Today there are approximately seventy-six million Americans who were born in the years from 1946 to 1965-the baby boomers. In their youth they thrived, voting for a number of entitlements based on assumptions of economic growth that no longer applies.
Now, as baby boomers continue aging, they must face a number of potentially disheartening realities. From caring for ailing parents to funding their retirement to facing death, many issues weigh too heavily upon the minds of the baby boomer generation to allow for a peaceful, productive second half of life. What's more, many of the spiritual belief systems passed down for so many generations no longer provide the comfort or support people need in order to face the challenges of the later half of life. The people need something new.
In this second edition of Baby Boomer Lamentations, author and self-proclaimed religious philosopher Lewis Tagliaferre explores the concept of Theofatalism and addresses the rising spiritual concerns of the baby boomers, offering a new outlook to help readers make the inevitable transitions through the later years of life.
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Baby Boomer Lamentations
Metaphysical essays to die for.
By Lewis Tagliaferre
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2013 Lewis Tagliaferre
All rights reserved.
Exploring this miracle planet
Big as the earth seems to be, it and all its forms of life seem to be unnecessary to the universe, so why they exist is a mystery. Homo sapiens live on a very small portion of it and unless they get the larger view many will die without ever seeing their own insignificant but indispensable role in the whole. Most sheeple act as though their puny, pitiful lives were the most important on the planet. There are more than seven billion of them living in a wide variety of cultures, climates, and social structures. When you think about it, the whole earth could instantly vaporize and the universe would not even hiccup. But, if you look closely, you may see an intricate miraculous interconnected system of species each dependent upon the others for survival and growth. Consider that Homo sapiens need trees and other foliage just to create the oxygen we need to breathe and that living mammals in turn supply the carbon dioxide green things need to live.
Some of the more sensitive among us actually believe there is essential communication ongoing between plants and animals – which has been shown by NASA satellites. Among these are the way in which microscopic plankton in the oceans also create oxygen that helps to fuel human life. But, among Homo sapiens things are not always so beautifully arranged. In many ways, the whole thing seems like a horrible mistake. There is so much suffering in the world that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI stated in his final audience, "it seems like God is sleeping." Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011) in God Is Not Great (2009) declared, "My own view is that this planet is used as a penal colony, lunatic asylum and dumping ground by a superior civilization, to get rid of the undesirable and unfit. I can't prove it, but you can't disprove it either." If you get all the news and watch Court TV you might come to agree with him.
So, we begin with a look at the planet we call home to help establish the perception needed for the big picture of life on earth to emerge. Many of humankind are given to think they were created "just a little lower than the angels." They not only want exclusive control of their lives, but they want control of their environment also. Scientists generally agree that population increases among Homo sapiens will double demand for fresh water and energy in four decades, but they cannot agree on how to meet those growing needs with the present systems of economics and politics. It seems that sheeple will not change until it hurts too much not to, and they have a very high threshold for pain. Some might say that God made them that way. Homo sapiens have learned to adapt lifestyles on a wide variety of climate and geological variations around the earth – some of them still living as their ancestors did for thousands of years while others could not survive without their many modern inventions that are made obsolete by newer ones every few years. Exploring and studying their many human variations among Homo sapiens is the profession of anthropology, so let's take a peak. The production called Human Planet by the BBC distributed by Discovery Channel provides an arm-chair experience of extreme life on the planet.
Becoming more aware of the other life forms in their natural habitat might help individual humans in modern cities to see their lives in a different perspective. Moving from a self-centered to an earth-centered perception also may help one tolerate the challenges of life that are inevitable towards the end of it. God certainly did not restrict life on planet earth to the species Homo sapiens alone. One may legitimately wonder even if they are superior to many of the species that have occupied the planet for much longer than they have. Individuals of all species seem to be insignificant but indispensable in the larger scheme of things.
Compare, for example, the Inuit tribe of frozen northern Alaska that still relies upon raw seal flesh for food since they have no fuel to burn for cooking and the Maasai tribe of tropical Africa that drinks fresh blood from their cows for breakfast – while we may prefer a personal pizza for lunch. Actually, the coldest inhabited village is Oymyakon in northeast Russia where the winter temperature has reached -90 degrees F. At the other extreme, the hottest inhabitated location is Death Valley in California where summer temps have reached 136 degrees F. In the desert region of Niger in central Africa the resident Wodaabe tribe celebrates the end of each drought season with a bacchanal called Gerewol that suspends the marriage vows briefly to permit sexual liaisons with consenting partners chosen through an elaborate costumed dance - by the men – so the women can choose their favorites.
The Buddhists living at the highest elevations inhabited in Mongolia do not have any wood for cremation, so they abandon the bodies of their deceased for the vultures to consume – and thus continuing the cycle of life. A tribe – one of more than a thousand - in the rain forest of Indonesia hunts monkeys with poisoned darts from blow guns, but the lactating women nurse any orphaned monkey infants to assure their survival – to be harvested later for food. Sulfur miners in Indonesia must extract the mineral from toxic fumes by hand in the caldera of an active volcano and carry it several hundred yards in 200-pound shoulder baskets to the assay office for pay. Around the equator there are recently discovered primitive Homo sapiens living as hunter-gatherers much as their prehistoric ancestors.
One of the most bizarre human habitats may be the island of Venice, Italy that has been populated to the extreme, so much that commerce is conducted on water ways that slowly are absorbing the dwellings erected on the land surface – just like the primitive river dwellers of the Amazon. Among western female fashion models, a youthful underfed figure is most prized, while the mothers of the West African nation of Mauritania force feed their daughters to assure they will be obese enough to attract a husband. Traditional merchants in Asia still use the abacus for calculations and bookkeeping. In contrast, in the fully developed western nations mobile wireless computers have taken over the lives of everyone and appear to run the economic system almost independently of their creators. Wars among the Homo sapiens range from use of primitive sticks and stones, blow guns and spears, to the latest in unmanned radio controlled airborne weapons delivery systems.
We are not the only forms of life on this planet, although the only other ones we may encounter are household pets or animals seen in a zoo. Our nearest cousin seems to be the chimpanzee, with DNA closely resembling humans, except for the one percent that is different. There are some places on earth where mankind scarcely has interfered with the natural flora and fauna – like the Galapagos Islands west of South America and the isle of Madagascar east of Africa, the plains of central Africa, the outback of Australia, and the Siberia of Russia. In undeveloped but occupied areas, Homo sapiens share the earth with many other life forms that must contend with the natural environment as well as their own species and others as well in such places as Indonesia, Fiji, and the Amazon rain forests of Brazil. At the ocean depths where no sunlight penetrates and pressures would crunch a nuclear submarine, life forms have been discovered among the volcanic fissures called "black smokers," which defy explanation. Little to nothing is known about their life cycle and how they feed or reproduce at such depths and in complete darkness.
We may not all be able to see earth from a space ship with the astronauts, but most everyone now can see it as if from space on the computer application called "Google earth." This is a modern form of the older globe that used to be used in all school rooms for geography classes. One can explore the whole planet and zoom into any spot for closer observations, down to a street address, often with photographs of local area scenes included. Also, high definition views of earth from space on videos published by NASA show the planet and its place in the cosmos like no product of artistic imagination ever could. [Photos compiled by a half century of space exploration are posted at http://www.nasa. gov/multimedia/imagegallery/] Viewing the earth from the perspective of space may help puny Homo sapiens to realize how insignificant each one really is, and yet seemingly indispensable to the sum of the whole.
One can only wonder what impact such views have upon the astronauts who have provided us with the fantastic photo images available from their international space station orbiting 250 miles above earth. The visual impact he saw returning from the moon prompted astronaut Edgar Mitchell to organize the Institute of Noetic Science to help bridge the chasm between consciousness and its relationship to the physical world. From just a few miles beyond the atmosphere there can be seen the greens, browns, yellows, and whites of terrain very few can visit in person. The thin line of atmosphere surrounding earth itself is a miracle of creation, existing as it does as a very thin band of life support on no other planet that provides the oxygen, carbon dioxide, nitrogen and other gases that make life on the surface of this planet possible. It also serves as a medium for transferring minerals from one continent to another in order to fertilize plants and trees by rainfall. The scientifically accepted dividing line between earth's atmosphere and space is the Karman line, about 62 miles above the planet's surface. Actually, humans are sustained by only five miles of atmosphere, beyond which oxygen is too thin to support life on this planet. Moreover, seen from the distance of space, nowhere are there any visual indications of national boundaries or political jurisdictions, and language, ethnic, and social barriers that separate the various tribes of Homo sapiens that occupy the planet.
Even more amazing is the vast area of blue marking the oceans that cover more than four fifths of the earth's surface which interact with the atmosphere in mysterious ways. The oceans provide much of the food for humankind and habitat for countless species of life. The most popular catch is tuna; about seven million tons are harvested per year for human consumption making them the most widely consumed seafood in the human diet. They are considered one of the most efficient forms of life on the planet, having survived for millions of years. Researchers are discovering the vast stretches of underwater geology surpass anything seen on surface land above. The life forms that live below depths of 20,000 feet, where there is little available oxygen and no visible light and where the pressure would crush a nuclear submarine hull, are only now being discovered. More than 600 species have been identified in the "black smokers" that are streams of heavy metals and gases more than 700 degrees F spewing from volcanic vents at the bottom limits of submersible robots. These forms of life do not rely upon the sun for photosynthesis, and they live on some unexplained form of chemical reactions remaining from the formation of the earth. After a century of deep sea exploration, science only now is able to map the ocean floor with sonar in such detail to expose its many mysteries. A volcanic subduction zone runs around the Pacific Ocean like the seam around a baseball that threatens to explode at any time causing destructive tsunami waves along the coast areas.
Explorers from space must first of all be baffled by the strange sight of lighted clusters that appear after dark all over the planet. As they approach closer they may see apparent contrasts between these areas and others that remain dark at night. Even closer, and they would see strange movements of apparent creatures that seem to be most active at certain times of day, streaming from one area of the lighted clusters to another while seeming to host some form of parasites that exit and board them again on recurring schedules. The parasites also seem to enter other more stationary objects during the day which they exit with approach of the evening sunset and then repeat the patterns of movement from the morning. Only after even closer inspection would space explorers eventually separate the parasites into forms of life that actually use the mobile creatures as vehicles of transportation as they move about their concentrations of habitat called cities. Why this should be so would be a total mystery to space aliens as it is a mystery to the ones exhibiting this strange behavior if they stop to think about it.
Paleontology is not an exact science, but some researchers think humanoids appeared about 150,000 – 300,000 years ago following evolution from the previous human species, called Neanderthals, which became extinct for some unknown reason – perhaps because some asteroid hit the planet and destroyed its climate and all the dinosaurs about 65,000 years ago. In Africa, early modern humans appeared as long as 195,000 years ago, if the carbon dating of remains uncovered in Omo Kibish, Ethiopia, is correct. The earliest sites outside of Africa with early modern humans are at Skhul and Qazfah caves in what is now Israel dating about 100,000 years ago. However, written history has existed only for about 4500 years, so the only evidence for early humans is found among buried artifacts. Some of these artifacts raise questions with no answers about the sheeple who created them. Among them are discoveries of the ancient city of Alexandria in Egypt buried under the Mediterranean Sea, the origin and purpose of the Great Pyramids of Giza in Egypt, the strange rock structure called Stone Henge in England, and the remnants of civilizations found in Asia, the Sahara desert, and jungles of Meso-America.
Other constructed remnants have been found under ocean waters off the coasts of Cuba, Japan, and India that lead some scholars to wonder if they are not evidence of prehistoric visitations from space aliens because there is no other way to explain their existence. Obviously, civilizations have come and gone among Homo sapiens, one conquering another and another, so maybe the ones existing today will disappear to be uncovered by explorers centuries from now. But the earth goes on, and each individual life appears to be a necessary, even if insignificant, part of it all.
The societies of Homo sapiens on earth today range from those highly dependent upon technology for sustaining life for processed foods to those who still rely closely upon the planet for their survival. While "advanced" nations require electricity for their air conditioning and video cell phones and personal computers to survive, the least developed tribes in Amazon jungles and isolated islands of Indonesia and remote areas of South America and Africa along the equator still live in hunter-gatherer societies like their ancestors did for thousands of years. Many of them still have no written language. One such is the Zoe tribe found only a few decades ago by flying missionaries who live near the Amazon River in northern Brazil. The government has restricted visitors to their villages so little is known about them, except they live like hairless chimpanzees only one step removed from their genetic ancestors. They do not travel beyond their village limits and they know nothing of the outside world, not even modern villages along the Amazon.
Homo sapiens also occupied the harshest climates of the north in arctic regions where they lived in ice igloos and subsisted on raw seals for both food and clothing ... until they moved into electrified houses, got cell phones, and learned to eat pizza. Which is the more advanced and sustainable, the primitive villages in the jungle and the arctic or New York City, is open for debate. An observer from space could not see the invisible but arbitrary lines of longitude and latitude that encircle the earth to create accurate and dependable means of navigating around on its surface, now with the aid of the geo-positioning satellites aloft. The observer from space could not see the intentional boundaries between groups of Homo sapiens organized as nation/states either. Neither could an exploring observer from space see any of the wide varieties of other life forms that roam the dry land and saturate the ocean depths. But they are there. And nobody knows why.
Clinging to the ceiling in a dark cave deep under the mountains of New Zealand there was discovered a glowing blind worm that produces a light at the end of its tail to attract unsuspecting insects for prey-food. The worms live in clusters of thousands and secrete a sticky mucus from their mouths that hangs from the cave roof in invisible barrier strips to capture the flying insects who are attracted to the lights. Once trapped, they are reeled in to the ceiling and leisurely eaten. The only purpose of this glow worm seems to be to trap and eat flying insects. Its origin and evolutionary history are known only to God.
If a celestial explorer were to see the earth only from the perspective of the international space station, the reality of life in all its many forms would be totally missed. However, if the lens could zoom into the planet one section at a time the pictures that emerge would tell a much different story. The nature of life on earth might be shown in the form of movements as complex as watching the traffic patterns during rush hours in major cities, while missing the complex subterranean metro rail systems buried underground, and as simple as the cattle grazing on a thousand hills.
Excerpted from Baby Boomer Lamentations by Lewis Tagliaferre. Copyright © 2013 by Lewis Tagliaferre. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc..
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Table of Contents
1. Exploring this miracle planet.................... 1
2. Every bell curve has a bottom side.................... 36
3. Consider the human body.................... 62
4. The gathering crowd.................... 84
5. Four quadrants of human development.................... 121
6. Aging transitions.................... 144
7. Why life is so unfair.................... 183
8. Who do you think you are.................... 205
9. The placebo effect – the inner healer.................... 235
10. Practice dying ... consciously.................... 254
11. Rights to passage.................... 295
12. Where do we go when we die.................... 313
13. Grieving our losses.................... 346
14. God is not your friend.................... 363
15. The dual powers of God.................... 383
16. Positive power in negative thinking.................... 406
17. Come on home.................... 435
18. The principles of Theofatalism.................... 448
19. Give thanks in all things.................... 468
20. Of junkyards, garbage dumps, cemeteries, and entropy................... 488
21. Words, more words, beyond words.................... 496