The similarity between an agnostic and an atheist is not as consonant as it is assumed to be. The first claims (s)he does not know whether or not there is a god, the second is almost religious in his/her assertion that there isn't. Where the two meet is in the insistence of real world evidence of the claim made by people of Faith that there is a god. It is not the function or duty of either agnostics or atheists to disprove a Supreme existence; their only duty is to examine the evidence offered by people of Faith there is.
Back in the now ancient 60's, there was a musical, "Stop the World, I Want to Get Off!" The notable technique of it was that in the middle of a crisis scene, Littlechap, the protagonist, would call out. "STOP", and everything but Littlechap would freeze while he would discuss the situation he was in, how he felt about it, how he wished it would go, and then, the scene would resume. The idea of it was hauntingly attractive. It had a respectable run on Broadway, but the 1966? movie, which was the version I saw, went through faster than a sneeze.
The self is not a static entity, but a process. This is a statement came during a lecture given by Sam Harris, a neuroscientist, philosopher, and author of The End of Faith. It was in answer to a question by audience members. It was this statement, rather than the question that caught my attention. The larger question was Harris's assertion that what we think is Free Will is only the result of an ongoing cause and effect relationship attendant upon every decision. Our choices begin with the luck of our birth, i.e., time, parents, culture; Free Will is an illusion.
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal-"
We will note the fact that, at the time, the concept of "all men" did not include women or black people. It took from 1865 to 1870 for all to include Blacks and another fifty for it to include women. Gay people finally gained some of that all in the recent defeat of DOMA.
There is a difference, however, between stated idyllic theory and hard fact. Ask any Black person trying to vote, in some states, or any woman who is trying to control her own body.
We had a death in the facility, this morning, not unusual, given this is a nursing home- except that the death was that of a relatively young person (in his fifties). Deaths of younger people I know always lead me to ponder my own mortality. As it is, I had already labeled this year's journal as Notes On My Way Out.
In some ways, Larry's death was not a total surprise; he's abused his system with drugs and alcohol since his teenage years. This abuse led to other felonies and prison time. However, who I knew was a good person.
Sing me a song of yesterday,
and only now and then;
Yesterday is a narcotic
It is too easy, as you age, to retreat into the comfortable room of yesterday. Yesterday requires no effort that taxes arthritic mental relays with learning anew.
These particular snippets are prompted by a Neruda poem I read, last night. I write them down less I lose them, as I lost what I thought was a better one I failed to write down last night (damn it).
Whether I will develop them further, remains to be seen. They're here when needed.
I hate when I re-read something I've posted earlier and seeing my failures as an editor. It destroys the perfectionist image I like to publicly present (that's only half a joke).
The problem with the 100 words, for me, is that it being a daily exercise, it moves too quickly from genesis to posting. What one writes should sit a day, or two, so one can see the material with fresh eyes. As it is, only the spelling is truly edited (thank you, spellchek) and any questionable spellings are deliberate, stylistic choices.
Of course, I could always pay (not) an editor.
Let me be clear- stupid is stupid. There is a fear in the modern world about offending the stupid by pointing out their stupidities and opening them up to public debate. This is how idiotic (and willfully stupid) ideas like Creationism are afforded the same respect as a theory as is Evolution. Never mind that Creationism offers no evidence except a so-called sacred book (and this includes the Koran, as well as the Bible) of questionable authorship and interpretations. I owe no respect to belief based on Faith. I have a duty to call stupidities to task.
OK, I'm rude.
There is a push, in America particularly, to place something called Intelligent Design Theory, in the curriculum of public schools, as an equal, alternative to the Theory of Evolution. This theory, without any testable evidence, is being fostered by Abrahamic fundamentalists (in America, overwhelmingly Christian). With the exception of a few scientists, (Michael Behe), the Intelligent Design Theory is rejected by virtually the entire scientific community.
This is not to say "Ten thousand Frenchman" can't be wrong, but ID proponents base their design theory primarily on a Bronze Age book that has consistently been proved wrong in it's cosmological assertions.
I have to confess to being a quasi-fanatic fan of the television series Supernatural.
I came to it late; I'm not a television junkie. I tend to miss most things when first run; I became a fan of Friends via the 6 pm, dinnertime, re-runs. I happened on Supernatural overhearing the episode that featured Atropos, one of the Fates, correcting an imbalance caused by an alteration of history. The story, along with a brief description, from my roommate, of what the series was about, caused me to go back and discover the gem it has proved to be.
The original hook in the TV series, Supernatural, was two brothers search for their missing father while hunting down and killing paranormal beings who are wreaking havoc. It's a family business, one in which they have been raised to do.
The opening episode involves the eldest son, Dean, coercing the youngest son, Sam, back into the business. Sam had left the family to attend college and learn to live a normal existence.
The show evolves into a quasi- biblical parable of the relationship between the two brothers, with a Cain/Abel subtext that eventually has them involved in stopping Armageddon.
I don't want to have to think, today. What I want is to crawl back into bed and let the world drift by, on its not so merry way, without any notice from me.
My friend, Marilyn, has listed her New Hampshire house for sale. The picture posted on a real estate site shows an attractive two story Victorian style dwelling that seems isolated and empty of soul. This is not Marilyn's fault; real estate photography seems to prefer this particular type of depiction. I have often wondered why. I suppose it has to do with not limiting potential sales.
"So? Whatta you want from me? You offer me an audition and then tell me I don't seem grateful? You give me that audition and I'll give you the best god-damned reading that's in me; that's what I do, but what I won't do is kiss your ass to get the reading. I'm forty fucking years old; I've been working shit jobs and playing in pay-nothing venues, under the Union radar, for twenty years, living on noodles and dreams waiting for this chance, but I'm too old and tired to whore for it. And so, gentlemen, we good?"
The relationship between the Winchester brothers (in Supernatural) is intense in its focus on loyalty and commitment. It is the essence of the show, the true story. Everything else is wonderful and imaginative window dressing.
The foundation of that relationship is in the back story of how they were raised. Being moved from place to place by a father obsessed with hunting evil, they had little chance to learn to form relationships outside family. They became all they had. There is a well written and performed flashback in an early Supernatural episode called A Very Special Christmas that illustrates this.
I write this 100 words a day as a discipline. I write to make sure that I write at least this, every day. It is too easy to let the doldrums, the empty mind, my natural laziness, gain the upper hand. When I've finished the 100 words, I can say , "Well, at least I did this, today."
Today is one of those days this exercise is meant to combat. Every word coming forth is a tooth ripped forth in a kind of mental dental extraction sans Novocain. I don't care what I write, I just want it to be finished.
Doctor's appointment. Oncologist (Dr. Imam). He's replacing my original oncologist, Dr. Voorah (she has retired). It took me a couple of years to re-connect with an oncologist, partly because I had been, after a number of years, only going once a year. Finding a replacement doctor did not seem all that urgent.
I've always been a little cavalier about my health (among other things), but still think of myself as a closet hypochondriac- go figure.
What I hate about the appointment is the waiting, not so much for the doctor, but for the transportation to and from. It's purgatory service.
What surprised him was that he could feel equal amounts of bitterness and joy over the same issue. The joy was for the differences that would be for the young and those coming after. The bitterness was the fact that change came almost too late, for him.
He tried to take satisfaction in the fact of his own small contributions which had helped this day come to fruition, but it did not bring the comfort he'd hoped he'd find.
Not that Justice was fully achieved, but the young now could know they were not on their own. They had community.
I was dreaming of working with a journal group, in which the prompt (I rarely do prescribed prompts) was, "Write about your favorite shoes, or, shoe shopping." I woke thinking "I must be the despair of the gay polloi; I have never given an applesauce shit about fashion, shoes included." Seemingly, , given the content of that sentence, I, too, am not free of stereotype images, even when they involve groups of which I am a member.
We use stereotypes to file information and keep a sense of order in our world. Not all stereotypes are hateful. However, they're lazy.
Religion is a racket; in this country, the United States, it is a protected racket. It gathers millions of dollars in collection plates every specified worship day of the week, builds huge shrines to itself, (Crystal Cathedral, e.g.), provides exorbitant salaries and elaborate lush life styles to its so-called pastors, gives them places of honor at every table and has tax exempt status. Meanwhile, members of their own flock are one step away from homelessness and hunger. In the Roman Catholic sect, the acceptance of poverty is preached as a virtue, yet the Bishops, Cardinals and Popes live like Princes.
To disagree with a person's ideas is no sign of a lack of personal appreciation of their being, or an absence of personal affection. To voice, as articulately as you can, that disagreement, with all its attendant reasons, is communication. It is (my opinion) a shaky, overly tender ego that sees another's variant idea as an attack on their person.
And yet, this is a phenomenon that happens all the time; I've my own recent experience of that phenomenon. It's enormously frustrating. No wonder the world is in the shape it's in.
Is my ego too involved with my intellect?
I know that I am not free of the family inclination to arrogance (a high school classmate once remarked I walked down the school hall looking haughty as a camel); arrogance is so much a family trait; I would bet on it being genetic.
I've long been aware of this tendency within us. I try to guard against expressing it, in myself, but this doesn't mean I don't ever fall victim to it. The challenge is recognizing it when it has me in its grasp- sometimes even after the fact.
But when does disagreement become arrogance? How can I know?
I upset a person, or two, recently, when I called people sheep. I don't know if using the phrase, herd animal, would have been less objectionable (perhaps it was the context rather than the word), but I'd like to take the opportunity to remark that being part of the flock, or herd if you prefer, is how we survived as a species. Herding is how we survive; standing outside the herd is how we progress. The trick is in knowing when to do which. To our own detriment, the majority of humanity hasn't learned the trick.
Survival first, progress accidentally.
Too burning, Apollo's eye, and too searching. He lays waste every secret, betrays every fault, exposes every lie, however gentle and well meant. Rather I, Diana. She is of a kinder nature; she treasures shadows, encourages mystery and nourishes imagination. Many are the myths spun under her eye, many are the dreams woven.
She steals her light from her twin, he of the intrusive eye, and gentles it. At her rising, every creature's soul relaxes its watch and takes rest. Under the spell of her glory in full, Man writes and sings the fables of love. She, I do adore.
I am going to say this early, before any chance to object will be considered mere sour grapes: I am not comfortable with the idea of Hillary Clinton as the Democratic Presidential nominee in 2015. In 2016, when she would enter the office (should she win), she would be 68 years old. Given that age, she would be a lame-duck President, more than not, from day one. If Democrats are the minority party in either house, significant Democrat legislation would be doomed from its proposal.
Her service in Obama's cabinet (Secretary of State) is too recent to properly assess.
To born again Christians: My mother and I got it right, the first time.
What do you call 100 born-again Christians on the bottom of a swimming pool? A head start.
If I had a nickle for every intelligent proof offered by Intelligent Design proponents, I'd be a dollar short.
Is it possible that a valid argument against Intelligent Design is the fact of the existence of its advocates?
Christianity- Preparing for a supposed life, after, by ignoring or rejecting Life that already is.
Faith and blind obedience are incestuous first cousins that birth and sustain intolerance and despotism.
Manuel Lunoz- Mexican- 35- 5'8- 158 lbs. A slight paunch, his body was sculpted by a younger life of hard labor rather than narcissism. He was nearly six when his parents, illegally, came to the United States. At fifteen, he was already working lettuce fields, in season, and laying concrete or moving furniture, otherwise. Somehow, he managed to finish high school. Knowing he could never live the poverty his parents had, he managed to buy an American citizenship through a corrupt Texas Senator. Owns a pool hall where young Hispanic toughs gather to strut and pose their machismo for each other.
It has been suggested that the recent increase in homophobic terrorism against their own citizens by certain countries like Russia, Iran, Uganda, etc., are due to American arrogance in pushing gay rights around the world. There is, I suppose, a grain of truth in that; many countries knee-jerk reject anything America supports. However, murder and torture cannot ever be excused or glossed over. They ARE evil.
If they could, the Tony Perkins', Pat Robertsons and Michelle Bachmans would bring these atrocities to America. They already, by their silence against it, and bullying in general, give proof to that suspicion
I am not a phone person. I don't like speaking to disembodied voices; I need to see the whole person, to be in their actual presence, to converse. Video phones leave me wanting more, also. I use the phone for information, once I have it, I'm through with the conversation. The only exceptions I allow, for myself, are the infrequent conversations I have with people who live out of State.
My sister, on the other hand, was born with a phone in her ear. She'd call every day and say the same things, repeatedly. It creates a tension between us.
Jorge Luis Borges once said, "I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of Library".
Venice Beach, California, 1963, is my image of "Paradise". I was twenty-one, energetic, and the area was heavily populated with artists and intellectuals, real and wanna-be, that fired the imagination of a young boy fresh from Mid-western rectitude. It was, also, my introduction to a gayfriendly community that helped my gay young self understand I was not alone and forever isolated. Where did that paradise go?
There is no reason, however, not to include that library within my paradise.
The sixties were the love generation. Hard to believe we're all seventy, now.
We grow up believing the myths we believe because we are born among them. Had we been born amidst other myths, in another time, or even today, in another place, we would believe the myth prevalent, there. We are comforted by our compliance with the prevailing herd. Only now and then, arises the rebel who questions the authority, the mores, of the parent herd.
Rebellion against the herd is always (my opinion) an emotional rebellion, first. Intellectual justification comes after.
This is an observation, not a judgment. Herding is how Homo Sapiens survive, physically. Rebellion is how we progress intellectually
"Who am I to judge gay people?"
This recent remark by Pope Francis has conservative Catholic prelates like Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, scrambling to qualify the statement. God forbid the Church become a kinder, gentler presence in the lives of gay people.
It is, of course, too early to ascertain if Pope Francis is going to lead signature changes in the Church's official policy regarding the presence of openly gay people within the non-clerical positions like teachers in schools, or employment within its various charitable endeavors, but Church Dolans are certainly going to seek to prevent this.