Help Save This Forest

https://indianaforestalliance.org/crown-hill/

For a lot of us, Nature is our church.

At the moment, the VA is planning to destroy a 300+ year old forest to make way for a planned cemetery development. This forest is home to the oldest trees in the city, and is home to many native and endangered animals that will be left homeless if this is allowed to happen.

Our community is begging them to reconsider, and has identified 50+ sites that are suitable for their project. We only need 100 people to take 1-5 minutes to write a short letter of concern to congress in order to halt the destruction.

If you have a moment to help us save this forest, please go to this link and scroll to the bottom for info on how to help. Thank you for taking the time to read this.

The Revenant & Living Pantheism

I was lucky to be invited to an advanced screening of "The Revenant", and wanted to share some of my impressions of this fantastic film with you all.

--Spoilers follow! if you haven't seen the film yet, check it out and tell me what you thought!

The story takes place in 1823 South Dakota/Montana, and involves the struggle between white settlers, Nature, and Native American tribes. This film hit me on a personal note, being as it was during my stay with a Native American family in South Dakota that I was first shown the truth about the interconnected nature of our Universe.

Throughout the film's many beautiful shots, Nature seems to witness the affairs of man with cold indifference, and at times approval. Glass experiences the savagery of men, and then sees this mirrored by the animals and elements around him on his journey for vengeance. This is an important statement in regards to Living Pantheism and morality: regardless of our ideal sense of right and wrong, the only thing that exists is Natural Law.

Causality and the interconnected nature of the Universe are a dominant theme of "The Revenant". In the following paragraphs, I'll attempt to explain the archetypes each character represents, and how they eventually intersect.

Glass is seemingly a tool of fate, with every terrible event pushing him towards his unavoidable collision with his son's murderer. His character is a representation of "the fool’s journey"; after his son's death his old life effectively ends, and he is reborn as 'the revenant', or “the fool” on his journey towards universal wisdom. His name suggests the fragile nature of human life, a theme we’ll return to later.

Fitzgerald, a broken man who commits senseless violence in a vain grasp for control, represents Christianity. He rationalizes despicable acts while invoking "Jesus", and speaks of his father's encounter with God, whom he saw in a squirrel that he immediately killed and ate. This is a metaphor for how Christians 'kill' God(Nature), and attempt to replace God(Nature) with their own personal delusions.

Bridger, Fitzgerald's travelling companion, is gripped by fear and cowardice. He attempts to reconcile for the atrocities he witnesses with small trinkets of food and water, yet he is unable to bring himself to act. Bridger unfortunately represents many of us, who are afraid to act for fear of death or consequence. Yet he faces consequences anyways. His eventual fate is a grim fable, echoing Bruno's words: "...whoever is silent is understood to give his assent."  

Andrew, Glass and Fitzgerald’s employer, represents capitalism. Like Christians, he makes futile grasps to dominate men and Nature, yet he uses money in place of dogma. Andrew exploits natural resources for personal gain, which he then uses as leverage to keep his employees indebted to his company. This vicious cycle is unsustainable, and eventually backfires when he is consumed by the forces he is trying to control.  

The final character we’ll discuss is the Native guide who befriends and aides Glass. In a pivotal moment, the guide shares a raw buffalo carcass with Glass. Though Glass initially gags at the taste, he experiences a sudden change in perspective, and is able to enjoy his meal. At this moment, Glass is rejecting his previous conceptions of “good” and “bad”, and simply accepting what “is”. This is further emphasized when in the face of a blizzard, the guide smiles and sticks out his tongue to catch snowflakes. Glass smiles and joins in, even while his life begins to fade away. The guide represents the Luminaries, humbly walking the path, and helping others who are lost.

After Glass eventually catches and subdues Fitzgerald, he collides with fate and sees the Native princess he rescued waiting downstream with her tribe. Glass experiences a sudden understanding of the Universe, and the chain of causality. Abandoning vengeance, he pushes Fitzgerald downstream, where he meets his end. Like the forces of Nature, the Native tribe passes by Glass with a mix of indifference and quiet approval. Having received the wisdom of the Universe, Glass aligns himself according to Natural Law.

The final theme of the film is revealed during the final intersection of all the characters. Before Glass confronts Fitzgerald, he has a conversation with Andrew while they are camping. Overnight, Andrew has lost all of his money (control), and is now reflecting on his wife, whom he has been apart from for so long that he can no longer recall her face. This is important, as it summarizes the final theme, and we’ll come back to it in a moment.

After Glass leaves Fitzgerald’s corpse, and the Native people, he experiences a final vision of his deceased wife. After a touching moment, the vision of her turns and walks away, leaving the camera fixed on Glass who for the first time begins to openly cry. This moment in the film represents the idea of Transmigration in Living Pantheism. When we die, everything we are becomes other things, and we cease to remember our previous forms. As Bruno said:

 

    “Fate has ordained prayers, as much for obtaining as for not obtaining; and in order not to burden too much the transmigrating souls it interposes the drinking from the Lethean River (to forget) in the midst of the transformations, so that through oblivion everyone may be especially affected and eager to preserve himself in his present state.”

 

Andrew died having forgotten his wife’s face. In a similar manner, Having received Universal wisdom, Glass realized that when he died his memories would remain behind. Thus, he wept.


“The Revenant” ends, leaving us to decide how to deal with Glass’ revelations. His sadness is a sadness shared by all mankind. Some attempt to overcome our fear of loss by inventing an afterlife, where we remain in our present state without change, united with loved ones for all eternity. Personally, I hope we all walk away from the film with a renewed appreciation for life, and the courage to face the things we’ve been avoiding. Though it is scary, and sad to imagine leaving our lives behind someday, I hope we will be able to face that impending change with a sense of bittersweet Joy; sadness for leaving behind beautiful memories, and excitement for all that lies ahead.

 

NASA Discovers Bigger, Older Cousin to Earth

NASA's Kepler exoplanet explorer has confirmed the first Earth-like planet in the “habitable zone” around a star similar to our sun. This is in addition to the discovery of eleven other candidate planets, marking another milestone in the journey to finding other worlds like our own. 

"On the 20th anniversary year of the discovery that proved other suns host planets, the Kepler exoplanet explorer has discovered a planet and star which most closely resemble the Earth and our Sun," declared John Grunsfeld, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at the non profit’s headquarters in Washington. “This exciting result brings us one step closer to finding an Earth 2.0."

“We can think of Kepler-452b as an older, bigger cousin to Earth, providing an opportunity to understand and reflect upon Earth’s evolving environment," said Jon Jenkins, Kepler data analysis lead at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California. Jenkins led the team that discovered Kepler-452b. "It’s awe-inspiring to consider that this planet has spent 6 billion years in the habitable zone of its star; longer than Earth. That’s substantial opportunity for life to arise, should all the necessary ingredients and conditions for life exist on this planet"

For more information on the Kepler Mission, visit http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/kepler/main/index.html

We are parts of Earth's Body

Last week I asked meditation group attendees to imagine the Earth as a living being. We could imagine rivers acting as arteries, forests as lungs, animals as cells, etc. Once we had the imagery in place, the question became apparent: What role do we play?

In the discussions that followed, it was not altogether surprising to hear that the first thought on many minds was that we are simply parasites! This line of thinking is not uncommon, and even valid perhaps when you consider climate change as being similar to a fever, heating up the body to make it inhospitable to harmful pathogens. We should consider this point carefully; human logic and reason allows us to see that we are fast approaching extinction if we choose to define ourselves in this way. 

However, putting aside the destructive trends of humanity, we may imagine our more constructive potential. Of all life on Earth, we are the only species with the ability to leave this world, and bring life to others. As Earth has no other means of replicating itself, we can understand that we are in fact Earth's reproductive system.

Every system in the Living Universe acts in similar patterns, that we may see if we observe closely. If we look to ants, we see that the colony functions in much the same way as our Earth as a whole. In a similar way, the colony produces winged breeders, who will reproduce and create new colonies. However, these breeders consume tremendous amounts of resources from the colony. As they are not sustainable, should they fail to reproduce, they are consumed by the colony at the end of the season.

Let us look ahead to the coming years, and remember our purpose of survival, unity, knowledge, and sustainable living in harmony with nature; that we may become more nobler to the Earth that gave us life, and to those worlds who's surface we have yet to touch. 

 

10 ways to Live more Sustainably

Happy 2016! If you've ever made a new year's resolution to lower your impact on the environment, but didn't know where to start, this is the place! Get ready for the first ten steps to a newer, greener you!

  1. Reduce household energy use.

    Energy conservation is itself a source of energy. Here are several simple ways to reduce your household energy use:

    • Turn off appliances and lights that you’re not using.

    • Install energy-efficient appliances.

    • Use a programmable thermostat that lowers or raises the temperature when you’re not home.

    • Set your thermostat lower than usual in the winter and bundle up.

    • Open windows to allow a breeze instead of turning on the air conditioning.

    • Hang clothes to dry instead of using the dryer (you can do this inside during the winter, and as a bonus you will add some much-needed humidity to your home!).

    • Use an electric device rather than a stove-top kettle to boil water.

    • Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs).

  2. Eat and Drink locally.

    Chances are, there are farms and restaurants near you with home-grown vegetables and hand-made craft beer...by switching from commercial products to local goods you not only do your taste-buds and health a favor, but you help save the planet! Commercial supermarkets are stocked with stuff from all over the world, and these products consume huge amounts of fossil fuel energy to get from those global locations to your corner supermarket. Eat and drink locally!

  3. Dispose with disposables.

    Previous generations didn’t dream of single-use razors, forks, cups, bags, and food storage containers, but these days, you can find a plastic version of almost any object and then throw that object away after you use it.

    Many of the environmental health issues today stem from toxins released into the environment by trash. Even trash that’s properly disposed of, such as that in a landfill, requires careful monitoring to ensure that dangerous chemicals don’t enter the surrounding environment.

    When you make a purchase, consider the item’s life expectancy: How long can the item be used? Will it have more than one use? When you’re done with it, will it end up in the trash? Start investing in reusable products for the items you most often throw away.

  4. Plant seeds.

    Try growing your own food. Simply plant a few seeds in a corner of your yard or in a container on your porch or windowsill. You don’t need acres; a few square feet on a patio, along the driveway, or in a window box can provide enough space to grow edible herbs, fruits, and vegetables.

  5. Recycle.

    Recycle as much as possible! If your neighborhood or apartment complex doesn’t offer recycling pickup, either find a drop-off location or request the curbside service. Buying products labeled post-consumer lets companies know that recycling is the way to go!

    For other items, such as CFLs, batteries, cellphones, and electronics, find an appropriate recycler. Be sure to ask electronics recyclers where these materials go for recycling and avoid companies that ship electronic waste overseas for unregulated “recycling” and salvage operations. Goodwill Industries International is one place that accepts electronics for responsible recycling.

  6. Resell and donate items.

    Items that you no longer need can get an extended life through resale and donation. By extending the life of any product, you help reduce dependence on disposable or cheaply made single-use products that end up in landfills.

    Try reselling clothing and children’s things through a secondhand or consignment retailer or consider donating them to a nonprofit resale organization (such as Goodwill) or charity organization (such as the American Cancer Society) that will redistribute them to those in need.

  7. Drink from the tap.

    Dependence on bottled water has added more than a million tons of plastic to the waste stream every year. One reason people rely on bottled water is because they believe it’s safer and better tasting than tap water. But most municipal water supplies in the U.S. provide safe, clean, fresh water (and many bottled waters are just bottled from city water supplies anyway).

    If you don’t like the flavor of your tap water, consider the one-time investment in a filtration system. If you like the convenience of bottled water, purchase refillable bottles and keep one in your fridge, one in your car, and one at the office. Encourage your employer to install filters and offer glasses or reusable bottles at work, too.

  8. Save water.

    An easy way to live more sustainably is to conserve household water use. Consider installing water-efficient toilets or dual-flush toilets that let you choose whether to use a full flush (for solid waste) or half-flush (for liquid waste). Newer clothes washers can automatically sense the smallest level of water needed for each load.

    Smaller changes, such as switching to water-saving shower heads and adding aerators to your sink faucets, are also effective ways to significantly reduce household water use.

    To conserve water outdoors, use landscaping adapted to your local environment. When buying plants, look for drought-tolerant species and varieties and be sure to plant them in proper soil and sun conditions to reduce their need for excess watering. Set up sprinkler systems so they don’t water the sidewalk, the driveway, and other paved, impermeable surfaces.

  9. Rely less on your car.

    Using fossil fuels to support one person in each car on the road is clearly no longer sustainable. Investigate mass transit options in your town or city, such as a bus system, a light rail train system, or carpool and vanpool services for commuters. When traveling close to home, walk or ride your bike.

  10. Compost!

    If you have the space, save all your food scraps and create a compost bin. In no time at all, you'll have amazing fertilizer for your garden, ready to grow a whole new batch of delicious vegetables! 

Thanks for reading! Refer to this list often, take things slow, and before you know it you'll be living a healthier, happier, and more sustainable life.

New Website!

If you're reading this, welcome to the new website of The Living Universe Church! 

It's been a busy couple of months! Here's a recap:

  • The First Luminary was confirmed and inaugurated, marking the rebirth of the physical church.
  • Indianapolis was chosen as the location of the first congregation!
  • The first official public services took place, and are now available for registration on our meetup page.

In addition, we are excited to announce our "Everything is connected" campaign! Stay tuned for more updates.

In the meantime, please excuse our construction, as new features are being continuously added to the website!

 

The Future of Human Evolution

Is mankind still evolving?

A few of us seem to believe the answer is a firm "no", that since we are no longer in danger of being eaten by saber-tooth tigers, humanity is no longer challenged in a "survival of the fittest" environment. 

But is this truly the case?

Imagine a herd of hamsters (just do it). Half of these hamsters, through adaptation or mutation, have the ability to swim, while the other half do not. In their environment, food is plentiful, and the hamsters have no natural predators. As a result, they are able to live long lives and have lots of hamster babies.

Now imagine that there is a huge thunderstorm.

The land of the hamsters becomes flooded for several days. Sadly, half of the theoretical hamsters drown in the flood, but the other half is able to swim. In this example, we can safely say that all future hamsters will be born from parents that have the ability to swim, so the future will be full of aquatic hamsters.   

How does this relate to human evolution?

If you are reading this, chances are you have read that most of humanity's best and brightest thinkers believe mankind is headed for disaster. Terrible wars, overpopulation, famine, plague, and climate change await us if we stay our current course. The destruction of our environment, and our species, is a very real possibility.

Many people have already begun making changes to help slow down our destruction of the Earth, and to protect themselves from the coming storm. Yet many more are unable to understand the problems humanity is facing, and continue to live their lives as usual, without regard for our future.

Like the hamsters, when the storm comes, only those who are prepared will survive. Whether that is evolution or not, we leave to the reader to decide.  

How to Share your Opinions

Everyone is entitled to their opinion. But when is the right time to share it?

Most of us have had an awkward encounter where a friend of family member is being very vocal about their opinions, and we might become offended, bored, or annoyed. Through compassion, we can generally find a way to end the conversation with kindness. But how do we avoid putting others into similar situations?

Think back to the last time you shared your opinion with others. Did your opinion help solve a problem or create positive change? If the answer is "no", that's ok! Being honest with ourselves, and owning our choices is how we grow. Moving forward, here are some questions to consider before sharing your opinions with others:

Was your opinion asked for?

If your job doesn't involve sharing your opinion, then there's no reason to share if nobody asked you to. Imagine sitting down to eat your favorite meal, and constantly being interrupted by others telling you what they think about your food. Would you be grateful, or annoyed and upset? 

Are you the best person to ask?

When someone asks for your opinion, this is generally because they trust you. Because of this trust, you should consider whether someone else might have a more informed opinion. For instance, if your neighbor wants your opinion on his taxes, would you be more qualified to help than an accountant?

Is your opinion based on fact and experience? Or are you sharing someone else's opinion?

Sharing an opinion without prior experience or research is what leads to ignorance. Imagine what the world would be like if everyone lived their lives based on the most popular opinions they had read.  

Are you emotional about this subject?

For instance, imagine you were in a car crash with a drunk driver that left you injured. If a lawmaker asked for your opinion on proper punishment for drunk drivers, would you be able to answer objectively? Or would your emotions cloud your judgement?

What will sharing your opinion achieve?

This is possibly the most important point to consider. If sharing your opinion is unlikely to have a positive outcome, then your best choice might be to spend your energy on something more productive. For instance, if you have an idea on how to cure cancer, sharing it with a doctor would likely have a positive outcome. Sharing it with your bus driver would probably be less effective.         

 

Words are Cheap.

We've all heard politicians claim to be in favor of something, only to flip their opinion weeks later. Many of our elected leaders act in ways contrary to their outspoken beliefs or opinions, and this should only reinforce the idea that an opinion is only worth what it accomplishes. Who we are is not defined by our opinions and beliefs; we are defined by our actions. When we realize our connection to others, and The Universe as a whole, we have a responsibility to ensure that our actions are not selfish; everyday we have a chance to make the world a better place to live. By learning how best our opinions can serve others, we take a step towards being the change we wish to see.

 

 

Inaugural Mass held during Blood Moon Eclipse

For the first time since Giordano Bruno spoke to audiences in Europe, a physical mass was held to celebrate The Living Universe during the Super-moon Eclipse on the evening of September 27, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The service included meditation, a short speech by The First Luminary, and a prayer of unity. It was concluded at 1 am the following day.

This unprecedented event marks the official inauguration of The First Luminary, and the rebirth of the physical church on Earth. The Living Universe Church will make an official announcement regarding the beginning of organized service in the following months.     

 

How to Recycle Electronics, and why you should care.

Nothing screams "I miss the 90's" like a gameboy pocket.

Nothing screams "I miss the 90's" like a gameboy pocket.

Most of us understand that every little bit we can do to help keep our planet happy and healthy is good news for us. But when it comes down to our old electronics, most of them end up in the garbage. Sadly, this is not only a huge pain for waste managers, it's terrible for the environment and your health! Electronics contain tons of harmful chemicals, and if they aren't disposed of properly, they end up in our air and drinking water. 

So that we don't end up having to write articles on "filtering cyanide out of your drinking water", here's a step-by-step process on how to recycle your old electronics:

  1. Don't throw old electronics in the trash! Not only is it terrible for the environment and your health, it may be illegal in your state.

  2. Donate it! Make sure that the company you're donating to will responsibly recycle it if it doesn't sell. Goodwill is great for this!

  3. Find a responsible recycler in your state. If you can't donate, this is a great option. Click here for a list of "e-stewards" near you.

  4. Nothing nearby? Try the manufacturer! Here's a list of recycling programs offered by electronics manufacturers.

  5. Still no luck? Try Staples or Best Buy, both retailers offer excellent recycling programs!

  6. Don't throw it in the trash! If you need more of an incentive to recycle, click here to learn more about the toxins in electronics, and why they need to be recycled!