Category Archives: OP-ED

The road to hell is paved with appeasing evil

If you stayed awake though your high school or college history of western (or world) civilization courses, you may recall lessons concerning the many instances in which ambitious, sometimes wantonly evil leaders probed for weakness in those they opposed and acted decisively when they found it. In light of these dark chapters in the human experiment, what do you think of our administration’s penchant for striking deals with regimes and groups whose expressed political and territorial ambitions are nothing short of one day obliterating those they consider their nemeses?

I am a political liberal, a democratic socialist since 1985, and am perplexed and distressed to see many of this country’s leaders working frantically to appease evil at almost every turn. No, I am no fan of war but I’d be pretty stupid not to realize that evil men tend to sit tight or retreat when confronted by armed opponents who will not back down. Don’t think this is so?  Let’s jump in the Wayback Machine for a moment and set the dial to early 1936:

Nazi Germany’s leader (Fuehrer) Adolf Hitler ordered his army to remilitarize the Rhineland but later remarked that “The forty-eight hours after the march into the Rhineland were the most nerve-racking in my life. If the French had then marched into the Rhineland we would have had to withdraw with our tails between our legs, for the military resources at our disposal would have been wholly inadequate for even a moderate resistance”.  No one stood up to Hitler. Afterwards he made territorial demands on one country after another, always threatening war but confident that his enemies would do little or nothing to stop him beyond saber-rattling talk while frantically appeasing him in order to avoid war.

BDMMy reservations about “governing by appeasement” are shared by more than a few folks who personally experienced the bitter fruits of this. One is my great aunt-by-marriage, now 88, who grew up in Nazi Germany and was a member of the Bund Deutscher Mädel (The League of German Girls) (She married my maternal great uncle who served as an MP in WWII and was stationed in Germany from 1945 into the early 1950s). She experienced firsthand the exhilaration Germans felt as Hitler’s successive territorial demands were met with “diplomacy (appeasement) meant to preserve peace and prevent a second world war”, and then lived through the horrific war this actually helped facilitate. She is naturally not especially happy with the acts of appeasement many major western powers are using to contain modern day evil regimes and prevent new wars.

She is in very good company. American WWII veteran Bill Langfan, who fought Hitler’s forces in Europe and helped liberate the Buchenwald concentration camp, sounded off about the pitfalls of appeasing evil rulers in an interview aired on CBN on December 23 2014:  WWII Veteran Warns About Dangers of Appeasement 

Watch the Bill Langfan interview (link above), read the Wikipedia entry on appeasement at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Appeasement, and then speak out and vote accordingly.

Additional/supplemental reading penned by “yours truly”

Dark times and the allure of evil

How do you kill 12 million people? Evil then and now: Recognizing & containing it

CBN video “God & Hitler”: http://www.cbn.com/700club/features/churchhistory/godandhitler/index.aspx

Why does God allow evil (Theodicy)? See Are you an atheist, religionist, deist, fideist or ???

What will you let life do to you in 2015?

whiteboard - free MorguefileWhen you were a young lad or lassie how many times were you asked, “What will you do in life when you grow up?”

I have a different spin on this which is not peculiar youth or young people: What will you let life do to you?

“What do I mean?”, you ask. It’s really quite simple: Every person, influence, work of art and music, hobby, passion, group, tribe and such is writing paragraphs and chapters in the unique storybook which is your life. Your very being may even form a dynamic circuit with select others.

Picture your life as a huge whiteboard. Now walk along and read the entries on it — “the good, bad and ugly”, if you will. As you look around you see the various people in your life writing on your “lifeboard”. What kind of story has emerged? Are you happy with it? If not, how many “bad content writers” can and should be banned from writing on your lifeboard in 2015?

Choctaw Doc

 

The loss of civic virtue and the fall of the Roman Empire (and perhaps America as well)

ROMAN HELMET - FREE MSWho among you has not read an editorial, op-ed piece or commentary that points out alarming parallels between America and the Roman Empire in decline? Do you believe America’s sun is setting? And if so, why? Is it the shift from democratic republic to oligarchy and/or plutocracy? Loss of our moral bearings? Rampant fear and paranoia? Racism? Xenophobia? Religious intolerance? Other evils? I’m sure you have your own pet theory. Is loss of civic virtue on your list? If not, why not? Need convincing that this belongs there? Then drop down, click the mp3 link under Rabbi David Wolpe’s name, and listen to his powerful sermon.

January
Mishpatim : Why Rome Fell and We Might, Too
keywords: Anton Chekhov, Benjamin Guggenheim, Christianity, civic virtue, Constantinople, Edward Gibbon, Egypt, Herman Cohen, John Jacob Astor, John Lukatz, lead, Mishpatim, physician Roman Empire, Rome Titanic, Tucson
January 29, 2011
Rabbi David Wolpe
mp3 filemp3
drash Rabbi Nicole Guzik
mp3 filemp3

What to do with militant extremists in our midst? It’s a question Americans have faced before

cropped-choices-ms-photo.jpgA lot of people are wrestling with how this country should deal with militant Muslims in our midst. I think most of us have no issue with American Muslims who do not advocate for anything at odds with our US civic virtues and democratic traditions and practices. Concerns naturally arise with US-based Muslims who post, preach and otherwise advocate for the things we hear being said by members of the Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL) and other radical Muslim groups. Many advocate deporting anyone who engages in this sort of thing. Of course, we have homegrown militants in our midst, among them neo-Nazis and Klansmen who preach things that inspire hatred and sometimes violence on the part of their members and sympathizers. One could argue are they are citizens and enjoy certain legal and constitutional protections which renders deportation or “quarantine” a nonissue, but then some extremist Muslims in the US also are citizens (Some born here). Deporting a US citizen to the country their ancestors came from might be emotionally satisfying to some folks but it would open a door that could quickly be abused by the state.

Has America faced the issue of how to deal with antidemocratic, intolerant ideologues in modern times (20th century forward)? Sure thing. In the 1930s there were more than a few individuals and organizations that wanted to see Nazism replace democracy in the US. Some were immigrants (many of these, Germans), others naturalized citizens and others US born. More than a few spokesmen for and leaders of prominent pro-Nazi organs wound up running afoul of the law and in jail or prison. A few were deported and others interned in camps built to house enemy aliens and such after America went to war with Japan and then Germany.  The solution then was pretty much this: Outspoken Nazis were rebuffed by their fellow citizens, monitored by law enforcement especially the FBI,  and prosecuted when they did anything illegal and were caught. Yep, the people back then were doing pretty what we are doing now with extremists and antidemocratic elements in our midst (With the exception of establishing internment camps).

Should we do more? I guess your answer to that depends on how much freedom you are willing to sacrifice for your sense of  security. It’s not an easy equation to work out without risking opening the floodgates to terrorism on one hand — and turning American into a police state on the other.

Whatever your answer, I’d wager many of you reading this will find certain remarks made back in 1938 by Assistant District Attorney Lindsey Henry (on the heels of the conviction of a group of Nazis in Suffolk County,  NY State) appealing:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AYWlSmn2Ou4

The salient part is 45 seconds into this 1m:23s video. Quoting Mr. Henry, “If these persons prefer some other form of government let them get out of the United States and stay out.”

 

Déjà Vu: Muslim extremist evils should sound familiar

Lightning from Blue CloudFew reading this, I dare say, have any qualms about seeing religious extremists who believe they please the Almighty by dealing with nonbelievers, sinners, so-called apostates and “infidels” with intolerance and especially cruelty and butchery, contained and even eradicated (Mandated when an armed response is the lesser of 2 evils — kill or else have more innocents killed).

At the moment (October 2014) a coalition of nations including many predominately Muslin ones are involved in rolling back the Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL) whose atrocities and wanton evil are regularly showcased and discussed on TV and in newspapers, not to mention web, blog and social media outlets galore worldwide.

In the midst of all this most justifiable righteous indignation with extremist violence and monstrous wickedness, there is also a growing hostility towards Muslims in countries throughout the world in which peaceful, law-abiding ones are not only suspected of being sympathetic to Islamic extremists like IS/ISIS/ISIL but are thought to be fellow travelers, even members of planted “sleeper cells” who lurk in the shadows awaiting conditions to favor their popping out and engaging in terrorism.

And, even though Muslims including scholars have come out and denounced the extremist evil of IS including their cherry-picking of the Quran to support their beliefs and actions (Examples: Here & here), this is oftentimes ignored or eclipsed by our all-too-human in-group/out-group sentiments (wiring?) which in many instances has given rise to xenophobia and then paranoia. There is something both ironic and paradoxical in the fact that many who decry the intolerance and acts of cruelty championed by extremists began to treat anyone or anything that “smacks of the enemy” with intolerance and cruelty (ranging from subtle ostracism to physical violence).

It is also tempting to filter out contrary evidence within the Islamic world and conclude that IS/ISIS/ISIL actually reflects the heart and soul of Muslim beliefs and heartfelt convictions. It doesn’t help that stories and accounts come out of how many Muslims actually do believe that certain Islamic extremist groups, often dominated by clerics, are an antidote for deviating from a literal interpretation of the Quran or “creeping liberalism”. This sort of thing is naturally seized upon by those who argue that Muslims who bomb, shoot, crucify, bury alive, behead and otherwise dispatch “infidels” in bestial ways represent the real Islamic McCoy. Here is one of many posted articles on the Web that take this position (This one claims that the Oklahoma Muslim who beheaded an ex-coworker represents the “real Islam”): http://www.wnd.com/2014/09/oklahoma-beheader-represents-real-islam/

If this doesn’t should familiar, you’ve either forgotten your high school history lessons or slept through them. How so? At one time the Christian world, especially many of its leaders both religious and secular, sanctioned draconian measures against “infidels” which included torture, imprisonment, exile and cruel executions. What did these “defenders of the faith” base their actions on? They certainly didn’t need to make up scriptural justification for this sort of thing. The Bible provided them abundant material that when taken literally and narrowly applied, sometimes out-of-context and sometimes not, justified the cruelest imaginable treatment and horrific execution of gays, occultists, nonbelievers, heterodox believers (heretics), infidels (non-Christians) and more. Click to read a rundown of such verses.

Historic examples? Thankfully, a chap by the name of Mark Humphrys saved me having to dig out all the applicable historic incidents and practices and such, as he researched, organized and posted this to http://markhumphrys.com/christianity.killings.html (Readers are also encouraged to peruse what’s posted at http://www.heretication.info/_heretics.html).

Of course, most modern (Western) Christian believers and organizations including churches and denominations would never entertain taking verses such as Leviticus 20:10 as (ahem) gospel and acting on them: If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife, both the man and the woman must be put to death (Albeit some especially aggrieved wives or husbands might wish this was the law of the land)

But ask yourself: What stopped the waves of church-sanctioned persecution, torture and cruel execution of heretics and those declared apostates, sinners or such who would not repent or otherwise bend their knee to those who held their lives in-the-balance? History reveals no sudden turnabout. However, over time a number of shifts and changes occurred that gradually undermined and eroded intolerance and forced conformity to orthodoxy: Among these, the church lost secular power and influence while Biblical literalism and militant, extremist Christian policies and actions lost steam as more moderate views won the day (And these because to a great extent religious scholars and others critically examined archaic beliefs and practices and even the scriptures themselves in light of contrary or mitigating factual evidence and reasoning).

This is viewpoint is reflected in comments made by Southern Baptist Theological seminary faculty member Dr. Timothy Paul Jones to the Baptist Press which were incorporated in a July 2014 article titled “Why Christians killed and why Muslim violence continues” by David Roach:

“Christians used to kill with some frequency over matters of doctrine. There was the Spanish Inquisition, Calvin’s Geneva, England’s notorious Bloody Mary, the drowning of Anabaptists, the Crusades and more.”

Dr. Jones, the author of “Christian History Made Easy“, also stated that “it was the intermingling of church authority and civil authority that made it possible for persons who claimed to be Christians to have the state execute others who also professed Christ.”

But,…and this is a big but…..this shift was not without acrimonious debates, calls for a return to “that old time religion” (i.e., a church with secular power that punished heretics and others), fist fights and open warfare, and worse, in various quarters at various times.

Now ask yourself: Does all that’s happening in the Middle East — the theocratic Islamic governments who rely on oppression and cruelty and public executions to hold the pot lid down on dissent, the pitched battles (literal and figurative) between proponents of a Muslim religious worldview that is exclusivist literalist, and radically fundamentalist and those who champion the opposite, etc. — represent the kind of “Future Shock” cultural, social and religious clashes and upheavals that arose from and signaled the transition from a Europe that was ruled by clerics and which burned heretics to one of nations largely democratic and essentially tolerant? (But not without periodic lapses into darkness when conditions favored the eclipse of reason and tolerance by fear, hatred and bigotry). I tend to think so.

The question of whether such a complete transition will occur may not be one of if but when. But at what cost to the Muslim world and Israel, the EU, America, and other countries before the dust settles?

Beyond containing militant/radical Muslim extremists, there are other variables at play that could up the ante and the “dust” that gets kicked up before it settles to the ground. Assume for a moment that those who warn that Iran is dead set on building nuclear weapons — something underscored by alarming developments such as this — are right and they do. What happens if a major offensive is launched by one or more Arab countries against Israel and Iran joins this? If so, it is not inconceivable that Russia, which has longstanding ties to Iran (not to mention Assad’s Syria), might seize the opportunity to support such military adventurism. This would surely result in America rightfully jumping into the fray to help Israel repel this armed assault and intended invasion. Bingo, WWIII or, if not something this dire, surely a major regional conflagration that will come awfully close to unleashing it.

A major war in the Middle East, too, seems less a matter of if but when. Certainly a great many Jewish and Christian believers view this as inevitable based on prophecies in the books of Daniel and Ezekiel (Among others). Read my blog entry on this by clicking this link.

However, whether a great war hits the Middle East in the near future, later on or not at all, we can all expect a lot of craziness and bloodshed not only there but in Europe, the US, Canada, and elsewhere before the Muslim world breaks free of the forces of extremism, oppression and such.

Our challenge here in the US lies not just encouraging and waiting out the hoped for transition among Muslim countries, but also in preventing terrorist acts by Islamic extremists and their sympathizers in our midst, while at the same time avoiding letting their occasional successes drive us into the arms of authoritarian solutions…or worse.

Dr. Anthony G. Payne (Br. Anthony of the Resurrection)

 

Additional/supplemental reading penned by “yours truly”

Dark times and the allure of evil

How do you kill 12 million people? Evil then and now: Recognizing & containing it

 

Biblical prophecy is primarily about Israel & the Jewish people, not the US!

Judaism Starburst grunge backgroundhttp://summerclouds.weebly.com/summer-clouds-blog/prophecy-is-primarily-about-israel-the-jewish-people-not-America

A world gone mad and what lies ahead

A worldSTORMY WEATHER gone mad and what lies ahead

Of PQQ, Nutcracker Man & Tiger Nuts (PQQ as radioprotective with heart & nervous system benefits)

Pyrroloquinoline quinone - Wikpedia

Pyrroloquinoline quinone – Wikpedia

I have worked with a coenzyme called pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ) for quite a while now and think it is worth a “look see” by physicians and others for its preventative and therapeutic potential. Let’s dive into this now:

First, let’s “do the time warp, now”: During 1994-5 I worked in an Ag lab and large greenhouse complex outside Lincoln, Nebraska (Which was devoted to the testing of various nature-derived growth accelerants on culinary & medicinal mushrooms). One of the principle consulting researchers who rubbed elbows with me was Andy Anderson, PhD, who discovered a radioresistant bacterium back in 1956 while irradiating food at the Oregon Agricultural Experimental Station in Corvallis (As I recall from our chitchat, he was irradiating canned foods to see if this would reliably preserve them against spoilage). The bacterium was subsequently dubbed Deinococcus radiodurans and is indisputably the most radioresistant organism discovered to-date.

Anyway, while kibitzing with Dr. Anderson we discussed possible mechanisms by which Deinococcus radiodurans was able to escape destruction by intense gamma ray exposure. One of things we tossed about as a putative key player was, yes, pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ). There was, in fact, things pointing to this that went back in the literature to the 1960s (PQQ was discovered in 1964, as I recall).

Now, fast forward to modern times: Doctors, patients, consumer advocates and others are mindful that x-rays, SPECT scans, and other screening scans that involve radiation can have deleterious “downstream” effects — which got me to thinking about Dr. Anderson and our chat about pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ). Mind you, I’ve shared information on use of purified PQQ with physicians and others as a promising preventative/remediative measure with respect certain cardiovascular and neurologic conditions and insults for many years now (In part due to its ability to stimulate mitochondriogenesis). Granted, it is poorly assimilated in the gut but thankfully works at low levels and is, in fact, recycled many times over in vivo. But I hadn’t thought about PQQ as a possible radioprotective compound since 1994 and my days in “The little lab on the prairie”.

With that old chat-fest with Dr. Anderson in mind I shot over to PubMed and did a search to see if any contemporary studies had been done that linked PQQ to radioprotection. And, bingo, I struck pay dirt —

Pyrroloquinoline quinone and a quinoprotein kinase support γ-radiation resistance in Deinococcus radiodurans and regulate gene expression.
Rajpurohit YS, Desai SS, Misra HS.
J Basic Microbiol. 2013 Jun;53(6):518-31. doi: 10.1002/jobm.201100650. Epub 2012 Sep 7.
  Production and radioprotective effects of pyrroloquinoline quinone. (Mouse study)
Xiong XH, Zhao Y, Ge X, Yuan SJ, Wang JH, Zhi JJ, Yang YX, Du BH, Guo WJ, Wang SS, Yang DX, Zhang WC.
Int J Mol Sci. 2011;12(12):8913-23. doi: 10.3390/ijms12128913. Epub 2011 Dec 5.
PMID: 22272111

COMPLETE PAPER: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3257108/pdf/ijms-12-08913.pdf        

In light of the animal study especially, it follows that PQQ given well before & following an x-rays, SPECT scans & the like could (should?) afford radioprotection of those neural & other tissues it cycles through.

Paranthropus boisei (Nutcracker Man) - Wikipedia Commons

Paranthropus boisei (Nutcracker Man) – Wikipedia Commons

Now, this isn’t all there is to PQQ. While visiting with a physical anthropologist we got into discussing one of my favorite hominins (australopithecines), Paranthropus boisei (Also referred to as Australopithecus boisei) who is popularly referred to as “Nutcracker Man”. I knew from various recent papers & popular articles that Paranthropus boisei thrived on a tuber known as “tiger nuts”. See this article: http://www.sci-news.com/othersciences/anthropology/science-paranthropus-boisei-tiger-nut-diet-01680.html

And this paper: http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0084942

Anyway, with PQQ on my mind I asked this anthropologist if she knew whether “tiger nuts” are rich in this coenzyme. She didn’t know so we did a literature search and found that PQQ tends to occur in very high amounts in tubers!

While it will take gas chromatograph testing to determine the exact PQQ content in tiger nuts, I think the fact they helped nourish & sustain such a robust hominin as Paranthropus boisei suggests they may also be worth consuming on the part of physically active folks (Athletes especially) as well as those predisposed to developing certain neurologic or cardiovascular diseases and conditions. I then did some on-line digging and came up with a US based firm that markets tiger nuts and has posted this tuber’s impressive nutritional profile: https://tigernutsusa.com/ ( Note Bene: I have no commercial or other interest in this firm or any other that grows, harvests, sells, markets, or processes PQQ or tiger nuts).

So, all told, I think there is (ahem) “food for thought” in all this with respect to the possible use of PQQ by radiologists, dentists and other health care professionals in patients of theirs doing radiation-based scans (pre & post exposure measure), and also for the inclusion of tiger nuts in various diet plans and programs.

Go to http://www.scribd.com/doc/223658050/PQQ-Nutcracker-Man-Tiger-Nuts-Radiation-protection-heart-nervous-system-benefits where you’ll find 52 citations from PubMed on PPQ.  Among these you will find published papers suggesting PQQ might prevent and/or remediate Alzheimer’s disease related processes, neural damage due to methylmercury exposure, TBIs, and much more in patients (Granted, many of these studies involved cell culture work but there are also those involving animal models and a few, humans).

Choctaw Doc (Anthony G. Payne)

REVIEW ARTICLE ON PQQ & HEALTH:

http://www.altmedrev.com/publications/14/3/268.pdf

REVIEW ARTICLE ON PQQ IN VARIOUS BIOLOGIC PROCESSES:

http://www.ias.ac.in/jbiosci/jun2012/313.pdf

Sexless relationships: What accounts for this reverse alchemy (Gold to lead)?

no_sex_480_xlargeSexless relationships: What accounts for this reverse alchemy (Gold to lead)?

 

Sexting, Sex Tapes & Sexual Exhibitionism: Why have so many folks thrown caution to the wind?

VIDEO CAMERA - FREE MSCELL PHONE - Free MSTime flies. If you were around to see the debut of the classic comedy “Animal House” 35 years ago you are likely feeling a tad old. But like so many great movies, Animal House managed to both reflect and illuminate certain aspects of our culture. And in light of today’s headlines one is tempted to think some of our political leaders have been running their lives as though they live in the Delta Tau Chi fraternity house.

Who can forget Dean Vernon Wormer’s pointed comment to Faber College freshman & Delta Tau Chi member Kent Dorfman that “Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son”.

Given the middle-aged shenanigans of more than a few prominent politicians just in the past few years one can’t help but picture them standing in front of Dean Wormer and hearing:

“Old, horny and reckless is no way to go through life, son”

What gives with all these indiscretions? And let’s not just focus on big name powerhouse figures.  I mean, why are so many people of all ages, sexes and ethnicities posting sexually explicit photos and videos on the Web? I’m no prude by any means, but there is something deeply weird and unsettling about the seeming endless stream of people photographing and videotaping what they do behind closed doors and sharing it with the world.

Most are hardly adult movie star material and yet seem almost proud of their (ahem) shortcomings and imperfections. And while some might say it’s a good thing to strike a blow against the Madison Avenue world of plastic smiles & plastic bodies, I somehow do not think the antidote is for people to toss modesty to the wind and share themselves “warts and all”.  I’m sure some do what they do because they think highly of their “performance” and “mentally inflate” their assets. I suspect many if not most have become the butt of cruel putdowns and heartless jokes by Web browsers. I’m also sure some come to deeply regret their actions especially when confronted by a child, grandchild or other relative concerning something explicit they posted long ago and had hoped would somehow disappear with the passage of time (Apparently nothing posted on the Web ever does).

No doubt some of these self-styled sex performers suffer from body image & performance misperceptions if not delusions, but beyond this I have to wonder what else bedevils them. I’m not saying they all have personality defects or struggle with emotional or mental problems or sex addiction, but even so I am pretty sure at least a segment of them do what they do as an expression of narcissism, an attachment style disorder or mood disorder.

One expert on relationships and how reckless sexual behavior can endanger and even derail them, Rabbi Shmuel “Shmuley” Boteach, wrote this in a 2011 Examiner article concerning the sexual antics of Anthony Weiner and Bill Clinton:

These are all men who live with an unending craving for love and incessant need for attention, forever proving themselves, and therefore despising their very existence which involves an eternal feeling of inadequacy and unworthiness. Men who hate themselves this much and strive eternally for the validation of others harbor a secret wish that, in way or another, the inner torment will cease. That’s why they play Russian Roulette with their lives. Anything to dull the pain.

I think in some instances it boils down to something much simpler: In psychology it is well established that rewards (pleasure) derived from any activity makes people want more. This cycle of reward-reinforcement becomes a vicious, ever entrenched cycle for some folks. As they feed it over time they begin to feel helpless to resist and it becomes so normative they may not feel it is a problem (That is, until they get caught doing something that offends their mate or violates a local ordinance or state or federal law). Some become alienated from themselves and those who love and care about them.

To paraphrase a biblical observation concerning unrepentant sinning, their “conscience becomes seared”.

Oh, Choctaw Doc, you’re just conjecturing and in-a-way judging these people without any real evidence. Judging, no. Concerned about, yes. I could dredge up studies to buttress the mental health aspects of this “let it all hang out” social phenomenon, but prefer instead to share real life examples of what sometimes lies beneath the surface in some instances.

I interact with many licensed mental health professionals who occasionally share specific cases that they have found especially troublesome or unnerving (They do not, of course, mention names or details that might reveal their patient’s identities). Here are but a few:

A woman in her 50s sought help with mood swings and eating binges. As her female psychologist dug into her life story, she was told about more than 3 decades of “sexual abandon”. Specifically, her husband had convinced her to “spice up their sex life” first by filming their bedroom life and posting these clips to various websites and, when the thrill wore off of this, pressured her into having sex with other men while he filmed this (“Cuckold lifestyle”). She felt “dirty”, “nasty”, “used” and was “plagued by endless intrusive mental images of degrading sex”. The funny (pathetic) thing was that her husband sent her to therapy because he felt “she has problems, but I don’t”. Yeah.

A young woman in her 20s sought help with depression and insomnia. One of the things her therapist discovered was that this lady was racked with guilt and shame over explicit photos and videos her boyfriend had posted on a very popular porn site. The boyfriend had long since taken a stage left and found a new victim…eh..girlfriend..and left this young woman to live with the torment “giving in” had spawned in her heart and soul.

Now these are just a few examples of the “real world” consequences of “airing one’s peccadilloes”. Many pastoral counselors, priests and rabbis feel the immediate and downstream spiritual damage is even greater and have plenty of their own horror stories that attest to this.

For those who are involved in the sorts of things I’ve shared in this article and have no shame, guilt or concerns, there is no way to convince you that your chickens may come home to roost down the line. Where there is no insight, there can be no realization anything is wrong or could go wrong.

For those who are or have been caught up in these activities and feel shame and regret and/or are experiencing compulsive-additive behavior, my advice is to get thee to a licensed, competent mental health professional who is experienced in helping people with these issues.

And finally, for those of you who are tempted to “play with fire” or who are already doing so but aren’t sure why and don’t feel you need professional evaluation, at least take a few free on-line psych & personality tests to see if you are depressed or have some other issue or tendency such as:

What is your attachment style?  This interactive survey takes about 5 minutes to complete. The questionnaire is designed to measure your ‘attachment style’–the way you relate to others in the context of intimate relationships. When completed, the site will reveal your attachment style, and provide a brief summary of what is known about your attachment style on the basis of contemporary scientific research.

Attachment in Past and Present Relationships

Depression Screening Test by Ivan Goldberg, MD – -brief 18-question online automated quiz to help you determine if you may need to see a mental health professional for diagnosis
and treatment of depression

Cybersex Addiction Test

Internet Addiction Test

Partners of Internet Addicts Test

Sexual Addiction Screening Test (Women)

Sexual Addiction Screening Test (Men)

And here are some books and articles that I believe will prove helpful:

Alienation: Pervasive and insidious

Problems relating well to God & your fellow man? Your attachment style may be a major contributor

The dog you feed the most will dominate your life

Pornified: How Pornography Is Transforming Our Lives, Our Relationships, and Our Families by Pamela Paul

Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality by Dr. Gail Dines

The Broken American Male: And How to Fix Him by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach

Renewal: A Guide to the Values-Filled Life by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach

Marriage Builders® (Lots of free help on this website)

For those who have a problem or suspect they do, here are a few reputable sources of help:

If you live in southern California one highly regarded clinic that specializes in treating additions of all kinds including sexual is the Alternative Options Counseling Center. Call 562-921-5701 or 714-995-0359 (Outpatient primarily but “partial hospitalization” available for some patients)

Salvation Army (Residential) Rehab Centers (nationwide)

 A simple Google search will likely turn up at least a few qualified therapists and programs in your particular neck-of-the-woods.

 © 2013 by Dr. Anthony G. Payne. All rights reserved.

State sanctioned executions: What’s wrong with “Hang ’em high!”?

Prisoner Holding Cigarette Between BarsHardly a month passes without one US state or another putting a convicted murderer, rapist or what-have-you to death (It’s 7-26-2013 and Reuters just ran an on-line article titled “Alabama executes man advocates said was mentally ill” at http://reut.rs/13h21aj). While I understand where folks who view this as closure for the victim’s family or “just deserts” are coming from, I quite honestly detest the idea of the state possessing the power to terminate a life under any circumstances. History clearly shows how easy it is for governments to slip into abusing this sort of thing in the name of national security, the war on this or that real or imagined nemesis, or what-have-you. To my way of thinking no modern state should ever have the power to take from any citizen that which it can’t later restore.  I actually took this conviction and planted it squarely in a literary brainchild of mine that incorporates satire and humor to convey certain realities & truths.  You’ll find it on page 1 of my “FUP Manifesto” at http://www.scribd.com/doc/115383259/The-Fook-U-Party-Viva-La-Revolution.

Or if you are too busy, lazy, drunk or stubborn to click the link and find it, here is the salient entry:

Party Prime Directive: The (Seig!) State should never be able to take from anyone that which it can’t later restore if required or compelled, for whatever reason.

If you think this “excessively liberal”, imagine yourself awaiting execution in one hour’s time.   Or what if your daughter, son, nephew, niece or other blood relative were to be executed shortly? 

 

Is bias, corruption & hypocrisy now normative in science & medicine?

Signature:1aa0edd3f00ecb0adc8aa215f572f8061f81f2bd7ee14d34f53c48d50acdcb69SKEWED: BIAS, CORRUPTION & HYPOCRISY IN CONTEMPORARY SCIENCE & MEDICINE by Choctaw Doc

 HARM: A compendium of statistics & information  (Harm done by conventional health care v. AltMed practices & supplements)      Web address: http://bit.ly/N5xk3t 

NEJM editor: “No longer possible to believe much of clinical research published”

The Paula Deen train derails yet again (A Southerner shares his thoughts)

Train 2 - free morguefileNo doubt you’ve come across more than a few TV segments or Web items or both on the many eye-opening episodes from Paula Deen’s past involving racially insensitive words and deeds  (The latest being a just released NY Times story at http://nyti.ms/12mBZaO). What I found troublesome in all this was the argument (rationalization) she offered a while back to the effect that the South she grew up in was in some ways a bastion of antebellum bigotry and thus by extension it is almost expected that folks who grew up in it would harbor such notions. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’m sure this is true. In fact, I know this is true because I grew up in the South (Texas and Louisiana) during the very time Deen did. I am Southern born & bred and have ancestors on both sides of my family that go back to before the Revolutionary war in South Carolina, Georgia and Mississippi. My great, great grandparents and their offspring lived as citizens of the C.S.A. and some actually fought under the stars & bars as Confederate soldiers. However, my Euro-American father and American Indian (Choctaw) mother never used racist terms or tolerated racist jokes nor even once used the N-word. Not once. And while I heard this pejorative word tossed about by other Southerners as both a put-down of African Americans and as a way to defuse their own fears of (I gather) being upstaged by them, I wanted no part of it. So it follows that a Southerner can grow up around racist words & thinking and yet not wind up perpetuating them in word or deed. This lends me to be wholly unsympathetic to Deen’s attributing what she said and did in the past to exposure to what amounted to “acceptable bigotry”.

At this moment many of my fellow Southerners are rallying to Deen’s side and marshaling all kinds of arguments to excuse her past “sins” and in-a-way redeem her person and legacy.   From what I see they are well meaning people, not hood wearing types or sympathetic to these living anachronisms, though most seem unaware that forgiving Deen’s actions is one thing but trying to rationalize them is quite another.

But let me add this: Attacks on the person who is Paula Deen should not be sanctioned or perpetuated. Attack bad ideas and actions, not the person in the sense of interpreting their motivations or what they feel (None of us can pull this off when it comes to our own being much less anyone else, as most of this takes place at a nonconscious level and is not accessible to conscious processes in our brains).

Let us reject racist ideas and actions and any rationalizations meant to excuse them, but not act as if this reveals what is in the hearts of those who toss them about and by virtue of thus defines their character or very soul (Unless the doer flat out says that their actions stem from heartfelt beliefs and convictions and actually does reflect their soul of souls. Then we should pity them and pray they wise up).

Choctaw Doc

Copyright 2013 by Dr. Anthony G. Payne. All rights reserved.

   

 

Neither a “Roman at the games” nor a supporter of those who play at this be

ROMAN HELMET - FREE MSWhere you have competition, you have losers and those who seem to revel in their loss. Pretty much everyone reading this knows how the Romans flocked to the Amphitheatrum Flavium better known as the Coliseum (starting around 80 CE) and were thrilled to see gladiatorial contest losers being dispatched and were reportedly especially happy when enemies of the state were served up to the Angel of Death in the goriest way possible. Today this competitive impulse is vented and satisfied in sports stadiums and contests of every description. And….on TV and in movies, in science and medicine, in academia, and in pretty much every endeavor or undertaking you can name. It is almost as if the road up is paved with the wounded, fallen, and discarded.

I personally think we all get more mileage out of cooperation than competition, which is actually a cardinal expression of our social nature. But we still compete. In academia, the term “publish or perish” wasn’t coined as a joke but as a reflection of the cutthroat competition that researchers, scholars and professors keenly feel. Today it is almost commonplace to read about retracted papers whose underlying studies include fraudulent or plagiarized data or information, which I suspect arises when researchers and others feel the only way to “stay afloat” is to take “shortcuts to glory” (Something that when exposed oftentimes sinks the very careers the perpetrators hoped to sustain and grow). The website “Retraction Watch” is actually devoted to airing these kinds of failings from the world of published research.

What concerns me isn’t that people make bad choices, we all do at one time or another after all, but rather that some folks seem to revel in seeing the “perpetrators” thrust into the spotlight and made to endure a seeming unending barrage of shame and denunciation. Some even anticipate bad times for not only people who wonder off the straight & narrow, but for those who are unconventional or are doing things that could be perceived or interpreted as crossing some real or imagined legal or regulatory line by the powers-that-be. Some seem to salivate at the very prospect that an ill wind will blast those they disagree with or oppose into obscurity…or worse.

Those who take this particular low road are IMO the modern day equivalent of those Romans who clamored for the destruction of those who had violated Imperial law.

So why do people, especially cultured, educated souls, seem to thrill in what amounts to an exercise in cruelty? Has their sense of competitiveness and the need to be right taken on a pathological dimension? Do they find that the only way they can feel better is by stepping on and then over the careers and lives of those they feel duty bound to hurl stones at? Do they have little or no empathy, at least for those they disagree with or oppose? Is it intolerance or ignorance at work…or both? Maybe it is all of this and more, at least in some instances. Let me share what I think motivates at least some of these “professional stone throwers”.

It is my contention that the mechanism (if you will) at work in those who either predict doom for their real or perceived nemeses (“worthy targets”) or who work towards this end, is the same one that animates the cruel actions of terrorists who behead their helpless victims. In 2005 I touched on this in an analytic article I titled “Terrorist beheadings and other forms of inflicted, violent death: Are victims aware of what is happening around them after their heart and lungs have stopped working?” (which you can access at http://bit.ly/142hi4Y)

 It will take only a few salient lines to spell out my spin on this: 

…there is an element of “enlightened self interest” in our curiosity and even fascination with dying and death. When we ask “What did that poor soul experience?”, we are in some way seeking in the death of others some idea of what we might sense or think or visualize as we go through our own final, irreversible “systems failure”.

So there you have it. As I see it some, perhaps many “stone hurlers” – I refer specifically to those who engage in ad hominem attacks on people or classes or groups of people instead of challenging faulty or flawed ideas, or who make suppositions with regard to what underlies poor or bad choices as though they are privy to seeing into their being (quite a feat when you consider most mental processes beneath consciousness and are not accessible to us) – do so (in part) to both existentially anticipate and experience the suffering they predict or facilitate for those they oppose. Of course, if their target winds up in hot water, rehab, prison or the cemetery, there is the ego-gratification of being able to say (either bluntly or ever so diplomatically) “See, I told you so”. By virtue of this they feel justified in the rightness of their particular stone hurling activities and encouraged to continue doing so. Society is not better for it, for successful cruelty has a way of attracting imitators and supporters and then of being further reinforced until it becomes “a self-evident truth”.

How should we deal with stone hurling and other forms of depersonalizing cruelty? The faulty thinking, choices and ideas that underlie such actions should be brought to light, dissected and challenged. But under no circumstance should this include attacks on the character or worth of people who have “played a Roman at the games” or supported those who do so. And, last but not least, we should strive mightily to meet and supplant heartless, cynical or even cruel actions on the part of others with exceeding kindness, cooperation, forgiveness and mercy whenever possible.   

Choctaw Doc

© 2013 by Dr. Anthony G. Payne. All rights reserved.

 

Recommended Supplemental Reading

The Science of Evil: On Empathy and the Origins of Cruelty by Dr. Simon Baron-Cohen

The Self Beyond Itself: An Alternative History of Ethics, the New Brain Sciences, and the Myth of Free Will by Heidi M. Ravven, Ph.D.

The Self Illusion: How the Social Brain Creates Identity by Bruce Hood, Ph.D.

The Illusion of Conscious Will by Dr. Daniel M. Wegner  

  

How do you kill 12 million people? Evil then and now: Recognizing & containing it

Color photo from TIME, Inc.

Color photo from TIME, Inc.

Dr. Anthony G. PayneMy good friend Jim Haverlock recently asked, “How do you kill 12 million people?” He was,  of course,  referring to the Shoah or Holocaust. He wasn’t asking about the nuts & bolts of pulling off mass executions but, rather, how did so many ordinary and even extraordinary men and women willingly take part in Hitler’s Endlösung (Final Solution). This is a question that has intrigued and haunted me since early boyhood actually. In fact, as part of my quest for answers I read all of Nazi propaganda minister Dr. Paul Joseph Goebbels diaries as a young man plus vol. 1 of “Mein Kampf” (Vol. 2 was unknown when I was a youngster), watched archival film of the Nuremberg & Doctor’s trials, and read just about every substantive book on Hitler, the Nazis and fascism that existed at the time (And everything worth reading on the subject since as well). As anyone reading this who ever took a course in World History knows, both Hitler and Goebbels stressed the use of propaganda and the “big lie” as integral to the creating and sustainment of the Greater Germania they envisioned. And both were extraordinary in their zeal and abilities to forge a monolithic state predicated on a shared national myth, and induce the German people to embrace it via lies, artful use of imagery and symbols, fear, rewards and appeals to entrenched biases that went back not just decades but centuries (Particularly in the case of antisemitism which sadly had its roots in early Christian teachings especially the Hellenized spin on Jesus and his message crafted & promulgated by Saul of Tarsus aka St. Paul. Learn more by reading Paul and Jesus: How the Apostle Transformed Christianity  by scholar & historian Dr. James D. Tabor).

One place to turn for insight is historian Dr. Daniel Goldhagen’s books plus those of psychologist Dr. Philip Zimbardo. They do a smashing good job of laying out the historic, sociological, psychological and economic forces, currents and mechanisms that set the stage for the rise of the Nazis and then sustained them once they were in power.

But, even after you’ve read and mastered these works and others like them you likely find yourself still perplexed by the fact so many people down through the millennia and especially during the heyday of fascism could ignore and in many instances take an active hand in wanton cruelty. After nearly a lifetime of studying human cruelty and complicity in cruelty and evil I know there is no simple answer to “why”. Certainly lack of empathy or reduced or impaired empathy for targets/scapegoats is vital to evil and, yes, lies play a powerful role as well, but there is so much more that works to foster wickedness than lies and people’s failure to detect them or act on them or neglect to search them out and deal with them. However, with this said it certain behooves Americans to be vigilant and to call out wrongs and evil as soon as they come to light.

Things are complicated by the fact that evil and good rely on similar mechanisms and tools to govern (God, too, relies on these – see my op-ed piece on this subject titled “Hitler & HaShem at http://www.healingcare4u.org/hitler-hashem.pdf). Heaven knows our government has used lies of varying magnitude to govern across the years of our country’s existence. Probably Nixon and his “Imperial Presidency” took this to a whole new level and set certain wickedness in motion that has grown in scope to this day. In theory, yes, a super crisis or series of crises could lead to martial law and suspensions of Constitutional guarantees. During the Civil War (or as it is better known where I came from, “The War for Southern Independence”) Abraham Lincoln threw many folks who questioned his administration and policies into jail and kept them there, thanks to his having suspended the writ of habeas corpus. However, people rebelled, the press raised hell and the Supreme Court ultimately undid some of the more egregious acts of hegemony. I think any move to contain social disorder by imposition of a police or ultra-authoritarian state would, at the very least, result in the formation of tens of thousands of militias and resistance groups across the land that would make keeping the lid on the pot problematic if not impossible.

Naturally, best to act now and prevent a quasi-police or full-fledged police state then try to overthrow one that is in-place. Keeping our representatives working and honest is certainly part of that.

While no one has knows the full rhyme and reason behind human evil and its various incarnations, it helps to be aware of and reject ideas, movements, and acts that arise from and feed evil: Among them being intolerance, the marginalization and dehumanization of others especially minorities and other vulnerable groups, and unquestioned belief in authority figures and an unwillingness to call them out when they violate the very civil virtues and Constitutional guarantees they are charged with upholding.

I would add this: Although I’ve been a democratic socialist since 1985 I find some ideas and notions articulated by conservatives and even some right wingers of merit. As a Southerner whose ancestors go back to Revolutionary War times (and beyond) in South Carolina, Georgia and Mississippi, and whose paternal and maternal forbearers lived under the Stars & Bars (Confederacy) and in some instances fought for the C.S.A., I inherited a mix of ideas and notions, some worthy of consideration if not embrace, others that had no substance when they were articulated long ago and never will.  Of those that I deemed worth hanging onto was the longstanding Southern distrust of a powerful central government running everything including many aspects of people’s everyday lives. Although you might think a democratic socialist would welcome an all powerful centralized government, I emphatically do not. History shows all too clearly that the concentration of power in the hands of strongmen leads to abuses and skullduggery of the worst sort. Actually there are at least a few liberal thinkers who would prefer to see a decentralization of power in the US and other countries, and even the break-up of powerhouse countries into small nation-states (Especially those that are unstable or might become so and with this attempt to retain order and stability by imposition of a police or authoritarian state). I’m sure a world comprised of small, less powerful nations, say, the size of Switzerland, would by no means avoid many of the ills that plague major powers today, but I can’t help think they would have less influence and thus less ability to work evil in the world. And for those that do, their neighbors could form temporary confederations and impose various kinds of sanctions or, when regrettably necessary, military containment (Hey, sometimes the only way to stop a thug is send in the police).

But until power shifts from Washington to the states (if it ever does), best to keep an eye on the politicians on Capital Hill and do everything possible to keep our representatives working, honest and limited in the evil they can do. The same applies to the press and other so-called sacred American institutions.

Dr. Anthony G. Payne (waxing philosophic from his porch swing)

RECOMMENDED ADDITIONAL READING

My spiritual watering hole website: http://summerclouds.weebly.com/

Why does God allow evil (Theodicy)? See Are you an atheist, religionist, deist, fideist or ???

CBN video presentation “God & Hitler”: http://www.cbn.com/700club/features/churchhistory/godandhitler/index.aspx

Restoring Abrahamic Faith by Dr. James D. Tabor

The Jesus Dynasty: The Hidden History of Jesus, His Royal Family, and the Birth of Christianity by Dr. James D. Tabor

The Brother of Jesus and the Lost Teachings of Christianity by Rev. Jeffrey J. Bϋtz

How Jesus Became Christian by Barrie Wilson, Ph.D.

Forged: Writing in the Name of God–Why the Bible’s Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are by Bart D. Ehrman, Ph.D.

Supernormal Stimuli: How Primal Urges Overran Their Evolutionary Purpose by Deirdre Barrett, Ph.D.

The Science of Evil: On Empathy and the Origins of Cruelty by Dr. Simon Baron-Cohen

Copyright 2013 by Dr. Anthony G. Payne. All rights reserved.

Why is America so messed up? Blame the Founding Fathers & Disney!

CONSTITUTION - free MSPETER PAN - FREE MSDo we live in a messed up culture or what? Congress is gridlocked (aka constipated) and Wall Street seems to have terminal IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome – alternating constipation & diarrhea). It looks like virtually everything is illegal or soon will be which surely is linked to the phenomenal growth of the prison industry.  And single folks, they flock to on-line dating services where they find legions of married people looking for “afternoon delight” or its equivalent. People in general are now so jaded and fearful that just about anything from a sour look to a bag of skittles and a bottle of iced tea qualifies as a deadly threat.  And the boxers in the ring – that’s you and me folks – are so punch-drunk we longer hear the bell, see the canvas… or even care.  To hear the most vocal among us we are either one step from becoming the Fourth Reich or else on the slippery slope to some form of communalism or communism or some ism no one seems to favor or else believes signals the advent the “End Times”. I’m pretty sure if an extraterrestrial intelligence actually visited this veil of tears it would not conclude we are “Mostly Harmless” and would stick a quarantine beacon in high orbit to warn off other space travelers.

So how did we wind up so utterly messed up? I’m sure you have your own pet theories and suspicions. Me? I think it all started with the Founding Fathers and then Disney. Yep, the Founding Fathers and Disney. You see, those venerable Übermensch who founded our empire..uh…republic, elected to write some nonsense about our being entitled to pursue happiness. The problem is, they didn’t posses a roadmap to happiness or anything like it, nor did they seem to have the remotest idea  what exactly it is or would even look like (Albeit some folks tried heartily to achieve it by abusing every vice known to humankind). But then came Walt Disney and his cadre of mythmakers and propagandists who spoon fed us Baby Boomers (as well as those who had the misfortune of following in our wake) versions of reality in which all wrongs are righted; the Princess, puppet turned human, talking cricket and exceedingly cute fawn and most of her family beat the odds and lived; and the wicked witch and all those like her ultimately get theirs, and everyone somehow lives happily ever after. Now what do you think happens when you fill impressionable kids with notions of being entitled to pursue happiness and then feed them a steady diet of Disney films as though it were some kind of  magical roadmap? Why, hell yeah, you get a bunch of disappointed, anxious, spoiled, conceited neurotics who spin their wheels and fritter their lives away trying to dull the pain of not having a Disney-esque life, family, job, or future. Most wind up chucking their St. Whatever statue out their car, van, truck or armored personnel carrier window, and placing one of St. Al (Al Bundy) or St. Sam (Kinison) in its place.  This pathetic existential state naturally gives rise to a host of evils such as drunkenness, cheating, sexless relationships, career burnout, road rage, shoplifting, hoarding, running over the neighbor’s dog, tossing litter out of vehicle windows, overeating and fudging on income tax returns.  In the end, many find themselves wondering if happiness is something only those in the local cemetery found and this by making a permanent stage left.

Is there hope for this messed up state-of-affairs? There is. Forget the pursuit of happiness and instead pursue loyalty, faithfulness, virtue, and honesty. And toss all those Disney DVDs in the rubbish bin and make a point of exposing your children and/or grandchildren to stories that do not necessarily end with everyone living “happily ever after” but do teach them something about sacrifice, hard work, persistence, set-backs, tolerance, righting wrongs and doing what is good and right, as well as championing justice and equality for all while steadfastly resisting injustice and inequality in whatever guise. At least this way they will not be looking for a Disney world or Disney ending that will never come, though if they hang on and keeping doing what’s right and virtuous they might just get pretty darn close.

Choctaw Doc (Philosophizing from his porch swing)

 Copyright 2013 by Dr. Anthony G. Payne. All rights reserved.  

 

Abortion: Is there a point at which it becomes a moral or ethical “misstep”?

QUESTION - FREE MICROSOFTIf you belong to a faith tradition or religious perspective that views the fusion of sperm and egg as marking the advent of a human life, you are probably very unlikely to modify your stance. As one who grew up in the Bible belt among Protestant fundamentalists and evangelicals (upwards of 90% of my family), I know where you are coming from. There is black & white, with grey being a species of unacceptable compromise that is akin to bedding down with evil incarnate.

If you happen to belong to the “B & W’ contingent, perhaps you buttress your antiabortion convictions like many aspects of your most cherished religious beliefs with borrowings from the world of science and medicine, however tenuous some of these may be. As you may know or at least have heard, many religious beliefs are not testable and thus lie outside the purview of science. For example, the religious concept that every human has a soul or spirit imputed by the Almighty at conception or thereafter is not something that can be tested and verified or refuted using the tools of science. There is no laboratory assay that will disclose or measure something that is held to have no material substance as we know it and which is not physically manifest in cells or tissues or such.

For religionists who hold that ensoulment (i.e., spirit is imputed) occurs at conception, and (who) refuse to consider even slightly modifying this perspective in light of contrary biblical reasoning, there exists an impasse that cannot be readily breeched (If at all). When enough people embrace such a spin on what constitutes viable human life, their collective influence on the direction state and even federal legislation takes is felt (Some would argue disproportionately so). Of course, the courts have weighed in to keep even majority sentiment from what they conclude impinges on or overrides the Constitutional rights of the minority.

Many scientists regard the convictions of those who hold that viable human life begins at conception or during the very early stages of development as both presumptuous and naive. Many religionists and theologians agree. Among those who happen to hold fast to a belief that a fertilized egg is entitled to full status as a viable human, the use of blastocytes or very early stage embryos constitutes a species of murder. Some even go so far as to decry those who take exception to their faith-based beliefs as being immoral or amoral.

Does the truth lie somewhere between the strictly secular and the sacred? Most of us probably harbor a feeling that somewhere in all this – lurking in the facts of biology and the world of polemics and logic, ethics and religion – there is an answer that will win the day. If this is the case, it is quite obviously going to take time for such a truth to fully emerge.

Many have asked me, “What is your spin on what constitutes viable human life?” Being as I have a foot in both worlds – which is to say religious belief and science – it seems logical to suppose that I would be able to offer up a “faith and science-friendly” opinion as to when viable human life begins. Well, yes, I do have something to offer up for consideration though the only thing I can be 100% certain of is that my opinion will be contested by people on both sides of the “great divide”. With this in mind, here is my spin – informed by biology, of course.

The heart begins beating at three weeks of gestation and the first neural reflex is manifest at eight weeks (and consists of hand withdrawal in response to stimulation of the fetal lip region). During weeks 9-13 the first brain waves appear and are discernible using special medical instrumentation.

Given that death is defined (in part) as a cessation of both heart and brain wave activity, one could argue conversely that to be alive in any meaningful sense beyond mere biological existence (A petri dish bearing a cell culture has biological existence, after all)  begins when both heart and brain are operational – week 9 onwards.

Interestingly, in my own faith tradition which is informed by lines of moral & ethical reasoning in Rabbinic Judaism, the fetus generally becomes a viable human life after day 40 of gestation. In the ancient Jewish context, the fetus is deemed to be little more than water until “quickening” occurs, about 40 days after insemination. “What Do Orthodox Jews Think About Abortion and Why? By Judith Shulevitz – Orthodox Jews on Abortion. If we take week 9 as our bench mark — the heart and brain being recognizably functional – then the fetus would be deemed viable from about day 63 onward.

 Applying this definition of when human life becomes viable, it follows that embryos from conception to week 9 or so are “pre-viable” or “proto-viable.”

Now is this to say that embryos prior to week 9 are “fair game”? Say, that we can create embryos strictly for the purposes of harvesting their tissue and/or stem cells for medical research or other applications? These embryos aren’t viable, so why not? Well this brings us full circle to religious and ethical concerns. Rather than belabor that in this op-ed piece, I would direct readers to an excellent treatment of this subject in this posted article: Jewish Virtual Library – Abortion

OK, so we don’t create embryos to harvest, how about using intentionally aborted fetuses as a source of tissues or embryonic stem cells for research or medical application? As one fellow actually said to me, “Hey, Doc, they are going to die anyway, so why not get some good out of them for sick and ailing people”. To my mind, this comes uncomfortably close to the arguments advanced by physicians and scientists who performed hideous experiments on human subjects in Nazi concentration camps. This very line of reasoning was, in fact, used as a defense by some of the physicians being tried for war crimes in the 1946 “Doctor’s Trail” in Germany). Granted, there is a world of difference between elective abortion and the intentional dispatch of life at the hands of doctors (such as the late Nazi “Angel of Death” Dr. Josef Mengele and his ilk) who abandoned universally acknowledged medical ethics in the service of the state. But even so, harvesting aborted fetuses from any source does strike many folks in America as constituting a form of callous utilitarianism that can’t help but bring to mind some of the most egregious polities and activities in the Nazi bio-state – or perhaps the fear that our country is headed in the direction of making prophecy of the classic sci-fi film “Soylent Green” – or both. And even if the intentional abortion of a fetus before week 9 were universally embraced as morally and ethically acceptable – in no way offensive to humankind or the Almighty – there remains something hauntingly “predatory” about utilizing material from intentionally terminated “pre-viable” human material.

All things considered, it seems unlikely that access to abortion will prove a genie that can be returned to the proverbial bottle (This side of the US becoming an authoritarian or police state run by pro-life factions at all levels, that is – something the majority of Americans would vehemently oppose). And while restrictions on the direction embryonic stem cell research and use takes will likely continue to be a legislative and ethical tug-of-war between various factions, a return to an outright ban on government provided/sanctioned embryonic stem cell lines seems unlikely. This leaves what is being played out now at the political level:  That is, the fact many state legislatures such as my own native state of Texas in 2013 are leaning towards placing considerable restrictions on access to abortion services. This gambit may succeed especially in states dominated by a traditionally conservative majority although I predict any such this legislation will be eventually overturned by the Supreme Court as being unconstitutional.

Perhaps my life-at-9-weeks-on criteria should be thrown into the abortion access deliberations mix. Let’s revisit it:

Given that death is defined (in part) as a cessation of both heart and brain wave activity, one could argue conversely that to be alive in any meaningful sense beyond mere biological existence (A petri dish bearing a cell culture has biological existence, after all)  begins when both heart and brain are operational – week 9 onwards

Of course, I am not actually advocating that my definition (above) be transformed into new legislation or such that is imposed on all women across the land. But for women who come out of conservative faith traditions what I have laid out might help them in deciding at what point-in-time during a fetuses’ development abortion constitutes an ethical or moral misstep. For those who find my approach reasonable, use of a “morning after” pill constitutions no sin nor does an abortion prior to week ten (10) post-conception.

In the final analysis, the whole matter comes down to personal choice informed by the unique constellation of social and life factors & players that characterize each woman’s life.

________________________________________________________

© 2013 by Dr. Anthony “Choctaw Doc” Payne. All rights reserved.

EXTENDED BEING: Connective-dynamic circuits twixt thou and emotionally significant others

FROM DR. PAYNE’S “EXTENDED BEING” on Examiner.com

“The quiet punctuated by the flow of water in that aqueduct made it possible to experience not just quiet and relaxation but more so (for me anyway) a unique situation in which conscious thoughts and awareness dipped and other things came to light. One of these was a dynamic running “mental clip” (representation) of Kaoru that was interacting with me at a very subtle level. There was a spoken and unspoken dialog going on. I realized that part of her was alive within me but not solely as memories and warm associations; there was a dynamic sort of circuit at play which was influencing not only my thoughts and mood but also some elements of my personality, i.e., I was being influenced by specific personality traits she exhibited that I found appealing and was even internalizing some of them (And while mirroring and mimicry mechanisms were undoubtedly involved in this process, there was seemingly more to it than this). She had become part of the “we” that is “me”!”

CLICK TO ACCESS EXAMINER ARTICLE: http://www.examiner.com/article/extended-being-1 

EXCERPT FROM DR. PAYNE’S MORE DETAILED INTRODUCTION TO “EXTENDED BEING”:

“Extended being involves the creation of dynamic, largely affective neuro-subroutines that are, in effect, a form of dynamic connectedness or connective circuit between individuals; circuits that incorporate the other, their image (sighted people), mannerisms, attitudes and other significant aspects of their person and conduct; circuits that are fed by as well as facilitate and enhance certain aspects of socialization, behavior and self-awareness as well as distinctly human consciousness; circuits that predominately operate in our pre/unconscious and influence judgments and choices and etc. made there, as well as conscious thought flow and content, mood, and actions.  But circuits, too, that mean that part of our being is operating external to our bodies (It is not that this circuit exists in the sense it can be detected and measured outside us but, rather, that our emergent sense of being, the “we” that us, includes the other and experiences him or her as both an internal reality and an external, connected one. This circuit is reinforced and additional content added while in the other’s presence and may be diminished during their absence, but is unlikely to be extinguished entirely even when the emotionally meaningful other ceases to be a part of our life for whatever reason).” 

Click this link to read “Extended Being” in its entirety: https://biotheorist.files.wordpress.com/2012/10/extended-being-by-dr-anthony-g-payne.pdf 

EXTENDED BEING WEBSITE: http://extendbeing.weebly.com/

Dark times and the allure of evil solutions

http://exm.nr/NyCcj4 by Choctaw Doc

Alienation: Pervasive and insidious

Take a moment and read through the eight book quotes below.

“Today, concern about man’s alienation is expressed by many: by theologians and philosophers who warn that advanced in scientific knowledge do not enable us to penetrate the mystery of Being, and do not often widen the gulf between the knower and the reality he tries to understand…”  CLICK TO READ MORE

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