Saturday, July 10, 2021

No Selfies, Please

I have never taken a selfie. That may be due to the fact that I still use an old-fashioned flip phone that does not lend itself easily to that application. The reason I still carry an antique cell is because I have no need for the apps on a smart phone. Naively I think that the purpose of phones is to make phone calls. When I need to be online I will reach for my laptop or tablet. I also seldom carry my cellphone. I enjoy the peace of not being at everyone’s beck and call. Remember when people could not interrupt you when you went out of the house for a walk or a meal in a restaurant?

I am obviously in the minority in my Luddite inclinations. It seems to be a 21st century social requirement to have an obscenely expensive mini-computer in your pocket at all times. For many people it is an obsession to take and share photos of themselves with their phones. Many of these photos sport strange facial expressions that no one would ever display in person. What is it with the duck face?! What is the attraction of making faces for a camera and posting them online?

Every year there are news accounts of people who fell off cliffs at national parks, leaning over a railing trying to get the perfect selfie. Why risk your life to take a selfie? There was a recent post in USA Today about how to improve your selfies. It was suggested that hats and props be used. Of course you need to purchase a “selfie stick” to extend one’s reach to get just the right angle. I don’t get it. What is the attraction?

Selfies seem to be a way we remind ourselves – and the world – that we are unique and special persons. What wonderful places we visit! What fascinating people we associate with! What fun we are having! How happy we are! It seems like overkill. Methinks thou dost protest too much. I suspect that truly interesting people are too involved in living life to take pictures of themselves to share on social media.

Selfies are a strategy that the ego (another word of the self) uses to convince itself and others that it is real and important. This truth may come as a shock to many people: the self is a fiction. It has no reality outside our minds. It is a product of evolution and society. It is a psychological fiction that the brain has created to function in human society. The evolution of the ego has succeeded in making humans the dominant species on this planet, but we must not mistake its usefulness for reality.

In truth we are something much more profound than neurotic little egos seeking attention and approval. We are the Life that animates these bodies and minds. We are Awareness manifested as human consciousness. We are Self masquerading as selves. Human culture has called this the Holy. Jesus called it the Kingdom of God. Realizing this Ultimate Reality in awareness is the goal of all religions and spirituality.

The good news – which is the literal meaning of the word “gospel” - is that this reality can be readily seen by anyone. All we need is eyes to see and ears to hear, as Jesus said. No need to spend years perfecting spiritual disciplines. No esoteric knowledge needed. No initiation ceremonies required. No organization to join. No doctrines to be believed. No creeds to be recited.

This is seen directly when we look behind the self to notice what we really are. We simply need to inquire honestly as to our true identity. Seek and ye shall find. Knock and the door will be opened. When the door opens we see we are not who we thought we were. We are not a self, and certainly not something that can be captured in a selfie.  We are the selfless One. This is the testimony of the mystical branch of every world religion. It is the perennial philosophy. It is the timeless Truth. We are one.

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

I’ve Been Canceled!

Well, “Cancel Culture” has finally caught up with me. Now I know what it feels like to be canceled. The mail service (which will remain nameless), that I had been using to distribute my blog posts to subscribers, informed me on July 5 that they have terminated my account. Here are their exact words:

“Your account with the username Spiritual Reflections by Marshall Davis has been suspended for violating our Standard Terms of Use and Acceptable Use Policy. Please review our policies for more information on the types of content we don't allow.”

Ouch! I felt like a criminal. What did I do wrong? I reread my blog post and reviewed the policies carefully, and I could not find any possible violation. I wanted to think it was because my revolutionary spirituality was too much for people to handle. But I suspect that the reason is a mention in my July 4 post of the far-right group The Proud Boys and their merchandising outlet “1776.”

That was likely caught by some mindless bot or algorithm, which assumed I was endorsing them rather than condemning what they stand for. Any human reading my post would have seen what I was saying. But that would mean involving real humans in the process, and my suspicion is that service uses only monkeys. (hint!)

I have tried to contact a human with two emails asking for a specific reason for my suspension, but so far I have not heard back. I am not holding my breath. Unfortunately that means I had to find another means of distribution. It also means my timely post on the Declaration of Independence is out of date. But if you are still interested in my thoughts on this historic American document even after the July 4 holiday, you can access it HERE.

That is assuming I will not be canceled by my new subscription service for the same unspecified reason. Now I know what it feels like to be President Trump banned from Facebook. It almost makes me feel sorry for the guy. Almost. Oh, Oh! I hope that statement is not grounds for being banished again! Careful, Marshall, Big Brother is watching!

By the way, the new service is called They have been very helpful in transferring my account and all my subscribers – including you - to their service. They are staffed by real humans with names who answer emails promptly. has lots of options for subscribing if you want to explore it. They even said that if I posted a link to in this article, they would be happy to give me a $10 credit. But of course I would never do something like that!

This post will be the first time I have used this service, so I will see how well it works in delivering a good looking article to your inbox. I might have to tweak it to get the presentation the way I want it. The last service did not work well at all. A lot of people were not getting my blog. I could not even get them to send it to me!  And I never got any help fixing the problems. So in retrospect I guess it was good they suspended me. As the Bible says, “All things work together for good…” Even cancel culture. 

Sunday, July 4, 2021

Reflections on the Declaration of Independence

I privately read the Declaration of Independence yesterday in anticipation of hearing it read aloud at an Independence Day ceremony held at our town’s Honor Roll today.

The opening words of this document are famous: “When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another.”  The Deity is invoked in the form of “the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God.” Then come these familiar words:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

Those words are well-known. I was not so familiar with the list of 27 grievances that the founding fathers had against King George. They are called “a long train of abuses and usurpations.” The final one caught my attention: “He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.”

I wonder how those of Native American descent would feel about the public reading of these words as a part of this country’s celebration of freedom and equality. Personally I would feel uncomfortable using the words “merciless Indian Savages” and accusing them of “undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.” It feels tone deaf. The same accusation could be made about the American government’s treatment of the indigenous peoples of North America.

Then there is the condemnation of “domestic insurrections.” Historically this refers to both “Indian” and slave revolts in the 18th century. Apparently our founding fathers did not think that Native Americans and African Americans had the right to revolt against unjust American government. These Americans were not included in those who “are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.”  

The African slave connection is particularly relevant today in our racially charged environment and the present uproar about Critical Race Theory. The author of the Declaration, Thomas Jefferson, was himself an infamous slave owner. In fact a passage condemning slavery was omitted from the final draft of the Declaration. Those who sought independence for themselves were not willing to extend that right to African slaves.

The term “insurrection” cannot be heard these days without thinking of the January 6 attack upon the U.S. Capitol. Insurrection is not a designation assigned to the event by journalists. Many participants in the attack saw it as exactly that. January 6 was their “1776 moment.” 1776 has become a symbol used by the Far Right. For example, the Proud Boys have an online shop for thier merchandise named "1776."

My holiday reading of the Declaration of Independence has turned into more than just a patriotic moment for me. Hearing it read aloud by friends and townspeople in our town square felt like a spiritual experience. Perhaps it was because it was Sunday morning. When I returned home I meditated upon what freedom means for each generation and every person, racial group, and minority group in America.

Reflection on the Declaration of Independence needs to be more than old white men like me expressing gratitude for the freedoms that we have historically enjoyed. It means guaranteeing that the “unalienable Rights” of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” are extended to all people in this great country. The Declaration of Independence is not a onetime declaration. It is an ongoing revolution.