The Affirmation of The Circle of Reason
We believe in the power of reasoning and logical minds, when present in sufficient numbers, to reduce and someday eliminate all ills on Earth caused by human irrationality -- to prevent war, government corruption, environmental destruction, institutionalized poverty and discrimination. Our purpose is to so change the world within the next 50 generations -- by encouraging people to commit to local congregations of faith in the ability of reasoning thought, action and communication to save our world and bring our next major step in moral evolution. We do not seek to make new speeches; we seek to be the air that carries all speech. We welcome all in practicing clarity of mind, regardless of present beliefs or creed, to The Circle of Reason.
January 1, 2000-2020 C.E.
The 3 Tenets of Reason
The 3 Guides of Action
What is, is -- Reality denied causes wrong action; Reality accepted causes right action.
What is not, is not -- Incorrect assumptions, non-reality accepted as reality, cause wrong action; Questioned assumptions cause right action.
What is or is not, is paramount -- Emotion unmastered by reason causes wrong action; Emotion's mastery by reason causes right action.
The 3 Paths to Right Action
Accept what is, reject what is not, leave open what may be.
Root out incorrect assumptions and their signpost -- contradictions.
Let reason, not emotion, be the final arbiter of your actions.
The 3 Paths to Wrong Action
Reject what is, accept what is not, reject or accept what may be.
Act based on unconsidered assumptions, and ignore their contradictions.
Let emotion rule, not simply inform, your actions.
The Paragons of Reason and Unreason
The Paragon of Reason -- Objective, Open-minded, and Equable.
The Paragon of Unreason -- Subjective, Close-minded, and Emotional.
The Meditation of Reason
In Reality's denial was I blind -- by Reality's Acceptance do I see.
In Assumption's acceptance was I bowed -- by Assumption's Denial do I stand.
In Emotion's surrender did I stampede -- by Emotion's Mastery do I stride.
By these three do I drink from the depths, tread beyond the horizon, and reach for the zenith of the World.
The Circle Thanksgiving -- A Pluralistic Thanksgiving
Let us bow our heads in contemplation or prayer.
We give thanks for the gift of the Mind, through which our purpose shall be envisioned.
We give thanks for the gift of the Will, through which our purpose shall be manifest.
We give thanks for the gift of the Heart, through which our purpose shall be ennobled.
And we give thanks for the gift of the Universe, through which our purpose shall be magnified.
So say we all.
Parables, Fables & Aphorisms Archive
Our archive of past weekly aphorisms and excerpted parables & fables for pluralistic rationalists from The Parables of Reason ©2007-2013, by Frank H. Burton, Executive Director, The Circle of Reason. Excerpts from this web archive may not be reproduced without written consent of the author, or reproduced in any form for profit. 100% of the royalties from future book sales will be donated to the non-profit The Circle of Reason to support its formation and sponsorship of local circles.
Aphorism of the Week: To spoil something, overexpose it.
Dedicated to the willingness, prior to any legislative mandate or ecological-pollutant toxicology report, of the CEOs of cosmetic companies Unilever (Dove, Ponds), Johnson & Johnson (Neutrogena, Aveeno), The Body Shop, L'Oreal, and Colgate-Palmolive, to phase out the use of plastic microbeads in their facial scrubs, and to replace their non-biodegradable plastic beads (which have evaded waste-water treatment filters and invaded the Great Lakes) with biodegradable sea-salt or crushed seed-based microbeads. Superb corporate stewardship is not incompatible with -- and indeed necessitates -- environmental stewardship.
Parable of the Week: The Moneyed Politician, The Lone Candidate
Voting was the pride of the tribespeople.
They called their leaders "the People's servants."
A tribeswoman saw one day that the law allowing pig farms to dump their manure in the village's stream saved money for the farms' owners but sickened the small children, and would someday sicken the entire tribe.
"It is time for me to run for leader, to repeal this law and help my tribe," she announced.
As a lone candidate she met -- one by one -- as many tribespeople as she could before Election Day.
But her opponent was a moneyed politician.
As lawmaker he'd passed the very same law the lone candidate sought to repeal. The pig farmers, who'd profited greatly when no longer required to cart away and bury their manure, lavished him with gold coins.
With this gold the moneyed politician paid for rallies -- hiring poor people to attend and cheer. He passed out free food. He printed pamphlets proclaiming he was "A Leader for All the People."
And he paid others to stand in the Village Square and heckle the lone candidate for her "ignorant" rejection of support for the pig farmers.
Come Election Day, the lone candidate -- and her dream of a clean and healthy tribe -- was defeated. The People indeed had had the vote -- but one dictated by enticements and advertisements.
Over the next decade, the tribespeople watched numbly as illness decimated them. Even the pig farmers eventually went bankrupt as the people -- their own customers -- fled to distant unspoiled lands.
During all those years, the lone candidate's voice went unheard -- for lack of money.
Thus, principal can make your decision, but only principle can make your decision right.
November 2, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 3, "Emotion's Mastery"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: The wise recognize their idiocy.
Dedicated in admonishment of the decision of the Executive Director of South Carolina's Spartanburg Soup Kitchen to insult and shun volunteers to her charity who were atheists. Unlike the recent laudable outreach of Pope Francis to the atheist community, the Spartanburg Soup Kitchen Director's assumption that morality is not a human trait but only a trait of religion was false, derogatory, and even factually refuted by the very fact that the atheists who she turned away had volunteered to serve (and to do so even anonymously).
Parable of the Week: The Unkind, The Kind
Charity workers gave food and clothes to those with none.
The first charity worker, a devout man, instructed the beggars who came for a meal or shirt to first pray with him -- where he intoned, "Let us give thanks to the Lord, your provider and your soul's salvation."
Then his icy eyes, cracking open above his tightly clasped hands, glinted coldly at each beggar, as he sternly demanded, "Have you asked the Lord to save your soul?"
And only if the beggar said yes would he receive a meal or a shirt for his back.
The few who balked, or said they believed in no God, the worker sent to the back of the line to "think it over."
So did this worker's charity line slow to a trickle -- until few beggars even approached his table, heaped with food and clothing, where he stood like a crab poised for an approaching minnow.
The second charity worker was also a devout man, but felt it was not his place to demand anything from those with nothing -- and felt that all who came to him in need were kindred souls, no matter their beliefs.
He passed out meals and shirts -- and a quiet ear -- to all who approached him.
He asked from them nothing at all.
All of the beggars blessed this worker, either with their thanks, their prayers, or even their own volunteering.
So did this worker's charity line magnify, soon splitting into tributaries.
And at their headwaters stood his former beggars.
Thus, kindness flows from recognizing kindredness.
October 28, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: Silence can roar.
Dedicated in admonishment of the Minneapolis-St. Paul Catholic Archdiocese's clerical leadership's suppression of recent allegations of priestly sexual misconduct -- seeking to protect the body of the Church at the expense of its soul.
Parable of the Week: The Small Soul, The Great Soul
Great Sky River flowed above two raven-haired women of a forest tribe, long ago.
One young woman lived her life back turned, instead of face on.
She combed her long, black hair to entice the young men, but cared nothing for what lay beyond the cypress forest, or the far shore of Great Sky River.
Over years spent neither exploring nor questioning, her spirit shrank into a hard little ball and died, long before the death of her body.
But the other young woman lived her life face on, instead of back turned.
She ignored her hair and the young men, at least long enough to ask, "What is beyond the edge of the cypress forest, and beyond the edge of the horizon?"
"Who lives on the far shore of Great Sky River, or at its headwaters, or its end?"
Over years spent exploring, questioning, and gaining in wisdom, her spirit swelled so, that it could no longer remain inside her body.
And she overflowed into her people -- living on as teachings long remembered, even after her body had long since died.
Thus, live on while your spirit is dead, or die while your spirit lives on.
October 19, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: Ability may stumble behind the wings of vision -- but where better to hasten?
Dedicated in supplication to the website contractors of the federal and state online Health Insurance Exchanges, that they work not only industriously, but smartly, to identify and debug the software errors currently barricading most online applicants from successfully registering or applying for healthcare plans.
Parable of the Week: The Untested, The Failed
Mother and daughter sang in their dreams.
When still a young, unmarried woman, the mother had practiced singing lessons until her voice was as beautiful as a songbird's.
Yet she so feared the scorn of others that, after sneaking into the back of the auditoriums during auditions, she stood mute, never stepping forward.
She took a husband and birthed her daughter -- who, baptized in lullabies, was the only audience to the gentle glory of her mother's voice.
The daughter, when still a young, unmarried woman, practiced singing lessons as had her mother, until her voice too was as a songbird's.
Yet she had heard so often of her mother's fear of scorn, and of her cowering in the dark recesses of audition halls, that on her own very first audition she marched to the stage, blurted out her name, and sang.
She was scorned.
But she sang before many audiences -- and scorn gradually transformed into grudging, then free, approbation.
She failed to scale that pinnacle of which both she and her mother had dreamed -- but still she was satisfied, for she had given her dream her very best.
Such satisfaction forever eluded her mother.
Thus, it is better to fail than to never have tried. -- via Theodore Roosevelt
October 12, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 3, "Emotion's Mastery"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: Absolutism is the greatest, yet most destructive, passion on earth. -- via Monsignor Lorenzo Albacete
Dedicated in supplication to the mainstream of the GOP Party in the U.S. House of Representatives, that they consider whether their goal of smaller, more effective U.S. governance will indeed be well-served by their Tea Party wing's distinct goal of defaulting and amputating the U.S. government.
Parable of the Week: The Winner, The Loser
None remembered how they'd crossed an ocean to find their home, this band of contented islanders who fished for their livelihoods.
The king of the islanders grew bored one morning, and decided to hold a race. He invited all comers to contest who could most quickly run all the way round their large island.
One by one or in small groups, the youngest and strongest of the men and women walked up to the huge boulder, half-buried in beach sand, marking the race's start.
But then a fat woman waddled up and joined the starting line.
Amid howls of laughter, the king turned to her with a frown. "Why do you join the contest, woman?! You will most certainly lose -- indeed, you are likely to come in last!"
The fat woman replied, "My goal is to finish the run, my King, not to beat the younger and stronger ones."
The king harrumphed, but let her stay.
He climbed high onto the rock in a circling cloud of dislodged seagulls, then stood, plucked from his head his straw hat with its king's garland of feathers, held it high above the hushed throng, and dropped it into the sand.
In a burst of cheers, the racers broke off the line in a fast lope, and quickly disappeared around the eastern cliffs -- all but the fat woman, who bobbed slowly far behind them.
After three hours, the first of the runners rounded the palm trees to the south, and crossed the finish line with legs pumping to the cheers of the islanders. Very soon the other racers streamed in, and were welcomed by the crowds.
But instead of moving off to the award ceremony and festivities, all the islanders, and even the racers, wanted to stay -- to see if the fat woman could really finish.
They danced and sang songs on the beach all afternoon as they waited for her. As the sun began to set behind the island hills, she finally appeared rounding the palm trees, bobbing steadily toward them.
The islanders and racers screamed in delight.
Even the king found himself running excitedly with his people to greet her, to cheer her on to the finish line.
Thus, to win a contest, know what the contest is against.
October 5, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: Everything is becoming.
Dedicated to the rollout of affordable private health insurance markets for previously uninsured and uninsurable U.S. citizens and legal residents, variously known during its history as Dolecare, the conservative Heritage Foundation's Mandated Private Medical Insurance Market, Romneycare, Obamacare, and The Affordable Care Act.
Parable of the Week: The Plan, The Act
He was a man with plans.
Plans spun dizzily through his mind every day.
He talked constantly of how special his plans were -- of how important his plans would be, for his people, for the world, for the future.
And he talked of how he hoped to find time to write down and start his plans soon, or someday.
But one day -- a planning day, like all the rest -- his heart stopped, and he fell to the ground.
Silently, he took his plans with him into forever.
There was another man with plans.
They too spun crazily through his mind every day.
But this man saw that talking wasn't doing -- so he didn't boast about his plans, or claim them special.
Instead, he wrote all his plans down.
Then he took a deep breath every morning after awakening, and put his plans, starting with the most important, into action.
Some of his plans failed soon after taking wing, which he mourned.
Some he had no time to nurture, and passed on to others, whom he blessed with his best wishes.
Some of his plans never took wing at all -- for a star flies higher than any wing can reach.
But a few of his plans flew into action.
And they remade the world, better.
The day came that this man's heart, too, stopped, and he too fell to the ground, silent.
But his acts lived forever.
Thus, your plans die with you, but your acts live on.
September 28, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: Don't exist in the past. Don't exist in the future. Exist now.
Dedicated in admonishment of the U.S. House of Representatives' insistence on returning to a past where the Affordable Care Act did not exist -- and, in attempting so, to injure America's economic health and future.
Parable of the Week: The Door, The World
Swooning in adoration of a beautiful girl from his village, a boy abandoned his father's house.
Loitering by the front door of the girl's villa, the boy bowed to her father at the entryway, and, seeing through it the girl smile radiantly at him from an atrium balcony, asked permission of her father to court her.
The girl's father scoffed, replying, "Boy, you have no family, no money, nor even yet hair on your face!"
Then the girl's father stepped out onto the front stoop of his villa, and, reaching back, slammed the entry door shut behind him.
The boy's last glimpse of the object of his infatuation was of wide eyes and a red mouth -- shaped, just like his, into a large, surprised "O."
Disconsolate, the boy hung his head, and pleaded to her father, "Now what do I have, sir, without her?"
The father laughed uproariously, and, reaching out to clap the small lad on the shoulder, turned him about-face, picked him up into the air, and tossed him into the street.
As the boy thumped to earth in a billowing cloud of dust, he heard a merry voice reply, "You've the rest of the world, lad!"
Thus, when one door closes, the rest of the world remains. -- via Parker Palmer
September 21, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: Do not conquer the mountain -- just climb it.
Dedicated to the new U.S., Russian, and Syrian diplomatic initiative to eliminate Syria's chemical weapons.
Parable of the Week: The Lemming, The Eagle
Eaglets, their parents lost to a hunter's rifle, hatched in a nest at the top of a tall cliff.
They hatched into loneliness, their cries unheard -- save for the ears of a small lemming.
This mother lemming had co-opted and fur-lined the nest for her own brood - but, as all good mothers do, brought the eaglets half-chewed worms that boiled from the rain-soaked earth.
She and her growing brood cared for the chicks as if they were their own. But they did not know how to teach their brother eaglets to fly, not knowing themselves. So the eaglets clumsily hopped along the top of the cliff behind their adopted lemming family.
Sometimes the eaglets sat and gazed at seabirds wheeling above them in the sky.
"See how feathery and long their arms are!" one would say, "just like ours!" -- and both brothers knew something was wrong, but not quite what.
Then one day a great, inland wind blew over the cliffs to the sea, and the lemmings hunkered down in a thicket. But the two eaglets, now nearly full-grown, were too large to hunker in the thicket with them.
The wind caught in their feathers, and blew them over the cliff.
One of the brother eaglets curled into a small, still ball, like a lemming, and plummeted into the sea.
But his brother eaglet cast his fears, and himself, into the face of the winds, and opened wide his arms. As his wings unfurled to their full, majestic span, they caught the currents of the sky.
And, become an eagle at last, he soared over land and sea, soon to master all.
Thus, when pushed off a cliff, try to fly. -- via Babylon 5
September 14, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 3, "Emotion's Mastery"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: Act on impulse and reap regret.
Dedicated to the call to question past assumptions of the role of the U.N. versus the U.S. as the world's policeman, and the predisposition to use military action before exhausting all diplomatic and economic sanctions to enforce government morality.
Parable of the Week: The Sunflower, The Barrenwort
The Sunflower dwelt in a small, tree-lined garden.
It grew tall, sinuous and broad of leaf in the fulsome light of warm days, and seeded many children.
But some fell into shade, and the Sunflower's face turned away as those children withered and died -- from lack of a soupçon of the sun's brilliant tang on their yearning leaves.
The Barrenwort dwelt in the same garden, beneath the dark crook of a tree.
It too grew broad, ruddy red and majestic, its crimson bloom bathed in the cool light of the moon, and it too seeded many children.
But some fell into light, and the Barrenwort held dark vigil as those children were stillborn -- from searing sunrays on their tender leaves.
Thus, seek the soil in which you can grow.
September 7, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: Shed new light -- or be a candlemaker.
Dedicated to the charitable fund-raining drive for homeless veterans, Blistering at the Margins, of the Flagstaff Freethinkers and the Executive Director of the Secular Coalition for Arizona, Serah Blain -- who is living on the streets with the homeless vets during the drive. Such dedicated charity by the atheist community will lead those who have wrongly presumed atheists are immoral to question the basis of their own morality.
Parable of the Week: The Negated, The Affirmed
It was her caste, in this ancient land.
But she believed -- believed more than anything in her young life -- that she was the true equal of any who trod the soil of their land carrying the red spot of the highborn.
Slavishly working into the night, she saved money to enroll in private school, because she was forbidden to attend a public one.
On the first day she boarded a trolley for school, the trolley soon filled with highborn.
Frowning faces with red dots glared down at her where she sat, and voices called a gendarme.
She sat still and calm, looking into all their faces, and then saw, peeking out from behind a saffron sari, the small, red-dotted face of a little girl. She smiled at the little one.
Then a gendarme pushed up to her, and yelled, "Untouchable, leave the trolley to make way for the highborn, who cannot sit next to you!"
The untouchable woman then looked the little girl straight in the face, and, instead of silently bowing and backing off the trolley, as she'd done countless times before, she straightened her back and said, "No. It is my right to sit here, as it is theirs to sit beside me."
Shock and anger erupted.
As two gendarmes hauled her off the trolley by her legs and arms like a sack of grain, she caught the troubled glance of the little girl, saw her pluck at her mother's shawl, and heard, "Mama, it's wrong to hurt the nice lady!"
And, as she sat in the dirt and looked up to see the little girl stare sadly back at her through a window of the receding trolley, she knew, knew, that she'd won a victory that day.
Thus, don't contradict who you are. -- via Parker Palmer
August 24, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: Level is the path to the peak of Shambhala.
Dedicated in admonishment of the Egyptian military's and secular leadership's fall into the same trap as the theocratic elected government that preceded its coup: The inability to question the assumption that eliminating human rights can ever be just.
Parable of the Week: The Climber, The Precipice
Pride etched the stony face of a rock climber, who could scale the sheerest cliff or overhang using just her iron fingers and toes, and her iron stomach.
Cliffs from which most men turned away in fright she leapt upon -- her fingers digging into cracks too small to see from below.
Yet one day the climber chanced upon a precipice scoured by the breath of the underworld -- a sheer, volcanic glass wall so vertical and pristine, that she could see her own dismayed face reflected in its smooth black mien.
For days she camped beneath the black precipice, staring through binoculars for the slightest cracks and handholds, but saw none.
In desperation, she hammered spear-like pitons, but the wall merely sheared off clean facets at each hammer-blow. She made suction cups for her hands and feet, but even those could grip for no more than a few vertical meters the face of what seemed now to her a looming black obelisk -- her gravestone.
After many days sunk into depression, she awoke at dawn and saw the obelisk reflect the pink rays of the morning sun.
Suddenly she knew in her bones that this wall would remain, for all time, impregnable to her.
And in that moment the black wall suddenly transformed, behind her eyes, from a black gravestone into the shadow of her long-ago departed father, who loomed tall over her to shelter her from harm.
And so the climber walked away from certain destruction, standing safe on the ground.
Thus, a fall reveals a thing of value -- where solid ground lies. -- via Parker Palmer
August 17, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 3, "Emotion's Mastery"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: Hope is not a strategy.
Dedicated to the past EPA heads of GOP Presidents Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush -- Bill Ruckelshaus, Lee Thomas, William Reilly and Christine Todd Whitman -- for their support of immediate Presidential Executive Action to reduce U.S. carbon dioxide emissions and support clean-energy industries, to prevent human-caused global warming from becoming "locked in" and endangering Earth's survival; and dedicated in admonishment of the modern GOP's global warming-denialism and consequent heedlessness of their potential commission of Terracide.
Parable of the Week: The Faith Healer, The Town Doctor
A rolling vista had long separated the faith healer from the town doctor.
But then the traveling tent rolled over it.
The faith healer filled his tent with worshippers every Sunday. Like storm-water eddying around a drain, throngs surged to touch his white, sequined jacket, and to see others cast off crutches and throw away eye patches -- although, oddly, the locals weren't acquainted with these who cried, "I'm healed!"
The town doctor -- cotton jacket frayed but washed bone-white and carefully ironed -- was a gruff man and a poor talker. But he'd delivered most of the townsfolk into this world, and saved more lives than most men ever get around to.
One Sunday, a middle-aged woman from the next town, who'd tumbled down her mossy porch stairs and cracked her leg, hobbled on a makeshift crutch to the faith healer, and begged him to heal her.
The healer, after quickly double-checking a list he was palming, ignored her plea, moving on toward a man on crutches beside her. But the woman clutched the hem of his jacket, sobbing, "Please, healer, don't abandon me!"
The healer turned back to her, brushing her hand from his jacket. He placed his palm on the top of her head, closed his eyes, and, after a short pause, withdrew his hand and uttered in a stern voice, "Ye have little faith, woman! Come back when you have more!"
Demolished, the woman hobbled out of the tent into the street, and wept.
The doctor, out walking his rounds, saw her crutch and approached her. Ignoring her tears, he squatted down and took one measured glance of her purple and black shinbone.
He stood and turned toward the tent, and what had been grim in his face became baleful.
Then he looked at her sternly - just like, she remembered, her long-dead father, hoisting her underarm as she dawdled on their walk home from the river.
"Ma'am, that leg of yours is bent -- you need to have that break reset, and soon, or it'll heal wrong." And he led her to his office, sedated her, straightened her leg and set it in a cast.
In time she was healed.
Thus, reality is not the only path -- but it is the only path forward.
August 3, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: To create what will be, you must know what is.
Dedicated in admonishment of U.S. President Obama's deletion of "whistleblower protection" from his public website of campaign promises, and his defining of U.S. journalists receiving whistleblowers' leaks as "criminal co-conspirators"; and of the U.S. military's contention that whistleblower Pfc. Bradley Manning gave "aid to the enemy" by providing WikiLeaks diplomatic communiques on corrupt leaders (whose leaks helped spur the Arab Spring) and "classified" Army videos of U.S. drone airstrikes showing the indiscriminate bombing of hundreds of Iraqi and Afghani civilians (including journalists, women and children). The People are never the Enemy, nor should ever be blinded to the unjust acts of their servant, the government.
Parable of the Week: The Falsifier, The Truthsayer
King for the all the seasons of a man's life, the ruler kept two advisors.
One advisor, panicking as drought, famine and invasion drew nigh, could only utter when standing before the king, "Milord, I see, uh... a time of rainfall, plenty and peace!"
The other advisor, seeing the same coming drought, famine and invasion, spoke truth to power, saying, "Milord! I, too, fervently wish for rainfall, plenty and peace -- but our wishing for it will not make it one whit likelier to happen."
"We must plan for drought, famine and war, my King -- for if we do not, we will all surely starve, or have our throats slit open for our last crumbs of bread!"
So did the king build a reservoir for the receding river waters.
So did he fill his granaries for both his own people and for their neighboring peoples.
And so, when drought did come, there was water and food for all until the rains came again -- and peace for all in his kingdom and beyond.
Except, of course, for one wandering ex-advisor.
Thus, a lie is murder, by killing another's reality -- and suicide, by killing your own.
July 27, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: There can be no demagogue in the service of reason.
Dedicated in admonishment of the Dubai, UAE courts' imprisonment of raped women for "having sex outside of marriage" -- revealing the willful unreason of a "justice" system so tainted by theocracy and misogyny that it refuses to accept the reality of physical coercion.
Parable of the Week: The Blindered, The Open-Eyed
Bestriding golden wheat and gnarled olive trees sojourned a man and his pair of mares.
Both horses were spirited, and difficult to break to the chore of pulling his carts to the village market.
One mare, however, allowed him to strap blinders on her great, brown head. The vision only of the road ahead pacified the huge horse, and she would settle down and pull the man's cart all day long and into the night.
"With those blinders and a feedbag strapped to her neck, she's hardly any trouble at all anymore!" the man crowed to his neighbors.
But oh, the other horse! She tossed her yellow-starred head and golden mane to and fro, whenever the man came near her with the blinders.
She refused to wear them at all.
When yoked to the man's cart, she panned her head back and forth, and her great body immediately followed, veering off the rutted road to explore, disappearing over the hill to see what was beyond -- all the while dragging his bushels of wheat and jars of olives.
Finally one day, as the man loitered, foot in creek, with his friends, the mare reared high, snapped her harness, and bolted straight off -- to far-distant green mountain pastures and streams.
"Damn her hide," the man always intoned to his friends in his later years, staring angrily off to the distant mountains.
"If that mare had just kept her eyes glued to her own hooves, she'd still be hauling my goods even today."
Thus, eyes open! -- via Star Trek: Voyager
July 20, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: The lure may be emotion, but the hook must be reality.
Dedicated in admonishment of GOP state governors' dissembling and retraction of their word not to sign into law any additional religiously-motivated GOP restrictions on the constitutional right of women to reproductive medical services, including abortion and birth control pills.
Parable of the Week: The Anglerfish, The Rattlesnake
Fiery dunes subsided into the cool waves of the sea.
There, where desert sand meets water, met a snake and a fish.
"Hola!" yelled the fish from the foamy surf.
"Hola," murmured the snake from a tall dune, in return.
"You sound dejected, my scaly compatriot," said the fish.
"Indeed," hissed the snake. "I am hated and feared, even though I'm shy and retiring!"
"How could that be?" asked the fish.
"Because of this!" cried the snake, whipping up into the air his tail -- upon which thrashed a rattle. A noise like spilling skulls and bones filled the air.
"Ah, life is indeed unfair," the fish agreed. "Hah! You are hated and feared -- by the very ones whose lives you and your rattle spare!"
And then the fish raised from his head a lure, and lowered it thrashing into the surf. In an instant, a shrimp pounced on the lure -- and in one snap of his huge jaws, the fish bit the shrimp in half.
Shrimp legs spewing from his maw, the anglerfish roared with laughter at the aghast rattlesnake.
"While I, I leave none alive to hate or fear!"
Thus, dishonesty lures to destruction -- as honesty wards from destruction.
July 13, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: Doubt is the robe of wisdom, unconsidered dismissal the cowl of fools.
Dedicated in admonishment of the U.S. government's secret acquisition and storage of the phone and internet activity of all its citizens. Such a data repository merely needs the election of an amoral chief executive to jeopardize the American people's freedom.
Parable of the Week: The Ignorant, The Aware
Libraries were as rare as unicorns, in the tiniest of villages where two young men lived.
But one of the young men was brash.
He oft bragged of many travels -- though he had ne'er set foot beyond the valley.
He oft proclaimed his wisdom concerning far-off happenings -- happenings about which he knew nothing and assumed that nobody else knew a whit more.
Over the years this young man grew to become a fatuous, pontificating fool.
The other young man was quiet.
He oft was reluctant to pontificate on things he readily admitted he knew little about.
He oft wished he could read, to better learn about far-distant lands and their happenings, but, as there was neither library nor books -- nor even so much as a teacher -- in their hamlet, he contented himself with learning lessons from life.
In time, he learned much about honesty -- and grew aware that ignorance was no sin, to be hidden in silence; nor a trait to pretend one had surpassed.
Ignorance was the place from which to ask all questions.
Over the years this young man grew to become an ever-wiser man -- who spoke little, but rightly when done.
Thus, strive for awareness, even if only of one's own ignorance.
July 4, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: Small steps still descend.
Dedicated to the legal executive actions of U.S. President Obama to immediately counter the impending climatic devastation of global warming being myopically ignored by the GOP; and in admonishment of the gutting of the Voting Rights Act by the current conservative majority of the U.S. Supreme Court and the immediate myopic adoption by GOP-controlled state legislatures of racially-discriminatory voter ID and gerrymandering laws conceived to hinder the votes of African and Hispanic Americans. By emotionally denying the reality of their present and falsely assuming they can recapture their past, the GOP's actions will ultimately cripple it as a major party.
Parable of the Week: The Mirror of Sadness, The Mirror of Joy
It reflected the images of a soul's buried sadnesses and joys.
Many came to the mirror to see what hid within. A few, so very few, saw secret joy in the mirror, and went away with lightness in their steps and their smiles.
But most who stared into the mirror were horrified to see only sadnesses deep within it. These lost souls, staring at a rotted void, stumbled away from the mirror, many never to return to look at their true reflection again.
But a few, a very few, of the lost souls came back -- again and again -- to see exactly what the mirror revealed.
Gradually, with each disappointment, each horror, each agony debrided and chiseled away, they began to feel an indifference to sadness, and to feel in its place a yearning for hope.
With each visit to the mirror, they saw buried, then more revealed, the stanchions of happiness within the rotted catacombs of their soul.
Over the years did these brave ones, lost but for their single-minded refusal to shut their eyes, weld joy from incarnations of sadness.
Thus, you are the incarnation of emotion and mind -- but only one shall rule you wisely.
June 26, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 3, "Emotion's Mastery"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: Reason is the lens through which emotion must be focused.
Dedicated to the women of the U.S. Armed Forces and U.S. Congress who seek to eliminate rape in the military, and in admonishment of commanders and congressmen unwilling to acknowledge the depth of the problem by removing sexual assault prosecution from a still-misogynistic and dismissive chain of command.
Parable of the Week: The Bacchanalian, The Stoic
In an ancient archipelago of city-states lived two philosophers.
One philosopher was a Bacchanalian, who encouraged all to follow their emotions wherever they led.
He proclaimed, "Your past and your future are a fiction! Yesterday is dust, and tomorrow may never come -- so revel today!"
Yet, one day, when an invading armada had the run of his city-state, he lost his head from his neck -- after he was found, by invading soldiers, passed out drunk and naked in his villa, wine dribbling from his slack lips.
The other philosopher was a Stoic, who encouraged all to govern their emotions so that only the mind led.
He proclaimed, "Your past and your future are a biography! Yesterday happened indeed, and tomorrow will certainly come -- so think today!"
And, on that day when the invading armada tried to overrun his city-state, they were repelled by a well-set ring of traps and fires, and by a well-trained group of young warriors from his villa -- while he stood in command of all.
Thus, be the master of your emotions -- or the master of ruins.
June 15, 2008, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 3, "Emotion's Mastery"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: Life is the intersection of purpose and randomness.
Dedicated to the microventure philanthropy of the lenders, loanees and middlemen whose confluence of ambitions created Grameen Bank, Grameen America, Kiva and Kiva Zip.
Parable of the Week: The Spattered Paint, The Mandala
From the West an artist visited an ancient monastery in the East.
The monastery's head monk asked him, "May we see an example of your art?"
The artist obliged. Opening his steamer trunk and unrolling a bare white canvas, he laid it out flat on the stone floor, and unscrewed tubes of different colored paints.
Then, dipping his brush into them, he closed his eyes tightly shut, flicked his wrists and spattered the paint all over the canvas.
The monks bent over and stared a long while at the random colors and shapes, murmuring and nodding their heads. Then the most aged among them smiled and said, "Lovely! We too, have a very similar form of art! Come see!"
The artist and monks all filed into a small temple room behind the aged monk, who stepped aside and pointed to another monk on the floor, putting the final touches on an intricate, multi-hued mandala, made of individual grains of colored sand.
The Western artist stared down at the mandala, a work of near unimaginable labor, complexity and rigorous geometric order, and looked up at the old monk with confusion in his face.
"Old man, this work is nothing like mine!"
The old monk exchanged glances with the monk on the floor, who, just having finished the mandala, bowed deeply to it, then to the artist, and then reached out his hand and scattered the sand image with swirling arcs of his arm and robe.
The wise old monk then turned, beaming, to the artist and said, "It is now!"
Thus, within seeming chaos, purpose can lie buried.
June 8, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: The scoliosis of civilization calls us to stand.
Dedicated in admonishment of Opus Development Company's intention to profit from building multistory "condo hotel" style off-campus housing for wealthy University of Minnesota students -- by demolishing part of their historic "Dinkytown."
Parable of the Week: The Flies, The Cowbird
Dappled black and white, the huge cow was the most prized of all a farmer's small herd for her rich milk and gentle ways.
Come summer, the monsoon rains swarmed, and with them came swarms of insects.
The poor heifer was tormented by biting flies, who sucked so much of her blood that her milk became thin, and her disposition angry and plaintive.
The farmer cried in his dismay.
But the flies still came.
Then, one afternoon, arrived a dull little bird.
It alighted in the meadow before the huge cow and stared up at the cow's pained face, while she stared back angrily at its tiny brown head and black eyes.
Then, to the cow's amazement, the bird hopped up onto the top of her nose!
The cow mooed in anger, but then the bird plucked away and gulped down a fly that had been itchily sucking on the cow's forehead, and then continued plucking off flies wherever they had alighted on the cow's hide.
In gratitude, the cow contentedly settled down, to days filled with healthy repasts of hay and grain -- while the cowbird settled down, on her back, to days filled with healthy repasts of flies.
Thus, seek symbiosis -- not parasitism.
June 1, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: To be a leader you must act like a leader.
Dedicated in combined congratulation and admonishment of the Boy Scouts of America's acceptance of gay scouts, but continued bans on gay scout leaders and on atheist scouts and scout leaders.
Parable of the Week: The Surefooted, The Halt
Legs flailing, a child was born.
The child slowly learned to walk, his first steps halting and wavering.
As the child grew into a proud man, his steps became surefooted and straight. The man quickly pushed through all obstacles in every path he took.
But the ticking of years rushed forward like an accelerando metronome.
The man grew older and more infirm. He walked again as a child, his steps retreating and swerving as he maneuvered around the obstacles in his path.
After a spring morning's rainstorm, the old man haltingly walked to the store, avoiding puddles and fallen tree branches.
He asked himself sadly, "Does my gait differ, now, from that of the infant I once was?"
As a child he had lurched about like a baby bird, with little thought to what surrounded him. As an old man, he saw, his steps were similar, but with a hawk's awareness.
But then the old man realized something new.
Even as a powerful young man in the prime of his life, he had not possessed the wisdom of creaky bones.
He looked down at the puddles of slippery mud and the brittle, sharp branches at his feet.
"As a young man, I splashed through these puddles and crashed through these branches in my straight lines and unquestioned paths -- I never even considered their dangers as I barreled right through!"
The old man laughed.
"Even as a man, I was a child!"
Thus, the correct steps may well be halting and wavering -- not surefooted and straight.
May 25, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: We have conquered that which is without -- now we must conquer that which is within.
Dedicated in admonishment of the Obama and past administrations' oversight of its Veterans Affairs Disability Claims Office, which unfairly delayed injured veterans' disability compensation claims; its Internal Revenue Service Determinations Unit, which unfairly investigated the tax exempt status of conservative political non-profits; and its Justice Department, which unfairly investigated the phone records of the Associated Press.
Parable of the Week: The Dishonorable, The Honorable
Poverty and integrity was the cursed gift of their parents' fallible guidance and infallible love.
Yet the brothers' gift was soon broken.
A clumsy merchant on a high balcony spilled a pot of silver coins over their very heads.
One brother chased down most of the coins, battling off as many grabbing thieves as he could, and, hailing the frantic merchant from below, returned to him all that he'd collected.
The merchant gave him in return his effusive thanks, but no more.
Yet this brother's integrity remained of one piece that day.
What stood unbroken in him reflected the light of others who came his way, and so did his integrity spread forth among men.
Yet the other brother, on that fateful day, also saw the silver coins fall like rain from the balcony, and also dove to collect them, but returned not a single one.
Instead, with a muffled gasp of pain, he turned from the gathering crowd, from the merchant and from his own brother -- and slipped the pile of silver coins he had scooped up into his coat pocket. Then, with the quickest of the thieves, the second brother stole away, never glancing back into his brother's or the merchant's eyes.
This brother's integrity fractured in two that day.
Later, lying about the source of his new horses and saddles, then of his new young bull, then of his stocks of cured meats and fine wines, his integrity fractured into a thousand shards.
He found himself not one person whole, but become hundreds of persons -- each mirroring a false expectation, a fabricated past, a risen-again excuse, to each new traveler who'd heard and wondered about the source of his sudden wealth.
So did the dishonest brother lose, with his integrity, his soul -- as its fragmented shards were ground to dust beneath the feet of all other men.
Thus, integrity is the soul's mirror of reality -- do not break it.
May 18, 2008, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: Immorality is to coerce a sapient.
Dedicated to the Minnesota State Legislature, Minnesotans United For All Families lobbyists, and forward-thinking Minnesotans who codified into law the equal human right of all loving couples to be married, regardless of their biologically-determined sexual orientation or identity; and dedicated in admonition of all fundamentalist religions' attempts, whether today or a half-century ago, to impose theocracies that guarantee discrimination in place of representative governments that guarantee equal rights.
Parable of the Week: The Sand, The Stone
Two great cathedrals were built, one upon stone, the other upon sand.
The first cathedral stood for all time, a monument to its architects and masons, and to their indomitable spirit.
Yet the second cathedral, as beautiful and magnificent a monument to its builders as the first, began within a few short years to tilt, and then to settle into the sand.
As the decades and centuries flew by, it rocked back and forth, settling deeper and deeper, the sands slowly pouring against, shattering and running through its stained glass windows and arched doorways.
So did this cathedral subside under the bone-white sands of time, until, one day, the very tip of its tallest, most wondrous spire was all that still defied its sandy grave -- and none came to marvel, but only to regret.
Thus, even the most beautiful belief comes to naught if it stands not on solid earth.
May 11, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: Labor without progress is slavery.
Dedicated to Jason Collins, the first active NBA player to come out as gay; and to NFL football player Chris Kluwe, who lost his job as Vikings punter after months of speaking out as a straight man for equal marriage rights for the LGBT community.
Parable of the Week: The Keeper, The Caged
Two men lived in cages.
The first man was grey and toothless. Years before, his jailers had given him a set of keys to his prison.
Yet he had so come to fear the world outside, that he kept his keys to freedom in the pocket of his prison garb, too afraid to even handle them.
Thus was the first man the keeper of his own cage.
The second man was as ancient as bones.
Yet since his youth he'd railed against his imprisonment, considered it unjust, and never ceased plotting ways to break out of his cage.
He sought, above all else, to carve a key to his prison, and dreamed of great embarkations, for that day when freedom alighted.
Thus was the second man less caged than the first -- for he did not fear freedom, and his cage was not of his own making.
Thus, fear of change is a prison. Break out.
May 4, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 3, "Emotion's Mastery"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: Hell has two doors -- a way in, and a way out.
Dedicated in retrospective accolade to PEPFAR, former President George W. Bush's AIDS- and malaria- prevention initiative that saved 7 million lives in Africa.
Parable of the Week: The Rabbit, The Frog
Underneath a highway culvert lived a Rabbit and a Frog.
Every day cars rushed by overhead like the rush of the culvert's creek after a long rain. But at night the highway was often calm.
One such night, in black, starry quiet, the Rabbit and the Frog hopped up the gravel embankment to the middle of the blacktop, and sat watching falling stars.
The Frog croaked loud and long for a mate in the woods beyond the culvert, while the Rabbit nuzzled the air.
Suddenly a distant pair of stars low on the horizon loomed large and bore down on them with a deafening roar.
"Ruck...Truck!" erupted the Frog, and then, pushing off with his huge legs, leapt far through the air, a goggle-eyed green and white flash in the onrushing headlights of the 18-wheeler.
As he landed in the weeds and gravel beside the highway, the Frog looked back and saw his friend, ears rigid and staring into the headlights, frozen with fear and indecision.
"Ruckit...Buck it!" the Frog yelled.
But, unmoving to his end, the Rabbit was crushed under the wheels.
Thus, the first step is the easiest one not to take.
April 27, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason (Chapter 3, "Emotion's Mastery"), Copyright © 2007-2013 by Frank H. Burton, Ph.D., Founder and Executive Director, The Circle of Reason. All rights reserved.
Aphorism of the Week: Principles and facts are essential -- but the most essential are principles about facts.
Dedicated in retrospective admonishment of the Invasion of Iraq, former President George W. Bush's initiative to depose Saddam Hussein that killed over 100,000.
Parable of the Week: The Prevailing Wisdom, The True Wisdom
Autumn colored their debate.
The village historian stood, floppy wool hat on his head and back bent from many years hunched over old almanacs, and proclaimed in his loudest voice, "There is no risk tonight to our grapes! Not in fifty years have we had a freezing sleet this early in autumn. The prevailing wisdom says that this chill wind will pass with no harm!"
The crowd loudly applauded the old man -- for surely he knew best, having the longest memory of what had transpired in the village long years past.
Then a young vintner stood, his hat in his hand, and said, "Sirs, the prevailing wisdom is clear, but perhaps true wisdom would lie in us preparing the fires and fans tonight, to keep the sleet off our crus should it fall nonetheless."
The crowd hooted and catcalled, and he placed his hat on his head, yanked down its cap, and walked off toward his vineyard.
But a few other young men, all with new vineyards like him, followed him out of town, and said, "Maybe we are fools, but we shall do as you advise! Better a sleepless night and sore backs from making the fires to keep our grapes warm, than no money or wine for a year!"
That night, while the village slept, the sleet came suddenly upon the vineyards, and only the young vintners' fires and fans protected their harvests.
That year, the young vintners grew rich, as wine was rare.
Thus, prevailing wisdom is often not true wisdom.
April 20, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), Copyright © 2007-2013 by Frank H. Burton, Ph.D., Founder and Executive Director, The Circle of Reason. All rights reserved.
Aphorism of the Week: The impossible just takes a little longer. -- via Larry Brown
Dedicated to the Stanford creators of CLARITY technology for immunostaining and imaging the whole neurocircuitry of intact fixed brains by making them transparent through acrylamide gel immobilization.
Parable of the Week: The Orchid, The Dandelion
Growing in a mountain rainforest were an Orchid and a Dandelion.
Both brilliant yellow, the Orchid meandered along a hedge, while the Dandelion bloomed from emerald grass.
But wounds torn in the land by the hand of Man caused a cold, dry wind to blow over the rainforest.
The Orchid dwindled and died, its dappled beauty lost to all sight.
But the Dandelion had dug a foot-root deep into the soil's groundwater, and sprouted puffballs to waft its seeds, each hanging from a tiny umbrella, toward the four corners of the Earth.
So it is that orchids are seen only in hothouses, protected from the elements -- while dandelions sprout in your yard.
Thus, tenacity, hardiness and flexibility make success likelier.
April 13, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), Copyright © 2007-2013 by Frank H. Burton, Ph.D., Founder and Executive Director, The Circle of Reason. All rights reserved.
Aphorism of the Week: Study both sides of the coin -- feel both edges of the sword.
Dedicated in supplication to the U.S. Congress to use their votes to represent the People, who seek universal background checks for gun sales, and not to merely salve their political careers with yet another impasse permitting the irrational and the ill to mass-murder on no more than a whim.
Parable of the Week: The Effort, The Work
Fallow, rebelliously denuded, the cornfield lounged underfoot.
As the farmer and her daughter steered the plow behind their mare, the blade clanged on a large, granite stone buried in the earth, heaved up by last winter's frost.
"Oh, dear!" said the farmer. "Daughter, I'm taking a milk break for a while. You're still fresh. Why don't you dig up and roll that stone over to the side of the field?"
The daughter, scraping away dirt from the stone with her foot, cringed and frowned. "It's huge! How am I supposed to move it?"
The farmer woman reached over to lightly pinch her girl's biceps. "With these, darling."
And off she rode the mare back to the farmhouse, for a tall, cold glass of milk, as her child glared at her sweat-stained back with exasperation.
Later that morning, the farmer returned to check on her daughter. As she approached the plow, she saw her child laid out flat on her back, hat perched over face, with pools of sweat long since spread through her shirt and shorts -- and the stone, sitting in the same spot as when she left.
"Why isn't the stone moved?" the farmer asked.
Her daughter looked out from beneath her hat, and said with quiet disdain, "Because it was too damn heavy, mother!"
She stood up on her spindly legs, now streaked with dirt.
"I worked as hard as I could on that rock! You can't blame me!"
But her mother smiled gently, and, caressing the disheveled strands of hair from her beloved child's face, told her one of the greatest, and most unpleasant, truths of life.
"Daughter, great effort or no, it wasn't work -- here the stone still sits."
Thus, it isn't work unless the stone moves.
April 6, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), Copyright © 2007-2013 by Frank H. Burton, Ph.D., Founder and Executive Director, The Circle of Reason. All rights reserved.
Aphorism of the Week: One deserves success not in the harvest, but in the tilling. -- via Judge Learned Hand
Dedicated to the teaching of non-violence, charity and love by Jesus of Nazareth.
Parable of the Week: The Red Ground, The Black Ground
Red clay entombed the land.
Upon this red ground only the thinnest weeds grew, and the land was as a desert.
There, animals scratched out meager homes.
Those who walked this red ground were hard and fearful -- for only the hard and fearful survived.
But black, soft humus blanketed a neighboring land.
Upon this black ground all seeds that fell grew into majestic trees.
There, all the animals built warm, pungent homes.
Those who walked this black ground were gentle and confident -- for all there long flourished.
Thus, observe the ground upon which you stand.
March 31, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), Copyright © 2007-2013 by Frank H. Burton, Ph.D., Founder and Executive Director, The Circle of Reason. All rights reserved.
Aphorism of the Week: The path to enlightenment is not an elevated highway -- it is a narrow, rocky road.
Dedicated to the humility of Pope Francis, in the hope that such humility will become manifest in the future of the Church he now shepherds.
Parable of the Week: The Mud House, The Brick House
Returned from his honeymoon, a new husband sought to build a house for his bride and stepchildren.
On a sunny day he walked to the river flats and shoveled pile after pile of heavy, steaming mud into his wheelbarrow.
Yet, upon hauling it back to his new family's tent, so tired was he that he said to himself, "This mud is heavy and caked, and will work just fine as it is!"
So he shaped the mud into blocks, and he and his family piled them up into a house, and rejoiced at their new home.
But later came the monsoons, and, to their horror and his secret shame, their mud house melted into nothing, under the pelting of the unending rain.
Another newlywed likewise sought to build a house for his new family.
On that same steaming hot day, he too walked to the river flats, and also shoveled pile after pile of heavy mud into his wheelbarrow.
So exhausted was he, that he too was sorely tempted to just shape the mud into crude blocks and tell his family to pile them up.
Yet, looking into his new wife's and children's anxious eyes, he knew his obligation was to do more.
He rested that long day, but on the morrow walked through the fields, gathering straw -- which for many days he shaped with mud into solid bricks, while reassuring his wife and children, "This way is harder, and I can barely bring myself to do it, but it is the better way."
Eventually all the bricks were made, whereupon they piled them up into a home.
And their rejoicing was tenfold because their effort had been tenfold.
Later came the monsoons, and, to their joy and his secret pride, their house stood unharmed against the unending rainfall, which ran down the sides of their straw-reinforced mud bricks and flowed on to the sea.
Thus, to succeed you must do what success requires.
March 23, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason (Chapter 3, "Emotion's Mastery"), Copyright © 2007-2013 by Frank H. Burton, Ph.D., Founder and Executive Director, The Circle of Reason. All rights reserved.
Aphorism of the Week: Accepting reality is the first step in changing it.
Dedicated to the charitableness of Pope Francis, in the hope that such charitableness will become manifest to all, by the Catholic Church he soon will shepherd.
Parable of the Week: The Ambition, The Achievement
Young boys in the Far Eastern steppes were school playmates.
As they sat in the playground's rusty pair of swings, scuffing their feet in the scrub grass and weeds, and blowing out fistfuls of dandelion candles in an imagined birthday cake, the first boy turned to his playmate.
"When I grow up, I want to be President!"
The second boy was duly impressed.
"And I want to be a cosmonaut!" he replied.
"Bozhe moi!" the first boy exclaimed.
And a gleam was shared in their eyes.
The boys grew into men.
The first ran for city council, lost twice, and then won. Later, he became mayor, and several times met -- and advised -- his country's Presidents.
The second applied for the cosmonaut program -- but his stomach was weak, and he was not accepted. Instead, he went to college and became a mission scientist, creating equipment for the first international space station.
The men grew old.
Years later, they met again on the playground outside their former grade school.
"I was a failure," murmured the former mayor, "because I never became President."
His former playmate was duly skeptical.
"Oh? I was a success," he retorted, "because, even if I never became a cosmonaut, I was a damn fine mission scientist."
And, after looking around at the renovated and bustling school, with its verdantly manicured, sparkling playground bursting with well-fed and educated kids, the second man added, "And, my 'all-or-nothing' friend, quit sighing! You were a damn fine mayor!"
Thus, "all-or-nothing" usually leads to nothing.
March 16, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), Copyright © 2007-2013 by Frank H. Burton, Ph.D., Founder and Executive Director, The Circle of Reason. All rights reserved.
Aphorism of the Week: Violence is the abduction of will -- and hence of reason.
Dedicated to the reauthorization into U.S. law of the Violence Against Women Act, newly expanded to protect abused women who are lesbians, live on Native American reservations, or are undocumented immigrants; and dedicated to National Women's History Month, for all women worldwide who have fought for their civil rights to live as human beings, not as chattel for men.
Parable of the Week: The Chattel, The Wife
Husband and wife, they loved each other as equals.
He commuted to work, they both raised their beloved sons and daughters, and she chose to maintain their home until getting a job herself.
Next door there lived another husband and wife -- but which the husband insisted was "man and wife."
He proclaimed to all that his wife was his chattel -- his property.
Only he would decide what his family would do.
He forced his wife to abandon her interests to maintain his house and raise his children -- with whom he did not wish to be bothered except for his son. He instructed his wife to raise his daughters only to submit to their future husbands' wishes.
One day the first woman met her browbeaten neighbor while trimming the bushes between their houses.
"Leave that pompous fool!" she advised. "And take your children with you!"
But the second woman, unprepared for life alone, remained with her husband.
Over the years, the first family prospered in life, and in love, and their children returned every year to fill their beloved ancestral home with celebration.
But the second household grew confused and cold.
The daughters rebelled against their father's disdain and domination -- but knew no better than to flee into the arms of other abusive men. The son became, like his father, domineering.
All the children left home as soon as they could, and never returned.
So too, did the wife, in nameless yearning, eventually leave her husband, never to see him again.
The man spent his aged years as the unloved master of an empty house.
Thus, freedom is the well from which reason rises -- to think freely, one must be free to think.
March 9, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), Copyright © 2007-2013 by Frank H. Burton, Ph.D., Founder and Executive Director, The Circle of Reason. All rights reserved.
Aphorism of the Week: You are your likeliest saboteur.
Dedicated in supplication to the College of Cardinals to choose wisely -- and for the future, not the past, of Catholicism.
Parable of the Week: The Moon, The Sun
Under the parental gaze of the Sun and the Moon, the tribe lived bright days and starry nights.
In the tribe lived a wise Elder.
After a young tribeswoman had refused a suitor's overture to wed, and been shunned by the tribesmen for her refusal, she ran crying to the Elder -- who sat, walking stick by her side in the dirt, enjoying the shade of a large tree not quite as old as herself.
The young woman kneeled before the Elder, plucked at the hem of her shift, and confessed.
"Elder, I don't want to marry! If I marry, I must raise babies! But I want to start a business, and cultivate the fields and markets for my livelihood -- not be a husband's wife for it!"
The Elder grimaced, picked up her walking stick and slowly scratched sigils in the dirt.
Then, nodding to herself, she pointed her stick up into the skies, her long white hair blowing across her face in the breeze.
"Up there, what do you see?"
The young woman looked up and, squinting, said, "I see the Sun."
"And later, at dusk?"
"We will see the full Moon," the young woman replied.
"And why will it be full?" the Elder asked, with a wrinkled smile.
"Well," replied the young woman, "because it is facing the Sun and reflecting its light! But...but what does this have to do with my marriage?!"
The Elder laughed, then waved her stick between the far horizons.
"The Sun or the Moon! In their arms we dwell! Each brings us joy, each has value -- the Sun gives us life, and the Moon reminds us of the Sun's constancy."
"But it is your choice, not mine! It is up to you whether you will be the Sun or the Moon!"
Thus, radiate, or magnify the radiance of others -- but know the role you've chosen.
March 2, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), Copyright © 2007-2013 by Frank H. Burton, Ph.D., Founder and Executive Director, The Circle of Reason. All rights reserved.
Aphorism of the Week: If you stumble carrying your torch, pass it on.
Parable of the Week: The Ember, The Fire
Rain hissed along the thatch roof of a hut on the moor.
Inside the hut, an old man and his grandchild sat staring into the fireplace, where burned a single log.
"Tend to the fire, grandson," said the old man, as he went outside to feed their mule.
But the grandson lay back, arms behind his head, and daydreamed. Soon he dozed off.
When the old man returned to the fire, nothing remained of it except a small pile of black ash with a single, glowing-red ember.
"I told you to tend the fire, child!" the old man chided the boy. Then he gathered fine, dried root and straw, dipped them into the ember, and gently blew on it.
And, once more, flames sprang into life, reflected as a dancing glow in the old man's eyeglasses.
As he hefted a new log to the fire, he turned again to his chastised grandson. "Remember, young one, any fire shall die when nothing burns within."
"Including," he added, poking his lazy grandchild's chest, "the fire in there!"
Thus, endeavor is the flame that must consume you.
February 23, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason (Chapter 3, "Emotion's Mastery"), Copyright © 2007-2013 by Frank H. Burton, Ph.D., Founder and Executive Director, The Circle of Reason. All rights reserved.
Aphorism of the Year: All you need to rock the boat is brain waves.
Dedicated to President Barack Obama's Second Inaugural Address' pluralistic rationalist call to "replace name-calling with reasoned debate."
Parable of the Year: The Engine, The Driver
Three race cars sat on the track.
The first race car was but a shell on wheels, its engine removed. The driver pushed the eviscerated car to the starting line, hopped into the seat, grabbed the wheel -- and bobbed back and forth behind the steering column like a wind-up toy. The eviscerated shell of the racer rocked gently on the asphalt.
The second race car was a Formula One racer, with a massive engine -- but no driver. The racer idled in neutral, its throbbing engine powerless to budge it even one inch.
The last race car was a small convertible with a four-cylinder engine, but a capable driver. As the green flag fell, he gunned his engine, shifted into first, and leapt down the racetrack, rubber burning behind him on the road.
In seconds he was gone -- riding a cloud of white, beyond the far turn.
Thus, emotion is our engine - but we must remain the driver.
February 2, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason (Chapter 3, "Emotion's Mastery"), Copyright © 2007-2013 by Frank H. Burton, Ph.D., Founder and Executive Director, The Circle of Reason. All rights reserved.
Aphorism of the Week: You are ephemeral -- but your works need not be.
Dedicated on International Holocaust Remembrance Day to the memory of Chiune Sugihara, "Righteous Among the Nations" -- who as Japanese diplomat to World War II Lithuania arranged for the escape of six thousand Jewish refugees from Hitler's death camps, and because of whose action 40,000 of their descendants live today.
Parable of the Week: The Civilian, The Footsoldier
Calamity befell a proud island people.
The volcano on whose shores for ages had they dwelled exploded.
Death alighted in flaming snow.
But, at the edges of the island, some survived. Local civilians scattered into boats and rafts, carrying their hastily wrapped gold and jewels in singed linens, and sailed away from the island to safety.
But one among them, shuffling toward a boat from his burning home, with his coat pockets brimming with gold coins, slowed as he espied a young footsoldier desperately carrying out ancient scrolls from the island's smoking library.
A scroll dropped unnoticed by the frantic footsoldier, and rolled to the civilian's feet.
The civilian stooped to pick it up, glanced at the inscription on its satin ribbon -- and saw it was a copy of the most ancient and revered philosophy of his people.
The man's eyes widened as he looked down at the scroll, then he looked up, dumbfounded, at other dropped scrolls scattering in the hot volcanic wind gusting behind the back of the lone footsoldier, as the young recruit ran to dump another pile of scrolls into a pontoon boat on the dock.
The civilian looked down at his huge coat and pants pockets brimming with gold coins.
Then he raised his head, closed his eyes, and groaned.
He dug into his pockets, then thrust his hands high in the air.
"A fistful of gold to any man who takes the time to help that soldier-boy and me move out these scrolls!"
As heads and fleeing steps slowed and turned his way, he ran toward the library -- and, alighting on his heart like ribboned medals, was a grateful footsoldier's glance, and the future pride of his people.
Thus, you are a footsoldier in the army of destiny.
January 26, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), Copyright © 2007-2013 by Frank H. Burton, Ph.D., Founder and Executive Director, The Circle of Reason. All rights reserved.
Aphorism of the Week: Laws must issue from reason -- for we do not share the same faith. -- via Joe Selvaggio
Dedicated in admonishment of the Mississippi Legislature's and Governor's dishonest law barring the state's last clinic to provide a legal medical right, abortion, for women.
Parable of the Week: The Moderates, The Radicals
Bordering a vast gulf dwelled the peoples of two continents.
On one continent the people lived under strict laws, set down thousands of years before, that forced them to dress, wear their hair, study, labor, congregate, and marry, in proscribed ways.
Those who did not were ostracized, ridiculed, beaten, burned, lynched or beheaded.
The people of this continent lived in constant hatred and fear, as their forebears had done for centuries.
Yet they called themselves moderates.
On the other continent the people lived under lenient laws, continually perfected by amendment, that prohibited force, allowing them to dress, wear their hair, study, labor, congregate, and marry, in any way.
Only those who sought to force others were punished, if first found guilty by their peers.
The people of this continent lived in constant empathy and optimism, as their forebears had done for centuries.
Yet they called themselves radicals.
Thus, liberty is radical.
January 19, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), Copyright © 2007-2013 by Frank H. Burton, Ph.D., Founder and Executive Director, The Circle of Reason. All rights reserved.
Aphorism of the Week: We're crabs in a bucket -- unless there's no bucket.
Dedicated in admonishment of the U.S. Republican Party's yoking its own people's disaster recovery to cuts in the national debt; and of its unrealistic push to "privatize" national disaster relief and insurance.
Parable of the Week: The Relic, The Tooth
Consternation roiled the village, which gathered at the local elder's for counsel.
The headsman begged the elder, "O Old One, we need your advice! A Shaman has finally come to our village, and he carries with him a finely woven basket. He says that those of us who reach inside it, and touch a secret Relic it carries within, will know good fortune and health!"
"But the Shaman asks us each for an ox! What should we do?"
The old man peered into their worried faces, and a contented smile ever so slightly curved his wrinkled lips.
"I can give you what you need! Over my many years, a boon for great good fortune fell into my hands -- and I've been saving it for just this need!"
He pointed with his reed-thin arm to a small, red-dyed soapstone box among his possessions.
"In that box is the boon I obtained at the feet of a Wise One! Those of you who touch it -- and forget about the traveling Shaman's fine woven basket and its secret Relic -- will be blessed with great good fortune and health this coming season!"
The people gathered around the old man, and peered inside the small red box.
Inside it lay a yellow tooth.
Some remarked that the tooth must be a great relic, while others, after muttering how dingy and carious it was, instead paid an ox to the traveling Shaman, whose Relic was much larger.
Soon thereafter came the harvest season, and those who had touched the Tooth of the Wise One bred their oxen, and had much milk and meat to eat. Those who had parted with their oxen for the privilege of touching the traveling Shaman's secret Relic grew a bit thin, and had to beg -- but proclaimed to all who'd listen that their great good fortune was coming with the next moon, or rounding the nearest hill.
The well fed amongst the townspeople later celebrated their harvest solstice, and, raising their elder on a wicker chair, carried the old man around the village in thanks for their prosperity and health.
As they brought him to the village square, cheering, he waved them silent, then paused.
And slowly broke into a huge yellow grin with one gap.
Thus, to find good fortune, don't throw your fortune away.
January 12, 20013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason (Chapter 3, "Emotion's Mastery"), Copyright © 2007-2013 by Frank H. Burton, Ph.D., Founder and Executive Director, The Circle of Reason. All rights reserved.
Aphorism of the Week: You will feel it in our bones -- the scoliosis of civilization.
Dedicated in admonishment of the U.S. House of Representatives Tea-Party caucus' choice to block Hurricane Sandy disaster relief. If the government's role isn't to promote the general welfare, of what use is government or its representatives?
Parable of the Week: The Table, The Mensal Ideal
Commissioned to craft a table of exquisite richness and beauty was a carpenter.
As hours merged into days, the carpenter's young son watched him lathe the finest of his hardwoods, and trim intricate inlays.
So interested grew he, that the son soon asked, "Father, may I craft a table too?"
The carpenter agreed.
Leading his son to a corner of the workshop, the carpenter gave him carving tools and a handsaw, and the boy set to work.
In the eventide as they carved, the bare arms of father and son were burnished in the rays of the red sun.
The following Sunday they walked to the workshop, to see each other's craft.
Upside down, on velvet cloth, lay the father's table on his workbench. The boy ran up to it, running his tiny fingers along the polished skin of its smoothly inset legs.
"Oh, father, turn it over!"
When the carpenter turned over his table and set it upright and solid onto the floor, a maze of inlaid woods and patterns gleamed.
"Father! It's as sturdy as a turtle -- and prettier than one, too! It's the finest table in all Creation!"
His father laughed.
"Maybe so," he replied, "but let's see your table, my son."
The boy ran to his table, which sat upside down on the floor -- where he'd spent an hour alone the past night hammering in its legs, repeatedly.
"Look, father," he said, "my table is ready too!"
But when the boy picked up the table and stood it upright, it wobbled -- and when, agog with dismay, he pushed down on its heavy top, the table's spindly legs splayed out like a dead dog's and it toppled flat.
"Oh, father!" the boy wailed.
But the carpenter put his hand on his son's shoulder and bent down to face him.
"Now, now, it's just the joints weren't true -- I'll show you how to fit 'em proper."
And by Sunday lunch, the carpenter's son had made his first table -- and when he ate his porridge off it, it'd never tasted so good.
Thus, what is disjointed will not stand.
January 5, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), Copyright © 2007-2013 by Frank H. Burton, Ph.D., Founder and Executive Director, The Circle of Reason. All rights reserved.
Aphorism of the Week: We can destroy the world if we capitulate to stupidity, superstition or greed.
Dedicated in admonishment of Pope Benedict's Christmas denial of a biological basis, and hence the human normality, of diversity in sexual orientation and attraction.
Parable of the Week: The Asleep, The Awake
Philosophy was the siren who lured two students to distant shores.
When they met upon their return, they clasped arms -- those of the first now as wan and frail as balsa, and of the second as thick as oak.
"I hiked through monsoon-swept plains and high mountains," the first student said, "and sat in the temples of many different beliefs, and so attained complete wisdom."
He then smiled and bowed his head.
"This life is but part of a dream, and living or dying matters not."
Hearing his frail compatriot say this, the second student frowned.
"I too have seen much," he replied. "I've trodden far island continents, and sat in outback campfires, listening to lyrics that were sung before recorded history began, and so attained new knowledge."
But then the second student gently tightened his grip on his frail friend's luminously thin arms, as if to hold him to the earth.
"My friend, what happens to us in life, and in dreams, all matters."
Yet the first student, now uncaring of his own life, refused to eat, grew skeletal and wasted away to death.
At his funeral, his compatriot picked up a handful of black dirt and dropped it on the bones of his friend.
Then he continued on, eating, living and dreaming -- and in listening to his dreams, found new paths to tread.
Thus, life does not awaken to a dream -- dreaming awakens life.
December 29, 2008, excerpt from The Parables of Reason (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), Copyright © 2007-2012 by Frank H. Burton, Ph.D., Founder and Executive Director, The Circle of Reason. All rights reserved.
Aphorism of the Week: The pain of discipline is less than the pain of regret. -- via George E. Prine, III
Dedicated in admonishment of Cargill Inc.'s continued use of Indonesian palm oil sources causing deforestation and threatening extinction of the Orangutan.
Parable of the Week: The Rabbit, The Mole
Venturing into the nest of a Rabbit was a tiny shrew.
The shrew raised its pointy nose -- and the two shiny black dots on its face that pass for eyes among shrews -- and shouted upward at the Rabbit and her nursing kits.
"My, your grass nest is so well woven, and lined so snugly with fur, I could live here myself! If I didn't have an urge to dig tunnels, that is!"
The mother Rabbit, complimented and somewhat amused, wiggled her nose at the talkative shrew, and returned her placid gaze to her young ones.
Strolling out of the Rabbit's nest, the shrew then chanced upon a large black hole in the grass -- the mouth of a long tunnel that hunched its back like a whale sounding the Sargasso Sea. The shrew took one look at the deep hole, and dove beneath the sea of grass.
Scampering madly downward through the dimly lit tunnel, he tripped over blades of half-chewed grass, chips of discarded twigs, and tufts of matted grey fuzz and empty bug armor. His nose even drew him to -- and skirting by -- small piles of that which we all make, but shouldn't leave sitting around.
"Stinky, stinky..." the shrew mumbled as his nose hairs blasted outward from nostrils big enough to engulf his tiny eyes.
And onward he dove.
Then, in the deepest, darkest bend of the tunnel, the shrew ran head on into the plush rear of the tunnel's maker -- a big grey Mole.
The shrew hopped over the Mole's bowed head, and once again lifted up its tiny face, nose-to-nose with the Mole's, which drooped like a fallen star.
Their two pairs of eye-specks pretended to scrutinize each other, while the shrew sniffed madly, and the Mole sniffed sadly.
And then the shrew shouted to the Mole.
"My, your tunnel is a real mess! Why, it even stinks! Can you concentrate on digging, and on finding a big, fat huggly female mole, when old, chewed-up bug legs poke you in your soft pink belly, my friend?"
The shrew grabbed a piece of fuzz and tucked it under a foreleg.
"Let's clean this place up, and I'll be happy to live here with you!"
And up the tunnel scampered the shrew, followed by the somewhat browbeaten but strangely relieved Mole, to clean up their home.
Thus, without order comes odor.
December 22, 2012, excerpt from The Parables of Reason (Chapter 3, "Emotion's Mastery"), Copyright © 2007-2012 by Frank H. Burton, Ph.D., Founder and Executive Director, The Circle of Reason. All rights reserved.
Aphorism of the Week: Small steps still rise.
Dedicated to the children of Newtown, Connecticut.
Parable of the Week: The Bouquet, The Bonsai
A young woman was inexorably dying.
One uncle brought her a large bouquet of cut flowers. The woman placed them in a vase with water to keep them alive, and thought she would enjoy watching them over the next few days.
But she found herself noticing the growing signs of decay as the cut flowers slowly withered. She grew sad, and said to herself, "So, too, am I a cut flower."
But the next day her favorite uncle brought her another gift -- a small bonsai tree, growing intricately upon a clot of earth.
Other relatives chided this gift, saying, "That plant will outlive her! Why remind her of how limited her time is?!"
Yet the woman accepted the gift of the bonsai, and placed it in the sun on her windowsill.
For weeks, long after the cut flowers from all her other relatives had turned shrunken and brown and been thrown away, long after the relatives had gone home, the woman sat and watched the bonsai.
She thought she would be bothered by its steadfast little life, but she found herself noticing how minute and beautiful it was - how very beautiful, because of those very limitations and restrictions placed upon it.
As her last day arced across her life with the dawning and setting sun, and she saw the silhouette of the bonsai against the dimness of opium and velvet sky, she grew happy, and said to herself, "So, too, was I a bonsai."
Thus, acceptance of life's limits need not limit life's beauty.
December 15, 2012, excerpt from The Parables of Reason (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), Copyright © 2007-2012 by Frank H. Burton, Ph.D., Founder and Executive Director, The Circle of Reason. All rights reserved.
Aphorism of the Week: Do not despoil your children's house.
Dedicated in supplication to President Assad and his Alawi troops, to step back from the brink of biological warfare against the citizens of Syria; and for the Syrian people to offer amnesty for all leaders and combatants in exchange for "Truth & Reconciliation" confessions and free elections.
.مكرسة في الدعاء للرئيس الأسد وقواته علوي، إلى التراجع عن حافة الحرب البيولوجية ضد مواطني سوريا، والشعب السوري لتقديم العفو عن جميع القادة والمقاتلين في مقابل اعترافات "الحقيقة ومصالحة" ومجانا الانتخابات.
Parable of the Week: The Begrudged, The Embraced
Death stood at the foot of their hospital beds -- a badly dressed physician prescribing only morphine.
In no great rush, He observed the two men.
Reminiscing, as the old and ill are wont to do, the first man said, "My life was filled with wasted moments. I avoided learning, because lessons seemed too much bother. I avoided travel, because I worried about drinking the water. And I avoided dating, because I worried how I'd break it off!"
The second man looked over at the first, and recalled, "I took those lessons -- and learned enough to see how foolish I am. I traveled to Paris -- and got sick. I loved a woman, and never left her -- but she left me."
The first man stared at the blank wall of the ward, and began to cry.
"Now it's too late for me to do anything but die!"
But then the second man gently replied, "Well, it's not really that late. Do you like chess?"
The first man wiped his eyes and turned to measure the face of his temporary savior.
And Death looked about for a seat.
Thus, embrace life, do not begrudge it.
December 8, 2012, excerpt from The Parables of Reason (Chapter 3, "Emotion's Mastery"), Copyright © 2007-2012 by Frank H. Burton, Ph.D., Founder and Executive Director, The Circle of Reason. All rights reserved.
Aphorism of the Week: Be careful not to believe everything you think. -- via Jeff Herring
Dedicated to the 700 Club televangelist Pat Robertson's challenging of biblical interpretation that the Earth is merely 6,000 years old, not 4.5 billion -- demonstrating how to walk the path toward understanding that religious faith in an afterlife needn't contradict life itself.
Parable of the Week: The Infallible, The Fallible
Proclaimed throughout the land was a prophet among men.
On the day of his investiture, he strode in his dark, flowing robes through a jubilant army of followers, to a granite knoll.
Turning to look down upon the crowd, he raised high a wooden staff in his right fist.
"I am the voice of God on earth!" he cried. "My edicts are to be obeyed, on pain of imprisonment!"
The people believed, and wailed -- some in ecstasy, others in fear. Ere the blooming tulips in the prophet's garden began to curl, did his edicts lead to the enslavement of women in the land, and the imprisonment and execution of all who did not believe in the prophet's god.
Once too proclaimed throughout another land, was a leader among men.
On the day of his inauguration, he strode in his dark, tailored suit through a jubilant throng of voters, to a granite podium.
Turning to look down upon the crowd, he raised his clenched right fist.
"I am now your leader!" he cried. "My edicts are to be obeyed, on pain of imprisonment!"
The people disbelieved, and wailed -- in anger. Ere the cut tulips in the leader's inaugural vase began to wilt, did his edicts lead to his own banishment.
Thus, your mind is the property of neither man nor god.
December 1, 2012, excerpt from The Parables of Reason (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), Copyright © 2007-2012 by Frank H. Burton, Ph.D., Founder and Executive Director, The Circle of Reason. All rights reserved.
Aphorism of the Week: Life requires no other to justify itself.
Dedicated to the U.S. citizens of Minnesota, Washington, Maryland and Maine voting down Constitutional bans against, or voting for laws permitting, same-sex marriage; and in admonishment of evangelical religious legislators in those U.S. states, as well as in the country of Uganda, seeking to enshrine legal prejudice against -- and in Uganda's case, criminalization with life imprisonment for -- loving same-sex couples, against the foundational humane principle of freedom of religion. The Circle of Reason implores all reasoning Ugandans to choose, as did the people of the U.S., to reject as immoral anti-LGBT laws, and to to lead their country from the darkness of religious dogma.
Parable of the Week: The Grey Squirrels, The Colored Squirrels
By a bubbling creek meandered a lush backyard garden.
In this garden dwelled not only birds, garden snakes, toads and worms, but also grey squirrels.
The biggest and most well-fed of the animals, they were lords of the yard -- where all but the angriest of crows fled from them, once they charged to hoard nuts and seeds. Their bright white bellies gleamed in the afternoon sun when they sat up to regard their domain.
But when they crouched back down, their grey tops were somewhat dreary to look upon.
Then one day a motley crew of new squirrels came to the garden. They scampered onto a branch and stood tall for all to see: A small red squirrel; a pure black squirrel; a fawn-colored squirrel; and a pure white squirrel.
Each was much smaller than the fat grey squirrels, and so were no match for them in hoarding nuts and seeds.
But they were fast, and so colorful!
When they scampered around the trees and grass, playing tag with the grey squirrels, in the garden a rainbow danced.
And the days were no longer as dreary to look upon.
Thus, sameness dulls the spirit's palate, while diversity and its combinations are the spice of life. -- via Star Trek
November 24, 2012, excerpt from The Parables of Reason (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), Copyright © 2007-2012 by Frank H. Burton, Ph.D., Founder and Executive Director, The Circle of Reason. All rights reserved.
Aphorism of the Week: Death can consecrate a cause -- but cannot make it right.
Dedicated in supplication to Gaza's Palestinian leaders and citizens, to recognize the immorality of firing rockets into Israel; and to call for tolerance, renouncing their goal to destroy their neighbor. As is happening in the West Bank, offering an open hand to Israel will soon lead to a new Palestine, one whose generations will grow in wealth and security, and live in friendship with their Israeli brethren.
Parable of the Week: The Acorn, The Oak
An acorn lay rotting.
Carried far away from its mother-tree by an overly busy squirrel, it was abandoned in the black earth.
For the squirrel, being not so smart, forgot where he'd buried it -- and so the acorn was consigned to molder in its grave for all time, lost to memory or kindly regard.
Yet the following year, from the flesh of the acorn grew the smallest of shoots.
It fought for the light of the sun, pushed through dead leaves and blades of grass, and swelled into the tiniest of plants.
Over the years, the plant fought to live, persisting without cease or rest, and grew.
So, in the fullness of time, arose the mightiest Oak that ever existed -- from a forgotten and discarded shred of another's callous feast.
Thus, to transform into what will be, what is must pass away.
November 17, 2012, excerpt from The Parables of Reason (Chapter 3, "Emotion's Mastery"), Copyright © 2007-2012 by Frank H. Burton, Ph.D., Founder and Executive Director, The Circle of Reason. All rights reserved.
Aphorism of the Week: If you stare straight ahead, you have narrow vision.
Dedicated to the re-emergence of moderate GOP stances in the wake of the U.S. 2012 Election; and in admonishment of the "ultra-conservative media machine" for waving a red cape of illusory polls and political effrontery, that led the Grand Old Party into becoming a bullish caricature of a responsible political party.
Parable of the Week: The Flat World, The Round World
A voice in a faceless crowd proclaimed, "The World is flat!"
The people all chattered, "Of course he's right! We can see the edge of the World -- it's right over there!" And they pointed to the far horizon of the sea, where the red sun flashed green ere vanishing beneath the waters.
But a second man cried, "Wait! The edge looks so close! How can we sail for days upon days into the West, and lose sight of the mountains of our home, if the World is flat? Might not the World actually be round?"
And the people catcalled and hurled rotten fruits and cabbages at him.
"It's flat! Just look at the horizon!" they jeered.
Yet the second man believed that perhaps the World was round, but also very large -- and so just seemed flat, as his bald pate might seem to a tiny louse.
So he fashioned a telescope, using a long hearing-aid tube and two pieces of polished glass.
Then every morning he sat on the dock and stared at the horizon with his scope, pausing only to wipe its lenses free of salt-spray, and to gaze fiercely at passersby who cajoled him.
But then one afternoon, he startled and darted to his feet, one hand still holding the telescope to a gawking eye.
Through its lenses he could see a crow's nest - only a crow's nest -- rising slowly above the waters, its red and white flag flapping on the tall mast.
"Look!" he pointed to the horizon and cried to a small crowd of passersby, "Look! The mast of a galleon rises from the sea, but with no galleon yet seen beneath it! The World is not flat -- it is round! Round!"
A large rotten cabbage smashed into his beaming face, and his telescope dropped into the sea.
Thus, the whole world can still be wrong.
November 10, 2012, excerpt from The Parables of Reason (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), Copyright © 2007-2012 by Frank H. Burton, Ph.D., Founder and Executive Director, The Circle of Reason. All rights reserved.
Aphorism of the Week: Now is the time.
Dedicated to the U.S. voter -- whose hand will write the fate of the country.
Parable of the Week: The Act, The Consequence
In a shantytown held fast like a barnacle on the hull of a city sailing for a far horizon, two boys squatted on the stoop of a tin shack.
Dealers approached them offering hashish.
The first boy rose from the stoop, bought a bag of weed, placed it in his jacket pocket, and trotted home to smoke it.
His dealer counted his money, then ordered more hashish from his supplier -- who, in the crossfire of a gunfight with competing suppliers, shot a young student.
A young student who one day would have designed an economical solar water-purifier, saving millions from dysentery.
The second boy remained sitting on the stoop, and refused to buy hashish.
The second dealer, growing angry, slapped the boy and chased him through the teeming alleys -- but fell short on his sales that day, and ordered nothing from his supplier.
That supplier was ignored during a later turf battle -- and a girl on the street was saved from being shot.
A girl whose granddaughter would one day lead a continent to outlaw land mines.
Thus, the world can rise or fall with the lifting of one finger.
November 3, 2012, excerpt from The Parables of Reason (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), Copyright © 2007-2012 by Frank H. Burton, Ph.D., Founder and Executive Director, The Circle of Reason. All rights reserved.
Aphorism of the Week: Think on it -- then think again.
Dedicated to the U.S. Presidential Election's "Fact Checkers," and in supplication to the American voter to listen to them; and dedicated in admonishment of Governor Mitt Romney's unprecedented reliance on distorting facts to con voters who deserve to know the full truth about the GOP Party's policies.
Parable of the Week: The Stormy Day, The Sunny Day
Bent did their leaders become from the mantle of power.
They went before the people and proclaimed, "A great storm approaches! It threatens our lives and happiness!"
Pounding their lecterns and grasping their microphones, they cried, "We are mobilizing our army, to patrol the streets, suppress rioting, and protect the citizens of our land."
"We declare martial law!"
The people were stunned.
Many peered into the skies, but saw only a clear and calm horizon -- and newspaper forecasts had told only of bright, sunny skies, not storm-whipped devastation.
A few asked aloud, "Where are the storms?" But they were beaten and carried off in trucks by armed soldiers.
The newspapers and television channels at first declared no evidence for a storm. But the army poured money into the pockets of their owners, and pushed guns into the faces of others. Soon every news article and nightly broadcast proclaimed catastrophe was to rain from the sky.
Most of the people scuttled quickly from their homes to their cars, and from their cars to their workplaces, and stared upward at the clear blue skies, always searching.
But others -- a very few -- stared at the armed guards on the streets, and then stared upward at the televised faces of their great leaders, always searching.
Until these very few grew into a multitude...
And then, a storm.
Thus, black is not white -- no matter who says it is.
October 27, 2012, excerpt from The Parables of Reason (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), Copyright © 2007-2012 by Frank H. Burton, Ph.D., Founder and Executive Director, The Circle of Reason. All rights reserved.
Aphorism of the Week: Shun the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought. -- via John Fitzgerald Kennedy
Dedicated to Malala Yousufzai.
Parable of the Week: The Terrorists, The Diplomats
Lands of ancient beauty were torn between two peoples, bounded by barbed wire, concrete barricades and snipers -- but even more by the deepest chasm of hate.
Wherever a hand was raised in salutation, it was dismembered by the bombs of terrorists.
Whenever a peace treaty requiring disarmament and cessation of violence was signed, so too was it dismembered, by even one lone man's bitter or ecstatic instant of murder.
And, in response to murder, murder was returned ten-fold.
So did the chasm of hatred deepen, until there was no way to bridge it -- no way to stop the apotheosis of slaughter.
Yet, one day, two diplomats, haggardly shuffling through the jutting bones of their murdered peace accord as amongst the unburied dead, stood across the chasm of hatred, staring at one another.
And one called out, across the chasm.
"No more preconditions before we negotiate!"
And the other agreed, calling back, "We must divide our land between our peoples, and do it now! We must never again halt negotiation, even in the face of terrorism!"
"For that is terror's purpose -- to stop us from talking!"
And the chasm of hatred still loomed deep -- but thereafter none looked down.
Thus, to defeat terrorism, ignore it.
October 20, 2012, excerpt from The Parables of Reason (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), Copyright © 2007-2012 by Frank H. Burton, Ph.D., Founder and Executive Director, The Circle of Reason. All rights reserved.
Aphorism of the Week: Own the day. -- via Star Trek: Voyager
Dedicated to Felix Baumgartner's breaking the speed of sound in humankind's highest base jump, from 128,000 feet above the Earth.
Parable of the Week: The Passenger, The Driver
The car wound its sinuous way along the backcountry.
Its driver, a wide grin on her face, craned her neck as she passed grazing Hereford cows and cantering white and fawn-colored horses.
She smelled violet-carpeted hillsides, topped with bales of hay curled up like cinnamon buns, through her half-lowered, dirt-streaked window as she drove beneath tall oak boughs.
She gazed off to the horizon -- at careening, distant blue vistas of mountainsides and river valleys -- as the car jounced on the rutted, golden-brown clay road.
She was so glad.
Then her passenger, snoring until the last bend in the road, suddenly awoke, glanced around under his disheveled bangs, then, trying to steady himself as the sky rolled up and down and side to side, turned to her and grumpily remarked, "Wha...what happened to the highway?"
His voice warbled like he was sitting on a two-bit vibrating bed in a cheap motel.
"And where are we going?!"
Brown hair bouncing around her face, she laughed as she answered.
"We're already there!"
Thus, drive or be the passenger in your life's journey.
October 14, 2012, excerpt from The Parables of Reason (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), Copyright © 2007-2012 by Frank H. Burton, Ph.D., Founder and Executive Director, The Circle of Reason. All rights reserved.
Aphorism of the Week: The true root of all evil is refusing to think.
Dedicated to elderly Minnesota voters, in the hope that those who long ago blocked anti-miscegenation and Jim Crow statutes will again remain the bulwark of liberty for every loving couple to marry & start a family, and for every citizen to vote. "4 Tru <3 Vote No, & Vote No 2 <3 Truth."
Parable of the Week: The Dreaming Woman, The Seeing Woman
Born on the same day in the same village, two women grew up as friends.
One was born into poverty, and saw early that work -- either hers or her poor father's -- supplied the money to buy food and goods.
The second woman was born into wealth, and never accepted that someone's work was needed for her to eat or have fine things at her whim.
Then war cast both women anew into poverty.
The first woman portaged vegetables to market to earn enough to feed herself, and planned to save a little each day to start a small weaving business.
But the second woman refused to believe her ill fortune. Crawling into a cardboard box in the burned out basement of her ruined mansion, she slowly succumbed to the elements.
As she lay dying, dreaming of the life she'd lost, her moans were heard by her friend -- who lay down her basket of vegetables and dug through the rubbish to her side, raising her up.
"Why do you not see the way things are now?" she scolded. "Get up and weave baskets with me, and live. Or else dream your life away."
She placed her hands on her destitute friend's face, turned it toward the unrelenting day, and opened her eyelids.
"Decide! For you have no time left to dream of what is no more."
Tears rose in the dark well of the eyes.
The destitute woman saw the truth in her friend's words, and knew her refusal to see "what is" would change the world not in the slightest, but would indeed change her into a dead woman.
She stood up from the rubbish of her past, and together they wove baskets in the hope of a better life.
Thus, it is better to see what is and dream of what may be, than to shut your eyes to what is and dream of what cannot be.
October 6, 2012, excerpt from The Parables of Reason (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), Copyright © 2007-2012 by Frank H. Burton, Ph.D., Founder and Executive Director, The Circle of Reason. All rights reserved.
Aphorism of the Week: The inevitable comes to pass through effort. -- via Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
Dedicated to the 47% of Americans who make insufficient salary to owe federal income taxes; and in admonishment of Mitt Romney's false assertion that this half of America is not hard-working.
Parable of the Week: The Has-been, The Will-be
And these twin sisters were very youthful. What regard needed they for the world?
But, as young persons are wont to do, once they grew in size and experience so too did they grow in spirit and ambition.
Soon thereafter they strode into the world to refashion it in the image of what they thought it should be -- the first as a lawyer and judge, the second as a businesswoman.
Yet, as the years of their lives piled up like falling leaves, the sisters, once identical, became very different.
Walking in the city park, the judge, now advanced in years and just-retired from the bench, muttered to her sister, "I dreamed of one day being a political leader, and passing laws to help our city. But I never risked it, and it'll never happen now. I'm just an old has-been!"
She sagged with this confession, her face weighted down by each one of many years of regret.
Her twin sister's eyes glowed within the ashen kindling of her wrinkled brows.
"Sis, I just retired, too! The bums on my company's Board of Directors tossed me out on my wrinkled old butt!"
But she then spryly cackled, her face turning into the wind, white hair blowing from her lined face, and, raising her arms, yelled at the day.
"But I'm starting a new company! And this one will be a non-profit charity!"
She then poked her amazed sister in the ribs.
"And you, you old hag, isn't it time you put your name on the voters' ballot?"
Thus, you aren't a "has-been" until you surrender your final dream.
September 22, 2012, excerpt from The Parables of Reason (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), Copyright © 2007-2012 by Frank H. Burton, Ph.D., Founder and Executive Director, The Circle of Reason. All rights reserved.
Aphorism of the Week: A solitary fantasy can transform a million realities. -- via Maya Angelou
Dedicated to Libyan ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and his diplomatic staff, who were among the self-chosen few who believe in changing the world.
Parable of the Week: The Dragon's Breath, The West Wind
Nigh on their 13th year, two boys became explorers.
With but small knapsacks thrown over their shoulders, the boys ran out of town and far into the mountain foothills -- chasing after a caravan of gypsies slowly rolling toward the Western Lands.
Seeing the boys run after them, the King of the Gypsies raised his gnarled hand from the forward wagon. The music and the caravan stilled.
"Please, Gypsy King, may we explore the world with you?" asked one of the boys, a tall, lithe lad, while the other, runty boy huffed for breath.
The King looked back at the distant plains town, and at the protruding ribs of the boys, and knew neither had family that would care enough to retrieve them. Then he stared at the boys with a piercing green eye, and said, "But do you, my children, have the guts to be true explorers?"
The boys looked at each other in confusion, then the runty, breathless one gasped, "Test us, King! I am not scared!"
"But you should be, boy. You should be!" said the King, glowering down at the ragged twosome while fingering his gold earring.
The Gypsy King then lifted his great oaken staff, and pointed toward a high cleft in the mountains ahead.
"There lies the only pass to the West!"
He looked down at them, and then yelled above the blowing wind, "But in the pass lies a Dragon, whose breath burns! I have spells to keep the Dragon in slumber, but they shall not avail you today!"
"All, all who seek to join my kingdom must pass by the Dragon on cat's feet, and awaken him not. If I find you whole, and not a little pile of ash, on the other side of the pass, you are a true adventurer -- and will be welcome to join my clan and sit by my fire, as my son, forever under the stars."
The King's tattooed and white-bearded face then loomed baleful. "But, if you retreat to this side of the pass, it is homeward and hearth-bound for you, such as your home may be!"
"Now go! The Dragon begins to awake!" The Gypsy King gestured with his staff toward the mountain pass, his hair blowing wildly in rising gusts of warm wind.
The two boys looked up at the pass, saw rippling waves of heat billow from its jagged maw, and their tongues swelled and their knees knocked.
But the runty boy then shook himself like a wet dog, and ran ahead, calling, "Quickly, let's go now!"
Catching up to the smaller boy at the foot of the pass, the taller boy pulled him back, yelling past the howling, hot breath streaming from its great, rocky gap. "Wait! You can feel the hot breath of the Dragon, and you can hear it rushing out of his jaws!"
He stared into the slitted eyes of the runty boy. "That Gypsy King is sending us to our death! Maybe he has no spell to quiet the Dragon -- maybe we're his sacrifice to it! I wanted adventure, but not this!"
The runty boy stared up into the sweaty pallor of his playmate's face, and in that moment knew they would be parted forever. "What did you expect adventure was? Maybe it is death to run by the Dragon -- but I wanted adventure, not home!"
"And now I've got it!" And the runty little boy turned and dashed into the blowing chasm, and disappeared.
Crying for his friend, and fearful of being caught and murdered by the Gypsy King, the taller boy skirted the oncoming caravan, catching one glimpse of the King's frowning face as he ran back down the foothills for his home and hearth -- to live a somewhat boring, but fear-free, life as a farmer.
The caravan of the Gypsy King rolled on, into the blowing mountain pass, and disappeared from the Eastern Lands.
As the caravan's lead wagon, where sat the Gypsy King, rounded the last bend of the pass, the hot wind of the Western Desert blew ferociously past him. And there, in the middle of the path, stood the little runty boy, staring down at the great desert, arms raised to the warm blast of air, his ragged clothes whipping madly about him.
The child turned to see his new father, the King, and yelled in joy.
Thus, explore your emotion -- for it also is your teacher.
September 15, 2012, excerpt from The Parables of Reason (Chapter 3, "Emotion's Mastery"), Copyright © 2007-2012 by Frank H. Burton, Ph.D., Founder and Executive Director, The Circle of Reason. All rights reserved.
"Parable of the Week" excerpts from prior years will be available in the forthcoming book, The Parables of Reason, ©2007-2013, by Frank H. Burton, Executive Director of The Circle of Reason, the world's first society for pluralistic rationalism.
Hall of Shame
These are humankind's most irrational blind spots in our new millennium -- the oversights in rational ethics that our grandchildren will someday look back upon with disbelief and shame. The Circle asks you to investigate, question, and then choose where you stand on whether we as a society should relegate these blatant failures of reason to history's dustbin:
Runaway Global Warming (Terracide)
Agribusiness Pesticides (Bee & Flowering Plant Extinction)
Consumer Destruction of Natural Habitats, Ecosystems & Endangered Species
Non-Recycled Soft Toilet Paper, made from Harvested Old Growth & Virgin Forests
Military Bombing Test Range Pollution
Murder of Albinos for Body Parts
Execution of Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals and Transgender Persons
Gendercide (Selective Abortion & Postpartum Infanticide of Female Children)
North Korea's Communist Regime
Political Execution, Imprisonment & Oppression
U.S. Rendition to Third Countries for Torture
Political or Theocratic Totalitarianism
Theocratic Execution, Imprisonment & Oppression
Execution and Imprisonment of the Non-Religious
Execution of Adulterers
Virgin Rape as Disease Cure
Female Genital Mutilation
Banning the Right to Die
Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children
Theocratic Justification of Child-Beating
Baad (Retributive Child Abduction)
Imprisonment of Sexually Trafficked and Child Prostitutes
Imprisonment of Adults for Consensual Sexual Commerce
Imprisonment of Adults for Consensual Drug Commerce
Imprisonment Rather Than Treatment of Violent Paranoid Schizophrenics
Drug Prohibition and Ensuing Black Market & Gang Warfare
Faith Healing, Witchdoctors & Alternative Medicine
Factually Incompatible Theocratic Dogma
Theocratically Enforced Celibacy, Childlessness, Poverty, Self Injury & Tithing
Health Care Insurance Denial
Healthcare-Associated Infections from Providers' Septic Habits
Women's Education, Voting & Work Bans
Occupied Territory Voting Bans
Gay Equal Rights & Marriage Bans
Government Ban on Legal Transgender Reassignment Without Surgery
Short-Term Profit Incentives for Business Executives
Government & Government-Sanctioned Private Arms Sales to Dictatorships
Endangered Species Killing for Body Parts
Legal Government Bribery
Congressional Insider Trading
Insider Trading Via Non-Public Congressional Interviews
Anonymous Corporate Political Ads
Government-Controlled News & Propaganda
Propaganda Disguised as News or Facts
Free Press Equal Treatment of Propaganda and Facts
School Creationism & Intelligent Design
Astrology, Soothsaying & Spiritualism for Profit
Social Acceptance of Emotive Appeals Contradicted by Data
Social Acceptance of Ad Hominem Attacks
Hall of Fame
These are humankind's most rational forward steps in our new millennium -- the advances in rational ethics that our grandchildren will someday look back upon with relief and gratitude. The Circle asks you to investigate, question, and then choose where you stand on whether we as a society should more widely disseminate these achievements of reason:
Women's Equal Rights
Gay Marriage & Equal Rights
Civil Disobedience Movement of Same-Sex Couples Seeking Marriage Licenses
Nullification of the U.S. Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)
Legalized Assisted Suicide for the Terminally Ill
Argentina Law Legally Recognizing Gender Change Without Requiring Surgery
Drug Use Decriminalization
Universal Health Care
Tobacco Warning Labels
Mosquito Net Donations to Third World
Healthcare Provider Septic Habits Ban
Micro-Loans for Third World Entrepreneurship
Child Labor Ban
Third World Internet Access
Political Recognition of Global Warming
Alternative Energy Development
Recycled Paper, Metal & Plastic Products
Endangered Species Protection
Interfaith Dialogue Movement
Pluralistic Rationalism (Plurationalism) Movement
We are pleased to present these links of interest to those wanting to learn more about or volunteer to encourage reason, charity and truly inclusive fellowship in society:
Secular Bible Study (Theists + Atheists Reasoning Dialogue Fellowship)
First Minneapolis Circle of Reason (Transbelief Reasoning Dialogue Fellowship)
NY Salon (Raising the Level of Discussion of Our Culture)
New Stoa (Online Modern Stoic Community)
True North Groups Institute (Endorsing Business CEO "Clarity Circles")
The Garrison-Martineau Project (Believers/Nonbelievers Empathetic Dialogues)
Cirkel van Rede (Dutch Circle of Reason Daughter Site)
Don Lindsay's List of Fallacious Arguments
YourLogicalFallacyIs (Fallacy Explanations and Examples)
The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)
Unitarian Universalist Association
Ahmadiyya Muslim Community ("Love for All, Hatred for None")
Atheists for Human Rights
The Daniel Pearl Foundation (Promotion of Cross-Cultural Understanding)
The Coexist Foundation (Promotion of Inter-Abrahamic Faith Understanding)
Tony Blair Faith Foundation (Promotion of Interfaith Education and Collegiality)
Beliefnet (Commercial Multifaith and Interfaith Web Community and Forums)
Interfaith (Non-Commercial Interfaith News and Dialogue Forum)
United Religions Initiative
Saint Paul Interfaith Network (SPIN) & Mid-Day Interfaith Dialogue
Marnita's Table (for Intentional Social Interaction)
"WE DO" Campaign for Southern Equality (Same-Sex Couples' Civil Disobedience by Asking for a Marriage License
Affirmation: Gay and Lesbian Mormons
Human Rights Campaign (Working for LGBT Equal Rights)
The Matthew Shepard Foundation (Replacing Hatred Against Gays with Understanding)
The Foundation For A Better Life (Inspiring Positive Values)
The Whitman Institute
Starfleet (The International Star Trek Fan Association, Inc.)
The Logic of Surak
World Future Society's Forecasts
Projections: A Futurist at the Movies
The SETI Institute (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence - Hat Creek Radio Observatory Project)
O3B Networks (Internet Access for the Third World -- the "Other 3 Billion")
The Gutenberg Project (Free Classic Book Downloads)
Wikipedia (Free Web Encyclopedia)
Reporters Without Borders (Defending Press Freedom Worldwide)
Novayagazeta (Russia's Last Free Press)
Snopes (Refuting Rumors and Urban Legends)
Media Matters For America
Jefferson Action (Citizen-Politician Debate Minus the Attack Ads)
The Coffee Party USA (Truth and Civil Dialogue in Politics)
WATCH (Public Monitoring of the Court Justice System to Increase Safety for Women and Children)
HAI Watch (Healthcare-Associated-Infection Information & Education)
Chidren's Healthcare is a Legal Duty (CHILD) (Protecting Children From Abusive Religious or Cultural Medical Neglect)
Yuwa (Indian Girls' Self-Empowerment Through Team Soccer)
Project Kindle (HIV/AIDS Children's Camps)
KIPP ("Knowledge is Power Program") Schools -- Successful College Prep for Underserved-Community Students
Shining Hope for Communities (Free Girls Schools and Community Centers in Africa's Largest Slum, Kibera)
Make It Right Foundation New Orleans (Restoring Homes to Hurricane Katrina Evacuees)
Children's Defense Fund
Jean Cadet Restavek Foundation (Rescuing Restaveks, or Child Slaves, in Haiti)
NotMYkid (Teen Behavioral Health)
Darkness to Light (Confronting Child Sexual Abuse)
GEMS: Girls Educational and Mentoring Services (Fighting Imprisonment of U.S. Children Coerced Into Prostitution)
Bombay Teen Challenge (Rescuing Sex Slaves from the Red Light District of Mumbai)
The Rebecca Project for Human Rights (Legal Advocates for Public Policy Reform for Vulnerable Women and Girls)
Hands On Twin Cities and Hands On Network (USA)
Fruits of the City (Volunteer Homeowned Fruit Tree Pickers for Food Banks)
Loaves and Fishes
Habitat for Humanity
AccountAbility Minnesota (Volunteer Accounting and Tax Assistance)
National Bullying Prevention Center
The Tyler Clementi Foundation (Preventing Cyber Bullying and Suicide of LGBT Teens)
KiVa Anti-Bullying Program (Training Onlookers to Withhold Peer-Rewarding of School Bullies)
Jeremiah Project 51 (Parents Helping Parents Eliminate School Bullying)
Kids Good Manners DVD (game show-style teaching manners, self-discipline, sportsmanship and honesty)
Girls Circle (Facilitator-Guided Girls' Reasoning Dialogue Groups)
Boys Council (Facilitator-Guided Boys' Reasoning Dialogue Groups)
Mentoring Partnership of Minnesota
Big Brothers Big Sisters of America
MAD DADS, Men Against Destruction-Defending Against Drugs and Social-Disorder and Minneapolis MAD DADS (Visible Fatherly Presence in Drug- and Teen Gang- Ravaged Neighborhoods)
Social Venture Partners International (Venture Capital for Philanthropies)
Do Something (Volunteerism Clearinghouse and Local Volunteer Search Site)
The Southern Poverty Law Center
Books for Africa
The Peace Corps
The Earth Corps (Training and Networking for Global Service)
American Refugee Committee
The Center for Victims of Torture
Nechama (Jewish Response To Disaster)
Give Us Wings (Helping Third World Villages Help Themselves)
The Grameen Bank (Bangladeshi Micofinancier) and Grameen Foundation USA (Third World Microfinancier)
The One Acre Fund (Agribusiness Assistance Turning African Subsistence Farmers Into Entrepreneurs)
War Kids Relief
Global Polio Eradication Initiative
Smile Train (Training Local Doctors Worldwide in Cleft Lip and Palate Correction)
Nothing But Nets (Donate a $10-Mosquito Net to Save a Person from Death by Malaria)
Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres)
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
International Campaign to Ban Landmines
Lifestraw (Donating Personal Drinking Water Purifiers to Prevent Cholera & Dysentery)
Free The Slaves (Eliminating Worldwide Slavery and Human Trafficking)
Community of Veterans
Support Your Vet
Hire A Hero (Finding Jobs for Veterans)
International Atomic Energy Agency
Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI)
World Institute for Nucelar Security (WINS) (Best Practices Forum to Prevent Atomic Theft)
Human Rights Watch
Middle Eastern College for Reconciliation and Development (Teaching Arab and Israeli Children Civil Engagement)
Scholar Rescue Fund
The African Union
The United Nations
The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO)
The National Institute of Mental Health
The Nature Conservancy
The World Wildlife Fund
Ducks Unlimited (Wetland Conservation)
Evangelical Climate Initiative
Carbon Capital Fund (Carbon Footprint Calculator and Personal Carbon Offset Purchasing)
GreenDisk, Inc. (Technotrash Recycling)
Marcal Soft & Strong 100% Recycled Toilet Paper
Recycles.org (Used Computer & Office Equipment Donation to Nonprofits)
Recycle City (Environmental Protection Agency Instructional Website)
Nissan LEAF (Zero-Emission, 100 Mile-Range Lithium-Electric Automobile for Five Passengers)
General Motors Volt Car (Zero-to-Low Emission, Indefinite-Range Lithium-Electric Automobile with Gasoline/E85 Generator Assist After 40 Miles)
Toyota Prius Plug-In Conversion (100+ mpg Hybrid+Battery Conversion Kit)
A123 Systems (Plug-In Hybrid Car Lithium-Battery Conversions)
Transit for Livable Communities (Bus and Light & Commuter Rail Advocacy)
Windsource (Example Wind Power Subscription)
The Bonobo Conservation Initiative (Preventing Chimp Extinction)
With regret, we have excluded the below charitable links due to their discriminatory practices in hiring or service. With your help (by petition or withholding donations) we hope to one day endorse these organizations:
Catholic Charities (retracted policy allowing adoption by same-sex couples)
The Salvation Army (instituted policy denying employment to gays or lesbians)
The Boy Scouts of America (instituted policy denying membership to non-theists and gay leaders)
The Circle of Reason receives no financial incentive from any organization listed among its Links.
Make It So
Coming together is a beginning. Staying together is progress. Working together is success. -- Circle of Reason Cardiff
Like our Parables or Tenets? Tell others about us, or link your blog or website to ours!
Want to Join The Circle of Reason and help save the world? Simply E-mail us your name and your city, state and country of residence, to join The Circle's international member roster. Membership is free!
Seeking a shared haven of true ecumenism for a saner world? Visit one of our Local Circles or Online Communities (Virtual Local Circles) -- public forums for cross-cultural and cross-belief dialogue -- and chime in!
Want increased clarity about your life? Join our Clarity Circles.
The Circle also encourages you to check out our Links -- unaffiliated dot-orgs we think are helping bring about more rational stewardship of our society and our planet.
The Circle is also organizing its own unique programs -- E-mail us to join:
1. StrikeForce -- Most bad events in the world are the consequences of our own actions magnified by 6.6 billion others acting in the same way. To remind us we all need to go "on strike" to avoid doing the things that, when done en masse, harm society and our planet, we are sponsoring the Circle StrikeForces, including DrugStrike, BingeStrike and its "242" (Two Drinks for Two Decades) celebration, BullyStrike, CliqueStrike, SlurStrike, CheatStrike, TrashStrike and PetrolStrike.
2. Reason-Monitors -- Much of what passes for public discourse is filled with denials of reality, unquestioned assumptions (potentially false realities), and emotive arguments or actions (dissociation from reality). Reason-Monitors will flag such errors, to help keep the ship of state on an even keel. As part of this effort, The Circle will be publishing an online periodical, The Reason Monitor, wherein volunteer editors will highlight illogical reasoning and the use of invective or counterfactual emotive arguments in public commentary.
3. Bad hominem Campaign -- We ask the public to question its long-cherished assumption that emotive, ad hominem attacks are moral; The Circle of Reason asserts that, because such argumentation seeks to persuade only by evoking emotionality, it is indeed not moral and should be frowned upon in civil society. So the next time you see an insult masked as an argument, stand up and speak its true name -- immorality.
4. The Dialogium -- Most people ignore soapbox speakers. It takes a patient, reasoning, and where possible even facilitative, strategic approach to open and then widen avenues of reasoned discourse between those of very disparate beliefs. The Dialogium is The Circle's unique forum for facilitative, reasoning transbelief dialogue, encouraging more reasoning, open-minded leadership of the disparate groups represented among our membership and within the broader community.
Finally, give us Feedback. We believe in the mind -- so tell us what's on yours!
In the soil of every belief can be inscribed a common circle -- wherein stand the reasoning.
As an international organization for pluralistic rationalism (plurationalism), The Circle of Reason sponsors or endorses local circles of reasoning dialogue and fellowship between those with disparate beliefs and backgrounds.
Local Circles of Reason are literally neighborhood congregations whose very assembly across the gulf of human difference evinces a communal belief in the power of logical and reasoning thought to transform our world and help humankind attain its next major step toward moral and philosophical maturity.
There is no creedal test, nor any tithing or membership fee, to be a Member of The Circle of Reason-International or of a Local Circle -- theist or atheist, conservative or liberal, rich or poor, you are welcome.
To find (or startup) a Local Circle of Reason, E-mail us your name and your city, state and country of residence.
If you're the first in your community to join The Circle of Reason, ask our assistance in organizing a Local Circle in your city as a Meetup.com group -- we'll cover the Meetup Organizer's fee! Local Circle meetups for reasoning dialogue should practice plurationalism by whom they invite (everyone), what worldviews they accommodate (all), what membership fee they levy (none), and what leadership they practice (consensus). Local Circle meetups are held at times not conflicting with Friday Prayers or Saturday or Sunday Sabbath ceremonies.
The Circle of Reason, as a sponsor of inter-belief dialogue and fellowship, seeks neither to convert people to any belief nor to deconvert them from any belief, but to encourage all to use reason to guide their beliefs, and their practice and communication of their worldviews. Local Circles are thus encouraged to be founded in and sponsored by (and between) neighborhood churches, synagogues, mosques, temples and atheist/humanist groups, between all tribal groups, and between conservative and liberal political groups, while welcoming members of every (and no) tribe, faith, belief or creed -- so that in reasoning dialogue and fellowship we all may learn how to combine our diversity of worldviews without dogmatism, aggression, coercion, or invective.
Finally, if you're not sure about joining the pluralistic rationalists of The Circle of Reason, google Star Trek's Vulcan "IDIC" symbol of diversity+logic and ask yourself, "What Would Surak Do?"
Your e-mail address and member info shall remain private and will not be released to anyone, including other Circle members, without your explicit request.
Gather in, speak out, listen up, get down.
Want to seek out new logical life, and new rational civilizations? To clearly go where no one has gone before?
Want to find, recruit, converse with and encourage -- from all walks of life, all biologies, all beliefs, all societies -- those who are your own kinsmen and kinswomen - the reasoning kind?
Want to discuss the role of reason, or its absence, in our "modern" society?
Want to help humankind at long last attain philosophical and moral maturity?
And you want to do it online?
Then you're looking to join one of COR's "Virtual Local Circles":
1. Facebook Circle of Reason -- FCOR was "ungrouped" by Zuck's mandatory Facebook Group Archiving in 2008, but has since re-launched; join this online COR group to read updates on The Circle and to find reasoning friends from all corners of the planet. (FCOR Facebook Group relaunched March, 2008)
2. Beliefnet Circle of Reason -- Check out BCOR's "Timely Topic" forum posts to read online members' past reasoning dialogues on religious, interfaith and secular issues of their day. (BCOR launched April 2008)
3. The Round Table -- Pull up a chair to The Round Table, COR's own ad-free webforum. (CORRT awaits seed members in 2013; login and post about why YOU decided to join The Circle!)
4. Google+ Circle of Reason -- Have you got a Mac or PC with video/microphone capability? Then join Google+ and G+COR, to group video chat and participate in online Clarity Circles using Google+ Hangout. (G+COR launched April, 2012)
Join FCOR, BCOR, CORRT or G+COR...and own your future.
BCOR and CORRT webforums guarantee users' privacy by permitting username avatars and by not disclosing users' IDs or login e-mail addresses.
Reason, like the sun, burns away the fog that lies ahead.
Want increased clarity about a big decision in your life?
Willing to help another through an important life choice by simply -- and only -- asking questions to help them perceive the realities, assumptions, and emotions that underlie their dilemma?
You're looking for the tradition of communal clear thinking historically begun by the Quakers, and which we continue today -- Clarity Circles:
To begin or join a real-world Clarity Circle, E-mail us your name, city, state and country of residence, for assistance in setting up a local Clarity Circle Meetup.
To begin or join an online Clarity Circle as a public, permanently viewable discussion board thread, visit one of our Online Communities and start a Clarity Circle thread.
To begin or join an online Clarity Circle as a non-permanent group text chat, join the Facebook Group Facebook Circle of Reason and post a proposed day, time & time zone for your Clarity Circle event as a "Facebook Chat."
To begin or join an online Clarity Circle as a non-permanent group video chat, join the upcoming Google+ site G+COR and post a proposed day, time & time zone for your Clarity Circle event as a "Google+ Hangout." (G+COR will debut by mid-March, 2012)
Our archive of past Opinion-Editorials from The Circle of Reason and links to news editorials on pluralistic rationalist methods. Excerpts from this web archive may not be reproduced without written consent of the author, or reproduced in any form for profit.
"Let's Ditch Analogies That Live in Infamy"
Op-Ed by: Frank Bruni, New York Times | Updated October 7, 2013
New York Times "The Opinion Pages" "Article", on how "hyperbole and hysteria make any constructive debate impossible," and why we should "ditch analogies that live in infamy".
"Town Halls or Town Hells?"
Op-Ed by: FRANK H. BURTON, The Circle of Reason | Updated September 3, 2013, 6:19 PM
Minneapolis Star Tribune "Letter of the Day", on "bad hominem" in town halls.
"The Vulcan Inaugural"
Op-Ed by: FRANK H. BURTON, The Circle of Reason | Updated Feb 2, 2013, 6:00 AM
Maybe Michelle Obama's bangs are a sign?
Barack has been dubbed our first "Vulcan President" -- not because Michelle was seen parading in a Vulcan cloak and bangs, but because as President and man, Obama appears committed to emotional mastery in service to politics.
In a seemingly throwaway line in his Second Inaugural Address, Obama enjoined, "For now decisions are upon us, and we cannot afford delay. We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate."
Irrationality Beyond Politics
But our first-ever Vulcan leader may himself not have realized those words' broader portent: Reasoned debate -- and, more generally, the everyday application of reason itself -- isn't just essential for the next "four years, and forty years, and four hundred years" of politics, but is essential for humanity's maturation into a fully sentient race.
Absolutism, spectacle and name-calling are symptoms of a congenital illness -- humankind's current inability to automatically and consistently be rational. What is, is. What is not, is not. And what is or is not, is paramount. Not consistently adopting those axioms of reasoning living will harm us more than the most violent video game inveighed against, or invented, by the NRA.
When we deny facts, adopt unquestioned assumptions, and argue emotively rather than rationally, we crash and burn -- causing the arteries of America to grind to a bumpy halt.
A Throwaway Line?
Obama's most memorable Inaugural quote noted our struggles at Seneca Falls, Selma and Stonewall, to call America to new destinations in equal rights; but his one seemingly throwaway line calls us to do something even more important -- to pave the rutted road to those destinies.
So why do we overlook this line from Obama's Inaugural address? Perhaps because both Obama and We The People still share the wrong assumption that people are usually reasoning folk needing no prompting to master our "Inner Klingons." True, we all reason well -- when nose-to-nose with reality. (Think Debt Limit, or Hurricane Sandy and Governor Christie's waltz with Obama.) But the rest of the time, when reality is at one remove? Where polar bears dig through garbage in distant Churchill, gay coworkers are denied marriage applications, and unseen Dreamers labor in our kitchens and college libraries? Not so much.
But in politics, at least, an awareness of the need for communal commitment to reason is dawning. In addition to his inaugural call for reasoned debate, Obama previously hired Republican Jim Leach as Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Best known for his "Civility Tour," Leach recognized as eloquently as his boss that "ad hominem" is "bad hominem" when he said, "Little is more important...than establishing an ethos of thoughtfulness and decency of expression in the public square. Words reflect emotion as well as meaning. They clarify -- or cloud -- thought and energize action, sometimes bringing out the better angels in our nature, sometimes lesser instincts."
So maybe Obama's "throwaway" line isn't so throwaway, but one to be remembered -- as well as one by which to remember him.
Obama: Liberal or Pluralistic Rationalist?
Our own society of theist, non-theist, liberal and conservative rationalists will remember President Obama not so much as a "closet liberal" who in his second inaugural finally came out for progressivism, but as our nation's first "pluralistic rationalist" President, who came out for the dawning awareness that our maturation as a sentient civilization will soon depend on our realizing that self-delusion and name-calling instead of fact-checking and reasoned debate is more than a First Amendment-permitted political preference, but a dilemma of human morality and survival.
The Morality of Reason
Someday denying facts, accepting unquestioned assumptions as facts, and emotively beating back facts will no longer be welcome in the parlor rooms of civil society, but relegated to conceptual zoos -- where our denialists, dogmatists, and sensationalists will as always be free to continue burrowing, howling, and screeching, but where such irrational utterances will be ignored by the (in this case rounded) ears of We The Sentients.
And as First Among Sentients, Barack, in spite of his round ears, has now called attention to our need for such a "Human-to-Vulcan" social evolution. President Obama's "throwaway" inaugural line is not one to throw away.
Live long and prosper, Barack of Vulcan.
Frank H. Burton, Ph.D., is Executive Director of The Circle of Reason, the first international society for pluralistic rationalism, recently recognized as a "promising practice" by the Pluralism Project at Harvard.
"Atheist Has Faith in Power of Dialogue"
News Article by: Daniel Tran, The Monash Weekly | Updated July 6, 2012
Monash Weekly "Article", on the value of including atheists, and reasoning secular viewpoints, in interfaith dialogues..
"Jon Stewart's Speech to The Rally to Restore Sanity"
Speech Transcript by: ebookbrowse from "C-SPAN Video" | Updated Oct 30, 2010
The Rally to Restore Sanity "Speech Transcript", on the value of reasoned, civil dialogue over shouted invective..
"E.J. Dionne Welcomes Jim Leach's Call for Civility"
Op-Ed by: EJ Dionne Jr, The Washington Post | Updated Nov 30, 2009
Washington Post "Article", on the value of civility in politics..