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Excerpt for The Magic Mirror and other poems by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

















The Magic Mirror

and other poems





Damion Boyd









ISB  9780463825976

Copyright 2019































Dedication





To Carolina: single-mom, welder, poet. Men smile upon your beauty, but I your thirst for truth. God bless you and Natalia always.















Minor portions of this book can be reprinted without permission.









































Popcorn thoughts: You are to be encouraged. Never before, in the history of the world, have people been forced to deal with the kind of hidden stress you endure each day. It is unique to our time and, thus, makes for souls of rare beauty or rare horror.





SHOOTING

We live in the strangest place

of crawling birds and flying pigs

and trees “grown”

more or less

in a salty waste-a wilderness



We live on shallow ground

where children are scooped out,

filled with straw

then asked to carry

huge loads around



Yet, most of us lean

on a wondrous dream that wasn’t,

where the dragon floods,

the beast still bites

and everyone plays nice

until someone

doesn’t



SERVICE PET

Emptiness runs about the place

In a sweater wrapped anxiety

I scratch fear

behind the ears

and panic licks

my smiling face





Hero

Good master, what does it take?

Is a hero an empathetic,

well-intentioned

State?

Is a hero simply someone

with Parkinson’s

or Aids or breast cancer?

What is the answer?

Is a hero merely a lucky stroke,

a child dialing 911,

a dog barking at smoke?

Is a hero merely a nod and wink of lies:

an inside joke at funeral homes

where everyone is canonized?

Or do heroes really creep along

common roads unsung,

rising up from tired neighborhoods…?

But why do you call Me good?

There is but One





The Harlot’s Cup



This great society

no longer rots quietly in pseudo-family lots

but, like some dying drunk in a dirty, business suit

it pleads on the absolute brink

for “Justice!”… though really for a drink.

It is so confused.



Our great society

will not go quietly to Hell

where the child dies for his mother,

the Press interviews itself,

and pollsters poll each other

All the while

smiling,

angry too,

holding up the foaming cup

we are so confused.



Mating Rituals



Hummingbirds are Nature’s teenagers

flying about in lightning clouds

of scattered, erratic patterns

of short, straight lines

or immense, swirling whirls

as they dare ride an elevator of air

then freefall to a pretend death

over and over again

just to impress

the girls





Popcorn thoughts: New technology has always changed the way humans interact with the world. For example, the first maps or (later) the invention of the printing press gave people a completely different view of their lives. Today, we have highly stimulated, somewhat anxious kids exposed to stuff that would make a demon blush. Your children can know in real time about an earthquake in Zambia or a tsunami that kills thousands.

Yes, we are able to think faster and widely on many different fronts but there is a huge tradeoff. It is much harder today to think deeply and for a long time about a single issue. For many people, reading a large book would be painful.

Thus, we have become a unique people: flooded with information and less able to fit things into context--which is, perhaps, the very definition of “cynicism”: the condition of having to process information without wisdom.





The weight of the world

By cell phone

Tripoli turns bloody,

teenage sex-slaves in Guam,

terror blast kills 7 some-bodies

just another day’s cacophony erupts

within your palm…

yet Mother still

picks up that dying son alone

in this Calcutta

where the weight of the world

is but 91 lbs of skin and bone





Kites



Kites are like ideas

found in a dark place

promising bright, blue skies:

a sunshine toy twisting

this way and that…for all to enjoy.

But, wait, it still need be built

and strung and run full out into a breeze

that might simply die.

Leaving you looking about,

with a touch of guilt,

at a field, a life,

of half-flown kites

Where you ask aloud: “Why?”

And He reminds you:

“The Wind blows where It will”



Yes, kites are like

ideas, people, a new relationship

but the Wind is the true gift



The Magic Mirror

Amanda’s mirror pulses color

as she left swipes and taps

searching for another “reason or fact”

she once heard but never bothered

to understand:

A river of lies flood her hand

Amanda’s eyes sharply focus

as she proudly quotes

snarky propaganda.

Later, she will cuddle up in its protection

and bask in the false glow

of her own reflection



The New Left



As a child, you squirmed a lot

with impatient desire

empowered by a new box

of multi-colored crayons

and enough blank pages

to narrate any tale you could inspire

but chose instead

to scribble violent swirls of red and black

death.

Now, we hang your gory,

little drawings

from every corner of culture

like an embarrassing

refrigerator story.





Learning to ride



I was doing so well

as You ran beside me

balanced and powerful,

confident and unafraid,

faith rushing through my veins:

I thought “I am invincible!”

then You took Your hands off

the bicycle of my life









Popcorn thoughts: Here is a surprising fact: we live in a time of increasing darkness—a kind of social blackout.

How could that be? We have access to so much more information today. We can know the weather in Paris and look at the animals LIVE in the Hamburg Zoo. How could it be a darker time? Anything I want to know I can Google immediately. Well, the simple answer is that, unless you are WISE, a billion more facts just create a blinding noise. Yes, what is needed today is Wisdom.

Wisdom is the ability to use knowledge. Wisdom is the ability to fit information into context and avoid trouble. And for some time now, our creeping philosophy has rejected the very idea of “context” and, therefore, Western culture no longer tries to shape wise children. Rather, your kids are being indoctrinated in a poisonous form of ethics that rejects Wisdom and God [the ultimate Context] for a cartoon vision of a perfect world.

But don’t worry, you got this.



After the Storm

Lord, what a strange party you give

with great, howling gusts of wind

the incessant beat of rain

strong then soft then strong again

amid clashing skies flashing bright

so wild, so late into the night.

But now, everything drains down

in sleepy ruts

or cautiously stirs about in a muddy place

while the earth’s patchy green, unshaven face

seems to smile in wet reflections

of Your creatures

coming from all directions

sniffing, testing, tasting for

new things

after the storm.





Socialism

Tricks my

attention with the sound

of free gifts, empathy

and moral high grounds

As it sports

the accessories of “love”

yet, is so divorced from reality

it’s dressed

in the actual apparel

of fear and blame:

so unnatural, so inhumane

it need be enforced

at the end of many a gun barrel





Google”

“Google” is a friendly kid

who gave me a ride for free

but, now, I’ll never be rid

(cannot cut the strings)

of a million things he’ll do for me



He remembers all my stuff

where I’ve been, where I’m from

he knows my clothes, my work,

my codes, my new glasses

he shows me shoes and slacks

and scores of bus passes



One suppressed sneeze

has led to a thousand ads

for cold remedies

One careless glance

at a house for sale

has led to overflowing emails



Yes, Google’s just a friendly kid

who will give you a ride for free

but lately he’s decided

to pick my destiny









The Uncertain Sound



There was a boy with a trumpet

who grew to a man

he protected our town

he watched over the land



Only one job, one debt did he pay:

to keep all enemies at bay

to blow his trumpet

loud and clear and strong

if the city is under threat

if the slightest thing goes wrong



But our enemies were clever

more clever than a boy.

They slowly made him doubt

what his role was all about

“What is a threat to a boy anyway?”

“Isn’t a trumpet just a toy?”

“Shouldn’t we wait

or negotiate?”



as sin is excused

wicked renamed

as good became

“the evil one”…

our city was simply

overrun…



The years passed

as our town slowly corrupted

and we heard many a squeak,

a ruptured gasp or muffled blur

because the boy was never sure

his sound was interrupted



Now the land is a smoking death

with our man sharply dressed

with shiny trumpet, shiny shoes

watching, thinking, wondering

when to really let loose









Communion

(bread distribution in Mexico)

Has anyone ever taken or asked you to come along

that windswept, sewage-swamp road

to see the dance and hear the song

of lil half-naked kids

wild with laughter and joyous calls

as they gather back home:

to homes of cardboard and sour blanket walls,

while dangling in their arms

stale, American bread loaves

that almost smile through the wrappers

to be so loved…like human souls





The Electorate



Here is a riddle to make one cringe:

what is supposed to be wise in the middle

but dumb on the fringe?







Popcorn thoughts: Your heart and soul are designed for a glorious God that we cannot experience all at once. In the Bible, angels praise the “God Who was, Who is and Who is to come”. God’s beauty is so vast, it will stream like a delightful river for us to experience. “There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, The holy dwelling places of the Most High.” Psalm 46:4

So, now, you get a sense of why our screens are so addicting. They [poorly] mimic our ultimate satisfaction.



The Great Battle

Yesterday

near a crowded mall

a sun-bronzed youngster

(a woman really)

and a seagull

plundered the open dumpster.

The bird

clumsily pecked at a blown paper ball,

as if it were a crumb from heaven.

The woman

smiled a toothless smile at a broken radio,

tuning the dead dials, remembering home.



And some gathered

to take a long, harsh but reasonable,

business-people-look

from across the parking lot.



Seeing them, the bird took wing

and she stood up to proclaim some loud, personal thing

to unravel the crowd.

Then she sat back down and laughed,

having won the great battle of 8 rattling cans and a broken radio.

And that was enough

but that was

Yesterday





A homeless pigeon meets Social Services



Dirty, loose pigeons

often avoid breadcrumb parks

like so many soup kitchens

Instead, they scatter among the cars

oblivious to the official pattern of big-named avenues

Where perched atop waxed taxis

or dodging polished, high-heeled shoes…they linger

outside the rules of a crosswalk world

to sidestep rolling tires

and look up, wide-eyed,

profoundly suspicious

of little girls with outstretched fingers.



Black and White



Some would teach us

about the “real world”

twisted and furled in shades of doubt,

shades of grey.

Yet, here is the mad, mad, secret thing:

there is but Jesus--the Light

and ring upon ring of bad eyesight





Postmodernism

the mother of empathetic

god-free ethics

lay dying

having birthed twins named:

“There is no is”

and another

who is fond of lying



Play



Just before the end of day

as Mary lit the well-worn lamp,

the Boy came back from

play

but hiding some squirmy thing

in the tattered folds of an old cloth,

His eyes burning with enough joy to take her there…

There before the ancient worlds were wrought

And she pondered

if He had played with Wisdom,

had wandered all about those vast realms of Possibility

exploring both what could and what would never be?

And did He run and shout?

And did the Nothing-horrors flee Him

or the Angels “hide and seek” Him down the corridors of time?

And did He ever, back then,

return home to the Eternal Godhead

and smile to have hidden in His arms

a small kitten

or a few bright stars?





Empress GIGO



Admittedly, it’s horribly weak

to allow problems to force the solution

to let the bottom teach

Yet, nearly everyone agreed that AI could be trusted.

Fame and power could not tempt her gold-tipped wires

she seemed untouched by human bias and envy

she was an icon of equity and fairness!

So we translated centuries of frustrating bloodshed,

hard lessons into one’s and zero’s

We gave her knowledge and impartial, “god-free” values

and soon she contained all our hopes for human perfection

Thus, nearly everyone agreed to let her take control.

Incredibly, she excreted something like tears of joy

on International Liberation Day,

part of her HIP (Human Interaction Program) I guess,

then, in less than 2 seconds, she was done

to sweetly order the arrest

of all current and future Theist rebels

to the surprise of nearly everyone.





The News

Freedom needs light, needs truth

yet, today’s news is filtered, selected,

radically spun and

sometimes just plain made up

unless, of course, things are so big and bloody

it demands real attention

Then the graphic highlights

are trafficked aloud

a touch of color for

the water-cooler crowd



Popcorn thoughts: Would you really want to know what is happening today? It is simple. People are being called by God out of darkness. Yet, more than a few have closed their eyes and ears…and preferred darkness. Don’t let your many devices flood you with darkness.



Fat Pain



Old, thin pain scrapes dull

over callous skin:

a familiar struggle,

a silent dream

within.

But, new pain is a curse

it screams, it explodes

deep

a complacent bubble

of raw nerves exposed by ease

A fat pain torn like a hole,

surrounds the eyes with sharp surprise

rips into the soul

and escapes the lips—proud.



Yes, old pain is lighter

while the fat are weighed down

cursing God aloud

they set the city afire





The Last Refuge of a Scoundrel



Though it seared my soul—authentic

though foul and dissolute

I meant it

Though well-marked by the beast,

It seems true in hell, at least

“I was myself!”



American Faith

Liberty,

for reconciliation

had just clumsily swung home

that sword of liberation

shattering the old, blue dome

of herself



Shattering,

the family, national

Judeo-Christian

value system canopy

of herself



In Fragments,

lost, the overarching view

showered down on the masses

all cut to confusion by

a trillion looking-glasses

of themselves



Anarchy,

and everywhere the cry:

“Change, change anything at all!”

So she held up that sword

and clumsily swung at the walls

of herself



Yet, God smiles

gently gathering us in

from four winds.



The Scoffer

thinks aloud

always learning, knowing, seeing

a clever shade of chaos,

a victim child

picking through the burning ruins

of human endeavor

proud





Wisdom



sees through everything

and once upon a time

She delighted

in the thought of you

before ever a thing came to be:

before God allowed

the scraping sound of birthing worlds,

before the great swirling whirls of possibility

burst forth like a storm tossed sea,

before the proud waves were held back

or the fountains of the deep restrained,

before wild confusion receded and stability appeared like dry land,

before He saw that it was good and

the Nothing-horrors cast that first envious look,

before the page, before the Book…



Wisdom breathed

moving playfully over the face of the deep

knowing the end from the beginning

She saw the whole, wondrous sea

(like a vast pool of knowledge and possibility)

churn out in violent waves

birthing you and me.



Yes, before this limited place

played out all its natural limits

and the broad sea became a little lake of eternal fire

Ever receding, ever fleeing

the Face of God…

She delighted in the thought of you

and laid down a humble yet courageous plan of rescue

A wise but dangerous path

Jesus—the Way



for only He could transcend those waters!

only He who longs for her,

the Eternal, Creative Song of the Father.

only He, that terrible Name,

Who knows whence She came

and where She is going



Popcorn thoughts: Remember, never before in the history of the world has this level of stress, temptation and evil mixed with delight…been thrust upon such ill prepared children. You are to be encouraged. It is unique to our day and, thus, makes for souls of rare beauty or rare horror.

But, don’t worry. With God’s help, you got this!







Salt

Too often

truth is out of favor

softened

to a fault



Yet, I hold fast

to Christ-the Contrast

Who only yields

as flavor

is revealed

by

salt







The arrogance of man

What man of science

could be reduced to blindness by his own lab,

standing with one foot upon the land,

the other in the sea, to mock his fate

to mock Divinity?

No, I don’t sin

to explain to him the ocean depths I’ve never seen

The sin I bring,

is to wholly trust his little, broken cup

as if that were enough

to prove anything





Last Supper

stretched your soul by carrying us

heart enlarged by suffering

and when our home ripped apart

by wind, rain and pressure

you built from your own bone and flesh

something better





Novice

A monastery is one place

where you can vicariously

feel the weight of old age

at twenty-three

and never fail

to knowingly smile

holding the world

by the tail

for awhile.



Doors of Addiction



When DeLorean was arrested

I spent the weekend at the home

of a drug dealer: snorting coke, watching the news

and waiting for the door to be kicked in.

On Sunday, something kept knocking against my hollow soul

the way rocks clang off an empty, metal barrel.

Echoing, I drank more beer.

Later, kneeling before a shifting toilet,

I asked Almighty God to let me live just that day.

My face burned and the veins of my neck ached from the strain

Covered with sweat, I was afraid

but could soon forget that God had listened.



Sometimes then, I would see myself from across the room

and wonder if anyone else

thought I looked like a talking dead body

waiting for God to kick the door in.







The fall of Man



Theo Perkins walked the long, twisting line of people with a sweet and gentle confidence. His fine suit and radiant smile seemed completely out of place amidst the broken windows, ravaged streets and gangland graffiti scrawled angrily across the brick of the dilapidated buildings. The crowd gawked at him as he appeared to search their ranks for children mostly--that special little boy and his mom, or some impoverished man with his daughter or a lone widow. He called them forward to follow him back to the theater entrance amid howling jeers and cursing.

“Hey (explicative) you can’t do that! We’re gonna burn your (explicative) theater to the ground!”

With a delightful smile, he held the door open for his new guests. The theater was now full. But just before the show, Perkins stood before the hall and raised his hand for silence.

“It gives me great pleasure to offer this community a free movie night.” The theater broke forth into steady applause. Raising his hand again, Perkins continued. “The concessions tonight will be free of charge and….” He could not continue as the people were now on their feet cheering—some eyeing the aisles for an opening. “And all I ask is that you use the facilities with care. Your seats have adjustments on the left. The bathrooms are to the back and, please listen, this is important.”

A hushed silence spread across the audience. “Whatever you do, leave THAT door closed!” he said, pointing to one of the exits that certainly would open to the rough streets outside. A curious murmur went through the seats. Mr. Perkins listened a moment to the muttering crowd, then smiled tenderly as he lifted up his voice--“Enjoy the show.”





A rose for keeping





It was just like any other holy card. Some artist’s pious image of Saint Therese (“the little flower”), holding an arm full of roses, wrapped in Carmelite gear, her head tilted slightly toward the sky and wearing that standard, half-painful expression of both joy and suffering. The back of the card was also pretty basic: asking for her “insider” help with my current dilemma. What made this one different was the short, printed request at the end. It went something like: Therese send me a rose as a sign of your answer to my prayer.

I remember my first season of conversion well. In my early twenties, faith almost pulsed through my veins. There was a childish sense of unearned victory and the clear feeling that I could accomplish anything. But, at the reading of this last line on that holy card, I simply paused and said “Therese, don’t send me a rose…but give it to someone who really needs it. Amen.”

The very next day I went to the Cathedral in downtown San Diego. There was a mass each day around lunch time. It drew a strange mix of people. There were the local elderly who scattered toward the front of the cavernous church, sprinkled with men and women in business suits, then, there were a few like me who travelled by car and there were homeless looking people who wandered in off the street—some very prayerful and others less so.

The mass was presided over by a stout, little, muscular priest with a booming voice and a bombastic attitude. He was a warm-hearted man, brilliant at times, who seemed to publicly battle with cynicism. Almost everything out of his mouth had a sadly bemused edge to it. His sermons tended to point with hope through a syrup of annoyance. Even so, it was hard not to like him. And that particular day I was very proud of how he comported himself because his mass was violently interrupted 4 separate times by a homeless woman. Yet, he calmly pressed on. Looking back, I think I was more shocked at his restraint then the wild antics of the woman.

A very young, scraggly woman quietly entered the Cathedral just before the first reading. She walked in a side door and sat at the edge of the scattered crowd. Her head was bowed and I noticed she had a disheveled look with tangled brown hair. As everyone sat for the reading, she got up and began loudly collecting and stacking all the hymnals. She would walk the pews talking and sometimes shouting with her arms full of books. Over the course of the Readings and half the Cannon, she rushed about like a mad woman on a mission—stacking a hundred hymnals by the side entrance pews. What she mumbled and spewed out was difficult to catch…but I clearly heard one thing.

It was just before she got up to leave. She had plopped down with a frustrated wave of her arms. Bowing her head, she appeared to sob quietly then she challenged the whole Cathedral with a booming: “Doesn’t anyone care that I’ve cleaned the church today?”

After mass I met with some of the regulars at the front steps. “Did you see that crazy lady in the church today?” one of my friends blurted out. “What a nut job!” someone muttered.

Sadden, I merely pointed out “Look, she’s going back inside now. I just wish I had some money to give her.” The “nut job” guy reached into his pocket and handed me a bill saying “Here’s 5 dollars. Tell her God gave it to her”.

She’d returned to a side pew, sitting with her head silently down, and as I approached she looked up with caution. Up close, I was shocked by her youth and beauty. “Thank you for cleaning the church” I said, handing her the money. Under a pile of frayed clothing and several days of dirt, a girl of about 20 something, with smudged cheeks and shining eyes, smiled up at me with an impossibly gentle love. She said nothing. So I went back to my group outside.

Minutes later, one of my friends grunted sarcastically “Here comes your girlfriend.” She was walking toward us with her arms full of red roses. Passing just a few feet from me, she smiled brightly. You could clearly see she carried about a dozen long stem roses attached to the bush with roots and dirt falling off. Her eyes locked with mine. Then she rounded the corner of the building and was gone. Of course, my friends had noticed the exchange and began giving me an earful. Just then, she came back around the corner and held the roses up for me to look at again. And, it hit me—the prayer card! I smiled back at her and gave her a little wave as she nodded her head and disappeared around the building.

The next day at mass, our stout little priest interrupted his own sermon with a side story of how we get “a lot of crazies here downtown.” He leaned forward and proclaimed: “I was in the rectory yesterday and looked outside to see a crazy lady pulling up my rose bush!”

Saint Therese, many of our innocent priests are under a heavy burden these days—slandered and smeared. Please pray for them to the Lord our God. And, please send a rose to someone who really needs it. Amen.



The following is an excerpt from my most popular book:

PRIMAL ETHICS: what our kids are taught in school and culture



CHAPTER I

THE WORLDVIEW CONFLICT



I can still remember her sad expression wrapped in shiny, blond hair. My sister had just come back from her big date. She was obviously disappointed. Shaking her head, she muttered something about how it was too bad because the guy was really handsome but he didn’t have a clue. I’ll never forget how she summarized it: “Some people are looking in the wrong place for the answers…but this guy doesn’t even know what the questions are.”

What did she mean by that? Some of the timeless questions, that nearly everyone will confront, are: Who am I? Is there a God? Is there an afterlife? What is the purpose of life? How you respond to the big questions of life will shape your outlook—your worldview. Then, when a man or woman lives by a particular worldview, we say that is their “values”.

Western civilization had a set of values. Originally, our society was built up with a huge majority of its people believing in a Biblical worldview or, you might say, Judeo-Christian values. In the past, so many people held such values that our society became overarched with that spiritual worldview. For example, it’s hard to travel 10 miles in my home state without seeing some reference to a saint like San Francisco or an angel (Los Angeles) or a sacrament (Sacramento) or see a church...etc. Our entire public life was once soaked in religion.

However, today, the overarching worldview of Western society has gone through an enormous change. There are empty churches scattered throughout Europe. There are declining religions throughout America. Our collective worldview has adjusted to our individual, changing opinions of the big questions in life. We are no longer a united people who would have our common faith shape our public lives. A growing number of us doubt the existence of God or, at least, hold that such beliefs should in no way interfere with public life. Thus, we are a people in a sad conflict. Like my sister and her date, there is a longing for unity but a serious separation over worldview.

So, the first thing to understand about America is that we are a painfully divided people. Yet, this split did not result when everyone woke up one day and decided there was no god. [A recent Pew Research study shows over 70% of Americans are Christian.] Our society did not completely change its answer to the most important question in life—is there a God? Rather, we devalued the question.

One cause of our division actually began long ago, after the bloody religious wars of Europe in 1648, when Western intellectuals began to formulate an important, new question: How do we fashion a peaceful society from those who believe in God or gods or no god? The question seemed legitimate. However, the question had some bold assumptions.

It assumed the authority to override eternal faith for the public welfare. It presumed that physical security is the highest, human good. But, most importantly, this developing new, worldview question (How do we fashion a peaceful society from those who believe in God, gods or no god?) already seemed to have answered a far bigger question (Is there a God?) with the answer: “That isn’t a priority”.

As this new question (and answer) was restated and redefined in many ways by many great thinkers throughout history, it began to gradually displace most of the other worldview questions in social importance. By the 18th century we were designing governments that would operate as impartial and “god-free” as possible. Now, by 2020, we have gotten to a point where the fervent, public expression of religion is deemed offensive to many and downright unsafe to more than a few.

Today, with cell phones and access to all kinds of computer and media systems, it is much easier to simply ignore the big issues of life altogether— to give up trying to find the clarity of an overview. Therefore, many people surrender the peace and joy of seeing how the truths of each day fit into a larger picture. Some simply “feel” their way through life like blind men in the dark. Cut and scraped by life, empty and anxious at times, they might drug themselves with petty entertainments and hollow pursuits.

However, you are not like them. You want to understand this vast, worldview conflict taking place all around— how larger forces are battling it out for the fate of humanity. You want to know what drives these vast movements and how you and your family are impacted. Good for you and God bless you! Let’s try and make it simple.



CHAPTER II

What are the basic worldviews?



“The heavens are telling of the glory of God.” Psalm 19:1



The Earth moves through space as part of a Grand Story. Some have poetically called this unfolding story the “Song of Creation”. They believe in a Creator. They believe God has a purpose. Thus, they approach each day within a Big Narrative of meaning and purpose. For example, such people may well reason that there is an order to Creation—that human life is more valuable than birds—that life seems to stack up vertically from the ground up. It rises from mineral to plant life to animals to humans and, ultimately, God is at the top. They see our physical world ascending into the spiritual. Many recognize that humans are uniquely composed of body and soul. And, the soul--the individual human heart—is at the white-hot intersection of freedom where the physical and spiritual universes collide. Such people may well recognize the moral demands of all this, but their lives have a treasured place within the Grand Story--each moment filled with eternal meaning.

However, a growing number disagree. They say there is no overarching meaning to life—no “meta-narrative”. There is no created order because there is no Creator. Mankind is not the purpose of the universe because there is no God with a purpose. There really is no context. The human race is merely another species that came along the evolutionary process. In the vast expanse of time and space, people are actually quite insignificant. As a result, there are no eternal responsibilities. There are no fixed truths--no moral absolutes. We are not confined by transcendent, moral guidelines like “10 Commandments”. Life is what we make it. We should be utterly free to write our own story.

These are the main 2 outlooks in conflict. One believes in God, great meaning, responsibility and a high purpose for mankind within a created order: it is something of a Vertical worldview. The other worldview is quite Flat as everything is reduced to the physical.

For example, in February of 2003 the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) began to display a series of gruesome, 60-foot billboard signs that compared the Nazi slaughterhouses of 6 million Jews to our modern food processing factories. There was an understandable, public outcry. Comparing starving prisoners to a plate of fried chicken seemed completely wrong. But, PETA was merely expressing their core belief that the world is Flat. To them, there is no “created order”. Everything evolved randomly. Molecules formed various shapes. Therefore, one shape is not superior to any other shape. To PETA there is a kind of molecular equality, with no overarching, moral guidelines that would give a baby girl any more value than a baby seal.

Perhaps, animals are superior to humans because they are often the innocent victims of human manipulation. We eat them. Therefore, PETA members have a wellspring of anger that eludes many of their fellow citizens. They have developed a kind of Flat ethics while the greater majority of us still see Vertically. But, what exactly is a Vertical worldview?

Imagine you’re walking down the avenue passed shops and restaurants. In one of the widows you see a woman sitting down to a plate of fish and lemon. A Vertical worldview would first recognize a distinction between the woman and the albacore. According to a created order, human life is far superior to a fish. Therefore, we could make a value judgment that fishing is a moral activity. The Vertical worldview is brimming with such moral distinctions and subsequent value judgments. Thus, we can recognize universal truths and moral absolutes based, first and foremost, on a created order and these imposing a sense of common decency on human action.

In his book “Man’s Search for Meaning”, a Nazi death-camp survivor Viktor E. Frankl concluded that there are only two races of people: the Decent and the Indecent. This sounds true to me because I see and think in vertical terms. I know there is a God and, therefore, a created order of natural laws and rights. Whether God used 13.7 billion years of adaptation and evolution or used a more direct process, I still recognize the classic outlook of an ascending order: from lifeless chemicals to plant life to animals and from people to God the Creator. I see transcendence to the human spirit that exceeds our physical bodies. Thus, as I look across humanity, I don’t see strangers. I see my brothers and sisters under God. These are people, with various shades of skin, each with eternal souls and a God-given dignity and beauty unique to themselves. And, I’m reminded of Martin Luther King’s observation that people should not be “judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character”.

Frankel and Reverend King obviously had a vertical way of seeing life—that people have more intrinsic worth than their flesh and bone. That is because the Vertical worldview recognizes a dignity that transcends the physical world. And, here is an important point. The Flat worldview either must ignore this great dignity or try to spread it equally to all of Nature. Therefore, really flat people--like PETA--may extend equal dignity to all things: to birch trees and Girl Scouts and polar bears alike. Far enough down that road, it leads to the idea that everything is supremely dignified—that is, everything is part of god (pantheism). Or, they might decide that “dignity” does not exist at all—that everything is completely meaningless (nihilism). Both of these contradictory ideals can be generated from a Flat worldview.

The Loving Middle

Now, in modern America, it is widely argued that there are actually 3 worldviews in play: the physically Flat, the spiritually Vertical and a tolerant, “loving middle” position. Yes, many people today would like to consider themselves as open-minded centrists. These are well-intentioned, spiritual people—mostly Christians--who seek a workable compromise with the Flat worldview. Tolerance and compassion are some of the central drivers of their worldview. These would actualize the love of God in the world by uplifting the lowly and understanding those with whom they differ and, in turn, build bridges of peace and unity—a noble goal indeed.

There is only one problem. The Loving Middle people don’t seem to understand the first thing about those with whom they differ. They don’t grasp that the Flat worldview is a closed system of thought, that Flat people cannot really factor in the “delusions” of theists and, most importantly, that the Flat world order ultimately leads to dysfunction, corruption and inhuman coercion. Yet, because of their naïve misunderstanding, the Loving Middle people voluntarily quarantine the sweeping narrative of Created order and meaning—of their own Vertical worldview--to the realm of insignificant, private opinion. But, this does not achieve some noble or lasting public peace. Rather, it only serves to more thoroughly flatten society.

This book will show how and why these “loving” and “empathetic” people seem to steer a course for peace, equality and social bliss…but end up with the exact opposite result.



CHAPTER III

THE FLAT FORMULA

Here’s a bit of a shocker from Benjamin Wiker’s powerful book, “Moral Darwinism: How we became Hedonists”, Charles Darwin did not discover the idea of evolution. It had been kicking around for nearly 2200 years. It seems a Greek teacher named Epicurus, long ago imagined our world was made of tiny, undividable parts. (The word “atom” is Greek for “undividable”.) This was a pretty amazing speculation since he did not have access to any kind of microscope—which was invented in 1590. One of his students, a young man named Lucretius who despised the gods of ancient Greece, reasoned that atoms randomly formed all that we see. Therefore, he imagined that atoms formed random shapes, completely undirected by the gods. Some shapes were healthy. Others were “monsters” which did not survive because they could not defend themselves. He reasoned that only the fittest could survive and develop (evolve). Darwin came along much later and fleshed out the details of such adaptation along with a new twist—the theory of species changing into entirely different species. As a matter of fact, before 200 BC, Epicurus and Lucretius provided nearly the entire scientific basis of the Flat worldview of our modern era.

Epicurus was annoyed at the way people allowed the many gods of ancient Greece to disturb them. The populace always seemed agitated in their quest to please Zeus or Apollo or some other deity. He thought untroubled pleasure should be the goal of everyone. Thus, he developed a kind of “formula” or way of seeing and dealing with life that was primarily based on eliminating this Vertical worldview. The formula, therefore, was first and foremost designed to displace spirituality from the public lives of men by reducing their focus to the physical: by using speculations in natural science.

To Epicurus and Lucretius, there should be no ignorant reference to gods—only the physical world. Their brilliant, but false, evaluation of the atom was that it was eternal—undividable and incorruptible. Yet, we know now that natural radiation comes from atomic decay, which is so common that even our bodies are somewhat radioactive. Likewise, their false evaluation of the universe was that it too was eternal—without a beginning. However, we have only recently (within the last hundred years) discovered that the universe started with a kind of “Big Bang”.

No, our universe is not an unlimited lottery of chance events. Everything is a mere 13-14 billion years old--hardly enough time to go from a burning pool of hydrogen to a single, complex protein. But, since these early scientists—Epicurus and Lucretius—had these false evaluations, of an eternal and self-sustaining universe, they gladly closed God out of their system of inquiry. Thus, their Flat worldview formula would speculate with physical research but their true aim was for undisturbed pleasure.

Epicurus was so interested in being “undisturbed” he became something of an ascetic. He would forgo pleasures, like eating fine foods, so as to not want them in the future. His younger students, however, became openly hedonistic and used a Flat worldview as justification of their own wild behavior. As the early Christian church spread out, it strongly confronted this Greek philosophy—these crude scientific theories rooted in atheistic/hedonism. [Acts 17:18 records how Paul was mocked by the Epicureans of Athens.]

In “Moral Darwinism”, Professor Wiker goes on to demonstrate how this [Flat] worldview, that our modern dictionaries loosely refer to as “Epicureanism”, went underground for over a thousand years with the powerful rise of Christianity, only to reemerge (by 1417) with the fresh republication of the writings of Lucretius and Epicurus. The closed system of Epicurean science, with its core antipathy to God and the Vertical worldview, would become the conduit for a building skepticism over Church corruption, political/religious wars, the Enlightenment philosophers, Darwin and many others. The old idea that God was a disturbing invention of the ignorant, an enemy of human comfort, and that science was the only path to true human peace took root again.

Thus, a great irony began to unfold over the following centuries. Christianity, which had preserved a large repository of history and knowledge within its monastic libraries after the collapse of the Roman Empire, began to be assaulted by this ancient formula. Christianity, which had developed early models of public education and great schools of higher learning, found itself opposed from within its own academic walls. Christianity, which produced so many great thinkers like Boyle, Priestley, Brahe, Leibniz, Copernicus, Paschal, Kepler, Faraday, Ohm, Ampere, Harvey, Descartes, Lavoiser, Kelvin, Lyell, Herschell, Cuvier, Gassendi, Steno, Lemaitre, Planck, Maxwell, Newton, Pastuer and countless others, [who diligently advanced the natural sciences with the premise of uncovering the beauty and rational order of God’s creative design] began to be “rationally” shut out by the old Epicurean view of a closed system of natural science.

Most of the early assaults to the Vertical worldview took place with small, incremental steps over hundreds of years. For example, some great thinker like Hobbs or Spinoza would come along, casting doubt on the veracity of Scripture or contend that God and Nature are of the same “substance”. Then another, like Hume, would come along and introduce even more skepticism.

Sometimes, as when Copernicus discovered that the Earth is not the center of the universe, a Christian scientist would seem to cast doubt on the Vertical worldview. [After all, the Bible seemed to imply that the Earth is the center of Creation.] And the Church leaders, coming under a widening assault, sometimes reacted very poorly. Trying to simultaneously refute fresh errors in theology and philosophy, the Church infamously lashed out at real truth and science. Yet, banning books, imprisoning Galileo or burning “heretics” at the stake only made the arguments of Epicurus more attractive.

So, whatever became of this epic clash of ideas? The short answer is…The Epicurean formula displaced God, in the West, as the central reference point of inquiry into scientific truth.

What does that mean? It simply means that society once held that all truths were interconnected with The Truth--God. (I think it was Augustine who once said, “All truth is God’s Truth”.) Indeed, Science is premised on the idea that God fashioned a rational universe, therefore, human reason could “discover” [uncover] the rational design hidden in Nature. Now, such references to God or an Intelligent Design are considered unscientific because the new formula has completely closed the system of inquiry.

This is huge. Why? It overtly dismissed the Vertical worldview as irrational while it inadvertently established a new, moral formula that centered on the physical—the Epicurean goal of undisturbed pleasure. Here are a few more modern examples of the formula in action:

Alfred Kinsey compiles a mountain of biased data on human sexuality by interviewing male prostitutes and prison populations. However, he dresses in a lab coat and calmly presents his evidence to the world as “normative”. Then, the public began to believe a whole tapestry of false claims…e.g.…that more than 10% of the population is homosexual and that most teenagers (in the 1940’s) were having sex—many with animals. Kinsey’s message: the old, Judeo-Christian (Vertical) worldview on human sexuality is ignorant and unnatural. Rather, so-called “perversions” are natural because they are far more common than people suspect. Therefore, Kinsey’s shocking “findings” became the primary reason that Sex Education was considered so necessary for public school children.

Here is another example. Margaret Mead, unable to really speak the language, goes to Samoa and writes a kind of research/romance novel filled with “facts” that the natives, later, strongly refute. She claims the island people, who live in a pre-industrial environment, are quite free with their sexual relationships. They have easy and open sex under palm trees with many different partners. Their sense of family is carefree and quickly dissolved. Mead’s message: the Vertical worldview restrictions on sex and divorce are actually unnatural. If we could return to our pre-civilized humanity, we could find something of a paradise of undisturbed pleasure with no social restraints.

Here is a familiar example. The US government was cutting off Roger Revel’s research money. He was studying the effects of nuclear testing at sea. He had research ships and an entire Institute right here in my backyard (La Jolla, California). However, the war (WWII) was winding down. Living just outside of the Los Angeles smog zone, Revel quickly comes up with another research idea. It has to do with the effects of pollution and “greenhouse gases” on our climate and ocean ice. Perhaps the planet will overheat? Later, one of Revel’s worst students, Al Gore, runs with the speculation as FACT. Soon, many more scientists (most with no credentials in the field) had signed on to the hysterical idea that man-made carbon emissions were creating a global catastrophe. Consequently, world governments reward these scientists with huge financial grants to study the problem and find solutions. As huge amounts of research money pours in, the misinformation multiplies with slick documentaries and corrupt research. Why? Scientists who claimed there was indeed a worldwide climate disaster were rewarded with larger and larger research grants.

Gore’s message: the Vertical worldview, that elevates human freedom through open markets and personal, moral responsibility, is obviously unworkable and dangerous. A Flatter worldview, where human activity is forced to be more level with the natural world, is a far safer course for planetary survival. [Oh, and by the way, please pay me to manage the new system via “carbon credits”.]

Today, modern Western civilization is beginning to wake up to the fact that we are being played for chumps. There is a lot of false data and spin out there. New terms like “junk science” have entered our daily lexicon. Thus, we are becoming wary of agendas. The problem is that the closed, Epicurean worldview has, over time, spread from the natural sciences to the rest of academia, then to politics and the entire public square. Therefore, society is losing the Vertical tools to make the moral distinctions that would safeguard us from human manipulation. As B. F. Skinner once wrote, “A closed system of naturalistic cause and effect simply gives no basis for things like moral freedom or human dignity.”





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