Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Not attending arguments.

You don’t have to attend every argument you’re invited to.

  I thought of this today as I was scrolling past facebook news feed. It’s a very liberating thought. I can actually look at a comment and disagree and still keep moving on with my life. Who’d a thunk it? This particular comment that I scrolled past wasn’t even a political or religious comment. Just a random posting about ebooks. The person commenting was saying how much they hated ebooks as opposed to print. My first reaction was to justify my own liking of ebooks due to the ability to adjust the font and the background light and as my eyes age it gets easier to read text I can adjust. But, then I thought “So what?” Why do I feel this intense need to explain myself to a stranger on the internet? Do I need their approval of my reading habits? Does it make me right and them wrong if I can provide the most links or win the argument? Am I that fragile in my own outlook that the only way I can feel comfortable in my own mind and spirit is if I batter the opposing view into submission? If so then what does that say about my own views and beliefs? Of course this was on something really minor but it fits with politics and religion and most every other stance that we have.

Now, that doesn’t mean that some things are not worth taking a stand on. It just means that if what you believe depends on silencing critics or gaining the approval of everyone you come in contact with then you are in trouble. Maybe you don’t really feel deep inside that you have the high ground. I see it everywhere these days and it is especially true of political and religious conversations. It’s kind of like the grammar Nazis or the spell correctors in our midst.

Do you really think that the people you are talking to actually formulate in their/they’re /there own minds the correct spelling of their, they’re, to, too, your,you’re or where to put the fricking comma when they are speaking? Yet you will stop a whole online conversation just to say “gotcha” over a misspelled or misused word and think your argument is superior because you know the difference in spelling of to and too and two.

People talk at people and not to people these days. I can honestly say that I have never to this point been converted by people yelling at me and calling me a libtard or a communist or a homo or a devil worshiper or an inbred hick or saying I worship a sky elf or the spaghetti monster. I have never once changed my mind when people have unfriended me or blocked me on facebook or made physical threats to me. So, even  though I honestly think Donald Trump is an idiot I don’t waste my breath yelling at people I otherwise like and even love trying to convince them that I’m right and they are wrong.

They are though. Wrong I mean.

So, here I am trying to be honest and civil without being a pushover. Once in a while I do post something political. But, to be honest I feel very, very liberal when surrounded by conservative talk and I feel conservative when surrounded by liberal talk. But, left to my own devices I’m a moderate Southern Democrat.

I honestly don’t see how anybody can call life in the womb sacred and then vote to cut health and shelter to young mothers and children and old people. But, I’m through yelling at people about it. I come from a very humble southern background. My roots are as my maternal grandmother once said “Shanty Irish” and my maternal grandfather was Black Dutch and Cherokee. But, don’t worry I don’t claim Native American status and I’m not going to make up a story of my dark skinned momma being shunned by her inlaws. Actually, she was a little dark in her day but still very much a white person. My dad’s people were Irish and British Iles in general decent. But, me? I’m like most people in this nation a mix of different people that came before me or even after me since I lean towards reincarnation. But, speaking of controversy I won’t go there right now.

I have had dreams in my life that were prophetic and I have heard some scientist explain dreams away as if they were nothing but the debris of the previous day. I don’t feel the need to argue because I have experienced the reality of dreams. I have also experienced the times when they are the debris of the day. Maybe that’s the thing with reality. Maybe one size isn’t supposed to fit all. We all wake up in our own skin every day and life is an individual journey that is shared with others but ultimately our own spirit and life lesson is primarily meant for us or me and you as individuals.

So, even though I was born and raised in church and have the t-shirt being yelled at about what the bible says doesn’t change my own inner journey. Being told I’m a naïve hick that believes in a sky daddy also doesn’t change what I have experienced myself about the Divine in my own journey.

So, I am trying not to yell at my facebook friends about politics and religion and other matters although they are important to me. Just know that when I hear a person say “trump is a godly man” I throw up a little in my own mouth. But, I’m not going to yell at you about it. I’m just going to see if we can talk civilly and if we can’t then Imma leave you alone about it.


Tuesday, October 2, 2018

This Life.

This Life:

What is life? I remember a dream I had maybe in the 80’s or 90’s. Anyway, been awhile. I was still a young man and I was searching for the truth. I was a “Christian” and yet I was also very skeptical of Christian and other just so stories. But, I was trying. I read the bible and listened to the preachers and mixed it in with skeptical authors and new age authors.  After all I really wanted to know the truth. Life was hard and a little lonely at times. It was also wide open and “tomorrow” everything was going to come together.  So, I was searching and waiting and reading and living.

My uncle by marriage was a father figure to me growing up. For some reason we were at the Altoona/Walnut Grove, Alabama Cemetery. Generations of his family and my family and small town folks were buried there. My uncle was not a “sensitive” type. He cussed like a sailor but, of course he was a sailor USN WW2 and proud of it. He hunted and blasting a small furry critter and throwing it in a pot to eat was not a moral dilemma for him. He was born country and hunted and fished all of his life. He would mockingly but kind of fondly call me Professor because I was a bookworm.

But, on this particular day he looked out at the cemetery and said “I wonder where they are.” I don’t remember what I said in reply. I had a friend from back in those days and a little before. He was younger and wilder and was a really good musician. By the way it was hard to be wilder than I was but some folks were. But, this particular friend was even more out of place than I was in this small Northeast Alabama dried up coal mining community. He was flamboyant and I remember one of his favorite lines when people would get on his case. “Fuck em if they can’t take a joke.” I loved that line and honestly? I still do. I think it sometimes now when people are butt hurt over something I do or say. I can’t say it much since I’m now in my mature 60’s but I think it. At work, at play, in social events or even online I think “Fuck em if they can’t take a joke.” It’s a very rock and  roll attitude and it’s kind of like turning up my stereo in my old truck and blasting Foghat or Queen or even Kiss. Watching the looks even from young people as this little old dude is rocking out in the vehicle beside them.

But, anyway my friend said years later as he was dying and we were talking on the phone. I hadn’t seen him in years and even though he told me he was going to die my brain just wouldn’t accept that. The guy with the shoulder length hair and the wicked smile and the killer guitar wasn’t going to die. That  was silly. But, I was seeing him in my mind’s eye and not the older man with cancer ravaging his body. But, we talked about what life was. He had gone from being raised Christian to becoming a rabid atheist and now had come back to a more spiritual outlook on life. We talked about reincarnation and possibilities and old times. He invited me to share a doobie (marijuana) if I ever got up to Birmingham or we could even meet in Altoona or Gadsden. But, one thing he said was “I like to be.”

I have now gone through my own medical trauma and in the long run I don’t know how my health and life will play out. But, right now I’m good. Right now my heart beats steady in my chest and my lungs inhale and exhale. I have a new Aortic Valve (pig and cow) I do still like a good steak or a ham sandwich but I try to make sure I don’t forget to give a little thanks in my own mind when I eat these days or when I catch a great big wonderful lung filling breath.

But, I like to breathe. I like for my heart to beat and my body to not tire so quickly. Mostly, I like to be.  God knows “I like to be.” 

One reason I’m not an atheist is that it has no purpose. I know the humanist arguments and if they give you peace then peace be upon you. But, for me a pointless race to personal oblivion means the universe is at its core insane at worse and just not all that important at best.

One reason I’m not a fundamentalist Christian is that a big daddy in the sky who puts a little naked ape on a planet and then turns to a being of light and high intelligence and says: Listen I’ll make you a deal. See those little beings down there on earth? I’m going to send you down there and I know that will make you good and angry. If you can fool them then you can burn them in a pit of fire for eternity. But, if they figure it out and say the sinners prayer before they die then they win. Also, some will win the sperm lottery and some will be born into horrific poverty and slavery and even be born in Nazi Germany and be called Jews.  Believe me you will have plenty of carnage to enjoy then.

So, no religion is missing something. Common sense for one thing. So, I’m not an atheist and I’m not a fundi so what am I?

I started this blog talking about my search around the 80’s and early 90’s. Around that time and it may have been the mid to late 90’s but I think it was closer to the mid to late 80’s. I don’t know. I’m getting old. “Hey you kids. Get off my lawn!”

But, anyway I had this dream. But, before I tell about the dream I’d like to say something else about why I’m not an atheist or a secular humanist.

I’ve had dreams in my life that have come true. I have heard some people with lots of letters after their names. Phd, Msw,Bsw,Clinical this and that and even crusty old magicians and philosophers who say that “science says seeing the future is impossible since it hasn’t happened yet.” I’ve heard “well, if you have physic powers then tell me what I ate for lunch or how much money is in my pocket. This is like the old childhood taunt. Stop me if you’ve heard this one. “ Can God do anything?” Why yes, says the little church kid which would have been me. “Okay, if God can do anything then can he make a rock so heavy that he can’t lift?” Mind of church kid blown! If he can do anything then he has to be able to make a rock so big that he can’t lift it. If he can’t make one that he can’t lift then he can’t do everything. But, if he can make one that even he can’t lift then he can’t do everything. It’s silly and theologically silly and misses the larger point of being and faith and hope but it is effective in a very simplistic knocking down strawmen type way.

So, having had dreams on more than one occasion where I knew something before it happened. Not often but some over my life. Having had a vision or two or three and even having interaction with others  in lucid dreams I knew that the materialistic view of life was wrong. But, on the other hand I didn’t know which view was right. It only takes one white crow to prove to yourself that all crows are not black. I’ve had more than one white crow in my life. But, I can’t tell you what that means for you or even what it ultimately means for me. Except, it gives me hope.

I went to an ARE symposium in Montgomery, Alabama in the early 80’s. ARE is the organization of the late Edgar Cayce. If you are interested in him then you can google him and Association of Research and Enlightenment. I’m not pushing  their agenda. I’m just providing information and I don’t want to bore you with details of a person or organization that you may not even care about. But, anyway I took my little born again Christian self to Montgomery and attended this seminar on reincarnation. I was searching and this was part of my search. A young woman walked up to me. In those days I was a young man so this was not entirely out of place.  Anyway, as she came up I have a thought in my head “she’s going to say I was a warrior” talking about herself. Now this was a very attractive uh, full figured brunette and for me to have that thought while she was walking towards me was a little odd. But, then again I wasn’t at Cherry Street Baptist Church or my grandmothers Church of God of Prophecy  so it was an odd vibe anyway. She walks up and say’s “I was a warrior in my last life.” We talked a little and she said she was also attending by herself. I told her that people at church would call me tampering with the devil and she said people at Auburn University (where her husband was a professor) would also frown on her attending and so both of us were kind of out of our social element.

Anyway, just another little signpost along the road to Enlightenment or Shambala or oblivion or bliss. But, anyway along that time I was really interested in the concept of reincarnation. I have some spotty memories from my childhood on that may or may not be part of a past life. But, I don’t know and really at this stage I’m open to the possibility that reincarnation is as real and natural as physical evolution but I honestly don’t know.

Earlier I mentioned a dream I had from back in the  day. This dream is now several years old and I wish I had written it down when it happened. As my wife Cindy says “memory is not an exact science.” But, here goes to the best of my recollection.

I’m in a really red landscape. Some years later I would see pictures of the planet Mars on TV and think that the landscape I was walking in was similar looking. I look back at my body and it’s safely in bed. I realize there is a figure beside me. He has a robe and I know that he can tell me everything I will ever want to know about my life. God, the meaning of life and what happens when we die. All of it. So, I ask “What is the dream?” Which I know means what is the answer to all my questions about existence. He says “you ask too much.” I feel extremely sad at this. I want to know and I really have a right to know don’t I? Do I? But, I have a tear running down my cheek. I wake up and there is an actual tear running down my cheek.

Since then I’ve told this dream to different people with different answers depending on their own religious belief. Some said I was talking to the devil. Some say I was talking to an angel. Some said God wouldn’t withhold that answer from me. But, I think they were talking about Christianity so they already  thought they knew the answer I guess. Some said it was just my own mind making it all up because it wasn’t logical otherwise.

But, the dream has had a very big effect on my life. Since then I’ve felt even stronger that this life is a pale reflection of a larger and more real reality. I think of this life as “The Dream.”

I really don’t think it matters what you believe or don’t believe as much as it matters how you treat other people along the way. How you treat all creatures along the way. My only real religion these days is “Do unto others  as you would have done unto you.” All the rest is window dressing. All the rest is a dream. I pray and hope to wake up on the other side of it one day. Maybe one day soon. But, I hope it’s years from now. Many years from now.

One reason I don’t fear fire and brimstone is that I honestly believe I have been watched over my whole life. I’m very precious to somebody and I believe that is the point of the dream. So, even if I mess up and die in fear or vulgarity or if I die without saying the sinners prayer with my last breath. I have so much belief in my source, in my God that I honestly feel that as long as I’m me. I Am. That he will find me.

That’s why “I like to be.” As long as “I BE” I’ll be safe in this (as a gracious lady once said) Journey Securely Bound.

7Where can I go from your Spirit?

Where can I flee from your presence?

8If I go up to the heavens, you are there;

if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

9If I rise on the wings of the dawn,

if I settle on the far side of the sea,

10even there your hand will guide me,

your right hand will hold me fast…Psalm 139