“The beginning is near!”  

Check this space for updates and details as the date draws closer. 


The power of story.                             photo by D Sharon Pruitt, wikimedia

Perhaps you’ve noticed the ad below in Merida English Library’s newsletter.  It’s an invitation to a conversation, not to a lecture. I’m hoping that you, and others, might enjoy discussing primitive stories which touch on human nature — stories that could enhance our understanding of ourselves and our interactions with each other.  Of course, there will be some god-talk, as God is a character in these stories. There is likely to be some irreverence, as we may have issues with this first-appearing character. We will need to suspend doctrinal positions, endeavoring to ask apt questions of the text. Right questions, rather than bright answers, will be our focus.  Civility will be maintained at all times.

This is an experimental project which cannot get far in a single hour.  (We will examine only a small portion of chapter one at  this first meeting.)  I’m very grateful to the Board of MEL for allowing us to convene in the courtyard of the library, but we must move elsewhere if we wish to continue this conversation.  Please bring your spontaneity.  ~eric.

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APOCALYPSE VIII: Le quatrieme Ange sonne de la trompette, image at El Escorial (Real Biblioteca de San Lorenzo) uploaded to Wikimedia by Cnb.

APOCALYPSE VIII: Le quatrieme Ange sonne de la trompette, image at El Escorial (Real Biblioteca de San Lorenzo) uploaded to Wikimedia by Cnb.

Book Review.

What if “The Second Coming” of Jesus, the Messiah, already happened during the span of his own generation, as he himself predicted?  

That it has, is the hypothesis of a rigorous, engaging book which deserves consideration by deeply thoughtful Christians, and anyone who enjoys church history.  I, for one, have long suspected there is merit to such a project.  And the author, Charles S. Meek, has made a superb presentation of this rare position, termed preterism (over-against futurism, and variants of millenialism) which deserves to be more widely pondered.  Be prepared to be effectively disabused of scriptural fantasy if you happen to have read any of the popular “Left Behind” series. And clergy might wish to keep an eye on this book, as it seeds their audiences with focused, pertinent questions.

While the title of the book, Christian Hope through Fulfilled Prophesy is rather bland (and the subtitle is rendered in obscurantist grad-school speak: An Exposition of Evangelical Preterism) — the topic is quite edgy, the writing is logical, compelling, and accessible, if a bit repetitious at times; and the author has done a thorough job of defending his thesis with rigorous examination of scripture, and historical material:  “…we will show that a strong case can be made that fulfillment of the entire prophecy of Revelation occurred in association with the Jewish-Roman War of AD 66-70 and the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple.”

Normally I avoid books on “End Times” as they are filled with unreasonable speculation and nonsense.  This book intrigued me, as it argues from history, illustrating that we are beyond the era of the promised Parousia (second coming of Christ).  While I’m unfamiliar with the author, and until now was not aware that anyone was working seriously on this topic, this book seems important, as it effectively refutes much that has damaged Christianity.  But perhaps the book needs a new title?  Maybe something like:  

JESUS RETURNED.  Christians Slept:

First-Century Prophetic Fulfillment.

Yes, the book deserves to be repackaged somewhat for the general audience it claims to seek: “this book is written for the informed laymen…”  And, if repackaged, I would hope the author would adjust a few things, like inclusive language (instead of referring to theologians as “men” while several times quoting women from that field).  Mr. Meek also reveals bias against liberal Christians, yet many of his detractors would seem to be his fellow conservatives.  (He appropriately holds the feet of those critics to the fire by diligently focusing on the text.)  And we can suspect that he is liberal-minded in the best sense, due to the controversial nature of his thesis — conservatives putatively being more inclined to hew to the status quo regarding such a topic.  But his bias against “liberals” is often vague, unwarranted, and mostly unfortunate.  

His utilization of pertinent quotes shows us that he has read widely — Tolstoy, Ratzinger, Augustine, Eusebius.  And his end notes are superb in marshaling the history and resources from his research on eschatology regarding his thesis.  He also takes a good shot at careerism among the clergy by formulating questions for parishioners to ask their pastors regarding scriptural positions in tension regarding a second coming.  (Heads up. This guy is not afraid to stir the pot!)  I’m reminded of a quote from CS Pierce, saying those who love truth are destined to agree – which would seem to characterize the spirit of his effort.  How refreshing!

We are now able to dispense with waiting for search lights to converge on the Temple Mount, scanning the skies for a bearded guy on a white horse, descending in a cloud.  The prophetic promises have been fulfilled, if we are able to agree with the author. Said promises are carefully detailed and examined in this edifying book.  



Portrait of a mosquito, emerging from her pupa. Laboratory culture at Rockefeller University

Portrait of a mosquito, emerging from her pupa. Laboratory culture at Rockefeller University

(Sorry. My keyboard is suddenly missing letters.)  But I must write about mosquito spraying.  There is dengue fever in town.  And the city is spraying heavily, thinking this will solve the problem.  I’m no biologist, but I notice that the early results seems to be a sudden increase in mosquitoes, perhaps due to a vanishing of dragonflies, their best predator.




 When we arrived (early September) the dragonflies were plentiful  around our pool, probably because they were attracted by the scent of water during a drought.  (They consume huge numbers of mosquitoes, and are a good sign of control.)  The city sprayed in early October, and suddenly the dragonflies were gone. Then the mosquito population exploded.  (Immediately after the spraying, the pool surface was littered with dead mosquitoes; but I saw no dead dragonflies.)  However, I’ve seen no living dragonflies lately.  Yet absence of evidence (of dragonfly corpses) is not evidence of absence, so I can’t claim the spraying killed the dragonflies. Yet, the mosquitoes are worse than ever, and I’ve not seen dragonflies lunching lately. 

The problem with poison is that it kills indiscriminately, and won’t quit: mosquitoes, dragonflies, bats, people(?) — yes, it’s toxic to mosquitos, but perhaps not wise, especially if it executes natural predators doing a good job for free. 

The spray truck went down our street tonight, twice.  (I know the city cares about the citizens and tourists, but they may have a mistaken notion of how to fix this problem.) I immediately closed our windows.  Worse, this morning I had noticed that a neighbor has an old concrete tinaco without a lid, and there is a foot of water in it, which I saw by tiptoeing across their roof.  I wonder how many of these failed structures are hatching little bloodsuckers in this town while we sleep? Look up!  

¿Best control, no toxicity to us:


Amazon de|ivers some products to buyers in Mexico, but I’m unsure about dunx.  I suggest reading the reviews at Amazon.  I’ve used this product for the past two years, and am impressed, but have done no scientific assessment.  My experience is that the first year it controlled for larvae beyond my imagining. Year one, our property manager had tossed a dunk into the pool at least once per month.  When we arrived in September 2014, I found no presence of larvae whatsoever.  (The pool had been drained before leaving in April, but had accumulated some rainwater and leaves; it contained no pool chemistry.)  I entered the pool wearing boots and shorts, no camisa. I didn’t get bit even once.

This year, under the same regimen, some larvae were present.  The product, which contains a biological aspect called bacillus thurengensis israeli, would appear to have a shelf life. But maybe the presence of dragonflies had kept the population low. And the bats help in the evenings. (Bats are notoriously susceptible to pesticides, and we’ve also seen far fewer of them in October than we did in September, before the spraying.)  

Full disclosure: I have no commercial interest in the dunks product.  I am merely a customer (and a Vine Voice reviewer) at Amazon.  But I was not invited to review the dunks product, finding it on my own.


Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

I enjoy well-crafted biographies. Examining the details of meaningfully-led lives, with the help of capable and honest scholars who are also talented writers, can be inspiring and instructive. When asked by an educator during the space race of the 1960’s, what students ought to be studying, Professor Einstein (not my topic) didn’t say math and science, but rather, he suggested they read the lives of the great ones.

Recently I’ve enjoyed a pairing of such literary encounters in the lives of two magnanimous, heroic Europeans: Albert Schweitzer, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Both men were courageous independent-thinkers with high ideals; both thrived on learning, and both sacrificed personal success while striving to make significant contributions to our social conditions. And both were seriously impacted by war, becoming estranged from conventional church-life, while yet remaining deeply committed to spiritual living. The pairing of these two books is sublime, for which I thank the Divine Librarian!

SCHWEITZER: A Biography, by George Marshall and David Poling, is NOT the topic of my review, but the book can be found by clicking.

While Schweitzer’s life (“my life is my argument”) may have inspired me a bit more – his project lasted for over fifty years, into his 90’s – Bonhoeffer’s may be more the more challenging and instructive in its shortness and cost. I read his book, Cost of Discipleship, some years ago, which I thought profound. This biography expands my appreciation of his contributions significantly. Therefore my review will focus entirely on the Bonhoeffer biography, STRANGE GLORY since this book is newly available in paperback. (I made copious notes in it, while the Schweitzer bio was a nice first edition from 1971 which I found online for little more than cost of shipping, so I didn’t mark it up.)

As a result of the B-biography, I now have a much deeper understanding of how Germany came to be drawn into WW2 — and church history played a significant role – more-so than mere geopolitics, which is what I recall from history classes. Yes, the Treaty of Versailles ending the Great War was overly punitive, financially, to Germany (which makes the current German action towards the Greek economy seem ironic). But I wasn’t aware of the way Hitler manipulated the German churches which received funding from the state for social functions such as funerals, baptisms, weddings – and still do.

He had been a German citizen for only a year when he was appointed Chancellor by Pres.Hindenburg, who died a year later, in 1934. Hitler installed a puppet Reichskircher, head of church/state rules and relations, and then used him to fan flames of nationalism, mostly among conservatives, regarding economic injustices imposed by the Treaty ending the previous war.

Bonhoeffer was a young academic tutor at the time, having just finished his doctorate in theology. He could see what was being done on the political stage, and attempted to rally opposition against the regime, by forming resistance groups in the churches. But the liberal position of Bonhoeffer and his young adherents was easily and ruthlessly outlawed, making them into enemies of the state, eventually. This is all told in very compelling prose, knit together by careful research from an author who has spent much of his career studying B’s life. The politics against the churches were masterful, and bloody – the undetected aim being to gut the churches of moral sentiment, effectively canceling Christianity as a social power in Germany.

For those with delicate sentiments I will alert you that there is evidence in this volume of clay feet, which I will not spoil by elaborating beyond the word SEX. The case builds, and the conclusion near the very end is surprising, and credible, in an almost incredible way. But such are the natures of deeply honorable people


Here's lookin'at you, kid.

Here’s looking at you, kid.

Sermon from MOUNT LEVEL plateau  :  blending the essential reports of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, into a single account of these core ethics teachings of Jesus (“the Sermon”).  Translated from Greek, reading between the lines.  (Don’t let your spiritual life go flat!)

Jesus came down to the shore of a lake with his students, to speak to a large crowd, inviting anyone far & wide — up, to listen and to be healed.  Each member of the gathering pressed to touch Him, for they sensed they were consumed with their own distractions, needing whatever it was he had – feeling by it they could attain to their true potential – and noticing a powerful peace enveloping them.  He got into a boat, pushed off a bit, and settled into his peaceable kingdom – to address them freely, summoning their attention in order to share his dominion – saying :   

[The Beatitudes :  An inverted kingdom of beautiful attitudes]

Divinely happy are you – powerless.  For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to the powerless!

Divinely happy are the sad!  (?)   Be encouraged that comfort beckons from within, – closer than your very own breath. Laugh, even!

Divinely happy you, starving.  Yet real satisfaction (manna!) is right within you.

Divinely happy are those who claim nothing as their own; they shall receive graciously, and go gently.

Divinely happy are the helpful, for they shall be helped.

Divinely happy are you who are purified from desire, by fire. Right now you have opportunity to behold your own true Nature.

Divinely happy are you utterly-dependent children-of-God  — as you resemble the peacefulness of your Father.

Divinely happy are those who are driven away, tossed out, rejected – for all of heaven is their home. 

Divinely happy are you when you are hated, insulted, abused, falsely accused for My sake.  Celebrate! – and be deeply grateful, as your reward is now, heavenly – for I count you precious, along with the prophets who testified before you, who were also abused.  You needn’t be ashamed, with Me! 

Divinely happy you, who are the spice of the domain. However, if seasoning is either excessive, or withheld, it spoils the flavor of the dish, rendering it useless.

Divinely happy you, an elegant portal thru which light passes to the inhabitants of a hilltop community — light which can neither be obstructed, nor overlooked.  ¶  Nobody would hide a lamp beneath a tub – but rather, position it centrally, to shine for the entire household.  So, let your (our!) light shine for everyone, enabling them to notice the beauty of The Source, as reflected by your beautiful attitude.

Divinely happy are your smilin’eyes for they see Me (Us!) everywhere they look.

Divinely happy are those who hear the words of God, and honor them.

Divinely happy are my slaves [*see comment section] who are alert, watching for Me, your Master, coming to serve you a meal which you’ll never forget – and it’s always on the house!

Divinely happy are those who come in my Name, my Nature.

So come!– you who are awakening into divine delight – come to the blessing offered by Our Father, receiving the Kingdom prepared for Us, which is already here since before the world was impregnated.  We can live large together, as family!

But don’t suppose I’ve come to dismantle the Teachings [of Moses] and the prophets.   (Such would-be dismantlers ruin their calling, for I tell you truly that heaven and earth would perish before the Teachings could ever be dismantled.) Instead, I’ve come to bring even the tiniest details of those Teachings fully alive.  Let’s be clear: adhering to basic teaching and learning has benefits in God’s kingdom, inviting us higher.

However, unless your integrity surpasses that of many legalistic church folk or grandstanding do-gooders, your warfare with yourself to attain that inner kingdom could fail, due to inattention.  Yes, we’re acquainted with the teaching prohibiting murder, but if we lose our peace, becoming angry towards brother or neighbor, we invite crisis.  Worse yet, if we announce our anger loudly, calling someone thoughtless, that will surely invite public scrutiny of both parties.  But denouncing someone as a moral slob taints you with the same smoldering stench of which you complain.  So, approaching the altar to make an atoning sacrifice for words or thoughts at large, first requires that we re-think our differences, and make amends.  Then a gift is acceptable, and receivable.

And we’ve all heard the instruction of the ancients, that we’re not to cheat on God or spouse, but I tell you merely imagining idolizing, cheating, is equally wrong.

   BEWARE, WOE.  The Greek translated woe sounds like why in English.  KJV translates it alas; it means weariness, grief, pitiable, awful.

Why?  You sold out so soon, getting rich quick, when you could have had so much more!  Why did you fill up on junk instead of favoring real nourishment?  Why have you built your own reputation rather than Mine?

¿ Got woe?  It’s not too late, if you have ears.  Love those who are hostile towards you, pray for those who damn you, Continue reading


NOTE: scroll down for posts newer than this, of Aug 2.

Double Portrait by Carl Fredric von Breda: prince-redeemer

Double Portrait by Carl Fredric von Breda.    (Nordiska museum)

S/He who is not part of the solution, is part of the problem. 

My recent effort to discuss racism blew up in my face.  The mistake of making a racist statement as parody didn’t work, causing friends and wife much pain. I thought they knew I was not a racist.  Again, I’m deeply sorry. We will not run the instant replay.  Yet I still have passion for the topics of racism, justice, and slavery.  (Regarding the portrait above, it is discussed far below.) 

I’ve spent most Saturdays since 1999 as a volunteer, talking with imprisoned sons of neighbors, ages 18-80, conducting what I call a stealth ethics-class disguised as a nondenominational Bible study (discontinued last summer after relocating to our seasonal home in Yucatan.)  Also, in mid-1970’s I brought home a black woman I was dating, to meet my parents and siblings on T-Day. (She eventually cut me loose, wisely saying our future would be too tough.)  ¿Am I a racist?  ¿ Are you?  Let’s gaze into the sacred mirror to examine ourselves. 

This essay is not about plantation owners of the past – it’s for today.  I’m asking you, regardless of your skin color, whether you’ve been released yet from enslaving stories. It is likely most of our human ancestors, male and female, were at one time slaves of those stronger than they — which, in one word, was the answer a tough-guy lawyer named Thrasymachus gave to Socrates, when addressing that central question of Plato’s Republic Q: What is justice?  //  T-guy’s A: the advantage of the stronger –see 7th ¶.   (Yes, the one-percenters, dominators, owned most of us, going way back, and maybe still do – but our sense of the past may be the toughest owner of them all.) Continue reading

MOM still keeps me sharp!

Of course, my Mom subscribes to my blog. She called me this afternoon, which doesn’t happen often. (We enjoy a weekly date.)  During her call, I asked her what she thought of my revision of the racism entry updated earlier today. Well, she said she hadn’t read it, as there was no notice of anything being new.  From her call I deduced that subscribers would not be aware of the revision, either, as it is not a new entry. (She’s my angel!)  So I went to fix it, which was a complex task, as the post and been removed by me, modified, and (mostly) stored in various ways.  And now I’m having logic problems with sequencing this post with the first one, so I gave up after a half hour of tinkering.

Please click the racism link above, to read the updated entry of the original post, if you are following that important issue.  ¶  A shout-out to my kid brother, who asked her the right question, causing her to call me, alert as ever.)  Yes, thanks, to ALL ten of my readers! (You know who you are.)

                        $$ LAZY MONEY $$

money photo: Money images241lllisalllindsay.jpgPhotobucket upload by lllisalllindsay

It has often been said that there are two factors that influence investment of capital: fear and greed.  I believe there is a third door available to those who don’t like to identify with either.   Significantly less emotional than the first two is wise stewardship.  Yes, we all want a safe place to shelter our resources and earnings.  But if it is too safe it risks becoming moldy, like a bumper crop of grain stored in a damp basement.  When earnings are parked in such spots they are removed from circulation, and idled, are rendered almost useless.  O, that there were parking fees routinely charged for such fearful handling of value, as an incentive to keep the energy flowing!  

Today’s interest rates on savings are certainly in the basement!  But between Friday June 30 and Monday July 6 we will have good opportunity to apply resources to a series of alarming situations.  The first moment arrives tomorrow, as a replay of Y2K:  markets need to add one second to the trading day.  The next will arrive by referendum.  The Greeks have a choice to become a perpetual underclass, or to go bankrupt.  This choice has roiled markets.  The scenario has come about due to investment bankers who, back in 2010, massaged the Greek application for EU membership, at considerable profit to themselves.  Stepping up to buy securities is a way of refuting this fear.  We can suppose that the present fear suggests the possibility of bank failures around the global.  But know this:  commerce will continue.  

A Nobel economist who has been largely correct about minimal likelihood of inflation (while the fearful foolishly bought gold as a hedge against inflation that never came) and the folly of austerity since 2007, is urging Greeks to vote NO on further austerity.  I do think he is right on this also, and hope they heed his call.  The opportunity really is for the Greeks to call the bankers’ bluff.  Bankruptcy is better than knuckling under to raw power.  Perhaps the Germans and financiers might remember a bailout known as the Marshall Plan which mercifully rescued them from economic disaster after WW2?  And maybe we each should unpark some funds to buy up a flood of fear.

¡¡ We ALL own the air and water !!

Gathering clouds of economic turmoil.

Gathering clouds of economic turmoil?

Too big to fail?  Nah!  But when filthy rich bullies foreclose on working folks, and then rent repo’d housing back to newly minted peons who now have greatly reduced wages, facing a future of wage slavery, it’s time to re-think.  

We need to re-invent capitalism.  I love it when new ideas pop to the surface on a sea of injustice.  An article and a book might be lifesavers for the peril ahead.  All of us should grab onto these ideas, before the generations (and nature) sink!  A quote from this well-argued article:

A “sky trust” could be created to hold America’s atmospheric pollution rights in trust for future generations and living pollutees equally. Using peer-reviewed science, the trust would decrease its sales of pollution rights over time until a safe level for nature was reached. Meanwhile, revenue from the sales would be distributed equally to every legal US resident with a Social Security number, offsetting—and in many cases, more than offsetting—the impact of higher fuel prices.

The sky trust model was based on the Alaska Permanent Fund, which since 1982 has been sharing oil-based income with every Alaskan equally. In 2009, the sky trust became known as “cap and dividend” and was considered, though not passed, by Congress. It’s still the best climate change solution out there—and one that Congress is starting to re-visit.

We can’t avoid repeating mistakes of the past unless we recognize them.  In this book, INJUSTICES,  a former clerk for a federal judge recounts the long and outrageous afflictions perpetrated by the Supreme Court on the larger population. (We don’t hear stories of such moral idiocy in high school.)  What is impressive is that there has been any justice delivered by the court, at all.  But that window was brief.  And the wealthy owners of influence are ascendant, unless We the people discover our past failures at self-governance, and demand change.