Radio and TV preachers are fond of scaring the hell out of their audiences and trying to put them on the straight and narrow by painting a visual image of Hell as a fiery place of punishment (Rev 21:8; 14:10; 19:20; 20:10). Oddly enough the word Hell does not even appear in the Greek New Testament. Several words for the place of punishment of evil-doers appear in the New Testament,1 but Hell is not among them. The Biblical Greek word is "Hades" (usually translated as Hell). The worst thing to fear about Hades and Sheol (the land of departed spirits in Hebrew Bible/Old Testament), however, is not the New Testament fire and brimstone [sulpher], for how could actual fire affect a nonmaterial entity (soul, spirit)?2
The most terrifying thing about Sheol is loss of memory. In the ancient world, in both Hebrew and Greek traditions the dead continue in a kind of semi-existence. It is once referred to as "the Land of Forgetfulness." The psalmist questions God:
Is thy steadfast love declared in the grave,
or thy faithfulness in Abaddon?
Are thy wonders known in the darkness,
or thy saving help in the land of forgetfulness? (Psalm 88:12-13, RSV)
The place the psalmist inquires about is not the fictional Land of the Lotus Eaters in the Odyssey,3 but rather the mythical place of departed spirits in Semitic and Greek antiquity, as the Hebrew parallelism with "the grave" and "Abaddon" (Rev 9:11) makes clear. Sheol is described as "the land of gloom and deep darkness where light is as darkness" (Job 10:21). The dead are there, but as "not existing" (Sirach 17:27-28). They are spiritless shades (Baruch 2:17) that know nothing (Eccl 9:5). In Sheol the dead are but shadows of their former living state; thinking, feeling, purposeful action, and remembering are finished, for in Sheol the vacant, thoughtless, and oblivious monotony of death reigns.
In Greek mythology the underworld was ruled over by the Greek God Hades. His kingdom was populated by the shades of those who had died. One of the five rivers running through Hades was called Lethe (forgetfulness, oblivion). The dead drank of the waters of this mythical river and instantly lost their memories. For example, Odysseus journeyed to the mythical land of Hades, the land of death, and found his mother's shade. She did not know him until she sipped blood that Odysseus poured out; then she knew him.4
Both Sheol and Hades hold a terror worse than a lake burning with fire. Being bereft of memory is a loss of self identity and hence a loss of self; it is in a sense a kind of living death. You "live," but it is no longer that person you once were, but someone without a past—where one has neither memory of childhood nor of one's own children.
The places of punishment in the Judeo-Christian tradition are mythical locations. Yet there is a real location, sharing the terror of Sheol and Hades, in which the land of forgetfulness becomes a contemporary reality. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) dementia/Alzheimer's "is a syndrome in which there is a deterioration in memory, thinking, behavior, and the ability to perform every day activities." The syndrome is not a normal part of aging and there is no current treatment either to cure dementia or slow its progression. Approximately, 50 million people around the world suffer from dementia. Alzheimer's is the most common form of the disease; the WHO estimates that 60-70% of dementia sufferers may have Alzheimer's disease. The WHO claims that "there are nearly 10 million new cases every year," and further estimates the number of people with dementia will be 82 million in 2030 and 152 million in 2050.5
One could debate which of the two is the greater threat to the human psychē—the mythical hell of Sheol and Hades or the living hell of dementia/Alzheimer's. It seems to me, however, that dementia is by far the greater threat, for dementia robs sufferers of the integrity of life in the land of living in the here and now rather than in some mythical future. I seriously doubt, however, that true believers will see it that way.
Charles W. Hedrick
Missouri State University
1See Hedrick, Wry Thoughts on Religion Blog: "Does Hell Exist," August 29, 2015: http://blog.charleshedrick.com/search?q=hell
2Well, maybe, a mythical, magic fire might.
3In this land all who eat the intoxicating fruit of the lotus "longed to stay forever, browsing on that native bloom, forgetful of their homeland" (Book 9).
4The Odyssey, Book 11
5https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/dementia (19 September, 2019)
I'm speechless. An outstanding piece of research, and your application to dementia/Alzheimer's is pure genius.
What would prompt the ancients to describe the afterlife with the torture of hopelessness when humanity is not really human, well, without hope?
I get the discussion of Alzheimers and "I feel ya." But on the biblical point, what do you believe is meant by Mark 942“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea. 43If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out.  b 45And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell.  c 47And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, 48where
“ ‘the worms that eat them do not die,
and the fire is not quenched.’
Granted, he uses Gehenna and quotes Isaiah but the force of it seems to beg readers to fear a place of judgement where they will feel fire and be eaten by worms. None of it makes sense, of course, and it is not something that moderns should fear but I can't escape the belief that Mark (and there is a similar Q verse in Matt and Luke) wanted readers to fear God's judgement and eternal punishment.
Caring for one with dementia is a stressful situation for the victim and caregivers, one with which I am familiar. I don’t profess to know what those I have known with dementia are thinking, but the isolation felt by those friends and family members who are unable to enter the memory of the sufferer is certainly a painful situation. If one forgets one’s life or if one’s memories collide into a chaos, it must be terrifying.
I find a different meaning in Ps. 88. Is the loss of memory the poet’s or God’s? I read verses (my versification I think is different by one verse) coming up to the ones quoted as signaling “Sheol/the Pit/’Abadon” as a place where God is “mindful no more,” a place where the psalmist is “cut off from” God’s “care,” “abandoned/released” from God’s care (v.6). In other words, the dead are separated and forgotten by God... “You are mindful no more” (v.6). The psalmist compares that with being shunned by companions who think he is abhorrent (v.9), with friends and neighbors “out of’ his “sight,” who have “forgotten” him. He sees this as analogous to the “land of oblivion/forgetfulness” he will find when he dies, when links with God are severed. His friends forsake him in life as God seems to have and certainly will in death. He has been forgotten while alive by his companions and even has “suffered” since youth, which means God has rejected him while alive. That was the reading that seems to make sense to me, with the translations I used. As the biblical footnote about the verses quoted in the blog states, “All links between God and humans are severed at death” (JPS, 1381). This is what is found in the biblical religion of Judaism, not an afterlife of reward or punishment (JPS, 1289).
Hells are present in life, whether cognitive, emotional, physical... The poem brings together life & death, with the author’s physical condition and its effect on him and those he knows as being akin to “eternal death.” As found early (v.4), “I am at the brink of Sheol,” the poem ends abruptly with the image of darkness, “You have put friend and neighbor far from me and my companions into darkness.” That seems to be a fitting image for dementia.
Dennis Dean Carpenter
I perceive all human suffering, very unevenly distributed among the human population but experienced by all has always been grossly misunderstood. This misunderstanding is due to human's lack of understanding of the true nature of the universe, i.e. natural laws.
The universe is a very hostile environment for all living things! Humans's can best cope with these various hostilities by understanding the laws that govern their universe, and best adapting ALL human thoughts and actions so as to maximize all human's well being. Science has uncovered much understanding of these universal realities and has accomplished much engineering to make our lives more comfortable in every respect. Ignorance, superstition, and sadly the reluctance by many to credit the role of science in our lives have extended the level of suffering by humanity. Take for instance the acceptance of political figures, clergy. business tycoon, and consequently by much of the general public to discredit the climate science proof of global climate change due to fossil fuel consumption. If the human suffering due to this ignorant disregard for climate science is not enough, the public has even accepted the false illusion that human well being cannot be sustained with only renewable/clean energy. I feel sure most of the readers of this statement will react in disbelief due to their ignorance, superstition, and disregard of the discoveries of science. The human suffering due to massive & growing fossil fuel consumption that is already underway and clearly will grow much worse world wide in the near future is the price of this human ignorance.
Attributing human suffering to gods, bad luck, devils, evil spirits, ghost, black cats, etc. (some may even say science) only introduces additional imaginary stress and suffering as well as inhibits the best response humans can take to the universal challenges of our hostile environment.
Human suffering along with joy and happiness is a part of the human condition imposed by the natural laws of the universe. Alzheimer's disease is merely one of hundreds to human illnesses that must be experienced and endured. To say that any one human suffering is that much worse than others is useless to ponder. Human can best cope with this reality in basing all their thoughts and actions so to maximize all human well being-even in the face of constant and gross suffering.
My advice to the readers: Trust in science, not in the gods....and get yourselves educated!
The packers are here and I have already packed away books I will be taking with me. So this is a tentative response to your suggestion that forgetfulness may refer to God's forgetfulness.
I am a little reluctant to think that such is a possibility. Ps 139:8 and Jonah 2:2 suggest that God is aware of the creatures in Sheol. I went to the library and checked Mitchell Dahood (Psalms Anchor Bible)on this verse. Here are the essentials of his comments on 88:13: The land of forgetfulness is "a poetic term unknown elsewhere . . (Compare Lethe . . . Psalm 6:4 also associated the loss of memory and the inability to praise Yahweh as features of existence in Sheol. Not only do the dead lose their memories, they in turn are forgotten by the living (Eccl 1:11, 2:16, 9:5)."
Good Evening Charlie,
I can only speak on this subject from personal observation- everything I have to say is purely anecdotal and subjective. However, in my opinion, one can only speak with authenticity from one's own experience not from the experiences of other people... or from data and knowledge acquired from a book. And in my limited experience- I've never witnessed a human being descend into senility from a place of joy and well being. Their predominant emotional state was already one of extreme heaviness, anxiety, seriousness, fear, etc. Maybe not on the surface but underneath the mask they wore in public. I see dementia as a retreat into the safety and security of childhood where all needs are taken care of- every person I know who has dementia is very needy and demanding. They demand constant care and attention. Why is that? How can one person who is in their 80s and 90s have a clear mind and sharp intellect while their counterpart is dazed and confused and mentally unconscious? There's no "forgetfulness" at all... They remember plenty of things! Just not things that are timely and relevant and functional. They stay in a mental loop of their own creation and own making, going round and round and round taking in nothing from the outside. They choose to stay in the safety of some distant familiar place where "things made sense." I just don' know now much of it is an emotional imbalance or brain dysfunction. Either way, I little tolerance for it. Again- I'm only speaking from personal experience. I don't know what your situation is so I can't comment on that specifically.
However, I do wonder if the fear-based mentality which gave us a mythical hell and eternal punishment is part of why some older people can't face death- so they retreat into the abyss of Alzheimers, senility, dementia, etc... People don't develop these mental emotional illnesses from living a life of well being or peace or joy. In other words- why does the USA have more cases of dementia than any other nation? We who are the richest and have the most resources and the best medical care in the world? And yet we have the highest suicide rate and the most mental illnesses? The answer is obvious- well being doesn't come from the outside. It comes from within. One can have every single physical need met but yet suffer mental and emotional distress beyond comprehension... Don't tell me that Alzheimers has nothing to do with emotions or the inability to manage ones thoughts & emotions in a balanced and healthy way.
I'm not blaming Alzheimers on the fear of a mythical hell and impending death... I'm not blaming it on anything at all. I just notice people and their state of mind and their demeanor and their ability to adapt and adjust to change. I can't help but to see certain patterns and correlations. However, I am obviously not a doctor nor an expert. Just an observer. What about you? Do you think emotional well being comes from something physical, from an outer source? Or does it come from an inner source? Many thanks and good luck with the move! Elizabeth
Re: "...fear a place of judgement..."; Community church
The comments from the Community Church writer draws attention to one of the ancient and continued practice of instilling imaginary fear of retribution into humans in an effort to encourage a particular type of behavior. Sadly, such ancient and ignorant thinking continues to be a significant part of most religious thinking. This practice along with other significant detrimental others by religions continue to strike many humans as being more of a hindrance than a help in human endeavor. It certainly is effective for many/most children as well as adults who continue to think likewise throughout their lives. Many have since determined all this kind of thinking is merely imaginary superstition and can now better be replaced by recognizing the true nature of our existence.
There are human thinking & behavior that contribute to the well being of each acting human as well as that for all mankind. All human thoughts & behavior result to a varying degree to both the performer as well as all mankind from very slightly to tremendously detrimental. All humans should be taught this simple life reality and encouraged throughout their lives how to best think and act so to bring about well being to themselves and all mankind. The rewards for all mankind will be additional well being.
Re: The packers are here and I have already packed away books....
It appears you are in the process of a move. I sincerely hope it is one that will enhance your well being and thus all your faithful readers. Continue on faithful, caring, & learned scholar!
Best wishes from an admirer.
Two words have generally been translated “hell.” Neither are prominent in the New Testament and none give much of a description. For that, one has to begin later, probably with writings like The Apocalypse of Paul. The Roman Catholics describe it as “eternal fire,” citing Mt. Mt. 25.41 which, curiously enough, is reserved in Matthew for those who do not help the hungry, thirsty, the immigrant, and who clothe the naked, how one treats the stranger. That would be, in this country, the xenophobes and nativists, at the very least. And, quoting Hebrews 2.14-15, the Catholics call it “human bondage” (the word in Hebrews is “slavery”).
The Mark 9 example referred to Gehenna, the place name for a valley where children were sacrificed, according to legend, so it fit right in the spiel in this situation, the way I see it, especially with the Isaiah quotation, as a place name. Other than that, Gehenna is used nine other times, seven in Matthew (and he tends to go back to the imagery of Mark 9 in three of those and to send the Pharisees there for hypocrisy), one in Luke, speaking of fearing the one who has the authority to send one to Gehenna and in James, where the tongue is set on fire by Gehenna. That exhausts that “hell,” with twelve uses.
The other word for hell, “Hades,” is found ten times. Matthew sends Capernaum to Hades and speaks of the “gates of Hades.” Luke sends Capernaum and a rich man in a parable to Hades. Acts uses a quote, then a distorted quote from Psalms 16.10. Revelations speaks about the “keys to death and Hades.” In the other three uses, Hades and Death are personified.
This leads me to believe that many Christian versions of Hell, especially of the evangelical and fundamentalist versions, are a product of the imagination of people fearful of death. I have no reason to doubt that the “developers” of “hell” believed this creation, as I have no reason to doubt that those who peddle “fire and brimstone” believe in such. A Pew survey in 2014 showed 58% of Americans believe in hell, with 67% of those affiliated with a religious group (Christian or non-Christian) believed in hell, so it isn’t a fringe group, but closer to a societal norm. I am more comfortable blasting these pastors for the emphasis on the supernatural when need is in the here-and-now. In other words, the hungry, thirsty, the immigrant, and those without basic needs.
Dennis Dean Carpenter
Thank you for the compliment. I am thinking that you likely have dealt with dementia patients in the past. Is there anything positive about dementia/Alzheimer's?
Good Morning Elizabeth,
I think that one's emotional wellbeing is something everyone must work at. But I also think that dementia/Alzheimer's is a disease with a physical cause. No reasonable/sane person would deliberately choose to get a disease, and certainly not a disease as debilitating as dementia/Alzheimer's.
I intend to continue writing as long as my muse prompts me with ideas.
Yeah, there are several types of dementia and several different causes. (I’ll just list two.) The idea that dementia is some kind of “retreat” or a “mental emotional illness” is wrong (which is putting it mildly), just like saying that cancer is a mental emotional illness. It isn’t caused by one’s “emotional” makeup or state.
Dementia has been described for several thousand years, with philosophers (Cicero was one) and physicians (Hippocrates & Galen, for instance) recording declines in cognitive function of some as they aged. As early as the first decade of the twentieth century, Dr. Alzheimer and Dr. Fischer, psychiatrists, had done post-mortem examinations of dementia patients and had noticed the plaques and tangles in the brain that are associated with it. (That is one cause.) In another form of dementia with which I’m more familiar, mini-strokes can cause this hellish illness. (That is another cause.)
This link gives a very brief few of the ancient Greeks and Romans who wrote about the illness.
(“Geras solutions” from the link refers to Geras, god of the aging.) The first textbook on neurology, from the 16th century (Jaso de Pratis) had a chapter on dementia. It was well-defined throughout history and we even know what happens in the brain that causes it.
Dennis Dean Carpenter
Actually, I've had no experience with folks who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Only know what I've read. As you mentioned below, most "experts" attribute physical causation to it. That condition, I suppose, could interact with emotional factors. I have not read that Alzheimer's seems to bring any personal satisfaction to its victims. They seem to react positively to caring support, as do we all.
I have had a family member who was diagnosed with "dementia" in his late 80's and up to that point was clear of mind. Symptoms included some hallucinations but not necessarily loss of memories.
Then why doesn't everyone who has those plaque buildups (or whatever it is they detect in the brain) exhibit physical symptoms of dementia? Autopsies have been done on brains that have the exact same characteristics as an Alzhiemers/dementia patient and the person had completely normal memory when they died. So it's obvious there's an emotional link. Are you a doctor Dennis? Did you go to medical school? Neither did I. That's why I characterized my opinions as observations. When you get your medical license, let me know, I'll be glad read your findings.
Charlie, one does not always make their choices consciously. In order to be able to make a choice, one must be aware and present and conscious of what they are paying attention to. Many of us don't pay attention to our inner state of consciousness or emotions and experience them as external events, or external drama. It's not about blame or fault, just awareness of one's inner state of being which few people pay attention to. As I said, everyone I know with dementia were miserable, anxious people who had painful trauma in their past... It's just something I've observed. Have no idea if it's a correlation but worth noting. Unlike Dennis, though, I'm not a grandiose authority on this subject as he obviously is. Many thanks, Elizabeth
You are incorrect, Elizabeth. Furthermore,it is insensitive and rather irresponsible to tout an uninformed opinion of an illness which in effect blames the victim’s emotional state ("miserable, anxious people") for plaque formation or for mini-strokes. That might be a comforting stereotype for you, but it has nothing to do with reality, just the same kind of stereotyping one finds some using with different ethnic groups. One needn't be a doctor to be literate in a subject.
Incidentally, strokes are caused by a blockage in the blood flow to portions of the brain. That’s one reason doctors prescribe drugs to lower cholesterol numbers. It's not because of the patient's "emotional state." Similarly, amyloid beta, the plaque that causes Alzheimer’s has nothing to do with writing emotional messages on the brain, but there are a few medicines that seem promising. I read about one, aducanumab, in Sunday’s paper, that holds some hope.
Dennis Dean Carpenter
I'm sorry that noticing and asking questions with regard to a patient's emotional state offends you. It seems that many comments I post to Charlie attract your negative attention. Why is that? Was I specifically addressing you? Then why did you insert yourself? I fail to comprehend why my observations would generate an iota of interest from you. Do you have a compulsive urge to disagree with every opinion and analysis that doesn't line up with your fact gathering? Now I know what people feel like who receive compulsive reactionary tweets from Donald Trump... He can't help himself when his facts are contradicted and neither can you. Elizabeth
Here's a summary of a Mayo Clinic article that seems to speak to how physical, emotional, environmental, lifestyle factors are interrelated in the dynamics of dementia/Alzheimer's.
Alzheimer's disease is a progressive disorder that causes brain cells to waste away (degenerate) and die... medications may temporarily improve symptoms or slow the rate of decline...memory loss associated with Alzheimer's disease persists and worsens...People with Alzheimer's may: repeat...forget words...routinely misplace...get lost... become confused with numbers...make poor social choices...wear inappropriate clothes...be confused by the unexpected...struggle with sequential steps ...struggle with playing a favorite game...eventually forget how to cook. bathe, or dress, etc.
Brain changes that occur in Alzheimer's disease can affect personality, moods and behaviors. Problems may include: depression, apathy, social withdrawal, mood swings, distrust in others, irritability and aggressiveness, changes in sleeping habits, wandering, loss of inhibitions, delusions: such as believing something has been stolen.
Many important skills are preserved for longer periods... may include reading or listening to books, telling stories and reminiscing, singing, listening to music, dancing, drawing, or doing crafts.These skills may be preserved longer because they are controlled by parts of the brain affected later in the course of the disease.
Alzheimer's disease is caused by a combination of genetic, lifestyle and environmental factors that affect the brain over time...Less than 1 percent of the time, Alzheimer's is caused by specific genetic changes...at its core are problems with brain proteins that fail to function normally...Beta-amyloid...Tau proteins...The damage most often starts in the region of the brain that controls memory...By the late stage of the disease, the brain has shrunk significantly.
Risk factors: Increasing age is the greatest known risk factor for Alzheimer's disease...One study found that annually there were two new diagnoses per 1,000 people ages 65 to 74...and 37 new diagnoses per 1,000 people age 85 and older...
There appears to be little difference in risk between men and women...When the primary MCI (Mild Cognitive Impairment) deficit is memory, the condition is more likely to progress to dementia due to Alzheimer's disease...other conditions associated with greater risk: past head trauma ...poor sleep patterns...Lack of exercise...Obesity... Smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke...High blood pressure...High cholesterol...poorly controlled type 2 diabetes...
therefore, changing lifestyle habits can to some degree alter your risk. For example, regular exercise and a healthy low-fat diet rich in fruits and vegetables are associated with a decreased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. Studies have found an association between lifelong involvement in mentally and socially stimulating activities and a reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease.
Re: Elizabeth, Oct. 28
Elizabeth's apparent offense at Dennis' characterization of her remarks on the illness of Alzheimer disease seemed rather unnecessary and defensive. Dennis' characterization of her remarks seemed appropriate and accurate to me. Elizabeth would do well to rein in her emotions if continuing to express her views on a public blog such as yours. The blog is clearly not limited to a two way conservation between Charlie and a single reader. I have assumed any comments presented is open to further comments.
Charlie, would you care to comment on this assumption?
It's a personal issue to me, Jim, having family members who have succumbed to it (as implied in my first post).
Here is a good resource for learning more about the forms dementia takes. Fortunately, scientists are studying the devastating disease, learning more about it and at some point may have better treatment options for the forms it takes.
One of the more intriguing facts about Alzheimer’s is its association with Down’s Syndrome (Trisomy 21). Down’s Syndrome sufferers have a pronounced risk for Alzheimer’s with at least half who reach middle age getting the Alzheimer’s form of dementia. Amyloid Precursor Protein is produced and carried by the 21st chromosome. This might be a key to understanding this form of dementia.
Dennis Dean Carpenter
You appear to be quite knowledgeable about the disease. At my age of 77 years, I am now experiencing the early symptoms and taking meds in an attempt to slow it's progress. Medical science has concentrated it's efforts to more clearly understand the disease's various natures. Like so many other challenges the universe presents to human existence, our hope is that another will soon be more effectively combated.
Again we turn to science to meet human challenges!
Gene, I'm only 48 but I do pay attention to the risk factors you mentioned and the lifestyle habits as well.... I know we have no control over some physical maladies, but I try to stay informed and mindful of my choices with regard to health. It may reduce my risk- it may not. But educating one's self about the risk factors involved certainly never hurts.
Charlie, I hope you are not moving in the middle of an unexpected snowstorm in KC! This has been a very unusual weather pattern for October- I'm glad we are only getting rain in St. Louis. I'd like to briefly address the situation regarding Jim and Dennis: Of course this is an open blog where participants are free to weigh in on the discussion of any subject. I do enjoy asking questions to you and the other scholars here. I did notice however after the Democracy blog dated July 25 that Jim and Dennis no longer answer my pertinent questions. They intentionally ignore them. I addressed Jim on Aug. 18 on your Aug. 11 Blog "Hanging Chads" with no response. Same with Dennis- I asked a question on Sept. 5 on the Aug. 25 Blog "Is Man the Measure," with no response to my inquiry but yet they freely engaged with the other participants.
Jim you are free to ignore my questions, but don't feign alarm when there is a noticeable response on my part to Dennis's reactionary engagement. What he wrote was not inappropriate at all... It was perfectly appropriate. I've never pretended to be a scholar nor an expert. I merely exposed the fact that he seems to compulsively disagree with the comments I make on this blog. In other words- there is a difference between the way Charlie and Gene engage with my comments, compared to the way you and Dennis do... And I pointed it out. But I do understand that that revelation may be disconcerting to you. Elizabeth
PS: It's ok to have disagreements and sometimes they may get heated with regard to politics, etc... Heated disagreement is fine as long as one can put it behind himself and return to civil engagement after the discussion has ended. That's what was attempted on my part and it seems that that attempt was rejected on the part of the two gentlemen I mentioned above.
I am sorry to be so long responding. We are in process of a move to Kansas City, and I have fat frying in two cities requiring constant attention.
When I began the blog, I did not know what to expect as far as responses to my blogs was concerned. It turned out that we had many responses--people did not always agree with me and I decided that was OK. People have to find their own way in life. I do not reply to every response, unless I have something to add or someone asks me a question. One interesting development is that people who commented on the blog began to discuss between themselves. I intrude into their conversation only when I have something to contribute. It is my hope that discussions will proceed with civility and decorum to the end that we all learn something. One interesting development is that discussions take on a life of their own and frequently go in directions not really sanctioned by the essay. For example in this case I wrote about an imaginary place of punishment in the ancient world one of whose characteristics was forgetfulness/oblivion and compared it to a real descent into the darkness of oblivion. Of the two I argued that people should fear the real rather than the imaginary.
Thanks for asking
Jim I should that my readers immediately turned the essay into a discussion of Dementia/Alzheimer's and I have been learning along with you. Dennis has had a great deal of experience, it seems, with Alzheimer's patients in his family.
Good afternoon Elizabeth,
My household items were delivered in North Kansas City last Tuesday. We have spent yesterday and today taking things out of boxes and discovering that we did not downsize enough. WE have kept more than we have drawers for! We only got a light dusting of snow. But it has been rather cold.
Oh my, Charlie... Well if it makes you feel any better, it happens to everyone who downsizes- at least in my orbit. What I appreciate about your situation is that you are taking charge of your own de-cluttering and not putting it off onto your kids. It's truly amazing how much we accumulate over the years isn't it? I can't explain the reason, it just seems that as human beings we tend to acquire more than we need or can comfortably accommodate... I try to keep the clutter at bay, but it's a constant battle. It always feels good to "lighten your load," so to speak, and free one's self of unnecessary baggage.
I'm afraid I'm the one responsible for steering the discussion into the arena of dementia/Alzheimers disease. Thankfully it does not run in my family but I am surrounded by other people who have it... (and whose identity I am not at liberty to reveal) I admit that I recoil from illness and am repulsed by it in fact. However I always pay attention to friends and neighbors who thrive in their 80s and 90s- and I like to pepper them with questions as to how they live so vibrantly and independently. And I deeply treasure their responses and their friendship. One can always find positive people who are living examples of wisdom and inspiration, so that's what I seek out... And that's why I like participating in your blog. Stay warm! Elizabeth
I research everything that interests me. It tends to mitigate bias. I tend to see characterizations of cultures as has Edward T. Hall, in two categories, though there is overlap. These are ways people perceive, use language and generally “see” the world. The culture in which I "came of age" is what he identified as “low context.” In this culture, knowledge comes about through analytical reasoning, linear logic and words, whereas in a “high context” culture, knowledge is intuitive, logic is spiral, and feelings more important than words. (There are also differences in other domains, like time, space and tempo, social roles, organization and a few other domains.) This means that I attempt to research stuff when I have questions and that I don’t rely on a sole “authority” but seek different analyses before concluding. (Hall’s analysis reminded me of the work Jamake Highwater did with indigenous populations in North America, especially regarding language, space and time.)
Dennis Dean Carpenter
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