OUR INSANELY GREAT AWAKENING

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THANK GOD FOR MOM AND DAD

The bouncy, banging Hey Ya! by Outkast may be the most fun song with the most happy music paired with the most disheartening words.

I think it a reflection of our present age — despite having been released nearly 15 years ago.

Turn it up.

Feet tappin, finger snappin, lyrical rappin, fist pumpin bass, beat and keys, now rush onto the dance floor, flesh pressed against flesh, everyone happy, free, boundless.

Listen to what is being said.

“Thank God for Mom and Dad for sticking through together cause we don’t know how.”

Dark.

A one line lyrical bomb dropped on the prevailing, prevaricating culture, the culture of now.

Mom and dad stuck it out, through good times and bad, but you know, even at this tender age, that you are too weak, too undisciplined, too fearful of the slightest emotional pain to stay together — as one.

“Oh, we’ve been together, but separate’s always better when there’s feelings involved.”

Feelings, true, honest, lasting, as soon as these arise — run! That’s what this playful, high energy song — doesn’t recommend, but reveals is what’s taking place.

As soon as it gets real, you run.

And the culture, today’s culture, sanctions this, enables this, promotes this.

Are you strong enough to defy?

Make yourself strong enough to defy.

Jesus remarked, in Luke, that: “just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all.” 

Don’t get drowned in the flood.

The world doesn’t need your now but your future, not your joy but your strength, not your body but your spirit, not your alone but your togetherness.

You can make the world much better, just as you can make yourself much greater, even as everything the past has constructed demands you focus instead on this now, these desires, it’s appetite.

“Y’all don’t want to hear me, you just want to dance.”

BACK TO THE GARDEN

It’s hard to overstate how huge a transformation Star Wars The Last Jedi takes the whole Star Wars mythos. In the original trilogy, everything pivots around Leia. But now, the past is re-written, as is the future — critical, as these are the only two periods of time that ever matter. Everything has changed now in Star Wars. Luke is Jesus. Luke must die — for our salvation. Luke, now with everything changed, is the one that saved the Jedi order in the past, and now remakes it for the future.

We crave myths.

We believe superpowers exist — and they do — but not in us, though we dream they one day might.

Books, movies, these feed our need for myths. Rock music, less so.

I think of In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida as maybe the closest we’ve come to mystical rock music mythos.

Heavy metal thunder.

Upon first listen: nothing before matters, everything from now will be different.

That’s a lot to stake upon the only hit song from Iron Butterfly. In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida is timeless, peerless, its psychedelic metal sound revelatory of a future which, we must accept, never came. Guitar, organ, bass, vocals, drums, often in concert, sometimes in solo, this 17-minute, 20-or-so word song proclaims humanity at the dawn of a new age, one completely unlike the past, one not at all previously envisioned, filled with dark magic, seductive waypoints, and forever youth — in all its glory and failings. The song quickly takes us from the before time to its big bang, and from there the possibilities are revealed as not quite limitless but still plentiful.

The future beckons. “In the garden of Eden, baby, don’t you know that I’ll always be true.”

I wonder, can we return to the garden? Will the garden come to us?

These are idyl thoughts, the most human of all the thoughts.

Humans are rational creatures, admittedly, and possessing an insatiable ability to benefit from knowledge and learning. But this is not the same as possessing an insatiable ability to want to know and learn. Even in the 21st century, too many fail to recognize the chasm between the process and the gain.

Humans are rational creatures, true, but mostly not. Mostly, we are emotional, feeling, sensing.

We are rational not by choice but by necessity.

Never forget this!

That necessity is now going away.

Always stay mindful of this!

Just as we have outsourced our physical labors to the machines — nobody mills their own grain anymore, for example — now, at long last, we possess the ability to outsource our rational to the machines. Our machines will do our calculus, our remembering, our data accumulation, our indexing, our choosing, our thinking.

Freedom!

Emotion is our future.

Feeling is our future.

Crazy is our future.

I am not sure if that is how we get back to the garden, but I am sure it is our way onward.

Experts in pedagogy — a horrible word — continue to profoundly misunderstand reality and human composition. They continue to insist that non-rational, non-verifiable, clearly emotional-based responses from people on such “knowable” ideas as, say, how AIDS developed, or why the twin towers collapsed, or the impact of the movement of the stars upon our mood, exist because there is too much “fake news” or bogus sources or children aren’t being taught “logic” or their parents, derided as “evangelical” or “hippie,” prevent “the truths” from reaching these children.

Nonsense.

We have constructed a world where we have the freedom to believe in the non-rational, with each of us able to construct — like an artist — the worldview which best expresses our needs. Surprise! This is the zenith of a thinking, learning, progressive, tool-building human evolution.

The Pentagon, we have verified, and to nobody’s surprise, is spending millions of dollars to search for alien life and to uncover the truth behind various unexplained human – non-human encounters. This includes actual Air Force fighter jets chasing an unknown flying object.

Alien encounters? Maybe.

The Pentagon running psyops using our fear and fascination of aliens to set in motion something dastardly? Maybe.

Rational behavior? And?

Stop expecting humans to fully engage with the “facts” “logic” “evidence” “data” when our newest machines can do all of these better, faster, longer, bigger.

You’re being wrongly non-serious.

We can’t outpace our thinking machines, can’t recall more, certainly not faster, can’t absorb as many facts, can’t reach as many people with the data, and so the logical response is to accept that the rational — the “truth” — is the purview of computers, algorithms, AI, robots, and whatever comes next, while we increasingly embrace and feed those elements of our self which the machines can’t do better.

We are outsourcing the rational.

Fantastical is our future.

This is the dawning of the age of aquarius!

“Please take my hand.”

Here’s the Boney M version of In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, suffused with a disco beat and electronic sensibilities. It’s not the equal of the original, but still great.

BE POSITIVE THOUGH IT HURTS

Why do you remain?

The same beliefs same routine same expectations all the lies.

Does new ease the pain?

Might shiny blind out the fear?

Buy iPhone X.

A device that knows everything about you, including your location, your face and fingerprints, from a tax dodging corporation that makes its products in a country which has outlawed anonymity on the web and imprisons people for wrongspeak.

You’re the future!

“Sometimes in the morning I am petrified and can’t move.”

I deleted my Gmail account. No, this is different, my gmail was not like yours. I was one of the very first. It was April 2o04, the product still in beta, but thanks to my also being one of the very first to have and fund and manage a Google keywords ad campaign for a small business, I was so honored with what at the time seemed like the future of communicating online for business.

Now, more than 13 years later, all gone. Every email. Tens of thousands, sent and received.

I also recently deleted well over 100,000 tweets. Yes, really.

“But the lows are so extreme that the good seems fucking cheap.”

We think our digital traces never really go away and that digital spaces are anlogous to physical ones. Both thoughts are false.

Digital matters, but differently.

Like sight, but not touch, like hearing, but not smelling.

But we are allowing it to consume us, all of us, all the parts of us, our connections, our prospects, our thoughts and fears, our joys, our past.

We are so much more than what it can contain.

“You’ll be honest, you’ll be brave
You’ll be handsome, you’ll be beautiful
You’ll be happy”

Rilo Kiley, now effectively deceased, were deliberately anti-commercial, their songs constructed to celebrate their joys, but never quite, to showcase their voice, yet sublimate underneath the gear, their words expressing their feelings, but never their rawness.

They couldn’t be true, full, honest, themselves.

There’s a lesson in that.

“Your ship may be coming in. You’re weak but not giving in.”

It’s good to not give up. And it may be liberating for you to leave behind.

You can not respond, not engage, not share, not like, not pose, and still go forward with your life. I promise you. In a fit of indignation, Rilo Kiley sang “that God never blessed her insides,” but he has yours. And that’s all the validation you need.

THE REVEALING SCIENCE OF GOD

There has never been a better time to outlaw abortion. In fact, it may be necessary for our survival.

Confession: should God exist, and I believe this is so, and should God care, and I believe this is also so, my two great fears re godly retribution — not just for me, but humanity — will come from our gruesome, emotionally distant and utterly dollar-based treatment of the animals we eat, and our flippant embrace of abortion: for convenience.

I know, I know, this is crazy talk, it will never happen, if I got a young woman pregnant I would encourage her to get an abortion, I don’t want to be responsible for round-the-clock care of a fully disabled young life, our bodies, our choice, all the excuses, I am aware of these all and sympathetic to each.

But the science is clear.

We know what a four-month-old human fetus looks like, feels like. Our machines reveal to us how it is impacted by the mother’s various physical and emotional inputs. It’s size and gender and the many physical and electrical signals it puts out now avail themselves to us.

Human life.

There’s more.

And this is why the issue is so pressing.

We are now actively seeking to hack mortality, to extend human life beyond 100 years, 150 years, maybe longer, some believe as long as 1,000 years, and even some exploring methods to digitize “consciousness” — even while we can’t fully define the term — and thereby remove ourselves from the bodily realm, except: we don’t know yet how to achieve any of this and are unable to fully test these theories of human usurpation upon ourselves. Yet we are moments away from using those ((humans)) that come next — human DNA, fertilized eggs, fetuses — as our test pattern, our use case. We are editing genes, striking out offending DNA, experimenting on flesh and its components to create an improved form, stronger, smarter, taller, prettier, happier, longer-lived. But for all those who fail to meet our expectations?

Tossed into the dustbin of countless mortal failures.

Vile.

Ours is the age of destruction, which is frightening, yes, but also exhilarating, as we are moving at technological scale and speed to create new realities and alter our place within them and our interactions over them.

But we must not abandon our humanity.

We must also never allow humanity to be abandoned.

We are tinkering with human life with the explicit goal of lasting transformation and we simultaneously and very literally do not know what is right or best, so let us declare now and forever: all failures, as we define them at the time, along with all successes, similarly defined, must be honored, accepted, cared for, and endowed with the same rights and potentials as each of us, just as each of us must retain the very same rights and potentials as all those who follow.

As the past slips from our understanding, we cannot allow it to be expunged from our compassion.

We are and must always remain the totality of all which has come before.

Smarter, stronger, better, we believe ourselves to be this and more compared to those that came before, but true or not, we retain pieces of them just as we retain pieces of the cosmos. Never forget.

“Amused but real in thought we fled from the sea whole.”

In 1973, following the release of several groundbreaking and very popular albums, Yes released their boastful opus, Tales From Topographic Oceans.

2 LPs, 4 sides, 80 minutes, insufferable, much too long, full of hubris, but also brilliant at times, soaring in places, uplifting, enlightening, an earnest musical foray into thought, gods, the beginnings of life and that which it makes whole, a dense pop music exploration that challenged convention all while taking the listener on a journey close to the edge of what could come next in music, only to collapse into the abyss.

Side 1, wonderful.

Sides 2-4, tolerable, but only just, and only for those who, like me, love 1970s progressive rock and honor Yes’ place amongst the greats.

“Young Christians see it from the beginning
Old people feel it, that’s what they’re saying
Move over glory to sons of old fighters past”

This is worth a listen.

We are blithely, blindly tinkering with actual human form — not values, not ideas, not building tools, not altering how we live or where, nor even how long  — but actual human form.

There will be successes, of course, amongst the shocking horrors, but as you stare into that deep, dark truthful mirror, remember now to look out, there you see all the cravenness, the ills and suffering, the lies and desires, and you know, despite our potential, despite all the effort and money from the rich, from the genius-crazy, from the evil, and from the hopeful, that our only hope going forward is strict adherence to the honor and preservation of life.

That comes first, always.

Not improvements, not abandonments, not potential.

“What happened to wonders we once knew so well?
Did we forget what happened? Surely we can tell.
We must have waited all our lives for this, moment.”

 

GOD KNOWS I DO

“I really do believe there’s a heaven somewhere. There’s a heaven somewhere”

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced its inductees for 2018. The new members include Bon Jovi, Dire Straits, the Moody Blues, the Cars and Nina Simone. Sister Rosetta Tharpe will be (posthumously) given the Early Influence award.

I did not get a vote.

Had, I would not have included Bon Jovi. I would likewise not have voted for the Cars and probably not Dire Straits. Sister Rosetta Tharpe, I absolutely would have inducted as a full member. I would also have added Yes, the Doobie Brothers Joy Division (plus, New Order), ELO, Jim Croce, Hall and Oates Dick Dale, Beck, Talking Heads, INXS, and probably PJ Harvey.

You likely know all of them except for Sister Rosetta Tharpe.

Know her.

A supremely gifted guitarist who died before most Americans were yet born, she inspired churchgoers, backsliders, black, white, Elvis, Brits, Jerry Lee Lewis, and countless others.

(Tharpe) attained popularity in the 1930s and 1940s with her gospel recordings, characterized by a unique mixture of spiritual lyrics and rhythmic accompaniment that was a precursor of rock and roll. She was the first great recording star of gospel music and among the first gospel musicians to appeal to rhythm-and-blues and rock-and-roll audiences, later being referred to as “the original soul sister” and “the Godmother of rock and roll”. She influenced early rock-and-roll musicians, including Little Richard, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis. 

Tharpe was a pioneer in her guitar technique; she was among the first popular recording artists to use heavy distortion on her electric guitar, presaging the rise of electric blues. Her guitar playing technique had a profound influence on the development of British blues in the 1960s.

“There’s a heaven somewhere, up above my head. Yeah, yeah, yeah.”

We undervalue pioneers, still, excepting those few that become fabulously wealthy.

I wonder if this will cease? This is the age of the destruction of everything, with the world changing so fully, so fastly, that soon the past will be as unknowable as the future.

And there will become a permanent global wandering class.

Unable to thrive within existing cultural, political and economic structures, they take to their driverless cars, using social media to interact, their hands and talents to craft, bitcoin to buy and sell, algorithms to barter.

Let’s talk now about government.

This post is not political.

Government is a consuming beast, benevolent when required or whenever mutually beneficial, but always demanding, always growing, like a shark that must keep swimming, but always always always it is seeking to devour independence, suspicious of all and whatever that might challenge its supremacy.

America presents a complication.

If the Bible is the inspired word of God, the Constitution is the inspired word of freedom.

The structure of our government — and when combined with the sanctioned bill of rights — places hard, repeated limits on the unquenchable fire of government rapaciousness.

They found a workaround.

Importing people and marginalizing others, creating a dependent class, ensures at least a high floor to government power. The dependent simply aren’t going to challenge the government’s efforts to grow and take.

They found another workaround.

Government becomes intertwined with the culture, such that no day, no moment can pass without our eyes and ears, at minimum, repeatedly and aggressively assaulted (or informed) of the government’s actions, demands and desires, and…by working very closely with those who control the culture’s entertainment, government can also sanction thought, behavior, norms while marginalizing and disempowering those who — witch-like — operate beyond its scope. This presently includes some evangelical Christians, the last remaining hippies, and a few others. 

Should such groups ever in any way threaten the  government’s glorification, the government simply goes after those groups, stripping them of freedoms, and forcing them to take on government in its realm — almost always a losing proposition for the non-government side.

But we do have examples of those very few who fight in this arena — and win.

They do so almost always through the force of their talent, so great is it that it can’t be hidden away nor destroyed nor mocked nor denied, and so great is its power that it changes people, changes their hearts, minds, and alters reality, like sound ripples which loosen the rungs, maybe even destroy a column, possibly even damaging the foundation of all existing structures.

Sister Rosetta Tharpe was one such talent.

Yes, she rendered unto Caesar, as is still required, but her playing of the electric guitar revealed to us all of a new way, a better way, of a kingdom beyond.

“Up above my head, I hear music in the air.”


Another pioneering entertainer, Miss Roise Mae Moore, who recorded in the 1920s.

BABY YOU’RE A RICH MAN

The rich young man informed Jesus that he faithfully obeyed each of the commandments. The rich young man was certain Jesus would smile, nod, bless him, then send him on.

Jesus did not.

Instead, Jesus told the man to sell his possessions, give all his wealth to the poor.

We are led to believe the man did not.

We spend too much time admiring the rich, discussing the rich, attempting to copy the rich, I think, rather than seeking to understand the poor, and poverty, and living without.

Chamath Palihapitiya is a very rich man.

Facebook money.

Mr. Palihapitiya, who also owns the Golden State Warriors and interests in various tech companies, is, I doubt you are surprised to learn, quick to tell others what they are doing wrong.

Recently, however, he told us what he did wrong: help build Facebook.

“The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops that we have created are destroying how society works. No civil discourse. No cooperation. Misinformation. Mistruth. And it’s not an American problem. This is not about Russian ads. This is a global problem. So we are in a really bad state of affairs right now, in my opinion.”

Do not expect Mr. Palihapitiya to give any of his Facebook money back.

Do not expect him to live like the poor, nor the middle, nor even the well-to-do professional class. He belongs to that tiny thriving cabal of aggressively globalist, virulently tech-centric, fabulously wealthy men and women who have prospered these past 30 years, even as millions of Others lose their work, their livelihood, witness the destruction of their community.

One of the apex beneficiaries of a political + financial + educational + economic structure which we can only question now because of the very clear and present backlash to it. It’s sort of like how those winning the culture wars never say culture wars, just culture. Only the losers say culture war. For the winners, it’s the culture.

For the economic winners, globalization is The Economy.

Until it’s not, of course.

To deride the men and women who find hope in electing men and women who just might represent their needs, their wants, their communities, at long last, is to deny the very real suffering your preferred economic system has created for millions.

Don’t do that.

Maybe the poor will always be with us, but the poor have a vote, and they also deserve a listen.

Tupac wondered if there is a ghetto in heaven.

“I’d rather be dead than a po’ nigga
Let the Lord judge the criminals
If I die, I wonder if Heaven got a ghetto”

I suspect not.

I Wonder If Heaven Got a Ghetto is a lyrical call to worship and a brutal call to arms. A five-minute homily that drops more wisdom, more real, than a college student might learn in a year — or a journalist in a lifetime.

Sadly, the music is wretched. Strip away the words and I Wonder If Heaven Got a Ghetto is almost painful to listen to, a throwaway 1990s drum kit vomit of a song, saccharine R&B blended with “urban adult contemporary” preening.

I think our current economic and cultural and political structures, particularly those being built up, less so those crumbling, those fading into the past, and the ones being set fire to, are like this Tupac song. There is brilliance inside, and goodness, and truth, and a reaching out, and a looking toward, but there’s also so much crap and hate and anger and violence overlaid, and we need to come to terms with this, if we are to right it.

Maybe, and I can’t promise this will be validated, but maybe if we listen to all those who the current cultural winners are brandishing as angry or racist or on the wrong side of history, maybe we can make the system they so admire actually work for all.

And without anybody having to give up everything they got.

“Now the tables have turned around
You didn’t listen, until the niggas burned it down
And now Bush can’t stop the hit
I predicted the shit, in 2Pacalypse
And for once I was down with niggas, felt good
In the hood bein’ around the niggas, yeah
And for the first time everybody let go
And the streets was death row
I wonder if Heaven got a ghetto”

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