S. Berliner, III's sbiii.com RELIGION and PHILOSOPHY - General - Page keywords = religion philosophy thought human history Chief Seattle

Updated:   08 Feb 2017; 10:40  ET
[Page converted 14 Nov 2011
    original AT&T Worldnet Website begun 30 May 1996.]

URL:  http://sbiii.com/rel-phil.html
[was at "home.att.net/~Berliner-Ultrasonics/rel-phil.html"]

S. Berliner, III
Consultant in Ultrasonic Processing
"changing materials with high-intensity sound"

[consultation is on a fee basis]

Technical and Historical Writer, Oral Historian
Popularizer of Science and Technology
Rail, Auto, Air, Ordnance, and Model Enthusiast
Light-weight Linguist, Lay Minister, and Putative Philosopher

note - The vast bulk of my massive Web presence (over 485 pages) had been hosted by AT&T's WorldNet service since 30 May 1996; they dropped WorldNet effective 31 Mar 2010 and I have been scrambling to transfer everything.  Everything's saved but all the links have to be changed, mostly by hand.  See my sbiii.com Transfer Page for any updates on this tedious process.

S. Berliner, III's


General Religion
and Philosphy Page


Unindexed, except for Chief Seattle's Letter.

I believe we are an inseparable part of the interdependent web of all existence.

[EMERGENCY!  One of the parishioners at my church pointed out that, while we all acknowledge the "Interdependent Web of all Existence", nowhere do we give its URL!]

I believe in freedom (with responsibility), reason (in all aspects of thought), and tolerance (with true understanding, not merely acceptance).

Many Unitarian Universalist churches had (some may still have) a signboard out front, called the Wayside Pulpit, with pithy sayings meant to entice the passerby; consistent with our adogmatic (is there such a word?) faith, my all-time favorite remains:


[SB,III - I am a seeker after truth
but I sure wouldn't want to find it
(and I probably wouldn't believe it if I did}!]

Like all people of strong faith, I believe I have the right "way",
but also am graced with just enough humility to know I might be wrong.

For starters, CONGRATULATIONS ALL!  WE DID IT!  I spent two mornings (05 and 06 July 1997) looking at pictures from Mars, yesterday of the surface itself and the lander on it, and this morning of the SOJOURNER rover rolling down its flimsy little ramp and onto the surface, leaving elegant little wheel tracks in the surface!  Not bad for a race of barely-survivable, bi-pedal (i.e.: illogically gravity-defying), UV-sensitive, supposedly-sentient organisms!  My mother grew up on the far edge of Hungary's first airfield (the Czepely-Weiss works); she saw airplanes overhead long before she saw motorcars and trucks.  Goods were delivered to the aircraft factory by horse lorries from the electric train station in the village nearby.  Industrialists who visited the factory in their elegant motorcars were on the front side of the field where she didn't see them until she grew older.  The moon landing impressed her, but it was a fairly logical developmental step to her, not as wildly exciting as it was for me.  What REALLY excited her were the first photo of an atom and then the picture of the letters "IBM" made by carefully arranging gold atoms on a substrate.  Now, THAT was a real accomplishment to her!  Well, I always played hooky from work whenever a manned space shot went up; it was, for me, as if Columbus was sailing from the harbor and I had a chance to run down to the quay and watch.  Seeing the first footprint in the dust of the moon was pretty darn thrilling!  So were the hippety-hop first stroll and that golf stroke - "Miles and miles and miles!"!  I'll be a lot happier when there's a human footprint on Mars but I'm pretty satisfied to have lived to see SOJOURNER's rickety descent and wheel prints!

I grew up in cars and my first flight was in a DC-2 (see aviation); I had a chemistry set and a microscope as soon as I could handle them, and a Bunsen burner followed shortly.  Science and technology are sort of an everyday thing with me, but I know how far removed from most peoples' ken they are, which is why I try to "popularize" them when I am given the opportunity, as on my ultrasonics page.  Although totally non-technical in training, Mom kept up with the world of science and technology, right up until her death in 1993, and was so much the richer for it!

I only wish more people would follow her example!  NASA is more than welcome to my share of the space budget as long as they keep delivering triumphs such as SOJOURNER's little tracks on Mars.

Did you know that one of the first black women to have a major public presence was an ex-slave named Sojourner Truth?  For more on this truly remarkable woman, see my Unitarian page.  She, too, pioneered new territory!  Did someone at NASA or JPL know something here?  Actually, yes, they did; it seems that a 14{?}-year-old boy suggested in a letter to NASA that the Mars exploration vehicle be named after Sojourner Truth.

UUA guest minister Susan Archer (at the Muttontown UU Fellowship on 01 Mar 1998) quoted from UU author Robert Fulghum on the grey dust which accumulates under the bed and in corners and behind furniture; it has been shown to primarily consist of human detritus (exfoliated skin and hair) and METEORITE dust!  Really!
So we are tied to our beginnings and fate by "COSMIC COMPOST!"  I liiiiike it.

She also quoted (how very UU!) from Annie Dillard that we are here to abet creation and to witness to it.  I like that, too.

I had a thought during the discussion circle which followed the service - we should always try to be as loving and welcoming and caring as the Judaeo-Christian God is (or is, by some, reputed to be).

There was a quotation (and is, again) posted on the Muttontown cork board, from Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens)@, which reads in an appropriately dichotomous way:

"I am an Atheist and I thank God for it!"

This smacks of the tombstone epitaph in a Thurmont, Maryland, cemetery:

Here lies an Atheist
All dressed up
And no place to go

For more such fabulous epitaphs, go to Olivija's page.

@ - uh,oh! There is also the attribution that George Bernard Shaw said it at a dinner party when the discussion turned toward religion;  When asked by some dowager to what denomination he belonged, he reportedly replied, "Madam, I am an atheist, and I thank God for it."  Hmmm.

So much for waxing philosophical; try waxing skis, instead (can one wane a ski?).

Starting the new year (2002) off right, here's a new religion for you:

    Frisbeetarianism (n.) - The belief that, when you die,

    your soul goes up on the roof and gets stuck there.

Another great quotation is this one: (09 Aug 2013)

Thmc² most bmc²autiful mc²xpmc²rimc²ncmc² wmc² can havmc² is the mystmc²rious. - Albmc²rt MC²instmc²in

[Oh, how funny; "mc²xpmc²rimc²ncmc²" was "mc²xpmc²rience" and no onmc² smc²mc²ms to havmc² noticmc²d!]

Life doesn't seem to care whether we take it seriously or not so we might as well enjoy it.

In this vein, let me add two more from my model RR friend, John Barrington:   rev.gif (07 Feb 2017)

  I spend all day trying to recover from getting up in the morning.

  The early worm gets caught by the bird.

As to the former, these days I spend all morning trying to get up - period!

As to the latter, in Brooklyn da oily woim gets cawt by da boid!

See the Bowne House Page for the 1627 Flushing Remonstrance, one of the earliest and most powerful (and successful) pleas for religious freedom in North America.

Chief Seattle* wrote a letter to the Great White Father in Washington that is one of the finest environmental texts ever written.

Chief Seattle signed a treaty, and said:

How can you buy the sky?
How can you own the rain and the wind?
My father said to me, I know the sap that courses through the trees,
  as I know the blood that flows through my veins.
We are part of the earth as it is part of us.
The perfumed flowers are our sisters.
The bear, the deer, the great eagle, these are our brothers.
The rocky crests, the meadows, the ponies, all belong to the same family.
The voice of my ancestors said to me,
The shining water that moves in the streams and rivers is not simply water
  but the blood of your grandfather's grandfather.
Each ghostly reflection in the clear waters of the lakes
  tells memories in the life of our people.
The water's murmur is the life of your great-great-grandmother.
The rivers are our brothers. They quench our thirst.
They carry our canoes and feed our children.
You must give to the rivers the kindness you would give any brother.
The voice of my grandfather said to me: The air is precious.
It shares its spirit with all the life it supports.
The wind that gave me my first breath also receives my last sigh.
You must keep the land and air apart and sacred as a place where one can go
  to taste the wind that is sweetened by the meadow flowers.
The voice of my grandmother said to me:
  Teach your children what you have been taught.
  The earth is our mother.
  What befalls the earth befalls all the sons and daughters of the earth.
Hear my voice and the voice of my ancestors, Chief Seattle said.
The destiny of our people is a mystery to us.
What will happen when the buffalo are all slaughtered?
The wild horses tamed?
What will happen when the secret corners of the forest
  are heavy with the scent of many men?
When the view of the ripe hills is blotted by talking wires?
Where will the eagle be?
And what will happen when we say good-bye to the swift pony and the hunt?
It will be the end of living, and the beginning of survival.
This we know:  All things are connected like the blood that unites us.
We did not weave the web of life, we are merely a strand in it.
Whatever we do to the web we do to ourselves.
We love this earth as a newborn loves its mother's heartbeat.
If we sell our land, care for it as we have cared for it.
Hold in your mind the memory of the land as it is when you receive it.
Preserve the land and the air and the rivers for your children's children
  and love it as we have loved it.

* - Doesn't it figure?  This may be an out-and-out fabrication!  At the beginning of Jun 1999, a spoilsport advised me that "as for the alleged speech of the supposed Chief Seattle, I refer you to Skeptical Inquirer, Vol. 23, No. 2, March/April 1999".  DANG!  Well, I like it anyway!

Also, it has a serious anomaly in it.  Indians couldn't sell land properly; they didn't own it!  The land belonged to Manitou, the Great Spirit, and they were only tenants thereon and caretakers thereof.  Peter Minuit (Manhattan's $24 ace) and his ilk were swindled royally!

Better yet, Snopes is far more specific: "Chief Seattle did give a speech in 1854, but he never said 'The earth is our mother'.  Nor did he say 'I have seen a thousand rotting buffaloes on the prairie, left by the white man who shot them from a passing train'.  There were no bison within 600 miles of the chief's home on Puget Sound in the Pacific Northwest, and trains to the West were years away.  The words Chief Seattle has become famous for were written by Ted Perry, the screenwriter for Home, a 1972 film about ecology."   added.gif (07 Feb 2017)

On the subject of science and technology, wouldn't Mom have been amazed (and, probably, horrified) by the latest in genetic engineering?

I attended a Jewish funeral service (07 Feb 1999) at which something to this effect was read:

Going from defeat to defeat,
the victory is not in the high places
but in the journey.

Anent funereal matters Jewish, I also was in an Orthodox Jewish cemetery ca. 1996 and found pebbles piled on headstones; apparently this has to do with letting the family (or spirits or whatever) know that someone cares and was there and is also practiced in Islamic cultures; what a nice idea!*

    * - the groundskeepers might not be quite so thrilled.   added (07 May 2016)

I have a slightly off-color reference to an actual Ecumenical Guest House on BIMBO STREET in Budapest on my Fun page!

Coming down through Claverack, New York, on Saturday, 10 Jul 1999, I spotted a church bulletin board with this gem:

Prevent Truth Decay

On 15 Jul 2010, we moved from the North Shore of Long Island, New York, to the North Shore of Boston, Massachusetts.  One ofthe very first things I did when the move was firmed up was to get onto the Unitarian Universalist Association's Find-a-Congregation Web page.  Boston, to the dismay of central and western UUs, has long been the center of the UU denomination, with many churchers dating back into the early 17th Century dotted all over the map.   added (07 May 2016)

The three closest are:

UU Church of Medford
at 147 High Street, Medford, 781-396-4549

First Parish UU of Arlington
at 630 Massachusetts Avenue, Arlington, 781-648-3799

Winchester Unitarian Society
at 478 Main Street, Winchester, 781-729-0949

with many others nearby or just across the Charles in Boston proper.

Oh, this has got to be one of the best ever!  My wife, a UU minister, gets lots of e-mail and this came in on 06 May 2016 in a many-generation forward, and she was kind enough to share it:   new (07 May 2016)

Church of the Confused Chicken
(photo credited to D. Zimlich)

Wonder where the place might be.

May I recommend a visit to the Web site of the Islamic Center of Long Island, Westbury, New York?  Linking onward from there might introduce to you, or reinforce in you, the beauties of the Arabic and Islamic culture.

If you've actually read this far, I also commend to your attention my Unitarian Universalist pages, not for conversion, but for some similarly-interesting material (food for thought), especially my little dissertation on "Eternity and the Horseshoe Crab".

You might also take a look at my NonConEx (Non-Consanguinous Extended Family) Page (02 Aug 2013).

I have added a Labyrinth page.   new.gif (31 Aug 2013)

If, and ONLY if, you are liberal-minded, free-thinking, and accept that "revelation is not sealed", you might even be so bold as to visit my Monismus web site, et seq., where I hold forth on my own take on how the cosmos is ordered (IF it is), "a faith or belief system for a modern world".   new.gif (16 Nov 2013)

Stay tuned!


  What happens to all this when I DIE or (heaven forfend!) lose interest?  See LEGACY.


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