I realized somewhat acutely, in some recent discussions here on Q2, that we're sometimes miles apart in our use of terms, without even realizing it sometimes.

In looking over archival copies of what dad and his team put together, for Libya, looking ahead some twenty or more years, I'm impressed by a confidant 1960s, a time of going to the moon. 

Urban planning was something to get a degree in, a new discipline in the US. I was born while dad was finishing up his PhD studies at the University of Chicago, soon to make a career in Portland, Oregon, however with long range plans to work overseas. 

We left the country in the late 60s, me through with 2nd grade, and moved to Rome.

Fast forward and I find myself delving into the writings of one Anthony Judge, whom I think of as more Eurocentric than I am (not a criticism, that's his background). 

In this latest paper I ran across on Twitter, he's talking about Brexit and our "binary" winner-take-all democracies.  How is it that a "tyrannical majority" is the end result we seek?  Have we alternatives?

I'm thinking Libertarians define themselves as wishing to escape tyranny, of a majority or otherwise.  Am I one of them?

I discovered recently, in reading Alfred North Whitehead, that he defines the progress of civilization itself as one of ridding our world of coercive relationships, in the sense of one commanding blind and unquestioning obedience from another.

We become as robots then.  AI has won, not in creating robots like us, but in dehumanizing us to become as robots.  Real Intelligence (RI) must oppose that outcome.  Which is not to decry AI in all its forms out of reflex.  One could say we rely to an extreme extent on automation, if only that of our own bodies.

The so-called "will" is a sensitive animal, and of that I wish to remain mindful.  Where we draw that line, between voluntary and involuntary, is a matter for deepening meditation.  After all, we're all moving in the direction of our own demise, as these specific individuals, these outward forms.  Back to being God's guinea pigs (more below).

How Quakerism now figures in, for me, is twofold:

(A) in the unprogrammed Meeting, we find the organs of autonomy, of self government carried on by "a village of equals" (not unlike the kibbutz concept I'm guessing; I visited one once, near Bethlehem, after that summer digging a swimming pool in Ramallah -- about sixteen at the time, parents doing AFSC work).

(B) experimentalism:  a willingness to "know experimentally".  We "test leadings" and ask Oversight to convene committees for clearness and support.  It's not about blindly accepting one another's preachings.  Our practice of silence underlies our respect for the Spirit over our own inadequate ministries.  As parts, none of us speak for the whole, but we're all moved by the whole.

We've been focusing of late in our discussions, about how these experiments in self government do sometimes break down.  We feel our sense of good order insulted, witness malpractice on all sides.  I'm not denying what my wife called "the perpetually unsatisfactory nature of life".  Life is suffering, no doubt.  This "pursuit of happiness" thing, whatever that means, is a metaphysical workout. We're called to move forward by a will greater than our own.

What I see around schooling in particular though are cries like "don't experiment with our kids" or "our children are not guinea pigs".  I'd agree they're not "ours" per se, more God's, but as for not experimenting, how can we help but not?  Trying to relive the past in some nostalgic detail could only be considered experimental.  There's no "keeping it the same" or "holding still" while we sit back and "figure it out".  There's no pause button.

Isn't trial and error going forward what we've got, with intelligent (educated) guesses in favor of best outcomes?  Hypotheses? Feels like we're guinea pigs to me. But the only will I willingly surrender to is received through God's grace, as some might put it, though I'm not insistent on invoking a deity by proper name.  The experience is what matters.  Yielding to God is about remaining truthful or one might say "obedient to the truth" (fine to talk about Will to Power here).

Finally, I'll jump from my perch in Quakerism, to this literature I've been calling transcendentalism, mostly for continuity as I want to point back to Margaret Fuller, Emerson, Thoreau, that crew, early Dial Magazine and so on.  Bucky Fuller was Margaret Fuller's great grand nephew somehow.  New England family.  She died in shipwreck at sea.

With transcendentalism I get a futurism, but without any across-the-board anti-religious polemic, as some are led to profess.  I'm not preaching science versus not-science as a war we're obligated to join sides in. 

I do get planning and creating conditions for a better tomorrow.  Stuff like that.  More a Teilhard de Chardin thing.  Teleological. 

The self organizing going on feels a lot bigger than "just us".  As individuals, we're caught up in it, with limited self-steering capabilities.

Back to Anthony Judge and the tyrannical majority, I'm thinking many small experiments, more affordable thanks to newer tech, will keep many communities engaged in skill-building in creative ways, satisfying to look back on. They'll try different ways of life.  The many religions will find their followers.  Companies are communities too.

I'm currently on a "small is beautiful" kick in thinking a "one size fits all" strategy is unnecessary and even dangerous (too risky).  When someone champions some new experiment, it's not suddenly something the whole world needs to be into. 

We act locally.  Even within a shared urban setting, we're not uniform.  It's with that realization and assurance that we're not world takeover types that we get buy-in for more affordable scenarios, more like movies or plays (theatrical productions, don't have to be military).

So a Liberal, to me, is more of the "live and let live school" wherein communities are allowed to experiment, without forcing their lifestyle choices on the rest of us.  We might expect a phase in life where we "shop around", looking for our tribe.  We're talking millions of tribes.

How different from what I just described is our world of today?  That's debatable. I'm clearly hoping many more Quaker communities will be established, some with a high tech agrarian mix.  Organic farms using Linux and smart devices.  Close to the land.

Where we part ways as Global U teachers is precisely in how we choose to use our terms differently. Does the word "tribe" sound like a put down?  Offensive?  There's a sorting out that goes on as we engage in work-study within our Global U.  There's a search for one's people.

However there's no crime or sin in having our own vocabularies and shop talks.  Local meaning emerges naturally among groups.  That's precisely what to accept and not discourage.  Diversity is a feature, not a bug.

The challenge is to then stay aware of and responsive to the need to be clear and reflective, given all this diversity as a backdrop.

Related reading in another journal:

http://worldgame.blogspot.com/2016/08/basement-again.html

Views: 166

Comment by David McKay on 8th mo. 21, 2016 at 5:39pm

So a Liberal, to me, is more of the "live and let live school" wherein communities are allowed to experiment, without forcing their lifestyle choices on the rest of us.

I tend to use "pragmatist" for this - though in some circles "pragmatist" is a pejorative.

Comment by Kirby Urner on 8th mo. 22, 2016 at 1:57am

I like "pragmatist" and thank you for reminding me of it.  One of my teachers at university was Richard Rorty. He'd done a lot of homework around John Dewey and probably Charles Sanders Pierce, neither of which I've examined closely enough to feel entitled to their label -- explaining why I shy away from it.

I've been using "transcendentalist" a lot given my homework's focus, more on the Bucky stuff, which we weren't looking at as assigned reading.  Synergetics wasn't out until the late 1970s.  I jumped into that after I got my degree, pursued self-funded studies one could say. 

Where "transcendentalism" gets taught today, in a way that incorporates Fuller, I have no idea.  I suppose intellectual history courses that assign articles from Whole Earth Review and Aquarian Conspiracy as readings might get into it, but do any courses do that? 

I admit to being somewhat out of the loop on what passes for intellectual history these days, in a university context.  Of course that would vary by academy.  Possibly no one has good overview.  Acquiring knowledge of one's own time and one's contemporaries has never been an easy matter.  Services such as QuakerQuaker help us compare notes and develop more of a shared picture.

Comment by Keith Saylor on 8th mo. 22, 2016 at 3:32am
"However there's no crime or sin in having our own vocabularies and shop talks. Local meaning emerges naturally among groups. That's precisely what to accept and not discourage. Diversity is a feature, not a bug."

Hi Kirby. What dos you mean when you write having our vocabulary is not a sin? What is sin to you?
Comment by David McKay on 8th mo. 22, 2016 at 7:27pm

The whole post-modernist movement - especially in lit crit circles seems to own the pragmatists. But it has been a few years since I haunted the academy as well.

Comment by Kirby Urner on 8th mo. 22, 2016 at 11:35pm

Apologies for the delay.  A trying day.

Keith:  thanks for your excellent question, which takes me back to the Tower of Babel story.  God put the brakes on an all too human tendency to form into some pyramid-hierarchy that puts humans at the top, a totalitarian outcome.  We remain as parts in the whole.  We don't climb up to where God is.  What's sinful is to work against the grain and try to force a single narrative or interpretation.  An influence:  Norman O. Brown in Love's Body.

David, when I think of post-modernism, I seem to always come back to the same joke website, which must be tiresome for the rare postmodernist who happen to stumble on my writings, stashed here and there around Cyberia: 

http://www.elsewhere.org/journal/pomo/ (every time you hit reload, the computer writes another random paper).

Comment by Keith Saylor on 8th mo. 25, 2016 at 12:02am
The Babel story is a source of wonderment for me.

"Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. As people moved eastward,they found a plain in Shinar and settled there."

People say:

"Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth."

Their expressed reason for building a tower of brick and tar that reaches to the heavens is so that they will make a name for themselves and, thereby, will not be scattered over the face of the earth.

Then it happens that:

" ... the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. The Lord said, 'If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.'"

God becomes present in the city and sees that, as one people speaking the same language, nothing is impossible for them. God acknowledges that, acting under the same language, they could accomplish anything they plan. They can even accomplish reaching the heavens.

It is fascinating that the people are said to have understood that unless they build a tower to the heavens and thus make a name for themselves, they will be scattered over a the face of the earth. There is no indication that they thought God would do the scattering. They seemingly just gleaned that not building a tower to the heavens and making a name for themselves would just naturally result in their being scattered.

I wonder what they meant by "making a name for themselves?" It is as if making a name for themselves had the power to forestall being scattered over the earth. If they just attained the name they would have remained unscattered. Was it the building of an outward tower that would result in the naming and in the naming they had identity. Was it in the building the tower, under a common language, that gave them a common identity, meaning, and purpose ... a name or being?

If God had not been present, it is presumable that the people may have attained the heavens and been named among the heavens.

Maybe it is the very nature of the presence of God that people are not able to find a common outward language and therefore attain a name for themselves by the fashionings of outward ways and means? Even those scattered people, ostensively are unable to attain the heavens by their common shared outward language and the meaning and purpose the language offers.

I wonder whether the sin is in the activity of gaining a name, meaning, identity, and purpose through outward attainments whether in a scattered or unscattered group? What if that unscattered people had known or acknowledged God's Presence right their with them on the Shinar?
Comment by Kirby Urner on 8th mo. 25, 2016 at 12:31am

'If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.'

I read this to mean "they'll have no reality principle" -- if they think their ridiculous "stairway to heaven" plan will work, what will they think of next, right? 

God, the natural order of things, saved them from wasting their time, and the species.

These humans sure had hubris (were into "making a name for themselves").  We say arrogance is the height of folly.  In reality I don't think God needed to lift a finger (we know that now, seeing the Earth from outer space), but humans are telling this story, and from their point of view some deity must have frustrated their goofy plan. 

We still get that vibe of recrimination from the storytellers.  Humanity is still resentful about having to spread out and around, no chance of climbing up into the driver's seat and kicking back.

This is one of those Bible stories I might accept as literally true.  I can imagine a bunch of humans thinking a really tall tower might let them poke through the sky and take them to some pie in the sky big rock candy mountain.  Another one of those cults I was yakking about?

http://www.quakerquaker.org/forum/topics/continuing-revelation?comm...

Comment by Keith Saylor on 8th mo. 25, 2016 at 1:24am
---
Kirby the narrative specifically and explicitly says:

"The Lord said, 'If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them,"

When you write :

"I read this to mean "they'll have no reality principle" -- if they think their ridiculous "stairway to heaven" plan will work, what willthey think of next, right?"

Your reading is not part of narrative. The narrative specifically says their plan will work. The narrative goes even further to say they will the be able to do anything they plan.

The narrative in fact affirms the reality and power of this way of being. The narrative also affirms the reality and power of a difference way of being manifested in God's visiting the city.
Comment by Kirby Urner on 8th mo. 25, 2016 at 1:58am

The narrative specifically says their plan will work.

That's because stupid humans wrote this narrative (claiming it to be the Word of God, what else could they say if they wanted anyone to believe them?) and still believe it to this day it could have worked.  Ya think so? 

We'll maybe never see eye-to-eye on that; you have your interpretation, I have mine. We may still both be Friends.

Kirby

Comment by Keith Saylor on 8th mo. 25, 2016 at 2:27am
---
Kirby. I asked you what your thought sin is? You used the Babel story to explain sin this way: "What's sinful is to work against the grain and try to force a single narrative or interpretation."

Isn't it the case that you are trying to force a single narrative or interpretation? Then you go even further and set about professing the stupidity of the very writer of the narrative you used to help explain and support your understanding of sin.

Kirby, I love reading your posts and I love you as a Friend/friend. We agree on many things and disagree on others. On this one, I both agree and disagree.

I appreciate your thoughts that:

"God put the brakes on an all too human tendency to form into some pyramid-hierarchy that puts humans at the top, a totalitarian outcome.  We remain as parts in the whole"

And when you wrote:

"We don't climb up to where God is."

It just poured over me how true that was because God has climbed down to us, right into us, to the core of our conscious and conscience. We do not need to build outward towers and places, ideas, institutions, etc., to know God's presence. His throne is in our conscience. We recognize him in Shinar and everywhere else and in everything and everyone.

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