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this is the dawning of the age of aquarius
so are you gettin’ outta bed or what?
by tracey l. kelley (@TraceyLKelley)

Soon, the sun sign Aquarius will warm the interplanetary atmosphere. Aquarius – the humanitarian astrological sign. Bearer of water and ideas. Balancer of air and logic.

If you believe in that kind of thing.

Humankind’s quest for answers and explanation has lasted a thousand lifetimes. Like Homer’s lantern, forthright in its illumination of the path, each seeker is certain that something will reveal “the way.” Finally, a revelation of self, insight to the cosmos, meaning to existence. Religion has provided a touchstone for many, an opaque tradition that nevertheless radiates with a golden truth from within.

Yet the practices of ancient cultures remain popular. Astrology. Viking runes. Palmistry. Numerology. Feng shui. Tarot. Phrenology. Dream psychology. Moon signs. Reincarnation. Physiognomy. For some, the dark pot of questions reduces to anythingology – the study of whatever makes sense at the time.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not mocking these practices. To the contrary, I’ve had some pretty extraordinary experiences in my life that involved these very methods. Experiences that make your little nape hairs stand and salute, that sear through your brain with laser clarity. The kind that, if I told you, you probably wouldn’t give credence to anyway.

Unless you believe in that kind of thing.

Labeled occult, these methods of divination still contain a connection to the divine in their root. Supernatural exploration is indeed a search beyond the limits of nature and, again, attributed to a divine agent. Unfortunately, the word “occult” has become a brand name associated with negative or harmful actions. All it really means is a different way to look at the world before us, and find the means to fit into it.

Who am I to discount feng shui, a 4,000-year-old practice of placement, and its benefits when many other cultures have similar systems designed to promote continuous harmony between the natural and manufactured environment? Considering nature was the Earth’s first party host, it's only proper to be a gracious guest. In Eastern societies, multi-billion dollar corporations consult with feng shui experts before buying real estate or initiating construction. Unfortunately, I look at my humble abode and realize I have shuied so off base I may never achieve balance. I may have to move.

How can I say Pythagoras was full of mulled wine, mesmerized by nubile young maidens and created attributes for numbers to justify his own existence? Numerology is a complicated philosophy of number value in relation to karmic rhythms and cycles of the universe. Scientists were able to prove the cycles of the planets, so why not find a correlation to numbers as well? Name numerology expands the theory, suggesting given names and the corresponding number value of each letter can help you understand yourself and your future. Nevermind that recipients do not willingly select monikers like Hilda or Phil, so if the number value is also uninspiring, it’s just one more reason to hate being saddled with such a name.

And what about that proven science – the cycles of the moon? It’s true the moon affects many things, from a woman’s menses to ocean tides to the attitude of animals. Farmers plant large crops and backyard gardens by moon dates. You can cut your hair, make soap, paint or roof your home and achieve the desired result by operating within the appropriate moon dates. Moon sign astrologers say the movements of the moon rule emotions. I suppose that explains the werewolf phenomenon, but I still don’t understand the making soap or roofing aspect. Although I will say the time we roofed our house last year fell within favorable moon dates. The very next day after the roof was finished, there was a hailstorm.

Naysayers of astrology herald the fact that the actual constellations the signs were based upon 3,000 years ago have shifted, thereby rendering the entire practice faulty. The Earth’s axis is just a tad off true north, which means the constellations no longer rotate around Polaris, but Cephei. There are actually two types of astrology: sidereal and tropical, and many sun sign astrologers use the tropical method, which utilizes the path of planets rather than stars anyway. For that matter, these days many babies are induced, rather than “naturally incubated,” so are they missing out on their selective destinies either way? I think I’d have something to say about that if I grew up thinking I was a Leo and found out as an adult I was really a Virgo. Perhaps Oprah should do a segment on astrologically misplaced children.

Providing you believe in that kind of thing.

Famed astrologer Linda Goodman said of Aquarians, “Lots of people like rainbows. Children make wishes on them, artists paint them, dreamers chase them, but the Aquarian is ahead of everybody. He lives on one. What’s more, he’s taken it apart and examined it, piece by piece, color by color and he still believes in it.”

The corresponding astrological sun sign for my birth date is Aquarius. Which is probably why it’s easy for me to say whatever methodology you incorporate into your life, use it to its utmost potential. Use one, use them all. Ultimately, what you think will work for you, will. And that’s the crux of it all, isn’t it? Perhaps these practices are not so much predictive but psychological. If you trust in yourself, not in a subjective way, but wholly trust, then you trust life. Whatever you desire, whatever you see in yourself, whatever you choose to understand and accept in this world – all the answers will be revealed.

All you have to do is believe.


Tracey likes to shake things up and then take the lid off. She also likes to keep the peace, especially in a safe, fuzzy place. Writer, editor, producer, yogini, ('cause yoger or yogor simply doesn't work) by day, rabid WordsWithFriends and DrawSomething! player by night. You can follow her on Twitter: @traceylkelley or @tkyogaforyou

more about tracey l. kelley


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topic: general
published: 11.22.02

arms around the world
what the hugging saint is trying to teach us all
by tracey l. kelley
topic: general
published: 1.31.05


russ carr
1.14.02 @ 1:00a

Well, good morning, Starshine...!

The only real problem I see in acknowledging "that kind of thing," whatever particular flavor it may be, is that you're stuck with no one to blame but the universe when you don't turn out the way your numbers/stars/aura predicted.

If there are people so given over to synchronicity with the laylines of creation that they'll turn a houseplant 90 degrees to the left in order to unruffle their karma, then I'm willing to bet there are folks out there who (in a sort of converse to the "natural incubation" you referred to) would move heaven and earth to 1) conceive at a particular time and therefore 2) give birth at a particular time, in order to give their love child the best possible head start in becoming what "nature" intends. How unnatural!

tracey kelley
1.14.02 @ 9:04a

You and your obscure lyrics.... :)

Aligning your future child's universal wheels is no different than vending machine cloning. It frightens me to think of someone poking a little fork into a DNA chain and saying "you wanted black hair/blue eyes/IQ 185? She's done!"

At least if someone tried to give birth to a Leo with Aquarius ascending, there's still an element of chance...or God...or however you choose to look at it.

Don't get me started on the McCoy septuplets.

michelle von euw
1.14.02 @ 9:39a

Hee, I love Russ's scenario! Although, can you imagine going to all that trouble to make sure that your child is a Taurus and the damn kid is a few weeks late, and therefore, a Gemini?

Actually, my husband shows all the characteristics of a Leo, although he missed his due date and is "officially" a Virgo.

adam kraemer
1.14.02 @ 9:51a

Okay. a) I have a theory that the time of year in which you were born does affect your personality, but more because of external phonomena than the position of the stars. Someone born in, say, November spends the first four months of his life bundled up against the cold, while someone born in August is warmer, but the days are getting shorter for the first six months of his life. Stuff like that. It's just a thought.

b) One of the most accurate personality tests I've ever seen is colorgenics. Check it out.

adam kraemer
1.14.02 @ 9:52a

Sorry. Try this one instead. I'm not too bright and it's Monday.

mike julianelle
1.14.02 @ 10:16a

I knew a girl once who said that it wasn't when you you born that determined your horoscpe, but when you were SUPPOSED to be born that did. So tho I was born a Virgo, I was premature by a few weeks, so I should be a Libra. Which would be interesting if it wasn't all bullshit.

adam kraemer
1.14.02 @ 10:32a

Well, I'm a libra, but I'm supposed to have been a slightly older libra. What does that portend?

roger striffler
1.14.02 @ 10:54a

Who determines when you're "supposed" to be born, anyway? I'm pretty sure all of us were born exactly when we were supposed to be.
The docotrs prediction of the date is exactly that - a prediction - and simply designed to make everyone involved feel better.

mike julianelle
1.14.02 @ 10:59a

Yeah, and horoscopes are the same thing. Behavorial predictions based on the alignment of the solar system at the time you were born, designed to make everyone feel better. Oh, it says here I'm supposed to be a controlling, anal-retentive worry-wart! Thank God, I thought I was just a jerk.

adam kraemer
1.14.02 @ 11:16a

Well, I can tell you, Roger, that according to my mom, I was about two weeks post-mature and wound up starting to lose weight in utero. Reasonably certain that's not usually nature's intended plan. Therefore, I was supposed to have been born earlier.
Likewise with a 7-month preemie who has to go into the incubator. You're gonna claim that he was born exactly when he was supposed to be?

tracey kelley
1.14.02 @ 12:22p

Interesting points, everyone!

Roger! Buddy! :)

All the comments seem to be pointing in the same direction: what does "nature" intend? What if nature intended to have the preemie baby born at that time to avoid exactly what happened to Adam, which could have been disasterous? And what if Adam hadn't started losing weight - would there have been any other signal to his mom or the doctor to avoid a stillbirth?

I think many of these beliefs and religion stemmed from needing answers to questions just like these. Is it "human" nature to question, to analyze? Yes. But do we rattle ourselves by constantly searching, or would we be more at peace if we just accepted what is, is?

jael mchenry
1.14.02 @ 1:15p

Accept. The idea that Nature has a controlling intelligence specific to ordaining birth times and weights... I find it silly. Then again, I believe in God, so make your own joke.

My pet theory, that I'm going to write a book on one day, is that the weather is actually a conscious creature we're just not yet capable of understanding. It's smart, it's everywhere, and it's gunning for you, baby.

adam kraemer
1.14.02 @ 1:17p

See? That theory I like.

And I wasn't going to be stillborn, thank you very much. Just underweight and grey-green for a few weeks.

matt morin
1.14.02 @ 1:17p

I think belief is a very powerful thing. And if you believe in, say, Astrology and think you're a Virgo, then you'll find all kinds of connections with what a Virgo is supposed to be like. If you could replay life, a la Vanilla Sky, and were told the second time that you were a Leo instead, you'd probably find all kinds of similarities with Leo.

matt morin
1.14.02 @ 1:20p

I once saw a fortune telling experiment where someone took a class full of people. The guy took each person aside, talked to them for a second, then wrote down a very personal "fortune" about them. At the end of the class, he asked how accurate the fortunes were. Everyone was amazed that they were right on the money.

Then he revealed that every fortune was exactly the same.

adam kraemer
1.14.02 @ 1:54p

We did that in high school Spanish class once. For some classroom exercise on learning the calendar we all wrote down that our fathers were born on Sept. 21. The teacher was not amused.

matt morin
1.14.02 @ 1:59p

A Portrait of a Troublemaker as a Young Man.

tracey kelley
1.14.02 @ 2:04p

Adam, we're glad you weren't stillborn. I think that goes without saying.

Jael, I think you've got a nice little horror tale goin' on there.

There's still a matter of believing. Over the course of my life, I've found that people who don't believe in something are very disjointed individuals. They are constantly in search of...of...well, they just don't know what. Even people who just believe in the power of only money and power (of which I've known a few) have focus.

matt morin
1.14.02 @ 2:11p

Tracey, you're absolutely right. Everyone has to believe in something - whether it's religion, reading tea leaves, or asking the Magic 8 Ball.

I grew up in a house with a mom who is a neonatal nurse and a dad who did research in toxicology. So my belief has always been in science. Prove it to me. Then I'll really believe. (Although funny enough, I do believe in fate.)

roger striffler
1.14.02 @ 2:38p

At the risk of being all new-age-warm-and-fuzzy-tree-hugging....well, you get the point...I think it's fair to say that each of us is exactly who we are because of all of the moments and and incidents that led to this point in our lives. I just think it's arrogant to think that we can easily identify which ones really made a difference.

Tracey - babe! - I've missed ya!

Jael - I LOVE that theory! Weather will never be the same for me now.

Matt, I believe (among other things) in science too. I just think it can be misleading if you're drawing conclusions on just an aspect of the truth, not the whole picture, which of course, is nearly impossible to tell if you're doing it.

adam kraemer
1.14.02 @ 3:25p

Yeah, it's tough to define "whole picture" without being omniscient.

roger striffler
1.14.02 @ 3:59p

BTW Adam - in case it's not obvious - so glad you survived the whole birthing process!

adam kraemer
1.14.02 @ 5:20p

Thanks. Right back atcha, big guy.

tracey kelley
1.15.02 @ 8:31a

I also believe in science, and let's face it: even that is extension of grand belief. Put men on the moon? Nah. Connect with people around the globe via a phone line? Nah.

mike julianelle
1.15.02 @ 9:19a

I don't think science is really so much a "belief" these days as a fact. Sure, we can't anticipate a lot of the things we can do, but I don't think accepting science is a matter of faith. This ain't the Dark Ages.

jael mchenry
1.15.02 @ 9:32a

The Dark Ages probably didn't think they were the Dark Ages either. How do you know FOR SURE that science is real? How do you know the hurricanes really aren't plotting against us?

mike julianelle
1.15.02 @ 9:35a

Oh, I totally agree that the weather a)has a personality; b)is evil; and c)hates humans, but that doesn't discredit science's role. I think science and...what, mysticism?, the supernatural?, Michael Jackson's face?, can co-exist.

russ carr
1.15.02 @ 9:42a

Was Homer's lantern what cast the shadows in Plato's cave?

Spiritual faith finds a counterpart of sorts in scientific theory, particularly as you approach higher-concept science. Theory fills in the gaps to provide a reasonable explanation for the things we cannot experience directly, such as "dark matter." There's a reason why the Grand Unification Theory (lusted over by Hawking and his peers) is often also called the "God Theory."

And Michael Jackson's face is proof that the devil has his own scientists, too.

mike julianelle
1.15.02 @ 9:51a

One of my favorite quotes is Nietzsche's "Faith is not wanting to believe what is true." Which speaks to his inability to trust religion. Just a cool quote. And a fun way to piss off Dad.

adam kraemer
1.15.02 @ 9:59a

Yeah. My dad hates when I quote Nietzsche, too.

michelle von euw
1.15.02 @ 12:11p

I believe in the hanging curve ball, high fiber, good scotch, that the novels of Susan Sontag are self-indulgent, overrated crap.

(Sorry, all the "I believes" inspired this post)

mike julianelle
1.15.02 @ 12:24p

I believe the children are our future.

adam kraemer
1.15.02 @ 12:54p

I believe I can fly.

matt morin
1.15.02 @ 1:28p

Michelle, as a Red Sox fan, you definitely have to believe in the hanging curve ball. ; )

mike julianelle
1.15.02 @ 2:04p

Matt, as a Red Sox fan, I hate you.

jael mchenry
1.15.02 @ 4:26p

I'm gonna live forever. Light up the sky like a flame ... fame. I'm gonna make it to heaven.

Baby, remember my name.

tracey kelley
1.16.02 @ 9:59a

Heaven? Are you sure there is one?

russ carr
1.16.02 @ 10:55a

Heaven must be there. Well it's just got to be there.

adam kraemer
1.16.02 @ 11:14a

Heaven isn't too far away. Closer to it every day.

mike julianelle
1.16.02 @ 11:21a

Is that Warrant? They filmed a video in my town.

matt morin
1.16.02 @ 12:46p

Oooh Baby do you know what that's worth?

We'll make heaven a place on earth.

They say in heaven, loves comes first.

We'll make heaven a place on earth.

jael mchenry
1.16.02 @ 3:22p

Heaven. I'm in Heaven. And my heart beats so that I can hardly speak. And I seem to find the happiness I seek, when we're out together dancing cheek to cheek.

(Let the grammar dorks now begin to argue whether I'm missing hyphens.)

mike julianelle
1.16.02 @ 3:25p

Unless you're going to argue with yourself, it ain't happening.

russ carr
1.16.02 @ 4:46p

Now I know how Tracey felt before she published her recent column. It's like the stars are aligning, just for me.

mike julianelle
1.16.02 @ 4:47p

Then hurry up and get it out there, Russell.

sloan bayles
1.16.02 @ 11:17p

"Is this heaven? No, it's Iowa." Couldn't resist that one. Everyone believes in something, even the people who believe in nothing. If the aligning of planets in the universe predestines our lives, and God created the universe...well, that could be a long discussion. As a controlling, anal retentive worry wart I find the convenient excuse of saying "but I'm a Virgo" reassuring. That way I can pass it off as some preordained personality traits, and hey, who wants to screw with destiny? Whether one believes in astrology, numerology, God, the words of a Shaman, or that protozoans come back as a higher life form, I think the main point is to believe. Good job Trace.

tracey kelley
1.17.02 @ 9:30a

"Is this Heaven? No, it's Iowa." Cuuuute, very cute.

mike julianelle
1.17.02 @ 9:43a

Sloan, I gotta say i'm impressed you read this whole discussion!

But how do you know screwing with destiny isn't your destiny?

sloan bayles
1.17.02 @ 11:07p

Good point Michael. Who knows if there is really destiny at all, or if it's simply all happenstance. And how would you know if you're screwing with destiny anyway. Kinda like Rubick's cube, too much thinking for my gray matter. Enjoyed the commentaries almost as much as the column. Trace, of course I couldn't pass up that line!! Too apprapeaux.

juli mccarthy
1.18.02 @ 11:53a

An artist acquaintance of mine has another theory about destiny, and I thought it was pretty interesting. She claims that a person IS a product of his environment, literally - that if you are a city-born person, you're attuned to straight lines, concrete, wire; if you're rural-born and raised, you're attuned to trees and other nature crap like that. She claims the air, water, etc., that you take in has been affected by its environment, thus, you, the intaker, have too. I dunno if I believed it, but it was a novel enough concept for me to say, "Hmmm..."

adam kraemer
1.18.02 @ 12:10p

I grew up in the suburbs. What does that make me?

mike julianelle
1.18.02 @ 12:20p

A Jewish Vanilla Ice?

adam kraemer
1.18.02 @ 12:50p

Mr. Van Winkle isn't Jewish?

jael mchenry
1.18.02 @ 1:03p

Killing my brain like a poisonous mushroom?

mike julianelle
1.18.02 @ 1:04p

I'm getting deja-vu.

juli mccarthy
1.18.02 @ 2:33p

Adam, I think you're probably attuned to minivans and Blockbuster video stores.

mike julianelle
1.18.02 @ 2:35p

I hate minivans.

michelle von euw
1.18.02 @ 3:12p

Juli, don't forget the strip malls!

Mini-vans are evil harbingers of old age and death. I will never, ever own one. I will, however, borrow one to transport my couch from the store to my home. Does that make me a hypocrite?

matt morin
1.18.02 @ 3:48p

But do you think that way about SUVs. Because for 99% of the population, they're just higher mini-vans.

michelle von euw
1.18.02 @ 4:12p

SUVs dont' carry the suburban soccer mom stench that minivans do. And also, they didn't just kill a child outside of a school, like a defective door on a minivan did here this week.

I personally am not a fan of the SUV, mainly because a lot of the people who own them can't drive them, and a lot of city parking spaces are really designed for say, a Geo Metro instead of an SUV. I did, however, acquire an SUV-owning husband, so I may be guilty by association.

matt morin
1.18.02 @ 4:17p

"The soccer mom stench." I love it. :)

russ carr
1.18.02 @ 4:26p

How come strip malls are nothing like strip clubs?

mike julianelle
1.18.02 @ 4:29p

How come strip clubs are nothing like club sandwiches?

matt morin
1.18.02 @ 5:22p

For all strip malls and strip clubs contribute to America, they may as well be the same...

tracey kelley
1.18.02 @ 6:45p

"Soccer mom stench" that must be something like 'fresia' from Bath and Body Works.

tracey kelley
1.28.02 @ 11:08a

I just found this awesome quote from John Steinbeck: "It seems apparent that species are only commas in a sentence, that each species is at once the point and base of the pyramid...one species merges in another, melt into ecological groups until the time when we know as life meets and enters what we think as non-life: barnacle and rock, rock and earth, earth and tree, tree and rain and air...most of the feeling we call religous, most of the mystical outcrying which is one of the most prized and used and desired reactions of our species, is really the understanding and the attempt to say that man is related to the whole thing."

adam kraemer
1.28.02 @ 11:32a

In other words, "The Force is ... an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together."

tracey kelley
1.28.02 @ 1:17p

Tracey wipes the glib off her brow. Thank you Adam. You would make a fine Jedi.

adam kraemer
1.28.02 @ 1:19p

You guys are just lucky that I opted to stay out of the strip club/mall conversation.

In truth, it's possible that Lucas heard the same Steinbeck quote.

greg cunningham
2.6.02 @ 11:58a

Believe it or not, Tracey, there is another Fiberglass slaesman that I travel with through Iowa and Nebraska who loves discussing topics such as these as much as I do. And the discussions get pretty deep (deep in what is another discussion)-or as deep as one can expect in Montezuma, Iowa after a sales call at Betty's diner while chowing on the blue plate special (pork product in gravy) over multiple-bottles of MGD...

greg cunningham
2.6.02 @ 12:12p

...his philosophy is that without a belief in a GOD or a religon (mostly he refers to the big white three-C. C. or J.)a person is void of a moral compass.

I prefer to take an eclectic approach and eliminating what I consider the man-made b.s. fear-factor, controlling-the-masses, my-God-can-beat-your-God rules of engagement. I figure that since man is imperfect so is his interpretation (distortion) over the years and religous beliefs are too personal to be regimented. I'm open to hearing just about anything but when the sermon is over I'll make my own decision.

(Of course, I have it on good authority that I'm already destined to burn in Hell so follow this philosophy at your own risk)...

tracey kelley
2.6.02 @ 12:14p

Greg! Why, if I hadn't seen you just last night, I'd swear you fell of the edge of Sioux City.

So, regale us with some of the deep discussion. Try to take your hand off "that" while you speak, eh? :)

adam kraemer
2.6.02 @ 12:15p

That particular belief doesn't leave much room for secular humanism, does it? The only way to know right from wrong is to get the answer from God?

tracey kelley
2.6.02 @ 12:17p

Ouch. Did we hit each other with that simultaneous posting?

Okay. So that's the religion angle. What about the other forms of preoccupation?

greg cunningham
2.6.02 @ 12:25p

...Kind of a tapestry Religion-but I don't think I do this just to get the perks and avoid the heavy lifting. I follow the 'do unto others..." and if I do someone wrong I am man enough to admit it and make amends.
But I don't believe that a baby is 'born into sin'. (don't rush me-I'll get there, I promise) That's the fear factor stuff I reject.
Christmas to me has become a bribe from the church for it's followers to get goodies to hang on with the tribe for one more year. Or maybe it's our new religon Shopping and our new church Mega-Malls. I try to avoid both because too much of it tells the little guy in me somethings not Kosh...um...somethings not right. So I like the idea of going back to some of the other faiths (American Indian, Chinese, Greek, etc.) and trying to find something different.

adam kraemer
2.6.02 @ 12:33p

But I'm saying, why does it have to be a religion at all? Why does there have to be a higher power dictating the rules?
That said, I'm Jewish and I do believe in God. But I'd like to think that even without a "creator" I'd still be living my life, trying to be a good person.

russ carr
2.6.02 @ 12:55p

We once got locked out of our car in Montezuma, IA, when we stopped for gas en route to IACity.

Without a higher power, Adam, who makes the rules? Order can't exist in a power vacuum. A moral hierarchy is established when there is a power hierarchy. If everyone was equal, and no one answered to anyone, where would be the justification for rules? And without rules to establish a code of conduct, how would you know you were "good" or "bad"?

Deities are created in order to create an absolute. You can't argue with a god. He/she/it will always be more powerful than you, and will smite you if you get out of hand. In today's modern society, the state can take the role of a god, then dismiss a spiritual deity as superstition. But if wasn't for the preceding millenia of spiritual morality, there would be no civic morality.

adam kraemer
2.6.02 @ 1:05p

Huh? Your argument is that deities were created by man in order to impose laws on the superstitious. Whether or not I agree, doesn't that contradict your "who makes the rules" question? The leaders who impose their will on the populace make the rules, even if they need to create a god to enforce them. On the other hand, are you arguing that there's no such thing as morality outside of religion? Something is either good or bad only because God says it is? I recognize that there are shades of grey in most instances, but even in situational ethics, there's some sort of moral compass saying things like, "saving lives=good; killing innocent babies=bad."

russ carr
2.6.02 @ 1:25p

I'm saying that without a real (ie: not created by man's imagination) Higher Power, that no moral code would have developed. It's easy for modernistas to argue that man developed a sense of right or wrong on his own, because in the intervening thousands of years, man has lost sight of his origins.

And re: situational ethics... what's the old line about atheists and foxholes? I'm not saying you, the individual, must have a deity to have a sense of right and wrong -- that morality has been cultivated over millennia of social evolution. But it (like life on Earth) had to initiate somewhere.

It's a chicken/egg question: Man claims to create God, but if God had not instilled a sense of morality in His creation, how/why would man need to create God?

adam kraemer
2.6.02 @ 1:27p

Ummm...to answer the question of what happens when we die, for one.

You're still arguing that killing innocent babies is only amoral because God says it is?

russ carr
2.6.02 @ 1:50p

The same thing that happens to that deer you just hunted. Or the mosquito you just slapped. Or the tree that just fell. How do you create the concept of an afterlife from scratch?

Once upon a time, yes.

Wrap your mind around this: You are the first man on earth. There is no deity, no police department. It's just you and the world.

How do you know how to live?

adam kraemer
2.6.02 @ 1:54p

Well, for one thing, I'd learn pretty quickly that no meant no. Assuming Eve wasn't adverse to physical violence either.

So how do animals know not to kill and eat their own kind(most of the time)? Is there a kitty god telling fluffy that the bird in the yard is okay to eat, but the cat next door is verboten?

matt morin
2.6.02 @ 1:57p

But say you're the second person on earth, and the first person comes up to you and hits you in the head with a rock. It hurts. You don't like it. Suddenly, hitting people with rocks becomes bad.

Obviously over-simplified, but you get the picture.

jael mchenry
2.6.02 @ 2:04p

You're the second person: getting hit with a rock is bad. But the first person may still think hitting you with a rock is good. So unless the second person has something to point to -- a power structure -- there is still no morality, no punishment, no concept of "good."

There is, however, another rock...

adam kraemer
2.6.02 @ 2:08p

Okay. I'll go with you on that. But it's still not an argument for God-given morality.

One assumes that you can communicate at this point. Maybe you decide that rather than hitting each other with rocks, which (from the pain) you've determined is "bad," you decide to get together and hit that gazelle with rocks so you can both eat that night.

Because unless, of course, you believe 100% in Creationism, chances are you're already travelling in packs, like the monkeys you evolved from.

matt morin
2.6.02 @ 2:15p

I wasn't debating the concept of power-created morality. I was debating the concept of God-created morality.

Think about how morality has changed since our grandparents were born. Back then, it was immoral to have sex (or at least have a child) without being married. That was a sin in the eyes of God.

Now we have Wilt Chamberlain and Madonna.

jael mchenry
2.6.02 @ 2:27p

I thought Russ was suggesting that the second man created God to scare the first man into not hitting him with the rock. Matt, are you arguing that morality evolves objectively from context?

russ carr
2.6.02 @ 2:37p

Jael, you come closest to getting my point...but I never introduced a second man, that was Matt. And the third man was introduced by Raymond Chandler.

My point was, you could have umpteen men (and/or women) all coming from the trees or the ocean, or whatever evolutionary track you prefer...but in such a scenario, because they're all on the same blank page, morality wise, there's no one who knows what's right or wrong. Or, as you pointed out, the first man doesn't know that hitting the second man isn't a good thing, even if the second man doesn't particularly enjoy it.

As for throwing rocks at gazelles...there's no morality in survival. (Rent "Battle Royale" sometime.) Eating people is considered immoral, but if the rest of your soccer team was stuck on a peak in the Andes, wouldn't Pele over there start looking a tad more succulent?

Morality came from somewhere. Where individual actions lie on the continuum of good-to-evil is a matter of social evolution in some instances...but the fundamental GvE concept was imparted, not evolved.

mike julianelle
2.6.02 @ 2:44p

The Third Man was Graham Greene. But please go on. This is interesting.

russ carr
2.6.02 @ 2:52p

You are correct, sir.

And I really need to get some work done. Like checking out the PBS website's page for Frontline's upcoming two-part series, "American Porn."

It's a moral imperative.

adam kraemer
2.6.02 @ 3:01p

Imparted by God, Russ? When He gave us our consciousness? Not a fan of Hobbes' social contract, then?
(or was is Hume?)

russ carr
2.6.02 @ 3:04p

I thought I made that clear earlier.

jael mchenry
2.6.02 @ 3:52p

The Third Man was Harry Lime, played by Orson Welles, no?

Not to be confused with "The Third Mouse," which was a movie parody by way of Pinky and the Brain.

Which rocked.

mike julianelle
2.6.02 @ 4:02p

Yes, Third Man, Lime, Welles. I have no intimate knowledge of the Pinky and the Brain cartoon. Althought I liked their two voices the one or two times I saw the show.

adam kraemer
2.6.02 @ 4:06p


mike julianelle
2.6.02 @ 4:20p


russ carr
2.6.02 @ 4:22p

Amazingly, Brain's voice sounded amazingly like Welles'.

mike julianelle
2.6.02 @ 4:26p

Yes. And I'm sorry about this, but you let me near a discussion and some vapid form of entertainment is bound to come up. But please, let the record show that while I may have helped (along with Russ) derail the God-talk into Third Man territory, Jael brought us to cartoons.

adam kraemer
2.6.02 @ 4:28p

Ever see the episode of "The Critic" where Jay is looking at a retrospective of Welles' later work, and it's all television commercials? Welles is sitting there going, "Rosebud... yes, Rosebud frozen peas. Full of country goodness and green peaness. Wait, that's terrible. I quit."

russ carr
2.6.02 @ 4:35p

I couldn't resist the Third Man bit, but it would've played off so much nicer if I'd gotten the damned author's name correct.

We go from thoughtful theological debate to "green peaness." Mea maxima culpa.

jael mchenry
2.6.02 @ 4:36p


I brought us to cartoons because I was more interested in that than the divine morality thing. Sorry: I'm having a shallow day.

Poit! Troz!

And Maurice LaMarche, who did the voice of Brain, did several voices on The Critic, if I remember my credits.

mike julianelle
2.6.02 @ 4:41p

I remember the Critic as having its moments but overall being pretty unappealing. But his senile father was a hoot. I think.

adam kraemer
2.6.02 @ 5:01p

Bite your tongue, man. I love that show.

Though I do have to say, I've liked it much more in Comedy Central re-runs than when it first aired.

russ carr
2.6.02 @ 5:04p

Aha! Maurice LaMarche twice played Orson Welles on "The Critic." Wheee! IMDb rocks.

We've got a guy here at TSN, sits only like 50 feet from me, looks just like Duke Phillips. We've told him as much.

russ carr
2.6.02 @ 5:05p

And is this column in the Top 3 for length yet? After today, it's gotta be getting close.

jael mchenry
2.6.02 @ 5:08p

It's #2, surpassed only by Tracey's other uber-discussable piece, "joe said write a column..."

Raise your hand if you love Tracey!

tracey kelley
2.7.02 @ 9:17a

I'd like to thank the Academy....

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