September 3rd First Sunday Monthly Service on Remembering Paul Meyers and the 8/21/2017 Eclipse

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September 3rd First Sunday Monthly Service on Remembering Paul Meyers and the 8/21/2017 Eclipse

Post by tim »

Our September 3rd service was a remembrance of our dear friend Paul Meyers who died 8/20/2017. And of the experiences of several of us that traveled to the “path of totality” of the total solar eclipse that happened the next day, August 21st.

Paul Meyers had been with the NTCOF for 5-6 years. Those of us who got to know him found him to be a funny, delightful, and at times mischievous enthusiast of mathematics and computer science. He was a regular not only at the monthly church service but at the Salon events on the non-first-Sunday at which he was almost always the first to show. In mid-June, Paul collapsed after one Sunday during which he attended Salon, did his grocery shopping, and was about to take his purchases up to his apartment. By the time he was discharged from the hospital to a nursing facility a few days later it was clear that something was seriously wrong. He had stage IV cancer. He had a fairly rapid downhill course after that.

Paul's obituary is ... s/3070019/.

During discussion about death and dying led by one of our members who is a non-theist retired Episcopal priest, we learned about the ancient concept of “anamnesis,” literally “not forgetting.” (Just as “a-theism” is not having theism, “an-amnesis” is not forgetting.) We see this idea cropping up often in history as with “Remember the Alamo” and “Never Forget [The Holocaust]” and the like. While we remember those who meant something to us in life, they do, in that way, continue to live. This is also the spirit of what theistic religions derisively call “ancestor worship.”

It turns out, too, that Christian theologians, notably Anglican priest John MacQuarrie (1919-2007) have explored the difference between “everlasting life.” and “eternal life.” The first is the usual idea that one lives on after death as oneself, notion that is clearly supernaturalistic. The latter is a sketchier idea, not necessarily supernaturalistic, relating to having, while one is alive, a grasp of “eternity,” understood in a multitude of ways, and/or the persistence among the living and into the future of the effects of one's life after it has ended. So, for example, the Big Bang happened many billions of years ago but the evidence of it is everywhere in the universe we see today.

We may also understand this by thinking of the famous Ray Bradbury sci-fi short story “A Sound of Thunder.” In that tale, time-travelers take paying big-game hunter customers to the era of the dinosaurs where one of these beasts has been already determined to have died at a specific moment. The time-travelers arrive just before that moment and, while staying on a floating platform/trail, are to kill the dinosaur and return to their own time. But in Bradbury's story, one of the hunters panics and falls off the trail and runs away. After he is retrieved and the party returns to their own time, everything has subtly changed, and the hunter who had panicked and run off finds on his boot the remains of a crushed butterfly. If this story is even plausible – and it seems so! - how much more might the effects of our own lives, our actions and inactions, and the “stamp” we put on others and the world during our brief existence have on the unknown future?!

Put yet another way, we can think of space-time as existing “eternally,” though we move relentlessly in one direction through the time-dimension. Yet all of our past moments still “exist” at those points in space-time. That is, even if we forget the past we cannot erase it. We cannot escape the effects of every past moment. And as our present existence depends on and has been influenced by all that has gone before, the effects of what we are and do now will propagate into the future beyond our ability to speculate.

On the day after Paul died, a total solar eclipse swept across the continental USA, the first since 1979. Several of us traveled to two different locations in Wyoming and also to Holts Summit, MO. These were locations in the “path of totality,” where the moon's umbra (not just the penumbra) would allow viewing of night-time in the middle of the daytime and the Sun's corona, it's outer atmosphere which is a million times less bright than the sun itself. We showed some video and photos of the event:
TOTALeclipseOFtheSUN.jpg (43.3 KiB) Viewed 1236 times
diamondring.jpg (42.07 KiB) Viewed 1236 times
20915645_10209850392401582_8573246117901911638_n.jpg (36.21 KiB) Viewed 1236 times

Last edited by tim on Wed Sep 13, 2017 10:48 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: September 3rd First Sunday Monthly Service on Remembering Paul Meyers and the 8/21/2017 Eclipse

Post by rnejdl »

20915645_10209850392401582_8573246117901911638_n.jpg (36.21 KiB) Viewed 1238 times
TOTALeclipseOFtheSUN.jpg (43.3 KiB) Viewed 1238 times
traffic_after_eclipse.jpg (61.15 KiB) Viewed 1238 times
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