Showing posts with label mortality. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mortality. Show all posts

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Illnesses of Older People.

I recently had to deal with a diagnosis of serious throat cancer.  The reflexive recommendation of the Tumor Board for cancer of this stage was Radiation Therapy and simultaneous Chemotherapy starting ASAP. Radiation Therapy for throat cancer has a known side effect of damage to the vocal chords, which as a lifelong singer with a concert coming up I could not allow. 

This dilemma caused me to pull together a lot of things that had been in the round tuit box for some time.  First and foremost get the Advanced Directive registered with my health provider.  Secondly figure out what my priorities for the rest of my life should be.  Cancer, like strokes, heart disease, and many other ailments are to old age what head and neck injuries, joint damage, and wounds are to younger people.  If it doesn't kill you, you have to decide what compromises you have to make to continue to live a meaningful life worth dying for.  In other words, get your living priorities articulated in a way that can be discussed with others that are significant in your life including your medical team.  

At 76 I am well aware that life is finite and death will come sooner or later, preferably much later but not at the cost of compromising those things that make life worthwhile.  While alive my priorities sorted out to be 
  1. Don't die.
  2. Live as you have enjoyed living most of your life, in my case keep singing among several other high priority activities that make up my daily life.  
  3. Deal with serious health issues in a way that keep the above in perspective.  
In my case once I convinced the tumor board that radiation was not an option, they recommended an accelerated and dangerous Chemo protocol that would allow me to sing the concert if it didn't kill me. Knowing the risks I elected the protocol which indeed almost killed me, but knowing the risks enabled good choices of emergency treatment which allowed me to sing the the concert.       

And many more as it turned out the protocol worked beyond most medical expectations and at this point the tumor and metastases are gone according to the usual cancer scans.  There is nothing useful that medicine can do at this point but watch for a recurrence.  

11/1/17 It did come back and some harder choices are to be made, but technology improves and radiation is now able to miss the larynx.  We shall see. Halfway through and I am still singing.    

Monday, July 20, 2015

Give me the child until 7 ...

The cerebral cortex, that which makes humans sapient, isn't fully developed until two and is overdeveloped at that point until about 8yo.  It is extremely plastic in those years and much of what is necessary for social living is learned in those years.  The mores of the tribe via the family are essentially set by 8.  Or why the Jesuit's mantra is "Give me the boy until he is 7 and I will give you the man."
The "Whys" begin at two and the answers will largely determine the mold the brain of the child will conform to.  Authoritarian answers: "Because I said so," or "Because God says so," will condition the child to expect to be told what to do and not think for hermself.  Social conforming answers: "Because people expect you to do that,"  "Jesus will love you if you do that,"  "Our family or tribe does it that way" will condition the child to be aware of social cues to behavior but allow for some flexibility as social cues are seldom consistent.  Child centered answers: "Because you will be happier if you do it that way," "Because it is good for you," "You will have more friends if you do it that way" will condition the child to take responsibility for herm actions and consider the effects on self and others of behavior. 

These are but points on a continuum with lots of overlap generally centering on social conformance.  We are after all a social animal.  There are of course outliers on both ends, extreme self-dependence, and fundamentalism but most will be socially conforming. 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Christian Atheists

YEC:  I would think almost all of the Atheist living in a free society are to one degree or another.
 It is hard to be a Christian if not a theist.  The entire dogma of Christianity is centered around groveling at the feet of God whether it is Jesus, the Trinity, or "Thy God" of Jesus.  Atheists do not grovel at anything or anybody. Nice try at the Great Commission, but abject failure. 
YEC: For a Godless society there is no moral rule.  Natural evolutionism is the rule.  Survival of the fittest.  There is no absolute law in which a standard can be erected.
In a Godless society moral rules are derived from evolutionary necessity and its corollary tribal living necessities expanded to larger societies as required.  While there is no absolute law governing morality, humanistic empathy is a firm foundation.
YEC: You are born, live and die and "puff"'s all over.
Yep.  In the words of Forrest Church one had best live a life worth dying for.  It is all anybody has. Theist or atheist. 
YEC: In a free society the Atheist follow the moral teachings of Jesus and I might add, the bible.  They know the morals work.  They are tried and proven.   If Jesus never appeared, if the bible never existed....if our laws didn't reflect those morals, where would we be?  
Your remarks about Jesus are pretty close to the mark.  The rest of the Bible morality is either obsolete or dysfunctional in a modern society.

YEC: You said, "They're Out There, I Just Haven't Found Any Yet"...the truth is, you are one of them.
Sorry.  There are many atheist Christians, Jews, Muslims, and members of other theistic religions, that enjoy the traditions, rituals and tribal gatherings associated with the faith, but without the faith in God.  Atheists without a religion are not among them.  In general we (I include myself among them) have developed our own meaning and purpose for being alive and having to die.  But in the words of johnbigboote on the old boards it is a One Person Religion.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

What is Now?

 Blü wrote:
If time is an illusion then how can you age?

If only the moment exists, why can't you put yourself in any part of the moment at will, so that you can be in the part of the moment when you're 7, and when you're 77, just as you wish?
I can remember an incident over 50 years ago that had a profound effect on many aspects of my life as if it were happening now.  I can replay it in my mind as if it were a video.  Is the replay happening now, or 50 years ago?  Since the major protagonist is now deceased, what is her status in the memory? The store which was the setting is now a library, what is the status of the main foyer containing the roped off piano?  There are others. One when I was in fact 7 that I can be and have been many times in that moment. 
Blü wrote:
I can remember an incident over 50 years ago that had a profound effect on many aspects of my life as if it were happening now.
It's called memory. Surely to cripes it demonstrates, rather than debunks, the notion that time exists?
I can replay it in my mind as if it were a video.
Except that the video will be more accurate, and remain a record even when all the participants in the scene have died.
Is the replay happening now, or 50 years ago?
The replay is happening at the time you recall the memory / rewatch the video.
Since the major protagonist is now deceased, what is her status in the memory?
She's dead. She's remembered. Photos (and videos?) of her continue to exist, showing her at different times / ages of her life.  Same with the piano and the foyer.
Yet you were asking about a personal now, not an abstract now.  In my personal now the alive, vibrant, virtuoso is in that foyer at the piano any time I choose to recall the incident.  It is not happening in the past although in another sense it is clear that the eclectic time frame is the '50s.

A photo or even a video is merely a mnemonic to stimulate a live memory if not of a live event, a memory of a story told.  My great grandmother died when I was a child, but she had an important influence on her society.  I can read her books and sing her songs, but they are just ink on paper.  It is the stories told by those who knew her that make her live in my now. 

I am not sure I can draw a bright line at where now ends and history begins.  In a real sense what is in my mind now is all there is for me.  I am not solipsistic to think that what is in the now of others is unreal. All have their own reality that is now for them.  I agree with John Dobbs "The world began on the day that I was born. On the day I die the world will end." It is not the only world there is.  I am aware that I have affected others and my society and I am content that those effects will survive my demise.  But for me "now" will end.

Yet if now, the memory tracks in my brain aka the world began on the day that I was born, now is all that is there.  Duration is measured by interaction with the now of others.
If there is a God, per Iwanta, with a longer and richer now, its relevance to my now is unclear.  Either I am a puppet, which offends me.  Or I am a contributor to that now.  Either way my contribution ends in the foreseeable future and the existence of God will be moot.    

 Blü wrote:

Yet if now, the memory tracks in my brain aka the world began on the day that I was born, now is all that is there.

Subjectively that has to be true, but it's only one way of looking at it. One of my assumptions is that a world exists external to the self, and the external world has a past, some of which I can recall and some of which I've learnt about; and as we presently understand it, it will have a future of hundreds of billions of years, unless and until at some stage after the decay of the last proton the Big Rip robs it of identity.
I have no argument with the idea that there is a world external to the self.  Indeed much of what I do is aimed at affecting that world.  Its past is a useful resource and affects much of what I do.  There is a future as well, that those that follow me (and those that don't) will deal with. 

In fact most of my now is dealing with that external world,  trying to insure that it will be a better place for those that follow and even those that don't follow.  I can see evidence that it will be but at some point it will no longer matter.  Which is as it should be.  I see people who have grown far beyond my capabilities.  It is their now that matters. 

Friday, July 27, 2012

Conditional Radical Respect


Atheists are frequently accused of having no moral standards because moral standards are more diffuse and driven by intelligent evaluation of social imperatives of both religious and secular sources. The most important stumbling block is how to deal with social transgressions without bigotry. The Christian paradigm of hating the sin and loving the sinner just doesn’t work for me because the sinner is the problem. The UU radical respect can and frequently does degenerate into “Officer Krupke.” It is nobody’s fault, and nobody can be held responsible for their behavior.

I have never liked either of these responses. I refuse bigotry, as no group or class is all bad, but I do pay attention to behavior of people in certain groups and make certain assumptions about the group based on those observations. To use a non-religious example, big investment bankers may be all right as neighbors, but once they get to work I have zero trust that they are being socially responsible. I would have no issue with holding them collectively responsible for financial crimes against humanity. Or, since corporations are now people, throwing all board members and officers in jail once fraud by the corporation is proved. They collectively are lacking in Frith and oathbreakers with the society they pretend to serve.

I am generally careful to differentiate individuals from the group they represent until they refuse to disassociate themselves from the socially dysfunctional actions of the group. I will admit that it is sometimes hard for some “Christian” denominations, as it seems that being antisocial is part of being in the denomination. But even in the worst of them some individuals can be decent outside of their place of worship.

As for individuals aside from any group, radical respect is a given until through specific actions they forfeit that respect. Again the Asatru concept of oathbreaker is very useful here. Radical respect assumes that all are signed on to the social contract of Frith or the secular self evident truths, and those that violate that contract have a tough rehabilitation program ahead of them not only to prove that they regret the violation but that they have taken steps to repair the damage caused by that violation. Lacking that they deserve no respect or compassion from me or my ERSSG.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

On Atheism

Comment on Philosophy Talk
Atheism is not a definition of anybody's life. Atheism is simply an answer to "Do you believe?" or "Are you saved?"
Atheists get their meaning, purpose, morals and ethics the same place God does. From the tribe they belong to. Modern tribes are more diffused and amorphous than traditional tribes, but we know who we are.
The afterlife is a con game that has no meaning for most atheists, even a theist like Forrest Church recognizes that the best we can do is live a life worth dying for. After that, who knows, and who cares. Any afterlife mediator that doesn't look at that life that was worth dying for isn't worth worrying about.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Secret of Life: Death

Quality of Life - Beliefnet

"The Greatest Secret in life is the sure, certainty of causes us to strive to leave our mark upon the Earth." If one is convinced that striving to improve one's life, the lives of their family and the lives of humans in general is futile, for any reason, one might attempt to 'opt out' of 'This Life' in preference for some promised 'better life,' somewhere other than the Earth. (I include in that group of 'alternatives' Heaven, Nirvana, 'Enlightenment' (of several different flavors, etc.)
exploringinside "

As Forrest Church would point out the secret of leaving our mark is the quality of our love. Not just for those closest to us, but for all we choose to include as "our society." Back when I was a UU that was supposed to mean "All people" but that was dispiriting as one cannot leave ones mark on "All People." It is much too easy to turn away from leaving ones mark to less worthy activities like group hugs without love of AIDS walks or kicking in a few excess bucks to UUSC and be done with it.

When Forrest ended a sermon it was always "Amen. I love you!" Who did he really love? I can't speak for him and cannot ask, and frankly I thought it was a little hokey until I read "Love and Death." But when I interpreted it (my interpretation not Forrest's) as I love those who will pay attention, be affected by my thinking, and pass forward the message and "Amen. I love you!" not from Forrest but from themselves it makes "the mark" make sense. We affect those we love, whether they are those nearest and dearest to us or those we may not even think of who love us and are affected by what we do and say if and only if we love them.
Amen. I love you!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


My puzzle over "something larger than ourselves" - Beliefnet

To me, you're connected to society just by being born into it and growing up a part of it; what kind of society it is, is immaterial.

J'C: "It used to be that way. And still is in many places. One of the major changes in modern society is that the most intelligent leave their home society to attend the University. At the University they are forced to assemble a totally new society that may have little resemblance to the one they grew up in. There are of course some established social values but they may be quite different from home. And there is more choice. The geeks, the athletes, the social clubs, and they may overlap considerably for those so inclined. The social changes continue after graduation. People seldom go home again. Again the choices are limitless, but must be limited. But the key for many is they choose their society in which they wish to be connected. Liberating, but in most cases God stays home and can't help."

Yes this is certainly a change in which new connections are formed. Yet I somehow feel it is still superficial compared to deep connections that one could potentially feel. A loss of a loved one, deep love, profound beauty... tend to move me more.
Myownpath: followup

J'C: "The new connections are certainly not the only connections. Selected ones remain and are an integral part of the new society. As noted elsewhere the "J" in J'Carlin comes from a childhood nickname that I abandoned, lock stock and barrel, when I went away to school. And yet the people who call me J'Carlin because they can't won't think of me as Carlin are some of the most cherished people in my life. Many of them taught me of deep love, profound beauty, the love of the infinite universe. I can trace most of my most special moments to one or another person who uses J'Carlin or used to. At my age many are no longer physically able to reinforce them, but I can still live their moments in my living memory. Any time I want to I can hear my sister play the Rachmaninoff C#Minor Prelude. If I am angry, it is the violent version and once she gets to the second theme beautifully life is once again good.

Where is the hope?

Where is the hope for the non-believer? - Beliefnet
But, I only believe in an undefined higher power some of the time, and I'm not really feeling it right now. Where do I find hope? How can I sit here and convince myself to not give up on her when I have no God to turn to?

J'C: "Thank you all for the round TUIT. I have been meaning to respond, as you are articulating an important issue for atheists. Where do you find hope? If there is no where for the cat to go if she has died, or grandma for that matter, how do you justify your love? I think Forrest Church's Love and Death is relevant here as I sense the issue is larger than your cat. Forrest is a Universalist deist and would, I think, have been comfortable with your undefined higher power. He was dying when he wrote the book and knew it. It is a short book, and I won't attempt to summarize it here, but it is an important book for all who have no God to turn to when death happens. Even to us."

As noted on other posts the issue of death and dying is the elephant in the atheist's living room. Until one comes to terms with the idea that this life is "All she wrote," I don't think one can really live without God. It was while I was studying the Et Expecto text that I finally realized No, I don't Expecto, that I also came to grips that this life was all I had to work with and I had damn well better do as much as humanly possible with it. Note that humanly possible has definite limits, and pushing those limits is part of being human. I will push them by loving and caring as much as I can until it is no longer possible. Then will "I lay me down with a will" and others will have to cherish my space. If I have loved enough they will find my space easy to make better.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Shortchanging the Living

Available evidence shows that after we die there is no way to do anything at all for those who remain alive. All that they have is whatever legacy is built for them by the deceased. The material legacy is of questionable value. As Lazarus Long says
Don't handicap your children by making their lives too easy.

The emotional and intellectual legacy is far more important, and the beauty is that building it simply means paying attention to those who will enjoy it.

I wonder about those who spend their lives chasing a place in Heaven. What do those that remain get besides a nice party to send them off to Heaven. When the living think about the deceased, what to they think about? Do they simply wonder if the bet on Pascal's wager has paid off? I guess if they have been conditioned properly and are investing heavily at the Pascal Casino themselves this is OK. But what a waste.

When I think of my deceased parents, and those close to them and to me that are no longer living, I never wonder about what they are doing now, I am too busy reviewing all the important lessons they taught me and the rest of my world in their rich lives that were dedidicated to making that world the best they could make it. Certainly lives worth dying for in Forrest's words.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Eternal Reflections

Email in response to an ex Christian's questions about death.

"The issue of mortality is a very difficult one for former Christians since Pie in the Sky after you die is really all Christians have to sell these days so they sell the Hell out of it. If you ask a Christian 'Why' when they blather about eternal bliss kissing God's ass in heaven, you will get some interesting reactions, but almost all of them boil down to Why Not?

I would suggest that you ask yourself that question? Why do you want eternal life? Why would you want some sort of existence after you die? Particularly since available evidence says you can do nothing for those that remain after you. The most likely scenario is you spend the first millennium sucking your thumb and gazing at your navel and trying to figure out something different to do for the next millennium. That is a pretty good definition of Hell as far as I am concerned. The alternative of kissing God's ass is just as bad.

One resource and a thought. The resource is Love and Death by Forrest Church. Forrest is living on time borrowed from the medical profession in spite of their assurances that they had no time to lend. He was not lying in a sermon he gave in which he said he had six months to live. That was a very generous estimate given his metastasized esophageal cancer. Love and Death grew out of that diagnosis. It turned out that the medico's were mistaken, but that wasn't Forrest's fault although his incredible will to live probably influenced the outcome.

The thought is that there is no atheist dogma that says that an afterlife is not possible. The only dogma that applies is that Pascal's wager is a losing bet because if there is an afterlife it is certain that a non-existent God has no influence at all on it. Kiss Herm ass all you want to while you are alive and whatever happens after you die will happen just the same as if you kissed some other God's ass or your own for that matter.

Some people think that there is a possibility, slim, that a natural result of death is that the spirit is released to continuing doing whatever one has been doing in life with the other spirits that have been released from their bodies. The only difference this should make in one's life is that it is even more important to live in a way that you would be happy to live with forever. If there is no end to the spirit at death, then the spirit had better be well trained in enjoying whatever it does.

Thanks for your questions, At my age I need to think about them.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Forrest Church discusses the odds.

STANFORD Magazine: Forrest Church Book Excerpt:
Believe me, there's nothing like a kick toward the flag to get the old blood pumping and the crowd off their bums cheering. Besides, without even trying, you've already won the only race that really matters. Unconsciously, yet omnipresent, you ran the gauntlet of stars and genomes to assume your full, nothing less than miraculous, place in the creation. Being alive to love and hurt, to fail and recover, to prove your grit and show compassion, that is life's true secret.

Leave it to Stanford to pick out the unusual in Forrest's new book. And leave it to Forrest to turn Silky Sullivan's loss in the Kentucky Derby into an inspiring sermon.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Legacy continued

How do you think about death? - Beliefnet Forums: "I learned long ago that you cannot pray your way to immortality, and you can't wish it either. Either I have done my job right and the proud thoughts will be carried on by those who follow, and my species will be a little better off for my being here and posting on the net, and guiding my children and grandchildren and my family. They are already going beyond my ability to contribute and this is as it should be. I don't give up, I may yet have something to contribute, but I am a realist, in some areas I don't even try. An idea comes up I can't wrap my mind around and I 'discuss it with my pillow.' and choose the oblivion of sleep. As more and more things come up I can't wrap my mind around, I will follow the family tradition of choosing not to live any longer. Quite confident that as I have incorporated all of their proud thoughts into my space, those that follow will do the same. Not only for me but for those whose proud thoughts came before mine and enabled them."

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Religious v. Rational worldviews

Religious v. Rational - Beliefnet Forums: "But unlike Catholics I understand much more about what the Mass is teaching because I don't believe. I can look at the myths and imagery from a rational worldview and integrate the useful lessons and images from them into my rational understanding of my relationships with other people and my own understanding of what it means to "be alive and have to die." Forrest Church.