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 commit to local congregations of faith in the ability of reasoning thought, action and communication to save our world and bring our next major step in moral evolution. We do not seek to make new speeches; we seek to be the air that carries all speech. We welcome all in practicing clarity of mind, regardless of present beliefs or creed, to The Circle of Reason.
January 1, 2000-2020 C.E.
The 3 Tenets of Reason
The 3 Guides of Action
What is, is -- Reality denied causes wrong action; Reality accepted causes right action.
What is not, is not -- Incorrect assumptions, non-reality accepted as reality, cause wrong action; Questioned assumptions cause right action.
What is or is not, is paramount -- Emotion unmastered by reason causes wrong action; Emotion's mastery by reason causes right action.
The 3 Paths to Right Action
Accept what is, reject what is not, leave open what may be.
Root out incorrect assumptions and their signpost -- contradictions.
Let reason, not emotion, be the final arbiter of your actions.
The 3 Paths to Wrong Action
Reject what is, accept what is not, reject or accept what may be.
Act based on unconsidered assumptions, and ignore their contradictions.
Let emotion rule, not simply inform, your actions.
The Paragons of Reason and Unreason
The Paragon of Reason -- Objective, Open-minded, and Equable.
The Paragon of Unreason -- Subjective, Close-minded, and Emotional.
The Meditation of Reason
In Reality's denial was I blind -- by Reality's Acceptance do I see.
In Assumption's acceptance was I bowed -- by Assumption's Denial do I stand.
In Emotion's surrender did I stampede -- by Emotion's Mastery do I stride.
By these three do I drink from the depths, tread beyond the horizon, and reach for the zenith of the World.
The Circle Thanksgiving -- A Pluralistic Thanksgiving
Let us bow our heads in contemplation or prayer.
We give thanks for the gift of the Mind, through which our purpose shall be envisioned.
We give thanks for the gift of the Will, through which our purpose shall be manifest.
We give thanks for the gift of the Heart, through which our purpose shall be ennobled.
And we give thanks for the gift of the Universe, through which our purpose shall be magnified.
So say we all.
Parables, Fables & Aphorisms Archive
Our archive of past weekly aphorisms and excerpted parables & fables for pluralistic rationalists from The Parables of Reason ©2007-2013, by Frank H. Burton, Executive Director, The Circle of Reason. Excerpts from this web archive may not be reproduced without written consent of the author, or reproduced in any form for profit. 100% of the royalties from future book sales will be donated to the non-profit The Circle of Reason to support its formation and sponsorship of local circles.
Aphorism of the Week: 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.
Aphorism of the Week: The spoils of war and deception spoil with the light of day.
Dedicated in admonishment of Russian President Vladimir Putin's undercutting, both by force and propaganda, of the will of the People of Ukraine toward self-determination.
Parable of the Week: The Powerless, The Powerful
A "right to vote" was enshrined in the Constitution of both neighboring peoples -- but immersed within a tortuous, dark palimpsest of corrupt laws.
In the first country, public officials, even the Presidency itself, were bought. Incumbency of the largest political parties was guaranteed by television ads -- which, through misdirection, calmed the people's concerns. Power, and immense, ill-gotten riches, were held in the grasp of a very few -- while many were poor, cheated of a day's pay for a day's work, and lived on acrid, despoiled land.
Its people stayed home and cursed, come voting day.
The second country, too, had been bought; its people, too, saw the poverty of their hardest workers, tasted acrid air and oily water, and saw the politicians and pundits shun all but the wealthy and a few token poor.
But its people fought back -- writing editorials, publishing alternative newspapers, talking on public television, and blogging on the Internet.
And come voting day all of them -- every one of them -- left their homes to vote.
The people, realizing they had suffered from a mass illusion of powerlessness, never again cursed the government they had themselves permitted all along -- but threw it out and elected true representatives.
Thus, your vote is absolute power incarnated -- or absolute power abdicated.
April 5, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: Strong cloth is woven from many threads.
Dedicated in admonishment of medically-uninsured young adults of the Millennial Generation who are declining to buy cheap medical insurance by March 31, through the U.S. Affordable Care Act. Taking responsibility for your own healthcare also means not bumming off your fellow citizens' wallets to pay for it after you go bankrupt from unpredicted injury or illness.
Parable of the Week: The Riverbank, The Flood
Fertile delta meandered beneath the feet of two young farmers.
One bought a farm on the green banks of the river, and profited enormously from its cheap cost.
The other visited his friend's sprawling farm. Bare feet on green grass, he walked to the banks of the mighty river, pondering its iron, foam-crested turbulence. Then, lacing on his shoes, he hiked south closer to the city, where the river was channeled through the verdant plains by levees and canals -- and there he bought a small farm, where he barely scraped by due to the farm's expense.
The first farmer chided the second about his expensive, tiny farm.
But then the rains came unceasingly -- and the mighty, life-giving river swelled in its banks. To no avail the first farmer tried to protect his farm and his family from the torrent of rushing, blue-grey water, as it billowed over the low green banks -- and all was swept away to ruin.
So did the first farmer come to fear the river and its surges.
But where the swollen river had been leveed and channeled, the second farmer's land and family remained safe on its banks, and his small farm thrived.
So did the second farmer come to appreciate the river and its levees.
Thus, let joy flow, but not flood.
March 29, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 3, "Emotion's Mastery"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: We are born fools, and without great effort fools we remain.
Dedicated in admonishment of President Barack Obama's ad hominem insulting of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Under any circumstances, an insult elicits irrational, emotional responses in its target -- even if the target is a world leader with Syrian and Iranian influence, UN Security Council veto power, exclusive access to the International Space Station, and nuclear weaponry.
Parable of the Week: The Barker, The Talker
None know the fount of the angelic and the feral.
One man blurted out everything on his mind.
No matter that among his thoughts, circling like ravens' feathers in his soul, were insults, slanders and blame -- the unwise, the inaccurate, the unnecessary, and the unkind.
No matter -- all blew out of his head, on the first breeze from his mouth.
To many, this man seemed more a barking dog than a human being.
Another man only tithed what was on his mind.
No matter that among his thoughts, growing like gemstones in his soul, were compliments, accolades and advice.
No matter -- only the wise, the accurate, the necessary, and the kind were quarried, like veins of opal, from the deep well of his voice.
To many, this man seemed more an angel than a human being.
Thus, tithe your thoughts.
March 22, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 3, "Emotion's Mastery"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: Break on the shoals of your dream.
Dedicated to the two dead and 23 injured SXSW musicians and festival attendees; and in admonishment of the perpetrator's allegedly gunning his Civic through the crowd to escape a police sobriety stop.
Parable of the Week: The Fawn, The Otter
By the bayou lived a Fawn and an Otter.
The Fawn perked up her ears and froze at the smallest crack of a twig.
Her heart leapt about inside her like a mouse in a cage, and her legs trembled.
She hid in the lap of the cypress trees whenever the sun burst from behind a cloud.
So did the Fawn burn the candle of her life -- until a hunter's rifle puffed out her tremulous flame.
The Otter cavorted and dove in the black marsh.
Floating on her back, she cracked open pecans on a stone perched on her belly.
She barked and loped to sniff out the cracking of a twig or the crashing of a tree branch.
She rolled in the dirt whenever the sun burst from behind a cloud.
So did the Otter savor the story of her life -- until a gator's maw snapped closed her final chapter.
Thus, be miserable and die, or be happy and die. Pick one!
March 15, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 3, "Emotion's Mastery"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: We all see, but with different eyes.
Dedicated to women's right to individual and political self-determination, on International Women's Day.
Parable of the Week: The Seminar, The Ovarium
Nailed to the portal of the imposing granite hall were flyers for two lectures.
Two speakers were scheduled for that day.
The first raised one eyebrow archly.
"I've long planned for this. I'm going to instruct the masses about the cultural and economic consequences of commercial over-fishing."
The second speaker, rubbing her hands together, blurted out, "Oh, yes, I've dreamed of this day, too! I'm going to host a conference on fly-fishing!"
As the two speakers shook hands and entered their respective auditoriums on opposite sides of the hallway, the second speaker's auditorium began filling to the rafters with fishing enthusiasts.
Hanging on every word of their host, they queried, debated and commended her in excitement, when she discussed the most attractive fishing lures and revealed images of the most beautiful spots around the world to hook the perfect fish.
After the conference, the joyful fly-fishers, imbued with plans for new lures and visions of unimagined vistas, filed past the other auditorium.
Glancing in, they heard the droning voice of the first speaker -- accented only by reverberating echoes of fitful coughs from the few academicians who'd chosen to remain, and who sat almost alone in the cavernous auditorium.
Thus, eloquence sets fire to reason. -- via Favio Masulli y Becker
March 8, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: A prize of great value is not meant to be given away.
Dedicated to American Enterprise Institute Director Arthur Brooks, for calling for conservative-liberal dialogue to improve conservatism on behalf of the poor.
Parable of the Week: The Coal, The Flame
Lumps of rich, black coal lay in each hand.
One lump of coal was placed in a fire, and so grew red-hot, feeding the fire.
Yet no air was blown onto the coal, and the fire began to smother.
Slowly the coal darkened, until it was clothed in ash, with only a small ember of flame buried in its deepest crevice.
The other lump of coal was also placed in a fire, and also grew red-hot, feeding the fire.
Yet a gentle breath of air was blown over the coal, when needed, stoking its heat higher and higher.
From the coal's heart burst a brilliant gout of sparks and flame, igniting tinder that had tenderly been placed by its side.
Slowly the entire coal turned searing orange, the shimmering fruit of a burning bush.
Thus, tend your flame, or it shall grow cold.
March 1, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: Self-defense is not aggression -- nor aggression self-defense.
Dedicated in admonishment of President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda's signing into law the criminalization of gay behavior; to his scientists' disregard of the scientific knowledge of epigenetics -- that complex biological traits are not purely genetic in origin, but due to fetal development influencing gene expression; to the Ugandan people's abrogation of common moral codes permitting freedom of adults' consensual behavior; and to U.S. Christian Evangelicals' encouragement of Uganda's predation on its own citizens, in the sheep's clothing of biblical puritanism.
Parable of the Week: The Insulter, The Debater
Paragons of rhetoric, they were nonpareil.
One of the brothers wielded sarcasm like a rapier.
Oft he exclaimed, "Do plan on suing your lobotomist!" or, "Are you a traitor or just a fool, to spout such hogwash?"
Although his debate coach often interjected, "You've still not made any point," or, "You've proven nothing with an insult," the brother would simmer -- steam growing behind his eyes -- until, with a burst of abandon, his black wit exploded once again into the faces of his agog listeners.
So did this brother become a master of the razor-tongue -- and a widely disliked and distrusted man -- by demolishing his adversaries.
The second of the brothers wielded reason like a forceps.
Oft he proclaimed, "Your point is unfounded, for these reasons..." or, "These facts support the need for change."
When others called his arguments "ridiculous" he smoothly replied, with a clear, slightly condescending gaze, "They are not only not ridiculous, but they are correct." The ensuing burst of impotent steam that issued from his opponents was, to him, a refreshing sauna.
So did this brother become a master of the golden-tongue -- and a widely respected and trusted man -- by arguing against arguments, not against arguers.
Thus, ad hominem is against humanity.
February 22, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: Your existence makes you the hero of your own story, but only your actions make you the hero of the larger one.
Dedicated in admonishment of the beatings -- with nail-studded clubs and whips -- of gay citizens in Abuja, Nigeria, in the wake of the country's criminalization of homosexuality.
Parable of the Week: The End of Days, The Beginning of Days
People believed, in this land, that Truths were whatever they wished to be true -- if wished fervently enough.
They lashed the backs of their neighbors who didn't wish fervently enough or, even more maddeningly, didn't even agree with them about what was true.
As more and more people wished more and more Truths, neighbor fought against neighbor.
Throughout this land Truths spread like a stain of multi-colored oil on clear water. And the people extended to one another their right hands -- but hatred, war and destruction lay hidden in their left hands.
So approached the End of Days.
But in those End Days, a few people stayed their falling lash.
Lifting up their neighbors, they cried, "Truth is not whatever we fervently wish -- Truth is what it is, even if we wish it otherwise."
"Are not our 'Truths' really opinions, opinions we beat into others who reasonably could believe otherwise? Is not real Truth accepting this fact?"
More and more people encouraged the search for Truth, rather than the belief in wishes.
Throughout this land Truth spread as a wellspring of cleansing water. And people extended to one another both hands -- one in salutation, the other in understanding.
So did the End of Days become, in Truth, the Beginning of Days.
Thus, Truth always offers a new beginning.
February 15, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: Change is the byproduct of altering one's own mind.
Dedicated to the U.S. Department of Justice's affirmation of equal federal rights for same-same and opposite-sex married couples; and in admonishment of the Nigerian government's negation of all human rights for same-sex couples and their supporters.
Parable of the Week: The Thrasher, The Swimmer
Home was on stilts on the riverbank.
The brothers, sandy feet perched against the porch screen, broke their placid gaze across the far banks on sight of an ice-cream truck tootling down to the small public beach among the distant reeds.
Using safety pins to clip dollar bills to their swim trunks, they dashed to the shoreline. The first-born waded in to swim directly to the far side of the river, but, behind him, his younger brother hesitated.
"Wait!" he cried, "what about the current?"
"Just swim hard!" the elder yelled back, then dove into the river, thrashing his arms toward the far beach.
But the younger brother saw how his sibling kept drifting downstream, and how he had to fight harder and harder to swim upstream just to keep traversing the river toward the far, sandy beachhead.
Turning, the younger brother ran fifty meters upstream.
Then he dove into the river and swam straight across, allowing the current to carry him downstream.
Splashing out of the water on the far side, he hailed the ice-cream truck driver and paid for two cones -- one for himself, and one for his waterlogged older brother, who only now was crawling on all fours, exhausted, onto the shore; and who, but for the bucktoothed stubbornness of youth, would surely have drowned.
Thus, don't swim against currents -- including currents of the mind.
February 8, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: There are usually two sides to an argument -- and you must consider both.
Parable of the Week: The Ant, The Cricket
In a small backyard dwelled an Ant and a Cricket.
The Ant's industry provided homes and well-stocked pantries for her large family -- while the Cricket's mellifluous song brought joy to all who heard it.
The Ant lived a long life of comfort, warmth, loved ones and many children.
The Cricket lived but a brief life. Yet in spite of his sad ending in hunger and cold, he gave to the Ant -- and to all who'd heard his song -- the memory of dulcet beauty and mystery in their lives.
Thus, industry and art both have value -- one to the body, the other to the spirit.
February 1, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: The freedom to dominate is not a freedom.
Parable of the Week: The Wolf Pack, The Lone Wolf
They lived to roam the hills of the midnight sun.
Together the wolf pack loped across the tundra in pursuit of adventure, and of prey. Their gazes darted back and forth among themselves, their hearts and thoughts in unison, their baying a chorus.
The pack was merciless to those wolves who, from the grey blush of age or the loss of vigor, fell behind. It turned upon them and rendered them, devouring their flesh, before running onward.
But one Lone Wolf was the strongest and most fearless of them all. Farthest-seeing, tallest-eared and keenest-nosed, he raced like the blowing wind, and leapt ahead of the pack, running free into lands far beyond the horizon.
In winter's long night, he called back to his mates, in a long, solitary howl, of the visions he had seen. And yet he ran onward, far, far ahead of the pack.
So did the time come when the Lone Wolf stopped -- to wait for the pack to catch up to him, to tell them of his visions and adventures.
As he saw the pack approach in the low-hanging moonlight, over the distant hills behind him, and heard their baying, his breath quickened, and he loped toward them in joyful homecoming.
But as he approached, the pack fell on him.
And rendered him, devouring his flesh.
Then, in uncaring ignorance of the visions that lay ahead, the pride of wolves ran on.
Thus, the pack cares not whether you run behind or ahead of it -- only that you run apart.
January 25, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Millennium: Even those who jump to their deaths find themselves screaming on the way down.
COR's Aphorism & Parable of the Millennium are dedicated in admonishment of the Terracide now being committed by the Global Warming Denialism of the U.S. GOP representatives controlling America's CO2 emission policies and post-Kyoto environmental treaties. Gentlemen, the scientists' clock is etched in tombstone: In just 15 years, Earth is likely doomed to burn. And no level of denial, no length of apology, no begged-for suppression of the hatred in the eyes of your grandchildren, who will be History's last judges, will release your blame, and yours alone, for destroying everything.
If you judge yourself human beings, rethink your denialism, and do it now.
Parable of the Millennium: The Seed, The Blossom
Small and exquisite, the Japanese garden was tended daily by a master gardener.
One spring day, as the master gardener was feeding his albino carp in the pond, a street urchin spied on him from behind a boulder.
The master gardener yelled over his shoulder, "If you plan to stare at me all day, help me work!"
So did the boy become the master gardener's apprentice.
Over the next week, the boy dutifully planted all different sorts of seeds wherever the master gardener instructed him to. But he saw only the soft dark earth covering the dormant seeds, and not a single plant. Red-faced with frustration, the apprentice eventually blurted out to the master gardener, "Sensei, how can I learn gardening? All I see is dirt!"
The master gardener looked long at the boy, and then said, "Very well. I will teach you the most important lesson of all."
The gardener opened two small pouches strung from his belt, and gestured to the boy.
"Come here and open both your hands."
As the boy approached with his hands outstretched, into one palm the old gardener poured a small pile of perfect, gem-like black seeds, and into the other palm he dropped a clump of rough, dirty-brown seeds.
"Plant these seeds, over behind that boulder where you first popped up! That will be your garden!"
"In what order or arrangement should I plant them, Sensei?" the boy asked.
"How should I know? It's your garden!" And the old man returned to stroking the heads of his carp, who rose like cream from the tea-brown depths of the pond to greet him.
The boy stared down at his palms, and, seeing the lustrous beauty of the small, black, pearl-like seeds, decided to plant those in a broad circle -- to surround the ugly brown seeds.
Later that month, the rains fell, and the Japanese garden burst with life.
But as the boy raced one morning to his garden to see his circle of blossoms bloom, he skidded to a halt -- in horror.
Before him rose a monstrous, stinking thatch of rotting black petals, coated in buzzing flies.
With a cry frozen on his lips, he turned in utter dismay to the gardener, who had been sitting on the boulder, waiting for him.
The gardener took one deep look into the boy's heart, and smiled gently. Then, reaching for his walking cane, with a swift whack he lopped off the festering blossoms -- to reveal a small patch of the most beautiful blue blossoms the boy had ever seen, sitting long forgotten in the center, where he had buried and forgotten the ugly brown seeds.
"Oh, Sensei, what have I done?" the boy sighed.
"You've learned the most important lesson of all, my son," the old man said, placing a hand on his apprentice's head. "And I'm not just talking about gardening."
Thus, learn what it is that you sow -- for you shall reap it.
January 18, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: The faucet is not meant to turn off when the hand is placed beneath it.
Dedicated in admonishment of the Federal judicial overturning -- on a technicality -- of the entire principle of Net Neutrality.
Parable of the Week: The Drain, The Fountain
Children dove into a swimming pool.
At the shallow end of the pool they found a hole, from which gushed a fountain of fresh, clear water.
One child stuck his head into the fountain, pressed his hand on its spout to make jets of water that he could shoot at his playmate, and pressed his back to the fountain so that his body flew forward across the pool.
So it was that the fountain became his favorite place to play.
But the second child had found another hole, in the very bottom of the far, deepest end of the pool -- so deep it lay below blue-green water.
He swam in circles far above this second hole, trying to get a better look at it.
"Why is it so deep and so quiet?" he wondered.
Finally, his curiosity irresistible, the second boy took a deep breath and dove, flailing his arms, to the bottom.
And once he touched bottom, he placed his hand over the hole.
It sucked in his whole arm, to his very shoulder.
Only with the strength borne of panic was he able to pull out his arm from the drain and swim away, to barely keep his life.
So it was that the fountain, too, became his favorite place to play.
Thus, life flows between us -- and you are either a fountain, or a drain.
January 11, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Year: Religiousness and Rationality aren't oil and water -- they're apples and oranges.
The Circle of Reason's 2014 Parable and Aphorism of the Year are dedicated to Pope Francis, for his recognition and defense of atheists' "conscience" and "doing good"; his call for Christians to turn away from ideology and prejudice toward open dialogue with atheists and non-Christians, to further community goodwill, tolerance, peace, charity, economic justice, and preservation of the environment; and his New Year's message that "we belong to the same human family and we share a common destiny...(which) brings a responsibility for each to work so that the world becomes a community of brothers who respect each other, accept each other in one's diversity, and takes care of one another." Peace and long life, Pope Francis.
Parable of the Year: The One Way, The Many Ways
Eating only of the fallen fruit of the trees and the milk of grazing goats, the small tribe yielded to other living creatures under all circumstances.
They dwelled in huts built only of fallen branches, twigs and leaves, and moved out if insects made their home there.
They had few children, because too many exhausted the natural fruit and milk supply, and tilling the land to grow more fruit trees, or fencing it to domesticate more goats, would evict wildlife into homelessness.
The tribe built a mud brick hospice for dying animals, so that each could die a natural death with interference from none. Some of the dying thrashed in pain, but the tribespeople felt they should do nothing to hasten their end.
Few plants and animals ever died at the hands of the small tribe. The tribespeople decided this reward was worth their sacrifice of good homes, large families, and ready food.
Across the river, a large tribe ate of the flesh of cultivated plants and animals.
Understanding that Man must consume either the leavings, or the essence, of life, they reasoned that the killing of plants or animals was necessary for their tribe to thrive, grow and explore -- because only a few could live on fallen fruit and milk.
Yet they bred the plants and animals in open ranges to grow strong and, while living, live well and in harmony with their wild neighbors.
The tribe killed only for food, not pleasure, and killed only what they bred, to not decimate wildlife and so harm other tribes or their own descendants. And they killed painlessly, with alcohol or hand-fed poppy bulbs, to prevent suffering.
They built a fired-clay brick hospital for sick animals to recover, and when animals were dying helped end their suffering.
Many plants and animals both lived with, and were later killed by, the tribe for their food. The tribespeople decided that the lives of these plants and animals were good, their ends quick, and their use for the tribe's survival justified.
One day a woman from the small tribe, rinsing her long hair in the river's delta shoals, met there a woman from the large tribe.
While the first woman bathed and the second bottled and inebriated a farmed catfish, they talked of their disparate lives.
Each woman saw the other's earnest belief, and heard the logical arguments of the other that her people's actions were right, not wrong.
Yet as the sun set beneath the distant hills, the women stared at each other, perplexed -- with halting glances at one's stuporous fish and at the other's protruding ribs -- and turned away.
Later, each woman approached the wise ones of her tribe and asked, "How could we both be right?"
The old wise ones gave them the same answer -- "Reasoning people can still disagree."
Thus, logic is the straight path -- but leads from many places.
Dec 31, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: Denying our weaknesses strengthens them. -- via Harvey MacKay
Dedicated in the wake of the Target Holiday Data Breach, in admonishment of U.S. banks' refusal to join the rest of the world's countries in upgrading their antiquated, non-secure magnetic strip credit and debit cards to microchip smart cards -- saving their money only to enrich criminals, impoverish retailers, and harm millions of inconvenienced U.S. credit card and victimized U.S. debit card holders.
Parable of the Week: The Monkey, The Sloth
Rainforest carpeted the far horizons.
A monkey -- chattering, jumpy and impetuous -- oft made fun of a thoughtful and deliberate sloth.
"You are such a slowpoke!" the monkey yelled. "Can you do this?" And it back-flipped on a high branch over the shadowy abyss.
The sloth slowly turned one eye to the monkey and replied, "That looks fun; but you should also keep your tail wrapped around a side branch -- just in case."
The monkey laughed and hurled a dungball.
One morning a serpent slithered high into the tree where the monkey and sloth lived.
It coiled and tensed before the silent, watchful sloth.
As the monkey, on a lone branch beneath them, chattered for the sloth to run away, the serpent struck.
But the sloth let go of the branch on which it sat and fell away from the serpent's fangs, swinging down by one furry leg, which had been grasping a side branch.
The sloth's swing carried it back up behind the serpent and, reaching up with its heavy foreclaw, it simply snipped the serpent's stretched-out body in two.
As the fanged head of the dead serpent tumbled down toward the agog monkey, it startled and leapt high into the air -- but, not having considered the lone branch upon which it'd been hopping and prattling, the monkey grasped for another branch in vain.
Together, the dead serpent and the screaming monkey plummeted into the tenebrous mist far below.
Thus, thoughtlessness widens the hole through which the sands of our days pour -- let life pass as one considered grain after another.
December 21, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 3, "Emotion's Mastery"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: Reform can still be incremental; and incrementalism can still be reform.
Dedicated to the patience of Newtown, on the anniversary of the massacre of its children and teachers by a mentally ill gunman.
Parable of the Week: The Open Door, The Closed Door
Ruins of a temple to gods now lost stood before the brash explorer.
Therein lay a great hall, ending in two doors.
One of the doors, small and plain, was wide open.
The other, a large and ornately gilded door, was barred shut.
The explorer bent over and glanced beyond the small, wooden-slat door and saw but an empty chamber in which lay overturned a shabby straw basket.
"Bah!" his disgust echoed, in a procession of ghostly catcalls, through the cavernous cathedral.
He turned to the ornate, barred door with his crowbar.
Levering the heavy bar upright on its stony hinge, he quickly pulled the gilded door open, and ran into a large, dark chamber.
And promptly fell into a deep pit, to his death.
Slowly, the heavy bar tipped back and gradually pushed the gilded door closed, once more.
So did the temple's greatest treasure -- a yellow diamond as large as an owl's unblinking eye -- lie undiscovered in the bottom of the small, shabby straw basket, lying beyond a plain, wide-open door.
Thus, wise direction comes not just from open doors, but closed doors.
December 14, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: Clouds of pollution are the incarnation of clouded minds.
Dedicated in admonition of the Chinese coal industry's choking of the cities of Beijing and Shanghai.
Parable of the Week: The Log Cabin, The Breadfruit Tree
Tropical breezes wafted the salt-encrusted beard of the castaway, who dwelled on his Lilliputian island with but one, sole companion.
A great, spreading breadfruit tree.
As the years passed, the man became restless. Idling under the shade of the vast tree and chewing on a breadfruit, he said to himself, "I am the master of this domain! I want to have a nice house to prove I am a landowner!"
These thoughts stewed in his mind, until, one day, he suddenly grabbed a sharp stone from the black sand and, raising it high above his head, split the breadfruit tree into lumber.
He built a log cabin from the tree's trunk and branches, and placed a carved tree-bark crest, with his name engraved on it, on the archway of his front door. He read his name aloud and then danced about his new house, taking care not to trip over the hoards of fallen breadfruits.
He then piled all the many fallen breadfruits into his new kitchen shelves, cupboards, tabletops and bins. And with an ache in his back, he finally sat down on his new, wooden bed with its soft mattress made of the breadfruit tree's broad leaves, and he was finally happy -- happier than he had ever been.
That is, until he finished all the breadfruit.
Thus, the world is infinite only in dreams. To live in the world, the world must live too.
December 7, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: Acquisitiveness is an emotion, to be balanced with perspective.
Dedicated in admonishment of the forced servitude of retail employees on the Thanksgiving Day holiday, and of the Black Thursday mob riots.
Parable of the Week: The Yelling Man, The Reasoning Man
Anger was the cave dweller within the man who yelled his way through life.
He yelled at his son when the boy missed a soccer goal -- even though a small voice inside him said, "In truth, he and his team were outmatched this game."
He yelled at his field hands when the monsoon flattened their soybean crop, even though his small voice had said, "In truth, there was no way they could have saved this harvest."
As he barreled onward through his life, this angry man continued to ignore the small voice inside him.
Until one day it shut up.
For the dark remainder of his days, this man relished only in abusing all who crossed his path. But his pleasure was hollow -- because nothing ever seemed to go his way, and no man or woman called him friend.
Deliberation was the glacial spring within the man who reasoned his way through life.
He listened to truth's small voice -- and, in spite of his emotions, divulged only truth's words to his children and field hands, when they came to him in failure or fear. They were amazed that he always said the right thing, putting in perspective the hurts of the day.
As he reached outward through his life, the voice of truth grew in this reasonable man, until it spilled out of him like spring water, and nourished the same voice in all who crossed his path.
For the remainder of his days, both light and dark, this man felt the joy of clear and right actions taken, of the many things that went his way with effort and thoughtful persuasion, and of the many men and women who called him friend.
Thus, emotion unharnessed is the font of life's storms, and reason unleashed of life's balm.
November 30, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 3, "Emotion's Mastery"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: Silencing those who voice it cannot silence an idea.
Dedicated to JFK on the 50th anniversary of his assassination.
Parable of the Week: The Forceful, The Persuasive
Rulers of men oft rise at night.
Come into power upon the hastened death of his predecessor, he quickly cast off all whose ability threatened his supremacy. He declared himself king, and when he barked his imperial orders, those who disobeyed or hesitated were exiled or executed.
One day he was to receive in his royal court the Leader of a powerful neighboring country.
"This is a Leader?" the king asked, laughing, as his courtiers briefed him about the man he would soon meet. "He did not usurp power, but asked the people for it? He can be removed from power simply by a majority vote?"
He smirked. "And he has never held an Army commission, nor ever fired a gun! Hah!"
It shall be a simple matter to dominate this man in our trade negotiations, the king thought to himself.
As the Leader of the other country entered the throne room, the king ordered him, "Kneel!"
As the Leader kneeled, the king saw his face -- a face of complete calm and equanimity.
The king became angered. "Why aren't you afraid of me, little man! I could have you executed!"
The Leader replied, "So you could, but my people wish you to have this."
He passed a scroll to the king, who handed it on to his general and demanded it be read before the royal court.
Thus did the general read aloud the Leader's letter to the king -- who heard its words with growing incredulity and horror: "O King, we, the people of your neighboring country, have massed a great army and navy in support of our Leader, whom we love. Our economy is strong, and our armed forces are unified and at the ready in his support. We wish you well, but know that our Leader is to return unharmed, or your small military takeover will see this day its last day."
The Leader then said to the suddenly perspiring king, "It is my gift of persuasion that is my power. Using it I've led my people into prosperity. My might is their gratitude." Then the Leader gestured casually around him.
"Yet, look here, at the faces of all the men around you, O King. If gratitude resided there, indeed I would be afraid. But all I see is fear and hatred of you. In my country, these men would lay down their lives for their leader -- here, they will not."
The king, in his fear and rage, exploded.
"Kill him, and may war come!"
The king's general steeled himself, strode forward, unsheathed his sword, and, sinews steady, raised it high -- and brought it down not upon the Leader's neck, but upon his own king's.
After the thump of the head, the king's bejeweled body collapsed to the ground with the sound of dry leaves and tinkling chimes.
"Our King, the fool!" muttered the general, as he sheathed his bloody sword.
He turned to face the Leader. "If your people will agree to trade with us as peaceful neighbors, I will instate free elections for our people, too."
Thus, the power of muscle is weaker than the power of reason.
November 22, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: If warm, chop wood, carry water; if cold, chop water, carry wood.
Dedicated in supplication to the social and software architects of Healthcare.gov, to remember the importance of being adaptable.
Parable of the Week: The Fog, The Sun
Amid the ruins of a castle on a moor lived an old hermit and his young pupil.
One day the fog lay on the moor like a spent lover, and all was grey.
"See you the lowering fog, boy?" asked the hermit.
"Aye," replied the boy, "I can spy nary a foot beyond our keep, teacher."
Then his teacher asked, "And how is this fog like the lives of men?"
The boy pondered, then replied, "Teacher, I know many a man and woman, 'tis true, who can see no further in front o' their faces than we do now."
"Indeed!" the old man laughed. "But then, young one, what be the Sun that burns away the fog to show our far horizons?"
To this the boy only shook his head.
Gently the old hermit reached out with one long, withered finger, and tapped at the boy's forehead, and the boy felt the hermit's touch as if it were a droplet of flame.
"Here is your Sun, boy. Here is your Sun."
Thus, reason can lead to meaning and purpose -- by burning away the fog that lies ahead.
November 16, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: Fear not remorse, for it is birthed in high expectations.
Dedicated to U.S. state-level civil rights- and economic- initiatives to decriminalize and cease imprisonment for possessing marijuana or other recreational drugs.
Parable of the Week: The Dodo, The Crow
In a verdant field surrounding a farm lived a Dodo and a Crow.
One year the farmland was sold. The Dodo and the Crow watched in silence from nearby bushes, while the old farmer glanced about at his past, stared down into his future, then slapped his straw hat against his leg like a horsewhip and walked away.
Soon came a horde of earthmovers crawling with construction workers, who ripped up the crops, trees and wild underbrush -- to build a parking lot and tract homes.
The Dodo ran about in circles. It squawked disconsolately when it saw its nest crushed by a tractor, leaving no underbrush to build anew. That night the cold winds came, and, to put the squawking Dodo out of its misery, a crew worker impulsively bashed in its head with his shovel.
The Crow, too, lost its treetop nest the very next day. As the gnarled old oak fell and was chipped into mulch by workers, the Crow circled, a cruciform spectre, in the desolate sky. But, unlike the Dodo, the Crow set out the next day to build a new nest, where he could -- in the very top of the riggings used by the construction workers. With the crops all now laid waste, the Crow consumed the bodies of the shrews and mice uprooted from their nests and crushed under foot or wheel.
So did the Dodo find a new way to die, and the Crow find a new way to live.
Thus, the erasing of one path limns another.
November 9, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: To spoil something, overexpose it.
Dedicated to the willingness, prior to any legislative mandate or ecological-pollutant toxicology report, of the CEOs of cosmetic companies Unilever (Dove, Ponds), Johnson & Johnson (Neutrogena, Aveeno), The Body Shop, L'Oreal, and Colgate-Palmolive, to phase out the use of plastic microbeads in their facial scrubs, and to replace their non-biodegradable plastic beads (which have evaded waste-water treatment filters and invaded the Great Lakes) with biodegradable sea-salt or crushed seed-based microbeads. Superb corporate stewardship is not incompatible with -- and indeed necessitates -- environmental stewardship.
Parable of the Week: The Moneyed Politician, The Lone Candidate
Voting was the pride of the tribespeople.
They called their leaders "the People's servants."
A tribeswoman saw one day that the law allowing pig farms to dump their manure in the village's stream saved money for the farms' owners but sickened the small children, and would someday sicken the entire tribe.
"It is time for me to run for leader, to repeal this law and help my tribe," she announced.
As a lone candidate she met -- one by one -- as many tribespeople as she could before Election Day.
But her opponent was a moneyed politician.
As lawmaker he'd passed the very same law the lone candidate sought to repeal. The pig farmers, who'd profited greatly when no longer required to cart away and bury their manure, lavished him with gold coins.
With this gold the moneyed politician paid for rallies -- hiring poor people to attend and cheer. He passed out free food. He printed pamphlets proclaiming he was "A Leader for All the People."
And he paid others to stand in the Village Square and heckle the lone candidate for her "ignorant" rejection of support for the pig farmers.
Come Election Day, the lone candidate -- and her dream of a clean and healthy tribe -- was defeated. The People indeed had had the vote -- but one dictated by enticements and advertisements.
Over the next decade, the tribespeople watched numbly as illness decimated them. Even the pig farmers eventually went bankrupt as the people -- their own customers -- fled to distant unspoiled lands.
During all those years, the lone candidate's voice went unheard -- for lack of money.
Thus, principal can make your decision, but only principle can make your decision right.
November 2, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 3, "Emotion's Mastery"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: The wise recognize their idiocy.
Dedicated in admonishment of the decision of the Executive Director of South Carolina's Spartanburg Soup Kitchen to insult and shun volunteers to her charity who were atheists. Unlike the recent laudable outreach of Pope Francis to the atheist community, the Spartanburg Soup Kitchen Director's assumption that morality is not a human trait but only a trait of religion was false, derogatory, and even factually refuted by the very fact that the atheists who she turned away had volunteered to serve (and to do so even anonymously).
Parable of the Week: The Unkind, The Kind
Charity workers gave food and clothes to those with none.
The first charity worker, a devout man, instructed the beggars who came for a meal or shirt to first pray with him -- where he intoned, "Let us give thanks to the Lord, your provider and your soul's salvation."
Then his icy eyes, cracking open above his tightly clasped hands, glinted coldly at each beggar, as he sternly demanded, "Have you asked the Lord to save your soul?"
And only if the beggar said yes would he receive a meal or a shirt for his back.
The few who balked, or said they believed in no God, the worker sent to the back of the line to "think it over."
So did this worker's charity line slow to a trickle -- until few beggars even approached his table, heaped with food and clothing, where he stood like a crab poised for an approaching minnow.
The second charity worker was also a devout man, but felt it was not his place to demand anything from those with nothing -- and felt that all who came to him in need were kindred souls, no matter their beliefs.
He passed out meals and shirts -- and a quiet ear -- to all who approached him.
He asked from them nothing at all.
All of the beggars blessed this worker, either with their thanks, their prayers, or even their own volunteering.
So did this worker's charity line magnify, soon splitting into tributaries.
And at their headwaters stood his former beggars.
Thus, kindness flows from recognizing kindredness.
October 28, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: Silence can roar.
Dedicated in admonishment of the Minneapolis-St. Paul Catholic Archdiocese's clerical leadership's suppression of recent allegations of priestly sexual misconduct -- seeking to protect the body of the Church at the expense of its soul.
Parable of the Week: The Small Soul, The Great Soul
Great Sky River flowed above two raven-haired women of a forest tribe, long ago.
One young woman lived her life back turned, instead of face on.
She combed her long, black hair to entice the young men, but cared nothing for what lay beyond the cypress forest, or the far shore of Great Sky River.
Over years spent neither exploring nor questioning, her spirit shrank into a hard little ball and died, long before the death of her body.
But the other young woman lived her life face on, instead of back turned.
She ignored her hair and the young men, at least long enough to ask, "What is beyond the edge of the cypress forest, and beyond the edge of the horizon?"
"Who lives on the far shore of Great Sky River, or at its headwaters, or its end?"
Over years spent exploring, questioning, and gaining in wisdom, her spirit swelled so, that it could no longer remain inside her body.
And she overflowed into her people -- living on as teachings long remembered, even after her body had long since died.
Thus, live on while your spirit is dead, or die while your spirit lives on.
October 19, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: Ability may stumble behind the wings of vision -- but where better to hasten?
Dedicated in supplication to the website contractors of the federal and state online Health Insurance Exchanges, that they work not only industriously, but smartly, to identify and debug the software errors currently barricading most online applicants from successfully registering or applying for healthcare plans.
Parable of the Week: The Untested, The Failed
Mother and daughter sang in their dreams.
When still a young, unmarried woman, the mother had practiced singing lessons until her voice was as beautiful as a songbird's.
Yet she so feared the scorn of others that, after sneaking into the back of the auditoriums during auditions, she stood mute, never stepping forward.
She took a husband and birthed her daughter -- who, baptized in lullabies, was the only audience to the gentle glory of her mother's voice.
The daughter, when still a young, unmarried woman, practiced singing lessons as had her mother, until her voice too was as a songbird's.
Yet she had heard so often of her mother's fear of scorn, and of her cowering in the dark recesses of audition halls, that on her own very first audition she marched to the stage, blurted out her name, and sang.
She was scorned.
But she sang before many audiences -- and scorn gradually transformed into grudging, then free, approbation.
She failed to scale that pinnacle of which both she and her mother had dreamed -- but still she was satisfied, for she had given her dream her very best.
Such satisfaction forever eluded her mother.
Thus, it is better to fail than to never have tried. -- via Theodore Roosevelt
October 12, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 3, "Emotion's Mastery"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: Absolutism is the greatest, yet most destructive, passion on earth. -- via Monsignor Lorenzo Albacete
Dedicated in supplication to the mainstream of the GOP Party in the U.S. House of Representatives, that they consider whether their goal of smaller, more effective U.S. governance will indeed be well-served by their Tea Party wing's distinct goal of defaulting and amputating the U.S. government.
Parable of the Week: The Winner, The Loser
None remembered how they'd crossed an ocean to find their home, this band of contented islanders who fished for their livelihoods.
The king of the islanders grew bored one morning, and decided to hold a race. He invited all comers to contest who could most quickly run all the way round their large island.
One by one or in small groups, the youngest and strongest of the men and women walked up to the huge boulder, half-buried in beach sand, marking the race's start.
But then a fat woman waddled up and joined the starting line.
Amid howls of laughter, the king turned to her with a frown. "Why do you join the contest, woman?! You will most certainly lose -- indeed, you are likely to come in last!"
The fat woman replied, "My goal is to finish the run, my King, not to beat the younger and stronger ones."
The king harrumphed, but let her stay.
He climbed high onto the rock in a circling cloud of dislodged seagulls, then stood, plucked from his head his straw hat with its king's garland of feathers, held it high above the hushed throng, and dropped it into the sand.
In a burst of cheers, the racers broke off the line in a fast lope, and quickly disappeared around the eastern cliffs -- all but the fat woman, who bobbed slowly far behind them.
After three hours, the first of the runners rounded the palm trees to the south, and crossed the finish line with legs pumping to the cheers of the islanders. Very soon the other racers streamed in, and were welcomed by the crowds.
But instead of moving off to the award ceremony and festivities, all the islanders, and even the racers, wanted to stay -- to see if the fat woman could really finish.
They danced and sang songs on the beach all afternoon as they waited for her. As the sun began to set behind the island hills, she finally appeared rounding the palm trees, bobbing steadily toward them.
The islanders and racers screamed in delight.
Even the king found himself running excitedly with his people to greet her, to cheer her on to the finish line.
Thus, to win a contest, know what the contest is against.
October 5, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: Everything is becoming.
Dedicated to the rollout of affordable private health insurance markets for previously uninsured and uninsurable U.S. citizens and legal residents, variously known during its history as Dolecare, the conservative Heritage Foundation's Mandated Private Medical Insurance Market, Romneycare, Obamacare, and The Affordable Care Act.
Parable of the Week: The Plan, The Act
He was a man with plans.
Plans spun dizzily through his mind every day.
He talked constantly of how special his plans were -- of how important his plans would be, for his people, for the world, for the future.
And he talked of how he hoped to find time to write down and start his plans soon, or someday.
But one day -- a planning day, like all the rest -- his heart stopped, and he fell to the ground.
Silently, he took his plans with him into forever.
There was another man with plans.
They too spun crazily through his mind every day.
But this man saw that talking wasn't doing -- so he didn't boast about his plans, or claim them special.
Instead, he wrote all his plans down.
Then he took a deep breath every morning after awakening, and put his plans, starting with the most important, into action.
Some of his plans failed soon after taking wing, which he mourned.
Some he had no time to nurture, and passed on to others, whom he blessed with his best wishes.
Some of his plans never took wing at all -- for a star flies higher than any wing can reach.
But a few of his plans flew into action.
And they remade the world, better.
The day came that this man's heart, too, stopped, and he too fell to the ground, silent.
But his acts lived forever.
Thus, your plans die with you, but your acts live on.
September 28, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: Don't exist in the past. Don't exist in the future. Exist now.
Dedicated in admonishment of the U.S. House of Representatives' insistence on returning to a past where the Affordable Care Act did not exist -- and, in attempting so, to injure America's economic health and future.
Parable of the Week: The Door, The World
Swooning in adoration of a beautiful girl from his village, a boy abandoned his father's house.
Loitering by the front door of the girl's villa, the boy bowed to her father at the entryway, and, seeing through it the girl smile radiantly at him from an atrium balcony, asked permission of her father to court her.
The girl's father scoffed, replying, "Boy, you have no family, no money, nor even yet hair on your face!"
Then the girl's father stepped out onto the front stoop of his villa, and, reaching back, slammed the entry door shut behind him.
The boy's last glimpse of the object of his infatuation was of wide eyes and a red mouth -- shaped, just like his, into a large, surprised "O."
Disconsolate, the boy hung his head, and pleaded to her father, "Now what do I have, sir, without her?"
The father laughed uproariously, and, reaching out to clap the small lad on the shoulder, turned him about-face, picked him up into the air, and tossed him into the street.
As the boy thumped to earth in a billowing cloud of dust, he heard a merry voice reply, "You've the rest of the world, lad!"
Thus, when one door closes, the rest of the world remains. -- via Parker Palmer
September 21, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: Do not conquer the mountain -- just climb it.
Dedicated to the new U.S., Russian, and Syrian diplomatic initiative to eliminate Syria's chemical weapons.
Parable of the Week: The Lemming, The Eagle
Eaglets, their parents lost to a hunter's rifle, hatched in a nest at the top of a tall cliff.
They hatched into loneliness, their cries unheard -- save for the ears of a small lemming.
This mother lemming had co-opted and fur-lined the nest for her own brood - but, as all good mothers do, brought the eaglets half-chewed worms that boiled from the rain-soaked earth.
She and her growing brood cared for the chicks as if they were their own. But they did not know how to teach their brother eaglets to fly, not knowing themselves. So the eaglets clumsily hopped along the top of the cliff behind their adopted lemming family.
Sometimes the eaglets sat and gazed at seabirds wheeling above them in the sky.
"See how feathery and long their arms are!" one would say, "just like ours!" -- and both brothers knew something was wrong, but not quite what.
Then one day a great, inland wind blew over the cliffs to the sea, and the lemmings hunkered down in a thicket. But the two eaglets, now nearly full-grown, were too large to hunker in the thicket with them.
The wind caught in their feathers, and blew them over the cliff.
One of the brother eaglets curled into a small, still ball, like a lemming, and plummeted into the sea.
But his brother eaglet cast his fears, and himself, into the face of the winds, and opened wide his arms. As his wings unfurled to their full, majestic span, they caught the currents of the sky.
And, become an eagle at last, he soared over land and sea, soon to master all.
Thus, when pushed off a cliff, try to fly. -- via Babylon 5
September 14, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 3, "Emotion's Mastery"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: Act on impulse and reap regret.
Dedicated to the call to question past assumptions of the role of the U.N. versus the U.S. as the world's policeman, and the predisposition to use military action before exhausting all diplomatic and economic sanctions to enforce government morality.
Parable of the Week: The Sunflower, The Barrenwort
The Sunflower dwelt in a small, tree-lined garden.
It grew tall, sinuous and broad of leaf in the fulsome light of warm days, and seeded many children.
But some fell into shade, and the Sunflower's face turned away as those children withered and died -- from lack of a soupçon of the sun's brilliant tang on their yearning leaves.
The Barrenwort dwelt in the same garden, beneath the dark crook of a tree.
It too grew broad, ruddy red and majestic, its crimson bloom bathed in the cool light of the moon, and it too seeded many children.
But some fell into light, and the Barrenwort held dark vigil as those children were stillborn -- from searing sunrays on their tender leaves.
Thus, seek the soil in which you can grow.
September 7, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: Shed new light -- or be a candlemaker.
Dedicated to the charitable fund-raining drive for homeless veterans, Blistering at the Margins, of the Flagstaff Freethinkers and the Executive Director of the Secular Coalition for Arizona, Serah Blain -- who is living on the streets with the homeless vets during the drive. Such dedicated charity by the atheist community will lead those who have wrongly presumed atheists are immoral to question the basis of their own morality.
Parable of the Week: The Negated, The Affirmed
It was her caste, in this ancient land.
But she believed -- believed more than anything in her young life -- that she was the true equal of any who trod the soil of their land carrying the red spot of the highborn.
Slavishly working into the night, she saved money to enroll in private school, because she was forbidden to attend a public one.
On the first day she boarded a trolley for school, the trolley soon filled with highborn.
Frowning faces with red dots glared down at her where she sat, and voices called a gendarme.
She sat still and calm, looking into all their faces, and then saw, peeking out from behind a saffron sari, the small, red-dotted face of a little girl. She smiled at the little one.
Then a gendarme pushed up to her, and yelled, "Untouchable, leave the trolley to make way for the highborn, who cannot sit next to you!"
The untouchable woman then looked the little girl straight in the face, and, instead of silently bowing and backing off the trolley, as she'd done countless times before, she straightened her back and said, "No. It is my right to sit here, as it is theirs to sit beside me."
Shock and anger erupted.
As two gendarmes hauled her off the trolley by her legs and arms like a sack of grain, she caught the troubled glance of the little girl, saw her pluck at her mother's shawl, and heard, "Mama, it's wrong to hurt the nice lady!"
And, as she sat in the dirt and looked up to see the little girl stare sadly back at her through a window of the receding trolley, she knew, knew, that she'd won a victory that day.
Thus, don't contradict who you are. -- via Parker Palmer
August 24, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: Level is the path to the peak of Shambhala.
Dedicated in admonishment of the Egyptian military's and secular leadership's fall into the same trap as the theocratic elected government that preceded its coup: The inability to question the assumption that eliminating human rights can ever be just.
Parable of the Week: The Climber, The Precipice
Pride etched the stony face of a rock climber, who could scale the sheerest cliff or overhang using just her iron fingers and toes, and her iron stomach.
Cliffs from which most men turned away in fright she leapt upon -- her fingers digging into cracks too small to see from below.
Yet one day the climber chanced upon a precipice scoured by the breath of the underworld -- a sheer, volcanic glass wall so vertical and pristine, that she could see her own dismayed face reflected in its smooth black mien.
For days she camped beneath the black precipice, staring through binoculars for the slightest cracks and handholds, but saw none.
In desperation, she hammered spear-like pitons, but the wall merely sheared off clean facets at each hammer-blow. She made suction cups for her hands and feet, but even those could grip for no more than a few vertical meters the face of what seemed now to her a looming black obelisk -- her gravestone.
After many days sunk into depression, she awoke at dawn and saw the obelisk reflect the pink rays of the morning sun.
Suddenly she knew in her bones that this wall would remain, for all time, impregnable to her.
And in that moment the black wall suddenly transformed, behind her eyes, from a black gravestone into the shadow of her long-ago departed father, who loomed tall over her to shelter her from harm.
And so the climber walked away from certain destruction, standing safe on the ground.
Thus, a fall reveals a thing of value -- where solid ground lies. -- via Parker Palmer
August 17, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 3, "Emotion's Mastery"), by Frank H. Burton.
"Parable of the Week" excerpts from prior years will be available in the forthcoming book, The Parables of Reason, ©2007-2014, 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
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)
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 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
Like our Parables or Tenets? Tell others about us, or link your blog or website to ours!
Want to Join The Circle of Reason and help save the world? Simply E-mail us your name and your city, state and country of residence, to join The Circle's international member roster. Membership is free!
Seeking a shared haven of true ecumenism for a saner world? Visit one of our Local Circles or Online Communities (Virtual Local Circles) -- public forums for cross-cultural and cross-belief dialogue -- and chime in!
Want increased clarity about your life? Join our Clarity Circles.
The Circle also encourages you to check out our Links -- unaffiliated dot-orgs we think are helping bring about more rational stewardship of our society and our planet.
The Circle is also organizing its own unique programs -- E-mail us to join:
1. StrikeForce -- Most bad events in the world are the consequences of our own actions magnified by 6.6 billion others acting in the same way. To remind us we all need to go "on strike" to avoid doing the things that, when done en masse, harm society and our planet, we are sponsoring the Circle StrikeForces, including DrugStrike, BingeStrike and its "242" (Two Drinks for Two Decades) celebration, BullyStrike, CliqueStrike, SlurStrike, CheatStrike, TrashStrike and PetrolStrike.
2. Reason-Monitors -- Much of what passes for public discourse is filled with denials of reality, unquestioned assumptions (potentially false realities), and emotive arguments or actions (dissociation from reality). Reason-Monitors will flag such errors, to help keep the ship of state on an even keel. As part of this effort, The Circle will be publishing an online periodical, The Reason Monitor, wherein volunteer editors will highlight illogical reasoning and the use of invective or counterfactual emotive arguments in public commentary.
3. Bad hominem Campaign -- We ask the public to question its long-cherished assumption that emotive, ad hominem attacks are moral; The Circle of Reason asserts that, because such argumentation seeks to persuade only by evoking emotionality, it is indeed not moral and should be frowned upon in civil society. So the next time you see an insult masked as an argument, stand up and speak its true name -- immorality.
4. The Dialogium -- Most people ignore soapbox speakers. It takes a patient, reasoning, and where possible even facilitative, strategic approach to open and then widen avenues of reasoned discourse between those of very disparate beliefs. The Dialogium is The Circle's unique forum for facilitative, reasoning transbelief dialogue, encouraging more reasoning, open-minded leadership of the disparate groups represented among our membership and within the broader community.
Finally, give us Feedback. We believe in the mind -- so tell us what's on yours!
In the soil of every belief can be inscribed a common circle -- wherein stand the reasoning.
As an international organization for pluralistic rationalism (plurationalism), The Circle of Reason sponsors or endorses local circles of reasoning dialogue and fellowship between those with disparate beliefs and backgrounds.
Local Circles of Reason are literally neighborhood congregations whose very assembly across the gulf of human difference evinces a communal belief in the power of logical and reasoning thought to transform our world and help humankind attain its next major step toward moral and philosophical maturity.
There is no creedal test, nor any tithing or membership fee, to be a Member of The Circle of Reason-International or of a Local Circle -- theist or atheist, conservative or liberal, rich or poor, you are welcome.
To find (or startup) a Local Circle of Reason, E-mail us your name and your city, state and country of residence.
If you're the first in your community to join The Circle of Reason, ask our assistance in organizing a Local Circle in your city as a Meetup.com group -- we'll cover the Meetup Organizer's fee! Local Circle meetups for reasoning dialogue should practice plurationalism by whom they invite (everyone), what worldviews they accommodate (all), what membership fee they levy (none), and what leadership they practice (consensus). Local Circle meetups are held at times not conflicting with Friday Prayers or Saturday or Sunday Sabbath ceremonies.
The Circle of Reason, as a sponsor of inter-belief dialogue and fellowship, seeks neither to convert people to any belief nor to deconvert them from any belief, but to encourage all to use reason to guide their beliefs, and their practice and communication of their worldviews. Local Circles are thus encouraged to be founded in and sponsored by (and between) neighborhood churches, synagogues, mosques, temples and atheist/humanist groups, between all tribal groups, and between conservative and liberal political groups, while welcoming members of every (and no) tribe, faith, belief or creed -- so that in reasoning dialogue and fellowship we all may learn how to combine our diversity of worldviews without dogmatism, aggression, coercion, or invective.
Finally, if you're not sure about joining the pluralistic rationalists of The Circle of Reason, google Star Trek's Vulcan "IDIC" symbol of diversity+logic and ask yourself, "What Would Surak Do?"
Your e-mail address and member info shall remain private and will not be released to anyone, including other Circle members, without your request.
Gather in, speak out, listen up, get down.
Want to seek out new logical life, and new rational civilizations? To clearly go where no one has gone before?
Want to find, recruit, converse with and encourage -- from all walks of life, all biologies, all beliefs, all societies -- those who are your own kinsmen and kinswomen - the reasoning kind?
Want to discuss the role of reason, or its absence, in our "modern" society?
Want to help humankind at long last attain philosophical and moral maturity?
And you want to do it online?
Then you're looking to join one of COR's "Virtual Local Circles":
1. Facebook Circle of Reason -- FCOR was "ungrouped" by Zuck's mandatory Facebook Group Archiving in 2008, but has since re-launched; join this online COR group to read updates on The Circle and to find reasoning friends from all corners of the planet. (FCOR Facebook Group relaunched March, 2008)
2. Beliefnet Circle of Reason -- Check out BCOR's "Timely Topic" forum posts to read online members' past reasoning dialogues on religious, interfaith and secular issues of their day. (BCOR launched April 2008)
3. The Round Table -- Pull up a chair to The Round Table, COR's own ad-free webforum. (CORRT awaits seed members in 2013; login and post about why YOU decided to join The Circle!)
4. Google+ Circle of Reason -- Have you got a Mac or PC with video/microphone capability? Then join Google+ and G+COR, to group video chat and participate in online Clarity Circles using Google+ Hangout. (G+COR launched April, 2012)
Join FCOR, BCOR, CORRT or G+COR...and own your future.
BCOR and CORRT webforums guarantee users' privacy by permitting username avatars and by not disclosing users' IDs or login e-mail addresses.
Reason, like the sun, burns away the fog that lies ahead.
Want increased clarity about a big decision in your life?
Willing to help another through an important life choice by simply -- and only -- asking questions to help them perceive the realities, assumptions, and emotions that underlie their dilemma?
You're looking for the tradition of communal clear thinking historically begun by the Quakers, and which we continue today -- Clarity Circles:
To begin or join a real-world Clarity Circle, E-mail us your name, city, state and country of residence, for assistance in setting up a local Clarity Circle Meetup.
To begin or join an online Clarity Circle as a public, permanently viewable discussion board thread, visit one of our Online Communities and start a Clarity Circle thread.
To begin or join an online Clarity Circle as a non-permanent group text chat, join the Facebook Group Facebook Circle of Reason and post a proposed day, time & time zone for your Clarity Circle event as a "Facebook Chat."
To begin or join an online Clarity Circle as a non-permanent group video chat, join the upcoming Google+ site G+COR and post a proposed day, time & time zone for your Clarity Circle event as a "Google+ Hangout." (G+COR will debut by mid-March, 2012)
Our archive of past Opinion-Editorials from The Circle of Reason and links to news editorials on pluralistic rationalist methods. Excerpts from this web archive may not be reproduced without written consent of the author, or reproduced in any form for profit.
"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)