Last day of August around 11:00 AM on I-59 heading into the Ham as the locals (especially the radio personalities that long to be eternally cool called Birmingham.) Man that sky is blue and the clouds are fluffy and white. The day is beautiful. Reminds me of when I used to visit Grandma Snead right before she passed. The sky outside her room would look so blue and the clouds so white. She was by that time bent and hurting from Rheumatoid Arthritis. I wondered if she noticed how bright the day was. I thought of how short life is and I always wanted to take advantage of those bright days while I could.
Wednesday, September 2, 2020
Wednesday, August 12, 2020
That's me in corner. Me in the spotlight. Losing my religion...R.E.M.
This is not a blog about how religious or not religious other people should be. This is not about me trying to ask you if I'm right or me trying to tell you your're wrong. This is just me doing a stream of consciousness about where I find myself in my sixth decade of life inside an earth suit supported by a skeleton on a rock hurtling around a sun in space. I always reserve the right to change my mind, make mistakes and even contradict myself.
I just like to take note of where I am spiritually every once in a while. It has kept me relatively sane all these years. I'm one of those people that talk to themselves out loud when I'm by myself and have a running commentary in my head at all times. I think that's one of the things that meditation does for me. It quiets the mind and stills the body. It allows you to breathe stop judging the constant flow of thoughts and actions of everyday life for a little while. No past and no present and no future. Just breathe and somehow the past,present and future are all there at once and it's okay.
I often see some of my friends post about their faith and how they live and how the rest of humanity ought to live. But, you see everybody doesn't always see things the same way. The word of the Lord to you is simply a mistranslation of an ancient text or a myth to them. Science to you can often be simply a misunderstanding of reality to somebody else who has experienced something that you call scientifically impossible. But, let me tell you once you have actually had a dream that predicts something and it comes to pass then there is no way to go back to the sterile view that everything is explained by chemicals. One you have studied how scripture or canon was put together and understand just a little of the political propaganda of the so called church fathers then you can never go back to viewing something that is ancient and passed down from word of mouth to word of mouth and based on other ancient stories as fact or absolute.
Still, I'm not trying to bash religion or say that science isn't real. I might have been a raving lunatic and an alcoholic or at least a lost cause without the foundation of prayer and hope that the faith of my Grandmother instilled in me. Without science my heart would have given out and I would have been unable to see enough in my youth to read a book or even watch a movie. So, I'm not anti anything or at least not anti faith or anti science. I just don't have any confidence in religious fundamentalist or people who claim that we are nothing but meat sacks and chemical reactions and I have my reasons for the way I feel.
Stephen King once was asked if he believed in God. The person who asked reminded him of something he had already said about ten years earlier about God. He said something along the lines of "Don't try to pin me down as if I don't have the right to change my view on something." That's kind of how I feel. My view on religion and life has changed over the years and I reserve the right to change my mind.
But right now in the month of August in my 63rd year around the sun in the oh so strange year of 2020 this is how I feel right now. I tend to think that if we are an eternal soul that we have been here before or at least the "I Am" part of us didn't just happen to start when the sperm met the egg. I have come to think that consciousness is the cause of all reality and not that matter came first.
People like Donald Hoffman and Bernardo Kastrup to name a couple of them have made some statements and research that at least for me makes a lot of sense as to why the world is as we see it. https://www.quantamagazine.org/the-evolutionary-argument-against-reality-20160421/
I don't do guru's and so while I am certainly impressed by folks like this I am by no means saying they have absolute truth. I also have been impressed along my journey by Dr. Ian Stephenson and the University of Virginia Department of Perceptual Studies. https://med.virginia.edu/perceptual-studies/
I personally have some memories that I've had all of my life that point to past lives. I don't say much about it because for one thing I'm now sixtythree years old and those memories have certainly been impacted by time and life. Also, talking about such things where I'm from can get you looked at funny at least and shunned as a lunatic or possessed by the devil at worse. So, Imma leave this here and shut up.
Well at least not talk too much about it. As the comedian Ron White once said "I had the right to remain silent. But, not the ability."
I have done a lot things in my youth but I also have worked hard to take care of my family. One reason I worked towards a social work degree later in life was so I could provide for my family and have a little job security. I had no idea how cut throat social services could be. But, that's another story and as a retired social worker I no longer have to deal with that.
But, anyway somewhere along the way I found myself doing what ever job I could to put food on the table and I can remember working at a part time job while my wife was a full time soldier in military intelligence. I found myself working a the base Popeyes while also working towards my degree.
I don't see what's so triffic about creating people and then gettin' upset cos they act like people...Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman...Good Omens.
One day I found myself making chicken overa hot vat of oil. Now, this was a huge vat and you put the batter on the chicken and you carefully lowered it into the hot oil. You would burn yourself just from the heat coming off of the vat much less actually splattering the hot grease. I thought back to the fire and brimstone preaching of my youth and the talk about how God loves you but he absolutely will let you burn in fire and brimstone forever if you don't say the sinners prayer and follow Jesus. By the way he made Jesus go through torment just so he could look at all of us little worms down here without destroying us.
So, there I am sweating over that hot vat of grease and I thought about one of my worst enemies. Back at General Forrest Junior High I knew a dude that was the meanest kid I ever had the misfortune to meet. I mean her reveled in tormenting someone who was smaller and had certain physical limitations. This kid was MEAN.
But, as I stood over that hot grease I remember thinking I wouldn't take the tip of that mean dude's little finger and touch it in that grease. I wouldn't stand by and watch my most hated (and thank God I don't hate anybody) but even if I did I couldn't stand the thought of them being in that kind of pain and torment. So, no I no longer believe or even want anything to do with a so called god that could do that or allow that to happen to a living creature. So, I will bless you if you are a fundamentalist but I will never be in your club.
The thing is I truly do believe that we are loved unconditionally at the spiritual level. That our being is part of the divine and we are more than mere meatbots with no other purpose than to live a few short years and hope we win the sperm lottery. I have reasons for that and have even had experiences that point to that.
Two kinds of people I have learned not to spend much energy arguing with are devout religious people which in my neck of the woods are mostly Christian and hardened atheist that yell "SCIENCE" at everyone as if science were some individual entity walking around instead of a whole host of disciplines that we use to research our world that we live in and hopefully make easier for the coming generations.
I would never join any club that would have me as a member...Groucho Marx
I often talk with God. I have changed over the years and my conception of God has changed over the years. I have become a Universalist which means that I think that Love never fails and that on some eternal day all creation and all the cosmos will be reconciled back to the source of love that launched it. But, those are just words and words are never sufficient when talking about things of the heart and imagination and spirit.
I'm thankful for my journey. I have come to believe that everything is one eternal moment so I don't spend as much time regretting my past as I used to do. I think in the end it all ends up back home.
There is a writer taken home at an early age. But, she came to know more wisdom in 37 years than I have managed in 63. So, this is from her:
When we require that all people must say the same words or subscribe to the same creeds in order to experience God, We underestimate the scope and power of God's activity in the world...Rachel Held Evans.
Tuesday, August 11, 2020
I watched the extended English version on Prime Video. I think I was around ten years old when this movie first came out. If memory serves I saw it at my neighborhood drive in theatre The Rebel Drive In Theatre Gadsden/Attalla Alabama. This is a long meandering movie. The extended version is a good three hours long. Filmed in Italy it's one of the famous Spaghetti Westerns of Sergio Leone. The American West of the Spaghetti Western is vast and epic. Rolling hills and vast deserts and wide open spaces. It is also the inspiration of the Dark Tower lands in Stephen King's epic. Not the crummy movie that came out recently. I"m talking about the seven book series. The Good the Bad and the Ugly is a masterpiece. It also brings the horror of war specifically the American Civil War in to play. Now in reality I believe the civil war was mostly an East of the MIssissippi affair. Not totally but still it's odd to see the Union and the Confederacy fighting in this mythic Western background. One of the most telling scenes is when the Union and the Confederate's are rushing at each other on a bridge and killing each other Clint Eastwood's character says something along the lines of "I've never seen such a senseless waste of men." Still, this isn't a civil war movie.
Monday, July 27, 2020
I have always read books. Starting with Sally, Dick and Jane in the first grade and comic books and right up to novels and biographies and books on various subjects. Now, I haven't always shared my passion for reading. Most of my friends and family are not and were not readers. I understand. I went through a spell of not reading. Once you start working and having family and responsibilities it's much easier to come home and plop in front of the TV. Also, the sheer amount of entertainment we have these days makes it harder to sit with a book when you want to check the latest social media post or youtube video. I'm not saying that as a snob or an egghead. I'm saying that because it's whats I do.
But, since retirement I've rediscovered at least a little of my reading mojo. Especially now with so much of the country locked down. Don't get me wrong. I love video and sports and movies and shows. I am very active on facebook and there are groups that I follow on different interest that I have. From football and baseball to classic rock and horror novels to movies to reincarnation to ufo's. I even get myself in trouble from time to time by sticking my head out and giving a political opinion.
Books however are where I got my start at exploring the world and other worlds. It's where I read of different people and different worldviews. So, from time to time I like to list and talk about my favorite rock albums or my love of old vampire moviers and sometimes I like to talk about the books that made an impact on my life's journey or caused me to think or just gave me a good time while reading. Some are fun. for instance the first time I ever read Stephen King's "Salem's Lot" I was actually kind of sad to see it end. I was a young person and the story completely drew me in. Small town Maine and the stories of love and loss and getting drunk and fighting and just the quirks of small town life. It reminded me so much of small town Alabama. Which is where I was at the time.
I also remember the first time I read "Out on a Limb" by Shirley McClain. My own spiritual journey was and still is ongoing. For my own reasons this book written by somebody well known seemed to give me permission to explore my own thoughts and opinions out of the mainstream that my own culture had built around me. Not because all these years later I think it's an absolute perfect book. It's not. And not because I agree with all the stuff in it. I don't. But, because at that time in my life I needed to read that book.
I worked for a little while in the Gadsden Public Library. The town I was born in. I loved the library and for someone like me it was the perfect job. Well, at least it could have been. I was introduced to the library lore. Did you know the basement of the library is haunted? Even if you are from Gadsden you might not know that. The first librarian from way back in the last Century was said to make an appearance up on the library mezzanine. I knew some of the library clerks that would hear a noise and say "Oh that's just Miss Lena." Miss Lena was the founder and first librarian in Gadsden if memory serves. People weren't afraid of Miss Lena and the mezzanine. But, they were not going down in the basement by themselves.
I was brought up on ghost stories. I loved them and would read books or watch movies and be fascinated. The only movie that ever truly scared me was The Haunting based on the Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. Not the remake of the 90's. I'm talking about the Julie Harris black and white 1963 or it might have been made in 64 version.
So, horror fiction has always been my favorite thing to read. Not as much now as when I was younger. I kind of like to get away from horror's these days. But, still I like a good chill once in awhile. Which brings me to a book review even though it's been a long time since I read it.
"Others" by James Herbert is a chilling novel. Made all the more so by the author's own note about the book. While it is a work of fiction it was according to the author based on actual events. Now he didn't elaborate and I can't truly know if he was being serious or just trying to pull the reader farther in. But, there you go. It stayed with me because of the subject matter. The story in itself is a good read. But, some ot the subject matter struck me because it's about things that I consider to be very plausible.
It centers on a private investigator. Nicholas Dismas is a dwarf and has other physical disabilities. But, he has a good reputation of solving cases and is asked to investigate a case of a missing child who was taken at birth. It leads him to a nursing home and other things as the tension and the paranormal collide. It's subtle but there are certain scenes that slowly build to the final meeting of retribution, karma and grace. There is the story of an old hollywood actor who treated people and especially women and children with cruelty during his lifetime while being acclaimed as a handsome leading man by the public.
It's a story of waking up in hell and of reincarnation and of personal struggles. To say much more would be to give it away. But, it's one of those books that while it's not my favorite. It did have a lasting effect on me as far as the story and the worldview that it explores. So, if you are looking for a chilling and yet thoughtful read you might give it a try.
I think books where the main character has flaws are pretty common. But, books that show deformity and a main character that is physically limited are not as common and honestly I can understand that. After all we love to bond and identify with Clint Eastwood as he kicks the bad guy butt and wins the girl with a devil may care grin and glint in his eye. I know I love the Dirty Harry and the man without a name gunslinger riding into town and kicking ass and taking names. It's fun.
But, in the Herbert novel "Others" the action is more subtle and the horror isn't the raging vampire or haunted car or troubled teenager bringing the walls down on the bad guys.
Anyway, just thinking tonight about library ghost and in this time of a pandemic the escape of reading. Which like life can on occasion while avoiding the issues of the day cause you to consider other issues. Maybe those issues that come at midnight when you just got up to take a wizz and all of a sudden you start thinking about life and death and what the heck are we doing here anyway?
So, happy reading or movie watching or facebooking. What ever takes you to your happy place.
Monday, June 22, 2020
I was raised to think it was one nation. But, it's not ya know. Not at all. Was it a lie? What happened to Old Glory? The nation I was raised in. They told me it was a city on a hill. Was that a lie too? Maybe. But, my ancestors for the most part (google black dutch) were not brought over on slave ships. My Mother's mother was of Irish stock. My mother's father was Black Dutch. No that doesn't mean African American. My dad's family? Snead drop the a and add the y and you have the Celtic origins. My dad's mother was Scots/Irish in heritage.
We love your body in that photograph. Your home state must sure be proud. The queen of the United States. Have you lost your crown?...Styx
But, what about the people who were already here? Call them Indians, Native Americans, whatever makes you sleep easier at night. I honestly wonder what they were calling themselves. Manifest Destiny. Really? God told you to rape the land and displace the natives and talk about freedom?
What was it like to grow up black? Yeah, the Confederate flag was just the flag of my people growing up. I didn't give it much thought. Just fly it a little under the U.S. flag and it's all good. I honestly never thought of my classmates who were black. Who heard stories of slave ships and chains. I didn't mean any harm in my heritage. After all we are all Americans now right?
Well aren't you? (Miss America)
Don't you? (Miss America)
Won't you? (Miss America, Our love)...Styx
See in my family we didn't even know that article one section two of the U.S. Constitution said that black slaves (or more accurately "all other person's.") would count as as 3/5 of a person towards the House of Representatives. But, now I bet that my black classmates knew that. So, what did that mean or make the American Dream to them? The beginning of two distinct nations under one flag. But, what kind of Karma was it building? I was so naive. We were so naive.
Well are you really who we think you are? Or does your smile seem to wear you down? Is the girl who you once were screaming to jump out?...Styx
So, I hear all the Old Glory and look at those beautiful weapons and God Bless the U.S.A. But, what does it really mean? Really Mean. We have Hispanic, black, white, gay, redneck, gangsta,hood, city, country. All the military folks don't look just alike. So, when you say "We will take back our country." Who ya talking about? You think all those black soldiers are with you when you decide to take back your country? Do you love them? Because some of them don't really recognize the country you are trying to take back. I'm not sure it even exist anymore. If it ever did.
In the dream that you must live.
A disease for which there is no cure.
This rollercoaster ride your on.
Won't stop to let you off...Styx
Believe me. I have absolutely ZERO white guilt.I think we are all one race. The human race. But, I do have a recognition that black people have not lived in the same world that I have. I never really understood that before.
The other day I read where some people wanted to rename the street where four little black girl's were murdered in the 60's in Birmingham in a church bombing. I thought how poetic. How right. How honorable to rename and reconsecrate the ground where a great tragedy happened. But, no. It was shouted down by people saying "I'm not a racist but..." Good God Y'all! Ya can't just join hands for once? It won't turn you into a bleeding heart liberal or a yankee. Please. Just once TRY Alabama. TRY!
Well. Aren't you? (Miss America)
Don't you? (Miss America)
Won't you? (Miss America, our love?)
If you are a white American and you saw a man on TV begging for his life while it was being choked out of him. Crying for his momma while he died and yet your response is to find some past wrong on his part and blast it over the internet. Well, there is something Broken in you. Can we at least cry with them just this once? Not to justify fires and anarchy and looting. But, just to join in the humanity. What if white America met black America half way? What if the church instead of defending a billionaire who is a "very stable genius." instead tried to stand up for the homeless and the poor and the hungry and the refugee. Oh well. Good God America. Could we TRY? Oh well, It was just a thought.
They were singing. Bye, bye Miss American Pie.
Drove my chevy to the levee but the levee was dry.
Them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye
Singin' this'll be the day that I die....Don McLean...Miss American Pie.
Sunday, June 21, 2020
6:41 PM (0 minutes ago)
Saturday, June 13, 2020
Lot's of anger in the world today. The problem with anger is it intensifies when people run to their bunker's and echo chambers. I'll have to say that I have some thoughts on the world. On privilege and racism and left wing and right wing. But, I am just worn out with politics these days. Not as a white person or a liberal or a Southerner or a Conservative. Hell, I'm not a conservative but I'm not a far left wing person either. Still, I just find myself going numb when I try to talk to people on social media. Insults are hurled and feelings are hurt and labels like racist, inbred hick, fanatic, godless,religious fanatic and on and on and on.
Lets be honest If you saw and heard a human being crying out for his mother and begging for his life and your first response it to make excuses for the cops and try to find dirt to spread on him then you are broken. I don't care what color or political party or how many times you say you love on Jesus. You are messed up.
Still,I don't recommend defunding the police department either. But, this isn't about that. This isn't even about Elmer Fudd going rabbit hunting without a shotgun. Which is silly in itself. Bugs ain't scared of that ole shotgun anyway. But, I digress. (That means go off topic and ramble for you folks in the back row.)
I was thinking about what I believe in. I recently was listening to a talk between two philosopher's about the primacy of consciousness before matter. I tended to agree with one of them more than the other. Anyway, somebody told the one I agreed with that it was good he was open minded. My guy said open minded doesn't mean you are wishy washy. You wait until you have developed your belief to your own satisfaction and then you can be civil but not feel the need to agree or change your own position. In other words don't be a people pleaser or go along to get along.
I wondered if I was guilty of that. I have bent over backwards at times to make sure I didn't offend somebody. That in itself isn't bad but if it causes you to abandon your core or hard earned world view then you need to check yourself. That being said I often find myself trying not to offend and in doing so I also find that I am assumed to agree with things that I don't always agree with.
So, this isn't going to be my opinion on how black people should feel or how white people should respond to black people or anything like that. But, I did wonder about what I believe about the world.
I hesitate to go there. Because several years ago I decided to make a list of why I hold my religious beliefs. Bad idea. Or at least in my case it was bad for my dogma. My list which I thought would be long and affirming was actually quite short and full of holes.
Short break for a little joke. These two kid's come down for breakfast. The older brother is 10 years old and the younger one is 5 years old. The older brother say's to the younger one. I'm going to try out some new words I heard dad say yesterday on mom this morning. It worked for dad. Anyway, the boys come down and the mother say's to the 10 year old "What do you want for breakfast?" The 10 year old says "I'll have orange juice and a couple of those damn pancakes." The mother slaps him and then glares at the 5 year old. "Now, what do you want?" The 5 year old says "I don't know but I don't want them damn pancakes."
Anybody who knows that joke knows I cleaned it up some. But, my purpose in telling it is that sometimes you have to be careful when you say things without really understanding what you are saying. I have learned that the hard way. So, I'm careful in making a statement of what I believe in. Not because I'm wishy washy but because I know there are a lot of things about life and death that I honestly don't know.
There are more things in heaven and earth Horatio than are dreamt of in your philosophy....Hamlet by William Shakespeare.
I have come in my years on earth to take the thought of reincarnation seriously. There are reasons for it but I'm not going to get into an argument on religion here. I have just come to the conclusion that evolution is biological and spiritual. I would recommend Dr. Ian Stevenson's book "Where reincarnation and biology intersect." It may still be in print. But, full disclosure. I haven't read it. It's pretty academic and written on a high level. Still, I've read some things from it and have talked with some people who have studied it. But, that's not why I have come to my worldview. It's just one of the subjects that I've seen and that have hit home.
I say all that to say this. If what I suspect is true then we are all one species and one race and one eternal manifestation of (for want of a better word) God. So, the black person that is so angry and wanting restitution from the bigoted white person just might have been a slave holder at some point in their existence. The white bigot that hates black people may have been an oppressed minority in a previous life. Now those are "just so" stories and I don't actually like just so stories. You know the closed minded type story that is a one size fits all explanation for everything. But, it does give a bit of an example of what I'm talking about.
If the day could come when we could honestly see out of each other's eyes and understand that there is more that connects us than divides us then maybe some of the hate and bitterness could heal. I honestly don't know.
I'm married to a science fiction/fantasy fanatic. So I have seen Star Wars and Star Trek and Babylon Five and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I sat through all the Peter Jackson Lord of the Rings movies in the theatre. So, anyway in Star Trek Enterprise (the weakest of the franchise imo) there is a scene where the aliens decide to make contact because mankind had achieved warp speed. But, I am also a horror movie fan and a horror novel and comic fan and I have a really big interest in the research of the paranormal.
So, I was listening to a podcast the other day sipping my morning coffee and I heard Whitley Strieber (google Communion if you don't know who that is) make a statement. He said the reason the visitors or what some people call aliens haven't made oficial contact with mankind is because of the holocaust. Once the so called aliens saw human being burn each other to death in ovens they decided that earth wasn't ready for any kind of leap forward into the cosmos.Edit: Actually he said the Nazis killed a young Jewish boy who would have discovered anti gravity and that is why the aliens didn't make contact. Now, I'm not in any way making light of the horror of the holocaust. Whitley Strieber wasn't either. But, if I were an alien race I know one thing for sure. I wouldn't want these psycho's of the human race let loose in the broader cosmos either.
Distant cousin from down the line. Brand of people who ain't my kind. Holy Moses I have been removed...Elton John
I wonder if we might be removed. Unfit for the next step in evolution and just stuck going around and around on this third rock from the sun until it explodes or we have an evolutionary leap in consciousness.
But is it all our fault? We are born and raised in this skin and with the circumstances of our birth we start to either pull up or fall farther down depending on what? The luck of the draw? The sperm lottery? The will of an old man with anger issues in the sky? I'm sorry. I'm not trying to be offensive. But, it does make you wonder just what are we responsible for.
Well, if some scientist are right then we are nothing but a collection of neurons and atoms and chemical firings of a dying mass in our skull. So how could we honestly be responsible for anything? How could you judge Hitler or Stalin? They were just meatbots. On the other hand you have some who think this old guy in the sky made a bet with a powerful arch angel called Satan and the deal is if this powerful arch angel can get these naked apes called humans to mess up then he can bar b q them for eternity.
Now that is a bit of an oversimplification of a scientific thought or possibility and a religious dogma that in all honesty is much deeper than that when you let go of the absolute fundi stuff. But, still it's a thought and the question remains.
Just how much responsibility do we have towards each other? I think if the day ever comes when we can talk with each other instead of at each other. When we stop trying to be absolutely right and consider the other absolutely wrong. Maybe we can make progress. I had a thought the other day.
As a white person maybe I can start to listen a little better. Now, I'm not talking about bowing down and extending my neck to be cut off or told to shut up. But, maybe I can acknowledge that black people have never felt completely accepted in this country. Their ancestors were brought here in chains. The Confederate flag that was a source of pride and heritage for some of us was a symbol of slavery and abuse to them. Maybe if it were the other way around I'd be tearing down statues too. I don't know. I can't know.
But, even though I feel there are many great opportunities for all races in this nation and I honestly believe that. But, that still doesn't mean that black people don't feel like they have a target on their back when they go to the store in a car or walk down the street. They see a statehouse in Michigan being over run by white people with guns and that's just the 2nd amendment in action. But, a black kid with a bb gun is killed by a white cop and some of y'all say "well he should have put the gun down." I'm not here to make the argument one way or the other. I'm just saying we need to listen.
We also need to stop yelling and screaming at each other. I see people who are inviting people to Sunday School in one post on facebook and then posting slander about somebody with no real understanding if it's true or not on the next. That marble monument or idol that some of y'all want back in front of the statehouse? One of the commandments on it is "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor." But, I guess that only counts if thy neighbor is a white evangelical. On the other hand if you are a young black person and you want me to listen to you then stop with the "Dear White People shit" I'm not a "white people." I'm Steve and we can talk.
Anyway that's my bag. It's subject to change but I'm not going to go along to get along. Not anymore.