Sunday, August 23, 2015

Books!

  I love books. I have read most of my life. I read for fun and I read for knowledge. As I've gotten older I don't read as much fiction and I read mostly on my Kindle Fire where I can adjust the font and the lighting to my aging eyes. Still, I've often said that I don't know how a person forms a world view if they never read. I started out with comic books and ghost stories that I would order from my Weekly Reader. Sports stories and also mystery. I was never great at math or science. But, reading? It came natural to me. English? Sentence structure? Not so much. But, actually reading the words? They flowed. Always have for some  reason.

If you have ever read my blabbing on this blog then you know I love classic rock and even throw in some country. Some jazz and blues and gospel. But, I also have a secret about "rock stars." Authors have always been in some way my "rock stars." Yep, King and Straub and Lewis and Peck. Thurber and Rice and Oats and Koontz. Many more be they steady or one hit wonders. :-) So, it was with interest that I came upon a "list of bets books" on the internet. Oh, I knew I would not like most of em. Here's another little secret. Most of what passes for great literature in the English speaking world is dry, boring and pretentious. I remember having to read "Great Expectations" for a Lit class back in the day. I remember thinking to myself "If I didn't already love to read, this would kill it!" But, as usual I digress. :-)  So, here are some of my favorite books over the years. Both fiction and non fiction. Of course I don't include (although, they  really helped solidify my reading) Batman or Superman or XMen or Thor or Archie or countless other works of great literature (comic books of my youth) But, they have a special place in my heart. :-)

Fiction:
1. Salem's Lot...Stephen King: I read this a long time ago and really fell into the story. To me the town and the characters were what drew me in. Vampires? Well, yeah I was a big fan of all things that go bump in the night. But, I was living in a small southern town and this small town in New England just really resonated with me. The dude shooting rats at the town dump. The well meaning all around town employee finding the remains of a dog at the cemetery. The kids daring each other to go into the abandoned house which was surely haunted. The quiet writer falling in love with the small town girl. The priest and the haunted father diving into the  grave of his son who was one of the first victims of the vampires. My young head was (as you can see from the memory of the book) immersed for days in this story.

2. The Stand...Stephen King: Yeah, I know. With me if it's rock then it's Eagles and if it's  books then it's King. What can I say? See above about characters for the reason I loved this one.

3. Mystery Walk: Robert Mccammon: I remember thinking that Robert Mccamnon did for the south some of what Stephen King did for New England. This one from the early 80's was a story of a healer and a supernatural battle taking place in Alabama and also reaching Chicago and from what I remember was a lot of fun. I immersed myself in this one.

4. Interview with the Vampire...Ann Rice: This one came out in 1976. My senior year. The characters reminded me of people I knew. Also, what red blooded American boy hasn't fantasied about being a vampire? All the power and hold over women? The girls that wouldn't talk to you otherwise? Eternal life and being able to party forever?

Honorable mention:

Psychiatrist M. Scott Peck, whose self-help book THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED and especially People of the Lie really made an impression writes a (in my memory from reading it so long ago) really moving and spiritual account of a nursing home. I honestly don't remember that much about it except that it moved me back then and I never forgot having read it.

The Abyss...Jere Cunningham: Written in the late seventies or early eighties. I don't actually remember much about this one. Chances are you've never heard of this or the author. But, if memory serves it was about a small southern town and the horror was set in a coal mine. Living in Altoona, Alabama (small southern coal mining town) might have something to do with why I remember reading this. It's also why my memory puts it way to high on this list. ;-)

Non Fiction:

1. Devil in the White City..Erik Larson: This one revolves around the Chicago Worlds Fair of 1893 and possibly the first know American Serial Killer H.H. Holmes. This isn't a serial killer book but rather a book about the upcoming turn of the century. The killer is interspersed with the story of invention and change that was first evident at that time and place. Chicago is wonderfully rendered and the first Ferris Wheel and other 19th century inventions are front and center. This reads like a fast paced novel and a history of the late 19th century. Highly recommended.

2. People of the Lie...M. Scott Peck: This was written in the early eighties. I was a young man starting to wrestle with my faith. Surely, intelligent people didn't still believe in things like spiritual evil or eternal goodness. Then along comes a very intelligent psychiatrist with a very revealing account of his own journey from hardened materialist to believer that we are on a spiritual as well as physical journey. This book talked of human and demonic evil. Not from a religious tract point of view. But, from a boots on the ground human experience.

3: Hostage to the Devil..Malachi Martin: This book scared me to death. Seriously, don't read this one unless you pray, meditate, surround yourself with light. I know that sounds really serious and even silly coming from a skeptical person. But, this one was intense. Not sensational but really serious. Father Martin was a Catholic Priest. A Jesuit I believe. His account of actual slow and steady demonic possession of five ordinary people is riveting. Thing is this isn't some "well they walked past a seance or insulted a Gypsy." This is really a serious account from someone who takes the subject seriously. No Green Pea Puke in this one boys and girls.

4. The Great Divorce: C.S. Lewis: Yeah I know. Including a book by C.S. Lewis from those of us who were a little intellectual and raised in the church. It's kind of like linking to a George Takei post on facebook these days. :-) But, this is a great book and it really had an effect on the way I viewed heaven and hell. Not because I agree with all of it. I don't. But, because it has a ring of truth to it. These people are on a bus trip from hell to spend a day on the outer reaches of heaven. But, they are so caught up in their own self righteousness or lust or hate or loss that they don't realize that they are in hell. Nor do they realize the outskirts of heaven. Good stuff here. Non fiction? Well, it kind of fits.

So, anyway there are many more books that I could list. There are even some that I like more than the ones I have listed. But, these had an effect and I thought I'd share.

Peace!



Friday, August 14, 2015

2015:
58 years! I have grown up with people who are now 58 or approaching 58 or 59 and even 60. The youngest of the baby boomers! That's us. We grew up on rock and roll and t.v.. We lived through Vietnam and Watergate. A president was murdered in our childhood. A man walked on the moon. I remember something as I toss and try to sleep. A picture in the paper as 1969 was giving way to 1970. Back then there was a little cartoon in the paper depicting "Baby New Year" and the "Old year."

 Baby New Year of 1970 was fresh and ready to take over. But, as old man 1969 walked off stage he tossed (sorry, it's been a long time ago and my memory isn't perfect. But, it was something like this) Anyway, he tossed a look back over his shoulder at a headline: Man walks on the Moon! "Beat That" says old man 1969 to Baby New Year 1970 as he continues off stage!

1976:
Beat That! Gotta be a way to beat that says my young self as I ponder  the state of my life. I live for 16 years in the same neighborhood and "she divorces him" and I find myself in this little coal mining town finishing up my high school years and full of anger and angst. Graduation coming up and I'll get out of here. Out of here. I do have to admit that there are perks to this little town. The grass is so green and the sky so blue and...But, I hate it, hate it, hate it! I'm going to go out and get blasted for the first time in my life after graduation. I know it's wrong. I well, I pray a lot and my grandmother is so religious and I feel really guilty but...

Hey kid! Why don't you stop worrying so much! Although, I admit you might be right not to totally be comfortable with drinking or getting blasted! Oh, if that were the only time and the only thing..but, years are coming and you will sleep through most of them.

Now, am I dreaming? At 58 or 59? Am I young or old? who is this kid? Old man? Anyway, I wish I could tell him...But, "he's" to self involved to listen. Hey, kid! Yeah, be proud of that hair :-) The reason you hate barbers so much? Well, right now it's just simply that you don't like getting hair cuts. But, you will miss it one day too. Maybe, on some level you know that...

19 years....I am faster than I've ever been in my life. I feel like I could run everywhere I go. Hey, look mister. Why are you so worried? "Thinking to myself that I wouldn't be worried at his age." :-) After all, how many years can he have left? Old people! Just chill! Now me! I'm young and I have time.

What does an 18 or 19 year old have to worry about kid? Hah, you don't know much of anything yet! But, I wish I could tell you something Kid.

I'd tell you something old dude if I really gave a crap that is...Why I'd tell you:

Life is too short to worry so much! It passes so quickly. Sometimes, you just need to breathe. Take a risk. Talk to her anyway...Take your family on a vacation...Stop worrying. After all it's time to live a little.

Okay, let's stop talking at the same time. Your older so go ahead tell me what you have learned....I may be young but I can tell you are just dying to "preach at me." Go ahead!

Well, first off. You need to really look at your grandparents. I know, but really. Granddaddy has lived hard. Worked in coal mines and came though the depression. Alcohol has taken a toll but it isn't "who or what" he is.  Really look! Talk to him and even get out of you own ass long enough to give him a hug and some little bit of your "so important" time.

Your grandmother. Remember her telling you that her family was "Shanty Irish" when her daddy was young? You never listen to her stories though do you? Do you know there is more to her than being a religious person? Do you also realize in the coming years how much those fanatic prayers will sustain you in your own moments when you are talking to God yourself? Really look at her. Give her a hug. Look at people! Wake up!

Stop selling yourself so short! Stop living other peoples expectations of you. Stop living others religion and others sense of beauty and prejudice. Look at yourself! No, really look. Wake up!

Well, okay mister...But, let me tell you something! You have a family. You have a wife that actually cares what you do and where you go. You have a son! Part of you. Blood and genes and life that you have a part of. Life is short and you have a chance to enjoy this part of it! You still have pretty good health. Although, you need to stop being a glutton at the table. Dang dude! You put it away! Sorry about your hair though! But, really mister. Wake Up! Live and stop worrying so much about what other people think. What are you 65 or so? I mean I don't know if I'll ever get that old. Sorry, that wasn't polite. But, Oh, only 58! Well sorry, but at my age all you older people look like my parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles. But, really. Wake up! Relax.

I'll tell you something else young man...you need to go ahead and decide. Go to Gadsden State and take some classes. You can work and take classes.Did you know if you join the Air Force right now that you could retire before 40 years old and start another career if you wanted to that is. Meet people, relax. Live!

Also, stop worrying. Yeah, there is a "God" maybe not the angry old man that you are so afraid will strike you down for that "skin magazine" you hid under your uncles house the other day. How do I know? I know a little. That first ever cigarette really made you light headed didn't it? Yeah, she does smoke and she is sexy. Well, guess what? Her opinion of you isn't the most important thing in life. Look around. Live a little. It goes by way to fast and you have your own head way to far up your own butt!

Live a little. Breathe. Don't stop talking to God even when the people around you think you must be nuts. It'll help you keep your sanity. It's also a big part of who you are. Always has been. Gets a little harder once you put aside the religious certainty. But, still...

Go to that Kiss concert in Birmingham. Oh well, you say that you don't like feeling like the third wheel so let Ricky and Deborah go. Well, Okay but you will really regret not going to more concerts!

Take your family to the beach...Hey, you live within 4 hours well, 6 the way you drive. But go ahead. Live a little.

One  more thing kid...This little slice of hell? You will look back one day and really miss these green hills and that blue sky. No, you shouldn't stay here. But, you should look around a little bit. Hell? Well, let's just say that word might not mean what you think it does. ;-)

1976201510151976Now:

Now: I gotta get going. Weird dreams and crazy thoughts and it's 3:30 and man what my thoughts get up to on these nights I can't sleep..Thinking about my youngoldyoungoldyoung...myself. Gotta finish out this year and get to the future. After all I'm young and it's early....get to work after all the I have responsibilities and I'm not young,old, young. these days.



And you, of the tender years can't know the fears that your elders grew by,
And so please help them with your youth, they seek the truth before they can die.
Teach your parents well, their children's hell will slowly go by,
And feed them on your dreams, the one they fix,the one you'll know by.
Don't you ever ask them why, if they told you, you would cry,
So just look at them and sigh and know they love you....Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

Peace!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

All I Ever Have to Be!

  Back in the eighties. I believe it was the very late seventies to the early eighties but honestly whats 2 or even 5 years in relation to 35 or so? It's been a minute as some of my younger social work colleagues say. I was really a fan of Amy Grant. What? Ya mean my little Foghat, Eagles, Queen, FleetwoodMac Loving self? Amy Grant? Well, yeah. I loved her acoustic stuff. Also, I was trying after several lost years to find myself and going though a very religious search. Loved her enough that I even went to a concert at the BJCC by myself to see her. One of the songs that stayed with me is "All I Ever Have to Be."

"When the weight of all my dreams is resting heavy on my head."

Young and full of young adult hopes and also young adult post teen angst. I just thought if "only" I had that opportunity, that girl, that job. I was hopeless, depressed and just wanted somebody to tell me what to do.

"And the thoughtful words of help and hope
Have all been nicely said"

Oh, yeah. Do this and God will love you. Say that and people will respect you. Get a job, cut your hair, Act your age. But mainly, just walk like a man.

"  But I'm still hurting, wondering if I'll ever be the one
I think I am - I think I am"

It just didn't really work. I knew that I needed to "change." I just didn't know how. I saw one person when I looked out of my eyes and in the mirror. But, the world must have seen somebody else. Seemed that way at the time.

" Then you gently re-remind me
That You've made me from the first
And the more I try to be the best
The more I get the worst"



Took me years to get this one. I don't and never did have to "improve" to catch anybody else. All I had to be was the best me I could be. The only person I had to catch up to and even pass was the person in the mirror.


"And I realize the good in me is only there because of who You are
Who You are..."

I finally started to feel that if I am a part of the creative mind of the universe then I am worthy. I should be humbled by the human experience. Because we are so lustful, warlike and greedy. But, I should be proud because in the midst of all that we are kind, compassionate and all in this together. In the midst of a funeral or another tragedy I still see God. I still see hope. I still see a plan, not always a comfortable plan. Not even always a good plan from my perspective. :-)

 "And all I ever have to be is what You've made me
Any more or less would be a step out of Your plan
As you daily recreate me help me always keep in mind
That I only have to do what I can find"

I had a friend at a church that I attended before and when I met my wife. Wonderful person but he had boundless energy and loved to meet and play music and worship. Thing is he would wear you out when you came in the door. Did you go to this fellowhip? that concert? Heard this song? I had another friend there who was so together looking. This guy was young, beautiful, smart and had a hunger for God. While I was aging and yet still young enough to think "Wow, I could never be that holy if I looked like he looks and could just walk into a bar and pick up girls." Finally, I had to just realize that I didn't have to be energetic or more holy than the next guy. I just had to find myself. My balance.

" And all I ever have to be
All I have to be
All I ever have to be is what You've made me"....Amy Grant

Disclaimer here: For all my post about religion and how I'm not religious. For all my beliefs (and I honestly do mean it) that it doesn't matter what religion or no religion you are. For all the times that I cringe when conservative Christians try to make God and Christ out to be blued eyed American conservatives. I have to say this.

Yes, I know my source of my being lives. Better to say I live in the source of my being. Yes, I do believe he put on human flesh and participated in the dance of life. Yes, I do believe there is a reason for life and death and there is an eternal observer to all of it. He/She/Source,Holy Spirit gives me hope. The Christian message of God become flesh is (to me) the very height of divine love.

But then again, I don't have to convince anybody else do I? All I ever have to be is what he (with my help or hindrance) is making me.

Peace!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Taste the Rainbow.

First of all let me say that I am so glad that there are things in my life past, present and more than likely future that only God alone knows about. So, I try not to get into many polemics and rants and self righteous anger. But, this particular post isn't about heaven or hell or obliteration. This isn't about being a good democrat or republican. This is about something that I really get frustrated about at times and can easily find myself taking sides and pointing fingers. But, I do want to say this:

I see so many of my conservative friends ranting and saying they have been crying over the nation due to recent political decisions. I say the following from my honest heart and I say it without anger or derision. You don't have to agree but please at least think about it. I have thought about and was raised in the Christian aspect of things. So, please know that I have thought about some of the legitimate arguments a conservative might have. I am not a life long left wing godless liberal. As a matter of fact I'm not a "godless" liberal now. But, that's not the point of this:

1. We have in this nation right now families living on the street with no shelter, no food or clothing.

2. We have right now. People who fought and stepped up when they were sent to fight in a war that they may or may not have understood. They have no shelter and not enough health care and mental health support.

3. We place a "price" on the lives of people's access to health care and call it good old conservative, American, biblical values. It's not. It's a system that was put in place by powerful people charging interest on goods and establishing profit for selling insurance and driving up prices and dividing people into "us vs them." Please wake up.

4. We have picketed abortion clinics and called the murder of the unborn a sin. Yet, we have cheered as if in a football game when bombs and rockets tore the limbs and life from the old and poor and sick and pregnant of the "enemy." We have told young mothers you must have the baby. But, once they get here we have called them thugs and refused to aknowledge any other human responsibility to them. You can't revere the womb and hate the person that emerges from it.

5. We morn when someone burns a piece of cloth and yet call another murder or killing of a human a "justified" kill and put pictures and stories of how bad they were as if that justifies anything.

6. Some are born on third base and think they hit a triple. Some will get angry and say everybody is equal. But, their not. That's okay. That's life. But, have a little compassion. Unless of course you really do think this is just a contest to see who wins the "sperm lottery."

7. We worry that the poor folks coming over the border are the problem. Yet, we have a false war on drugs, a out of control prison system that is for profit and career politicians that draw public welfare and pensions for the rest of their life while cutting services for the poor.

8. We act as if God himself founded America. Yet, there was a Native American genocide and a displacement from home and property in order for America to expand. Slave labor built houses and industry. My own ancestors were grabbed off the boat from Ireland or the British Isles and forced to work or fight for causes that were not their own. Being American I also have Native American, African American and other blood as do we all.

9. So, if you are going to weep. Then weep. But, please shed a tear and say a prayer for the homeless and the sick and the poor and the desperate. Their lot isn't changed much by Sam being able to marry Tom.

10: Finally, yes. You have the right to believe homosexuality is a sin. Yes, you have the right to refuse to personally or as a church refuse to recognize a homosexual marriage. I disagree with you but that is my right.

11. But, you do not have the right to enforce your religious belief as the law of the land. Marriage was not (sorry guys) created just for Christians. Marriage in the U.S. and other nations is a legal, civil union. It simply gives one partner the right to oversee and share in the worldly goods and inheritance of another partner.

12. Also, what about the people who marry time and again. What about the quickie wedding in Vegas. What about the atheist who marries?

13. YOU are the one who makes your marriage sanctified or not sanctified. A judge can't do that. A church can't do that. A legal document can't do that.

14. Finally, I do as I said before disagree with you on homosexuality. I honestly think people are born to be who they are. I don't intend to get into a long endless argument over "what if's"

15. One more thing to some of y'all. No, you can't take back your country. There is no blond haired blue eyed Christian nation for you to take back. The country and even "gasp" the military you love is made up of black,white, brown, red and yellow. Male and female, democrat and republican, young and old. Christian and atheist. So, I don't know that what you want to "take back." is there for you to take back.

Peace!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Nostalgia!

 Prologue from Salem's Lot by Stephen King:

Old friend, what are you looking for?
After those many years abroad you come with images you tended under foreign skies. Far away from your own land. ....George Seferis.



This started as a comment on a facebook page for Gadsden, Alabama where I was born and raised. The subject was jobs and as with many small American cities that once boomed how, do we bring it back? We being they since I don't live there anymore. But, at 58 years old anything can bring on a bout of nostalgia:

When you are old and grey and full of sleep, and nodding by the fire..."When You Are Old." William Butler Yeats:

Wasn't supposed to happen so damn fast. :-0   Still, I guess late fifties doesn't really qualify as old age..yet. Right? Oh shut up!

Anyway, I think one reason we see the past as better is that we were better. Physically speaking that is. We remember those 19 year old bodies that could work all day and party all night and get up and do it again. The world was new and the future was endless. So, yeah that part always seems better. 2015 in around 35 or 40 years will be spoken of in those hushed, awed voices of people that are 17, 18, 19 and 20 years old today. The music will be classic and the culture will be so much worse than back in the day when "we" were in school in 2015. :-) 

Hey, I just noticed once I looked down when my coffee got cold. My mostly eaten poptart looks like the state of Alabama. Wild...Oh yeah, sorry I get distracted easily these days. The best part is I'm Not going to take a phone pic and post it on facebook. So, don't worry. Now, where was I? 

 Twenty-one and strong as I can be
I know what freedom means to me
And I can't give the reason why
I should ever want to die...Eagles

I hope to do a drive up to Etowah County before to much time passes. I always feel "home" when I get closer  to the hills after getting through Birmingham and heading north. I guess I don't really see with eyes from now. In my mind I'm going to Walnut Park and Chester Street. Then my grandparents in Altoona. But first, I see the Rebel Drive In where there is a "Dusk till Dawn" Horror Movie marathon starring Christopher Lee and a host of Romance novel cover girls breathing heavy and running from the Vampire/Werewolf,Frankenstein,  and "Oh my goodness don't fall he's coming!." After the movie and the obligatory "she's on my side of the car" fight with my sister we will head home.

I'll go up to Chester Street and play basketball with Barry and Rickey while brother Mike calls us little sissies. He will do it from a safe distance because Barry has an arm when there's a rock handy and a big brother taunting him. ;-)


 There's a world where I can go
And tell my secrets to
In my room
In my room...The Beach Boys.

I know. Stereotypical right? Still, it was true. I would go to my room and dive into a comic book or my electric football or Strat-O-Matic baseball game. My G.I. Joe or the box of cowboys and Indians under my bed. This in all reality didn't last long and my mother and stepdad fought a lot. But, in my mind this was an endless refuge. I feel guilty that my son missed out on some of the neighborhood experience. On the other hand we have made sure he missed the parents fighting experience so I think he's good. :-)

Bam, Pow, Zap! Batman!

There was a little "drug store" in Altoona, Alabama. Prince's Drugstore. If you could go back you would see a soda fountain and little round tables and chairs. A wire with comic books hung up over the counter. Mrs Prince or Mr. Prince would let me go around the counter to the back. "Now, don't make a mess." and pick out a comic or two from the stacks that weren't hung up yet. So, when I go through Altoona I see that drug store and I see where my grandparents and my uncle and aunt lived. I see the mountain where my Grandaddy dug coal. Even though now it's been laid low by strip mining and blast from long ago.


Oh well, it's been a good day in hell
And tomorrow I'll be glory bound....Eagles:

As a teenager I would play that song and just want to "get out." Now, I look back and I was never really trapped. There were endless possibilities. I try to remember that now as I get older. There are still endless possibilities.


But, sometime I still think there's something "back there" that I need to go find.


 “The only way back is the way forward.”...Dean Koontz, Brother Odd.

Never been a huge poetry guy. But, this one has always touched me. I first heard it a long time ago in an episode of "The New Twilight Zone." The episode was titled "Her Pilgrim Soul." I haven't found it since but if you come across it (the episode) I recommend it. I was first starting to really consider the concept of reincarnation at that time. Don't worry, I don't preach and I don't try to convert or convince anybody of anything. Mostly because I don't know much in a "for sure" way. :-)


When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars. 
William Butler Yeats
 
Peace!


 





Saturday, June 6, 2015

Caitlyn, Bruce and me.

I would say that I have read with interest the brouhaha concerning a former world class athlete turned reality star turned female turned lightning rod. But, I'd be lying if I did. I have had very little interest.

 It's kind of like fundamentalist televangelist and shrill atheistic pop scientist. Lot's of noise signifying nothing. It's like people who root for a political party as if it were a football team. It allows great evil to be manifest in the world but as long as it's our team then it's OK.

Honestly? I was more flabbergasted and even hurt by reading a self styled "Christian" woman who has daughters and grandchildren say that a certain molestation wasn't all that bad since it really didn't hurt anybody and it was forgiven. Yeah, that was something especially when the same person who said that then later in the week posted pictures of her precious (and I say that with absolutely no malice) they really were precious, granddaughters. However, the contradiction still could make ones head explode.

Still, in the midst of trying to make the world safe for "Truth, Justice and the American Way" I guess bad stuff isn't so bad as long as it's happening to somebody else. I see a lot of stuff happening to "somebody else" in my job. I really at times even though I'm pretty well educated. I still at times feel like making the sign of the cross or throwing salt over my shoulder or just asking my maker to hold me so that "s.it doesn't get on me. People who don't have a home or job or enough clothes or medical care or dental care or things like that. Still at least the gays are still not welcome to get married. So, long as we have our priorities in order.

I saw somebody the other day that looked like their clothes were falling off. They were dirty and half crazed by who knows what? I certainly wasn't going to touch them or talk to them to find out. They might have been a veteran or something so I'm sure they would understand. Somebody had insulted my political party so I had to run down and make sure they got a good throttling. After all a human is well, sometimes smelly and nasty and well, who knows. But, my political and religious wing?  My God that stands for all of us doesn't it? 

I was listening  just the other day to a preacher. He was really concerned about the sanctity of marriage. At first I thought he might be a hypocrite. Since he was on his third marriage don'tcha know. :-) But, fortunately he explained it all to me. See, he didn't listen to "God" on his first marriage and she didn't listen on the second but this one is "Just right" See how that works? Whew, glad he cleared that one up.

Anyway, did you know that there are many people who are old and sick and can't get medication? Some can't get dialysis or won't be able to once more services are cut. That bothered me a lot. But, then someone explained that our "guvnor" is a "godly" man and just doesn't want people to get something for nothing. Sounds fair. After all if God had of intended for everybody to have food and clothing and be cared for when they are sick then he wouldn't have invented capitalism. He would have done some kind of hippie crap like sharing all things and giving somebody your coat as well as cloak. Why, Oh, wait a minute! Scratch that! Let's go on!

Anyway, why worry about under insured children and old people or parents working two jobs. We need to be worried about getting "god" back in school. I mean as long as we pledge and do a public prayer then we shouldn't have to worry about poor people. Somebody the other day was trying to tell me different. He was telling me about those "Godly" times back then. What? Ya mean back in the 50's when we still had prayer in school there were still mean people? You mean back when black people couldn't go to the same bathroom or eat at the same lunch counter? Those "godly" times? Well, don't worry I shut that communist up quick. Next thing ya know he'd be wanting me to touch poor people or talk to smelly people as if they were my equals.

I drove though Texas several years ago. I think it was near El Paso. I looked over and there was the Mexican border. There was a big fence but it looked kind of rough over there. I remember thinking "Ya know if I was on that side of the border, I'd be trying to get over here myself." But, then thankfully a right wing preacher explained to me that "those" people were trying  to tear down the U.S. and I shouldn't support them. He explained how the minute they come over here some liberal social worker is handing them a social security card and a bag of groceries and free health care. Later after I had become a social worker I realized that I don't have any extra social security cards or bags of groceries or free health care to give to people. Still, I'm sure that preacher was right. He's a man of "god" ya know.

Now, with all this you might think I'm cynical. You might think that I don't believe in ultimate truth or morals or self responsibility. You'd be wrong but, I can see where you might see some cynicism here. But, I really do believe that people matter. That God is not superman and isn't likely to be "kicked" out of anyplace. I really am cynical of religion (been there and got the t-shirt) but I'm also cynical of atheism. You can put perfume on a corpse but it still stinks. So, no I'm not an atheist. I'm also not a right wing republican. Not leaning so far left my brains fall out either.

I just see a lot of things that concern me. Bruce, Caitlyn Jenner isn't one of them. More power to her. I really don't care and I am more  concerned with trying  to treat people the way I want to be treated. I know sounds high and mighty and I"m sorry. Because, honestly? if you knew all my deepest secrets and feelings I'd be scared to death. But, wouldn't we all?

So, here's what I'm going to do this week. I'm going to try (even with that one jerk at work) to treat everybody the way I'd want to be treated. To actually see the Divine in everybody and in all my dealings this coming week. I'm going to try to be less cynical and less scared of people/things I don't understand. Just for this week I'm going to be fearless! Or act like I am. :-)

Peace!

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Death & Eternal Life: Important if true

I have long wanted to do a review of a book I found on Amazon a couple of years ago. It's by John Hick who was a Fellow of the Institute of Advanced Research in the Humanities at the University of Birmingham in England and Danforth Professor of the Philosophy of Religion, Emeritus at the Clarmont Graduate School in California. The book is out of print but can still be bought through the Amazon page. It goes for anywhere from $2 to $35. I think I paid around $11. It was recommended by a facebook friend that I met online who is now a Professor and I really think it is a good, strong book although it is dense and I can't say I agree with everything in it. But it's a really good overview of Christian, humanistic and Eastern thought on the  subject of life after death.

It was published in 1994 and comes in at around 490 plus pages. I slogged through it slowly over a period of weeks while drinking coffee or taking a break. I can't really do the job I would like to do in this review without reading it again and making notes. To be honest I'm not going to do that. But, I will look back and try to do the best I can since it did make an impression on me.

As I age the question of life after death becomes even more important. I can honestly say that I have pondered that one from a young age. But, it just isn't as far away and out there as it used to be.

I don't look for guru's and I don't endorse everything this writer thinks or his conclusions. But, it was a very good overview and I really got much food for thought from it. So, here goes:

The writer appears to be well versed and maybe even a little biased toward the Christian view although not in a conservative or absolute way. He discusses the Christian view of resurrection. for instance there is the gospel view where Jesus rose bodily from the tomb and bore the scars of the cross. There is the view from Paul in Corinthians where the resurrection body comes not from the animated corpse but from a seed that falls to the ground. He also discussed the Greek view that later came into the church that saw the body, mind and spirit as parts of the same whole.

Catholic view:  He discusses purgatory and how that makes sense to some because of the goal of growing into union with God. For instance a young child who dies would still be able to grow into union with God as a goal.

He also discusses humanism which sees life after death as a myth showing us how we should live our present lives. He doesn't spend to great a time on atheism since in all honesty it's a negative (no matter what your own thought on it might be) and this is a book on the possible and the hope of an afterlife. Still, you have to discuss the negative to understand how the hope is shaped and the argument is framed.

He also discusses Buddhism. I personally have an interest in this because I love the meditation practices of Buddhism. However, I find the worldview and the nothingness of the Tibetan view to be bleak and not really worth pursuing. But, that's me and I really can't help putting my own thoughts in here from time to time. I do have much respect for Buddhism.

He discusses reincarnation and he doesn't really land on the side of it but does give it serious thought and provides good discussion. I personally lean toward reincarnation since it does make more sense "to me" than a seed and an egg magically producing an eternal soul. More sense to me than a bunch of brain chemicals magically producing a whole universe of reality and personal being. But, again we all have our worldview and I just insert things from time to time. Like just then.

The author also talks genetics and makes some really good points along the way. For instance we know that our genes and (if I can say it without sounding two faced concerning my above statement) our brain chemistry along with our family, physical defects and even nutrition contributes to how we act and live. Then it would seem very illogical for God to eternally judge and place us in eternal bliss or torment based on one short life and (my words here) how we did in the sperm lottery. This alone is worth the read.

The author also talks about forgiveness and the burden of putting the stress on the victim that some religious people seem eager to do. For instance if a being murders a loved one then the loved one is not obligated to forgive that act. In eternity that murderer may see the error of his/her ways and repent and become a shining spiritual being. That's wonderful. But, at that moment in time the victim or the loved one is not obligated to forgive the crime. They can one day accept the person who committed it and in eternity there can be healing. Anyway, it's quite a conversation and I really can't do it justice here.

The author also talks at length about other philosophers and thinkers. One that I really thought had some relevant thoughts was the late HH Price a Welsh Philosopher. Price thought that upon death a person will find themselves in a dreamworld of memories from life. For instance this from Wikipedia:
According to Price after death the self will find itself in a dream world of memories and mental images from their life. Price wrote that the hypothetical "next world would be realms of real mental images." Price however believed that the self may be able to draw upon its memories of previous physical existence to create an environment of totally new images. According to Price, the dream world will not follow the laws of physics just as ordinary dreams do not. In addition, he wrote that each person will experience a world of their own, though he also wrote that the dream world doesn't necessarily have to be solipsistic as different selves may be able to communicate with each other by dream telepathy.

The writer does a really good job of looking at the history of ancient people and how they seemed to view death. From prehistoric evidence that points to a belief in some sort of afterlife all the way through the various cultures both east and west ancient and modern. I really do recommend this particular book if this sort of thing is of interest to you.

Now, since I have no desire to be a fanboy of anybody these days. I will close out this review with a disclaimer. I have my own thoughts of God, Spiritual reality and my own hard earned worldview. My worldview is still evolving. Although, I have a steady foundation as to the things I give credence.

So, there ya have it. A Saturday Morning Book Review.

Peace!





 
\