GOD’S EXISTENCE

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.blog

36 Arguments for the Existence of God36 Arguments for the Existence of God
By Rebecca Newberger Goldstein
Narrated by Stephen Pinker, Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, Oliver Wyman

REBECCA NEWBERGER GOLDSTEIN
REBECCA NEWBERGER GOLDSTEIN

Rebecca Goldstein writes like Stephen Pinker on steroids.  (Coincidentally,  Goldstein is married to Pinker.)  Goldstein’s novel is not the story one expects from its title because “36 Arguments for the Existence of God” is about denial; not affirmation of existence.

STEVEN PINKER (Cognitive psychologist, linguist, and author)
STEVEN PINKER (Cognitive psychologist, linguist, and author who wrote “How the Mind Works”, “The Blank Slate”, “Angels of Our Better Nature”, etc.)

A more apt title for Goldstein’s book might be “The Science of Human Nature Denies the Existence of God”.

Goldstein has done a masterful job of creating “fear and trembling” in believers.  This is “fear and trembling” in the opposite sense of Soren Kierkegaard’s meaning. Kierkegaard’s meaning awakens believers in God.  Kierkegaard, an author, theologian, and philosopher, argues one should fear and tremble at the truth of God’s existence.

SOREN KIERKEGAARD (1813-1855, DANISH PHILOSOPHER, AUTHOR, THEOLOGIAN)
SOREN KIERKEGAARD 1813-1855 (Kierkegaard, an author, theologian, and philosopher, argues one should fear or tremble at the truth of God’s existence.)

On one level this is a story about a man named Cass Seltzer and his personal (sometimes romantic) relationships.

On a second level it is about human ethnocentrism. Characters, including Cass Seltzer, see through myopic eyes based on who they have become and what peer group they belong to.

On a third level “36 Arguments…” is about human nature and cultural memes (Richard Dawkins defines a cultural meme as an inherited learned behavior).

On multiple levels, Goldstein’s writing is about the elephant in the room; i.e. mankind’s belief in a Supreme Being.

The story of Cass Seltzer’s life is absorbing.  The women he loves are monumentally independent, fantastically alluring, and maddeningly self-centered (as self-centered as Cass Seltzer).  Each character believes what they believe with conviction that directs their lives.

The introduction of Felix Fidley exemplifies tribal ethnocentrism and conviction; i.e. a believer who says one way is the only way.

RELIGIOUS BELIEF
Goldstein’s introduction of Felix Fidley in her novel exemplifies tribal ethnocentrism and conviction; i.e. a believer who says one way is the only way.

Ms. Goldstein cleverly introduces the town of New Walden.  Its isolated belief system reflects the heritability of good and bad genetic markers and memes that trap people in worshipful repetition.  One might categorize it as a cult or, more politely, a commune.

Finally, Goldstein creates a straw man debate about God,  The debate is conducted in the next to last chapter.  It pits Cass Seltzer against a purportedly renowned debater. Seltzer beats his debate opponent.  Believers in God lose.  In the last chapter, 36 arguments for belief in God are stated and refuted.

SCIENCE AND RELIGION
One doubts Goldstein will change the world with her book but its rational arguments are a big add to the non-believing world’s arguments for a scientific theory of the world that explains everything about everything.

One doubts Goldstein will change the world with her book but its rational arguments are a big add to the non-believing world’s arguments for a scientific theory of the world that explains everything about everything.

PREACHER PREACHING
Faith is always a refuge but is it enough?

If you are a believer, “36 Arguments…” is a clear explanation of your battleground; it reveals the manifesto, strategy, and tactics of a non-believer.  Faith is always a refuge but is it enough?

“36 Arguments for the Existence of God” is a fascinating piece of literature.

RISE AND FALL

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.blog

Asabiyyah: What Ibn Khaldun, the Islamic Father of Social Science, Can Teach Us About the World Today

Written by: Ed West 

Narrated by:  P. J. Ochlan

ED WEST (ENGLISH AUTHOR, JOURNALIST, BLOGGER)

ED WEST (ENGLISH AUTHOR, JOURNALIST, BLOGGER)

IBN KHALDUN (STATUARY SYMBOL OF ISLAMIC HISTORIAN BORN 1332, DIED 1406 AT 73 YEARS OF AGE.)

IBN KHALDUN (STATUARY SYMBOL OF ISLAMIC HISTORIAN BORN 1332, DIED 1406 AT 73 YEARS OF AGE.)

Ed West offers a brief introduction to the life of an ancient historian.  His name is Ibn Khaldun.  Khaldun describes the first known evolutionary theory of human origin.  West also notes this 14th century scholar creates the first known socio/political theory of the rise and fall of civilizations.

Khaldun explains life’s origin as a aggregation of chemicals and minerals that create organic life and, in turn, evolve into different species. 

DESCENT OF MAN

West notes that Khaldun suggests humankind evolved from monkeys. This is four centuries before Darwin’s “Origin of Species”.

Ibn Khaldun is considered by some to be the first person to write foundational theories for modern sociology, economics, and demography.  West notes that Khaldun explains how nations are formed, maintained, and destroyed by sociological, economic, and demographic forces.

Khaldun offers counsel to the great conqueror, Amir Timur (aka Tammerlane), who plans to resurrect the 13th century Mongol empire built by Genghis Khan.  

TIMUR (AKA TAMMERLANE, 1336-1405)

TIMUR AKA TAMMERLANE IS COUNCELED BY IBN KHALDUN  (1336-1405–(Timur is said to have caused the death of over 17 million people in the effort.)

West suggests that Khaldun explains how Timur and other rulers, from the Roman empire to Genghis Kahn to Timur successfully conquered great areas of the known world.  His explanation is “Asabiyyah” (aas-sah-bee-ah), a theory that all successful conquerors establish a social environment that creates solidarity among a group of people sharing understanding, purpose, and achievement.

West explains that Khaldun expands “Asabiyyah” to a theory of civilization’s rise and fall.  Humans proliferate based on family affiliations.  Religion widens family relationships to create tribes. Tribes become a congregation of different families with common beliefs.  Tribes come into conflict and eventual settlements that grow into larger groups based on evolved common beliefs. 

At each step of widening common interest, a leader rises from the ranks.  With an accretion of social ties, villages, towns, and cities are formed with a leader at its head.  As the ties that bind continue to expand, nation-states are formed.

RISE AND FALL OF CIVILIZATIONS

Ibn Khaldun’s explanation is “Asabiyyah”, a theory that all successful conquerors establish a social environment that creates solidarity among a group of people through shared understanding, purpose, and achievement.

West shows that Khaldun goes on to explain how civilizations decline. First, Khaldun notes that sons and daughters of great leaders rarely exceed their parent’s leadership success.  Khaldun posits the current social and scientific belief of “reversion to a mean”. 

REVERSION TO THE MEAN

Each subsequent offspring of a great leader comes closer to the average of a civilization’s population.  Leadership diminishes in succeeding generations.

Second, Khaldun suggests diminished common beliefs lessen a civilization’s cohesion.  Religious differences rise, economic circumstances change, social groups fracture, family ties reassert themselves as ties that are more important than community.  The example that Khaldun gives is Rome’s decline as a world power. West suggests the same may be said of the United Kingdom’s decline.

AMERICAN DREAM

Has the American Dream become a lie few believe in?  Are elected officials withdrawing to their families at the expense of nation-state’ leadership?

West’s “Asabiyyah” makes one think of America.  Does today’s political conflict reflect diminishment of commonly held nation-state belief?  Is the increasing gap between rich and poor destroying the social fabric of America?  Is the divisiveness of former President Trump a reflection of a nation in decline?

Is nationalism dead, or are we crossing a threshold where the principals of nation-state need to be expanded to include a wider community?  Is the next step reflected by the E.U. or some similar congregation of nation-states?

EUROPEAN UNION

According to West, Khaldun believes nationalism is critically important for a civilization to remain strong.  In the time of Khaldun, there was no vehicle for common beliefs except a leader’s influence over conquered nations. 

Today, there is an internet.  It seems the human family may once again be expanded.  Nation-states may not be prepared for “space-ship-earth” but there may be an interim step.

That interim step was tried during the cold war with the U.S.S.R.  It failed.  The E.U. is facing challenges today.

U.S.S.R. BREAK-UP

Trump’s America is regressing from comity to disparity with emphasis on making itself great again.  A leading question today is whether civilizations are competing to be in decline or ascendance?

Of course, leadership is key to any future.  Right now, there seem few leaders that can make civilizations grow beyond their borders. Khaldun seems as relevant today as he was in the 4th and early 5th centuries.

HEARTACHES, HEARTBREAKS, AND BELIEF

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.blog

The Canterbury Talesthe canterbury talesBy Geoffrey Chaucer

Narrated by Charlton Griffin

What value does a 14th century book have for a 21st century person?

GEOFFREY CHAUCER (1343-1400)
GEOFFREY CHAUCER (1343-1400, AUTHOR, POET)

“The Canterbury Tales” is a rhyming entertainment (except for Christian preaching at the tales end) that recalls romantic heartaches, heartbreaks, and belief in divine justice that is as present today as yesterday.  The unchanging nature of men’s lust for women and women’s superiority is comically and tragically told and repeated in Chaucer’s travelers’ tales. Though women play a primary focus in “The Canterbury Tales”, belief in Christianity and its power to heal and destroy is a paramount subject.

FIGHTING KNIGHTS
In the Knight’s tale, two brothers lust for the same woman.  They plan to fight each other to the death but are interrupted by the King

In the Knight’s tale, two brothers lust for the same woman.  They plan to fight each other to the death but are interrupted by the King.  The woman wishes to retain her maidenhood and appeals to her deity to insure continued chastity.  The two brothers and the woman have different agendas with each agenda appealed to a different god.  The tale progresses with the three appellant deities determining the brothers and woman’s fates.  It is an ironic pagan tale of Chaucer’s disbelief in many gods rather than the One.

In Chaucer’s tales, men are shown to be the weaker and dumber sex.  Old rich men marry young beautiful women and become cuckolds.  Powerful and rich young men choose poor and beautiful women to be their wives and treat them horribly to test their love and loyalty.  Male insecurity and desire drive men to make foolish decisions about whom they should marry and how they might measure their worth through earth-bound pleasure.  Men foolishly seek revenge at any cost while women seek justice through diplomacy and prudence.

WIFE OF BATH
In Chaucer’s tales, men are shown to be the weaker and dumber sex.

THE NUN'S TALE
THE NUN’S TALE–The incredible power of religion in Chaucer’s time is illustrated in the Nun’s tale of a chaste bride that convinces her betrothed to forego conjugal relations for the sake of eternal life in heaven.

The incredible power of religion in Chaucer’s time is illustrated in the Nun’s tale of a chaste bride that convinces her betrothed to forgo conjugal relations for the sake of eternal life in heaven.  The husband asks for proof of an angel that visits his wife and, if he can see the angel, he agrees to forever forego sex with her.  She refers her husband to the Pope.

The Pope convinces the husband to become a Christian; he returns home and sees the angel and agrees to his wife’s demand.  The husband then convinces his brother to meet with the Pope and the brother also becomes a Christian.  Her husband and his brother are executed because they refuse to obey their Overlord when he insists that they sacrifice to pagan idols.

After the brothers’ execution, the Overload summons the wife.  The chaste wife is sentenced to be burned in her house because she also refuses to sacrifice to her Overlord’s deities.  The fire fails to kill the wife so the ruler has an executioner sent to cut-off her head.  The executioner strikes her neck with an ax three times but is unable to remove her head; a fourth strike is not allowed and she continues to preach her beliefs.

JEWISH PREJUDICE
PERMITTED PREJUDICE

Prejudice comes through Chaucer’s strong Christian beliefs; i.e. “The Canterbury Tales” endorses Christianity as the salvation of mankind with vilification of Jews which is presumably justified by Christian’ belief in Jewish betrayal of Christ.

It is perplexing to think that much of what Chaucer says about Christian believers remains true today but Chaucer’s understanding of women’s superiority to men in the 14th century seems quite enlightened in the 21st.

INDICTMENT

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.blog

Tears We Cannot Stop-A Sermon to White America

Written by: Michael Eric Dyson

Narrated by:  Michael Eric Dyson

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON (AUTHOR, BAPTIST MINISTER, PROFESSOR OF SOCIOLOGY AT GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY)

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON (AUTHOR, BAPTIST MINISTER, PROFESSOR OF SOCIOLOGY AT GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY)

Michael Eric Dyson is a graduate of Princeton who teaches at Georgetown University.  “Tears We Cannot Stop” is an indictment of white America.  The indictment accuses white Americans of serious crimes stemming from today’s bigotry, neglect, permanent injury, and murder of black Americans. 

Examples of police violence against black Americans, a history of ethnic isolation, forced conformity and denied equal opportunity strongly support Dyson’s accusation.

Each accusation and the evidence gathered by Dyson confront the conscience of every white American.  What he writes rings of truth.  The more Dyson explains, the greater is white America’s guilt.  It is a message missed by white Americans because they do not live the life of black Americans.  White privilege is taken for granted in America because money, power, and prestige are held by mostly white American males.

RODNEY KING (APPEARANCE 3 DAYS AFTER BEATING 3.6.92--KING DIES IN JUNE 2012 @ 47 YEARS OF AGE)

RODNEY KING (APPEARANCE 3 DAYS AFTER BEATING 3.6.92–KING DIES IN JUNE 2012 @ 47 YEARS OF AGE)

The institutionalization of racism makes black Americans afraid.  Out of that fear comes distrust, anger, apathy, and isolation.  Black mothers and fathers fear for their children whenever they leave home.  Regardless of education, fame, or fortune, Dyson notes an honest and law-abiding black American is subject to a different set of social rules.  From birth, black Americans are told by their parents not to disagree with police for fear of being beaten, arrested or shot.

Truth does not matter in a black person’s response to accusation.  Most black Americans live with fear; most white Americans do not.  When stopped by the police, a black American thinks–what can I do; where can I go; what can I say; who can I trust other than myself and my race?   When unjustly accused, black Americans have limited recourse.  Those limits are tinged with frustration, and/or anger.  No wonder some feel disrespected and alone in America.

RUDY GIULIANI (FORMER MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY)

RUDY GUILIANY (FORMER MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY) Dyson attacks pundits who suggest black Americans are their own worst enemy.  The white pundit’s argument is they kill each other.  The argument ignores two monumental facts.  One, the toll that poverty and unemployment play in poor communities; and the truth that whites murder whites nearly as often as blacks kill blacks.

Dyson attacks pundits who suggest black Americans are their own worst enemy.  Some white pundit’s argue blacks  kill each other more than whites kill blacks.  The argument ignores two monumental facts.  One, the toll that poverty and unemployment play in poor communities; and two, the truth that whites murder whites nearly as often as blacks kill blacks.

The real difference between black and white victimization is whites have more opportunity in America.  White, mostly male, Americans write the history of America and create the rules for “democratic” governance. 

Dyson encourages white Americans to become more involved with black Americans.  The social disconnect between races promotes ignorance of common goals and aspirations.  Who does not want to live in peace, provide for themselves and their families, raise their children to be better off than themselves?  Part of the difficulty is that there is little trust between black and white Americans as is noted in the following social experiment.

Leaders in America, consciously or subconsciously, treat non-white Americans as “others”.  When humans treat someone as an “other”, they become less human.  Minorities and other nation’s populations become “gooks”, “spics”, “towel heads”, “niggers”; i.e. something identified as less than human.  This human categorization institutionalizes discrimination.  It leads to this American dilemma and to world wars. 

Leaders of America, who are mostly white males, ignore the plight of black Americans.  One wonders how many white Americans thank their God for not being born black.  That is Dyson’s reason for concluding black Americans shed “Tears We Cannot Stop”.

POWER OF IDEAS

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.blog

Written by: Scott L. Montgomery, Daniel Chirot

Narration by:  Stephen McLaughlin

SCOTT L. MONGOMERY (AUTHOR, AMERICAN GEOLOGIST, AFFILIATE FACULTY MEMBER UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON)

SCOTT L. MONGOMERY (AUTHOR, AMERICAN GEOLOGIST, AFFILIATE FACULTY MEMBER UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON)

DANIEL CHIROT (AUTHOR, PROFESSOR OF RUSSIAN AND EURASIAN STUDIES @ UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON)

DANIEL CHIROT (AUTHOR, PROFESSOR OF RUSSIAN AND EURASIAN STUDIES @ UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON.)

“The Shape of the New” is about the power of ideas.  Scott L. Montgomery (a geologist and professor) and Daniel Chirot (a winner of a Guggenheim Fellowship for Social Sciences) write about three ideas rarely argued in polite conversation; e.g. economics, politics, and religion.   

Montgomery and Chirot capsulize the importance of their subject by paraphrasing Victor Hugo’s line in “Les Miserable”.   “One can defeat an army but not an idea”.  (The actual quote is: “An invasion of armies can be resisted, but not an idea whose time has come.)

The essence of the author’s augment is that Smith’s, Marx’s, and Darwin’s ideas are seminal beliefs that define the modern world. 

Among others, Montgomery and Chirot profile the ideas of Adam Smith, Karl Marx, Charles Darwin, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, Jerry Falwell, and Sayyid Qutb.  Each represents ideas that are part of modern world socioeconomic and religious thought.  Smith’s, Marx’s, and Darwin’s ideas largely standalone, but Hamilton, Jefferson, Falwell and Qutb rest on the shoulders of others.

Adam Smith (1723-1790, Scottish economist)

KARL MARX (BORN TRIER, GERMANY 1818-DIED LONDON, ENGLAND 1883)

Marx’s dialectic suggests capitalism is just a phase in an economic cycle that will evolve into communism. 

CHARLES DARWIN (1809-1882)

CHARLES DARWIN (1809-1882) FOUNDER OF THE THEORY OF THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES.

JEFFERSON AND HAMILTON

Hamilton grasps the importance of centralized control of money and national debt to support mercantilism, and free enterprise.  Jefferson tempers Hamilton’s nationalist control with arguments for states’ rights that reflect on concerns raised by Smith, and then Marx, about unregulated economic power.

JERRY FALWELL (1933-2007, AMERICAN EVANGELICAL SOUTHER BAPTIST PASTOR, FOUNDER OF THE MORAL MAJORITY)

Jerry Falwell begins the evangelical Moral Majority that decries homosexuality and abortion, and posits belief in salvation only through faith in a Christian God. 

SAYYID QUTB (1906-1966, EGYPTIAN AUTHOR,EDUCATOR,ISLAMIC THEORIST,POET,AND LEADING MEMBER OF THE MUSLIM BROTHEHOOD)

SAYYID QUTB (1906-1966, EGYPTIAN AUTHOR,EDUCATOR,ISLAMIC THEORIST,POET,AND LEADING MEMBER OF THE MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD) Qutb (pronounced “kootube), like Falwell and Christianity, believes only in his faith, a Mohammedan God.

Smith’s, Marx’s, and Darwin’s ideas play out in religions and nation-states that deeply influence the modern world.

Hamilton, Jefferson, Falwell, Qutb, Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mao, and other leaders adopt, adapt, and distort Smith’s, Marx’s, and Darwin’s ideas; figuratively leading humanity to heaven and hell.

What Montgomery and Chirot do is return to original texts of Smith, Marx, and Darwin to show how their ideas penetrate Hamilton’s, Jefferson’s, Falwell’s, and Qutb’s thoughts and actions.  As Smith’s ideas are more widely disseminated and read, America’s economic policy changes. The world’s economy evolves.

Falwell and Qutb reflect on unleashed sectarian beliefs consequent to Darwin’s idea of evolution.  If there is no God, then what in life is not permitted?  Qutb disapproves of Gamal Abdel Nasser’s westernization of Egypt because it violates the Quran and Muslim Arab identity. 

Gamal Abdel Nasser 1918-1970 (Egyptian politician, 2nd President of Egypt 1954-1970).

Montgomery and Chirot note that much of the religious right is reactionary.  The religious right challenges the socioeconomic belief of Smith’s sectarian vision of the invisible hand.   To a Christian, the invisible hand can only be God’s hand.   Marx and Darwin’s science only has relevance if it fits God’s plan.

To Qutb, the true path for humankind is through the word of the Koran.  The authors question the good works of the evangelical movement when it infringes on human freedom and ignores scientific evidence.  On the other hand, the authors note that religion plays an important role in the history of morality.  Many question the direction of evangelicals but religions continue to shape morality in good and bad ways.

China’s rapid advance may not be exactly what Marx predicts but it is a kind of capitalist evolution that incorporates some of the tenants of communist centralized control. 

Just as Deng’s and Xi’s interpretation of Marxism distorts communism, Keynes’ and Hayek’s belief in free enterprise distorts Smith’s economics. 

Darwin’s view of evolution is morphing into arguments for genetic manipulation to create more perfect human beings.  One questions whether this is a step toward Nazism or nirvana.

As Victor Hugo notes, “An invasion of armies can be resisted, but not an idea whose time has come.”  Montgomery and Chirot have written an informative and interesting history of “..Big Ideas and How They Made the Modern World”.

In the end, “The Shape of the New” is a tribute to the importance of a liberal education.  One may be a genius, but without a liberal education genius is often so narrowly focused, it leads to societal destruction.

SELF-PRESERVATION

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.blog

God’s Bankers: A History of Money and Power at the Vatican

Written by: Gerald Posner

Narration by:  Tom Parks

GERALD POSNER (AMERICAN INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST)

GERALD POSNER (AUTHOR, AMERICAN INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST)

“God’s Bankers” delves into the history of Vatican City to show there is little difference between religious institutions and any organization that puts self-preservation above ethics and morality.

Leaders of religious institutions are as capable of being corrupt and venal as any who manage organizations.  Just as some CEOs of private industry and elected officials of public institutions morally and ethically fail; some Popes lapse as moral and ethical leaders of the Roman Catholic Church.

The Roman Catholic Church has had both good and bad leaders.  From a willingness to look the other way, 6,000,000 Jews are murdered, mob money is laundered, and children are exploited.  No single organization, neither church, financial institution, or elected official is responsible for these immoral and unethical acts but many are complicit.

The Catholic diocese and its brethren have committed every sin known to man (gender identity intended).  The source of their perfidy is not unique to their religion or any system of belief or non-belief; i.e. the source is human nature’s drive for money, power, and prestige.  Popes, CEOs, and public servants are equally seduced by human nature’s drives that influence action.  Human nature is bound, like breath to life, to act immorally and unethically.

ROBERTO CALVI (1920-1982, ITALIAN BANKER CALLED -GOD'S BANKER- BY THE PRESS BECAUSE OF HIS ASSOCIATION WITH THE HOLY SEE)

ROBERTO CALVI (1920-1982, ITALIAN BANKER CALLED -GOD’S BANKER- BY THE PRESS BECAUSE OF HIS ASSOCIATION WITH THE HOLY SEE)

Gerald Posner begins his history of Vatican City with death, by suicide or murder, of Roberto Calvi in 1982.  Calvi’s death is related to the financial practices of the Vatican Bank (aka Institute for the Works of Religion or, sometimes abbreviated, IOR).  From Calvi’s Death, Posner takes church history back to the 1900s when the Vatican Bank is created. 

IOR HOME (THE BASTION OF NICHOLAS V.)


(Calvi’s death is related to the financial practices of the Vatican Bank (aka Institute for the Works of Religion or, sometimes abbreviated, IOR).

The IOR is meant to consolidate the land and money of Vatican City to preserve and expand the wealth of the Church.  

The Bank is a collection and distribution center for money donated, invested, and exchanged (legally or illegally) for preservation and expansion of the Holy Sea.

The primary purpose of the Vatican Bank is to preserve and expand the power and influence of Catholicism.  The fuel for that purpose is money.  Posner’s facts do not deny good works of the Catholic Church.  However, his story exposes the sinful nature of some wearing the robes of Papal authority, and many (employees and consultants) hiding behind cloaks of Papal secrecy.  Posner’s facts imply “being human” is the root of all evil with money as its fuel.

The purpose of the IOR is “to provide for the safekeeping and administration of movable and immovable property transferred or entrusted to it by physical or juridical persons…”  The IOR’s creation is meant to provide money for maintenance and growth of the Roman Catholic Church.  Income is intended to come from charitable activities of the church; paid for by parishioner and lay public contributions, and from legitimate business transactions.  However, Posner shows that charitable contributions and legal business transactions are not enough to sustain Vatican City and its global evangelist goals.

The drive for money is distorted by an implied license to commit any sin necessary to increase income and pay-off any who threaten exposure of illegal activity.  No crime seems out-of-bounds for the Church e.g. its complicity in Nazi occupation of the Balkans; a failure to confront German and Croatian isolation, transport, and murder of Jews; the use of the Vatican Bank to launder money for crime syndicates, the clandestine support of Nazi criminals in return for gold bullion (surmised to have been stolen during the war), espionage participation with American Presidents to subvert communist growth in Eastern Europe, Africa, and South America.  Many of these actions and non-actions increase the wealth of the Church at the expense of Catholicism’s morality and ethics.

POPE PIUS XI (1857-1939)

POPE PIUS XI (1857-1939. Pope Pius XI sells tacit support for the Nazis when the German people are taxed by Hitler to benefit Vatican City at the rate of an estimated 100 million dollars per year.)

Pope Pius XI is consumed by the desire to return Vatican City to a state and is willing to condone and support Mussolini to attain that goal.  Pope Pius XI sells tacit support for the Nazis when the German people are taxed by Hitler to benefit Vatican City at the rate of an estimated 100 million dollars per year.  Though late in Pius XI’s papacy, Hitler and Mussolini’s mistreatment of the Jews is denounced in a Decree that never sees the light of day because of Pius XI’s death.  His successor Pope, Pope Pius XII, fails to register Pius XI’s decree and refuses to condemn Hitler for the final solution during WWII.

POPE PIUS XII (1876-1958, FORMERLY CARDINAL PACELLI)

POPE PIUS XII (1876-1958, FORMERLY CARDINAL PACELLI, Pope Pius XII, fails to register Pius XI’s decree and refuses to condemn Hitler for the final solution during WWII.)

Posner brings us back to 1982 and the death of Roberto Calvi.  Calvi, as a consultant for IOR, launders money for the mafia during his tenure.  Calvi creates bogus charities to hide the transactions.  He recommends Vatican Bank investment in risky ventures that frequently fail.  On balance, until some of Calvi’s activities became public, the Vatican condoned his illegal activity; presumably because ill-gotten gains were greater than losses.  Or, the threat of money laundering exposure is a threat that would tarnish the image of the Church.

NAZISM AND CHRISTIANITY (FAITHS COOPTATION BY HITLER)

Though late in Pius XI’s papacy, Hitler and Mussolini’s mistreatment of the Jews is denounced in a Decree that never sees the light of day because of Pius XI’s death.  His successor Pope, Pope Pius XII, fails to register Pius XI’s decree and refuses to condemn Hitler for the final solution during WWII.

POPE JOHN PAUL II (1920-2005, FORMER POLISH ARCHBISHOP BECAME POPE IN 1978)

Pope Paul II does not come away from Posner’s characterization without some stains.  Though Pope Paul II is highly revered for his charismatic character and willingness to confront communism in Poland, he fails to unwind IOR and its nefarious operations or aggressively attack pedophilia of errant bishops.

ARCHBISHOP PAUL MARCINKUS (1922-2006, BORN CICERO, IL., DIED IN SUN CITY, AZ, PRESIDENT OF THE VATICAN BANK 1971-1989)

ARCHBISHOP PAUL MARCINKUS (1922-2006, BORN CICERO, IL., DIED IN SUN CITY, AZ, PRESIDENT OF THE VATICAN BANK 1971-1989)

Further, Posner notes Paul II’s support of the American Bishop, Paul Marcinkus, when his judgment is questioned in regard to the Vatican Bank.

POPE BENEDICT XVI (ELECTED 4.19.2005, RESIGNS 2.28.2013, THE PRESSURES OF OFFICE SEEM TO OVERWHELM THE PONTIFF)

Pope Benedict, Pope Paul’s successor, is equally tarnished for failing to confront IOR corruption and lack of regulation.  An additional note by Posner is that Benedict fails to expose a homosexual faction of the Roman Catholic Church that coerces the Papacy into promoting Bishops based on fear of exposure; i.e. rather than promotion for ability as members of the hierarchy.

ETTORE GOTTI TEDESCHI (2009-2012 PRESIDENT OF IOR, DISCHARGED AFTER POLITICAL INFIGHTING AT THE VATICAN OVER HIS THEATENED EXPOSURE OF MONEY LAUNDERING)

ETTORE GOTTI TEDESCHI (2009-2012 PRESIDENT OF IOR, DISCHARGED AFTER POLITICAL INFIGHTING AT THE VATICAN OVER HIS THREATENED EXPOSURE OF MONEY LAUNDERING)

In the end, Posner suggests IOR is becoming a more conventional bank with the support of the current Pope, Pope Francis.  The beginning of the end appears with Ettore Gotti Tedschi who became President of IOR in 2009.  Tedschi, an Italian economist and banker, begins the clean-up of IOR.  He is discharged in 2012 but not before a whistle is blown.

POPE FRANCIS (AN ARGENTINIAN, 266TH POPE OF THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH, NAMED IN HONOR OF FRANCIS OF ASSISSI)

Today’s Pope Francis may be better than yesterdays but tomorrow is another day.  One doubts human nature will change.  Humans are unlikely to escape moral and ethical weaknesses.  An ethical bank, like an ethical church, is an oxymoron.  They both require money to operate and they are managed by human beings.

Steps have been taken to regulate the Vatican Bank and stop its use as a money-laundering center for criminal enterprise.  Francis has ordered the firing and replacement of IOR board members and improved the transparency of Vatican Bank transactions.

After Cardinal Pell is exonerated for alleged pedophilia, Pope Francis returns to Cardinal Pell’s recommendations for restructuring Vatican finances. One wonders how much of the accusations against Pell were initiated by the Catholic church’s resistance to oversite of Vatican finances.

As the ancient saying goes, “Fish Rots from the Head”. With Pope Francis, light is being shed on the perfidy of the Roman Catholic Church. The question is-will it be enough and will it change 100 years of IOR malfeasance; not to mention, the generations of sexual abuse by Bishops and Priests of the order.

THE CONSOLATION OF PHILOSOPHY

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.com

The Consolation of PhilosophyTHE CONSOLATION OF PHILOSOPHY

Written by: Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius

Narrated by: David Rintoul

BOETHIUS (480 A.D.- 524 A. D., ROMAN SENATOR, CONSUL & PHILOSOPHER)
BOETHIUS (480 A.D.- 524 A. D., ROMAN SENATOR, CONSUL & PHILOSOPHER)

This translation of “The Consolation of Philosophy” impresses all who listen to it because of the beauty of Boethius’s writing and Rintoul’s narration.  Though one may either agree or disagree with Boethius’s religious philosophy, the juxtaposition of his poetry with chapters of Socratic dialog are a pleasure to hear.

Boethius is born into a rich aristocratic Roman family and achieves high office and continued wealth, even when Rome is conquered by a Ostrogothic King, Theodoric the Great. In the beginning of Theodoric’s reign, Boethius is a court favorite but in 524 AD, he is arrested and imprisoned for (according to Bothius’s writings) defending the poor and powerless from the new Roman Ostrogothic government.  During Bothius’s imprisonment, just before his execution, he writes and completes “The Consolation of Philosophy”.

One may think of Bothius’s book from two perspectives.  One, “The Consolation of Philosophy” is a treatise to justify God.  Two, “The Consolation of Philosophy” is a rationalization for mistreatment by others; i.e. “others” defined as both God and Mammon.

ROMAN MONEY CHANGERS (EXPULSION FROM THE TEMPLE)
ROMAN MONEY CHANGERS (EXPULSION FROM THE TEMPLE)

Boethius is visited by a vision of the “Lady of Philosophy” in his cell.  The “Lady” has been Bothius’s companion since childhood.  She sees Bothius shedding tears over his plight and asks why he laments his station in life after having so dutifully followed in the steps of the great philosophers of antiquity.  As the “Lady” recounts Plato’s and Aristotle’s teachings, she berates Bothius for his lamentation over loss of wealth, power, and prestige.  In a Socratic dialog, the “Lady” recounts the folly of those who covet worldly ephemera when “happiness” has always been the goal of human life.  Bothius begins to recollect the teachings of Plato and Aristotle that explain wealth, power, and prestige are fleeting values in life and never the source of happiness because of the constant fear of loss and the insatiable lust for more.

BOETHIUS' LADY OF PHILOSOPHY
BOETHIUS’ LADY OF PHILOSOPHY (In a Socratic dialog, the “Lady” recounts the folly of those who covet worldly ephemera when “happiness” has always been the goal of human life.)

OMNISCEINCE
The “Lady” reminds Boethius of the omniscience of God. 

The “Lady” reminds Boethius of the omniscience of God.  He knows all, sees all, and loves all.  Both good and evil are part of earthly life and it is only those who choose moderation in all things good that will find earthly happiness.  Bothius creates a Socratic dialog between himself and the “Lady” to question how God allows evil to exist, and whether man can have free will when God is omniscient and knows each human being follows a known path in life.  Bothius asks “…is there not chance in every person’s life that leads them in one direction or another?”

Boethius implies these questions are answered to his satisfaction.  He accepts God as omniscient.  Every listener will have their own opinion after completing Bothius’s story.  To some, the answers are the machinations of a man who rationalizes his bereft state; to others, the answers are a guide to life in this world.

In any case, “The Consolation of Philosophy” is a literary work of art.

LIFE’S IMPERFECTION

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.blog

This is Your Life, Harriet Chance

Written by: Jonathan Evison

Narrated by: Susan Boyce

Johnathan Evison (Author)

This is a story for those who have reached a certain age.  Though written by a man, it is narrated by a woman.  In some respects, that is a weakness.  Having been written by a man, it may distort the measure of a woman’s life.  However, Jonathan Evison offers an excellent representation of what life and death looks like to a man.  The mistakes some men make in life are legion, both as a parent and husband.

JONATHAN EVISON (AUTHOR)

Evison speculates on an afterlife that says humans either die into nothingness or go to a place of peace and reconciliation.  Those are the only options in Evison’s story. 

The options are extreme but can be ameliorated by a gate keeper’s decisions about life’s led.  However, if you violate rules for a personal appearance to those left behind, you are doomed to the first extremity, nothingness.  Evison’s husband’ and father’ character chooses to violate the rules; in part because of his many guilt’s for living a selfish life.  It seems a penance he must pay to his wife, mistress, and children.

What makes Evison’s story good is the truth of what foolish, selfish men do in their lives.  Though life is ephemeral; either temporal or spiritual, many mistakes are made, both moral and ethical.

HARVEY WEINSTEIN

Harvey Weinstein charged with rape and sexual misconduct on May 25th 2018.

lolita

There is the horrid obsession of men with little girls described in Nabokov’s “Lolita”.  There is the vacuous life of Richard Ford’s main character in “The Sportswriter”. 

There is Russell Banks’ depiction of a morally bankrupt man/boy who prostitutes himself in “Lost Memory of Skin”.

Putting aside these extreme examples, Evison tells a story of the more common variety of male transgressions.  His observations ring true to listeners of a certain age.

INFIDELITY

Most men will see themselves in aspects of Evison’s story; not the extremes of Nabokov, Ford, and Banks but less than what a moral person should be.

Men who cheat on their wives.  Men who use work as an excuse for family neglect.  Men who fail to take responsibility for helping raise their children.  Men who demean their wives because they undervalue their contribution to life’s fulfillment.  Men who neglect their wives because of self-absorption.

HUMAN FAULTS

Evison notes many faults in the lives of women in his story but having been written by a man, his objectivity is suspect.  On the other hand, women do cheat on their husbands.  Women do neglect their children.  Women do drink out of boredom with house work and social isolation.  Women do demean their husbands because they undervalue their contribution to life’s fulfillment.  Women do neglect their husbands because of self-absorption.

Joe Biden (Candidate for President of the United States.)

Evison touches every human being’s faults in “This is Your Life, Harriet Chance”.  No one is exempt from human failing. 

Being of a certain age makes Evison’s story enlightening and entertaining.  Enlightening because a listener knows they are not alone.  Entertaining because a listener will enjoy Evison’s perspective on life’s journey.