Friday, January 31, 2014


Not necessarily in that order. This comment appeared on AOL about a week ago. The system was its usual wonky self and MY comment wouldn't post. So I saved it until I could take it out and play with it. I'm sure that if I'd taken some philosophy classes I could hang a fancy label on this litany, but why bother.

"What is it about liberals that they simply will not address the root cause of ANY real issue? It's always a twisted, generalized view. Let's apply the classic liberal logic to another concern in our country. In 2011 32,000+ people died vehicle related accidents and 9,800+ were alcohol why no outcry to ban vehicles or alcohol???? Isn't the vehicle the problem? Isn't the alcohol responsible? Anybody can climb behind the wheel and race down a highway with a tankful of fuel...basically a bomb on wheels, and nobody has a problem with that. Why? Maybe because doing so would infringe on your How can an individual who CHOOSES to commit such a horrific act NOT be responsible? Don't hide behind the guise of "saving the lives of our children" and then stand in support of abortion. Radical gun control laws will not, can not, and have not worked...ever. YOU CAN NOT DISPUTE THE STATISTICS OF THOSE AREAS WHERE GUN LAWS ARE IN PLACE. I also find the number of shootings that have occurred under the biggest anti-gun administration in the history of our country quite suspicious to say the least."

This was a comment on one of the mind numbing shooting stories that keep coming down the pike.
God, where do you start?  Cars are meant for transportation. Before you can drive you have pass a written test and a driver’s test to prove that can drive the damn thing. After you buy a car you have to register it with the state and you have to renew that registration regularly. If you don’t, you’ll eventually get pulled over, get ticketed and have to pay the fine. Most states require you to at least have a minimum of liability insurance. Get caught without that and you’ll probably get left on the side of the road after they tow your car.
Get caught driving drunk? If you’re lucky the least you’ll face is a suspended license. Kill somebody and you’ll probably end up in prison.

At the very least a gun buyer should have to prove that they’re sane enough and responsible enough to own a gun. Proof of a hunter’s safety class would be good. Answering some simple multiple choice questions might help. Questions like. I bought my kid a kiddie sized rifle. Should he/she be allowed to use it without adult supervision? Or, is it evidence that I’m a responsible parent/gun owner when I pose with my lap baby chewing on the muzzle of my semi automatic pistol? Do you have a gun safe and do you use it?

Frankly I’m beyond sick and tired of being told that we can’t work to prevent gun violence, wars, whatever until we ban abortions.There’s at least one set of statistics that estimates the number of pregnancies that fail naturally at about twenty five percent. And that’s just the women who know they were pregnant to start with. No count on the number of eggs that just plain fail to implant in the first place. I guess that makes whoever is running the universe the biggest “abortionist” of all. Honestly, I wish some of these fetus worshippers would show the same concern after the baby hits atmosphere as they do while it’s still in the womb.

As for that last conspiracy crack at the end. Give me a freakin’ break. It’s beyond the pale. Beyond obscenity.  I just finished the first book in Taylor Branch’s trilogy on America in the King Years. The litany of beatings, mayhem and murder is beyond depressing. All that violence didn’t go away when we passed the Civil Rights Act. It went underground. But not very far.

Want to know the cause of these senseless gun deaths? Go look in the mirror. The violence is in us. It’s like a drug. It’s an addictionI ran across a crack on another gun story. Something along the lines of “I live in Alaska. We have a saying up here. The bigger the truck, the smaller the _______. I guess the same is true of some gun owners. Especially the guys (and it does always seem to be a guy) who thinks it's cool to show up at the local Starbucks with a rifle hanging off his back. 

I don't want to take away your lock and load pacifier. I don't want to ban your security blanket. I do believe that you should have to show the same level of competence and ability to handle your gun as I had to in order to get and keep my driver's license.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


This showed up on the web, a couple of weeks back. And the Republicans have the unmitigated gall to dump on Obama.

In light of the State of the Union last night. A flash back to teflon Ron and the national case of amnesia about the numerous downsides to the Reagan years. And the one about the nuns? Three sisters and a lay missionary. Kidnapped, beaten, raped and murdered. And our ambassador to the UN had the gall to stand up in public and claim that they "weren't really missionaries." How soon we forget.


“I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block is not the White Citizen’s Council-er or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to “order” than to justice, who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice, who constantly say “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action.” Who paternalistically believes that he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom…” Martin Luther King Jr. Letter from Birmingham Jail. 

He echoes what I've often felt. Who are the greatest enemies of change? The diehard segregationists, abortionists, talking heads? Or is it the nice people who just can't be bothered, don't want to rock the boat, don't have time or are afraid that they'll get into trouble too. 

Especially the churchmen who told King that he was supposed to stick with spiritual matters and not meddle in politics. But how can you separate the two? You can't. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014


Ten months they were aboard the ark, it you take it literally. Now what do you suppose they did with the piss and the poop. And where did they put ten months worth of fodder for the elephants alone, much less every other critter on the boat. And can you imagine the smell? Yuck to the max.

Monday, January 27, 2014


Image be Jessica Boehman  to go with the quote from Nigerian author Ben Okri. It's a beautiful image.

"One human life is deeper than the ocean. Strange fishes and sea-monsters and mighty plants live in the rock-bed of our spirits. The whole of human history is an undiscovered continent deep in our souls. There are dolphins, plants that dream, magic birds inside us. The sky is inside us. The earth is in us.” 

― Ben Okri, The Famished Road 

This is the world tree taken to the universe. Call is a cosmos tree if you will. We are the tree and the tree is us.  Really love the bear. 

Sunday, January 26, 2014



You've got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You've got to be taught
From year to year,
It's got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You've got to be carefully taught.
You've got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff'rent shade,
You've got to be carefully taught.
You've got to be taught before it's too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You've got to be carefully taught. from South Pacific

I grew up in an Oregon logging town. I don't think I even knew there was such a thing as a musical much less that there was one called South Pacific. It was 1967-68 and I was introduced to these song lyrics in a most unlikely place. The text book for my senior year Modern Problems class. Do they even do anything like Modern Problems anymore?

When I was in school and college I expected to be challenged. I expected to have my foundations rocked a little. I didn’t expect to be spoon fed pabulum that would reinforce my prejudices.

My folks may have blinked a little when their fifth grader went to Ben Hur and promptly brought home the novel, unabridged, from the local library. They didn’t tell me it was probably too hard for me. Somehow I ploughed through the nineteenth century prose and even understood most of it.

They probably really blinked when, after watching Judgment at Nuremburg on the movie of the week, I promptly brought home Shirer’s Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. I finished that one too. That one really rocked my foundations and I’ve been trying to understand the human animal ever since. But, again, nobody tried to tell me that I was too young to read it.

Now it’s two generations later and the schools are getting hit from both directions. One side believes that the schools should be responsible for teaching love, peace, brotherhood and all the virtues. On top of the academics. Then there’s the other side. There’s a movement to allow students to question curriculum that conflicts with the prejudices they already have. Especially the religious ones.

Little Johnny and little Susie should not only be allowed to stay in their little, personal bubbles but, they should be allowed to tell their teachers that they’re wrong. Now, I’ve never believed that students should sit there and take what they’re told, but playing the “Bible says so” card isn’t on my radar. Actually some of the supporters of the movement are pretty up front. They admit that they're afraid that little Johnny and little Susie just might get their horizons broadened a little. Can't have that, now can we? I'll tolerate a lot, but I refuse to put up with willful ignorance. 

Unfortunately the Home Schooling and Charter School movements are doing a pretty good job of insulating the kids until they graduate from high school. After that it's up for grabs. Some hang on to their prejudices like a dog with a really juicy bone. Some manage to break free. Some not only survive their fundagelical childhoods but end up going off the reservation all together.  Others shed their fundie skins while finding that their basic faith is stronger than ever. 

So, give me a freakin’ break. If your faith is so fragile that being exposed to new ideas at school gives you problems don’t blame me, or your teachers, or the president if the foundations start to crack. Go look in the mirror. On the other side. I know from personal observation that kids absorb the prejudices of the adults in their lives earlier than most of us realize. By the time the kids hit kindergarten and first grade it may already be, if not too late, like trying to change course on the Titanic just before she hit the ice burg.

I was incredibly lucky. My parents weren’t that prejudiced in the first place. And dad was just cantankerous enough that he wouldn’t let anyone dictate his prejudices in the first place. The KKK was pretty active in Oregon back in the Twenties. We didn’t have very many African Americans. But we did have quite a few Catholics. And the Klan hated the Catholics almost as much as the hated the blacks.

Anyway, so the story goes. Grandpa Ernie was approached about joining the Klan back in the twenties. His reply is unrecorded. But nobody ever spotted him in a white bedsheet and hood, either. Good for you, Gramps. 

Saturday, January 25, 2014


Strange out the same message comes through with different wording over the centuries.

Friday, January 24, 2014


Now the book this came out of was published in 1955 so I doubt if anyone really cares about the copyright. But, for what it's worth the title is A Treasury of Christmas Songs and Carols, the ISBN is 0-395-17786-3, the publisher is Houghton Mifflin the author was Henry W Simon. Because I can  see  this as a little Christmas play.




Text of an old French carol. The words are at least five hundred years old. The tune, if you could listen to is at least as old and has been used many times over the centuries.  The carol can be sung, but parts can also be parceled out and the carol presented as a small play. Information from A Treasury of Christmas Songs and Carols. Still haven't found a version of this carol. Face slap. I don't know why I didn't think of this before Christmas. I took pictures of the pages and I'm posting them just for the heck of it.

IN THE TOWN (yes, that really is the name of the carol)

1. Joseph
   Take heart, the journey’s ended: I can see the twinkling lights.
   Where we shall be befriended on this the night of nights.

    Now, praise the Lord that led us so safe unto the town,
    Where men shall feed and bed us, and I can lay me down.

2. Joseph
    And how then shall we praise Him? Alas my heart is sore
    That we no gifts can raise Him who are so very poor.

    We have as much as any that on the earth do live,
    Although we have no penny, we have ourselves to give.

3. Joseph
    Look yonder, wife, look yonder a hostelry I see,
    Where travelers who wander shall very welcome be.

    The house is tall and stately, the door stands open thus;
    Yet husband, I fear greatly, that in is not for us.

4. Joseph
    God save you gentle master, your smallest room indeed,
    With plainest rooms of plaster tonight will serve our need.

    For lordlings and for ladies I’ve lodging and to spare,
    For you and yonder maid is no closet anywhere.

5. Joseph
    God save you, Hostess kindly I pray you house my wife.
    Who bears beside my blindly the burden of her life.

    My guests are rich men’s daughters and sons I’ll have you know!
    Seek out the poorer quarters where ragged people go.

6. Joseph
    Good sir, my wife’s in labor, some corner let us keep.
    Not I, knock up my neighbor, and as for me I’ll sleep.

    In all the lighted city where rich men welcome win,
    Will not one house for pity take two poor strangers in .

7.  Joseph
     Good woman, I implore you afford my wife a bed.

     Nay, nay I’ve nothing for you except a cattle shed.

    Then gladly in the manger our bodies we will house.
    Since men tonight are stranger than asses are and cows.

8.  Joseph
     Take heart take heart dear Mary the cattle are our friends
     Lie down, lie down sweet Mary for here our journey ends.

     Now praise the Lord that found me this shelter in the town.
     Where I with friends around me may lay my burden down.

I’ve only found this carol in this collection. Doesn’t mean it isn’t in others but I’ve never heard it performed either. 

Thursday, January 23, 2014


The far righties strike again. This time it’s the old “wives shouldvoluntarily submit to their husbands” schtick. Then his office tried to dial back. He didn’t really mean what he said, he was referring to his own marriage. Funny that’s not what the quote said to me. And then there's the old military vet who seems to believe that a family should be run like a platoon, but that's another story. 

However it’s this comment that caught my eye. Oh, Lordy, Gordy. This is so wrong on so many levels.

“This is standard Christian thinking, nothing new here. Obedience is the most important Christian virtue—the one from which all others flow. Children are to obey their parents, wives their husbands, and all are to obey the leaders which God has seen fit to place over them—kings, presidents, etc. The first sin was disobedience in eating the apple.”

For starters anyone with this attitude would be hypocritical accepting American citizenship. After all in this guy’s universe God set George III on the throne to rule over Britain and her colonies. We were going against God’s will when the likes of John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, George Washington etc. etc. etc. rebelled against the “divine order” of the universe.

And since God saw fit to make sure that president Obama is living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue these days all the undercurrents about impeachment, treason trials etc. are obviously against God’s will.

The “divinely” inspired constitution definitely tolerated slavery so any attempts by slaves or their sympathizers to overthrow the system would be blasphemous.

Women voting, people of color demonstrating for equal rights, all this going against the divinely mandated order of things. Such a no no.

Prime examples? The middle east over the last decade or so. We were wrong to depose Saddam Hussein since he was a God appointed leader. We should butt out of Syria and the Syrian people are going against God’s will when they try to unseat a brutal tyrant.

Good Lord people! Do you ever think these things through? This “God’s will BS”  has been the excuse for tyrants from Nero to Hitler. Give me a freakin’ break. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


I can't help wondering what MLK would say if he were confronted with our hyper individualistic, reverse Robin Hood nation. Thunderclaps ahead. 

“If we are to have peace on earth, out loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Our loyalties must transcend our race, our tribe, our class and our nations; and this means we must develop a world perspective. No individual can live alone, no nation can live alone, and as long as we try, the more we are going to have war in this world. Now, the judgment of God is upon us, and we must either learn to live together as brothers, or we are all going to perish together as fools.” Martin Luther King from his 1967 Christmas Eve Sermon on Peace.

Funny, when the fundies warn us about the judgment of God they aren’t sending the same message as Dr. King. If want to know where you might find him if he returned to earth tomorrow go by the words of Coretta Scott King in the original intro to the 1968 collection of speeches.

“the killers of the dream could end his life with a single bullet, but not all the bullets in all the arsenals can effect his death. We will  not have to search for him. Listen for him in the protests of the poor – black and white. Look for him in the places where social evils are nonviolently resisted by proud brave people. Listen for him in the ever increasing chorus of committed individuals. Remember him as a man who tried to be “a drum major for justice, a drum major for peace, a drum major for righteousness,” Remember him as a man who refused to lose faith in the ultimate redemption of mankind.”

Coretta Scott King in the intro to Trumpet of Conscience. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


These wordsmith entries don’t seem to be happening quite as often as I assumed they would. Oh, well fortunes of the game.

This one is for Taylor Branch for his three part bio of Martin Luther King and the America he lived in. The titles of the three books pay homage to the role the story of the Exodus plays in many of the Black American churches. Parting the Waters covers the years 1954 to 1963. He won the Pulitzer for this one. Pillar of Fire 1963 to 1965 and At Canaan’s Edge 1965 to 1968.

Branch has a biting sense of humor at times. His work is detailed. Incredibly detailed. Exhaustively detailed. One of the downsides is the sheer number of people involved in that history. You can get lost in those details.  but if you are patient it's worth it. And it's the little details that make you stop with a jerk. How is some parts of the south a non white didn't dare buy a car with an automatic transmission. His/her white neighbors just might consider him to be "uppity." How department stores were willing to sell you a suit but you couldn't try it on. Just in case you decided against that one Wouldn't want a white person trying it on afterwards. Who knows. The color might rub off or something. 

There is extensive coverage of King's years in seminary and doctoral studies. Who influenced his beliefs and why. Arrrrgh, I think my reading list just got longer. 

Heck all three volumes run to just over two thousand pages with a very extensive bibliography. This is old style biography. The author doesn’t talk down to the reader and assumes that you have enough brain cells to follow the story.  Hopefully the local library, if they have them, has the hardback versions. At least they stay open when you lay them down on the table.

And this is definitely old school printwork and binding. Conservative size type and narrow margins.

The titles of course refer to the story of the Exodus. I find the title of the last At Canaan’s Edge particularly moving. After all Moses only got to see the promised land. He didn’t cross over Jordan. Like Moses MLK caught a glimpse of the promised land. But, unlike Moses, King didn’t reach the biblical three score and ten much less the one hundred plus claim for Moses.

He was working to include us all in his dream of a world where we would all have a chance to live as human beings. A world where in Gandhi’s words”there IS enough everyone’s needs” because we’ve finally decided to say no to our greed.

Sadly that dream appears to be not only largely unrealized but further away than ever. 

Monday, January 20, 2014


I'm willing to bet that the only speech Ms. Palin is familiar with is the "I have a dream speech." I'd send her some of my books. If I thought it would do any good.

Poet Carl Wendell Himes Jr. wrote this in 1969 in memory of MLK.

Now that he is safely dead
Let us praise him
Build monuments to his glory
Sing hosannas to his name.
Dead men make
Such convenient heroes:
They cannot rise to challenge the images
We would fashion from their lives.
And besides it is easier to build monuments
Than to make a better world.
So, now that he is safely dead
We, with eased consciences
Will teach our children that he was a great man...
Knowing that the cause for which he lived
Is still a cause and the dream for which he lived
Is still a dream...A dead man's dream.

And the hero is still a most inconvenient hero. 


Were still waiting for the sun to rise. But it will rise.

Sunday, January 19, 2014


Thank you SCOTUS for opening the doors to this piece of off the wall idiocy. I know you said that corporations were persons for the purpose of campaign contributions. But, really you should have seen this coming. 

Well, some folks in Arizonahave really come up with a corker this time. Seriously folks. take the time to read this article. It's a real jaw dropper. 
Sincerely held religious beliefs can cover a lot of ground. The Aztecs had a sincerely held religious belief that the only way the sun would appear in the morning was with a steady diet of blood from human sacrifices.

The ancient Maya appear to have had the sincerely held religious belief that when the rains didn’t come it was time to toss a virgin into a sacred well in the hopes of appeasing the Gods so the rains would return.

Julius Caesar claimed the Celts of Gaul practiced human sacrifice as well. Although we aren’t really sure if they did or if the claims were part of  a propaganda campaign to drum up support back in Rome so that “I came, I saw” didn’t end up with “I crapped out instead I conquered.”

Thanks to missionaries from  this country some governments in Africa are passing laws upheld by their “sincerely held religious beliefs” that would imprison gays just for being gay. I guess that’s an improvement over being legally murdered by your own government-see Uganda.

There have been stories surfacing about managers or business owners pressuring employees to participate in off the clock Bible studies as well as bakeries and photographers that refuse to provide services for same sex weddings. Courtesy of their "sincerely held religious beliefs." 

One of the supporters of this nonsense is up front that this an attempt to remove perceived roadblocks to evangelization efforts. You know I’m getting really intolerant in my impending years as an official curmudgeon.

“Yo, Spam for brains.” I was raised Methodist. I’m currently Quaker/I’m working on the rest. I’ve heard the arguments. They aren’t the only arguments out there.Check out John Crossan, Marcus Borg, Jim Wallis, Matt Fox, Eckhart, Hildgard, Julian of Norwich just for starters. That might give you the hint that I do not share your beliefs, I do not plan on sharing your beliefs. Given the opportunity I will tell you where to put those beliefs. If you’re lucky I just might remember to be reasonably polite about it, but there are no guarantees.

Now, those are MY sincerely held religious beliefs. Is there room in your tiny, weird, little universe for that? I didn’t think so. 

Friday, January 17, 2014


The latest installments from La La Land.

Frankly, I don't even know where to start on this installment of Right Wing Insanity. 

We've got aliens, and Canadians, and the Chinese army and the UN need a program just to sort out the theoretical plot lines.

From the top. These aren't undocumented aliens. No ladeeez and genlemen these are real honest to goodness travelers from beyond the stars aliens. I'm not sure from the article if the aliens are actually supposed to land or if the president is supposed to announce that we've made first contact via what? Radio? TV? Little beeps of prime numbers? Flashing lights from the vicinity of Alpha Centauri?

Somehow this alien contact is supposed to make the president more popular and boost his sagging poll numbers. And Mr. Gerrow is a little vague on how that's supposed to set the stage for invasion and take over of the US by Canadian and Chinese troops in the guise of UN Peacekeepers. If was a drinking woman I'd be breaking out the Jack Daniels right about now. Too bad I have to settle for another cup of tea.

And what do the aliens get out of it? Street cred? Access to resources? The chance to really serve man. (old Twilight Zone episode. The aliens who look a lot like Porky Pig in lederhosen show up, bring peace on earth and tell us they're working from a book titled To Serve Man. Turns out it's a cookbook. Man I miss Rod Serling).

In my opinion reality probably looks a little more like this. If our solar system has been discovered by some alien race. One that values keeping a whole hide. They've probably ringed us with a system of warning beacons broadcasting some version of this. I mean, what SANE alien would want to visit this sorry ball of dirt at this point in our history? I mean do they sell "I visited Earth and survived" bumper stickers at spaceport gift shops?

 "Warning. Enter at your own risk. The inhabitants of the third planet from their star may be primitive by our standards but they are armed to the teeth. And they shoot first and ID the bodies later. If you insist on being blithering idiots and checking them out anyway,  please leave the following information to be transmitted to Central. Name of ship, planet of origin, registration number, names of passengers and crew with contact information for their next of kin. If you do get into trouble, you're going to have to get yourselves out because we aren't risking our necks, pseudo pods, tentacles, whatever to save your sorry hides. Message repeats."

Now for act two. The callling on members of our armed forces to basically stage an armed coup d' etat. Uh, guys! Yah, you idiots over in row three. The key to most successful conspiracies is keeping your big mouths shut until H hour.

And we all join hands and go merrily skipping down the yellow brick road ignoring the Great and Powerful Oz hiding behind the curtain.

Thursday, January 16, 2014


I can hardly wait to hear what the Great RL, the Becks and the Palins have to say about this quote.

And the idea was that there would be "trickle down" from the richer nations to the poorer nations. And that's worked so well too, hasn't it?


The intro chapters of John Crossan’s The Historical Jesus paint a picture of life in the Roman Empire at the turn of the first millennium. If you were a peasant or lived anywhere near the piece of real estate the Romans planned on conquering next? Well, it sure doesn’t look the “good old days” to me. If you were lucky the taxman and your landlord let you keep about half of what you grew. In the conquered lands death was probably preferable to ending up on a Roman auction block. 

When Octavius Caesar became Augustus and took control of what was left of the old republic and finally admitted Rome was really an empire the country was coming out of nearly a century of civil war. Imperial mythology and the apologetics of historians built the image of an empire meant to rule the world and enforce the peace. Gee, where have we heard THAT recently.

“Augustan peace is real and still has much to do with fertility of field and prosperity of city and it would be untrue to confine its benefits to Rome or even to Italy alone. But peace at home now goes hand in hand with war abroad. Maybe peace is retained at home precisely by wars maintained abroad. “ Crossan in Historical Jesus pp. 41.

Gaius Cornelius Tacitus was a Roman senator and historian born mid first century CE. But, he was born in Gaul, may have been at least partly Celtic by birth. At any rate he was more sympathetic to the resistance of the native British to the conquest of the island by the Romans.

His father in law was one of the generals who helped conquer Britain and later served as governor. In his biography of Agricola he attributes this speech to the Caledonian general Calgacus.

“Harriers of the world, now that earth fails their all devastating hands they probe even the sea: if their enemy has wealth, they have greed; if he is poor they are ambitious; East and West have glutted them; alone of mankind they behold with the same passion of concupiscence waste alike and want. To plunder, butcher, steal these things they misname empire; they make a desolation and call it peace.”

“They make a desolation and call it peace.” That ancient Scotsman may have been the first to say it, but he wasn’t the last. And Rome wasn’t the only empire to make war abroad to keep something called “peace” at home. 

Only we aren't at peace are we? We call it peace yet the death toll mounts. The land is poisoned and the stock market climbs. The country's vegetable basket is in the worst drought since the middle 1800's and the farmland closer to where we live is covered in subdivisions and parking lots. 

They make a desolation and call it peace. Not in this world or the next. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014


Created by Reamus Wilson and originally posted on FB by Lisa. 

This reminds me of something Tom Cowan wrote in Yearning for the Wind. That he wasn't a body carrying his soul through life, but the other way around. He was a soul that just happened to have a body right now. His body might be tethered to the earth but his soul could travel to the ends of the universe. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


Here we go again. The story from AOL.  And the story from Think Progress. So far there's no record of what the shooter said that started this whole mess. 

I'm trying to figure out what started the whole mess. Yes, the victim was texting. According to the AOL story the theater was still running the coming attractions. My memories of theaters at that time is that people are still coming in. They're still talking. They're still looking for a place to sit. It's not like the theater would quiet at this point. That is, if they ever are anymore.

About three Christmases back, we had all three of the Portland nephews, one of the Umatilla kids because he was going to school in Portland and his new girlfriend (now wife, marvelous young lady). They all had their cell phones and they managed to text, talk, watch a movie and play cribbage. All at the same time. The texting, however was pretty damn quiet. I certainly couldn't hear anything when Aria was messaging and she was about four feet away. So unless the wife was telling the dad what to text to their daughter, there wasn't a whole lot of noise going on. So, what set this damn fool off for cryin' out loud? 

It's starting to sound like the shooter is setting up for a Stand Your Ground defense. Ok, the victim shouldn't have thrown a bag of popcorn at the other man. Popcorn is so dangerous. You might get butter stains on your clothes. You might even get a bit of popcorn in your eye. Gee, you could even get a concussion from a flying Old Maid. Yeah, Mr. Reeves had just cause to be in fear for his life. (extreme sarcasm button now turned off).

I used to think that if we could just keep the guns away from crooks and nuts we could work something out to keep this country semi sane. So what do you do when you have a shooter that was presumably sane and not a crook? At least when he was a cop. I can't wait to hear how the NRA spins this. 

And when you read something like this "Washington Post columnist calls Sandy Hook 'a convenient little shooting.'"  I have to wonder if there's anyone sane left in this country anymore. 

Monday, January 13, 2014


A series of articles and their comments had me looking at this picture with more than the usual interest.

There's the "I don't have kids, or I've gotten my kids through school so why do I have to pay to teach other people's kids?" Well duh. If other folks kids don't have access to a decent education we all have to live with the results now don't we?

And there's the relatively new, usually from fundamentalists, "I should be able to control what my kids learn," Upfront. There a great, private parochial schools in this country. Catholic and Protestant. And then there's the other guys. It's the other guys I'm concerned with here. With very little effort you too can echo Senator Inhof from Oklahoma. There is no human caused climate change because "God is still up there." Or you can find yourself looking at workbooks that show Adam, Eve and a dinosaur cheerfully coexisting in the Garden. Must have left the T Rexs on the other side of the fence.

Or you can find your school board discussing the inclusion of so called intelligent design or creation "science" in the curriculum of your local schools. All in the name of fairness of course.

Question any of this on a comment thread and I can guarantee that there will be multiple accusations of Christian bashing. liberal intolerance and general you're not being nice to me comments.

And you know what? I've discovered that I AM intolerant. I'm intolerant of willful ignorance. I'm intolerant of public officials using their religious beliefs to set public policy on the environment,climate change, women's health issues or LGBT rights.  I'm intolerant of these same public officials citing petitions, research and statistics that have been discredited or are so loosely monitored that they still carry the signatures of signers who've change their minds. Or are no longer among the living. Imagine being able to sign a petition about climate change and you don't have to have a degree in anything related to the problem.

I'm intolerant of so called pregnancy crisis centers that have been caught out right lying to girls and women who turn to them for help. I really hope this isn't true but at least one center advised their supporters to volunteer to drive patients to their abortion appointments and then deliberately make them miss their appointments by driving someplace else. I guess it's ok to lie as long as you believe you have a good excuse.

I'm intolerant of the Gohmerts, Stockmans, Inhofs, Ryans, Cruzs, et al. playing politics with all of the above.

And you know something? I'm not about to apologize. I will however be polite. Reasonably polite. Most of the time. If I feel like it. We can't say this often enough. You may have the right to keep yourself ignorant. You do not have the right to pass that ignorance on to your children or inflict it on the rest of us.

Saturday, January 11, 2014


Classmates believe 'God has the last say' on brain-dead girl Jahi McMath.  This is just incredible. The death certificate has been signed yet the child has been moved to an unidentified care facility with a vent and feeding tube installed.

Apparently she was a student at a private school, whether it's faith based or not I'm not sure but the school administration has been telling her classmates that she's not really dead and they should keep praying. A spokesman for the administration states that they're honoring the wishes of the family. What happens when the family finally admits that it's over?

Unfortunately by the time her body finally gives out, they probably won't be able to establish what went wrong after a "routine" tonsillectomy. It would be nice to know what happened did somebody screw up or was there a medical problem that the doctors didn't spot before the surgery?

Modern medicine is a mixed blessing. I was in seventh or eighth grade when our baseball team played Roseburg at Roseburg. This was before the era of batting helmets. A wild pitch hit one of the Oakridge player in the side of the head. By morning he was gone. Perhaps more modern medicine could have saved his life. Who knows. Who knows how much damage he would have had to live with if they had.

And frankly, I'm skeptical enough that anything that involves knocking me out doesn't fall under the heading of routine.

Thursday, January 9, 2014


Looking through the CD's this afternoon turned up a Paul Robeson collection; Songs of Free Men (and I assume women.) We'll know we've really arrived when the title reads Songs of Free Women and we'll automatically include men, too. 

(Earl Robinson and Lewis Allen)

What is America to me? A name, a map, the flag I see, a certain word, 
“Democracy.” What is America to me?

The house I live in, the friends that I have found,
The folks beyond the railroad and the people all around,
The worker and the farmer, the sailor on the sea,
The men who built this country, that’s America to me.

The house I live in, my neighbors white and black,
The people who just came here, or from generations back,
The Town Hall and the soap box, the torch of Liberty,
A place to speak my mind out, that’s America to me.

The words of old Abe Lincoln, of Jefferson and Paine,
Of Washington and Douglas, and the task that still remains,
The little bride at Concord, where Freedom’s fight began,
Of Gettysburg and Midway, and the story of Bataan.

The house I live in, the goodness everywhere,
A land of wealth and beauty with enough for all to share,
A house that we call Freedom, the home of Liberty,
And the promise for tomorrow, that’s America to me.

The town I live in, the street, the house, the room,
The pavement of the city, or a garden all in bloom,
The church, the school, the clubhouse, a million lights I see,
But especially the people, that’s America to me.
But especially the people, that’s the true America.

This version from the “Odyssey of Paul Robeson.”

The song was originally written in 1943. There is more than one version and it was featured in a short film made at the end of the war to combat racial prejudice and anti Semitism.

The imagery may be dated but the dream lives on. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014


“As civilization advances, the sense of wonder almost necessarily declines. Such decline is an alarming symptom of our state of mind. Mankind will not perish for want of information; but only for want of appreciation. The beginning of our happiness lies in the understanding that life without wonder is not worth living. What we lack is not a will to believe but a will to wonder. “ Abraham Heschel.

Why do we lose that sense of wonder? It isn’t that we’re too busy working to look up. Monks and farmers worked sunrise to sunset and then some in the cycle of the seasons. Sailing ships had to depend on the tides to set out, come to harbor. The sailing master had to know the seasons that the winds blew the right directions and pray that the ship could stand the storms.

Perhaps it isn’t that we’re too busy. Perhaps we just don’t have to. Insulated from wind, weather, seasonal changes we go on our way is if they don’t even exist. Except when Mother Nature reaches out, grabs us by the shoulder and shouts “pay attention.” Two thirds of the country has been facing that this week as brutal cold reached all the way to the Gulf. Meanwhile Australia is setting records for high temps.

Heschel was writing in the late forties before we managed to turn night into day in major parts of our largest cities. If you’re working swing shirt in a cubicle in a building with no windows it doesn’t matter what time the sun sets and you’ll never see the glory of the setting sun. And you’ll probably be asleep at sunrise and forget how the sky looks as it shifts from black to pearl gray to the lightest blue as the stars fade from sight.

Too many of us look at a forest and only see board feet of timber. Too few of us look at a Joshua tree on the edge of the southern desert; twisted and almost ageless. A tree that put down roots before the Roman Empire fell and feel the sheer wonder of the history that has happened during the lifetime of that tree.

I love traditional Celtic music. They played what the heard. The wind in the trees. The whisper of a brook. The little waves lapping as the tide turned. They played what they heard and we play what we hear. The roar of engines, the grinding of gears, the incessant noise of traffic. No wonder the so called civilized world is half mad.

In the mean time a certain senator from Oklahoma stated earlier in the week that obviously there’s no such thing as global warming because “it’s cold.”  ?????????

Tuesday, January 7, 2014


Worth reposting the major part of this entry from September. I'm not sure if the late Rabbi would be in sync with Starhawk's pagan point of view. But if he could see how we're violating the Creator's handiwork I suspect he'd sympathize with her Declaration. 

The Declaration of the Four Sacred Things

The earth is a living, conscious being. In company with many cultures from many different times and places, we name these things as sacred: air, fire, water and earth.

Whether we see them as the breath, energy, blood and body of the Mother, or as the Blessed Gifts of a Creator, or as the interconnected systems that sustain life, we know that nothing can live without them.

To call these things sacred is to say that they have value beyond their usefulness for human ends, that they themselves become the standards by which our acts, our economics, our laws and our purposes must be judged. No one had the right to appropriate them or profit from them at the expense of others. Any government that fails to protect them forfeits its legitimacy.

All people, all living things are part of the earth life, and so are sacred. No one of us stands higher or lower than any other. Only justice can assure balance: only ecological balance can sustain freedom. Only in freedom can that fifth sacred thing we call spirit can flourish in its full diversity.

To honor the sacred is to create conditions in which nourishment, sustenance, habitat, knowledge, beauty and freedom can thrive. To honor the sacred is to make love possible.

To this we dedicate our curiosity, our will, our courage, our silences and our voices. To this we dedicate our lives.

Intro to the novel The Fifth Sacred Thing by Starhawk (born Miriam Simos) a feminist neopagan writer. She has two novels to her credit plus a fair amount of non fiction.  

But those who look at Creation's web will never look past the potential dollar signs. The oceans will remain fish ponds and dumping grounds. They will never accept that those trees and the ecosystem they support has a value simply because they exist and are part of Creation. Unique in the universe and irreplaceable. 

And when those of us who do try to break through you'll find them in the corner with the Stockmans, Gohmerts, Romneys and Ryans; eyes closed, fingers in ears, humming very very loudly. 


I've always know I was sort of weird. I'm a searching Quaker reading the works of an Orthodox Jew, a Benedictine monk or two and a novelist who spent over a decade in a religious order and left before taking final vows. Go figure.

“Most of our attention is given to the expedient, to that which is conducive to our advantage and which will enable us to exploit the resources of our planet. If our philosophy were a projection of man’s actual behavior we would have to define the value of the earth as a source of supply for our industries, and the ocean as a fishpond.”

Rabbi Heschel wrote this back in the late forties. He died way too soon but I’m glad he didn’t live to see his prophetic words come true. Unfortunately we not only treat our oceans as a fishpond but as a cesspool. We treat the earth is if it were as disposable as our badly made appliances instead of as the spaceship it really it.

When we’ve drained the last aquifer, polluted the last river, cut down the last forlorn lonely oak, what do we do then? There’s no place to run, no place to hide. I have a great niece (if the scans were right anyway) due next month. I tremble for her future.

The old Lakota spoke only truth when they said that we don’t own the earth we borrow it from our children. And what will be left when that loan comes due?

Monday, January 6, 2014


Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Texas) strikes again. This time he's implying that only liberals care about children dying in a place where (outside of their homes) they should feel the safest. Their schools. This piece of trash was on the representative's Facebook page and there were a whole lot of commenters who found their comments dumped and their access blocked. And the applause was coming from the folks who cried crocodile tears over the free speech rights of a Duck from Louisiana. Heck, it's his page he do what he wants. 

But, after a brief swim in the comments he is allowing on his page I need another shower. Or maybe three or four. And I do believe it's time to stop slumming.

Thursday, January 2, 2014


Up front. I do not want to minimize this family's grief and heart break but this is  a case that is totally heartbreaking and is now entering Twilight Zone territory. Child goes in for a tonsillectomy, something goes terribly wrong after she comes out of the anesthesia. They can't stop the bleeding, she arrested and is now clinically brain dead. That's as dead as it gets folks. I mean that's the standard for turning off the respirator, sending for the preacher and planning the funeral.

Trouble is the family doesn't want to let go. Somehow, someway they seem to believe that this is fixable. Shades of Terry Schiavo. Too bad there doesn't seem to be a way to find if someone else or some other group has an agenda here. The family wants to move her to a long term care facility and that isn't going to be cheap. The hospital won't authorize the surgery to install a vent for a respirator and a feeding tube. The family is trying to force them to do this and she can't be moved without it. Assuming they can find a facility willing to take her.

Are they hoping that a malpractice settlement, if malpractice is proved, will cover the costs? Or are one or more pro life groups back in the shadows offering monetary support and feeding on the family's delusion that we're going to have a Lazarus event here?

Bad enough that the family won't let go. Much worse if they're being used. Because sure as there are green apples this is going to turn into a "Right to Life" shouting match.

For the love of heaven remember and celebrate her life; don't turn her death into some kind of macabre circus.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


Found the design on the web. It's taken from a coffee mug. Very traditional Northwest Native American design. And this one is for Lisa who saw Ravens. I found several versions on the net and I liked this one the best. 

This is a shared myth up and down the Pacific Northwest Coast. In some versions Raven starts the story with white feathers and either the heat of the light or smoke he flies through to escape turn his feathers black. 


This is an ancient story told on the Queen Charlotte Islands about how Raven helped to bring the Sun, Moon, Stars, Fresh Water and Fire to the world.

Long ago, near the beginning of the world, Gray Eagle was the guardian of the Sun, Moon and Stars, of fresh water, and of fire.Gray Eagle hated people so much that he kept these things hidden.People lived in darkness, without fire and without fresh water.
Gray Eagle had a beautiful daughter, and Raven fell in love with her.In the beginning, Raven was a snow-white bird, and as a such, hepleased Gray Eagle’s daughter. She invited him to her father’s longhouse.
When Raven saw the Sun, Moon and stars, and fresh water hanging on the sides of Eagle’s lodge, he knew what he should do. He watched for his chance to seize them when no one was looking. He stole all of them, and a brand of fire also, and flew out of the longhouse through the smoke hole. As soon as Raven got outside he hung the Sun up in the sky. It made so much light that he was able to fly far out to an island in the middle of the ocean. When the Sun set, he fastened the Moon up in the sky and hung the stars around in different places. By this new light he kept on flying, carrying with him the fresh water and the brand of fire he had stolen.
He flew back over the land. When he had reached the right place, hedropped all the water he had stolen. It fell to the ground and therebecame the source of all the fresh-water streams and lakes in the world. Then Raven flew on, holding the brand of fire in his bill. Thesmoke from the fire blew back over his white feathers and made them black. When his bill began to burn, he had to drop the firebrand. It struck rocks and hid itself within them. That is why, if you strike two stones together, sparks of fire will drop out.
Raven’s feathers never became white again after they were blackened by the smoke from the firebrand. That is why Raven is now a black bird.
Ravens symbolize many things in different cultures. Native American tradition honors the raven as a symbol of courage and of magical guidance. The Arab culture calls the raven Abu Zajir which means “Father of Omens.” They are seen as oracular birds, used in divination. They are seen as symbols of death, life, the sun, magic, shapeshifting, and tricksters.

Legend from Ella E. Clark: Indian Legends of the Pacific Northwest, University
of California
Press, 1953.