Wednesday, April 30, 2014


I’ve been spending too much time with the ancients. Time to wash the dust out of my mouth, lift a cup and sing. Afraid I'll have to settle for fruit juice and Seven Up. My cup may be purple or red. But both are pretty darned delicious.

Found this graphic on the net. It's an unusual image for the Green Man. It's a great example of the duality of nature. When you live in the city you sometimes forget that the beauty of Mother Nature has a dark, dangerous side.


May I make my fond excuses for the lateness of the hour,
but we accept your invitation, and we bring you Beltane's flower.
For the May Day is the great day, sung along the old straight track.
And those who ancient lines did lay will heed the song that calls them back.
Pass the word and pass the lady, pass the plate to all who hunger.
Pass the wit of ancient wisdom; pass the cup of crimson wonder.

Ask the green man where he comes from; ask the cup that fills with red.
Ask the old grey standing stones that show the sun its way to bed.
Question all as to their ways, and learn the secrets that they hold.
Walk the lines of nature's palm crossed with silver and with gold.
Pass the cup and pass the lady, pass the plate to all who hunger.
Pass the wit of ancient wisdom; pass the cup of crimson wonder.

Join in black December's sadness; lie in August's welcome corn.
Stir the cup that's ever-filling with the blood of all that's born.
But the May Day is the great day, sung along the old straight track.
And those who ancient lines did lay will heed this song that calls them back.
Pass the word and pass the lady, pass the plate to all who hunger.
Pass the wit of ancient wisdom, pass the cup of crimson wonder.

-- Jethro Tull

I discovered the British rock group Jethro Tull when I was in college, back in the dark ages. I had never heard anything like them. I played the flute from the fifth grade on and I wasn’t half bad. For a high school musician. But I swear Ian Anderson had a forked tongue or something. That flute DANCED and the lyrics to many of the songs, especially the album Songs From the Wood, had a hint of the pagan about them. St. Cyril would not have approved. Screw Cyril.

I’ve discovered that uncovering the roots of politics and religion is a bit like stumbling into the room where the sausages are made. The results might taste good, but you’d prefer that you didn’t know what went into them.

At sunset tonight Beltane begins. Celtic summer begins. The bonfires were lit. The wine filled the cups. It was a time of joy and feasting. Raise a cup and sing. Summer has come again.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014


“Indeed, studying the nature of the soul is the heart of philosophy.” Hypatia smiled, her gaze turned inward. “But, to know God you must know yourself and the world around you. Where do we fit in the grand scheme? Philosophy is a rigorous study and a way of life that only a few can master. Men of talent used to strive for that perfection, living a life of observation and rational thought. The Christian Church offers an easy way for many to succeed. ‘Have faith! Obey!’ It requires no thought, only belief so everyone may partake. Where the masses go, power follows. Where there is power there is influence.”

Hypatia in the novel Selene of Alexandria by Faith L Justice.

OK, it’s a work of fiction and the writer has tried to hit a middle road in portraying her characters. But, this paragraph perfectly describes where I’ve found myself for, well, most of my life. Who am I? Where do I fit in the rest of Creation? What do I have to do to feel like I fit in my own skin? And I’ve never been able to follow the “just believe and it’ll all work out.”

Ironically, this is playing out in the media this week.  And the blog author is not shy about expressing his opinion. I think mad enough to spit battery acid was mentioned. Dan Haseltine, member of the group Jars of Clay, admitted publicly that he wasn’t all that sure about civil same sex marriage and was finding that he had questions about it. Note he didn’t say he supported gay rights or same sex marriage. Just admitted he had questions. The right wing fundies have come down on him like a ton of bricks. Some commenters have supported his right to ask questions but basically said “he shouldn’t have been so public about it.”

Earth to twits. That’s exactly what the haters want. They want us silent. Toe the line. Get with the program or we will “virtually” crucify you. Perhaps that’s why they’ve been able to get away with it for so long. If they were in the streets with torches and pitchforks we’d know a mob when we saw it. But, they work in the shadows with keystrokes and Twitter accounts. It’s still a mob folks. It’s still a mob.

Sarah Palin gets up in front of an NRA gathering and basically “bragged that if she were in political power, she would happily waterboard (torture) the state’s enemy prisoners as a way to ‘baptize them’… “ and the internet has been singularly silent. This half term governor gets up and public and not only admits she’d ignore the fourth and fifth amendments to the constitution but perverts an action that is recognized throughout Christendom as a sacrament. And the supposed supporters of the constitution and self described Christians are…silent. Ominously, pathetically silent.

Does she really believe this? That this is right? Or is it a power play, pure and simple. Either way it’s scary and she’s not alone. 

Monday, April 28, 2014


A perfect metaphor for what we're doing to the earth. As Gandhi said "the earth has enough for our needs, but not for our wants."

Everything we need the earth will provide. Water, air shelter, life. And will continue to provide if we don't cut off our noses to spite our faces.

There is even enough food for all if we stop feeding almost as many calories to livestock as we do to ourselves.

Heck, I like a good burger as much as the next person, but I have to ask myself how much that burger is worth. Luckily we've hooked into a source that sells beef that was raised eating what a cow is supposed to eat. Grass.

We can't eat grass. Well we can once the grain has ripened, but it's not quite the same is it? At this point meat or poultry is an ingredient. A small part of the soup, casserole or stew along with beans or barley or rice. We had a chicken (vegetarian raised, antibiotic free) for Easter. Two dinners for two, one lunch for two and three go rounds of pot pie. I think we used everything but the cackle. And knowing mom, if the cackle had been included she'd have found a way.

Now there's a virus literally decimating the pork industry in this country. Nobody is quite sure where it came from. China is a candidate but imagine my non surprise when the story on the net noted that blood from slaughtered pigs is processed into the feed for the warehouse raised pork in this country.

We started factory farming chicken and what did we get? Salmonella. Most of the beef sold in this country spends months on a feed lot on a diet that would probably kill the critter if we didn't turn them into pot roast first and what did be get? E Coli. And heaven help the farmer downhill from a small feedlot. "Shall I include a little E Coli with that spinach salad today ma'am." Pork is the newest addition to the factory system. Low and behold something had raised its ugly head and bit us on the ass.

"The Earth is the only world known, so far, to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment, the Earth is where we make our stand. It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known." Carl Sagan

We need to respect and cherish not only the lives of our fellow humans but all life. Treat them with respect, use what they provide carefully and give thanks for the gift. 

(Well this entry didn't end up where I thought it was going to go. That happens sometimes. I've learned to just let it happen. )

Sunday, April 27, 2014


"Freedom has never needed our defense more than now. Almost everywhere you look, something has gone wrong. You feel it in your heart, you know it in your gut. Something has gone wrong. The core values we believe in, the things we care about most, are changing. Eroding. Our right to speak. Our right to gather. Our right to privacy. The freedom to work, and practice our religion, and raise and protect our families the way we see fit. Those aren't old values. They aren't new values. They are core freedoms, the core values that have always defined us as a nation. And we feel them -- we feel them -- slipping away." Wayne LaPierre at the NRA convention.

Yeah Wayne, things are slipping away. Some of them not fast enough. Some of them because your corporate masters shipped jobs overseas in a never ending quest to find the absolute cheapest labor they can exploit. And people do need the freedom to work. They also should be able to work in a clean environment and be paid a decent wage for doing it. No corporation should be able to pad their bottom line by paying their employees so little they need programs like food stamps and Medicaid to survive.

We have the right to question whether the fall out in pollution, environmental degradation and threats to health are worth it. No company should be allowed to strip the tops off mountains and dump the waste into creeks that feed local water supplies. We have the right to question the use of chemicals and limited fresh water to frack for oil and natural gas that’s going to end up on the international market. In case you haven’t noticed we do have a form of socialism in this country. Profits are privatized. The clean up costs get dumped in the tax payers laps. And you’re right Wayne. We’re sick and tired of it.

And I’ll give you a pass on the right to privacy since the allegations of government snooping came to light. But you know something. I can remember back to those bad old days after 9/11 when the Patriot Act was being debated, we found out about the court that issues FISA warrants, and very real concerns about data mining and public surveillance were raised. And we were basically told that if we didn’t have anything to hide there was nothing to worry about.

But since we were good ol’ apple pie eatin’, flag wavin’, pledge sayin’, church goin’ good Americans we never expected to find out that OUR information might be in a data base somewhere where just about anybody could get a look at it.

Wayne, oh Wayne. You are still free to say anything you damn well please. You can use the N word if you want to. You can call folks who favor some kind of sane gun laws cowards and traitors. I don’t know your opinions on gay marriage and I’m not going to waste my time looking for it, but you’re free to be against it and say so. But, here’s what’s yankin’ your chain. There are folks who don’t agree with you and thanks to the internet we’re more connected than ever. And we’re free to tell you that you are a bigoted, blithering idiot if we want to. And you know what. We are perfectly free to do it. Says so right there in your beloved constitution.

The right to gather. I’m not sure what you’re talking about. But, I’ll agree with you on this. The right to peacefully assemble is protected by the constitution. The first group that allowed themselves to be herded into a so called Free Speech Zone messed it up for the rest of us. But, you know something. I don’t see anti choice protestors treated that way. When the health care law was being debated and congressmen and women were forced to run the gauntlet I didn’t see those folks herded into free speech zones. Your convention is being held. Nobody’s stopping you.

I haven’t heard of any churches being closed, bombed or turned into military barracks. Haven’t heard of any pastors or preachers being shot, tortured, kicked out of the country or just plain disappearing. Far as I know, nobody is sitting outside our churches in unmarked cars checking out who is going in for services. What is happening is that the government isn’t interfering with the right to worship of those you don’t agree with. And that really sticks in your craw doesn’t it?

And I’ve been reading enough material from folks who survived being raised under a religious child rearing atmosphere that borders on abuse. Of kids being physically, emotionally, spiritually abused and being subjected to a so called education that borders on brainwashing while hiding the whole sorry, pestilential cesspool behind the “freedom of religion.” And yes the rest of us will support these survivors. We will ask questions. And we will try our damndest to SHUT YOU DOWN. If that’s your definition of raising your children the way you see fit, we parted company a long time ago.

And let’s finally be honest. This is isn’t about the right to buy guns. God knows there are enough guns out there already for almost every man, woman and child in the country. Too bad the companies have to keep selling to stay in business. And it seems that the only way they can keep the cash flowing is to try and scare the living hell out of us.

Friday, April 25, 2014


The kids came to lunch today. That includes the four legged honorary niece. A little bulldog named Georgia. The cats are still traumatized, but Misty managed to gig the dog without ever laying a paw on her LOL. Bandit went under the bed. I had shut Midge in the bathroom so the kids could get a look at her. The Midglet had taken refuge under the quilt rack we use for towels. She fit very nicely between the ends of a towel hanging from the middle bar. And didn't move out for an hour after they left. "I'm not comin' out for nobody until I'm damn good and ready." And she didn't.

I don’t know how typical my family is. Really I don’t. One nephew is married to C, who is half Indonesian. Another nephew is married to A; she’s half Japanese. My cousin lives in New Zealand so there’s a decent chance at least one of the girls will hook up with a guy who’s part Maori.

And my unofficial foster niece (and there’s a great story behind that) is getting very serious with a young man who just happens to be African American. Serious enough that she’s spending a lot of time with his family. Serious enough that everybody is hoping they BOTH make it out for nephew number 3’s graduation this spring And all anybody can seem to think is what’s left?

I mean, is this typical? Or is this a west coast, Pacific Rim attitude? Because all I can think is as long as they treat each other right and love each other I don’t care if they’re purple with green polka dots. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


I think the saddest thing about a workbook based curriculum like ACE is all the fun things you miss out on.

And my ninth grade science class in 1964-65 just might be a prime example. It was called Earth Space science but the space program was in its infancy. The moon landings, the Mars, Venus and Mercury fly bys were in future. So were Voyager and Hubble. And Mr. E was a geology freak anyway. The deep ocean core samples were just being raised. Continental Drift was just about to become main stream. It was main stream by the time I took Sophomore geography in college. Imagine realizing you live on a planet that isn’t quite the same today as it was yesterday and will be just a little bit different tomorrow. We live on a dancing earth. Imagine that.

We took field trips. It’s not that far to Willamette Pass from Oakridge and there are some great rock formations before you get that far. So we went. We got rained on, but hey this is Oregon. You don’t melt and you don’t shrink. Forty odd miles north of Eugene is Albany. I don’t know if the company is still called Wah Chang but they had a nice little nuclear reactor, so we got to see that too. Another trip to Eugene and we got to visit a water treatment plant and a sawmill. That was pretty much an all day here’s your bag lunch and don’t forget to take notes because we had to write up what we saw.

Senior English and we managed to wheedle Mr. P into getting permission for us to go into Eugene and see a movie version of Hamlet. That was when I realized how much you rely on seeing somebody’s lips move to follow what is being said. Yes, it did star Maximillian Schell. However, it was a German production dubbed in English. Try following Shakespeare. It was fun. That year we got to perform in a band contest. It was a first for Oakridge. We didn’t win anything but we got compare us to other bands.

One thing for damn sure, the women weren’t told was that there wasn’t anything we couldn’t at least try to do. Seventy two kids in the class. Senior science class had eight students, six were women. Senior math class. Twelve students and ten were women.

I wouldn’t trade those years for anything. I wonder what kind of memories those ACE kids will have.,

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


Absolutely, totally beautiful piece of work from the Spiritual Ecology website. A couple of the commenters attributed the work to artist Josephine Wall. Whoever did it, it's a beautiful piece for Earth Day.


The truth of the statement depends on who is making the decision. If you are choosing for yourself, with full knowledge that, to be honest, you're choosing to be an idiot, bad 'cess on ya. You'll probably reap what you sow. I can't stop you.

If you are making that decision for someone else, especially your children here's where we part company.

Under the guise of so called religious freedom there are homeschooling programs and Christian "academies" that use resources like Accelerated Christian Education. The entry in Wickipedia is quite informative.

Frankly after reading about their "curriculum" I prefer the term brainwashing. They're radical fundamentalists. Proud of it and intend to raise their children that way. Supposedly there have been some improvements. However, the program teaches young earth creationism, Biblical literalism, and apparently believes that free market, unregulated capitalism is in the Bible. Somewhere.

Here's a link to an entry on Leaving Fundamentalism that examines what the author calls the Top 5 lies. And they are corkers aren't they? I wasn't aware that nuclear physics was dependent on the Theory of Evolution. Not that there are any signs that these folks understand how that works either. Fish do not give birth to frogs, people. And monkeys do not give birth to humans. (face palm, head desk, piercing scream)

Recovering fundies like Samantha from Defeating the Dragons describe a fairly common culture that limits access to information and contact with outsiders. No cable TV. No going to movies. No books, magazines or music from outside the Christian subculture. Contact with family that doesn't belong, former friends who don't belong and members who have been kicked out is definitely discouraged. Members are encouraged to keep each other in line. Some of the descriptions I've come across make the old KGB and Gestapo look almost  benevolent.

Samantha's description of the filtering program used at Pensacola Christian makes it sound like it was designed by the Chinese for their internet. When she wanted to check out possible grad schools she had to go to the local library, chaperoned of course, and use their computers.

I'm providing a link to a study that compared a local Christian school using ACE with a local public school to compare college readiness. A quick read through of the intro though shows that the abilities you need to even start in college are not emphasized or even used in ACE. The ability to do research, to listen to an instructor and take notes, the even listen and follow what's being said for that matter. And so on. Since the whole curriculum is based on independent "study" using a series of workbooks and tests none of these skills are being taught.

The fundie Chrisitan homeschool lobby has made it almost impossible to assess these students. I haven't found out yet what kind of diploma you can get that will be recognized outside the fundie Christian network. Samantha hit this wall researching grad schools. Pensacola wasn't accredited by anybody at the time, and is barely accredited now. She was able to get into a program at Liberty University (Falwell's old stomping ground and considered "liberal" by the true fundies) Mainline schools were out. Her credits wouldn't transfer.

Upshot? Choosing ignorance for yourself is bad enough. Choosing it for others, especially your children,and doing your best to ensure they stay ignorant is downright criminal.

Sunday, April 20, 2014


I want to highlight a blog on the sidebar. Defeating the Dragons is authored by an incredibly courageous young woman. I encourage you to work your way from the beginning, Easter is (for believers) the story of hope out of no hope. Unfortunately there are some groups who have twisted that message of hope into a culture of control and abuse. Both physical and spiritual. Her stories of a pastor who was (and probably still is) a "narcissistic sociopath" are bone chilling. Her four years at Pensacola Christian College were slightly better. But not by much.

What is totally scary is how deep the "programming" in this culture goes. Members reach a point where  they can't even imagine another way to act. Fortunately she had a fairly normal childhood up to the age of about ten when her parents joined a small IFB (Independent Fundamental Baptist) congregation. I want to stress what she has stressed. She was not abused by her parents beyond the programming they got through the church, but the pastor sounds like a real piece of work.

Not long after they joined she came home to find her dad taking a hammer to their CD collection. "What's going on?" "We're getting rid of all the bad music." Ouch, I have whole library of "bad" music and I can't stand most so called Christian music.

Note on the Christian college she graduated from. At the time she attended Pensacola was not accredited. By anyone. So, if you got kicked out for any of a long list of reasons (anything to do with sex was on the top of the list) your chances of finishing your education at say, Oregon State were pretty close to zero.  It's not like credits from a Biology Department that teaches young earth creationism are going to count anywhere beyond say Bob Jones University. And as she points out in several entries the fundies have really "original" ideas about the field of psychology. IE it doesn't exist. It's a tool of the devil.

The school is accredited with Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools. The organization is recognized by the Department of Education but I'm not sure how much ice that cuts with more mainline schools. Not much, I suspect.

Please, please, please take the time to read this remarkable young woman's work. Some of it will break your heart. Just for the record she survived. She got out. She finished her education. She finally found a wonderful husband. She calls him 'Handsome" and he sounds like a keeper.

Friday, April 18, 2014


Prime example of what does NOT move me.  Further examples can be found here.  Nobody uses the old fashioned word hymn. These are praise and worship songs. No wonder they use rock bands these days. It's the only way to keep people awake. 


 When He rolls up His sleeves
He ain't just putting on the ritz
(Our God is an awesome God)

There's thunder in His footsteps
And lightning in His fists
(Our God is an awesome God)

And the Lord wasn't joking
When He kicked 'em out of Eden
It wasn't for no reason
That He shed His blood
His return is very close
And so you better be believing that
Our God is an awesome God

Our God is an awesome God
He reigns from heaven above
With wisdom, power, and love
Our God is an awesome God

Our God is an awesome God
He reigns from heaven above
With wisdom, power, and love
Our God is an awesome God

And when the sky was starless
In the void of the night
(Our God is an awesome God)

He spoke into the darkness
And created the light
(Our God is an awesome God)

Judgement and wrath
He poured out on Sodom
Mercy and grace
He gave us at the cross
I hope that we have not
Too quickly forgotten that
Our God is an awesome God

Our God is an awesome God
He reigns from heaven above
With wisdom, power, and love
Our God is an awesome God

Our God is an awesome God
He reigns from heaven above
With wisdom, power, and love
Our God is an awesome God

Our God is an awesome God
He reigns from heaven above
With wisdom, power, and love
Our God is an awesome God

Our God is an awesome God
He reigns from heaven above
With wisdom, power, and love
Our God is an awesome God

Our God is an awesome God
He reigns from heaven above
With wisdom, power, and love
Our God is an awesome God

Our God is an awesome God
Our God is an awesome God
[ These are Our God Is An Awesome God Lyrics on ]

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


David Mallet wrote it. John Denver sang it. A reminder that the earth wasn't created just for man, but for all her children. And a reminder that so called "wise use" is usually just an excuse to take what we want and claim that it's "God's will" while we clear cut a mountain side or take off the top of a mountain to get at the coal and dump the mess into the creek below.

Funny, I've never really been moved by any hymn I've heard. Except for a few Christmas Carols. David Arkenstone, John Denver, almost anything Celtic. Now that touches my soul.

And to those reasonably sane Christians who believe that if we can just recast the message of a kinder, gentler Jesus something can be salvaged from the fundies. Too bad you're about fifteen hundred years too late. There is some good in the Celtic branch of Christianity. It might be a place to start, but I'm afraid that it's time to start over. Jesus, if he existed, didn't come to start a church. He came to teach us how to live. Long past time.

You Say That The Battle Is Over

And you say that the battle is over,
And you say that the war is all done
Go tell it to those with the wind in their nose
Who run from the sound of the gun,
And write it on the sides of the great whaling-ships,
Or on ice floes where conscience is tossed
With the wild in their eyes, it is they who must die
And it's we who must measure the loss.

And you say that the battle is over,
And finally the world is at peace
You mean no one is dying, and mothers don't weep,
Or it's not in the papers, at least.
There are those who would deal in the darkness of life,
There are those who would tear down the sun,
And most men are ruthless, but some will still weep
When the gifts we were given are gone.

Now the blame cannot fall on the heads of a few,
It's become such a part of the race;
It's eternally tragic that that which is magic
Be killed at the end of the glorious chase.
From young seals to great whales, from waters to wood,
They will fall just like weeds in the wind;
With fur coats, and perfumes, and trophies on walls:
What a hell of a race to call men.

And you say that the battle is over,
And you say that the war is all done
Go tell it to those with the wind in their nose
Who run from the sound of the gun,
And write it on the sides of the great whaling-ships,
Or on ice floes where conscience is tossed
With the wild in their eyes, it is they who must die
And it's we who must measure the loss.
With the wild in their eyes, it is they who must die,
And it's we who must measure the cost.

Words and music by David Mallet

No the battle isn't over. We have to get up and fight over and over just to stay where we are. Some days it seems that making any kind of progress is just a dream. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


Further musing after  reading the novel tie in, reading reviews of Noah and speculating on how we can really mess up the planet even if we weren't facing global warming. That’s just icing on the cake.There’s been a lot of whoop ti do over the family’s diet. Especially in “Christian” circles.

It appears that they are vegetarians, perhaps even vegans at least as far as food goes. Most folks appear to wear a fair amount of leather. No telling how long it’s been since it was easy to raise a critter big enough to wear, so to speak. And it's kind of hard to grow cotton, flax and hemp without enough water. 

The books describes a pretty blasted landscape. If it’s raining it doesn’t happen very often. I’m not sure where they’re getting their water, but there’s a description of an extremely polluted pool of water near an abandoned mine.

It was either one of Wendell Berry’s essays or a passage from Killing the Hidden Waters. It was a description of land in the southwest that had been used for irrigated crops. Cotton, I think. Eventually the salt and mineral build up made the land unprofitable for farming and the compacting of the soil by heavy equipment created a mineral laden crust over the earth that normal rainfall can barely penetrate and heavy rainfall pools and evaporates making it worse each year.

I’m assuming that in this universe there must be small springs fed by underground sources. Enough to survive on, not enough to do more than grow a garden of herbs and veggies supplemented with what every you can find in the wild.

Ok, your diet is pretty close to the edge already. Pasture appears to be scant to nonexistent. Are you going to try to raise a cow? Are you also going to try to support a critter whose life is spent mooing, eating and getting your cow pregnant every few months? I didn’t think so. Goats don’t take as much, but again same problem. How much are you willing to give up to keep that flock of goats going?

Chickens? Same problem. They have to eat too. Is what you can spare enough to make those eggs, the spare roosters and the hens that don't lay anymore worth it?

We’re so used to the relative abundance in our markets that we forget, if we ever think about it, what it takes to bring that T bone or rib eye to market.

It really shook me when I read a passage in Penny Lernoux’s Cry of the People. She’s talked to families in Central America who could manage to raise a cow or a few goats or a small flock of chickens. But THEIR children didn’t get to drink the milk or eat the eggs. That produce had to be sold so that their parents could afford to buy some corn or rice and beans plus the kerosene to cook them. Enough at least to keep them going for a few more days.  Now that’s poor. But still a step up from the landless peasants in the city slums who have even less.

So, does the movie story Biblical? Probably not in the true sense. Has the story I read and descriptions of the film’s story line made me stop, think and reexamine what we’re doing to the planet? Damn straight. Am I even more disillusioned with many of the so called Christians in this country. What do you think? 

Monday, April 14, 2014


Or Burn, Baby Burn. 

Reading the background material for this reminded me just how fucked up our waterways were back in the sixties. It's better. But there's still a lot of work to do. And how soon we forget that Climate Change isn't the only problem out there. There's a local lake that's been contaminated with enough run off from an abandoned mine that it's been posted. Basically if you're even thinking of or might be pregnant or actually are pregnant don't eat the fish. Everybody else probably shouldn't either. 

Let’s discuss how water, the most common blessing on the earth can be turned into a poison or a threat.

Japan 1912. Citizens of the Toyama Prefecture began complaining of spinal and leg pains. As the symptoms progressed the pain became worse, bones could fracture while you were walking or even coughing, some showed symptoms of anemia and kidney problems. The cause was traced to waste water from the Mitsui Mining company discharged into the Jinzugawa River. The wast water contained cadmium contaminating water used for drinking and irrigation. The company finally agreed to some compensation for victims and to pay for cleaning up the contaminated farm land. Heavy metals don't just go away. They don't degrade. You have to go in and clean it up. 

Japan mid 1950’s. The first patients were discovered in Minimata in the Kumamoto Prefecture. Many of the early patients went insane. Other symptoms included numbness, impaired balance, tinnitus, tunnel vision, deafness and difficulty speaking. Symptoms varied from patient to patient. The worst cases included insanity, paralysis, coma and death. Sometimes within weeks.

 The cause was traced to manufacturing plant which produced acetaldehyde to produce acetic acid and vinyl chloride. A by product of the process is methylmercury. The untreated waste water was dumped between 1932 and 1968 contaminating Minimata Bay and surrounding Shiranui Sea. The mercury compound accumulated in the shellfish and fish. The seafood was eaten not only by the local people but found its way into the diets of cats, dogs and pigs. As of 2004 the responsible company had paid out over eighty million dollars with more on the way.

The Cuyahoga River in Ohio from say the 1860’s to the 1960’s. By the 1960’s the Cuyahoga River between Akron and Cleveland was probably the most polluted waterway in the country. A report from a symposium at Kent State described a river “covered with a brown oily film” “ large quantities of black heavy oil floating in slicks…several inches thick” “animal life does not exist.”

At least thirteen fires were reported on the river between 1868 and 1969. The worst was in 1952 that caused over a million dollars in damage to boats and a riverfront office building. The 1969 fire made the cover of Time and helped push the passage of The Clean Water Act, Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement and last but certainly not least; the EPA and the Ohio EPA. The Cuyahoga is a lot cleaner now but it’s no thanks to the people who look a river, lake or ocean and see a potential garbage dump.

Finally, the search for the missing Malaysia Air plane. The search has uncovered an appalling amount of floating garbage. Heaven only knows what’s sunk to the seafloor.

A self identified Christian wrote a preliminary review of Noah based on the script and I believe it’s worth it to quote him. Not all Christians believe this, and more and more are realizing that no matter how you candy coat it this attitude has been used as an excuse to destroy, not to build. 

“And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:28)
The Hebrew words for subduing the earth and having dominion are military terms of conquest. So, we see that man is to use his technological insights to forcefully harness the wild and chaotic forces of animals and the environment to bring them into good use. This is not a command to pollute or pillage the earth, but neither is it a subordination of man as a servant of the earth. The earth was made for man, not man for the earth, unlike pagan earth religion or environmental extremism, which claims that man is made for the earth, not the earth for man.” Brian Godawa Darren Aronofsky's Noah Environmental Wacko.  If you want to spend twenty minutes or so you'll never get back reading the whole screed go for it. 
There’s a lot I could say but telling me “the Bible says so” just doesn’t cut it anymore. The only response to that attitude is “NO” repeated loudly and as often as necessary.
Yeah, I know the first two examples come from a non Christian society. It just proves that when there’s cash on the line greed crosses cultural barrier so easily it’s scary.

Sunday, April 13, 2014


This may turn into a bit of a series brought on by some mainly fundie written reviews of the film Noah. Truth in labeling here I’ve only read the novel and the written world sounds bleak enough. The reviews have been focusing of the “extreme” environmentalism and “how could it have gotten so bad without ______ ?” Fill in the blank. Are you guys really that ignorant? It’s possible. Given the right (wrong) mindset, it’s even probable,.

We’ve become so focused, rightly so, on human driven climate change that we forget that humans had found perfectly inglorious ways to fuck up the environment around us before we global warming/climate change ever showed on the radar.

Donora, Pennsylvania population approximately 14,000 on October 27, 1948. An inversion settled in over the town and the fog settled in. By the next day people were coughing, wheezing and gasping for breath. The local fire department was calling on every town they could reach for oxygen supplies. The local doctors were run off their feet. What at first looked like a strange epidemic of asthma (!) turned deadly. By the time it started raining on the 31st twenty people were dead and half the rest of the town were still having trouble breathing.

The true sources of the problem were quickly traced to hydrogen fluoride and sulfur dioxide emissions from U.S. Steel's Donora Zinc Works and its American Steel & Wire plant. The fluorine emissions from the zinc smelting were so bad that vegetation within a half mile radius of the plant had died.  

Centralia, Pennsylvania 1962. There are theories about the how, no questions about the results. Best guess is that the attempt to burn out a landfill (illegal under Pennsylvania law by the way) ignited left over coal seams in one part of the labyrinth of old mines under the town, population under three thousand mid century. Repeated attempts to control the fire failed.

By the late seventies/early eighties the potential for the side effects turning lethal were escalating. The owner of a gas station checking levels in a tank pulled out a stick and it was hot. Lowered a thermometer into the gasoline and the temp was just over 170 degrees. A sinkhole opened under the feet of a 12 year old. The sinkhole was four feet wide and over one hundred feet long. Fortunately for the boy his cousin pulled him out. The CO levels were lethal.

By 1984 congress allocated money for relocation and most residents accepted the buyouts. In 1992 the governor invoked eminent domain in an effort to get the last hold outs out of what was left of the town. The fire has extended under Byrnesville a few miles south. Byrnesville was also evacuated, the buildings leveled. If the fire continues at its current rate it could burn for at least two centuries. Giving off carbon monoxide and other gases as it burns.

Apparently there are other smaller fires in other parts of the state that are being fought at this time.

And how many broken pipelines, oil spills and oil train fires have we seen in the last six months or so?

Next stop? I think the Cuyahoga River.

Saturday, April 12, 2014


When I decide to add a blog to the sidebar I usually just do it and hope people notice. But this gal, is, well kind of unusual. Grew up fundamentalist. Spent about ten years boozin' and doing drugs. Somewhere along the line she spent some time as a competitive body builder and stand up comedian. Got cleaned up. Got married. Went to seminary. Came out a Lutheran minister.

Most of that would gag the standard fundie right from the beginning. Oh and did I mention that she stands about 6' 1" and has enough tattoos boggle the minds of most of us? And if I understand it correctly, she got most of them AFTER she attended the seminary.

She pastors at The House for All Sinners and Saints in Denver. Known at The House the original congregation tended to be folks just like her. Folks who may have fallen through the cracks. Folks trying to pick themselves up When the more normal Sermons last about twelve minutes tops. And they do NOT have a rock band. Music is a Capella. And apparently there's a quarterly Hymns and Brews gathering at a local bar that is very well attended.  Audience participation is not only encouraged but expected. She admits to swearing like a trucker and may be one of the best chances mainline Christianity has to break out of the rut it's in. Has the fire of an evangelical and the soul of a progressive.

Can one person "save" the progressive church. Probably not. The word Christian is starting to carry so much negative baggage I'm not sure if it can be salvaged. And there are days when I'm not sure I even care.

 That the church can still produce pastors like this and congregations where suits rub elbows with a guy who just won a local drag queen competition gives me hope. And keeps me just inside the line I've been tap dancing on. For just a little longer.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


Warning mini rant ahead.

I love reading movie and book reviews. Especially the one star ones. A few of them actually make sense. And some are so over the top you wonder why the person went to the movie or read the book in the first place. What’s really cool is when they admit they never finished the book or walked out of the movie. Then why are you here? To give me something to shake my head over I guess. 

Current prime example? Noah. The fundies are out in force on Amazon. I’ve said this before. And I don’t know why I’m ever surprised, but have you actually read the Bible you claim to revere and believe is literally the inerrant word of God? Because it sure doesn't sound like it from where I'm sitting. 

The Biblical story of the flood is found in chapters six through part of eight in Genesis. You know Genesis? First book in the Bible. Goes on for more than forty more chapters. Followed by the rest of the Old Testament. Some forty two books if you include the apocrypha. And then there's the New Testament following that. Folks, if you truly believe that what’s in this library of a book represents ALL of history please remember that about ninety nine percent of it  HASN’T HAPPENED YET and stop reinforcing my opinion of your native intelligence into truly negative numbers. 

Some folks complained that the word Creator is used instead of God. Well (if you go with scripture) that’s how He, She or They are known at that point. This is the action that the aforementioned entity is known for. There is no "special" relationship with anybody at this point. Noah is described as a righteous man. Scripture doesn't really say why. The rest of Creation is described as so corrupt that above aforementioned entity has decided to wipe the slate clean and think really hard about starting over. Again doesn't say what's going on that's so rotten, only that is's time for a clean up and it will be epic. 

This is before the covenant with Abraham. This is before the trip Moses made up the top of mountain and came back with those pesky tablets. This is before the prophets, all those wars etc. etc. etc. Use your imagination folks. If you have one. Which I seriously doubt.

A couple of blankety blank blanks complained because Jesus wasn’t mentioned. Please see the above paragraph. How can you mention somebody WHO HASN’T BEEN BORN YET!!!!!!!!!. Geesh. 

I think what really bothers some folks is that by the time the ark is water born Noah is heading down the rabbit hole into seriously disturbed territory. (I sprang for a cheap copy of the novel tie in, they bring up some ideas that don't usually come up in Sunday School) The Creator might not be ready to write off the last fragment of the human race but Noah is and the road back to semi sanity is a a rocky one. I wonder how much of the drunken Noah the movie will show because the guy in the book can't go any lower. It's pick yourself up, sober up, clean up and make amends or get out. 

OK. Now that I’ve lanced that boil I’ve got David Attenborough, Richard Leakey Carl Sagan, Stephen Jay Gould, Wendell Berry and Will Durant waiting for me in the “library.” I’m bringing the tea.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


This is my great niece. She's just two months old. I don't think her folks will mind if I post her picture, Ash has been posting pictures like crazy since the kid was born. I posted this entry two years ago. I look at this little face and this song scares me to death.


Whose garden was this, it must have been lovely.
Did it have flowers?
I've seen pictures of flowers.
And I'd love to have smelled one.

Whose river was this, you say it ran freely.
Blue was its color.
And I've seen blue in some pictures.
And I'd love to have been there.

Tell me again I need to know.
The forest had trees, the meadows were green.
The oceans were blue and birds really flew.
Can you swear that it's true.

Whose grey sky was this?
 Or was it a blue one?
You say there were breezes.
I've heard records of breezes.
And I'd love to have felt one.

Tell me again I need to know.
The forest had trees, the meadows were green.
The oceans were blue and birds really flew.
Can you swear that it's true.

Whose garden was this, it must have been lovely.
Did it have flowers?
I've seen pictures of flowers.
And I'd love to have smelled one.

Tell me again I need to know.
Tell me again I need to know.
Tell me again I need to know.
Tell me again I need to know.

Words and music by Tom Paxton. Covered by John Denver about 1970

I don’t really know what to make of these lyrics. But listening John Denver sing this song is enough to break your heart.  

Is this a nightmare of now or the far future? God/dess knows we have enough nightmares in our own time. The dates suggest the song is pre EPA era. And here we have a concerted effort to gut the EPA. Supposedly this will create jobs. I’ve even run across comments that take the stand that given a choice between jobs and the environment, the environment comes dead last. And you can’t get through to them. If we destroy the environment the jobs aren’t going to matter very much.

So, what is the world in this song? Is it the remains a jungle in Viet Nam after Agent Orange was dropped on it? The remains of an equatorial rainforest? The spreading of the Sahara? The wrecked neighborhoods in the Bronx and Brooklyn?

Or is this a nightmare out of the finale of Soylant Green or the novel Stand on Zanzibar? A future when flowers, trees, blue skies, free flowing rivers, unspoiled oceans, and even birds are remembered in pictures and folk tale? Something your doddering great grandparents tell stories about? “I’ve seen pictures of flowers. And I’d loved to have smelled one.”

Goddess, may it never come to that. 


And all the rest of us. The two leggeds, the four leggeds, the swimmers and the fliers. Seriously though. As far as we know this is the only planet that has life. Really earth is just a giant space ship and the life support systems are failing. 

Sunday, April 6, 2014


Found on the net, What do kitties see when they look at the stars? A happy, safe, sleepy kitty. Easy to catch mice? Catnip farms? 

Saturday, April 5, 2014


More than eighteen centuries separate them with similar results. Although Aristarchus apparently wasn't charged with "impiety."

At the top Aristarchus of Samos lived about 310 BC to 230 BC. Below Galieo 1564-1642. Aristarchus had a theory of the solar system that put the sun at the center of the system with the earth revolving around it along with the other planets. For this theory, one Cleanthes, a Stoic, suggested that he be tried for "impiety." 

Copernicus may have known of Aristarchus' work. A citation appears in a manuscript of his work on the heavens but isn't in the final copy. Working from Copernicus and from his own observations Galileo also put the sun at the center of the solar system. And we all know how well that worked out for him. He tried to get around the Vatican's prohibition on publishing his work by writing a thinly disguised work of fiction. I loved an apologetic for the church who basically said "well the Vatican told him he couldn't publish." Arrrrrrrrgh!

"The history of Science is not a mere record of isolated discoveries; it is a narrative of the conflict of two contending powers, the expansive force of the human intellect on one side, and the compression arising from traditionary faith and human interests on the other." Nineteenth century English historian John Draper in his book Conflidt Between Religion and Science. The book was aimed mainly at the Catholic Church. The doctrine of Papal Infallibility had just been announced but he included conservative Islam and Protestantism in his criticisms. Two thousand years and nothing has really changed.  

It was another two hundred years, give or take a decade or two and the observations of William Herschel,1738-1822,  before there was enough evidence from actual stellar observations to begin to prove the theories of both Aristarchus and Galileo. Herschel was a great builder of telescopes. And at a time when they weren't housed in buildings. He did his work out in the open in foggy, boggy England. His largest had a reflecting mirror forty feet in diameter. 

Aristarchus had the original idea, but he didn't have the technology or the stellar observations made by his contemporaries that Herschel was able to compare with his own observations. The only way you can prove we're moving is to compare where we are now relative to certain close stars with where were say two thousand years ago. And there are still scientists and church men who refuse to acknowledge the evidence. As though living on a planet in an rather ordinary part of the galaxy makes us less than special. I don't know about "us" but as far as we know this is the only ball of dirt with living things on it. That makes our battered Mother Earth pretty damn special in my book. 

Friday, April 4, 2014


And I'm not nearly as articulate as Samantha. From Defeating the Dragons. These three seem to me to go together. Roses-how the purity culture taught me to be abused.  Then there's a two parter. Why purity culture doesn't teach consent 1 and 2. Which leads us to an abstinence based sex ed program in Mississippi that's straight out of the "purity" handbook. Read the title of the Rawstory story and weep. Mississippi sex education program compares teen girls to 'dirty' Peppermint Patties.  At least if they have sex before they're married. And it doesn't have to be intercourse, they include any kind sexual contact.

This lady is fantastic. Please spend some time with her entries and especially the comments from other women who have escaped and survived the so called Christian Purity Culture. Understanding a little where these folks are coming from explains at lot about the “culture wars.”

And that brings me to a place I never imagined I’d be. A couple of places actually. Although I’ve been tap dancing on the line for years that line is getting closer and closer to my feet. I’ve hung onto the Quaker side of the puzzle because frankly, Quakers like Unitarians aren’t exactly conventional “Christians.” But that word Christian is loaded down with more baggage than Marley’s ghost and I’m not sure we can reclaim it. At least not until the whole rotten business has collapsed and burned. Then maybe we can salvage something from the wreck. 

Second. It looks like it’s past time for a national examination of those who claim to be Christians. (sidebar, this is true for other faiths as well, especially Islam) Are you following Christ or is this a smoke screen that excuses a culture that abuses half the human race from the time they're born. What else can I believe when a woman is slowly seduced into an abusive relationship. When she finally says “enough” she risks her “partner” going public. Even though she was doing what he wanted, often coerced her into doing under the threat of exposure she’s labeled a slut, a whore, damaged goods that can’t be salvaged and he may just get a free ride. Because he's a man and he really couldn't control himself. 

And what does this culture say about men? That they're totally sexaholics who can't control themselves? Or is it an excuse to abuse with what just might amount to a get out of jail free card. At least within the congregation. Goes a long way to explain the "if you were really raped you won't get pregnant" comments a couple of years ago. 

Thursday, April 3, 2014


A few years ago a Spanish production company made an English language film about Hypatia, The Agora. I just got the DVD, haven’t really had a chance to watch the whole film yet. Oddly enough, while it was released in the US, it wasn’t widely distributed in this country. Can’t imagine why.  Apparently it has been on cable. I stumbled across on Amazon looking for something else. Naturally.

Is the film totally factual? Probably not. Even documentaries don’t give you all the facts. Was the film wrong in showing “Saint” Cyril ordering her death? Who knows. If he didn’t he wouldn’t have been the first leader, religious or political, who didn’t know only because he didn’t ask. Remember Reagan and Iran Contra?

A century before Cyril the followers of Athanasius and Arius both used the mob. Athanasius won and became a saint. Arius managed to survive at least. What we do know is that there were three factions in Alexandria. Probably four really. The fourth would be all the folks who kept their heads down hoping they wouldn’t get caught in the next round of violence.

The pagan population was declining. Alexandria had the largest Jewish population in the Empire. The Christian faction was increasing. None of the three jibbed at calling out their supporters to take to the streets. The Christians just happened to be the last ones standing when the dust finally settled And Alexandria wasn’t unique. Constantinople had it’s share of violence, only this was “Christian” against “Christian.” I guess the reasons don’t really matter hundreds of years later except to shake our heads and go “you were willing to kill your neighbors over this!”

Which brings us to Hypatia. One reviewer was probably right. If Cyril had believed she was in the way it probably wouldn’t have mattered if she was a Christian or a pagan. She’d have been just as dead and probably just as brutally. Most of the reviewers blamed the politics that put Cyril and the Roman prefect at an impasse. And I haven’t figured out all those threads. Yet. And I may not spend that much time puzzling over it.

She was a respected teacher and philosopher. She had influence within the city because of her work, especially in the pagan community. She was a woman confronting the rise of a sect of the church that basically relegated women to the home or the nunnery. And they used the mob to do the dirty work.

Now, where have we seen the mob in action over the past few years? How about the followers of the Greal RL? Or the Beck Bots? Or the Palinites? Geez, how about the Tea Party? Or radical Islamists who are willing to kill women who dare to want to teach or learn? And don’t forget the latest mob action. When World Vison announced last week that they were going to hire gays who were in a faithful marriage it took less than forty eight hours to rally the troops and force World Vision to back down. I guess I should be thankful that we only had to face “cracked” computers instead of burned buildings and bodies in the streets. But, I’m not.

The faces and weapons may change but it might as well be three thousand years ago. And we wonder why bullying and mob violence continue. It's worked so well for us in the past, hasn't it?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014


Nearly sixteen centuries separate Hypatia of Alexandria and Malala Youfsaszai of Pakistan. Luckily fate has been kinder to Malala, So far.

I’ve been doing some net surfing trying to find out if other pagan philosophers suffered fates similar to Hypatia. One of the few women in the early centuries AD or BC for that matter who has gone down in history as a teacher and philosopher.

Well, there’s Justin Martyr. But he was a Christian so I'm not having much luck. 

That leaves Hypatia. Traditionally she was head of the NeoPlatonic school at one of the libraries in Alexandria. She was born sometime between 350 and 370 AD and was brutally murdered in 415 AD by a as a Christian mob lead by someone known as Peter the Reader and possibly inspired by Cyril the bishop of Alexandria. A seventh century Coptic bishop, John of Nikiu described her as “being devoted at all times to magic, astrolabes and instruments of music, and she beguiled many people through her Satanic wiles.” Apparently he wasn't a fan. 
An astrolabe is an elaborate instrument used to locate or predict the sun, moon and stars. It was used for surveying, navigation, determining the time and to cast horoscopes, among other things. Did the bishop think she was an astrologer? Not that astronomer and astrologers became separated for centuries.And what do you have against musical instruments? Just general ascetic disdain for anything that might make life a little more pleasant?

I’m not sure about the magic. This link leads to the section on Ancient Egypt. Looks like the bishop couldn’t make up his mind. Was she a Hellenic pagan or an Egyptian pagan? As for Satanic? From what I’ve read of the old sun baked desert dwellers, they apparently found Satan behind every bush and under every rock.

What we know is that she was a woman in a world where the public life of women was usually restricted. We know that her father Theon, who had a reputation as a mathematician, saw to it that she was well educated. She has the reputation of teaching anyone who asked questions. She never married although history ties her to the Roman prefect of the city, Orestes. Reliable rumor has Orestes and Cyril at loggerheads over a rising tide of violence in the city with Hypatia blamed by some Christians for the impasse. Remember this was time when the power of the Christian bishops was increasing and the power of the secular leaders decreasing.

Various versions have her hauled down from her chariot or just kidnapped off the street, dragged  to a local church, stripped and battered death, probably with roof tiles and broken pottery. Her body was burned. The news of the murder did eclipse Cyril, at least for awhile, but he ended up a saint anyway.

Honestly I can’t find any stories of male philosophers subjected to same brutality. Although it was getting harder and harder for pagans to coexist with their Christian neighbors and they were slowly losing their civil rights. Within a century the pagan academies were closed at the order of the emperor Justinian. How quickly the persecuted (who reportedly weren’t that persecuted at least not for purely religious reasons) become persecutors. And much better at it.

So, was Hypatia murdered because she was a pagan teacher? A martyr to philosophical truth? Or was it much simpler? Was she just the  first uppity female who dared to believe she had the right to walk in the world of men. She sure as hell wasn’t the last. Looks like there’s a straight line from Hypatia to Malala Yousafzai. The Pakistani teenager targeted by the Taliban because she dared to believe she should be able to go to school. Malala survived. With a lot of help and at least for now.