Tuesday, December 16, 2008
I have always been a critical thinker. I prefer that and that term better because "skeptic" is more a lifestyle and critical thinking is more a process. Skeptic comes with a bag of preconceived notions (both internal and external) while critical thinking doesn't. Critical thinking is perceived as assertive to skepticism's aggressiveness. You ARE a skeptic, but you DO critical thinking.
This gets right into how I developed a Crisis in Faith.
When you write fiction you have something called a "Suspension of Disbelief."
For instance, look at any Muppet show you KNOW that it is all just people's hands inside of Styrofoam, but you suspend your disbelief because you want it to be a pig, a frog, a rat; you want the pig and the frog to be in love; you want the animals and things to all be able to talk; you want there to be legs below the waists; you want to partake of the story.
I use movie examples because they are so illustrative.
Another example would be the Blues Brothers. You know that Dan Ackroyd and John Belushi are not brothers, or orphans, or even Blues musicians. You know that the bluesmobile can't jump that bridge, or jump the Nazi car backwards, but you want to enjoy the movie.
Dan Ackroyd had originally written a big explanation as to how the bluesmobile could do such miraculous things, but the director, John Landis told him, you don't need that, the car does what it does because we say it does. There is suspension of disbelief, Ackroyd didn't think it was strong enough to not lose the audience when the car did strange things, but Landis knew it was.
You see, suspension of disbelief can be spoiled. You see this most often when an expert watches a movie in their field or reads a book in their field. They point out that hand grenades don't work that way, or the Sergeant wouldn't tell the Lieutenant what to do, or cops don't talk that way, or it doesn't look like that in a fire. The experts have lost their suspension of disbelief.
Belief in God is like this to a skeptic or critical thinker. Critical thinking and skepticism require you to ask for scientific evidence for things. There is none and can be none when dealing with an omnipotent, omniscient being. Those skeptics that are not atheists keep their belief of God compartmentalized. They know there can be no proof so they don't ask for it in this one particular case. They have suspended their disbelief so that they can participate in their belief of God.
That's the way I feel, or at least that was the way I felt. I don't think I had examined my own belief system this critically before, but now looking back I realize that this is how I looked at Faith. Now it seems that I have learned too much and it has spoiled the suspension of disbelief.
There is a thing in Science Fiction thing that takes suspension of disbelief one step further. In hard Sci Fi you cannot break any existing Laws or Theories. You may present new ones in the space between the old ones, but you cannot break the existing ones.
For example, the speed of light is immutable. You cannot travel faster than the speed of light, nothing can. So, how do you do star travel within a human lifetime? It happens all the time. There is nothing in science that says for certain that there is no "hyperspace." Current scientific theories suggest many different dimensions, some of which may touch every point in our universe, but are themselves vastly much smaller than our universe. If you could go to that universe; travel within it and then return to our universe you could be taking a shortcut. Science cannot show that this is impossible; therefore you can use this in your stories.
You cannot have people travel faster than light just by going faster or building a bigger engine. You cannot have people defy the laws of gravity, or thermodynamics etc. You cannot have insects grow bigger than people and still have them walk around.
Similarly, if there is a scientific law or theory that is broken by Faith in God, it doesn't work. Belief in God cannot go against what we already know; God must be beyond our current knowledge.
For instance, I have absolutely no belief that Noah took two of every animal aboard the ark. Could an omnipotent God have put those animals in a boat so big that they could have held them? Sure, omnipotence makes everything possible, but I don’t know anyone (outside a few fervent fundamentalist Christians who believe that the Bible is literal and absolutely correct) who believes that to be a literal story.
If you break a scientific law or theory you automatically ruin suspension of disbelief in Science Fiction. If miracles break scientific laws then they could not have happened. If the existence of God breaks scientific laws then God cannot exist. At least that is what would spoil your Belief if you were a skeptic.
Right now I'm sitting on my couch with my wife. We are watching a movie and something happens to ruin my suspension of disbelief. I complain to my wife that the movie is ruined. She says, "don't analyze it so much, just enjoy the movie."
I want to enjoy the "Movie." How do I get that back? Is it like the splotches of ink that if you look at them a certain way become a drawing of a face? Can you make it look like splotches of ink after you see the face? I hope so.
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
The Orthodox gospel reading today was from Luke 13:10-17 (BTW, the Orthodox readings tend to be shorter than the Roman Catholic readings for some reason). The story is about how Jesus healed a woman and was chastised for it because it was working on the Sabbath. Jesus responded, not with a swift, "Shut up, it wasn't work, it was a miracle for crying out loud." He said that the guy who criticized him untied his donkey to let it have a drink on the Sabbath.
I wonder what the situation was that surrounded this. To me, the miracle of healing someone right before their eyes should have been staggering. I don't know how any one could have questioned that. Were they performing "healing miracles" all the time? Did they think that Jesus was doing the same type of, "trick" they were doing? Weren't they impressed? Why wasn't Jesus outraged, why did he play word game with them? Why didn't he just tell them to be quiet?
You must understand that I never believed in miracles, not even before my Crisis in Faith (which started in July 08). I always felt that GOD didn't set up a beautiful, well functioning universe jut to break the rules that G made for it. Miracles are things that work on the mind, not physics or reality. Now, I'm not even so sure of that.
What's the purpose of church? What's the purpose of prayer? Let me suggest that they are useful even if you don't believe in GOD or are shaky about your faith. The reason is that it gives you time to think, time devoted only to thoughts about GOD, the universe, our place in it and our relationships with each other. I think this time is very useful.
I was thinking that I personally use church time and prayer to my own advantage. I listened to a podcast called Skeptoid. The podcaster in that show is an atheist and he suggested that our moral centers are the same for all humans, regardless if you believe in GOD or not. That our morals grow from a basic human cultural community, guided by GOD or not. With that in mind, I think that church could be the way to strengthen that moral center. If you believe in GOD you are there with other believers. If you don't believe then you could put the very same teachings (love your neighbor, etc.) to work to strengthen your moral character, just take out the GOD driven part.
When I was in Afghanistan I led prayer services when there was no priest available. Do I feel hypocritical about that? No, because I was just there to facilitate others prayers even if I didn't pray myself (I did at that time though, but my argument still stands). They used GOD as the source of their morals and strength, I used the community. When I'm with a group of Catholics I feel at home. I know what they know and I know a lot of what they believe. If they are good Catholics I should have nothing to fear, IF they follow the morals prescribed in their religion.
I wonder if you can pray to the community. My prayers for years have been the type of prayers for strength and guidance. The types of prayers for the strength and intelligence to use what I have been given. I could just as easily meditate and try to use the strength of the community around me.
There is a book by Stu Kaufman called Reinventing the Sacred. I haven't read it yet, but I've read a review and in it he talks about the fact that people need a "sacred" and there is sacred right here in the world around us. The beauty of nature and the human community at its best are awesome and worthy of respect and perhaps veneration themselves
In an article I read recently called "Religion for Skeptics" by L. Karl Branting. It was very heartening. In it he said that GOD performs two essential functions for humans, transcendence and morality.
I've written about morality already, but this transcendence is something I find very dear. This is the part where I say I WANT there to be a GOD. I NEED the transcendence. My Scout law tells me to be reverent, but doesn't mandate to whom or what to be reverent.
Branting says that the community is a kind of meta-being (my word) that we are beholden to. It provides the morality. It provides the thing that is bigger than all of us (as individuals). It provides the immortality we all want.
This immortality is not only in the memory of us (which we all know and which seems hollow to me), but in the way we shape others and the world around us, just by being here. Every one of us, no matter how small, petty or reclusive adds to the human "inertia."
This is the community that I'm referring to when I say, "pray" to the community.
There is one small problem. Human communities are flawed because of what they are made of. GOD, if G exists is not, because G isn't made of the same stuff. This is a stronger base for most. It is just that I can't use that base anymore. I have to hope that the human community and it's evolution are moving in the right direction, and maybe I can help it. This is called Cultural Evolution and I think I'm going to have to believe in it to keep up this idea of a community based morality and transcendence.
I have to explain why I stand in the narthex. I do because I don't feel comfortable in the actual church and I think I might make others uncomfortable (what with my note taking and all). That puts me OUTSIDE the community. That doesn't help at all. I need my wife and children to act as my chaperones or proxies.
On the other hand, what my Father said is becoming stronger in my mind. He said that basically Boy Scouts is his religion. I think this may be closer to the truth than he imagines.
In church they talked about leaps of faith. On another episode of Skeptoid the host said that to use science to find evidence for GOD was going against religion, even though it is being done to supposedly help reinforce faith.
This is similar to Douglas Adams' argument that if you have proof of GOD then GOD ceases to exist because GOD is dependent on faith alone. When you have proof you don't need faith, and you actually can't have faith, by definition.
The problem with this argument is painfully obvious, but what I want to point out is the problem of seeing no need to try to find evidence for GOD. The reason I see for looking for evidence of GOD, or for using logic to figure out GOD, or just the logical questioning of GOD is this, you will always need to make a leap of faith in order to believe in GOD (who, by definition is outside, beyond our direct observations and proofs), but just like an actual leap, the more narrow the gap, the easier the leap. Some people can leap very far, some can't go much more than a long step. Personally I always needed a very narrow gap between GOD and our reality.
GOD is in the leaping, not either side. Right now I feel like the space has closed up and there is no room to leap at all.
Maybe the perfect human community in the distance (cultural evolution) is an effort worth working for, and maybe eventually leaping for.
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
I like camping and I would read about it or do it, but too much reading with no doing would be frustrating.
I like reading about history. I also like reading about strange and sometimes frightening people that I don't care if I never meet. The list of things I like to read about and not do is pretty short though.
But the list of things that I can't stand to read about and not do is, if not longer, much stronger. Archaeology, swimming and Rugby are things that I can't stand to read about if I can't do them. I've tried. I have books on Rugby, I've taken books out of the library about swimming and Archaeology (and Anthropology) but I just can't read them. I'm trying to get back into the swing of Anthropology, I'd LOVE to go back to school to get my doctorate in it, but I just can't stand to read it.
Maybe there is some other way to interest myself in reading about it. I do like to WATCH shows about it, but shows tend not to have the cutting edge information and are not detailed enough to make me satisfied.
I'm like that with learning Greek. I really can't sit there and try to learn it from a book. I want a class and tests and teachers being disappointed in me for not doing well. I want to earn a good grade.
Do you think there is a correlation?
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
The slice of the Headquarters of the 108th Sustainment Brigade that was deployed to Iraq has come home safely now. I'm so happy and proud of them.
We tried to make sure their families were well informed and looked after while they were gone. Thanks to tireless efforts by many of the wives and friends of the soldiers I think they were, which I'm sure, eased the effort the soldiers made. Speaking from experience, when the home is taken care of, your mission away from home is just a little easier to deal with.
Monday, November 17, 2008
First of all the bulletin had a short essay about how the gospels are "written icons." I thought, "Are you kidding me?" In my opinion, icons are strange looking, not beautiful or lovely. I'm also of the opinion that icons, statues and stained glass are there to help educate and guide the illiterate. To say that the gospels are an imitation of what amounts to picture books is to belittle the written and even spoken word. I find it suspect.
In John's gospel, chapter one he says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was fully God." Hmm, did he say, God was the picture? When you put icons ahead of the actual words of the bible then you are basically dumbing-down the thing and that irks me.
Okay, enough of that. That is PURELY religion and will lead to trouble if I go down that road.
An eFriend of mine (Sadie who commented on my Obama post) said that she would pray for me. In my crisis in faith that may sound hollow, but I do find value in prayer and in attending church. I appreciated her offer.
When I was in Afghanistan I went to mass every Sunday. My faith was stronger then, but whenever I have been away on military missions I always make time for prayer and church services. Why? It gives me time to meditate and reflect. It gives me the time I need to get my head right. It give me a small space of time when I don't have to, in fact I'm not supposed to think about mundane things, but the bigger picture. I think that is important.
Another thing I've noticed since I've been looking at religion and faith with a more skeptical eye is that there is a sort of need for ceremonies. I think human beings need ceremonies; we have them all the time. Some are religious of course and the thinking is that God has to be treated in a special, not an ordinary way. But, we also have purely secular ceremonies and they can have just as poignant and traditional meaning and place in our lives.
A good example is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Even if you do not believe in any sort of god and you don't believe that we have any life beyond the one we now know; you would still show reverence to the memory of the men and women who served our country and gave the ultimate sacrifice.
I think that prayer and church attendance falls within that greater umbrella of ceremony, but that Ceremony is a much bigger thing. It is also a thing that I think we must have. I think that Ceremony helps cement the morals of our culture. Whether there is a god or not, we as humans need Ceremony.
One of the things about ceremonies is that sometimes your mind follows what your body is doing. I mean, if you get dressed and go to church you will naturally be thinking churchy thoughts. If you get dressed and go to the gym you will find yourself motivated to exercise. If you get dressed and go to work, you are likely to actually do your job. Maybe we have a kind of mental inertia that sometimes must be overcome.
On the other hand, sometimes we do something (go through the motions, if you will) but hold a different thing in our mind. That's something I could never understand about atheists who file lawsuits. You often hear about an atheist who filed a lawsuit because they had to say, blah blah blah with god in it, or blah blah blah to god. Why don't they just say it, but (to them) know it isn't true? Is it hurting them? If they really want the thing that is surrounding that god reference then why can't they put up with that word?
I'm jumping topics a bit here. When I was in Afghanistan, as I said I went to mass every Sunday. Some Sundays we had no priest, so I led the service. When it was available I administered communion, when it wasn't, I led the liturgy service. Even then I felt a pang of guilt at this because I felt like, I'm not worthy. Who was I to lead a church service? I wasn't holier than anyone else there.
What I found within myself was that I was not leading the service because I was better than anyone; I was leading the service as a service to others. I was doing what I could to facilitate their faith and religion. They were the ones who were holier than me, and I was helping them to be so. I want Sadie and anyone who wants to partake in a discussion about these topics to feel that way too. Even if you don't restore my faith, I hope I can, through our discussions, help to facilitate your faith.
The Roman Catholic gospel reading for this Sunday was very interesting to me. In the story Jesus says that there were three employees who were each given an amount of money. The first two invested the money and gave back more than they had gotten to their employer. The third buried the money and gave exactly back what he had given. The employer was mad that he hadn't even thought to put it in a bank to at least earn interest. The employer praised the other two and even gave the third man's money to the first man so that he could make more.
Monday, November 10, 2008
The contest was to write a story of 1000 words or less with the topic of Collision, Windfall and Gift. The challenge was to include a spider and make it really scary.
Here is my winning entry. See what you think.
The Halloween Decoration Judging Committee squeezed into Bob's cubical. He'd always said that he was a true witch, in league with the dark forces, a claim that rankled Stacy, the Wiccan in the office.
Bob was a small greasy fellow who wore a van dyke, shaved eyebrows and always smelled of clover and olive oil. He had surgically split his tongue, inserted small horns in his forehead and enough piercings for ten people.
His cube always looked decorated for Halloween. As near as they could tell, the only extra decorations added for the contest were some small medicine bottles with post-it labels in scratchy handwriting.
"What is this?" Stacy picked up a bottle.
"Eye of newt," Bob said without turning. His fingers flew on the keyboard at an unnatural speed.
"Witches don't use eye of newt," Stacy growled.
Pudgy Kevin released an ear-splitting scream, "Spider!"
He had been resting his hand on the cubical wall and a large, shiny black spider had climbed on it. It was making its way up his arm quickly, headed for Kevin's face.
"Down Max." Bob tapped the desk. The spider stopped. Bob tapped again. "Here, Max."
The spider dropped down a line to the desk and ran behind the monitor.
Kevin's scream ended, and he disappeared.
"Great. This was the first cube he had actually showed for." Stacy said.
Polly noticed a bottle labeled, "Werewolf Juice."
"Pets aren't allowed." Stacy said.
"What's this?" Polly asked.
"Rainwater collected from the paw print of a wolf at midnight under a full moon. It grants the drinker the power to become a werewolf," he said.
"Really?" Polly asked.
Bob turned to Stacy, "Max is not my pet. Petunia is my pet." He flipped his overhead cabinet open to reveal a huge brown tarantula.
Stacy and Petunia both jumped at the sudden movement. Stacy shrieked, "I'm reporting that." She bumped Polly on her way out. Polly pocketed the Werewolf Juice.
"Don't think that will help you with the contest," Polly said as she backed out.
"Who cares," Bob said. Just as Polly was leaving he added, "What's in your pocket?"
"Go on, take it. Use it. Maybe then someone will believe my powers."
As Polly turned to walk away an evil laugh peeled through the office. She whirled around to see her boss Russ standing behind her. He had just stepped on a sound effect mat.
"Polly, good, I wanted to see you. MacDonald is going to Miami this weekend to handle the Patterson case."
"Sue MacDonald? But that's my case."
"Well, I think Sue can handled it better so I'm sending her."
Sue and Russ were very bad at hiding their affair. Polly gritted her teeth and shoved her hands into her pockets to avoid punching Russ. She found the bottle of Werewolf Juice there and fingered it. If only it were real.
"So I'll have to have you come in Saturday to cover Sue's work while she's gone."
"What?" She gripped the bottle.
"Sue's a little behind in her work. Saturday will give you a chance to keep up with your work and get her caught up. We can't have her fall behind just because she's handling a big case."
"In Miami in late October."
Russ smiled, "By the way, Tom won the Halloween Decorations contest."
"What? But the committee -"
Russ winked, "Tom won."
She had a death grip on the bottle.
"$100 prize, right?"
Polly nodded. "Tom won."
"Good girl." He patted her on the rump.
If his father didn't own the company and Sue wasn't the head of HR, she'd have filed a complaint. She spun the bottle in her pocket and wondered if it were real.
At the end of the day, she discovered that someone had stolen her umbrella. As she walked through the pouring rain to her car her cell rang, "What." She demanded.
"Polly, this is Jerry. I think we should start seeing other people."
Polly screamed, slammed the phone shut and shoved it in her pocket. She pulled out the bottle and looked at it. She ground her teeth, the rain dripped through her hair. Slowly, she put it back and got in her car.
Despite the tears in her eyes, and the pounding of her heart, Polly drove the sharp curved road through the Forest Preserve with extreme care.
She came around a tight turn. There, in her lane, beyond the madly swinging wipers was a tow truck. He had taken the turn too fast. She had to swerve. The road was too slick and she flew off the road, down into the flooded ditch and into a tree.
"Lucky for you I was right here, huh?" The tow truck driver said as he winched her car back onto the road.
She had crawled out of the car, bottle in hand. Her head was bloody and her clothes ripped. She made her way back up to the road. Without asking he had walked right past her and hooked up the winch.
"These roads are real tricky in the rain."
"You were on the wrong side of the road," she seethed.
"You know, it's real hard to see anything at night in the rain."
She had the top off the bottle.
"I sure hope you got good insurance, cuz I think this thing is totaled."
She never thought about not drinking it. She was standing behind him and drank it in one go. She felt the power as soon as it hit her lips, felt it working, felt the magic. He kept talking, but she was focused on the change, the growth, the power. It hurt worse than anything she had ever known, but that didn't matter.
Just before the final change, before it was too late, she thought about control. Would she be able to control this, return to normal? Would she ever be able to be human again?
With a screaming howl she lost herself to the wolf.
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
First Lincoln, who was not born in Illinois, but made his home in Illinois and went to Washington from Illinois, just like the President Elect. Both were lawyers here.
Lincoln was the great emancipator, Obama is the first President from African heritage, though neither had any history of slavery. I think these are very significant.
I also see a lot of cockeyed euphoria that accompanied both Kennedy's and Obama's elections. This frightens me. Calm down people.
There are people and other countries that may not have been happy with the US recently, they see this election as a grand thing and can see only hope.
I'm afraid that this president is an unknown factor as far as defense and he will be pushed, just to see what he will do. I think this is similar to Kennedy and Khrushchev with the Cuban Missile Crisis. This is why I say, "Calm down." Let's see what the man does when his back is against it.
This election may have made some of our friends friendlier, but remember, regardless of the outcome of this election, America still has people who hate us and I think the world has just gotten a little less safe.
I worry about all the "volunteers" that the Obama campaign paid to be volunteers. I fear that money drove this election rather than the issues. Slick advertising always gets Americans' attention.
Speaking of economy. Although it is clear that he Obama campaign had the message of change, I don't know how radical that change will be or how far left it will go. Will the government take more from me? I suspect so. Will the government get more into my personal business? I suspect so. Will the government get more into businesses business? I suspect so. Will any of that be good? My opinion is no.
Again, I'll wait and see what actually happens. The President is one person; campaign promises are what they are. Politics is thick, slow and messy, not grand, sweeping and level headed. Let's see what sort of camel this committee comes up with, but I'm afraid we are going to get a camel when we need a horse.
I liked the acceptance speech in Grant Park, Chicago. I love that it was in Chicago, but I also like that it was open and lots of people could be there. I like that the VP Elect is Catholic (just like Kennedy).
As long as I'm drawing Kennedy parallels maybe Obama can start a new fashion like Kennedy. JFK ushered out the era when men wore hats, maybe BHO can bring them back.
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
So, in honor of this completely random problem I'm having, I give you a completely random Cthuloid image. I shuffled the files around in the folder a bit, closed my eyes and let the Elder Gods guide my mouse-clicking hand. This happens to be a smallish image so I decided to make it an icon for a folder on my desktop.
I've made a folder for all those little shortcuts that you want nearby, but don't want cluttering up your desktop (especially if you have a lovely photo of Cthulhu on there). I called it "Messy Desktop Stuff" so I thought a "cool" little Chulhu could be the god of that folder.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Monday, October 27, 2008
Sunday, October 26, 2008
I had gone to the Marytown giftshop and told the lady there (I think she is a nun, but you can't tell these days) that my Dad had cancer. She started running around and loading my arms with things, "I needed" some of them, "right away." I got him a Perpetual Mass (they say his name for people to pray for him in every mass at the chapel there, I told my Dad, "they'll be reading your name in the mass..." in homage to The Quiet Man), a couple of candles, a scapular, two prayer cards, and a bottle of holy water from Lourdes.
With my own flagging faith I didn't know if this would do any good, but I figured I didn't want to be like the man in the joke that by passed a 4x4, a boat and a helicopter because he was waiting for the Lord to save him from the flood, never realizing that the Lord sent all those things. My situation is the other way around, but if God was going to save him by Holy water or chemo, I wasn't going to ignor anything.
I also didn't know if my Dad would appreciate the gifts. He and my Mom are donating their bodies to science and neither of them care what happens to their bodies, "when they're done with them." My Mom is a vocal atheist (I don't know if that's the right term, since I think she is mad because God isn't running things the way she thinks they should be run and therefore she refuses to believe in him), so I didn't know if they would just roll their eyes at me. In fact, my Dad said that only my Mom felt that way about God and he was willing to take any and everything. I guess he agreed with my opinion about the man in the joke.
The timeliness I speak of is this, it seems strange that in order for me to really think clearly about the existance of God I need the latest books and articles. Because science is advancing rapidly on the origins of the universe, the presumed territory of religion, in order to counter the very latest arguements against God's existence, I need the very latest information.
I've found two books that might help me in this, both published in 2008. The first is Spiritual Evolution by George E. Vaillant and the second is The Big Questions in Science and Religion by Keith Ward. I haven't gotten very deep into either, but they seem to be acknowledging science and the advances being made and not dealing with the entire issue in strictly a spiritual sense.
I've been reading and listening to the "Skeptic Newsletter" and Skepticality. I know that the usual defense of faith by those skeptics who are still believers is that faith has NO basis in science and is not testable. It is therefore NOT subject to skeptisism. You can choose to believe or not believe, there can be no proof of it either way.
Douglas Adams confronted such an arguement in the first Hitchhikers' book. His result was God responding, "I never thought of that" and disappearing in a puff of logic.
I've never agreed with Adams, but I do need a better logical arguement, and more. I need a way to view God for what God means to us.
I'll let you know how the books turn out later.
It's taken almost two years to break that mark, and I've had my ups and downs. Lately it's been a bit up, but I owe that to the Great Cthulhu, I'm sure.
Congrats Illini 6 and thank you Great Cthulhu (Bawk Bawk!).
Friday, October 24, 2008
What do you suppose this could mean?
Honestly, I did dream that.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
It's something of a godsend (Outer Gods-send?) that for the second day in a row our evening activities kept me from exercising. In my program I'm back to a cardio night. That's a mercy. I'll do cardio today and lighten up on the weights a lot on Friday.
Man, my arms hurt. Maybe mommy can kiss the pain away.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
In other news. I started my exercise program on Monday by jumping right in to Level 3/4 with 25lbs. Ow. I was really sore (still am). I may have over done it, but I was going to soldier on.
I was, until I had to run middle daughter to friend's house for a project they're working on, run knee pads and shorts to oldest daughter, run youngest daughter to Greek school, wait until Greek school was over, pick up middle daughter and then pick up pizza (also a no no on the P90 path) for my family AND my brother's family, because they came by last night to watch oldest daughter's game.
All the running around and such was over at 22:30 last night. Far too late to do anything. I know that this is an entirely valid reason not to work out, but I still feel guilty. I'll have to do my bit today.
BTW, I wrote a short story while waiting on youngest daughter.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Monday, October 20, 2008
Now remember, I'm taking THREE medications for my BP. I took it again after taking my meds for the day and waiting an hour. 164/92.
GAH!!!!!! This stoopid blood pressure! Every time I go to my doctor he tells me that if I lose ten pounds that it will go down.
Bit of history. When I was in my mid-twenties I noticed that sometimes my blood pressure would be high. When I was in my early thirties it was regularly too high to give blood. Back then I weighed in the neighborhood of 200 pounds. My BP back then was about 150/88.
Now it's about twelve years later and I'm about 240. If a forty pound and twelve year increase didn't really increase the pressure, why would a ten pound decrease lower it?
All telling me to lose weight does is aggravate me and raise my BP.
I am going to start exercising again. When I was exercising like a demon last year my pressure was easier to control (I managed to get down to only two meds). Also, less weight makes it easier to play Rugby and looks a bit better.
There are two very bad things about that. The first is, I don't like to exercise that much. I was never a jock so I have to find novel ways to motivate myself and keep myself interested. The second is, I do like to write, but a heavy exercise routine means no writing. There just isn't' enough time to do both. Also, no camping trips. I've been trying to get the family interested in camping (and sailing, STILL haven't taken my boat out this year) and that takes a lot of effort. If I'm putting my effort into exercising then that goes to the wayside too.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
I dreamed that I was hearing dogs going crazy outside my front door. When I went out to look, the bushes in front of my house were all torn up, like the dogs had been digging there to get at something. The dogs were all dead around the yard.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Except for the sleeping for uncounted eons at the bottom of the Pacific in a sunken city built in my wretched honor; except that my alarm clock is not the stars themselves coming right again; except for the carnage, rage, dancing and murder that my waking will wreck upon the globe to the utter horror of all mankind...I understand completely how Cthulhu feels.
And on top of that I ran out of coffee!
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Looks like something I might do.
Although it is crude, I think artists should take note when trying to make their own images. THIS is the author's vision. Cthulhu is actually only a product of HPL's mind and this is what he had in mind.
[EDIT: Link added to give Jimmy Akin credit for the image and the story.]
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
How come people look at you strange when you take notes in church? It's not like I wasn't paying attention, in fact I was probably paying more attention than they were. After all, while I was paying attention and processing the sermon enough to write notes, they were watching me.
The sermon was given by the Metropolis of Denver (Greek Orthodox Bishop of Denver). He said some interesting things that fell right into what I'm struggling with right now.
Where do morals come from, what are their bases if there is no God? The bishop maintained that if there is no God then there are no morals. He said that if you don't have God you have no higher authority to answer to.
I disagree. Secularly you have the legal authorities to answer to. That's enough for some. Otherwise you have your community or the good of all humanity to guide you on the moral path.
Maybe there is such a thing as True Good. If there is, and there is no GOD, is there also True Evil?
I think that if there is a GOD, and G is Love and Good; and G created everything from Gself then everything is basically good and there can be no evil. In this theory I maintain that evil is only an illusion, there so we can have the Free Will to have something to choose from. In the end all will be good, made right.
The Bishop held a similar view that everything will be all right in the end, but he said that God allows evil because He'll make everything all right in the end. He was far too flippant about it.
I also came up with what I think may be a truly original concept / analogy. Newtonian physics is to Einsteinian physics as human experience is to divine experience. Newtonian physics is fine for every day, but at the extreme end of things it falls apart and you need something else, something more. This is something that's completely different, almost unrecognizable from the point of view of the former.
I don't know where that leaves me.
I'll keep thinking and meditating on it.
Monday, October 13, 2008
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Thursday, October 09, 2008
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
I've been listening to the podcast called Scepticality. They've got some very good points and it made me think about the Darwin fish and this Cthulhu fish.
The funny thing is, the Skeptics say that they aren't specifically against religion, but only because religion does not rely on evidence at all and is therefore untestable. I'm sure any evidence anyone ever offered for religion or god would be fodder for investigation.
The previous religious post I put up said that maybe we can look at God as ourselves outside of this dream that we call life. If that is so it fits exactly into what the skeptics are saying.
Can't you tell something about a person by examining his dreams?
I dreamt of unknown Kadath last night, what does that mean?
BTW, FSM is Flying Spaghetti Monster for those of you who didn't talk like a pirate on 19 Sep.
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
I don't know enough about trees so I'm going to pick up a book at the library tomorrow.
Um, this guy here, although technically "green" I don't think he would make anybody from Greenpeace happy.
Actually, I don't think he could make anyone happy, although:
"The time would be easy to know, for then mankind would have become as the Great Old Ones; free and wild and beyond good and evil, with laws and morals thrown aside and all men shouting and killing and revelling in joy. Then the liberated Old Ones would teach them new ways to shout and kill and revel and enjoy themselves, and all the earth would flame with a holocaust of ecstasy and freedom." From "The Call of Cthulhu" by H. P. Lovecraft
Monday, October 06, 2008
Sunday, October 05, 2008
I had been thinking, "What if Life is the worst it gets?" What if this life that we are living right now is as bad as it is going to get and that Heaven is going to be better. I already said that I don't believe in Hell so that made sense, but I never looked at it that way. If it were true then all the pain and injustice in life is just because this is our lesser existence. It isn't a trial, it just is bad. Some times life isn't too bad, but if it is then don't worry because Heaven is better.
That doesn't address the fundamental problems I was having with my faith, mainly that there is no way that God can be both omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent; and revealed. Science is revealing a universe too complex and random from a participants view to be knowable in the whole.
I had been thinking that God was like a clockmaker and that he had set the rules of the universe and let it run itself. This may have been the reason that increased knowledge in the physical laws made the existence of God less tenable. What if that isn't the nature of God, but then what would account for all that science tells us and still leave room for God?
I recently listened to most of a podcast by the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids (OBOD). In podcast 8, the speaker was Tim Freke. He said something that really rang true to me. It also addressed the problem I was having. He said that life as we know it is a dream. Everything and everyone in the dream is really us. This is very similar to the Buddhist view and I had heard it before, but I never looked at it this way.
He said basically that enlightenment is like having a lucid dream. If you are enlightened, you are like a dreamer that knows he's dreaming. When we are not enlightened you are like a dreamer who doesn't know he is dreaming and you think your life is real.
I am going to call this state of knowing that you are "dreaming" as "Lucidment." This will help me understand enlightenment better and help me think of it in terms of "the dream."
This world view means several things to me right off:
1. God is not separate from us.
2. Life can be good or bad but it doesn't REALLY affect us.
3. There are no alternatives (Hell vs. Heaven) to waking.
4. Life can be beautiful. We can enjoy it and we can make it more beautiful.
5. The universe is the dream and it obeys different "dream" logic and rules. All our scientific knowledge is based on "dream" logic and laws. This means that everything science is telling us is about the "Dream" and has nothing to do with God or the "Waking State."
6. "God" doesn't have to be omniscient or omnipotent. We don't know everything in our dreams, but the dreams are us, everything in the dream is us really, although it seems like different people and things happening to us, they are really things we are thinking about and "doing" to ourselves.
This also immediately begs many questions to me, but the questions don't diminish my hope for a renewed faith:
1. Who is the dreamer?
2. What is the nature of the dreamer?
3. If the dreamer is me then am I everyone or am I only me and everyone else is no one?
4. Do we lose ourselves when we wake?
5. What is the goal of life?
6. Do we want to be a remembered dream?
7. Is life outside the dream good or bad?
8. Is the dreamer good or bad or something else?
9. Is there good and evil?
10. Can you make moral decisions (for instance, in dreams you can commit crimes, but you can't be prosecuted for them)?
I will want to address these questions in later posts. Also, because church is a perfect time to reflect on faith, I think that Sunday would be a perfect time to record here my thoughts on religion and faith.
Other issues I thought of today that I want to cover eventually:
- What is religion?
- What is prayer, what is it good for, what is it not?
- Why should you attend church?
- What do you do with Bible readings?
- What about preset prayers, the Creed and the Our Father?
- Why are we not in communion with God?
- If there are no miracles then there can be no transubstantiation, what does this mean?
Friday, October 03, 2008
Thursday, October 02, 2008
It struck me this morning that it could also be similar to the Cubs mantra this past century, next year, next year.
I suppose it could also be political if you consider any Republican win as four more years of Bushism.
I'll have another political one tomorrow, or are there no more tomorrows?
I don't know, ask the Cubs.
This will probably change as I go along. I may edit this post, or I may just add more posts.
I put in my PDA some of the things I was thinking about God, faith and religion.
Here it is straight out of the handheld:
"A religion that venerates god, but does not appeal to god for intercession? I never thought god would step in and "fix" everything. Miracles are how you choose to view or experience events AND/OR how they Affect YOU.
09/27/08 more added 29Sep08
1. Something or someone started the universe
2. There are powers greater than us
3. Free will
5. If there is a god who is involved with us then he is good and loves us
6. There are other intelligent races in the universe other than human that are on a similar (IE not godlike) level
7. The universe is nearly infinitely complex and unknowable in the whole (analogy: you can know how bricks work and how to make and lay them, but not have knowledge of all of the Great Walls in China or even all the walls in all the houses in England).
8. Religion was created by man.
9. Religious people are not stupid
10. Non-religious people are not just people that haven't been enlightened (born again etc.)
I don't believe:
1. God is:
--a. Omnipotent, omniscient, knowable, revealed, AND interventionist (he may be some of these, but not all)
--d. A conscious earth or biosphere
2. The universe is completely random
9. UFOs have visited us
10. Prayers can have any physical effect (see miracles)
11. Magic (see miracles)
1. There is God
2. There is a heaven"
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
The stars truely are right! The first of my mythos type stories, (Northern Faerie Ring) has appeared as a podcast on Yog Radio. The said they would be delighted to read aloud: "Bellwether's Asteroid" and "Northern Faerie Ring." I can't wait for Bellwether to show up too!
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
It's an entirely different perspective on this blog. I've always seen it as a soap box, a public forum, a mouthpiece, a place to publish my writing and my ideas. This new perspective is that it is a private, personal journal of things I write to me for me, except that it is left out on the coffee table of the public TV room for anyone to read. Since I'm not a millionare or a teen aged girl, no one is interested in reading my thoughts. I'm safe in leaving it here in the open.
As long as I don't expect a discussion this would be a fine place to record my thoughts and feelings.
Don't get me wrong, I'd love for this blog to become the hottest thing on the net. I'd love for people to flock here for a lively debate and a really good read. I'd love for some big shot producer (like maybe Speilberg) to call and say, "Hey Prop, I read that story on your blog and I'd love to make a movie out of it, have your people call my people..."
But I'm not expecting it.
And maybe I shouldn't be disappointed if it doesn't happen.
Monday, September 22, 2008
I'm not a tree hugger; I don't subscribe to the Gaia theory; I'm not Wiccan or Neopagan; heck, I don't even subscribe to the current notion of global warming (they still haven't shown me definitively that humans caused it, that it is a bad thing, that humans can "fix" it, that humans should "fix" it, that trying to "fix" it won't do more harm than the "problem", that we should spend any money on it...) but I am an Eagle Scout.
I believe we should live in harmony with the land. Is nature perfect, no. Are animals or trees more important than people, no. However, I think we should work to make our technology help nature and work with it instead of against it.
We have become too detached from nature. Heck, we ignore day and night by just moving the clocks as we will. Not only are we missing out on something truly spectacular, if we ignore nature, surely it will come back and bite us on our collective tushes.
And THAT is all I have to say about that.
Happy Autumnal Equinox!
Friday, September 19, 2008
Thursday, September 18, 2008
A. Beneath the Altar of an Unnamable God
B. In the Hands of Angry Gods
C. Aliens Among Us
D. Darkness of the Book
A. Librarian - Jerome "Jerry" Lawrence
--1. Is an archivist
--2. Chews nicotine gum
--3. Wears glasses, tie and vest
--4. Wears leather shoes oxfords mostly
--5. Tall and thin
--6. Loves collecting books
--7. Awkward around women, but not a virgin
--8. Brand new grad student still in dorm, but never spends time there
--9. Tenor voice
B. Young woman - Imogene
--1. Cherub with platinum curly hair (recently permed), emerald eyes with flecks of forest green, freckles and a very curvy body. Often wears very low cut tops and the highest heels she can because she is only 5'. Today she is wearing knee high brown boots, jeans and an Icelandic sweater in blues, crème and green that accentuates her breasts. He can only smell her when she gets really close, and then it is a clean, healthy smell with very slight hint of lavender.
--2. He knows her or has seen her around
--3. Dies before the end
C. Femme Fatale - Chloe
--1. "Slender woman who moves, not like a cat or a dancer, but deliberately and forcefully, not a movement wasted, like a powerful athlete, but not built overly athletically." She wears a white blouse and a tight wool skirt with stilettos and her dark, straight hair in a ponytail. Her skin is olive.
--2. She too does not have a strong aroma, but when close she smells fresh and sharp like a cold ocean breeze.
--3. The first photo is her initial appearance to lure unsuspecting men; the second is used if she needs to entice a man.
--4. What does she do or say?
D. George Sebastian
--1. "There was a young man with an arm load of books who glanced at me and said, 'good morning,' but didn't stop moving his books. He had a white tee shirt and jeans on. He was barrel-chested and just a bit shorter than me. His skin was the color of dark chocolate and he wore his hair natural, but short. He put his books down and asked me, 'may I help you?' I said, 'I'm Jerry Lawrence, I'm going to be the librarian here.' He smiled broadly and extended his hand, "Happy to meet you sir. I'm George Sebastian."
--2. Son of a Chicago Firefighter. Learned good manners and hard work from his father who learned it from his farmer father. George loves to visit his grandfather's farm and he loves dirt and rocks. He is a natural geologist.
--3. Goes to lick the temple and is stopped. He seems confused that they are so afraid. Geologists do it all the time.
--4. Completely and unshakably sane.
--5. Not talkative
E. Peter Nicostratus PhD
--1. Blind prof. Heavyset and bearded. Looks evil, but is good
--2. No eyes
--3. Office next door to the library.
--4. Suspected of abducting Imogene
--5. "'You must understand, I had to stop the visions. I gouged my own eyes out with my fingers.' 'Dear god.' George said. 'Yes.' Nicostratus' breath was ragged and he smiled only with his mouth, 'The thing is, you don't dream with your eyes. It did me no good.' He shook his head and his smile spread to the rest of his face, 'so I got chummy with some people who were connected with the mafia. The interesting thing about mob doctors is they will do any thing for money and they won't tell a soul. I had my optic nerve severed and I could finally sleep at night.'"
F. Lucy La Barbara PhD
--1. Thin wears long clothes so you can't see her body.
--2. Evil. Member of the cult (or actually a modified version of an EA) and she's modified her body (maybe hairy or deformed and twisted with the power)
--3. Jerry's advisor
--4. "Professor La Barbara called me into her office. She was wearing a typical outfit for her, a long sleeve blue blouse and an ankle length peasant's skirt with blue and green paisleys. She never wore any jewelry that could be seen outside her clothes. The only parts of her body I had ever seen, in fact, were her ankles, hands, neck and face. I had the impression that she was a long distance runner because she always seemed to be swimming in her ubiquitous baggy clothing, but I had never been able to confirm her build as athletic and I had never seen any other evidence that she ever exercised. She was always full of energy, but not bouncy. Her skin was ivory white, like she had never seen the sun, but not veiny or sickly. Her face was pleasant enough, but highly angular and I couldn't tell how old she was. She had to be over thirty, because of her position and the fact that she just didn't have that glow and softness of youth, but she could have been anywhere between thirty and eighty. Her hair was almost black and she wore her waves long enough to cover her collar and her ears, but with no discernable style. Her eyes, too, were almost black. Her teeth were her own, I was sure, but they were almost too straight, too white. She arranged her face into a smile when I came into her office."
A. Jerry is assigned to the new Geology library for the Earth Science Department.
B. Chloe and George are there. Chloe is looking out the window smoking and notices the black stain of a fire on the roof below.
C. Jerry assigns handy work to G and shopping to C
D. Later I comes in and just wants to spend time with J
E. Prof N is seen and is scary
F. G finds the temple in the wall behind a crack caused by the '08 earthquake
G. They all examine in and I offers to take it to her GF to look at
--1. She never arrives with it
--2. Temple and I are missing, presumed dead, but the police won't investigate
--3. C tells J that he has to find out what happened
H. J dreams the translation of the temples carved words
I. Investigation ends up showing that the cult has been making sacrifices on the roof
--1. All the windows on the library wall are blackened or covered. The opposite wall is blank (the outside wall of a theater).
--2. J escapes with the knowledge of the cult, but they are watching him and he can't do anything about it. They let him live.
--3. N helps protect J because he knows things
--4. G physically helps J, pulls him out of somewhere, physically rescues him to take him to N
--5. I was killed by aliens, not the cult
A. Statuette of temple that is made of 5 billion year old rocks and is wrong geometry. Or it's carved from fossils that are from before life in its current state existed on Earth (>4 billion yo)
B. Reel to reel tapes that contain information that someone died for. That person never intended to have anyone else see the info, but died before he could destroy it.
C. Same as above, but with floppies (not quite as old)
A. Librarian is sent to a new library (think NG armory) really a very small old office.
--1. Pile of books and old desks
---a. Tapes or floppies could be found in old desk or closet
--2. Two ROTC part time help or part time help from whatever college this is
B. Cherub approaches librarian (this could be a lot like Maltese Falcon) with
--1. Keys to grandfathers …
--2. Brother died trying to find out about the cult
--3. Offer to show him the temple
--4. A book
--5. 5.25" floppies or key to where they are stored
--6. Reel to reel tape or key to where they are stored
C. Librarian discovers the true nature of the Night of the Purple Fog
D. Illinois earthquake
--1. '08 Earthquake cracked open a wall revealing the temple statue
---a. In the library
---b. In Imogene's GF's or brother's
--2. There is an alien under the NMSA
---a. Revealed by the new Geology library find (tapes etc) (NM or recent)
---b. Revealed by Imogene's GF or Bro's investigation (NM and/or recent)
---c. Cult worship and prayers/spells CAUSED the earthquakes
I think these are three separate stories, but they could all be investigated by the same librarian:
§ Night of the Purple Fog