William Edelen Blog – The Contrary Minister

William Edelen: The Tyranny of God

The Contrary Minister

The debris of something called “god”: cosmic bellhop….. celestial hitman…. divine windowpeeker. Thinking human beings everywhere now are clearing the cobwebs of their, so called, minds and finally setting themselves free of the archaic and superstitious “biblical god.”

A major article in the LA TIMES for the week of Nov. 10, 2013 had this heading “ATHEIST ‘MEGA-CHURCHES’ TAKE ROOT” documenting how large groups of non-believers are spreading all over the United States in major cities. They are all saying what I wrote in one of my columns ten years ago:

“Blessed are the Atheists, Agnostics, Deists, Mystics, Humanists, Free Thinkers, Taoists, Buddhists and all others who do not have an archaic, primitive God in their mind-brains.

Blessed are they who do not believe that ‘God’ is on their side.

Blessed are they who do not participate in Holy wars, jihads or Crusades.

Blessed are they for they would never be martyrs for the ‘Glory of God.’

Blessed are they for they do not condemn others as heretics or infidels.

Blessed are they for they do not conduct inquisitions nor slaughter millions of women as witches.

Blessed are they who do not participate in sectarian violence.

Blessed are they who do not twist biblical words to condemn homosexuality as a sin, nor condemn a woman’s right to choose abortion.

Blessed are they who would never say that a terrorist act is God’s punishment against those who do not believe or think as they do.

Blessed are they who know that the only hell that exists is right here on earth created by man. And that it is in man’s hands alone to create a heaven here on earth through intelligence, empathy and love.”

William Edelen: The Future Requires Courage…


The Contrary Minister

We live in an exciting and stimulating period of history. One age is dying… and the new age is not quite born.

We see radical changes in sexual patterns, lifestyles, marriage styles, women’s roles, family structures, education, energy, religion, the Christian church and in almost every conceivable aspect of life. We can withdraw in anxiety, or we can become negative and pessimistic. If we choose either of these paths, we forfeit our chance to participate in the creation of the future.

To live in this age, or any age, requires an enormous amount of courage, faith and willingness to take risks. But to participate in the forming of a future is to create. And courage, risk-taking, creativity and faith are the attributes that have continually reformed the structure of civilization.

What is creative courage? It is the willingness to pursue new forms, new symbols and new patterns of truth. The alternative is stagnation.

William Edelen: My Friend, Justice William O. Douglas, Where Are You Now?


The Contrary Minister

We are perched on a precipice in the history of our Democracy when it comes to the role of the Supreme Court today. I contemplate OFTEN nowadays… how my old friend Justice William O. Douglas would interpret these current maneuverings.

If Douglas was alive and on the court TODAY, he would be appalled at the very notion of the “Citizens United” opinion narrowing the definition of “corruption” to “quid-pro-quo” (money for political favors) AND giving the rights of “person-hood” to “corporations.” As stated so emphatically by Mitt Romney during the 2010 Presidential Campaign, “Corporations are people, my friend!”


“The purpose of the Bill of Rights is to keep the government off the backs of the people,” Douglas wrote. Further he wrote: “The New York Stock Exchange is a cross between a casino and a private club, filled with termites.” President Franklin Roosevelt was a good friend of many on the Stock Exchange, and yet he told Douglas, “Go ahead and charge them.” Douglas went ahead full speed and charged Richard Whitney, the President of the Exchange, who was indicted for the embezzlement of his clients’ securities. Whitney was convicted and sent to prison. Douglas zeroed in on the other members of the Exchange to make reforms that would be totally and truly responsive to security holders.

William Edelen: My Reading List…


2000 Years of Disbelief 

by James A. Haught 

Society rarely acknowledges the many and varied gifts that
disbelievers give to the world. Churchmen generally contend that
great figures in history, such as America’s founders, were
conventional believers. That isn’t true, and this insightful, witty
collection sets the record straight! This collection chronicles dozens of
famous people such as Isaac Asimov, W.E.B. DuBois, Thomas
Edison, Albert Einstein, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Benjamin Franklin,
Omar Khayyam, Abraham Lincoln, James Madison, John Stuart Mill,
Ayn Rand, Gene Roddenberry, Margaret Sanger, George Bernard
Shaw, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Voltaire, with many quotes that
reveal their rejection of the supernatural.

William Edelen: Christian History 101

The Contrary Minister

President Obama is receiving hard criticism about his “prayer breakfast” remarks regarding “Christian” history and violence. Truth and Facts are always upsetting to those with the constipated minds of fantasy, myth and falsehoods. Obama was absolutely CORRECT with the TRUTH about “Christian” history and violence. Consider the following TRUTH, all of which can be CONFIRMED in any public library.

When Alfred North Whitehead was the Chair of Philosophy at Harvard University he made this observation: “Christian theology has been the greatest disaster in the history of the human race.” Was he correct?

A brief review: 

William Edelen:  Music — The Cathedral of the Human Spirit

wMorten Lauridsen

The Contrary Minister

MUSIC is the language of the soul and the cathedral of the human spirit. More human beings have been moved, healed, inspired, up-lifted, redeemed and transformed by music than by all of the philosophies and contradictory theologies ever written. If a “God” is beyond human comprehension, then “theology” is a pseudo-science without a subject matter and the theologian is one who does not know what he is talking about. But, through music, joy, love, sorrow, tears, lamentation, laughter and meditations find a voice that fills our hearts.

To relax in the evening, it is often my custom to put on the glorious DVD, “SHINING NIGHT” A portrait of composer MORTEN LAURIDSEN. It includes his master works “Lux Aeterna” and “Magnum Mysterium” and it always ends my days on a high plane.

William Edelen: The Pulpit Needs Agnostics


The Contrary Minister

For more than 25 years the beloved Senior Minister of the famed City Temple of London (Methodist) was Leslie Weatherhead. His books have been read by millions.

In The Christian Agnostic he opens with this: Not for much longer will the world put up with the lies, the superstitions and the distortions with which the simple message of Jesus has been overlaid. The message of Galilee has been so overlaid with creeds, ceremonies and doctrines, that one can hardly catch the essential message.”

He goes on to say that any minister, standing in a pulpit, who is not an agnostic is dangerous. Why is he (she) dangerous? Because he pretends to have positive and absolute answers, that he does not have. He lives in the 20th [and 21st] century, parroting back a third century biblical mentality, as though nothing had been learned, thought or discovered in the last 2000 years.

William Edelen: Can Prayer Requests Change God’s Will?


The Contrary Minister

I would like to ask, “Can something called God’s will really be changed by requests from the earth?” And, if so, “What kind of a capricious, chaotic universe would this be?”

The Encyclopedia Britannica says that belief in an unchangeable God or unchangeable force is to be found in all of the higher religions.

William Edelen: Pulpits and Courtrooms…


The Contrary Minister

Think about this: The typical church service in a typical sanctuary on a typical Sunday morning bears a striking resemblance to a court of law. The minister has on a similar gown, most often black, the pews and pulpit closely resemble the furniture of a courtroom. The minister is elevated above the audience.

The minister preaches law from that idol that has replaced God, called the bible. The audience (subjects) are supposed to symbolically prostrate themselves before all of this. The judge (minister) interprets the law.

No wonder it is so difficult, if not almost impossible, to think your way beyond all of these trappings to the enlightenment of a higher spiritual consciousness, especially if you have been subjected to this kind of an authoritarian atmosphere since early childhood.

William Edelen: Surprised By Joy


The Contrary Minister

Many people have asked me where I find my JOY in daily living. I have a routine before rising each morning that fills my mind with thoughts of JOY. When I first awake I STAY IN BED and fill my mind with the following before I throw my legs over the side and put my feet on the floor.

Before experiencing the miracles of JOY that await me, I bask in the words of a recent editorial from the NEW YORK TIMES about the great gift I have been given at my advanced age. That gift is FREEDOM from public opinion, gossip, bigotry, prejudices, personal hang ups. Older people approaching the final exit can freely and finally say… “I don’t really give a damn any longer about what you think about me, my ideas, my life, or my attitudes. I am living my own life as I will and as I choose until the final curtain, as I always have, fulfilling my own unique destiny.”

William Edelen: Feathers — The Breath of Life

The Contrary Minister

An article in the ‘DESERT SUN” OF Palm Springs, for Saturday January 3 was about how “feathers” have now “taken flight as a decor trend” and moved into the world of chandeliers with brass feathers, to shower curtains. My immediate reaction and response was that the plains Indians, Lakota and Cheyenne, would be quivering at such a profane use of one of their most SACRED objects, symbolic of the ‘BREATH OF LIFE,”, the breath that sustains our very existence.

William Edelen: Desert Dawn… A Celebration


The Contrary Minister

These thoughts could easily by a part of your NEW YEARS RESOLUTIONS… to more fully enjoy and appreciate the miracle of the DAWN HOURS.

A number of years ago, when my home was not surrounded by development, but by virgin desert, I would take my dogs walking at that time in the desert spaces. Dawn, on the desert was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. It was like the music of some old chant, delicate and exquisite. I cherished the sense of great peace the scene gave. I felt like wandering off into the blue, violet and orange-pink planes that hung in transparent sheets from the top of the sky to within a few yards of my feet.

William Edelen: Silence… Allows Intolerable Intolerance


The Contrary Minister

A biblical story familiar to everyone is of the man walking along the road from Jerusalem to Jericho. He fell among robbers who “stripped him and beat him, leaving him half dead.” A priest walked by, saw him, and walked by “on the other side of the road.” A Levite, servant of the priest, also saw the man in the ditch but chose to walk by “on the other side of the road.”

How much of the violence, bigotry, persecution and ignorance in our society today is due to the silence of those who pass by “on the other side of the road”?

William Edelen:  The Christ Myth and Solstice 


The Contrary Minister

We are buried this time of year in mythology, legend and folklore. How many hundreds of times have we been told that Christmas celebrates the origin of Christianity? This of course is false. Christmas was around for eons before Jesus was ever born.

For thousands of years the Winter Solstice (Dec. 22-25) has been the most special time of the year and the most important date in human celebration. The sun has started its long journey home bringing Springtime.

Celebrating this event in this month of Solstice I am part of the line of descent that has been uninterrupted almost from the birth of humankind. There has been no time when someone, somewhere, was not celebrating this date.

William Edelen: To live with wonder…

The Contrary Minister

If we are fortunate, at some point before we die, we can discover WONDER. For we who have become so preoccupied with gaining and spending, with winning and losing, have lost sight of the miracles around us. Wonder is the capacity of sustained joy and awe. Wonder is a sense of freshness and spontaneity. Every day is a surprise party. Life is a cafeteria of delights, a new flower, a hummingbird hovering, a cucumber cucumbering.

To sense the ultimate in the common and in the rush of the passing, stillness in the eternal is to live with wonder, with “Ah.”

The purpose of religion for thousands of years has been to put human life into direct contact with the life of the cosmos, mountain life, desert life, cloud life, sun life, moon life, water life, rain life, snow life, plant life, animal life, storm life, rock life, and so receive energy, joy, and transformation. That is why the seasons of Solstice and Equinox are so important in the celebrations of so many traditions.

William Edelen: From Pearl to the Jewel of Marine Aviation


The Contrary Minister

Today, Dec 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor was attacked. I guess that everyone remembers where they were. I DO. My memory is as sharp as if it was yesterday. I was sitting on the floor of the Sigma Chi house living room, at the University of Oklahoma, reading the Sunday morning paper, when someone burst into the living room, yelling to all, “THE JAPANESE JUST BOMBED PEARL HARBOR.”

The events following that started to arrive in rapid fire motion. From newspaper and radio to personal telegram: the declaration of WAR… forthcoming draft plans and organization for ALL young men of draft age. I quickly found out that my young age was PRIME. I knew I had decisions to make, deep and significant reflections.

William Edelen: Proud To Be A Humanist…

The Contrary Minister

H. L Mencken, the renowned syndicated columnist for the Baltimore Sun, once wrote that he had no need ever to attend a circus. Why? Because he lived in a society that was a circus, with clowns everywhere. Mark Twain made similar observations. I always remember Mencken’s words when I read the rantings and ravings of those aiming their tirades at some mirage they call “secular humanism.”

I saw a wonderful cartoon recently. The picture is of a man and his wife dressed in puritan “do good” clothing. She is holding a book called The Book Hit List. He reading a newspaper. The man says “Holy Guacamole! Here’s a story about a school system that doesn’t pervert children’s minds with philosophy, literature, social studies, the arts, history and the rest of that secular humanism bunk.” The woman responds, “Hallelujua! Where is it?” The man answers: “Syria.”

William Edelen: Thanksgiving Thoughts


The Contrary Minister (2002)

My mind is filled with thoughts of Thanksgiving. Thursday is the day we set aside to remember blessings that have enriched our days and graced our lives.

I sit back in my chair and let my eyes once again caress the walls of my study, feeling their energy feed my spirit. The book-lined walls, how I love them.

My heart pours out a very special thanksgiving to all of the great and magnificent spirits whose thoughts and words fill these shelves and offer a feast, waiting only for my mind and soul to partake.

Goethe is there, with Albert Schweitzer and Meister Eckhart, the German theologian. There is Jung, Russell and Whitehead, Loren Eiseley and Suzuki, the Zen master, with Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. There is Learned Hand and Oliver Wendell Holmes, with e.e. cummings, Robert Frost and hundreds more, waiting to once again fill my spirit with food that is timeless.

William Edelen: Apology for Christianity…

The Contrary Minister (2002)

“For the understanding of religions… a complete understanding of myth is mandatory.” -Mircia Eliade.

[…] When Alfred North Whitehead was the chair of philosophy at Harvard University, he made this observation: “Christian theology has been the greatest disaster in the history of the human race.”

Was he correct? A brief review:

391 C.E. (A.D.): Christians burn down one of the greatest libraries in the world in Alexandria. Over 700,000 scrolls were destroyed.

500 to 1000: The church takes over and brings with it the cancer of the Dark Ages, destroying almost everything that defined civilization. The Christian church all but wiped out education, technology, science, medicine, history, art and commerce. During this period the church amassed enormous wealth.

1099: Christian crusaders take Jerusalem and massacre Jews and Muslims. In the streets were piles of heads, hands and feet. Millions were killed as a result of the Crusades.

William Edelen: No Violence… No Dualism… No Absolutes…


The Contrary Minister (2002)

When asked “What am I?” I always answer by saying I think of myself as being within the historical stream of Mysticism where there is no violence, no dualism and no absolutes.

No Violence: The vast majority of all the religious violence of the last 2,000 years has come from the “believers” of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam… the people of the “book,” the bible. Carl Sagan called the burning of the library in Alexandria by Christians in 391 one of the most obscene atrocities in the history of our species, Homo sapiens. Had there been a world view and philosophy of mysticism there would have been no burning of the library, but a celebration of the wealth of knowledge stored there… nor would there have been the Crusades… the Inquisition… the witch slaughtering… nor would there be a Northern Ireland nightmare… nor would there be a West Bank or Gaza strip killing field… Such violence would be unthinkable and obscene to anyone living within the world view of mysticism.

No Dualism: We must rid ourselves of the dualism that infects so much of our orthodox religious views of the earth and the universe. Dualism constantly separates man and woman from the sacred… nature from man… and spirit from matter. Several  years ago the giant Zen Master, D. T. Suzuki, was lecturing at Stanford University. He opened his address by stepping up to the front of the stage, leaning toward the audience, and saying, “Man against God… God against Man… man against nature… nature against man… God against nature… nature against God… a very, very funny religion.”


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