The Seven Superpowers

I have been thinking for a while about the limits of human potential as outlined by the capacities recorded in the scriptures. It is my conclusion that these powers are not only real, but achievable for every person if we will lay aside sin and earnestly practice sanctity.

Before elucidating details, a word on scientific objections. All the abilities described below (as with all human powers, including those considered mundane) could be achieved if a non-physical (and therefore not subject to scientific examination) human spirit were able to influence quantum probability. If this kind of behavior is not possible then such objections necessitate that we treat humans no differently from robots. Conversely, if quantum probability influence is indeed possible, no definite limits can be scientifically delineated, except the fundamental conservations such as energy and momentum which even quantum physics does not challenge and which I too find no need to question.

Returning to the question of the heights of human capacity, I find among the annals of the supreme specimens of humanity, none surpassing Jesus of Nazareth in fame. Although His miraculous powers are often brushed off as being simply super-human, a close reading reveals that He expected, and indeed foretold, even more excellent demonstrations from his merely human followers. And indeed some of these capacities are chronicled in Acts, which I will touch on imperfectly below.

Let us begin with the purely mental and non-demonstrable, which I term here “psychic”. This class of ability is well enough established in my experience to be a given, but in keeping with the following pattern, let us look to Jesus. It is said that he knew men’s hearts, could read thoughts, and had an uncanny aptitude at instruction. This premise of non-physical communication and direct mental channels is supported by accounts, in the book Acts, of remote dream communication and multilingual comprehension in the form of “speaking in tongues.” What is the limit to this power? If physical limitations are no constraint, it is unclear. It is perhaps instructive that the lesser apostles wrote more than the greater, indicating the place of the written word as subservient to the spoken, and of that to the psychic. Driving out demons also seems to class here, though it is often paired with healing which I would classify with the “shapeshifting” powers later expanded. As the psychic undergirds all the other powers, and has no direct physical manifestation, I have chosen the nested pentagons as its symbol.

My Icons of the Five Superpowers

Moving on to the demonstrably physical, let us start with the classical “super-hero” abilities, which I here term “thermo-kinetic” and which encompass the large and small scale physical exchange of momentum. Among them would be super-strength, flight, and control of heat and cold. No record exists, to my knowledge, of Jesus’ demonstration of this class of ability, except perhaps weather control, but we need look no further than the three exiles in the furnace, and the multitude of reports of saintly levitation to see evidence for human capacity in this realm. Superman’s abilities are an outline for the direction of, but by no means the limit to, these powers. I have chosen the fist of ice and flame as its symbol.

Beyond the macro, we arrive at the electromagnetic, which I prefer to think of as the “transfiguration” class of abilities. Jesus performs demonstrations on at least two occasions. Once when he is “hidden from their sight” apparently becoming selectively invisible. And the titular event when his face and clothes shone with light, in the same way that the sun shines. Aside from generating and absorbing electromagnetic radiation (which I am not prepared to rule out) such effects could be achieved by redirecting existing light toward the eyes of observers in the case of the transfiguration, or suppressing bodily interaction in the case of invisibility. Laser generation, direct solar absorption, perfect visual illusion, and hurling lightning are a few examples of more extreme manifestations of this class but, as with all other classes, no finite limits are evident. For the symbol, the radiant eye will suffice.

The next class under consideration is most commonly known as “healing” but which I would term more generally “shapeshifting” and encompasses all chemical operations. Depending on how the effect was achieved, turning the water into wine at the wedding at Cana may fit in this or the “transmutation” class below. Leaving that aside, nearly all acts of bodily healing, of which innumerable instances are attributed to Jesus, could be achieved in the most straightforward manner by chemical re-combination. The Blessed Virgin’s sustained physical virginity through childbirth is another fairly direct evidence of shapeshifting, as is, possibly, the resurrection. Such ability could also effect nearly all physical form alteration, the simplest of which can be seen in the demoniac effortlessly breaking chains, though this may also be a result of the thermo-kinetic. The role of fine control contrasted against brute strength seems key to this exploration, and will be touched on below. There is no reason to believe that the human body could not be spontaneously shifted to any other animal form with these powers, or indeed that a human spirit could not incorporate or directly animate conventionally inanimate materials. In order to emphasize some possible range to this power, I have selected the winged tentacle as the symbol for shapeshifting.

Much has been made of the relatively recent forays into atomic transmutation, the term I appropriate for the next class of powers. Aside from the water-to-wine example above I can not readily recall direct examples of Jesus wielding this class of abilities, except insofar that it might have been necessary to power his other energy expenditures. Given the near-limitless access to energy which such an ability would allow us, we might wish to consider this to be entirely outside the sphere of direct human capacity. Regardless, I see no reason to make a special exception to this case, especially since the operation lies so firmly within the realm of quantum mechanics which, theoretically, enable the exercise of all these unusual abilities. For lack of a more appropriate icon, the atomic ingot must do.

Finally, we come to the spatio-temporal, discontinuities in time and space. Jesus is, himself, said to have passed through a crowd of people intent on his demise, a solid door into the room where his disciples were hiding, and the stone which sealed his tomb. His disciples are also said to have teleported on at least one occasion, described as being “taken up by the spirit” and deposited in far-off localles. While no direct accounts of time travel are offered, unless the simultaneous appearance of Jesus after his resurrection is admitted, the tightly coupled nature of space-time seems to indicate this is a possibility as well. The implications are, in a word, apocalyptic. As a symbol, none seemed so appropriate as the compass clock.

Surely, by this point, you will have raised several empirical objections. If people are capable of such feats, why do we not see them demonstrated more often? Or indeed, at all in modern day? I suspect there are at least two barriers to such manifestations.

The first is faithlessness. Even Jesus, at several occasions in his teaching, remarks that his power is unable to manifest in the presence of a lack of faith. This seems to be linked with the deep guard that God enforces in the protection of human autonomy of belief. God does not allow spiritual powers to disprove the beliefs of individuals. God will have us wooed, or not at all; He does not force. This essay is, in part, my attempt to withdraw this first objection in pointing out that there is nothing in science or religion that prevents humankind from exercising abilities which are normally associated with, and indeed go far beyond those of, comic-book superheroes.

However there is a second barrier, that of malevolence. The comic-book is instructive here as well, for in it we see that the most popular exploration of these capabilities presumes that their best use is bent toward the ends of vengeance and punishment of the wicked. But in Jesus we discover that this attitude is precisely the opposite of that which would invite God to invest an individual with access to these awesome tools. Jesus is said to be so gentle and hopeful that “A bruised reed he will not break. A smoldering wick he will not snuff.” Which is, on even a short reflection, the only attitude with which one could heal by the power of shapeshifting, instead of kill. Or disappear with the power of transfiguration, instead of blind. It seems, then, that these abilities are lent to only those of unimpeachable moral character whom God has foreseen will not abuse them. This is the sign which miracles indicate, not that some individuals have unparalleled access to God’s favor, but that God’s charity has unparalleled access to some individual heart.

We hear too of the circumstances in which moral uprightness is most often found. “Not many of you were wise, not many mighty, not many noble” writes the least and last of the Apostles to the Gentiles of the Last Days. The poor, in fact, are quite likely to make up the bulk of those to whom God deems fit to entrust the world-shattering might outlined above. May we endeavor to be rich in virtue, that we may, in God’s good time, become the heroes the world needs.

In the meantime, when we encounter those mundane troubles which would so quickly crumble to the abilities above, and we pray for them, and they are not granted, let us call to mind our sins. It is not that God has refused a miracle, but that these very natural powers have been kept from us, like a knife from a toddler, so we endanger not ourselves or others. May we assent humbly to these unnecessary constraints, and play under the common handicap which God lays upon the evil for their good, not presuming to place ourselves apart from the sinners.

But if such time should come that all other means have failed, recall that God would be making no great exception to the established pattern of nature to put such tools at your disposal. Quench not the spirit. Attempt the powers in His service. Even I can not truly say I have always failed in their exercise.

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Isaiah 30 Song

I’ve been working on this song/poem for a long time now. At least four years (the poem has been complete since at least 2017-08-08) but very likely many more. This recording is a poor attempt, but I feel like if I wait to get it perfect, I’ll never post it.

Isaiah 30 second half song

The lyrics, if you can’t tell from my poor performance, are intended to be as follows:

beat of hooves in the night
stubbornness in our flight
we were left as a light
on a bare mountain height
that the Lord may show mercy in judgement

He teaches with pain
But teachers we gain
in our eyes and in our ears

Cast our idols away
“Get out silver!” we say
golden images, have done with your leers

We shall sow in the rain
Even cattle eat grain!
and the feasting shall go on for years

and
There will be a fountain
on every mountain
and on every high hill

there shall be streams of water
in the day of slaughter
when the towers spill

overpowering light
of the moon now as bright
as the sun, gone is night!

and the name of the Lord spreading
like a flood bursting banks
spreading like a firestorm
Ignition! with a word from his mouth
muzzling the mob to writhe in ignorance

Then with high joyful song
for the mountains we long
to ascend and re-join
and rejoice in our king

and his name shall join us

beat of hail on the height
as our foes take their flight
to Tophet where their light
is consumed in the night
all the kings shall know right
and the kindling is bright

for the Lord stretches open his mouth
and his gentle breath is flame

It’s intended to be a poetic interperetation of the last half of Isaiah chapter 30 http://peripheralarbor.com/Bible/kjv_Isa.htm#Isa_30
But ye said, No; for we will flee upon horses; therefore shall ye flee: and, We will ride upon the swift; therefore shall they that pursue you be swift. One thousand shall flee at the rebuke of one; at the rebuke of five shall ye flee: till ye be left as a beacon upon the top of a mountain, and as an ensign on an hill. And therefore will the LORD wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you: for the LORD is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for him. For the people shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem: thou shalt weep no more: he will be very gracious unto thee at the voice of thy cry; when he shall hear it, he will answer thee. And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction, yet shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner any more, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers: And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left. Ye shall defile also the covering of thy graven images of silver, and the ornament of thy molten images of gold: thou shalt cast them away as a menstruous cloth; thou shalt say unto it, Get thee hence. Then shall he give the rain of thy seed, that thou shalt sow the ground withal; and bread of the increase of the earth, and it shall be fat and plenteous: in that day shall thy cattle feed in large pastures. The oxen likewise and the young asses that ear the ground shall eat clean provender, which hath been winnowed with the shovel and with the fan. And there shall be upon every high mountain, and upon every high hill, rivers and streams of waters in the day of the great slaughter, when the towers fall. Moreover the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day that the LORD bindeth up the breach of his people, and healeth the stroke of their wound. Behold, the name of the LORD cometh from far, burning with his anger, and the burden thereof is heavy: his lips are full of indignation, and his tongue as a devouring fire: And his breath, as an overflowing stream, shall reach to the midst of the neck, to sift the nations with the sieve of vanity: and there shall be a bridle in the jaws of the people, causing them to err. Ye shall have a song, as in the night when a holy solemnity is kept; and gladness of heart, as when one goeth with a pipe to come into the mountain of the LORD, to the mighty One of Israel. And the LORD shall cause his glorious voice to be heard, and shall shew the lighting down of his arm, with the indignation of his anger, and with the flame of a devouring fire, with scattering, and tempest, and hailstones. For through the voice of the LORD shall the Assyrian be beaten down, which smote with a rod. And in every place where the grounded staff shall pass, which the LORD shall lay upon him, it shall be with tabrets and harps: and in battles of shaking will he fight with it. For Tophet is ordained of old; yea, for the king it is prepared; he hath made it deep and large: the pile thereof is fire and much wood; the breath of the LORD, like a stream of brimstone, doth kindle it.

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Short Story Contest 2020

A local paper (The Camarillo Acorn) hosts an annual short story contest, so I figured I’d take a swing at it. The following is based on a feeling I’ve had somewhat frequently when out in the street. Or looking at Christmas lights. All these houses, lit up from the inside. What if I didn’t belong to any of them? What if I was an outsider, who couldn’t gain admission even if I asked nicely? A street child perhaps. What a barrier!

All the barricades, fences, and walls that make a home feel so safe, also serve to make the home intimidating to those outside. And yet, so close, really more “among” the houses than “within” them. How can the physical distinction be so specific? Walls within walls, and tier on tier of refusal. Are the windows to the soul of the home blind? Or do they merely look out in the day, and at night turn inward?

So there you go, the introduction is longer than the work itself. I present to you:

Mansions

Great villas sparkling with warmth in deepening night. I, among them, but uninvited. Why so cold? There is warmth abundant, passing needs. I, pressing needs, and nose against the glass yearn to belong. I, an embarrassment, not so much shunned as blanked. Nonentity cannot hope for hospitality. Among them, but outside; Lingering in the streets, the guts, where all nourishment is extracted and waste, like me, moves on. Forgotten, will I fade away? Or was I ever here? The smudge of face and breath, my tender mark of hope, the servants will expunge.

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Random Math

16 processes running at once, all scrolling fast enough to refresh every screen every frame.

I was telling the kids how fast computers are, and to demonstrate I wrote this Python program to do simple multiplication, division, addition, and subtraction.

from random import random as rand
from random import choice
def randmath():
	ops = {'+': 31, '-': 32, '*': 16, '/': 32}
	operator = choice([i for i in ops.keys()])
	scope = 1 << ops[operator]
	num1 = int(rand()*scope)
	num2 = int(rand()*scope)
	mathstring = "{} {} {}".format(num1, operator, num2)
	result = eval( mathstring )
	print(mathstring , "=", result)
	
while True: randmath()

Since that scrolls by so quickly, you may want to try this version, which pauses two seconds between calculations.

from random import random as rand
from random import choice
from time import sleep
def randmath():
	ops = {'+': 31, '-': 32, '*': 16, '/': 32}
	operator = choice([i for i in ops.keys()])
	scope = 1 << ops[operator]
	num1 = int(rand()*scope)
	num2 = int(rand()*scope)
	mathstring = "{} {} {}".format(num1, operator, num2)
	result = eval( mathstring )
	print(mathstring , "=", result)
	
while True:
        randmath()
        sleep(2)
Twenty throttled math programs all running at once, with the CPU hovering around 3-10%

To get them all nicely tiled like that, right-click on the taskbar and select “Show windows stacked”

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Vacation Trials

We took a family vacation 2017-05-27 thru 2017-06-29, swinging around the western third of the USA. I was working remote during the entire trip, which set the stress levels a bit high just off the bat. The whole family came along, which at the time was five children, the oldest of which was seven. So that was a bit stressful as well.

The first leg of the trip was the drive out to Tucson. It went well all the way through the desert, though the AC switched to heat when we were going up hills, but on our arrival in Tucson the air conditioning inexplicably ceased to function all together. I poked around to see if maybe a cable was loose or something, but was unable to revive it. We figured we would get it fixed a few days later when we spent a week in Colorado Springs.

But once we got the car into the shop in Colorado Springs, the shop kept having delays. First it was disassembly, then it was parts, then the parts were the wrong parts, then the new parts wouldn’t go back together correctly. The short of it was that we were stuck without a vehicle for three days at the campsite with spotty wifi and unreliable cell service. The day before we needed to leave we finally got the car back with the AC fixed (though it still switched to heat going uphill).

The next two weeks were pretty uneventful, other than needing to replace one of the headlights. We stopped by our rental house to bring home some of the things we had put in storage, so we wanted to get a trailer, but for that we needed a trailer hitch. So the day before we planned to drive home, we took the van down to the U-Haul. While I was The guy who installed the hitch bar put it in too far back, so the spare tire wouldn’t fit properly, but we didn’t have time to worry about that because the van also just wouldn’t start. I walked back and forth between the U-Haul and our house several times, and at one point I left my phone charging in the lobby. When I got back my phone had been stolen. A guy who worked at the oil change place helped us diagnose the problem, and we had the van towed to the local dealership. I walked to the friend’s house where we were staying and I had reached my limit. I wept in my wife’s lap.

So we were stuck again. We asked our parish priest and our parents for prayers, but there was nothing else to be done. I spent the day at the dealership, and five days later we had the van back. The delay had thrown off our plans, and we rushed to get the trailer hooked up, packed, and the family back on the road.

About half way back, we got a flat tire. That only took about a half hour to put on the spare, and then another hour or so to get a couple new tires put on.

At the time, it felt like everything was going wrong. Looking back, well, it could have gone better, but we overcame it, and God knew we could, so it’s something of a compliment I suppose.

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Fragments of the Hero’s Journey

After listening to quite a few Jordan B. Peterson lectures – perhaps a few too many if that is possible – I clambered up into my tree fort – though tree seat might be a better description – and wrote down this idea. Tragedy, comedy, and horror are all fragments of the Hero’s Journey. I didn’t even write it down like that. Instead I drew a picture.

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Novena to Saint Cajetan for the Unemployed and Underemployed

Introductory prayer for every day:

(Begin with the sign of the cross)
Omnipotent and everlasting God, You wanted St. Cajetan to trust in your Providence and despise earthly things and You enriched him with abundant spiritual goods, grant that those who implore the graces of your Divine Providence are aided in their necessities by St. Cajetan’s intercession. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

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Thaw Among Frozen Stones

Chill air, with a hint of perfume, and the dawn widening.

In that light, diffused from pearly clouds and still blushing at the stretching sun, a wave or two of illumination washes over the field far below.

Up between the stones and boulders they come, red, and white, and gold, and palest lavender, flowers in bursting columns and rafts so dense they might support the glaciers, which still hang, like clouds themselves, high on the valley walls.

A bubbling rivulet of crystal water leaps from stone to stone, and the green buttresses of the blooms drink it up, and nearly glow themselves as decked with dew like jewels, they fling back quivering light to bolster the brightening day.

Narrated animation here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rgt87gdjCcM

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Chronicles of Everfall – Shadow of the Conqueror: Review and Feedback

This is a detailed review, response, and rebuttal of the fantasy book “Chronicles of Everfall – Shadow of the Conqueror” By Shad M. Brooks, abbreviated occasionally as SotC in this essay.

It’s quite interesting to hear Shad describe himself as being good at writing dialogue, but “no poet.” an evaluation I found apt. My strengths lie, if anything, reversed. I relish the well-turned phrase, and so found much of the prose clunky and dull. I likewise find crafting convincing dialogue challenging, so the conversations were quite inspirational for me. Shad seems to know where he needs improvement, so I hope the details below will be taken as encouragement to continue refining his craft.

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Writing Exercise

Ooh. Who’s that?
That doesn’t look fun. We’re friends right? We’re all staying here. We’re just hangin.
No, they want a fight. I can take ’em. Let’s go!
But it’s so uncomfortable out there. Don’t you want to be here where it’s warm and we don’t have to fight to breathe?
No, I’m going out there! I want to!
We could be here, together. We’re both changing so much. If we leave, we’ll both die.
I can change everything out there. I can change them! I will.
We order you to stay. We have the authority. We made you.
We have to go. I have to grow. I will survive, for long enough. I’m leaving. Goodbye, for now.

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