Archive for April, 2019

Another great Kids Day

27 April 2019

This was my 2nd year attending Rancho Cordova’s Kids Day with fellow church members. We were there mainly for the parents, but we gave the kids lots of things to do, too. It’s never been easy to raise children, and our various programs can assist parents to make better choices and be more confident in an activity that – last I checked – isn’t even taught in schools.

Kids Day, on the other hand, has been happening for the past 30 years.

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I don’t know if it’s always been in this venue (Hagan Park), but it’s a lovely setting, especially at this time of year.

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The event starts late morning (to give us all time to set up) and lasts into mid-afternoon (to avoid the hottest part of the day). A lot of parents and children show up.

Rancho Cordova is one of Sacramento’s older suburban communities. Its current inhabitants are from all over the world, and have arrived here for numerous different reasons. We saw many people obviously from Pakistan or India. The Orient is also well-represented. And you can sometimes tell the Russian families, if they speak a little of their own language or have an accent. The oldest “new” suburbanites in the area are probably African-Americans who have been able to join the “middle class.”

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While members of our group took pictures, the kids enjoyed the activities we dreamed up for them.

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The “Fish Cup Game” at the CCHR booth is always a big hit.

And at the Drug Free World booth we had coloring for the younger children. This girl I took pains to photograph because at this young age she was already taking a professional attitude in her work. She drew two perfect little cartoon characters.

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Older children are invited to sign our Drug Free Pledge, and many did.

Sunburn not withstanding, it was a fine day for one and all.

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Changes in the wind

14 April 2019

A flying animal has been one of the classic metaphors used by artists to convey the idea of a spirit leaving a body at death, and so I chose the image of a butterfly – just captured yesterday – to introduce this article.

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Two weeks ago, at the end of March, a young man who was born and raised in the South Central neighborhoods of Los Angeles was prevented from doing something he wanted to do.

He had planned to meet with police and other local officials the next day to discuss the problem of gang violence in his neighborhood, and what could be done about it. Nipsey had just started to become known in the broader community as a rap artist with a little different angle to his lyrics. But in his own community he was already widely known as someone who wanted to strengthen himself and everyone he met with knowledge, with love, with a sense of responsibility, and with a dream that things could get better.

In the middle part of the last century, various businesses had established themselves in the Los Angeles area and were providing good jobs. This attracted a large number of people into the neighborhoods now known as South Central. Later, those businesses fled, leaving so many families living there to their own devices. And those big corporate plants started to be replaced by unhealthy enterprises like illegal drug distributors. People there could work for the new “employers” if they were willing to take the chance of being caught by the police or being killed by someone working for a rival group.

“Gangs” were an old tradition in neighborhoods like this. Because the darker-skinned people of these communities had more to worry about than just finding jobs so their children could eat. These communities were being targeted by some social force that has always maintained a secretive identity, yet has always seemed to be present. While some activists try to simplify this problem down to “whitey,” most knew that was far from the full truth. But to most, the exact cause didn’t matter. To be dark-skinned in a white man’s world meant you needed an extra layer of spiritual and physical protection. And the gangs were one way to obtain that protection.

That the gangs came to war with each other was just an indication of how devious the evil ones of this world could be. Those wars, combined with constant harassment from the police, created more bloodshed and suffering in this community than any community anywhere could easily tolerate. And so, there were constant attempts by men and women of higher purpose to stop the violence in the neighborhoods, and seek some sort of change that would protect them better than any police, any gangs, or any large outside companies, had ever done. Yet, there was constant discouragement.

A few people in this community, however, had discovered something new. Though it came from a white man, its power was enough to turn heads. And a few learned some of this technology, and benefited from it. And so Minister Tony Muhammad, an executive with the Nation of Islam who had been given the responsibility of bringing a better life to the people of South Central, was one day introduced to Mr. Hubbard’s technologies. He began to use The Way To Happiness in the community, and it seemed to be of genuine help. And step by step, with the help of many others, Minister Tony put in place a program to end gang violence in South Central, and rebuild the community into something new and very alive.

Minister Tony was always willing to respond when violence struck. And so one day, while attempting to bring calm after a shooting had occurred, he got badly hit by a police officer, and then arrested. A young man named Ermias witnessed this, and was among those demanding Minister Tony’s immediate release. And so this young man, a genius and a dreamer, caught the spark of hope for his community that so many others had, in their turn, fought for.

He started out selling T-shirts with his brother. But he was also a self-taught mix artist and rapper. And in his songs and in his work, he tried to convey his vision on a level that his friends in the neighborhoods could understand. By 2018, and with only one major album to his credit, this young man – now in his 30’s – was nevertheless ready to take it to the next level and work with Minister Tony to elevate his community and his people. On the last day of March of this year, someone who he knew shot him dead in front of his clothing store, located near the corner of Crenshaw and Slauson.

How do I know about all this? Minister Tony came to my church last night and told us about it. And we promised our support for his work in L.A.

In the days, weeks, months and years ahead, you may hear various versions of the life and death of Nipsey Hussle, and how he helped change South Central and then the whole planet. Or, maybe you won’t. But I’m telling you right here and now, that story is real and is really important. Stay tuned.

 

What does Spirit have to do with it?

7 April 2019

With this post, I introduce a new category on this blog: Spirit.

Most people who I meet outside of my church have little or no concept of spirit beyond something like “team spirit” and similar senses. Or they may think of it as a substitute term for the soul of religious or psychological texts.

Indeed, any dictionary reflects these various meanings. Mine gives as the second definition, “the thinking, motivating, feeling part of man, often as distinguished from the body.” And the third definition, “life, will, consciousness, thought, etc., regarded as separate from matter.” It is taken from a Latin word meaning “breath.” Thus, when a body stops breathing, you may say that its spirit has left it.

Reading this, one may be tempted to ask, “Well, fine. But what difference does it make?”

In the posts I assign to this category, I will invite the reader to consider the possibility that it does, indeed, make a big difference!

In my youth I, likewise, did not see the point. Yet I, in my youth, made a simple yet perhaps quite profound observation: That a huge majority of the population of earth follow some religion. If religious concepts – including the concept of spirit – have no relevance today, why do most people still think they do?

Religious experience

One reason many people still “believe” is that many people still have “religious” experiences. These are experiences which – for lack of a better definition – are not explained by science or similar rational thinking processes. Thus, while a sudden thunderstorm may have seemed like some heavenly mandate in years long past, climatologists now understand most, if not all, weather phenomena.

While this category still encompasses a quite wide range of experiences, there are a few that are persistent, unmistakable, and if anything, better documented now than they were in the not-too-distant past. One is the experience of death (body death), obviously followed by a return of life in all documented cases. Another is the experience of being outside one’s body, whether or not clinical death occurred. Then there is the distant relative to these, past life recall.

We are not talking about anecdotal evidence here; these are carefully documented cases studied by medical doctors and similar clinical researchers. The point is, “science” is aware that these phenomena, in particular, are real. It is only that scientists, for the most part, reject a spiritual explanation for them. Religious people, on the other hand, have much less back-off in this regard, though they may display some amazing biases of their own.

The question of consciousness

While “consciousness” can be variously described, it is – most obviously – the thing or quality that leaves a body when it dies. Furthermore, in man it is the part of us that is capable of remembering and interpreting experiences, as well as inventing experiences that never happened, dreaming, and hoping for, wishing for, or working for future experiences that haven’t happened yet.

Consciousness has, as have many subjects of this kind, been approached from two main angles. The philosophic approach seeks to devise high-level explanations that will encompass – or at least shed light on – the various unexplained phenomena. And the scientific approach (typified by psychology) seeks to understand these phenomena at a more practical level, like: What can you do if someone has an experience that continues to bother them? It should be noted that “psychology” is based on the Greek psyche, from whence Latin gave us the word spirit.

The point most often made by people who think the subject of consciousness is important is that we won’t solve some of the most fundamental problems of human existence, like insanity, crime and war, until we get consciousness right. And I agree with them about that.

Having a working understanding of life

If we can get the question of consciousness answered correctly – at least for the psychologists, if not for the philosophers – it would open the door to a lot of handlings on this planet that currently seem basically impossible.

Look at all the effort that has been put into ending war, crime and insanity on this planet. Yet they all still exist, and in more threatening forms, it seems, than ever before.

Beyond that, the mystery of the origins of biological life, and of Mankind in particular, continues to elude us. And we have yet quite to figure out exactly what is holding this universe together; a problem in theoretical physics that remains unsolved.

If we had such an understanding firmly in place, how hard would it be to mend a broken marriage, a broken heart, or perhaps even a broken planet?

These articles are not being written to tell you what I think. They are being written to invite you to LOOK. The most workable set of answers – if not the only relatively complete set – that I know of has already been arrived at. Your introduction to these answers is found here: scientology.tv

I urge you to take a look!

ARC in the universe

Artwork created by CSI, 2018.