Category Archives: Culture

Myths Mad Men & Immortality

Humans have contemplated their reason for existence for eons. The rise of human collective knowledge wasn’t necessarily based on objective studies or provable criteria. Many people pondered things unknown, and believing those things were in the realm of intelligence beyond their own, fabricated deities associated with those areas of immense power, or an age in the distant unknown past, or unforeseen future. Egyptian gods

Our significance, our self importance was now defined by our ability to understand the mind & will of  ‘diety’. We were given explanations for things we don’t and can’t know, by people claiming greater knowledge and insight than ourselves. We attached our beliefs to their explanations and convinced ourselves, by their routine communication, that we could understand our life’s journey and tying it to the eternities.

This was of extreme importance as we developed attachments to people and animals, which at their demise, we were left with grief. Our losses could become temporary, as was all of our lives.

By special social & codified procedures and behaviors, we could rejoin all those we love. Conversely, all who we knew, who were unruly, unmanageable, or vile could be cast into eternal torment. This seemed perfectly reasonable to pre-bronze age cultures. Should those same ancient beliefs be particularly important today?

Harvey_Pooka_image_aThe fictional character in the play & movie, HarveyElwood P. Dowd: “Well, I’ve wrestled with reality for thirty five years, Doctor, and I’m happy to state I finally won out over it.

Among the greatest of unknowns, what happens after we die? Mystics, Shamans, Clairvoyants, and Prophets arose among them, to explain the gaps in our knowledge. Eventually, those oral stories found written form, and once structured to a language that could be passed to future generations, these words became codified.

Knowing the will of god is an interesting exercise.

It goes something like this…


You read from a collection of very old texts, connected together by a common theme, a god and various interaction with humans.

You read an interpretation of what was once an oral story, which later was written down and passed through several translations. The interpretations of these writings are frequently contested by another group or individual who claim, they understand what was anciently written, better than someone else.

Many of these written words contain stories when looked at with reasonable precision either contradict, or explain ideas that make little sense to contemporary culture, and in some instances, are foolish. Not all are wrong ideas, so there’s often ‘cherry picking’ going on for the least offensive or minimally ridiculous.

Then, the devout person prays to someone they can’t see, or hear, but insists this imaginary person is real, and answers prayers. On average, using the least scientific or objective criteria, the imaginary being is attributed credit for things when they turn out in the way the person praying, desired. Often, things don’t turn out in ways the individual had hoped for, but attributes that to the mysterious nature of god’s will. You know, the one in which they said they knew and were banking on to justify their reasons of belief.

It’s quite possible there’s another god figure. One in which things were set in motion and then left to themselves to manage or act upon by outside forces. Of course, you can’t have it both ways. Either you have a concerned, passionate, all powerful, all knowing god, or you have a god that is capricious, uninvolved, letting people do what they want, permitting disease, pestilence, natural disasters, horrible depravity by other humans, unintended consequences, random outcomes in spite of human desire, and allowing the rules of physics to do their normal stuff. Orthodox-Apocalypse-Fresco

Which is the god you know? The all caring, all knowing, all powerful, involved with humans and their myriad of wishes, or the uninvolved, laissez-faire, super being from a distance unknown?

You pick, you decide, but either one makes little sense. No matter how hard a person searches or acts in “faithful” ways, unless they just ignore what’s truly occurring, pretend that outcomes of life activities are measured and directed under a super being, and ignore accumulated science and understanding of how things really work, it’s a fruitless exercise.

My conclusion is, unless I wish to surrender my values of reason, objective intelligence, and ignore contradiction, then I may recognize value in established myth.

I believe I live a more productive and happy life without tying myself to a confusing set of rituals, myths, and paganism.

If I’m wrong, and god is this loving and compassionate being, he, she, or it, has had many opportunities to achieve an equitable, understandable, reasonably clear method of helping me to realize they exist. It needs to be more than a feeling. People have routinely acted on their feelings, not only were they often wrong, in some instances their ‘inspired feelings’, were harmful to themselves or other people.

😱👺👻💀🙈🙉🙊

Business Comes & Goes, So Does a Culture

There were days when we would go downtown to shop. It wasn’t like going to the grocery or hardware store. No, this was something special, and we would dress for the occasion.  Mother would take her dress gloves out of the drawer, and along with her dress and high heels, she would take out a hat from a box. I would wear dress slacks, shiny shoes, and a sport coat. There were times when I too would wear a hat.

We rode the bus from uptown to downtown, and we weren’t all that out of place in the way we dressed. Most of the other people riding would be dressed in what we might now refer to as business casual.

Minneapolis_downtown_Powers_dept_store_1950sUpon arriving downtown, we might walk down the street and look in various store windows to see what was on display. Most of them of course were pitching their current sales, but there was competition among the variety of retailers as to who might have the most attractive window display.

Minneapolis_Emporium_diner_1950s

Emporium tea room 1940-50s Minneapolis

Eventually we would enter a store, either through double doors which we would pull open, or by entering a revolving door which you or someone else would push to rotate your part of the large glass triangle, until you could enter the store. What awaited your eyes were a couple of things. Usually a store greeter, but not the disinterested couch potatoes who might greet you at Walmart. No, these would be smartly dressed people that knew how to smile. The other thing immediately noticed were the row upon row, of neatly arranged aisles with well placed merchandise on shelves, in displays, or on mannequins. As you made your way to the center of the store, there would be several elevators. Each elevator had a person inside the elevator who would open up the doors, or gate and doors for you to enter. They would then close the doors after everyone that could or wanted to get on. You then would tell them your floor, and they would make the selection for you. Each of these ‘operators’, wore some type of uniform, some with hats, most also wore gloves.

Sears_Tower_1988_1All that changed quickly as the suburbs began to erect large enclosed shopping malls. There were of course what we call strip malls. Stores that shared a large common parking lot and each retailer store were aligned side by side. That didn’t nearly have the impact of the enclosed shopping mall. Once they were constructed, many of the downtown stores simple opened their store in the new mall. This took a big toll on downtown retailers. They typically paid higher rates for taxes, most didn’t have convenient parking. They relied on nearby parking decks and lots, or those like us, who took city transportation. The downtown retailers didn’t maintain their greeters, elevator operators. Even their display windows became less interesting, a far simpler asthetic became the norm.

Those times seem strange to people unfamiliar with that era. Most downtowns have morphed into high rise condominiums, or permanent apartments. Either that or they were torn down as if part of a failed social experiment.

All that has changed again. Many shopping malls are skeletons of what they once were. Some malls have closed entirely. All this due to the evolution brought on by the Internet. The Amazon shopping model has become the new norm. First it was mail order. The big retailers like Sears, JC Penny adapted well. Then the Internet became a ready made 24/7 sales facility. Display windows are now the Internet tabs to click and expand. People still shop, the delivery times are quick and you might not even get out of your night clothes. Social interaction is minimized.

New_York_Lord_Taylor_store_closing

Oldest department store company in the US is disappearing entirely from Fifth Avenue after 104 years

The New York Post just came out with a lament on how much the retail store front is disappearing, and how it’s changing the character of the city.

Chicago_Sears_stores_closing_1

Sears closed last store in Chicago Illinois

The Chicago Tribune opines over the loss of the last Chicago Sears store. The once mighty retail giant, headquartered in Chicago is gone. There building tower still stands, but was sold off years before.

It’s fundamentally changing business, but furthermore, it’s removing us from personal interaction and social restraint. If social media is the replacement for the way friends might meet at the mall, or take day trips downtown, it’s a poor substitute.

Along with the loss of social skills comes another challenge, the need for fewer people. Just like the elevator operators, greeters and floor persons, all will disappear when picking and delivery become fully automated.

Retail has indeed changed, and so too has the culture.

The Road to Any Damascus is Laden with Potholes

The search for reality is the most dangerous of all undertakings, for it destroys the world in which you live.
– Nisargadatta Maharaj

I don’t know anything about this person, but I can say from my own personal experience, it’s absolutely true. If life has taught me anything, ”don’t steer clear of the tough questions, or even those you don’t have answers”. There are many more questions than any of us currently have answers, and even some in which we think we do, we may very well be wrong.

behaviorial-change-intention-chart

For most of us, perception is reality. It drives our everyday decisions, but moreover, through assumptions, attitudes, observations, intentions, and habits, our behavior is altered. We do become what we think, so perhaps that’s the thing that creates within me, a desire to find out for myself. I know that I don’t have answers for many of life’s tough questions. I gain insight through the help of others. Ultimately, it falls on me to make my discoveries and choices.

Whenever you contemplate your own existence, how you or others perceive the world in which you live, it may not match reality. Furthermore, you may not even be aware of your misconceptions. Worse still, if you do nothing to challenge your own assumptions or those of other people, you’re stuck in a fundamental crossroad between reality and wishful, maybe even harmful, thinking.

No one can build you the bridge on which you, and only you, must cross the river of life. There may be countless trails and bridges and demigods who would gladly carry you across; but only at the price of pawning and forgoing yourself. There is one path in the world that none can walk but you. Where does it lead? Don’t ask, walk!
~ Nietzsche

I’ve posted personal information before about my membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (“Mormons”). I’ve also posted that I left that organization over 20 years ago. I still have a few friends who are members. None of my adult children, at the time of this writing, have any affiliation with that organization. It’s their own choice. Their mother still believes in this religious organization. I left it a few years after my divorce. Those two events aren’t connected.

What do Mormons believe about general inquiry & introspection?
The LDS Church “Mormons” believe that freedom of choice, “agency” is an eternal principle. Agency is the fundamental right of any individual to choose between good and bad, and to act for themselves.

Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.” ~ 2 Nephi 2:27.

The LDS Church (easier to abbreviate than the longer official title), informs its members to read official “canonized” religious texts, ponder, and pray for personal answers to any questions they might have. They’re to develop a personal relationship with God. The religion is based on inquiry and individual revelation. If however, you come up with a different answer than that which has been given through official channels of communication, then you’re to accept the church answer, and re-think your own in attempting to further understand the basis of your differences.
For more information specific go here:
https://www.mormon.org/beliefs

question_button_imageThe purpose of giving you that brief background, if you’re not familiar with the organization, isn’t to examine any religion, it’s just to examine specific portions of their beliefs, and learn how your methods of finding answers, compare. It’s not so important that you have specific knowledge about any religion for this post to be relevant. What’s important is asking, how do you gain insight about the world around you, and how do you challenge your own beliefs? Most of us come to a “world view”, fairly early on in our life. We may revise it along the way, but peer (the society in which we live) pressure, often steers us into a general consensus with those to whom we associate.


How do you decide what’s correct and what’s false?
If you’re honest, at least with yourself, you know that’s not an easy process. So what do you read, listen to, or watch to help guide you in life’s journey? If you choose to respond, I’m looking for things more in depth than, you go for long walks in the woods. I’m not suggesting that you don’t or that it’s not a good idea. I’m looking for more specifics. What do you do?

“Your true educators and cultivators will reveal to you the original sense and basic stuff of your being, something that is not ultimately amenable to education or cultivation by anyone else, but that is always difficult to access, something bound and immobilized; your educators cannot go beyond being your liberators. And that is the secret of all true culture: she does not present us with artificial limbs, wax-noses, bespectacled eyes — for such gifts leave us merely with a sham image of education. She is liberation instead, pulling weeds, removing rubble, chasing away the pests that would gnaw at the tender roots and shoots of the plant; she is an effusion of light and warmth, a tender trickle of nightly rain…” ~ Parker Palmer

There are quite a few followers to this blog. Some have made it official by clicking on the link below, to follow. I’m not asking you to follow me, I see the statistics, but most of you are silent. I know better than assume you don’t have an opinion. I want to read yours. Don’t be bashful, be candid. Please, if you’re just someone that wants to come in and shout and stomp so that you can get attention, take your circus elsewhere. I’m looking for people who have taken the time to think this sort of thing through. cartoon-people-clapping

I’m also not looking for this to be about an open forum on religion. I’ve heard the canned answers, the public sermons, the pat answers. Let’s make this interesting.