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July 28, 2011

Sky is not blue

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The truth is: we live by individual perceptions of reality, rather than by reality itself. The perception is the sky is blue and the earth does not move. But the reality is that the sky is not blue and the earth does move. The blue color, caused by the sun’s light, is made up of all colors of the spectrum, refracted through the oxygen and nitrogen of the atmosphere under which we live. Without the atmosphere the light would appear white: In any case the sky becomes red in the evening on a clear night. The earth moving?—every junior high school student knows that the earth spirals on its axis in an ellipsis around the sun—even though it appears to be stable. We perceive sky as blue and earth as immobile, but that is not the reality.

     What we see, or think we see, must be processed by the brain for interpretation. Hence our knowledge is at least thrice removed from reality: reality is out there and something registers on the retina or the ear, which the brain interprets. The same is true for everything we know—or think we know. The truth is all human beings perceive their own truth. Such is the unwavering principle of all human life, as the following examples show:

     With respect to religion: The Jewish God of the Hebrew Bible since the fourth century has seen the light, converted to Christianity, and adopted new ways—as the attachment of the New Testament to the Hebrew Scriptures shows. But for Jews God still maintains the old ways.

     With respect to church practice: Roman Catholics and the Orthodox, for whom Scripture is subordinate to church tradition, will baptize babies by sprinkling them with water. But Baptists, for whom Scripture is generally the final authority, will only baptize adults by immersing them.

     With respect to morality: For many Americans homosexuality is regarded as an “abomination before God,” but the state of New York has recently legalized same sex marriage.

     With regard to ethical behavior: In the Gospel of Matthew Jesus contrasts ethical behavior from the Hebrew Bible with his own ideas. The Hebrew Scripture demanded “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” (Exodus 21:22-25, Leviticus 24:19-20, Deuteronomy 19:16-21). But Jesus proposed a new way: when you are injured, take the hit and move on: “do not resist one who is evil. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also” (Matthew 5:38-42).

     With regard to aesthetics: Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughter House Five (published in 1968) is listed as #71 of the greatest books of all time (distilled from numerous such best books listings But the Republic, Missouri School District has recently banned the book again; it is #9 on another “too political” list:

And so it goes!

     Banning any competing perspective sets a dangerous precedent for the community and the country—yours might be next!

Charles W. Hedrick
Professor Emeritus
Missouri State University

Posted by Charles Hedrick at 2:17pm

Sky is Not Blue

Oh Charlie, ever the teacher, invoking thought about what IS.

When I look back, thus has it always been. It is not enough we perceive things differently but with that difference many times comes intolerance of another's reality. Like ripples from a stone skipping when the waves intersect and interfere crests and troughs that exaggerate and cancel. It is a balancing act within the framework of civilization. Is tolerance the other cheek?

Early on there was a sort of tolerance then perceptions,egos and distance in time from the source of the gospels began to fragment into perceptions of what the original message really was and like humpty dumpty we try to discern the origins warped through the lens of time with changing perceptions of what the original reality was/is. Layers of interpretation, discredited manuscripts because of rulers and leaders perceptions, lost manuscripts that may have clarified the in between perspectives that are forever lost such as Q. Who knows what we don't know.

The words we have now, minimal as they are, have left traces of the origins. Everything we read that follows is tinged with perceptions. The basic problem I think is Roman mores demanded structure far removed from Jerusalem with its Jewish perspective tinged with Greek and Egypt with Greek influence barely touched yet by Rome or Europe free thinkers. These different perceptions created the first ripples when the Council of Nicea first tried to "stabilize" the public perception of reality. I say public because at that point I think were the beginnings of what the Fathers thought Christianity should be because it was fracturing and needed to be bound with parameters to keep it from falling into individual perceptions and yet it was saved by their perceptions.

If the veil was truly torn from the Holy of Holies and Jesus left the Comforter to be with mortals, then the understanding of the early Egyptian believers that direct communication with Jesus as seen in the Gospel of Mary was possible that would have been intolerable to a Roman mind. They could not control people who understood God differently than themselves. If God spoke to everyone that would lead to absolute chaos in their reality.
Posted by Judy Adams on 7/28/2011 at 10:40pm