Thursday, December 31, 2015

New Years Walk!

Back around the late 70's or early 80's I started my own personal tradition. I don't think I started it with a "tradition" in mind. Just a one time thing that lasted into parts of three decades or so. I would go into the woods or somewhere quiet and walk and think and pray and try to make sense out of my life. I loved to walk up at Noccalula Falls in Gadsden, Alabama. The falls were a part of my youth just as they were for countless Gadsden/Etowah County kids and families growing up. They weren't the only place but they were the most relaxing place for me to walk. Black Creek was narrow and swift and cold and I would walk the woods and the rocks and while it might seem crazy today. I felt no need at all in my late teens or early twenties to tell anybody where I was. This was my time to open up to God and to myself about the deepest thoughts and problems and hopes of my life. The coming year and all the people and experiences of the past year. So, I have walked in North Alabama and the North Shore of Oahu in Hawaii. The woods around Altoona, Alabama and in Colorado. Life has taken some twist and turns I didn't expect.

I don't walk in the woods much these days. Don't get out as far by myself as I once did. Meditation with ear buds has replaced long walks and silent prayer has replaced at least to some extent the verbal out loud talk. Believe me talking to God while walking beside a swiftly running creek or walking the beach with waves breaking is a much easier thing than talking out loud in the grocery store. :-) The beach and woods and creek cover nicely. The store might get ya a day in the Psyc ward or at least a visit from the nice officer to make sure you're not volatile. :-)

Anyway, as I thought about it today I started thinking about old times. I thought about people that have been in my life. Some for just a moment and some shaped and molded my thoughts and actions for a lifetime. All are and were important. I have been able to reconnect with some people on facebook that I never thought I'd talk to again in this lifetime. I have also been able to come to a peace about my life. I don't hate the past and I don't regret the people I've known and cared about and if I do have a regret it's how I missed so many relationships or treated people shallowly and missed the dance of life by worrying so much.

I don't smoke these days at all. Not tobacco and not anything else either. :-) My 58 year old lungs would give out if I tried. Breath is a precious thing these days. Believe me. I don't drink except for the occasional glass of wine with my wife on special occasions or maybe a single beer on my birthday with a birthday dinner. My stomach will not tolerate alcohol well these days.  My brew is coffee and Colombian means coffee these days. ;-) So life is different. But, regrets? Some yeah. I would do some things in moderation and some things I wouldn't do at all. But, it's not my wild and lonesome frustrated vices of my youth that I regret. It's how I looked at people and if I treated people well that I would change for the better if could.

I once thought that if only I had the right home, job, bank account, city to live in that things would be okay. Now, I realize that I always had the right home, city, bank account and job if I could have just looked up and enjoyed the dance instead of waiting for the "right" time. Oh well, there's a reason they call it youth.

I worked for Child and Youth Services in Fort Carson, Colorado for a little while several years ago. The director there had a monthly meeting and she always had a segment called "Lessons Learned." I like that. I use it myself sometime. So, here at the end/beginning of a new year are some lessons learned. But, these are lessons learned over not only a year but a lifetime. I think about that sometimes. What would I say if an angel came to me and said "well Steve, it's time." What have you learned in this lifetime? Lets wrap it up. Well, after groveling and "Slangin Snot" as the old folks used to say in my southern youth. ;-)  I think I would say some of this.:

Lessons Learned:

1. Made peace with my past: The people and relationships and mistakes and regrets of the past have shaped how I am evolving now. I went for a time in denial and shame of where and what I had been. I had an old nickname back then that I completely refused to talk about and knew people I completely refused to even think about. I was so scared that by thinking about it I would feel that old helplessness and I would lose myself. Superstition? Yeah maybe. Denial? Yeah. But, finally I made peace with it. It doesn't bite. Some of the people I have loved the most were back there. Some of the most frustrating things in my life were back there too. I recently took my old nickname and decided to own it. To make it positive. Not to call myself that. My name is Steve. But, at least to use it in a fun way to celebrate my youth and life. There's an old saying in baseball when a batter hits a home run. "Touch em All." Meaning of course to touch all the bases on the way around. If you don't you can still be called out. It's also a celebration of hitting the home. Touch em All. I do that now with my past as well as my present. It's all important. I touch em all. :-)

2. Treat people the way you want to be treated: Harder than it sounds believe me. But, I do try to treat everybody with respect of the Divine within them as well as me. We are not bit players in each others movies. We are all on the journey and how we  treat people that have no power to pay us back or give us something in return says everything about us as human beings.

3. Forgiveness isn't the same as saying it's okay to be an asshole. I try to give people room who have hurt me. I try to give them room to be human. I can honestly say I don't hate anybody. I can give them room to be themselves. But, it doesn't mean that by forgiving that I have to say what they did was okay. That's still something that they will have to work out someday. God doesn't balance his books every Tuesday but he does balance them. However, I try to live my life and not wait and hope to see the ones who hurt me obliterated or hurt or get theirs. Hate just eats away at the one who does the hating. So, I release my "right" to have revenge. Now, understand that doesn't mean that you let somebody keep abusing you. It doesn't mean you can't take a stick and get em off you either. :-) It just means you don't give them the "power" of having you dwell in hate toward them.

4. Pray: This is the most important thing for me. I don't prescribe to a religious dogma these days. I have my faith and belief but it's not so fragile that I have to beat others over the head with it. I also don't need the approval of others in authority to verify my own life and spiritual journey. But, I will say this. In my opinion (That's imo for you young age of the internet folks.) :-)  Prayer isn't a shopping list to a cosmic Santa. For me it's calling on the very source of my being the very real maker of my soul for help in this life. I heard a scientific type person say once that he didn't understand how but he had found that there is a power and if you will call then you will get help. Sometime all I can say is "Oh God, Oh God, Oh God." But, I know I'm heard. I am trying to learn to live in mindfullness. To remember to breathe. To worry less.

5. Honesty: Now I know people like to say "I'm honest" but lets get real. There are things in life (or at least there are with me) that we don't share with others. We can't because others aren't in our skin and couldn't possibly understand all our reasons for everything we've done. But, I do believe that God esteems honesty. I lived so much of my life trying to please others. So, the church would think I was a good Christian. The girl would think I was a good guy. The friend would think I voted for the right canditate. That God would give me good stuff if I thought the right thoughts. It took a while and it's still ongoing. But, I try to be honest with myself and therefor with God or my Source of being. It's liberating in many ways because I no longer have to pretend to believe something I don't believe just to please people. I don't have to be close minded either. I can pray and meditate and do an honest search for sanity and clarity.

So, on this New Year's Eve I pray that I am open to the voice of the only one who has the authority to know my innermost person and thoughts. I pray for enough.

 I read something on the internet the other day. An older lady was saying goodbye to her daughter at the airport. She told her daughter that she wished her "enough." Her daughter said the same to her. A man later asked the lady why she said that to her daughter. She replied that she was terminal and going home to die. She wouldn't see her daughter again in this life. So, she wished her enough. It was something they had always wished for each other. Enough resources to live and have food and shelter. Enough hope and love to go on. Enough rain in each life to enjoy the sun. Enough lack to enjoy the good times. Enough darkness to enjoy the coming of the light. Enough. I pray for enough this year. Because if we look up and if we can keep going there really is enough. But, I'm not naive and I know that crap happens. I also am reminded of a youtube video of the great psychiatrist Carl Jung. He said that he didn't believe in god because he knows there is a God. Belief is not knowing. He said I know. That when he talked with his elderly patient's they didn't talk hopelessly about an end. They talked about looking forward to something better. So, yeah I admit that life isn't always going to end in prosperity or good health or another new toy. It's not wrong to seek prosperity or even to play with a new toy if we don't harm others to get it. But, it's also true that humans need hope. So, if I've learned one thing in my 58 years so far. I've learned that hope is eternal and we are more than brain chemistry. I wish you hope this year.

Eagles: "I Wish You Peace"
I wish you hope when things are goin' bad,
kind words when times are sad.
I wish you shelter from the raging wind,
cooling waters at the fever's end.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Jesus Laughing!

I am poured out like water and all my bones are out of joint.My heart has turned to wax; it has melted within me: Psalm 22:14

Wait, I'm fifty eight years old. I have a family and health needs and I'm way to old to be out looking for a job. It's coming up on the holidays. Oh, God, my lips are numb and my mouth is like cotton. I've never been this scared in my life.

I had a dream shortly after that on a restless night. I was in my truck but it was losing power. I thought "well, this can't be good." Then I was in my old workplace and a friend was there behind me. "Wait, I shouted there's a giant hole in the floor. Don't move! We were on the second floor in the  dream but the actual building doesn't have a second floor. Still I was grabbed from behind. Forcefully but yet with strong and sure presence that I was safe. I was taken down the stairs swiftly and out the door. I heard every footfall my rescuer made on running down the stairs. I was put into a strong speedy vehicle and delivered where I was supposed to be. I jumped out once the vehicle stopped and went inside.

Wow, on waking up. Was that you God? Was that my Guardian Angel? Do you have this? Still, fear and confusion would follow so many nights of :

Whatif? whatifwhatifwhatif, What If? What if I never work again? What if I get sick? what if my wife or child gets sick? What if we lose our home? How will we eat? How will we live? Crazy time. I can't breathe. Can't sleep! What if?

 If someone asks, 'What are these wounds on your body?' they will answer, 'The wounds I was given at the house of my friends.: Zechariah 13:6

My child has Asthma. But, he is now on All Kids. But, what am I reading from this good Christian conservative now on facebook? It's a shame we have Medicaid? Really? So, my child should die of an Asthma Attack because I no longer have my Blue Cross? That's God's Will? That's what our nation was founded on? Oh Jesus have mercy. I've worked for the past 30 years and now I'm a moocher because I want my child and wife to have health care? Onward Christian Soldiers.

Meditate, breathe, thank you Wayne Dyer for the youtube video that helped me with my breathing and calming down every evening and morning. Peace. Still whatifwhatifwhatif!

Job Interview: I have my license ya know. LBSW! But, everyone here is younger than me. How long do I think I can work? Why do you ask that? I'm afraid to say that out loud but it's pretty clear. They need a younger social worker.

Wait, waitwaitwaitwaitworryworryworryworry.
Whew, my wife got a job in her field. Not a high paying job and no benefits but it will help.

Letter from first job interview: Thanks  for applying. Better luck next time.

Second Job Interview: At least I'm not the oldest one at the table this time. The social workers and director are older than me. Good sign. I'll be glad to use my experience and yes I am licensed.


Third job interview: I'm the oldest here again.

Thank God, Second interview called. I got the job. So blessed. Now, I can breathe. Also, I have seen how tough it is to get work This sounds brief but it took months. It was a up and down and panic in the night soul numbing time. I can't put it all in here. I'm not ready to do that may never be.

Jesus Laughing:

I saw this and downloaded it. I thought the day might come when I can use this Picture.  I thought about it once I was looking for work, I thought about what it might mean.Jesus thinking before his trial Crazy Time!  Gone to the garden. Oh God let this pass. Thoughts: "Ya know your not anything special don't ya? You will die like all the rest and go into oblivion. RUN!

I can't run. I have to do this. I was born for this. "Are you Crazty?" Run!
Oh, God, whatifwhatifwhatif. Run! Let this pass from me. RUN!

Meaning of my profile picture of Jesus laughing:

Some people see Jesus as the virgin born son of God. I was raised Christian and even though some of my more liberal views would be thought heretical now, I still identify so much with the one who walked and lived and died to show me the way home. So, here's what I think about when I see the picture of Jesus laughing:

A long time ago I saw a cartoon in a Christian magazine of a man who had just gotten to heaven. Somehow, the artist managed to catch the worn out weary person who has just come through life. But, at the same time the "Rest and healing and Whew, that's over" feel too.

So, I think about Christ. The journey finally done. The voices finally stopped. The fear finally faced and victory hard won. The weary hard dry journey over. The loss of everything and everybody he loved finally shown to only be temporary so what does he do?

He Laughs. With JOY! With Life! With relief, with Hope! With Love.

And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; Job 19:26

So, even before I make my last journey. Even now I can Laugh!

God doesn't balance his books every Tuesday. But, he does balance them. Peace!

Sunday, September 27, 2015


38Pilate said to Him, "What is truth?" And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews and said to them, "I find no guilt in Him.: John 18:38

This particular bible verse has always resonated with me.  No matter what your view of truth is this is an ironic moment and a very human moment. A man, a human being who has temporarily been given fallen into or whatever a position of "authority" has just asked one of the most important questions a human can ask. Depending on your own world view he has at the least just asked the wisest most devout and holy Jewish Rabbi/teacher a question that has cosmic implications. At the most he has just asked the very manifestation of all that is love, being, wisdom, life the very image of "God" the most important question a human could ask. But, what does he do? He turns away and walks back out to the crowd. So very sad and so very human. He really wasn't looking for the truth. He was looking for his own political and personal absolution of responsibility. In other words he was just doing what "we" do.

"You can't handle the truth." ....A Few Good Men

That one has fallen into the great American quote book.But, the thing is the character was having a melt down. He had "his" truth and it should have been self evident to all the "idiots" he was talking to at that time. Again, it's what we do. We talk at each other not with each other. 

"Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth."...Albert Einstein 

So many people give away their power and their soul to political agendas and religious teachers and pop scientists masquerading as philosophers. I see so many facebook quotes of people yelling at each other. Calling names and saying "Well, Bush, Clinton, Obama, Nixon and on and on and on" did it first. So What? Does that mean you give your "team" a free pass? That's a dangerous road folks. Hold em all accountable. I have a secret for you. Anybody of any party that has ascended to high state or national office is indebted to some other power, money or group. So, stop acting like they are angels sent from the forces of holiness and hold em all accountable. But, I digress. Often. :-)

I have a secret that some of my brothers and sisters in Christ or the church that I grew up with will find heretical. Now, I'm not one of those former Christians that became an angry atheist. I'm not angry or atheist. But, I have to tell ya something that some of us "formerly fundi" folks think. At least I do. The angry god that you worship? The one who is a meglo maniac and burns poor sinners in hell forever? The one who can't even look at the creation "he made" and the one who is always smiting enemies and cursing people and making you bow and scrape? He's not someone that I would want to spend eternity groveling in front of. 

I thought of this when I think of my son. If I made my son come to me and say "Father, I am but a worm in thy site. Deserving of eternal pain and torment. Filthy and wicked and unworthy of thy love. Please accept my undying worship and love" What do ya think would happen? He would either hate me and wish he could just tell the truth or some where down the line DHR would be called. 

I'll tell some of my "science" minded friends this. A world where the only goal is to procreate and head to personal oblivion isn't a world I would ever want to be born into. You can use jargon and high sounding words. But, if you put lipstick on a pig you still have a pig.

So, what is truth? I find truth in being honest and open in my own meditations. That doesn't mean taking a guru or making a fourth person of the "godhead" out of the bible. I find truth in looking at the night sky. Not, in the myth of it all being a chemical reaction in my brain. 

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things....Philippians 4:8

So, if you find the bible to be inerrant then I'm fine with that. Just understand that I don't take your judgements or interpretation of the bible as having any authority over my mind or life at all. If you think Carl Sagan or Richard Dawkins are all wise on all things outside their own narrow field of expertise then I'm fine with that. Just know that I don't share that bleak and narrow worldview for my own soul. If you think Obama is a Kenyan and Bush was a patriot for flying planes from Texas to Alabama during Vietnam. But, Kerry was a coward although he went to Vietnam then I'm fine with that. But, I don't share your worldview about what makes a brave American. If you think everyone who disagrees with the president is a racist backwoods hick then I'm fine with that. But, I don't share such a stereotypical worldview.

So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets: Matthew 7:12 ESV

That's my truth. That's my religion these days. I often fall short. I often treat people the way they treat me. Which isn't the same thing. :-)



Monday, September 14, 2015

What Dreams May Come.

  When you are old and gray 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;

I fell in love with this poem years ago due to a episode of the "New Twilight Zone."  1985 or so. From what I can remember a scientist in a lab is working on some sort of holographic projector. Somehow a human fetus is captured and grows though the stages of child, girl, woman, and old age. The woman says she is from the early part of the 20th century. It turns out that she died in childbirth and the scientist is the reincarnation of her husband who never forgave himself. Yeats, the author of "When You Are Old" is featured in their discussions. This particular poem is quoted at the close of the show. As the woman is dying she somehow uses a message to send the scientist back to his wife without the guilt and ready to continue this lifetime. Anyway, it stayed with me. I have heard this poem described as sad but I don't think it is.

    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;

Somehow to me it has always spoken of eternal relationship and the continuance of love and relationship.

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
    Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
    And paced upon the mountains overhead
    And hid his face among a crowd of stars.

I look up at the night sky from time to time. I'm always awed and wonder how anybody would prefer a street light or neon pollution to the majesty of that sky. But, sadly, floodlights come on out here in the country where I live and so I have to find a place where the stars can be seen.
Another thing about the night sky. I've heard people say it makes them feel small and insignificant. It has the opposite effect on me. I feel like I fill the whole universe. That if I could just get quiet and "see" that I am part of and belong to infinity.
It's the feeling I get when I get into that rare "sweet spot" when I pray or meditate. If I could just not have to pee for a blooming minute. :-)
Ahh, the joys of growing older. It's really not for sissies.

 But, somehow if I and you can just see it. There's still stars to see and roads to travel. I think one of the things that started me this evening was thinking about old friends and classmates and family members who have gone on. I look sadly at the lined faces and even at my own crows feet and graying hair. But, on the other hand I think it's all part of a journey and not a destination.
I have had some dreams where I knew I was dreaming but that was okay. I saw a quote the other day. "What if we are dreaming and when we die. We wake up!"
I have my faith and some would cringe and call it heretical. Some would call it pie in the sky. I have learned a few things in my 58 year journey on this planet. One of those things is that God loves the truth. So, I can be honest about my thoughts. I had a wise woman say to me once. "Steve, don't tell anybody, everything except God." I find that to be true.
To Sleep: Perchance to dream ay, there's the rub.
Revelation 3:12 makes reference of being a pillar in the temple of God and not having to leave it anymore. I'm not going to tell you or try to persuade you of any theology. I just love the verse. It resonates with me.

 There will come a time and place and I will be home. But, right now? I'm still on the journey. Once I'm finished with this leg of it? I await with Shakespeare to see "What Dreams May Come."

Sunday, August 23, 2015


  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. :-)

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.


Friday, August 14, 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!

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 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. ;-)


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


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.


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.


Saturday, June 20, 2015


 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


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 " 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. :-)


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.



Saturday, May 2, 2015

Rants and Dreams!

  This internet thing is really interesting. I find so many different worldviews and ways of looking at the world. Interact with people that I could never know or be around in person. Still, I also notice so much one sided yelling going on. I was wondering about that. I thought: Has anybody, anywhere, ever changed somebody else and their core belief by yelling at them? Calling them an inbred right winger, Godless left wing communist, pervert, screaming "Scripture says, Science says, reality says." blah, blah, blah. I don't like polemics (that means a one sided long winded non original rant that knocks down strawmen instead of dealing with the many facets of human experience.)

1. No, I do not believe the president is a Muslim. But, even if he were I am still not sorry I voted for him.

 2. No I don't believe atheism is more intelligent than a belief in a higher purpose and I also don't believe it makes you more scientific.

3. There is no single "entity" that answers to the name of Science.

4. No, I don't believe the bible was handed down with no error as one single entity by the Lord God Almighty and that we have to leave our brains at the door when we discuss it.

5. No, I don't believe gay people are going to hell. I believe you are who you are. and if you try to be something else you will be miserable.

6. No, I don't need to watch a movie called "Dear White People" Black or white if you want me to know something about you then talk to me, not at me.

7. No, we don't fight the civil war in our minds all day in the south. Most of the reference to it I hear comes from people from the north.

 8. Yep, Alabama is indeed in need of better leadership. But, it is still a beautiful state and I hope we can wake up.

9. No, conservative middle and upper class white people "You" can't take back America because it doesn't just belong to you.

10. No, I don't think a plant that grows in the ground and is natural should be illegal while the drug lobby pumps our kids full of stuff to make them behave.

11. Please, don't say you love Jesus and then in the next breath call a young person who is killed (no matter your politics) a "justified" killing. Don't troll the internet calling people thugs and bowing to the police just because they are the police.

Also, don't degrade the very real need of a police force. I happen to know that the police are people who have a very complicated job. Putting on a badge doesn't automatically make you a hero but it does give you a special responsibility and it's awesome to see so many who take their responsibility seriously. God Bless them. I hope this isn't just a one sided long winded none original rant that knocks down straw-men instead of dealing with the many facets of human experience. Wouldn't want to be a hypocrite. :-)

I work in a field where we have lots, and lots and lots of oversight. Extremely aware that I have to be really careful with what I say or even what I post on the internet. In some way the internet thing is true of everybody these days. You get labeled and then you are in trouble. I have absolutely no problem with not revealing my everyday work or encounters with people. I like social work but at the same time I don't define who and what I do for a living with who or what I am inside. I work for an agency that although they are very Christian on some level it has never been a requirement for the job. Still, my core belief and the things I really feel would have some look at me weirdly or even try to "save" my soul. My soul is fine.

"Stevie, if you have accepted Jesus then you can never be lost no matter what"....Paternal Grandmother from way back in the day...Altoona, Alabama.

I always wondered about how people portray God. You have this being who loves you but on the other hand if you mess up you are out of the club. Anyway, that's not where I was wanting to go right now. Just popped into my head. :-)

I see so many polemics these days from people who are so self righteous and to be honest it turns me off. I know they mean well but really. Who is going to listen to somebody yelling at them unless it's the choir? Standing up in front of the so called Free Thinkers Society and slandering people as stupid for having the audacity to believe in God is not brave. Standing up in front of  the First Baptist Church on Sunday Morning and calling gay people sinners is not brave. Pulling scripture and beating people over the head. Yelling Science while all the time you are simply the same thing (religious fanatic) while screaming at people that they are nothing but brain farts does not make you intelligent.

 Id love to spit some beechnut in that dudes eyes
And shoot him with my old 45
Cause a country boy can survive
Country folks can survive...Hank Jr.

I hate Duck Commander....err excuse me "Duck Dynasty. :-) Maybe because I'm from the south and grew up with all the pseudo macho crap of the region. The Jesus loves you...but I will kick your ass crap. Truth is that saying something in a long drawl doesn't make you tough. It doesn't make you stupid either, for all the folks up north y'all need to understand that. But, I don't need some long bearded dude telling me how  to live my life or calling people "sinners and perverts" who you've never even met or walked in their skin for a day.

 I keep my visions to myself...Stevie Nicks

I have become a Jesus Follower in my later years.  It fits me better than the term Christian these days. Here is a link to a blog by Benjamin Corey that says it much better than I can.

But, here are some of the things that I feel and that I follow. I truly believe how you treat others is more important than all the other stuff and ritual and who you vote for and who you hang out with. Everybody you meet is important to somebody even, if it's only to God. I try to give everybody no matter if they are homeless or my boss at work or my friend or family or just somebody I pass on the street the dignity that a reflection of the "Divine" deserves. That's it. That's my religion.

I also believe that we are eternal. I don't think an eternal being is magically created when the egg and sperm meet. Not belittling the miracle of human or any other birth. It's just that I, because of certain life experiences and thoughts truly believe we are on an eternal journey.

“To be in any form, what is that? (Round and round we go, all of us, and ever come back thither,)” - See more at:
“To be in any form, what is that? (Round and round we go, all of us, and ever come back thither,)” - See more at:
"So as through a glass and darkly, the age long strife I see, Where I fought in many guises, many names, but always me." —General George S. Patton

I think getting older is something that I really didn't think would happen so fast. :-) I don't feel like I'm decrepit but I also can't run the hundred yard dash these days either. I find myself at night thinking "God, let that just be heartburn." "Oh, my goodness, I hope that's just a harmless mole." "Now where did that come from? I don't remember getting cut, scratched or bumping up against something." "Wow, I ate too much, again." ;-P

Still, as I look out of these eyes I am still very much "Me." I Am. Some people say 'I'm not the same person that I was." Well, I am very much still myself. I have learned some lessons. I hope I'm wiser about some things. I have more knowledge of some experiences. But, I'm not a different person. I just express myself differently due to time and experience. Also, because I really have been touched by grace and I am thankful that I have been allowed to peep just a little behind the curtain from time to time.

I remember a dream from my childhood. It has stayed with me through the years. It's one of the things that keeps me in times of confusion, stress, cynicism, and days when I really don't "believe" or feel that I do, in anything.

In the dream I see a staircase. I hear "walk up these stairs and every time you make a mark on the stairs you belong to God. ...I start to walk and every time I look down I see the impression of my foot on the stairs.....I get to the very top stair. I look down to see if I really do belong to God. Yes, there is the mark of my foot. I belong!

So, I'm not real into religion these days. I don't recite creeds or attend church or try to save the lost. Some days I don't even feel sure that this whole thing even means anything at all.

Except: I have this dream!


Sunday, April 26, 2015


I was thinking today about some of the albums that have influenced me. Growing up as the youngest part of the baby boomers (which still puts us in the mid to late fifties age range) We grew up on music that would become classic. But, before talking about albums I have some confessions to make.

First, I have never gotten into Bruce Springsteen! To use a phrase of a younger generation "I know, Right?" :-) Everybody loves Springsteen. I just never have. I always found him to be depressing. I always just started searching the dial back in the day when his stuff would come on Q104 in Gadsden, Alabama or WGAD! Even if I was tuning in late night to WLS in Chicago. Yeah, we had super stations back in the day. I also never liked the Grateful Dead much. I just don't think Jerry Garcia owned a song the way Janis Joplin. Listen to "Jim Dandy Mangrum" and the fun Black Oak Arkansas had with "Jim Dandy." Still, it's a matter of taste so there isn't really a right or wrong way to be a musician.

Another little admission before I get started on my album list. I love Patsy Cline. I think lyric wise Hank Williams Sr. is tremendous. "

Hear that lonesome whippoorwill,
He sounds too blue to fly.
The midnight train is whining low,
I'm so lonesome I could cry.
I've never seen a night so long
When time goes crawling by.
The moon just went behind the clouds
To hide its face and cry.

If  you are from or have ever been in the rural south on a summer night then you know what I mean. That paints a picture. 

But, the music of my youth tends more toward Foghat and Eagles and a little Poco and later Heart. Linda Rondstadt is my muse. I loved and still enjoy the crossover sound made famous by Eagles. but pioneered by others such as The Flying Burrito Brothers and Poco and touched on at times by the Stones and so on. 

Final admission before I start my list. I don't like to constantly listen to music. I remember an interview with Tina Turner where someone said to her. " I bet you have a sound system at home with music constantly playing. "No, I don't constantly play music." I like to think and get quiet at times. I played it and I love it but I don't want it constantly drowning out my thoughts. (This is my paraphrase from memory, so it's not a word by word account.)

Now, I am no Tina Turner. :-) Or even  Bruce Springsteen for that matter. I do like to get quiet at times and I find my own company (see introvert) is quite enough for long stretches of  time. I also play music and I had rather listen for a minute and then try to plunk it out on a piano or find the chord pattern on my guitar than passively listen. No, I'm not a great musician but I can manage to entertain myself for a little while. :-) I chord along with a chart when I'm at the piano. I'm not able to read much music or simply do a concert. :-)

With all that said I do like to think of some of my favorite songs. I enjoy hearing people talk about pop culture. I hate that right now as much as I love sports, the only thing on Tuscaloosa radio right now during drive time is either sports talk about blah,blah,blah or far right wing good ole boys blathering about how Obama is the Anti Christ and the Muslims are coming. I also don't care for the far left so don't get mad. I'm just sayin. :-)

Anyway, first songs and then albums. I know there is no reason anybody should care about what I like. It's just that I started this blog as much as a place for me to vent and unwind as anything else. If you are doing me the honor of reading it then I truly thank you. If not then that's OK too. I'll talk to myself. I have always been good at that. :-) These are not the only songs I like or even always my absolute favorites. But, they have stayed with me over the years. They made an impression either by the artist performance or the lyrics.

1. Midnight Train to Georgia: Gladys Knight and the Pips. Original version. I love this song. She is so into the song. She is owning it and the vocals and harmony of The Pips is awesome. I can just see her face and that Gladys Knight expression while they move perfectly to the beat. I've always said the I would like this played at my funeral. Seriously. I'll be on that train and heading home. :-)

2. Desperado: Linda Ronstadt version. There is a certain video from the seventies. Hard to find the exact one but I think it's from Don Kirchners Rock Concert of one of the other late night rock shows of the era. Linda absolutely nails it. Then at the very end the camera comes up on those big brown eyes and she hits that last note and I'm in love. 

3. Good Day in Hell: Eagles from On the Border: Not my favorite Eagles song. But, it did have an impression on me as a teen. I was going  through some junk both real and imagined and this song summed up my feelings at that time.

4. Day After Day: BadFinger: General Forrest Jr. High. I am still in the gym looking across at a girl I grew up with in Walnut Park. We were really good friends (no, not that kind) Actual friends. :-)

5. Dizzy: Tommy Roe: Walnut Park Elementary and the first pop song that I really wanted to remember all the lyrics and it brings up my childhood.

6. Ahab the Arab: Ray Stevens: Summer in Altoona, Alabama and a certain long ago unrequited love. :-)

7. Slow Ride: Foghat: See number 6. :-)

8. Sweet Home Alabama: Lynyrd Skynyrd: God, I'm tired of this song. :-) But, it was something back in the day. (funny story about Skynyrd and my youth.) A cute girl is talking to me "gasp." She asks me if I have heard the newest Lynyrd Skynyrd song and if I like Skynyrd. I said yeah "he's" good. Later, I discovered the group. Explains her funny look. "Red Face" once I figured it out. :-) Ahhh, youth and high school.

9. Hang on Sloopy: the McCoys: Really, really young. But, I remember yelling out the lyrics with my childhood friends. Also, a nod to 1910 Fruitgum Company. One of the best names ever for a rock group from my childhood.

10: Hotel California: Eagles: Anthem of my generation. Although, it's becoming a little like "Sweet Home Alabama" to me. I've heard it a lot over the years. :-)

Now, for the albums. Anybody remember the old Birmingham, Alabama station that played the complete albums every night? Wow, talk about the good old days. Nothing like that now. Anyways, albums were an important part of my youth. Here are some of my favorites.

1. One of These Nights: Eagles: My favorite and the last original Eagles release. Bernie Leadon and Randy Meisner are on the way out to be replaced by Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmit. I remained and remain a fan. But, this is the turning point and the apex in my opinion of the band. I played this to death on the old eight track. I wish you Peace. :-)

2. Rumors: Fleetwood Mac. Stevie Nicks coming out party as a star. Greatest hits of the popular band know as Fleetwood Mac? Pick up this album. "I keep my visions to myself" Stevie Nicks. 

3. News of the World: Queen. Freddie Mercury in full throat  vocal glory: Another party's over. And I'm left cold sober. 

4. The Grand Illusion: Styx: So if you think your life is complete confusion
Because your neighbor's got it made
Just remember that it's a grand illusion
And deep inside we're all the same. 
   "Almost reminds me of facebook and social media that was to come." :-)

5. Kiss: Destroyer: Listened to this as an adult and found it lacking in musicianship. :-) But, it was something to me back in the day.
You've got something about you
You've got something I need
Daughter of Aphrodite
Hear my words and take heed.

Anyway, that's just a fun little run on a Sunday Morning as I think back over the years. 


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Rambling along.

I was just thinking about how fast life goes by. I remember being in a classroom at General Forrest Junior High in Gadsden, Alabama. Don't know why I remember that particular day. It was raining so hard outside that I could hear it. Maybe the windows were open. Forrest was the same building as the first Emma Sansom High so it had the big early 20th century look of an "institution." so hearing the rain the way I remember it was more than likely not the case. I was hearing it from an open window in a classroom. But, in my mind it seems like I hear it from the front door of the school. Funny how that works.

Looking out of my lonely room, day after day
Bring it home, baby, make it soon
I give my love to you...BadFinger.

That song is playing as I look across the "new gym" at Forrest in the 70's. I remember because my sisters best friend is on the other side and I was thinking how cute she looked. We were pals in the old neighborhood of Walnut Park but right then she looked a little different to me than just being my sisters friend.

Now you're messing with .... a son of a bitch......Nazareth.

So, there I am in Altoona, Alabama after my mother's divorce and this isn't the big city of Gadsden anymore. :-) But, I'm with a friend and he's got some pot and he's pretty sure if I try it I will put the beer I'm drinking down and chill out. Just one toke...I wait to see if God is going to strike me blind or dead. Neither, wow. Anyway, it will take several years before I really start to wake up from this part of the journey.

I'm so dizzy my head is spinning / Like a whirlpool, it never ends / And it's you, girl, making it spin....Tommy Roe

1969 give or take. I'm in the lunchroom at Walnut Park Elementary. All the kids seem to be singing "Dizzy." WGAD is playing it everytime I turn on the radio. But, the big thing is I'm sitting here and "she' is actually talking to me. ....Ever hear Charlie Brown talk about the little red head girl on Peanuts? Well, this was the little blonde haired girl and she was awesome to this little brown haired boy. This was not going to happen again in this lifetime. But, I didn't know it  then so that was okay. :-)

So, why the trip down memory lane? I think it's just how people are when they think about how fast life goes by. Much has happened in my life. From jobs to watching my wife to be come down the aisle to the awesome, scary moment I hold my newborn son. Life has been a journey. It's gone fast. 

"Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? ...G-d

Lessons learned:

What have I learned in my over half a century journey on the earth? Well, I've learned that you can lie to people and people can lie to you. But, somewhere in my core at the center of my being there is no way or reason to lie. Maybe, that's the main thing. That God is honest and that before pure being I am honestly myself. 

I've also realized that life isn't a movie and other people are not just bit players in my movie. That I really do believe in treating people the way I would like to be treated. Of course most of the time I just treat em the way they treat me. Which isn't the same thing. :-)

 Do you believe in rock and roll?
Can music save your mortal soul?
And can you teach me how to dance real slow?...Don Mclean

I realize as I look back how much my generation depended on music as a way of expressing ourselves. Even those of us with:

And those of us with ravaged faces
Lacking in the social graces
Desperately remained at home
Inventing lovers on the phone
Who called to say, "come dance with me"
And murmur vague obscenities
It isn't all it seems at seventeen...Janis Ian

Still, remember haunting the Record Bar in the Gadsden Mall for the latest 8 track.

One of these nights
One of these crazy old nights
We're gonna find out
Pretty mama
What turns on your lights
The full moon is calling
The fever is high
And the wicked wind whispers
And moans

You got your demons
You got desires
Well, I got a few of my own....Eagles

I played that one night all night long after buying it at the Record Bar. Some long forgotten teen angst had me driving around. But, I never forgot that album.

Still like that old time rock 'n' roll
That kind of music just soothes the soul ooh
I reminisce about the days of old
With that old time rock 'n' roll
Won't go to hear them play a tango
I'd rather hear some blues or funky old soul
There's only one sure way to get me to go
Start playing old time rock 'n' roll....Bob Seger

Maybe that was it. We bought my son a used piano to see if he will continue to play and enjoy it. I was plunking around "chording a little of the above song" when my wife walked in this evening. The fact that at least she could tell I was actually playing a song in the midst of my banging on the keyboard gave me a little encouragement. She couldn't  tell which song but at least she knew it was a song. :-)

Last thing I remember I was running for the door
I had to find the passage back to the place I was before
"Relax," said the night man, "We are programmed to receive
You can check out any time you like but you can never leave".....Eagles
Maybe life is a little like the "Hotel California" I really don't know. :-)
I was raised on country music. Give me a guitar and name a song by George or Conway or Merle and more than likely I can at least strum the tune and know most of the lyrics. But, country (except for Willie and Waylon and the boys) was my mothers music. I was a captive audience as a child. But, rock was mine. 
I wish you peace when times are hard
A light to guide you through the dark
And when storms are high and your, you dreams are low
I wish you the strength to let let grown on
I wish you the strength to let love flow on
I wish you the strength to let love glow on
I wish you the strength to let love go....Eagles