Sunday the 5th: All Is Vanity

Posted on February 8, 2018. Filed under: Philosophy, Religion | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

Your words for the day:

  • vanity = wasted effort (according to Dean)
  • disillusioned = learned the ugly truth: dreams are not reality

While writing another article, Quoth the Raven, a single word kept threading its way through my thoughts — vanity. I checked a biblical source for the phrase “all is vanity” which I remembered as coming from the Book of Proverbs (KJV). Turns out, it comes from The Book of Ecclesiastes — every chapter.

My early religious instructors did not spend much time in that particular writing, using the Old Testament primarily as foundation for fulfillment of the New Testament teachings. Ecclesiastes was used to show the result of Man’s folly in earthly pursuits — something which a newbie in Life (such as I was) couldn’t really appreciate.

That book was written by an individual calling himself the Preacher (or Teacher, depending upon which version you are reading). He asserts that he undertook the path of instant gratification just so he could attain wisdom (a la Jimmy Carter’s alleged admission that he only looked at Playboy to read the articles?), and, with that hard-won knowledge, he can now tell others what NOT to do and what to expect if they go ahead and do it anyway. Of course, during this remorseful retelling of his life, he still had access to all the comforts that his would-be students were being denied.

Yeah, I know. It’s hard work, but…  someone had to do it…  right?

My cynicism aside, whether you trek through Life barefooted with almost nothing to ease your discomfort, or that you get chauffeured daily to a five-star restaurant followed by an evening at a posh, upscale theater event, you got born, and, you are going to die.

What a downer to finally realize that whatever you experienced or attained in Life is housed in a sand castle with a sea level view of the incoming tide.

One second after your last breath, it all means nothing.

All is vanity. All is meaningless. Or, to put it my way,


I suspect it was the impending sense of doom and loss – such as the passing of his youth – that impelled the pampered rich kid to adopt the moniker of Preacher (or Teacher) to clean up his image while whining about his loses.  Eccl. 2:

  • (18) I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me. (19) …they will have control over all the fruit of my toil into which I have poured my effort and skill under the sun.  This too is meaningless.”  –Bible, New International Version.

The self-styled Preacher was not alone in recounting all of Life’s wasted pursuits. Shakespeare later echoes this detachment from reality through the character Macbeth:

  • “Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow creeps in this petty pace from day to day to the last syllable of recorded time, and all our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death.  Out, out brief candle. Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury signifying nothing.”

If, as we often perceive, the Life experience is totally meaningless, how do we deal with it? This question is answered by the myriad versions of religion that pervade the whole of the human condition. Each individual decides for itself whether there is more beyond this fragile existence, or, whether one’s persona simply dissipates into the vapor of Time. The Preacher’s father, who also moonlighted as a shepherd and poet, assessed his lack thusly:

  • “Such knowledge is too high for me; I cannot attain to it.”

As attested to in a previous article (Wednesday the First), multi-tasking is not my forte. I was born into ignorance and must now depend on others who entered Life in that same condition to fill me in on matters beyond human understanding.  I appreciate the help, but…

I can only deal with NOW:

  • “Yesterday is gone, tomorrow never comes. Just this moment’s joy or sorrow is all our hands may clasp.”  –Anonymous, at least to me.
  • “I have only this one minute, with 60 seconds in it. Didn’t seek it, didn’t choose it. Thrust upon me, can’t refuse it. Just a tiny little minute, but, eternity is in it.” –Anonymous

NOW is all I know. Yesterday is but memory. Tomorrow doesn’t even exist. The only place in Time that I will ever be…

…is NOW.

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Disney Not Family Friendly

Posted on December 20, 2016. Filed under: Journalism, Religion | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

The source for this article is, a blog that keeps sending me links that I did not request.  The author of the referenced article (Disney is no longer family friendly) is Robert E. Richey of the Catholic organization America Needs Fatima, which is a sponsor of Newsmax.  The blog’s disclaimer notes that it does not necessarily endorse their advertisers’ messages.

Your words for the day:

  • The Real O’Neals = a television series aired by ABC
  • = a news blog that has little to say but directs readers to other sources

I learned some 20 or more years ago that Disney studios had expanded into more non-child based themes; I always checked the rating to see if I would be interested in viewing a new offering.  Apparently, Bobby E. is either under 20 years old and has just graduated from restricted viewing imposed by Parental Controls or he missed the train out of Never Land.

Said little Bobby in his articleRemember when “Disney” meant “safe” — if Disney made a film, it would be o.k. for your kids or grandkids to watch?  The Real O’Neals ends all that!  Alarming!  And it is up to you and me to protest this brutal attack on our Catholic Faith.

Let’s clarify that overstatement from my perspective:

  • For me, the reader, this is not a brutal attack on OUR Catholic faith.
  • I am not Catholic, and, it is NOT up to me to protest this “alarming” and “brutal attack” on the Catholic Faith.
  • In fact, the religious denomination I was raised in has a very long history of bad-mouthing Catholicism.

But, this little article of mine is not a criticism of Catholicism, rather of the manner in which Mr. Richey has presented his exception to what he considers the prostitution of a movie maker who once specialized in G-rated productions.  Rather, it is my old bug-a-boo — journalism — that has spurred this response.

A summary of Mr. Richey’s plaint about “The Real O’Neals,” a Disney sitcom:

  • Watching pornography on a laptop is made to appear normal for Catholic brothers in the series.
  • The Catholic mother encourages her 16-year-old Catholic son with gender conflicts to get physical with a girl (if non-Catholics don’t understand that admonition, it means the Catholic son with gender conflicts should go out and get laid like a NORMAL 16-year-old Catholic son without gender conflicts).
  • The Catholic daughter tries to prove in her science-class project that there is no god, misses Mass, and shows disrespect for a pastor who is presented as inept.
  • There are lots of sexual innuendo and mockery of Catholicism.
  • (Censored stuff, here)  “I just can’t bear to print up the really bad stuff on the show.”
  • While decent Catholics strive every day to make sense of the crazy world we live in, Disney/ABC is mocking the Faith we hold dear.
  • It is not right, and we need to tell them so!
  • Someone struggling against pornography, same-sex attraction, divorce or doubting their faith could possibly watch this program — which Disney/ABC promotes as “just your typical, all-American, Catholic, divorcing, disgraced, law-breaking, gay family — and their struggle would be more difficult.  They would feel more alone than ever, perhaps fall into despair, and just follow the culture like those around them.

C’mon, man!  No one is going to watch that show seeking spiritual guidance; they are going to watch it for the laughs.

Lighten up, Richey.  That show’s promo (as quoted by you) is just hyperbole to heighten the sarcasm inherent in the production.  But, like many converts to anything, the need to chew on every disagreeable tidbit tossed before them is overpowering.  You, too, feel the need to overact to demonstrate your degree of commitment to your stated tenet…   somewhat like a child banging on pots with a spoon to attract attention.

Open your eyes, Richey.  It is a parody of ALL Christian teachings, not just your favored brand, Catholicism.

Richey claims that Disney implies “nasty” Catholics.  Would little Richey have just sat back and chuckled had the show portrayed “nasty” Episcopalians?  Zealots of a cause are not light-hearted — they just can’t take a joke.

I am also curious, Mr. Richey:

  • Did you write a scathing review of those prime time cartoon shows, The Simpsons and that ilk, as destroying the unity of families by disrespectful children and dysfunctional parents?
  • How about all those murder and dismemberment series that ooze like slime off the flat screen?
  • ??You do NOT have a complete library of interactive gaming videos depicting crime and murder as just normal aspects of human culture, do you?

I guess, since none of that stuff uses the word “Catholic” in them, they are perfectly safe as instructional tools for Catholic children “trying to make sense of this crazy world.”

Little Bobby the Journalist could have expanded both his heart and his message — and, thereby, his audience — by saying, “All Christians should be offended by this, and not just Catholics.”  Righteous Richey only had room in his heart for his beliefs, what with all the rest of humankind being outside his sphere of consideration.  I guess anyone choosing, for whatever reason, to be non-Catholic can just go to hell…   after they help him protest Disney Studios and ABC.

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Expert Nudity

Posted on January 19, 2016. Filed under: Religion, Science | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Your phrases for today:

  • lowest common denominator = that to which everything can be reduced
  • naked and clueless = that to which everyone can be reduced

It’s not my fault / It’s just bad luck / Everybody has an off day / Maybe next time / It’s just not my day  / Oh, well!  There’s always tomorrow / It’s only a game. 

More than once in our lives each of us feels that everything has conspired to prevent our achieving even a few basic goals.  If you think you’ve heard more of “Close, but no cigar” than your fair share, you are not alone.  Most of us feel the same at least part of the time.

We enter into life at a big disadvantage, having not even a shirt on our backs or knowledge of anything beyond a few basic urges.  Short version:  all are born naked and clueless, and it’s gonna be quite a while before we even figure out r-e-s-t–r-o-o-m.  This assessment includes all of those revered experts who manage to exude an air of  obnoxious omniscience when revealing their “findings.”  Just for fun, imagine the expounding expert naked in front of everyone while trying to figure out the mechanic’s of commode flushing.

In the process of becoming an adult, I learned too much.  In spite of all the self-help manuals and seminars and transcendent gurus revealing how to live long, live happy, and live in wealth, I now suspect that LIFE starts out each living entity with nothing but a single piece of advice…   DON’T DIE.      Whether good, bad, ugly, efficient, tall, short, filthy rich, dirt poor, animal, vegetable or mineral, there is only one rating point under this system called EXISTENCE…   how long did the thing live?

Personally, I was hoping for a little data to work with.

To that end, I have depended heavily on others to fill in the abysmal depths of my ignorance:  parents, whose primary concern was feeding me and my sibs and keeping us safe and healthy; teachers, preachers, priesters, other spirit guiders, Norman Vincent Peale, Mr. Rogers, Abu Bin Adhem (may his tribe increase), Republicans, Democrats, and 18-year old motivational speakers who — from their vast stores of life-experiences — teach the secrets of becoming millionaires in only 1 year or less (a little longer if you are a slow learner)  They all showed and offered their versions of the world to me.  I may be a little slow, but, I finally realized life’s lowest common denominator has  universal application:

  • at birth, EACH and EVERY one of those “experts” was no different from me.
  • One and all, they were born naked and clueless into a dog-eat-dog world where only the lucky and strong win the right to claim another day in the struggle to exist.
  • To survive, each of them adopted a schtick (motivational types might say “career choice”) that brought them the means to survive.

In other words, all of my information providers (with the exceptions of parents, family and friends) were doing a paying job impelled by their own personal agendas.  I have simply been a means to THEIR ends.

Confronted daily with the expert assessments of my social worth, my moral worth, my economic worth, my political worth, I have finally found my happy place:

  • whenever any expert (politician, cosmologist, religionists, journalist, et cetera ad infinitum) condescendingly tries to re-program me, I mentally strip them naked in public view, tape that nice fitting disposable diaper around their loins, convert their babblings to goo-goo, ma-ma, da-da, no no, waaaaaah waaaaaaah, waaaaaaaaaaa…

and suddenly, all is right with my world.

Accepting expert crap without question just hasn’t done it for me, so, I am forced into Plan B which, generally, follows my daddy’s admonition when I was a kid:  believe nothing you hear and only half of what you see.  I now question just about everything from just about everyone.

I have received no navigational instructions in this endeavor, but, then, neither did the so-called experts in everything.  In spite of their airs of omniscience, there is no instruction manual for this EXISTENCE thing…   every living entity has to figure it out for itself.  In the River of Existence, it’s sink or swim, do or die, and hope that that shadowy thing floating toward you is something more substantial to hang onto than a raft of hippo dung…   or the equivalent in expert-speak.

Even so, as the waters of EXISTENCE unerringly flow past, we find that just about everything in it can be defined as varying degrees of dung.  That sort of lends validity to that old saw “up shit creek without a paddle.”











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Naked and Clueless

Posted on January 18, 2016. Filed under: Journalism, Religion, Science | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

What follows are my opinions.  Since they are free (except for the all-inclusive price of admission), let’s call this an exercise in free speech.

None of this stuff is sanctioned by the AMA, ADA, AKC, ROTC, DOD, BSA, GSA, NRA, NSA, WB A, WWE nor any other organization relying on a bowl of alphabet soup to describe its purpose.

Source material for this lamentation is directly attributable to decades of indoctrination by”experts” who describe how things in this existence really work and how far off the mark my life has been.   In spite of that derived sense of personal inadequacy resulting in an intense need for psychological self-flagellation, I finally figured out they use an expert mixture of no more than 1 part actual observation and no less than 4 parts personal bias (more if the subject is convoluted) all of which is tinged by their self-interests and the need to mark intellectual turf.  It’s that self-serving stuff that has finally inflamed my gullibility node.

Here are just a few flakes from the snow-job “experts” have given me:

  • Cosomoligists.  “We can’t explain why our math is so far off, so we will call it Dark Stuff that no one can see, feel, or prove; fabricate more universes that no one can see, feel, or prove; install a power pack to pull our truckload of WAGs and call it Dark Energy which no one can see, feel, or prove; and add more dimensions to our universe that no one can see, feel, or prove.  With luck, we can cash those government and private grants (a.k.a., pay checks) before anyone can see, feel, or prove what we are up to, thereby showing that we are totally larcenous…   ignorant!” Honest, I meant “totally ignorant.”


  • Medical Researcher.  “We can’t explain it so we will say it was a gene what done it, and develop new drugs to correct things…   at least until the litigation attorneys get into the act.  With any luck, we can bank those government and private grants (a.k.a., pay checks) before anyone proves us totally ignorant.
  • General Practitioner.  “I don’t know what you got, but, just for giggles, let’s call it a virus.  Take this stuff I am writing on this prescription pad.  If it don’t work in a couple of days, come back in and we’ll try something else.  Of course, there will be another office visit fee, and, if complications result from this random mix of drugs before we run out of guesses, we’ll send you to a specialist.  He will use bigger words than “virus” and add a surcharge for the larger vocabulary use.
  • The Religionist.  “Vote in the next election the way I have told you.  If you contribute enough, I will see about your reservation in Heaven and send you a prayer mat (or something such) personally autographed by God.  And, for Pete’s sake, would you quit squirming while I feel up your thigh?”
  • Journalists/Media.  Those organizations controlled by government parrot whatever party-line they have been fed.  Those controlled by special interests tell you whatever they think you want to hear.  Those operating under the “freedom of the press” provision of free governments do very little objective reporting…   yellow press, paparazzi-ism, on-line “reporting” with salacious lead-ins to trick you into clicking on ads, surreptitious insertion of secret programs into your computer’s operating systems for scamming purposes…  Yeah, I’m pretty sure the world we perceive is the product of power-moguls and the money grubbers.

This culture of expert opinion has taken on the mantle of Accepted Authority and aspires to the status once held by Religionists in the days of Galileo — that of supreme Authority; hey, when THOSE boys told you to go to hell, they were poker-faced serious.

EVERY expert-for-a-fee-or-fame who ever lived started life just like everyone else:  naked, clueless, and in bad need of schmucks (i.e., gulliable marks) to feed its chosen schtick…   uh, career choice…   for their personal survival.

We, the general public (a.k.a., the Great Unwashed) wear virtual t-shirts that read:


This schmuck is kicking up a fuss ‘cawz the damn t-shirt is the wrong size…   and it chaffs.  Obviously, it was not hawked under the banner of Duluth Trading…   who will be totally surprised by this unrequested mention.



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Shovels and Manure: Part 2

Posted on November 26, 2015. Filed under: Politics, Psychology, Religion | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

(continued from previous post, Shovels and Manure: Part 1)

In the previous article, I got born, got my newbie starter kit installed, then discovered glitches in the applications phase.  New input was playing havoc with the resident databases causing angst as I realized I would have to troubleshoot my programming at the root level.  Simply put, I had to start thinking for myself, which meant I had to retroactively confirm the veracity of my previous data sources.  Zeroing in on accepted authority (experts) and accepted knowledge (expert assertions), I realized that self-aggrandizing, ordinary people who had been born naked and clueless like the whole of human kind were setting themselves up as the lords of all knowledge.

Wallowing in their unacknowledged ignorance, those expert authorities told us for decades…

  • The expert-designed Food Pyramid was the answer to proper nutrition and long life…   until they came out with a new one (twice) that didn’t kill us prematurely.
  • That teachers are the most valuable servants in society…   then we find out that these guys and gals are behaving like pedophile priests chaperoning teens and pre-adolescents on church-sponsored retreats or tutoring in one-on-one sessions away from school.
  • Expose your kids to chicken pox early so they won’t have to deal with it in later life…   had your shingles shot yet?
  • Plastic food packaging materials are safe for human use…   except now that is only “true” if the label says “BHP free.”

They told us for centuries...

  • The Constitution of the United States of America could only be changed if 3/4 of the states agreed to it…   unless the Supreme Court changes it by a 5-4 vote of biased experts who can’t be thrown out for biased judiciating…   or when a sitting president decides to MAKE laws instead of obeying them.
  • The Bill of Rights to that Constitution guaranteed certain rights to its citizens (such as no laws regarding an establishment of religion, the right to keep and bear arms, the right to be secure in your property, freedom from being forced to give evidence against yourself…   stuff like that) unless changed by that 3/4 vote of the states.  Now, the Supreme Court says you gotta ask for your constitutional right to be entitled to it.
  • The world is flat, go too far you fall off its edge…   today we can take advantage of AROUND THE WORLD cruises.  The only falling hazard here is a bad plunge from your budget floor…   or is that “budget ceiling?”
  • The Earth is the center of the universe…   Galileo paid for this little indiscretion.  When not molesting children, them religionists banish free-thinking that shows up their ignorance.
  • Children can only be born to married couples…   or harems.  How, then, do we now have the terms “bastards” and “unwed mothers?”
  • Only humans can use tools…   and apes, simians, pro-simians, numerous birds, quite a few insects
  • Only humans can speak…   and apes, simians, pro-simians, numerous birds, quite a few insects
  • An apple a day keeps the doctor away…   but, only if you hit him square in the forehead with it when he tries to approach you.  People don’t say proverbs like that anymore for fear that litigators will hit them square in the pocket book with a class-action lawsuit for practicing medicine without a license.
  • The world is only 6,000 years old…   can you spell b-i-l-l-i-o-n-s?
  • Good always triumphs over evil…   but how many good people have to suffer before the evil goes away?
  • We are in the latter days;  the end is near…   get your programs here, folks;  all the generations since Guttenberg’s quick-copy machine have left scads of them…   just change that date right there, change the identity of your generation’s 666, and go on lamenting…   and self-flagellate if that is your thing.

More recently, we have been told that only humans are smart enough to create stuff that can annihilate all life on Earth in one fell swoop…   they WOULD have to get that one right.  But, hey!  In an existence honed by responses to innate ignorance, one out of 200,000,000 to the 10th power ain’t so bad.

I understand that my own journey through EXISTENCE is a trial and error thing, and, that I can benefit from the information of others who have already waded through its dark water’s of uncertainty.  My problem is not that everything with which we work has to be teased from Nature bit by bit or that what was learned long ago may not be true today;  rather, my irritation comes from the knowledge that so much of that database is tainted by the personal goals of the “expert” information providers, who then proclaim — in speech or implied assertion — “I, a really super-smart guy, thought up this explanation and you, an embarrassment to the word intellect, can be assured that you can get it right only by accepting without question MY truth of reality.”  

My gullibility node has become unbearably distended, no doubt due to the vast quantity of bull sh…   uh, male bovine droppings being rained down on me from all directions.

Life forms get it right (i.e., live longer) by replacing ignorance with knowledge as they grow.  Homo sapiens sapiens has the advantage of being able to amass a vast library of hard-won knowledge that most, if not all, of its members can access to enrich their individual survival.  Yet, regardless of how vast that knowledge base may be, our Universe — to all intents and purposes — is infinitely vast, and, the degree of human ignorance is just as vast.  So…

Since my personal existence is of major importance only to ME, why can’t I give credence to my own conclusions?  Why can’t I, born naked and clueless just like all those acknowledged experts, be just as arrogant about MY “truth” as they are toward theirs?

Sounds like a plan to me.  “Hey…   YOU…   Super-smart Dude!  Stop shoveling that pile of sh…   stuff…   this way.  I need a little time to analyze its contents.”

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Sunday the 4th: North Star

Posted on November 2, 2014. Filed under: Religion, sociology | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

North Star

Lindale in Houston

This is not a class in astronomy; rather, it is a highlight to the fact that humans are communal creatures and that their basic characters are shaped, not by a single individual, but, the cumulative effect of numerous associations throughout those pre-adult years.

From cradle to rocking chair, the human psyche transitions through many phases.  The basics of our future selves are laid down, layer upon layer, within our memories in our developing years.  While this is an essential process in the maturation of SELF, it has a serious downside —

…this construction of an individual’s foundation is being overseen by a clueless kid who takes everything as fact — even the “wisdom” espoused by other clueless kids — and incorporates it, without modification, into the structure destined to become ADULT SELF.

Everyone is raised in some kind of culture, and the newbie human absorbs the tenets, practices, rituals, et cetera, of that culture at face value, never questioning the wisdom of the kids, adults, and authorities dispensing it all.  (My mother raised me in a religious environment where many adults of kindred mind instructed me for 18 years on the way I should go.  Between the secular education of public schools and the teachings of the Church, I had a full rucksack of certainties with which to set out on Life’s long road of UN-certainty.)

The young adult following the kid’s improv act will spend the first ten years of adulthood trying to appease the conflicts within as it struggles to reconcile all that old childhood stuff with all the new adult stuff being dealt with in real-time.  Somewhere around the age of 30, the ADULT SELF finally gets to take a lot of childhood stuff out of the attic and label it irrelevant; thusly, childhood gets chalked up to what it really is — a learning experience.

Still, like a hoarder, we hang on to some unresolved issues just because they feel good and, therefore, MUST be relevant.  That reasoning points a finger at the kid’s primary retention technique:  remember the impressions made by persons, events, and concepts rather than the circumstances or reasoning by which they came.  That lack of footnotes becomes the source of all that YOUNG ADULT angst.

In my case, I held on to a recurring impression for several decades.  The names, faces, and time frame of acquisition constituted the totality of those flashbacks.  Accompanying that was a conviction that the persons remembered were of special importance and that, by not remembering, I had lost something that I couldn’t even define.

Through what I consider a special blessing, I have recently had the opportunity to speak to one of those dim memories.

They were an adult couple who taught church youth, a duty they shared with many of the church adults.  One of the  youths they taught was exceedingly shy and shunned attention in any non-family gathering; that remained a social impediment until he was into his thirties.  This couple had been part of the kid’s church background for years, but he did not become aware of them until the later teen years.

The Memory with whom I spoke did not tell me any of that.  I pieced that together after our conversation.  Actually, she did not really remember me at first.  During our conversation, she asked me two unrelated questions which, later, explained one thing to me and caused me to realize another.  The questions and my answers were of no real importance to my enlightenment; what mattered was the seamless manner in which she navigated from my first answer to the second and unrelated question.

As with any adult, the years can take one far from the place and conditions of upbringing.  When encountering someone from “back then,” there is a brief exchange of catch-up questions.  One of them, often, is “Where do you go to church?”  I came to resent the question because my answer does not always please them, and I get the condescending “tut-tut” expressions or verbal disapproval as though they have been appointed my personal judges.

She asked THAT question, and I felt no offense in the slightest.

I answered truthfully, even though I knew she would disapprove of my answer.

Then, without comment or pause or a change in her tone, she changed the subject by asking that second, unrelated question.

  • She did not criticize…   yet I felt criticized;
  • she did not scold…   yet I felt scolded;
  • she did not judge…   yet I felt judged.

It seems that my unexplained Memory was, and continues to be, a superb counselor with the gift of teaching without teaching.

With that demonstration of conversational elan it is easy for me to see why that clueless kid labeled his impression of THIS couple “important.”  Shy and easily embarrassed, he favorably responded to the ease of their interactions:  they accepted him as is and he did not feel awkward in their presence.  To him, they were the same as family.  Exactly why, the kid didn’t know since his  MO was to simply accept things.

JUST HOW DOES ALL OF THIS RELATE TO A STAR?  The North Star is actually not a single star, but an association of several stars closely situated along an observer’s line of sight.  Though Polaris, the brightest one, gets all the press, it is their collective brilliance that has guided humans across this globe for untold centuries.

Likewise, an individual’s inner moral beacon, emanating from the past to illuminate today, does not have a single source; it is the cumulative result of many caring and attentive persons who have lent their efforts to teach us how to walk.  Though we will remember those who especially appeal to our specific needs, it is the combined influence of those mentors that powers a light strong enough to span the length of our lives.

My former — and, it seems, current — Counselor has coaxed the realization of that debt from a very recalcitrant memory.  It is knowledge that serves to deepen the magnitude of the losses that Time has imposed on mortals and is the impetus for these 4 “Sunday” articles concerning Naomi, Ruth, and the Prodigal, each of whom yielded to an inner beacon emanating from their pasts.

Thank you, Counselor, for being a prominent star in my personal sky of uncertainty.  I did not recognize your influence way back there, but, I am well aware of your illumination today.  I am also aware that you were not trying to instruct me, a stranger, in any way; you were simply being yourself, thereby benefitting this stranger just as you benefitted a shy kid long ago.

By the way, that kid never gave the slightest hint about your very charming regional accent.






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Sunday the 3rd: Prodigal

Posted on September 22, 2014. Filed under: Religion | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

That is a word with a straight-forward meaningextravagant, wasteful, wayward, off course, and a whole bunch of similar descriptors.  The word itself can be viewed as a clinical description of the very human tendency to relax when things are going one’s way; its consequences are loss of adherence to guiding principles, inattention to asset conservation, even the failure to plan for the future.

Except for a single story in the Christian Bible…   more accurately, except for the editors’ use of the word in its titling of that story…   the word “prodigal” would probably be little used in Western languages.  Thanks to the wide exposure of Westerners to biblical teachings, “prodigal” became synonymous with sinful, degenerate wastrel.

It is a parable attributed to the Christ* which relates an incident in the life of a father and his two sons.  The father had property, which — eventually — would be divided between those two sons.  One son, younger and living in his older brother’s shadow, was impatient to enjoy the goodness of life without having to actually work toward it.  Brashly, he asked his father to give him his inheritance NOW — happy hour was calling his name, and he didn’t want to be late.  The father, reluctantly, gave in.

The father gave, the son received, and the treasure-laden party boy said “adios…”  or, something such.

Freed from the drudgery inherent in making a living, the son had all the time he craved to enjoy life’s little pleasures.  When it came to showing concern over funds availability, he opted for Alfred E. Newman’s**  motto:  “What?  Me worry?”  Facing the obvious was way too much work in itself; denial became his daily mantra.  Though the sun shines brightly today, it will eventually set and leave the world in darkness.  (That was just a lame metaphor for “the kid eventually ran out of money and got booted out of the saloon.)

Experiencing today’s equivalent of the drunk tank or a city gutter, our party boy woke up in a pig sty and found himself (bummer) living off the land.  He once again realized he was not cut out for menial labor…   you know, the mechanics of feeding oneself.   He thought of his former life at home with Dad and family, and longed for the relative ease of just being a hired hand.  In retrospect, he had actually had a pretty good existence back then, and it would be good to get a little of that back — but, it’s hard to re-cross a bridge you burned so thoroughly.  Besides, if he did go home, he would have to crawl back in the deepest of humiliation…

But…   what the heck…   humiliation was his new life-style anyway.  Maybe the family would be happy to see a long-gone sibling and welcome him back — or, at least — allow him back.  Anything would be better than this sad existence.

The point of this story is not the hit-bottom-enlightenment of a degenerate wastrel, but, rather, the love a father has for his children in spite of the very questionable life choices they may make.  Thus, the hung-over party boy looking for a free pass to his father’s stable got more than he ever thought he would get:  instead of a barrage of I-told-you-so and years of black-sheep-of-the-family references, he was welcomed with outstretched arms, kisses, a feast, and restoration into his father’s home.  Well…   yeah…   his stay-at-home and dutiful brother thought it was a bit much and sulked that the ingrate bro was being treated like he never did what he did; but, Dad quashed that sort of talk.  The kid was back, like it or not!

The not so hidden meaning is that God, the Father, has a soft spot for all of his children and is well aware of the tedium, pain and futility inherent in maintaining human existence.  So great is His love that he not only forgives and forgets human ingratitude, no matter how flagrant, but, will also restore the penitent one to the heavenly throng.

By way of an editor’s annotation, sinful, aimless, degenerate wastrel has become the default meaning of prodigal.  Truth is, you do not have to be a moral degenerate to be prodigal.

“Wayward” and “extravagant” may be closer to the essence of its meaning — extravagant, not only by expenditure, but, also through neglect and inattention; wayward, not by adopting a counter life-style, but by yielding imperceptibly to the exigencies of Life that demand our attention daily.  In our modern societies, all work and no play also fits that prodigal slipper.

Unnoticed, much that we hold dear slips away.  Bit by bit things become obscured or made inaccessible by the veil of Time.  Events, faces, voices, and names that begin to elude us are not always  just slips of memory; in reality, they may be little pieces of who we are, or, at least, who we were.

Time, in spite of our resistance, WILL take from us — that is the price of existing.  Often, though, we ourselves give Time a helping hand simply by being too busy to look up from our work and appreciate the blessings that Life has given us.  Our losses, if enough time has passed, will include those persons instrumental in laying the foundations of our life philosophies.  Belated assessment of one’s life often reveals the irretrievable loss of mentors and friends who were key to our personal development.

“Irretrievable” means gone forever.  One who does not maintain the fellowship of kindred spirits — for whatever reasons — will bear the weight of life’s mortality when finally taking the time to look around.



*the Christ = The Anointed (Christian faith)

** Alfred E. Newman = idiotic-looking icon of the vintage publication Mad Magazine








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Tomorrow’s Memory

Posted on August 18, 2014. Filed under: Memories, Religion | Tags: , , , , , , |


Of such is the kingdom of Heaven

Of such is the kingdom of Heaven


“Let the little ones come to me, for they represent the essence of heaven.”     Matt. 19:14, sorta

My mother’s house was a magnet for children.  Not surprising, though.  She, herself, was one of the 13 children her mother carried, and she made a good run at the baby count herself:  9 successful deliveries, 1 miscarriage.  Her decades-long devotion at her church was as a teacher in the pre-school range.  She loved children and being around them, and, in that respect, must have lived in Heaven here on Earth.

The one in this picture was a frequent visitor to Mother’s house.  My camera was in hand, and when I saw this pose, I thought, “How quickly this will pass.”  To preserve what almost immediately would become but a memory in a far tomorrow, I pointed my camera and recorded this moment in May of 1997…   just to be sure “far tomorrow” remembered.



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Sunday the 2nd: The Greatest of These

Posted on August 17, 2014. Filed under: Religion | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

Third rock from the Sun and older than dirt — we know it as Earth.  Humans and trillions of trillions of other entities make up the living fabric that encompasses this Earth and moves in seasonal and epochal rhythm to the pulse of Time’s passage.  In great migratory flow, life moves from scarcity to abundance, pauses to renew itself, and then obediently continues its endless journey across the lands and oceans of island Earth.

Though today’s humans are insulated from the awareness of their bondage to this ancient ebb and flow, it continues to be their lot since from time beyond memory; we are just as subject to the toll that Time exacts as is the wildebeest in its eternal migration across its own successions of Jordans.

Humans learned to scratch records of their own journeys into the substance of the universal mother, Earth, and in those records, the past can speak to us today.  Such written history gives us a glimpse at human resilience in the face of hardship.  Sometimes, those records also give us a look at the personal cost and individual triumph in the human experience.  One well-known account is a perfect illustration of this:

An aged and travel-weary woman espied the green band of trees off in the distance and knew it marked the river where the travelers awaited her.  She should reach it well before evening.  A cool, flat rock invited her to rest, for she was quite weary.  The stress of travel, however, was not nearly so heavy as the weight of the Eternity that she knew was closing in on her.

A light breeze teased the leaves of the few trees nearby, and the gentle coaxing relaxed her into a nostalgic reverie.  She began considering her life past, its blessings and its tragedies.  Her questions to God for answers were muted by her acceptance of His will regardless of her cost.  Thoughts of Elim, her only husband in life, warmed her soul and a door to yesterday was slightly opened.  Once again she smiled at Elim’s pride in completing the first pair of shoes he had ever made for a baby and smiling even broader at the memory of her oldest son taking his first steps in them.

Elim was a good provider and a loving husband and father, and, when living necessities became scarce in their homeland, he joined with a number of his neighbors and took his family to a land east of his home where resources were more plentiful.  During his efforts to restore his family to a comfortable life, he himself was stricken and died.  His widow, with the assistance of helpful neighbors, rose to the task and raised her boys as a single mother.  They grew into young men, providing for the household and bringing their new wives into the home.  But this woman, this scrappy  survivor of hardship, was brought to her knees once again, and her daughters-in-law became widows also.  Her husband and sons were gone, and, with them, her whole purpose in life also fled.

Conditions in her homeland had improved, and fellow ex-patriots began streaming back home.  She knew some members of a group passing her house and, after conversation, decided to go with them.  Since she would need a little time to gather her things and settle accounts, they agreed to wait for her at a river crossing one day’s march to the west.

Trading most of her possessions for a donkey, she laded it with necessary provisions and a few sacred mementoes from her life now gone; that was the easy part.  The hard part was convincing her daughters-in-law, who had packed and were ready for travel, that they were better off remaining here in their native land with kin and starting their lives over.  She herself had a very iffy future and she would not be able to provide for them.  After several false starts and repeated reasoning, she and the donkey left their home behind, heading alone toward uncertainty.

One of the rebuked daughters-in-law was not happy that she had given in to the matriarch’s demand.  Her husband’s mother had welcomed her into their home and shown her all the love a mother would give her child.  In return, she had abandoned that love in favor of a better life.  After a few hours of internal debate, she made her decision:  she would defy her mother-in-law’s wisdom, and, immediately set out to rejoin her.

At first the old woman thought the past was calling to her in the guise of the whispering breeze.  With a start, Naomi realized there was someone calling from along her track, and was horrified to see Ruth running to her and shouting, “Mother!  Mother, wait for me.”

From within their embrace, Naomi began to protest this child’s disobedience, but, her words were muffled by Ruth’s hand lightly, but, insistently, pressing against her mouth.  In a voice of soft resolution, Ruth commanded, “Hush, Mother.  Hush.”

For a moment they looked at each other and Naomi, tears streaming down her face, softly stroked her daughter’s cheek.  Ruth, her eyes closed for a moment and streaming her own tears, clasped Naomi’s hand and pressed it tight to her cheek before quietly saying, “You cannot make me go back, so do not try to keep me from following you.  Where you go, I will go…   where you sleep, I will sleep.  Your people shall be my people, your God my God.  Where you die, I will die and be buried there with you.  If I let anything but death separate me from you, may the Lord deal with me, even to taking my life.”

It is not recorded which possessed the most love for the other.

That third rock continues to spin and the restless fabric of life surges and ebbs across its surface.  Elements of the human story maintain a state of flux, while — for the human spirit — there are three enduring constants:

  • Hope – the perceived promise of fulfillment
  • Faith – the belief that the promise can be attained in spite of harsh realities
  • Love – the willingness to sacrifice all in the name of Faith to attain that Hope

Faith and Hope are intangibles, while Love is the real-world act that gives them life.  As the letter-writer Paul eloquently noted…






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Sunday the 1st: Whither thou goest…

Posted on August 10, 2014. Filed under: Religion | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

As a teen in the Christian church of my Mother, I learned many scriptures.  Then, and still today, I find much of the King James’ Version of the Holy Bible difficult to read or even to understand.  There is much seeming redundancy in the writings and, after so many centuries, different meanings to words used.  I could refer you to my postings on the word “passion” for illustration.  In that environment, I memorized many passages on my own that, to me, where so eloquent they literally sang to my deepest soul.

Many of those KJV passages have an impact unmatched in other sources.  I have always been more attracted to the human saga recounted in its various books than the historical and political accounts.  The former speak to the soul in shades of sorrow, love, commitment, hope and of the staggering wonder of the Universe.  Two that come quickly to my mind are:

  • Psalms 139 (the whole thing)  “Oh Lord, thou hast searched me and known me…”
  • First Corinthians 13 (the whole thing)  “Love is longsuffering, kind…”

On the stage of human drama, there is far and away only one account that, though simply a collection of words, flows like liquid music from the page, and settles like the gentlest of breezes over the heart and soul of the reader or listener.  Even as a teen, reading it choked me up.  To me, this is the most beautiful passage about the human condition in the entire Bible, but only in the King James’ Version:

Leaving a land of misfortune and personal disaster, a young woman chased after her equally distraught mother-in-law, who had urged her to return to her native home, and begged to be allowed to stay with her:

  • Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee:  for whither thou goest, I will go, and where thou lodgest I will lodge:  thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God:  where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried:  the Lord do to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.  (KJV, The Book of Ruth)

I still get choked up reading that.




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