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Blogger Brian
Salem, Oregon
Recent Activity
Someone who had a problem with commenting sent me this message. I'm curious: has anyone else had this sort of problem when attempting to leave a comment? -------------------- Howdy! I'm trying to comment on your latest Open Thread, but I get a gray circle with a slash when I try to post. Thought I'd send it to you directly :) Maybe if we figure out what's wrong on your blog, you can answer it there for others to see as well. -Aditya Hi! Stumbled upon your blog randomly, through a Google search. I wish more people thought this way. Existence is miraculous and glorious. It's a shame we all walk around tacitly assuming we know what it is or means. As for the God issue, I do find a particular perspective useful. If this is all a dream, then the entire apparent universe (including time and space) is the manifestation of a mind of sorts (or a ground of latent possibilities). One goal is to get to know that mind directly (as opposed to through its manifestation). The claim is that through doing this, one can know intimately the process by which the primordial luminosity takes the form that we dream characters call existence. Curious your take on this view.
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David, I have heard your argument before. It doesn't make much sense to me, because before I was born I didn't exist, so I didn't know about death. But now that I'm alive, I'm aware of death, so it is disturbing to envision that when I die, I'll be gone forever. So there is a big difference between fearing the nothing after we die versus fearing the nothing before we were born.
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A few days ago I blogged about newly-elected city councilor Jackie Leung's effort to fulfill a campaign promise by attempting to get the Salem City Council to reconsider its decision to form a Lone Oak Road Reimbursement District. The Reimbursement District would raise money to pay for road improvements by... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Salem Political Snark
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Fresh off her upset victory in the Ward 4 City Council race, Jackie Leung is making good on her campaign promise to work hard on preserving open space in the Creekside neighborhood. She recognizes that unfettered development can't be allowed to diminish the quality of life for Salem residents. So... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Salem Political Snark
Aileen, Moses talked with an angel connected with God. Here's what Wikipedia says: "Moses fled across the Red Sea to Midian, where he encountered The Angel of the Lord, speaking to him from within a burning bush on Mount Horeb (which he regarded as the Mountain of God)." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moses And Wikipedia tells me that Abram had a pretty close relationship with God: "The voice of the Lord came to Abram in a vision and repeated the promise of the land and descendants as numerous as the stars. Abram and God made a covenant ceremony, and God told of the future bondage of Israel in Egypt. God described to Abram the land that his offspring would claim: the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaims, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites, and Jebusites." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abraham I'm sure there are quite a few other examples of Old Testament people getting messages from God.
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It's a real battle going on between the Creekside Homeowners Association and the owners of the Creekside Golf Club, Larry Tokarski and Terry Kelly. Recently I came across a May 9, 2018 letter that the Creekside HOA sent to its members, describing what was going on with the Association's fight... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Salem Political Snark
J, that must have been Capital Manor in West Salem. Actually my wife and I weren't wild about the place, but we put down a deposit anyway, saying we preferred a detached house, thinking that we might find Capital Manor more appealing as we get older and/or develop limiting health problems. No, there was no Jerry Lee Lewis playing. Naturally most of the people at Capital Manor currently are older than us (we're almost 70), so it will take a while before baby boomers influence retirement communities to a large extent.
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Manjit, I've read lots of books by avid religious believers. Hundreds, for sure. This includes every book published by Radha Soami Satsang Beas up until 2004 or so, which means virtually every RSSB book. My bookcase used to be filled with books written by mystics of every variety, though I donated most of them to the Salem Library some years back. I was a fanatic reader of Rumi for several years. I've also read every English translation of Meister Eckhart, a Christian mystic, that I could find. So your contention that I only read books by atheists or materialists is absolutely wrong. I've read numerous Adavita/Vedanta books, and many Buddhist books. And this is only a sampling of the reading I've done in the area of religion/mysticism/spirituality. Lesson: be sure of your facts so you don't make false statements. You were really wrong in your comment.
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Like I said last Tuesday on election night, Jackie Leung's 53%-46% victory over Steve McCoid in the Ward 4 City Council race warms my progressive heart. Though I used the word "apparent" in that post, Leung has a 237 vote lead over McCoid, which is very unlikely to be erased... Continue reading
Posted May 17, 2018 at Salem Political Snark
J, you make some very good points. I agree with most of them. However, there's also the adage, "What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger." All of the physical activity my wife and I engage in to maintain our property does, in general, make us stronger. But as you said, it also could kill us -- especially me, since I tend to do the most high-risk activities. It's a difficult balancing act, one that we're continuing to struggle to deal with.
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Vinny, some observations about your comment: "Atheists are cowards who don't want to empower common man by hiding the secrets of Shabd/Atomic energy vibrating in the universe." (1) Scientists, including physicists, chemists and cosmologists, aren't hiding the secrets of atomic energy vibrating in the universe. This has been an understanding of modern science since the early part of the 20th century. And many, if not most scientists, are atheists. So what you said makes no sense. (2) What is "secret," because there is no demonstrable proof of it, is the notion that atomic energy is linked to a supernatural spirituall force, Shabd or the Sound Current, that is present not only in the physical universe, but also in realms beyond the physical. I wrote a book about this, "God's Whisper, Creation's Thunder," so I"m intimately familiar with this notion. If you have evidence that would un-secret this secret, please share it. But if it is only a belief, or perhaps an experience, within your own mind, then you have no basis for criticizing those who fail to recognize Shabd as a genuine reality.
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Spencer, interesting argument about atheism being a perfect system to pursue spirituality, or any other pursuit of truth. I used to be much into the Via Negativa, negative way, in which all attempts to describe God, or think about the attributes of God, or conceive of God, are given up. This seems close to what you're suggesting. Of course, at some point a negative way has to result in something positive if the way is deemed successful by a God-seeker, or the Via Negativa would be virtually identical to atheism -- since atheists consider that God doesn't exist, which is a perfect negativity.
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It's election night. Time for me to say "I told you so!" to those progressives who either thought Jackie Leung couldn't best Steve McCoid in the Ward 4 Salem City Council race, or felt that that McCoid was an acceptable moderate, so endorsed him even though Leung was by far... Continue reading
Posted May 15, 2018 at Salem Political Snark
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Watching last night's City Council final deliberation on a Lone Oak Road Reimbursement District reminded me of a demolition derby. The plan that was approved on a 5-4 vote was the last one standing, like a bashed-in car with smoke streaming from its hood, oil leaking all over, fenders missing,... Continue reading
Posted May 15, 2018 at Salem Political Snark
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As previously reported, I've heard from a seemingly reliable source that the Statesman Journal, Salem's daily newspaper that's owned by Gannett, will cease being a print publication in 2019. This would mark another milestone in the paper's steady journalistic decline, both in quantity (number of reporters and original stories) and... Continue reading
Posted May 13, 2018 at Salem Political Snark
Spencer, obviously I don't know you except through your comments. That isn't much, since you, like everybody, are so much more than the small amount that can be shared through social media. So with my very imperfect knowledge of you I just want to say, thanks for contributing to the "comment dialogue" on this blog. You strike me as a highly intelligent person who is deeply committed to being the best person possible, and understanding the mysteries of the cosmos to the greatest extent possible. In short, and speaking in my usual non-humble way, you remind me a lot of... me. What I think about a lot, and I'm thinking this way now, is how I can be the person I was 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, or 60 years ago, and also the person I am now, at 69. I have a feeling that if you were able to talk with the person I was at 30, say, you'd find that we agreed on almost anything. But since I've changed, now we disagree on some things. Those things, though, are a small subset of all the things that people agree or disagree about. They simply happen to be the things that get discussed on this blog. Which leaves out art, literature, movies, politics, environmentalism, business, music, and so much more. I suspect that if we were able to talk about the wide range of things we're both interested in when we're not focused on spiritual stuff, we'd find that we have a lot in common. Keeping this in mind, which I'm not able to do as often or as well as I'd like, helps me keep things in perspective. Everybody is doing their best to get through life the best they can. Life is tough, even in the best of circumstances. And when the circumstances aren't the best, which for most of us is the case, life is even tougher. Anyway, I just wanted to express my appreciation for your steadfast commitment to what you believe in. From what I can tell, those beliefs are quite close to what I believed in myself for a good share of my life, about half of it, 35 years or so. Thus when I argue with you, in a sense I'm arguing with who I used to be, and to some extent still am, since whatever we were at one time is still a part of us. This sounds strange, because it is. And that's a wonderful thing, since if life wasn't strange, it would be a heck of a lot less interesting.
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Spencer, you aren't being honest. I've never judged other people's experiences. I've simply said that a subjective personal experience is just that, subjective and personal, unless evidence can be provided that it is something more than that -- like an experience of an objective impersonal realm. Anyone is entitled to believe that they have experienced something supernatural that is objectively real. Countless religious believers have done that over the millennia. What they aren't entitled to do is expect that other people will accept their personal experience as a truth about the reality that exists apart from the human mind. Further, no atheist I know of, and certainly not me, has claimed an "omniscient position," as you falsely claim. You have a habit of twisting other people's words to mean something other than what they intend. It isn't a dogma to demand proof of a personal spiritual experience, if a claim is made that the experience is of something universal. Muslims have experiences of Allah. Christians have experiences of Jesus. Radha Soami devotees have an experience of their guru. Everybody, in fact, has ineffable personal experiences that are deeply meaningful to them, including me. But I don't go around saying that my personal experience is of something objectively real. Only religious believers make this mistake. I also note that you didn't address a basic theme of my post, and Jen's comment: that I, along with most other atheists, are wonderfully accepting of dialogue and communication with those who hold a differing view from us. I challenge you to find a religious web site that is equally accepting of comments from atheists. I urge you to reconsider your world view that demanding evidence for a claim about objective reality is somehow dogmatic. Actually, it is both scientific and in tune with how everyday life is lived. Nobody I know goes around believing in invisible things unless there is good reason to believe in them. For example, I believe that atoms exist, because there's substantial evidence that even though I can't see atoms, other people have conducted experiments that prove their existence. This isn't the case with religious experiments. I know, because I conducted my own experiment in contemplative meditation for 35 years in virtually perfect conformance with what the Sant Mat philosophy required: hours of daily meditation, no use of alcohol or drugs, regular ongoing service (seva) to the RSSB community. Naturally I did have many experiences in meditation, but none that led me to believe I was contacting another form of objective reality. And though I spoke with hundreds of devotees over the years, including two RSSB gurus, nothing I heard made me believe that they had done this either.
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Jim, it is City officials who keep talking about paying for the bridge over Jory Creek through a Streets and Bridges bond, not me. Public Works Director Peter Fernandez has said several times that there wouldn't be enough money in a Lone Oak Road Reimbursement District to pay for the bridge, so money for it would have to come from a future Streets and Bridges bond. I recall that Fernandez also said that the bond would repay the Lone Oak Road Reimbursement District fund for whatever money the fund was able to contribute to the Lone Oak Road improvements. So it seems to make a lot more sense to ditch the whole idea of the Reimbursement District, since it won't be able to pay for the most expensive part of the Lone Oak Road improvements, the bridge over Jory Creek. Of course, it would be even better if the City Council required Tokarski to pay for the Lone Oak Road improvements, the northern portion at least. This would require more councilors to vote No on the District that just Sally Cook and Cara Kaser. Hopefully the other progressives on the Council will join them as No votes a week from today,
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Below is an opinion piece about the Lone Oak Road Reimbursement District that I submitted to the Statesman Journal a month ago. I never heard back from the editorial board one way or the other, which in itself is a sad commentary on how far Salem's so-called "paper of record"... Continue reading
Posted May 6, 2018 at Salem Political Snark
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Secretary of State Dennis Richardson is an Oregon anomaly: a Republican elected to statewide office. This probably helps explain why comparatively few Salem City Club members attended his talk about redistricting today, since most members lean leftward. Another reason might be that the recommendations of Richardson's pet project, a Redistricting... Continue reading
Posted May 4, 2018 at Salem Political Snark
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Well, if you believe what people in Salem need is more conservative white men on the City Council and being charged a $1.50 each way toll to cross the Willamette River between downtown and West Salem, you'll love the Statesman Journal endorsements for the two contested council races on the... Continue reading
Posted May 1, 2018 at Salem Political Snark
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City Council campaigns in Salem usually don't sink to the level Jim Lewis displayed in a video where he claimed that his opponent in the Ward 8 race, Micki Varney, "wants miserable traffic." I learned about this offensive lie in a comment Marcus Solomon left on a Facebook post of... Continue reading
Posted Apr 27, 2018 at Salem Political Snark
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In this Year of the Woman, politically and culturally-speaking, I find it surprising that Jacqueline (Jackie) Leung's Ward 4 City Council race against incumbent Steve McCoid isn't getting more attention. Five seats on the Salem City Council are on the May 15 ballot, the Mayor's seat and the seats of... Continue reading
Posted Apr 27, 2018 at Salem Political Snark
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Understand: I've got nothing against self-congratulation. I love to tell myself, "You're doing a great job, Brian!" So there really wasn't anything all that unusual in Tom Andersen's 5-minute CCTV video where he asks voters to support his re-election to the Salem City Council, even though he is running unopposed.... Continue reading
Posted Apr 25, 2018 at Salem Political Snark
Rain, I had one acupuncture treatment last fall. I didn't have any more because I felt the odds were very low that it was going to be beneficial for me. But thanks for the suggestion.
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