Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Book Review: The Real Story of the O.K. Corral

I've just finished a book by Jeff Guin called "The Last Gunfight" The real story of the Shootout at the O.K. Corral. It's a real eye opener for folks from my generation (I'm now 61) who grew up on the Hollywood legend of the American Western Hero.

My generation grew up on western hero's battling bad guys and fighting Indians. Sorry, no political correctness back then. Just the talk hero riding into town kicking ass and taking names. No regrets because they "never killed anyone that didn't need killin." So this was an eye opener. The legend of Wyatt Earp and the fierce righteous cowboys and lawmen turned to myth right before my eyes. But if you like history and have an interest in the old West this one is highly recommended. Just don't expect John Wayne and Maureen O'hara. Not even Clint Eastwood and Sondra Locke. ;-)
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Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Life and Afterlife.

I was working today and I was speaking to a person about social work matters when I asked the DOB which is Social Work talk for the person’s Date of Birth. I then wrote it down and in my own mind. I promise I didn’t say it out loud. I noticed the person was of a pretty advanced age at least to me. Then I noticed that she was born in the same decade although early while I was born late in the decade. But, any way I thought to myself “What the Fuck?” Sorry, but that’s exactly what I thought. I can’t be getting to such an advanced age that a 66 year old is born in the same decade. I need a recount! I need to speak to management! Sheesh!

I’m not saying I’m getting old..I’m just saying if I were milk you would want to smell me before you poured me on your cereal.

I’ve been thinking more and more about my eternal destination this year. I went from a person whose most serious health issue was a little high blood pressure controlled by a pill (or so I thought) to having major heart surgery to  replace a leaky valve. So, yeah as I get older the questions become more immediate. I buy things like a shirt or a book or a movie and think “Ya know?” I might die and this shirt will still be here or this movie or book will still be on my kindle or dvd shelf. Its nuts I tell ya.

There are two types of very vocal folks that I keep running into during my journey on this spinning ball hurtling through space going around an extremely hot star while dressed in a flesh suit held together by bones.  Both are very sure of themselves and two sides of the same coin in my experience. The first is the really religious fundamentalist. Now, I was raised a Christian in the Bible Belt so when I say fundamentalist I’m talking about Christian fundamentalist. That’s not to say there aren’t other types of fundamentalist or that it’s wrong to be a fundamentalist. It’s just not for me and to be honest without being snarky. It’s not for anybody who honestly questions who we are and what we are here for. The other type is the hard core atheist who loves to set up a straw man and knock it down and think in their little box of a brain that they have demolished all reason for faith and hope beyond a few fast furious wonderful tragic moments on this earth.  I think of it like this. The first type says something like  “if evolution is true then why are there still monkeys?” Ha, gotcha. The second type says something silly like “If god exists then why doesn’t he come down right now and show himself to me?” Ha, gotcha.  A pox on both their houses. But, I digress. Again.


If you’re up there, please save me Superman!... Homer J. Simpson.


Then there are people who question and wonder and consider the most important question in the world to be what happens when I am out of this earth suit? A static heaven with an angry deity who demands blood sacrifice seems unlikely to me. Eternal oblivion and no other purpose in a soulless, mindless and honestly non intentional universe also seems unlikely to me. Now there are people all over the place on these subjects and I don’t mean to say these are the only two choices you have. But, these are examples of the more vocal adherents and then there’s me.


“I’m not afraid of death; I just don’t want to be there when it happens”….Woody Allen.


I have now been walking the earth for over six decades. It’s funny because when I was born I remember looking (well not on the same day but in the next 5 or 6 years) in a mirror and thinking “That’s not me.” I didn’t know what reincarnation was.  But, when I would close my eyes at night I would see faces of familiar looking adults that I had no knowledge of in this lifetime. I also had a “memory” of an old man who died sitting in a chair and I asked my mother once about the old man. She said "Stephen stop talking silly and go outside and play." I have a brown birthmark which looks like an age spot on the top of my right hand.  Of course now I have more than one legitimate age spot but this one was on my hand from birth. Proof of anything? No, I have no interest in converting people to a religion or philosophy and I will not be taking up a love offering at the end of the evening. Also, I will not be questioning your intelligence because you don’t see the world the same way I do. 


I’m reminded of an old joke. This reporter asked a TV evangelist how he shared his money with God since he seemed to have so much with a mansion and a private jet. “Well it’s simple” the evangelist replied. I take the offering in my office and throw it up in the air. Everything God catches, he keeps.


Full Disclosure here: I honestly don’t know what happens when we die. I don’t know at the moment of death if we are reincarnated, sleep for a period, oblivion or judged for our sins and faults. I will say that oblivion to me seems highly unlikely.

Fuller Disclosure: I’m not an atheist. I’m not even an Agnostic. I am as certain of spirit and intent and an intentional ground of being “God” as I am that I was born and have parents and will one day shuffle off this mortal coil. From everything I have experienced and lived during my lifetime including dreams and some visions and intuitions I can say that there is something going on around here.  

In the words of that long ago rock group Buffalo Springfield “ there’s something happening here. But what it is ain’t exactly clear.”

There are many books and writings and even some movies that I find inspirational. Three stand out at this stage in my life. Not because they are the absolute best I’ve ever seen or read. But, they did have an impact. Are they roadmaps to the afterlife? I think they may each have some semblance of the picture but not a detailed step by step manual. I don’t know that there is such a thing or ever could be. I expect the next life to be at least as intense and convoluted as this one so I doubt one size fits all.

Astral City: This is a movie released in 2010 and I saw it either on Netflix or Amazon. I streamed it and those are the two services we have so it had to be one of them. It’s based on a book written in 1944 by Chico Xaiver who I have learned was a well known medium born in Brazil. He claimed to have channeled the book from a spirit named Andre Luiz who was a successful business man on earth. I don’t know if anyone matching the identity of Andre Luiz was ever found or even searched for because I’ve only seen the movie once and didn’t even realize at the time it was based on channeled material. Although my wife Cindy can tell you. I can be looking right at you and not really hear or pay attention to a word you say. So, I may have zoned out on the part identifying the source of the movie.

Anyway, in the movie the business man isn’t a stereotypical evil villain. He’s like many of us in that he over indulges and doesn’t always take care of himself. As I’ve said before  I don’t do guru’s and I don’t take anybody else’s opinion on faith or religion or ultimate authority without questioning and making up my own mind. But, anyway this guy dies. I can’t remember just how. It might have been a heart attack from overeating and drinking. He finds himself in a kind of limbo or purgatory. It’s dark and he’s not really conscious or at least he’s very weak. One night he’s rescued by volunteers from the nearby city called “Nosso Lar” which means “Our Home.”

He’s taken to a spiritual hospital and nursed to health and reunited with his group soul. These are people who he has always been with in spirit and has shared many lifetimes on earth together. Contrary to new age and uneducated opinion a “soul mate” doesn’t always mean a lover or spouse. It’s someone that you are connected with in spirit. They could be and have at some time been a blood relative or a lover or even a foe.  Anyway, the people in the Astral City live in peace while waiting for others who are still on earth to arrive and also until they themselves are once more reincarnated.

They are aware on some level of things happening on the earth and one day the news comes that a great war is about to break out on earth. The sky over the sea (if I remember correctly) is dark and it symbolizes the strife and death and suffering of war.

My Take: I do resonate with the idea of group souls and also with the idea of healing and learning once we are away from this body. However, I don’t think eating sweets and fried food will cause you to go to purgatory if there is such a place. Still, it’s an interesting movie and I highly recommend it.


“What Dreams May Come” Richard Matheson.

This was made into a movie starring Robin Williams and of course  the movie and the book are different. It’s the book that made an impression on me. Although, I liked the movie. I listened to the Audible version and I’m glad I did. While it is a well written account in the form of a novel the writing at times bogged down a little and I was glad to be listening to it instead of reading. Although Richard Matheson was an excellent author. He wrote for the original Twilight Zone and has been identified by Stephen King as one of his inspirations. Anyway, Mr. Matheson said this particular novel was based on his own beliefs and experience and he used fiction to tell a broader truth in this particular book.

The main character named Chris Nelson is married to his soul mate Annie. He dies unexpectedly and Annie is left to grieve him. He makes several attempts to reach her but she is so buried in her own grief and pain and unbelief that he could still be in existence that she unknowingly refuses to hear him when he tries to reassure her that he still is in existence.  It’s a very well told story and he ends up reincarnating at the end just to share the planet with her. She eventually had to reincarnate to a life with some physical limitations due to having taken her life after her husband dies.He had tried to rescue her from her own personal purgatory once she died. But, even in death she wasn’t able to recognize that she was dead and that he was actually there. She was in a shadow home that was a darker and lonelier duplicate of the home they shared. Anyway, his journey from “summerland” to try and reach her in the darker parts of the afterlife is well told and intense and I won’t even try to reproduce it here. One other thing about this story caught my attention. Soul mate or mates might not be blood relatives. The main character had a very unemotional and cold relationship with his earthly father. He visited with his father in the afterlife and there were no hard feelings. But, they were not going to continue a soul relationship either. They both had their own journey and soul connections.

My Take: The main character dies and after some difficulty reaching him the spirit guide who is actually a beloved uncle from his past introduces him to his new home in a place that is likened to “Summerland.”  A place of light and peace where people of like mind interact and live peacefully and attend classes and have large libraries where they can learn the “true history of the earth” as opposed to the political agendas of earthly historians. They also have access to their past incarnations on earth. In this age of political stress and political correctness the attraction of having a true history of anything is attractive.  Also, this particular depiction of a place of recharging and evolving is more attractive (true or not I can’t say) than simply blindly reincarnating right away. I think I need a time out. For a little while at least.
Journey to an Afterlife Time:  I’m not even sure of the title. It’s something I picked up on my Kindle a few years ago. I don’t think it was clear if the writer was recounting an actual experience that he thought of as real or if he was writing straight fiction. But, in the narrative the main character dies and finds himself on a long road. He is able to stop along the way maybe for decades or months since time is not like earth time. He lives in the mountains and by the sea and in the country and the city. Wherever his desire takes him. He also meets people from his recent earthly life along the road even coming upon neighborhood stores from his youth. It’s a fascinating journey and the long and endless road resonates with me. Might be the American love affair with the open road but I do like it.

At one point he is missing his earthly wife and travels to see her. This is dangerous and he is putting his own soul in some jeopardy by doing it. He finds she is remarried and he is angry. Her new husband is ill and he realizes that this man has been good for his wife and family and she will miss him terribly when he dies. The spirit (main character) then prays and channels good vibes to the man and he recovers. It’s a very unselfish act considering how much he still loves his wife. It’s an interesting take on relationships both earthly and spiritually.

My take: I have already said I love the road that never ends. I am always excited in life to find a country lane and follow it. It’s a little disappointing when it ends. It gets boring once I know it’s limits. So, a road that never ends and you never know what or who is around the next bend is fascinating to me. I’ve had dreams in my life of familiar places where I would travel down a road and come upon a brand new town or city in the dream

The other thing about this account was the earthly bonds and how they translate in the spiritual. You can be one couple on this earth and even know each other after leaving  the earth. But, relationships are fluid and developing. 


Finally, is this what I believe about the afterlife? If so then which version is better? Well in all honesty I think this wonderful, tragic world that we inhabit is just one part of an eternal journey. I know I am no longer very orthodox in my religious thinking. But, I have at times thought that maybe one of the things Jesus was doing on the cross was showing how incredibly precious this life is while showing that even this can’t compare to our true home. Even death and suffering is worth the journey to our true home. Now that’s not orthodox theology and I’m not trying to pretend that it is. It’s just a thought.


Some people are happy with the thought that the brain is all there is. Some are happy with the thought of sinners in the hands of an angry god. I tend to think the truth is what we do here matters but it’s also a school. A part of a larger journey. Maybe eternity is our journey to discovering God and maybe even God is evolving so our journey will never end but will certainly keep us moving towards light and life and purpose.
One of the lines from "What Dreams May Come" sums it up best.

“We are part of a plan, never doubt that. A plan to bring each one of us to the highest level of which we are capable. The way will be dark at times but it leads, assuredly, to light”




Friday, August 3, 2018


I'm sailing away set an open course for the virgin sea
I've got to be free free to face the life that's ahead of me…Styx


I remember my youth and having moved to Altoona, Alabama to live with my maternal grandparents. I couldn’t wait to get out of that little coal mining town in North Alabama. But, it’s funny how now when I think of Altoona I think of green grass and blue sky and clean air. Sunny summer days as a youth. Humid beery nights and the hint of somebody smoking something besides cigarettes wafting on the breeze. But, at the time all I could think was “someday” I’ll be out of here and living well. Someday.


Well, I'm here to tell you now, each and every mother's son
That you better learn it fast, you better learn it young
'Cause someday never comes…Creedence Clearwater Revivial.


The years went past and now I look back and think about what I had that I didn’t know I had and how much better it would have been if I had woken up sooner. The little town wasn’t my problem. It wasn’t a prison. The people who at times sneered at my little long haired hippy look were not the problem. The problem was I kept waiting for someday.

Got no cause to be afraid
Or fear that life will ever fade
'Cause as I watch the rising sun
I know that we have just begun…Eagles


But, finally I stopped waiting for someday. I started to take my own life seriously and just started to move and work and try. I haven’t reached the pinnacle and I have learned that happiness isn’t a state of arriving. It’s a state of mind and spirit and becoming.