From Kerosene Lamp To Drone Deliveries

Ed Raymond

Illustration by Howard Pyle
Illustration by Howard Pyle

The world continues to be a very exciting place for an adolescent who spent his evenings after milking my share of four cows reading books from my country school like “Men of Iron” by kerosene lamp. I read that book several times. I was intrigued by the life of a young squire serving his glorious knight in religious medieval battles. Some young knights ended up in cemeteries where they were housed while traveling to different parts of paradise. How times have changed. When I go by a monument-filled place today, I think of how cremation has changed the idea of funerals. We have all kinds of options celebrating a person’s life. 

In the spirit of righteous inequality, which seems to be the rage in many parts of the industrialized world, we can now transform grandma to a memorial diamond that can be worn on the finger of a thousand generations of her descendents. A diamond is a   monument that will last longer than a granite slab. If you want to change grandma into a diamond, make a deal with Algordanza, a Swiss company. Send a pound of her ashes and they will extract pure carbon. The company bakes the carbon at 2,400 degrees and subjects the remains to 870,000 pounds of pressure per square inch—which gradually changes the molecules of carbon into a pure diamond. This isn’t easy or cheap. You get a tiny diamond back for $3,000 bucks. Average grandmas weigh four pounds after cremation. Send in all four pounds and see what kind of a deal you can make! Or an English company called And Vinyly (say it out loud!) will press grandma’s ashes into a vinyl record of her favorite song. 

How About Putting Grandma Into Orbit Or On Mars?

Eternal Reefs of Sarasota will take grandma’s cremains and cement them into a 650 to 4,000-pound ball and place it in artificial reef off Florida. Because of climate change and other natural factors, you may want to get grandma off this embattled planet. You can employ a Houston firm to put her ashes into earth orbit or drop them on the moon or Mars. Any of these projects will really cost you. NASA wants $50 million for a 30-day vacation on the International Space Station.

If you can’t afford to blast grandma to orbit, how about putting her in the corner of your family room? You can buy a pot and a tree seedling for an indoor tree, mix her ashes and soil in the pot, carefully water it--and see what happens. A company called Bios Urn out of Barcelona, Spain will give you advice, a seedling, and a pot for $145. You can get a deluxe model for $700 which will operate off your smart phone app. Sensors implanted in the pot will tell you when to water, fertilize, and what the soil conditions are for grandma and the tree. This is a long way from reading about knights of old by kerosene lamp.

After burning thousands of heretics, heroes, heroines, and troublemakers at stakes in city squares over its 2,000-year history, the Roman Catholic Church finally agreed to allow Catholics to be cremated in approved furnaces in 1963. But you can’t turn grandma into a diamond or put her in orbit. The Vatican is tremendously energetic in establishing thousands of sins to keep sinners in confessionals. It is not permitted to scatter the ashes of the faithfully departed in the air, on land, at sea, or in some other way, nor may they be preserved in mementos, pieces of jewelry or other objects. Ashes cannot be divided up among family members and must be kept together at a location where the departed won’t be excluded from prayers. While at death the soul is separated from the body, the instructions state, at the time of resurrection God will give incorruptible life to our body reunited with the soul. (I have listed only major instructions!)

Is The Heart The Center Of  A Person—Or Is It The Brain?

I see Fargo Catholics attended a mass on May 30 venerating the relic heart of St. John Vianney on the altar of St. Mary’s Cathedral, a religious practice started in 155 A.D. after bishop and martyr St. Polycart was burned at the stake at Smyrna. A Catholic relic is a piece of the body of a saint, or something owned and used by a saint, or an object which has been touched by a saint’s tomb. The custodian of the heart relic, Peter Sonski of Connecticut, has taken it to 46 states since November. Evidently the heart has not been touched by decay for 160 years. Sonski calls it a “miracle heart,” and says: “The heart is the very center of a person, of their human, emotional, and spiritual life.” Actually centuries of medical research reveal that the brain tells the heart what to do and is the transformational center of human existence. But many religions still exist in candle and kerosene power and light.

The Vatican idea that every Catholic altar should have a relic of a saint stored in it strengthened in the Fourth and Fifth Centuries and continues to this day. By the Eleventh Century the Vatican “highly recommended” that every main altar shelter a saint’s relic. This when controversy, jealousy, the savage collection of body parts, the raids on tombs and churches, and the battle among cities and towns for the most fascinating relics started to take place. Truth does not always rule.

The most famous relic in Catholic and world history is the foreskin of Jesus Christ, reportedly given to Charlemagne by an angel while he prayed. Charlemagne then presented it to Pope Leo on December 25, 800. Pope Leo took it to Rome and stored it with a mounting pile of relics sent to Rome from other Catholic countries. Every altar had to have a relic or be snickered at. In this age of candles, communication among cities and towns was difficult. What town wanted a body part of a minor saint? So during the Medieval Period the relic scheme reached the zenith of absurdity when at least 18 churches in various European cities and towns claimed to have the Holy Foreskin of Christ in a reliquary on their altar. In that sex has been the Catholic cancer of the Vatican, the relic of the only body piece left on earth by Christ remains a very prominent symbol of controversial religious policies involving abortion, homosexuality, contraceptives, and gender identities.

Does God Really Believe The One Percent Will Inherit The Earth?

Kenneth Copeland apparently believes so. He is a very popular preacher of the prosperity gospel, a Christian group that believes material and cash wealth is a sign that God approves of the accumulation of wealth. Copeland is currently worth about $760 million, owns five aircraft, a  mansion in Forth Worth, a vacation home in Colorado, has seven offices around the world, and admits he’s a very wealthy man. He is currently a member of President Donald Trump’s evangelical advisory committee, appears on TV constantly, has published a number of high-priced religious books, and speaks at many revival meetings. As a well-known televangelist, he says he uses his private jets instead of commercial airlines as sanctuaries because there are “demons” on passenger jets. The 82-year-old Copeland says: I can’t manage that today—the dope-filled world, and get into a long tube with a bunch of demons. It’s deadly.”

A member of the charismatic Christians, Copeland insists that there is spiritual warfare constantly going on between the forces of good and evil, and the devil Satan sends out demonic forces to tempt Christians to abandon their faith. Copeland says because of his wealth, private jets, his private air field, his church and warehouses, he has brought millions of people to Christianity and has spent millions on the poor. Besides, he sells a lot of natural gas from his Texas property! He doesn’t seem to concentrate on what Christ said about the poor. Nothing but electric chandeliers for Pastor Kenneth Copeland.

Projects Beyond My Kerosene And Two-Holer Days

It’s absolutely amazing what humans have accomplished in 80 years. Women who have decided they have used their uteruses enough are now offering the used organ to other women who don’t have one or have one that doesn’t function. After using the transplanted uterus for five years the user has to give up the transplant because of the damage immunosuppressive drugs do that might result in cancer. Swedish doctors conducted the first successful uterus transplant in 2014 resulting in a healthy baby. It takes about four hours to complete the procedure with about a foot-long cut if done by human hand. If done robotically, the procedure can take up to nine hours—but the incision is only about an inch. The robot method has a very short recovery time. This is way beyond kerosene time.

We have a number of Icelandic friends, most with religious affiliations. But the Icelanders on the island have been watching religious wars, revolutions, bloody assaults, suicidal immolations, and murders for centuries among the seven great religions, and have finally said “ENOUGH!” Not only have many Icelanders become atheists, their parliament has just voted to classify all religions as weapons of mass destruction. In other words, they have placed Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and smaller religions such as the Tennessee Snake Handlers on the weapons list next to nuclear weapons, poison gases, plagues, and the other dozens of ways humans perform mass killings. Lawmaker Andrew Kanard summarized his reasons for voting for the statute: “Looking at the Crusades, the wars of jihadist conquest, or how the evangelical climate-denying oligarchs in America are destroying the planet, one realizes faith is fatal on a mass scale. We in parliament felt it necessary to let people know all religion is a mental disorder and a dangerous one at that.” Evidently Icelanders look at their vision of the world with very bright lights.

To support the position of the Icelandic parliament, let’s look at the “mass destruction” caused by the Vatican. Catholic nuns have lead Vatican campaigns against poverty, disease, and ignorance for centuries by leading hospitals, schools, and welfare programs. But the tired old men in the Vatican have never granted women the pulpit or church governance positions. So Catholic women have given up and are not joining religious orders.  In 1965 we had 180,000 nuns in the United States serving in many demanding societal roles. Today there are only 50,000 left—and the average age is 80! They are no longer lighting candles to pray by. They are cursing the darkness while closing down their various humanitarian missions in this country.