How People Die in America / Gov Facts

One of the most annoying habits of Asperger types is our desire to interject facts into nasty neurotypical debates over “who counts” on the social pyramid – fights over where groups “belong” in the vicious hierarchy that is the American Social Order, and the various and necessary attempts at “rearranging” the “value” of individuals / groups on The Pyramid. One traditional method is “politicizing” “moralizing” “social justice-izing” any and all facets of daily life into conspicuous “tools” of realignment: that is, using a phony “values” argument for improving the status of “minorities” of all types, which in actual practice defends and promotes the inequality of hierarchical social structure.

The totally irrational practice of social “quotation wars” (the chaos of verbal pushing and shoving called “having a national discussion”) utilizing The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution, interpretations of the Bill of Rights, accumulated legislation and judicial opinion-decisions, The Bible, patriotic poetry, pop-celebrities, professional athletes, memes from the internet, dead people, pretentious and phony “experts” – bureaucrats and paper-shufflers now unemployed and with revenge on their minds, retired military “minds” from failed wars, and scattered “citizens” wandering the streets is totally “traditional” and “supernatural”. But! All this “word-slapping” is considered by neotenic narcissistic neurotypicals to represent the absolute facts of “reality” that “ought to” dictate outcomes in their actual physical existence. 

The people close to you are dangerous; not strangers. 

Factual information does not exist, except as ammunition for social wars of domination.

This is the case today; it has been the case in social human life from the beginning of “social life” as it replaced earlier “wild human” behavior in natural environments; behavior that was shaped and dictated by the laws of nature – physical parameters. 

One of the “useful” activities of the United States government is the ongoing collection, tabulation, and presentation of “data” on American Life. And the easy access to this information in many forms, notably, “free” and easy internet accessibility. As an Asperger, I find this to be amazing! Pages and pages of PDFs, charts, tables, summaries; categories, subcategories, topics, recent trends, archival reports, historical snapshots, and on and on. A world of curiosity-satisfying “stuff” about “us” – the American People, past, present and projected into the future. 

As a fundamental outsider(that is, an egalitarian who is de facto rejected and ejected  from The Social Pyramid by virtue of a hyposocial, reality-based “brain type”) my interest in “the human experience” begins with what we all have in common: birth and death. The great equalizing facts of all mankind which serve to “shut up” the narcissistic and delusional shouting about who is “more worthy, more valuable, more important” than “the rest of” the species.

Women need to understand that the “character” of the males they choose to associate with is crucial to their safety and mental health and to that of their children. This consideration seems to be “absent” in far too many choices that women make. 

Do neurotypicals care about any of this? No. It’s their fate to fight each other to the end; because the “discussions” always end in violence. Words are the precursors to violence. The structure of a social pyramid of “worth” dictates failure to utilize the facts to solve problems. 

For anyone interested in all that information taxpayers pay the government to compile, the Census Bureau and National Vital Statistics System provide millions of “data” points with which to gain a perspective on American Life. 

 

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Winter / Bare Feet / Aspie Footwear

It’s that time of year again: 80s a week ago; now into the 30s at night. “Hard freeze” forecast this week. My potted flowers hanging on… doomed.

So – one of my “Aspie” adjustments is the problem of footwear, having gone barefoot since May… Outdoor winter boots are no problem; but indoors? My house is almost 100 years old. Frame with no insulation nor carpeting and a dirt crawl space below. Heat is uneven at best and the wood floors are perpetually cold.

That means “house slippers” an odd, neglected (design-wise) and frustrating category of footwear that has barely changed or improved since the mid 1900s.

Today’s choices uphold the “Novelty – neoteny” trend of modern social humans, for whom “childish” footwear applies to adults. 

Crocheting never dies…. and guess what? Leg Warmers are back…

Japanese “toilet” shoes…

This is labeled “fashion tip”

The choices available in “nowhere” Wyoming come down to leftovers shipped here from China via the basement stores of “major national retailers” – pink and purple crap that was unsold from last year…

It’s truly sad that I’ll likely order something cheap and benign from ebay…

Oh look – this is what poor “uncivilized” and savage Native Americans had to “settle for” … 

What Mormons Believe About Jesus Christ / By The Mormons

 

The “thing” about the Mormons is that they can SOUND RATIONAL about the most IRRATIONAL “things” !!!

Add this post to: Why Asperger’s say that neurotypicals are stupid…

from: http://mormonnewsroom.org

Check out: http://templestudy.com/tag/holyofholies

The following excerpts are taken from an address to the Harvard Divinity School (Puritans)  in March 2001 by Robert L. Millet, former dean of religious education at Brigham Young University. It is offered on Newsroom as a resource.

What Do We Believe About Jesus Christ?

Latter-day Saints are Christians on the basis of our doctrine, our defined relationship to Christ, our patterns of worship and our way of life.

What Do We Believe About Christ?

  • We believe Jesus is the Son of God, the Only Begotten Son in the flesh (John 3:16). We accept the prophetic declarations in the Old Testament that refer directly and powerfully to the coming of the Messiah, the Savior of all humankind. We believe that Jesus of Nazareth was and is the fulfillment of those prophecies.
  • We believe the accounts of Jesus’ life and ministry recorded in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in the New Testament to be historical and truthful. For us the Jesus of history is indeed the Christ of faith. While we do not believe the Bible to be inerrant, complete or the final word of God, we accept the essential details of the Gospels and more particularly the divine witness of those men who walked and talked with Him or were mentored by His chosen apostles.
  • We believe that He was born of a virgin, Mary, in Bethlehem of Judea in what has come to be known as the meridian of time, the central point in salvation history. From His mother, Mary, Jesus inherited mortality, the capacity to feel the frustrations and ills of this world, including the capacity to die. We believe that Jesus was fully human in that He was subject to sickness, to pain and to temptation.
  • We believe Jesus is the Son of God the Father and as such inherited powers of godhood and divinity from His Father, including immortality, the capacity to live forever. While He walked the dusty road of Palestine as a man, He possessed the powers of a God and ministered as one having authority, including power over the elements and even power over life and death.
  • We believe Jesus performed miracles, including granting sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, life to some who had died and forgiveness to those steeped in sin. We believe the New Testament accounts of healings and nature miracles and the cleansing of human souls to be authentic and real.
  • We believe Jesus taught His gospel — the glad tidings or good news that salvation had come to earth through Him — in order that people might more clearly understand both their relationship to God the Father and their responsibility to each other.
  • We believe Jesus selected leaders, invested them with authority and organized a church. We maintain that the Church of Jesus Christ was established, as the Apostle Paul later wrote, for the perfection and unity of the saints (Ephesians 4:11–14).
  • We believe that Jesus’ teachings and His own matchless and perfect life provide a pattern for men and women to live by and that we must emulate that pattern as best we can to find true happiness and fulfillment in this life.
  • We believe Jesus suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane and that He submitted to a cruel death on the cross of Calvary, all as a willing sacrifice, a substitutionary atonement for our sins. That offering is made efficacious as we exercise faith and trust in Him; repent of our sins; are baptized by immersion as a symbol of our acceptance of His death, burial and rise to newness of life; and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost (Acts 2:37–38; 3 Nephi 27:19–20). While no one of us can comprehend how and in what manner one person can take upon himself the effects of the sins of another or, even more mysteriously, the sins of all men and women — we accept and glory in the transcendent reality that Christ remits our sins through His suffering. We know it is true because we have experienced it personally. Further, we believe that He died, was buried and rose from the dead and that His resurrection was a physical reality. We believe that the effects of His rise from the tomb pass upon all men and women. “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (Corinthians 15:22).
  • We do not believe that we can either overcome the flesh or gain eternal reward through our own unaided efforts. We must work to our limit and then rely upon the merits, mercy and grace of the Holy One of Israel to see us through the struggles of life and into life eternal (2 Nephi 31:19; Moroni 6:4). We believe that while human works are necessary— including exercising faith in Christ, repenting of our sins, receiving the sacraments or ordinances of salvation and rendering Christian service to our neighbors — they are not sufficient for salvation (2 Nephi 25:23; Moroni 10:32). We believe that our discipleship ought to be evident in the way we live our lives.

In essence, we declare that Jesus Christ is the head of the Church and the central figure in our theology.

How Are We Different?

Latter-day Saints do not accept the Christ that emerges from centuries of debates and councils and creeds. Over the years that followed the death and resurrection of the Lord, Christians sought to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 1:3). We believe that the epistles of Paul, Peter, Jude and John suggest that the apostasy or falling away of the first-century Christian church was well underway by the close of the first century. With the deaths of the apostles and the loss of the priesthood, the institutional power to perform and oversee saving sacraments or ordinances, learn the mind of God and interpret scripture was no longer on earth. To be sure, there were noble men and women throughout the earth during the centuries that followed, religious persons of good will, learned men who sought to hold the church together and to preserve holy writ. But we believe that these acted without prophetic authority. 

In an effort to satisfy the accusations of Jews who denounced the notion of three Gods (Father, Son and Holy Ghost) as polytheistic, and at the same time incorporate ancient but appealing Greek philosophical concepts of an all-powerful moving force in the universe, the Christian church began to redefine the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. One classic work describes the intersection of Christian theology and Greek philosophy: “It is impossible for any one, whether he be a student of history or no, to fail to notice a difference of both form and content between the sermons on the Mount and the Nicene Creed. … The one belongs to a world of Syrian peasants, the other to a world of Greek philosophers. … The religion which our Lord preached … took the Jewish conception of a Father in heaven, and gave it a new meaning.” In short, “Greek Christianity of the fourth century was rooted in Hellenism. The Greek minds which had been ripening for Christianity had absorbed new ideas and new motives.”[i]

What is the result? Such Platonic concepts as the immutability, impassibility and timelessness of God made their way into Christian theology. (Yes, this is all true, but it’s ALL neurotypical madness, so what’s the point?) As one group of Evangelical scholars has stated: “Many Christians experience an inconsistency between their beliefs about the nature of God and their religious practice. For example, people who believe that God cannot change his mind sometimes pray in ways that would require God to do exactly that. And Christians who make use of the free will defense for the problem of evil sometimes ask God to get them a job or a spouse, or keep them from being harmed, implying that God should override the free will of others in order to achieve these ends. …

“These inharmonious elements are the result of the coupling of biblical ideas about God with notions of the divine nature drawn from Greek thought. The inevitable encounter between biblical and classical thought in the early church generated many significant insights and helped Christianity evangelize pagan thought and culture. Along with the good, however, came a certain theological virus that infected the Christian doctrine of God, making it ill and creating the sorts of problems mentioned above. The virus so permeates Christian theology that some have come to take the illness for granted, attributing it to divine mystery, while others remain unaware of the infection altogether.”[ii]

Latter-day Saints believe that the simplest reading of the New Testament text produces the simplest conclusion — that the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost are separate and distinct personages, that They are one in purpose. We feel that the sheer preponderance of references in the Bible would lead an uninformed reader to the understanding that God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost are separate beings. That is, one must look to the third- and fourth-century Christian church, not to the New Testament itself, to make a strong case for the Trinity. Sounds kind of sane, (for neurotypicals) n’est-ce-pas? 

Some Distinctive Contributions

What, then, can the Latter-day Saints contribute to the world’s understanding of Jesus Christ? What can we say that will make a difference in how men and women view and relate to the Savior?

Now for the bat crap crazy stuff:

The First Vision

Joseph Smith’s First Vision represents the beginning of the revelation of God in our day. President Gordon B. Hinckley has observed: “To me it is a significant and marvelous thing that in establishing and opening this dispensation our Father did so with a revelation of himself and of his Son Jesus Christ, as if to say to all the world that he was weary of the attempts of men, earnest through these attempts might have been, to define and describe him. … The experience of Joseph Smith in a few moments in the grove on a spring day in 1820, brought more light and knowledge and understanding of the personality and reality and substance of God and his Beloved Son than men had arrived at during centuries of speculation.”[iii] By revelation Joseph Smith came to know that the Father, Son and Holy Ghost constitute the Godhead. From the beginning Joseph Smith taught that the members of the Godhead are one in purpose, one in mind, one in glory, one in attributes and powers, but separate persons.[iv]

There was reaffirmed in the First Vision the fundamental Christian teaching — that Jesus of Nazareth lived, died, was buried and rose from the tomb in glorious immortality. In the midst of that light that shone above the brightness of the sun stood the resurrected Lord Jesus in company with His Father. Joseph Smith knew from the time of the First Vision that death was not the end, that life continues after one’s physical demise, that another realm of existence — a postmortal sphere — does in fact exist.

The Book of Mormon

Through the Book of Mormon, translated by Joseph Smith, came additional insights concerning the person and powers of Jesus the Christ. We learn that He is the Holy One of Israel, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (1 Nephi 19:10) and that through an act of infinite condescension He left His throne divine and took a mortal body (1 Nephi 11; Mosiah 3:5). We learn from the teachings of the Book of Mormon prophets that He was a man but much more than man (Mosiah 3:7–9; Alma 34:11), that He had within Him the powers of the Father, the powers of the Spirit (2 Nephi 2:8; Helaman 5:11), the power to lay down His life and the power to take it back up again.

Another prophet, Alma, contributed the unfathomable doctrine that the Redeemer would not only suffer for our sins, but that His descent below all things would include His suffering for our pains, our sicknesses and our infirmities, thus allowing Him perfect empathy — “that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities” (Alma 7:11–12). Truly, the Book of Mormon prophets bear repeated witness that the atonement of Christ is infinite and eternal in scope (2 Nephi 9:7; 25:16; Alma 34:11–12)

One could come away from a careful reading of the second half of the New Testament somewhat confused on the matter of grace and works, finding those places where Paul seems almost to defy any notion of works as a means of salvation (Romans 4:1–5; 10:1–4; Ephesians 2:8–10) but also those places where good works are clearly mentioned as imperative (Romans 2:6; James 2:14–20; Revelation 20:12–13). It is to the Book of Mormon that we turn to receive the balanced perspective on the mercy and grace of an infinite Savior on the one hand, and the labors and works of finite man on the other.

In the Book of Mormon, the sobering realization that no one of us can make it alone is balanced by a consistent statement that the works of men and women, including the receipt of the ordinances of salvation, the performance of duty and Christian acts of service — in short, being true to our part of the gospel covenant — though insufficient for salvation, are necessary. The prophets declared over and over that the day would come when people would be judged of their works, the works done “in their days of probation” (1 Nephi 15:32; 2 Nephi 9:44). That is, “all men shall reap a reward of their works, according to that which they have been — if they have been righteous they shall reap the salvation of their souls, according to the power and deliverance of Jesus Christ; and if they have been evil they shall reap the damnation of their souls, according to the power and captivation of the devil (Alma 9:28). In summary, the undergirding doctrine of the Book of Mormon is that we are saved by the grace of Christ “after all we can do” (2 Nephi 25:23), meaning above and beyond all we can do. As we come unto Christ by covenant, deny ourselves of ungodliness and love God with all our souls, His grace—His divine enabling power, not only to be saved in the ultimate sense but also to face the challenges of each day — is sufficient for us (Moroni 10:32).

The Book of Mormon has a high Christology; that is, the doctrine of Christ is thick and heavy on the pages of this scriptural record, and the testimony of the divinity of the Lord and Savior is powerful and direct. One cannot read the Book of Mormon and honestly come away wondering what the Latter-day Saints believe about the Divine Sonship. The Book of Mormon establishes clearly that “Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself to all nations” (Book of Mormon title page; 2 Nephi 26:12).

At the heart of the doctrine restored through Joseph Smith is the doctrine of the Christ. “The fundamental principles of our religion,” he observed, “are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that he died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it.”[v] The glorious news, the glad tidings is that Christ our Lord has come to earth, offered Himself as a ransom from sin and made available deliverance from death and hell. We rejoice in the message of redemption that fell from the lips of Old and New Testament prophets. More especially we exult in the realization that knowledge and truth and light and understanding concerning Jesus Christ — who He was, who He is and what marvels have come to pass through Him — have been delivered through additional scriptural records and modern prophetic utterances.

“Him Declare I Unto You”

One of the main reasons Latter-day Saints are often relegated to the category of cult of non-Christian is because we believe in scripture beyond the Bible. To be sure, we love the Bible. We cherish its sacred teachings and delight in reading and teaching it. We seek to conform our lives to its marvelous precepts. But we do not believe that the Bible contains all that God has spoken or will yet speak in the future.

Occasionally we hear certain Latter-day Saint teachings — like some of those concerning the Savior that I have detailed earlier — described as “unbiblical” or of a particular doctrine being “contradictory” to the Bible. Let’s be clear on this matter. The Bible is one of the books within our standard works, our scriptural canon, and thus our doctrines and practices are in harmony with the Bible. There are times, of course, when latter-day revelation provides clarification of additional information to the Bible. But addition to the canon is hardly the same as rejection of the canon. Supplementation is not the same as contradiction. All of the prophets, including the Savior Himself, brought new light and knowledge to the world; in many cases, new scripture came as a result of their ministry. That new scripture did not invalidate what went before nor did it close the door on subsequent revelation.

Most New Testament scholars believe that Mark was the first Gospel written and that Matthew and Luke drew upon Mark in the preparation of their Gospels. One tradition is that John the Beloved, aware of the teaching of the synoptics, prepared his Gospel in an effort to “fill in the gaps” and thus deal more with the great spiritual verities that his evangelistic colleagues chose not to include. How many people in the Christian tradition today would suggest that what Matthew or Luke did in adding to what Mark had written was illegal or inappropriate or irreverent? Do we suppose that anyone in the first century would have so felt?

Would anyone accuse Matthew or Luke or John of writing about or even worshipping a “different Jesus” because they were bold enough to add to what had been recorded already? Surely not. Why? Because Matthew and Luke and John were inspired for God, perhaps even divinely commissioned by the church to pen their testimonies.

If Luke (in the Gospel, as well as in Acts) or John chose to write of subsequent appearance of the Lord Jesus after His ascension into heaven, appearances not found in Mark or Matthew, are we prone to criticize, to cry foul? No, because these accounts are contained in the Christian canon, that collection of books that serves as the rule of faith and practice in the Christian world.

The authority of scripture is tied to its source. From our perspective, the living, breathing, ever-relevant nature of the word of God is linked not to written words, not even to the writing of Moses or Isaiah or Malachi, not to the four Gospels or the epistles of Paul, but rather to the spirit of prophecy and revelation that illuminated and empowered those who recorded them in the first place. The Bible does in fact contain much that can and should guide our walk and talk; it contains the word and will of the Lord to men and women in earlier ages, and its timeless truths have tremendous normative value for our day. But we do not derive authority to speak or act in the name of Deity on the basis of what God gave to His people in an earlier day.

Just how bold is the Latter-day Saint claim? In a letter to his uncle Silas, Joseph Smith wrote the following:

Why should it be thought a thing incredible that the Lord should be pleased to speak again in these last days for their salvation? Perhaps you may be surprised at this assertion that I should say ‘for the salvation of his creatures in these last days’ since we have already in our possession a vast volume of his word [the Bible] which he has previously given. But you will admit that the word spoken to Noah was not sufficient or Abraham. … Isaac, the promised seed, was not required to rest his hope upon the promises made to his father Abraham, but was privileged with the assurance of [God’s] approbation in the sight of heaven by the direct voice of the Lord to him. … I have no doubt but that the holy prophets and apostles and saints in the ancient days were saved in the kingdom of God. … I may believe that Enoch walked with God. I may believe that Abraham communed with God and conversed with angels. … And have I not an equal privilege with the ancient saints? And will not the Lord hear my prayers, and listen to my cries as soon [as] he ever did to theirs, if I come to him in the manner they did? Or is he a respecter of persons?[vi]

Latter-day Saints feel a deep allegiance to the Bible. It seems odd to us, however, to be accused of being irreverent or disloyal to the Bible when we suggest to the religious world that the God of heaven has chosen to speak again. Our challenge is hauntingly reminiscent of that faced by Peter, James, John or Paul when they declared to the religious establishment of their day that God had sent new truths and new revelations into the world, truths that supplemented and even clarified the Hebrew scripture. And what was the response of the Jews of the day? “Who do you think you are?” they essentially asked. “We have the Law and the Prophets. They are sufficient.” Any effort to add to or to take away from that collection of sacred writings was suspect and subject to scorn and ridicule. And so it is today.

A Willingness to Listen and Learn

A number of years ago a colleague and I traveled with two Evangelical Christian friends to another part of the country to meet with a well-known theologian, author and pastor/teacher in that area. We had read several of his books and had enjoyed his preaching over the years. As a part of an outreach effort to better understand those of other faiths (and to assist them to understand us a little better), we have visited such institutions as Notre Dame, Catholic University, Baylor, Wheaton College and various religious colleges and seminaries. We met this particular pastor and then attended his church services on both Sunday morning and Sunday evening and in both meetings were impressed with the depth and inspiration of his preaching.

The next day we met for lunch and had a wonderful two-hour doctrinal discussion. I explained that we had no set agenda, except that we had admired his writings and wanted to meet him. We added that we had several questions we wanted to pose in order to better understand Evangelical theology. I mentioned that as the dean of religious education (at that time), I oversaw the teaching of religion to some 30,000 young people at Brigham Young University and that I felt it would be wise for me to be able to articulate properly the beliefs of our brothers and sisters of other faiths. I hoped, as well, that they might make the effort to understand our beliefs so as to represent accurately what we teach.

Early in our conversation the minister said something like: “Look, anyone knows there are big difference between us. But I don’t want to focus on those differences. Let’s talk about Christ.” We then discussed the person of Jesus, justification by faith, baptism, sanctification, salvation, heaven, hell, agency and predestination, premortal existence and a number of other fascinating topics. We compared and contrasted, we asked questions and we answered questions. In thinking back on what proved to be one of the most stimulating and worthwhile learning experiences of our lives, the one thing that characterized our discussion, and the one thing that made the biggest difference, was the mood that existed there — a mood of openness, candor and a general lack of defensiveness. We knew what we believed, and we were all committed to our own religious tradition. But we were eager to learn where the other person was coming from. (Blah, blah, blah)

This experience says something to me about what can happen when men and women of good will come together in an attitude of openness and in a sincere effort to better understand and be understood. Given the challenges we face in our society — fatherless homes, child and spouse abuse, divorce, poverty, spreading crime and delinquency — it seems so foolish for men and women who believe in God, whose hearts and lives have been surrendered to that God, to allow doctrinal differences to prevent them from working together. Okay, you believe in a triune God, that the Almighty is a spirit and that He created all things ex nihilo. I believe that God is an exalted man, that He is a separate and distinct personage from the Son and the Holy Ghost. He believes in heaven, while she believes in nirvana. She believes that the Sabbath should be observed on Saturday, while her neighbor feels that the day of corporate worship should be on Friday. This one speaks in tongues, that one spends much of his time leading marches against social injustice, while a third believes that little children should be baptized. One good Baptist is a strict Calvinist, while another tends to take freedom of the will quite seriously. And so on, and so on.

Latter-day Saints do not believe that the answer to the world’s problems is ultimately to be found in more extravagant social programs or stronger legislation. Most or[S1] all of these ills have moral or spiritual roots. In the spirit of the brotherhood and sisterhood of humankind, is it not possible to lay aside theological differences long enough to address the staggering social issues in our troubled world? My recent interactions with men and women of various faiths have had a profound impact on me; they have broadened my horizons dramatically and reminded me — a sobering reminder we all need once in a while — that we are all sons and daughters of the same Eternal Father. We may never resolve our differences on the Godhead or the Trinity, on the spiritual or corporeal nature of Deity or on the sufficiency or inerrancy of the Bible, but we can agree that there is a God; that the ultimate transformation of society will come only through the application of moral and religious solutions to pressing issues; and that the regeneration of individual hearts and souls is foundational to the restoration of virtue in our communities and nations. One need not surrender cherished religious values or doctrines in order to be a better neighbor, a more caring citizen, a more involved municipal. (So rational! So Puritan!)

In addition, we can have lively and provocative discussion on our differences, and such interactions need not be threatening, offensive or damaging to our relationships. What we cannot afford to do, if we are to communicate and cooperate, is to misrepresent one another or ascribe ulterior motives. Such measures are divisive and do not partake of that Spirit that strengthens, binds and reinforces. President Gordon B. Hinckley said of the Latter-day Saints:

We want to be good neighbors; we want to be good friends. We feel we can differ theologically with people without being disagreeable in any sense. We hope they feel the same way toward us. We have many friends and many associations with people who are not of our faith, with whom we deal constantly, and we have a wonderful relationship. It disturbs me when I hear about any antagonisms. … I don’t think they are necessary. I hope that we can overcome them.[vii]

There is, to be sure, a risk associated with learning something new about someone else. New insights always affect old perspectives, and thus some rethinking, rearranging and restructuring of our worldview are inevitable. When we look beyond a man or a woman’s color or ethnic group or social circle or church or synagogue or mosque or creed or statement of belief, when we try our best to see them for who and what they are, children of the same God, something good and worthwhile happens to us, and we are thereby drawn into a closer union with the God of us all. (Okay, okay! Just stop!)

Conclusion

Jesus Christ is the central figure in the doctrine and practice of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He is the Redeemer.[viii] He is the prototype of all saved beings, the standard of salvation.[ix] Jesus explained that “no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). We acknowledge Jesus Christ as the source of truth and redemption, as the light and life of the world, as the way to the Father (John 14:6; 2 Nephi 25:29; 3 Nephi 11:11). We worship Him in that we look to Him for deliverance and redemption and seek to emulate His matchless life (D&C 93:12–20). Truly, as one Book of Mormon prophet proclaimed, “We talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, … that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins” (2 Nephi 25:26).

As to whether we worship a “different Jesus,” we say again: We accept and endorse the testimony of the New Testament writers. Jesus is the promised Messiah, the resurrection and the life (John 11:25), literally the light of the world (John 8:12). Everything that testifies of His divine birth, His goodness, His transforming power and His godhood, we embrace enthusiastically. But we also rejoice in the additional knowledge latter-day prophets have provided about our Lord and Savior. President Brigham Young thus declared that

we, the Latter-day Saints, take the liberty of believing more than our Christian brethren: we not only believe … the Bible, but … the whole of the plan of salvation that Jesus has given to us. Do we differ from others who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ? No, only in believing more.[x]

It is the “more” that makes many in the Christian world very nervous and usually suspicious of us. But it is the “more” that allows us to make a significant contribution in the religious world. Elder Boyd K. Packer observed: “We do not claim that others have no truth. … Converts to the Church may bring with them all the truth they possess and have it added upon.”[xi]

Knowing what I know, feeling what I feel and having experienced what I have in regard to the person and power of the Savior, it is difficult for me to be patient and loving toward those who denounce me as a non-Christian. But I am constrained to do so in the spirit of Him who also was misunderstood and misrepresented. While it would be a wonderful thing to have others acknowledge our Christianity, we do not court favor nor will we compromise our distinctiveness.

We acknowledge and value the good that is done by so many to bring the message of Jesus from the New Testament to a world that desperately needs it.

The First Presidency of the Church in 1907 made the following declaration: “Our motives are not selfish; our purposes not petty and earth-bound; we contemplate the human race, past, present and yet to come, as immortal beings, for whose salvation it is our mission to labor; and to this work, broad as eternity and deep as the love of God, we devote ourselves, now, and forever.”[xii]

Actually, it’s not some “Trinity doctrine thing” that “other Christians” care about (or know about) it’s the whacko “archaeology” of Mormon history and beliefs that put them at the top of the list of Bizarre Cult Fantasies, over and beyond those of New Age Cults and “Ancient Aliens”

Google: “Mormon Archaeology”

 

From the Archives / Superstition, Mass Murder, Psychosis

Why am I “exposing” my thinking from many years ago? Because the frustration of “dealing with” social humans was so debilitating, that I turned to a “new” asset – writing, in order to make my unconscious internal conflict something that I could “analyze” in terms of the social structure that mystified me.

That is, I discovered that nature had equipped me with thinking skills that could unlock the prison of human self-created misery. It’s ironic, I suppose, that finally “finding” that Asperger people, by whatever “name” one calls them, do exist, and that I am one of them, has actually “softened” my opinion of social typicals; modern humans are products of their brain type and obsessive social orientation, due to “evolutionary” trends and directions that they cannot control. The same can be said for neurodiverse and neurocomplex Homo sapiens: adaptation is guided by the environment; adaptations can be temporarily positive, but fundamentally self-destructive. “Being” Asperger, and exploring what that entails, has gradually allowed me to “be myself” – and to gain insight into the advantages of cognitive detachment in understanding “humanity” – which contrary to psychologists, REQUIRES empathy – empathy that is learned and discovered by experience, and not by “magic”.  

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From the archives:

Nature exists with or without us.

The Supernatural Domain is delusional projection; therefore, it is prudent to assume that any and all human ideas and assumptions are incorrect until proven otherwise! 

The supernatural realm is a product of the human mind – and most of its contents have no correlation with physical reality. As for the content that does correspond, mathematics supplies the descriptive language that makes it possible for us to predict events and create technology that actually works. Whatever jump-started human brain power, the results have been spectacular – from hand axes to planetary probes, from clay pots to cluster bombs. Designing simple tools is fairly easy; a thrown spear either travels true or it doesn’t. Improvements can be made and easily tested until “it works.”

Human beings not only learn from each other, but we observe and copy the behavior of other animals. Useful knowledge can be extracted from nonliving sources, such as the ability of water to do work.

Responses to the environment that belong to the category of conscious thought, and which are expressed by means of language (words and symbols), I would identify as The Supernatural Realm – a kind of warehouse or holding area for ideas waiting to be tested in the physical environment. Problems arise when we fail to test ideas! 

The ability to imagine objects that simply cannot exist, such as human bodies with functional wings attached, is remarkable as a source of useful imagination and dangerous mistakes. Ideas that produce aqueducts, sanitation, medical treatments, or aircraft correlate to conditions of physical reality, and therefore move out of fantasy and into a body of real knowledge. This system of observation, along with trial and error, and the building of a catalogue of useful environmental skills is what has made human adaptation to nearly all environments on earth possible. Each generation has capitalized on the real world techniques of the ancestors, but what about the content of the supernatural that has no value as a description of reality and which if tested, fails miserably?

Ironically this lack of correlation to reality may be what makes some ideas impossible to pry loose from the majority of human minds. Some supernatural ideas can easily piggyback onto acts of force: the religion of the conqueror needs no explanation nor justification. It is imposed and brutally enforced. The fact that the human brain can accommodate mutually impossible universes leads to fantastic possibilities and enormous problems. Without self-awareness and discipline, the result is a continual battle over ideas that are utterly insubstantial, but which are pursued with the furor of blind emotion.

There is widespread belief in the supernatural as an actual place in the sky, under the earth, or all around us, existing in a dimension in which none of the familiar parameters of reality exist, and that it is inhabited by powerful beings that magically take on the physical form of people, ghosts, animals, space aliens, meddlers, mind readers, winged messengers, law givers, deliverers of punishment – who stage car wrecks (then pick and choose who will be injured or die in them), killer tornados, and volcanic eruptions. These spirits prefer to communicate via secret signs and codes which have become the obsession of many. These disembodied beings monitor and punish bad thoughts, hand out winning lottery tickets to those who pray for them, but alternately refuse “wins” to those who are equally needy and prayerful. They demand offerings of flowers, food, blood, and money and millions of lives sacrificed in wars.  

More people believe in a universe where nothing works, or can possibly work, except through the temperamental will of unseen inflated humans, than understand the simple principle of cause and effect. This failure, in a time of space probes that successfully navigate the solar system, indicates that something is functionally delusional in the human brain. The ability of our big brain to investigate the world, to imagine possible action, and to test ideas for working results is remarkable, but our inability to discard concepts that do not reflect how the world works, is bizarre and dangerous. Powerful technologies are applied without understanding how they work. The dire consequences are real. Superstition is the mistaken assignment of cause and effect. The election of leaders who are automated by supernatural ideas, and our frustration when they cannot produce results, is a disaster. The physical processes that drive reality trump all human belief. The destructive power of the richest nation on earth is handed over to a leader without a technical or science-based education, on the claim that his intentions are good and those of the enemy are evil. Does this not seem inadequate?

In the supernatural state of mind, intent guarantees results: Cause, effect, and consequences are nowhere to be seen.

Just where does sanity exist? is a question that still awaits a functional answer. As ideas are vetted and removed to a rational catalogue, which in the U.S. has become the domain of science and engineering, the supernatural realm becomes enriched in fantasy.

Unless children are taught to distinguish between the two, they merely add to a population that is increasingly unable to function. Countries that we arrogantly label as backward embrace science and engineering education. Why is that?

 

There is only one human story

We are all travelers in this world.

From the sweet grass to the packing house, birth till death, we travel between the eternities.

Prentice Ritter / Broken Trail

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I finished rereading the Odyssey; there is so much to say about the foundational story of Western Culture as opposed to the archaic and static world of Pyramid Cultures. The “short answer” is simple: the individual is paramount in the West. The individual does not exist in other cultures: not even pharaohs, great kings, or god despots were individuals. These were roles – place markers, keepers of the status quo; enforcers of rigid systems that organized labor into lesser classes of workers on a massive scale.

The shift in Ancient Greek culture was profound. A change in focus from “outer” surface man to the inner life of human beings. Pharaoh was his “things” – from a useless pile of limestone and granite, to the thousands of people who spent their lives piling up those useless pyramids and temples and performing magical formulas.

Odysseus remains “our hero” – a complex sophisticated human being; we can know him, because we are like him. This is true as well for females in the West, although “we” barely know it. The fact of female importance in the Odyssey is overlooked: these characters are actual women with personalities and destinies; good, bad, and powerful – prime movers of the story with histories of their own. Athena is the mentor, “the brains”, the stimulator of thought; a strategist in war and diplomacy; a female without parallel in literature. Men worshipped Athena: that fact cannot be avoided or denied. Becoming civilized was the result of “using your brain” as well as well as “brawn” and this revolution was attributed to “female” intelligence.

Being an individual is a painful and messy project, both for the individual and his or her culture. Resist the pyramid —-

The Odyssey, Irma and related thoughts

Still using library internet access…

Ordered new computer, but waiting for delivery – could be 10 more days. I’m beginning to FREAK OUT! WHY? Not because I have some “pathological” Asperger attachment to habit or objects – it’s the tool I need to communicate “what’s going on” in my “unconscious visual processing” in the primary language of “social reality” – words. 

I’m lucky to live in a time and place where this arrangement is possible: a reclusive existence in wild Wyoming, but with the ability to express my thoughts to a mysterious “global” world – unknown people from every part of the planet continue to “tune in” (maybe by accident?) It is “mind-boggling” from my point of view from the “Frontier” which lacks modern social development and material abundance.

I’m momentarily fed up with rereading JUNG: do psychologists actually “like” or approve of any human beings (even themselves?) It is quite revealing how with time and experience, one’s view of “standard ideas” is changed and reviewed.

I try to reread the Iliad and the Odyssey on alternate years, so have taken the opportunity to read the Odyssey – coincidentally, while half-listening to coverage of hurricane Irma… (many reactions and thoughts, which will have to wait) but having to do with how modern people see Nature, and how cultural values are shaped as a consequence; very “odd” feelings and ideas which in turn shape our behavior! 

My fascination with both books goes deep: the two are foundations for much of my “introverted” thinking about culture, history and admirable human codes of behavior and interaction that have fallen into forgetfulness: PLUS these are highly dense visual presentations that “speak to me” like few others. At times, the “visual” descriptions come so fast and furious, that I can’t keep up my brain processing speed to match, and I must linger over those descriptions, which “tell me” so much about the people of that time. And which, in a way, make me “homesick”.

AND – Once again (Irma event) I am utterly appalled by the ignorance (as in ignoring the entire subject) of Americans concerning the processes and reality of “geology” in its true scope – a study which reveals How the earth, oceans, atmosphere and “cosmic” location WORK!

American “education” is the “manmade”  disaster that cripples reasonable and effective behavior!

Hmmm. Someone has brought a screaming toddler, possibly named Irma, into the library… time to “evacuate”.

 

 

 

History as Literature / Lewis Mumford The City…

THE CITY IN HISTORY

Lewis Mumford / Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1961

“Mid the wanderings of Paleolithic man, the dead were the first to have a permanent dwelling: a cavern, a mound marked by a cairn, a collective barrow.”

“The city of the dead antedates the city of the living. In one sense indeed, the city of the dead is the forerunner, almost the core, of every city. Urban life spans the historic space between the earliest burial ground for dawn man and the final cemetery, the necropolis, in which one civilization after another, has met its end.”

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No computer replacement yet; I’m at the library, frustrated! My “vacation” from blogging will not do. I must blog!

Anyway: I’ve been going through piles of books to “dispense with” and reacquainting myself with the small stack of those which I return to again and again for inspiration and reference, and vitally, the handful of ideas that set me off on a journey many years ago toward understanding human behavior (which as an Asperger, is/was a critical topic. It is my hypothesis that Asperger types have a hyposocial, visually-based brain organization that “resembles” that of pre-social “Wild” Homo sapiens.)

The giant effort, The City in History, by Lewis Mumford, is one of those books. I have never read all 576 pages of exhaustive details; the quote above occurs near the beginning, and “struck me” immediately with its importance to modern human destiny; not predestined destiny, but the path of human civilization as it has played out over the previous 10-15,000 years of humans becoming domestic “urban” humans, a distinction that has become more “real” to me as I have explored this “thing” called Asperger’s.

Modern social destiny, and the “type” Homo sapiens that created it, (and whom continues to be created by hypersocial environments), was not a collective direction decided upon by “mankind” but the result of individuals pursuing survival. Climatic change and other natural geologic processes forced the dependence on agriculture and sedentary life; the “idea” of controlling nature must have seemed to be a great and victorious reality at the time, which could only be “good”. This quest remains the central “self-glorification” of modern techno-social humans, but from this one step, disaster has followed.

Mumford’s book is filled with the grandiose “narrative” that archaeologists and anthropologists envy – (frustrated novelists that they are.) Historians are free to “do this” – history has always been a scheme of cultural focus; mythology with either a few facts, or a deluge, added to “support” the myth. Our mistake is in thinking that mythology is “false” and has no value, and that history must be “scientific” – which it is not. It is literature that serves to remind us of the hundreds of millions of lives that have been lived, and great writers like Mumford remind us that “we are not IT” – that is, the supreme and intelligent species that fulfills some imaginary “historical” evolutionary destiny, but instead, our behavior shows us to be one more repetition of the necropolis stage of civilization.

How Animals Think / Review of Book by Frans de Waal

How Animals Think

A new look at what humans can learn from nonhuman minds

Alison Gopnik, The Atlantic 

Review of: Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?

By Frans de Waal / Norton

For 2,000 years, there was an intuitive, elegant, compelling picture of how the world worked. It was called “the ladder of nature.” In the canonical version, God was at the top, followed by angels, who were followed by humans. Then came the animals, starting with noble wild beasts and descending to domestic animals and insects. Human animals followed the scheme, too. Women ranked lower than men, and children were beneath them. The ladder of nature was a scientific picture, but it was also a moral and political one. It was only natural that creatures higher up would have dominion over those lower down. (This view remains dominant in American thinking: “The Great Chain of Being” is still with us and underlies social reality)

Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection delivered a serious blow to this conception. (Unless one denies evolution)  Natural selection is a blind historical process, stripped of moral hierarchy. A cockroach is just as well adapted to its environment as I am to mine. In fact, the bug may be better adapted—cockroaches have been around a lot longer than humans have, and may well survive after we are gone. But the very word evolution can imply a progression—New Agers talk about becoming “more evolved”—and in the 19th century, it was still common to translate evolutionary ideas into ladder-of-nature terms.

MAN ILLUS

Modern biological science has in principle rejected the ladder of nature. But the intuitive picture is still powerful. In particular, the idea that children and nonhuman animals are lesser beings has been surprisingly persistent. Even scientists often act as if children and animals are defective adult humans, defined by the abilities we have and they don’t. Neuroscientists, for example, sometimes compare brain-damaged adults to children and animals.

We always should have been suspicious of this picture, but now we have no excuse for continuing with it. In the past 30 years, research has explored the distinctive ways in which children as well as animals think, and the discoveries deal the coup de grâce to the ladder of nature. (Not in psychology!)The primatologist Frans de Waal has been at the forefront of the animal research, and its most important public voice.

In Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?, he makes a passionate and convincing case for the sophistication of nonhuman minds.

De Waal outlines both the exciting new results and the troubled history of the field. The study of animal minds was long divided between what are sometimes called “scoffers” and “boosters.” Scoffers refused to acknowledge that animals could think at all: Behaviorism—the idea that scientists shouldn’t talk about minds, only about stimuli and responses—stuck around in animal research long after it had been discredited in the rest of psychology. (Are you kidding? “Black Box” psychology is alive and well, especially in American education!) Boosters often relied on anecdotes and anthropomorphism instead of experiments. De Waal notes that there isn’t even a good general name for the new field of research. Animal cognition ignores the fact that humans are animals too. De Waal argues for evolutionary cognition instead.

Psychologists often assume that there is a special cognitive ability—a psychological secret sauce—that makes humans different from other animals. The list of candidates is long: tool use, cultural transmission, the ability to imagine the future or to understand other minds, and so on. But every one of these abilities shows up in at least some other species in at least some form. De Waal points out various examples, and there are many more. New Caledonian crows make elaborate tools, shaping branches into pointed, barbed termite-extraction devices. A few Japanese macaques learned to wash sweet potatoes and even to dip them in the sea to make them more salty, and passed that technique on to subsequent generations. Western scrub jays “cache”—they hide food for later use—and studies have shown that they anticipate what they will need in the future, rather than acting on what they need now.

From an evolutionary perspective, it makes sense that these human abilities also appear in other species. After all, the whole point of natural selection is that small variations among existing organisms can eventually give rise to new species. Our hands and hips and those of our primate relatives gradually diverged from the hands and hips of common ancestors. It’s not that we miraculously grew hands and hips and other animals didn’t. So why would we alone possess some distinctive cognitive skill that no other species has in any form?

De Waal explicitly rejects the idea that there is some hierarchy of cognitive abilities. (Thank-you!) Nevertheless, an implicit tension in his book shows just how seductive the ladder-of-nature view remains. Simply saying that the “lower” creatures share abilities with creatures once considered more advanced still suggests something like a ladder—it’s just that chimps or crows or children are higher up than we thought. So the summary of the research ends up being: We used to think that only adult humans could use tools/participate in culture/imagine the future/understand other minds, but actually chimpanzees/crows/toddlers can too. Much of de Waal’s book has this flavor, though I can’t really blame him, since developmental psychologists like me have been guilty of the same rhetoric.

As de Waal recognizes, a better way to think about other creatures would be to ask ourselves how different species have developed different kinds of minds to solve different adaptive problems. (And – How “different humans” have done, and continue to do, the same!) Surely the important question is not whether an octopus or a crow can do the same things a human can, but how those animals solve the cognitive problems they face, like how to imitate the sea floor or make a tool with their beak. Children and chimps and crows and octopuses are ultimately so interesting not because they are mini-mes, but because they are aliens—not because they are smart like us, but because they are smart in ways we haven’t even considered. All children, for example, pretend with a zeal that seems positively crazy; if we saw a grown-up act like every 3-year-old does, we would get him to check his meds. (WOW! Nasty comment!)

Sometimes studying those alien ways of knowing can illuminate adult-human cognition. Children’s pretend play may help us understand our adult taste for fiction. De Waal’s research provides another compelling example. We human beings tend to think that our social relationships are rooted in our perceptions, beliefs, and desires, and our understanding of the perceptions, beliefs, and desires of others—what psychologists call our “theory of mind.” (And yet horrible behavior toward other humans and animals demonstrates that AT BEST, this “mind-reading” simply makes humans better social manipulators and predators) human behavior our In the ’80s and ’90s, developmental psychologists, including me, showed that preschoolers and even infants understand minds apart from their own. But it was hard to show that other animals did the same. “Theory of mind” became a candidate for the special, uniquely human trick. (A social conceit)

Yet de Waal’s studies show that chimps possess a remarkably developed political intelligence—they are profoundly interested in figuring out social relationships such as status and alliances. (A primatologist friend told me that even before they could stand, the baby chimps he studied would use dominance displays to try to intimidate one another.) It turns out, as de Waal describes, that chimps do infer something about what other chimps see. But experimental studies also suggest that this happens only in a competitive political context. The evolutionary anthropologist Brian Hare and his colleagues gave a subordinate chimp a choice between pieces of food that a dominant chimp had seen hidden and other pieces it had not seen hidden. The subordinate chimp, who watched all the hiding, stayed away from the food the dominant chimp had seen, but took the food it hadn’t seen. (A typical anecdotal factoid that proves nothing)

Anyone who has gone to an academic conference will recognize that we, too, are profoundly political creatures. We may say that we sign up because we’re eager to find out what our fellow Homo sapiens think, but we’re just as interested in who’s on top and where the alliances lie. Many of the political judgments we make there don’t have much to do with our theory of mind. We may defer to a celebrity-academic silverback even if we have no respect for his ideas. In Jane Austen, Elizabeth Bennet cares how people think, while Lady Catherine cares only about how powerful they are, but both characters are equally smart and equally human.

The challenge of studying creatures that are so different from us is to get into their heads.

Of course, we know that humans are political, but we still often assume that our political actions come from thinking about beliefs and desires. Even in election season we assume that voters figure out who will enact the policies they want, and we’re surprised when it turns out that they care more about who belongs to their group or who is the top dog. The chimps may give us an insight into a kind of sophisticated and abstract social cognition that is very different from theory of mind—an intuitive sociology rather than an intuitive psychology.

Until recently, however, there wasn’t much research into how humans develop and deploy this kind of political knowledge—a domain where other animals may be more cognitively attuned than we are. It may be that we understand the social world in terms of dominance and alliance, like chimps, but we’re just not usually as politically motivated as they are. (Obsession with social status is so pervasive, that it DISRUPTS neurotypical ability to function!) Instead of asking whether we have a better everyday theory of mind, we might wonder whether they have a better everyday theory of politics.

Thinking seriously about evolutionary cognition may also help us stop looking for a single magic ingredient that explains how human intelligence emerged. De Waal’s book inevitably raises a puzzling question. After all, I’m a modern adult human being, writing this essay surrounded by furniture, books, computers, art, and music—I really do live in a world that is profoundly different from the world of the most brilliant of bonobos. If primates have the same cognitive capacities we do, where do those differences come from?

The old evolutionary-psychology movement argued that we had very specific “modules,” special mental devices, that other primates didn’t have. But it’s far likelier that humans and other primates started out with relatively minor variations in more-general endowments and that those variations have been amplified over the millennia by feedback processes. For example, small initial differences in what biologists call “life history” can have big cumulative effects. Humans have a much longer childhood than other primates do. Young chimps gather as much food as they consume by the time they’re 5. Even in forager societies, human kids don’t do that until they’re 15. This makes being a human parent especially demanding. But it also gives human children much more time to learn—in particular, to learn from the previous generation. (If that generation is “messed up” to the point of incompetence, the advantage disappears and disaster results – which is what we see in the U.S. today). Other animals can absorb culture from their forebears too, like those macaques with their proto-Pringle salty potatoes. But they may have less opportunity and motivation to exercise these abilities than we do.

Even if the differences between us and our nearest animal relatives are quantitative rather than qualitative—a matter of dialing up some cognitive capacities and downplaying others—they can have a dramatic impact overall. A small variation in how much you rely on theory of mind to understand others as opposed to relying on a theory of status and alliances can exert a large influence in the long run of biological and cultural evolution.

Finally, de Waal’s book prompts some interesting questions about how emotion and reason mix in the scientific enterprise. The quest to understand the minds of animals and children has been a remarkable scientific success story. It inevitably has a moral, and even political, dimension as well. The challenge of studying creatures that are so different from us is to get into their heads, to imagine what it is like to be a bat or a bonobo or a baby. A tremendous amount of sheer scientific ingenuity is required to figure out how to ask animals or children what they think in their language instead of in ours.

At the same time, it also helps to have a sympathy for the creatures you study, a feeling that is not far removed from love. And this sympathy is bound to lead to indignation when those creatures are dismissed or diminished. That response certainly seems justified when you consider the havoc that the ladder-of-nature picture has wrought on the “lower” creatures. (Just ask ASD and Asperger children how devastating this lack of “empathy” on the part of the “helping, caring fixing” industry is.)

But does love lead us to the most-profound insights about another being, or the most-profound illusions? Elizabeth Bennet and Lady Catherine would have differed on that too, and despite all our theory-of-mind brilliance, (sorry – that’s ridiculous optimism) we humans have yet to figure out when love enlightens and when it leads us astray. So we keep these emotions under wraps in our scientific papers, for good reason. Still, popular books are different, and both sympathy and indignation are in abundant supply in de Waal’s.

Perhaps the combination of scientific research and moral sentiment can point us to a different metaphor for our place in nature. Instead of a ladder, we could invoke the 19th-century naturalist Alexander von Humboldt’s web of life. We humans aren’t precariously balanced on the top rung looking down at the rest. (Tell that to all those EuroAmerican males who dictate socio-economic-scientific terms of “humans who count”) It’s more scientifically accurate, and more morally appealing, to say that we are just one strand in an intricate network of living things.

About the Author

Alison Gopnik is a professor of psychology and an affiliate professor of philosophy at UC Berkeley.

To be, or not to be, labeled Asperger

 

It is claimed that Asperger individuals resist change, but as usual, this is an assumption on the part of neurotypicals; an assumption that lacks nuance, sensitivity and understanding of what is actually going on “inside” an Asperger. My life has been one of extreme changes, both desired and imposed by the world of man. Both types of change can be disruptive or productive; the option that makes sense is to work at the problem and not to worry over how these things happen. Life is a tragedy from the “get go” – a circumstance that neurotypicals work diligently to deny. The challenge for every organism is survival, but for humans there is a “bonus” question: How shall one live with the knowledge of personal extinction?

To count on an afterlife is to cheat: there exists only one life that is “yours” and whatever any social person claims, it’s yours and yours alone.

The basic element here is the “illusion” that there is safety in numbers – that somehow, like anchovies or flocks of birds, sheer numbers will keep death at bay. Let “bad luck” pick off the weak, the stragglers, the old and the sick.

“That’s not me!” we tell ourselves, and our friends; our workplace group, our economic group, our educational group: the world could surely not do without us! We’re headed for a nice safe perch at the top of the pyramid. Look how attractive I am; surely, with every trendy purchase, I am building my immortality. My apartment or house, it’s furnishings – my car and my wardrobe, the entire assemblage of “who I am” guarantees exemption from that vague cosmic “creator” who chooses whom to strike down, and who will be awarded entry into the top spot on the pyramid: Paradise.

Burial rites are of interest to most humans: this may be skewed by the fact that graves are often the only source for real objects and can satisfy curiosity about “who we are and how did we get here?” Digging up bones and pondering skulls takes on a weird desperation: owning the bones equals owning the power of that “person” – sacred relics draw humans to them with social magnetism; objects that “touched” a person, or were part of their body, retain contagious magic power. This illusion can become quite gruesome and fuels mass death in religious and ideological warfare.

Auction houses all over the “civilized” social world benefit from selling off the many layers of status (an estate) that buyers want for themselves; a type of “grave robbing” that is socially acceptable – and indeed, transfers instant status, without it being earned. This is a very ancient human practice: a “poacher” of grave goods who acts on economic motive is a criminal; an institution which utilizes those objects to raise money is not. Institutions collect “status” like any other group; donors both impart and gain status by means of “generosity” – that magical act of penance that is the required social gesture for having “hogged” the resources of industry and culture.

The “shopping” culture can be viewed as a continuation of the quest for “status” acquired by having abundant grave goods; in ancient graves these objects are often necessary tools that the person would need in the afterlife. The afterlife is concrete: a definite place where life goes on just as it is, here and now.

Neuorotypicals maintain that their lives are “blessed” by magic: in the U.S. this overwhelmingly means God or Jesus; saints, spirits and all manner of lucky charms and technical gadgets. Corporate brands become secular religious cults; corporations are  representatives on earth of a Cosmic Great Mind, a consciousness that behind the scenes, is creating mankind’s Future. Participation in this pyramid scheme is easy: BELIEVE in us; buy our products and join the “chosen ones” in a race to immortality. Whatever the form, it’s  the same childhood terror that arises from having to please  Big People, who have the power over us of life and death: Parents.

I have stopped contemplating choices for some time; as one ages, what I would consider optimum rarely matches what is possible. Letting go of desire, or “the Will” to “make things happen” is pushed aside in favor of passive thinking; quick decisions and satisfying resolutions fade away; images arise from a dimension without time, free of the idea of progress, forward motion, schedules, or even conscious deliberation. Pictures float into awareness like deep sea creatures ascending the water column to feed at the surface. Inevitably, one or more of these pictures will “feel” right, but will usually not agree with reason. It’s then up to the intellect to “decide.”

After 66 years this process has never changed; it tends to infuriate some neurotypicals because they already “know” what to do: follow the crowd. Just do what “everyone” does. The Big Guy is in control; he has a reason for everything that he does, even if no one ever knows what his reasons are, it’s “all for the best.”

What I have accepted is that whether or not I’m labeled Asperger, that label is irrelevant to how I perceive human existence.

“What happens” devolves from my choices in response to “whatever comes my way.” No supernatural baby-sitter is going to rescue “my ass” if I mess up. That’s the difference in how this Asperger responds to change. It’s simply the difference between obeying outside control and thinking about inner responses –

Have I changed; yes.

Have I changed? Yes. Has it been easy? No.