Digital Forces

It was my birthday yesterday :

So I made a video, but I gave myself a domain as a present. It’s called Digital Forces (dot) net. And I like it a lot, maybe the best site I have designed this year.  It has a chat feature too. So go have a look and tell me what you think. The chat button is on the bottom right. I put it on this site too, so send me a message

chat

digital forces

http://digitalforces.net 

 

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The Power To Create

The power to create is in all of us, we only have to do it. One way to start being creative is to create a blog. Second Life is very creative, but limited; generally what is created there stays there. It is time to move outside the box. The video below says a lot about creativity : “The Power To Create”

 

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Going With The Flow

If you have come to learn blogging please go here

The Nile is 6,853 km (4,258 miles) long and thought to be the longest river in the world. It took me nearly 5 months to go from the mouth in Egypt to the source, Lake Victoria, in Kenya. It was 1974.

I am using it here as an analogy.

For the first part of the journey we went by train from Cairo in the north of Egypt to Lake Nasser in the south. We had a couple of choices. We could have got a steamboat to the south, but this was very expensive (see Death On The Nile) and was a round trip. It was impractical and did not suit our purpose. Also, we wanted to stop off at Luxor to see the Valley of The Kings. We stopped there for 2 weeks. We went by train 3rd class which was very very cheap and very cheerful. You met other interesting people on the way and it was the travel of choice of the natives.

In life there are choices about the routes and mode of transport you will use to get somewhere. You may travel first class but in doing so you will be cocooned from many experiences. (Whilst on the train I met a man selling trinkets and the like, I swapped my woolen cardigan for his filthy turban. When I washed it, it was the most beautiful embroidered silver threaded scarf you have ever seen). Taking the peoples choice of transport served me well. I met people and learned much, like the language and customs of the local people.

When we reached the Aswan Dam the Nile came to a pause that could only be navigated by a short bus ride to Lake Nasser and taking a boat across; it took a day and a night. It was very beautiful.

In life there is sometimes only one way to reach your goal and that is the only way. You have no choice. However, you may be pleasantly surprised how beautiful that journey may be. From the still lake we saw desert marvels like caramel cones of desert formations and we saw what looked like Scud missiles pointing to the sky. The stars twinkled in the silence of the desert.

The ferry stopped at the Sudanese border and there was only one way to get to Khartoum and that was by train across the Nubian Desert. For 250 miles there is nothing but vast stretches of sand, relieved only by rocks. Very cheap again and mandatory. No choice.

In the middle of the desert the train broke down and we were stuck, no way forward no way back and again in life you may need help to get where you want to go. We just had to sit and wait until the terminus realized something was wrong and sent a rescue train. We waited about ten hours. No choice. We shared food and water and took comfort from the fact that we were all in the same boat (train).

From Khartoum we got a train to Kosti about two hundred miles south to catch the boat going to Juba in what is now Southern Sudan. It would take ten days on the river. The paddle boats, there were six of them all tied together to the one working boat in the front.

If our engine is broken sometimes we have to tie ourselves to a “working engine” to get where we are going. The Nile goes through the Sudd a vast expanse of swamp made up of papyrus reeds. The river can get lost here with channels opening and closing. At one point the channel became so narrow only one boat could be taken through at a time. So the boats were un-lashed and we waited for our boat to be towed to the wider channel.

Sometimes in a group you have to be separated and let a facilitator lead you to the safe place in order to continue.

We all stripped off and went swimming. We were splashing about and a great cry went up and everyone (we followed them) dashed out of the water in a panic. Crocodiles!!! On closer inspection, they turned out to be logs. We also found some sugar cane which we happily chewed.

You may be stuck somewhere through no fault of your own and are having fun, but there may be dangers just below the surface. Be prepared for any and be warned if others report danger. Also, they may not be crocodiles, but only logs.

In Juba, we were stuck. The Southern Sudan had just ended 20 years of civil war. It was either go back or turn right and go through the Congo a hazardous and long journey or try and head up the Blue Nile to Ethiopia then to Kenya.

My friend I was travelling with headed back to Khartoum. I waited with another guy not knowing what to do. Sometimes if we just wait and are open to suggestion a solution will come. We found out from a friend we had made that a government convoy (two Landrovers and a truck) was heading to the Kenyan border for talks about the road joining the two countries. We asked if we could hitch a lift with them.

Governments can be useful at times.

However the road between the two had been washed away by early rains and the convoy decided to send two tribesman to walk to the Kenyan side to tell them the meeting wouldn’t take place. We crossed the swollen river and walked the 25 miles across the Kenyan border. It was my 25th birthday. Not one I will ever forget.

Sometimes you just have to get out and walk.

We arrived at the police border post and they gave us tea, a meal and a tent to sleep in. They said a mail plane was due in a week or so and maybe they would take us to Nairobi.

We were sitting outside the compound and there was a roar of engines and in a cloud of dust in rolled a white hunter in a Range Rover and two Landrovers. He said he would take us the 600 miles to Nairobi!

Waiting sometimes produces remarkable results even when you don’t know you are doing it.

After more adventures we eventually made it to Lake Victoria and the sky turned pink with Flamingos.

The most important lessons I learned were to go with the flow, never lose sight of your goal and be prepared to wait. Be friendly to all people and remember when you are on a journey, be mindful and open to suggestion. Being dogmatic, often leads to stagnation; getting stuck.

I worked it out it cost £28 sterling in transportation, in 1974 money, for the whole trip.

I hung around in Kenya for three months and then, through some judicious banking, bought a boat ticket from Mombasa to Bombay. Waited there for a couple of years…but that’s another story 🙂

The world is your oyster and you are the pearl.

 

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Digital Literacy

What is Digital Literacy?

Digital Literacy is the ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information, requiring both cognitive and technical skills.

A Digitally Literate Person:

 Possesses the variety of skills – technical and cognitive – required to
find, understand, evaluate, create, and communicate digital information
in a wide variety of formats;

 Is able to use diverse technologies appropriately and effectively to retrieve information, interpret results, and judge the quality of that information;

 Understands the relationship between technology, life-long learning,
personal privacy, and stewardship of information;

Uses these skills and the appropriate technology to communicate and collaborate with peers, colleagues, family, and on occasion, the general public; and

Uses these skills to actively participate in civic society and contribute
to a vibrant, informed, and engaged community.

(Bold mine)

ALA Digital Literacy Taskforce, 2011

A digitally literate person can blog and a blog fulfils and all the above. If you are reading this you are becoming more digitally literate, more if you reply, more if you have a blog!

P.S. It has come to my attention that, of course, we are assuming computer literacy. If you are teaching computer literacy below is a guide of what I consider to be the essentials.  

 

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15 years on

I am using a WordPress platform, as do 58% of CMS platforms on the web, for both style and convenience. Due to illness it was neglected for a couple of years. I am just getting back into my stride. The pages are old. They maybe dated.

My first Irish Secure site of 15 years ago is here  from the Internet Archives.

Irish Secure web site 2001

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seems like yesterday. The main thrust of the site was privacy and encryption using PGP. We had our own mail server. Maybe if Hillary had used PGP encryption she wouldn’t have been nearly busted. LOL. Yes we were using ISIS as an acronym back when Isis was an Egyptian god.

I love the way back machine that trawls the web and archives web sites billions of them. It seems nothing is lost in cyberspace.

Coming back to now I am very enthusiastic about the Older Citizens web. And will start using the RSA hopefully my fellowship will be through by the end of the month. They have a great network. I have been contacting various professionals in the field world wide as well as in Ireland. I see this as a global affair.

Here’s an entertaining video I made  using the virtual worlds of Blue Mars and Second Life avatars.

I have used a single animation in videos before. Here I use three. There is a narrative to the video. The person is stuck between a ghost town and a land that is far far away. He wanders into the deserted town,looks at posters that are old and out of date, turn walks up a street; realises it is wrong and heads back. He passes an empty warehouse where you can buy new bodies. He then turns and goes back to the end of the road where he stands and gazes. The next video is without animations. The tune is awesome “Blues Me To Tears” by The Code Blue Band from their Wrong Side of Town album.

RavensKiss.org my video site.

Watch Full Screen

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Article on Blogging

I have plans to post about Second Life when I get a readership on older citizens. Don’t want to frighten them. So spread the word by commenting. Thank you very much.

Older Citizens Blogging

About

The purpose of this hub is to get noticed. As an older citizen I feel marginalised as so many other older citizens do. The purpose of my teaching blog is to help older citizens have a voice. I am 67 years old and feel in many ways to be in my prime.

Spammy?

I write domains as “example dot com” when I want to tell people of a site where there is no need for a link. We sub vocalise when we read which is a memory aid. Of course when we say a web address this is how we say it. It is appropriate when an html link is not appropriate. My first gTLD (global top level domain) is IrishSecure dot com and I have had it since 1998. You can visit it if you like but there is no need for a link. There is also the practice in some platforms and blogs that if you put in example.com it automatically becomes a clickable link. Maybe its idiosyncratic but there seems to be no research on how to remember a web address? It would be easy to set up an experiment to test my theory. Give one group a list of web addresses with words example dot com and the control group example.com and see who remembers more.

Experience

I have an honours science degree in Psychology and I am a trained counsellor. I have a masters degree in Social Work. I worked as a Probation Officer for ten years in inner city high crime patch in London. I had 3 murderers on my caseload. I set up and ran an alcohol abuse training course that the courts could sentence to. I did 14 hour shifts in a secure bail hostel on my own. For two years. My reports were used to train magistrates.

I have been around the world, mostly overland. It took ten years. I went to India via the Nile…true story!

I am bipolar.

I have survived lung cancer.

Computing

I had my first computer in 1981. In 1986 I helped programme and install a networked touch sensitive computer system for Manpower Services Commission a British government body to access a database, in real time, of job vacancies nationwide. In those days the “computer scientists” in MSC were a bunch of psychologists, the only ones to understand the system. It is now (?) used in every job centre in England well that was in the days of MSC now gone *sigh*.

In 1994 I built my first PC from scratch. In 1996 I set us up as an ISP (Internet Service Provider) with two web servers and two name servers which were built from scrap. We had a Silicon Graphics work station as used by NASA to control the Mars lander. In 2000 we offered secure wireless Internet access to the whole town of Tullamore in Ireland. In 2006 we went bust through lack of support and repercussions of the dot com crash.

My YouTube channel which I set up in 2008 has had over 100k views and there are over 400 videos. I have published over 80 documents on Scribd (not written by me) which have had over 60k views. My major sites have a library of select books all out of print copies I have found, including James Joyce Ulysses, Moby Dick etc. available to read online or download. It’s on this site too as I love it so.  My blogs have over 6k subscribers.

Currently I operate a rented web server and name servers and have 25 gTLDs and untold WordPress blogs. The blog linked below took a week to set up including content.

I know what I am doing.

If you don’t blow your own trumpet will someone else? Older Citizens should have a voice, my aim is to give them one.

Our brains still work

“The good news is that far from slowing down in old age, the brain can actually keep growing new dendrites, which are the connections between neurons. Old brains are as plastic as young brains; in fact, the connections between the two hemispheres of our brains become better integrated with age……”

Dr. Natash Josefowitz “On becoming 90” Huffington Post

Yet there are some failings as Dr.Josefowitz points out in the excellent article. I find, myself, memories of 50 or more years ago can be quite fresh but I forget the password I created 5 minutes ago AND I am only 67. I use sticky notes on my computer to remember stuff. So clearly things aren’t perfect. However it doesn’t stop me. My email box is littered with “password reset” notices. No big deal. This has been recognised by the powers that be and I can log on using a one click Facebook login.

You can teach an old dog new tricks

I blog a lot and I find it keeps my brain ticking over nicely. I learn new stuff everyday and the important bits I retain. So the idea that learning stops at a certain age is a fallacy. So with this in mind I decided to teach blogging to older citizens and that it can be done. There is a noticeable lack of older citizens blogging and this needs changing. It helps greatly that with a computer and access to the Internet this is not difficult. It could be done in a library, It takes minutes to set up a wordpress blog. When you are in wordpress dot com “If it doesn’t exist register it” . How Zen! People use their name which makes it easy to remember. Given that there are there are approximately over 150 million blogs on the Internet getting a name may pose some problems however marionjwinslow for example or billwatkinssuperblog are probably available. Just need a bit of imagination.

Capitals are ok

The web treats capitals as lower case so when you are writing the name of your blog you can write it as MarionJWilson or BillsSuperBlog which makes it that more memorable when people read it. They don’t have to write it in capitals as a link BUT IT MAKES NO DIFFERENCE! So be imaginative and you can write a short but memorable sentence. MaybeOldButWhoCares is a potential blog address, it is memorable and that is the important thing. When chatting with friends you can say “MaybeOldButWhoCares dot wordpress dot com” and they will remember it. (By the way the teaching blog I have set up on wordpress is 100% free and there is no reason to spend any money).

Imagination

So I registered it. Any Older Citizen who wants it let me know in the comments and I'll give them a login

 So I registered it. Any Older Citizen who wants it let me know in the comments and I’ll give them a login

Research

After an extensive trawl I can find no research that has investigated cognition and blogging in the older citizen. Nor the potential impact on feelings of isolation and exclusion. Nor on the potential impact on family life. If a persons mother starts putting up pictures of when they were a child or writing about a holiday they had in 1965; anything that gives the son or daughter an historical perspective will bring families closer.

I have a very old family album which goes back to 1949 – 1952 and I used my camera phone to take a picture of the photograph. I then uploaded it to my computer and added it to my blog. Any family picture can be put in a blog.

A free wordpress blog is there in perpetuity not so people. If you have left a blog as a legacy how uplifting it can be. There needs to be research on the impact of blogging on mood. As the population ages, older citizens are a potential resource that shouldn’t be ignored.

Me and Mum 1949

 

The good old days

I read an interesting article on Facebook by an 86 year old who was lamenting the passing of an age in England that was post WW2 a time of the creation of free health care, a boom in affordable housing, education blossoming and freely available work. Its on my blog. After watching I, Daniel Blake it makes you wonder about the value we put on citizens today. Older citizens can take the values of yesterday and resurrect them for today’s generation and demand a return to things we hold dear. Compassion and honesty being the watch words. Daniel Blake received no compassion.

Older Citizens on WordPress

So I have set up a teaching blog for getting older citizens blogging. I have used video extensively with text support; a complimentary oldercitizens dot com and a quick start dot org. I am in the process of propagating it globally (why not?) and have plans to set up complimentary country sub domains on the dot com. It took me a week to set up the three sites including content so not much reaction yet. This is a free service not a business. No profit is being asked for nor made. Below is a video I made for adding your first post. Please watch full screen.

First Post

The Blog

There are four main sections to get you started

  1. Setting up and registering your blog
  2. Your first post
  3. Inserting an image and embedding a video
  4. Changing the theme

There are also sundry pages:

  • Contact
  • Useful Programs including the free Microsoft Expression Design image editor
  • A page on Widgets
  • And a Library of books (pdfs for online reading or download) which I love and put on all my sites including this one.
  • About Me

Yes a weeks work indeed…..

High hopes

This may take some time but having retired I have time, its a hobby as well as I hope a valued service. Getting noticed on the Internet is not easy and I know this. I put up my first web page in 1996 (its still there in Archives) and during a five year period as an ISP (Internet Service Provider) I am no stranger to the web. I rent my own web server and name servers so I know what I’m doing. The cost is minimal, a few Euro a week. What I am doing now is spreading the word so please visit the site leave a comment or fill out the form provided. I need feedback so I can improve. Nothing is set in stone and I will respond to both criticism and praise but I have high hopes. Hope you enjoyed this hub, there is a poll……

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New Stuff

I have neglected this site for about a couple of years since I got sick……

So I will be updating it. Meanwhile here are some links to the work I have been doing.

We have OlderCitizens.com which does what it says on the box. Then you have my teaching blog on OlderCitizens.wordpress.com and then half a dozen wordpress sites that I needed to make a video. I love the Zen of “if it doesn’t exist then register it”

maybe old but

Older Citizens on WordPress

So I have set up a teaching blog for getting older citizens blogging. I have used video extensively with text support; a complimentary oldercitizens dot com and a quick start dot org. I am in the process of propagating it globally (why not?) and have plans to set up complimentary country sub domains on the dot com. It took me a week to set up the three sites including content so not much reaction yet. This is a free service not a business. No profit is being asked for nor made

There is a quick start on OlderCitizens.org too.

So work in progress. What do you think of this theme? Got it on eCollege.me too, another site that needs updating.

I have registered Older Citizens as a business name too. I have high hopes of it. As one person it is a full time job to keep up. Fortunately I am on a bit of a high at the moment so bags of cerebral energy.  Got one splendid review from my friend Seren. She loves it.

I am also making an effort to document my life did 1965 today. My first holiday alone with my school mates. Ahh memories. OMFG I have so much to write about:

  • Tour of Italy when I was 10
  • Years 17 to 21
  • Bartending in Spain for six months aged 22
  • Squatting in Elgin Avenue 1971 – 73
  • The Great Journey (have done a bit)
  • University
  • Tibetan Buddhism with HH Dalai Lama
  • Theravadin Buddhism a monk for a year
  • Teaching English in Japan
  • ………and that just takes me up to my early thirties

Sigh but my memory is quite fresh.

Wrestling with Hub Pages at the moment – they don’t like me…..

Here’s my favourite video, the gasometer reminds me of behind Kensal Green cemetery as a child by the canal with the gas works behind….hmmm Kensal Green another blog post…

 

 

 

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skype

Skype now has a button for calling folk. Its at the bottom

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Joke

One day Bill complained to his friend that his elbow really hurt. His friend suggested that he go to a computer at the drug store that can diagnose anything quicker and cheaper than a doctor.

”Simply put in a sample of your urine and the computer will diagnose your problem and tell you what you can do about it. It only costs $10.”

Bill figured he had nothing to lose, so he filled a jar with a urine sample and went to the drug store. Finding the computer, he poured in the sample and deposited the $10. The computer started making some noise and various lights started flashing. After a brief pause out popped a small slip of paper on which was printed: You have tennis elbow. Soak your arm in warm water. Avoid heavy lifting. It will be better in two weeks.”

Later that evening while thinking how amazing this new technology was and how it would change medical science forever, he began to wonder if this machine could be fooled. He mixed together some tap water, a stool sample from his dog and urine samples from his wife and daughter. To top it off, he masturbated into the concoction.

He went back to the drug store, located the machine, poured in the sample and deposited the $10. The computer again made the usual noise and printed out the following message: “Your tap water is too hard. Get a water softener. Your dog has worms. Get him vitamins. Your daughter is using cocaine. Put her in a rehabilitation clinic. Your wife is pregnant with twin girls. They aren’t yours. Get a lawyer. And if you don’t stop jerking off, your tennis elbow will never get better.”

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Good Friday

 

12 Worst Ideas Religion Has Unleashed on the World

From Alternet via GodKnows.info

Some of humanity’s technological innovations are things we would have been better off without: the medieval rack, the atomic bomb and powdered lead potions come to mind. Religions tend to invent ideas or concepts rather than technologies, but like every other creative human enterprise, they produce some really bad ones along with the good.

I’ve previously highlighted some of humanity’s best moral and spiritual concepts, our shared moral core. Here, by way of contrast, are some of the worst. These twelve dubious concepts promote conflict, cruelty, suffering and death rather than love and peace. To paraphrase Christopher Hitchens, they belong in the dustbin of history just as soon as we can get them there.

Chosen People –The term “Chosen People” typically refers to the Hebrew Bible and the ugly idea that God has given certain tribes a Promised Land (even though it is already occupied by other people). But in reality many sects endorse some version of this concept. The New Testament identifies Christians as the chosen ones. Calvinists talk about “God’s elect,” believing that they themselves are the special few who were chosen before the beginning of time. Jehovah’s witnesses believe that 144,000 souls will get a special place in the afterlife. In many cultures certain privileged and powerful bloodlines were thought to be descended directly from gods (in contrast to everyone else).

Religious sects are inherently tribal and divisive because they compete by making mutually exclusive truth claims and by promising blessings or afterlife rewards that no competing sect can offer. “Gang symbols” like special haircuts, attire, hand signals and jargon differentiate insiders from outsiders and subtly (or not so subtly) convey to both that insiders are inherently superior.

Heretics – Heretics, kafir, or infidels (to use the medieval Catholic term) are not just outsiders, they are morally suspect and often seen as less than fully human. In the Torah, slaves taken from among outsiders don’t merit the same protections as Hebrew slaves. Those who don’t believe in a god are corrupt, doers of abominable deeds. “There is none [among them] who does good,” says the Psalmist.

Islam teaches the concept of “dhimmitude” and provides special rules for the subjugation of religious minorities, with monotheists getting better treatment than polytheists. Christianity blurs together the concepts of unbeliever and evildoer. Ultimately, heretics are a threat that needs to be neutralized by conversion, conquest, isolation, domination, or—in worst cases—mass murder.

Holy War – If war can be holy, anything goes. The medieval Roman Catholic Church conducted a twenty year campaign of extermination against heretical Cathar Christians in the south of France, promising their land and possessions to real Christians who signed on as crusaders. Sunni and Shia Muslims have slaughtered each other for centuries. The Hebrew scriptures recount battle after battle in which their war God, Yahweh, helps them to not only defeat but also exterminate the shepherding cultures that occupy their “Promised Land.” As in later holy wars, like the modern rise of ISIS, divine sanction let them kill the elderly and children, burn orchards, and take virgin females as sexual slaves—all while retaining a sense of moral superiority.

Blasphemy – Blasphemy is the notion that some ideas are inviolable, off limits to criticism, satire, debate, or even question. By definition, criticism of these ideas is an outrage, and it is precisely this emotion–outrage–that the crime of blasphemy evokes in believers. The Bible prescribes death for blasphemers; the Quran does not, but death-to-blasphemers became part of Shariah during medieval times.

The idea that blasphemy must be prevented or avenged has caused millions of murders over the centuries and countless other horrors. As I write, blogger Raif Badawi awaits round after round of flogging in Saudi Arabia—1000 lashes in batches of 50—while his wife and children plead from Canada for the international community to do something.

Glorified suffering – Picture secret societies of monks flogging their own backs. The image that comes to mind is probably from Dan Brown’s novel, The Da Vinci Code, but the idea isn’t one he made up. A core premise of Christianity is that righteous torture—if it’s just intense and prolonged enough–can somehow fix the damage done by evil, sinful behavior. Millions of crucifixes litter the world as testaments to this belief. Shia Muslims beat themselves with lashes and chains during Aashura, a form of sanctified suffering called Matam that commemorates the death of the martyr Hussein. Self-denial in the form of asceticism and fasting is a part of both Eastern and Western religions, not only because deprivation induces altered states but also because people believe suffering somehow brings us closer to divinity.

Our ancestors lived in a world in which pain came unbidden, and people had very little power to control it. An aspirin or heating pad would have been a miracle to the writers of the Bible, Quran, or Gita. Faced with uncontrollable suffering, the best advice religion could offer was to lean in or make meaning of it. The problem, of course is that glorifying suffering—turning it into a spiritual good—has made people more willing to inflict it on not only themselves and their enemies but also those who are helpless, including the ill or dying (as in the case of Mother Teresa and the American Bishops) and children (as in the child beating Patriarchy movement).

Genital mutilation – Primitive people have used scarification and other body modifications to define tribal membership for as long as history records. But genital mutilation allowed our ancestors several additional perks—if you want to call them that. Infant circumcision in Judaism serves as a sign of tribal membership, but circumcision also serves to test the commitment of adult converts. In one Bible story, a chieftain agrees to convert and submit his clan to the procedure as a show of commitment to a peace treaty. (While the men lie incapacitated, the whole town is then slain by the Israelites.)

In Islam, painful male circumcision serves as a rite of passage into manhood, initiation into a powerful club. By contrast, in some Muslim cultures cutting away or burning the female clitoris and labia ritually establishes the submission of women by reducing sexual arousal and agency. An estimated 2 million girls annually are subjected to the procedure, with consequences including hemorrhage, infection, painful urination and death.

Blood sacrifice – In the list of religion’s worst ideas, this is the only one that appears to be in its final stages. Only some Hindus (during the Festival of Gadhimai, goddess of power) and some Muslims (during Eid al Adha, Feast of the Sacrifice) continue to ritually slaughter sacrificial animals on a mass scale. Hindu scriptures including the Gita and Puranas forbid ritual killing, and most Hindus now eschew the practice based on the principle of ahimsa, but it persists as a residual of folk religion.

When our ancient ancestors slit the throats of humans and animals or cut out their hearts or sent the smoke of sacrifices heavenward, many believed they were literally feeding supernatural beings. In time, in most religions, the rationale changed—the gods didn’t need feeding so much as signs of devotion and penance. The residual child sacrifice in the Hebrew Bible (yes, it is there) typically has this function. Christianity’s persistent focus on blood atonement—the notion of Jesus as the be-all-end-all lamb without blemish, the final “propitiation” for human sin—is hopefully the last iteration of humanity’s long fascination with blood sacrifice.

Hell – Whether we are talking about Christianity, Islam or Buddhism, an afterlife filled with demons, monsters, and eternal torture was the worst suffering the Iron Age minds could conceive and medieval minds could elaborate. Invented, perhaps, as a means to satisfy the human desire for justice, the concept of Hell quickly devolved into a tool for coercing behavior and belief.

Most Buddhists see hell as a metaphor, a journey into the evil inside the self, but the descriptions of torturing monsters  and levels of hell can be quite explicit. Likewise, many Muslims and Christians hasten to assure that it is a real place, full of fire and the anguish of non-believers. Some Christians have gone so far as to insist that the screams of the damned can be heard from the center of the Earth or that observing their anguish from afar will be one of the pleasures of paradise.

Karma – Like hell, the concept of karma offers a selfish incentive for good behavior—it’ll come back at you later—but it has enormous costs. Chief among these is a tremendous weight of cultural passivity in the face of harm and suffering. Secondarily, the idea of karmasanctifies the broad human practice of blaming the victim. If what goes around comes around, then the disabled child or cancer patient or untouchable poor (or the hungry rabbit or mangy dog) must have done something in either this life or a past one to bring their position on themselves.

Eternal Life – To our weary and unwashed ancestors, the idea of gem encrusted walls, streets of gold, the fountain of youth, or an eternity of angelic chorus (or sex with virgins) may have seemed like sheer bliss. But it doesn’t take much analysis to realize how quickly eternal paradise would become hellish—an endless repetition of never changing groundhog days (because how could they change if they were perfect).

The real reason that the notion of eternal life is such a bad invention, though, is the degree to which it diminishes and degrades existence on this earthly plane. With eyes lifted heavenward, we can’t see the intricate beauty beneath our feet. Devout believers put their spiritual energy into preparing for a world to come rather than cherishing and stewarding the one wild and precious world we have been given.

Male Ownership of Female Fertility – The notion of women as brood mares or children as assets likely didn’t originate with religion, but the idea that women were created for this purpose, that if a woman should die of childbearing “she was made to do it,” most certainly did. Traditional religions variously assert that men have a god-ordained right to give women in marriage, take them in war, exclude them from heaven, and kill them if the origins of their offspring can’t be assured. Hence Catholicism’s maniacal obsession with the virginity of Mary and female martyrs.

As we approach the limits of our planetary life support system and stare dystopia in the face, defining women as breeders and children as assets becomes ever more costly. We now know that resource scarcity is a conflict trigger and that demand for water and arable land is growing even as both resources decline. And yet, a pope who claims to care about the desperate poor lectures them against contraceptionwhile Muslim leaders ban vasectomies in a drive to outbreed their enemies.

Bibliolatry (aka Book Worship) – Preliterate people handed down their best guesses about gods and goodness by way of oral tradition, and they made objects of stone and wood, idols, to channel their devotion. Their notions of what was good and what was Real and how to live in moral community with each other were free to evolve as culture and technology changed. But the advent of the written word changed that. As our Iron Age ancestors recorded and compiled their ideas into sacred texts, these texts allowed their understanding of gods and goodness to become static. The sacred texts of Judaism, Christianity and Islam forbid idol worship, but over time the texts themselves became idols, and many modern believers practice—essentially—book worship, also known as bibliolatry.

“Because the faith of Islam is perfect, it does not allow for any innovations to the religion,” says one young Muslim explaining his faith online. His statement betrays a naïve lack of information about the origins of his own dogmas. But more broadly, it sums up the challenge all religions face moving forward. Imagine if a physicist said, “Because our understanding of physics is perfect, it does not allow for any innovations to the field.”

Adherents who think their faith is perfect, are not just naïve or ill informed. They are developmentally arrested, and in the case of the world’s major religions, they are anchored to the Iron Age, a time of violence, slavery, desperation and early death.

Ironically, the mindset that our sacred texts are perfect betrays the very quest that drove our ancestors to write those texts. Each of the men who wrote part of the Bible, Quran, or Gita took his received tradition, revised it, and offered his own best articulation of what is good and real. We can honor the quest of our spiritual ancestors, or we can honor their answers, but we cannot do both.

Religious apologists often try to deny, minimize, or explain away the sins of scripture and the evils of religious history. “It wasn’t really slavery.” “That’s just the Old Testament.” “He didn’t mean it that way.” “You have to understand how bad their enemies were.” “Those people who did harm in the name of God weren’t real [Christians/Jews/Muslims].” Such platitudes may offer comfort, but denying problems doesn’t solve them. Quite the opposite, in fact. Change comes with introspection and insight, a willingness to acknowledge our faults and flaws while still embracing our strengths and potential for growth.

In a world that is teeming with humanity, armed with pipe bombs and machine guns and nuclear weapons and drones, we don’t need defenders of religion’s status quo—we need real reformation, as radical as that of the 16th Century and much, much broader. It is only by acknowledging religion’s worst ideas that we have any hope of embracing the best.

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