The Plurationalist Declaration
"I'm a Pluralistic Rationalist. As Plurationalists we believe in public commitment to more consistently use everyday reasoning, regardless of our worldviews."
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 communally commit to faith in the ability of reasoning thought, action and communication to save our world and bring our next major step in moral evolution. 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
Reality's Acceptance (Morally choosing Factualism over Denialism)
Assumption's Denial (Morally choosing Skepticism over Dogmatism)
Emotion's Mastery (Morally choosing Moderationism over Emotionalism)
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 are thankful for the gift of the Mind, through which our purpose shall be envisioned.
We are thankful for the gift of the Will, through which our purpose shall be manifest.
We are thankful for the gift of the Heart, through which our purpose shall be ennobled.
And we are thankful 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.
The Purposeless, The Purposeful
Residing in the body of a small, gentle man with a twitchy mustache and darting, smiling eyes was the greatest mind in the world.
As this man saw the world about him, unbidden solutions to all the world's ills erupted from the volcanic fissures of his brain.
Yet he put his solutions aside in a small notebook and spoke of them to no one, as if they were raw nuggets of gold in a small jewel box.
Over the years, the man with the greatest mind would sometimes retrieve an idea to change the world, rub it in his fingers to a burnished sheen, then, yawning in distraction, return it to the far, still niches of his awareness -- there to perch in the dust, inert and forever untouched by any other.
Residing in the body of a large dynamo of a man with a squinty face and still, intent eyes was the greatest will in the world. As this man saw the world about him, few solutions to but a few ills in the world could he mine from the coal-dark cave of his methodical, ungifted mind.
Yet his willfire consumed those ideas like a forge, and would not relent.
Over the years, the man with the greatest will methodically hammered together each nugget in his solution to change the world -- and steadily forged his idea until it was laid out for all to see and touch.
Thus, purposelessness is your most terrible foe -- for it destroys not only what you are, but what you could have achieved.
April 25, 2015, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2015 (Chapter 3, "Emotion's Mastery"), by Frank H. Burton.
The Trap, The Latch
Silver cavorted amidst the fallen trunks of an aspen forest -- two minks, who lived as mates.
As they scampered and rolled in sodden leaves and pinecones, they chanced upon a strange, hollow bush.
It was made not of leaf and bark, but of hard metal wire - and inside it sat a pile of fresh, smelly minnows!
Circling the wire bush, they found a hole in it, and dashed in to feast.
But as they entered, the hole snapped shut behind them -- and they knew they were caged.
In despair, one of the minks gulped down all the minnows and paced for hours, then chewed on its own silver fur in frustration and fear, until its jaws slacked limply open.
But the other mink merely sat, sniffing and gently pawing the lip of the cage's closed door.
Then it began pulling and pushing at it -- and, finally, lifted the tiniest of latches, and so too the door.
The mink squirmed under the raised door to freedom -- with its mate's gleefully chittering head jammed so tight under the first's hindquarters that, in escaping, their two bodies looked like nothing so much as a big, furry snake.
Thus, free your mind. -- via The Matrix
April 5, 2015, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2015 (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), by Frank H. Burton. Dedicated to Pope Francis' "Urbi et Orbi" Easter speech calling for adoption of "peaceful attitudes" by extremists; but with the reminder that to call for "peacefulness" among those trapped in "aggressiveness" is to call for the unteachable consequence of a deeper practice, which can only itself be taught: To rationally question dogma, not unquestioningly accept it.
Parable of the Week: The Disbeliever, The Believer
The young woman's ideas had never before existed.
Yet her teachers and peers ignored her genius. They refused her professorial and research jobs, precisely because her ideas were so completely unlike any they'd ever seen before.
The young genius, underemployed as a small college instructor, slowly grew to disbelieve her own ideas. Every day she told herself, "My ideas couldn't have been right, or my peers would have recognized them as so!"
So one day she put away her papers and experimental notes, in her bottom desk drawer.
A few years later, one of her brightest students asked her for a research project, as he too wanted to someday be a scientist as well as teacher. With a pang of recognition, envy and fear for the young man, who was so much like she'd been, the instructor let her student riffle through her old notes from her dusty bottom drawer. The next day, the student ran up to her, excitement pouring out of his eyes. "Teacher!" he cried, "This work is magnificent! We must confirm it! Let me help you!"
The instructor suddenly felt her eyes brim with tears, and had to blink them back. In all her years on earth, she had never heard validation. Yet all she'd needed was that one word, from just one who had eyes to see. She knew that her work was genius and had always been so, even when none, including she, believed it.
That day, the teacher and her student together began to finish her work -- and, in the fullness of time, its genius was one day recognized by all.
Thus, the future will belong to those who believe in the rightness of their dreams. - via Eleanor Roosevelt and Paul Wellstone
January 10, 2015, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2015 (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), by Frank H. Burton.
Parable of the Week: The Sheep, The Shepherds
Bearing a little girl's name, she washed their homes out to sea.
Wandering before a flat beach where once had stood their homes, the people wailed through dry, salt-caked lips.
In time, bottled water slaked their thirst -- but there was no draught for the thirst of the soul.
Men in suits came, pockets and suitcases stuffed with cash, and bought the aldermen of what remained of their town council.
Blueprints were drawn to carpet the beachfront in a fortress wall of 20-story condominiums and hotels -- where the townspeople would see only massive, 300-foot high grey walls, and smell only garbage tinged with sea-salt, when they turned to the muffled sound of the surf.
The people sat in the sand and, crying, sold their empty plots of land for a pittance.
But one man spat in disgust, and gathered all their signatures to place his name, and those of two other honest residents, on the alderman election ballot.
"Fight for your homes and your beach!" they cried.
They were elected as new aldermen of the town council.
They turned aside every stack of dollars passed toward them under the table.
They publicized every bribe of their fellow aldermen.
They argued in every council meeting and public hearing.
They voted as a bloc to hold up the corrupt high-rise developers.
They fought to rebuild their townspeople's family homes and beachfront parks.
Four years later, the three aldermen stood, shoes in hand, bare toes digging into the white sand, at the beachfront.They gazed at the new bike paths and parkways, the restored, broad public waterfronts and robin's-egg-blue gulf waves, the family beachfront stilt-homes and the low-rise, three-story condos and hotels -- and at the joy on their people's faces.
They set down their shoes, again and again, to shake the hands of the townspeople who flocked to them.
Then they picked up their shoes, looked at each other, nodded, and walked down the beach, home.
Thus, the mantle of power must sometimes be grasped by those of good intent.
January 3, 2015, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2015 (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), by Frank H. Burton.
Parable of the Week: The Final War, The Final Peace
The two Peoples were descendants of the same father and mother.
Over many generations, to neither People did God appear from the Heavens.
So did each People come to believe God to be different -- and that their belief was truer.
And each People converted, cowed and exterminated the other.
Proudly they marched into the future, their eyes firmly planted on their own feet.
It was a future of annihilation.
That day befell both Peoples when, in the ruin of their civilizations, just two combatants yet lived -- a young man and a young woman.
When they espied each other in the burned-out shell of a grocery, they stared hard at the other, then leapt into the other's arms -- stabbing each other through the heart with their knives.
As they lay down to die, so died their conflict -- and so died their two Peoples, and their beliefs.
In another land there also lived two other Peoples, with two beliefs, likewise warring to the precipice of annihilation.
In the ruin of the last city of their land, once again its last two combatants, a young man and woman, espied one another.
They stared hard at the other, then leapt into the other's arms -- tossing their knives away.
As they lay down to console one another, so died their conflict -- and so was born one People, of many beliefs.
Thus, people must make beliefs, but beliefs must not make a people. -- via Rod Serling
December 27, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 3, "Emotion's Mastery"), by Frank H. Burton.
Parable of the Week: The Old Wound, The Bandage
Shipped home from war, the soldier bore a crusted wound.
When his thoughts drifted back to the red mud and copper stink of distant battlefields, his hand drifted to his side -- and picked at his wound.
And it bled anew.
One day, as he rocked back and forth in a wooden chair, staring up from his front porch into the hazy blue Appalachian Mountains, he felt wetness on his fingers and stopped picking at his old wound.
He glanced down and saw a bright red freshet of blood spreading on his cotton shirt.
Blood dribbled from his clenched fist as he cried, "Enough!"
He tore off his shirt, went inside and dug through his medicine cabinet, and pulled open a bandage.
Although it was the wrong shape and size, he nonetheless fastened the bandage tight on his old wound.
"I shall not so much as touch it -- if just for a single week!"
During that week, he caught himself, again and again, reaching toward his old wound. But each time the bandage restrained his fingers, when they felt the tight compress on his skin. At night he slept, fitfully, on his right arm, so that he could not pick at his old wound when half asleep.
And in the passing of that single week, his wound partly healed.
On the seventh day, he removed the bandage.
Although it itched and although he still rubbed it, the wound had sealed -- and never bled again.
Thus, your wound will never heal until you stop picking at it.
December 20, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), by Frank H. Burton.
Parable of the Week: The Safe Player, The Risk Taker
Money was victory.
Playing by that rule alone, one sister strove for personal success. But cocooned in her golden chrysalis, she left the world unchanged, a near unsolvable enigma.
Fulfillment lay beyond her, like nectar deep within the long-necked flower.
The second sister strove not for money, but the momentous. Yet, having aimed high, she fell woefully short, her attempts unremembered. In her drab chrysalis of failure and poverty, she, too, saw the world unchanged and insurmountable.
She, too, could not drink of fulfillment.
Yet both sisters knew one thing -- they had lived the best way they knew how.
They were comforted in that thought -- the first sister among the army that keeps the good and draws it from the world, and the second sister among the cadre that creates the good and redraws the world.
So each sister accepted the consequences of her choice -- one failing to dare, the other daring to fail.
Thus, the greatness of an attempt is entwined with the greatness of its risk -- you must dare to fail, or fail to dare.
December 13, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), by Frank H. Burton.
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.
December 6, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), by Frank H. Burton.
Dedicated to Luke Somers' and Pierre Korkie's "great-souled" teaching, photojournalism and relief efforts to aid Yemeni citizens.
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.
November 29, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), by Frank H. Burton.
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
November 22, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), by Frank H. Burton.
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
November 15, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 3, "Emotion's Mastery"), by Frank H. Burton.
Parable of the Week: The Astrologer, The Astronomer
Stardust speaks, if one but listens.
The Royal Astrologer, known throughout the realm, sat at the king's right hand. He stared at the sky, plucking from its patterns portents of import to the royal court - or at least of import about the royal court. For his premonitions about the court's goings on, its subtle politics and its romantic intrigues, the Royal Astrologer had the king's ear and was made a rich man.
However, the king's eldest advisors also kept in their employ, in small palace eyrie, an Astronomer. Sometimes confused for the Royal Astrologer by carriers of missives and by new court pages, the Astronomer predicted things of interest less to the royal court than to the realm's farmers, hunters and tradesmen. Oft his pronouncements were droll, like, "The sun will rise earlier in the day starting in two weeks." Or, "The harvest should be planted 107 days from now, not 104 -- our calendar is drifting." The Astronomer was, in fact, boring. The king kept him on only because he so much trusted his eldest advisors -- who weren't very popular at the royal court either.
But then, one terrible year, into the eastern edge of the kingdom rode a great barbarian horde, and there they pillaged and waged war on the border villages. So large was the horde that all in the kingdom -- now filling to the brim with starving refugees from the border -- feared a full invasion.
Hence did the king call every advisor and courtier, and, before all the royal court, asked his favorite, "What, O great Royal Astrologer, will be our fate should we send excursions to harass the horde before they fully assemble to invade us?"
The Royal Astrologer, sweat popping from his brow, breathed heavily as he peered into the sky and pushed around the scrolls and charts scattered on his escritoire. Then he cleared his throat and, in a tremulous voice, said, "Uhmm, you may, O Great King, be victorious by decisive attack! But! But! Beware too precipitous an action, for it, too, is risky!"
"What is this?" the king spat. "Your advice, 'tis none at all!"
Then, from the back of the throne room, a measured voice penetrated the silence.
"You need not attack at all, Sire."
All in the royal court turned to see the Astronomer, who was looking up from charts filled with intricate swirls, curlicues and numbers, and also staring into the sky, but with an ironic smile.
"Why say you so, sir?" demanded the king.
"Sire, I never have much of interest to say to you, it seems -- but this time, I do."
The Astronomer pointed toward the east.
"In five days, falling stars shall streak the eastern sky, as they have done on the same night every year since time out of memory. But these barbarians don't study the timing of the skies as I do. Send a messenger to their Chief, two days from now, telling them that the gods will send a sign to them in three nights -- a sign of their army's downfall in battle."
The astronomer paused and calmly gazed across the entire assembled court.
"You will probably turn the barbarians away without a single blow of a sword."
That summer, a horde turned home, and a Royal Astrologer was demoted in place of a Royal Astronomer.
Thus, predict from fact, not fantasy.
November 8, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), by Frank H. Burton.
Parable of the Week: The Leaves, The Compost
Far above the earth, a great tree arched over a mountaintop.
In a raging maelstrom of rain and light, the tree was riven. In a blast of green leaves and fire, it fell in twain.
Its broken wood was chewed by rats and grew wormy.
Great mushrooms sprouted from its broken heart, and ants chewed its leaves.
Woodpeckers tolled a staccato dirge on its greying bark, and bears stomped its roots into the mud.
As the flaking shroud of the great, fallen tree was pulverized and smashed into the earth, it began to compost.
Fermenting and darkening, it became the richest of soils upon the mountain.
And upon those loamy remnants of the great tree, the seed of a new tree alighted -- and grew great and tall.
Thus, from compost arises soil -- from decay of the old, will arise the new.
November 1, 2010, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), by Frank H. Burton.
Dedicated to Orbital Sciences Corporation's "SS Deke Slayton" Antares rocket and Cygnus cargo ship, and Planetary Resources Corporation's Arkyd-3 asteroid mining explorer, destroyed 6 seconds after launch from Wallops Island, Virginia. Space entrepreneurism is a heavenly road, but no less a hard one.
Parable of the Week: The Laggard, The Lapper
Broadcast on every television in every land, the race would crown the fastest miler in the world.
The contestants lined up on the track.
The stadium roared.
The starting pistol fired, and instantly the racers leapt into motion.
But then, in all the homes, pubs, and sports bars across the globe, the images and sounds of the race winked out -- and roars of frustration bellowed from those places that day, mingled with a faint announcer's voice, "Due to a technical difficulty..."
For agonizing minutes, none except those in attendance at the very event knew what was happening in the race.
Then the satellite image was restored, still without audio.
Back to the world's eyes appeared the silent vista of a tight pack of runners -- with one lone runner loping far, far behind.
As the camera zoomed in on the laggard, laughter filled the homes, pubs and sports bars -- with yells of, "How did that pathetic runner get in this race?!"
The crowds jeered even more as the laggard fell further and further behind the pack of world-class runners straining for dominance -- and jeered most of all when the laggard simply threw up his hands, stopped and walked off the track, instead of following the others into their final lap.
Only at that moment did the audio come back on.
And only when they heard the laggard runner sob and wave to an insanely cheering crowd, did the now hushed peoples of the world understand.
The "laggard" had nearly lapped all the others.
Thus, running behind others means you are much slower -- or much faster.
October 25, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), by Frank H. Burton.
Parable of the Week: The Pickpocket, The Tailor
Handy little man, he thought himself, believing the world owed him whatever it hadn't locked away or tied down.
His nimble fingers flew over women's purses and men's pockets alike, and flew with the speed of thought.
The Pickpocket took such pride in his craft -- but couldn't tell a single soul. At night, in lonely, dark taverns, he mumbled about greatness into his beer mug.
Also in the same city lived another handy little man, who believed that the world owed him only what he could barter for his handiwork.
His agile fingers flew over women's and men's garments alike, repairing rips and tears in them for pay.
The Tailor took great pride in his craft, and word spread throughout the city that he mended clothes so quickly and well, that no trace remained of their original tear.
Then, by the nimble hand of Fate, the Pickpocket and the Tailor were cross-stitched.
The Pickpocket's hands had flown into the Tailor's pocket -- and were impaled on the set of needles the Tailor kept there for his work. The Pickpocket yelled loud and long -- long enough for a constable to grab his collar and carry him off to jail.
But the Tailor had felt how light the Pickpocket's fingers were. He paid to have the Pickpocket released into his custody on probation -- and hired him to help his growing tailoring trade.
In the years that followed, the Pickpocket too became a tailor and full partner -- and by joining the society of people who traded good for good to live, became a well-respected and honored member of the community.
And, forever after, he plucked coins only from out the ears or noses of delightedly shrieking children.
Thus, the greatest civilizing force in the world is the handshake.
October 18, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), by Frank H. Burton.
Parable of the Week: The Shortcut, The Straight Road
Anonymous and uncertain were the sisters' destinies.
The younger was a sharp beauty, who loved fine things. As men flocked to her, with casual dismissal she took shortcuts through their purses and hearts.
She married a corporate man -- then divorced him to marry his boss.
In middle age, her beauty faded and her husband leased a younger wife.
Now wealthy, but alone, she walked the terrazzo and parquet floors of her hollow mansion, seeing only inward.
She found in her life only what she'd brought to it -- baseness, and unremitting, upwelling regret for her expedient acts, and the injuries they caused to herself and others.
The elder sister was of softer mien, who loved fine people. As thoughtful friends, colleagues and loved ones orbited about her, with considerate deliberation she walked toward her desires straightly.
She married a thoughtful man -- and supported him with all her heart and mind.
In middle age, her career and family flowered to full bouquet.
Now wealthy in body and soul, she walked the garden paths surrounding her family home, a small grandchild's hand in hers -- and paused to look within, through the reflection of her granddaughter's lucid eyes.
She found in her life what she'd brought to it -- exaltation, and unceasing, upwelling gratitude and pride for the longer road taken, and the extra acts of kindness that healed herself and others.
Thus, your path in life will mirror your spine.
October 11, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), 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 U.S. hysteria concerning its non-existent epidemic of Ebola virus, while ignoring measures to halt its real epidemic of children's enterovirus.
Parable of the Week: The Fretter, The Solver
Laid off, two men trudged to the pub to nurse their ales.
The younger worker, looking down at his coal-blackened hands sadly, said to the other, "I've nae use for these anymore, except to lift a pint! What am I to do?"
The other, wiping the foam off his grey mustache, twirled its tips with his fingers, belched, and said, "Do anything you damn well want to! We've our freedom, laddie. It's not like we lost our hands, or our heads -- we only lost our jobs!"
Then the older worker stood up, threw a shilling onto the bar, hitched his overalls and cocked his cap.
"So, mate, better than worryin' it 'til we're six under, what say we start the rest o' our lives, eh?"
Thus, fretting is not solving.
October 4, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: Reason, like gravity, is the weakest of natural forces, but in the end creates suns. -- via Alfred North Whitehead
Dedicated to U.S. state-by-state efforts to counter federal prohibition of the medicinal and recreational sales of marijuana, both prohibitions causing death and misery -- one by allowing illness to go untreated, the other by creating black markets, gangs and crime.
Parable of the Week: The Terns, The Turn
Flocks of arctic terns took southerly wing with snowflake's fall.
Onward the terns flew into warmer days without cease, over the great Midwestern shield of the continent.
But then, with the dawn of a high sun, a flock scattered in twain as, right through their midst, dashed a young tern -- flying north!
The leader of the tern flock swerved about, and soon they caught up to the young tern.
"Hola, young one!" the lead tern yelled above the flutter of their beating wings. "Why fly you north?"
"Does a tern not migrate north?" the younger tern barked.
"Indeed, we do," the lead tern replied, glancing back at his flock to see them all still riding his tail. "But, young one, we think your season is turned around! T'would be safer -- and more fun, I assure you! -- to head back south this season."
"But it was way too hot down South! I almost died of thirst!" the young tern cried.
"Ah, so you've been on this path a long while, then. But trust us now, young one. The South will become cooler and wetter with the coming season. To the north you will find only death."
The young tern looked over at the lead tern, with mild panic in its eyes. "But I've been on my path so long! How can I just turn around and abandon it?"
The lead tern skeewed a friendly laugh, and replied, "Just follow me, young one -- follow us all!"
And the lead tern wheeled about in the sky, heading once more toward the noon sun -- and, among his flock, followed at his right wing a once misguided but brave young tern.
Thus, the life you lead now can yet lead elsewhere.
September 27, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: To harm from faith is evil.
Dedicated to the Flood Wall Street protesters, and in admonishment of capitalists' refusal to accept the reality that fossil fuel use is fueling runaway global warming, and their consequent refusal to see that such willful blindness endangers the survival of our civilization and our species.
Parable of the Week: The Charm Bracelet, The Callus
During coffee break at the clothes factory, one's well-manicured fingers stroked the charms dangling from her bracelet -- the other's fingers rubbed a callus.
"My lucky bracelet will get me a promotion, and someday I'll run my own factory!" the first woman boasted.
The second woman had no money for even a manicure, let alone a charm bracelet. She'd saved her cash and invested it. She considered her lucky charm the callus acquired on her sewing hand from years of working overtime and over lunch breaks to make more money.
The woman with the charm bracelet often gossiped about the second woman.
"She's crude, with no charm! And look at her hand!"
But, since the second woman never spent much time on her coffee break or at the water cooler listening to idle gossip, she heard little of these insults, nor cared to.
Instead, she taught other industrious workers how to maximize their pay by sewing clothes in less time.
One day the foreman halted shop production and assembled the workers.
He turned to the woman with the callused hand, and said, "I am retiring, but I've watched your hard work, and the way you train the others. You will be our new shop foreman."
Then the retiring foreman turned to the first woman and said, "I've also seen your work, and heard your gossip and insults about those who've worked harder and saved their money."
He glanced down at the charm bracelet tinkling above her now sweaty, wringing hands.
"I hope your lucky charm is worth some cash. You're fired."
Thus, effort is rewarded more than luck.
September 20, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: Imperfection is the essence of striving.
Dedicated to the strivers among us -- who did not fear failure.
Parable of the Week: The Spinning Cog, The Toothless Cog
Revolving makes one sad.
The Cog knew it.
The Machine spun the Cog around and around, and the Cog grew dizzy and disoriented.
It knew only that it hated its job, but saw nothing better for it -- because it was part of The Machine.
And The Machine was all that counted -- or so the Cog thought.
Then, one stuttering cycle, one of its teeth got knocked out.
The Cog had lost a tooth!
Once part of The Machine, it was cast into the dirt.
The broken Cog sat, rusting and still, facing the empty sky.
It knew the hopeless peace of utter uselessness.
But one day the Cog was picked up by a young gypsy, spit-scoured and oily hair-polished to a burnished silver sheen, and a leather string knotted over the gap in its teeth.
For the remainder of its days it dangled under her billowing shirt, to come out every night before the hearth and make the orange firelight dance in smoky tents.
Thus, new uses may replace, and even better, those lost.
September 13, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: We all have dreams. -- via Joey Cheek
Dedicated to the failures among us -- who did not fear striving.
Parable of the Week: The Privileged, The Underprivileged
Opposite poles of the world were the birthplaces of two girls.
The first girl, bright of mind and heart, was born on a continent of wealth.
She attended a private school with individual tutors in the languages and sciences. Her parents smoothed the way, with money, for her matriculation at the best university in the world -- where she excelled. She relied on family connections to be placed in a major law firm upon graduation, with a starting salary one thousand-fold larger than those in lands on the opposite side of the world.
In time, she passed on the fruit of her many achievements to her children.
The second girl, equally bright of mind and heart, was born, in that distant pole of the world, on a continent of poverty.
She was barred from schooling because she was a girl -- so the languages and sciences remained to her only a fog of wonderment and confusion. Instead, her parents sold her into forced prostitution to ensure her brothers would prosper. From a small brothel waiting room, she quietly watched the television images of well-dressed students walking the halls of universities around the world. Once her body was used up by men and shriveled from AIDS, she was fortunate to be placed in a hospice so that she wouldn't die in a gutter. Lying in her sickbed, she overheard that women at the far end of the world made one thousand-fold more money -- for one person -- than the money her entire hospice made in a year. Irony briefly transformed her wan countenance.
In time, she passed on, the fruit of her many possible achievements plucked by not a single soul.
Thus, people can pull themselves up by their own bootstraps -- if they've been given boots.
September 06, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: Indirectly known truths are convergences of multiple independent streams of information: If the streams aren't converging, aren't multiple, aren't independent, or aren't information, truth isn't established.
Dedicated to the 14 year-old inventor of Email, V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai.
Parable of the Week: The Aristocrat, The Inventor
Neath the rubber trees swayed pots of gold.
The plantation's hereditary owner was an aristocrat of fabulous wealth.
Living in an opulent palace with a mighty family crest emblazoned on its pediment, every day he hunted, golfed, or shopped for exotic tapestries and robes; and every night he hosted salons and balls.
Politicians and celebrities flocked to his plantation and ate of his roast duck, caviar and ancient wine -- and ate of his very presence.
So did Society men and women revere him -- even though his rubber went into the bullets shot from the guns of the junta that, with him, ruled those who slaved on his plantation.
The inventor lived in a two-room rental on the outskirts of the city, abutting the plantation shantytown.
Every day he taught the poor children who slaved among the rubber trees; and every night he created new uses for the gum that dripped from the rubber trees.
After years of effort, he created a sterile powder to stanch the bleeding wounds of the injured. This brought him a measure of wealth, but not enough to interest politicians and celebrities.
Yet the poor -- who saw him heal the lashes on their backs inflicted by the aristocrat's cronies, and sate their starving minds with his teachings - revered him.
Thus, neither thief nor inheritor of wealth revere, only its creator.
August 30, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: Not all who wander are lost. -- via J.R.R. Tolkien
Dedicated to the Community Ambassadors of Saint Paul, MN, who take to the streets to positively interact with and mentor at-risk youth, heading off social confrontations or potential run-ins with the police, and offering connections to jobs, skills training, college programs.
Parable of the Week: The Warrior King, The Car Salesman
Power once strode an ancient empire in the body of a warrior.
In merciless campaigns, he rode his steed over the steppes, wielding a bloody spear.
He conquered and pillaged the lands surrounding his ancestral birthplace -- and in time became king of all he surveyed.
The stories of his terrible exploits passed into history, then into legend -- and then into dust.
Millennia later, in a modern city, power again incarnated.
In the body of a man who, though dreaming of ancient adventure, was a car salesman.
When not kowtowing to prickly, disdainful customers -- who looked up and snickered at his tight necktie, and the bulging sports coat constraining huge muscles -- he imagined galloping down upon them bareback, his pony-tailed hair free in the wind and a curving sword in hand, lopping off their heads.
Customers complained about him -- although all they could say was that they felt a chill, whenever his brilliant-green eyes alighted upon them.
So, in time, was he fired from his job as a car salesman.
Yet he found a way to stride through his modern world.
Accepting that pillage and plunder were criminal and dishonorable, he became a soldier and peacekeeper.
Although he never became a warrior king, nor passed into legend ere into dust, he found his place in his time.
Thus, do not yearn for the best of times -- do your best in the time you are given. -- via The Lord of the Rings
August 23, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: To win a rational argument by evoking emotional irrationality is a sadly pyrhhic victory.
Dedicated to "T'Pring," Star Trek actress Arlene Martel.
Parable of the Week: The Literal, The Intuitive
Detectives were dispatched to the home of a missing person.
The junior detective was young and eager.
Briefly perusing the missing man's home, he noticed no signs of an altercation. "My husband's suitcase and clothes are gone!" his wife cried. Leaning deep into the junior detective's chest, the young woman sobbed.
"My husband's been so unhappy after losing his job, and with his responsibilities as a provider!"
The junior detective consoled her, breaking away only long enough to jot in his notebook that the man had deserted his wife.
The senior detective was an older and slower man.
He looked closely at the woman's face, and asked, "Where do you think your husband is now?"
For an instant, as he watched her eyes dart toward the backyard, the detective felt a deep chill. Then the woman looked down at her feet, sobbed, and cried, "He's just vanished...oh, we loved each other so much!"
The senior detective walked into the kitchen for a glass of water, and, as he drank it, stared out the back window into the dark backyard.
"'Loved,' not 'love,'" he murmured.
In the bedroom, he confirmed the man's clothes and suitcase were missing.But in the bathroom, two toothbrushes still lay on the sink.
When next he returned, with a search warrant, the senior detective found the missing husband and his suitcase of clothes, spread beneath a bed of newly planted roses in the backyard.
Thus, emotions must be clues -- and you a detective.
August 16, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 3, "Emotion's Mastery"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: >Might makes no right.
Dedicated to the fortitude of Iraq's Yazidi people; and in admonishment of ISIS' genocidal invasion of the Yazidi religious community and abduction of Yazidi women, in contravention of the teachings of their own Prophet.
Parable of the Week: The Wasp, The Ant
Droning wafted through the forest as the Wasp hovered, searching.
It found a caterpillar feeding on a large leaf.
Flying down and landing on the caterpillar's back, the Wasp stung it. The caterpillar fell to the ground, unmoving.
Then the Wasp laid its eggs inside the caterpillar to incubate its young, who slowly consumed the caterpillar from the inside.
The newborn wasps broke out from the caterpillar's body and flew toward the sky, in search of more caterpillars as hosts.
As the wasps grew in number, the caterpillars grew scarce, until few wasps or caterpillars lived.
After one of the last of the wasps fruitlessly searched for prey in which to lay its eggs, it fell to the ground, dead.
While its body mouldered, a skittering noise approached it from below. Two antennae reached up and sniffed the mildewed chitin; then the Ant brusquely moved on, searching.
The Ant found a small cave in the rich soil, and then skittered up to a partly eaten green leaf, whereon it found an aphid.
The Ant bent down and, caressing the aphid's back with its feelers, picked it up gently in its jaws and carried it back to the cave, to live in comfort.
Each day the Ant brought the aphid a piece of leaf to eat, caressed it, and drank its sugary droppings. The Ant grew strong and laid a colony of its young, all of whom marched out to find and breed more aphids.
As the ants and aphids grew in number, the forest teemed with their colonies.
Thus, to use others destroys all -- to work with others renews all.
August 9, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: Life requires no other to justify itself.
Dedicated to a teenager, on the 70th anniversary of her final diary entry: "Believe me, I'd like to listen, but it doesn't work, because if I'm quiet and serious, everyone thinks I'm putting on a new act and I have to save myself with a joke, and then I'm not even talking about my own family, who assume I must be ill, stuff me with aspirins and sedatives, feel my neck and forehead to see if I have a temperature, ask about my bowel movements and berate me for being in a bad mood, until I just can't keep it up any more, because when everybody starts hovering over me, I get cross, then sad, and finally end up turning my heart inside out, the bad part on the outside and the good part on the inside, and keep trying to find a way to become what I'd like to be and what I could be if ... if only there were no other people in the world. -- Yours, Anne M. Frank."
Parable of the Week: The Meaningless Life, The Meaning of Life
Skin as grey and marbled as the ancient colonnade she leaned against, a wise grandmother watched her two young charges explore the Ruins of the Ancestors, long ago fallen to decay.
One grandchild darted from behind the white robes of his twin sister, and climbed upon a great, fluted pillar of marble, fallen and half-buried in the grass. There he grabbed a twig from the top of an olive tree and brandished it over his head.
"I am the conquering King!" he cried, stabbing his wooden sword into the ghostly bodies of men to come.
His grandmother watched her small grandson, and saw the man he would become -- and her face grew as solemn as the cold marble under her withered hand.
Yet the other grandchild, gathering her robes about her legs and unshodding her sandals, quietly joined her grandmother, there on the marble stairs of a small temple to a god long ignored.
She stared at her brother's strutting swordplay, then at the broken temple columns, and the azure of the empty sky -- then turned to her grandmother and asked, "What is the meaning of life?"
The wise woman's sad gaze broke away from her grandson and, growing radiant, swung toward her.
With dawning joy the old woman stared at her granddaughter's querulous blue eyes, and then, reaching out a wrinkled hand to caress her smooth cheek, replied, "Oh, my darling grandchild! In asking that question, you have answered it."
Thus, the meaning of life is that it's the meaning of life -- you are that you are.
August 2, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: Radicals are gestated in sophistry.
Dedicated to the Hebrew University psychology study showing that agreeing with ideologues to an extreme level -- to the point of Argumentum ad Absurdum -- can trigger them to question their ideology. And dedicated in admonishment of biblical creationist Ken Ham's assertion that intelligent life elsewhere in the Universe is impossible because all extraterrestrial civilizations would be damned by God to Hell with no hope for salvation -- a stance which ironically may attain that extremity of absurdity capable of driving children away from fundamentalist religion.
Parable of the Week: The Human, The Sentient
One day a human looked up into the zenith of the heavens, arcing above her blue and green-swathed Earth.
She saw a small, cloudy galaxy far, far away -- Canis Major, pulled along like a puppy on a leash of a billion stars.
The human felt a lonesome chill in her heart, and heard a distant voice calling to her -- and wondered, "Is there anybody out there?" She devoted her life to listening to the radioed songs of the spheres -- listening for but one word, one tune, one message.
And she pointed her antennae to Canis Major.
But there was only silence.
One day, a million years hence, a sentient will look up into the zenith of the heavens, arcing above its small, blue and red-swathed world.
It will see a huge galaxy spiraling above it, so, so close -- the Milky Way, pulling its own galaxy into her vast, slow embrace.
The sentient will feel a lonesome chill in its center, and hear a distant voice calling to it -- and wonder, "Is there anybody out there?" It will devote its life to listening to the radioed songs of the spheres -- listening for but one word, one tune, one message.
And it will point its antennae into the arms of the Milky Way.
And shall hear.
Thus, we are not alone, and we have a purpose.
July 26, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: BE the change you seek in this world. -- via Gandhi
Dedicated in admonishment of the rejection of mass nonviolent coordinated resistance ("Nonviolent Jihad") by Hamas and the Palestinians of Gaza; of the failure of the international press to spotlight and endorse -- and of the U.S. and Israeli governments to confer diplomatic status upon -- imprisoned or exiled non-violent Palestinian leaders such as the "Arab Gandhi," Mubarak Awad; and of the failure of the Israeli Parliament to return encroaching West Bank Israeli settlements, as a fundamental moral imperative, to the peaceful Palestinians of the West Bank.
Parable of the Week: The Historian, The History Maker
Students attended University in an ancient Republic.
One classmate sat in the library day and night, reading of great leaders from prior generations.
His knowledge of them grew until, one day, closing his final biography, he said, "I will teach the histories I've learned."
He joined the very same University at which he'd been taught.
And, in the march of decades, he became a historian of note.
The other classmate also sat in the library day and night, and too read of great leaders from prior generations.
Her knowledge of them also grew until, one day, closing her final biography, she said, "I will emulate the histories I've learned."
She became a leader.
And, in the march of decades, she was elected to her country's highest office.
Thus, study history or make history.
July 19, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: One must never stoop to conquer.
Dedicated in admonishment of the kidnapping, involuntary commitment, and psychological and physical abuse of gay, mentally ill and doctrine-resistant teens in Evangelical Christian re-education camps.
Parable of the Week: The Blind, The Sighted
Eternal midnight enshrouded a clan who dwelled in a deep cavern.
Grasping sleeping bats or albino fish or frogs by the green light of phosphorescent algae, cooking them on steaming rocks, and sleeping in warm volcanic pools, their eyes became an appendage ignored -- merely a way to find the dimly lit, sleepy faces of their mates after they'd gorged on a meal, and otherwise as useless and superfluous as their two little toes.
But then a young woman of the clan rediscovered an ancient, narrow crawlway leading up and out of the grotto in which they lived.
Slowly, allowing the pain in her closed eyes to adjust as she crept toward the day, she exited the vast labyrinth of caverns that had been her home since birth.
She felt a cool, soft cushion beneath her hands and knees, and opened her eyes.
Beneath her delicate, bone-white hands lay a mat of what looked like thick, bright green hair.
She then stood erect, and raised her head.
In wonderment she stared at feathered, sharp-nosed bats painted in hues she could not name, at a whimsically-colored cavern roof so high that she could not see any of its walls, but only huge wisps and balls of steam floating beneath.
Gasping for breath, she ran back into the depths -- following a trail of bat guano balls she'd dropped behind her while she'd climbed -- to tell her people of her wondrous visions.
She gathered them around a phosphorescent boulder, and, as their green-underlit faces chewed on bat wings and frog legs, she exclaimed to them -- her eyes, for the first time in her life, wide open in her face -- "I have seen visions!"
"Visions of a cave with a roof too high to see! Of bats that were not bats! Of colors that were not dim green or black! Of a land where a great phosphorescent boulder, too bright to even glance at, floats in the air!"
So did her clan roar with laughter, and ever after scoff at her wild stories and urgings.
Until, one day, she simply disappeared forever up her precious, unused crawlway -- while crouching, like the madwoman they all thought she was, to collect old balls of dried bat guano with each step.
Thus, vision provokes laughter from those who cannot see. -- via Plato
July 12, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: The mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions. -- via Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
Dedicated in admonishment of the Huntsville, Alabama, and Rowlett, Texas, City Councils' respectively "disinviting" a Wiccan congregation's clergy, and a local atheist organization's founder, to present an opening invocation, in contradiction of the U.S. Supreme Court finding in "Greece, NY vs. Galloway" that the town of Greece did not discriminate in inviting those to give invocations, but rather "made reasonable efforts to identify all of the congregations located within its borders and represented that it would welcome a prayer by any minister or layman who wished to give one...So long as the town maintains a policy of nondiscrimination, the Constitution does not require it to search beyond its borders for non-Christian prayer givers in an effort to achieve religious balancing."
Parable of the Week: The Apples, The Oranges
He was a great religious orator, a Preacher of a particular religion that claimed absolute salvation for all who shared its beliefs -- and absolute damnation for all who did not.
Yet as the right hand mirrors the left, so too was there a great philosophical orator, a Mentor of a particular philosophy that claimed regard for all -- without regard to their religious or non-religious beliefs.
One day the Preacher and the Mentor espied each other across a fruit bin at a food market.
With a baleful stare, the Preacher pointed his finger straight down and cried, "Repent! Believe in God, or be damned!"
The Mentor pondered, then picked up two fruits and replied, "And which God is that? The God of apples or the God of oranges?"
"My God!" cried the Preacher, aghast.
"Exactly the problem!" replied the Mentor, as he put first one, then the other, fruit in his basket. "How tart we'd become, on a diet of only oranges. How cloying, were our bellies filled just with applesauce, apple pie, apple juice."
The Mentor then gently placed a third fruit in the Preacher's basket. "And on your exclusive diet, oh how sour have your followers become!"
The Preacher glanced down at the fruit.
It was a lemon.
Thus, religion is a garden of the spirit, to be tended in all its diversity.
July 5, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: Be careful not to believe everything you think. -- via Jeff Herring
Dedicated to the Rationalist Society of Pakistan.
Parable of the Week: The Mite, The Flea
Pedagogue and Pupil strode an ancient acropolis above a teeming city.
One evening the Pupil, dismayed at his childish writings after a long day's lessons, pounded his fist on his robed thigh and asked, "Master, do our lives even matter? Are we not insignificant?"
The Pedagogue smiled, his cheeks and forehead crinkling, as he walked. He stopped and bent down to stroke the head of a passing puppy, and brushed his hand under the dog's belly. Then he held his hand up to his Pupil's face, illuminated in a wall's torchlight.
"Look in my hand," the Pedagogue said. "What do you see?"
The Pupil looked down at his master's open hand. "Master, I see nothing in your hand."
"Look closer," the Pedagogue replied.
The Pupil's nose almost touched his master's open palm. "Master, there's nothing there!"
The Pedagogue replied, "Did you not regard a Mite, chewing on a fleck from the dog's skin -- and a Flea, poised to leap?"
"No, Master," the Pupil replied.
Then the Pedagogue extended his hand, touched his Pupil's arm briefly, and pointed up to the darkening sky. "Regard the Cosmos, my Pupil."
The Pupil looked up and stared at the stars -- but sullenly, just as doubtful of the world's significance to the cosmos as of his significance to the world.
The Pupil jerked his head back down as something bit his arm. He peered at his skin in the torchlight, until he saw a tiny black speck -- the Flea, placed there by his Peripatetic mentor's touch -- digging into his skin.
The Pedagogue beamed, and said, "Now what do you see?"
Thus, like insects we seem insignificant -- until we puncture the skin of the World.
June 28, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), by Frank H. Burton.
Parable of the Week: The Years, The Momentum
Youth and elder, they found each other, joined by infirmity, sitting on a park bench.
In talking, they found they were both near the end of their days, from untreatable illnesses -- the old man's after a lifetime of traveling and seeing the world, and the young woman's after a brief time founding and working at a shelter for battered women and children.
The old man looked pityingly on the young woman, and asked her, "Don't you find it sad that you'll die so young? While I've lived so long traveling the world and seeing so much, that I've grown tired of it?"
The young woman looked at the old man with a small smile, placed her hand on the old man's shoulder, and then asked him, "Don't you find it sad that you'll die after so long a life spent as a spectator, without advancing even one other person's life?"
"Come! Work with me in the time we remain!"
Thus, measure your life not in years, but in momentum.
June 21, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), by Frank H. Burton.
Parable of the Week: The Retreat, The Charge
Dark thickets and ravines shrouded the countryside.
Toward this spectral wood ran two young sisters, on an urgent task from the town to carry medicine to their grandmama.
But upon hearing a hooting owl and the rustling of animals in the murky undergrowth beneath the old, gnarled trees, the sisters skidded to a halt and froze, faces blanching.
Beyond lay only mist.
The elder sister, eyes wide and voice trembling, grasped at her younger sister's tiny hand and murmured, "We must turn back and walk around this woods!"
A hiss like the quenching of fired metal burst from her little sister's pursed lips.
"No!" she replied, with steel in her eyes and voice. "That was just an owl, and that rustling was probably rabbits!"
She stood rapier-straight.
"Our grandmama is ill! This is the only way to get the medicine to her fast!"
"I won't go, not this way!" the older sister cried. "Maybe we can search for another way through or around?"
"You know there's only one way!" the younger sister said with finality, and urgently reached for the medicine.
As her big sister, stomach clenched from fear and indecision, passed her the small package, the young girl held it close to her chest, took a deep breath, narrowed her eyes, and plunged into the dark woods to save her grandmama.
Thus, sometimes the only way out is through. -- via Robert Frost
June 14, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 3, "Emotion's Mastery"), by Frank H. Burton.
Parable of the Week: The Fist, The Hand
A great commander assembled his lieutenants for war.
One lieutenant asked him, "Sir, your former compatriot and long-since foe has offered parley upon the plain of battle. Shouldn't we respond to his overture?"
"From this enemy? No," the commander replied.
Confused, the lieutenant asked why.
"You are new to my staff, are you not?" The commander rose from the head of the conference table, gesturing to the lieutenant to also stand, then walked around the table to him.
The commander reached down to the table, plucked an almond from a silver dish full of nuts, and offered it to the lieutenant.
"Have an almond, lieutenant."
As the lieutenant looked down and picked the nut from the commander's extended palm, the commander asked him, "How do you know when a former friend has become your implacable enemy?"
The lieutenant pondered, and then replied, "I don't know, sir."
"Eat your nut, lieutenant."
The lieutenant quickly popped it into his mouth and chewed it.
"You look hungry. Please, have another," the commander said as he picked up and extended to him a second almond.
But as the lieutenant reached out to take the second almond, the commander closed his palm around it into a fist -- which slowly reared back and then suddenly loomed in the lieutenant's surprised face.
The lieutenant found himself lying on his back on the carpet, blood dripping from one nostril down into his ear.
The commander dropped the nut, bent over him and solicitously reached down his open hand, saying, "Here, son, let me help you up."
But the lieutenant brushed away his hand.
The commander straightened, smiled with satisfaction, and said, "So, you do know, after all."
Thus, to become a fist, the open hand will first close.
June 7, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: A solitary fantasy can transform a million realities. -- via Maya Angelou
Dedicated to U.S. President Obama's Executive Office directive to begin his promise to reduce the severity of human-caused global warming by imposing limits on CO2 emissions from America's coal plants -- through policies including Carbon Capture, Cap and Trade, and Renewable (Wind and Solar) Energy Percentages.
Parable of the Week: The Ostrich, The Prairie Dog
Faraway lands sometimes have far and away the strangest of friends -- like the Ostrich and the Prairie Dog.
One day, a dust storm that raged from horizon to horizon raced from the Western Lands toward their small nesting area.
The Prairie Dog stood, yellow paws at attention by his side, and barked.
"Head's up! A storm is coming! A big one!"
As the air swirled brown with flying grit, the Prairie Dog scuttled to a shallow hole and stuck his little body in it, with his head peeking out to keep a wary eye on the storm passing overhead.
"Hunker down and head's up, Ostrich!" he cried over the howling of earth become air.
But the Ostrich did not hunker down with his head up. Instead, he stood up on his huge, grey-pink legs, spread his wings for balance, and then bent over and jammed his head straight down into the hole where the Prairie Dog crouched.
"What are you doing?" the Prairie Dog cried, pushing back at the bird's big head.
"I'm keeping my head down, aren't I?" cried the Ostrich. "Why do I have to look at such a frightening thing as that storm?"
"No, No!" the Prairie Dog cried to his friend. "Body down, head up! Head's up!!"
But it was too late. The Ostrich squawked as the blasting wind caught his wings and swept him away, never to be seen by the Prairie Dog again.
Thus, it is better to keep your head up than your head down, when storms brew -- and when do they not?
May 31, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: "Out" those who reason, and "ought" the others.
Dedicated in admonishment of the Sudanese government's criminal prosecution, and imposition of the death penalty, against a Christian citizen for her refusal to renounce Christianity. "Apostasy" is no crime, but a personal freedom.
Parable of the Week: The Seeker, The Maker
Sisters were birthed upon royal velvet.
In their land women donned the mantle of leadership, and the two sisters, who loved each other deeply, were destined to rule side by side after their mother, the queen, passed on the mantle of power.
The elder sister relished her role as a princess and heir, and learned all the tricks of politicking from her mother -- to gild her future throne, while setting it in laws and etiquette as rigid as stone.
But the younger sister, destined to advise the future queen, observed the people they ruled -- and saw poverty, misery, and unfairness. Yet when she asked her mother, the queen, why this was so, her mother always replied, "It's just the world we live in."
One day a prisoner was brought before the throne for judgment -- a man who'd stolen one loaf of bread to feed his sick child. When the queen sentenced the man's hand to be chopped off as their law dictated, her elder daughter stood by her side as the sentence was proclaimed, to learn how to administer justice. Yet the younger daughter could not bear to watch, thinking only of how, if the man had been given skills or a job, his thievery need never have occurred.
At sunset, as the axe fell upon the condemned man's wrist, she stole away from the palace and fled west into the darkness, in search of a better land.
But, over the years, no such land did she find.
Everywhere she traveled she saw injustice, misery and manipulation by rulers of those less fortunate.
Older now, and tired of her fruitless search, she returned to her homeland and rejoined her sister, who was now a powerful queen, and who welcomed her into the palace.
But instead of abandoning her dream, the younger sister encouraged the queen -- and later her eldest niece, the new heir -- to build schools and clinics instead of palaces, to hear representatives of the people, to abolish slavery and unjust punishment, and to make prisons places of redemption.
Over many years, her land indeed became that which she'd sought in her wanderings, and in her dreams, so long before.
Thus, be the change you seek in this world. -- via Mohandas Gandhi
May 24, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: To call ourselves Homo sapiens, we must walk the path of reason in place of emotionalism.
Dedicated in admonishment of the failure of U.S. immigrant parents to question, and of U.S. and state law enforcement to prevent, the female genital mutilation of infant U.S. citizens, by overseas "travel" of families for "vacation cutting."
Parable of the Week: The Stillborn, The Quickened
Dwellings were carved in the windswept cliffs of the desert.
Seers of the cave tribe had long foretold a child would be born to the chieftain -- one touched by an eagle, who would become the greatest leader of their tribe, bringing them the light of new knowledge, strength and peace.
Yet over the years no child was born to the chieftain, who grew old.
In his doddering years, the chieftain took a young wife after the passing of his mate of many seasons, and she became pregnant. The tribe danced in the chieftain's cave hut on the eve of the birthing, awaiting the coming of prophecy.
But the male child was stillborn.
In dismay, the chieftain and the tribe rent their clothing and cast out the young wife from the chieftain's hut. In pain from labor, she crouched in a stony shelter among lowest cliff caves -- where she soon gave birth to a twin child, a female. Bending over her baby, her mother whispered in her ear, "Your spirit name shall be Touched-by-an-Eagle, and will forever remain unknown to all but me."
The mother held her tenderly through the cold night.
The next morning, in disgrace, she returned to her own family's hut and suckled her quiet infant girl. Over the years, the now infirm chieftain oft stared angrily at the girl -- who, in spite of his anger, grew tall, raven-haired and swift, with the probing eyes of a raptor.
When the intent young girl became a woman, she chose not to take a husband, but studied the hunting ways of her tribe, and then fashioned a new weapon: short spears notched with eagle feathers, which flew straight through the air -- with an eagle's spirit -- into the hearts of their prey.
With these spears the tribesmen and women were also able to defend against their aggressive neighbors -- until peace negotiations became their enemies' only alternative to death.
And the young woman was the first to insist on peace. She led the way by befriending the women in the opposing tribes -- so that strutting men had no bed to sleep in until they'd calmed their minds and opened their fists.
So did the tribes merge into one great tribe of brothers and sisters.
And, when the time came to choose their leader, the combined tribe chose she who'd brought them the light of new knowledge, strength and peace -- she whose secret name was Touched-by-an-Eagle.
Thus, do not be stillborn -- quicken to your destiny. -- via Whale Rider
May 17, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 3, "Emotion's Mastery"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: Rather than preach the right answer, ask the right question.
Dedicated in admonishment of the Supreme Court's acceptance of government-public meetings being allowed to proclaim and practice the "majority"-approved expression of religious belief and worship. When the majority of the public someday changes to a belief different from that of the Court, will the Court retain this logic? And can any government long proclaim a religion, without soon working to establish it?
Parable of the Week: The Evil, The Good
She sought the source of Evil and Good.
The Seeker traveled to houses of religion, and asked the pastors, priests, rabbis and imams, "What is the source of Evil and Good?" They replied, "Evil stems from not believing in our God, and Good from believing in Him."
The Seeker traveled to lawmakers and dictators, and asked them, "What is the source of Evil and Good?" They replied, "Evil stems from not obeying our laws, and Good from obeying them."
The Seeker traveled to communes, and asked those gathered there, "What is the source of Evil and Good?" They replied, "Evil stems from property and greed, while Good stems from sharing and self-sacrifice."
The Seeker traveled to gated communities, and asked their owners, "What is the source of Evil and Good?" They replied, "Evil stems from sharing and self-sacrifice, while Good stems from property and greed."
The Seeker grew confused, and wandered for days into the countryside. She squatted by the side of a dirt road, and told herself, "I will accept the opinion of the very next person to walk by!"
She looked up the road and saw, emerging from the thrumming waves of heat and cricket song, a gnarled old man in a dusty straw hat, shuffling with a cane. As he passed near, she plucked at his sleeve.
"Old man! Please tell me! What is the source of Evil and Good?!"
In the silence of the crickets' stillness, the old man stopped and looked at her face, his squinty eyes as impenetrable as dark trenches in the earth. His mouth broke into a harmonica-like grin. "The source of Evil...and Good? If you ask me...think for yourself!"
"But you didn't answer my question," the Seeker lamented.
"Oh, I did, young one. I did!" said the old man, who winked as he walked away.
Thus, Evil is the unreasoning, Good the reasoning.
May 10, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 3, "Emotion's Mastery"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: Herding is not the same as leading.
Dedicated in admonishment of Boko Haram's acts of murdering and raping students, terrorism, and other human rights violations, all in the name of religious fundamentalism (acts which would be called "medieval" except for the fact that Muslim society and education was the most advanced in the world during the actual Medieval era); and in admonishment of the failure of Nigeria's leaders to create a bulwark against Boko Haram recruitment, through providing educational and economic reforms to improve the lives of its rural citizenry.
Parable of the Week: >The Way of Taqlid, The Way of 'Aql
Proudly the tribe reigned over deserts white with sand and spotted with black pools of oil.
Although war had been thrust upon them since the grey dawn of history, until peace was a fleeting memory, among their number had lived mathematicians, astronomers, scientists and librarians -- who had saved the foundations of the Edifice of Man.
Yet, when Man learned to transmute the black oil into gold, and when the hearts of many claimed the garden from which all men arose, the land and the tribe were torn with strife 'ere unseen.
Two youths lived in that place and that time.
The first youth grew to hate all who, long before, had oppressed and driven out his people. Hearing the cries of zealous religious scholars for jihad, one sunrise after prayers he said to himself, "I will do as my scholars preach, for surely they know best, while I know so little."
Imitating so many before him, he strapped on a bomb and blew himself up inside a schoolyard, killing the children of his enemy.
Following the way of Taqlid to his murderous death, his face, in its last moment, was sadly alight with expectation.
The second youth also grew to hate his people's lot, yet saw the children of his oppressors in a different light -- as people like him, trapped by both circumstance and belief.
Whenever hatred and the call to jihad surged in his breast, he recalled the terror in the faces of not only their tribe's children but of the children of their enemy, and his struggle turned inward. He, too, prayed to Allah, but said to himself, "As the Prophet used the way of 'Aql -- of intellect and mind -- to restore our tribes to faith, so too must my shoulders carry the weight of interpreting his teachings; I must use my own intellect and mind."
"And my ijtihad, my inner struggle, tells me that murdering others is not the way to paradise, either here on earth or in the heavenly presence of Allah."
So did the second youth start a madrassa, which he named The Lifting of The Black Stone, to teach ways of peaceful cooperation and non-violent resistance taught by Abraham, Moses, Buddha, Confucius, Jesus, Muhammad, Sumayya, Bahá'u'lláh, Gandhi, King, Milk, Romero, Mandela, and Suu Kyi.
And his madrassa gradually restored to his people their once and future path of logic and questioning -- the only way to transform enemy into ally; the way of war through peace.
Thus, the true jihad is ijtihad. -- via Irshad Manji
May 3, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: The handmaiden of faith must be doubt.
Dedicated to the bipartisan effort of Minnesota state GOP and DFL legislators to end firearm ownership by legally-convicted stalkers or domestic abusers, and to disallow firearm possession for people under temporary restraining orders for alleged abuse; and to the law's spearheading by two ex-"street-cop" Legislators, one Republican and one Democrat: Rep. Dan Schoen and Rep. Tony Cornish. Also dedicated in supplication to the NRA, that they consider following the lead of the Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance, which dropped its initial objection to the bill and agreed with the principle of "making sure the guns get out of the house" of domestic abusers.
Parable of the Week: 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.
April 26, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 3, "Emotion's Mastery"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: Moral evil is abrogating the right of others to think for themselves. -- via Lindsay Tornambe
Dedicated to Lindsay Tornambe's and "C's" escape from the Finlayson, Minnesota, religious and child sexual abuse cult that trapped their families; and to Ms. Tornambe's realization that their escape wasn't simply from a religion, but from what traps many people regardless of their worldviews -- a moral evil she herself identified: "We didn't really have a chance to think for ourselves."
Parable of the Week: The Blue Ceiling, The Blue Sky
Grey clouds ushered the new employee into the bank.
His boss welcomed him, saying, "Innovate and you'll get ahead in the world!"
"The sky's the limit!" he exclaimed.
Saying this, the boss gestured up -- at the vaulted, white cloud-painted blue dome above the main lobby.
The employee wracked his brain for weeks to come up with an idea to save the bank money. But when he presented his idea to his coworkers and boss, they frowned and told him that the idea was unworkable.
And that he was a show-off.
He grew sullen, as his best ideas were ignored while the same poor planning that had kept the bank small was all that was permitted.
On his last day at the job, after packing his personal belongings, he overheard the boss tell a young, new worker, "The sky's the limit!"
While the bank guard, dressed in grey, ushered him out the door, cardboard box under one arm, he passed the new guy --who was staring up at the cloud-painted vaulted dome.
He paused and whispered in the new guy's ear.
"It's a ceiling."
Then he walked out into a true blue day.
Thus, make sure your blue sky isn't a blue ceiling.
April 19, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: If you justify violence as the will of Allah, you're remaking Allah in your own image.
Dedicated in admonishment of the aggression and terrorism by Boko Haram. Initiation of violence, and the subsequent undercutting of others' ability to use Reason, is not and can never be a moral political tactic.
Parable of the Week: The Totalitarian, The Free
Twin countries nestled against each other in the womb.
The first country, at the insistence of its army, installed a charismatic dictator.
Garbed in green fatigues, he told the people what kind of work they must do, and who would benefit from it.
He was overthrown and replaced by another dictator, who, regaled in satin robes, told them what kind of belief they must have.
He, too, was overthrown, and replaced by yet a third dictator, who, cloaked in a white hood, told them what kind of color people they must marry.
The country teetered like a refugee dragged on his final, long march.
And in the dark of night, fearing the knock at their door, never did its people know peace in their beds.
But the second country, at the insistence of its own charismatic leader, installed a Constitution of individual, religious, racial, social, and environmental rights, protected by a representational government.
Then the leader hung up his pressed suit and retired to his farm.
This country did not teeter toward enslavement and persecution of its people for what work they did, what belief they held, or what color they were.
It grew innovative, strong and free.
And in the dark of night, fearing no knock at their door, always did its people know peace in their beds.
Thus, one can be chained in many ways, but it is all one chain -- upon reasoned choice.
April 12, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), by Frank H. Burton.
"Parable of the Week" excerpts from prior years will be available in the forthcoming book, The Parables of Reason, ©2007-2015, by Frank H. Burton, Executive Director of The Circle of Reason, the world's first society for pluralistic rationalism.
Hall of Shame
The Circle asserts these are humankind's most irrational blind spots in our new millennium -- blatant failures of reason or oversights in rational ethics that our grandchildren will someday look back upon with disbelief and shame. COR asks you to investigate, question, and then choose where you stand on whether we as a society should relegate these activities to history's dustbin:
Climate Change Denialism Causing Runaway Global Warming (Terracide)
Neonicotinoid & Roundup-Ready Agribusiness (Overuse and Drainage of Pesticides & Herbicides Killing Wild Plants, Pollinating Bees, Terrestrial and Aquatic Insects, and Insect-Dependent Fish and Birds)
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)
Judicial Execution (Capital Punishment)
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 (including of infant U.S. citizens)
Banning the Right to Die
Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children
Theocratic Justification of Child-Beating
Child Kidnapping and Abuse in the form of Evangelical Re-Education Camps
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
U.S. & World Elephant-Tusk Market for Ivory Piano Keys
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
The Circle asserts these are humankind's most rational forward steps in our new millennium -- the achievements of reason or advances in rational ethics that our grandchildren will someday look back upon with relief and gratitude. COR asks you to investigate, question, and then choose where you stand on whether we as a society should disseminate these activities worldwide:
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
Banning of Foot Binding
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:
Other Voice (Promoting Israeli-Palestinian Dialogue)
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)
Star Trek "Kolinahr/IDIC"-Inspired Monastic Training
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
Rationalist Society of Pakistan
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)
The Tandem Project (Call for U.N. Binding Resolution for Freedom of Religion & Non-Religious Belief)
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)
The AHA (Ayaan Hirsi Ali) Foundation (Protecting U.S. Women and Girls From Harmful Traditional Practices)
Malala Fund (Support for Girls' Education Worldwide)
Kidnapped for Christ (Stopping Physical Abuse, Sexual Preference Reprogramming, and Suicide of Teens Kidnapped and Involuntarily Committed to Evangelical Re-Education Camps)
"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)
NALT Christians Project (Christians Proclaiming Their Belief in Full LGBT Equality)
It Gets Better Project (Giving Hope to LGBT Youth)
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)
Endangered Languages Project
Wikipedia (Free Web Encyclopedia)
Reporters Without Borders (Defending Press Freedom Worldwide)
Novayagazeta (Russia's Last Free Press)
Snopes (Refuting Rumors and Urban Legends)
What's the Harm? (Refuting the innocence of unquestioned beliefs and practices)
Skeptic (Examining Extraordinary Claims and Promoting Science)
Antiantivax (Rebutting Vaccine Denialism)
Skeptical Science (Rebutting Global Warming Denialism)
Talk Origins (Rebutting Creation "Science")
Talk Design (Rebutting "Intelligent Design")
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)
Free The Children (Empowering International Youth)
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 Jane Goodall Institute (Improving Global Understaning & Treatment of Great Apes)
The Bonobo Conservation Initiative (Preventing Chimp Extinction)
With regret, we have excluded the below charitable links due to their discriminatory practices in recruitment, 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 American Humanist Association (discourages membership of religious humanists)
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
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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?"
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.
"Orange Is The New Black Is The New Star Trek"
Op-Ed by: Katy Waldman, Slate | Updated June 36, 2015
Slate Op-Ed, noting how both OITNB and Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek endorse "pluralistic rationalism" -- the use of reason and empiricism, regardless of our diverse worldviews, to lead us to reject our "preconceived notions" and "reconsider our biases."
"The Thrill of Political Hating"
Op-Ed by: Arthur C. Brooks, The New York Times | Updated June 8, 2015
New York Times Op-Ed, calling for us to look inward to identify the true cause of political hate -- our own enthusuastic demand for it; and entreating us to refrain from emotive insults, regardless of our disparate political or religious worldviews.
"PedalPub attacks: Groupthink gone wild"
Op-Ed by: Maureen Schriner, Star-Tribune | Updated May 31, 2015
Minneapolis Star-Tribune Op-Ed, on what ISIS recruitment has in common with "Mad-Max"-style water balloon attacks on pedaling pubs.
"This campaign, can we get past ideology?"
Op-Ed by: Editorial Board, Star-Tribune | Updated April 26, 2015
Minneapolis Star-Tribune Op-Ed, on overcoming "ideology, in all its guises."
"Rolling Stone case: Too seldom is there a price for stretching the truth"
Op-Ed by: D.J. Tice | Updated April 10, 2015
Minneapolis Star-Tribune Op-Ed, on "our culture of mendacity."
"Remembering Dietrich Bonhoeffer, 70 years later"
Op-Ed by: Kirk O. Kolbo | Updated April 8, 2015
Minneapolis Star-Tribune Op-Ed, on "Bonhoeffer and straightforward men."
"In Memoriam: Leonard Nimoy (March 26, 1931 - February 27, 2015)"
Eulogy by: Frank H. Burton, Executive Director, The Circle of Reason | March 1, 2015
"Leonard Nimoy's and Gene Roddenberry's 'Spock' was the first image of humankind's next major step toward maturity as a sapient race, revealing the moral value of public commitment to practice factualism in place of denialism, skepticism in place of dogmatism, and moderationism in place of emotionalism, regardless of our religious and political worldviews. To paraphrase their widely beloved pointy-eared Star Trek character, 'An inexorable evolution toward a philosophy of reason has already begun. The People are struggling, to a new enlightenment. And it may take decades or even centuries for them to reach it. But they will reach it. And we must help.' As we begin to practice Star Trek's fictional philosophy of 'IDIC + logic' as real-world 'pluralistic rationalism,' we plurationalists will continue to commemorate the memory of Leonard and Gene, with this hope for our own future: 'Live long and prosper, image of Spock.'"
"Hearing Another, Not As 'The Other'"
Op-Ed by: Rich Cowles | Updated August 12, 2014
Minneapolis Star-Tribune Op-Ed, on "ways to discuss tough issues constructively."
"How One Little Word Distorts the Meaning of Doing Good"
Op-Ed by: Michael Wedl | Updated July 18, 2014
Minneapolis Star-Tribune Op-Ed, on the modern substitution of doing what's "right" with doing what's "right for."
"To Change Attitudes, Don't Argue -- Agree, Extremely"
News Article by: Julia Rosen | Updated July 15, 2014, 2:31PM
Los Angeles Times Science Article, on the modern use of Argumentum ad absurdum to moderate hard opinions: How contradicting people's dogma often doesn't change their minds, but validating their dogma -- to its extremes -- just might.
"How to Survive The Next 100,000 Years"
Op-Ed by: COSMOS: A SPACETIME ODYSSEY, Episode 11, "The Immortals" (Transcript excerpt), ANN DRUYAN & STEVEN SOTER, Writers; BRANNON BRAGA, Director; NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON, Host Narrator; SETH MCFARLANE, Executive Producer) | Updated May 19, 2014, 8:50PM
"The prevailing economic systems, no matter what their ideologies, have no built-in mechanisms for protecting our descendants of even 100 years from now, let alone 100,000."
"In one respect, we're ahead of the people of ancient mesopotamia. Unlike them, we understand what's happening to our world. For example, we're pumping greenhouse gases into our atmosphere, at a rate not seen on Earth for a million years. And the scientific consensus is that we're destabilizing our climate."
"Yet our civilization seems to be in the grip of denial; a kind of paralysis. There's a disconnect between what we know, and what we do."
"Being able to adapt our behavior to challenges is as good a definition of intelligence as any I know. If our greater intelligence is a hallmark of our species, then we should use it as all other beings use their distinctive advantages, to help ensure that their offspring prosper and their heredity is passed on, and that the fabric of nature that sustains us is protected."
"Human intelligence is imperfect, surely, and newly arisen. The ease with which it can be sweet-talked, overwhelmed, or subverted by other hard-wired tendencies, sometimes themselves disguised as the light of reason, is worrisome."
"But if our intelligence is the only edge, we must learn to use it better, to sharpen it, to understand its limitations and deficiencies. To use it as cats use stealth before pouncing, as walking sticks use camouflage. To make it the tool of our survival."
"If we do this, we can solve almost any problem we are likely to confront in the next 100,000 years."
"Do You Have All The Answers? I Sure Know That I Don't."
Op-Ed by: DEB JENSEN | Updated May 9, 2014, 6:52PM
Minneapolis Star Tribune "Letter of the Day (May 11): Diversity of experience", on diversity of experience leading to diversity of thought, to help us find our way.
"The Real Power Is In Independent Thinking"
Op-Ed by: FRANK H. BURTON, The Circle of Reason | Updated April 16, 2014, 6:35PM
Minneapolis Star Tribune "Readers Write (April 17)", on plurationalism and escaping the "Maiden Cult."
"Stop Equating Trivial Things to Nazis or Hitler"
Op-Ed by: FRANK HORNSTEIN, Minneapolis Star-Tribune | Updated January 23, 2014
Minneapolis Star Tribune "Op-Ed" Article, by a Minnesota State congressman, Rep. Frank Hornstein, whose four grandparents were all murdered by the Nazis, on making our "civil discourse" healthier (and not trivializing the Holocaust) by refraining from "equating an opponent or issue to Nazi Germany."
"UN Says Lag in Confronting Climate Woes Will be Costly"
Article by: JUSTIN GILLIS, New York Times | Updated January 16, 2014
New York Times "Environment" Article, on how "foot-dragging" by "coal-mining states and GOP members of Congress" in battling reduction of fossil fuel emissions is ensuring runaway global warming that within 15 years will have become unremediable by future technology and/or capital -- that CO2 climate change denialism is committing terracide."
"Women Writers Awash in a Sea of Toxic Internet Misogyny"
Op-Ed by: RUSS DOUTHAT, New York Times News Service & Washington Post | Updated January 13, 2014
New York Times Op-Ed, on how "female writers come in for an extraordinary amount of abuse online...including graphic threats of sexual violence, rape and murder," from males -- whether the men are theist or atheist, conservative or liberal -- and on the need for males posting online to practice self-policing, to "cleanse the Internet of the worst misogyny."
"'Philomena' Actor & Atheist Steve Coogan Claims All Are Fallible"
Interview ("In 'Philomena,' Steve Coogan rejects comedy that is cynical and ironic") by: COLIN COVERT, Star Tribune | Updated November 30, 2013
Star Tribune Article and interview with Actor Steve Coogan, who uses the film "Philomena" to "explore issues of faith long on his mind: his anger at the church as an institution, his respect for people of faith, and his own atheism," and who, opining on the universality of human failings of reason, says, "I think it's important to always question your own thought processes. It's important to know that we are all fallible whether we are religious or not."
"Pope Francis States Ideology is an Illness and Calls for Greater Openness"
Op-Ed by: POPE FRANCIS, Vatican City | Updated October 17, 2013
Radio Vatican Homily, on the "serious illness...of ideological Christians," and how if through ideological rigidity and hostility a Christian has "closed the door to others" and "chased away the people," he "becomes a disciple of the ideology, he has lost the faith."
"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".
"Pope Urges Dialogue with Nonbelievers in Letter to High Profile Atheist"
Article by: FRANCIS X. ROCCA, CatholicHerald.co.uk | Updated September 12, 2013; and original Op-Ed ("Pope Francis' Letter to the Founder of "La Repubblica" Italian Newspaper") by: POPE FRANCIS, Vatican City | Updated September 11, 2013
Catholic Herald Article, and Pope Francis' original Vatican City Op-Ed, calling for "sincere and rigorous dialogue" with non-believers, both to counter the assertion that Christianity is necessarily an "expression of darkness of superstition that is opposed to the light of reason," and to assert that "dialogue is not a secondary accessory of the existence of the believer: it is, instead, a "profound and indispensable expression...of faith is not intransigent, but grows in coexistence that respects the other."
"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"
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.
"A Godless Proposal: A Kinder, Gentler Atheist"
Op-Ed by: DEF SHEPHERD | Updated December 20, 2011
Defshepherd.com Op-Ed, on discouraging atheists' "scorched earth" approach to communicating with theists, and encouraging their "engaging others in polite discussion (as) much more effective than an aggressive onslaught of condescension, ridicule, and judgment."
"Jon Stewart's Speech to The Rally to Restore Sanity"
Op-Ed by JON STEWART (Speech Transcript from C-SPAN) | 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: E.J. DIONNE JR., The Washington Post | Updated Nov 30, 2009
Washington Post Article, on the value of civility in politics.
The Pointy Ears Awards
The Circle of Reason lauds these public figures as honorary plurationalists, for calling for reasoning dialogue across disparate beliefs, accepting reality, questioning assumptions, or mastering emotionality.
Al Gore (2009), Global Warming Anti-Denialist & Nobel Laureate
Jim Leach (2009), GOP Congressman, NEH Director & Host of "The Civility Tour"
E.J. Dionne (2009), Op-Ed Writer ("E.J. Dionne Welcomes Jim Leach's Call for Civility")
Gary Trudeau (2009), "Doonesbury" Editorial Cartoonist ("Reasonists" strip, Sep 2009)
Tom Erlich (2010), Op-Ed Writer on Political Civility
J.J. Abrams (2010), Movie Director ("Star Trek"), on Disregarding Worldviews to Work Together
Jon Stuart (2010), Comedian & Organizer of "The Rally to Restore Sanity" (Oct 2010)
Neda (2011), Martyr for Iranian Civil Rights (Mar 2011)
Wael Ghonim (2011) Google Exec & Egypt Arab Spring Multicultural Leader (Feb 2011)
Jake Reitan & Rev. Amy DeLong (2011), Religious LGBT Civil Rights Activists (Jun 2011)
Bill George (2011), Author, Medtronic CEO ("True North Groups" Founder, Sep 2011)
Patrick Kennedy (2012), U.S. Congressman ("Piers Morgan Show," CNN, Jan 2012)
Olympia Snow (2012), U.S. Senator & Bridge Between GOP & Democratic Legislators
Ruth Marcus (2012), Op-Ed Writer ("A Campaign Isn't Just for Gaffes," Washington Post, Jul 2012)
Chris Stedman (2012), Author of "Faitheist" & Proponent of Theist-Atheist Dialogue
Barack Obama (2012), President of the United States ("Second Inaugural Address," Jan 2013 & "Mandela Eulogy," Dec 2013)
Todd Steifel (2012), Freethought Activist & Patron (Dan Merica Interview, CNN, Jul 2013)
Cara Santa Maria (2012), HuffPo Correspondent ("Where Does Morality Come From?", Aug 2012)
Hillary Rodham Clinton (2012) U.S. Secretary of State ("Live in an Evidence-Based World," CNN, Feb 2012)
Malala Yousafzai (2013), Pakistani Leader for Worldwide Girls' Education (2013)
Pope Francis (2013), Bishop of Rome & Proponent of Theist-Atheist Dialogue & Reason-Compatible Faith (Sep 2013)
George Takei (2013), Actor ("Sulu") & LGBT Activist, on Combining Diversity (IDIC) ("Fangasm," SyFy, Oct 2013)
Sheldon Whitehouse & Harry Reid (2013), Senators & Global Warming Legislation Proponents (Nov 2013)
Steve Coogan (2013), Atheist Comic and "Philomena" Actor, on Respecting People of Faith & Questioning One's Own Thought Processes (Dec 2013)
Michael Roan (2013), Co-Founder of the Nobel Peace Prize Forum, and Founder of The Tandem Project -- Calling for U.N. Binding Resolution on Freedom of Religion or Non-Religious Belief, and Encouragement of Interfaith/Intercultural Dialogue (Jan 2014, posthumous award)
Arthur Brooks (2014), American Enterprise Institute Director, on Calling for Conservative-Liberal Dialogue to Improve Conservatism for the Poor (Feb 2014)
David FitzSimmons (2014), GOP State Representative (R-MN), on voting for Same-Sex Marriage Rights in Minnesota while knowing it "possibly was going to be a vote that would put me out of office" -- as it did. Upon losing his GOP Party endorsement for re-election to MN state district 30B (Albertville) due to his vote, he said, "I would do it again. If you don't try to do what's best for your constituents, it's not worth being in office anyway." (Feb 2014)
Jose Mujica (2014), President of Uruguay and motive force behind his country's recent civil rights and sustainable-energy initiatives, on refraining from dwelling in the Presidential Palace (in lieu of his small home), on wearing sandals and driving a 1987 Volkswagen Beetle to the seat of government power, and on donating 90% of his salary to charity and small entrepreneurs: "It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, who is poor." (May 2014)
The Community Ambassadors (2014) of Saint Paul, MN, who take to the streets to mentor and positively interact with at-risk youth, heading off confrontations and run-ins with the police, and offering connections to jobs, skills training, and college programs. (May 2014)
Leonard Nimoy and Gene Roddenberry (2015) of Star Trek: "Leonard Nimoy's and Gene Roddenberry's 'Spock' was our first image of humankind's next major step toward maturity as a sapient race, revealing the moral value of public commitment to practice factualism in place of denialism, skepticism in place of dogmatism, and moderationism in place of emotionalism, regardless of our religious and political worldviews. To paraphrase their widely beloved pointy-eared Star Trek character, 'An inexorable evolution toward a philosophy of reason has already begun. The People are struggling, to a new enlightenment. And it may take decades or even centuries for them to reach it. But they will reach it. And we must help.' As we begin to practice Star Trek's fictional philosophy of 'IDIC + logic' as real-world 'pluralistic rationalism,' we plurationalists will continue to commemorate the memory of Leonard and Gene, with this hope for our own future: 'Live long and prosper, image of Spock.'" (Feb 27, 2015)