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Wednesday, April 12, 2006


Bettye Johnson ©

Recently I was sent an article written by a skeptic (the individual’s term) whose writing was vitriolic and filled with innuendos and misinformation about a noted personality. It was what one could term character assassination. The author of this article stated that email would be deleted sent in response to this article that was in disagreement. In discussing this with a friend, we noted the hypocrisy of the author. This led me to think about the meaning of skeptic.

First I researched the work skeptic. Several on-line dictionaries define it as coming from the Latin septicus and its etymology comes from Greek, a disciple of Phyllho of Elis, (Greek Philosopher.) Breaking this down to a simple definition of to examine.

Another definition is one who instinctively or habitually doubts, questions, or disagrees with assertions or generally accepted conclusions and also a doubter who demands physical proof. Whew! The original meaning to examine seems to have gotten left by the wayside as we evolved.

In addressing a skeptic such as I described in the first paragraph, this smacks of people who habitually doubt and this becomes their modus operandi. In other words they become addicted and delight in tearing down. There is nothing productive in their skepticism. I am reminded of the book titled Flatland by Edwin Abbott who wrote this mathematical satire during the Victorian age. Using math, Abbott draws a picture of a two-dimensional universe and how limiting it is. Perhaps one could say an aspect of a habitual skeptic is a Flatlander.

In using the term habitual skeptic, I am addressing those who under the guise of skepticism ridicule and perform character assassination to prove their limited point of view. It is as if they get pleasure from writing vicious untruths and perhaps it is because there is something in the author that is in denial and hidden. Therefore the writer hides behind the word skeptic. This is sad and nothing one can say or do will alter their viewpoint. If we dig into their skepticism, we will find a deep-rooted fear. Unfortunately fear promotes the seeds of bigotry, discrimination and prejudice. Thus an extreme skeptic is in all likelihood a bigot and a fear-monger. It would not matter how many proofs or facts one presented, it would not change their closed minds.

Most of us are skeptic from time to time when something new is presented which is not in keeping with our current knowledge. In addressing another aspect of skeptic, which is doubt. I would say that almost everyone has had doubt about something at some point in his or her life. I have learned that doubt is even more limiting than the habitual skeptic. Doubt is part of fear and it is the killer of dreams. Doubt limits one from accepting new knowledge and new experiences.

The right use of skepticism is another facet. There are times when it is wise to be skeptical and this is in keeping the original meaning of to examine. There are times when we need to pause and examine new information. I learned that when new information or opportunities came and I was skeptical that if I would pause and tell myself it’s possible or use the word perhaps then I left the door open for new information to come in. I would assess the new information and sometimes use my past experience or use my intuition. At the time I began using this method I didn’t realize that I was often using my instinct or my knowingness.

In researching this article on Internet, I came across The Skeptics Society and The Skeptics Magazine. Here at last was the right use of the word skeptic! Here is their introduction:

The Skeptics Society is a scientific and educational organization of scholars, scientists, historians, magicians, professors and teachers, and anyone curious about controversial ideas, extraordinary claims, revolutionary ideas, and the promotion of science. Our mission is to serve as an educational tool for those seeking clarification and viewpoints on those controversial ideas and claims.

In other words, to examine in order to make choices and gain knowledge. Returning to my reference in the first paragraph regarding the extreme habitual skeptic, I say there is no use in attempting to change the viewpoint of one who has a closed mind. In fact, I feel pity for such an individual because this type of skeptic is shutting the door to great knowledge and the ability to live and explore life to its fullest. I am paraphrasing Jesus, who said to bless those who curse you. Therefore, let’s bless these people because they need all the blessings they can get.

I have made a ceaseless effort not to ridicule, not to bewail, not to scorn human actions, but to understand them. - Baruch Spinoza

Sunday, April 09, 2006


Bettye Johnson ©

Renewal conjures up images of spring with daffodils and tulips in bloom along with the budding of the trees. After a winter of dreaming, the trees and perennial plants begin to awaken stretching their roots deeper into the soil and pushing upward to the sun. This past week has been delightful to walk around my property and observe the overnight changes. The trilliums in the woods have magically blossomed and I call these the fairy flowers. The hummingbirds returned a few weeks ago just as I putting out their feeder. Good timing! It is a time of celebration. It is as if they are a chorus of voices singing celebrate life.

Easter derives its name from an Anglo-Saxon pagan goddess name of Eostre also known as Eastre. She represents the goddesses of ancient Greece and Egypt and is known as the goddess of the dawn. The pagan celebration of Easter at the vernal equinox, which means day and night appear as equal length was to celebrate the birth of new life and colored eggs were used to signify this. In ancient Roman times the Romans believed all life came from an egg and used the egg in their rites. The colored eggs have always been used to celebrate this rite of celebration. The rabbit became a symbol because the rabbit or the hare represents fertility. Easter was and should be a celebration of life.

The early Christian fathers purloined this celebration and it became a celebration for the death of Jesus on a cross. There is no historical date as to the actual crucifixion (cruci-fiction?) of Jesus. He supposedly rose or as some say ascended on the third day. However, Christian tradition uses the pagan holiday and continues to set the date as the first Sunday after the first full moon following the vernal spring equinox. Isn’t it hypocrisy to condemn pagans and still use their holidays?

It is a travesty that most Christians focus on Jesus dying on the cross for their sins because it absolves them on a subconscious level of taking responsibility. The Catholic practice of confession freed people of their misconduct and yet it didn’t change their behavior or their thinking. Today one only has to observe the continuation of the travesty. Rarely are the true teachings of Jesus taught or followed and we continue to have wars, hatred, prejudice, and bigotry as it has been for thousands of years. Most of the Christian depictions of Jesus have him hanging on the cross. Isn’t it time to take him down from the cross and pursue living what he taught?

The cross was a sacred symbol before the death of Jesus and it meant the something entirely different. As an example, the Celtic cross placed on a circle had an ancient meaning of being a measuring device and also that time is an illusion.

To honor Jesus and to love God doesn’t mean one has to be a Christian. Why not celebrate Easter as a celebration of life? Celebrate the life of all creation. Why focus on death and especially a death that happened over 2000 years ago? Isn’t it time to open the closed doors of the mind and allow laughter, love and joy to enter? The thoughts we have today manifest as our future. Each morning could begin with the renewal of our mind. Sickness and pain can be renewed into wellness and health. Lack can be renewed into I have. Sow seeds of abundance and allow them to bloom. There is a line from a song that says it very well, “If it’s to be, it’s up to me.”