solution, already born, ready to go.  We have been watching with various degrees of anger and amusement, the drunken foolishness of humanity, for 3,000 years.  It will be the biggest, "We told you", ever pulled off.  Isaiah saw the problem, and he saw the solution, as well. "But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth: with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked." (11:4)

"He will stir up jealousy as a man of war, he shall cry, yea, roar; he shall prevail against his enemies."(42:13)   Truth is a weapon against lies.

The other prophets are similar to Isaiah.  Ezekiel was more given to symbolic language, than some of the others.  He gives a vision of animals and people, all mixed together, always facing the same way, and this is like instinct driven humans, with instinct symbolised by the animals, always driven by those instincts in the same way, and along side and in this vision was a picture of wheels within wheels and watching eyes, which symbolises the rational side, turning as logically as a wheel turns, and seeing much.  Then the vision turns into a burning man, which is symbolism for the light and brightness of understanding, the beauty of which was like a rainbow, and consists of a spectrum of ideas.  The wheels also always faced in the same direction, and were "lifted against" the living animal -man creatures.  Reason always gives the same answers, and it often clashes with instinct. (Read chapter 1)

Ezekiel calls himself the "son of man".  This sounds wonderfully mysterious, but if you look at it with your wheels turning, it is not mysterious at all.  Just ask the right questions, the innocent questions of a child.  What does a son do?  He meekly learns of life from his teachers.  Usually those teachers are limited in number, a boy grows and learns to fill a single position in society.  A son of man would have taken all of mankind as his teacher, learned the basics of many positions in society, and learned how they must all weave together.  One has been though leadership training, to be a son of man.  It was not likely intentional, and only someone very curious and unafraid of starting all over at the bottom of various professions a number of times, could get to be a son of man.  There are limitations to the concept of all this education, of course.  At some point, things fall in place, with the ability to use simple principles to transfer basic understanding very rapidly across professions.  In any case, it is quite logical that a son of man is just that, a student of mankind, and nothing mystical about it at all.

You can see in Ezekiel's vision of the measuring of the temple, a measuring of society, how it ought to be as rational as a building, and shame on the house of Israel, for its iniquities do not let it come even close to the ideal.  (Chapters 40-)(43:10)The measurement of the altar that follows can be seen as a measurement of how humanity fits with nature, that sacrifices are needed, symbolising things that must be given up to make the proper fit.

Ezekiel and Isaiah and the others couldn't speak and write openly.  Jeremiah had some of his writings destroyed, and was thrown in prison.  Elijah had to run for his life.  Later on, we have Jesus speaking of prophets having been stoned and cut down.  But the prophets felt compelled to say something, write something, and do it in such a way that people of their pattern could read between the lines, be led by a child, asking innocent questions.  By looking at the way Moses and Elijah were coopted, made into mighty miracle workers, they could have known they would be coopted as well, but as Isaiah wrote, they will hang everything on their interpretations, but on the day that things were spoken openly, it would all be cut down.  (Isaiah 22:22-25) As I said before, Isaiah saw the technique of goading people into madness with truth spoken openly.  Ezekiel saw the power of the pen - his leader of the conflict to come carried an ink horn. (Ezekiel 9: 2)

Zechariah saw that leadership was the humble partnership of a man riding an ass, a donkey. (Zechariah 9:9)  He saw that a shepherd that is faced with an overwhelming threat to his flock, would strive to protect the healthy breeders, let the rest go, and turn to fight with the weapons he had -

"And the Lord said unto me, take unto thee yet the instruments of a foolish shepherd.  For, lo, I will raise up a shepherd in the land, which shall not visit those that be cut off, neither shall seek the young one, nor heal that that is broken, nor feed that that standeth still: but he shall eat the flesh of the fat , and tear their claws in pieces."  (Zechariah 11:15)

Just as leadership can be a man riding a donkey, leadership is like the shepherd.  The sheep do not argue with the shepherd.  They can't argue, any more than the donkey can argue.  That is what makes a man or woman a shepherd to other men and women.  It is interesting how goats will argue with a herder, unlike sheep.  Goats will follow you, if it looks in their best interest.  But if you threaten goats too much, they scatter and dodge.  You can drive sheep, but it is very tricky to drive goats.  For those of you with no experience with goats, one can notice that goats and cats can be very similar.  More people may have experience with cats, at least in the United States.  If you try to train a cat to stay off the table, for example, they do not respond well to attempts at negative conditioning.  They don't associate being on the table with whatever nasty thing you have just done.  They associate the nasty thing with you, and will avoid you, but still get on the table at every opportunity.  Goats are much like this, in my experience.  And so are people.  Laws of restraint regarding the bounty of nature, and respecting each other, are only respected if the enforcement of the law is right there.  Jeremiah wrote a single verse, about how the law must be written in people's hearts.  There is no other way. [Jer 31:33.26] "But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people."

I think that Elijah was a big inspiration to the prophets, that he had picked up the torch for justice in society from Moses, and passed it on to the prophets, who passed it on to Jesus.

Jesus repeated a lot of what the prophets wrote, and expanded on them, but still in symbolic language.  The thing that made him different from the prophets was that he didn't write, he spoke, and he openly preached " the Acceptable year of the Lord", the Jubilee year, according to some Bible scholars.  And unlike Elijah, who made his challenge and then fled, Jesus didn't run, but let himself be caught, and put to death.  This was dramatic enough that other cultures, who had no history of  Sabbath and Jubilee controversy, got a look at the affair.  Most cultures have not been through mass enslavement, with subsequent release into self government.  Most cultures have just gradually changed.  Certainly there have been serious struggles about inequity in other cultures, but to have rules for maintaining equity, written down at a foundation point, gives the Jews a unique place in history. It brought the struggle into sharper focus, constantly tested anyone able to read.  But it was a tribal history, that others were not likely to pay attention to.  Jesus changed that.  The response, I believe, was just as spontaneous as the response to Moses and Elijah.  Cover the man in miracles, so as to hide what is being said.  The greater the threat of exposure, the greater the miracles must be.

But the questions don't go away.  How could it be possible that the authorities were not afraid to seize a man who could do miracles?  A man who could turn water into wine should have no trouble turning a high priest into a toad.  You might say he was too good to do this, but how would the priests know that?  As for the goodness of the act, he was predicting death and destruction on a very grand scale, just as the prophets earlier, and seemed to have the attitude that it would be as it had to be.  If he had such great power, why not heal people of their evil nature, to avoid this catastrophe?  You go ahead and pray for me, but I think it is all nonsense.  Jesus was just a man, a son of man, very talented, but a man.  He was preaching the Acceptable year of the Lord, the Jubilee year, (Luke 4:18,19) that old raw nerve, and instead of having the good sense to run away, after applying his rough tongue to this sensitive place, he just kept scraping at it.  He was drawing crowds, destroying small intellects and big intellects, so that "None dared ask him more questions". (Matthew 22:46) He was a profound threat, presented an nearly unsolvable problem.  He knew how they would solve it, they would find some way to kill him, and they did.  But he had left something behind, a teaching of parables that had the quality of puzzles, and his disciples told amazing stories of healings and acts, that were taken as true, not symbolic.

But logically they were symbolic, and I believe they were told in the knowledge that they would be misinterpreted.  This was a struggle that had been engaged before.  People learn from such things. Isaiah knew, and I am sure Jesus knew.  "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous," [Mat 23:29.12]

"And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets." [Mat 23:30]

" Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets." [Mat 23:31]

There is one clue that Jesus left, to indicate the rational interpretation meant for his parables and puzzles.  He gave an explanation for one of the parables, the story of the sower and the seeds.  (Matthew 13:3-) The sower was the son of man, he said, and we have a rational explanation for that term.  And as far as the disciples were concerned, to which he was talking, there was nothing mystical about a son of man, since he was there talking to them.  The seeds were ideas, and the ground was the receptivity of people.  Not a mystical concept in the whole thing, and the explanation was given so that the other puzzles had a model of solution.

So, what can be done with clues like this?  Well, quite a lot.

What Jesus Knew

Turning water into wine (John 2:9) can be seen in terms of taking something common, and by looking at it from a different perspective, you see something special.  You look at society, and you see all the common everyday actions of people, but by adding a single concept, interdependence, the people around you are suddenly special in a way you may have never noticed.  Like wine, you can get a little drunk on this - people are wonderful!  What a fantastic thing!  We are all one body!

But drunkenness of this sort fades into a hangover, as you look a little closer at the people who are your life, and see how readily people you must depend on, accept or propagate lies.  It can make you depressed enough to quit trying to be reasonable, sink into the stormy lies of society.  But Jesus walked on the water.  He didn't sink to the level of society, but kept on looking at things with reason.  He could calm passionate debates, calm the storms, with his reasonable thinking.  He walked on the water of temptation.  (Matthew14: 26)

Healing the blind man with clay and spittle (John 9: 6-8) is just another version of this idea of taking common things, and by putting them together, you get sight, you get understanding.  We have money, and we have the concept of measure, and if you mix the two, you see that money is a measure, and it conflicts with other measures, and understanding of a problem results.  As in the story, you also need to let this work on your eyes, and then wash them clean, to really see clear.  In the end, you see.

Healing paralysis is a simple symbolism. (Luke 5:24) People who want to do the right thing can be paralyzed by indecision, when every direction looks flawed.  It is very similar to healing blindness.  You give people a direction to move in that can be moved in with the confidence of reason.

Healing the withered hand, and other healings done specifically on a Sunday, -several of them were- was symbolic bringing sense to the Sabbath day.  (Matthew 12:10)  People took the six days work, one day rest, to extremes.  It was a way to gain status, having enough money that you could afford to do nothing, and look down on people who still had to do the daily chores, tending animals, that kind of thing.  Society was crippled, not rested, with this kind of foolishness.

The woman with an issue of blood, that was healed by her touching of his garment, and no one in the crowd was aware of the healing, except Jesus, can be seen as an understanding of the bleeding of agriculture. (Luke 8:43) The woman could symbolize the land, continually raped, bleeding from the plow.  Jesus was touched by this problem, he was aware of it, while it was a hidden problem to the rest of them.  And in becoming aware of the problem, he had the solution for it, the healing of it.  He mentions, "The righteous Abel", (Matthew 23:35) asks how it is that people must work so hard, when the creatures of nature are clothed and fed without such toil. (Matthew 6:28)

The healings of leprosy (Matthew 8:3, Mark 1:42, and others) can be seen as dealing with the outcasts of society, who may well have been outcasts for no reason except belonging to the lowest social classes, dealing with the smelly and slimy jobs of society, and paid slave wages for the privilege of such work.  Leprosy is often a symbol for the outcast.

I read an explanation for feeding the crowds, (one of these is at Matthew 14:19) given by a mystic named Matthew Fox.  A minister cousin of mine gave me one of his books.  The explanation was the only thing I remembered.  Truth is where you find it.  The explanation was that Jesus convinced people to share the food they had brought.  This sounds quite reasonable, since the text indicates that people were rebuked for simply showing up to get fed, and were not "eating Jesus' body and drinking his blood", symbolism that they weren't listening to the message of how to live, which would feed them permanently. (John 6)

Infecting the herd of swine with madness, that they all drowned, was symbolism for what was going to be done to swinish humanity.  (Matthew 8:32)

Jesus defined the devil as a liar.  Casting out devils, therefore, is casting out lies. (John 8:44)

Jesus was said to have raised the dead.  (Matthew 11:5 is a general statement of this, and there are also specific stories)  This can be seen in a couple of equally valid ways.  First, people caught in instinctive snares can be as good as dead, without intervention, just as the rabbit is as good as dead when caught in a snare, unless someone lets it loose.  Jesus provided this intervention, sometimes.  But as he said to the man who wanted to return to bury his father, let the dead bury their dead.  People aren't rabbits, and you often can't reach them.  Second, Jesus noted that death was like sleep. Humanity is constantly renewing itself, all the physical and mental types being born over and over and over.  This understanding raises the dead.  The people you think you have lost are often standing right there in front of you, but people generally will not stop wailing enough to notice, and often it is just beyond their ability.
In the story of Lazarus, (John 11)these elements of sleep, and wailing people who were too grief stricken to understand, incredulous at such thinking, were all there.  Jesus could make some people understand, but he couldn't reach everyone.

This understanding of a constantly renewing humanity is at the core of some otherwise puzzling remarks.  He had been there "before Abraham". (John 8:58) "There are some standing here, that will not taste of death, until the son of man comes again" (Matthew 16:28) He knew he would be back.  He had defeated death,  could dare to give his life, in understanding he would be back, and that dying would help his return, because a dramatic death would cause memory of his riddles, and parables, and would help him waken a future brain with a talent for those kinds of riddles.  This would save time, which could be very valuable.  He knew an end would come, but he couldn't predict the time exactly.  (Mark 13:32)  Only God, the rules of the universe that know exactly how fast a rock should fall, and exactly when it should fall, knew the time of the end.

In predicting his return, he set the stage for a diversion of attention such as has never been seen before.  At his trial, none of the witnesses could agree on exactly what Jesus had been saying.  (Mark 14: 56)This is a rather common human failing.   Lots of people have played the game where a sentence is given to one of a group, who tells it to another, who then tells  another, and so on, and the final person compares sentences with the first, and the two are completely different.  But the high priests had no such difficulty.  They knew how they could kill Jesus.  After taking him off the cross, they told everyone that they were posting a guard on the tomb, because they remembered very clearly that this trickster had told everyone that he would return in three days.  They didn't want his followers stealing the body and telling everyone that since he was missing, he had risen from the dead.  Which was exactly what they wanted to have happen, and with their guard on the tomb, they made it happen.  I imagine that the body of Jesus ended up in a lime vat, or was fed in pieces to the semi-wild dogs hanging around.  It most certainly disappeared to the very best of their ability.  There could be no better diversion of attention from the public murder of an innocent man, than to have him appear to do this enormous miracle of raising himself from the dead.

I don't think his disciples were really fooled.  I think they were shocked at the turn of events. That Jesus had actually been killed, the way he said he would be killed, took some time to register.  At many points in Jesus' trial, he could have taken the coward's way out.  They had a lot of respect for his intellect, no one could argue with the man, but to really go through with such a plan?  The idea of a constantly renewing humanity was a fine abstract concept, but to actually die?  It was a faith in logic that was very hard to follow.   Judas obviously didn't think he would be killed.  Judas is a very common sort of character, the one who knows how to do good things, but has evil in the sense of not seeing things clearly, with a large attraction to money, short term success, and the future will turn out ok, "somehow".  His remorse made him commit suicide. (Matthew 27:3-5)

But the remaining disciples eventually got over their shock and went to make it happen, to speak the symbolic parables and stories, that were given mystical interpretations, and made into an enduring religion.

The question of the three days to a return may actually have been said, but in symbolic terms.  In the second book of Peter, chapter 3:8, he mentions that one day to the Lord is as a thousand years.  There was an understanding of the long time frames of what was going on.  The first clash of the tribes of Cain and Abel had been thousands of years earlier, the lives of Abraham, Israel, Moses, Elijah, Isaiah, all covered a long span of time.  To take things out of context is a common tactic for those who would deceive.  A mystic interpretation would balk and want a literal 3,000 years, but I don't think Jesus was being literal.  He was saying it was going to be a long time, and this matches with other words on the subject.  Generations would come and go, looking in vain for the return of the son of man, he said.  (Luke 17:22)

If people are such poor listeners and reporters, how can one hope to believe that there is any sense to be had?  All of this makes sense, it all falls together, but couldn't I be missing some vital thing?  This goes back to something I wrote in the beginning.  We don't know everything.  We have to make decisions on what we have.  There is no other way.  The confirmed mystic will always claim that you don't know enough to make a decision.  But how do you trust the mystic's knowledge?

The people called to testify at Jesus' trial were probably casual listeners.  The disciples were not casual listeners, and Jesus talked to them for three years.  They were not inclined to garble things, though the gospels were written and interpreted by others, and some garbling is evident.  The four gospels don't match up entirely, though they are very close.

We can go on and on with interpreting the reported words and deeds of Jesus, and they fall together in a rational way, a way that makes sense even if the story of Jesus did not exist.  There is observable truth behind the advice to, "Be a eunuch for the kingdom of heaven" Generations of priests have gained very little for their misinterpretation of this.  And why should they be celibate, but not their congregations?  If you see this as a concern about overpopulation, it makes sense.  You see the practical difficulties of learning a new lifestyle, as a child, which Jesus also often referred to, and realize that children do not have children, that people need to be as sexual as children, as eunuchs, to get through troubles.

Along with this goes the words, "Woe to the pregnant and nursing in the days of the end".  (Matthew 24:19)

Jesus talked about marriage, that , "What God has brought together, let no man take apart". (Matthew 19:6) But both he and I would split up marriages, as well.  How does this reconcile?  Well, did the God I have been talking about bring you together?  Was it a mutual love of objective truth that brought a couple together?  Such unions I have no desire to break.  But people brought together with a blind eye on reality have not been brought together by any God that I see as valid, and I have no respect for such unions.

Jesus was a determinist.  Nobody had free will.  "Offenses will come, but woe to them through which the offense comes". (Matthew 18:7) " Forgive them, for they know not what they do".  (Luke 23:34)  "Who can, by taking thought, grow a little higher?"  (Matthew 6:27) Where does one get free will out of statements like these?

Forgiveness was something he spoke about, and is often taken as a chance for the salvation of everyone, but that doesn't fit with the deterministic statements.  Natural law forgives us just as soon as we quit the harmful behavior, and that is the essence of Jesus on the matter.  Serious ignorance of natural law ends up with serious punishment.  If your brother manages to stay alive after seven times seventy offenses, you continue to forgive repentance.  (Luke 17: 3,4) But the chances of serious offences going that long are very slight.  Jesus spoke of distrusting those who had been unfaithful with the unrighteous measure.  (Luke 16:11) People willing to cheat and steal and kill about money can't be trusted with responsibility in proper measurement systems, of energy and balance.   We don't forgive unrepentant mistakes, and we watch the claims of repentance very carefully.   He spoke of the one who came to the wedding, not dressed in the proper wedding garments, and was banished.  Groups who come together to make a new society are getting married, it is a wedding.  People dressed in the wrong awareness for the group get tossed out.  (Matthew 22)

You can look at forgiveness in terms of injury to the body.  A mistake causes injury.  That injury can often heal, but you are wary of trusting the injured area to take a full load again, for a time.  Sometimes injuries appear to have healed, but infection is just covered over, or a joint is unstable, and these things must be recognized, and dealt with.  As Jesus said, sometimes you amputate.  If your eye offends, you pluck it out.  (Matthew 5:29)  This takes on a lot of meaning in this paper.  We are amputating some seriously offensive things in the body of society.  Amputations hurt, you get phantom pain after they are done, but the body of society can regenerate itself as individual bodies cannot.  We must amputate addictive behavior, with all its various excuses.  This is painful, but we will die unless we do it.  Jesus said, you must love me more than family, more than money, more than status. (Matthew 10:37)  And what you loved was not the man Jesus, but objective truth.  "He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.  (Matthew 10:39)  (John 12:25)
."  "Life", in this statement, is not the beating of your heart, but the rhythmic movements of your relationships, family and work.  We must have a hunger and thirst for righteousness, a hatred of half truths and outright lies, a meekness to accept truth wherever it comes from.  We are poor in spirit, for we do not shout like fanatics, but listen to the quiet voice of reason.

Love your enemies, Jesus said, and this causes great confusion.  (Matthew 5:44)  But we do love our enemies, we don't lie to them, or try to kill them with force, but calmly tell the truth to them. Truth amputates lies as quickly and effortlessly as the finely honed scalpel cuts through flesh.  When the enemy is lies, truth is a weapon, a sword.  It wasn't crazy to talk about loving your enemies, (Matthew 5:44) and then say you had not brought peace, but a sword.  (Matthew 10:34)Both were true, in symbolic terms.  This understanding of truth as a weapon is vital for understanding another enigmatic statement.  "Unless the days be shortened, no flesh can be saved". (Matthew 24:22)  Having a weapon shortens the days, brings an end.  A gradual disintegration of society would be extremely difficult to survive, as I laid out in Chapter one.

Truth is an infectious thing to those who are susceptible to it.  It haunts you.  The holy ghost is truth.  It gets into your mind and eats away at you.  There is no escape from it's voice.

It has a challenge, though.  Jesus said of technology, that there would be signs and wonders, to deceive, if possible, the elect.  (Matthew 24:24)  Technology promises to fix everything, from birth control to satellite enhanced farming.  It is very flashy, very dramatic, very tempting for many to put faith in.  And right now it ignores basic questions about sustainability and true cost.  None of it puts fish back in the ocean, makes trees grow any faster, creates oil, takes carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, renews soil fertility in sustainable manner, etc.  Birth control does look like a positive thing, but there is no technology to make people use it, and no true accounting of cost.    We need restraint, not more gadgets whose cost is based on what happens to be abundant at the moment.

"What man goes to build a tower without first figuring the cost?", Jesus asked. (Luke 14:28) People have built society without any concern for sustainability, without figuring the cost.

But in weaning away from excess technology, changing lifestyle, Jesus had a parable, the parable of the unjust steward, who was caught by the king, and used his position to find another, to the king's approval.  (Luke 16)  I have compared it to the person who digs himself into a pit.  Should you throw out the shovel in a fit of anger?  I think not.  Use what you have to dig your way out.  If you aren't smart enough to tell the difference between digging deeper and digging out, it's your life.

Jesus talked about the survival of the fittest.  "To those who have, shall be given, to those that have not, shall all be taken away."  (Matthew 13:12)  Since he also said that it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven, (Matthew 19:24) it only leaves the mental and physical talents of a person to be something worth  having.   Having a brain that sees and understands is valuable.  Having material riches is a barrier.  Along this line, of the rich having great difficulty, he did concede that it was not really as impossible as the camel through the needle.  With men, he said, it was impossible.  But with God, it was possible.  Sounds mystical, right?  If you see God as reality, then you see that reality can slam people against the floor in a way that another man cannot do, and this can turn the biggest of addicts.  No mystery. The biggest jolt that humans can give, is the disapproval of a group.  It can be hard to shrug this off.  But I am never going to move much of a group.  The great majority will look to the majority, and they won't decide by thinking things through.  "How are you going to measure with energy?", people will ask, and they won't understand the answer without going back to school, developing talents that were neglected, and by the time they understand, it will be too late.  This is the parable of the talents, (Matthew 25:15-)and the parable of the wise virgins, and the foolish.  (Matthew 25:1-) The foolish did not develop their talents, in the first parable, and in the second they let the oil for their lamps, their ability to see, go out, and they lost out.   We are going to have to look at available resources, and limit the size of groups to fit.  You make up your mind too slow, you won't have a place.  The door will be shut.

Jesus and INTERdependence

I have not mentioned interdependence, but it was a major theme for Jesus.  "Love your neighbor as yourself" is interdependence. ( Matthew 22:39)

The "Golden Rule", "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you", (Matthew 7:12) is also interdependence.  Something commonly missed about the golden rule is that it is much deeper than just being polite.  I want my mistakes pointed out to me.  I want you to stop me from hurting myself or others, if that is the path I am on, and I don't seem aware of it.  And since that is what I want for myself, I will do it for you, as well.  People give lip service to the golden rule, but the rule a lot of people really live by, is, "Mind your own business."  That is the rule for true sons and daughters of Cain.  "Am I my brother's keeper?"  (Genesis 4:9)  You shouldn't need to ask the question.  Interdependence says you are your brother's keeper, and your sister's, and they keep you.

How many "Christians", give so that the right hand is not aware of what the left does? To give to whoever asks?  (Luke 6:30)  Jesus told you to live this way.  Impossible to do?  If everything were to end up in one persons room, it would be rather obvious that this person wasn't paying attention to this rule, unless they were a storekeeper.   I haven't met many scientists. I've met  some who are haunted by these ideas, but they are very few.  But I haven't met any "Christians" either.   There are some who are haunted by the idea, same as scientists.   Of course, I haven't met but a very tiny fraction of the people in the world.  I think I've met the bulk of the prevalent genetic types, though. Looking at how the words of Jesus fall into coherent meaning, when you look at them in terms of reason, not mysticism, it seems that a scientist and a Christian would be the same person.  They wouldn't be a Christian Scientist, though.  That's a mystic religion that has nothing to do with science.   I have sad personal experience with that particular brand of mysticism.

Jesus talks about prayer.  Isn't prayer a mystical petition?  Well, it doesn't have to be mystical.  Prayer can be petition to understand, and wanting to understand can be rewarded by non-mystical actions, that sometimes look the same as what the mystic does.  To "go into the closet and pray", is what Jesus said to do.  ( Matthew 6:6-7)  But to solve a problem, that is good advice.  You gather information, then you want to get away from distractions, and line up what you know, look for connections, see how things relate to each other, and you will come to an understanding of the situation.  When Jesus says that God already knows what we have need of, he is telling us to be rational about the business, and not ask for miracles.  When you understand things, you don't need to "pray as the heathen, who think that with much repetition they are heard."  That is the prayer of mystics, not the search for understanding, which is the "prayer" of the rational seeker.  "Knock, and it will be opened, seek, and you will find", tells us to be persistent about the search for understanding.

Is this enough?  I could go on, cover every statement made by Jesus.  But to those whose minds are closed, it would make no difference, and to those whose minds are open, it should be enough.  People said to Jesus, that if he brought back Moses, or one of the prophets, people would listen, and he was scornful.  Even at the time, he noted, "You call me Lord, Lord, but you do not do as I say".  (Luke 6:46) One can argue hard, but there comes a point at which it is a waste of energy.


I do want to look at Revelations, though, as it provides a nice finishing touch to all this.  Revelations is easily interpreted in the way I've been doing, which is interesting, since it has confounded mystics since it was written.

Revelations starts off with some criticism of the fledgling Christian Church, already moving toward mysticism and money, and then it starts to look ahead. 

We look at the symbolism as we have already done, animals represent instincts, and we add some new symbols.  The number seven is the number of rest and renewal, in Jewish tradition.  An angel is a messenger, and with the perspective of this writing, would be someone with a new understanding about reality.  A seal hides things.

In chapter 4, is a great sense of order.  There are animals, but they have many eyes, very good sight.  This is as the beginning of creation of humanity,  animals well adapted in their instincts.  But in  Chapter 5,  is found some distress, because no human can be found to understand life, who can read the book, open up what is hidden in it, give its order to humanity.   The writer doesn't say specifically what the distress is, but it is not hard to see the confusion that Ezekiel pictured, of human instinct in conflict with reason, as the source of this initial distress.    And then someone is found , the son of man, Jesus, with elements of both lion and lamb, and the seals are removed, one by one.  The first seal, Chapter 6, we can see that the white horse is the attempt to be rational in government, for white stands for purity of mind, and people often start off government with pure intentions.   The red horse, the second seal, can be seen as brute force government, which often follows the failure of good intentions, and dictators take over with military force.  Then the black horse, third seal, is government by merchants, the forces of the marketplace,  and the gray horse, fourth seal, is the death that follows the failures of all these attempts.  Remember how riding a horse can be a metaphor for instinctive man governing instinctive man, both very willing to go in certain directions.

The fifth seal opens to reveal people who have fought and died to stop instinctive governments from going to the gray horse, without success.  The sixth seal shows the confusion of all this, no one winning authority, death following the path of instinct, reasonable people killed, an earthquake of a mess.  Six is the number before seven, things are at the most tired and run down before you get to renewal, but this period of confusion is going to go on for some time without resolution.  Because the seventh seal starts off with angels, and that looks good, but the agony has a bit longer to run.   Angels have a message about reality, and this has real promise of resolving the struggle between instinct and reason.  Science makes it's entrance, just as it did during the Renaissance.  But what looks promising seems to be a disaster.  Each angel brings a little more knowledge, and as we all know, a little bit of knowledge can make an unbelievable mess.  One can find six examples of this kind without any problem, but the six angels are just more build up of tension to finally come to resolution in the seventh angel, who finally makes the whole thing worthy of being under the seventh seal.  Science is the resolution of the instinct vs. reason debate, but it doesn't come right away.

As for the identity of the seventh angel, he is clothed with a cloud.  Not everyone can see him.  A rainbow is on his head - he has a spectrum of knowledge.   His face burns with the understanding of the spectrum of knowledge, he is a son of man, and he stands on fire, on power, on burning desires to stand certain ways.  His left foot is on the land, on the solid observations of things, and his right foot is on the sea, which hides things, he is standing on the hidden prophecies and people who went before him.
He roars a challenge of his understanding, and his challenge is echoed by others.  He has logically understood life, the mystery of God is finished.  He has a little book, and to read it and understand it, is too know the sweetness of understanding, and the bitterness of gut instincts in rebellion.

Should I say in false modesty that this is not me?  The alcoholics say, if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it probably is a duck.  Alcoholics have reason to question reality, and so does addicted humanity.  But I fit the prophesy.  I am a son of man, a student of humanity, I have this little book of sweetness and bitterness, I come in a cloud, anonymous, and such that many cannot see me, and for others I banish clouds, with a light like the sun.

Is this too impossible to believe?  Lets go back to Jesus for a moment.  He made some predictions about his return, that were more specific than just the question of when he would be back.  These words are all in St. John.  Chapter 14, he starts by saying that he would send another Comforter.  Some translate Comforter as Helper.  Jesus was a comforter and helper, giving hope to despairing rational humanity, helping to find a way through the mess.  Has Jesus sent me?  In solving his puzzles, yes, Jesus has sent me.  We are like twins, not identical twins, but very close.  His words and actions resonate with great strength in me.  I find myself quoting him constantly, as you can see from the first chapter.  I talk to you in his name.  Jesus said that I would teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, that he had taught, and left as mysteries.  He left them as mysteries, because a mystery loving world would preserve them.  Blunt rational words would have been burned and forgotten, but leaving things in a sort of code that sounded mystical, was like a move in Judo, using your opponents' strength.  Have I brought things to remembrance, and explained them?  He said, that he had to go, in order for me to come.  If he didn't die dramatically, and have his death sidestepped with mystical nonsense, all would be forgotten.  And when the Comforter is come, he said, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgement. " Of sin, because they believe not on me, of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.  Do I not reprove the world of these things?  The message of interdependence, the world rejects.  With Jesus in the gene pool, his "Father", people have fought over who is right without real consideration of Jesus.  With the shepherd gone, the sheep go astray.  The world judges their prince wrong, not to be considered, worthy of being nailed to a cross.  He was the Einstein of government, and without rational evidence, the world said it could do better.  Kill him.

The Comforter is the Spirit of truth, he said, and " will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak, and he will show you things to come."  This is science, not to speak out of mere opinion.  Have I told you that it is only my opinion that people are interdependent?  Did it originate with me, that mixing measures is bad?  I give you solid observation and logic behind what I say.  I have told you of things to come, and the reasoning is based again on observation and logic.  I have not told you, that I had a dream, or saw God in a trance, for anything I have written here.  There is only chance traces of truth in such drivel.  I want all the truth, not partial truth, and would not be satisfied to give you any less than the best of my abilities in this area.

I am not perfect, do not claim to be perfect.  Nor did Jesus.  He rejected the address, "good Master" (Matthew 19:16,17)

He spoke about how people strain gnats, and swallow camels, and the subject must have been his perfection. (Matthew 23:24)

In Luke, chapter 21, Jesus said, "I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist."  Just so, has Jesus done, and I have done, and if you take these things, none shall stand before you, either, except those who love truth, and they will stand to embrace you, not to fight with you.

One more thing Jesus said about the future son of man, also in Luke, chapter 17.  Before he became known, "He must suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation" This I have done. 

No where is it said that the son of man would do miracles.  "He will have power and glory", (Matthew 24:30) is the closest thing.  And I do have power, for men and women scatter before my arguments like the willful goat.  Glory is recognition of power, and for now, I am covered with clouds, waiting for the situation to ripen, and the time to come and put in the sickle, and harvest the earth.  I sit here, polishing the edge of that sickle, checking the binding of my flail, the weave of my sieve.  I send this paper to people, touching the minds of people in the city, as in the understanding of Ezekiel, preparing the start of the harvest, giving out the tools, haunting people with truth.  Like the bolt of lightning that raises the hair before it strikes, I may send a prickle of fear down your spine, and make you consider your life. 

Do you recognize this?  We are back to Revelations, chapters going on past 11.  John went and told the same story from other angles.  There is the number of the Beast, 666, in one of these. You can find all sorts of speculation about this number, yet it seems very simple, in the context of the prophets and their concern about holding the Sabbaths.  The sixth day, the sixth year, the sixth cycle of seven years, the Beast is the screaming need for the year of Jubilee, to wash away the injustice of the money game.  In this angle, the monster is chained, for a thousand years, - a long time - until the book of life is read.  Jesus saw it all.  First energy, in this fight, chain up instinct, then chain up sexuality, in the final episode.  In the resurrection, he said, people neither marry, nor are given in marriage. (Matthew 22:30)

Armageddon is the site of the last battle, in the present conflict,  and this is symbolic.  Armageddon is the name of a town, given that name, because in Hebrew, it means, "place where the hills and plains meet" Some of the prophets referred to the hills being beaten, threshed, and the symbolism is that the hills are the rich, peaks of wealth.  This is the battle.  Truth about how resources are used, justice to nature and to ourselves. 

It is kind of funny, I am a most unlikely looking specimen of a warrior.  But the sword is in my mouth, not my hand.  I am ready.  Do you run, with silence for an answer, like the willful goat, try to fight, with mysticism, pride, like the priests of Baal, or do you join me? 

Chapter 15
Finally, About Myself

I think there is some value in giving an outline of my life.  As I wrote in the first chapter, it can help to see the mistakes others have made, so that we can avoid those mistakes ourselves. The paper I have written up to now is a story of triumph, of finding things that fit, but such things are not always the result of searches that went smoothly.  It has been a near thing that I am alive to say anything.  Some will curse that I didn't die.  Too bad.  "The tribes of earth will mourn, when they see the son of man coming into his kingdom."  (Matthew 24:30)

I was born June 1, 1955, in Kansas City, Kansas.  My parents moved to Massachusetts, when I was about 2, and I grew up in a rural area north of Boston, that turned into suburbia as I grew.  My father was a mechanical engineer, my mother took care of the 5 boys she had.  I was the middle child.

My parents were Christian Scientists.  My father was quite fanatic about it, because he had physical problems that would not go away, and for those who don't know, Christian Science claims to heal the sick with a philosophical - mystical interpretation of the Bible.  My mother was quite healthy, and didn't worry so much about religion, but she loved my father and went along with him.

I can see now how the physical problem ended up in Christian Science, because it is genetic, my grandfather suffered with it, apparently, to hear a description of his problems, and medicine had no recognition of what the problem was, until the second world war, and awareness has filtered only very slowly into the medical community, because it is a rare problem.  I have sometimes felt, that to scratch the veneer on a Christian Scientist is to find someone with a chronic problem.  That is an exaggeration, but not too far from the truth.  For the healthy, the religion is a social club, a placebo for worries about social problems, the sickness of others.  The ranks steadily dwindle, as the old die, and the young find the arguments lacking, and medicine is not the quackery it often was when the religion started.

But there was still a fair number of people when I was born into it, and there was never any question about going to Sunday School, with my father's attitude, and he was prone to lecture us on morals and metaphysics after supper, and go to the Wednesday evening meeting, and drag us to lectures, and tried to have us read the weekly lesson every day.  We were a very closed family, my father distrusted anyone who wasn't a Christian Scientist, and when it got down to individuals, we didn't get close to anyone in the church, either.  I think there was fear of being exposed, that my father wasn't making the religion work, he had these problems.  It was only when I got older, that I sometimes heard a hushed comment about how someone else in the church was struggling to make the "demonstration", that I saw that it was often a mutual desire to be left alone, and my father was not the only one putting on a brave face and earnest declarations of "the truth".  But it was very difficult to find out anything concrete.  The central theme of Christian Science is that matter is unreal, reality is spiritual and perfect, and just a glimpse of the truth of this would bring about healing.  It is a religion of denial.  Deny the problem, don't give it power, it only exists in "mortal mind".  And it claimed to be scientific, that there was no question that it worked, if you only saw the "truth".  How can you prove that matter is real?  That's where the philosophy came in.  You can't prove it.  But I found endless things to debate in the rest of it.  If it wasn't real, then how does being healed prove anything one way or another?  Why struggle, why not die, go to spiritual reality, wake up?  They pointed to Jesus on the tower, (Matthew 4: 1-11) asking himself why he shouldn't jump, and his answer was that he shouldn't tempt God.  I wasn't satisfied with this.  Why would God be tempted to kill us for waking to his perfection?  What else could God be tempted to do?  What was the problem?  It was either real or not, this existence.  I gave my teachers considerable problems.  But in the end, I accepted the answer that I would come to understand as I got older.  Yes, it was a science, but faith was a factor in that science.  I was a child, who was I to argue with my elders?  Well, who was I to argue too hard.  I argued questions like this from the time I was around 10 years old, and came to enjoy it.  I was good at it, and even though I gave my teachers a very hard time, they were impressed at my questions, told me I would become a very good Christian Scientist, that I had tremendous potential.  I had increasing doubts about this, because I was often sick.  It wasn't like my father, who had constant digestive problems, had terrible allergies and asthma in the summer, though I never heard those words.  It could be frightening to hear my father struggle to breathe, hour after hour, day after day.  He got a break, going into Boston, to work in air conditioned offices, but having lived with him for so many years, I have to think that while his intellect could not overcome his instincts, he is one of the physically toughest men I have ever known, with a predatory persistence to match any tiger.  But it took a toll on him, and on the family.  My own physical problems seemed more ordinary.  I got the colds, and intestinal upsets, that everyone in school got.  They seemed to put me down for a day longer than my brothers, and the kids at school, but that was no big deal.  But the eye infections were scary.  And once I got diarrhea that went on for a week.  I didn't seem to be growing like the others either.  My adult teeth came in with a tremendous overbite, and one tooth came in very late, and with the enamel rotted off.  I was worried about these things, tried to apply Christian Science, but got no better results than my father.  I know now that some of the things about me would have been difficult to look at, and say, there is a problem here.  Lots of young boys are thin and gawky.  But that tooth was a definite sign of malnutrition, of serious trouble, though I didn't know that at the time.  We did go to the dentist.  For some reason, bones and teeth were considered too much of a "demonstration of truth".  I remember the dentist looking at that tooth, poking and considering, looking at me.  I think he suspected there was a problem that went a little deeper.  But he also knew my parents were Christian Scientists.  Mind your own business...  There was also a bad rash that covered half my body, one year in high school.  It didn't bother me, except it was very embarrassing during gym.  No one paid much attention.  It was assumed that I was seeing a doctor, and there was no problem.  Mind your own business.

In spite of these things, I was well enough a lot of the time.  There were other kids who were sicker, weaker, though not many.  I was pretty often the next to last kid chosen for games, was the next to smallest boy in high school, and that boy seemed just genetically small, he had more vitality than I did.  There was a real discontinuity in my size and health.  My oldest brother was a tackle on a winning football team, a captain on the gymnastics and track team, had a school record in the 100 yd dash.  I could see the disappointment in the eyes of the coaches, when they saw the name on the roster, looked down and saw me.  How could I be malnourished, when I ate the same as my brothers?  The thought never even occurred to me, that I was small and weak because I was starving.  There was never any lack of food.  I was hungry, but boys are always hungry.  I was starving, though.

At home, my parents got goats and chickens, to teach us where food came from.  It was a very interesting thing to all of us children.  My mother had grown up on a farm in Kansas, my father had grown up on the edge of a town and had raised goats.  I learned to milk goats when I was around 10, and somehow or another, it seems that goats have never left my life for long.  There were certainly times when I got sick of milking, but the goats were a source of differentiation that wasn't quite the uncertain thing that Christian Science was.  There were always these nagging doubts about the religion.  Nagging doubts about the goats came up later.  We bought hay and grain, and I was bothered about that.  Where was the profit, if you had to be tied down to goats, and still had to buy food for them?  My parents weren't concerned about the animals making money, they just wanted to teach us about food, but it just ended up confusing the heck out of me.  I tried making hay, there was a small field with the house, and found it an enormous amount of work.  People who owned the dairy farm next door made hay with machinery, but I was intensely curious.  How had this started, if it was so hard?  I loved to read, and I loved especially stories about how life used to be lived.  The Indians who had lived here never made hay and milked goats day in and day out.  They did have gardens, some of them, but not all.  I wasn't happy about all the work in a garden, either.  I watched the manure go into the garden, saw the hay field next to us get cut too many times without fertilizer, and the grass got stunted, and while I was in no position to criticize things, my mind was full of questions and confusion.  Fishing was the closest thing to hunting I could do, and fishing was practically a sacred thing, to my instincts.  I would ask my father questions, and he would point out that the Indians often starved.  But I wondered about that.  How had they gone for thousands of years, if always on the edge of starvation?  I didn't push it.  It started a life long interest in work and returns, though.  And a lifelong distrust of money to measure things honestly got started at an early age, when I could not figure out an honest price to my satisfaction for work I did.

I had a thousand questions and read everything, but I was not good in school.  School scared me, and I didn't do well, to my way of thinking.  I learned to read like a duck learns to swim, and making letters was no problem, but math I didn't like at all, and writing book reports seemed a stupid waste of time - read the book!- was my childish attitude.  I never could figure out what they wanted me to write, and it turned me away from writing, for awhile.  I couldn't do numbers in my head the way the teachers wanted, and this made me feel stupid.  But I started making things with my hands at an early age.  This was not school, but on my own.  I wanted to do more than read about things, I wanted to try them, master them.  I wasn't as strong as other kids, nor as smart in school, but in using my hands, I could learn things at my own pace, do things at my own pace.  Strength was not the factor in building things, because it could be broken down, done a bit at a time.   I felt good about my ability to do things like this, building bows and arrows, toy boats, real boats, muzzle loading guns, as I got older.   And I wasn't stupid at Sunday School, which I liked to remind myself of, when I seemed so slow at other things. 

I took music lessons, violin, then the only teacher for that died, so I took clarinet lessons, and played in the band.  I wasn't enthusiastic about it, as my hands did not have the coordination, I always made mistakes.  My hands worked well for the slow and steady, peeling shavings, chipping away, but the fast twitch muscles weren't there.  I think strength was a factor, too.  I could do things forever, and not seem to develop any strength.  The incentive to practice, that comes from a little progress, just wasn't there, and my clarinet teacher frequently made me cry, which was not a difficult thing to do.  My head was full of stories of pioneer and Indian courage in the face of pain and discomfort, and I wouldn't run away from things, but I would cry, and hated myself for this weakness.  I fought very hard to learn to control tears. It did not seem to be something that others had to fight with so much, and there was a part of me that could always stand away and look at myself, but I couldn't stay detached all the time.  When I was out of high school I taught myself to play guitar, made a little progress at it, wrote my own songs, most of which I've forgotten, and music was an important part of my life, but I was not good at entertaining anyone except myself with it.

Rightly or not, crying is associated with being female.  If the part of the female brain that experiences loss is 8 times bigger, then it seems likely there is some truth to the association. I sometimes cried like a girl, and my sexuality, had an aspect of female, too.  But it was also male, was more male than female.  Bisexuality implies half and half, I am much more than half male. I only fall in love with women, but the physical side seemed divided about half and half.  We need to be open about sex, for controlling reproduction, but it has taken me years to admit to myself that my brain is partly female, and I have had to fight myself to write it down here.  Recently I have made a serious attempt to be in more control of this, and I believe that this is possible.  I feel like I have become closer to 100 percent male.  But it is the business of society to know the flaws, as well as the strengths.  Or maybe sometimes in small amounts it is not a flaw.  We can never solve the problem if people are not honest about it.    

During high school I did try some sports.  A coach took pity on me, in track, worked out a program, and I actually gained some strength. Got one point for the team, came in third in the two mile run with three people running.  But it was an amazing thing to me that I actually ran two miles.  I didn't do track again, but ran by myself for many years after.  I went out for wrestling, they wanted a lightweight, but that was a disaster.  Badly tore muscles in the back of my thigh, did a split.  I stuck out the season, though, got in some matches.  I felt quite proud of myself for not getting pinned in the first 30 seconds, in the last match.  I didn't get pinned at all.  I did lose, 13 to 1.  I have to look back and think I didn't really do so bad.  I was trying to play with half my intestines behind my back, in a manner of speaking.        I have celiac sprue, by all the indications.  The gluten protein in wheat, rye, barley, erode the lining of the small intestine, and you don't absorb nutrients properly.  You can eat plenty of good food, but it doesn't do you much good.  But I wouldn't find this out for many years.  It is a genetic thing, which is why both my father and grandfather had problems, and probably why my grandfather turned to Christian Science.  It is one of those things that possibly would be a strength, in situations other than the environment I grew up in. Many places around the world do not support the growth of grains containing gluten.  Someone who lost the genetic machinery to deal with gluten might actually have an advantage of strength, compared to someone who has the machinery and never uses it, because gluten isn't in the environment.   Evolution sometimes works in that way.  People have lost capabilities, lost hair, lost a tail, lost the digestive section that is now the appendix, lost ability to manufacture vitamin C.  I might be seeing an advantage that really isn't there, but it is an interesting speculation.  Certainly in the present environment it is no advantage.

And so went my early life.  Plenty of warnings of trouble ahead, but no major trouble. I managed to get through school.  In seventh grade I caught on in Math, but the teachers immediately put out that fire by putting me in the advanced group.  I've learned a lot in spite of the education system, not because of it, for too many things.  I caught fire again in Geometry, because I didn't have to shuffle numbers in my head, and I could shuffle postulates and theorems in my head as easy as stacking blocks.  That was quite a surprise to me.  But I sometimes did something triumphant and stupid all at the same time.  I remember solving a problem in about 13 steps, up at the board, the teacher looking at me sort of amazed and puzzled.  Yes, it was right, and many of the others were having trouble stringing two steps together, but if I had taken in the last theorem, it was only an eight step problem.  I did the same kind of thing in college, covering the board with calculations, getting the right answer, but then the teacher looks at me kind of careful, and says yes, but if you hadn't been afraid to integrate over here, you would have had the answer with half the work.  It was plain that I could string logic together, but I also could really miss the easy path. I could go on so fast that I missed the easy forks in the road.  And I don't feel that I ever really became comfortable with calculus.  The principles are easy enough, but applying all the details could cause me trouble.  I saw that I could learn, but I also saw that the complexity got very deep, and I was satisfied to think that knowing principles was enough, if I needed details, I could find them.  That has been the depth to which I get into everything, to understand the principles.

I did come to realize, though that in solving a problem, details were extremely important, you couldn't be satisfied with general principles to solve specific problems.  And look for the easy way.  Don't be satisfied with solving the problem, solve it better.  It was a lesson that I absorbed in working with my hands, as well, because I didn't have the strength or tools to muscle through things.  In my high school years, I took to spending hours in the chair in the basement shop, turning over a problem.  How could I do this thing, with what I had on hand?  What was the absolute minimum to get by with?  But talents like this did not show up in most school work.  I tested average in math, high in English, in the SAT, but did not apply to any colleges.  My intellectual confidence was very low.  My parents offered all of us that we could stay at home and go to college, but that we had to work to pay our own tuition and books. 

I ended up working at a factory that made industrial electric heaters, for the year after high school.  They found out my ability with my hands, and I often went from department to department, fixing things, working in a special assembly department.  But sometimes there was no interesting work, and I would be put on a machine, doing something simple and mindless for day after day.  I remember looking at the machine one day, and thinking that I could design a machine like that.  I was reinventing the gun at the time, with success.  I applied to Northeastern University, choosing the engineering technology program, because it was supposed to focus on the practical, and not be so heavy on the math.  I had to take a math test to see where I was, and I had been so confused by math in high school that I could not do a percentage.  I was put in a remedial program, and everything just clicked.  I took freshman English, and that clicked, too, as for the first time in my life I found I had things to write, and the instructions for writing made sense.  I remember one English teacher trying to get me to change to an English major, she checked my SAT and was surprised I had chosen engineering.  But I felt that language and the arts were for fun, that I had to work on what came hard to me, not what came easy.  I also had a burning curiosity for how things worked, to learn more about metals, and design.  When I learned how to deal with numbers a little better, treating them as a tool that I could deal with later, but concentrate in class on the principles, I found that these principles came as easily as the principles of geometry had come years earlier.  The numbers would still have been a stumbling block, since engineering is not taught solely in terms of principles, but the pocket calculators just coming out saved me.  With that, I led the class in grades, and graduated with a 3.7 CPA.  If you look that up, you might dispute that I led the class, but for some reason the electrical division was lumped with the mechanical, at graduation, and some of the electrical students had better cpa's.  That has always seemed unfair, I didn't know I was competing with those students, and certainly there was a competition.  The electrical students were in another world, we never talked with each other at all.  So it goes, just a minor thing, really.  Those were mostly good years, intellectually.   But there had been some serious problems with my health in those years, as well, that were not at all good.

I went to Sunday School until I was too old, because it was interesting to talk with the teachers about the nature of reality.  But I was not understanding, as they had promised I would, and I was rejecting the religion, and becoming a scientific determinist before I had even heard the term.  But when my testicles became infected, just another infection in a long line, eyes, ears, teeth, I decided to give Christian Science one last try.  My reasons for doing so were not smart.  Sexual matters are embarrassing, and I had never dealt much with doctors.  I thought, it was just another infection, I would get over it, as I had all the others, no need to go to a doctor just yet.  Just like the rat, forced to make a decision, and going to the old training.  After 4 or 5 days, I went to a doctor.  Men will understand the pain, perhaps, like being kicked at every move.  Whatever kind of microbe it was, it responded to antibiotics, but one testicle shriveled up, and it has to be doubted I am fertile, though I have never had that tested.  It was not a sexually transmitted disease, because sex was something people in another universe worried about, not me.  That is the hard way to give up mysticism.  I don't recommend it.  I was much like present society is now, ready to go with mysticism whenever the instincts make following reason a little difficult.  Learn something, will you?

Anyway, the pain faded after a month or so.  I didn't lose my sex drive, one testicle is enough for that.  But with my general poor health, it wasn't unusual to go long periods without any thought of sex, and my energy level, not too high to begin, took a hit, that was a very long time coming back.

I was playing soccer a few years later, and tore ligaments in my left knee.  Lots of athletes get hurt, who are fully healthy people.  But I wasn't pushing that hard.  The body was weak, it came apart easy.  This knee has plagued me for years, it is unstable, gets out of alignment.  It is what I was thinking of, when I wrote about injured and suspect parts of society, that need a brace, need to be watched.  You can live like that, but if I could replace this knee, I would do so in a second, and society ought to do the same.  There is nothing but pain in unstable parts of the body or society.  Don't live with nagging questions about trust and strength.   Get it out in the open, get it fixed.   Society should be more flexible than the individual body, you can put people together in various combinations to overcome weaknesses.       This society says I am not worth trying to fix.  At this point, they may be right.  I have decided to put my resources into getting truth into the spotlight, and not worry much about whether this body can be fixed.  If I can't do that, getting the body fixed for this life will not be much of an achievement.

Around the time of the knee injury, I got a girlfriend for the first time in my life.  I was 24, I think.  She was a Christian Scientist.  I wasn't going to church anymore, but I hadn't made a big deal of the fact.  Some people at church asked me to mow their lawn.  I didn't want to do it, I have hated lawns for a very long time, unless they are mowed by animals, but I was not good at saying "no".  These people were healthy, they had some energy, had a nice house, lawn, pool.  It was a totally different life. And they had a niece, visiting for the summer, and she was as unsure about men as I was about women.  The relationship was doomed from the start, since she sincerely believed in the religion, but we had a summer romance, and wrote letters when she went home.  You don't have to talk about religion all the time, but many paths of thought lead to such questions, and it was a wedge that gradually drove us apart in spite of the instinctive longing in both of us.  But before we came apart entirely, she gave me a book that changed the course of my life.  It was  "Small is Beautiful" by E. F. Shumacher, which is of course about economics, not religion.  Just why she thought I would be interested, I don't know.  We always argued about physics, and philosophy, and determinism, in relation to Christian Science,  never economics.   The anomaly between physics and life came up during this period.   She had read the book in a college class, but she was a botany major, not economics.  I guess she wanted to expand my vision.  It certainly did that. I know I had been thinking about the relationship between energy and money, disturbed about it, but not knowing what to make of it.  "Small is Beautiful" also talks seriously about energy, and this gave legitimacy to my concerns.  How could humanity be ignoring such questions as finite energy sources?  It haunted me.  I began noticing the question in other books.  I had been wrapped up in personal problems, but I saw that if these problems were not solved, my personal problems would be nothing.

Northeastern U. is a co-op school, where you work in the field you study, go back to school, go back to work, back and forth, a few months at each place.   It was a way to pay tuition, and a very practical education as well.  I had worked for GTE Sylvania, as a draftsman, and found the work more boring than the machine in the factory, because at the factory I could think about what I wanted, but drafting was extremely repetitious work that also took attention.  I stuck with it, as it was the path to being a designer, and I felt I could do that.  In fact, my last tour of work, they gave me some simple design projects, and they were easy, and I felt I was finding my place in the world.  But the company was huge, and decisions could be made from far above, and a minor recession caused the powers to end the co-op program.  I had to get another job, which turned out to be easy, several companies wanted the person represented by my grades.  But they didn't know what was haunting the brain that got those grades.

I eventually just couldn't work well.  I couldn't believe in what I was doing, and it was getting harder for me to believe that others could be so blind.  I had long and difficult talks with my boss, others in the company.  They didn't want to let me go, talked about the potential for making money, but money was the wrong argument.  Money was the problem.  I had graduated while working for this company, and my salary was practically doubled by the event.  But I was doing the same kind of work.  What was the work really worth, in energy?  What good was it doing society, to have this work performed, to have the products of the business made, when they were made with finite energy, polluted the air and water in the process, and went to be used in other machinery that did the same?  These were questions that had little meaning to my superiors.  It wasn't their problem.  Eventually, I had to quit or be fired.  I quit.

In spite of feeling I was rational, and right, it felt like failure.  I had always managed to get by somehow in pleasing people, or sliding by out of sight.  My girlfriend called an end to our constant disagreement about religion, a double blow, not totally unexpected, but I had very few social contacts, and I felt like I had lost everything.  For arguing rationally, I was banished from my contacts.

I was very much in a "nothing matters" attitude for quite a time after this.  I packed up my car, fossil fuel, which I still cared about, but had no alternative, and drifted around the country, visited some relatives, some of whom I had never met. I gradually worked up the determination, with the urging of a great aunt I had never known before, to try and find work in renewable energy sources.  Wind power seemed most interesting to me, and I wrote to every wind turbine company I could find an address for, about 30 at the time.  Renewable energy was a concern for a lot of people in those days, though I never met anyone who gave up a promising engineering career to get into it.  The emphasis was to turn the problem into money, for most.  Engineers tend not to be idealistic people, they focus all their attention on making the gadget on hand work properly.   In a way though, I have taken this same kind of focus, but the gadget on hand is society.  And I took that focus, because I had lost my community.  I only see this in retrospect, at the time I focused on wind turbines.  I got a job at one of these attempts to make a business out of the wind, and it was a very poorly thought out design that they had, though some things looked like reasonable goals.  It was a small vertical axis design, which seemed a good goal, for example, because horizontal axis machines are prone to destruction by gyroscopic forces produced by swirling winds, such as are common in the trees and hills of New England, and many other places.  But vertical axis turbines of the type would not self start, and detecting wind, when wind is such a variable force, and storing energy to make repeated starts, and the cost of the starter were all negatives that were not at all easily solved.  There were also generator problems.  All of this is natural to a degree in first attempts to design anything.  But there were very serious problems to continuing the effort.  The human organization just amazed me.  There was a president, and a treasurer, and a secretary, and a salesman, and they hired me.  There were no tools to speak of, most everything was contracted out.   Why we needed all these people, when we didn't have a product, was simply bizarre.  But jobs in wind energy were not common, lots of people had answered my letters with regret that they had no place for me, and so I stayed, hoping things would somehow get better, but they didn't.  The engineers who had started the design had mostly left this sinking organization, with only one man who came back on a part time basis.  I learned a lot about wind energy, struggling with that design, and more about the strange nature of human behavior, how fixated people could be. I left before it completely died. 

I did find some social contacts with this job.  There was a loosely bound community of idealistic people fighting nuclear energy, and I got involved with some of these people.  There was a woman, her name was Penny, a single mother of two daughters, and I moved to her house, as I had been living at the wind company's assembly space, providing service as a watchman, as well as engineer and chief assembler, but the city didn't like me living there, and the company barely paid enough to live elsewhere.  It started off as just a place to live, but it turned into a "relationship".  My only thinking about the morality of people getting married was that it was wrong to have children without serious commitment, and she had decided to have herself sterilized, so that was no problem.  Marriage was only a piece of paper, under the circumstances, and I don't really disagree with that now, though I do feel it is still the affair of society, now, while I wasn't much concerned about what society thought at the time, and society at the time didn't care.  The younger daughter accepted me, the older one didn't, but she eventually decided I was tolerable, as I didn't try to replace her father, emotionally.

It was more of a relationship with a woman than I had ever dreamed of having.  Of course, it was a relationship of convenience, she was considerably older than me, and children make a single woman a tough sell, because of the reactions of children.  Her older daughter made me think of leaving at times.  And I was absolutely nothing to look at, as a specimen of manhood, I wasn't much, nothing of a body, and this idealistic mind that had potential to make money, but wouldn't do it.

I stayed with her for six and a half years.  I worked as a substitute teacher, a mason's tender, carpenter's helper, and was quickly considered a carpenter, though it was really a little more time that I felt honest about calling myself that.  But carpentry has been the job I have done the most of in my life.

It is interesting, of course, that Jesus was a carpenter.  There is some sense that we would both have been formed by this job.  A house is at the center of human life, and you stand at this center, building in so many aspects of people's lives, cooking, food storage, water, sleeping space, defecation, waste disposal, privacy, heat, light, ventilation, transportation, general storage.  I wasn't the architect for what I helped to build, but I was right in the middle of all these questions, whether anyone asked my opinion or not.

In a backwards kind of move, I built a house with Penny, she owned a house built without consideration of sustainable energy, and she was idealistic and had faith in my ability to figure things out, and we sold that house and started the new one, before I worked as a professional carpenter.  I designed a lot of it, researched solar designs, and a lot of the building was hired out, but I did a lot of the finishing, which went on and on.  I could have done more, and better, if I had worked as a carpenter first, but the design was quite livable, did use dramatically less energy than her previous house.  It was a passive solar design, with wood heat backup, wood cookstove, that had a coil for hot water, I built a pump to hand pressurize the water at first, then put in a photovoltaic panel and DC pump.  We were hooked to the commercial electric grid, but had in mind to disconnect some day, a little bit at a time.  We had a composting toilet,  got a gas refrigerator.  It was satisfying to have these successes, and expanding into food production, we got chickens, started a garden, got some goats.  I was dubious about the energy efficiency of these things, having grown up with them, but now I was in position to try and understand the problem better.

What brought the whole thing down was it was built on the sand of my health.  If I had worked in an office, like my father, and his father, I think I might have gone on with chronic problems that stayed under a certain level.  But working as a framing carpenter was just too much stress.  The way the market drives people to work, it is too much for a lot of healthy people.  I ate tremendous quantities, and thought little of it, actually gained weight and strength.  But my intestines were not healthy, my bowel movements were loose, hemorrhoids made life chronically painful, I smelled bad, and no amount of washing seemed to help.  I had built up endurance with my years of running, but I noticed this was fading.  I began getting sick to my stomach.  All of this got worse so gradually that I didn't think of going to a doctor about it, though I did go for specific things, like a bad ear infection that threatened my hearing, I went to a doctor for.  But going to a doctor was very expensive, and only repeated trips seemed likely to find what was wrong with me, if anything could be found at all, was how I thought of it.  I suspected that I was genetically weak, and nothing could be done about it.  I would live as much as I could, and die, same as everyone else.

With some encouragement, I did go and have my teeth shoved back in my mouth.  The overbite was so bad that I couldn't close my mouth without stretching my lips, and my jaw joint sometimes made disturbing noises, so I got that done.  In hindsight, it would have been better to have had my intestines looked at rather than spend the energy on my teeth, but the teeth were an obvious problem, the intestines were not, to me.  To anyone who knew anything, it would have been obvious, but I never said much of anything to anyone about it.  I had always had problems, it was just the way I was.

I got more and more fatigued, and finally collapsed one day, seriously sick.  I didn't go to a doctor, which may seem odd, but in a way I was ready to either live or die and be done with it.  I went down and down, but a point came where I decided to live, that I was going to live, and I began to fight, and I did live.  But it took a couple of months before I could go back to work, and it was 6 months before I felt normal.  Whatever it was attacked the nerves controlling eyes and balance, and nerves can be very slow to heal.  I am lucky it did not get to my brain and kill me.  Most people walk a wide path with regard to individual health, and I have spent my life walking the edge of a ditch, and nearly falling in all the time.  My logic has often been of the blind leading the blind, telling myself it would all turn out ok, without reason to say that.

This illness was a turning point.  I had some serious doubts about what we had been trying to build, had often felt it should be smaller, less complex, cheaper, but my de facto spouse had struggled with me about these things, wanting to believe that no sacrifice of the benefits of technology needed to be made, that we could have it all.  It was clear to me, from my illness, that I didn't have the strength to continue working as a carpenter and doing things in this way.  I felt like we had reached a plateau, where further improvements would be increasingly difficult to reach.  I wanted solutions that would work for everyone, not just those that had the money we had .  My sense of energy accounting was still quite primitive in those days, but I knew we weren't even close to independence from fossil fuel and the electric company, hooked up to nuclear power.  I had no sense of interdependence, though I had noticed that it was a ridiculous assertion that anyone built a house alone.  I still dreamed of self sufficiency, of a solar powered life, and had not looked objectively at that dream.  Society was crazy, so I was going to get away from society.  I was like  the snared animal trying to get away, and jerking on the tightening noose.  The noose on me was interdependence.  In a sense, Penny was more sane about the situation than I was.  She wanted to follow her idealism as far as she could, but I think she knew instinctively that one could not get away.  But I was in a no win situation, with my health.  All kinds of other disagreements of a fundamental nature came up.  She wanted to travel, to send her kids to expensive colleges, she wanted money.  If I traveled I figured it would be foot powered, and I was increasingly doubtful of the value of education that completely  ignored things of fundamental importance.  To have the kind of money she wanted, she doubled the mortgage, unilaterally.  This I couldn't stand.  I had thought to pay off the mortgage, and be free of that burden, in a few more years.  Now it would be doubled.  When people start making unilateral decisions, you don't have a partnership anymore.  I might have stayed in spite of that, tried to work through it, but I didn't think my body would follow.  If I was going to live, I needed a simpler life, less pressure to work like a machine.  And so the relationship broke.

I guess I wouldn't be the first to observe that this sort of thing has some serious pain to go with it.  Broken relationships are not that much different from broken bodies, which isn't surprising, really.  A broken body is a broken relationship.  I have been through a lot of brokenness, but it isn't anything out of the ordinary, it has been all the kind of things that lots of people go through.  Most people don't have celiac disease, but the way celiac affects one is very general.  It makes you weak, and all kinds of things can break when you are weak.  Of course, it is true, as I said about my knee, that healthy people get broken, and these things might have all happened anyway, but I doubt that.  Some of them could have happened, but not all of them.

I moved to an empty cabin that some people I knew had, and did some work for them, in return for living there.  I meet a woman who gave me a book that advised an extreme vegetarianism, that you went to by degrees.  I was intrigued, and a little desperate to do something about my health.  I had experimented with large doses of vitamins, and found that a large amount of vitamin C made my hemorrhoids tolerable, though it didn't cure them.  Nothing else seemed to have any affect on me.  I tried the very low protein diet that was advised, and was surprised to find that I was feeling better.  I think now, that since I was doing a poor job of digestion, proteins are especially troublesome, since the bacteria that were digesting the protein were producing toxins that weakened me even more than just the lack of nutrition.  Bad health has a way of "snowballing" One thing that doesn't work right weakens others, and things can fall down like a row of dominoes.  It is a funny thing, I have spent most of my life thinking that I was genetically weak, but except for the one thing, I am probably exceptionally strong, or I would be dead.  Anyway, the diet helped a lot, except I couldn't eat hardly anything of what most people ate, and I was very thin, and had to eat a huge volume to keep up with that.  Still, it was rather wonderful to feel a little energy, and a lot less pain.    I couldn't agree with the book that everyone was really unhealthy and needed to eat like this, and I couldn't go to the extremes that the book preached, eating only raw food, only fruit, but I was definitely better, which made me think about these things.  I juiced grass, and carrots, raised sprouts, was really into the whole thing of being a vegan.  It seemed to work. I was concerned about vitamin B12, and found that zinc was lacking, and that linoleic acid was very important.  I read books about nutrition.  There was a book that briefly mentioned celiac sprue, but it said that proper nutrition cured this problem, so I thought no more about it.  Nutrition is important, but it doesn't cure celiac sprue.  If the book had been accurate, I might not be writing this. 

While I was getting into this, I started building a canvas yurt, because I didn't think I could live in the cabin indefinitely.  It was an interesting job, someone gave me some plans, so I didn't have to reinvent the thing.  Sewing the canvas was an ordeal.  I think I would just cover it with overlapping square tarps, if I had to do it again.

The woman who gave me the book on radical vegetarianism was a recovering alcoholic and a Christian Scientist.  That was doomed from the start, but I learned something about addiction from her.  I have had a problem with thinking people will change when I point out logical inconsistencies.  I think I have learned, but it has been a hard lesson.  I owed her money, winter was coming, but somehow I got it all done, did some carpentry work, finished the yurt, got it ready for winter, paid her back, got a non-running VW bus running that had been given to me, since I didn't have a car, and was set.  After getting the bus going, I found a job next door, in a chair makers shop, and didn't really need the car as bad as I had thought.  I worked building chairs for 9 months, but I really didn't need to work as hard as the owner wanted me to.  I had found the simplicity I had been looking for, and I wanted company, but not to make endless chairs go out for the rich, as they were works of art that no one could afford except the rich.  I was feeling a lot better, but I still didn't have enormous amounts of energy.  The pain in my life was loneliness, in those days.

I read books, spent a lot of time thinking, writing down paragraphs of observations about things.  Way back in my last year of engineering school, I had noticed the anomaly between physics and life.  I know others have noticed it, for people have told me of shaking their heads about this.  But now I started thinking about it seriously.  I had never really stopped thinking about it, it was always in the back of my mind, but now I looked at it more closely.  But I couldn't see the answer.  I also thought about the problems of society.  If people were rational, how would you have them behave?  I knew that the money - energy thing had to be solved.  I spent a lot of time trying to make energy be the standard for money, and it always got fouled up in my thought experiments.  I was fixated on the idea that you always traded something.  Even the societies without money bartered things back and forth, but barter was very cumbersome. I always got stuck in trying to make something rational work on these principles of exchange and standards for money.

I met women, and they all taught me something, but none of them stayed with me.  I was too radical in my diet, in my thinking about money, and energy, determinism,  in living in a canvas yurt.  I lived in the yurt for three years.  I used a photovoltaic panel and a battery the last two years, for a light, radio, tape player, even a tiny television, though I didn't watch it much.  After the first winter, when the chair making job ended, I moved from New Hampshire to Maine, where my parents had bought a run down dairy farm, and set up the yurt on the edge of a back pasture.  My youngest brother had gone to an agricultural school, and wanted to have some dairy cows, and my parents were interested, and I was interested in what might be learned with a serious amount of land to work with, though as a vegetarian who didn't drink milk, the cows didn't interest me all that much, and the energy efficiency of feeding hay and grain just repelled me.  I was starting to understand, though, that cows and goats could be efficient, that they could turn nothing but grass and herbs into milk and meat and hide, and moving them pasture to pasture, nomads were very energy efficient.  This was something to store in the back of my head.  The understanding that one did not have to be a nomad in lush areas only came much later.

One of the women I met taught me about horses, and I bought a draft horse, with the idea of learning to plow and cultivate, haul wood and water.  I never plowed, but I did haul a lot of water, and some wood.  Money got scarce, and equipment was a difficulty.  I also learned to ride, and we would go thundering across the pasture, often bareback, as I got better, and my old dreams of being a buffalo hunting Indian resurfaced, though they didn't fit too well with the fact that I couldn't eat meat without getting the runs.  I did plow a piece of land with the tractor, and found that fertilizing a large piece of land was not the easiest thing in the world, and that the land needed quite a lot.  People had farmed the land here until there was very little left.  It would grow grass, if you put a little manure to it, but other crops needed a lot of manure.  Deer and racoons would destroy corn and beans, and I could see the danger of the cows getting loose, as well.  I had successfully fenced small vegetable gardens, but now I saw that this question had impossible dimensions to it, when food for a whole year was considered.  This was disturbing.  I wasn't even living in a healthy ecosystem, the elk were gone, the woodland bison were gone, the birds were not the force they could be, and I had seen the enormous damage that crows and jays and sparrows could do.   When the coyotes howled close by at night, I had to realize that without weapons in my hands, two coyotes could easily take me down.  What made me think that they wouldn't learn that fact, given time?  One could watch the fields day and night, if people cooperated, but unless threats were backed up, I could see how animals learned that threats were to be ignored.  I could read of this sort of thing, as well.  It wasn't just my experience.  How could one be a vegetarian, and never kill?  If you did kill, it seemed a terrible waste not to eat the meat, and I could see that most people ate meat without the problems that I had.   I had left gardens behind, and had decided to learn how to gather vegetable foods.  This was an immediate success, and I began to think of the world as my garden.  But starch was not so easy.  It was out there, but it required more work, and the competition from animals could be fierce.

I was also having some more disquieting experiences with my health.  I started having asthma attacks at night during the summer.  It wasn't every night, and it was only in the summer, but it made me uneasy.   One day, trying to dig, the shock of the pick seemed to hit my joints like a hammer.  Things were not adding up the way they should, if I were on the right track.  This made me slightly fanatic, but I also knew about doubts and fanaticism, and never could get too carried away.  My ability to reason was a large anchor, but I dragged that anchor at times in my life.

I would fall in love quite easily, and the women who came and went tore up my emotions, but I was getting stronger about that.  We all had problems, were all the misfits of society, for one reason or another.  Some of us were aware of the fact, some misfits are misfits because they aren't aware of enough, and some are too aware, but none of us had any answers that we could successfully communicate.  It was becoming clearer to me that one could not have stable relationships without a stable community.  That teamwork was required for humans to live in any kind of lifestyle was a growing concept in my mind.  One woman taught me horses, another brought me to the Buddhist experience, another took my hands and told me to cry, and I did, was shocked at how much grief was locked up, and how it could be gone, nothing more to cry about, except she left me too.  I went to visit her in San Francisco, where she lived, and lived in a city for the first time in my life, saw the houses of the rich right next to decay, saw the bullet hole in the house she lived in, saw stirring works of art and science mixed with fear and squalor.  It was really something to think about, because I had the beginnings of understanding in my mind.  It came, as I rode the bus across the country to the Pacific ocean, that enforced meditation of the bus ride.  It would be a lot more romantic to say that it was by the wood fire in my yurt, but it wasn't.

For years I had been thinking of people as complex particles, determined by the laws of physics to act in certain ways under certain conditions.  It was not a view to win one friends.  I could look at stupid actions in my life, and let it go, "it was determined".  This infuriated some people, I had to take responsibility for my actions, in their minds.  I had to shrug.  I was programmed to take responsibility, look at how I had fought to live in a sustainable manner, for example.  Determinism was not evading responsibility.  Determinism was reality.  Cause and effect stopped at the brain?  How? My emotions were just the attractions and rejections of this complex particle, and reason affected those emotions, but did not destroy those emotions.

On the bus, I tried to write down my thinking, link it to the second law of thermodynamics.  I had been trying to do this for some time, and failing.  I was confused by the pronouncement that order always decreased, the room got dirty, the egg broke, and nothing fit together.  Life was very orderly at many levels.  True, the actions of humans was very messy, but nature left alone seemed to spontaneously produce order.  How could this be?  I got nowhere on the bus, either, with this.  It was coming into Salt Lake City, and I saw all the lights, and a despair swept over me.  We could never light all those lights with alternative energy, and this was just one city, we had gone through city after city.  But the despair was like the crack of the whip, - solve the problem.  You cannot quit as long as you are alive.  Solving problems. . .  I remembered that Einstein had imagined himself riding a beam of light, and how I had used this method to try a find leaks in a roof, imagining myself to be a drop of water.  OK, I thought I would try that.  I was a particle in the flow of the second law.  I had a lot of energy, was moving very, very fast, and I hit into things, lost energy, slowed down,- attractions took hold,- I went into orbits around other particles, and we swept out a helix through time, a whirlpool is a helix , two things have become one thing, more particles are swept in, three things are one thing, four things are one thing, here was spontaneous order.  I knew at that moment that the answer had been found, so simple, right in front of my face.

I did go out and walk the streets, looked at everything, but I spent hours writing and rewriting.  Just as the model in my mind, my understanding was weak and new, but it had the stability to grow.  I could add in this piece of information, and that piece, and that piece, and it never threatened to all topple over.  It was an understanding you could build and build on.  Biology and physics were one.  I was very excited.  But none of the people around really understood.  A deterministic basis for life was not what they were looking for.  One of the people I talked with even had a masters degree in science, but he held firmly to free will, nothing I said could shake him.  Well, that wasn't unusual.  I was used to this kind of failure to convince people of anything rational about life.  And it was always there, I only had a Bachelor's degree, and it wasn't even a science degree, but a technology degree.  I had quit formal education because tuition prices kept going up, and because I felt I had a mastery of the basic ideas.  I had felt it was time to go out and solve some problems, that I was ready.  I was doubtful that I had the kind of mathematical talent to be an engineering professor, but I knew I could solve a certain level of problems.  I was never the kind of brain to win top status in any specialized field.  I always felt like I had a very generalized brain, that I could do anything, but I wasn't the best at anything.  There didn't seem to be much use for this kind of brain in society.  What kind of job has the description, "Wide general knowledge needed?"  See if you find that in the newspapers!  I didn't feel needed, nobody cared. They didn't want my solutions.  I could go die for all they cared.

Which I nearly did, more closely than I had ever come before.  I was very disappointed to be rejected once again.  I knew they weren't really the type of people to accept me, but rejection always tears at our instincts to be accepted, regardless of who does it.  Another whole set of social contacts was gone, putting me back with my family, who accepted me because I was family, but otherwise would have had nothing to do with me.  I felt a little like the cowbird chick, to live with them. Perhaps some of them will show some strength.  I am always ready to have people prove me wrong on their ability to act wisely.  In any case, as with so many decisions in my life, there has not seemed anything else to do.  I am reminded of Jesus' words, "And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.   (Luke 16: 9)
So I have done, trying to get along.  Perhaps some in my family will change, but I haven't seen much sign of that.  But when I came back from San Francisco, I was depressed, and went to work on the farm, trying to make things work, neglected my diet, and got sick.  I was so thin, that I didn't have the reserves of strength to fight it off, and I was much closer to giving up mentally, than I had ever been before.  Having this understanding of life was good, but what was I going to do with it?  The health of my body was obviously not a solved problem.  The infection raged in my throat, fever dreams kept me from rest, I could not drink, or eat, the swelling was so bad.  I could feel myself losing, dying.  I decided to live, went to the hospital, expecting some antibiotics.  He wanted me to check in, that I could very easily die, he wanted me on intravenous.  This I didn't want.  Perhaps I was not in my right mind, but I didn't want a huge hospital bill on top of everything.  I was only going to live if it was easy.  The doctor argued with me a little, but I went home.  That night the infection swelled so much it broke into my throat.  The doctor had told me that if it broke into my bloodstream, I would be very painfully dead in a matter of hours.  I thought I had won, that I would be ok.  But with frightening speed, it swelled up again.  It is a strong thing, this desire to live.  I went through my new understanding with what strength I had, and said that it was worth living for, and went to the hospital and checked in.  I don't remember much, it was a dark period.  I finally slept.  Five days later I was out, but not strong.  It kept threatening to flare up again, the medicine was finally gone but a pocket of infection remained.  I got some more medicine, then was looking through a book, and remembered that my diet was deficient in zinc, and got some zinc, hoping that this was the key.  It was, apparently.  I felt my strength coming back, the battle in my throat going away.  I had tried to tell the doctor about my diet, and why, but he was focused on the disease at hand, as had always been the case when I went to doctors.  I would have died without the care, but I might have died if I hadn't found the real problem with my vulnerability in the diet.  There is increasing awareness that the immune system is the final authority with disease, that medicines give a boost, but they won't solve the problem if the immune system isn't there.  I was lacking too much.  I needed more protein, as well as zinc, and the books said the two were usually together.  I had survived the experience, but I still felt vulnerable.  I did have a lot of bills to pay for being alive.  Some of the bill was paid by charity.   I sold my draft horse, my yurt, and a lot of other things.   I was seeing more and more that tools were not what I needed.  I needed people.

I decided to go looking, and built a tool for the job, a recumbent bicycle.  I continued to think about harmony, as I had decided that this was what I was talking about.  Two things moving as one is harmony.  Too much energy, it is torn apart, too little and it never forms, or it crystallizes.

There was a meeting of Quakers not far from where I was living, and I had been going, listening, talking sometimes, a heart pounding experience.  I had never been sure enough of anything to talk much in public.  The people were polite but there was no serious acceptance, as I linked the words of Jesus to rational explanation.  Certain people were greatly disturbed by this, a kind of desecration.  There were a couple of scientists there that were haunted by what I was saying, but not enough to do anything.  I had in mind to ride the bicycle from meeting to meeting, saying a few words at each of them.  I did that, but the bicycle was left behind.  It hurt my knees, and I was starting to question the technology, as the cost of the road was taken for granted in the analysis of their energy efficiency.  I walked, took the bus, took rides as they came.  I had a lot of adventures, scared myself silly, met some interesting people, made very little impression, and came back home.  I slept in homeless shelters, in the woods beside the road, under bridges, in people's homes.   I fasted seven days in an Appalachian trail shelter, hoping for better health, looking for quiet time, testing to see what I could do.  My health did improve briefly, and I saw that one could do a lot more than one thought, but no great insights came. Talking with people on that trip, I found that there were a lot of intentional communities, but they all struggled with the same problems, and generally there were communities that were very strictly religious, that would take you for nothing, but you had to follow the strict mystical interpretations of the Bible, and there were secular communities, but you had to have money to buy in, and these communities also had rules that didn't seem based on serious thought.  Neither type seemed like a place for me.  The Quaker meetings were all variations of the one in Maine.  There was always one person, or a couple, who would take me home and talk, feed me, then I would go.  I have kept in contact with only one person out of the many I met, and he fights to keep a mystic view of things, but seems to be seriously haunted by what I say.

I came home and started writing endless drafts, sending them to scientists.  I know that the writing was not real clear, in the beginning.  I would find minor mistakes, fix them, find new things to add.  A few people have provided valuable criticism, but this has been very hard to come by.  The understanding of truth as a weapon grew slowly, it wasn't clear to me for quite some time.  The mathematical understanding of order also took some time.  What I had seen in the beginning was only the bare beginning of a logical progression, and much of my confidence was in the analog side of my brain screaming, yes, yes ,YES.  It was there, I just had to sort it all out.  But if anyone else saw the possibilities of a logical progression taking in all the problems that it has, they were silent.

Several months after I came home, I saw an article by a doctor who wrote an advice column, in the newspaper, about celiac disease.  I thought, that sounds like me, and while having the diagnosis formally checked would be nice, I really don't have much doubt. Thirty six years or so of trouble with my digestive system vanished. Fear that minor illness could kill me has slowly faded.  I could eat like a human being again, except for wheat, rye, barley, and I avoid oats, too.  I have found that beans are touchy, too, and various spices, other minor foods, lactose, but these are not  gluten issues, obviously.   I think some permanent damage was done to enzyme production, my reading about the problem backs this up. 

I have joked that I am Abel in both mind and body, but nobody laughs much.  A man with a sword in his mouth is not an effective comedian.  I think the image is kind of funny.  People who have been close to death, like myself, appreciate life, but we also like to tell people to lighten up.  It is your life that is important, not all your things, not your car, not people in your life who can't think straight, not your job, not your status in the tribe of naked apes.  Like Jesus said, seek the kingdom of heaven first, and the rest of what is needed will be added.  (Matthew 6:33)

You can't win, on the issue of humor.  Some people are outraged by humor on such serious life and death matters, and some want a joke to break the tension.  I try to see who I am talking to, but you can't do that with a group.  The lines on my face are as much from smiling as frowning, though.  It can be hard to laugh when you are in pain, but we forget pain, learn to laugh again.

In the last few years I have worked on a number of practical things, as well as writing.  I can't write all the time, it would make me crazy.  Work with the hands puts you back in touch, confirms the abstract life of words.  My brother bought me a donkey, though he has not read this paper.  He just thought that donkeys fit my personality, and wanted to replace my horse, and keep my interest in making hay!  So I learned about donkeys.  I think that heavy horses are better evolved for this climate of wet cold and deep snow, but I have learned to get a little work out of donkeys without beating them, during the dry seasons.  People will ask, and I have asked myself, what right we have to hit an animal.  I think it is a matter of causing serious damage or not.  If you don't cause serious damage, you are communicating with the animal, same as your brain communicates to your muscles.  You give your muscles an electric shock, how awful.  You take a whip to the backside of a donkey, it can be the same thing, if you don't overdo it.

I learned to take my parent's goats out free in the spring, summer and fall, watch them eat, learned about leading goats.  I've never dealt personally with sheep, but cows are similar, and I've certainly learned quite a lot about handling cows.  That's an almost never ending thing, though, learning about a species of animal. 

My life has been complex, with many complex people in it.  I haven't done much except outline the story, in these few pages.  I continue to learn new things, continue trying to solve problems, and fix mistakes.  I know that may seem too ordinary, for the magnitude of my claim, but the evidence shows a universe that builds by trial and error.  Jesus said it, "Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme: But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation"  (Mark 3:28-29)

I make mistakes.  You want to swear at me when I make mistakes, that's fine.  If you want to swear at the holy ghost, objective truth, deny that, you are in deep stuff.  There is no forgiveness for denying objective truth.  People who want to believe in miracles, hey, perform a miracle on this body.  It could use a few.  Jesus said, when he started talking, "No doubt you will say to me, Physician, heal thyself."  (Luke 4:23) Obviously he had been an unwell man.  His dying on the cross so quickly, apparently on the first day, without having his legs broken (This was done as an act of mercy, with legs broken you could no longer hold yourself up, and you would suffocate as your chest mucsles took all the strain, is my understanding)   when it could take three or more days to kill a healthy person,  is taken as mystical evidence of control over life and death, but all I see is a man so physically weak that he died easily.  I think he considered suicide, looking down from the tower, at the beginning of his public speaking.   He understood the renewing nature of life, and the temptation was to let someone else take up the struggle, that he had done enough, he hurt, let it end.  But he also saw that the only reason he understood what he did, was the pain that had brought his attention to reality, and if he stopped, the whole thing could be lost.  Humanity could go extinct, and himself with it.  You reach down a little deeper, and go on, until the job is done.  I've been in the same position.  I haven't looked off a tower, but I have looked down the darkness of a gun barrel, several times in my life, as well as thinking to let sickness take me.  And just as Jesus saw that he had talents for war, for money, to have anything he wanted of the present system, and talent for technology to bring water to the desert and make bread from stones,  (Matthew 4), (Luke 4)so have I been tempted to use my talents, and have put this lie of success behind me.  You can't ignore the reality of things for short term success.

My life has been a microcosm of humanity's condition.  Chronic hunger, disease from this, stunted growth, a touch of homosexuality, the confusion between mystic morality and rational morality.  Side by side with this, like the houses of the rich bordering a slum, were my talents and opportunities.  I have been both poor and rich in one body, the tree of good and evil has been my food.  I hope you can learn something from my story.  That is why we tell stories, so that others don't make the same mistakes.  I think we can do without hearing this story in the future, except to teach children.  We shall meet again, God willing, Reality willing.

Arthur Noll

Principles of Harmony
--an expanded abstract

1. People are interdependent to the point that we die without each other. We all have the naked body to test this observation.

2. Since we must have a society, that society should be efficient and sustainable. There are two basic patterns of society, that of fixed hierarchy, and that of partnership. Usually these patterns are combined to some degree. The latter can be shown to be inherently more efficient than the former. Voluntary behavior is more efficient than coerced behavior, and one person will seldom be in charge without some coercion. Reason for voluntary behavior is shifting mastery of issues, one person is master of this issue, another person is master of a different issue. Limited competition can set acceptance of mastery of different issues.

3. Efficiency should be measured in terms of energy, not money. Using money mixes units of measure, since money is always measuring energy issues. We pay for food, fuel, clothes, shelter, all energy issues, either directly or indirectly. Money is also a flawed measure in that it measures scarcity, but encourages waste and discourages conservation by labeling abundant resources as cheap, and accumulates in ways that energy doesn’t. Money also makes people into pseudo independent agents, and this makes society inefficient. In a monetary society, those with the most money become masters even if they are not qualified in other respects; this is often very inefficient.

4. Sustainability should be measured by balance of resources. People should not use resources faster than they renew, whether it is oil, soil, trees, etc. nor should they produce pollutants at greater than the rate at which pollutants break down. Too much energy used taking resources tips the balance away from sustainability, i.e.; resources are used faster than they renew. Too little energy used will also not be sustainable, as people will not get enough to live on.

5. As an interdependent species, reproduction of humans should not be the private decision of individuals or couples, but a consensus decision of society, based on collectively gathered information about the balance of resources. It takes a village to raise a child; it should be a village decision about how many children are born. When an organism overpopulates, the most efficient are favored for survival, and putting less energy into reproduction is one way to be more efficient at getting the more immediate necessities of living. We see this in animal populations, where predators put much less energy into reproduction than do prey animals, the eagle has one chick a season, the chicken may hatch out twenty. The lion may have a litter of cubs, but very few survive, the lioness doesn’t put enough energy into caring for them and most of them die.

6. Ignoring or being unaware of basic principles can bring weakness, instability, confusion, and death. Survival in humans is of the fittest society, as no individual human or couple is fit to survive. People have instincts that often instruct actions different from reason, but instinct is blind to changed conditions, and can cause extinction of species that cannot adapt. A partial list of the instincts that cause us trouble:

a) People have instincts of a warm-blooded creature, to take more than is needed at the moment, and store it as fat or extra resources for the future.

b) People have predatory instinct, to not give up, they are often persistent about goals, whether the goal is rational or not.

c) People have instincts for deception, for lies. Stalking an animal, setting traps, are exercises in deceptive behavior that has a very long successful history. When people start acting as independent agents, such deceptive behavior comes very quickly to bear on each other and can be very bad for society.

d) People have instincts for status, to be in charge. When combined with instincts for deception and predatory instinct and the desire to please everyone, this can cause great difficulty.

e) People have instincts for reproductive privacy, as well as generally strong reproductive instincts. The instinct for privacy makes people reluctant to make objective public decisions about population.

f) People instinctively practice eugenics, they look for the smartest and healthiest people they can attract, to have children with. There is no trouble with this instinct, but in a society based on pseudo independence, individuals often do not have the ability to be objective about practicing eugenics in other areas, on how the sick and/or old are treated, and this causes large amounts of confusion and waste of resources.

g) People have instincts for energy efficiency, this can cause trouble when people work as independent agents, what is energy efficient for the individual –doing as little as possible for the greatest return- may cause inefficiencies for society, as well as ignoring the balance of nature.

h) Related to this, we have instincts for technology, we are naked, and relatively slow and weak. Technology gives us the ability to cope. But it is often accepted too readily, without concern for sustainability or for the actual amount of work being saved by society.

i) People have instincts for their interdependence, too. Stage fright is a good example, most people are terrified to be judged by a group of people, there is instinctive awareness of the power groups have over the individual, and the absolute need to be accepted somewhere. People will often, "go with the group", and not stand up for things that the group is ignoring. Leaving the group is a terrifying prospect, banishment has always been functionally a death sentence. Joining a new group, with new values, goes into the unknown, unknowns are very frightening to all organisms. If we can see ahead a little, conquer the instinctive fears and attractions also driving us, we will be able to leave present circumstances and form a new society, with new measures and new values.

Return to Harmony
Part I



TrustMark 2001 by Arthur Noll