2017 Year In Review

I feel like I just got an entire semester’s worth of humanities lectures distilled down to five paragraphs.
Totally worth reading. Great job.
Hmm. One question: when talking about religious tolerance, were they mostly referring to differences within Christianity, or did the enlightenment thinkers apply their sense more broadly. Way back then, the religious wars were a really big deal. As I recall anyway.

I agree with Dave. Wow! You got a thumbs-up from me. As I was reading, I was thinking that each of your points for the basis of liberalism could be listed by a modern day conservative as well. It is more or less a matter of degrees. The point about freedom from governmental interference in the economy by opposing mercantilism doesn’t quite make sense to me. I looked up the definition of mercantilism to see if there is a minor definition that would help. Not really. What was it about mercantilism that had to be opposed? Is that point still espoused by modern day liberals? (More of a modern conservative strong point from my view.)
I really liked this paragraph:

So, the early liberals were those who embraced the Enlightenment, but more broadly speaking the definition can be elucidated as the desire to bring more equal and fair treatment to more people, as well as allow more people to participate in the political, economic, and social systems. The problem is that liberalism is constantly shifting (as is conservatism), because what was “liberal” change in one generation is a given in the next, and so the definitions of each are constantly evolving. Most broadly speaking, liberalism is the idea of changing to something new, usually rapidly, while conservativism advocates tradition or at least slower rates of change; both are definitions I find too obtuse and generic for my tastes.
The bolded sentence pretty much explains why I had such a hard time defining what liberalism means. It is a moving target. I'm really looking forward to your response to un-hijacking liberalism from the moneyed interest. Grover

A lot of work has gone into this, and I am still wading through. Unfortunately the first two footnotes I have tried (73, 74) have gone to either broken links or the wrong content. Maybe keeping the sources to (under a hundred?) would result in a more concise, more easily digestible body of text.

Grover wrote:
I agree with Dave. Wow! You got a thumbs-up from me. As I was reading, I was thinking that each of your points for the basis of liberalism could be listed by a modern day conservative as well. It is more or less a matter of degrees. The point about freedom from governmental interference in the economy by opposing mercantilism doesn't quite make sense to me. I looked up the definition of mercantilism to see if there is a minor definition that would help. Not really. What was it about mercantilism that had to be opposed? Is that point still espoused by modern day liberals? (More of a modern conservative strong point from my view.)
Grover and Dave, You're welcome! So, Mercantilism was basically an economic system - more of a philosophical view of how resources and national economies should operate than an actual system, per se - that had two major premises; 1) since gold and silver were the basis of wealth (currencies at the time were made of PMs), and there was a limited supply on earth of gold and silver, wealth had a finite limit; 2) If national wealth = national power, and wealth was finite, then the more wealth YOUR nation held, the less your competitors held. Hence, you could gain power against your rivals by insuring that you held on to, or acquired, more wealth than anyone else.

The primary reason wealth leaves one’s national economy was through trade; selling less to your neighbors than you bought from them meant you were losing wealth and power. So the name of the game was to either make your empire self-sufficient at the very least, and make it export more products to other nations and self-sufficient as well (the dream option!). What this essentially led to was the idea that a kingdom had as its primary duty the expansion of the empire over lands that held the requisite raw materials, so that colonies established in those lands would provide those raw materials to the mother country. Even better that those colonies only buy manufactured goods from the mother country as well! So colonies would be established, and raw materials produced there and shipped back to the mother country, which would then manufacture products to sell back to the colonies as well as other nations and empires. This would allow a nation to hold on to its existing wealth and resources while gaining more wealth from its rivals. Of course, it worked far less in reality than in theory…like most human-concocted systems.

Where this fits in with the Enlightenment is that the philosophers had as a central idea the freedom of individuals, essentially from state interference, as much as possible. Many business people chafed under the restrictions to sell only to the mother country, because there was often far more profit to be gained from selling to other nations directly, or buying manufactured products from someone other than your mother country. By way of example, if you were a merchant in Boston, it might be cheaper to buy furs directly from French trappers in Nova Scotia, then sell the finished furs to the mother country (or other English colonies), rather than buy the furs from England. However, doing that meant wealth was leaving English hands and going to French ones, so Kings and Parliament created all sorts of taxes, tariffs and duties on foreign-made or foreign-acquired goods in order to discourage this type of business. I’m pretty sure you learned enough American history to know how well received those taxes, tariffs and duties were! In essence, the Enlightenment thinkers believed that merchants should be free to sell to the highest payer and buy from the lowest seller because that, too, represented freedom of the individual. They did not like mercantilism because it throttled the business enterprises of the day (keep in mind most Philosophers and “founders” came from either the established landed classes or the up-and-coming upper middle class of businessmen and entrepreneurs who had much to lose under mercantilism) - which explains why Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations was so ground-breaking in its day and age; it was a repudiation of the existing system. It also embraced a system which would allow for more profits for the upper and upper middle classes, and nothing in history gains as much popularity as ideas which help line one’s own pockets…

Keep in mind, and I’m looping in Dave’s question here, that the “founders” of the United States were heavily educated in the writings of many Enlightenment philosophers - Baron d’ Montesquieu, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Voltaire, Cesare Beccaria, John Locke, Adam Smith - who were themselves either born during the chaos of the 30-Years war (THE defining war of religion, next to maybe the Crusades), or belonged to the generations that came afterwards, which meant they were as steeped in its lore and lessons as we are in those of World War Two. Add to that the chaos produced by the turbulence in England during the 1600s (the Stuarts, Catholicism vs Anglicans, Puritans, the English Civil war, etc), and what you in essence got were several generations of English colonists who understood that government meddling and conflicts over religious views were bad mojo through and through. To say that our Constitution is a product of the writings of the Enlightenment and the circumstances and lessons of the time period would be a gross understatement. In fact, it’s hard to understand the Constitution without some knowledge of what was going on and why the “founders” saw the world the way they did.

To directly answer the religion question, Dave, no, I don’t think the earliest Enlightenment thinkers were imagining every religious possibility/combination when they were discussing religious tolerance. I have a hard time imagining Washington or Jefferson imagining Islam in the United States, for example. What they did seem to agree upon, however, was that you needed to keep government separate from religion - in fact it was imperative to do so - and ultimately the question of which religious beliefs were followed or allowed in a nation wasn’t a political question so much as a social one. If you drill down into Enlightenment philosophy, though, there’s nothing in there that prevents the co-mingling of vastly different religious views in a nation. Then again, these guys often held humans in bondage (a pathetic and inefficient economic system in its own right) and never imagined females as being citizens, so they were far from “perfect” in their thinking. As a professor from my university, Dr. John Jeffries, would point out though: History is nothing more than men and women acting in time and circumstance, so I don’t lay blame on them for their limitations…I just seek to understand them better, sans judgement.

As always, I’m losing some of the complexity of everything I’m talking about when I truncate it into a few paragraphs, but the main ideas still hold.

As for how we disentangle liberalism from the stranglehold the powers that be seem to have on it, that’s a great question. However, my sense is that we can only do so by liberating conservatism from the same powers as well, because it seems to me that liberals and conservatives could actually find a lot more common ground if the media, elite, and PTB weren’t constantly imposing a binary view of the two philosophies, and instead reinforced the truth that they are a spectrum of beliefs and opinions rather than absolutes. I’m fiscally more conservative, socially very liberal, environmentally radical as hell, believe that the death penalty should be rare but exist, that abortion is morally wrong though I’m pro-choice, and I own guns and believe in the 2nd amendment. So where the fuck does that put me? None of us fit into neat little checkboxes, so I think the first step is to reinforce that narrative rather than the “us-them” or “Red Team-Blue Team” narrative that seems to hold sway right now.


Thanks again, Snydeman! Another thumbs up.That’s a wonderful primer on the reasons powering the Enlightenment movement. As you noted, word meanings and concepts evolve over time. Pretty groovy, right? :wink: The modern day conservatives have adopted the ideals espoused by “Enlightenment thinkers” as well. It’s just a matter of degrees of acceptance. The Left and Right are two sides of the same coin. (I prefer my politics on the serrated edge of this coin - but it is still part of the same coin.) I agree that we can’t rescue one side of the coin (from the stranglehold of moneyed interests) without rescuing the other side. Of course, when things go badly, the media, elite, and PTB have a convenient scapegoat to blame on the other side of the coin. Heads - they win. Tails - they win. The rest of us lose each time. When will we learn?
Since words and concepts morph over time, I’m going to list the categories you listed as the basis for liberalism back then and give my assessment of which side “owns” it today. I’m associating Liberals and Liberalism with “the Left” and Conservatives and Conservatism with “the Right.”
freedom of expression Both liberals and conservatives like the freedom of expressing their own thoughts. The Left is more likely to shut down opposing views while the Right is more likely to turn a deaf ear when others express thoughts they don’t accept. Extremes on both sides resort to violence to silence the opposition. I give the Right a slight edge here.
religious tolerance The Left is much more tolerant of religious pinnings outside of the Judeo Christian realm. The Right believes that tolerance basically applies to the different flavors of protestant religions, Catholicism, and Judaism. The Left wins this battle (I think???)
humane treatment of people (mostly, a fair system of justice that didn’t have separate punishments for one class or another) In theory, both sides agree with this concept. We have a system of laws and require proof of guilt before exacting punishment. Those with sufficient funds can hire lawyers who work to ensure that there is enough doubt to keep the guilty verdict away. Poor people don’t have that option. As a result, the basic concept has been perverted by the moneyed classes. Justice isn’t available to the poor and escapable by the rich. Justice is a concept that applies to the middle class only. Neither side wins this one in practice.
From what I’ve seen, the Left is more interested in FAIRNESS while the right is more interested in JUSTICE. (Is it fair that women generally get paid less than men for the same work? Shouldn’t we get paid whatever we negotiate? Is it fair that we subjugated a race of people to slavery in the past? How can discriminatory practices against one group today fix discriminatory practices against another group in the past?)
Abortion belongs in this category. It boils down to the question of when does a fetus begin being human? The Right generally believes it is at conception. The Left believes it is generally later - up to the moment of completed birthing. If one believes that human being status begins at conception, then abortion is murder - of those least capable of defending themselves. If one believes humanness begins at birth, then abortion is just a medical procedure. Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan wrote an essay concerning this question. Essentially, they argue that what makes us human is our ability to think (brain waves.) If a fetus exhibits brain function, consider it human. Before then, it is a “potential human.” Here is a link to the first of 4 parts of their essay.
freedom from governmental interference in the economy (opposing mercantilism was a core principle for many Enlightenment thinkers)​ Now that you’ve explained mercantilism, I understand the basis for this concept. Government (really those running government) was limiting individual choices to promote its own wealth. Again, this concept has morphed over time. Conservatives still want business to be unfettered by government actions. Liberals want to use government regulations to constrain business. I have to give this one to the conservatives.
more equitable or representational systems of government and taxation Both sides like the idea of democracy and fair taxation (as long as their particular candidate wins the election and fair taxation is only taken from all the other guys.) Unfortunately, the moneyed interests have learned how to get all relevant candidates owing them favors for campaign contributions. Paybacks are expected. As a result, we have the best laws that money can buy. The more money and power in government, the more influence that can be peddled. It’s hard to say which side loses more.
freedom of the press The press used to be a powerful voice to keep government actors in check. Moneyed interests have bought these once cherished outlets and use them to dispense propaganda. Investigative journalism has been relegated to knowing what the Kardashians are doing 24 hours each day. Both sides lose.

Snydeman wrote:
I'm fiscally more conservative, socially very liberal, environmentally radical as hell, believe that the death penalty should be rare but exist, that abortion is morally wrong though I'm pro-choice, and I own guns and believe in the 2nd amendment.
Sounds to me like you are the political equivalent of a platypus. ;-) Grover

You are reminding me why I got my best grades in my History classes. I love this stuff. I can read it all day long.
There is nothing like historical context to provide for us the basis for understanding our current time & circumstance - why is it that we hold certain truths to be self evident.
I will observe that things seemed a lot “cleaner” back then. There didn’t seem to be any “deep state” which masqueraded as one thing, but had an entirely different value system under the covers.
Ok, maybe I’m wrong. I’d say the Church qualified. Perhaps it was the “Deep State” of its time, supposedly the guardian of Christian values, but in fact acting very, very differently.
Its just that today deception appears to be so institutionalized, and we have no group of “founders” who have clearly sorted out just why our modern equivalent of mercantilism and non-religious freedom causes trouble. Do we have to go through a 30 years war to come up with that level of clarity? Our only choice today appears to be a slider-bar that allows us to select what degree of “Social Justice + Political Correctness” we want, while remaining utterly chained to constant Economic (Debt) Slavery and Forever War that both “Liberal” and “Conservative” sides tacitly support - while at or beyond peak resources!
Whoops, I’ve gone from “history” to complaining. :slight_smile:
It really does feel like we the people now have just a simulacrum of choice, while the Deep State has arrogated to itself the Divine Right of Kings. If they appeared to be clever, that would be one thing, but it is not clear at all that they know what they are doing. Blowback, for instance, is a concept which appears to be utterly absent from their decision-making.

Let’s start with Dave: the deep state you see in the old church, I think, is a result within a powerful organization of hypocrites and psychopaths within the church, crossed with a mix of good and bad information, and others who really do want to do well, but have an unsure footing (either realizing it or not).
A prime example of this would be Columbus, (a hypocrite who realized his hypocrisy late) who wanted to run and therefore finance another crusade; he reported back to the vatican that the Indians who were providing gold were animals in human form. He forgot the main command of Christ, in his interest of advancing the cause of Christ.
So the Vatican declared that as animals in human form, property rights (by them) and justice (to them) did not apply; you had to be humane within the limits of your needs, but you could eat them if you wanted.
Thus, the destruction of the Hispanola Indians there. The system was simple: when a young man turned a certain age, he had to provide a certain quantity of gold, or his hand was cut off. No attempt was made to save him from bleeding out by the authorities, either. That worked nicely, early: only the rebels were killed. Until the easy gold ran out.
Now, missionaries elsewhere sent back word, “you’ve made a terrible mistake”. So then the Vatican forced through a treaty between all European nations requiring full justice for American Indians; however, the damage had been done. Precedent had been set, and psychopaths were in control (who else would have been willing to do the job?) Columbus returned from Spain, and saw the extent of the damage, and attempted to fight it, and as a result was then hauled back to Spain in chains to spend the rest of his life in prison.
I wonder if modern deep state developed similarly?
That said, I do suspect there is a deeper story here, but don’t have full facts.
2) Grover (and snydeman): the things you compared the Left and Right upon, presumed constructs that are “self evident”, are weak on logic. As a result, the left and right can both claim the moral high ground while taking the low ground. Other, single issue people, attempt to influence the position while appealing to this (anti abortion videos showing intelligence in some foetuses, for example) while not agreeing with some of the premises. The result is lots of serrated edge platypuses, and more power for psychopaths (who of course find it self evident that they desire power). Might I question, that if Carl Sagan were right, then why does a pig not have rights? Or why has nobody noticed that even a paramecium acts with intelligence? Indeed, animals at all levels communicate (the advantage to this is huge) and have self awareness (again the advantage is huge, and there is nothing that is more in the control and view of a creature, than the self.) So the logic is weak here. Sandpuppy recently posted elsewhere, “when the logic is weak and the guise of virtue worn, look for the real reasons to be in hiding”.
Thus, I’m going to say that you won’t judge well – and cannot hope to do so – unless you start applying good logic, reason, and especially truth.
You won’t wield the two-edged sword of truth very effectively, either, unless you first shave with it. Don’t worry, it looks like one of those old razor things, with two blades, one on each side. Every so often you’re going to think that you’ll die, but you have to be brave enough to shave with it anyhow.
Have a can of shaving cream, on me, for 2018.

… and run into several things: one, are you the same as David J. Collum, of the Pocket Testament league?
Two, what is the tie to that photo of “one of the paddock brothers in Vegas”? In the main article, I see neither another mention of Vegas (except in TOC) nor Paddock, nor text around the photo satisfactorily explaining the photo and why it’s here. But the guy in back looks a lot like the other Collum. What’s up?

Noam Chomsky on Liberalism - 1977

Well, this raises quite a welter of questions. Let me begin by saying something about liberalism, which is a very complicated concept, I think. It's correct, surely, that liberalism grew up in the intellectual environment of empiricism, and the rejection of authority, and trust in the evidence of the sciences, and so on. However, liberalism has undergone a very complex evolution as a social philosophy over the years. If we go back to the classics, or at least, what I regard as the classics, say, for example, Humboldt's limits of state action which inspired Mill and is a true libertarian, liberal classic, if you'd like. The world that Humboldt was considering, which was partially an imaginary world, but the world for which he was developing this political philosophy was a post-feudal but pre-capitalist world. That is, it was a world in which there was no great divergence among individuals in the kind of power that they have, and what they command, let's say. But there was a tremendous disparity between individuals, on one hand, and the state on the other. Consequently, it was the task of a liberalism that was concerned with human rights, and the quality of individuals, and so on-- it was the task of liberalism to dissolve the enormous power of state, which was such an authoritarian threat to individual liberties. And from that, you develop a classical liberal theory in, say, Humboldt's or Mill's sense. Well, of course, that is pre-capitalist. He couldn't conceive of an era in which a corporation would be regarded as an individual, let's say. Or in which enormous disparities in control over resources and production would distinguish between individuals in a massive fashion. Now, in that kind of society, to take the Humboldtian view is a very superficial liberalism. Because while opposition to state power in an era of such divergence conforms to Humboldt's conclusions, it doesn't do so for his reasons. That is, his reasons lead to very different conclusions in that case namely, I think, his reasons lead to the conclusion that we must dissolve the authoritarian control over production resources which leads to such divergence as among individuals. In fact, I think, one might draw a direct line between classical liberalism and a kind of libertarian socialism which, I think, can be regarded as a kind of adapting of the basic reasoning of classical liberalism to a very different social era. Now if we come to the modern period, here liberalism has taken on a very strange sense, if you think of its history. Now liberalism is essentially the theory of state capitalism. Of state intervention in a capitalist economy. Well, there's very little relation to classical liberalism. In fact, classical liberalism is what's now called conservatism, I suppose. But this new view, I think, really is, in my view at least, a highly authoritarian position. That is, it's one which accepts a number of centers of authority and control-- the state on one hand, agglomerations of private power on the other hand, all interacting with individuals as malleable cogs in this highly constrained machine, which may be called democratic. But given the actual distribution of powers, very far from being meaningfully democratic and cannot be so. So my own feeling has always been that to achieve the classical liberal ideals-- for the reasons that led to them being put forth-- in a society so different, we must be led in a very different direction. It's superficial and erroneous to accept the conclusions which were reached for different society and not to consider the reasoning that led to those conclusions. The reasoning, I think, is very substantial. I'm a classical liberal in this sense. But I think it leads me to be kind of an anarchist, an anarchist socialist.
The Engineering of Consent - Edward Bernays - 1947 Link to PDF
Freedom of speech and its democratic corollary, a free press, have tacitly expanded our Bill of Rights to include the right of persuasion. This development was an inevitable result of the expansion of the media of free speech and persuasion, defined in other articles in this volume. All these media provide open doors to the public mind. Any one of us through these media may influence the attitudes and actions of our fellow citizens. The tremendous expansion of communications in the United States has given this Nation the world's most penetrating and effective apparatus for the transmission of ideas. Every resident is constantly exposed to the impact of our vast network of communications which reach every corner of the country, no matter how remote or isolated. Words hammer continually at the eyes and ears of America. The United States has become a small room in which a single whisper is magnified thousands of times. Knowledge of how to use this enormous amplifying system becomes a matter of primary concern to those who are interested in socially constructive action. There are two main divisions of this communications system which maintain social cohesion. On the first level there are the commercial media. Almost 1,800 daily newspapers in the United States have a combined circulation of around 44,000,000. There are approximately 10,000 weekly newspapers and almost 6,000 magazines. Approximately 2,000 radio stations of various types broadcast to the Nation's 60,000,000 receiving sets. Approximately 16,500 motion picture houses have a capacity of almost 10,500,000. A deluge of books and pamphlets is published annually. The country is blanketed with billboards, handbills, throwaways, and direct mail advertising. Round tables, panels and forums, classrooms and legislative assemblies, and public platforms—any and all media, day after day, spread the word, someone's word. On the second level there are the specialized media owned and operated by the many organized groups in this country. Almost all such groups (and many of their subdivisions) have their own communications systems. They disseminate ideas not only by means of the formal written word in labor papers, house organs, special bulletins, and the like, but also through lectures, meetings, discussions, and rank-and-file conversations.
continued Which leads me to use a relevant passage from page 770 of Alexis De Tocquevilles
On Democracy in America - 1835

I therefore believe that the kind of oppression that threatens democratic peoples is unlike any the world has seen before. Our contemporaries will find no image of it in their memories. I search in vain for an expression that exactly reproduces my idea of it and captures it fully. The old words “despotism” and “tyranny” will not do. The thing is new, hence I must try to define it, since I cannot give it a name.

I am trying to imagine what new features despotism might have in today’s world: I see an innumerable host of men, all alike and equal, endlessly hastening after petty and vulgar pleasures with which they fill their souls. Each of them, withdrawn into himself, is virtually a stranger to the fate of all the others. For him, his children and personal friends comprise the entire human race. As for the remainder of his fellow citizens, he lives alongside them but does not see them. He touches them but does not feel them. He exists only in himself and for himself, and if he still has a family, he no longer has a country.

Over these men stands an immense tutelary power, which assumes sole responsibility for securing their pleasure and watching over their fate. It is absolute, meticulous, regular, provident, and mild. It would resemble paternal authority if only its purpose were the same, namely, to prepare men for manhood. But on the contrary, it seeks only to keep them in childhood irrevocably. It likes citizens to rejoice, provided they think only of rejoicing. It works willingly for their happiness. It provides for their security, foresees and takes care of their needs, facilitates their pleasures, manages their most important affairs, directs their industry, regulates their successions, and divides their inheritances. Why not relieve them entirely of the trouble of thinking and the difficulty of living?

Every day it thus makes man’s use of his free will rarer and more futile. It circumscribes the action of the will more narrowly, and little by little robs each citizen of the use of his own faculties.

Then again, this could just be an exercise in herding cats

… boy, is this long.
And I now see the Vegas stuff is in the second chapter; but I don’t see how that original picture ties into anything. Does anyone have some clarification of that?

You’ve noted numerous times that you are a devout Christian. I have no doubt that you are. My beliefs are very dissimilar from yours. I consider myself to be very devout as well. I cannot prove my belief to be the truth, nor can I disprove your belief. You are in the same boat here. (That’s why we refer to them as “Beliefs.”) If you want the freedom to worship your god as you see fit, you need to allow others that freedom as well.
I’m assuming that you believe that life begins at conception. I’m also assuming that your primary basis for this determination is your belief in your god. So, what do you say to someone who doesn’t share your particular belief? Are you going to effectively cram it down their throats because that is what you believe it should be? Wouldn’t it be better to have some scientific, measurable milestone where reasonable people concur that life has begun? Not just the possibility for life, but the beginning of intellectually aware, human life. For instance, if onset of brain waves is that set point, a brain-dead fetus would never achieve that status. In fact, just like a pig or paramecium, it will never achieve viable human standing. (Please note that pigs or paramecium will never achieve human standing - the reason should not require explanation to any reasonable person.)
You may think that I’m a fan of abortion. I’m not. I feel that every child has a right to be wanted. (That’s what I’m a fan of.) I really applaud people who plan their family timing and accept responsibility to raise their children as best as they can (just like you do!) Unfortunately, life happens. What do we do with unwanted children? I wish I could report that there are none. A quick internet search for foster children in your area will dash that hope. Work to reduce the number of unwanted children and you’ll reduce the need for abortion.
Wouldn’t it be great if no church goers were psychopaths. Again, unfortunately, the church has its share of psychopaths who prey on victims. There have been many reports recently to support this assertion. Your hallowed halls aren’t any more sacred than my serrated edges. I’d suggest getting off your high horse and embracing reality for what it is. Keep your shaving cream for yourself. You need it.

… I don’t think I’ve noted that I am a devout Christian… I don’t think a devout Christian would do that. I think if you go back, you will see posts that imply I’m a devout Christian.
The truth there is perhaps a lot darker. I am at a very dark spot in my life right now.
I devoutly believe that truth is more important than life.
I believe that a god that does what he wants as his definition has made a god out of his want – then if fulfilled, his wants are gone; his god self destructs and so might he. Therefore such a god is no god, though there are. many who attempt to be such a god. But the God of Truth who makes truth as his definition, has made a god out of truth, and if fulfilled self-reinforces. So the definition of the true God must be truth.
And if we are to worship such a God, it must only be with truth – any other worship falsifies that. And we must be as true as we know.
So if you are doing that then perhaps we are on the same page.
So if a seeker of truth’s assumptions don’t match truth, then a seeker of truth will cull his assumptions; will he not?
Are you willing to do that?
Most of your assumptions about me are partially true, and largely false.
Also, your comment about how our church has its share of psychopaths… I believe I covered that in my very first full sentence: “the deep state you see in the old church, I think, is a result within a powerful organization of hypocrites and psychopaths within the church…” Your assumption that I have a holier-than-thou attitude is also wrong.

I sat on that post for most of the day. I don’t like writing emotionally charged posts like that, but I felt that you were dissing me in your post. I see that I inferred things that you did not intend. I apologize for that. I’m also sincerely sorry that you are going through a dark period. I have faith that you’ll get through it.
I’m not so sure that there is a universal truth anymore. If there is one, we’re only seeing the shadows it casts on Plato’s cave - not the truth itself. Interpreting the shadows gets us another layer farther away from the truth. You can also view it mathematically as a curve that asymptotically approaches the truth. The closer you get, the more effort it takes to get that next increment of “truth.” The last miniscule amount of truth will take an infinite amount of effort to attain. You can seek the truth, but you’ll never completely find it. That’s life.
Wisdom, on the other hand, allows you to deal with the shortcomings that life invariably offers. Knowing that I can’t know gives me the peace of mind to appreciate the roller coaster ride we’re on. I can appreciate that every snowflake is unique - and then I get to shovel those unique snowflakes into a pile. In a few months, snow will melt and the daffodils will bloom. Then, the busy period of gardening begins in earnest. Then, summer with hot days and warm nights will come and go. Soon thereafter, the harvest will be complete, days will seem too short again, and the year end festivities will begin again. Next year, we’ll all be another year older. Should we be sad that our short time on earth is disappearing … or should we step back and be grateful for the important things in our lives?

I don’t know how to approach wisdom without truth.
That, perhaps, is part of the dark problem I am facing right now. When truth seems shaky, then wisdom stands aloof; and continuing with the old only goes so far.
Suffice it to say, that no disrespect was intended on my part. Indeed, my post is deep into my own shaving, as it were, as much as anyone else.
I don’t know if I’ve mentioned, but you remind me of a favorite uncle of mine, who… has different, unknown beliefs. I say unknown, but I’d suspect him of holding a viewpoint similar to “right to be wanted.”
That said, on the subject of abortion, I don’t find a consensus without understanding to be very valid, even using scientific terms. I agree with you that a pig and a paramecium are never going to be human. But the point of that case was to show how we beg the question of why a thing is right or wrong, and don’t even try to gain an understandrng it.
Let me try a different thought experiment. Is there any condition, which will cause a newborn baby to automatically suicide? If there were, then (if you had the power and authority of a god) you might find it compassionate to kill it before letting it suffer pointlessly. But there’s a different, better answer: fulfill its need. And in fact, there actually IS a condition as I described: the withholding of human contact. So one person might say “abort”, but another person might say, “no, cuddle the child”. Cuddling, it might seem, is a denial of the unwanted condition. Good pick of a condition: it was yours, not mine. What do you mean by right, though? Do you not mean that he can demand it, and it is unjust not to provide it? If so, then abortion isn’t the answer. Preventing the demand isn’t the answer. Once life has happened, it already has demands.
It’s a complicated question. But to have any hope of viewing it correctly, I don’t see anything for this but to view it in the light of truth. Subject EVERY preconception to truth, and see what falls out.
I guess since I have too many loose ends here, I’ll simply close this post with a favorite Chesterton quote, taken from the detective story “The Blue Cross”:
"Valentin almost broke his bamboo stick with rage.
“Proof!” he cried. “Good God! the man is looking for proof’ Why, of course, the chances are twenty to one that it has nothing to do with them. But what else can we do? Don’t you see we must either follow one wild possibility or else go home to bed?”
(Except for me the wild possibility is the possibility of truth.)

Grover & Michael,
There are many truth claims - one source of truth.
I found this information to be extremely compelling. John 18:37

I think there are universal guidelines moreso than truths, since truth is usually in the eye of the beholder.

Two guidelines, for instance, would be diversity and complexity. There are so many examples just on our planet alone of how complex and diverse the natural world is - it defies every category we invent for its various participants and systems - and that’s just one planet!

One of my universal truths is to respect and admire this complexity and diversity, and to marvel in the majesty of it all. Your results may vary.