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And my question is ....

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Here's an article that does the, "On the one hand ..." and "On the other hand ..." binocular look at the issue of Gun Control.

It's an excellent article gathering many authoritative sources.

It fails, however, to address the one single question that bugs me (as a fiction writer). If I'm building a world in which a certain plot is working itself out, I have to ask, "But what if the (whatever element) is actually the one with Evil Intent?"

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Hero, Coward, Modern Citizen

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Is an interesting article about the attitudes toward the issues of the world today, drawing parallels with the ancient past that many might not quite get but still making a point worth thinking hard about.

As a fiction writer, I can see how those fighting against Western Civilization put all that is human, decent and right into the vibrancy of their sacrifices -- just as the characters on the TV Show Falling Sky draw on all that's decent and right to defend humanity from the invaders.

I think it interesting that Falling Sky is depicting those invaders to be very different from what they seem to be at first glance, very equivocal.

As a civilization, we have some very deep thinking yet to do, the kind of thinking I point toward with my novels, especially my new publication, THE FARRIS CHANNEL coming soon in paper and e-book.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

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That's one of my own blog posts, this one connecting scientific discoveries to love. 

But one important thing I didn't mention in that post is about speaking Kind Words.

Rabbi Akiva held that a very important cornerstone of the Torah is "Love Thy Neighbor As Thyself" -- which is kind of dated in this current era of self-hatred.  But it's really a touchstone by which to judge your emotional reactions to other people's behaviors, and the tendency to want to FORCE them to behave (i.e. "there ought to be a law")

The speaking of words is just about the most powerful thing a human being can do. 

Selecting your vocabulary for accuracy, distinguishing between fact and opinion, using speech to elevate spiritual awareness rather than bludgeon and vilify -- speaking with care, meaning what you say with your whole heart, all of that is vitally important.  Nothing else can come to you until you prioritize the issue of your own speech in your behavior value system.

And LISTENING with all your whole heart is likewise right at the top of the scale.

Love your neighbor as yourself -- LISTEN TO THEIR PAIN and PLEASURE.  Hear what's going on inside others.  Let it resonate within you.  Respond with kind words because your whole heart vibrates with kindness. 

OK, well, it's a goal to achieve not necessarily a trait you're born with.  It'll take some work.  But every bit of effort will be rewarded -- according to the science cited in this blog entry. 

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

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Homepage picture (via shareaholic)  I found this via twitter.

TheLiveFeed James Hibberd
Why Flintstones was evil 

This article is a very elegant, BRIEF, analysis with bullet points of the formula for THE FLINTSTONES episodes and the effect that formula may have had on a generation at a susceptible age.

There are a lot of comments to think about, too.  The whole issue of the cause-effect relationship between fiction and "real life" has not been completely defined and described yet. 


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Insights On Yom Kippur

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This blog is called "Creating Vessels" because it's where I plan to park various commentaries about philosophical matters most of my followers on other services wouldn't be interested in. 

"Making Vessels" refers to the actions in the physical world that creatures must take in order to create a "container" that can hold the "blessings" raining down on us all the time.

Mostly, because of our chaotic lives and distracted mindsets, we walk through the rain dying of thirst. 

Health, wealth, good luck, delights, joys, accomplishments, enrichment is all around us, but we put out our open hands and they all run through our fingers.  We have to learn to cup our hands to hold, to collect, to grasp the wonders of the divine spirit. 

But hands can only hold just so much and not for long, so we must learn to create vessels, bowls, pitchers, baskets, reservoirs, pockets.  And once we've collected all this, we have to know how to use it to build more in this world.

Looking at this process, it's easy to think it's the key to success in life.  But it's very easy to come to a feeling of futility about it all.  What could be the purpose?  Why bother?  To build a comfortable old age?  Then what?  Why-why-why?

I started life as a scientist and "Why" has always been the key question for me.  Yes, I was a pest to my parents with that "Why" going like shotgun pellets in every direction.

But as a scientist, I've learned to look for symmetry in our reality.  That's the key to understanding what's really happening. 

And I think I may have hit on a symmetry that I can use for at least a few years to come.

According to the Torah, the purpose of human existence, the purpose behind everything we do and everything that happens to us, is to make this reality a dwelling place for G-d. 

What that means is that every particle of matter will become infused with an obvious glow of spiritual energy, something we can "see" with the kind of eye that sees when you study a problem and finally understand it and exclaim, "Oh!  Now I see!"  It isn't just physical vision, though that's involved, but is a higher perception that we tend to access only at sporadic and unpredictable moments.

The moment you look into your newborn baby's eyes and see that soul looking back at you -- you are seeing with that kind of vision. 

In the Torah, we have the story of Mount Sinai, and the detailed instructions for building the Mishkan, the tent that surrounded the Holy of Holies where the Ark of the Covenant was kept.  The set of activities prohibited on Shabbat are the ones necessary for creating that tent, the Priestly garments and all the tools of the Service. 

The point of Shabbat is that its existence defines each day of the week as separate and special with its own energy of creation.  It's like the "rest" squiggle in music.  Silence defines sound into art. 

So our business in life is to transform the inert matter of this world into Vessels to contain the pervasive Divine presence. 

Now here's the symmetrical obverse of that.

This year (2010 5771 ) Yom Kippur came out on Shabbat.  It does that periodically. 

So I was thinking about the creation of humans, and what exactly is a human that is so special.

We are a physical body -- a handful of chemicals dissolved in water -- and nothing very special among living creatures on this earth in that regard. 

But what makes humans human is the Soul, the Spirit, a special current of G-d-force breathed into the human at birth.  Theory is that a Soul is assigned at conception, and gradually attaches to the body as the body forms, then enters the body at birth. 

The Soul is a bit of raw G-d-energy, a piece of Divine spirit (that isn't separated and so isn't a "piece" the way we usually think of it).  The Soul is the part that connects to G-d - the fiber-optic cable that carries Divine energy into manifestation through you.

OK, so a human being is an amalgam of some collection of material chemicals and a Divine Spirit that through the human body enters physical reality.

That's exactly analogous to the concept of building a Mishkan, a dwelling place for The Lord in our midst (i.e. in physical reality).

The objective of Life as a Human is to transform all the physical matter and energy into a RECEPTICAL (a vessel) that is capable of holding that ultimate Divine Energy and still remaining physical.

The first time Creation was Created it blew apart (as Kabbalah describes it) into bits that became the free-floating "klippot" (or shells) that cleave to any spark of goodness like moths to a flame.  We are the second round of creation, and this time when that Divine Energy inhabits this material world it won't blow everything to smitherines because the matter will have been reconditioned to be strong enough to hold, to be a durable vessel.

So the human spirit is joined into a material body to dwell within that material body (gently, and carefully and only for a short time -- as for example you roll out pie dough with short repetitive strokes being careful not to break it but to stretch it gently with each stroke) --- JUST AS --- the Divine Spirit will eventually inhabit all material reality. 

It is the same process, the descent of Energy from Above into matter.

We get so busy with "life" that we think that living is our job, or that it's the point of everything.

It isn't the point, and it isn't the process that's going to make this all work.  It's an essential component but it's not the point.

The real "work" -- what mystics call The Great Work -- lies within the human-spirit interface deep inside us.

We Souls are here to learn how to build an INTERFACE between Soul and Body, to get along with our material vessel and not destroy it.

It is possible for the Will to be stronger than the Flesh, and to "work yourself to death." 

It is possible for the Body to prevail so the Soul doesn't ever venture beyond limits set by the flesh. 

To create the conditions where/when the Divine can fully occupy Reality and be apparent to us in every particle and energy wave that frames this universe, we must settle the war inside us between the body and the spirit.  (The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak -- an old saying that encapsulates this problem.) 

The human body fits the human spirit like a glove; just as all Reality fits the Divine Spirit like a glove. 

So The Human Being was created on Friday, the final act of Creation, not as an extra or add-on, but as the very purpose of Creation.  The Human Being is the beginning of the Divine Spirit's slipping on the glove of Reality. 

Maybe it's like a surgical glove -- humans are the powder that will let the Divine Fingers stretch the glove to fit without breaking the glove.  *sigh* Analogies always fail.

The point to all this is how the Human Soul/Body interface is analogous to the G-d Spirit/Reality interface.

As we make friends with our bodies and enlist our animal components into the purposes of our Souls, we are creating an Interface (a gui maybe) which will be the template the Infinite will use to enter Reality without blowing it apart again. 

I don't know how far you can take that shaky analogy, but I wanted to capture that Insight for future reference.  It might not survive the year!  My philosophical take on life, the universe and everything changes very fast. 

So as we go about busily creating material vessels to collect the spiritual blessings raining down on us, we should pay attention to how we convince our bodies to make all these efforts because until we get it right, our efforts will have to exceed our returns.  Once we get that balance between body and soul just right, it will become the template for the entry of the Divine Spirit into All Reality.  Hand in glove. 

Jacqueline Lichtenberg  (for currently available novels with free chaps)  (for full bio/biblio and much free reading)

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alien romances: Mutants as Aliens in Sime~Gen

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A cross genre, award winning novel currently being blogged about, Unto Zeor, Forever

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I found this through   -- J. Neil Schulman (terrific SF writer)

This is a business that tests screenplays and predicts how MUCH money a particular story can make.

If they nix a project of an independent producer, very likely that film will not get distribution even if it wins a bunch of awards at the festivals. 

I expect their software can predict the sales volume of a novel, as well.

Now the question is, should our entire market be turned over to software?

Whether it should or not, "The Biz" is already relying on this kind of thing, if not this particular company.

Imagine how that limits what you get to choose from when you go to the movies.  But it could easily explain the twist we've seen lately toward truly violent and dark films, or pure ugliness for its own sake.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

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Jacqueline Lichtenberg

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August 2013